Airball

I haven’t posted a new Overheard in Dunkin’ Donuts in a long-ass time. Is it because I make coffee at home / in the office rather than go out to get it? Is it because people are more boring than they were in the old days? Who knows? All I can say is, I was prompted to bring back that tag this morning after I noticed this poster up in a DD near my office:

airball

Yeah. A poster from Michael Jordan’s baseball-playing days, which were c.1994, long before this DD was even built.

I, um, wow . . .

Unrequired Reading: May not

Just another honkin’ load of links, courtesy of my Twitter feed at twitter.com/groth18!

RT @kylevanblerk (Kyle VanBlerk): Awesome people hanging out together. Early contender for Tumblr of the day.

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RT @neilhimself (Neil Gaiman): Remembering Douglas Adams in the Guardian. So odd to realise I’m now older than Douglas, who was always older than me.

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RT @mattzollerseitz (Matthew Seitz): The 10 greatest sequels of all time. By MZS.

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RT @magiciansbook (Laura Miller): “An entire train station full of used books

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RT @witoldr (Witold Rybczynski): The High Line succeeds in New York, but will it work as well elsewhere?

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RT @nerdist (Chris Hardwick): These Sci-Fi Ikea instructions are perhaps the best things ever formed with molecules: (via @CollegeHumor)

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RT @DwightGarner (Dwight Garner): I’m pulling for Clive James, who is fighting leukemia.

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Unfocused #RonRosenbaum column about #BobDylan (but still worth reading)

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Tappan Zee: bridge to the past.

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Will my forever stamps still be good if there’s no USPS?

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A lengthy review of #HaroldBloom’s career, masked as a review of his new book.

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Oy, with the brain-frying books! (Me, I’ll be Kindle-ing P&V’s translation of The Brothers K)

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Apparently, the house DOESN’T always win: #blackjack #theotherdonjohnson

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@hoopspeak demolishing some #NBA myths.

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Shaq is 15 months younger than me, and he’s done. NBA makes you feel old. #nba #geriatrics

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I like to think @DeShawnStevens takes his personal tattoo artist everywhere, not just preseason parties. #gomavs!

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Chester Brown: A praying mantis with testicles. (C’mon world! Let’s make #prayingmantiswithtesticles trend!)

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Lidsville! (On the road, I have to order a med. from @dunkindonuts because the small coffee lid tends to leak. Grr.)

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#MartinAmis vs. the Dead Bores (I thought #LondonFields was fantastic (and gorgeously lyrical in its apocalypticism))

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“But why did you need to build 2 synagogues?” #JewsinAmerica

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I’ve found another #AnotherWoman fan! #openingshots #youmustchangeyourlife #WoodyAllen

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To Hull and Back: #ChristopherHitchens on #PhilipLarkin (with a side-trip to #Orwell)

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“The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads.” #techboom #howl

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“They called it show business, but it’s really showing-off business.” Awesome #BillWithers interview. #lovelyday

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Whatchoo got in that #BAG?

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Sorry, #MichaelJordan, but the stripes are not slimming. They are, however, giving me a headache.

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Bryan Ferry: Style Icon #bryanferry

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My pocket square, my self (with @simondoonan)

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@SeriousEats asks the serious question: In-N-Out vs. Shake Shack vs. Five Guys. #burgervsburger

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Rio Rancho and the Arena to Nowhere (sounds like a bad episode of @parksandrecnbc)

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Neat @LouisCK profile. #seasontwoinjune!

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Imelda Marcos, reincarnated as a man. #thatsalotofshoes

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You can get ugly, but make sure you don’t go full retard: #oscarbait #donthatemebecauseimbeautiful

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Art Books, part I: The Book Surgeon at work

Art Books, part II: @ChipKidd with Superman & Batman.

Art (Garfunkel) Books, part III: All the books I’ve read. #ArtGarfunkel

Art (of) Books(elling): 14 bookstores to see before you die. #Ivebeentofourofthem

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Treasure trove: SF writers on their favorite SF novels/writers

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fun recap of 13 roles by @mradamscott #partydown

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Sexy lady-spies of #Mossad

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Gandalf or Rick Rubin? #okayitsGandalf #thehobbit

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Guess what happens when you buy a piece of crap from H&M? #hm #crapiscrap

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Omar=Achilles? Brandon=Patroclus? Zowie! #TheWire #Iliad

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‘Twas architecture that killed the museum. #AFAM #bronzedKleenexbox

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Good night, sweet Tractor Traylor. #tractortraylor #nba #milwaukeecouldhavehadNowitzki

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Kane at 70: Labyrinth, Heart of Darkness, Everything. #OrsonWelles #CitizenKane

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Taking participatory journalism to its absurd conclusion. #LeeJudge #KCRoyals #beanball

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Nobody likes #Sbarro (especially in NJ)

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Great men’s grooming moments in movies (#SteveCarrell was only the runner-up? Boo…)

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The #DeathStar wasn’t a make-work project? #starwars

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#ChristopherHitchens has outlived #OsamaBinLaden: #thatisall

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#Shelfporn! (we have too many books for any of these configurations, but they remain awesome!)

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I really need to read The Leopard somedamntime, don’t I? #lampedusa (I read the Leopard a few weeks later, and it’s rapidly ascended to the top 5 of my favorite novels.)

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Pinball? Wizard!

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RT @nathanrabin (Nathan Rabin): Deep down I suspect that I’m incredibly lazy and toil ceaselessly so nobody ever finds out. Anyone else feel that way?

What It Is: 9/14/09

What I’m reading: This note about the 400th anniversary of the death of Rabbi Loew inspired me to re-read Introducing Kafka (mainly for R. Crumb’s drawings & strips). I also read Locas II, a huge collection of Jaime Hernandez’s comics. Occasionally I forget how wonderful it is to live in an era when artists like Xaime are doing such fantastic work (and making great illustrations).

What I’m listening to: A great B.S. Report podcast with Patton Oswalt, and an okay one with Bill Hader.

What I’m watching: The Basketball Hall of Fame class of 2009 induction ceremony, in which I learned that John Stockton can be kinda funny, Vivian Stringer had a tough life, Jerry Sloan has enormous hands, and Michael Jordan cannot handle retirement. Also watched a ton of NFL, and the Vandy-LSU game.

What I’m drinking: Cascade Mountain & Q Tonic.

What Rufus is up to: Meeting a ton of greyhounds at the annual grey-picnic in Bridgewater, NJ on Sunday. Pictures to come. (Here’s one from my wife!)

Where I’m going: No plans! Got any ideas?

What I’m happy about: Writing those Gary Panter & Gillian Welch posts last week.

What I’m sad about: Norman Borlaug’s death. He did have a full life, reaching 95 years and saving countless lives, but still.

What I’m worried about: Not my conference next week. At least, not as much as past years. We’ve already taken care of a lot of the things that usually get taken care of late in the game — the USB drives are much better than last year, for example — and our attendee count is surprisingly good, esp. given the economy. I’m sure something crazy will happen that throws everything askew, but I’m less nerve-wracked about things. Now I just gotta hope all 11 speakers actually show up for their sessions.

What I’m pondering: Whether I’m too old to start a band called Umvelt of the Dog.

Family Affair

This piece by baseball player Doug Glanville on how little players know about their teammates’ lives reminded me of the story about how Michael Jordan was shocked to discover that his teammate Steve Kerr’s father had been shot to death, albeit under much different circumstances than Jordan’s dad’s shooting death (PLO vs. two of the dumbest criminals ever).

I can’t recall if Jordan learned about that common bond before or after punching Kerr in the face during practice for guarding him too tightly.

Monday Morning Montaigne: Women and Men

I finished reading Book Two of the essays last weekend, but didn’t have time to write. I’m going to hold off on the final essay for now, because I’m still thinking about the beginning of it (the last 20 pages are a sorta by-the-book rant about doctors, but the first few pages are troubling me).

Anyway, Of three good women (pp. 683-690) starts out by telling us how most wives only show feelings for their husbands after the men’s deaths. “Life,” writes Montaigne, “is full of fireworks; death, of love and courtesy.” He contends that the measure of a marriage isn’t how much the wife laments and wails after her husband’s death, but how they got along while both were living.

To that end, he offers us three examples of good women.

One: inspected her husband’s genital ulcers, decided they were incurable and agonizing to him and . . . proposed double suicide!

Two: followed her P.O.W. husband back to Rome, tried bashing her head against a wall to demonstrate her grief, then stabbed herself fatally in front of her husband so he would find the courage . . . for double suicide!

Three: After Nero sentenced Seneca to death, the teacher’s young wife volunteered to . . . join him in suicide!

In that last case, she was prevented from dying because Nero was aghast that someone so beautiful and well-connected would give up her life. So she lived out her days virtuous and pale (she’d tried slitting her wrists, see?).

M. thinks stories like these could be strung together like Ovid’s Metamorphoses to create some sorta tapestry of, um, women who propose double suicide.

This essay redeemed itself by giving us Seneca’s perspective in its closing paragraphs. See, Seneca was a stoic and thus spent his life preparing for death. The thing is, he wrote in a letter to Lucilius that the love of his young wife inspired him to keep himself alive when he was sick and could’ve let himself die. It’s a touching passage, because S. tells his friend that, despite all his years and his training, holding onto life is important because of what we mean to other people:

Since I cannot bring her to love me more courageously, she is bringing me to love myself more solicitously; for we must allow something to honorable affections. And sometimes, even though occasions urge us to the contrary, we must call back life, even with torment; we must stop the soul from leaving between our teeth, since the law of living, for good men, is not as long as they please but as long as they ought.

To me, that story beats the Great Chain of Double Suicides that M. proposes.

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M. follows women with men. In Of the most outstanding men (pp. 690-696), he ranks his top three men in history. The first two were obvious picks, but I have to admit that I’d never heard of the third one.

Homer comes up first. M. praises him for being first, best, and, well, Homer.

Being blind and poor, living before the sciences were reduced to rules and certain observations, he knew them so well that all those who since have taken it upon themselves to establish governments, to conduct wars, and to write about either religion or philosophy, of whatever sect they might be, or about the arts, have used him as a master very perfect in the knowledge of all things, and his books as a nursery of every kind of ability.

M. marvels over both Homer’s art qua art and at the contents of his tales, which have lasted millennia. He writes that it was “against the order of nature” that such poetry was written at the beginning of the form, because things start out imperfect and need to develop. It put me in mind of how titans like Winsor McCay and George Herriman were the early practitioners of the comic strip, yielding a golden age without true precursors.

This idea of precursors comes up a few times in this essay. Originality, is important to M. He admits that Virgil may be unsurpassable as a poet, but the Aeneid is “one single detail” of the Iliad. While this put me in mind first and foremost of the episode where Achilles get his new armor that reflects the entirety of his world, it also reminded me of a more important debate: Michael Jordan vs. Kobe Bryant.

It’s long been my contention that Kobe’s never going to step out from MJ’s shadow precisely because his career was modeled after Jordan’s, right down to needing Phil Jackson to get him over the hump for a championship. Jordan, meanwhile, had no model upon which to base his career. (Some would argue that Dr. J was his strong precursor, but I don’t think it holds up, esp. with Erving spending time in the ABA.)

So Homer is both Winsor McCay and Michael Jordan.

The second man on M.’s list is Alexander, for being even more super-awesome than Caesar, and not living long enough to run his empire into the ground. Dying at 33 helped, even if some of his successes required more luck than Caesar needed.

The third guy was Epaminondas, whom I’d never heard of. He does seem to have a pretty good pedigree as a soldier and as a man, getting named “first among the Greeks,” even if little of his record passed down to us (and Wikipedia). Sez M.:

Antiquity judged that if one examines minutely all the other great captains, there is found in each some special quality that makes him illustrious. In this man alone can be found a virtue and ability full and equal throughout, which, in all the functions of human life, leaves nothing to be desired, whether in public or private occupation, in peace or war, whether in living or in dying greatly and graciously. I know no form or fortune of man that I regard with so much honor and love.

These were kinda neat essays to include back to back, but I’m a little sad that the men are judged by their martial and artistic accomplishments, while the women were praised for their willingness to commit suicide.

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