Friday, September 27, 2002

That To Which I Have Been Up: I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things (Vegas lingers), by that I mean I'm giving in to distractions again. The re-design is going slowly, the latest problem being that the new design renders reasonably in Internet Explorer, but unreasonably in Netscape/Mozilla. Chalk it up to a learning experience, right? I guess I needn't be in any rush, since it's a re-design for re-design's sake - and to force me to learn some new HTML/CSS techniques.

Again, I find myself distracted by the twin Japanese imports of author Haruki Murakami and the band Pizzicato Five. I've been engrossed with The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle which you can get a taste of from the reviews at Amazon. It is as at least as fascinating as is sounds. Meanwhile, Pizzicato Five's super-expensive import This Year's Model is playing on repeat in my car CD player. It's delightful. Yes, the lyrics are in Japanese and so I don't understand a word, but the exuberance shows through. Lucky they have a big catalog to keep me going for a while.

I've also developed an deeper interest in the NFL, which I haven't really had since I was a wee lad. It got me wondering why. Part of the reason is that my favorite boyhood team, the Miami Dolphins are monstrously good this year (so far) and part is that I got sucked into a minor fascination with betting on the games in Vegas (therein lies a tale for the future), but I think the main reason is ESPN Page 2. The sportswriting there is terrific, it goes way beyond standard sports journalism - it's packed with wry commentary, sarcasm, hyperbole, and all the stuff that makes reading fun, along with some genuine insight. As I began reading Page 2 a few months ago, I wasn't really clued in to sports enough to pick up on every reference, but they were having so much fun that I wanted in on it. That's what made me realize what the source of many interests I've adopted over the years. It's the quality of the writing.

Years ago I found myself interested in libertarianism, even though I have very little interest in political philosophy anymore. But I was attracted to the writings of people like P.J. O'Rourke, Florence King, David Brooks, etc., who just seemed to be having a blast while writing some really clever, refined stuff. Before that, I remember reading all sorts of books centered on WWI after I stumbled on the excellent, The Great War in Africa, by Byron Farwell who is a great storyteller in addition to being fine a historian.

I don't think I could overstate the affect the written word has had on my life.

So anyway, my current fascination is ESPN Page 2. Try Greg Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback:
The Rams have forgotten how to block. (Note to the Rams O-line after watching the Monday night game -- the trick is to stand in front of the guy you are blocking. Do not step out of his way and watch him go by! Try to get in front of him. It's a technique thing.)
Or anything by Bill Simmons:
I'm ashamed to admit this, but Monday night I went to see the new Drew Barrymore movie "Riding in Cars with Boys," accompanying the Sports Gal as part of our "She won't bitch about the fact that I spend seven hours every Sunday watching football if I escort her to an occasional chick flick and don't bitch about it" deal. Savvy, huh?

I only have two hopes with chick flicks: that they're short and that there's a cute actress prominently involved. Needless to say, since "Riding in Cars" lasted for 140 interminable minutes and the wheels came off the "Drew Barrymore is a babe" bandwagon about three years ago. I spent the last 45 minutes trying to pull a piece of metal off the bottom of my seat so I could jam it into my jugular vein.
Oh, and then there's an odd fellow named Hunter S. Thompson.

Dig in. Have fun. Great writing. Atrocious editing (S. Thompson Hunter????), but I can forgive that.

And if I start making obscure sports references, you'll know why.