Posted in Baseball, Brain Bits, Observations, Television

Brain Bits for the End of July

It’s nearly 4:00 p.m. on Sunday as I write this, with aching back and Bar Keeper’s Friend Cleanser streaked over my nose. Why, you may ask? Well, three days ago I had new windows installed in my condo, and I’ve just spent several hours trying to determine what is just goop on the panes as opposed to what are cracks which would necessitate replacement sashes. Get this: out of eight new windows installed, three are damaged. And that’s just what I can see from the inside; the installer is returning next week to check the outside. Can’t anything ever be done right the first time?

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© The New Yorker
© The New Yorker

It’s been a great couple of weeks for lying and self-delusion, hasn’t it? First up was Ryan Braun, the Milwaukee Brewers star outfielder, who beat the steroid rap last year only to meekly cut a deal with Major League Baseball over the Biogenesis mess. Then there’s Eliot Spitzer, forced out as Governor of New York when his connoisseuership of call girls came to light, now running for Comptroller of New York City. And best of all, ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner, Mr. Show-Off himself, running for Mayor of New York, but once again caught displaying his assets on social media long after his resignation from office.

Let’s dissect these one by one, OK?

Braun irks me the most because I defended the guy last year when his 50-game suspension for failing a drug test was overturned on appeal. People were screaming that he got off on a technicality, but I stuck up for him. As an attorney I believe in due process, and it bothered me that so many thought Major League Baseball should get a pass for not following its own rules regarding the collection and transmission of test samples. Of course there’s a concept called “harmless error,” but Arbitrator Shyam Das rightly didn’t buy it (My guess is Braun’s sample wasn’t the first that MLB ever mishandled, and Das may have just been fed up with Big Boss arrogance).

But Braun’s behavior in the ensuing months caused more than a few eyebrows, including mine, to be raised. Verbally tarring and feathering Dino Laurenzi, the urine sample collector, for one. Playing the martyr for another. And then the inclusion of his name in Biogenesis’ records comes to light. With no way out, Braun cut himself what seems to be a sweet deal with MLB: a 65-game suspension which ends his 2013 season so that he can report to Spring Training all refreshed and ready to play ball. But of course the stain is now permanent, his credibility with his teammates, friends and fans is shot, and no matter how well he plays for the remainder of his career, he’ll never make Cooperstown. Some say he should be stripped of his 2011 Most Valuable Player Award. They may be right.

I wasn’t planning on wasting my time on Eliot Spitzer—after all, I live in New Jersey and he’s New York City’s headache—but one of his TV ads nearly caused me to blow a gasket. Get this for arrogance: after relating several examples of how he stuck up for the Little Guy, he says “Everybody should get a fair shake. I would hope that New York City voters would do the same for me.” Hello? You got your fair shake when you were elected Governor. The fact that you blew $80,000 on call girls and were forced to resign is on you, not the voters. But you know what? I bet he wins in a walk—dumbed-down electorates exist everywhere these days.

And last but not least, we have Anthony Weiner, former Congressman, who literally can not keep it in his pants. His candidacy for New York City Mayor is now a sarcastic joke. It’s hard to believe that after this week’s revelations there are still people who are saying his sex life is a private matter. You’ve got to be kidding. What privacy? This is a guy who didn’t engage in one affair that became public—he let it all hang out on social media with several women (the number of recipients he “may have” texted is increasing daily). Yet he entered the race, knowing damn well that any one of the women he solicited long after he resigned could come forward during the campaign, or worse, after his election to office. And let’s not forget the nature of his behavior, which is basically a high-tech version of the old perv in a raincoat flashing women on the street. What a great face for the City of New York. Today the news broke that his campaign manager has resigned. Let’s hope that Weiner follows his example and exits the race this week.

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The Fosters
The Fosters

Summer’s a great time to enjoy new TV shows and catch up on what you’ve missed during the previous months. So far I’ve seen two winners and one outright disappointment. Let’s dispose of the latter first: “Top of the Lake,” the Sundance Channel mini-series starring Elisabeth Moss as a police detective. Yes, she’s wonderful, the actors are great and the New Zealand scenery is breathtaking, BUT: (a) it should have been six episodes, not seven; (b) Ms. Moss’s character becomes unaccountably stupid as the series progresses (c) there’s a screamingly large plot-hole in the mystery and (d) you’d have to be unconscious not to get who the bad guy is, which I absolutely hate. It’s hard to believe this was Jane Campion’s creation. Spend your time elsewhere.

The two winners are “Orange is the New Black,” the Netflix series which is almost as good as the raves it’s getting (Taylor Schilling, as New Prisoner Piper Chapman, is superb), and surprisingly, “The Fosters,” which has its season-ender tomorrow night on the ABC Family Channel.  This one’s gotten some press because it involves a lesbian couple whose family includes adopted and foster children. Its appeal, aside from some excellent acting by adults and kids alike, lies in being so refreshingly free of cliché and After-School Special preaching. Yes, it’s got heart, but there’s a brain to go with it. Here’s hoping “The Fosters” get to stick around for another season.

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8 thoughts on “Brain Bits for the End of July

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  2. Really interesting to hear your local viewpoint on Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner – I heard about both on the main BBC radio news. Just couldn’t believe what I was listening too, but of course politicians or even potential politicians the world over appear to be a breed apart – is their DNA even human? Their gigantic egos and breathtaking arrogance never ceases to amaze.

    1. What you say is very true, but Weiner was leading in the polls before this recent revelation, which to me says a lot more about the electorate than it does about him. The latest from his campaign is that he intends to stick it out until the primary election, which is six weeks away. He’s a bad risk for his supporters, like the Clintons, who will only lose by the association.

  3. Two thumbs up for “The Fosters.” I’m surprised and delighted that the show has gotten great ratings. It doesn’t preach, but it shows the audience the lives of lesbian mothers, foster and adopted children, lives that don’t get much visibility on television. And they do it well.

    There is one more episode after tomorrow’s (July 29th).

  4. As a fan of both Campion and Moss, I put myself through every episode of Top of the Lake, and like you, had to wonder why at several points. The Holly Hunter scenes (a lot of esoteric bullshit passed off as true wisdom) annoyed the crap out of me. One you might give a go is “Rectify” also on the Sundance Channel, though AMC did run the entire series a week or two ago. I found myself caught up in the characterization, and you might enjoy it. Based on your recommendation, I’ll give The Fosters a go. PS: Sue the bastards who put in your windows. 🙂

    1. You’re the second person who’s recommended “Rectify,” so I definitely need to check it out. I also wanted to watch that new Gillian Anderson mini-series, “The Fall,” but realized after about 5 minutes that it was just too much grim right after “Top of the Lake.” I definitely intend to circle back for that one.

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