Wednesday, April 15, 2009

On Bob Feller and Faust

If I ever meet Bob Feller, he gets one free punch.

I reviewed “Bob Feller’s Blue Book of Wisdon” which was written by Feller and a guy named Burton Rocks.

The book itself is unnecessary, if only because Feller and Burton Rocks (love this name!) already wrote “Bob Feller’s Black Book of Wisdom,” which tread the same territory.

Feller doles out common-sense advice (spend time with your kids) and talks some baseball when he runs out of life lessons.

But Feller doesn’t get to pop me because I dissed his book. But, in my review, I wrote:

Bob Feller is a legend.

He might have won a Cy Young Award for each finger on his incomparable left hand, if it had been introduced before he retired. He also sacrificed three of his prime pitching years so he could join the Navy and fight in World War II.

The problem with that? Feller had an incomparable right hand. His left hand only worked when the catcher tossed the ball back to him.

In Cleveland, botching a Bob Feller fact is a cardinal sin, tantamount to forgetting Jim Brown’s record for career rushing yards (12,312) or the mayor who lit his hair on fire with a welder’s torch (Ralph J. Perk).

So I apologize with my hand on Feller’s Book of Wisdom and a stack of Indians tickets that I bought from 1995 to 2002.

On a completely different note, I returned from a family vacation in Myrtle Beach Sunday. It was too cold to swim in the ocean, so I spent most of my time reading on the beach.

My dance card included “Dubliners,” “Faust,” Jeff Smith’s “Bone,” and a book of Italian fairy tales compiled by Italo Calvino.

(It would have been easy to spot me on the beach — I was the pale guy reading Goethe.)

I’m not going to bore both of my readers by talking about all of the books today. But I will say one thing.

I miss when writers would interrupt their own masterwork to tangentially attack their literary and philosophical rivals.

Goethe pauses his climactic depiction of Faust and Mephistopheles on Walpurgis Night, so he can take cheap shots at Friedrich Nicolai and Johann Caspar Lavater.

Goethe creates an analogue for Nicolai named “Spookybum.” The character has no purpose except to be insulted.

It would be like interrupting this blog to call my City Editor John Bertosa a nerd.

That type of vindictiveness, which requires an explanatory footnote, is exactly what I want to read while I’m slowly sunburning.

-Jason Lea,

P.S. The guy who reads fairy tales on the beach probably doesn’t get to call anyone else a nerd.

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