Bob and Weave

Musings of an impostor. Welcome to the masquerade.

Archive for December, 2010

Best Books of 2010 (part 1)

Posted by flyingbk on 12/15/2010

I’m thankful that this year, I’ve learned how to be a little better with my time. This past summer, I had a ton of free time because I was only tutoring about five hours a week. So I spent the rest of my time watching a few TV shows (long live The Shield!), but mostly I read like a madman. The Barnes & Noble at Riverside Square Mall in Hackensack was my home away from home.  Therefore, by my count, I have successfully finished 26 books this year. I plan to read at least two more to finish out 2010, and they’re both highly regarded (The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot). But for now, here are my best books of the year, starting with my honorable mention (top 10 to follow in future posts):

HONORABLE MENTION:

Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue, and Unthinkable Choices by Mosab Hassan Yousef is worth reading because the true-life story featured is a crazy one, and also testifies to the transforming power of the gospel. Yousef also is uniquely qualified (he really is the son of a former top Hamas leader) to comment on the Middle East conflict, and I learned a lot about each side’s motivations.

The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O’Neil’s America by Joe Posnanski has been dubbed the Tuesdays With Morrie for baseball fans, and rightly so. Buck O’Neil is a most delightful character, and his outlook on life (despite plenty of reasons to be bitter) is refreshing. Posnanski may be the best living sportswriter alive right now, so that’s also a plus.

Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by Alex and Brett Harris is a must-read for anyone involved in youth ministry, and the Harris’ message is a timely and necessary one. The only reason this book doesn’t make my top 10 is because it’s not very well-written (the “we” voice works poorly, IMO), but maybe I’m just being picky.

Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip-Confessions of a Cynical Waiter by Steve Dublanica is a book I really enjoyed this past summer. People, if you’re not tipping at least 15% to your waiter (I always shoot for at least 17%), it’s because you don’t know what’s really going on in the bowels of each restaurant. I already heard from other people how difficult working in food service can be, and this book is a humorous, confirming account. Dublanica recently came out with a sequel about tipping; I skimmed it recently, and honestly, it was quite awful.

Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert: I read the beginning of Eat Pray Love and found it to be pathetic and ridiculously self-absorbed. But I decided to give Committed a try after hearing it referenced often by a pastor in a very good sermon series on sex and marriage. I wrote the following about this book at goodreads.com: “By the end of the book, I get tired of Gilbert’s writing style. There’s a reason people call her books “priv-lit.” Her writing smacks of elitism and “ooh! look i’m hanging out with 3rd world cultures and being cosmopolitan!” That having been said, I learned a lot about the institution of marriage and its history.”

Open by Andre Agassi has been called the “anti-sports biography.” Agassi is brutally honest about his hatred of tennis and how his dad controlled him throughout his childhood. But the book also speaks to the power of love; it was his love for his wife Steffi Graf and a charter school he started in Las Vegas that propelled him to an unlikely surge in the second half of his career.

The Good Soldiers by David Finkel: You wanna know what it’s like being a soldier in Iraq? Read this account by a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. He tells it like it is, with little political tint. Some stories are certainly not for the faint of heart, and they blow your mind. You’ll come away with a greater respect for those who fight and protect overseas on behalf of our nation.

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Unpopular Opinions on Sports

Posted by flyingbk on 12/08/2010

This post was inspired by this one. I’ll do sports today, and life another time. Here we go..

Sports
1. I’m rooting for LeBron James and the Miami Heat to succeed. I think most people who attack him are just being haters. I’m also rooting for Tiger Woods to get back to the top.

2. The National League should adopt the DH (I’m tired of watching pitchers “hit”), and MLB should get rid of unbalanced schedules. Let’s dispense with the myth that winning a division matters in baseball (the wild card is just as equal in value).

3. Hard salary caps, like the NFL institutes (well, except for this year), are insanity. It’s not a formula for parity; it’s a recipe for leaguewide mediocrity.

4. I’ll blog later about this, but American football is a fundamentally flawed sport. How do you have a puny kicker decide many contests when he doesn’t play at all otherwise?

5. I’ve read John Calipari’s book. I’m sure he’s as slimy as they come (and he uses people), and yet I can’t help but like him.

6. Baseball and college hoops are the two most exciting sports. The NFL has its moments, but a lot of times it’s subpar.

7. The vast majority of sports fans underestimate how much luck matters in sports, and they make opinions on such matters as “clutch” instead of understanding what’s really going down.

8. The following sports personalities I find insufferable and/or completely wrongheaded in their analysis: Stuart Scott, Merril Hoge, Lou Holtz, Digger Phelps, Clark Kellogg, Mike Greenberg, Mike Golic, Michael Kay, Dave O’Brien, and Rick Reilly.

9. Soccer is boring. Soccer puts me to sleep. I only watch the World Cup out of patriotism, but I probably shouldn’t even bother anymore. That’s because soccer is lame.

10. I can’t stand Rafael Nadal. I respect him, of course, but I just don’t enjoy watching him play.
Of course, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion.

Here are a couple things we should be able to agree on. #1, Gus Johnson is the man (my favorite moment is at the 2:34 mark):

And #2, Jimmy V’s speech is worth watching. Every year:

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