Non Sequitur

This was the case with a 32-year-old Slovakian named Mitja Valencic – he set a breakneck pace, and was beautiful, but you could tell, watching him, in his ski suit, and really, these things are too damn tight, he knew it would not hold up.

There were many crack-ups, especially in the first heat: Bode Miller, who stumbled then ditched, like a pilot with a punk engine (”Shut up and die like an aviator!”); Ted Ligety, the other American, who caught a gate, came to a stop, then floated sadly down to his parents, who looked even more bummed than the kid; and, most spectacularly, Austrian Manfred Pranger, who seemed goofy in his head shot, like he had just been arrested, but was not unhappy with that fact, cause think of the story–he caught air coming around a gate, was launched; you could see his face, and it had that terrible expression of “Oh no, it’s over!” He landed on his spine, slid, then lay still, as if thinking, “Back to the applications.” – Rich Cohen, “And they all fell down,”

  1. Speed. In the Summer Olympics you’re pretty much limited to the speed at which humans can run or bicycle, but a bobsled travels at 90 miles an hour.
  2. Danger. Summer has the marathon, during which you can drop dead. But Winter has the skeleton, luge, aerial skiing and guns.
  3. Curling, which is totally something that you should be able to do in a bar. Move out a couple of pool tables and put in a curling court.
  4. O Canada! It’s a lovely country, but more importantly it shares our time zones. No staying up until 3 a.m. to watch beach volleyball.
  5. Ridiculous costumes. Rhythmic gymnasts try for this in Summer, but they are heavily out-gunned by all the ice dancers and figure skaters. And the American skiers appear to be wearing starry blue pajamas, which leads me to the next item:
  6. It’s cozier. You can curl up under blankets on the couch, and it gets dark out earlier, so you don’t feel guilty for watching TV instead of being outside.

One month ago today, a devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti. News agencies immediately descended on Port-au-Prince, jockeying to see who could show the most heart-rending story. This seems distasteful and exploitative to a lot of people, and I do understand their perspective. On the whole, though, I believe that without media coverage Haiti would not be seeing the kind of global support they are now receiving.

But whenever I read stories about a natural disaster, I remember a letter that was written for the Galveston Daily News on Sept. 13, 1900. Five days earlier, a hurricane had taken the lives of more than 6,000 people and destroyed Galveston, Texas. It remains the United States’ most deadly natural disaster. The letter is written in what is now an archaic style, but it is eloquent and poignant in a way that modern journalism can’t be.

The story of Galveston’s tragedy can never be written as it is. Since the cataclysm of Saturday night, a force of faithful men have been struggling to convey to humanity from time to time some of the particulars of the tragedy.

They have told much, but it was impossible for them to tell all; and the world, at best, can never know all, for all thousands of tragedies written by the storm must forever remain mysteries until eternity shall reveal all.

Perhaps it were best that it should be so, for the horror and anguish of those fatal and fateful hours were mercifully lost in the screaming tempest and buried forever beneath the raging billows.

Only God knows; and for the rest, let it remain forever in the boundlessness of His omniscience.

But in the realm of finity, the weak and staggered senses of mankind may gather fragments of the disaster, and may strive with inevitable incompleteness to convey the merest impression of the saddest story which ever engaged the efforts of a reporter.

I’ve been a horribly inconsistent blogger, so in penance I’ll admit something embarrassing. I spent my evening listening to Kenny G’s Christmas album while my dad taught me how to dance the foxtrot. Beat that! The only possibly way it could have been dorkier is if I’d been wearing a spangled Christmas sweater.

I was watching the TV movie Frosty Returns (look, I have only basic cable, my options are limited) on CBS when a little cartoon girl uttered a sentence that really struck me. It was a command from which no good can come: “Put this on and get in the box.”

Being a fast reader definitely has its advantages. But a big disadvantage is that I run through books like crazy, and to be honest, I can’t afford the bookstore tab.

I’m on vacation right now, and since Monday night I’ve read the following books, in order:

Omigod, will everyone who’s not me go see the stupid Bee Movie already? Because Jerry Seinfeld needs to stop hawking his A Bug’s Life ripoff on every channel on which my remote control lands. Dave Foley will forever and always be funnier than you, Jerry!

Having been alive in the 1990s, I have seen dozens of Seinfeld episodes. Indeed, if you’re watching television at 6 p.m., you are pretty much limited to the choice between two Jerrys: Seinfeld and Springer. (Well, if you’re like me and too cheap to spring for more than the most basic of cable.)

Sure, it made me laugh at times. But on the whole, I found Seinfeld almost aggressively unfunny, for more or less the same reason I can’t stand Everybody Loves Raymond: The joke is basically that these are self-involved people being horrible to one another. If I wanted more of that, I’d just go back to high school.

Anyway, in spite of the syndication and endless repetitions of his show, my beef with Jerry Seinfeld had been settled, or at least lay dormant. Until, that is, the PR shock-and-awe campaign to promote his new movie took over my TV set. I’m trying to be reasonable and not be miffed that he made an appearance on 30 Rock. He’s allowed to guest star on things. I guess.

But oh how it pained me to see my John Stewart fawning over Jerry on The Daily Show Thursday.

Okay, I have to stop watching the History Channel. How’d I spend my night last night? Why, watching a documentary about different ways the End of the World As We Know It could happen. And it got me thinking apocalyptic thoughts. I was still thinking apocalyptic thoughts when my mom called. 

When I was little, we’d always have a place to meet up if we got separated. We live in different states now, so in my highly paranoid state of mind, I thought that we should have a plan in case civilization collapsed and we couldn’t communicate with each other.

“Mom, if there’s ever a nation-wide catastrophic event and we don’t have a way to get in touch with each other, just stay where you are. I’ll make my way back home to Illinois.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I just thought we should have a plan.”

“A plan for what?”

“Like, if an electromagnetic pulse wiped out all our electronics and the country descended into chaos.”


“Well, we couldn’t use our cell phones to call each other, and our laptops would be fried. Maybe all car batteries too. So it would be hard to find each other.”

“Oh honey, I’d come find you!” my mom says reassuringly.

“No, see! That’s why we need the plan!”

My mom was on her way to a book club meeting when I called her on the phone. They were discussing “The History of Love” that night, and Mom confessed that she hadn’t gotten through more than the first half.

“Well, that’s no problem,” I said. “Just be the first person to speak up when they ask what everyone thought of the book. Take something from the beginning of the book that you actually read. From then on, you’re golden. You can sit back and nod thoughtfully for the rest of the hour.”

“And that works?”

“Please, I did it all the time in high school. It’s how I got through all my English classes.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t tell me things like that.”

  • That One Band (Our debut CD would be “One-Hit Wonders” and our 2nd CD would be “Letdown.” I came up with this in high school.)
  • Fuzzy Little Bunnies
  • Gravity Always Wins (This would be my Radiohead-tribute band.)
  • We Value Your Patronage
  • Dammit, Man!
  • Frogland Ambassadors
  • Dimestore Ninjas (Partial credit for this one goes to my work friend Rob.)
  • The Regretables

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