The Best American Poetry March Madness Tournament is down to 16 poets.

“Poets don’t know a lot of math, but I can count to sixteen,” a grinning Billy Collins said after his close win over Harvard professor Jorie Graham

“Don’t you count syllables in your poems?” a reporter yelled from the back of the Kennedy Center lobby.  

“I count wins,” Collins quipped, obviously on cloud nine after making the Sweet Sixteen with a hard fought victory.

Billy’s poem, “Lines Composed Over Three Thousand Miles From Tintern Abbey,” looks back at Wordsworth looking back; it resonated a little more than Jorie Graham’s “On Difficulty,” which looks down at Adam and Eve looking up.

They can look up and wonder no longer.   Adam and Eve are going home.

John Hollander chose the Collins poem for the 1998 volume.  Ashbery chose the Graham poem for the first BAP 1988 book.

Collins is the only one who has made the Sweet 16 as BAP poet and BAP editor (2). 

Heather McHugh (3) has the most editor selections in the Sweet 16.  Richard Howard (2) and Donald Hall (2) are making strong showings as editors in the Sweet 16 as well.

Sweet Sixteen Results:

Let’s start with the EastBilly Collins, Stephen Dunn, Robert Pinsky, and Harry Mathews have survived.

In the North, jubilation for Louis Simpson, William Kulik, Margaret Atwood, and Franz Wright.

In the West, the winners were Brad Leithauser, Janet Bowdan, Dean Young, and Lewis Buzbee.

And finally, in the South, rounding out the Sweet 16, are Kenneth Koch, Alan Shapiro, Bernard Welt,  and Reb Livingston.

Able to stop Jorie Graham, Billy Collins now has to be the favorite to go all the way.  

Can anyone stop the Tintern Abbey train?


  1. thomasbrady said,

    March 14, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Franz Wright, his “A Happy Thought,” selected by Billy Collins for the 2006 BAP, is happy.

    Janet Bowdan (her 2000 BAP poem was selected by Rita Dove), inspired by her victory over Sharon Olds, walloped Ted Kooser to find Sweet Sixteen joy.

    “The Triumph of Narcissus and Aphrodite” by William Kulik, selected by Robert Bly, 1999, is also in the Sweet 16, and William Kulik seems to be enjoying his new-found fame as a winner.

    The winning poets and their poems have gained new celebrity.

    Students want to meet the winning poets and memorize the winning poems which triumphed over hundreds of other poems, and teachers want to teach the winning poems.

    Kulik’s poem begins:

    Am I cool or an asshole? Check this: I’m at this artsy-fartsy faculty party wearing a mauve turtleneck…

    And then things begin to change:

    I manage to taunt her with something I think will stop her cold: “I useta party with Dante!” Is it getting darker? And somebody turned off the heat. Her girlfriend’s gone and all the other guests, too.

    And change more:

    The walls are covered with moss. Water drips down onto the rock floor.

    Many of the poems in Best American Poetry March Madness 2010 seem to be 1. mini-dramas, often with dialogue and 2. feature metamorphosis.

    This is Marla Muse, reporting from the Kennedy Center in Washington…

    Thanks, Marla!

  2. william kulik said,

    March 14, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    What a tickle!
    MARCH mADNESS, EH? i LIKE THE THEME AND IF i BELIEVED IN CORRESPONDENCES I’d say I’ve got a shot at becoming grand champeen as my book of prose poems (forever nosing in corners for a publisher) is titled THE MADMAN SINGS and when The American Poetry Review publishes a fair-size batch of them [scheduled for the May/June 2010] maybe they’ll provide a few laughs or a chuckle (a sardonic smile’s enough.
    Thanks Bob and Tom. You’ve got a good thing goin

  3. thomasbrady said,

    March 15, 2010 at 12:51 am

    Anyone can win in this tournament, and Kulik has momentum.

    He knocked off Donald Hall, no. 2 seed, in the final seconds.

    But Kulik’s next draw in the North bracket may be the toughest in this tournament. Marla, we can talk about this until we’re blue in the face, but I want to ask you, can William Kulik’s “Triumph of Narcissus & Aphrodite” beat the no. 1 seeded poem by Louis Simpson?

    “Well, anything can happen, Tom, but I’ll tell you, William Kulik has probably never seen anything like this. He’s facing what might be the equivalent of John Wooden and Lew Alcindor’s UCLA. Stange point of view in the Simpson poem, and really heart-breaking, without trying too hard. We’ll see. Can’t wait for the game, Tom!”

    Thanks, Marla. That’s all I have to say. Here’s the poem. And…good luck to William Kulik and….Louis Simpson.

    The People Next Door by Louis Simpson (1989, Donald Hall)

    He isn’t a religious man.
    So instead of going to church
    on Sunday they go to sea.

    They cruise up and down,
    see the ferry coming from Bridgeport
    to Green Harbor, and going back
    from Green Harper to Bridgeport…
    and all the boats there are.
    The occasional silent fisherman…
    When the kids start to get restless
    he heads back to shore.

    I hear them returning
    worn out and glad to be home.
    This is as close to being happy
    as a family ever gets.
    I envy their content. And yet
    I’ve done that too, and know
    that no hobby or activity
    distracts one from thinking
    forever. Every human being
    is an intellectual more or less.

    I too was a family man.
    It was a phase I had to go through.
    I remember tenting in the Sierras,
    getting up at dawn to fly cast.

    I remember my young son
    almost being blown off the jetty
    in Oban. Only the suitcase
    he was carrying held him down.
    The same, at Viareggio,
    followed me into the sea
    and was almost swept away by the current.

    These are the scenes I recall
    rather than Christmas and Thanksgiving.
    My life as the father of a family
    seems to have been a series
    of escapes, not to mention illnesses,
    confrontations with teachers,
    administrators, police.
    Flaubert said, “They’re in the right,”
    looking at a bourgeois family,
    and then went back happily
    to his dressing gown and pipe.

    Yes, I believe in the family…
    next door. I rejoice
    at their incomings and outgoings.
    I am present when Betty
    goes out on her first date.
    I hear about Joey’s being chosen
    for the team. I survive the takeover
    of the business, and the bad scare
    at the doctor’s.
    I laugh with them that laugh
    and mourn with them that mourn.

    I see their lights, and hear a murmur
    of voices, from house to house.

    It gives me a strange feeling
    to think how far they’ve come
    from some far world to this,
    bending their necks to the yoke
    of affection.

    And that one day,
    with a few simple words
    and flowers to keep them company
    they’ll return once more to the silence
    out there, beyond the stars.

  4. thomasbrady said,

    March 15, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Here are the upcoming matches in Sweet 16


    Billy Collins (98) v. Harry Matthews (88)
    Stephen Dunn (07) v. Robert Pinsky (89)


    Louis Simpson (89) v. William Kulik (99)
    Margaret Atwood (95) v. Franz Wright (06)


    Brad Leithauser (07) v. Janet Bowdan (00)
    Lewis Buzbee (95) v. Dean Young (93)


    Kenneth Koch (91) v. Reb Livingston (06)
    Alan Shapiro (07) v. Bernard Welt (01)

    Great poems are left, but we like Leithauser and Koch to get into the Elite 8; all the other contests look pretty even.

  5. thomasbrady said,

    March 15, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    The contest between Bowdan’s “The Year” and Leithauser’s “A Good List” is a classic battle between the dream-like, irrational (Bowdan) and the witty, rational. (Leithauser). Some might argue that the Bowdan is closer to true poetry. Others might respond, “Ahh, shove it up your ear!” This idea: “The good do not sleep,” is full of lush, moral implications. Bowdan is the sentimental favorite, since she was a 16th seed, and for her to advance to the Elite 8 out of 21 years of BAP will be an amazing feat.

    The Year

    When you did not come for dinner, I ate leftovers for days. When you
    missed desert, I finished all the strawberries. When you did not notice
    me, I walked four miles uphill past you and into Florence and five miles
    the other way. When you did not like my dress, I wore it with gray silk
    shoes instead of gold ones. When you did not see my car had sunk into
    a snowdrift at the turn of your driveway, I took the shovel off your porch
    and dug myself out. When you stopped writing, I wrote. When you sent
    back my poems, I made them into earrings and wore them to work.
    When you refused to appear at the reunion, I went to the dentist who
    showed me X-rays of my teeth. When you did not tell me you would be
    in town, I met you on Main Street on the way to the library. While you
    had dinner with me, I walked past the window and looked in. You were
    not there.

    A Good List
    (Homage to Lorenz Hart)

    Some nights, can’t sleep, I draw up a list,
    Of everything I’ve never done wrong.
    To look at me now, you might insist
    My list could hardly be long,

    But I’ve stolen no gnomes from my neighbor’s yard,
    Nor struck his dog, backing out my car.
    Never ate my way up and down the Loire
    On a stranger’s credit card.

    I’ve never given a cop the slip,
    Stuffed stiffs in a gravel quarry,
    Or silenced Cub Scouts on a first camping trip
    With an unspeakable ghost story.

    Never lifted a vase from a museum foyer,
    Or rifled a Turkish tourist’s backpack.
    Never cheated at golf. Or slipped out a blackjack
    And flattened a patent lawyer.

    I never forged a lottery ticket,
    Took three on a two-for-one pass,
    Or, as a child, toasted a cricket
    With a magnifying glass.

    I never said “air” to mean “err,” or obstructed
    Justice, or defrauded a securities firm.
    Never mulcted—so far as I understand the term.
    Or unjustly usufructed.

    I never swindled a widow of all her stuff
    By means of a false deed and title
    Or stood up and shouted, My God, that’s enough!
    At a nephew’s piano recital.

    Never practiced arson, even as a prank,
    Brightened church-suppers with off-color jokes,
    Concocted an archeological hoax—
    Or dumped bleach in a goldfish tank.

    Never smoked opium. Or smuggled gold
    Across the Panamanian Isthmus.
    Never hauled back and knocked a rival out cold,
    Or missed a family Christmas.

    Never borrowed a book I intended to keep.
    . . . My list, once started, continues to grow,
    Which is all for the good, but just goes to show
    It’s the good who do not sleep

  6. thomasbrady said,

    March 15, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    I’m going to ask Marla Muse to step in here and analyze the upcoming contests for us a little bit.

    “Sure, Tom. OK, let’s start with the…


    Billy Collins (98) v. Harry Mathews (88)

    Billy Collins, good game plans and cool under pressure.
    Harry Mathews, loves to keep it a half-court game.
    Will Billy try and run on him? Collins will dictate, Mathews has to react well.

    Stephen Dunn (07) v. Robert Pinsky (89)

    Stephen Dunn, uncanny passing, finds a way to win.
    Robert Pinsky, best point guard in tournament.
    Both smart teams. Should be a chess match until the last shot. Dunn a little better in pressure situations. Slight edge to Dunn.


    Louis Simpson (89) v. William Kulik (99)

    Louis Simpson, calm and steady, strong finisher. He’s one of the best ever, Tom.
    William Kulik, very physical, great D in the paint.
    It all depends on if Simpson gets hot from outside.

    Margaret Atwood (95) v. Franz Wright (06)

    Maggie Atwood, scrappy, great bench.
    Franz Wright, drives to the hole and bombs from 3 with equal aplomb.
    Atwood’s direct play matches up well against Wright.


    Brad Leithauser (07) v. Janet Bowdan (00)

    Brad Leithauser, precise passing and accurate shooting.
    Janet Bowdan, passionate rebounding, D that confuses.
    Leithauser needs to move the ball around well to win.

    Lewis Buzbee (95) v. Dean Young (93)

    Lewis Buzbee, acrobatic center, thinking guards.
    Dean Young, in-your-face D, great shooting guards.
    Buzbee’s center will most likely be the difference.


    Kenneth Koch (91) v. Reb Livingston (06)

    Kenny Koch, lots of pizzazz, trash talking, very quick.
    Reb Livingston, soft-touch shooting, D forces turnovers.
    Livingston could win if she doesn’t get rattled.

    Alan Shapiro (07) v. Bernard Welt (01)

    Al Shapiro, hits the 3 and blocks shots.
    Bernie Welt, bench and defense wears you down.
    Shapiro needs to escape Welt’s D and pace himself.

    This is Marla Muse, reporting from the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.”

    Thank you, Marla. Always a pleasure.

    “Thank you, Tom.”

  7. lewis buzbee said,

    March 16, 2010 at 12:15 am

    i’m driving the paint and gonna slam dunk that metaphor–fa-shwing.

    this is brilliant, you guys. thanks for the fun. gonna be a tense few weeks.

  8. thomasbrady said,

    March 16, 2010 at 1:57 pm


    “The Business of Love Is Cruelty” by Dean Young v.
    “Sunday, Tarzan In His Hammock” by Lewis Buzbee

    It scares me DY

    When the King LB

    Buzbee comes out strong to take the early lead! Young is showing nerves early…

    of the jungle first wakes up LB

    the genius we have
    for hurting one another DY

    A ferocious rebound by Young! No foul called! Buzbee turns sluggish…Young now in front…

    I’m seven
    as tall as my mother DY

    Buzbee getting some height mismatches and takes back the lead!

    he thinks
    it ‘s going to be a great day, as laden with possibility
    as the banana tree with banana hands, but by ten LB

    Buzbee playing with confidence now, leads by 3, 10-7.

    and she’s kneeling and somehow I know DY

    Young goes to the floor to get a loose ball…

    exactly how to do it, calmly
    enunciating like a good actor projecting DY

    Young now playing with more confidence…the team is talking to each other, communicating well…score is tied, 15-15…

    he’s still in his hammock, arms and legs as dull as
    termite mounds. He stares at the thatched roof and realizes
    that his early good mood was leftover from Saturday. LB

    Buzbee standing around out there! Young regains the lead! 24-17, Young.

    when he got so much done: a great day, he saved
    the tiger cub trapped in the banyan, herded the hippos
    away from the tourists and their cameras and guns,
    restrung and greased the N-NW vines, all by noon. LB

    But Buzbee puts on a 12-0 run and leads at the half! 29-24, Buzbee.

    Welcome to the March Madness Best American Poetry Half-Time Report
    “What does Buzbee need to do in the second half to hold on to the lead?” Keep giving it to Tarzan…get him into his rhythm…Tarzan needs to get his hands on the ball, Marla… “Young has to keep up the aggressive play and shoot better from the outside…only 1-7 from 3 pt range…Look for Bride of Frankenstein off the bench in the second half, that’s signature Young…” Right, Marla. It’s going to come down to the play of No. 7 for Young and Tarzan for Buzbee…

    to the last row, shocking the ones
    who’ve come in late, cowering

    out of their coats, sleet still sparkling
    on their collars, the voice nearly licking
    their ears above swordplay and laments: DY

    As the second half opens, Young thinks he’s in a theater, he seems to forget he playing hoops! Buzbee increases hs lead, 34-26.

    All day he went about his duties, not so much Kingly duties
    as custodial, and last night, he and Cheetah went for a walk
    under the ostrich-egg moon. LB

    Buzbee turns the ball over on traveling, and oh, Young hits a 3 pointer! Buzbee up, 34-29.

    I hate you DY

    Young, playing more aggressively now…Buzbee a one point lead, 36-35.

    This morning nothing strikes him.
    The world is a stagnant river, a scummy creek’s dammed pool.
    Cheetah’s gone chattering off LB

    Oh! Buzbee didn’t like that call! Technical! Young goes up, 39-36!

    Now her hands are rising to her face.
    Now the fear done flashing through me,
    I wish I could undo it, take it back,
    but it’s a matter of perfection DY

    Young is psyching himself out…it’s getting nasty in the paint…too much second-guessing out their by Young..oh, that shot won’t fall…he threw it out-of-bounds…Young has lost all sense of rhythm…Let’s see if Buzbee takes advantage…Young’s guards need to control the tempo and they’re playing sloppy right now…

    Jane is in town,
    and the rest of the animals are busy with one another—
    fighting, eating, mating. Tarzan can barely move LB

    Buzbee’s center has come up limping! But the rest of the team is hanging tough…playing like animals! …shot is good! What a lay-up! There’s another drive…good! Buzbee goes on an 8-0 run, leads 44-39. But there is some concern about Buzbee’s center…not moving well out there…

    carrying it through, climbing the steps
    to my room, chosen banishment, where
    I’ll paint the hair of my model
    Bride of Frankenstein purple and pink

    heap of rancor, vivacious hair
    that will not die. She’s rejected DY

    Oh, there’s a blocked shot by Young! This team will not die! The Purple & Pink are playing ugly, but getting it done here as we head into the final 10 minutes…52-50 lead for Young…

  9. thomasbrady said,

    March 16, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    He does not want to move. Does the gazelle ever feel this
    lassitude, does it ever want to lie down and just stare,
    no loner caring for its own safety, tired of the vigilance?
    Does the lion, fat in the grass, ever think, fuck it,
    let the wounded springbok live, who cares? LB

    Buzbee calls a timeout…coach is screaming, “You got to want this! You’re giving me prose out there! Where’s the poetry?”

    Of course her intended, cathected
    the desires of of six or seven bodies

    onto the wimp Doctor. And Herr Doktor, DY

    Young in foul trouble, tossing in bodies off the bench in a desperate attempt to stay in this thing…both Young’s guards are hurt…it’s become a war of attrition…both teams exhausted…5 minutes to go and we’re tied at 55-55.

    Tarzan thinks maybe he’ll go to the bathing pools
    and watch the girls bathe, splashing in the sun,
    their breasts and thighs perfect. He wishes someone
    would bring him a gourd of palm wine, a platter
    of imported fruits—kiwi, jack fruit, star fruit,
    or maybe a bowl of roasted yams slathered in goat butter LB

    Buzbee’s center has got to focus! Out of bounds…Young’s ball…

    what does he want among the burning villages
    of his proven theories? Well, he wants
    to be a student again, free, drunk,

    making the cricket jump, but DY

    Young burning time off the clock, holding onto the ball, trying to find a good shot…2 minutes left! We’re tied at 57…

    Maybe Jane will bring him a book.
    He hears far off in the dense canopy a zebra’s cry for help LB

    Buzbee goes up for a shot—hammered underneath! 2 free throws! First, no good, 2nd good, 58-57, Buzbee up…

    his distraught monster’s on the rampage
    again, lead-footed, weary, a corrosive
    and incommunicable need sputtering DY

    Young, not much gas left in the tank, but draws a foul! Oh, but he misses both free throws!

    Buzbee leads by 1, with 24 seconds left…

    Those damned jackals again, but no, he will not move. LB

    Tarzan holds the ball, Young needs to get the ball back, and fouls.

    Let the world take care of itself, let the world eat the world LB

    Tarzan misses the first, makes the second. Buzbee leads by 2, 59-57. 19 seconds…

    his chest, throwing oil like a fouled-up
    motor: how many times do you have to die
    before you’re really dead? DY

    Young with the ball…8 seconds…3 point shot… GOOD!!! Young goes ahead 60-59 with 7 seconds left!!!

    Buzbee calls time out. Here’s the throw-in from mid-court…

    He can live without the call of the wild. LB

    A drive to the basket, a pass back to the foul circle, here’s the shot…

    He thinks. LB

    at the buzzer!…GOOOOOOOOOD!!!!!!

    Buzbee wins 61-60!!!

  10. thomasbrady said,

    March 16, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    Apologies for the meta-fictional ploy, but that was actually a tape of a previous contest between these two.

    We still have 16 teams in the 2010 hunt…

  11. lewis buzbee said,

    March 16, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    don’t worry, i’m bringing it.

  12. thomasbrady said,

    March 17, 2010 at 1:05 pm


    We’re going down to Marla on the floor after this stunning loss within a loss. Marla interviews Dean “Forever” Young, who lost at the buzzer to Lewis Buzbee, then saw the loss revoked by the metafiction rule.

    DY: Well, Marla, it feels good, it’s been a rollercoaster of a day…

    I’ll bet! You played your heart out trying to get into the Elite Eight, lost at the buzzer to a stunning trope by Lewis Buzbee, then saw the league scratch the game altogether through the metafiction rule. Can it get any crazier than that?

    DY: Yes…the metafiction rule is…uh…what can I say… sometimes it works for you, sometimes it doesn’t… I got lucky, today…

    You and Buzbee will be facing off again, in this road to the Final Four, in the next few weeks to see who gets to the Elite Eight. What did you learn from Buzbee’s performance today?

    DY: I’d rather not say.

    OK, well take me through Buzbee’s performance today.

    DY: Well, you all saw it…Lewis started strong, using the Tarzan archetype to set up his offense.

    The crowd got into it right away….

    DY: Everyone loves Tarzan, Marla, he’s a character that resonates deep in the culture, and one of the few figures that seems to have escaped unscathed from culture-war revisionism. Even Superman has taken his lumps of late.

    Absolutely! There’s so much that goes along with him: Cheetah, Jane… but tell me what most impressed you about Buzbee’s game.

    DY: I loved his “banana tree with banana hands”, that kind of stopped me in my tracks, and if you look at the replay, youll see that as he takes that shot, his fingers are curled like a bunch of bananas….

    Wow! What else?

    DY: His Saturday Errands Set-Up was very disarming, what with the hippos and tourists and their guns…I was so mesmerized by the moves that I did lose focus for a bit.

    Mmm, absolutely.

    DY: But what really got me was: “restrung and greased the N-NW vines, all by noon”. And again, check the replay, the shot he followed it up with made a perfect N-NW arc that went right into the basket.

    Yup, that’s on the highlights film. But that was when he started to fade, right?

    DY: Yes, he got lethargic after that, like he woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Even when he ran his patented Jane and Cheetah plays, it all felt so lackluster. And the scoreboard reflected it. That gave me a chance to come back.

    OK, we’re gonna talk about your game, but follow Buzbee to the end for me, to the buzzer, so to speak.

    DY: Yes, he was in the slough of despond and I thought he’d given up. He was still scoring occasionally, but it all seemed mechanical. Then he got this faraway look in his eyes, like he was thinking about other things.

    And whatever they were—

    DY: Well, whatever they were, they seemed to rejuvenate him somewhat. He put one ball in the basket like it was a yam slathered in goat butter.

    That was startling. That got the crowd going. Goat butter, absolutely.

    DY: I’ll be frank, Marla, I thought I had it in the end, but somehow his lethargy turned into stoicism and he finished with a stunning trope shot.

    OK, and that was “He can live without the call of the wild.”

    DY: “He thinks.”

    OK, Dean, now what is going on there? He thinks he can live without the call of the wild? Or he CAN live without the call of the wild, so he’s just gonna lay there and think?

    DY: Marla, you’ll have to ask Lewis that one, but I bet he won’t tell you. I know I wouldn’t. As a master chef once said, ‘I cooked the food, you want me to chew it for you too?’ But I think what he’s saying is that we can’t out-think nature; it’s pure irony when he says “He thinks.” All I know is that it put two points on the board and won the game.

    But didn’t really, because of the metafiction rule!

    DY: I got lucky.

    Well, you did more than that, Dean, you played a heckuva game, and we’ll be back to talk with you about YOUR game today, right after this message from Toyota…

  13. thomasbrady said,

    March 18, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    And we’re ba-a-ck! Marla’s down on the floor right now with Dean “Forever” Young, who was looking at elimination after a stupendous last-second shot by Lewis Buzbee that won the game – only it didn’t, because the league arbitrarily invoked the controversial metafiction rule. We’ll be discussing that rule for hours on end later today, but for now let’s go down to the floor to Marla and Dean, Marla?

    Thanks Tom, I’m here with Dean “Forever” Young. Dean, let’s go through your game today, you started out looking, well, to be frank, a little scared. Was that apprehension due to meeting with Buzbee in this crucial match?

    DY: No Marla, it was more fear of myself than of Lewis, of the damage I’m capable of doing.

    Well, you did do some damage here today, let’s go to the I-cam in the rafters, and you can see there the backboard that has a crack in it. Now you put that crack there on that ferocious slam dunk, tell us a little about that.

    DY: Yes Marla, that was the ‘I Hate You’ dunk, and I hit it the way it’s supposed to be hit, full force, even did some damage to my forearms when they hit the rim, but it was well worth it to get the effect I intended.

    I see you’ve got those forearms wrapped in ice now, are you going onto the injured list?

    DY: Oh no.

    Dean, I gotta tell ya, you achieved the full effect that you sought with that ‘I Hate You’ dunk, you took the crowd’s breath away with that one, I literally heard a gasp throughout the arena. It seemed to especially affect the poets in the crowd, I saw a lot of pained expressions among the 25-40 demographic, saw a lot of Kleenexes coming out. I had my compact out myself to check on my mascara.

    DY: I thought you didn’t wear makeup? I don’t know, I didn’t notice, I was fully concentrated on making the shot—

    “A matter of perfection”? I’m quoting you here.

    DY: Good memory, Marla.

    It’s seared into my brain, Dean. And that play was especially shocking because you’d been biding your time up to then, then suddenly made this ferocious, vicious slam dunk that cracked the backboard. There’s a shot of it again from our I-cam up in the rafters. League officials say although it’s only a hairline crack, the backboard is totally ruined, and they’ve confirmed that it will have to be replaced. Dean, what was your intention here?

    DY: Well, Lewis came out strong with the Tarzan archetype, which is a real crowd pleaser, and I was still getting things set up, so I made that dunk with the aim of making it a game changer, and I think it really did change the game.

    Absolutely, it was a pivotal move, and came right when Lewis’s Tarzan offense seemed to go limp.

    DY: Yeah, he seemed out of it by that point, seemed like he’d exhausted the archetype, so I figured it was time to—

    To roll out an archetype of your own, namely the ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ offense.

    DY: Yeah, the ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ is a classic offense, everyone knows it but it’s really hard to bring off in a fresh, original way.

    Well, you certainly pulled it off, and added some flourishes we haven’t seen before. Now Dean, correct me I’m wrong, but the ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ was a black and white movie, am I correct?

    DY: That’s right, Marla.

    But there was absolutely nothing monochromatic about this offense, you added colors, and not just any colors, but pink and purple, in order to “project/to the last row, shocking the ones/who’ve come in late…” I’m quoting you again.

    DY: I know, but it’s—it’s out of context though.

    Dean, speaking of c-words, what the heck is “cathected”? You had me on my Palm Pilot looking up the definition to that one. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, I’ve got cathect as meaning to invest emotional energy in a person, object or idea.

    DY: Very good, Marla, A+.

    Now Dean, walk with me through the steps of this play: “She’s rejected/Of course her intended, cathected/the desires of six or seven bodies/onto the wimp doctor.” So the Bride rejected the monster, right? That was when she screamed in the movie?

    DY: Marla…

    So instead she’s – whatsit again – “cathected” her desires – and she’s made of six or seven bodies, so she’s got all their desires on tap here – and she’s cathected all these desires onto the Doctor instead, am I right?

    DY: Marla….

    OK, this was the climax of the game. You had the ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ offense in play, with your Big Three of the Bride, the Monster and the Doctor.

    DY: Yes…

    Now correct me if I’m wrong, but the Doctor seemed like the weak sister in this trio. Looked to me like he was not happy out there, like he needed a drink.

    DY: I have to disagree with you there, Marla, I think the Doctor was key to what we were accomplishing out there.

    Wha–?!? The Monster was “on the rampage”, and he wanted it bad with an “incommunicable need sputtering/his chest, throwing oil like a fouled-up/motor” – no, I just don’t see it Dean, the Bride wowed ‘em and the monster zowed ‘em.

    DY: Well, Marla, it looks different down there on the floor.

    Well you got me there, Dean. Dean: you are a highly emotional player – you started off with a classic Freudian/Youngian ‘Mother-Son’ offense – you broke a backboard and dozens of soccer-mom hearts with that dunk – you switched it up to a ‘Bride-Doctor-Monster’ offense – you kept stunning the crowd and stunning Lewis. How the heck did you lose this ball game?

    DY: Well Marla, I thought up to the end that I would pull it out, but Lewis kept his cool amidst all the chaos—

    I thought for sure he was going to slip on the motor oil!

    DY: Well, he didn’t slip, he kept his cool and rallied like the King of the Jungle should, and made that great shot at the buzzer to win.

    And yet it wasn’t really a win as we’ve said, with the league invoking the highly controversial metafiction rule, and we are back where we started, with you both still in the Sweet 16 scheduled to meet again for a another shot at the Elite Eight. Will you be ready?

    DY: I’ll be ready, I’ve trained hard, I take this stuff seriously, it’s my life, and I’m going to be in the Elite Eight.

    Dean “Forever” Young, thanks so much, and we’ll see you at the rematch with Lewis Buzbee.

    DY: Thanks Marla.

    And coming up: an interview with the man who was robbed today after making a final victory shot that – he thought – put him in the Elite Eight. Back with Lewis “The Buzz” Buzbee after this message from our local sponsors…

  14. thomasbrady said,

    March 19, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    And we’re back, let’s go right down to the floor where our own Marla Muse is with Lewis “The Buzz” Buzbee after an electrifying last second shot by “the Buzz” that won the ballgame and put him in the Elite Eight – only it didn’t, because the league invoked the highly controversial metafiction rule. Let’s go down to Marla to sort it all out, Marla?

    Thanks, Tom. I’m here with Lewis “The Buzz” Buzbee. Lewis! You wuz robbed!

    LB: Heh heh.

    Lewis, you won the game with an absolutely stunning shot, you thought you had progressed to the Elite Eight, and then the league invoked the metafiction rule and now you’re back in the Sweet Sixteen. How did you feel when you found out?

    LB: Well Marla, it hurt, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t. But as you said, I’m still in the Sweet Sixteen and there’s a lot of players who’d love to be where I am today.

    Absolutely, and by the way, for our viewers we’ll be having a panel discussion on the metafiction rule right after today’s game coverage, we’ll have David Lodge and Joseph Epstein, wow, talking via satellite link with Thomas Pynchon at a remote, undisclosed location. That’s coming up so stay tuned… Lewis, the metafiction rule, whaddaya think, scrap it?

    LB: Well Marla, as you know, it’s a relatively new rule, still controversial. It’s like any rule, sometimes it works for you, sometimes against.

    But is it good for the game, Lewis?

    LB: Well Marla, life is short and this game we both love is long. Some time needs to go by before we can see it as it really is. Maybe not us, but our kids and grandkids will see it in the proper perspective.

    My kids, they need some perspective, out from under my roof! Lewis, I want to talk in detail about your game, but first tell me about how Dean’s game looked to you up close down there on the floor.

    LB: Well, Dean started out looking kinda spooked, totally unprepossessing.

    Absolutely, unprepossessing.

    LB: I thought it was going to be a cakewalk. But Dean is a highly gifted player, and has the physical attributes for this game, beginning with his height. Y’know Marla, even at age seven, he was as tall as his mom, almost. She was leaning down.

    I’ve heard that. But what was it that Dean did that changed the game?

    LB: Well Marla, it was unquestionably the dunk—

    The ‘I Hate You’ dunk!

    LB: Yes, it was so primal and murderous, it really got my attention, let me tell you.

    And the crowd’s as well, provoked a visceral reaction especially among the soccer moms present, did you notice that, Lewis? Because Dean said he didn’t.

    LB: Well Marla, Dean can have a single-mindedness that is terrifying in its intensity, he’s so focused on the task at hand.

    For him it’s “a matter of perfection”.

    LB: Oh yeah, and he carries it through. But back to your earlier question, yes, I did notice the reaction of the soccer moms.

    Hah hah! They don’t call you King of the Jungle for nothing, Lewis! OK, so Dean has made this ferocious play, he cracked the backboard – did you hear the crack down there on the floor?

    LB: Oh yeah, like a rifle shot.

    And after this display of murderous intensity, you looked a bit deflated, Lewis.

    LB: Well Marla, I don’t want to blame any lassitude I might have felt on Dean, I like to think I play my own game on my own terms independent of what my opponent’s up to.

    OK, so you were struggling out there, trying to keep your head in the game, and Dean brings the Bride of Frankenstein offense, was that a surprise to you?

    LB: Well, Dean likes to mix up his offenses, I knew he wasn’t going to stay with the Freudian/Youngian Mother-Son offense throughout the whole game.

    But Lewis, did you expect The Bride?

    LB: Well Marla, I’m a professional and Dean’s a professional, he’s got a lot of bullets in his holster, you never know for sure what he’s gonna bring.

    So you WERE surprised by The Bride?

    LB: Well Marla, wouldn’t you be surprised by Elsa Lanchester barreling down on you with a purple and pink beehive?

    Hah hah! Well put! Lewis, I gotta be frank, at that point I thought you were finished, especially when Dean brought out the Doctor and the Monster. Now tell me what was going on there, what dynamic were you feeling between Dean’s Big Three?

    LB: Well Marla, what amazed me most was the coordination between the Bride and the Doctor, she couldn’t keep her eyes off him, was totally attuned to his every move, and it showed on the scoreboard.

    But didn’t the Doctor look a bit distracted out there? No offense, Lewis, but his world-weariness seemed akin to what I was seeing from your Tarzan offense at points during this game.

    LB: The Doctor was tired, no question about it, but you have to look at the effect he was making out there. He was inspiring the Bride to make some great plays, and if he hadn’t been out there, I don’t think she would have achieved the same results.

    And the Monster!

    LB: Well, I just tried to stay out of his way.

    He was making a mess out there!

    LB: Yes, I had to watch out for the oil puddles.

    Lewis, Dean went ahead with 7 seconds left with “how many times do you have to die/before you’re really dead?” Did you think it was over at that point?

    LB: Marla, there’s no question that Dean scored a remarkable basket from out deep. But seven seconds is a long time in this game, and I was able to use that time to my advantage.

    You sure did, and we’re going to talk about your offense in detail in just a moment, so stay tuned for Lewis “The Buzz” Buzbee’s analysis of his own Tarzan offense – right after these messages…

  15. Bob Tonucci said,

    March 19, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    And we’re back once again, I’m Marla Muse talking with Lewis “The Buzz” Buzbee about his Tarzan offense that he used to such effect in this match against Dean Young. Lewis, you stayed with the Tarzan offense throughout the game, unlike Dean, who switched from the Mother-Son to the Bride of Frankenstein, no regrets there?

    LB: None Marla, but I’d like to clarify something, we’ve said repeatedly that Dean switched his offense, but I think it’s more accurate to say he overlaid his first offense with the second.

    Overlaid, yes! They’re connected – somehow…

    LB: Absolutely Marla, Dean’s game was an organic whole, with every component linked.

    Great point, Lewis, talking with you is like a poetry webinar! Lewis: you stuck with the Tarzan offense throughout, and yet I was struck by how variegated it was. You came out, King of the Jungle, which has to give your opponent pause – everything about you seemed to be saying “it’s going to be a great day”.

    LB: “Laden with possibility”?

    My thoughts exactly! You were under the basket like “a banana tree with banana hands” grabbing those rebounds, then transitioned into your Saturday Errands Set-Up. This really seemed to mesmerize Dean.

    LB: Well Marla, I worked on the Saturday Errands Set-Up a lot in practice.

    And it showed! There was so much going on there! “[H]e saved/the tiger cub trapped in the banyan” was a real crowd-pleaser, especially with the animal lovers out there, of which I’m one! Two dogs, three cats, a parakeet, and a husband! Lewis, I saw a lot of Palm Pilots out in the crowd looking up “banyan”, not a word you hear every day. Makes me think of Paul Bunyan! Another great archetypal figure!

    LB: Absolutely, Marla, he’d make another great protaganist for a poem.

    Don’t forget Blue the giant ox! And you continued with the Saturday Errands Set-Up, kept the pressure on, and then that marvelous shot that put the ball in on a perfect N-NW arc. Now that’s pronounced ‘north by northwest’, am I correct?

    LB: That’s right, Marla.

    North by Northwest! Eva-Marie Saint! The train going into the tunnel! And you did all this “all by noon” and all by the end of the first half, when you had a 29-24 lead. Then if I’m not mistaken, you brought out the Saturday in the Park offense, tell me about that.

    LB: Yes Marla, the Saturday in the Park offense isn’t glamorous, but it’s very effective. It’s basically taking care of business out on the court.

    And that’s exactly what you did, you “went about [your] duties, not so much Kingly duties/as custodial”. And then you brought out the Cheetah play, I love Cheetah!

    LB: Everyone loves Cheetah, Marla.

    But it wasn’t long before “Cheetah’[d] gone chattering off” and this is where Dean started to get it together with that murderous ‘I Hate You’ dunk. It looked as if you were thinking “The world is a stagnant river, a scummy creek’s dammed pool.”

    LB: That’s pretty accurate, Marla.

    OK, you then brought out another of your big guns, Jane.

    LB: Yes, the Jane Goes to Town press.

    But Lewis, the crowd was very disappointed here, everyone was waiting for Jane, and you gave us “Jane is in town,/and the rest of the animals are busy with one another–/fighting, eating, mating.” And it’s a shame because you deprived us of seeing Jane go one-on-one against the Bride!

    LB: Well Marla, I love to dazzle a crowd as much as the next player, I’ll admit to that, but there’s times you gotta focus on the fundamentals.

    But it wasn’t working for you! “Tarzan can barely move/He does not want to move” – I’m directly quoting you here! And meanwhile Dean was going Friday the 13th on you!

    LB: Well Marla, no one can keep up a frenetic pace for an entire game, there’s always gonna be peaks and valleys.

    Well, this was the Big Valley, Dean, I was seeing the ghost of Barbara Stanwyck sitting up in the rafters. I mean come on, “no longer caring for its own safety, tired of the vigilance”? What if NORAD thought like that?

    LB: Well Marla, I make no claims to perfection, I’m human, Tarzan’s human, and that’s important to remember, that’s what makes this game so unpredictable and exciting.

    Alright Lewis, you did manage to regroup and you brought out your Go To A Happy Place press, which I loved! The pools, and the girls, and the fruits – you were making me hungry, Lewis!

    LB: Heh heh.

    I broke my diet, had one of the gaffers go get some nachos! Lewis, when you brought the girls out, there was pandemonium here, we’re used to seeing cheerleaders on the floor at the breaks, but rarely during regulation play. Now you also had your own Big Three here, and they were totally a surprise—

    LB: Yes, we picked up “kiwi, jack fruit, star fruit” in a trade during the off-season.

    Very unprepossessing but very effective.

    LB: Absolutely Marla, they came through for us.

    Now Lewis, kiwi I know of, but I don’t think I can find jack fruit and star fruit at the Safeway. Maybe I have to go to Whole Foods!

    LB: Heh heh.

    Or should I say Whole Paycheck Foods! Alright Lewis, you’d dug deep, you had out the girls and the food, it was like buttah—

    LB: Goat butter?

    Yes, “roasted yams slathered in goat butter”! Send that gaffer out for more nachos! Now Lewis, this was the point in the game when Dean had out his Leatherface mask and chainsaw, fer cryin’ out loud, how did you keep your cool out there?

    LB: I’m used to chaos, Marla, lots of chaos in the jungle.

    Zebras crying for help? Jackals?

    LB: Exactly, so I’ve learned to find a quiet place within myself and take solace in it.

    OK Lewis, now Dean had scored and was ahead by 1 with seven seconds left. Let’s talk about your lines that scored the winning basket, “He can live without the call of the wild./He thinks.” I was trying to parse this with Dean, and he told me to knock it off, can you give me any help here?

    LB: OK, Marla, how about “Modern man thinks out his problems, or tries to – primitive man dances out his problems.”

    Wow! You know, Lewis, there’s times on a Sunday morning I lie there in bed trying to think out a problem, and meanwhile the clock’s ticking away, Monday morning’s getting closer, the kids are whining for pancakes, and I’ll wonder if I could think out the problem just as effectively by getting up and making some pancakes.

    LB: That’s probably so, Marla, maybe even more effectively.

    Multitasking! Lewis, you made a great showing today, not only by winning the game but by maybe helping me get out of bed on Sunday morning!

    LB: Heh heh.

    Nothing else so far has worked! You’ll be back soon for a rematch with Dean Young to decide which of you will get into the Elite Eight, the league commissioner hasn’t set a date yet, but we’ll let you know as soon as we find out. We’ll Twitter you!

    LB: Thanks Marla.

    Thank you, Lewis, and this is Marla Muse, let’s go now to “60 Minutes” already in progress…

  16. October 30, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Man is neither angel nor beast, and misfortune means that he who wishes to be an angel becomes a beast. It is dangerous to show a man how like the animal he is, without showing him his own greatness. And it is also dangerous to make him see his greatness without showing him his own baseness. But it is even more dangerous to let him ignore the one or the other, and it is very advantageous to show him the one and the other. A man must not think he is equal to the animals or to the angels, he must not ignore either of them: but he must know both…

    That man respect his own value, then, that man love himself because he has a nature that is capable of good: but that he must love not himself for the baseness which it contains. That he despise himself, because the capacity for it is great in him; but that he despise not himself for that natural capacity. That he hate himself, that he love himself… I condemn equally those who praise man and those who despise him, and those who use him for their own enjoyment. And I can only approve those who see him weeping.

    — Blaise Pascal (translator uncited), quoted in Oriana Fallaci’s memoir of her experiences in Vietnam, Nothing, and So Be It

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