Friday Deep Smarts: Special Book Review Edition

First, a few words about sports broadcasters, particularly the whack-a-dopes on the radio. When an athlete is on the verge of breaking a record or having a streak broken or making some mark in the record books, the play-by-play guy invariably comes on to tell us the last person thinking about the record/streak is the athlete himself. “You know, right now, all he is thinking about is winning this game.” Really? I’d never heard that before and I am surprised an athlete at the professional level would be focused and competitive. Wow. Here is what the color commentary guy is really saying, “I have no original thoughts or insights AND  I am an unrelenting kiss-ass.”

And don’t ask me about “going left to right across your radio dial”

Next, in trying to decide whether to watch Georgia start their national title run or the end of a storied soccer career, just remember you’ve trained all your life to be able to work the remote. This isn’t a choice, just a chance to display your own mad skillz.


Next, I know I am supposed to stay silent on Benghazi, but I have to pass along someone else’s words, which are, once again, wicked smaht: a lot of professionals were involved in responding to a deadly and confusing situation in the middle of a complex emergency that most people thought was centered on Cairo, and all of it was taking place during the peak of the presidential campaign.  Do we accept that the people involved in responding did their jobs as professionals and did the best they could under the circumstances, doing their duty as they were trained and prepared to do, with successes and failures, good calls and missed calls, as in any crisis?  Or do we think that there was a political conspiracy to undermine the response to the crisis and then to lie about it later?  

And go see Lincoln. Worth every minute. And f you ever watched LOST, this is worth a read. 

Now for the book review (yeah, I know, this blog is slowly turning into Oprah…whatever): House of Stone, by Anthony Shadid is as messy as the century-old house in southern Lebanon that Shadid fixes up. Some of the local characters run together, detracting from the ones who stand out. The book’s structure — a journal about refurbishing the house intertwined with family history and Lebanese history — holds up ok, although the transitions are not always smooth (and don’t always make sense, but that may be from over-editing). And the book absolutely needed pictures. Shadid is a colorful writer, especially when describing the smaller details. But a couple drawings, at least, would have provided a better sense of scale, structure, and lay-out — this is a book about a house, after all. So, I couldn’t put it down. Part of that is knowing Shadid died earlier this year in Syria, doing his job as a journalist. Part of it was Shadid’s writing about food and people. He perfectly evoked the senses and smells of Lebanese food and the wandering highs and lows of a memorable evening with friends. Or a memorable lunch. Or just working with friends and family. And he naturally connected food to people to history to politics. So even knowing the house must eventually become both suitable to live-in and what he hoped to rebuild, you also know he’s not going to live there long…tragically, not because he gets tired of Lebanon or his crazy friends and relatives. Its a weird sense of knowing how the story will end without knowing how the story will end. Oh, and he was 43 when he died.

house of stone

On a more cheerful note, I did make it to my 25th high school reunion and was rewarded with a bottle of vodka, courtesy of an old friend…enjoy the weekend…will be enjoying a martini with this soon enough….




2 responses to “Friday Deep Smarts: Special Book Review Edition

  1. These are some of Patrick’s Favorite Things.

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