Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Richard Linklater

Hello, my Puddlers. It’s been a crazy past week for me plus I was traveling over the long weekend, which explains the absence of posts.  However, I do promise that more content is coming. This year is off to a rocky start, but I’m going to right the ship for all of you.

While I was traveling (and thinking up ways to put up quick and easy posts onto the site), I realized that I hadn’t done any of my random thoughts/links posts in a long time.  So, what better moment than now —when I am crunched for time and can’t write a lengthy, thought out, conceptual column—than to bestow a classic links/thoughts post on you all?  You can make sure to thank me later:

- The main subject of sports talk over the weekend was the Jets/Patriots game in the AFC Divisional Playoffs (well, if you aren’t a basketball fan because the Clippers beating the Lakers followed by Blake Griffin dropping 47 points in a game was pretty big).  I’ll just make a few things clear: I hate the Patriots; Jets fans are even worse than Eagles fans.  I’ll explain to you why Jets fans are worse than Eagles fans—you can never ever please them.  You could talk as much as you want about the Jets having a good team (especially this team) and they would always find some way to think that you are disrespecting them.  I’ve always reserved that sort of quality for Eagles fans, but in the earlier part of the decade, when we were running the NFC, Eagles fans could take a compliment.  Maybe this was because we knew that a Sword of Damocles was always hanging above our heads with McNabb at the quarterback and Andy Reid strolling the sidelines, but there was a certain ability to take a compliment.  This Jets team and these Jets fans are nothing like that. Perhaps its Rex Ryan’s leadership; perhaps its that they are as pathetic if not more pathetic a franchise than the Philadelphia Eagles; but they cannot accept winning or losing.  The Jets fans celebrating a victory over the Patriots in the Divisional Round of the Playoffs, reminds me of the old mid-90’s era of Eagles football when we flipped out at beating the Cowboys in the regular season.  Let’s have a little control here.  All this being said, I love the Jets and their fans for beating the Patriots on Sunday.  There was something about this year’s Patriots team that was so much more smug than in years past.  They seemed to take a certain “told you we could do it” attitude to winning despite of Randy Moss when there was no true need for it.  The Patriots glided into Sunday’s game while the Jets were angry and ready to hit Brady, which they did.  They took a page out of the Giants’ playbook and focused on getting Brady down.  The way you do that is by making life hard for his receivers, by roughing them up so they can’t get open or get in rhythm. When that happens, Brady has to stand in the pocket longer, which allows you to collapse the pocket and then get him on the ground.  Now, perhaps only the Jets (or the Giants in 2007) have the kind of personnel to do this, or perhaps Belichik didn’t make the correct adjustments in this particular game, but the Jets had the Patriots’ number in every phase of the game. Just a fantastic win.  Now all they need to do is beat Roethlisberger because we can’t just have him win another Super Bowl and automatically forget about his sexual assault charges from the summer.

- Here’s a good article about karma possibly undoing the Patriots in recent years.

- I didn’t see any of the NFC games this past weekend, but I did get to watch the Ravens/Steelers game on Saturday.  I was in Boston, was sitting at a sports bar by myself drinking cold Budweisers, and eating buffalo wings, surrounded by die-hard Steelers fans and Ravens fans in equal doses.  I have to admit that these may be two of the best fan bases in the NFL.  The Ravens always have a great defensive team and they lack a certain element of self-loathing that the Philadelphia Eagles fans have, which makes them somehow extraordinarily smart and also humble about the game (whereas the Eagles fans have a certain ne’er-do-well bravado and self-destruction). The Steelers franchise is of course a model of consistency in terms of style and also of success in the NFL.  It’s no surprise that this rivalry has actually become perhaps the best one in the NFL.  All of their games are decided by a touchdown or less and none of them lack drama or effort.  These are just two teams that want to hit each other.  I actually thought that the Ravens had demoralized the Steelers, but they gave the game right back to them and, for all his faults, you can’t let Roethlisberger see a glimmer of hope in a game because he will rally that team back—they are willing to be rallied at any time.  And of course it ended up being another classic, which felt right in the freezing six o’clock air of Boston in mid-January.

- In literature news, I have been reading Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.  I know that this was the book of the year in many people’s minds and in many different respects, but I’m still not completely sold on it or him as a writer. A character in this novel reads War and Peace and you can make of that what you will, but what Franzen does excel at is control of the narrative as well as scope just as Tolstoy did. Now, a great writer will certainly be able to do both of those things, but a writer that does both of those things isn’t necessarily great.  I am still trying to decide if Franzen is actually great.  He controls the action of the story and the narrative with the deftness that suggests a master, but there are points when he misses the mark, like the whole second section of the novel being framed by Patty Berglund’s autobiography that she is keeping for her therapist – this convention seems wholly unnecessary.  All of this being said, I have not finished the novel as of this post so I must reserve my total judgment until the end of the book.  I just wanted to give you some of my running thoughts.  Also, the pages do just turn in it and that is always something.

- Plus, if you read this, Franzen just might be an ass.

- Speaking of Tolstoy, I’ll be reading this book of his next. Why don’t you take a peek?

- I was visiting my friend Alex Ramsdell this weekend and he was on a kick of listening to Brian Eno and John Cale who quietly stole the show of influence and just fantastic recording in the 1970’s.  We were listening especially to Cale's Paris 1919 and Eno’s Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy). As for tracks of the moment on each of those albums, I have to go with the title track on the Cale album (“Macbeth” in a close second) and “Mother Whale Eyeless” on the Eno album.  You should read up and listen to both of these men because they basically inform whatever it is you listen to and like (much like I do).

- What Alex saved me from was listening to the glory, overproduction, and elemental cheesiness of this Elton John deep cut. I’m a sucker for the dramatic.

- I haven’t given props to any new friends or artists in the past few months, which I was shocked by.  So, I’d like to give a shout out to Amy Simone Piller who has become a friend of mine in recent months.  You should check out Amy’s website to find more about the writing and other things she does.  A very great girl who enjoys basketball.

- In drinking news, I’ve been drinking mostly Manhattans.  A friend of mine asked me at a bar if it was a “girly drink.”  Well, just the opposite happens to be true.  I’d recommend drinking two or three of these the next time you are out at a bar, sitting down for a good dinner or looking across at a pretty girl.  It will do wonders for your overall manhood and well being as a human.  Basically, any drink with bitters (and maybe bourbon) will do that for you.

- We are edging closer and closer to All-Star Weekend in the NBA with the lineups for each conference being announced in the next week or so.  This year is honestly one of the craziest years for deciding who should be on the team or not.  The main debates come down to the guards in the East and the forwards in the West. Will Rondo be the starting point guard for the East or will it be his nemesis and possible league MVP Derrick Rose? Can Kevin Love and Blake Griffin both make the team in the West? Will Tim Duncan be left off the team this year as he probably should be? What about Steve Nash? Can he fit on a West team that possibly has Westbrook, Paul and Williams? Is it possible?  Can Garnett, Pierce and Allen all fit on the East team when they each deserve to in their own unique ways? Is my head going to explode at some point from how much I care about basketball?  I think the odds of everything happening are good. Wait, what?

- Speaking of basketball (aren’t I always), I’ve been reading the Free Darko Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball, which features some of the best writing on basketball that isn’t from Bill Simmons.  I recommend you check this book out even if you don’t really love basketball because the essays are just very thoughtfully written on a variety of levels.  You can also browse the Free Darko site, which has some fun writing too.

- And last but not least, I encourage you to follow me on Twitter for more up to the date information about my thoughts on any number of topics. I’d also like to start taking and answering reader questions, but I’d need a few more to consolidate into an actual presentable post.  They are leaking in, but we need more.  So, be involved with the blog and I will be even doubly involved with you, which I think means providing you with more entertaining and revealing writing.


  1. I watch a lot of TV and take copious notes. I also steal ideas from Hunter S. Thompson novels and popular political pundits.

    Counter question:

    Do you ever sleep?