Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


Into the sunset

Filed under : Tennis
On August 31, 2011
At 1:15 am
Comments : 5

Thanks for all your assistance! I assume it was your MINDS which helped Nalbandian win today, after falling behind and losing the first set as well as looking somewhat less than sharp. But then he got better! So, hurrah, and what a great day. Again.

But a couple of thoughts on the nature of fandom. This may well be the last match I ever see Nalbandian play live and in person, because I don’t think I will be able to make it to his next one later this week, and since he will be playing a decent talent, there’s every chance his run will stop there. And even if not, I have a job which begins after Labor Day. It’s not as though he’s announced his retirement or anything, it’s just that things are inevitably winding down and even if he gives it another 2-3 years, one never knows if he’ll be healthy next August.

People invariably ask me why I root for Nalbandian and I usually say something glib (as in the About section on this site) about the first match I ever saw him play, against Jarkko Nieminen. For whatever reason, everybody went for Jarkko, mostly because his name is fun to say, I kid you not. One end of the Armstrong crowd would yell “Jark!” and the other would respond “O!” I don’t think anyone there knew anything about either of these guys.

But Nalbandian was unflappable and seemed completely unperturbed. I liked him. I liked him for not falling apart and just playing on as though 8,000 people weren’t pulling for the other guy. In the end he won the match and me as a fan. The next year I made sure to watch him again and he was still utterly self-possessed. I was his for life. The only time I have ever seen Nalbandian break down was actually in that same US Open, 2003, when he won the first two sets against Andy Roddick in the semi-final before proceeding to lose his shit completely. Keep in mind that he had just beaten Federer a few days earlier to get there. Roddick went on to win the entire thing, his only Grand Slam trophy. I’m still not sure what happened.

Obviously, I’ve known it had to end sometime (and as I said, it may not be this year) but I’m not really sure I’ll ever love another player as much. You know why? Because I discovered Nalby’s secret. He is unflappable because he doesn’t really care. Big points, small points, it’s all the same, really. It’s why he almost never wins easily or in straight sets. Why try too hard? (As Brother2 said this evening, “I see Nalbandian won in 4 sets, not 5. What did you do with all the extra time?”) It’s hard to care more than the guy actually doing the hitting, but I often feel like that’s the truth. And I care a lot.

To wit, today, I sat at Court 17 (Court 17: did they just invent it?) all day, partially because my family also wanted to see Shahar Peer play there (she won, too!) but also so I could stake out the best seat imaginable: close enough to see well, far enough to get the span of the court, unobstructed by the umpire’s chair. One set in, after sitting in this seat all freaking day, a guy came up to me and Brother1 and said, “excuse me, my friends are sitting right next to you and my wife and I would like to sit with them, would you switch with us? We’re just two rows back.” A million thoughts crashed into my head at once, but they all sort of tied into: are you fucking kidding me? These are my perfect seats, I sat here all day, this is my once a year date with the sports figure I worship the most, why didn’t you come earlier, can’t you guys chit-chat later, why can’t the people next to you switch, etc.

I said, “I’m sorry, I waited all day in these seats for this match.” The guy said, “but it’s just two rows back!” I said, “maybe in the changeover someone else will move.” Brother1 said, “this is her favorite player in the world.” I said again, “I’m sorry.” The guy looked at me as if I were the biggest bitch on wheels and for the next five minutes or so, we were treated to him saying loudly to his spouse, “it’s six fucking feet! Six feet!” Because Brother1 and I were raised by the same people, in the changeover, he said to the two guys sitting next to us, “look, there are four seats together two rows up.” The guys laughed and said, “we don’t really need to sit next to them, hahahahaha.” Great. Then, in the changeover after that, they all decided to go to a doubles match anyway. It was all the polar opposite of how seriously I took the whole thing. But sometimes that gets exhausting. I’m not sure I’ll look for someone else to feel that way about so fast. There are days you just want a tennis match.

On the other hand, it seems to just happen, so who knows? I’ll keep my mind open. In the meantime, best of luck to El Rey David whose fans do care very much. And if the last glimpse I get of Nalby is him walking by me amidst a throng of cheering Argentines after a fabulous match, I’d be entirely satisfied.

Trivia question! Who was my favorite player before 2003? Why, Martina Hingis. She retired from tennis (the first time) that same year.

I’m glad I wrote this now because when he does really retire in, hopefully, a few years, I’ll already have done it. The title comes from the last song on one of my, oh, top five albums of all time, Neil Finn’s One All/Nil. I always listen to it on the way to the Open on the 7 train because by the time we reach it, I can step off onto the boardwalk during Rest Of the Day Off, a song which has always perfectly encapsulated my feelings about leaving work behind to come. It’s the second to last song on the record and if I am a bit ahead of schedule, I skip ahead to Into the Sunset, a pretty, pensive, and moody number, and listen to that first. It’s always a bit disconcerting to then skip back to joy.

Neil Finn – Into the Sunset


17th nervous breakdown

Filed under : Sports,Tennis
On August 30, 2011
At 1:05 am
Comments : 3

Oh my, what a day! I don’t even know where to start. Maybe Court 17 because that’s where I started it. Court 17 is a whole new court, the first in years (it even has a $40 commemorative t-shirt, naturally) and it’s sort of the fourth show court. As I said to Brother2, “Court 17, did they just invent it?” You’ll need Seinfeld to laugh with me instead of at me for that.

Not that many of my readers care, but for future Googlers, here’s what I thought of it. It’s slightly smaller than the grandstand and yet you’re slightly further away because the seating isn’t as steep (people who have been to both the old and new Yankee Stadiums will understand what I mean). The problem with this, besides the distance aspect, is that for vertically challenged people like myself, if a tall person sits in front of you, you’re screwed. But mostly it’s good. There are seats with backs and that’s a giant plus. It’s brutally hot with no shade at all but so is Armstrong and as you recall, I want to be buried there, so I can’t really be too upset about it.

Today I saw Gasquet there (or Gas-ket as someone in front of me pronounced it) as well as Tommy Haas who is, remarkably, still alive. Then I moved on and saw the Radwanska sisters play each other in a tepid match. Please remind me next time: despite what you and I may have learned from shared rooms of our childhood, there is no excitement in seeing sisters battle each other on the tennis court. Luckily, I moved on and saw Israeli Dudi Sela come back from a near loss to Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci, largely on the strength of the crowd. If you think I am exaggerating, understand that he made the “I’m not worthy” bowing down symbol to the stands afterwards. It was the first time in US Open history that South Americans have been outshouted by some other partisan group. It was good to be Jewey!

(In case you were wondering, I did not see Mardy Fish play. Like many bands I have supported over the years, Mardy has become too good to play the small courts and stadiums where I can afford to see what’s actually happening (my seat in Ashe is very close to God) and I am sad but not sorry. You go, Mardy! Play the big court every day! I still love you.)

Last, I saw Gael Monfils, a sometime replacement for the entertainment factor we lost when Fabrice Santoro retired, play another really great guy named Somethingorother Dmitrov. You can look it up because I am tired and need to do the whole thing again tomorrow.

Which brings me to the most important part! Tomorrow!* On the Brand New Court 17! David Nalbandian will be playing Bobby Reynolds who is a fine fellow but sadly not David Nalbandian. This may be the last year that I need your MINDS, people! We can do it! Because lately, he can’t. The match should be about 5pm but I’ll be tweeting so check local tweets.

Thank you and have a pleasant and winning tomorrow.*

*tomorrow is now today – Tuesday, August 30. Your time zone may vary.


Chapter two, so your pressure is dropping

Filed under : Life in general,TV
On August 26, 2011
At 2:15 am
Comments : 4

Are you on my coast? You know, the right one? If so, you may be stuck indoors this weekend with nothing to do and no baseball games to watch on TV. But don’t worry! I have dug up this old chestnut to fill five minutes of your confinement. And I cut it off once the serious part starts, so feel free to make some French toast with all that bread, milk, and eggs you bought, gather around the computer with your loved ones, and enjoy!

And remember, remain calm! You will all have a chance to be gouged!

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Stay safe, everyone!


What were you thinking of when you dreamt that up?

Filed under : Famous People,Food,Music
On August 23, 2011
At 2:00 am
Comments :Comments Off

Rock stars: if you didn’t want to be one, you wanted to marry one. I fell into the latter category when I was about 12 and I am not naming the band or member of said band for reasons of non-Googlability. See last night, I made this great salmon and I got the recipe from a blog I follow which is a cooking blog, yes, but at the same time not really. It’s written by a former model who was married to the guy I wanted to have babies with when I was 12. Well, not when I was 12, but I imagined he’d wait. Instead, I discovered at 13 while on line at a checkout during a family vacation that he’d married this model. I was, let us say, saddened. I bought the People magazine and I think I still have it but I am not going down to my storage area to find out. Apparently, they had quite the wedding but they divorced ages ago.

I have long wanted to write about this woman’s blog because I can’t figure out what to make of it and the way I sometimes do that is to write about those kinds of things here. If it was merely a cooking blog, I doubt I’d subscribe. I mean, I do have lots of baking blogs on my feed reader and maybe a couple of food ones, as well, but the recipes on this one, I think, wouldn’t be enough to draw me. Each post, though, begins with some photos of her past and description of some wonderful time with the band in Ibiza or modeling for a fancee fashion house or being painted by a famous artist. And I wonder why she does that. Is it because the past was so much better than the present for her? If I had been a stunning model married to a glamorous rockstar and was now cooking for a living, I too would miss the past. But somehow I don’t think so. I think she is savvy. I think she knows people like me (and there were a lot then and a surprising number who still exist today) want to hear tidbits about what it was like to live that life and see pictures of it. Sometimes she repeats the pictures but I don’t mind. Sometimes there are pictures of their child who is now an adult, but I don’t think that’s a calculated gesture.

I thought about her as I made the salmon and I wondered if it would be better or worse to start out living a fabulous life and then end up as someone living an ordinary one. And I wondered if I were her if I would make my blog a repository of old memories. Every time I read her posts, I think, “I can’t believe you’re showing another picture from 25 years ago!” while simultaneously devouring it and knowing I wouldn’t be reading if she hadn’t. And so, maybe, it’s really me who shouldn’t be wallowing in the past. Too bad it’s so addictive.

By the way, she still looks great, and much more naturally beautiful than she was then. He has not aged as well.

Title comes from a song by a band I saw on that vacation in New Orleans.
Echo & The Bunnymen – Back of Love

Unrelatedly, I did just want to tell this story. When I was a freshman in high school, someone in my high school had a party and I wanted to go but felt like I didn’t have the right thing to wear. So on the night of, I told my mother that I changed my mind and wouldn’t go. She told me that when she was in high school, the same thing had happened, she didn’t go, and the next day everyone told her how great it was. She still remembered and wished she had gone. So I went. And had a great time. I remember very well dancing to this song. RIP Nick Ashford.
Ashford and Simpson – Solid


Endless summer (and don’t tell me otherwise)

Filed under : Music
On August 19, 2011
At 2:15 am
Comments :Comments Off

Remember when I used to hate summer? Oh, it seems so long ago! But now my whole life has changed and summer is the best time ever! People keep saying it’s almost over. I call these people “bummers” and “wrong.” But anyhow, denial aside, two of the events I have been looking forward to are upcoming and I am excited. Of course the US Open is a bit over a week away and even though I won’t be able to attend as much as previous years due to work obligations (next year should be fine, though), there will be some posts to bore you to tears, don’t worry.

The other big thing is a concert this weekend by APB, a band I quote often here but I doubt many have heard of. The thing is, this will be only my second concert by them ever and the first was so great, I don’t think it could be topped. This is because my friends got together and got me the ticket as a birthday present sometime in the mid-80′s and we all went together. It was in Stamford, CT, I think (or Greenwich maybe) and the White Whale drove us in her parents’ fancee car. The club was so tiny that the band hung out in the crowd after the show ended and the DJ part started. That was nifty.

The shame of growing up is that you’re no longer totally surrounded by people who want to see the same shows you do. But this is OK! Now we have the Internet and I am looking forward to meeting some of my Twitter friends there. If you live in the NYC area and like APB, I will be the one wearing the “Kiss Me I’m Jewball” t-shirt. I didn’t make up that joke, by the way, one of my commenters did, but I’m old and forgetful now.

By the way, there is apparently some new band with this name, which, having sat next to the legal department at a major label for ten years, I believe isn’t allowed. Hm. Anyhoo, if you like catchy punk-funk, you can check out the real thing on iTunes (it’s not available on Amazon, my preferred service) here.

APB – Summer Love