Friday, June 20, 2014

Stinking to High Heaven

“He shoots, he scores!”
Foster Hewitt

As a carryover from my unrealized childhood desire to become a sports announcer, when I watch a sports event on television I usually do a play-by-play broadcast in my head. That, of course, will never get me inducted, like Foster Hewitt, the legendary announcer on Hockey Night in Canada, into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto—or into any other sports hall of fame, wherever located. But like Mr. Hewitt I have invented a phrase—while not as sonorous as his goal call—that I have coined for a particular defining moment in a game.

For example, on June 14 in the 35th minute of Italy's opening round game against England in this year's World Cup finals, Claudio Marchisio found himself in acres of space and was able to easily boot home the initial goal of the match. It was an example of what the announcing voice in my head has named a “deodorant play,” the definition of which is “a play that is made by someone who did not put on any deodorant before the game and thus reeks so much that no opponent cares to get close enough to defend against him.” In Marchisio's case, no Englishman, even were he brandishing the proverbial ten-foot pole, was near enough to make contact with the Italian. 


Just the weekend before the England/Italy match in the heat and humidity of Manaus, Brazil, George Will, who is a member of that Washington fauna known as “pundits,” raised the temperature of quite a few readers of his Washington Post column by … well, let the headline in tell it:

George Will: Being a victim of sexual assault is a “coveted status that confers privileges”

The Washington Post columnist thinks women are lying about sexual assault in order to get "privileges"
The New Yorker elaborates:
Colleges and universities have now learned, [Will] writes, “that when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate”; he sees this quite plainly in “the supposed campus epidemic of rape, a.k.a. ‘sexual assault.’”
I have a suggestion: 

Since having one's body violated, being battered and bruised, and perhaps being permanently maimed is such a good thing, someone should take the aforementioned ten-foot pole and administer a few well-directed blows against George Will's person. I am sure that he would welcome them. After all, who would reject the opportunity to gain the privileges that the coveted status of victimhood confers?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Prize Package

I see that there's a new movie out called The Fault in Our Stars, which is a play of course on the words of Cassius in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings”). All of which reminds me of the time four decades ago when I was awarded a prize in New York magazine's weekly competition. The contest was to substitute a rhyming word for another in a famous quotation. My submission (which I really thought wasn't as good as my losers in previous competitions—in fact, I believed wasn't really good absolutely) was: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underthings.” My award was a year's subscription to the magazine and a book on home decor—which was about as apt as giving a hockey stick to a koala.

Over the years I have had a mostly hate/hate relationship with New York magazine (not to be confused, please, with the New Yorker). From time to time over the last half century, lured by the siren song of a year's subscription for ten dollars or so (as an inveterate bargain hunter, I probably would have even sent a sawbuck for a year of Milkmaid's Quarterly), I would stuff a ten-spot into an envelope, forgetful of the reasons why I had stopped subscribing only a few years before (here I should put forth the words of the philosopher George Santayana--“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”):

1--The magazine seemed to be composed of pages drawn from a ream of onionskin rejects;
2--The text on those thin pages was in a typeface that I imagine could only be named Eyestrain Serif;
3—And most importantly, every issue had as its lead story, “I Can't Afford My Upper East Side Condo on My Salary of $750,000 a Year.”

I was never on the same page as the magazine and its world; it was like being in a muddle of a party where one has not been introduced to anybody.
And now that the magazine is online it's still pretty much the same. The home page is filled with references to persons I suppose are Iowa-born artisanal bagel makers transplanted to Brooklyn or emaciated hoper-models from a reality TV show called The Universe's Next Great Stick Insect Person. 
OK, I admit I'm not being entirely fair. This past week I found some real people writing for the mag and actually read two articles and am likely to quote from one of them in the near future.

But as for the celebrity culture the mag revels in, I am more interested in reading about the latest advance in milking stools.