Tuesday, April 28, 2009

¡Viva Sanchez!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m a die hard New York Jets fan. Have been for nearly two decades now. So you could imagine me sheer elation at the Jets selecting USC quarterback Mark Sanchez in this past weekend’s NFL draft. He has the potential to be the Jets’ first franchise QB since Joe Namath (someone who I never saw play). So, he’s the first big time QB the Jets have had in my lifetime (if you excuse the 1 year rental of grandpa Brett Favre).

My wife and I were celebrating our seventh wedding anniversary on Saturday and before we went to dinner we stopped off at the Roosevelt Field Wal-Mart on Long Island (I know, very romantic). At about 4:30ish my wife was filling her shopping cart and I turned on my Treo to watch the draft on Sprint TV (the NFL Network broadcasted it live on the phone). At that time the St. Louis Rams were picking second and there were rumors they would select Sanchez. They didn’t. Then the Chiefs picked, then the Seahawks who were also rumored to pick Sanchez. They didn’t. Now came the Browns, whose head coach is the Jets former head coach Eric Mangini. By now my wife was getting on line. I was drifting away from her and moving down the aisle. I heard the announcer say, “There’s been a trade.” I saw the Jet logo and started jumping up-and-down with my left fist in the air. I know I looked like a fool, but I didn’t care. I was going nuts in Wal-Mart. I saw the streaming video of Mark Sanchez at his draft party in Southern California. He was going crazy as well and put on the Jets cap. I was now more calm, just pumping my fist and yelling, “Yeah! Yeah!” I then got a call from my wife asking me where the hell I was because she was about to pay. She paid for the stuff from Wal-Mart and I paid for dinner, which was delicious.

Besides the fact that Sanchez fills the Jets most pressing need and brings hope to the team and tortured fan base, I’m excited that he has the potential to be the first major Latino superstar in the NFL. Yes, there’s Tony Gonzalez and Tony Romo, but nothing like Sanchez in the biggest media market in the world. As a Latino I’m filled with tremendous pride that he is playing for my hometown team. I just hope he can finally void the deal Joe Namath made with the Devil.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Generations X, Y, and Me

I came across an interesting Newsweek article titled, "Generation Me," about the new book, The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement by Jean M. Twenge and W. Kieth Campbell. According to the article, the book explores the dilemma that “we’ve built up the confidence of our kids, but in that process, we’ve created a generation of hot-house flowers puffed with a disproportionate sense of self-worth (the definition of narcissism) and without the resiliency skills they need when Mommy and Daddy can’t fix something.”

It’s ironic to me that the US has gone from a generation of self-haters to obsessed self-lovers. We all have 20 something or teen relatives or family friends who are obnoxious narcissists. Antisocial behavior used to be about people who had a poor self image and felt they couldn’t fit in. Now, it’s that other people can’t fit in the same room with you and your ego. As the article points out, the result of so much narcissism can range from being discourteous to failed marriages and abusive working environments and even criminal behavior. No one thought about the downside of constantly telling little Timmy and Suzy that they were special.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Heralds of Spring

Teaser Tuesday went well last week and I’ll definitely do it again. The comments were very helpful. Thank you everyone (more comments are welcome). I’m hard charging into my WIP and have passed the 10,000 word mark. Only 70 grand to go! Today, I want to talk about my favorite sport, baseball. The new season is officially a week old. My favorite team, the Yankees (don’t hate the player, hate the game) is off to a mediocre start, thanks in large part to Chien-Ming Wang being absolutely dreadful in his first two starts.

NFL hall of famer, Howie Long, perfectly contrasted baseball and football. In his hall of fame induction speech he said that while baseball was America’s pastime, football was America’s passion. I agree with that. I’m passionate about football, but love baseball. Someone else described the distinction as football being the way life is while baseball is the way life should be. No matter how much the owners and players try to screw it up, and the media criticizes it, baseball is still a great game. A game to enjoy for the whole family, and my family surely does. My three-year-old son is getting into the game, my oldest nephew is on his high school varsity team, my other nephew is in little league, and I have two teenage nieces who are on softball teams.

Baseball players are famously known as “the boys of summer,” but for me they’re the "heralds of spring." They start their season at the best time of the year. Spring always has so much promise, so much hope. The days get longer and the weather starts to get warmer (unless you’re in NYC now with it being unseasonable cold most of March and this first half of April). Life just feels better at the start of spring. The baseball season is also full of promise and hope, especially this year in NYC with the two new stadiums. I have tickets for the May 1st game at the new Yankee Stadium and I can’t wait. I hope to get tickets for Citifield as well. Even though both teams have not started off great and the Yankees are missing a big part of their lineup (the head case, A-Rod), there’s much hope for the season.

The thing I cherish most about baseball is the nostalgia, both in the game and in your own experience. The game is a time machine where you can envision the players of the past playing the same game as today, and the players from today playing in the past, even with the whole steroid issue. The personal nostalgia is the memories I have, of my parents being big baseball fans (they still are), but my father being mainly a Met fan, and my mother being a die-hard Yankee fan. I was born in 1972, so I never got to see the original Yankee Stadium, but my mother did. She also got to see Mickey Mantle play. Her memories are my memories now. That’s the beauty of baseball.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Peer pressure. It sucks when you’re a kid and it sucks when you’re an adult. Well, a bunch of friends in my favorite thread (The No News is No News Purgatory Thread) of my favorite message board (Absolutewrite.com) post excerpts from their work-in-progress (WIP) every Tuesday (you can see links to many on My Blog List). It’s appropriately named, “Teaser Tuesday.” I’ve been sheepish about doing it, but finally gave in. No one was pressuring me to do it, of course, but I hate feeling left out. So here’s an excerpt from the first chapter of my WIP called, Daughters of Earth. It’s a science fiction novel with parallel story arcs set in our time and the post-apocalyptic future where men are extinct and women rule the world. Mind you, this is the unedited first draft.

The scene takes place on Tuesday, June 18, 2002 in Jerusalem, Israel. The two main characters in both arcs are Dassah Shaul and Leah Abravanel. Dassah is the child of Ukrainian immigrants while Leah is a third-generation Israeli.


The girls were fortunate to live in the Northside of Gilo. The apartment buildings, schools, and synagogues in the Southside had been bombarded by sniper gun fire and mortar attacks from the nearby Palestinian controlled town of Beit Jala across the valley for nearly two years. Southside residents filled their rear facing windows with sandbags and huddled in rooms at the opposite ends of their apartments whenever the shootings or bombings resumed. A concrete wall, hastily built by the IDF provided some protection.

The attacks finally stopped this past May with the IDF’s thirty-six day long military assault on the West Bank. Leah and Dassah worried about Moshe when he was deployed for the operation. The mission was a success for the girls because Moshe came home unscathed and there was no news of any more attacks on Gilo. News, that is, that the girls heard from neighbors or classmates because their parents didn’t allow them to watch the evening newscasts or read newspapers. Dassah rather watch Disney videos with Leah and draw pictures on the newspapers with her anyway.

The girls took the Egged line No. 32A red bus every morning to school, and today, Tuesday the 18th, was no different. But this was better than all other days because it was the last day of the school year. Dassah wore her normal summer attire of t-shirt and shorts with sandals while Leah was in an ankle length flower dress. Olek dropped them off at the bus stop, kissed each goodbye, and wished both a good day. Like every other second grader in Israel, the girls lugged stone heavy book bags over half their size.

“Let’s sit up front,” Dassah said after she paid the bus driver.

Leah turned around, “Nah, let’s go all the way to the back.”

The bus was not yet full. The girls made their way to the back of the bus dragging their book bags behind them. Leah took the window seat in the back row. Fortunately, the seats were cushioned.

“Put your bag on your lap,” Leah said. She grunted and lifted the bag onto her thighs.

Dassah scrunched her nose. “Why?”

“Just do it.”

Dassah sucked her teeth. “Alright.”

Leah bent down behind the bag and whispered, “I want you to tell me some more bad Ukrainian and Russian words and I’ll tell you them in Hebrew.”

Dassah giggled. “Sure.” She pursed her lips. “Nedonosok and eblan mean?”

“Moron,” Leah answered excitedly.

“Good. Opezdol and dubiina mean?”


“Good. Do you know what a mudak is?”


“It’s an idiot who thinks he knows it all.”

Leah giggled. “Okay, now some new ones.”

Sraka is—” Dassah shifted to the side and patted her bottom.

“Ass,” Leah said.

“Ahh, ‘ass,’ ” Dassah said. “Then guess what potselui mou zhopy means.”


“Kiss my ass.”

They clasped hands and chortled. “More,” Leah said.

Himno,” Dassah said. She clenched her eyes shut and groaned as if straining. She pointed to the ground then pinched her nose close.

“Poop,” Leah said.

“ ‘Poop,’ ” Dassah repeated with a nod.

“How about this?” Dassah pulled down the collar of her pink t-shirt, batted her eyelashes, puckered her lips, and did kissing sounds. “Sukka.”


“Yes, sukka or shliuha.” Dassah repeated the kissing sound with puckered lips, and rubbed Leah’s arm.”


“Slut? You’re sure that’s what it is? I’m talking about loose women.”

“Well, that’s what my mother calls women who don’t cover themselves and hang all over men.”

“Okay, slut it is.”

The bus stopped and picked up more passengers. The bus was packed now. One of the new passengers squeezed herself down the aisle. She made eye contact with Dassah and smiled. She wore a business suit and had a long golden braid that reached her legs.

Krasyva,” Dassah blurted.

“What’s that?” Leah asked.

“It means beautiful.”

Leah nodded. “Yeah, beautiful.” She pinched Dassah’s arm.

“Ouch!” yelped Dassah. “Why’d you do that for?”

“We only have two more stops left. How ‘bout some more?”

Dassah offered some more bad words in Russian and Ukrainian and Leah translated them into Hebrew. Before they reached the next stop, Dassah said, “I’m getting tired. Let me do one last one.”

“Okay, what is it?”

Ya tebe kohaju.”

“What’s it mean?”

Dassah pecked Leah on the cheek with a kiss. “It means, ‘I love you.’ ”

Leah blushed and grasped Dassah’s hand.

The bus stopped and Dassah shifted her book bag to her left thigh in the small space between her and the passenger next to her. They looked out the window. A couple of college students were getting on. The last one to board the bus was a young man with a red shirt, sunglasses, and a big backpack.

“He must be going to our school,” Dassah joked.

Leah chuckled. “Okay, how about one—”

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

To Boldly Go ... Again?

Variety is reporting that Paramount Pictures is moving forward with a sequel to its May 8 release of its Star Trek franchise relaunch. Yes, before a single ticket has been sold, the studio is moving forward with a sequel. What happens if the movie bombs? Oops, no sequel. Sorry.

I’m admittedly biased. I’m a long time Trekkie, Trekker, Star Trek fan, whatever you want to call me. I was raised on the Channel 11 re-runs of the original Star Trek series in the ‘70s. Star Trek formed my moral foundation growing up. No joke. I actually thought that the Prime Directive (the rule prohibiting the United Federation of Planets from interfering in the social and biological development of any race on any planet) was an actual policy of the U.S. government. I was, of course, outraged to find out it wasn’t. The Original Series remains my favorite. I grew to love the Next Generation late into its third season (which ended in one of the all-time best cliffhangers with Captain Jean-Luc Picard being turned into a Borg). I was hot-and-cold on Deep Space Nine (mainly hot), didn’t think much of Voyager, and thought Enterprise was dreadful. Still explain to me how in the pilot a Klingon can land on Earth circa mid 22nd century and automatically speak English? Heck, according to the story, no one knew what a Klingon was.

I digress. Back to J.J. Abram’s abomination … I mean, relaunch. As a defender of the Star Trek Canon (Original Series and Next Generation for me, think of it as the Five Books of Moses and the Prophets section of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible), I am highly skeptical. The cast looks interesting, but the Starship Enterprise looks bleh (what's with the bloated engines?--warp nacelles for the Star-tech savy). I question why he had to redesign everything. I thought it would have been cool to design this Original Series prequel (that’s what this relaunch is supposed to be) to look 1950s-ish (with modern special effects). Be true to the series. Of course, Abrams decided against that.

What also troubles me is statements by one of the newly hired writers for the sequel, Alex Kurtzman: “With a franchise rebirth, the first movie has to be about origin. But with a second, you have the opportunity to explore incredibly exciting things.” It’s as if there a built-in excuse for this relaunch to not be a good movie. ‘Oh, it’s an origins movie, but wait for the action-packed sequel!” Here’s a novel thought: why don’t they just make a good movie?

I’ll go see the relaunch with a bag full of biases, but I’ll hope for the best. You can be true to the canon and bring in new audiences. The problem may be in trying to attract a new audience Abrams may alienate the core audience and then be left with a box office flop and an aborted sequel.