Elster's World

Sunday, November 27, 2005

What's Next For Elster

Apologies in advance. This post is more about me thinking out loud than writing things of note. Feel free to skip it.

Well, the last 2 months have been un-creative. Very un-creative. With the exception of the drivel I vomit forth here every once in a while, I haven't done any writing at all.

I have not given up on my book. Really. I haven't. But at the same time, I guess I can't keep staring at it and pretending that I am still being creative just because I finished it. After all, I typed the last correction and finalized the thing in April. Now, it's the end of November. It's time to move on.

But where? That's the (multi-)million dollar question. I have a number of projects swimming around in my head. I have already started the sequal to my book. Of course, writing a sequal to an unpublished work is the proverbial putting the cart before the horse. So while The Sequal has been started (about 40-50 pages on paper) and almost completely mapped out, I don't think I am going to work on that now. (Unless I decide the put the original book away and work on The Sequal as though it is the first. Painful, but a thought.)

Then there's the book I was going to write for that November is Writer's Month thing. After deciding I had no interest in trying to churn out a book in a month, I realized that I still had a good idea for another crime fiction novel in front of me. But since I was just going to sit and write it, I have no outline. All I have is the idea and that's it. So I would have to start this one petty much from scratch.

Or, I could go in an entirely different direction. When I was a kid, I loved post-apocalyptic novels - novels taking place soon after a catastrophic event wiped out the majority of the population and the way that the survivors handle that situation. The cream of the crop - King's The Stand and McCammon's Swan Song. The downside: These types of books tend to be epics - they take forever to write and can pretty easily stall out. I have no interest in psending the next six months writing a story only to discover that I am not able to finish it. Also, I'd probably end up writing a copy of The Stand and Swan Song, which are actually pretty similar to each other to begin with. So this one's on the back-burner for a while.

The other off the beaten track project is more of a sci-fi thing that just has always been floating around in my head. But I don't know if I really want to write sci-fi. Not that I couldn't, I just don't know if I want to. Takes a lot more imagination I would think.

Well, this has not been helpful at all. But at least I've mapped out the choices here so that when I come here to look for those elusive comments I will have no choice but to focus on the question at hand.

Happy Sunday all.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Meet the Mets

Yes, I know this will take away people from my 55th post spectacular (below) but....
Sources on ESPN.com report that Mets GM Omar Minaya has traded Marc Jacobs and pitching prospect Yurisimo Petit to the cost-cutting Florida Marlins in exchange for Carlos Delgado and $7,000,000 in cash. I cannot decide if I'm more stunned or delighted. I am pretty sure I'm leaning towards delighted. So tipping a hat to Bill Simmons' 10 reasons he loved the Red Sox trade for Josh Beckett, I give you my 5 reasons for loving this deal.

1. Can you say playoffs?

Let's examine the fundamental flaws with last season's team which was good but not great. They had decent starting pitching, poor defense and horrendous relief pitching. The other thing they lacked was one more big bopper in the middle of the lineup, which forced the Mets to bat Beltran third instead of his customary second spot.

If (and it's a huge if at this point) the Mets can sign Billy Wagner, all of a sudden their roster looks something like this:

2. Major Roster Upgrade:

Now you have Reyes leading off, Beltran (in the number 2 slot where he belongs), Delgado (and his .315 average, 33 home runs and 115 RBI) bating third, Floyd fourth and Wright fifth. That's thunder in the middle. The you fill it out with Nady/Diaz in right, the the catcher and second baseman. (And yes, I know there is no way Floyd will stay healthy this year for the entire season but we can hope he does.)

Starting pitcher will be Pedro (who I expect will take a minor step down this season - especially if he logs a lot of innings in that World Cup baseball thing), Glavine (who I expect will be slightly better now that he remembers he is allowed to pitch inside) Seo, Trachsel, Benson (who looks uncannily like Glavine, only 10 years younger) and the always comedic Victor Zambrano and his eight walks a game. Now throw Anna Benson into the mix and you have quite a pitching staff.

Even the relief corps will be stronger. Imagine a Heilman/Roberto Hernandez 7th/8th, followed by Billy Wagner and his 100 mph fastball closing it out? Yes, I know it's still a dream at this point but still...

This is a much stronger lineup and the playoffs are finally in reach.

3. The Minaya/Delgado Spanish issue.

It was well publicized that Delgado was highly critical of Omar Minaya last season when the Mets GM tried to lure the then free agent Delgado to the Mets by using the common Latin American tie as part of the bait. Delgado said he felt disrespected by Minaya and that speaking Spanish was a cheap trick.

So imagine the first day of spring training when they run into each other for the first time.

Omar: "Ola Senior Carlos"

Carlos: Grunts angrily.

Omar: "I mean, hey carlos how you doin... screw that, I'm your boss. I'll talk to you in any f$#2ng language I choose."

Should be good times all around.

4. First Base - Black Hole.

First base has been a black hole for the Mets for many, many years. Maybe since Keith Hernandez was snagging the second baseman's chances and throwing out guys trying to get to third. Now all of a sudden, thge Mets have a bona-fide slugger at a slugger's position. On top of that, his glove is good enough to help keep the pressure off Wright and Reyes to make perfect throws. Have I mentioned I'm in love with this move?

5. To steal from Simmons again - Always trade an established star for prospects.

And to take it a step further, especially when that top prospect is a Met. How many 5-tool, top prospects have been overhyped by this organization, only to then fizzle out? 8? 10? A dozen? (And yes, I am intentionally not bringing up the fact that the Mets let the top lefty pitching prospect go for Victor Zambrano and his 8 walks a game. Imagine this team with Scott Kazmir as it's fifth starter. I'm getting ulcers just thinking about this, let's move on.) Maybe Marc Jacobs can put up those same numbers over the course of an entire season. But then again, maybe not. Maybe Petit will be an awsome pitcher. But maybe not. We know Delgado is a stud. He's been doing it for 10 years. And while he's 33 years old, he's a young 33 isn't he?

So there you have it. If this deal was any more of a no-brainer, even Terry Bradway would have pulled the trigger on it.

Now let's cross our fingers and hope that the Mets get Wagner.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

55 Alive!

This is my 55th post since I started blogging. Not exactly a world-beating accomplishment mind you, but I read somewhere that 50 is generally the make or break point for posting. In other words, once you hit 50, the excitement of blogging peters out and people once again hang up the keyboard for the remote control.

Well, I wrote post 50 (some garbage about the Knicks) not realizing it was post 50. I actually wanted to do something special for the 50 post milestone. Instead, I let it slip by and then followed that up with a solid post about Rabin and France and three posts bitching about how I was sick. So I went from 50 to 54 and let it get away from me.

So here is Special Post Number 55, in commemoration of post 50:

Why I write:

Writing is different things to different people. Some people write only when the absolutely, positively have no choice; either for work or school (or because they have to fill out the dreaded Significant Other Birthday Card). These people look at writing the way other people look at a 50 yard dash over hot coals - they despise the crap out of it. Heck, they even fear it. I don't get people like that, but then again, people like that don't get people like me.

Some people write because they are good at it. They don't love it, they don't hate it. Rather, they use their ability to write as a tool to get what they want or need. For example, a well placed letter to the cable company about how satellite TV services are recruiting you might get you free HBO for three months (No I have never tried this - I actually am a satellite customer anyway). Or, they have some really important ideas they want to get across (in blogs, articles, etc) and can persuasively set these ideas forth in ways that people can appreciate. They are blessed with a skill and they use it as necessary for gain or otherwise.

I like to think I fit into a third category. This category is full of all of those lost souls who write because they love to. Because writing takes them away from where they are and places them in the magic where they want to be. Writing for writing's sake. Generally, this world is filled with all kinds. I imagine that most writers of fiction are here because they want to be. (After all, all of us aspiring authors are told that if you write simply to make money, all you will write is garbage.)

But this place isn't just for the successful. Sure, Stephen King is here, sitting in a comfy leather chair next to a suddenly wacked out Anne Rice and across the table from Michael Crichton. Hell, even Tom Clancy and his military manuals (I mean novels) managed to get a seat in here. But you know who else is here? All of those people who have started seven novels on such diverse topics as detective stories, police stories, haunted houses and even an un-outineable epic about alternate worlds which run parallel to our own. Maybe these writers wrote just the first 2 paragraphs. Maybe they even got as far as 20 pages. But they are there because they love to put the pen to paper, the keyboard to computer screen.

I love to write because it takes me away from cruddy jobs and a stagnant workplace future. I love to write because I hope to one day entertain thousands of people with my words and humerous thoughts. I hope to make people hold the book hard, tense up, and read as fast as they can to see what happens next. I write because I want to get the hundreds of ideas flitting through my head on paper.

I write because I love it. I think I'm pretty good at it too. I hope that one day I can do it for a living, or at least have the daily leisure time to give it the care it deserves.

Now that's a fitting number 55 (to commemorate 50), don't you think?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Fridays with Elster

Welcome to the Home Sick edition of Fridays with Elster. In this week's musings, we will cover topics as wide ranging as the Mets, the Rangers and anything else I think up in the next several minutes. I will not rant about my book. (Until I have something new to rant about that is.) So, on the the random thoughts.

- Disturbing Dreams: I have had a series of disturbing dreams the last few weeks. Three dreams, to be exact. Quick rundown:

Dream 1: After a great game of tackle foootball in my parent's living room, I decide to go to (law) school the next day to tell all my friends about how I did. I show up to my classroom and it's mobbed. There were hundreds of students. I realize there is a final exam about to start and I cannot even get access to my locker because I fogot the combination. So, not even knowing the subject matter, I sit at my desk and ask myself how I'm going to pull off a C. The crazy part was, I wasn't even nervous.

Dream 2: Don't really remember well, but I was again in school and again not able to figure out what I was to do. (Sorry, don't really remember this one)

Dream 3: Last night, dreamed I was in my father-in-law's shul on erev Yom Kippur. My dad was there, too. Suddenly it was time for Kol Nidre and I was struggling to find my tallis or machzor and I was holding an esrog which I needed to get rid off before sundown. Then I woke up.

All three of these dreams seem to be telling me that I am not prepared for something. of course, I have no idea what. I'm hoping for fame and fortune. We shall see.

- After watching the Rangers play last night (bad loss to Carolina) and Tuesday night (tough loss to Toronto), I reiterate my position. They need a second line scorer to balance the scoring and get production from another line. Anyone know when Martin Rucinsky is expected back?

- Ok you non-sports fans, here's a question for you: Say you had a player on your baseball team who was considered one of the better defensive center fielders in baseball. Say there was a serious shotage of defensive center fielders and at last 5 teams were in desperate need on one. Now add that your center fielder (let's call him Mike) had good power, could steal a base or two and, as a special bonus, was the blackest guy you have ever seen. Like pure ebony. So here's the question: Why would you trade that guy for Xavier Nady??? Couldn't the Mets have done even a little better? Do the Padres have nude photos of Omar Minaya?

The only thing I could come up with was (i) always key to have a guy named "Xavier" on your squad, and (ii) the Mets are freeing up money to try and land Carlos Delgado or Manny "Crazy" Ramirez. Any thoughts?

- The Shuffle: I have recently taken to shuffling my Ipod rather than playing particular albums. Learned this from my friend Darren. It's awsome. Like that box o' chocolates, you never know what you are gonna get. Nothing like hearing a little Simon and Garfunkle, Led Zeppelin, Elliot Smith combo.

Well, that's it for now. You've been a wonderful audience.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Pnuemonia!!!

The dreaded disease. I have it. Have had it for a week and a half. It sucks. Fever, coughing, weakness, back pain. It's a plethora of feelin' crappy goodness.

It's also the reason I have not written in a while. Heck, I've only been able to sit at a desk for the last few days.

Quick story. I'm working from home yesterday and I get a message to call a partner, who proceeds to scream at me for five minutes about me being out. A couple of real quotes.

"I can't deal with your pnuemonia". Well, neither can I.

"What's the firm's policy on pnuemonia?" The firm has a policy on pnuemonia? Like snow days?

"Are you going on short-term disability?" No, that's what people with little or no work ethic do when they get phoney back injuries. I've been working my tail off at home instead of resting.

When he finds out I don't need to do the stuff he needed done "Oh. Well, feel better. When are you coming back? Oh, tomorrow? That's great." Oh yeah? Well eff you you short, miserable bastard. I hope you rot in hell.

So here I am back at work after less than a full business week. How do I feel about it? crappy. I'm leaving soon and working short tomorrow. Then taking off Friday. If anyone doesn't like it, they can short term disability my ass.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Tuesday Afternoon

Today's post title honors the Moody Blues' great song. So, as I sit here at work, totally under the weather and counting down the hours, some of my infamous random thoughts:

- Barring a MAJOR UPSET, Mayor Bloomberg will probably win today's election handily. The funny thing about Mike Bloomberg is that he could have spent about twenty million to do it, as opposed to one hundred and twenty. When was the last time the Post, Newsday and Times agreed about anything? Yet all three endorsed Bloomberg. He was going to win this thing anyway. But hey, it's his money, let him do what he wants wth it.

- Saw Batman Begins on Sunday night. Liked it very much. So much, in fact, that I am willing to crown it the best of the franchise, with just the slightest of margins of victory over the original Michael Keaton/Jack Nicholson job. Not sure why. Probably because they played it straight. I like camp, but it don't exactly make for great movies.

- The Rangers are probably one offensive player away from being a solid playoff mover and shaker. Too much stress on the Jagr/Nylander/Straka line. Even when Rucinsky comes back, this team still needs another go to scorer on the second line. You saw it last night. Nylader hurt his leg and the whole line wasn't as effective.

(2 side notes to the Rangers - 1. Jagr is getting too much consecutive ice time. You can see it. He gets tired and does bad things with the puck. His turnover at the blueline led to the Sidney Crosby goal that put the Pens up 2-0.

2. They went down 3-0 in the third but fought back to within a couple of good saves of tying the game last night. This team does not quit. The fight and scrape and it makes for entertainment. Again, I wonder how the ratings are doing...

And a bonus 3. I was surprised Weeks got the start last night. I understand Renny's "hot hand" theory, but how do you sit Hank Lundqvist for three games in a row? His goals against and save percentage are fantastic. You have to keep him game ready.)

- So let's see. I began November with the lofty goal of writing a book in 30 days. On November second, I gave up, instead playing the "Well, I'd rather get the book I already wrote published" card. Here we are on November 8th, and I have done nothing. In my defense, I've been sick since Saturday night and it hurt my back to sit. But in truth, I'm running out of ways to advance the thing. I have only a few more agents to send to. My publisher friend told me last week she hasn't looked at it yet (as an aside, we decided to attend her chuppa (actual ceremony) only and forego the reception) so I've completely written her off as an asset.

In short, I am begining to feel the first sense of "this whole book thing may not work out for me" panic. I guess I always thought if you wrote something good, it would get published (and maybe even be successful). The lesson I have learned is that writing a book, good or bad, is the easiest part of the whole freaking process. Easier than getting someone to read it. Easier still, than getting someone to publish it. Does that make sense to you because I struggle with that logic all the time.

Now, one could argue that it's simply not good and that's why I cannot find a representative for it. But that presupposed that someone has actually read it. No, my friends, these people won't even read it.

An aside: my mom keeps asking to read it. She is one of the few people who even know I wrote it. I keep telling her not yet. I don'y know why. Probably because it has cursing and other bad stuff in it (no, no hot sex scenes, sorry) and I worry about my parent's reaction. I don't know.

- Wow, I cannot decide if that was cathartic or if it made me feel worse. It has made me not want to write anymore now. So I guess I'll just leave you with that.

Friday, November 04, 2005

On Yitzchak Rabin and France

I don't have much to add to either topic but I believe both warrant mentioning.

- To read a fantastic series of posts on Rabin, I direct you to http://jschick.blogspot.com/. Joe's posts (always fantastic, by the way) are dead on.

As a kid (22 at the time, give or take), I never had much use for politics. Still don't actually. But the murder of the Israeli Prime Minister by another jew still staggers me to this day. The fact that this was condoned by certain extremist rabbis is even more disturbing. The fact that CNN reports (unofficially at least) that about 20% of Israelis think Yigal Amir (who has never expressed remorse for his crime) should be pardoned. Pardoned? I think maybe he should have gotten the chair.

How did Rabin's untimely death affect the peace process? I don't think we will ever know. But we do know this. Ten years later Israel has heartwrenchingly given up land...but still has not gained the sought-after peace. Or gained anything at all really, except for the scorn of the other nations.

Alas for the death of a fellow jew at the hands of another jew. Alas for us all.

- France. So let's see. France lets all these muslim immigrants in. The government sits on its hands as Anti-Semitic actions against French jews (mostly by these muslim immigrants) skyrocket. The French government sits on its hands while same muslim immigrants do what they do best; sit around and do nothing, waiting for others to give them things.

Now these muslim immigrants are rioting and the suberbs of France are in flames.

Why, exactly, are we supposed to care?

Have a nice weekend (good shabbos) y'all.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

It Looks Like It's Gonna Be a Long Season Larry

Quick reactions from the short amount of Knicks basketball I watched last night.

- Larry Brown's philosophy for winning basketball games is predicated on the following: Play hard nosed defense, rebound, hit your foul shots and rebound. Oh, and rebounding too. The Knicks don't play defense, cannot rebound and were abysmal from the free throw line. All bad things.

- Isaiah Thomas is never going to live down the contract he gave Jerome James this offseason. James turned one good playoff series against a hobbled Tim Duncan into an absolute mint. it's a joke. He's what, 30? All of a sudden the light went on for him?

- Predictably, Larry didn't play the rookies last night. Frye and Lee didn't get off the pine and Nate Robinson got just a few minutes and played decently.

- Jamal Crawford is about as out-of-control a player as there is in the league. His penchant for bad shots and terrible decisions/turnovers is amazing. While he is undoubtedly gifted athletically, he seems like the type of guy who knows how gifted he is and has since decided he doesn'y need to put the work in to make himself better. Another Knick tragedy.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Fun with SiteMeter

Random thoughts for a Wednesday. Note that I just lost an entire post so this is a crappy re-creation of what I wrote about half an hour ago.

- So I was checking out my sitemeter to see how people come to my site. This is especially fun to do if you get a ton of random visitors from random places (which, alas, I do not...). So one of my viewers came to my site from the following Google search: "I hate being a lawyer". Funny, so do I.

Anyway, you can't make this stuff up.

- Knicks begin their regular season tonight in Boston. Truth be told, I have not really followed them much the last few years, mostly because they suck. This year's team doesn't look like it will be a whole lot better.

The backcourt consists of shoot first, undersized guards who cannot pass or set up others. "Star"bury and crawford also can't pay defense.

The frontcourt is a mess too. Their three is undersized, their power forward is 37 and couldn't score on an eight foot basket in an empty gym and their centers are (i) a rookie, (ii) an overpaid stiff (erome James) and (iii) can die at any minute from his bad ticker. What a trainwreck. Again, you can't make this stuff up.

On the plus side, larry Brown's track record is amazing. If anyone can coax wins out of a bad team, it's Larry. But trying to get this team to "play the right way"? Good luck with that.

- Im a little over a thousand words in my quest to write a 50,000 word book by the end of the month. The thing is, I think I may stop. I simply don't have the time. If I do this, it means staying up really late every night and also means putting my quest to get my "real" book published on hold for a month. On top of that I've already written a book so I don't feel as though I have anythig to prove. So there. So it looks like I've crapped out on Day 2.

- I'm swamped at work. Swamped. Yet, I cannot focus at all this week. With the holidays, it's been a month since I've put in three days in a row at the office. So I feel lethargic and tired. Alas.