Friday, June 19, 2009

Sweet Caroline

I just got back from a trip to Boston a few days ago, and I have to say, it's an amazing city. I loved the feel of it. Like my girlfriend's roommate said, Boston is like a big town that wants to be a city. If it wasn't so cold all the time, I might even think of moving there.
While I was in the city, I got to go to a Red Sox/Yankees game. It was without a doubt one of the best sports related experiences I've ever had. Being in Fenway felt so different than any other ballpark I've ever been to. I will always be a Dodger fan, but being at Fenway made me see how so many people get lured into the Red Sox nation. The major difference: the fans.
First of all, how many fans to do YOU know that would still be pumped if the song played between the top and bottom of the first inning at their stadium was Augustana's "Boston"? I get the relevance, but Augustana? It's just not the song I would choose. If anything, I would probably go with Boston's "More Than a Feeling." It's upbeat, still uses the word "Boston" in some way, and has some great guitar riffs to get the crowd pumped.
Second, I experienced three of the "bests" I have ever experienced at a baseball game.
Number One: Best Wave. The wave that went around Fenway sometime around the sixth or seventh inning was epic. Everyone in the crowd was doing it. The wave rounded the stadium a good six times before it settled down. Amazing.
Number Two: Best Jeering. Every time the three most hated Yankee players came up to bat (Johnny Damon, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez), the entire stadium was engulfed in boos. The last time that Alex Rodriguez came up, first the crowd started yelling "A-Roid!" Then, nearly the entire stadium started chanting: "You do steroids!" I loved it.
Number Three: Best Sing Along. During the middle of the eighth inning, "Sweet Caroline" came on. Everyone in the crowd started singing. This alone made the game worth going to. I've never been a part of anything quite like this sing along before. When the song stopped midway so that the eighth inning could start, everyone kept on singing for another full chorus. Fantastic.
So the next time you go to Boston, do yourself a favor and go to a Red Sox game. I promise, you will not regret it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Turn the Other Way

On March 14th of this year, a 59 year old man in Miami, Mario Reyes, was struck and killed by a car. The driver had just left a bar and his blood alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit. Today the driver was sentenced and received...30 days in prison. 30 days??? This makes absolutely no sense. Well, that is until you look at who the driver was: Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth.
Hearing about this case outraged me. How many times are we going to let celebrities off the hook for major infractions just because they're celebrities? I should note, to Stallworth's credit, that he did the right thing after the accident. He stopped and took responsibility for his actions, and since the accident, he has seemed to be extremely remorseful. However that doesn't change the fact that Mario Reyes is still dead. The maximum penalty for the crimes Stallworth was convicted of was 15 years, and he got 30 days. Maybe Stallworth really didn't deserve the maximum sentence. He's done everything right since the accident. But this man does not deserve to set foot on the football field again. We've seen this time and time again with football players (Ray Lewis, Plaxico Burress, Pacman Jones, etc.). So many players seem to think that they are above the law; that they can do whatever they want and count on their celebrity status to merit them a get out of jail free card if they get caught. And what has society done to prove them wrong? Absolutely nothing. These players ARE above the law and the case of Donte Stallworth shows this for the umpteeth time.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


I absolutely love the Los Angeles Lakers. Some of the best memories I have growing up are of watching them. Watching Kobe and Shaq play together was something I will always remember. I guess I didn't realize what I had until Shaq was gone, and all of a sudden, so were the championships. I was thinking a lot about what's been wrong since then. What has stopped the Lakers from winning another title? I mean, they were close last year, but ultimately flopped in the finals. My feeling is that it comes back to urgency.
Watching those Lakers, there was something about them that these Lakers have lacked for the most part. The Kobe/Shaq Lakers played every game like it meant something. Watching every game of the playoffs was like watching a game 7 of the finals. Kobe was hungry, Shaq was hungry, and it showed. Remember the Kobe/Shaq alley oop that took down Portland? The Lakers were hungry then because they knew that they were talented, but that other teams actually had a chance against them. Because other teams could realistically hope to beat them, the Lakers played hard, they played with heart, and they played with urgency.These Lakers have more talent than any other team in the league. Hands down. Who else has a player like Lamar Odom coming off the bench? Most teams don't have starters with as much talent as Odom. However, Odom has the unfortunate habit of not really showing up to games that really matter. He's shown flashes these playoffs and I'm hoping that it carries into the finals. If last year's finals was any indication though, things aren't looking good.
So what do the Lakers need? They need to find that urgency again. When they've played with it during the playoffs, no other team has had a chance. The Lakers have won every single game that they "had to" (see games 5 and 7 of the Houston series and game 5 of the Denver series). But in games where they don't face elimination or good odds of elimination, they decide not to care and lose. What gave me the most hope is when the Lakers won game 6 of the Denver series. I didn't think there was any way they were taking that one, based on how they have played in every other game they didn't have to win. But they did, and now my hopes are high for the finals. Looking at the matchups, the Lakers should take it easily. But wasn't the same the case against the Celtics? Sorry Boston, but the Lakers had the better team last year. The problem is they didn't play like it. If the Lakers can play the way they're capable of, I will be celebrating another championship shortly after game 4. If they don't, it will be another long summer of hoping they wake up and find the urgency again.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Cat Thief

My two favorite writers are Jose Saramago and Haruki Murakami. Since I'm an aspiring writer myself, I've been thinking for a long time about what it is that makes these two so much more enjoyable to read than anything else (for me). What sets Saramago and Murakami apart from the Nicholas Sparks' and Maeve Binchy's? (Note: no offense if you like Nicholas Sparks and Maeve Binchy. Surely, there is a time and place for almost any author out there. Nicholas Sparks and Maeve Binchy are just popular authors whose works I happen to not be crazy about and who were the first to come to mind.) I'm still kind of working out the answer, but I think what I love most about both Saramago and Murakami is that they are amazing salesmen. They can each take a bizarre character or subject and make it work. In Saramago's "Blindness," (probably still my favorite book ever) an entire city goes blind. This is not an easy thing to sell at all, but he does it. He puts everything he has as a writer behind it and completely convinces the reader that it's plausible. In Murakami's "Kafka on the Shore," there is a character who goes by the name "Johnny Walker" who kidnaps cats, cuts off their heads and freezes them, and sucks their souls out of their body. I really feel that with anyone else writing that book, the character falls flat and doesn't work. With Murakami's conviction behind it, "Johnny Walker" becomes one of the best characters I have ever come across in literature. In my opinion, the reason so many movie adaptations of books fall flat is that they can never convey the force behind characters that an author can convey in a book. That is why everyone says that the movies never add up to books. Good authors know how to convince a reader and a good director knows how to convince an audience. Each are masters of their own medium. But if a good director tries to imitate a good author's work, it's just not going to happen. It would be like Van Gogh trying to imitate Picasso or vice versa. Van Gogh has some beautiful work, but only Picasso can paint a Picasso. I think that's what director's don't get. The movie adaptations that work the best are the ones that are not afraid to stray from the plot and take liberties that allow the work to cross over from effective words to effective images. A movie that remains hell bent on sticking to the book it is trying to replicate is almost always doomed to fail.