Why I Want Grand Central To Enjoy Its Centennial

I don’t remember the first time I walked into Grand Central Terminal. I do remember that for a number of weeks after I first moved to New York after college that I walked through Grand Central every morning on my way to work. Maybe that is when it became my favorite building in New York.

Grand Central is often referred to as Grand Central Station but the official name is Grand Central Terminal. The origin of the name is likely because of the fact that the station is actually a terminal (or terminus), that is that the lines end at Grand Central.

Grand Central Terminal is celebrating its 100th birthday this year and I imagine the only gift it really wants is to have the Pan Am Building and the Helmsley Building to the north demolished so that Grand Central can be seen from Park Avenue above 45th Street. (I know that it is no longer the Pan Am Building but I don’t think it will ever be the MetLife Building to me.)

For me, Grand Central does exactly what a train station should do, it sets expectations for what is outside its walls. Even though New York over-delivers (it is New York City, after all), a walk through the Main Concourse puts the traveler on notice that they have arrived somewhere spectacular, a place that must be amazing to justify the existence of such a station.

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The Past Ain’t Through With Us

For reasons too mundane to pass on, I had to resort to watching a DVD while I ironed my shirts this past weekend. It has been some time, years, since I have not been able to access either cable or Netflix or Hulu Plus or Amazon. So I went to the closet where my DVDs collect dust and pulled out Magnolia.

Magnolia is Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1999 film, his follow-up to the film that put him into the mass consciousness, Boogie Nights. It was Anderson’s third feature and because of the success of Boogie Nights, Anderson was able to do whatever he wanted. Magnolia has the feel of someone trying to say everything he could never say before and is afraid he will never have the chance to say again.

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Tali’Zorah is my Girlfriend

For those of you who know who Tali’Zorah is, there is no need to explain that she is not my girlfriend. She and I have been so busy saving the galaxy that it is almost possible to create and maintain anything resembling a real relationship. Plus, there is Miranda and Jack, not to mention Ashley and Liara. The odds are against us.

(To be fair, others have contributed to the effort besides Tali, Jack and Miranda, including but not limited to Grunt, Garus, Thane, Zaeed, Jacob, Samara and Mordin.)

While it may seem strange for me to talk about the fictional Tali’Zorah as if she is real, is it any stranger than the Manti Te’o saga? It has been unfair with Te’o that the idea that  that Te’o fell in love with a woman that he never met is considered strange. (I may be guilty of making a few Te’o jokes myself.) The old ideas of courtship and love are so ingrained in us that our second response to this story, after incredulity, is ridicule. Te’o himself seemed to expect that as it appears that after he learned that the was the victim of a hoax he continued to perpetuate the story partly because he was humiliated. (The other part, I suspect, is that he really wanted the Heisman.)

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Nate Said Its Okay to Goof Off

I just finished reading Nate Silver’s latest book, The Signal and the Noise, and my biggest takeaway was not about the need to be probabilistic or to think in a Bayesian manner (although I will endeavor to do both of those things) but is instead this: It is okay to goof off at work because it may lead me to doing something I really love.

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Here Comes the Comeuppance

On Thursday, Lance Armstrong is going to admit to what everybody already knew: Armstrong cheated to win the Tour de France. An interview by Oprah Winfrey was recorded on Monday and is going to be broadcast on Oprah Winfrey’s own network, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.

Given that the evidence against Armstrong is overwhelming and given that everyone in professional cycling is cheating, you may wonder why this is news. (It’s not like if Jodie Foster came out as being single.) The simple reason is that America loves the comeuppance. We love the underdog who succeeds, like an American coming back from testicular cancer to dominate a sport that no one in the US really cares about, with the side benefit of upsetting Europeans who think they are better at riding bikes than us upstarts. But once the legend is created, once people actually tune in to watch the race and once you start to see those ugly yellow silicone gel wristbands everywhere, it’s time to change course. It’s time for comeuppance.

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You Should Be Watching Girls

The second season of Girls started last night on HBO. Although I have not yet seen the episode (maybe tonight), I did have occasion to speak about the series at dinner last night with friends and while three of us really like the series, one friend can’t stand it.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, to be honest. I’ve had a look at my friend’s DVR queue and it is dominated by drama series from USA and TNT. I’m not judging her solely on that (after all, I enjoy Burn Notice) but on top of that she also doesn’t like shows like Parks and Recreation and Louie. So why does it bother me that she doesn’t like Girls?

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Other Thoughts on TV Drama’s Golden Age

A number of years ago I was corresponding with a friend about the current golden age of TV drama and I gave him my opinion that Oz on HBO was the series that started it all. About a year ago I started toying with a post about where all this good TV came from, using IMDB to trace the careers of various showrunners. It didn’t really come together in the way I wanted so I left it in drafts and moved on to other things.

It turned out that not only did I never have to finish the post and if I had waited I could have just sent my friend a copy of The Revolution Was Televised by Alan Sepinwall, which came out in November. Sepinwall agrees that Oz was the series that made The Sopranos possible and Sepinwall further traces where those shows came from much better than I ever could. I enjoyed the book and I think it will be one of those books that I will revisit from time to time to remind myself about this era.

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People Don’t Come, But Maybe They Would

In general, I feel about sport halls of fame the same way I feel about end of the season awards; the main purpose they serve is to generate interest, and thereby money, for their sports. Getting inducted into a hall of fame is not necessarily an indication that a player was superior to his or her peers as the standards under which players get inducted are often arbitrary. (Induction to the LPGA portion of the Wold Golf Hall of Fame is an exception.) This topic is on my mind today because the Baseball Writers Association of America, the group that votes annually on which Major League Baseball players should be added to baseball’s Hall of Fame, decided that no player on this year’s ballot was worthy.

The main reason for not selecting players who otherwise far exceed the standards, which can be inferred from the former players already enshrined, is that these players either used or were suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs during their careers. (A minor reason is the lame “Joe DiMaggio didn’t get in on the first ballot” which means certain writers don’t vote for players appearing on the ballot for the first time.)

In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t care if the players cheated or not. I’m with writers like Buster Olney among others who think any information about cheating should be included on the plaque. This is not because I think its important to “honor” baseball players who met certain numerical thresholds or who reached some vague status as being an “ace” or “clutch” or a “leader”. I think you vote to put the players in the hall of fame because the whole point of the institution is to generate interest in baseball.

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