- - Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wussy nation

“It goes against everything that football is all about. You remember the great line from ‘A League of Their Own,’ where Tom Hanks says to the woman baseball player ‘Crying? There’s no crying in baseball.’ Well, there’s no cancellations for bad weather in football. It’s never happened before. …

“The San Diego Chargers and the Cincinnati Bengals played an AFC championship game in minus-64 degrees wind-chill. Nobody cared about the fans, they let the fans make the judgment whether they were going to go to that game … . The bottom line is, football should be played in weather where it’s tough. …

“My biggest beef is that this is part of what’s happened in this country. I think we’ve become wussies … . The Chinese are kicking our butt in everything. If this was in China, do you think the Chinese would have called off the game? People would have been marching down to the stadium, they would have walked and they would have been doing calculus on the way down … Get [former Vikings coach] Bud Grant on the phone, what do you think Vince Lombardi would say?”

Gov. Edward G. Rendell, in an Dec. 27 interview about Sunday’s Eagles-Vikings game being moved to Tuesday, on Philadelphia sports-radio station 97.5 FM the Fanatic

Party of one

“On Israel, the watchtower has become a very lonely place — The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg is on it with him, [the New Republic’s Martin] Peretz says, but there aren’t too many others. Even at The New Republic, there are only four people who Peretz believes really understand what is at stake in Israel: Franklin Foer, who has just departed as editor; Richard Just, who is now the magazine’s editor; Peretz; and Wieseltier. … Among this small group, Peretz is closest to Wieseltier (‘one of my two or three closest friends’), but he finds he no longer calls to talk to Wieseltier about Israel. ‘It always has to be more complicated with Leon,’ Peretz says. ‘He always has to have this extra piece.’

“There is an old Dwight Macdonald story about the fragmentation of the Trotskyist left in which — after many, many factional splits — the fate of the masses eventually rests in the hands of a lone married couple with a mimeograph machine: the Weisbords, heroes of the Passaic textile strike. Then, Macdonald writes, there was a divorce, and ‘the advance-guard of the revolution was concentrated like a bouillon cube in the person of Albert Weisbord, who sat for years at his secondhand desk & writing his party organ and cranking it out on the mimeograph machine. Like Weisbord, Peretz is divorced. And in place of a mimeograph machine, he has a blog.”

Benjamin Wallace-Wells, writing on “Peretz in Exile,” on Dec. 26 at New York magazine

No resurrection

“It occurred to me to discuss something I’ve always found intriguing about [Steven] Spielberg’s films. Plus, it gets me to discuss what is one of the guy’s most underrated films, ‘Empire of the Sun’. Specifically, this above scene near the end, in which young Jim (young Christian Bale) finally loses it and begins to think that he can bring his dead Japanese kamikaze friend back to life. As he pumps away at the dead boy’s chest, Jim intones, ‘I can bring everyone back … everyone … .”

“Needless to say, he can’t — and I especially like the fact that it’s John Malkovich of all people who pulls him away from the corpse and yells, ‘Didn’t I teach you any-thing??!?’ (If only John Malkovich were always around to say such things to all of us.)

“So, why do I find this scene so fascinating and heartbreaking, aside from what’s specifically happening in the context of the film? Well, because it seems to me that a lot of Spielberg’s cinema seems to turn on this fantasy of ‘bringing everyone back,’ of reversing great traumas (be they historical or personal), and this film was, on some level, the first time he acknowledged that he could do no such thing.”

Bilge Ebiri, writing on “‘I Can Bring Everyone Back … ‘ : Spielberg’s Fantasies of Reversal,” on Dec. 18 at his blog They Live By Night