Sunday, October 7, 2007

a little stitious...

It's all going too well right now - the Patriots just rolled through their fifth straight victim and the Red Sox just swept the Angels to advance in the playoffs. Now the Yankees are trailing early in their game and could be eliminated before the night is over, meaning I wouldn't have to endure another instance of the Apocalypse this Fall. (Dealing with the stress of postseason baseball is bad enough, but the Sox-Yankees rundowns are just too intense for anyone's good at this point.)

Of course, it's dangerous to bring any of this up because I risk jinxing everything. As Michael Scott memorably said in the slightly disappointing season premiere of The Office, "I'm not superstitious; just a little stitious." As it happens, the last couple of times I mentioned here that the Red Sox were killing me, things turned around, so maybe it's OK for me to blog about them. On the other hand, it's entirely possible that basking in victory (as opposed to wallowing in misery) will have the opposite effect and David Ortiz will be bitten by a squirrel and develop rabies tomorrow - all because of my hubris.

On the other other hand, I just helped the Indians score their first two runs against the Yankees. I'm not really even watching the game closely, but I flipped by it to see some anonymous Indians player hit a dribbler to Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter. "Throw it away, Derek," I yelled - and he did! That runner came around to score the first run of the game. Next inning, I flipped by again and saw former Sox star Trot Nixon step to the plate for Cleveland. "Go yard, Trot!" I implored, and he hit a rope over the right field wall on that very pitch. My wife witnessed both of these events - the only commands I uttered with respect to this game. I was responsible for those two runs scoring. Part of me now feels obligated to watch the rest of the game and continue directing traffic, but I'm going to have to hope the Indians can hang on to the two-run lead I've provided. After all, I'm only a little stitious.

As a general mind and meaning side note, I might mention that the tendency for sports fans to see their game-viewing actions as meaningful is just so human. We're conditioned to look for meaning where we can find it - especially when something seems out of our control like a baseball game being played far away. Any apparent cause-and-effect bit of evidence is so tempting for our mental meaning-making machines. Sometimes when I'm watching the progress of a Red Sox game online while doing other work, if something good happens, I'll feel like I can't turn on the radio or TV to continue following the game because good things were happening when I was just getting the pitch-by-pitch online info. It's an awesome responsibility to have this kind of power, so it's a good thing I'm not superstitious.

Speaking of connections and mind and meaning issues, I don't think I've ever blogged about the felicitous connections embedded in my blog title. Yes, not only does MMmusing alliteratively stand for "Michael Monroe musing"; it also can stand for "mind/meaning musing," and, as I've now created something like 75 multimedia examples for this blog, it can also stand for "multimedia musing," not to mention that it can sound like someone elongating the m in "musing". Perhaps it can even suggest the word "amusing." As someone with a congenital weakness for wordplay, I find all of this very satisfying, even though I know the significance of these connections is manufactured. There's no logical reason why we should find it significant that words with semantic connections to each other also share initials or rhymes or whatever, but just as the sports-viewing mind looks for connections in coincidence, so do verbal minds find joy in these lyrical links. It reminds me of composers who write tunes that "spell" words; the pitches that "spell" Bach don't really say Bach in any acoustic way - but we love finding meaning in hearing a tune as Bach's tune.

So much of the perception of art has to do with finding satisfaction in some kind of connection. It's also delightful to discover how many various meanings can be extruded from something - like a blog title or a Diabelli theme - that was first created with a specific and limited meaning in mind. This speaks again to the joy of constraints; anything accomplished against the odds is interesting.

And speaking of constraints, I'll end near where I began by voicing my fear that The Office may be off to a slightly disappointing start due to lack of constraints. This fantastically subtle show has become such a hit that they're now beginning a season with four hour-long episodes and an obviously bigger budget that has enabled not one, but two car crashes in the first two episodes. Hey, it's still a very funny show, and it's always relied on a certain amount of broad humor, but I wouldn't be surprised if the needs to fill more time and be more "eventful" have thrown off an important creative balance. Time will tell, but now that the Yankees have closed to within 3-2, I feel as if I must submit this post in hopes that a Cleveland win is preserved. (On some level, I really think that.)

UPDATE: Seconds after hitting "submit," I clicked over to see that the hated Yankees now lead 5-3. It's all my fault!

UPDATE 2: Now it's 8-3, Yankees. I feel as if I owe the entire city of Cleveland an apology - wasn't it enough that my Patriots destroyed their Browns today? Couldn't I have left well enough alone? This could all end very badly. Maybe this is a good time to recall that I began my blogging career partly to occupy me while I'd given up sports for Lent. I'm also now remembering how I felt a quiet sense of relief when the Red Sox didn't make the playoffs last year. I slept normal hours, I cared about normal things. Sigh...

UPDATE 3: Yankees live to fight another day. I hope you appreciate the curious logic of my experience here: I wrote that I caused the Indians to score two runs. Then, because that's such a ridiculous thing to have claimed, I was punished by having the Yankees come back and win. You see, I'm still in control, even when I'm punished for believing that I am in control. The important thing is not whether I've helped or harmed the Red Sox cause; it's that I feel like I'm the one in control. If it's not about me, why would I care?


sarah marie said...

I'm having the same fears about The Office. The premiere was great, but the second episode fell a bit flat compared with previous seasons. I hope this season isn't a disappointment!


Actually, I thought the second episode held together a little better than the first, but both seemed a little out-of-control. They have a lot to live up to from Seasons 2 & 3, but I just hope the show doesn't become a caricature of itself. My biggest concern is that some of the enjoyable minor characters are getting too exaggerated - especially Creed and Kelly. I used to love Creed because he was so mysterious, but now they just seem content to make him more of a crackpot each week.

As crazy as it sounds, given that Michael Scott is the boss, the series needs to be somewhat believable to really work. I think from Day 1 we all accept that he's a little over-the-top, but the show needs grounding from other characters. Too many nutcases and it's just another loud, annoying sitcom.

sarah marie said...

Ooh, I agree... even Michael, social failure that he is, has to have his moments of salesmanship glory to make the office setting remotely believable. Lately those moments have been few and far between. Sure, Michael's a bit of a moron, but driving his car into a lake?? Really? And I like Creed better when he made fewer appearances, too.

On an unrelated note, I think Ryan looks like David Fraser.