Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Retracing Recent Ramifications of Thought, Part 1 (VALIS, Duality and Finnegans Wake)

"Each of us has within us a secretly potent pantheon. The unconscious sends all sorts of vapors, odd beings, deluding images up into the mind–whether in dream, broad daylight, or insanity; for the human kingdom, beneath the floor of the comparatively neat little dwelling that we call our consciousness, goes down into unexpected Aladdin caves. There not only jewels but also dangerous jinn abide: the inconvenient or resisted psychological powers that we have not thought or dared to integrate into our lives. And they may remain unsuspected, or, on the other hand, some chance word, the smell of a landscape, the taste of a cup of tea, or the glance of an eye may touch a magic spring, and then dangerous messengers begin to appear in the brain. These are dangerous because they threaten the fabric of the security into which we have built ourselves and our family. But they are fiendishly fascinating too, for they carry keys that open the whole realm of the desired and feared adventure of the discovery of the self. Destruction of the world that we have built and in which we live, and of ourselves within it; but then a wonderful reconstruction, of the bolder, cleaner, more spacious, and fully human life–that is the lure, the promise and the terror, of these disturbing night visitations from the mythological realm that we carry within.
- Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

New track: "Pyramid Builders"

 Pyramid Builders [feat. Heaven Razah, Kevlaar 7, & Illy Vas] by Zagnif Nori

"Who wanna build as the Olmecs did?"

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Book Review: Baseball Prospectus 2013

For the last ten years, each February has brought a new edition of the Baseball Prospectus annual book to my doorstep. Covering every team and every player with essays, statistics, and commentaries, it's always a treasured new arrival which I somehow manage to devour entirely, all 500+ pages of it, within a few weeks.

While it has the physical appearance of a college accounting textbook, the BP annuals have always been known to be densely stuffed with great writing. The statistics serve as the structural spine of the book but the essays and player commentaries are always the highlight, making it so addictive to read for a baseball nut.

This year's edition made some unwelcome changes to the formula, though, and as a big-time baseball obsessive and Prospectus geek, it's a major disappointment. The BP venture has seen lots of turnover in its writerly ranks over the last 5 or 6 years with the style and content they produce gradually evolving away from what made them so successful in the first place.

Monday, April 8, 2013

2013 MLB Season Preview Part 6: NL East

The expected ascent of Harper into the Trout-ian stratosphere at age 20 figures to be one of the game's biggest stories this year. (Getty Images.)

1. Nationals
PECOTA: 87 wins
My pick: Over

This 87-win projection is one of the oddest numbers spit out by PECOTA as the consensus among fans and experts is that this is the best all-around team in baseball this year. I'm inclined to agree with the latter as no other team is so well-stocked with talent in every area of the roster (manager included) as this year's Nationals. They won 98 games last year with a good Pythagorean record to back it up (in other words, they weren't especially lucky) and look to have greatly improved in the offseason.
Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, back-to-back #1 picks and two of the planet's true phenoms in any sport, are only now just starting to hit their stride. Harper is an early (and seemingly easy) MVP candidate as he enters just his second season at age 20. Those two are surrounded by an infield of power-hitters who are notably great defensive players, the rotation behind Strasburg is stacked, the bullpen's deep enough to withstand inevitable injuries and/or regression, and oh yeah Bryce Harper could go all Mike Trout on us this year. 90 wins easily, possibly somewhere closer to a 100.

Monday, April 1, 2013

2013 MLB Season Preview Part 5: NL Central

Continuing our series of predictions for each division, this time I'll keep the comments short as the season is already under way and these need to get finished.

NL Central
The Astros are no longer around to serve as a punching bag for the rest of the division, but the story here remains the same: a battle for first between the two teams who wear red. 

1. Cardinals
PECOTA: 83 wins
My pick: Over
Yadi shall lead the way for the Cards.

A very strong offensive team with one of the top hitting prospects in baseball (Oscar Taveras) still stuck in the minors waiting for a spot to open up. They'll score plenty, it's just a question of whether the rotation holds up without stalwart Chris Carpenter around. They've got a few young pitchers who'll end up either in key relief roles or starting, I think it'll all work out fine as one of the game's best catchers Yadier Molina will be behind the plate to guide the new blood.

2013 MLB Season Preview Part 4: NL West

NL West

1. Giants
PECOTA: 85 wins
My pick: Over

Two World Series victories in three years and their core is both intact and only now starting to reach their prime. As good as the Dodgers look on paper, I'll still take this group over them.

The decline of Tim Lincecum is disheartening but the rotation still features two top notch aces in Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner. The Giants were lucky enough to make it through the whole year without any injuries to their starting pitchers, only 2 games were started by someone outside of their regular 5-man rotation. That's not likely to happen again.

With a strong defense, great starting pitching, versatile bullpen, good tactical manager, and a lineup that was actually one of the best in baseball last year, the Giants are primed for another run into the playoffs. They're the best team in this division, though the competition promises to be tougher than in recent years.