Wednesday, February 16

2/16/05 KEYS TO THE COMMENTS

It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE COMMENTS.

During Jose’s time working for the Massachusetts State Legislature, he learned that there is an old saying about constituents and issues. "One constituent calling on an issue is a crank, five are a movement, 10 are a crisis." Well, Jose’s comments on Pride and Prejudice yesterday garnered three critical comments, moving them closer to movement then they are to crank. Thus, Jose, in keeping with U.S. foreign policy, has decided to launch a preemptive strike. In the tradition of lazy sports writers everywhere he will answer his readers when he has no ideas for a post/column. Jose brings you the first ever KEYS TO THE COMMENTS.

1. "Nooo Jose! This is my favorite website other than SoSH to check everyday, but you don't like Pride and Prejudice? Please explain in a further key!" Anonymous

"Ditto the first comment, Jose...". Anonymous

"How can Jose not like Pride and Prejudice? Does Jose not see the sarcasm and wit of this timeless satire on social positions?" Anonymous

Now that Jose notices that all three of these posts are anonymous, he realizes that perhaps Jose just has one fan who really, really likes Pride and Prejudice. Hmm…Ockham’s Razor would say that that is more likely than the theory that three of Jose’s readers loved that book. After all, can the crossover between fans of a baseball blog and Jane Austen really be that big? (Note: Unless the Melendezette and Jose’s mother, both of whom love that book are writing in.)

So on to Jose’s issues with Pride and Prejudice, a.k.a. the most boring book Jose has ever read cover to cover. (Note: Not necessarily the most boring book in history, though it probably is, just the most boring book Jose has ever read cover-to-cover. This is jut like how game three of the ALCS may not be the worst game in baseball history, but it is the worst Jose has ever watched all nine innings of.)

Jose’s first issue is that this book has a fundamentally deceptive title. When Jose picked up this book, he naturally assumed that it was about former Red Sox outfielder Curtis Pride and his struggle against discrimination from those who hate the deaf. Wrong! As it became clear that the 4-A outfielder was not the subject of this book, Jose began to expect that it would be about PRIDE fighting and the bigotry PRIDE promoter and legendary Japanese professional wrestler Antonio Inoki faced as a member of the Japanese Diet because of his wrestling background. Apparently, they thought that he was only going to pretend to legislate. Wrong again!! Finally, Jose assumed that if neither of his first two guesses were true, the book must at least be about a misfit young lion struggling to find his place in the pride and in the world, sort of like Shell Silversteins’s epic Lafcadio: The Lion Who Shot Back. Three times wrong!!! (Note: And maybe four times wrong, as Jose’s friend Mait has informed him that only female lions associate in prides.)

As it turns out, the book is about some Englishwoman and her prejudiced and foolish dismissal of one man in order to be courted by another. Jose defies anyone to say that he wouldn’t rather read about Curtis Pride. (Note: Observe Jose’s use of "he" in the previous sentence. Jose does not defy anyone to say that "she" wouldn’t rather read about the Englishwoman.)

Jose read this book as the summer reading for his 12th grade British Literature class along with the modestly less boring A Passage to India. That is the only way he ever would have read it. And as bad as it was, at least when he finished it, he knew he would never have to sit through it again. Of course, he was wrong yet again, and this brings him to his second complaint – that this book insidiously sneaks into other media. Jose knew when he went to see Bridget Jones’ Diary, it would be a chick flick that he probably wouldn’t like. But how could he possibly have know that it would have been nothing more than a vehicle to foist Pride and Prejudice upon an unsuspecting public.

Jose’s third objection is Austen’s ridiculous use of alliteration in the title of what is ostensibly a piece of high literature. Alliteration is fine for blogs, newspapers and Harlequin Romances, but for serious literature? Did Dostoyevsky call Crime and Punishment "Perpetrators and Punishment?" Did Melvillie call Moby Dick "Of Water and Whales?" Did God call the Bible "Sinners and Saviors?" Nope. Because they know alliteration is just a little trashy. Yo, Austen, you want to use a literary device in your title? Why not sack up and lay down some enjambent.

Finally, Jose hated Pride and Prejudice because it was simply boring. Boring like an Andy Reid press conference. Boring like a Pirates-Twins preseason game. If it was any more boring, it would be a power drill.

So the next time Jose read anything by an author named Austen, you can be sure it will be by Stone Cold Steve Austin, or possibly Austin Croshere’s biography. (Note: Speaking of boring.)

2. "Your discourse on the Eagle is appreciated, how about some "Keys to the BC Eagles 20-0 season"?" Xavier Hall
This item is a little bit dated, as the BC Eagles are now decidedly not undefeated, but Jose still thinks it deserves a response.

To be honest, the odds that Jose will ever write on the BC Eagles are not so good. Jose’s basically doesn’t like BC all that much. Why is an interesting question. After all, Jose, at the age of eight, was as swept up in Flutiemania as anyone. He went to see BC play Alabama at Foxboro in driving hail storm with a relative who had gone to Alabama. (Note: As Jose recalls, this relative, who was a Jew from Worcester, got to Alabama by a curious route. He had only gotten in to two colleges Holy Cross, right there in Worcester, and Alabama. His Jewish mother from some part of what was then the Soviet Union was not going to let her son go to Holy Cross, so Alabama it was. So the only question his mother had was "Zis A-la-ba-ma…Ees in Yoonited Stayts?")

Heck Granny Melendez even knitted Jose a sweater in gold and maroon with a football player bearing Flutie’s 22 on the back. Jose loved that sweater. Of course, the first time he wore it to school, some yokel ripped him for wearing an uncouth homemade garment and he stopped wearing it. (Note: Sorry about that Granny Melendez. That sweater was fantastic. If Jose still weighed 85 pounds, he would so be wearing that sweater.)

But the Flutie era ended, and so did Jose’s interest in BC. In fact, Jose started to downright dislike BC. Why is sort of unclear. Was it the legacy of his great-grandmother who grew up in the Bavarian town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, where they still fight the 30 years war? Was rooting for a Catholic university, even for in his own home town, simply not in his blood? Was Jose desperately looking for a Japanese-German-Jewish University to root for? Or maybe just maybe…did Jose know even then , in his heart of hearts, that he would go to Boston University?

But Jose is a Boston guy, and he likes college sports okay, so he has pangs. Rooting for BU Football is not exactly compelling. (Note: When Ken Walter got the Patriots punting job, he beat out former BU punter Brad Costello. Jose was so disappointed. He desperately wanted the last BU player in the NFL to be a punter. Costello could have been there for 15 years after the program folded.) Every time BC starts to get some momentum in basketball or football (Note: Never Hockey…not ever hockey), Jose begins to feel the attraction of the local college story. Yes, deep down hidden away, Jose may even root for BC. But will he root enough to write about them? Not unless he wants to lose his 10 percent alumni discount at the BU Bookstore.

3. "It is well documented that Jose only refers to himself in the third person, with that one exception at the end of every KEYS. But what is the proper protocol for others to address Jose -- in the third person or the second person singular? Should I have been using "you" rather than "Jose" throughout this comment? And is the protocol the same or different for written and in-person communications? For example, if the Melendezette wishes to get Jose to turn off the damn WWF 2004 Highlights DVD already, does she say "Jose, you really need to go to bed" or "Jose, Jose really needs to go to bed"??? Thank you." Anonymous

This is a fascinating question. Actually, Jose doesn’t like to be addressed by others in the third person or the second person singular. No, he prefers the second person plural pronoun, which by a tremendous coincidence is the same as the second person singular in English. Of course, he likes the accompanying verbs to be in the second person singular. Jose only has hang ups about pronouns, not verbs.

SPECIAL BONUS: Jose is loathe to add a bonus, but he could not let today pass without mentioning one story of note from the Boston Globe. Apparently, a fellow named Mitch Kates is running the Boston mayoral campaign of city councilor at-large Maura Hennigan. Kates appears to be a middling political talent well-suited to a middling mayoral candidate, but he is not without a certain distinction. Once upon a time, Kates wrestled as Jason the Terrible, a goalie masked, ax wielding professional wrestler who in no way infringed upon the copyright of the Friday the 13th horror film franchise.

As you may have noticed, Jose is a bit of a pro-wrestling buff, and with that background, Jose offers some advice to the many influential Boston politicos who read and enjoy the KEYS. First, Jason the Terrible, as Jose recalls, claimed to wear the hockey mask to cover up a face that was horribly scarred in a fire that he started. It may have even bee a fire at an orphanage or foster home. Yet, in today’s Globe, Kates appears to be porcelain skinned. Where are the scars? Is he an arsonist, a liar or both? Either way, should he be running a mayoral campaign? Can the Globe editorialize on this? Second, Jose also recalls Jason the Terrible wrestling in Stampede wrestling in Calgary, Alberta Canada. Stampede, which may now be defunct, was long dominated by the famed Hart family, the most famous of whom are Brett "The Hitman" Heart and the late Owen Hart. Jose suggests that the Menino campaign hire a member of this family as an advisor to help him counter Jason. Jose suggests lesser known wrestler Jack Hart, who when last Jose heard, was representing South Boston in the state Senate…or does he just pretend to be a state Senator as his in ring gimmick. Sometimes it is so hard to tell.

I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO THE COMMENTS.

7 comments:

Tom said...

Jose, I read nearly half of Pride and Prejudice before I realized that (1) Elizabeth Bennet was not going to be mauled by a pride of lions and (2) there would be no angry mobs administering vigilante justice in the name of anti-Victorianism. It didn't seem like there could be anything else that would redeem the novel enough to make it worth my time, so even though it was assigned reading for me too, I decided a good grade wasn't worth the effort. Possibly as a result of this, I was not even accepted to BU. But I've received the same education for a fourth of the cost at UMass-Amherst, so I still think I made the right decision.

Also, I liked the "commentbag" posting. Are you going to keep doing them, or will you start responding to comments yourself in the comment section, or is the future entirely uncertain?

Rob said...

Jose and Tom have every right to hate any book they choose, especially books foisted upon them in high school english classes, but there are a few things to straighten out about P&P. Because, as everyone knows, we all want to be like Jose, I give you my comments on the keys to the comments in tripartite form:

1. I am not one of the anonymous three (getting closer and closer to a movement, Jose), and I am definitely a he, and I'd much rather re-read P&P than anything about Curtis Pride. Nothing against Curtis, but he ain't got nothing on Miss Elizabeth in the literary subject department.

2. Alliteration: P&P may get grouped with high lit now, but Jane was trying to make a living. Cut her some slack. (And while it's true that Dostoevsky never called his masterpiece _Perpetrators and Punishment_, it's also true that he never called it _Crime and Punishment_. No, as a Slavic scholar like Jose knows quite well, he called it something like _Prestuplenie i Nakazanie_, which is a pretty cool sounding title if you hear it with the right accent. So let's have no more of this "great lit must have boring titles" attitude).

3. Tom's English teacher was obviously quite negligent. If she'd done her job right, he'd have known from the start not to expect any anti-Victorian mobs in P&P, as Victorianism didn't even exist during Austen's lifetime. P&P has nothing to do with the Victorian period, and everything to do with the much cooler Regency period. What's the difference? you might ask. Well, lots of stuff, but let's focus on the basics: lower necklines. None of this Victorian "cover all female flesh below the chin" BS. Now, had Tom's and Jose's English teachers done their job and explained this important historical detail, I have no doubt that they would both have found Miss Austen's prose much more engaging.

Eric said...

And please note that the leading man in the 1995 BBC/A&E production was none other than Colin Firth, who played the parallel role in Bridget Jones. Loved that. Of course the BBC production is smokin', especially one Jennifer Ehle (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000383/).

Sam said...

I'm female and would rather read about Curtis Pride than the charmingly convoluted romance missteps of englishwomen (c'mon it's just a ripoff of Shakespeare anyways), what the hell does that say?

And by the by, the actual prides are indeed mostly female lions, but the young males do form roving groups that hunt and live together until they can get a pride of ladies of their own. Much like your average college male, actually.

Rob said...

How is P&P a ripoff of Shakespeare? (I'm actually curious).

And it bears repeating, these aren't the convoluted missteps of just any englishwomen - they're englishwomen who look like Jennifer Ehle. Plus Colin Firth is pretty hot too, and I don't even bat from that side of the plate.

Not to mention the devastatingly funny satire. Jane was Regency England's Maureen Dowd.

Sam said...

I'm thinking Shakespeare along the lines of A Comedy of Errors, Much Ado about Nothing, etc.

Anonymous said...

Jose --

Many thanks for your response. Not everyone likes BC, especially when they are from BU, but occasionally one must put all that aside to focus on the main goal -- Boston (or Brockton) sports supremacy! BTW -- why doesn;t Boston call itself "City of winnahs, not whinahs!" Who needs the toxic waste dump pretending to be a "City of Champions"?

Keep up the good work,

Xavier Hall