Friday, October 26, 2012

Cloud Atlas—The Book

I’m a big David Mitchell fan.  I love both Black Swan Green and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet. Hands down, those are two of my favorite books that I’ve read in the past couple of years. With the imminent release of the Cloud Atlas movie, I decided it was time to tackle this tome.  

I must admit, it's been a bit of a slog.  I’m pretty mixed on Cloud Atlas.  On the one hand, the writing is great and the individual stories are compelling.  On the other hand, I can’t say that I enjoy the structure…at all.  To me, the book’s post-modern trappings, the nesting doll structure of the stories, bring it down. I loved the individual stories, but because those stories get broken up over the course of the book, I found it hard to get back into them when they roll around again.  

Structure aside, I found the connections between stories tenuous at best.  This book reads like a bunch of short stories to me.  There’s a flash of excitement when elements from the stories resonate off of each other, but I was then very quickly left with a “so what” feeling.  I just never felt like the conjunction of stories added up to anything.  Maybe I missed the point.  I certainly know a lot of folks who love this book, but I remain skeptical.

Fortunately, the writing is excellent and the stories themselves are strong, so it’s good enough to keep reading, but this is certainly not the David Mitchell book I’d recommend.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The 1975 Tigers vs. The 2012 Giants: A World Series Preview

A Tigers vs. Giants World Series.  Ah, what a thing of beauty that would be.  My hometown team vs. the town I’ve lived in for the last 25 years.  It’s win-win. Though to be frank, I’ll be bummed if the Giants lose.  I’m sure all my childhood friends are incensed to even think I could root against the Tigers, but there you have it.  Go Gigantes!

I still love the Tigers, but the reality is, I rarely see them play, and just follow them in the box scores.  I don’t really have a deep connection to this particular team. It’s cool Miggy won the Triple Crown, but I didn’t see any of those hits, RBIs, or homers.  When Valverde takes the mound, I don’t experience that sinking feeling like my Detroit friends.  I hold my breath when Timmy takes the mound, but not Valverde.  That’s the reality here in 2012.

However, if the 1975 Tigers were playing the 2012 Giants, I’d want Joe Coleman to outduel Matt Cain.  I’d like to see Aurelio Rodriguez outplay Pablo Sandoval at the hot corner. I’d like Mickey Lolich’s beer belly to get more camera time than the Panda’s paunch.  I’d like Gary Sutherland to run circles around Marco Scutaro.  And sure, Buster won comeback player of the year, but he won’t get a movie made about him like The Ron Leflore Story! Now that’s a comeback! The biggest thrill of the game, of course, would be watching Jon Wockenfuss bat—good lord, that batting stance—perhaps even weirder than Brian Wilson.

Of course a World Series between the 1975 Tigers and 2012 Giants would never happen--not because of time space continuum issues--but because that Tiger team was horrible.  One of the worst ever. They lost over 100 games and finished 37.5 games out of first place.  They would have never swept the Yankees.  In fact, they would have been lucky to win 4 games against the Yankees all season.  

I looked at that team’s Wikipedia page, and in the Awards and Honors section, here was what was listed.

* * * *
League top ten finishers
Joe Coleman
  • AL leader in wild pitches (15)
  • #2 in MLB in losses (18)
  • #2 in MLB in earned runs allowed (124)
  • #4 in AL in hit batsmen(9)

Ron LeFlore
  • #2 in AL in strikeouts (139)
  • #2 in MLB in times caught stealing (20)

Mickey Lolich
  • #2 in MLB in losses (18)
  • #6 in MLB in complete games (19)

Dan Meyer
  • AL leader in at bats per strikeout (18.8)

Willie Horton
  • #3 in AL in game played (159)
  • #4 in AL in at bats (615)
* * * *

And those are the awards and honors!

But that’s the team I grew up watching and loving. 

Sure I spent $40 on a Giants cap this year, but if these two teams squared off in the World Series, I’d wear my Bill Freehan t-shirt to the game.  You know my Bill Freehan t-shirt, the one I kind of made myself, back when you couldn’t buy merchandise with players names on it.  I had a white Tigers t-shirt with the cool circled Tiger logo on the front, and I took a black magic marker to the back and wrote “Freehan” and a big “11” on it.  I immediately realized I messed up and it looked like crap and I ruined my Tigers shirt…but I wore it with pride anyway, cause that’s how I rolled when I was 10.

But alas, I’m not 10 anymore.  The 10 year old me would be pretty disappointed that the middle-aged me will be rooting against the hometown boys.  But what can I tell you.  I got game seven tickets for this year’s World Series, and if the Giants get to the World Series, and it goes seven, me and my 11 year old boy will be in the stands and we’ll be rooting for the Giants. 

Note: I realize that if the Giants lose tonight, this is a moot post, but a kid can dream, you know.