chanda into the fourth

I told you Chanda would be taken to three sets by the worrisome Laura Granville. But she rallied to victory, 2-6, 6-1, 6-3.
And my other prediction (“[Anastasia] Myskina won’t be a problem in the next round”) has proven accurate, since Myskina didn’t even make it out of Round 2. Instead, Chanda gets the malignant Magyar, Petra Mandula. Don’t know much about her, but she did make the quarters at Roland Garros two years ago. Prediction: Chanda, 6-1, 6-4.

spelling bee history

Just so you know, I’m not some Johnny-come-lately jumping on the spelling bee wagon just because my main man Sai Gunturi has delivered glory to my employer. This is the fourth spelling-bee related entry in history. The others: this link to a great story from the New York Times Magazine on America’s premier spelling bee family (unfortunately, only the abstract is available now) and this link to what remains the best spelling bee video ever.

fall of rick bragg

I promised myself I wouldn’t express public joy over the fall of Rick Bragg, despite my previously stated animus against him. But screw that! While he’s not accused of anything of a Jayson Blair scale, his downfall (for slapping his name on a feature story almost entirely reported by his personal indentured servant) fits his M.O. perfectly.
My complaint about Bragg was always that he’s lazy. He only writes stories that have already been published elsewhere. His pieces are reported only to the bare minimum — the rest of the story is all metaphors and stereotypes. (I remember a page-one story he did set in Lafayette, La., where he barely interviewed anyone except the waitress at his expense-account lunch spot and a writer buddy of his in New Orleans.)
Katha Pollitt says it well: “He is known for a certain kind of story — the intimate, writerly, vivid, passionate (or overblown, verbose, sentimental and hackneyed) portrayal of some off-the-beaten-path nostalgia-drenched American scene. Part of his appeal (or lack thereof) is the implicit claim that he, a Southerner with rural working-class roots, knows the REAL America and you, the urban Times reader, do not…Bragg is an implicit character in all his stories — participating in the family dramas, local struggles, and manly labors of the people he writes about, and responding to same with knowledge and empathy born of his own life experiences. Finding out that he was never on that oysterboat, never saw those mullet belly-flop, is sort of like finding out that Hemingway never went marlin fishing. With a different kind of writer you might not care so much — but when a writer sets up his tent on the territory of authenticity, and uses that to claim superior insight to certain kinds of experience, he’d better be telling the truth about his relation to seafood.”
He got away with it because he is truly a gifted writer. But as Mickey Kaus puts it, “[D]idn’t this guy smell like a phony for years?”
I really wish the man no ill, but I think it’s good he’ll be able to focus on writing books now. Hopefully, the NYT will send one of its many terrific, workhorse national reporters to cover Louisiana now.

oscar schmidt, mao santa

Oscar Schmidt, the greatest basketball player in Brazilian history, is retiring.
This is only interesting to me because we learn his nickname is “Mao Santa,” which in Portuguese means “holy hand.” Me, I’m having a great time picturing “Mao Santa,” which in English means “brutal yet eternally smiling Chinese dictator who brings presents to good revolutionaries and lumps of coal to bad ones.”

chanda round 2

Chanda had a little more trouble with Cara Black than she should have — winning 7-6 (8-6), 6-3. Fifty-one unforced errors’ll do that to you. As predicted here yesterday, Laura Granville is up next after her easy dismissal of Iva Majoli. (Doesn’t it feel like Iva Majoli is 83 years old? Seems like she’s been around forever. Of course, she’s only 25.)
Prediction: I bet Granville takes her to three sets, but Chanda’ll pull it out. Myskina won’t be a problem in the next round.

reunion recap and chanda

Well, the reunion was a qualified success — qualified only because a few people had to cancel at the last minute. (We had only 38 students in our class, so even a few cancellations can have an impact.) No radical departures; most folks are doing roughly what I would have guessed a decade ago. Also had some nice meals, most notably at Cafe des Amis — yum. Seafood corn bisque, crawfish cornbread topped with grilled drum and crawfish etouffee, and absolutely insane white chocolate cheesecake — perhaps the greatest dessert in global history.
I was particularly pleased to see that my old high school newspaper, The Eclectic (motto: “Rhythm and News”), has been revived. The most recent issue even reprinted an old article of mine and ran a brief (and somewhat fictional) biography of me — proving that the Eclectic legacy of questionable editorial decisions lives on.
One of the no-shows at the reunion was Chanda Rubin, who (as has been well chronicled on this site) used to have the locker underneath mine. She had a better excuse than most no-shows, though, being in Paris for the French Open. (Actually, at the exact moment I was downing cheesecake, Chanda was winning the Spanish Open.)
This latest edition of ChandaWatch begins with her easy first-round win over the apparently cheery Slovakian Henrieta Nagyova. Up next: the Zimbabwan Cara Black. (Who is white, and thus perhaps not all that welcome any more in her troubled homeland.)
After Chanda eases past her, her likely path to the quarters will go through up-and-comer Laura Granville and the Rooski Anastasia Myskina. And (as a reward for Chanda’s climb in the world rankings — she’s up to No. 8) she won’t have to face a Williams sister until the semis, assuming she can get through Justin Henin-Hardenne.