Well, you have to start these things somewhere, so why not with an oblique reference to Flash Gordon tacked onto delusions of grandeur?
As a kid, I loved that movie much more than made any proper sense, to the point that, 31 years ago when it was in the theaters, my best friend Steven and I sat through it three times in a row. How could you turn away? Max von Sydow was rocking the cape as Ming the Merciless, the special effects were self-consciously avant-cheesy, and with a soundtrack by Queen, it was science-fiction rock opera at its finest.
With the two of us hopped up on soda pop in the days long before anyone in the neighborhood had a VCR, it seemed like a worthwhile way to blow a Saturday, and it wasn’t like the slack policing of indifferent teen ushers was going to show us the door. It was an unlimited number of shows for the price of one, and that sort of got me to thinking about this project.
As a writer, you want to write, you love to write, and on some very basic level, you need to write. I don’t know about you, but that certainly goes for me. If you’re an actively social animal with a hungrily omnivorous curiosity, as I fancy myself to be, then you might understand an instinct to jabber in whatever medium’s available. Raised as I was as a Kahrl at a table full of equally noisy, opinionated, and engaging Kahrls, I figure that this is my lot. For make no mistake, this isn’t about you, it’s about me.
This is because Kahrls jabber, at tremendous length and no little skill, on subjects great but more frequently small. We relish the opportunity to bore the most obdurate dullard to dust on some subject that fleet-footed bystanders might sensibly flee, usually chortling over our delicious good fortune to have cornered one of the poor bastards before we try to bust his bean with utterly useless knowledge generally not worth knowing. Once our prey is immobilized with an aperitif or the harmless-seeming introductory bon mot, we promptly disgorge some stupefying tidbit sure to pulverize their capacity for interest in any further conversation, should they get a word in edgewise within the first half-hour.
Curious about the habits of Malinois bitches when they’re peckish on cold days? What about Denmark’s plucky participation in efforts to suppress the Barbary pirates before Lord Nelson Copenhagen’d their wee fleet (with a Britannic mercilessness we gladly emulate in conversation)? Or, worst of all, perhaps you’ll learn about a favorite utility infielder from the American League West in 1984; it was Bill Almon, naturally, and shame on you for picking Larry Milbourne — whatever were you thinking?
If Lovecraft always warned us against the secrets man was not meant to know, leave it to a Kahrl to ambush you with secrets nobody wants to know. With rather less frequency, we’re actually engaging on subjects people find interesting, which gets us invited to dinner, which we enjoy. It’s all an act, which is why repeat invitations are unsurprisingly infrequent.
However, armed as I am with a storehouse of unnecessary knowledge about King Zog’s domestic policies, Portuguese seafood recipes using ingredients nobody can find, or the most disturbing themes found in Weimar art, you can be sure that I’m ready to inflict myself on a hapless household near you.
So, my conversational cup runneth over, and in my selfishness, I’d like to spill just a bit of it on you. As a matter of the arrangements I operate under with my employer at ESPN.com and with my former company, Baseball Prospectus, I get to write sporadically for the former (almost entirely about baseball) and perhaps never again for the latter. That’s no cause for pity; ESPN takes very good care of me, while BP could only afford to offer me a lint sandwich, all the better to pay its other contributors.
Thus afforded a slack tension between profit and penury, between venues and opportunity, to write because I love it and, perhaps, more properly, have to write. So here I’m more than happy to follow my instincts and jabber away to my own delight. I’ve figured it was high time to create a space to talk about whatever I please on any subject save one: the one I’m paid to write on, the one that keeps the lights on and the mortgage paid and the Malinois in bowls of blood and biscuits. So if you want to talk about baseball, this isn’t the space for it; I write about baseball for ESPN.com, and I keep it conventional there.
Although firing up this blog finds me un-free from talking about the subject you know me best for, it nevertheless affords me a creative opportunity I’d long given up. Whatever gonzo inclinations I strutted at Baseball Prospectus during its earliest, wildest days were necessarily muted in its plodding and ultimately successful quest for respectability. Here, I’ll be more than happy to exercise those old, silly sinews clacking the keyboard to jabber about the other, lesser sports that populate the entertainment dial. I’ll also review the books I’m reading, regale you with tales of tedium related to my fascination with the 19th century or the USFL, share thoughts about the latest Rammstein album, upload the non-sensory aspects of domestic culinary success, and probably talk more about my pets, partner, and politics than might be wise.
So, there’s no time like the present. If you’re as willing as I to get hopped up on these things that I find entertaining, here’s hoping you’ll sit next to me for the show, at least the first time through.
January 11, 2012