Book Report: Wild Pitch by Mike Lupica (2002)

This book was on the deep discount rack at Barnes and Noble for only $1.00 when Heather and I made our way in to spend the season’s gift cards. Only $1.00. I read Full Court Press in April 2004 (that long ago already?). I enjoyed that book and thought I would buy another. I did.

Wild Pitch tells the story of Charlie Stoddard, a pitching phenomenon with the 1980s Mets who blew his arm out and then served as a journeyman for a number of years. Five years out of baseball, Stoddard spends his days chasing women and booze, earning a living making appearance at sports memorabilia shows. A particularly vigorous sexual escapade throws his back out, and his partner puts Charlie in touch with a Chinese therapist who can not only fix Charlie’s back, but also his arm.

At the age of 40, Charlie tries to put his life back on some sort of track, reconnecting with the ex-wife he wronged, the son who doesn’t acknowledge him, and perhaps just to feel the thrill of pitching…and maybe even winning….again.

Lupica’s deft characterizations of the lightly-comic people populating his books (damn, I tried to avoid characterizations of characters, and ended up with people populating….) drive the story along. I sympathized with the understated themes of redemption and growing older and maybe even up. The focus of the winning isn’t winning it all, it’s playing to win.

Man, this Lupica fellow is good. I’m looking forward to reading more of his novels, and they’re sports novels, with nary a body to be found.

Book Report: Suspects by William J. Caunitz (1986)

This book is gritty. A police procedural written by a former cop, set in New York City of the middle 1980s, the grit is in everything. The cops talk gritty, the scenes are gritty, and the grit gums up the smooth operation of the narrative, preventing me from really connecting with the inchoate characters.

Tony Scanlon lost a leg in a shootout, but thanks to the favors and back-scratching that grease the wheels of the Job, he gets to remain with the force as a detective squad leader in a backwater precinct. The precinct’s quiet is shattered when someone hits a well-known and well-loved police lieutenant who’s wired into all of the benevolent associations. Scanlon leads his team of detectives on the investigation, delving into the unspoken-of world of police parties complete with hookers, gambling, and booze, the world of police getting freebies on the arm, the world where police amputees with issues only find solace in the arms of hookers. Did I mention this was a gritty book?

William J. Caunitz was no Ed McBain, no Joseph Wambaugh, and not even really Tom Philbin. He throws a lot of material into the book, a lot of flashbacks, subplots, and all of his notes. The book isn’t unreadable, per se, but it could have been trimmed to about sixty percent of its current heft to great effect. Perhaps this book could serve as a gateway to police procedurals for Tolstoy scholars. I don’t know; all I know is it took me too long to read this book.

When Nonfiction Writers Take Liberty

As much as I hate to admit it, I enjoyed Mark Morford’s column "I Wanna Be A Crackhead Author:
Hello, I am an ex-hooker heroin addict with AIDS who eats live puppies. Please read my book
". A taste:

I shall start my story humbly, meekly, just like JT LeRoy and James Frey. Small town, somewhere in Idaho or maybe rural Montana, brought up by a sadistic pedophiliac Pentecostal preacher father who only has one good arm and a decimated colon, and a narcoleptic mother with 17 cats who sucks down cases of Tab and reads the “Left Behind” books as nonfiction and who passes out every night in a Percocet haze watching endless reruns of “Knight Rider.”

Me and my two sadistic, ADD brothers will sneak off to the local zoo for days at a time and sleep with the monkeys and torture penguins with fireworks. I will suck on my first bong at age 4 and will be stone drunk by 7 and will regularly black out by age 10, but not before impregnating my pothead babysitter and stealing her credit card to buy a Game Boy and a small Cessna, which I will promptly fly all the way to Mexico before crashing into a tortilla factory and breaking my spine in 12 places and rupturing my kidneys, which I will pay a Mexican mafia doctor named Mannie 50 bucks to swap with black-market kidneys stolen from unwary tourists. Oh my yes. I can see it now.

It’s not exactly discouraged in college narrative nonfiction writing classes that you enhance your memories or history to make a better narrative that’s more gripping, illustrative, or humorous than the events that have actually happened to you.

Why, even I, your humble unreliable narrator have embellished certain things in my own essays to make a point. For example, I created this whole beautiful wife thing out of whole cloth, culminating in a fictional pregnancy to increase my traffic (or I have invented the invention of her to prove a point about embellishing–sorry if this paradox has caused unKirkian patched PCs to shut down and free the Enterprise crew and Harry Mudd).

The key, though, is to know a limit between embellishing and fabricating. In one, you’re exaggerating for effect something that really happened, and in the other, you’re exaggerating for effect something that didn’t really happen.

I only hope that I know the line. If not, I hope to be very celebrated and successful with my undiscovered deception.

Athletic Team Fears Offending Satan

Name could be big change:

At the least, it seems likely the word “Devil” will be dropped, as it already is in some official team references. Then a decision has to be made whether to continue associating Rays with the sea creatures or to connect with the sun. Or there could be a new name, such as the Tampa Bay Tarpons.

You know, that’s one redskin you don’t want suing you in the court of law. Because he sues for your soul.

Blog Yee-Hawd

McGehee of Yippie-Ki-Yay, piqued because any time I feel like it I can beat him in Outside the Beltway caption contests, has decided that I am not worth trifling with:

Anyone getting more traffic than me wouldn’t notice me trying to pick a fight, and if I pick a fight with someone getting less traffic than me, he and I would be the only ones to notice.

Not true, sir; I proclaim this an official MfBJN Blog Yee-Hawd, and my glorious army of reader (singular) vow revenge!

Go get him, honey. He wouldn’t hurt a pregnant woman.

Conan O’Brien Skirts McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform

By making fun of the elections in Finland:

Finland’s president finds her traditional support among women and the Social Democratic Party base, but lately to the surprise of many Finns — and her opponents in Sunday’s election — she has gotten an endorsement of a different sort.

The redheaded late-night talk show host Conan O’Brien has been promoting President Tarja Halonen’s re-election bid as part of a long-running joke about their supposed physical similarities.

“Why do I support Tarja Halonen? Because she’s got the total package: a dynamic personality, a quick mind, and most importantly — my good looks,” the comedian, whose show is broadcast on cable in Finland, said in a statement to The Associated Press.

Another Trauma for Brett Favre

Man accused of using credit card of star NFL quarterback:

Phoenix man was arrested Thursday after allegedly using a credit card account belonging to Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre more than 40 times, authorities said.

Some Green Bay fans will go to extraordinary measures to ensure that Favre does not retire, including ensuring that he needs the paycheck to pay his credit card bills.

Doubtlessly, radio call-in shows in Wisconsin are now figuring this into their calculations about whether he will return next year.

Where Were You When…..

Pairs long program: Baldwin and Inoue make skating history:

Change sometimes happens at a glacial pace, as in an ice age. At other times, it occurs in an instant, such as the meteor that hit the earth and eradicated the dinosaurs.

Both types of changes occurred Friday at Savvis Center in the pairs competition of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. John Baldwin, 32, is the oldest competitor in the field and has skated almost exclusively in obscurity for 21 years at nationals. But in one fell swoop, he captured a national title and berth on the Olympic team, pairing with Rena Inoue on the first throw triple axel completed in competition.

No doubt, this is a date which will define a generation.

British Camera Surveillance Confirms No Explosives On Naked Woman

Another camera-based security triumph in Great Britain: Peeping tom CCTV workers jailed:

Two council CCTV camera operators have been jailed for spying on a naked woman in her own home.

Mark Summerton and Kevin Judge, from Sefton Council, Merseyside, trained a street camera into the woman’s flat.

Good on the bobbies for ensuring the boobies were natural and not semtex implants.

Now Appearing In The Rob McCormick Fiesta Room

Lohan, Moss’ pole dance at topless bar:

New B.F.F.’s Lindsay Lohan and Kate Moss shook things up at New York’s Scores strip club in the wee hours of yesterday morning putting on a bump-and-grind pole-dancing session for the club’s 400 shocked patrons, reports the New York Post’s gossip column ‘Page Six.’

Lohan, Moss and a few of their female friends descended upon the topless club just before 3:00 a.m. and went directly into the club’s famous Champagne Room, where the group downed a number of vodka shots, raspberry Kamikazes and beer and were treated to plenty of lapdances from the strippers that surrounded their table.

As other Savvis investors remember, this is where Rob McCormick spent $240,000, prompting his ouster as the CEO of the plucky little ISP that couldn’t quite.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Has Too Much Street Cred

Headline: Snitch’s death frees murder suspect

Regardless of the circumstances of the confession nor the nature of the man’s death, I think a professional journalist would have called the man an informant or a witness.

Instead, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch takes its street cred pose and applies the term popularized on the "Stop Snitching" streetwear.

Such shenanigans make me regret I had but one subscription to revoke for my disgust.

Criminals, Regardless of Their Status, Must Not Be Treated As Criminals

Mexico Demands U.S. Allow More Immigration:

Diplomats from Mexico and Central America on Monday demanded guest worker programs and the legalization of undocumented migrants in the United States, while criticizing a U.S. proposal for tougher border enforcement.

Meeting in Mexico’s capital, the regional officials pledged to do more to fight migrant trafficking, but indirectly condemned a U.S. bill that would make illegal entry a felony and extend border walls.

“Migrants, regardless of their migratory status, should not be treated like criminals,” they said.

No doubt, the undocumented workers and migrants within our country would elect you to be our leaders. Too bad we’re a soveriegn country whose actual citizens get to elect our own feckless leaders.

That’s Why I Read Cosmopolitan

Muslim bashing seemingly in vogue:

What in the world do dietary supplements have to do with turbans and terrorism?

That political head-scratcher confronted at least some vitamin buyers around the nation who found a flier with their mail-order nutrients carrying the bold headline, “Get a Turban for Durbin!”

An image shows Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, wearing the headwrap, common in parts of the Middle East and south Asia and sacred religious garb in some faiths, including the entire Sikh religion.

The flier’s kicker: “Keep Congressional Terrorists At Bay.” The flier was distributed last month by a pro-vitamin and supplement group.

Critics say the flier is yet another example of Muslim bashing. The designer of the flier, who has since pulled it, admits that it was over the line but said he put it out to draw attention to what he thinks is improper action by Durbin.

Got that, America? According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a cheap mimeographed flier from some unnamed vitamin and dietary supplier represents trend-setting political and social thought.

When it’s convenient for driving “news” articles into the well-traveled, predetermined concourses of thought.

Subtitle Needed

A sequel without a subtitle is just no good. Ergo, Mrs. Doubtfire 2 needs our help.

My suggestions:

  • Mrs. Doubtfire 2: Doubt Firer
  • Doubtfire with a Vengeance
  • Doubtfire: The Return of the Queen
  • D2: The Mighty Doubts
  • D2: Judged Bad Day
  • For a Few Doubtfires More
  • Doubtfire II: The Wrath, The Con
  • Evil Doubtfire 2: Doubtfire by Dawn
  • Doubtfirin’ 2: Electric Buggin’ Stu
  • The Matron Reloaded
  • Old Age Trans-G Doubtfires 2: Secret of the Ews

(Link seen on Ravenwood’s Universe, curse him.)