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Duration:04:01
Uploaded:2020-04-28
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In which John discusses a world without sports, William Carlos Williams, and mere beauty. Get your game on with:
Jelle's Marble Runs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtsQ_UydjEI&list=PLSmWeUDtr9fBm-OMFrcYtDRnmPwvjKt_s

Zwift: You can get zwift at zwift.com (I really love Zwift.)
In terms of Zwift racing, I enjoy watching Cam Jeffers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grcv9hO7HZk and IRL pro cyclist Alex Dowsett: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQIrURtDXEY

Classic Tetris: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-8BAEcWSEs4-KQp1ULVnaQ

And Jason Rosenthal's book My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me: https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062940599/my-wife-said-you-may-want-to-marry-me/

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Good morning Hank, it's Tuesday.

I miss sports. You know what, I should start with a caveat. I understand that the loss of sports is one of the least important losses of our historical moment. Sports don't matter in the scheme of things, but I miss the luxury of caring about stuff that doesn't matter. Like, there's this great William Carlos Williams poem about a baseball game that begins "The crowd at the ball game is moved uniformly by a spirit of uselessness which delights them."

And I miss that crowd and and that game and that delight, so here's where I'm getting a bit of that feeling in the mean time. 

Slightly off topic, but it occurs to me that the phrase in the mean time is a real winner for describing right now, like, we are living in the mean time.

But right Hank, first and most importantly, there is marble racing. Jelles Marble Runs' Marbula One Season has been absolute joy for me. Like most people I started out watching the MarbleLympics because it was somewhat sublime and somewhat ridiculous, but now I am all in. And for me Marbula one has been a real lesson in how fandom works because I started out being like "I guess I'll root for the Green Ducks because we share a name." And now, two months later, I'm like "the Green Ducks are inarguably the greatest team in the history of marble racing and the Limers suck and I hate them." 

Then there's Zwift racing. So Hank, Zwift is this video game that connects to your bike trainer and when you move the pedals in real life, your avatar on the screen also moves and you can climb through the Alps and sprint through New York City's Central Park and draft off of other riders. And if you're like me, you can also experience the joy of getting passed on long climbs by cyclists who after their name have in parentheses "84 years old and loving it." Zwift is one of my favorite forms of exercise and I also love watching Zwift racing on YouTube where cyclists achieve speed and power levels that I can only imagine. 

Another game I play terribly and love to watch people play well: Tetris. Every month there is classic Tetris tournament where the world's best players of a 36 year old video game battle it out and it is pure joy. I just find Tetris extremely soothing and calming and for me, watching competitive Tetris is an opportunity to experience mesmerized wonder. 

And then I've also been watching sporting events that are from the past, but where I don't know the outcome. Like, part of the pleasure of sports for me is that you don't know what's going to happen, which is an interesting phenomenon because now of course, I am surrounded by lots of uncertainty and it is horrible and terrifying and there is nothing to recommend about it. But the uncertainty before a live sporting event is bearable or even exciting precisely because sports don't matter, or at least they don't matter on anything like the scale of the current uncertainty.

For me, most of the joy of watching a live sporting event is not knowing how it will turn out, that feeling at the beginning of a game that all things are still possible. And I've found I can still experience at least a version of that by watching old games. Like I love soccer but I don't watch a lot of Italian soccer, or at least I didn't. But then yesterday while exercising, I watched the 2012 Italian Cup Final and I didn't know who was going to win. It was thrilling. 

That William Carlos Williams poem goes on to say that "The crowd at ball game is enthralled by all the exciting details of the chase and the escape, the error, the flash of genius. All to no end save beauty." And for me at least, that's the key, whether it's sports or something else, we all need things in our lives that have no end save beauty. For me, I'm finding that mere beauty right now, among other places, in competitive Tetris and marble racing. I wonder where you're finding it, whether sport adjacent or not. Let me know in comments, and Hank I will see you on Friday. 

But first a PS.

P.S. Many of you know the work of Amy Krouse Rosenthal who beckoned so much lovely into this world and helped me and many others sing and hope that we are here because we're here because we're here because we're here because we're here. Amy's husband, Jason, has just published a book about their marriage and Amy's illness and his life afterwards called My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me. It's a wonderful memoir, highly recommend it. Links to that and everything else in this video in the doobly doo.