Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Etc.--New York Sports Withdrawal, the Oscars, American Idol

I'm a big sports fan--specifically, the New York teams. The fiancee and I now live in Bucks County, PA, which is lovely and features no coverage of the teams I like.

As a constant reminder of my geographic misfortune, the fans here are positively rabid. I think it's a requirement that residents in the Philadelphia area must own a Roy Halladay jersey or believe that Thaddeus Young is the next Moses Malone. Eagles fans are utterly and lovably deranged. I've never seen a town embrace a team so close to their collective bosom. Even Ed Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania, co-hosts a studio show and it's viewed as being completely normal.

I haven't gotten sucked into the hysteria. My allegiances are set. I'm a Mets, Giants, Knicks fan--always will be. But it's odd to watch games with no rooting interest. The experience is calming, devoid of the hang-wringing of my younger days. Honestly, watching the Knicks-Bulls playoff series of the early 1990s was a joyous form of torture. The Mets were that way too.

And I miss it. The Knicks have done nothing since James Dolan and his gigantic ego took over. With all the astoundingly bad hires and deals (e.g., Jerome James, Steve Francis, Eddy Curry, and, yes, the Carmelo deal), it's been like watching your best friend dump his awesome girlfriend and then date a procession of tarts and floozies...As for the Mets, they've accepted being second place to the Yankees. It's hard to stay interested in a team that doesn't have any confidence in itself.

What's taken the place of rabid, frothing-at-the-mouth devotion? Writing. I get the same sick, excited feeling in sending off an article, that I used to get watching John Starks take three pointers from inadvisable angles. Instead of following box scores, it's job boards and writing blogs. Instead of tracking my teams' fate in the newspaper, I follow mine with every clip, pitch letter, and signed contract.

This may sound foolish, but so is sports fandom: You get utterly and hopelessly wrapped up in the events of people you'll never meet, who may not be around in a year or two. I'm not going anywhere, and neither is writing. Plus, I'm an active participant in my own fortunes.

I hope not to lose perspective. Should I cancel that order of "Croatto" jerseys?

1.) That was some Oscars telecast, huh? Just a hint to the producers for next year's show: Don't go for cool points. Billy Crystal was a gigantic ham, but at least he wanted to be there and knew how to move a show along. You need leave-it-on-the-floor entertainers, not someone like James Franco, whose whole contemptuous persona is the antithesis to this kind of event.

Other than that, awesome show. Oh, and the prolonged, confusing tribute to Lena Horne wasn't a condescending gesture to African-American interest groups, who were upset over the lack of black nominees. (I'm having a hard time mustering sympathy, but that's a minor point.) Really, it was seamless. It wasn't contrived at all.

Also, Anne Hathaway, it wasn't your fault. You needed a comedic catalyst to help you out. You'll be fine. And you didn't leave your grandmother hanging.

2.) Read a headline on Yahoo! about some "American Idol" finalist crying on air about his elimination from the show. This isn't surprising--people cry all the time--nor is it news. You know what would have been newsworthy? If the kid vomited all over the front row. I would have read that story and actually started watching "American Idol," a show I can't stand, to see if anyone else upchucked on Ryan Seacrest after "Beatles Night" or "A Salute to the Oak Ridge Boys" or whatever uninspired, sing-for-the-cheap-seats nonsense was on. Also acceptable: A rejected contestant throwing a Peter Finch in "Network" meltdown or strangling a judge.

3.) If you've watched the NCAA basketball tournament, then you've seen the commercial for Lowe's featuring the young homeowners learning to become handy. This spot bothers me for about 3,000 reasons--righty tighty!--but mostly because of the couple. The husband looks like a thinner, dorkier version of Ben Folds, but his wife resembles Minka Kelly's younger sister. Commercials never get couples who look remotely compatible. Dad always looks like the sad folks who wear stained sweatpants in public and believe the waitresses at Hooters really like them, while Mom looks like a pole dancing nutritionist.

4.) Really enjoying "GQ" recently. Amy Wallace's piece on Charlie's Sheen downward spiral was insightful without feeling sordid. And the magazine's "Open Letter" is always spot-on.

5.) The saddest thing about Borders closing down? Where the hell are these people going to find work? Lauren Roberts, my terrific editor at BiblioBuffet, writes about what happens when she treats the employees at her local, soon-to-close spot like human beings. Read it here.

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