Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A few things

USA won bracket C today. If we hadn't scored in the 91st minute as we did, the boys would be packing their bags right now. All of America should be really proud of these guys and I hope the soccer-hating media changes their course. These guys deserve serious recognition. Ghana is next and you can't help but to feel good about our chances - we got momentum.

The Mets are playing really, really well. My son and I have tickets for Friday night thanks to my inordinately generous cousin. I am ecstatically excited to hang with my guy at Citi Field.

I'm reading Kazuo Ishiguro's Nocturnes right now and it's really good. I'll keep it brief and spare you the usual Slimbo's Shelf review, but I will say Nocturnes is a collection of short stories that explore the strain time puts on romance. Music is a common salve amid these characters, sometimes a much needed buffer - sometimes a painful reminder. Ishiguro was featured in Granta's The Best of Young British Novelists back in 1983. In his author description it is written that he sleeps all day and then at night, he eats enormous quantities of food.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Happy Fathers Day

More World Cup Thoughts

I love soccer. And almost everyone who knows me knows I love soccer. And now they're all calling, asking me to explain the various scenarios by which the United States might advance from our group (England, Slovenia, Algeria) to the knock-out group of 16. Honestly, when I am called on the carpet to explain our chances, I just make it up.

  1. 1. SO! France lost. And why did France lose? Karma! Remember France should not even be here. A mysteriously uncalled handball facilitated a goal against the Republic of Ireland to get France into this World Cup. They don't deserve to be here, so payback's a bitch, ain't it? (Though, in all seriousness, Ireland should have cleared the ball and never let him get that faux Gaul goal).

  2. I don't mean to malign France. I just saw Paris je t'aime, a wonderful film. And I am mulling the thought of writing a novel about the '68 student uprisings in France, as told from the perspective of a Gaulist policeman. Oh God, I love France. (And when I say I'm mulling a novel, I mean to say another eccentric, wildly unmarketable novel).
  3. So England drew 0-0 against Algeria today. A few months ago, I had picked these guys to win the whole cup. But you know what? They're punchless. Honestly, they can't consummate the deal because their home nation puts such ungodly, malicious pressure on them, that they freeze up in the moment of truth. And I don't mean to malign the English. I love you guys. My children are part English - as much English as they are Irish. But you people are killing your own team.
  4. Slimbo predicts Argentina takes The Cup. Holy crap, those kids are running on all cylanders. Plus, they are managed by a complete crazy person.


Separately...the Mets just won their seventh in a row...beating the Yankees in Yankee Stadium (and by 'Yankee Stadium', I mean that new cold corporate monstrostity that was built to replace the now vanquished baseball temple).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My World Cup Thoughts Thus Far

  1. The Vuvuzelas make me want to claw my brains out. Awful.
  2. Spain lost today to a defence-minded Swiss team. I love it. Just love it. I have to say that soccer and American Football are two sports where, dagnamit, defence alone can win you big games. (Uh, I play central defender Monday nights, in case you were wondering).
  3. So...USA-England. 1-1. Holy Crap! First off, I feel terrible for Mark Green. He's a good guy and he plays for West Ham United, which is essentially like playing in London's version of the Bronx. Good luck Mark. Nice knowing you.
  4. USA-England - not sure if anyone noticed this, but when the two teams came out for national anthems, they played God Save Our Queen first. All the England players stood apart from one another, hands behind their backs...just another day at the office. Because really - it wasn't USA-England that day. It was USA vs. Chelsea/Man Utd/Liverpool. When the Star Spangled Banner played, all the US players had their right hands over their hearts and their left hands on the right shoulder of the teammate to their left. It was beautiful (granted they all looked scared shitless, but I loved the show of camaraderie).
  5. This is a beautiful event and all America's media seem capable of offering is a pathetic, shameful and embarrassing anti-soccer venom. We have a group of guys busting their asses right now in the name of our nation. You don't have to love this sport, but every time some assclown journalist shits on soccer, usually some cheap attempt to appeal to that fat git-'er-done segment of America who couldn't run ten yards without heaving up giant chunks of deep-fried onion blossum , we are kicking these brave World Cup warriors squarely in the nuts...and they don't derserve that. America's media need to lead the charge in showing support for this crew and they have failed miserably. Wake up America! Anti-soccer malaise during this intense tournament is small-minded, isolationist bullshit!

Simplified Strat-o-matic Redux

I've written before about a simple baseball game my son and I created. On a green felt baseball diamond we lay out baseball cards we've chosen to be our teams. The team at bat rolls two die with the numbers 2 through 12 being assigned as outs, singles, doubles, homers, etc.

The pool of players we choose from are a combination of my son's baseball cards and my old cards. The resulting teams created are a wonderful, oddball mixture:

My Son's Team:
C - Joe Mauer (MIN)
1B - Eddie Murray (BAL)
2B - Jose Lopez (SEA)
SS - Jose Reyes (NYM)
3B - A-Rod (NYY)
OF - Mickey Mantle (NYY - don't get's a 2009 Topps commemorative issue)
OF - Xavier Nady (NYY)
OF - Carlos Beltran (NYM)
P- Nolan Ryan (TEX - card given to him by his inordinately generous uncle)

My Team:
C- Sandy Alomar (SDP)
1B - Paul Konerko (CWS)
2B - Robby Thompson (SFG)(?)
SS - Ozzie Smith (STL)
3B - David Wright (NYM)
OF - Claudell Washington (NYY)
OF - Oscar Gamble (CLE)
OF - Carlos Quentin (CWS)
P - Jack McDowell (CWS)

He won 3-2.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Insomniac Movie Reviews - L'Age des tenebres

(Apologies for the paragraph break problems. Google Blogger services seem incapable of properly placing spaces between paragraphs).

Dissatisfied upper-middle class suburbanite struggling with reality. Wife whose machinations have transformed her into a cold Real Estate shark. Teenage daughter doesn't want to acknowledge your existence. It all sounds like 1999's American Beauty, right?

Wrong. It's 2007's L'Age des tenebres (Days of Darkness) directed by Denis Arcand, a wonderful French Canadian response to its American counterpart. Yet, it's wrong to portray this film as a knock-off - there are definite differences. Beauty is a far more complex story, carefully taking you into each of the character's lives, forcing you to see how each has a superficial existence balanced against a far more complex inner world. L'Age des tenebres focuses almost exclusively on Jean-Marc and his grip on realty is far weaker than Spacey's Lester Burnham.
---L'Age's Kevin Spacey, this Jean-Marc LeBlanc, is played by Marc LeBreche. He works as a bureaucratic drone, more reminiscent of Terry Gilliam's Brazil, than of Spacey's hyper-corporate pigeonhole. While Lester Burnham's fantasy world is fixated on one of his daughter's friends, played by Mena Suvari, Jean-Marc's fantasies are far more abstract, almost comic book-like heroines, most often anchored on Diane Kruger, who plays a nymph-like companion who materializes before Jean-Marc whenever he is at his loneliest.
--- But whereas Spacey's Lester Burnham's fixation on his daughter's friend is rooted in a desire to redeem his own self worth by possessing a young girls as a sexual object, Jean-Marc's fantasies of Diane Kruger exist at another level. In a painful scene, Jean-Marc lies in bed as his wife fields work-related phone call after phone call. He has just had a painful visit with his mother who lives in a nursing home. He catches a moment between his wife's phone calls and tries to talk to her about the visit, but she brushes him off nonchalantly.
--- Jean-Marc's mind quickly transitions into his fantasy world and Diane Kruger now joins the scene. Suddenly she and Jean-Marc are sitting in front of a fire in silk pajamas. She strokes Jean-Marc's hair as he tells her of his anxieties of his mother's condition and how his mother is the only remaining link to some intangible plane where he once felt grounded and secure. Rather than launching into some ephemeral sexual release that Spacey's Lester might have been seeking, Kruger's character runs her hands through Jean-Marc's hair and says, 'this all must be very hard for you.'
---That's all he's wanting. His greatest desire is to be acknowledged.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Why We Will Win

At 2:30pm EST on June 12, the United States faces England to begin the 2010 World Cup. England looks at this contest as an easy win. And that is why they will fail.

We will win because never before has our team spent so much time in the trenches of the best European leagues.

We will win because of the confidence we built up after beating Spain in the Confederations Cup and because of the way we played Brasil in the final.

We will win because Beckham, Rooney and Ferdinad are hurt (sorry, Wayne...sorry Rio).

We will win because England's third striker, Emile Heskey is older than I am.

We will win because England is putting David "Calamity" James in goal.

We will win because Tim Howard is the best keeper on Planet Earth.

We will win because it is our time.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Slimbo knows current events!

Not sure if any of you Shelf readers remember this post I'd made about Terrence Malick's film The New World. Well anyway, looks like the actress who played that film's lead female role of Pocahontas, Q'orianka Kilcher, slipped a big dose of crazy into her Starbucks today, and tried to break into The White House. Read about it here.

Apparently it's all over some crazy shit about the President of Peru visiting President Obama, blah, blah, blah.

She's still stunning though.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Awesome Shea Cards - Part III; Bill Buckner

Before you stands a young confident first baseman, William Joseph Buckner of Culver City, California. This card is from 1974, his Dodger days, which preclude his Cubs days, which preclude his Red Sox days, with one of those days being an awful, awful day. (For those non-baseball oriented Shelf readers, I offer you with this clip to explain Buckner's tragedy - a blown play at first base that would have sealed a Red Sox World Series. Eventually, the title would go to the bad guys: the Mets).

When Bill Buckner committed that error in the 1986 World Series, he was my age and I now find myself instinctively defending this man. "No 37 year-old could have fielded that play, that fast, against Mookie - the fastest Met ever". [I'm a Mets fan. I have no vested interest in Buckner's vindication. But as a poet, I can not turn a blind eye to his plight].

So I find myself looking at this 1974 card of Buckner. He offers us that smart, haughty look on his face as he stands amid a sun-drenched Shea Stadium, the place that, over a decade later, would host his greatest undoing. Could it be that maybe, just maybe, on the summer day captured in this snapshot, that young haughty William Joseph Buckner committed some egregious cardinal sin, some visceral desecration of the Shea soil I love so...and that the seeds of retribution were sowed then...laying in wait?