Sunday, August 29, 2010

Little Rip

Cal Ripken Jr. (even now, it's hard for me to think of him without the generational title) turned 50 a couple weeks back. Contrary to the way these things usually work, that's actually made me feel young: if I'm 13 years younger than Cal, then perhaps there's still time for me. (to do what, I'm uncertain.)

Calvin Edwin Ripken Junior (I still remember the full name without looking it up; also that he was born in Havre de Grace. I've managed to forget his birthday, at least) was my favorite baseball player throughout the 1980s; this poster hung above my bed for years, only coming down when I moved to Arizona. It may seem hard to credit now, but he seemed relatively unappreciated in the 1980s; despite his successive Rookie of the Year and MVP awards, not to mention the 1983 World Series, he was playing third fiddle among AL shortstops to Robin Yount and Alan Trammell (and perhaps briefly, Tony Fernandez). If I remember right, this particular poster wasn't even listed in Sports Illustrated's vast poster ads.

Of course, after his second MVP award in the 1990s, he was anything but underappreciated. And his status as representative of "all that is good in baseball" probably got/gets a bit tiresome. But I still remain fond of the guy.

The Orioles haven't worn this uniform in more than two decades -- Ripken's hair probably hasn't been dark in at least that long. Nonetheless, when I think of the O's, this is the definitive image.

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#40 -- "Echoes From the Dead" by Johan Theorin

A rare promise kept: I said the next book I read was gonna be another mystery, and lo and behold, it was. Theorin's latest novel beat out the late Stieg Larsson for some sort of Swedish award, so I was intrigued enough to grab this (Theorin's first, from a few years back).

It's interesting and nicely gloomy; it's got that "mystery of the past having reverberations in the present" thing that I'm always a sucker for. The plot kept me intrigued throughout. On the other side, none of the characters really grab me; Julia, the book's center, is pretty colorless. When she shows signs of emerging from her depression and regaining control of her life later in the book, we haven't really seen any signs leading up to this; it's just sorta "now, Julia is happier." Oh, okay.

The ending really threw me and I'm not sure yet how I feel about it. I was just about to write it off as "really weak climax" when it took a really sudden and unexpected turn; completely surprised me, but I don't know if that's just because there was no hint at all it might come. Don't know that I like the way it ended, but don't know that I don't.

All in all: an interesting but imperfect debut, and I look forward to reading the (aforementioned award-winning) second book, which got some really swell reviews.

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