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Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Did you enjoy the U.S. Open tennis tournament this year? I did! I was at the Men's Final, and I saw Somebody Something-or-other versus an entirely different guy whose name I also can't pronounce. Somebody asked me who won and I said, "I couldn't say," and they asked, "You don't know who won?" And I said, "I do, but I just can't say it." I don't want to sit here and make fun of peoples' names, and that is why I am typing this standing up. You may say that the Open needs more prize money, or it needs better chair officiating, or it needs more attention to doubles play, but what it really needs is: MORE VOWELS. Someone should arrive with a truckload of a's, e's, i's, o's, u's and a few y's and distribute them throughout the draw so that we can make usable sounds out of their names. And don't put any heiroglyphics above the vowels to try to confuse us, unless it is a heart or a smiley face over your "i." I thought Li Na was cooperating by having such a short name, but it turns out her first name is actually her last name, so just shoot me.

This year's championship was an epic match that lasted about 20 minutes. I spent most of the time scanning the audience with my binoculars looking for stars. I was there, as every year, with my boss, and I nudged her with my elbow and gave her the field glasses: "Isn't that Abe Vigoda?" I asked. "Abe Vigoda is dead," she replied. "I know, but look closely- that guy looks dead!"

I saw Lindsay Davenport there, but does that really count? It's like going to a fashion show and seeing a model there. Donald Trump was in the crowd, and when they showed him on the JumboTron he was loudly booed, possibly more for his hair than for anything he did or said. Every time I see him his hairdo looks more and more like Liberace's. I think I saw a lot of people from various Vampire shows, but they didn't seem to bite anyone, so I couldn't be sure.

I was sorry for the state of American Men's tennis, since the crowd kept shouting curses and epithets in foreign languages that I didn't understand. One of the players was Japanese I think, because I saw something that looked like his name on a sushi menu once. I distinctly heard cries of, "Ano yarou!" ("That idiot"), "Damare Konoyarou!" ("Shut up you Bastard!"), "Oshiri pen pen!" ("I'm gonna spank your ass!") and "Chikubi, Chichi!" ("Nipples!"). That was countered on the other side by intense shouting to the tune of: "Jebal te bik!" ("The bull will fuck you", although in Croatia this is considered a friendly warning, not really a curse). I also heard a smattering of "Os cornos do teu pai" ("Your father's horns") and "A puta da tua tia!" ("Your aunt is a whore!") from people who thought one of the players was Portugese. I even got into the spirit, repeatedly shouting, "Lambasa!" Which is Fijian for, "No underwear on!"

I quickly tired of this exercise, or it could have been from walking up to level 300. My mind started to wander, due to the lack of oxygen and thoughts. I thought back to some of the crazy things I had witnessed throughout the fortnight. In one match featuring Serena Williams and Kimiko Date-Krumm, a bee flew into the stadium and terrorized both players. A ball boy chased it around for about 10 minutes with a towel, but the bee was not actually wet, so that had little result. The bee ended up cross-pollinating Serena Wiliams with Kimiko Date- Krumm, forming a large short black tennis player with pale skin. I heard Ms. Date-Krumm exclaim, "Chikubi, Chichi!"

I fondly remembered the extremely awkward moment when Martina Navratilova proposed to her girlfriend in between men's semifinal matches. The girlfriend, who barely speaks English, did not seem to understand what was happening. Martina gets down on one knee, pops the question, opens a box with a ring in it, and the girlfriend still hasn't said yes. Martina gets down on the other knee, then an elbow, and still nothing. I thought I heard the girlfriend say, "Oyah dah papakina, yoscho papakina," but I'm too much of a lady to say what that means in Russian. Martina takes it for a "Yes," and they all live happily ever after, I can only assume.

Then there was the incredible shot Roger Federer made: his opponent had made a volley that landed outside the baseline, and started walking away from the net. Roger, not realizing the shot was long, raced back and hit an acrobatic between-the-legs stroke that hit the other player square in the ass. This occured much to the delight of Michael Jordan, who was shown applauding in the stands. Jordan is not actually a tennis fan, he just likes seeing people get hit in the ass. I'd hit that ass!

I mused about the weird sounds that come out of women these days when they play tennis. I was watching the Williams Sisters play a doubles match, and trying to yell at my cat at the same time, and my fracas was almost completely drowned out by a player named Elena Vesnina, who every time she struck the ball, yelled "Hi-YAH!" extremely loudly, as if she were breaking a stack of bricks with a karate chop. When I was 13 years old I was a yellow belt in Judo (I possibly became a yellow belt in Judo class after having peed my Judo gi during a "hiza garuma") and I never ONCE said "Hi-YAH," even to myself. I do make a funny sound when I am musing though.

In another startling development, Caroline Wozniacki went to hit a backhand, and didn't notice that her ponytail had gotten caught in her tennis racquet. She almost yanked her whole head off, lost the point as a result, and would have lost it anyway, since you are not allowed to use a tennis racquet with hair in it- her hair is considered a foreign substance since she is from Denmark. This is PRECISELY why you don't see ponies playing a whole lot of tennis, even though they would have two forehands, and four two-hands. Thank god Caroline Wozniacki was not bowling at the time: HEY CAROLINE- get your head out of the gutter!

I recalled the gut-wrenching women's semifinal match where Peng Shuai, suffering from severe heat cramps, crumpled in pain and had to receive treatment in the locker room. She returned about a half hour later, played one point and then keeled over again. The trainers helped her to her seat, but she broke free and crawled back to the baseline to try to serve. The medical staff dragged her away by her feet and she left 10 huge divots on the court from dragging her fingernails across the surface. Finally they shot her with a tranquilizer gun and removed her in a cage.

Wistfully, I realized that I would not hear the word "fortnight" again until next year's U.S. Open.

Incidentally, Jimmy Connors is the only player to win the U.S. Open on three different surfaces. When I read that he won the 1974 tournament on grass I was surprised, because at the time he only seemed drunk.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


I don't dwell on 9/11 a whole lot, and I've never watched any programs or movies about it. My own memories of that day are more than enough, especially the experience of working in the televison air monitoring studio with more than a score of video monitors, each with its own vivid horror.

I sometimes thank the gods for the gift of musical expression, and 9/12/2001 was one of those times. I composed this song that day, and I finally got around to re-recording it the way it should sound (with the usual exception of my voice).

It has the same effect on me now as it did then.


Please listen to it with headphones on, as it is not professionally recorded.