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Deja Vu All Over Again February 17, 2008

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball, Books.
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The rest of the book pile I amassed the past couple of days includes the very entertaining When You Come To A Fork In The Road, Take It! by Yogi Berra, where Yogi spins stories off the origins of some of his amusing aphorisms from years gone by. Yogi’s stories vary from family material to stories of his days with the Yankees, a subject I (obviously) never get tired of. The social dynamics of teams were different back in the 1950s, before the sky-high salaries and free agency, where groups of guys basically worked together and looked out for each other. Yogi’s stories of his camaraderie with Billy Martin and Phil Rizzuto, among others, takes you back to a different era, and he juxtaposes the feel of that era very well against other stories of the more tension-filled Yankee teams of the late ’70s where he coached under Billy Martin’s off-and-on management. Yogi remains an amazing player – a very unlikely baseball superstar from his rather lumpy and frumpy appearance – but his years of catching and outfield play comprised the real backbone of the greatest dynasty baseball has ever seen, and he has 3 MVP awards, 15 all-star appearances and a record 75 World Series games played to prove it.

And he inspires academics with FAR too much time on their hands.

With Yogi warming me up for deep-thinking, I also found a copy of Thomas Sowell’s The Quest For Cosmic Justice, a collection of 4 sort-of related essays on the unintended pitfalls of idealism that strike me as a sequel of sorts to his earlier The Vision Of The Anointed since it follows similar lines of logic stemming from Sowell’s worldview. I like how Sowell often takes domestic issues and places them within a worldwide historic context via his academic theories of economics and sociology, but I think the most appealing thing about Sowell to me is that he pretty much comes at you from the point of view of a cranky old man terminally annoyed with the throngs of self-appointed do-gooders who enjoy patting themselves on the back. Basically, the curmudgeon in me & Sowell are annoyed by the same people. Yay!

Cut to Jack Kirkpatrick in Airplane!

Continuing on the curmudgeon path, another book I grabbed was Cancel Your Own Goddamn Subscription, a compilation of letters and responses from William F. Buckley at National Review magazine. A lot of this looks pretty amusing, where Buckley and his readers exchange ideas and insults while all the time immanentzing the eschaton. Yeah, I know… WTF???? Putting aside the policy wonkery, the exchanges look like a nice way to build my vocabulary, at least.

I also found the rather interesting Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home & Other Unexplained Powers Of Animals by Rupert Sheldrake. Now when I was a kid, my cat knew when I’d be coming home from school, and would look out the window around the same time every day until she saw me coming up the street, and then would greet me at the door since her favorite slave was home for some serious pettin’ action. But Sheldrake’s book goes beyond the idea of an animal learning a daily routine tied to an internal biological clock – some of the eerier material concerns the ways animals anticipate deaths or earthquakes, or how someone’s cat seemed to know when specific people were calling on the telephone.

Then again, if animals are so smart, why did my cat watch golf on the television console and look for the ball was underneath the TV after it was putted into the hole?

Then again, when the golf confused her, she was smart enough to figure out the BEST use of the television, which was to sleep on top of it once it got warm.

Finally, I found a first edition of Rudy Vallee’s 1930 autobiography, Vagabond Dreams Come True, with only the front part of the jacket torn off. Granted, this little piece of missing dust jacket drags the value of the thing down from over a hundred bucks to about five, but it’s still pretty cool to have, though I’m a little afraid of damaging the thing by turning the pages to read it. I wonder what Lord Marmaduke Fogg would do….

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