Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Paging Dr. Razor: I doubt you missed this piece from the NYT Sunday supplement -- David Foster Wallace on Roger Federer. Thoroughly endnoted, too. In fact, you'll be delighted to hear, the endnotes have footnotes. Typical DFW sentence:
There’s a medium-long exchange of groundstrokes, one with the distinctive butterfly shape of today’s power-baseline game, Federer and Agassi yanking each other from side to side, each trying to set up the baseline winner...until suddenly Agassi hits a hard heavy cross-court backhand that pulls Federer way out wide to his ad (=left) side, and Federer gets to it but slices the stretch backhand short, a couple feet past the service line, which of course is the sort of thing Agassi dines out on, and as Federer’s scrambling to reverse and get back to center, Agassi’s moving in to take the short ball on the rise, and he smacks it hard right back into the same ad corner, trying to wrong-foot Federer, which in fact he does — Federer’s still near the corner but running toward the centerline, and the ball’s heading to a point behind him now, where he just was, and there’s no time to turn his body around, and Agassi’s following the shot in to the net at an angle from the backhand side...and what Federer now does is somehow instantly reverse thrust and sort of skip backward three or four steps, impossibly fast, to hit a forehand out of his backhand corner, all his weight moving backward, and the forehand is a topspin screamer down the line past Agassi at net, who lunges for it but the ball’s past him, and it flies straight down the sideline and lands exactly in the deuce corner of Agassi’s side, a winner — Federer’s still dancing backward as it lands.

Ellipses in the original, mind you. If you hack your way through the post-modernist version of the whichy thickets, he makes some keen (if perhaps debatable) observations -- on a variety of subjects. For example:
Wimbledon is strange. Verily it is the game’s Mecca, the cathedral of tennis; but it would be easier to sustain the appropriate level of on-site veneration if the tournament weren’t so intent on reminding you over and over that it’s the cathedral of tennis.

It wasn’t that Ivan Lendl was an immortally great tennis player. He was simply the first top pro to demonstrate what heavy topspin and raw power could achieve from the baseline. And, most important, the achievement was replicable, just like the composite racket.

The generic power-baseline game is not boring — certainly not compared with the two-second points of old-time serve-and-volley or the moon-ball tedium of classic baseline attrition. But it is somewhat static and limited; it is not, as pundits have publicly feared for years, the evolutionary endpoint of tennis. The player who’s shown this to be true is Roger Federer. And he’s shown it from within the modern game.

I'd love to read a ten-page article by him on any of these pronouncements, though I can't see tolerating that level of self-indulgence through any of his longer works. Anyhow, if you didn't see it, do.

Monday, August 21, 2006

For the record, I am not nearly this delusionsal when it comes to golf. Razor, put down any heavy, blunt objects before reading.

I'll try to post my nominee for the best ever later.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The PGA: Piss off, I'm working. Besides, you should be watching it. Phil and Tiger are being streamed at

Seriously, I'll try to post some thoughts later in case anyone's interested, but this week is pretty busy for me. Suffice to say that golf's Fourth Major (read red-headed stepchild) is foten my favorite and this year it could be huge.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Foiled Attacks: I noted the press conference with the Home Secretary this morning, and one of the questioners asked whether the UK should be considered on a war footing now with the Islamic culture. His response:

'We are involved in a long, wide and deep struggle against very evil people.

'This is not a case of one civilization against the other, of one religion against the other, but of terrorists who want to use evil methods. This threat is common to us all,' he warned.
Okay fine -- I mean sure -- yes, that's essentially true. We all accept the tried-and-true response that not ALL Islamic peoples want to kill the Western World. But shouldn't we accept that very much ALL of the logistic, monetary and personnel support comes from Islamic countries? Some governments like Iran are open in their support of terrorists. Others, like Syria are tolerant while acting like they condemn them. Others still like Pakistan are allied with our fight on terror only by virtue of the military junta governing the country.

So, what do we do? We can't pull and Iraq on every nation, and god knows, looking of what a mess the place is, we wouldn't be any better off (and it can't help but tickle so many of the French that Iraq was the LAST place we should have invaded -- Saddam was only minorly interested in supporting terrorism in the UK and US -- he really preferred to terrorize his own people and was a nice buffer against Iran -- but i digress) if we did.

It's time for a unified approach. It's "us" vs. "them". "Us" is the obvious nations: U.S., U.K., Australia. It includes usually the Russians and the Canadians. But it MUST now include the Spaniards, the French, the Germans, the Italians, the Serbs, the Greek, the Swedes and the whole of South and Central America (they haven't tasted the pain yet, but they someday will). No more fucking around -- no more pandering to the electorate by pretending to oppose GWB. If the Europeans think they can avoid more of the same by keeping a low profile and denouncing Cowboy Imperialism at every turn, they are sorely fucking mistaken.

The Spanish got bombed AFTER they pulled out of Iraq. The French are on the verge of a civil war (certainly culturally if not politically) with their Islamic "guests" and we've already seen what a dog's breakfast the Scandinavians have made of their homogenity. Enough. Pick a side and go full bore. Root out the terrorists, tighten your immigration (or at least for god's sake enforce your laws), and buckle down. The world is not going back to a once-a-decade hijacking to prove a point. It's a war, no way around it.
Brilliant analysis from Kos: Re: the foiled London terrorist plot:
You have to wonder what exactly are the benefits of hitching yourself to George W. It's like when you consider making an investment or major purchase. You look at the pros and the cons. We all know what the cons are: your people become a target for terrorists, and you breed your own terrorist cells. So, what are the benefits? Ummmmm, well, uhhhh, okay not many. Blair has sold out his people so he can cozy up on Bush's lap. Tony is like any other man in power, he wants to more power himself, and be closer to those who have even more power.

The mind reels at brilliant analysis such as this. Really. No chance whatsoever that Blair weighs the pros and cons and finds some benefits to his nation in allying with the most powerful country in the world, militarily and economically speaking at least. Nope. Can't be. Because if one so brilliant as punditron (and who's to say the left isn't spitting these talking points out of a Bush hating robot, anyway) makes the calculation and the scales weigh heavier on the con side, then all points to pro are immediately discarded. No fine, nuanced arguments to consider; it's a runaway. Like Ditka v. the rest of the NFL, baby. 72-0. Ditka played in a wheelcahair, while recovering from a heart attack.

After all, we know what a stupid head Tony Blair is. Can't even pronounce half the words in the English language (and with an accent like that, well, you can only bet what he and Bush are doing when the doors are closed - but I'm okay with gay marriage, dirty buggers). Then there's this:

So, here's the plan to make Bush and Blair come back to reality. Make these idiots ride commercial aircraft, ride the subways, and walk the streets like the rest of us. Let them be exposed to the results of their reckless foreign policies. Plus, do that for their families. Then, we'll see if they want to engage in their cowboy attitudes towards the rest of the world.

I think that's a great idea. Might be better, though, if we made them get permission from Muqtada al Sadr and Ahmadinejad before they go anywhere, though. Or at least a note from the Kofi, I guess. That'll really crush those cowboy spirits (or at least make 'em sissies like those "cowboys" in the movies right - so Brokeback! - but I watched it with my girlfriend and only closed my eyes once, so I'm behind you Andrew).

It's gonna take a while for this deep thinking to really sink in with me. Guess I'm too stupid, or maybe I'm just too committed to the lie to back down now.

Via The Corner.

Update: protein wisdom has another suggestion to humble the Lone Ranger and his Tonto.

Why not demand Blair and Bush pick up a pistol, put on a ten gallon hat, and
march themselves into the badlands of Pakistan?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A different take on Joe: From Radley.
Good riddance.

He has a lot to say about the war and the Bush administration as well, but overall it's good old fashioned Libertarian cynicism about politicians in general, which is a spirit I can get on board with easily, even if I have a different position on the war and a kinder view of Lieberman. I think there's a place for guys like him, dignified and reasonable, even if they are too tightly linked to preserving a status quo, bloated federal government. Guess I'll never make it as Libertarian.

I liked this line at the end, though:

More incumbents need to lose more often. From both parties. The position of federal politician should be a short-term privilege, not a career.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Cup of Joe? I think our readers (both of you) know how I feel about Joe Lieberman. But I'm still hoping for a Ned Lamont victory in Connecticut tonight. Why? Because it's so bad for the left. Every responsible Democrat has endorsed Joe, because they too know that Lamont and the Kos Klub weaken the party severely.

Honestly, I like Joe a lot. I disagree with him in so many, many ways, but he has really shown some spine this year. That said, I win either way. Either I see Joe winning the primary, and likely the election; or I see Lamont the instant lame duck as the Dems' candidate. The party will not back him, Lieberman will run as an independent, and the most likely outcome will be a split Democratic vote and a moderate Republican in the office. And whither Joe? He'd be awful good cabinet material for a lame duck president with 2-plus years to burn.

So, odd as it may sound, I cry, "Go, Ned, go!"

Friday, August 04, 2006

"MTV Cops": With those words, one of the best t.v. shows of the 80's was spawned. This was the concept Michael Mann was given and he turned it into something much more satisfying and wide-reaching than anticipated, giving us "Miami Vice". I dare you to find a young boy in the mid-80s who didn't own his own variation of the Crockett ensemble of pastel t-shirt, white linen pants with matching jacket, and something akin to Espadrilles -- shoulder holster very much NOT optional.

Well, fast forward nearly twenty years, and we have MTV no longer showing music videos, instead being solely focused on the copulation, drinking and self-loathing habits of 20-somethings, Don Johnson hell bent on wrecking his legacy as the coolest cop in the world, and his partner, off in oblivion after the obligatory singing career went nowhere.

So the question is, could "Miami Vice" be dragged into the 21st Century? I've seen the new movie, and my answer is: mostly. You'll never be able to re-create that sense of awe one had in watching Sonny and Rico speeding down a freshly-watered empty freeway at night in a black Ferrari Daytona Spyder (actually a Corvette with bepsoke body panels) as heavy mood music pulsated in the background -- lives on the line. And it's a good question to ask whether Colin Farrel could pull off Sonny's mix of joie-de-vivre and self-loathing.

First, here's what the movie got right: cars, boats, women, guns, music and ambience. I've never wanted to own a powerboat (or a "go-fast boat" as they're called in the movie) before I saw this flick. There's something unimaginably raw and powerful about those boats skimming over the bright blue S. Florida open water, or rumbling through the jet black waves in clandestine drug runs through the harbor. The car this time? A dark grey Ferrari 430 -- top down the whole time (that was one problem with the t.v. show when they went to the white Testarossa -- couldn't get good shots of Rico and Sonny driving) -- and damn does this car move. Mann loves cars, and he films this one beautifully, with some great after-market light effects, the paddle shifters, and some incredible exhaust notes.

The gun fights are infrequent but intense and fraught with what one presumes to be realism (some shots seem far away, some way too close) as their impact is truly frightening (especially the .50 caliber sniper rifles). Tension builds in the meets between the drug cartel and the undercover cops - who will shoot first?

The women are all beautiful, but Mann gives them substance, and some mystery, which is pleasing all the way around (not to say we don't get some good shower scenes, and mercifully, no shots of Farrel's ass).

The music alternates between heart-pounding and mood music - depending on the scene, but overall very effective.

What was wrong? Well, sometimes I really believed in the characters, and sometimes I didn't. I wouldn't say Jaime Foxx and Farrel were bad choices, but I'm not sure they were the best. Maybe it was the direction -- but they spent most of their time scowling and looking into the middle distance. The plot was not linear, which was fine (Mann basically drops us into the action without prologue or even opening credits!), but at times you had to wonder where the movie was going.

It brought its own style to the screen which was darker and certainly more violent, but wouldn't be viewed as groundbreaking as the t.v. series.

All in all, however, a solid thumbs up.

Okay Eno -- you can go see it now and say how much you hated it.

P.S. I saw the second Pirates of the Carribean movie -- truly awful and way too long. Sigh.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

We interrupt this broadcast...: bring you news that TMQ is back in the mix over at ESPN. He had posted once or twice earlier around draft time, but now that football preseason is nigh, it seems like the right time to get the ol' juices flowing again. [and what the hell is Easterbrook doing back at ESPN -- I mean really....does he wear out his welcome that fast? First Slate, then ESPN, then NFL Network, now ESPN again -- I can't figure it out. But at least he's writing again.]

Anyway, to celebrate the return of football, as well as the return of me to the ol' Blog, I suggest we make our annual bad predictions in three weeks hence (this should give even Flyer enough time to step away from the 4-iron and put some thought into the NFL) in the following categories:

1. Conference Winners and Wildcards
2. Superbowl match-up and winner.
3. Week of the first T.O. disciplinary action
4. First coach to get fired and when
5. Reggie Bush -- boom or bust?
6. First QB to get benched.
7. Team to most spectacularly fail to meet consensus pre-season expectations.
8. Team to most spectacularly exceed consensus pre-season expectations.

Okay gents, start your engines.