Adam Reger | Pittsburgh Writer, Editor, and Teacher

Pittsburgh writer, editor, ghostwriter, and teacher.

Month: November, 2010

59 Points

I am late to the scene, as usual, but this past Monday night my Philadelphia Eagles lambasted the Washington football club with the racist team name to the tune of 59-28. (Although Washington’s 28 is slightly misleading because the Eagles were up 35-0 before Washington did anything at all.) They set a bunch of team records, and their 45 first-half points were the most by a visiting team in one half in the history of the NFL.

Moreover, this was an intra-divisional match-up, a rivalry game, and it followed Washington’s 17-12 win over the Eagles on their home turf (which caused me to stop blogging about the Eagles, after this overconfident blog post prior to the game).

So you’ll understand when I say that watching this game was very, very sweet. Nick Paumgarten of The New Yorker wrote on the website about missing the first quarter of play, but this summed it up: “As an Eagles fan—as a fan of anything—you don’t get many moments of unadulterated bliss.” That’s what this was, from that first, 88-yard touchdown strike to the last touchdown, an interception returned forty yards for a touchdown by the rising star Dimitri Patterson (who also helped shut down Reggie Wayne and the Indianapolis Colts).

Interestingly, a moral or at least an emotional dimension of the game has emerged since the final gun sounded. During the broadcast, there were a few shots of pre-game scuffling between the teams, in particular Washington safety LaRon Landry jawing with Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson. It’s since come out that Landry and cornerback DeAngelo Hall taunted Jackson, who missed a game three weeks ago with a concussion, by making “go to sleep” gestures. (As in, you know, we’re going to knock you out.) And Eagles center Mike McGlynn has accused Landry of spitting in his face during point-after attempts.

The spitting thing may be bogus, though the NFL is investigating, but I haven’t heard anyone dispute the “go to sleep” taunts. Various Eagles have as much as said that the pre-game taunting fired them up. It’s just piling on at this point to say that Washington deserved the drubbing in some sense, but it is an interesting case of bad behavior being punished directly on the field.

And it ties in interestingly, if maybe tangentially, to the whole Michael Vick storyline. I tend to think that what I’ve heard of commentators drawing in his dog fighting crimes, and the difficult ethics of rooting for a convict, are a bit of a stretch. My feeling is that he did his time, and that to continue to say “Yes, but . . .” sort of undermines the idea that we can be rehabilitated. (Although I suppose that, if the narrative being spun by sports commentators is that Vick is on a road of redemption, calling back to his misdeeds is perhaps fair enough.) But I mention this just to acknowledge it; you’d have to be pretty dense to talk about justice, and bad guys getting theirs, when the avenger himself has a pretty spotty past.

Sad (Book-Related) News

Joseph-Beth Booksellers, a real high point in the life of Pittsburgh’s literary scene, is closing this weekend. Darn this rough economy!

They moved from a big, lovely two-story space (with escalators and a weird, tiny tranquility fountain sort of thing) to a more cramped space earlier in the year, but still had a great selection, at least in the fiction section and, especially, in the number of literary magazines they carried. I special-ordered Jack Pendarvis’s Awesome one time and the clerk advised me that if it came in and I decided I didn’t want it, that was fine. Some may see that as a lack of business acumen, but I was impressed by the book-first attitude evinced by that policy.

On a note that is either more positive or slightly morbid, though, they are having a great sale—40 percent off everything—until they close on November 14th.

Marathon Homestretch

Over the weekend, I put in my longest training run: 20 miles. It was a good, good feeling to hit the showers after that one, knowing I’d reached the pinnacle and my running would now begin slacking off in preparation for race day, November 21. After the rough, dehydrating experience of running 18 miles the previous Sunday, I was smart enough to bring two little bottles of water with me, plus a packet of GU Energy Gel. It made all the difference in the world. As much as I’d like to think I’m tough enough to go without, the difference between absorbing no calories during a long run and taking in 90 calories is substantial. (An aside re: GU: the gel, while restorative during runs, is kind of gross. Decidedly awesome, on the other hand, are GU Chomps, which taste and go down the gullet like the fruit snacks I so loved as a boy.) And the difference between being totally dried out after a run and being pretty dried out, but not completely, is maybe even more notable. My legs were sore, and I was obliged to take a nap, but I did not feel as drained and just overall zonked out, the way I often do after these long runs. I’d thought those feelings were just inherent to running 14+ miles in one go, but apparently I could have avoided some of these lost Sunday afternoons had I but planned a bit better.

All that is sort of a prelude to say that I faked myself out somewhat and the real pinnacle of my training came last night. Thursday-night runs have slowly been ramping up throughout training, from 5 to 6, etc., and jumping up to 10 last week. I think I knew this already, but last night’s run was also a 10-miler. It sounds like a piece of cake, if one has recently conquered a 20-miler.

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Sentence(s) of the Year

The last two lines of Flann O’Brien’s At Swim-Two-Birds*:

Well-known, alas, is the case of the poor German who was very fond of three and who made each aspect of his life a thing of triads. He went home one evening and drank three cups of tea with three lumps of sugar in each cup, cut his jugular with a razor three times and scrawled with a dying hand on a picture of his wife good-bye, good-bye, good-bye.

*These lines are in no way a spoiler; thus my putting this important message after the excerpt.

I just rescued this excerpt from my Facebook page, where it was toiling in obscurity, trapped in the little-loved FB “Note” format. The rest of At Swim-Two-Birds has absolutely zero to do with these lines, but is written in a similarly beautiful and surprising style, and its Irish characters speak with the wit and verbal pizzazz you would expect. Among my favorites is a dialogue of several displaced characters from literature in which the others grow obviously bored with the long-winded verse saga of Finn McCool, a figure from Irish legend represented as a tired old man.