Thursday, June 27, 2013

Top Titles

     It's hard enough to come up with a good name for a post (which I haven't quite managed to do this time), let alone coming up with a good name for a book.  A good title, naturally enough, has nothing to do necessarily with the quality of the book itself.  Some authors just have a talent for it.  These are the three best titles I've come across (the books they belong to happen to be worthwhile, too):

1. The Devil Is Jones by Lester Dent
2. Anna to the Infinite Power by Mildred Ames
3. The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The "S"

     Superman could be the most recognizable character on the face of the planet.  I'm not sure who could compete at this point.  Pokemon?  Maybe Mickey Mouse if it were twenty-five years ago.  Batman?  Put on a Superman T-shirt sometime and walk down the street and marvel at the friendly acknowledgement you get, more notoriety I would bet than for any other symbol you could find on a T-shirt.  The new Man of Steel notwithstanding (a giant lumbering mess of a film that is sorely lacking in the characteristic most crucial to Superman: humanity), the "S" means something.  It is, one must admit, owned by a corporation.  But unlike a Nike swoosh, for instance, or the Target bulls-eye, or even the logo of a local sports team, the "S" means something universal and positive and not specifically about the corporation that owns it.  It represents the idea that the actions of a good person can help make a finer world, whether you can lift really heavy stuff or not.  In an era inundated with messages, this seems like it wouldn't be such a bad one to wear around on your chest.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

More Complex Than Any One Mind

     In the June 2nd, 2013 issue of the New York Times Book Review, there is an interview with Walter Mosley, author of the Easy Rawlins novels (among many other things).  When asked what his favorite books were as a child, he responded, in part, "the truth is that the most beloved and the most formative books of my childhood were comic books, specifically Marvel Comics . . . These combinations of art and writing presented to me the complexities of character and the pure joy of imagining adventure. They taught me about writing dialect and how a monster can also be a hero. They lauded science and fostered the understanding that the world was more complex than any one mind, or indeed the history of all human minds, could comprehend."
     In the last few years, comics and the heroes that sprang out of them have become a ubiquitous part of the pop culture landscape.  This is a process that has tended to homogenize powerful and subversive ideas to make them more palatable to mass market tastes.   It's nice to hear somebody talk about their deeper consequence and the way they have (and still can) resonate on many intellectual and emotional levels.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Number 29 Goes Down

     Just as I finish lauding Mets' First baseman Ike Davis for his wherewithal and team spirit, the management has sent him down to the minors, optioning him to their Triple-A team in Las Vegas (along with two other players).  Apparently, he wasn't finding his way back fast enough.  The Mets say that this will give Ike the chance to find his confidence and his swing again without so much attention and pressure on him.  Here's hoping they're right about that and, before long, number 29 finds his place back in the Mets' starting line up. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Ode to Number 29

     Athletes have long served as heroes and role models, usually on account of their skill and accomplishment on the field.  Ike Davis, First Baseman for the New York Mets, has been having an extremely hard time.  With only two hits in forty-four at bats, word of his demotion to the minors was starting to spread.  Nevertheless, according to his teammates, Ike never sank into despair in the dugout, always remaining a staunchly supportive of his fellow players, and spent hours after the game practicing, honing and experimenting with his swing.
     After several hideous losses to the Atlanta Braves, Ike's hit drove home two runs in the ninth inning to win the final game in that series against the league's most powerful team.  A few nights later, his base hit brought in two runs to give his team an early lead against the Yankees (in a game the Mets eventually won).  Since then, Ike has had several solid at-bats, including a home run, against the Nationals.
      So, not without effort and not without a fair amount of emotional and physical pain, Ike seems to be finding his way back.  He didn't give up and he never forgot that he was a member of a team, and that is as much a mark of heroism as skill and achievement any day.