Friday morning quick picks

I really wish that I could post standings from the Take Ten! game over at ST Publishing, but for the second consecutive week, a full list of standings hasn’t been published. The top forty are posted…but none of us is up there, so I can’t congratulate a leader, or send kudos to someone who’s made significant progress. Here’s hoping that someday in the near future, we’ll know who’s where so the donation can get made.

Yes, I’m a little tired of these Derby games.

It’s finally here, the big night, the national opening of The First Saturday in May, the terrific movie about the road to the 2006 Kentucky Derby. I’ll be heading to the 7 pm show and then, I hope, hitting the nearest bar to catch the last half of the Rangers game.

Good news from points north. Perhaps the most definitive sign of a Saratoga spring has arrived: the Oklahoma has opened for training. The Saratogian has run three articles over the last couple of days, including this one about Gary Contessa’s string, one of only two in Saratoga at this point.

I salivate at the prospect; when I was in Saratoga last a few weeks ago, snow still covered the track and the prospect of spring racing seemed as dim as a Triple Crown winner emerging from this year’s crop of three-year-olds. Despite this morning’s frigid temperatures, though, it seems that the snow is gone, and the horses are on the track, and I am desperately searching for a weekend to head up and watch the morning workouts for the first time since August 26th, the day after the Travers.

Commenter J.S. noted, in response to my recent hockey posts, “I am well aware that blogs, unlike newspaper beats, allow the writer to venture away to wherever they like from the topic at hand. Blogs are for writers, not readers.”

Ummm, yes and no. Yes, bloggers can write about pretty much whatever we want. It’s our blog, no one’s paying us (well, in most cases, anyway), and as I noted when blogs first came on the scene, they can be, at their worst, self-indulgent, self-referential, and narcissistic. And I’d say the same is true for some newspaper columns—anyone read Phil Mushnick lately? I use him as an example not because I don’t like Phil Mushnick. I do; I just sometimes get tired of reading columns about the media stuff that drives him, in particular, nuts. It’s his column, and he writes largely about what he wants to. Yes, an editor ultimately approves his content, and that’s a significant procedural difference between his column and a blog, but I’m not sure that the result is so different. (It goes without saying that the variety in the types and quality of blogs makes it nearly impossible to generalize about the genre.)

I have nearly annually taught at least one non-fiction writing class, and as students wrestle with “personal writing,” they frequently need to be reminded that our class is about writing for an audience. Yep, you can write about your life and your views and your experiences, but you’ve got to do it with an audience in mind. For whom are you writing? And why? What do you want readers to take from what you’ve written? And if the students answer that they’re writing for themselves, that their purpose is to express how they feel, I tell them to take it to their diaries and journals.

No, we are not journalists (most of us, anyway), we are not beat writers, we are not overseen by editors; yes, we can write about whatever we want. But I’d say that most of us care very much about readers; many of us respond to the comments posted by readers, and I gotta tell you: if I’d received loud and clear feedback to drop the hockey stuff, I’d have done it. But the two or three posts in which I’ve written exclusively about hockey, or about hockey and racing, have been pretty popular, at least judging by the comments. (And yes, of course, then the obvious suggestion is: stop writing about racing and start writing about hockey. But I’m not going to do that.)

And speaking of hockey, on this day ten nine years ago, the greatest hockey player ever to hit the ice, #99, retired, skating his last professional lap around Madison Square Garden.

And on this day eleven years ago, my first nephew was born. Happy birthday, Michael…

7 thoughts on “Friday morning quick picks

  1. If you didn’t write about hockey, this wouldn’t be a Brooklyn blog.Truism: Write what you know.Brooklyn knows Rangers.

  2. Scrappy T – good nickname for you!If there’s a way to get the info for our little league from St Publishing (horses, jockeys, trainers, races, how to score etc) I can try to get us up to date and keep track for the next couple weeks. Her Highness Trip can help me! Surely two accountants could figure it out!

  3. The New York Times and The Washington Post both published reviews hostile to “The First Saturday In May.” The writers have a right to their opinions, but, particularly in the case of The Times, I think the point of the film is missed . . . From The Times: “Then again, given that one of the movie’s distributors is Churchill Downs Inc., which owns and operates racetracks and is the host of the Derby, it’s no wonder that this feels like a feature-length commercial for the horse racing industry. It is.”The reviewer Manohla Dargis, who I’ve admired for years as a past Village Voice subscriber, writes this as if it’s a negative, but any interview with the filmmakers will show that this, in fact, was the intent — a love letter to the sport and a reintroduction to its excitement to a general audience. I, too, would like to see a doc made about all the issues she brings up — drug use, training routines, etc. — but she penalizes this one for not being that. True, the film didn’t address what, exactly, a trainer does, but it reveals personalities well and traffics in emotion rather than technical knowledge. That is a conscious choice: The film was made for wide viewership, not as an inside look or expose for the few who already care. Consider it as being like the Imax films at the Smithsonian, surface excitement with touches of true humanity. Art must be judged, at least partly, in the context it aspires to, not the expectations of the reviewer. Under that criteria, I think this movie is a success. – J.S.

  4. Linda: I’d love to take you up on your offer, but another flaw of the Take Ten! game is that it doesn’t publish/archive our stables…I don’t even remember who I’ve got in there! I’ll keep digging, and thanks for the offer…

  5. Well then hopefully they’ll publish the full results at the end of the game. I don’t quite remember who I’ve got either 😦

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