23 August 2005

Bloom and Koufax, Tangotiger, Milonakis, Cruise the Literate...

As I sit two episodes short of finishing Ulysses, I decided to post a picture here of (arguably) my two favorite Jews- Sandy Koufax and Leopold Bloom. My apologies to Hank Greenberg, Woody Allen, Walter Sobchak, Cary Grant, Sarah Silverman, Allen Ginsberg, Jerry Seinfeld, Erich von Stroheim, Joey Ramone, David Lee Roth, Gabe Kapler, Gabe Kaplen, Arthur Miller, Gary Kasparov and the late Dinah Shore-uh. Man, anti-Semites must never turn on a TV, read a book or go to the movies. Sounds like fun! Anyway, I love Jews.

But more to the point, I'm almost done with Ulysses (Bloom is a Hungarian Jew- his father's given last name being "Virag"- he actually claims not, technically, to be a Jew a couple times in the book). I just finished the "Eumaeus" episode, and all that remains are "Ithaca" and "Penelope" and yesisaidyes. Or so I hear.

Off and on it's taken me over a year to get through it, and in that period I've read probably 4-5 other books as well. That said- it's probably the most amazing thing I've ever read. My favorite book is, well, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, but this one is closing in fast.

No, I'll probably never read Finnegan's Wake. Anybody reading this blog ever read it entirely? Like honestly, for real? I've read a lot about it, but never much more than 20-25 pages worth.

After I finish this, I want to go back and re-read "The Dead" from Dubliners, and I may leapfrog Ellman's bio up from my "to-read" list. Makes sense when it's fresh on my mind, right?

Also, for fun- if you've ever been curious about the bare-bones plot of Ulysses and you'd
a) like a laugh, and
b) rather avoid re-reading The Odyssey

I'd suggest going here. Good shit.

The good people (person?) over at Tangotiger have (has?) set up the Third Annual (I believe) fan scouting report for fielding. I did it last year, and I plan on doing it this year. It's fun- ranking on a scale every aspect of every player's defense based purely on anecdotal and subjective viewing. Here's a sampling- I'll do Orlando Hudson, someone I see a good deal of over the season. The scale runs from 1-5, going from Poor to Fair to Average to Good to Great.

From Pitcher to Crack of Bat
Reaction/ Instincts- 5

From Ball in Flight to Fielder Reaching Ball
Acceleration/ First Few Steps- 5
Velocity/ Sprint Speed- 4
Hands/ Catching- 5

Throwing to Other Fielders
Release/ Footwork- 4
Throwing Strength- 2
Throwing Accuracy- 3

There is a strong caveat as well-

Try to judge "average" not as an average player at that position, but an average player at any position. If you think that Chone Figgins has an average arm, then mark him as average, regardless if you've seen him play CF, 1B, 2B, or 3B.


In other words, Orlando Hudson has a very good arm for a 2B. He has though, at best, a fair arm compared to his MLB colleagues, in large part because he playes 2B. I happen to think Orlando is the best defensive 2B in baseball. Here's another guy I see pretty often.

From Pitcher to Crack of Bat
Reaction/ Instincts- 3

From Ball in Flight to Fielder Reaching Ball
Acceleration/ First Few Steps- 2
Velocity/ Sprint Speed- 4
Hands/ Catching- 3

Throwing to Other Fielders
Release/ Footwork- 5
Throwing Strength- 3
Throwing Accuracy- 3

Jeter's strengths are his speed, his fundamental performance (footwork, etc.), and to some extent relative to position, his arm. His weaknesses are his first step and his range. He's about average hands-wise, and in the accuracy of his throws.

One more, this time, a Red Sox.

From Pitcher to Crack of Bat
Reaction/ Instincts- 4

From Ball in Flight to Fielder Reaching Ball
Acceleration/ First Few Steps- 3
Velocity/ Sprint Speed- 2
Hands/ Catching- 4

Throwing to Other Fielders
Release/ Footwork- 4
Throwing Strength- 3
Throwing Accuracy- 2

I think a lot of fan's perceived notion of Mueller as a premium defender is because his strengths are his first reaction, his hands and his footwork. In other words, he reacts well, catches balls hit at him, however hard, and gets in a good position to throw. What is masked there, though, as far as I can see, is very, very poor range due to knee problems, a weak arm that is often erratic, and an average glove when moving to his left.

Go do the survey, it's fun and it helps out a database build for a great site.

Interesting article here from The Washington Post on Andy Milonakis, that dude with a TV show on MTV that used to be that weird internet "Super Bowl is Gay" phenomenon. He looks like he's 10, does weird-ass, nonsensical shit on his TV show, and is damn funny doing it. But he's not 10- he's 29.

"I just hate the age thing," he says at lunch. "It's just annoying to me because people ask me my age like 100 times a day. I don't even acknowledge it."

I don't blame anyone for getting sick of answering the same question over and over... but I mean, he has to realize that's the reason he's got a show, right? I mean, nearly any 29 year old guy could invent out of whole cloth some of the stuff on that show, and it would go nowhere. Without the appeal of a seemingly 10-year old kid doing these things... this a cable access show. In fact, it might be anyway.

The article actually makes a strong comparison- that Milonakis is reminiscent of Pee-Wee Herman, a manchild doing ridiculous things for laughs. The difference though, to me, is that Pee-Wee acted like a kid- but his material was clever and, most importantly, almost mischievous. Milonakis coasts by purely on absurdity and his appearance, something that, I gotta admit, when I realized wasn't what it seemed- took a lot of the fun out of the show for me.

The article also tries to label a lot of the show "dark and subversive... [while being] very funny." It's not. I don't know if this something the author believes (and thus doesn't have many friends with senses of humor) or is saying this to justify a piece on the guy, but either way, it's a bit of a stretch. The non-sequiturs-on-the-street routine is pretty funny- still- but it was done funnier by three other MTV shows I can think of- The Tom Green Show, Jackass, and maybe Viva la Bam. Maybe I'm remembering that wrong. Point is, he's good at it- but anyone can be. It's a pretty easy premise to master.

This was an interesting paragraph:

Recently he dipped a toe in the TV mainstream, turning up as a guest correspondent for the "Today" show, taping a report in Ohio about a bar sport called corn-holing -- you toss beanbags filled with corn into a hole, and giggle about the double-entendre name. Milonakis interviewed the competitors.

Corn-holing?! Time for my favorite, barely relevant 20/20 reference...

"I believe the term is 'tea-bagging,' Barbara."

Even though most of this Tom Cruise stuff has "jumped the shark," check this shit out. In an article for the Toroton Fashion Monitor, Cruise gives a talk on Shakespeare that actually reminded me of the "Scylla and Charybdis" episode of Ulysses, where Stephen talks about Hamlet and Shakespeare, and Hamlet's lineage... ah fuck it I don't even feel like making this joke. Read it:

“Shakespeare was deja vu for me,” said Tom Cruise. “It was so cool. I felt as if I had seen his words already, knew them all by heart. Then, after I began studying scientology, I realized the words had come from my heart in a previous life. That’s why I say that as glorious and enviable as my present life is, making ‘War of the Worlds’ and all those other great movies can’t compare to writing ‘Romeo and Juliet’ or the sonnets.

I don't know, I mean, I think War of the Worlds, the Steven Spielberg/ Tom Cruise collaboration, ranks up there with the greatest pieces of literature produced by human civilization. Don't sell yourself short, Tom. You're great.

(Also reminds me of the immortal Johnny Damon quote, when someone asked him about the Jesus nickname as a result of the beard and hair: "Oh man, to be compared to Jesus and God... it's amazing. Those guys are awesome.")

And remember kids...

Respect the cock... and tame the cunt. Tame it.

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