Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Table-Talk of Parkus Grammaticus for February 17, 2009

I. Last week I taught Wodehouse's Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, and now I see Wodehousean touches everywhere I turn....first in Cintra Wilson's column, then in Michael Lewis's great piece in the NYT Magazine, on the new basketball statistics....(I don't even like basketball! But this piece is amazing...)

I see two jokes in this paragraph. We see Wodehouse trademark #1, the unexpected simile, and #2, the unexpected exaggeration, fitted in seamlessly to complete an otherwise normal sequence.
[Kobe] Bryant is one of the great jawboners in the history of the N.B.A. A major-league baseball player once showed me a slow-motion replay of the Yankees’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez in the batter’s box. Glancing back to see where the catcher has set up is not strictly against baseball’s rules, but it violates the code. A hitter who does it is likely to find the next pitch aimed in the general direction of his eyes. A-Rod, the best hitter in baseball, mastered the art of glancing back by moving not his head, but his eyes, at just the right time. It was like watching a billionaire find some trivial and dubious deduction to take on his tax returns. Why bother? I thought, and then realized: this is the instinct that separates A-Rod from mere stars. Kobe Bryant has the same instinct. Tonight Bryant complained that Battier was grabbing his jersey, Battier was pushing when no one was looking, Battier was committing crimes against humanity.
This isn't really Wodehousean, but I like it:
Last July, as we sat in the library of the Detroit Country Day School, watching, or trying to watch, his March 2008 performance against Kobe Bryant, Battier was much happier instead talking about Obama, both of whose books he had read. (“The first was better than the second,” he said.) He said he hated watching himself play, then proved it by refusing to watch himself play. My every attempt to draw his attention to the action on the video monitor was met by some distraction.
Maybe things are less funny when I highlight them. (But then they become slightly funny again when I point this out.)

II. Gary Indiana—blogger!
(From Dzyd JMcB)

III. These poems are great.
(From Triple Canopy #2.)

Blackwater Worldwide is abandoning its tarnished brand name as it tries to shake a reputation battered by oft-criticised work in Iraq, renaming its family of two dozen businesses under the name Xe. The parent company's new name is pronounced like the letter z. —Guardian

(From Dzyd Kaela)

V. Happy birthday to my dad!

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Blogger Jenny Davidson said...

Happy birthday to FTD!

One of my diss. advisors has a good essay about how using the "threesome" phrase divided by commas is inherently satirical/abstracting - it is very well done by Austen.

The funniest sentence in this post is the parenthetical aside about how the jokes become slightly funny again!

5:00 PM  

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