Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thirty Days of Blogging: Day 6

I'd like to write about both True Detective and Game of Thrones but I don't have the time or energy to do so now.  The very short version is that I find/found both disappointing, but in different ways.  But I have watched them both, yes.  Yes I have.

We're leaving tomorrow for Las Vegas for Labor Day.  So the blog will be on hiatus for a few days.

I wrote earlier how I'm getting back into tennis.  As a result, I've been especially enjoying the US Open early round matches.  Last night I started imagining what I would do if a genie appeared and offered to make me exactly half as good as Roger Federer is at tennis.  Would that make me better or worse?  I'm a 4.0 on the tennis ranking scale, which is exactly in the middle.  (Novices are 1.0; pros are 7.0  Div I college players are, I think, 6.0?).   So, according to that I'm already slightly better than half as good as Federer; maybe 5/8 as good.  But of course that system is incredibly subjective and imprecise.  My gut says that I'd improve if I were made as half as good as Federer.

I'm leaving aside, of course, the question of how one would measure what 'half as good' means in terms of tennis.  Let's just assume that could be done.  The main question still remains: should I take the genie's offer?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Thirty Days of Blogging: Day 5

The newest issue of Rolling Stone (I get it for free: I have no idea why) has on its cover Willie Nelson.  This makes me think of my esteemed friend, Johannes, who bears an unholy hatred of Good Sir Willie.  I don't really know why.  But he does.  Willie Nelson and monkeys--those are two things he hates.  But why?  What has Willie ever done to him?  Or monkeys, for that matter.

I'm going to respond to comments, btw, in subsequent posts.  Of course there have been not many comments yet.  So start commenting!  Is there some topic you'd like to hear me bloviate on?  Suggest it, and away I will bloviate!

The new episode of Hard Knocks is on tonight; that's something to look forward to.  So far I think the highlight of the show is Bryan Cox.  Check that: I know he's the highlight.  In the first episode he explained to his charges (the defensive line players) that the correct way to grab the opposing play was similar to the way that a man should hold a woman's breasts.  I.e. you don't GRAB, but you sort, of...I don't know, really.  His general point was lost on me.  I think it had to do with finesse, maybe?  But anyway, it was really funny.  

I've gotten my wife into it this season, which means that when I watch I get her persecutive.  That's been fun.  

I'm not very impressed with Mike Smith, though.  He doesn't have what it takes to win a Super Bowl.  I'll say that again.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Thirty Days of Blogging: Day 4

Part of why I'm taking these occasional breaks is to allow all my many thousand readers to return without being deluged by 30 straight posts.  Thus giving them to absorb all the glory and brilliance these posts contain.

We finished Breaking Bad last night.  We ripped through the first few seasons, but as we got toward the end found ourselves slowing down.  Was this because we wanted to draw out our pleasure or because of how dark and difficult the last seasons became?  I think the latter.  I loved the show, but I don't think I could have taken any more of it.  I'm glad it's over.

BTW, anything I write about BB in this and future posts will assume a readership which has seen the entire series.  So: there will be spoilers.  If you haven't seen the show, you shouldn't read.

I don't place Breaking Bad in the very top tier of TV shows--it's not The Wire or The Sopranos.  It's right below that, though.  Its essential story is Macbeth: "I am too far steeped in blood..."--that should be Walter's motto.  Its brilliance and beauty is diagramming with harrowing precision the inexorable logic that leads Walt from a well-meaning naif who makes meth on weekends to a murderous monster willing to poison a child to further his own aims.  It's almost like a mathematical proof.  Once you accept the first step, the given--producing meth is an acceptable way to make money--the rest seems to follow inevitably.  At every step of Walt's journey, that is, he always seems to be doing what he has to do to preserve what he's already done.  And yet, in that preserving, he keeps being forced towards more and more heinous acts.  It's like the Martingale system for the soul.

It's probably too obvious to spell out, but his alias--Heisenberg--speaks to the bifurcation in his character which is at the heart of the show.  Heisenberg's work dealt with light, and its particle/wave duality.  Light is, somehow, at the same time both a particle and wave.  That seems impossible, and yet's it's so.  Is it therefore possible for a person to be both a devoted loving father and a ruthless and merciless drug lord?  Walt's fundamental error seems to be to think the answer is yes.

Other more random thoughts.

-aside from Bryan Cranston, the best actor on that show was Dean Norris.  Hank was absolutely crucial to that show's success.  He was a great character, and easy to overlook.

-a number of plot holes bothered me, especially toward the end.  How is it possible that Walt has administered the flower-based poison to the little boy Jesses cares for (Barack? Brack?) without the boy knowing who he is?  Similarly, how, at the end, is it possible that Walt has put riacin in Lydia's sweetener packet?  Hard to swallow (no pun intended).  Also hard to swallow, for me, was the scene at the end of the 4th season when Gus returns to his Volvo in the hospital parking lot, after Walt has rigged it with a car bomb.  Gus somehow magically senses something's wrong with the car and walks away.  I didn't buy it.  Although, to their credit, the writers did a great job of playing with this version of Gus--the idea that he was some near-divine unkillable robot--during the sequence when Walt places the bomb in the nursing home.  The moment when Gus walks out of the room, and we see him from profile, and think--somehow--that he's survived.  Fantastic!  My wife compared him in that moment to The Terminator, which I thought was very apt.  (If you don't remember the scene, they then show his other side, where the explosion has ripped all the flesh from his bones.  It's chilling.)

-I think my favorite season was the one where Jesse dates the heroin-addict girl.  I thought their entire relationship was really moving.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Thirty Days: Programming Note

I'm going to do three days on, three days off of blogging, I think.  So I guess it should be called "Thirty Days of Non-Consecutive Blogging."  But it won't be.  But that's what it is.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thirty Days of Blogging: Day 3

Thursday is my day off from caffeine, when I run errands, read, and don't try to do anything creative. Or even mentally taxing.  So, as is always the case, I'm a bit sleep and dispirited.  Mildly, only.

I'm getting back into tennis these last few months.  I found a guy to take lessons from and even bought a ball machine, which I haul out to the local courts once every few days.  As a result, I generally sleep better and feel happier.  Running and lifting weights alone can't compare to the workout you get running around a court for an hour in the heat hitting balls.

I've just finished rereading the first collection of William Trevor's Short Stories (The Collected Stories).  Now I'm starting on his more recent collection.  I'm also reading the mystery novels of Reginald Hill, a British writer who created the detective duo of Dalziel and Pascoe.  Good, page-turning fare.

The wife and I are three episodes away from finishing Breaking Bad.  I'll doubtless have some posts about that to come.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Thirty Days of Blogging: Day 2

I thought of this today and decided to post it, as per my legal requirements under the ANCIANT Thirty Days of Internet LLD offshore corporation papers.  Or something.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Thirty Days of Blogging: Day 1

I'm going to post a little bit every day for the next thirty days.  Nothing large or ambitious, sadly, but little bits, at least.

I also wrote a longish rumination on the band Rush: I saw a documentary about them on one of the music stations, and it somehow affected me.  I'm not a fan of their music, especially, but there was something about the way that they portrayed themselves that I found simultaneously moving and irritating.  Neal Peart especially, with all his pompous and adolescent lyrics based on "the Individual vs Society" and "genius vs ordinariness" and all the other tropes that adolescent boys get off on--that got to me.

But that's for the future.  For now a few random thoughts about this and that.

Spoon: I bought the new album because Pitchfork keeps eulogizing their greatness.  I don't find it mind-blowing, but I do like it.  Especially the track "New York Kiss." Which is a great great name for a song, and a great idea.  That a kiss in New York as a meaning unavailable to a kiss in some other city.

Football: I've watched a shameful amount of football preview and roundtable shows this summer.  NFL Insiders on ESPN is a particular favorite.  Two thoughts: 1) Johnny Manziel will prove a disappointment; he won't make it as a starting QB.  2) Mike Smith (the Falcon coach) will never coach a team that wins a Super Bowl.