Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Harper Leave

I have been vocal about nothing else so much as Bryce Harper for the past 7 years. While watching him in a Nats uniform would have been fun, both for the circus he creates and the mammoth homers, 
I am glad he is somewhere else. He represents everything I despise in athletes, and in people in general. (Watching him on DC TV today, I am also appalled at his cliché-spouting and teenage-like verbal fillers such as “and things like that” in every sentence. I know I will now not patronize Silver Diner or the Italian Store again.)

Regardless of the he said/he said about contract negotiations, we all knew he would leave because he would always take more money and more attention. Ignore everything about where he wanted to be forever, or to raise a family. He wanted to be wooed and paid more than anyone, though he got screwed in the latter. Remember, he did not choose Washington; he was an obvious No. 1 draft pick. He did choose to leave.  And he left with two strikeouts in his last two at-bats.

He is Donald Trump in a baseball uniform. Everything is about him. He is dishonest. He wears brand names on every piece of clothing, waves the flag on his bat, has designer spikes, trademark hair, and a clinically destructive narcissism.  I assume Phillie fans are clued in enough to give him a standing ovation the first time he hits a cutoff man. The drunk cretins at Citizens Bank Park will probably just further enable his hair flipping, head first sliding, and bazooka throwing past the third baseman.

Showmanship is fine in sports, to a degree, but not to the point where the outcome of the game and the season is secondary. The Phillies may win it all, but a large part it would be due to other additions they made. They probably will not, just as the Nats WITH Harper, Werth, Zimmerman, Scherzer, and Strasburg did not. Baseball, as the sages know, is unpredictable – especially with rule changes that allow almost any lucky .500 team to become world champions.

I hope Harper fails in every endeavor, not because he chose Philly over DC (we may never know all the details of that), but because he represents everything wrong with sports, and he is bringing to baseball what has killed football and basketball, for me. A universe where wins don’t matter, only marketing.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Portrait of Mobsters

From a book about a central character in the New York City business world in the 1980s by journalist Selwyn Raab:

“Flattering print and television stories about his opulent lifestyle, his unorthodox mannerisms, and his …invincibility magnified his opinion of himself. …  ‘He was made to order for the press. The way he looked, dressed, his arrogance toward the law. The press was manipulated by him and turned him into a folk hero’ (said a U.S. Attorney.) … He was heard fulminating at the government’s vendetta to convict him and how tough the law would be on him if he were ensnared.  Yet he repeatedly committed the fundamental mistakes that earlier had gotten him into difficulties, until they proved to be fatal. … His inability to judge loyalty and talent were pitfalls for (him.”

The author also expounds at length about his and his associates’ foul public insults of federal prosecutors.

The passages are actually about John Gotti, but it adds to the portrait of Donald J. Trump as the greatest organized crime boss ever.

My only optimism is that he will talk himself into impeachment, exile, or prison.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Bye, Bye, Bernie

I did not support Bernie Sanders last time, and will not again, even though I might positively check most of his policy boxes. 

I gave him another chance while watching his CNN “town hall” but had to leave after a few minutes when I realized what a horrible candidate he is. He is unlistenable-to with a whiny Brooklyn accent; lengthy explications when a bumper-sticker-answer might convince, God forbid, excite someone; condescension and utter lack of genuineness. He is the most unlikeable politician I have ever encountered.

Today, I read this, and now believe he is a useless, horrible, specimen of a human being, as well -- Trumpian, by way of despising a free press and possessing not an ounce of humility or humor. He is a nightmare because, like Trump, he attracts politically brainless political neophytes. But unlike Trump, his voters have demonstrated they would rather lose the presidency than exhibit any common sense.

Since it is unlikely that either the House or Senate would become Democratic Socialist after a Sanders victory, try to imagine him managing the daily push-and-pull of events. 

I cannot.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Call Western Union

I am appalled at the criticism of Green Book as Best Picture. First of all, this category rarely recognizes the actual best movie. Second, movies are not meant to provide deep social commentary or reflect the aspirations of this interest group or that. They are entertainment. Third, as with music and comedy, mileage may vary.

This is not rocket surgery. Movies are not philosophical treatises on humanity. They reflect what one ensemble of artists feel and see. What the critics, particularly in the black community, miss is that movies are made for a general audience – and for profit. The awards are based on voting by members of the industry, and the complaints seem to suggest that the Academy should pick members at random to fill out racial and gender quotas. Again, it is an industry award, with no meaning beyond that, just like a doohickey industry award for best thingamabob.

Yes, it is a feel-good movie that suggests that at least in one case – based on a true story though obviously not pinpoint accurate – a white and a black worked together and came out enriched.What do the critics want – like that bozo Justin Chang of the LA Times -- that a story written by the family of a white person be produced to show a “black perspective?” Do they want "feel bad" movies? The Shirley family, which may well be upset for some financial reason, complained they weren’t consulted and the movie is inaccurate. No movie is accurate. Movie-making fiction, not journalism or history. Feature films are not documentaries. The Shirleys could have produced a movie but did not. The Vallelonga family did. More power to them.

As Sam Goldwyn purportedly said, “If you have a message, call Western Union.” Movies are not about satisfying the needs of advocates. They are about telling stories. They are about making you enjoy the two hours in a theater watching them. On that score, Green Book and Vice were the best movies that this viewer saw in the past year. What would have Spike Lee and other professional victims said if the winner had been The Favourite – a nicely costumed mishmash of ugly people doing ugly things for no purpose and without any historical accuracy.

Green Book is a legitimate Best Picture because it has everything you want in a movie – good script, good acting, good sense of time and place, some comedy, some educational value, some point.

And before anyone tells me that Green Book is not Best Picture, explain to me: Shape of Water, Gladiator, Titanic, Kramer vs. Kramer, Shakespeare in Love, and, yes, Driving Miss Daisy, which beat out Do the Right Thing.

If namby-pamby loony liberal snowflakes don’t like what they are seeing from Hollywood, chill and watch Netflix.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

And yet ... and yet

Reading just one inside page of the Washington Post reminds me of why I subscribe but one day a week, and that for the crossword puzzle.

For decades, the Post has appealed to its dwindling advertisers by catering stories to rich guilty liberals. The story today is about college early admissions, but only to top schools, and how they supposedly help the wealthy and widen inequality. The story doesn’t make clear to me why that is, since low-income students have help with financial aid and affirmative action programs, but what gets to me is it focuses on twins who live in the District of Columbia – that’s a good angle about inequality – but, wait,  hey go to an expensive private school in Maryland! (Oh, reader demographics!) And they won early admission. But they feel bad for their classmates who didn’t!

Maybe there is an important educational issue here, though I doubt it, but who the Tlaib cares? People do what they need to do, take advantage of what they have, and life moves on.

Moving down, I read the obit of Southwest Air founder Herb Kelleher, otherwise well written, but telling us right off: “He once arm-wrestled an executive from another company to settle a legal dispute and never hid his fondness for cigarettes and bourbon. Yet he was considered a visionary business leader …”

Yet? Yet? What does arm-wrestling or unhealthy personal habits have to do with business acumen?
At least the Post  gave me warning with a circus headline not to read its masturbatory salute to itself on the 50th anniversary of the Style section – from the beginning, a frothing stew of New Journalism #memostly accounts of the rich and powerful, including its own writers from the execrable Sally Quinn to the current puke-inducing self-loving of Hank Stuever.

(Hypocrisy disclosure: I am a frequent contributor to a Style humor column but the section has been moved over the year to virtual invisibility.)