May 2011


When I was a kid and I did something particularly boneheaded, my father would ask if I were stupid or malevolent. I never knew what to say. What person with an ounce of intelligence wants to look stupid?  What person with a conscience wants to be thought malevolent?  It’s a real dilemma. But it does lead me to this — this week’s SI has a piece on Fred Wilpon by Tom Verducci.  Verducci  isn’t normally very sympathetic towards the Mets, but this piece actually is.  Fred comes out looking like a dupe rather than a crook.    Given that there’s really no good answer to my father’s question, I would have to say that dupe is better than crook.

They’ve also found someone to buy that minority stake they’ve been trying to sell.  His name is David Einhorn, and he was a Mets fan growing up in New Jersey.  His parents later moved to Wisconsin, where he knew the Selig family, but hopefully, this will work out.  It would be difficult for things to get worse.  *sigh*

Here are some local stories about the deal:

here,

here,

here

and here.

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I have been a Mets fan since the 1960s.  But just because I love them doesn’t mean I like them very much right now.  The team isn’t playing well, and ownership seems to be competing among themselves to see who can humiliate the organization the most.  Between the Madoff business and the bad moves they’ve made on the field, there really isn’t a whole lot to like (speaking of Madoff, Harry Markopolos, author of No One Would Listen, is back in the news today due to his efforts to assist whistle-blowers on Wall Street).

Here is the New Yorker article that all the papers and pundits are referring to.  Wilpon is taken to task for his Dodger obsession which, given the embarrassments that the Dodger organization is going through, is strangely appropriate.  He also insults some of his players, including the two “faces of the franchise”, Wright and Reyes.  I’m not sure why he’s losing it, but that’s what appears is happening.

Just sell the team already Fred.  I’m begging you.

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I’m going on a much-needed vacation and will report back upon my return.  I’m bringing the Kindle with me, and I have a good idea I’ll make enough progress on Jane Eyre that I’ll be ready to discuss it when I get back.

I don’t need to return Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to the library until tomorrow, so I’ve been re-re-reading the last few chapters.

One thing that really struck me with my latest read of the entire series is the theme of love.  We have Lily’s love for Harry protecting him against Voldemort, and we have Snape’s love for Lily helping him change from a Death Eater to a spy for Dumbledore.  But we also see Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy’s love for Draco.  Ever since the Unbreakable Vow scene in Half-Blood Prince, I’ve paid extra attention to the Malfoys, and have found their story to be very interesting.  I noticed that, the less status they have with Voldemort, the more we see that this family loves each other as much as any non-Death Eater family featured in the series.  They’re not warm and fuzzy like the Weasleys, and I still don’t trust them as far as I could throw them, but these are parents who love their son more than anything else in the world and who are willing to sacrifice themselves for him just as Lily and James Potter were.

This does not seem to be a common trait among Death Eaters.  Sirius’ parents don’t seem to have had much love for their children and, if Bellatrix had had children, I doubt she’d ever be up for Mother of the Year, but Narcissa is very different from this sister.  She has something very important in common with her other sister, Andromeda Tonks, even if she doesn’t want to admit it – they both understand the importance of love and family.  Given how Voldemort disdains love and family ties, it makes sense that he would find the Malfoys lacking. He scoffed at Snape’s love for Lily. He drafts Draco to kill Dumbledore because he wants to further humiliate Draco’s parents and sneers at Narcissa and Lucius when he sees how worried they are about their son.

Narcissa ends up saving Harry’s life when she tells Voldemort that Harry is dead when, in fact, he’s not.  I think this scene is under-appreciated; she is worried sick about her own son – and she further risks her standing with Voldemort and the other Death Eaters (and with her own sister) to tell them that Harry is dead, but her mother-love compels her to do it.  While the Malfoys will never be bosom buddies with the Potters and the Weasleys, they do reach a sort of truce at the end of the series, and I think their commitment to love and family is a major reason for this.

OK, it wasn’t the “Real” Mets or the “Real” Yankees, but it was still a professional game and it still counted for league standings.

Yesterday, after my JASNA meeting, I met N for an early dinner at Tampa’s best Chinese restaurant, Yummy House.  It’s the only restaurant I’ve found outside of New York that offers salt-and-pepper shrimp (it is sometimes known as salt-baked shrimp) and it’s very, very good. Lots of onions and garlic, with firm-yet-tender shrimp.  They told us that they’re opening a new place in St. Pete, which is less of a schlep for me than is Tampa, so maybe N and I can try that branch at some point.  I also read someplace that they might open a Sarasota location.  If that is indeed the case, I will be there!

After dinner, we headed over to George M. Steinbrenner Field to see the St Lucie Mets take on the Tampa Yankees in Florida State league action.  The Yankees had taken the first 3 games of the series, so last night’s win prevented a sweep.  There were quite a few Mets fans in attendance and, for the most part, we were treated well by the Yankee fans.  I took a couple of pictures of the stadium complex:

Here is Casey Stengel’s plaque:

And here is Yogi Berra’s plaque:

The Yankees seem to retire numbers of guys just because they’re breathing which, to me at least, dilutes the importance.  Yes, Ron Guidry was a terrific player, but he’s not a Hall of Famer, so I’m a little unsure as to why his number is honored.  But hey, I’m not a Yankee fan, so I have no emotional attachment to him.  But I definitely have an emotional attachment to Casey and Yogi.  Yogi gave me an autograph when I was a little girl, back when he was a Mets coach.  The autograph has disappeared over the years, but I will never forget how nice he was to me.

There’s also a World Trade Center memorial.  Here:

here:

and here:

Here is some of the decor inside the stadium:

And here is the scoreboard with the final score of the game:

You have to enlarge the picture to see it (we were sitting right behind home plate, so it’s a long way away), but it’s there: 12-7.

But I’ve saved the best for last.  We visited the gift shop because N, who is a Yankee fan (but I love her anyway), wanted to see if they had any bobbleheads. Unfortunately for her, they didn’t, but they did have this:

Yes, that’s right.  It’s a Yankee toaster that makes Yankee toast.  Is that not the single tackiest thing you’ve ever seen?  I think it even beats my Mets home run clock for tackiness:

Despite the fact that the pitching was poor and the fielding was sloppy, we had a great time.  Steinbrenner Field (f/k/a Legends Field) is huge, and it’s a great place to take in a ball game.  I’m very glad I went.

I’m about 1/3 through what I consider to be Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece, Jane Eyre, and already have a couple of comments to share.

I don’t know if it’s because I’ve spent the past year immersed in Austen, but the first thing that struck me about Jane Eyre is the writing. Austen rarely gives us a detailed description of anything — not people, and not places.  An awful lot is left to our imagination.  But Brontë gives us a lot more information.  We have a pretty good idea of what Jane and Rochester look like.  We have a pretty good idea of what Thornfield and the surrounding country look like.  Maybe that’s why I have had trouble loving Jane Eyre adaptations — Brontë has already given us so much detail that no adapter could possibly capture it all.

While Fanny Price and Anne Elliot are Austen’s most introspective heroines and we know quite a bit about their innermost thoughts, Jane Eyre is presented as an autobiography, so we know Jane much better than we do any of Austen’s characters.  Again, less is left to the imagination.  We experience everything as she does.  We know nothing that she doesn’t know.

Austen wrote books that some consider to be romances, but she was not a Romantic.  Brontë was a Romantic. We learn a lot about Jane’s emotions; she is far more open with her emotions than any of Austen’s heroines are.  I am not saying that one authoress is better than the other; I am only saying that, after a year of Austen, it’s been quite an adjustment to read Brontë.  I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read Jane Eyre, and I still love it dearly.

I recently finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  Again.  For some reason, whenever I finish reading it, I am compelled to re-open the book to a random place and start reading again.  Do I keep reading it because I don’t want the series to end?  Or do I keep reading because it’s become my favorite book of the entire series?  I honestly don’t know.  But what I do know is that I  love this book and I hope that Rowling does publish that encyclopedia she’s talked about so I can get some more details about the characters I’ve come to know and love over the past 10+ years.

With the last movie scheduled for release on July 15, I’d decided to re-read the entire series, starting with Philosopher’s Stone, and I am truly in awe of Jo Rowling’s ability to tell a story.  While some of the characters are caricatures (Dolores Umbridge, Gilderoy Lockhart and Argus Filch, to name but 3), most of them are very, very real. We know people like them, or we are like them.  We want friends like Harry or Ron or Hermione.  We wish we’d had teachers like McGonagall.  We wish our parents were more like Mr. and Mrs. Weasley.

There are people out there who still believe that these are nothing but children’s books.  They can not be more wrong.  The books can be read on several levels, and adults are really missing out if they refuse to read them.  Rowling is familiar with classic literature, Greek and Roman mythology and French and Latin.  Among the countless books written about Rowling and her work is Harry Potter’s Bookshelf, which talks about books that influenced the Potter series (whether intentionally or unintentionally).  From Austen to Dickens to Shakespeare to the Bible, they’re all in the Potter books.  There’s a bit of the picaresque too, like Don Quixote or Candide.  Unlike most series for or about children, these kids grow up over the course of the series.  They become older and wiser.  They experience true joy, and they suffer true heartache.

But the people who really tick me off are the people who try to ban the Potter books because they supposedly endorse Satanism.  In the interest of full disclosure, I am a church-goer, but I cannot for the life of me understand how these people get the idea that these books encourage readers to practice the occult.  They cannot possibly have read them.  If they had, they’d know that the magic is incidental — it’s not the focus of the stories.  These books are about love, loyalty, friendship and doing what’s right, even if it’s inconvenient. They are about the struggle between Good and Evil.  How anyone can say otherwise is beyond me.

Now that the re-read is over, it’s time to start watching the movies.  I can hardly wait.

Dad and I went to Bob Evans for breakfast as is our habit on Sundays after Mass.  What about Mom?  She’s out on the golf course, with a bunch of her friends, enjoying her Mother’s Day the way she wants to. As for dinner, there’s no way she wants to eat my cooking (she’s threatened to call “Worst Cooks in America” and get me signed up as a contestant), so I’m heading over the Publix later today to pick up some of their excellent fried chicken.  Trust me.  It’s better than having me try to get all of the items for a home-cooked meal come out at the same time.

To all the mothers out there, enjoy your day.  You deserve it.

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