My mother was pretty much the odd duck in our house when it came to sports. My dad, my brothers, and myself all followed the Yankees and Giants, while my mom liked the Mets and the Jets. Who knows how these things happen. Suffice it to say, the Yanks and G-Men have combined for nine championships as long as I’ve been around, and the Mets and Jets have one. It’s been tough for mom, but she’s stuck to her guns.
The Yankees and Mets play each other in interleague play, and they faced each other in the World Series in 2000, but there’s no rivalry here. And I don’t mean that in the condescending way that I would say, historically, there’s not a rivalry between the Yankees and the Red Socks. I just mean that the Yankees and the Mets play in the same city, and draw from the same population, but there’s no need for antagonism. Try telling that to my mother, though!
Anyway, the news hook here is that Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in Mets history tonight. The Mets have famously had a ridiculous number of one-hitters, and an equally ridiculous number of pitchers who have left the team and then thrown a no-hitter. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that this is a pantheon night in Mets history. It’s just a big deal.
Johan Santana has always been an object of fascination and interest to me. After the 2007, there was a furious bidding war among several teams looking to trade for Santana, just one season removed from his second Cy Young award. The Red Socks were tossing out names like Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie, and Justin Masterson. The Mets eventually won the sweepstakes by sending to the Twins center fielder Carlos Gomez and pitchers Phil Humber, Kevin Mulvey, and Deolis Guerra. The Yankees famously went through an internal soul-search regarding their top prospects that saw them withhold Joba Chamberlain, but offer Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera, and a few other players.
If you know baseball, you know that some of the names involved in the Santana sweepstakes went in one direction (Phil Humber threw his own perfect game this season; Jon Lester is Boston’s ace, and Ellsbury could be a perennial MVP candidate) while others went in another (who are any of the other guys in the Mets offer). My investment, of course, is with the Yankees prospects. It can’t be said that any of them panned out for the Bombers. Ian Kennedy, one bargaining chip, was traded away to Arizona, where he has prospered. Melky Cabrera was traded to the Braves for Javier Vazquez. Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, once merely the leading guns in a seemingly inexhaustible arsenal of powerful Yankees pitching prospects, have struggled with injury and mediocrity.
In this writer’s myopic opinion, when your team is on the losing end of one of these top-prospects-for-a-proven-star trades, there are two rooting interests, and one follows from the other. The first, obviously, is for the youngsters your team kept to exceed everyone’s wildest expectations, proving that your team’s front office shows a prescience and a savvy that other teams only dream of. The performance of the vet you lost out on is of little consequence if your own players excel, although if his stinking it up makes your own guys look better, tremendous.
Now, if that’s not the case, if your team’s prospects fail to perform, I think your relationship to that original sought-after prize changes. The more I saw season-ending injuries and +4 ERAs from Hughes and Chamberlain, the more I wanted Santana to succeed. For selfish reasons, of course: the hope being that the more terribly a trade is botched, the more it becomes an object lesson to be drawn on the next time. Stars are stars, and prospects are prospects, for a reason. Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.
However, comma, when my buddy Jonny texted me tonight letting me know that Santana had thrown a no-no, I wasn’t thinking of the Yankees. And when I came home and flipped on SportsCenter to watch the highlights, it wasn’t Brian Cashman that caused a few tears to come to my eyes. I was thinking of Jonny, and my dear friend Joe, and Kaitie, who is off in Europe on her honeymoon and who knows if and how she heard the news about her beloved Mets. And I was thinking about my mother.
I’m a Yankees fan. But I grew up in north Jersey, so I couldn’t help but grow up with the Mets, too. Their fans are my friends and family, and tonight, they witnessed a level of excellence from their team that they’ve quite literally never seen before. It’s a good night. The Yankees lost out on the great Santana, but maybe it’s for the best.
What’s the score? Who hasn’t gotten together yet? Vanessa and Chuck? Eric and Nate? Jenny and an unceremonious offscreen goodbye? Oh, wait, those two did get together. Thank God. Anyway, for better or for worse, we’re waist-deep in the Blair and Dan era. Let’s see how it’s working out.
7:59 Hey yo, Bernie and Phyl’s has a Gossip Girl lead-in commercial! Makes me want to buy some furniture.
8:01 An episode and a half in, and I’m already sick of Blair and Dan. Actually, I was sick of them before it even happened.
8:03 There are reporters with decades of experience out of work, even in GG’s world. And yet Nate is the editor in chief of a publication. Where are the torches and pitchforks outside Spectator headquarters?
8:04 Remember when GG wanted to indulge in some inane princess fantasy, and had to contort itself into all manner of unnatural positions to accommodate the absurd plot, and then had Georgina somehow settle things off screen via some machination to be named later?
8:07 Lola: “Aiden is just a friend, and he’s not my type.” I was convinced that was going to be followed with “. . . because he’s gay.” But no, there’s got to be a straight, good-looking acting student foil to Nate.
8:14 Hey, Liz Hurley is hosting the party that Serena is modeling at, which means that Nate and Lola will have to be there, and probably Blair and Dan. I hope chuck shows up!
8:15 Lily chafing in the Brooklyn loft has been the most entertaining aspect of the show! Don’t go back to the UES yet!
8:18 Wait, why did Serena pull that alarm? I looked away for two seconds!
8:19 Nate is seriously the worst secret-keeper! He blabbed on his girlfriend not more than a week ago!
8:20 Oooooooh. I get it. Serena is trying to ruin Lola’s life by getting her on Gossip Girl. That’s what family is for!
8:22 Also, I know they’re still having Kristen Bell do Gossip Girl’s voice, which makes sense, since people don’t know that Serena is acting as GG. But WE know that Serena absolutely does not have the real Gossip Girl’s cutting wit and facility with puns. No one does!
8:27 Remember when Blair and Nate were together? And they’d been together for like, years and years before the show started? That always bothered me about Blair and Chuck’s romance.
8:30 Haha. Oh, Dan, you fool. No wonder these characters are always so cagey around each other. Every time they candidly open their mouths, they ruin something.
8:37 Shorter Lily: “Rufus, I only hid my deception from you because I knew you wouldn’t approve.” Then again, that’s Ivy’s bad for packing up and leaving the apartment before collecting the check. That’s the oldest trick there is!
8:41 A tutorial for the uninitiated: Serena is accusing Lola of using her to take out Diana, which makes her a hypocrite, since Serena is using Lola to be the new focus of Gossip Girl’s attention. The “one character accusing another character of doing the same thing s/he’s guilty of” is a trope used almost as often as the “ostentatious party that brings every character together in the second half of the episode.”
Also, when I say that it’s beyond a reasonable suspension of belief for Serena to write seamlessly in GG’s voice, it’s because she’s not clever enough to just keep her mouth shut when she walks in on Lola and Nate. How is she gonna rattle off three dozen killer puns a day?
8:53 Boo hoo, Serena is jealous of the attention Lola is getting. S could learn a lesson from lisa simpson: you can’t create a monster and then complain when she stomps on a few buildings.
8:56 Chuck is really concerned about this blood donation. He’s gonna find out it was Newman, watch.
8:58 You know, I was VERY skeptical of this “Serena as Gossip Girl” plotline. I should have known I could have trusted the writers to make it worthwhile! What happened to my implicit faith?
Consider this to be your official Dangerous, Dirty, and Unfun Reminder to Change Your Clocks Tonight. But more importantly, remember this: the only people who are losing an hour of sleep tonight are the people who aren’t committed to sleeping in an extra two hours.
And in celebration, listen to “Tapdance” by Kevin Devine.
We live in uncertain times. Our leaders have divided themselves into dueling factions whose common enemy seems not to be one another, but rather the well-being of a populace that was duped enough by their snake-oil salesmanship and duplicitous doublespeak to cast a ballot, naively projecting their own aspirations and dreams onto the feeble promises of “change” or “a return to values” that the politicians managed to keep a straight face long enough to utter convincingly at a campaign stop. Our heroes can’t seem to keep a grip on the tenuous reins of admiration and esteem long enough to establish themselves as positive role models for our young people before they’re dashed against the same jagged reef of hubris that has been laying heroes low since the days of Greek tragedy. Any functionally thinking human with eyes to see cannot help but be embraced by a deeply penetrating sense of melancholy, remarkable not for its intensity but rather for its consistently gnawing chill of despair, which becomes the most distinguishable characteristic of a series of days and weeks that are made otherwise numb and seemingly pointless. There is, though, one thing we can cling to, one pillar of support and certainty from which, with the grace of whatever deity still bothers to cast a glance over the dregs of what was once her most wondrous creation, we might be able to rebuild a sense of optimism and, as impossible as it may seem, hope: it will always, ALWAYS suck to bu.
I was talking to my roommate’s boyfriend a few weeks ago and he mentioned that he had just seen a band from Jersey. Turns out, it was Thursday. I had seen them for the first time last summer, touring with Taking Back Sunday, and it was an awesome show, and my roommate’s boyfriend agreed. “It’s a shame that was their second to last show.”
Turns out, it’s true! The band is on what they’re calling an “indefinite hiatus,” which might not mean they’re broken up, but we might as well lead our lives that way. It really is a shame. People got all wee-weed up recently when At the Drive-In reunited, but as far as “post hardcore” bands go, I was always a Thursday man. So much so, their second album War All the Time made it to my Favorite Albums of the Decade list.
Jersey will rock just a bit less for their passing, but Thursday left us with some awesome tunes, including this one about their home state, off their last album. Listen to a little “Turnpike Divides.”
Winter is an unforgiving season, and New England is an unforgiving region. The only thing lower than temperature outside is our own spirits. The shortness of the days is a constant reminder of how precious little time we have here on this earth, and the nearly enveloping darkness that consumes the majority of the hours calls to mind the inevitable embrace of oblivion. A profound existential dread is not only understandable, but required to maintain even the most cursory semblance of sanity.
Ordinarily, to say that there is a light at the end of the tunnel would be the nonsensical ravings of either a dewy-eyed naif, or a lunatic mind. And yet here we are, in the depths of the most frigid of winters, somehow finding the strength to struggle on. From whence does this light shine? What is the source of our hope, however ethereal? It has emerged tonight. Gossip Girl is back.
:00 Is this for real? They had Blair miscarry over the winter break? That seems like a kind of cheap way to weasel out of Blair having a kid.
:04 Or maybe this is all a dream or a hallucination or something?
:05 The “Louis has a new reason to mistrust Blair” plot device is getting as tired as the “everyone jumps through flaming hoops to find a reason to trust Charlie” plot device.
:07 I know this will make me sound like a monster, but I’m feeling a bit of an Emma Stone backlash. What’s the big deal with her?
:12 “Jenny sends her love from London.” Ha! Hopefully that’s the last we hear from her for another season. Also, I completely forgot that Eric van der Woodsen hasn’t been on the show because he’s been tearing it up as Declan Porter on Revenge.
:14 Is that the real Vera Wang? Is there such a person? Am I supposed to know this?
:16 This hat Blair is wearing looks like an embroidered cookie.
We’re meant to believe that this secret Blair and Dan are keeping is that they’re doing it, but that’s clearly not the case. So what is it? Shmashmortion?
:22 Readers outside of the New England region might not know what I’m talking about, but everyone else, have you seen this Jordan’s commercial? Where the Jordan’s dude vacuums the old mattress, and all that dust and junk gets sucked up? Is it true that a mattress almost doubles in weight after eight years?
:24 Rule #1 of Gossip Girl: things are always exactly as they seem. Way to go, Chuck and Louis.
:28 One thing that always takes me out of a narrative is when two characters have a secret, but they never manage to explicitly say what that secret is in the course of their interactions. These are cheap, dirty tricks, GG writers.
:32 Hey look, it’s a party in the second half of the episode that brings all of the characters together.
:33 What a guy Louis is. How many times can two people endeavor to publicly humiliate one another before they realize that perhaps their union is less than sound.
:37 Dan and Blair have been going to a secret church? I’m sorry, but that secret is lamer than the crippled dude that Jesus cured at the pool of Bethesda.
:38 I dunno about you, Serena, but everything I know about Catholicism tells me that God wants people who don’t love each other to be together all the time.
:45 If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: Dan and Serena need to get back together! It’s the only relationship on this show that makes any damn sense!
:47 Louis is the prince of Monaco, not the prince of the ladies’ room. What gives him the right to shoo people out!
:48 Interesting. I was just watching the episode of the Simpsons where Bart and Homer almost convert to Catholicism. Those wacky Catholics!
:54 Serena assuming the mantle of the new Gossip Girl is a lot like X-51 assuming the mantle of the Watcher. Let me know in comments if you get that reference!
-10 for the writers not actually showing Lily and Rufus singing “Endless Love.” Can’t get enough of that tune!
:58 Hmmmmm . . . the real Charlie Rhodes goes to Julliard. Intriguing.
:59 If Nate thinks he stands a chance matching wits with Gossip Girl, well, I don’t know what to say. He doesn’t.
I used to play Scrabulous on Facebook, and then the other version after the Scrabble folks sued, so although I never got into Words with Friends—Zynga’s ultra-popular social Scrabble analogue—I knew exactly what my friend Reeves was talking about when he wrote this piece for The Awl. I’ll let him elucidate the issue:
In short, the problem we face is an epidemic of guessing. Unlike traditional Scrabble, where you can demand, on the spot, that your opponent find “zax” in the dictionary, “Words with Friends” opponents can be separated by zip codes, boroughs, even time zones. The game offers no penalty against guessing—it simply declines your attempt, politely encouraging you to try another improbable-but-high-scoring combination of letters.
The same complaints that commentators have about social networking degrading our interpersonal relationships and the anonymity of the Internet allowing us to adopt bolder and brasher personas apply to Words with Friends: words that you would never have the audacity, much less the knowledge, to place on a board laid out on a table between yourself and your friend become the cudgel you use to bludgeon your buddy via your smartphone and wireless network.
I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas, and immediately downloaded the Words with Friends app. Since then, I’ve been treated to words like talas, gorals, squeg, and lins. To say nothing of those lame two- and three-letter words that are coincidentally formed when someone lays a real word down next to a group of letters already on the board.
It’s infuriating. Reeves and I have a similar mentality, a belief in playing the game the right way. You don’t throw tiles haphazardly on the board. You don’t play a word you wouldn’t be confident playing on a real board. You don’t immediately look up the definition of the bullshit word you just played so that you can immediately cite it when you get called out. But you can only lose so many games before you wonder what the point of playing the game the right way is, if everyone else is going to play the wrong way.
Regular readers of Dangerous, Dirty, and Unfun understand that I’m nothing if not dedicated to self-discovery and improvement. As I continued to think about Words with Friends, I came to realize the hubris behind my attitude. I was concerned with playing the game the right way, but what game? In Words with Friends, the game will reject any combination of letters it doesn’t consider to be a word. In Words with Friends, there’s no requirement that you know a word, or are least confident that a word exists, before you play it. I was holding myself to, and more importantly judging my friends based on, a code of conduct that existed in my own head. Because the fundamental fact of Words with Friends is this: is isn’t Scrabble.
It looks like Scrabble. It smells like Scrabble. But it isn’t. Softball looks kind of like baseball; gin looks kind of like 500 rummy. But none of these games are the same! If they were, their names wouldn’t be spelled and pronounced differently. There’s no sense in playing if you’re going to try to impose the rules of one on the other.
It may sound stupid, but it’s been liberating, playing the actual game that you’re playing. However, comma, don’t expect me to be able to use “doit” in a sentence.
This is rich.
Apparently, a goodly number of former Penn State football players are pissed about their old school hiring Bill O’Brien, the New England Patriots offensive coordinator. O’Brien, apparently, doesn’t have sufficient, or any, ties to the Penn State program. In the real world outside of Happy Valley, having no ties to the Penn State football program is considered one of the more attractive items on O’Brien’s resume. Not so among several vocal members of the Penn State community, apparently.
I’ll be straight here. I know people that went to Penn State, and I’m sympathetic to their resentment at getting lumped in with the reprehensible monsters they once admired. However, comma, when the rest of us think of “the culture and tradition of Penn State,” we’re thinking “a culture of child rape, and of covering up and enabling child rape.” When we hear about the unique and special way of doing things at Penn State, we think about authority figures raping children and having their sins covered up. This doesn’t mean that everyone left at Penn State is evil, but it does mean that the “culture” and “tradition” of the place are rotten. If there were ever a time to run full-speed away from culture and tradition, or at the very least just keep your head down and shut up, now is it.
Contrary to my first observation down there, I’m starting to turn on Blair. I know they’ve made it so Louis is sort of a plotter and is distrustful of Blair, but I’m apt to believe that was more to elevate Chuck than anything else. Just leave Chuck alone, Blair! Cmon! Anyway, on with the diary.
:01 I can’t lie. I dig Blair’s bangs in this dream sequence.
:02 Dorota, on Chuck: “Apology doesn’t seem so fake to me.”
Blair: “That’s because English is your second language.”
:04 Possibly not unintentional comedy of the episode: Rufus to Dan: “People who still go to bookstores are real readers.”
Diana’s plot to unseat Gossip Girl raises some questions. Is Gossip Girl (the blog) monetized? Who’s advertising on this site? Much of the labor is crowdsourced, but does GG have any paid “reporters”? Has this been explored?
:08 Chuck, on his change of heart: “I like duck l’orange as much as the next person, but I didn’t think it was right to see the poor thing suffer.”
:09 Ha! Yes! Serena is going to get mixed up with Ivy’s ex-boyfriend. I’m getting the faintest whiff of comeuppance here!
:13 Of course Blair makes Chuck-related Venn diagrams with a protractor. Actually, scratch that. Of course Blair would have a protractor around in the first place.
:16 I love how Lily tries to compare Dan on a book tour to Rufus on a rock tour. Maybe they were going from town to town at the same pace, but I’m pretty sure Dan isn’t blasted out of his mind on Kappy’s brand whiskey and blow.
:24 Chuck: Maybe we’re maturing too fast.
Nate: Is that why you’re going back to Phantom of the Opera sex games?
:25 Serena, to Blair: “I think you’re too good scheme.” No, Serena, she is not.
:27 Oh hey, a party that brings all of Gossip Girl’s characters together at the end of the episode.
:31 This poor Max. He doesn’t strike me as terribly savvy. Does he have any idea what he’s in store for?
Dorota, on Blair sneaking out: “You think hiding pillows under covers fools me? You’re lumpier now!” Some welcome revenge for that English crack earlier!
:35 If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that you can always trust the gossip monger who would go as far as to steal the cell phones of a party-ful of Manhattan society types and who has no qualms about, quite frankly, ruining people’s lives. Good move, Nate.
:37 Oh, Blair. : (
For a performance where the rules are to remain masked at all times, there’s been a LOT of unmasking going on. And I know that all dopey boys look alike, but are Max and Nate wearing the exact same outfits? How could that slip past Ivy’s notice?
:45 Does Diana think Serena would be bothered by GG sending out a “womp womp, Serena is a loser” blast? All Serena has ever wanted was to be a loser!
:46 Fact checking Dan Humphrey: “
My book Every book is a failure.”
:48 Max, instilling some rare backbone into this show.
So Ivy is being smited (smote?) by Diana, who is the season’s clear villain. But does that mean we’re supposed to feel sympathetic? Does it mean that my soul is a shriveled-up husk because I’m rooting for Ivy’s downfall?
:54 Hey, Dorota is getting in on the scheme game! Glad to see that Blair is just bad here, and is completely wrong about Chuck.
:56 Serena, to Ivy: “I’m not alone. I have you.” She’s a fake, Serena! A fake! Don’t get caught in her comeuppance!
:58 Eew. Dan texts “Call u later”? Gross.
:59 Hey, Massachusetts’s own Dom was one of the featured artists tonight. Good band!