Tuesday, January 15, 2008

you got no fear of the underdog, that's why you will not survive

Let's get the silliness out of the way first. This week's song always makes me laugh. Dean Martin always makes me think of alcohol. This particular song also always makes me think of light years past, when I used to swing dance. The tempo is really well-suited to dancing, in the event that you should be shopping around for such a song.

But you know, it's also about being surprised. There were three kicks in the head this weekend. The first, Surprise #1, was the Chargers upsetting the Colts. Now, I never thought the Colts were going to have it easy. However, in the 4th quarter, without their QB1 and Ladanian Tomlinson (both sidelined by injuries incurred during the game), they seemed doomed. But no! It's still anyone's guess as to whether it was Peyton choking (this, of course, being the explanation I'm always biased towards, but he did win a Superbowl last year, so technically I know he can play clutch) or just really impressive manning up by the Chargers. Either way, that was some game to watch.

Surprise #2: I did actually leave the house last weekend. Frustrated with my lack of productivity, I finally did the distasteful thing I've avoided heretofore: I went to the library. Here's the thing. My disgust for the library makes it the perfect venue to study. I don't want to be there which means I'm more focused while there. I got enough done that I could go home after and not feel guilty about relaxing. I'm doing an experiment this week to see if this is sustainable.

Perhaps the biggest of them all, Surprise #3 is the other game that was played on Sunday. Can I just take a moment to gripe about the Cowboys being called 'America's Team'? Since when does that hold true? I mean, for one thing, they're the Dallas Cowboys, as in Texas, as in the state that often proclaims that it's not part of the rest of the country. For another, the Cowboys are polarizing-- people seem to either love them or hate them. Crap, on second though, maybe they are reflective of America.

Even though I'm now stuck watching another Manning next weekend, it's really nice to see the Cowboys dispatched. In particular, it's a bit amusing that they seemed in utter disbelief that they could have lost the game. And then, of course, T.O cried, which negated any sympathy for the team that I might have had at that moment.

I'll say this. It's sort of weird cheering on a team that's not the underdog. I'm so used to the teams I like stinking the joint up that it's really odd to realize the Patriots are favored to win against the Chargers. What New England seems to have going for them is that, this year, they don't seem like they get too comfortable with anything. Maybe it's all just the image they project, but it's certainly the right attitude. It certainly seems to be my experience that pride comes before a fall.


Perhaps this should have come first, because it's certainly less nonsensical than the rest of it, but I finished reading Junot Diaz' The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao this morning. Something struck me before I'd even finished it. It would be legitimate to criticize Diaz for not having a singular focus in his book, for creating a meandering, disorganized tale that has complications and contradictions, that borders on being overly cute for some of its creative use of footnotes.

Except that I felt like this is what a book today should be. Lately, I've been avoiding movies that are period pieces. I hate to admit it, because I sound like a conspiracy theorist when I say it, but all these movies set comfortably in the past seem awfully convenient in circumventing the multicultural world in which we live. How convenient to put a story like Atonement to screen.

I suppose what I love about Diaz' writing and his book is that he confronts the whole thing head-on. Sorry, Mister, but this is what it means to live as a first- or second-genner. Things are not convenient and clear-cut and simple. Everything is complicated and everything has not just one explanation but a layer of explanations. And that is messy. If you're Junot Diaz, you can transform it into a beautiful mess. But I'd rather read a mess than read a fairy tale or a story that conveniently avoids anything that could get your hands dirty. I think it's that essential component, that embodiment of life in the present tense, that's missing from so many South Asian 2nd-generation writers (cough, Jhumpa Lahiri, cough).

Really, my only complaint is that Diaz is a self-professed slow writer. What if he doesn't come out with another novel for another 8 years? That would be real cause for criticism.


And now... it's back to the biblioteca.

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