Posts Tagged ‘sucks’
Connecticut little leaguer Jericho Scott is a hotshot, up-and-coming baseball star. He’s 9 years old, with a 40 mph fastball. Naturally, that got him banned from Little League. From ESPN:
He throws so hard that the Youth Baseball League of New Haven told his coach that the boy could not pitch any more. When Jericho took the mound anyway last week, the opposing team forfeited the game, packed its gear and left, his coach said. …
Jericho’s coach and parents say the boy is being unfairly targeted because he turned down an invitation to join the defending league champion, which is sponsored by an employer of one of the league’s administrators.
Jericho instead joined a team sponsored by Will Power Fitness. The team was 8-0 and on its way to the playoffs when Jericho was banned from pitching.
“I think it’s discouraging when you’re telling a 9-year-old you’re too good at something,” said his mother, Nicole Scott. “The whole objective in life is to find something you’re good at and stick with it. I’d rather he spend all his time on the baseball field than idolizing someone standing on the street corner.”
Unfortunately, the other side of the argument is pretty compelling. Though given the opportunity to advance into the defending league champion, Jericho’s parents opted to place him in another team.
Safety concerns also became an issue, whether it really was or not. Jericho hasn’t hurt, anyone, yet, but that’s no guarantee that he never will. Given that other parents raised those safety concerns to begin with, the league had no other options left but to acquiesce to the wishes of a vast majority of parents.
Because it’s apparently the policy of the league to not place Jericho in a more competitive age bracket, officials had no mutually agreeable options left on the table. If only policy conformed to reality, he wouldn’t be in this mess.
Sure, it’s a shame that the league told a fifth-grader that he’s too talented for his age, but it would have been a greater shame to ruin the fun of the game for even one more team — whether because the other coach called a draw, or because he called an ambulance.
Fantasy kinda sucks. As a longtime fan of the genre, I’ve somewhat earned some right to say that.
While “Harry Potter” is fun to read — excepting the fifth book — its colorful characters and whimsical settings are bogged down by weak writing.
“His Dark Materials” has similar strengths and flaws, and was worsened even further by the author’s tendency to proselytize.
The worst of all of them is that “Eragon” series; it reads like it was written by a 19-year-old homeschooler from Montana. In part because it was.
Whatever Neil Gaiman writes, he tends to exhibit the same self-indulgent fascination with multi-pantheon crossovers, leaving Terry Brooks alone among living fantasists for being above reproach. After all, Brooks is the only one who doesn’t take his fantasy settings seriously.
It’s become a rule, therefore, that fantasy as a whole is a thin, shallow genre of fiction with especially egregious pretensions that it has meaningful depth and that it’s romanticism profound rather than transparent. Science fiction, unfortunately, is much of the same.
Fortunately, because the overall crappiness of fantastic literature is a rule, there are going to be exceptions. I just spent the better part of two days — almost spilling over into three — reading one of the most important and, dare I say, literary exceptions in recent memory.
“Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell” had interested me ever since I first saw it on the discount bookshelves and bestseller lists, but I decided against bothering with it. I didn’t have the money to buy it, and it was too contemporary to be in the school library, besides. Having recently graduated to the local library, I saw it Thursday last and, on a whim, checked it out.
Though buying this book in its native Britain would set me back a good 7 pounds, I’d call it an even trade: the hardcover weighs almost that much. There are nearly 800 pages in the hardcover version I spent a weekend reading — that makes it roughly the size of a King James Bible after a begat-ectomy.
Despite that it reads like Jane Austen and the humanity of its title characters are straight out of Dickens — if you’re sure I exaggerate, you’ll appreciate this book more than I did — I enjoyed every moment.
I shouldn’t make my admiration seem so unlikely — I was bound to like “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell” from the very start. It has the flair of a finely researched history, and more footnotes per page than “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” a history in which the author, for whatever reason, apologizes for including as many footnotes as he does.
It’s no criticism of the novel to say that these footnotes were my favorite part of the 7-pound blunt object that is “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell,” and I suppose quite a few readers came to the same conclusion. Indeed, the footnotes were enjoyable enough, and added so much to the world of the novel, that when the author decided to make her second book an anthology of stories, at least a few of these stores were inspired by her first novel’s footnotes.
There’s a lot of story in the book, and it would be difficult to summarize it without unbecoming spoilers and lengthy exposition, but, given fantasy these days, that depth is one of the great charms of “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.” Suffice it to say that the whole of it focuses on the careers of two British magicians of the Regency period, and is full of charmingly fleshed-out characters.
The early 19th century is the such a refreshing setting for fantasy. Rather than a world where dwarves and elves and orcs are the face of the fantastic, one of the great squabbles between the two title characters is over the status and usefulness of fairies, creatures that had once encompassed the whole of British fantasy before Tolkien injected high fantasy with his mish-mash blending of Old Norse mythology and Anglo-Saxon epic. However well-written “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell” is, and however well it stands on its own merits, that it ignores the 50-year-old precedent of swords and sorcery, a subgenre that might as well be mimeographed from the worst parts of “The Lord of the Rings,” is one of the greatest strengths that author Susanna Clarke chose for her world of British magic.
After reading so much of dwarves and elves and orcs, a reprieve was due; we needed a reprieve into densely imagined real literature from dense-minded pulp literature, even if that it lasts only a weekend.
But what a weekend.
Rather than buy that Zoot suit I’ve always wanted, I used my last paycheck on cheap business cards. I had figured that having a cards would play better at my job fair than being extravagantly and colorfully ostentatious.
I had decided some time ago that I wanted to get some cards, if only to ape my master teacher. The way she saw it:
When I go to conferences, there are always companies giving out free samples of textbooks. I know some teachers will come with empty bags and on the first day have them filled with textbooks and free stuff.
I don’t like lugging all that around. Instead, I’ll give those companies my business card and say, “Why, I’d love to have a copy of this book, but I don’t have the room for it. Why don’t you just ship it to this address?”
So I decided to get some business cards, and that once I got them that I would spread them around the faculty and staff at my school, interviews and job fair. I turned to Google.
Google, in turn, landed me at VistaPrint, the first site first in the search results for “free business cards.” These cards weren’t all that free — they tack on $10 shipping and handling — but I didn’t know that at first.
Designing the card was a breeze and inputting information was easy to figure out. While I was able to choose between a wide variety of templates, only one looked all that professional. I accepted it as the trade-off for getting free business cards.
Though I was given the choice, I opted for the my cards to come with an unreasonably tacky advertisement on the back. There’s an option to upgrade your cards to get rid of this it, but I decided against such a marginally pricier-than-free option; I couldn’t afford it. Of course, I might have been able to afford it — if I had a job.
I can’t stress this enough: Though this Web site and others advertise their “free business cards,” it turns out that they really mean “free except for inordinately pricey shipping and handling.”
My first set of 500 cards cost, all told, nearly $10 including all appropriate surcharges. For a small trial run of business cards like that, I decided that $10 was probably worth it.
Once you place your order and have it finalized, you have the option of participating in a number of silly, annoying promotions. You do not have to participate these promotions once you’ve paid, so ignore them and go on with your life. I did, and I still got my cards.
Within three weeks, the cards came. My first order was printed on not-too-shabby cardstock and without a misprint in sight — overall, I consider this acceptable quality for cards from the business community’s equivalent of a dollar discount store.
I imagine other Web sites work just the same way. This business model seems to work: suckering wanna-be professionals into buying what’s advertised as free.
Take these business cards for what they’re worth. Apparently, that’s $10.