Not a Blog

Three Thoughts

December 12, 2016 at 5:36 pm
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Just a grab bag of thoughts and opinions I’ve been meaning to share…

I never had the honor of meeting John Glenn, but his death saddened me. The last of the Mercury Seven. I am old enough to remember when NASA first introduced them to the world… and incidentally coined the term “astronaut” (before that, we called them “spacemen”). The dawn of the space age! An age, sadly, that now seems to be passing, at least insofar as manned exploration is concerned. If you had asked me in 1961, I would have said by 2017 we would certainly have a base on the moon, and maybe one on Mars. Hard to believe all seven are gone. They were all heroes to me.

Now that WESTWORLD has finished its first season, I see that HBO is going to be rerunning its crime and courtroom drama, THE NIGHT OF. If you missed it last time, don’t make that mistake again. Yes, it’s very dark, but damn, this is brilliant television, with a bravura performance by John Turturro at its heart that ought to win him a whole shelf full of awards, if there is any justice.

Emily St. John Mandel appeared at the Jean Cocteau Cinema last month (you can find my post about her downstream), and I had the honor of interviewing her. I had long been an admirer of her SF novel, STATION ELEVEN, which I thought deserving of a Hugo nod… but at the time of her appearance, I had not read any of her three earlier novels. She was such a charming and fascinating guest, however, that I made up for that lack afterward, and now I am even more impressed with her talent than I was before. LAST NIGHT IN MONTREAL, THE SINGER’S GUN, and THE LOLA QUARTET are not science fiction or fantasy — don’t know how to characterize them, “literary noir” is about the best I can do — but damned, they are good. Fascinating characters, original stories, and such gorgeous prose. Rich, evocative, beautiful writing, but never intrusive. She makes her people and her places come alive in a way that draws you in and will not let you go. I can’t wait to read what she does next.

Sunday, Sunday

December 12, 2016 at 3:26 pm
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Life is magical and full of joy!

(At least where NFL football is concerned. Admittedly, as this crappy year comes to an end, life in general continues to have its warts, carbuncles, and weeping sores).

Never mind about that, however… the Giants beat the Dallas Cowboys last night on Sunday Night Football, breaking their eleven-game winning streak. And for the first time since 2011, the G-Men have swept the season series from Jerry’s Boys.

It was, in truth, a helluva game if you like defense, which as it happens I do. Big Blue’s D was flying all around the field, smacking the hell out of the Dallas runners and wideouts and turning the heralded Cowboy MVP duo of Zeke and Zak back into rookies. The Giants defense has been getting better every game, but last night they played their best sixty minutes of the season… quite something when you remember that last season New York had the worst defense in the entire NFL. The free agent signings that Jerry Reese made in the off-season are looking like real genius right now; both Janoris Jenkins and Olivier Vernon came up aces last night. And so did the kid that stepped in to take the place of the injured Jason Pierre-Paul. I’ve already forgotten his name, I blush to confess, but if he continues to play at the same level, the whole NFL will know it soon enough.

Dallas converted only one third down the entire game, I believe… which you’d think would mean the game was a rout, but, alas, the Giants were not much better. The final score was only 10-7, and the game was in doubt until the final seconds. As good as Big Blue’s defense was, the offense was almost equally bad. Eli fumbled twice and threw a terrible interception, the offensive line never gave him any time to throw, the running game was still missing in action, there were costly penalties at the worst times. The defense actually had to win the game like three times in the final quarter, since the offense was unable to get even one first down to put the win on ice and run out of the clock. As it was, the difference in the final score was a single electrifying catch-and-run from Odell Beckham, and a field goal made by the Giant kicker… whereas his Dallas counterpart doinked one off the crossbar.

So… THAT close, yes it was. But beating the Cowboys is always sweet, no matter the score. Mind you, Dallas still has a two-game lead and will probably win the NFC East, and unless the Giants offense gets a lot better in the weeks to come, it’s hard to see them going far in the playoffs. But I was sure proud of them last night. They played their hearts out.

Oh, and the Jets won too. Coming back from a 14-0 deficit to beat a truly woeful 49ers team in overtime. Just like I predicted last week, now that the season is effectively over, the Jets will win a few meaningless games and thereby weaken their draft position. I expect they will win one, and maybe two, of their remaining contests.

Bryce Petty threw an INT on his first pass, but after that played pretty well, leading Gang Green’s comeback when the team could easily have packed it in. That’s sonmething, anyway. One has to root for Petty. Elsewise I have no idea what the Jets will do for a quarterback next season. Fitz and Geno will both be gone; their contracts are up, and unlikely to be renewed. The draft class looks especially weak at the QB position, and veterans likely to be available as free agents — Jay Cutler, Tony Romo, Colin Kaepernick — are all poison of one sort of another. Maybe the Jets can talk Brett Favre into another comeback. Failing that, Bryce Petty is what we’ve got.