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2020.11.19 08:26 BooshSaiyan What you are looking for is..... (Link in the Desc.)2

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2020.11.16 17:00 daphometisgone FAQ for Newcomers

I've been in the Floyd fanbase for a little while now, and I keep seeing the same questions show up from newcomers. This isn't bad, I had the same questions, but it can be a tad annoying, so I felt someone had to make at least a basic FAQ. I'll try and sort this by the most asked to the least asked.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
  1. I just listened to The Dark Side of the Moon, what should I listen to next? (Album listening order)
  2. Who is Syd Barrett?
  3. What's the deal with the feud between Roger Waters and David Gilmour?
  4. I listened to all of the studio albums, now what? (Info on live and solo albums, as well as bootlegs)
  5. Why can’t I find The Wall film? What options do I have to watch it?

I just listened to The Dark Side of the Moon, what should I listen to next?

First off, if you're getting into Floyd and you haven't listened to DSOTM, go listen to it. Alright, I'll try and organize this into tiers based on how essential they are. Please keep in mind Pink Floyd's style varied WILDLY from album to album, it's what makes them so good, so your favorite Floyd album might be pretty low. I'm not saying the ones that are lower are bad, just fewer people overall like them.
1."The Big 4": The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, The Wall
Sometimes referred to as "The Big 5" (Including Meddle), or "The Big 3" (Not including Animals), these albums define what is essentially Pink Floyd's golden age. They are not only Floyd's best selling albums but also all came out back to back. In the modern era, these are usually regarded as the bands 4 best, representing the peak of their songwriting and instrumentation. They are all concept albums, so it is preferred if you do a little outside research to fully appreciate them, I would personally recommend Polyphonic's The Dark Side of the Moon Project and his video on Wish You Were Here. I'd also recommend the OUTSTANDING https://www.thewallanalysis.com/. As for Animals, check out Lie Likes Music or Vinyl Rewind (He has great videos on The Wall too).
  1. An Overview: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Meddle, The Division Bell
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn is Pink Floyd's first album and the only one made while Syd Barrett was their frontman. It's a highly experimental and psychedelic album, so if you're into that check it out. Meddle was the last album before DSOTM (Ignoring Obscured by Clouds). It's remembered specifically for the song Echoes, a 20-minute epic that takes up the entire B-Side of the vinyl. It is considered by many to by the best Pink Floyd song and a precursor to the style of sound used on DSOTM. The Division Bell is Pink Floyd's final album (Even though it's actually not, I'll explain later). The album is a reflection on Pink Floyd's troubled history (Especially the final track), it also follows the concept that communication can solve most problems, and that a lack of it causes a whole new host of problems. It is also the PF album with the most songs written by a non-band member, Polly Samson, wife of guitarist David Gilmour. The themes of communication inevitably tie into the drama surrounding Roger Waters leaving the band (Again, I'll explain later), however, David denies that any songs are about his relationship with Roger. This is complete and utter horseshit
  1. Pink Floyd Finds Their Sound: A Saucerful of Secrets, Atom Heart Mother
Both of these albums are generally liked and come from the era of PF immediately after Syd Barrett left the band. Don't have as much to say here. I think both of these albums are pretty good.
  1. Not Your Grandma's Pink Floyd: Ummagumma, The Final Cut, A Momentary Lapse of Reason, The Endless River
These are considered PF's controversial albums. Ummagumma followed A Saucerful of Secrets and lacked any Syd Barrett influence at all. It was released as a double album, with the first record being a live disc and the second being the studio album. The live disc is very good and it's worth checking out the album just for this, however, the studio side is a mess. Each band member did their songs by themselves and it's clear that they did not have many ideas. Many consider this to be Floyd's worst album. The Final Cut follows The Wall and attempts to build upon it. Attempts being the keyword. It was made without any involvement from keyboardist Richard Wright and was the album with the most influence from Roger Waters. Waters planned the album as a soundtrack for the 1982 film adaptation of The Wall. With the onset of the Falklands War, he rewrote it as a concept album exploring what he considered the betrayal of his father, who died serving in the Second World War. Waters provided lead vocals for all but one track, and he is credited for all songwriting. It doesn't sound exactly like what a Waters solo album sounds like but if you aren't a big fan of him then this is NOT going to work for you. Luckily I, and many others are, so there's still a big audience for this. A Momentary Lapse of Reason was made with zero involvement from Waters and minimal contributions from Richard Wright and drummer Nick Mason. After Waters' departure, it was an attempt to re-invent Floyd, using all the new technologies of the time. Due to this, it is now easily the most dated PF album. If you're listening to this I'd recommend listening to the 2019 remix contained on Pink Floyd: The Later Years (Actual boxset is $$$ but it's all on Spotify), the remix attempts to add Wright and Mason back in, and make it a bit less dated, this greatly improves the album, possibly putting it above The Division Bell in terms of quality. The Endless River is the final Pink Floyd album, releasing in 2014. Yes, just 6 years ago. It's actually based off of jam sessions intended for The Division Bell, but there was so much they eventually just decided to release it as its own album, as a way to commemorate Richard Wright, who has sadly passed away. All but one track on it is completely instrumental. This album gets a bad rap for being a little aimless and feeling "Empty" when compared to other Floyd albums, but the music here is still very good. It probably should have been treated as a PF compilation album and not a new studio album, but that's just my opinion.
  1. Soundtracks: More, Obscured by Clouds
Soundtracks Pink Floyd made for the films More and The Valley. They're pretty good. OBC is better than more. Nothing much else to say

Who is Syd Barrett?

Okay well, I can't really put a whole man's life here but I'll tell you what's important for Pink Floyd fans. Syd Barrett was a founding member of Pink Floyd and extremely important in defining their sound. He was the band's frontman from 1965-68. he left after his behavior had become increasingly erratic and "Unpredictable" due to continued LSD use, most people now believe that Barrett suffered from some form of mental illness, possibly Aspergers or schizophrenia, although members of his family deny he suffered from any mental illness. Once described as joyful, friendly, and extroverted, he became increasingly depressed and socially withdrawn, and experienced hallucinations, disorganized speech, memory lapses, intense mood swings, and periods of catatonia. Although the changes began gradually, he went missing for a long weekend and, according to several friends, including Wright, came back "a completely different person.". Once Barrett's behavior began to seriously affect the band, specifically with live gigs, Barrett gradually became less involved in the band, before leaving. After releasing 2 solo albums Barrett essentially disappeared from public life. The situation surrounding Barrett left a deep and permanent impact on the band, with them looking back and feeling as if they should have done more to save their friend. Barrett most notably inspired Wish You Were Here, blaming his downfall on the music industry and the band's pursuit of success.

What's the deal with the feud between Roger Waters and David Gilmour?

Like the last question, this could take up its own entire post but I'll try and summarize the best I can. I've taken a bit from Wikipedia so far, and honestly, for this, I may as well directly quote Roger's Wikipedia page
Amidst creative differences, Waters left Pink Floyd in 1985 and began a legal battle with the band regarding their continued use of the name and material. In December 1985, Waters issued a statement to EMI and CBS invoking the "Leaving Member" clause in his contract. In October 1986, he initiated High Court proceedings to formally dissolve the Pink Floyd partnership. In his submission to the High Court he called Pink Floyd a "spent force creatively". Gilmour and Mason opposed the application and announced their intention to continue as Pink Floyd. Waters claims to have been forced to resign like Wright had been years earlier, and decided to leave Pink Floyd based on legal considerations, saying: "If I hadn't, the financial repercussions would have wiped me out completely."
In December 1987, Waters and Pink Floyd reached an agreement. Waters was released from his contractual obligation with O'Rourke, and he retained the copyrights to the Wall concept and the inflatable Animals pig. Pink Floyd released three studio albums without him: A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987), The Division Bell (1994), and The Endless River (2014). In 2005, Waters said of their almost 20 years of animosity: "I don't think any of us came out of the years from 1985 with any credit ... It was a bad, negative time, and I regret my part in that negativity."
Basically, there was some confusion when Roger left the band and he was under the impression that the band would dissolve after The Final Cut, however, David and Nick (Richard was not part of the band at this time) were under the impression that Roger was simply leaving and there was still the potential for more albums under the Pink Floyd name. So when they started work on a new Pink Floyd album without him, Roger felt betrayed. Nowadays he's said that he regrets this lawsuit, but tensions between him and David specifically have not eased. At the time of me writing this Roger has somewhat recently put out a video on his YouTube channel and Facebook page directly calling out the rest of the band for not allowing him to use official Pink Floyd social media to promote his work, and everything is terrible again.

I listened to all of the studio albums, now what?

Don't worry! There's still a ton of PF material for you to check out. Pink Floyd's live shows are legendary, they were ambitious and ahead of their time visually, the music was pretty damn good too, arguably better than the studio stuff. The MAIN live stuff are as follows
People LOVE Live at Pompeii, and I love it too. It's considered one of the best concert films of all time, not just the best Pink Floyd one. It's the band playing in their prime inside of an abandoned Pompeii amphitheater. I'd say this one is the most essential one, however, it's worth stating that the modern releases of the film have been heavily tampered with, and the changes are universally hated. The version contained on the DVD release and The Early Years box set is the "Directors Cut", which most notably adds CGI stuff? It just cuts away from the band to look at terribly dated CGI, whereas the original cut rarely completely cut away from the band. I've also heard that the speed of the music was altered but I can't remember if I noticed that the last time I listened to TEY version. HOWEVER, while I do not promote piracy, I believe I should state that the original version can still be found on some corners of the internet. However the music is so damn good, you'll still enjoy the director's cut.
ITAOT is another beloved piece of Floyd’s live material. It's an amalgamation of multiple shows from, you guessed it, Floyd's short 1980-1981 tour of The Wall. What you need to understand about that tour is that it wasn't as much a rock concert as it was musical theatre, they ran through the entirety of the album, while trying to tell its story. It's to this day one of the most ambitious concerts ever, the build a whole ass Wall on stage during the first half of the show, and knocked it down at the end. There were a ton of projections and animations, not only on Floyd's trademark circular screen but on the wall itself. The animations specifically were insane, and above anything, Floyd had done before, and some of the more simple projections were great too. The Wall was not only a feast for the ears, but for the eyes. And because of that, the entire Floyd fanbase is extremely upset that barely any footage from any of these concerts have been released, we only have the live album. You might be thinking "Well, what can they do? It wasn't supposed to be a concert movie, just a live album", except you'd be wrong. A large portion of the tour was professionally shot on 70mm film, intended for use in the wall film, however, the footage was deemed too dark, and not used in the film. Roger Waters HAS THIS FOOTAGE, we don't exactly know why Roger is just leaving this beautiful concert in his attic or whatever, but until then if you want to experience this tour, you'll have to rely on bootlegs or ITAOT, both of which are still pretty good options, it just sucks that we know there's a better option.
The Delicate Sound of Thunder is considered to be pretty good, maybe not as good as the previous two. It was Floyd's tour to go along with A Momentary Lapse of Reason so there's no Roger. This one, similar to A Momentary Lapse of Reason, got a remix for The Later Years set, except they actually went above and beyond and completely remastered and re-edited the film. This edited version will soon be seeing a solo Blu-Ray, Vinyl, etc. release, as well as apparently coming to select theatres.
Pulse is basically exactly the same situation as TDSOT, except it’s for The Division Bell and not liked as much.
At the 2005 Live 8 Charity event, Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Richard Wright, and Nick Mason surprised the audience by reuniting for the first time in nearly 25 years. As explained above, tensions between Waters and Gilmour stopped Waters from ever playing with his old bandmates, but since it was for charity, he finally did. However, this would be the last time the band’s prime lineup would play together again, as Richard Wright would pass away 3 years later. Opinions on this performance seem to be slightly mixed, but it’s an important part of the band’s history so I need to mention it.
The Early Years was a massive box set with over 33 discs released in 2016. It compromises of material made by Pink Floyd between 1965-1972 that was nit on their albums. This consists of some singles and demos, but most notably for our purposes, there are ALOT of live performances. These range in quality so I’m not gonna give a blanket statement that it’s good or bad, but there are some real gems in there. The box set contains 7 volumes, 6 of which were released independently, so if you want material from a specific pre-Dark Side album seek them out. There was also a “Highlights” CD called Cre/ation released, so if you want TEY without having to shell out the big bucks check it out. The actual box set is ridiculously expensive, and so are the individual volumes, so I’d recommend just listening to it on Spotify.
The Later Years is the same deal but for the post-Final Cut stuff, there are still some good songs, it’s still pretty expensive. This time there’s no individual volumes, but there is a highlights album, and it has a vinyl edition this time. It has a remix of A Momentary Lapse of Reason and The Delicate Sound of Thunder and those are cool. Listen on Spotify.
The Immersion boxsets were massive boxsets made for The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, and The Wall. Each has pretty good live performances contained on some of their discs, with The Wall’s being Is There Anybody Out There?
Okay okay, so, you listened to all 15 of the studio albums, and all the live stuff you’re interested in. It’s not like there are FOURTEEN MORE albums to listen to. Because that’s how many solo albums there are. Okay, so here is when I would normally tell you which ones to listen to, but honestly, I can’t. I tried asking around but everyone has different opinions, if you like David’s songs on Floyd albums listen to his solo albums, same with Roger, Syd, and Rick. The only thing everyone agrees on is that Nick’s albums aren’t that good. I’ve heard some extremely staunch defenders of Radio KAOS by Roger Waters, David Gilmour by David Gilmour, The Madcap Laughs by Syd Barrett, and Broken China by Richard Wright (This one is kind of hard to find, only official release is on its original CD, it’s not even on streaming services : /), so maybe check out those? I really can’t tell you which ones to listen to. My personal favorites are, The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking, Is This the Life We Really Want?, Barrett, David Gilmour, and Rattle That Lock. I could also talk about live solo albums but this section is far too long.
Okay okay, so now you’ve listened to all the studio albums, live albums, solo albums, and solo live albums, is there ANYTHING ELSE left. Well, now we venture into the realm of live bootlegs. Live shows never released officially but distributed by fans. For the previous section, I couldn’t use my Floyd knowledge due to varying opinions, but here I can’t use my Floyd knowledge cause I have none for this. I’ve never been into the bootleg scene, but it is very popular. The 2 things I do know, is that the most essential bootleg is called Animal Instincts and that the main source for bootlegs is a forum called Yeeshkul! that can be found here.
EDIT: u/Redaissance made a proper Bootleg introduction
The world of Pink Floyd bootlegs is very muddied and there's a lot of misinformation. As a starter pack, check out these shows:
May 9th, 1977, Oakland (Animals Tour): Full Animals set in live order (Sheep/Pigs on the Wing Part 1/Dogs/Pigs on the Wing Part 2/Pigs (Three Different Ones), then a full Wish You Were Here set, and encores of Money, Us and Them, and Careful With That Axe, Eugene (the first time played in three years, the only time on this tour, and the final time ever, including solo members' shows). Phenomenal performance and sound quality, commonly known as Animal Instincts.
February 20th, 1972 London (Eclipse Tour): An early Dark Side of the Moon show, before the album was released. Interesting insight into the development of the album, again with phenomenal quality. Commonly known as In Rainbow Light.
July 6th, 1977 Montreal (Animals Tour): Same setlist as Oakland '77 but instead of Careful With That Axe, Eugene, More Blues from the More album is played (same specifications, but this hadn't been played in five years). Additionally, this is the famous "Spitting Incident" show, where Roger Waters grows angry with the crowd, leading to the development of The Wall. Commonly known as Roar Ends.
April 26th, 1975 Los Angeles (1975 Tour): Early Shine On, Have a Cigar, and Animals songs, with a full Dark Side of the Moon and saxophone Echoes as an encore. Fantastic quality, recorded by the late, great Mike Millard. Commonly known as Cruel But Fair.
February 28th, 1980 New York (The Wall Tour): Full performance of The Wall, in great quality. Heralded as the greatest rendition of the album by many. Commonly known as Definitive Wall.
Further audio bootlegs to check out are the following:
May 12th, 1969 Top Gear (truncated The Man and The Journey in radio broadcast quality)
November 12th, 1970 Montreux (fantastic quality, partially released on The Early Years set. Commonly known as Too Late For Mind Expanding)
December 22nd, 1970 Sheffield (features the only live performance of Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast)
November 20th, 1971 Cincinnati (features the longest performance of Embryo, where the band jams Breathe, Sheep, and other unreleased songs due to a keyboard failure. Also the last performance of the tune as well as Cymbaline)
March 6th, 1972 Tokyo (another early Dark Side of the Moon show in great quality. Commonly known as Acid Moon)
March 11th, 1973 Toronto (post-album release Dark Side of the Moon show. Great quality and a fantastic performance of the album. Commonly known as Yeeshkul)
March 17th, 1973 New York (post-album release Dark Side of the Moon show. Good quality and notable for being the largest (seating-wise) venue Pink Floyd ever played)
June 9th, 1975 Landover (great quality 1975 tour show)
July 5th, 1975 Hertfordshire (the last 1975 tour show at the Knebworth Festival. Quality is not fantastic but it is notable for being the last full Dark Side of the Moon performance with Roger Waters, as well as the last Echoes for several years. Also, Roy Harper joins the band on stage to sing Have a Cigar)
January 27th, 1977 Frankfurt (a great performance in unreal quality (for the most part; be sure to seek out the 2-source matrix version for stereo sound))
February 25th, 1977 Paris (a great performance in great quality)
May 1st, 1977 Fort Worth (a fiery performance in great quality)
June 27th, 1977 Boston (a fantastic performance (even Roger Waters thought so, as evidenced by his comments at the end of the show: "A perfect ending to a perfect day! Good night, and God bless.") in amazing quality)
July 2nd, 1977 New York (a great performance in unreal quality for the Wish You Were Here set and great quality elsewhere)
August 6th, 1980 London (a great quality performance of The Wall)
June 16th, 1981 London (a fantastic quality performance of The Wall)
June 17th, 1981 London (the final The Wall show and the last time Roger Waters would play a full gig with Pink Floyd)
September 19th, 1987 Philadelphia (a rare opening performance of Echoes and an even rarer encore performance of Shine On You Crazy Diamond. Commonly known as Prism)
April 22nd, 1994 Oakland (a great quality show that features the only time One Slip was performed in 1994)
August 29th and 30th, 1994 Oslo (features the only live performances of Marooned by Pink Floyd, as well as the first night featuring a wildly fantastic Comfortably Numb solo, often hailed as the best one performed. Commonly known as Driftwood (for the 29th))
September 13th, 1994 Turin (a soundboard recording of a Division Bell show. Fantastic quality)
October 29th, 1994 London (the final full-length Pink Floyd show, captured in amazing quality. Commonly known as The Last Bell)
Video bootlegs to check out are the following:
February 27th, 1980 New York (Notelu's new transfer of this video is fantastic. A full The Wall performance in good quality of both audio and video)
November 3/4/5th, 1987 Atlanta (the bootleg "Would You Buy A Ticket To This Show?" encompasses a mash-up of footage from the band's three-night run at the Omni in Atlanta featuring great quality video and audio)
Venice 1989 and Pulse Original TV Broadcast versions (these are the unedited versions of the Venice 1989 and Earls Court Pulse shows, available online)

Why can’t I find The Wall film? What options do I have to watch it?

It is my personal belief that The Wall (1982) is not only the most important non-album Floyd material, but that it is quite possibly the finest musical film ever made, and one of my personal favorite films of all time. It’s not for everyone, and die hard Wall fans find problems with it, but it is definitely an important film. So, why can’t you find it? It’s not on streaming services, it’s not available to buy or rent digitally, hell it’s not even on Blu-Ray, let alone 4K Blu-Ray. The tl;dr of why it’s so hard to find is that Roger Waters is a fake and a fraud, and when he is rightly punished for his crimes against humanity he will not be given any mercy or pity. Seriously though, it comes down to him and his ego, as well as the director Alan Parker’s. Basically neither of them were happy with how the movie turned out so they have not released it in recent years. So, what are your options for watching The Wall? Well…
So, for the releases done in the 80's, they're a pan and scan transfer using an original 35mm print. This is where a fake camera is placed over the film and moved around in order to show more on the screen without properly transferring the film from 16:9 to 4:3.
These include the VHS, Laser Disc, CED, and Beta releases of the film.
In 1991, a Letterbox version of the VHS and Laserdisc was produced, which is that 35mm print but now properly formatted to fit a 4:3 aspect ratio.
In 1994, another VHS was produced of The Wall, and I believe another standard Laserdisc was as well.
In 1999 came the DVD release, which was the first major attempt at a restoration of The Wall, which changed the film's color grading and remixed the soundtrack to 5.1.
Since then, the only major official variation is a TV airing of the film that was in HD (sometime in the early 2010's), which, again, has new color grading.
There's a Laserdisc from Japan in Wide Screen released in 1997, but that is from the same time period as the DVD remaster of The Wall.
(Information on The Wall’s home video history courtesy of Mr.Kyles Films 1/Gunty Bob)
So, do you want superior color? Get the earlier versions. Do you want clearer video? Go for the later versions. Do you want the film in HD? Go for the TV transfer. Do you actually want to watch the film legally? Don’t go for the TV transfer. Alan Parker recently passed away, so our chances of proper modern release has shot up, but don’t hold your breath on it. In my personal opinion, I’d say go with the DVD or TV version, even if acquiring that TV version isn’t exactly fair use by copyright law standards, although in my opinion it’s their fault people are pirating the film.
Alright, that’s all the questions I have for now. This FAQ is not complete! Please suggest questions, give corrections, or add onto my answers so that this can be an even better resource for new fans!
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2020.10.29 01:12 hiphopthewalrus Offseason Key Dates

The Major League Baseball Offseason™ (presented by Camping World) is an exciting time, and it is full of key dates and things to look out for. Unfortunately, the MLB’s official calendar inexplicably leaves out many of the events that are scheduled to happen. So I put together this more-or-less comprehensive guide of things to keep an eye on over the next few months, so fans don’t miss out.
Oct. 28: Offseason opens. AJ Hinch, Alex Cora, and Jeff Ludnow can now do Zoom interviews for open positions. They each eventually purchase new computer microphones after team executives complain about a strange buzzing sound on the audio of their calls.
Nov. 1: Deadline for exercising/declining options and extending qualifying offer. Notably, the Indians decline Carlos Santana’s option and refuse to make a QO out of sheer terror that he might accept it. The Dolan family sleeps well this night. The Pirates decline Chris Archer’s option, with owner Bob Nutting citing financial troubles after losing millions on his latest business venture: a series of children’s books on the dangers of happiness. Likewise, the Cardinals decline to pick up Kolten Wong’s option after their own troubles with their beer business, which assuredly lost tons of money during a pandemic when people had much better things to do.
Nov. 2: Alex Cora is announced to return as manager of the Red Sox. President Chaim Bloom says during his introductory press conference that the Red Sox missed his “steady hand over the last two seasons.” When a reporter points out that Cora has only been absent for one year, not two, Bloom suddenly remembers that Cora was the manager for the disappointing 2019 season. “I’ve made a huge mistake” he says.
Nov. 4: The White Sox announce the return of 76-year-old Tony La Russa as their new skipper. La Russa wastes no time in his introductory press conference denouncing Kevin Cash’s World Series decisions and the entire field of “math.”
Nov. 5: Tigers GM Al Avila surprises everyone by announcing that his son, Alex Avila will join the Tigers as a playemanager. The elder Avila says he loves working closely with his son and is excited for the chance to fire him midseason.
Nov. 7: The Phillies hire some guy from the Rays front office to be GM. Ownership pretends to know who he is, but they actually just picked the person with the best sounding name from Tampa’s website. Regardless, it seems to appease the irrationally angry Philadelphians, who are slightly less stabby this day.
Nov. 8-Dec. 6: Literally nothing happens.
Dec. 6-Dec. 10: Winter Meetings. Nothing happens, but we talk a lot more about it.
Dec. 10-Dec. 20: Nothing happens.
Dec. 21: On the winter solstice, a crowd of angry yinzers burns Bob Nutting in effigy outside of PNC Park in Pittsburgh, as is tradition.
Dec. 22-Dec. 25: Nothing happens.
Dec. 26: Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto trades in all his Christmas gifts for things that are slightly more expensive and less useful.
Dec. 27-Dec. 31: Nothing happens.
Jan. 1: Ken Rosenthal writes his 57th article of the offseason on why nothing is happening. He quotes eight anonymous front office personnel who all contradict each other. He concludes by listing all the things that could happen but aren’t happening. The article is instantly posted to baseball where half the comments are just people complaining about The Athletic’s paywall.
Jan. 2-Jan. 8: Nothing happens. This time in 2021.
Jan. 9: In a cost-saving measure, the Cubs trade former MVP Kris Bryant to the Braves for Austin Riley. Cubs ownership tries to deflect away from the news by leaking that they are maybe, possibly, sorta open to working on a Javier Baez extension. The trade goes mostly unnoticed by a fanbase busy drinking themselves to sleep after watching the Bears lose in the first round of the playoffs 13-6. Atlanta begins working on their own extension talks with Bryant but give up quickly when they realize that he wont accept a deal at 30% of his market rate, which is the upper limit for the Braves when offering players extensions.
Jan. 10: Rob Manfred and Union Chief Tony Clark meet in an attempt to broker a deal in the case that attendance is limited to start the 2021 season. The two sides say they are “hopeful” an agreement can be reached that will end the free agent freeze.
Jan. 11: Talks break down after it leaks that the owners asked the players to accept 15% of their fully guaranteed contractual salaries, citing the harm to their financial wellbeing that the 20% decline in 2020 profits caused.
Jan. 12: Players take to Twitter to call out owners. Trevor Bauer says he will not play for any owner that would try to force players to take pay cuts to protect profits. His agent frantically makes 30 phone calls.
Jan. 15: New Mets owner Steve Cohen flexes his financial muscle by signing George Springer to a 7-year $210M deal. Springer slips on some ice and separates his shoulder while leaving the press conference and is out indefinitely. It is revealed that the White Sox offered Springer a 1 year $25M deal that could have been a 9 year $250M deal through a series of options that vest at 700 plate appearances each season. White Sox brass and talking heads alike are dumbfounded that Springer did not take the deal, which they considered to be “better in some ways than New York’s offer.
Jan. 16: The Indians trade Francisco Lindor to the Dodgers in a three-team deal involving the Padres. The Padres receive an 18-year old short-stop who is highly regarded and also at least 4 years away from the majors. The Indians get back a starting pitcher, drafted in the 16th round, who shares a name with an early-2000’s Disney Channel star, and who will post a 3.25 ERA as a rookie. Rounding out the return for Cleveland are three outfielders who will combine to contribute 0.5 fWAR.
Jan. 18: Arte Moreno, who has gone full Jerry Jones and is now acting as GM of the Angels as well as owner, signs Trevor Bauer to a 7-year $200M deal with opt-outs after each season. When asked about his approach to team building Moreno says, “why have many good player when few good player do trick?” The Angels subsequently sign Shelby Miller and Carlos Rodon to 1 year, $10M deals each to round out the rotation. They are projected to win 76 games.
Jan. 25: The market for Marcus Stroman, now the top remaining free agent pitcher, is heating up. Bob Nightingale tweets that Stroman and the Yankees have reached a deal. 5 minutes later Stroman announces that he is actually opting out of free agency altogether via a tweet that just reads, “sike, bitches.
Jan. 28: Rockies GM Jeff Bridich once again proving that he is baseballs closest equivalent to a living, breathing embodiment of the Dunning-Kruger effect, uses his entire offseason budget to sign relievers Brandon Workman, David Phelps, and Hector Neris away from the Phillies. When faced with criticism from reporters and fans, Bridich replies that, “being a GM is a lot harder than it looks.” Nolan Arenado makes a public request for a trade, but this is completely ignored by the team.
Feb. 2: The Oakland Athletics, in their first offseason without Billy Beane at the helm in 23 years, go on an unprecedented spending spree that includes extensions for Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, and Marcus Semien as well as picking up JT Realmuto and DJ LeMahieu in free agency. Majority owner Lewis Wolff tells reporters, “the money was always there, Billy just refused to spend it.”
Feb. 6: Despite their free spending ways, the A’s are beaten out by Toronto in their quest to resign closer Liam Hendricks, who is brought in to replace the departing Ken Giles. This marks the one acquisition Rogers Communication approves for the Jays all winter. As such, GM Ross Atkins makes a celebration of the signing, calling it “a great day for the Toronto Blue Jays, and therefore, the world.” The mood is dampened somewhat when Hendricks, a native of Australia, posts a video of himself on Instagram Live drunkenly fist fighting with an endangered tazmanian devil. Per Australian law, his punishment is to be kicked in the ass with a large boot. MLB.tv does a live broadcast of the booting except of course for blackout restrictions in New England, the northeastern quadrant of Alabama, Carson City, Nevada, and the state of Iowa.
Feb. 14: The MLBPA and Manfred finally reach an agreement on the season. The players will receive their full salaries in exchange for the complete elimination of the minor leagues. Current minor league players will enter into indentured servitude stitching baseballs by hand until their bonus amounts have been repaid. Both sides are very happy with this compromise.
Feb. 15: Manfred also announces a few rule changes for the 2021 season. To reduce strikeouts, a 4th strike has been added. To speed up the game, pitchers are now required to hold their breath between pitches or be fined. Manfred applauds his own innovation and says that these new rules in no way change the character of the game.
Feb. 20: Bitter rivals, Red Sox and Yankees wage a very public war over who can stay further under the luxury tax. Fans of poorer teams look on in envy, dreaming of the day that they too can have inane arguments about the luxury tax threshold.
Feb. 27: Spring training begins. The Dodgers announce that Cody Bellinger has suffered a severe concussion during practice after Joe Kelly threw a ball 15 feet over the head of the bullpen catcher and hit Bellinger as he was shagging fly balls in the adjacent field. Bellinger takes questions from the media and is not noticeably acting any different. The MLB suspends Kelly for 8 games.
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2020.10.06 13:55 ZandrickEllison Offseason Blueprint: the Oklahoma City Thunder fought off a rebuild for another year, but a new era will be necessary eventually

The NBA Finals are starting to heat up, but there are now 28 teams sitting at home with nothing to do but twiddle their thumbs and wait for next season to start.
For their sake, we wanted to look ahead with the next edition of the OFFSEASON BLUEPRINT series. In each, we'll preview some big decisions and make some recommendations for plans of attack along the way. Today, we're looking at the Oklahoma City Thunder.
step one: back it up but don't blow it up
By all accounts, the Oklahoma City Thunder blew it up. They traded Russell Westbrook, they traded Paul George. BOOM goes the dynamite. The ember and ashes scattered all over the wreckage, signaling the end of an era of playoff contention.
However, the team didn't get the memo. Chris Paul and company emerged from the flames, walking tall and proud and unscathed. Their 44-28 record was actually better than the prior season (with Westbrook and MVP candidate George). While they didn't win in the playoffs, they gave the Houston Rockets all they could handle in a tough seven-game series.
If the Thunder wanted to run it back, they could be a good team again. But to what end...? Another R1 loss? It's hard to envision them being the favorite in a first-round series out West, which should be as strong as ever.
To be clear, making the playoffs and losing in R1 isn't an awful fate. If you're a small market team like OKC, it's a reasonable goal and a lifeline for your franchise. Maybe Sam Presti and the team want to keep chugging along as long as possible and use their new draft picks to supplement the team.
Moreover, blowing it up (for real this time) isn't going to be terribly easy. Chris Paul still has a massive contract ($41M + $44M player option.) Steven Adams is still on the books for another year at $27.5M. Dennis Schroeder is on the books for $15.5M. If your goal is to bottom out, it could be hard to scramble and find appropriate trades for them all.
Still, taking a step back feels like the most reasonable plan. Chris Paul has rehabbed his reputation and trade value and may actually be on the positive side of the asset ledger now. If you trade him, you also allow more of an opportunity for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to slide back to a PG-SG role. According to basketball-reference, SGA only played 6% of his minutes at PG this year. He's capable of playing "up" as a SG or SF, but you'd be taking away the size advantage that represents one of his better virtues as a guard. If OKC is going to be a good team in 2022 and 2023 and beyond, Gilgeous-Alexander will likely be playing a lead guard role.
Even though CP3 looked good this year, it's never easy to trade someone with a $40M contract. The trade partners may be limited. Allegedly, the New York Knicks are considering it (for whatever reason.) Philadelphia and Milwaukee would make more sense as "win now" teams. Who knows -- maybe a team like Miami or Orlando decides they need Paul to help push them to another level. In any circumstance, I'd expect the trade return to be modest. You may get a mid to late R1 pick -- you may get nothing at all. But the decision to trade CP3 or not should have more to do with finding a direction for the franchise than haggling for prices.
step two: embrace the youth movement and prep for the long haul
If the plan is to take a step back (which Sam Presti has not signed off on yet, by the by), then the trickle down effect could be felt across the roster.
If the team isn't pushing strong for the playoffs next year, then re-signing FA Danilo Gallinari doesn't make much sense. He's played well enough over the last two years to justify close to $20M a season in a short-term deal. The Thunder can utilize that to potentially swing a "sign and trade" for him. Teams like Portland would love to have a sweet-shooting forward like that on their team. Presumably, OKC can get an additional R1 pick if they trade Gallo and take on a bad contract in return.
Losing Gallo would also open the door for more minutes for current-rookie Darius Bazley. On paper, Bazley struggled as much as you could expect from an inexperienced 19 year old (who just turned 20 in June.) Still, the "eye test" suggests an athletic kid with good stretch potential. If the Thunder push their timeline back, then developing Bazley will become more of a priority for them.
As long as we're taking a step back (call it peeling off layers as opposed to a total teardown), then the Thunder can float offers for Dennis Schroder and Steven Adams as well. However, trading them isn't mandatory. They're both 27 years old, which is a stark difference from Chris Paul (35) and Gallinari (32).
Even if we lose some veterans, we can see the outline of a team that makes sense here. You'd have Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as a focal point combo guard. You'd have People's Champ Lu Dort as your go-to defender. You'd have Darius Bazley working his way into a potential starting role down the road. Still, this feels more like a supporting cast than a perpetual playoff team. OKC may be one signature star away from completing this next phase.
It'll be hard for Oklahoma City to draw in that future franchise player in free agency, and it'll be hard for them to do with their draft pick this year ( # 25). Fortunately, they're going to have a lot of swings at the plate in the years to come. They own their own picks after this year, as well as a boatload of future R1 picks via the Westbrook and George trades.
Overall, this is a team that needs to be thinking with a long-term approach. Even if they want to roll it back and try to make the playoffs this next season, they'll need to start the next era eventually.
step three: get back out on the dating market and get re-married
The uncertainty about the future (and perhaps the inevitability of the rebuild) helped spur coach Billy Donovan to travel elsewhere. In his place, the team will need to find a coach who has the patience and skill set for a long-term plan.
We haven't heard much about the Oklahoma City coaching search, which makes sense since they are not likely to spend a ton to find a big name. In fact, I wouldn't be shocked if they default to someone like current assistant Mo Cheeks as a cheap placeholder. If the team decides to keep the core together, an experienced coach like that makes some sense.
More likely, they're try to find a younger coach who can take the reins for the foreseeable future. There are a ton of quality prospects in that ilk. Among them: Ime Udoka (PHI), Stephen Silas (DAL), Wes Unseld Jr. (DEN), Nate Tibbetts (POR), Jay Larranaga (BOS), Chris Fleming (CHI), Darvin Ham (MIL), Nate Bjorkgren (TOR), Becky Hammon (SA), and Alex Jensen (UTA). Bigger names like Kenny Atkinson and Dave Joerger make some sense as well, although they'd be more expensive given their prior experience.
Given the supply and demand, the Thunder can take their time and be thorough in their search. They need to find someone who can be in lockstep with Presti going forward. In a sense, Presti is going to have to go on a bunch of speed dates and propose to someone at the end of the night. They want this marriage to last for the next 5+ years or more.
Without the benefit of being in the room for those interviews (or having any basketball experience at all), it seems like Ime Udoka would be at the top of the list. While he doesn't have head coaching experience yet, he's been knocking on that door for some time. He's built up a good resume, with experience as a player, as an assistant in San Antonio, and as an assistant for Team USA. He checks the box for a developmental coach, but also would have some credibility as a former player to connect with veterans like Chris Paul (if he stays put.)
step four: prepare for the future with more modern basketball as well
With Chris Paul taking the lead role, the Oklahoma City Thunder were a good team. They were also an old-fashioned team by the standards of their offensive shot distribution. They finished 27th (out of 30) in three-point attempts. It made sense for this team to take advantage of their midrange game when they had CP3 in tow, but that needs to change if they play without him in the future. Not hitting threes puts you at a natural disadvantage. It's no surprise that -- as talented as the team was -- they only finished 16th in offensive rating this year. They arguably outplayed Houston in the playoffs as well, but 3s are going to beat 2s in a larger sample.
Increasing your 3PA isn't going to be easy if the team loses Danilo Gallinari in free agency (or sign-and-trade). They don't have great shooters lined up waiting in the wings either.
Practically, there are a few steps that OKC can take to increase their three-point shooting. For one, they need to limit the amount of defensive stoppers they have in the rotation. Free agent Andre Roberson still has a lot of defensive potential, but he's never going to be a great offensive player. Now that you have Lu Dort locked up under a team-friendly contract, it doesn't make a world of sense to double dip with another defense-only player. If Roberson wants to re-sign for a very cheap deal, that's great. But realistically, his days with the Thunder may be over.
Similarly, SG Terrance Ferguson needs to step up his offense in order to merit extended minutes. He's a solid defender, but he's a 3+D player who hasn't been hitting threes reliably. Last season, he sagged to 29% beyond the arc. Ferguson is still a young player (age 22), but next season will be his 4th in the NBA. Unless we see signs that he's going to get notably better, then he may need to have a reduced role. Effectively, OKC needs to pit Ferguson and Dort against each other to see who justifies minutes. Playing both (and/or Andre Roberson) is going to make their offense tougher sledding.
Free agent center Nerlens Noel is a trickier proposition. On face value, he's another player with limited offense that won't help boost the team on that end. Still, the fleet-footed Noel has always been undervalued by the NBA, so the Thunder should keep him as long as he's at his typical bargain prices.
All in all, the Thunder will need to add more shooting and more offensive talent eventually. As nice of a story as their 2019-20 season turned out to be, it was more of a bridge to the future than a permanent fixture.
previous offseason blueprints
ATL, BKN, BOS, CHA, CHI, CLE, DAL, DEN, DET, HOU, IND, GS, LAC, MEM, MIL, MIN, NYK, ORL, PHX, POR, SA, SAC, TOR, UTA, WAS
submitted by ZandrickEllison to nba [link] [comments]


2020.10.04 21:39 normancrane Iris [3/3]

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3 <-- You are here.

- - -

I awoke to a world without women.
I rolled off the bed into sore thighs and guilt, got up to emptiness that echoed the slightest noise, and left my wife’s clothes on the sheets without thinking that eventually I’d have to pack them into a plastic bag and slide them down the garbage chute. I felt magnified and hollow. In the kitchen, I used the stove top as a table because the actual table had my wife’s tablet on it, and spilled instant coffee. What I didn’t spill I drank in a few gulps, the way I used to drink ice cold milk as a boy. I stood in front of the living room window for a while before realizing I was naked, then realizing that it didn’t matter because men changed in front of each other at the pool and peed next to one another into urinals in public restrooms, and there weren’t any women to hide from, no one to offend. The world, I told myself, was now a sprawling men’s pisser, so I slammed the window open and pissed.
I wanted to call someone—to tell them that my wife was dead, because that’s a duty owed by the living—but whom could I call: her sister, her parents? Her sister was dead. Her father had a dead wife and two dead daughters. There was nothing to say. Everyone knew. I called my wife’s father anyway. Was he still my father-in-law now that I was a widower? He didn’t accept the connection. Widower: a word loses all but historical meaning when there are no alternatives. If all animals were dogs, we’d purge one of those words from our vocabulary. We were all widowers. It was synonymous with man. I switched on the television and stared, crying, at a montage of photographs showing the bloody landscapes of cities, hospitals, retirement homes, schools and churches, all under the tasteless headline: “International Pop”. Would we clean it up, these remnants of the people we loved? Could we even use the same buildings, knowing what had happened in them? The illusion of practical thinking pushed my feeling of emptiness away. I missed arms wrapping around me from behind while I stared through rain streaked windows. I missed barking and a wagging tail that hit my leg whenever I was standing too close. Happiness seemed impossible. I called Bakshi because I needed confirmation that I still had a voice. “They’re the lucky ones,” he said right after I’d introduced myself. “They’re out. We’re the fools still locked in, and now we’re all alone.”
For three weeks, I expected my wife to show up at the apartment door. I removed her clothes from the bed and stuffed them into a garbage bag, but kept the garbage bag in the small space between the fridge and the kitchen wall. I probably would have kept a dead body in the freezer if I had one and it fit. As a city and as a world, those were grim, disorganized weeks for us. Nobody worked. I don’t know what we did. Sat around and drank, smoked. And we called each other, often out of the blue. Every day, I received a call from someone I knew but hadn’t spoken to in years. The conversations all followed a pattern. There was no catching up and no explanation of lost time, just a question like “How are you holding up?” followed by a thoughtless answer (“Fine, I guess. And you?”) followed by an exchange of details about the women we’d lost. Mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, girlfriends, friends, cousins, aunts, teachers, students, co-workers. We talked about the colour of their hair, their senses of humour, their favourite movies. We said nothing about ourselves, choosing instead to inhabit the personas of those whom we’d loved. In the hallway, I would put on my wife’s coats but never look at myself in the mirror. I wore her winter hats in the middle of July. Facebook became a graveyard, with the gender field separating the mourners from the dead.
The World Health Organization issued a communique stating that based on the available data it was reasonable to assume that all the women in the world were dead, but it called for any woman still alive to come forward immediately. The language of the communique was as sterile as the Earth. Nobody came forward. The World Wildlife Fund created an inventory of all mammalian species that listed in ascending order how long each species would exist. Humans were on the bottom. Both the World Health Organization and the World Wildlife Fund predicted that unless significant technological progress occurred in the field of fertility within the next fifty years, the last human, a theoretical boy named Philip born into a theoretical developed country on March 26, 2025, would die in 93 years. On the day of his death, Philip would be the last remaining mammal—although not necessarily animal—on Earth. No organization or government has ever officially stated that July 4, 2025, was the most destructive day in recorded history, on the morning of which, Eastern Time, four billion out of a total of eight billion people ceased to exist as anything more than memories. What killed them was neither an act of war nor an act of terrorism. Neither was it human negligence. There was no one to blame and no one to prosecute. In the western countries, where the majority of people no longer believed in any religion, we could not even call it an act of God. So we responded by calling it nothing at all.
And, like nothing, our lives persisted. We ate, we slept and we adapted. After the first wave of suicides ended, we hosed off what the rain hadn’t already washed away and began to reorganize the systems on which our societies ran. It was a challenge tempered only slightly in countries where women had not made up a significant portion of the workforce. We held new elections, formed me boards of directors and slowed down the assembly lines and bus schedules to make it possible for our communities to keep running. There was less food in the supermarkets, but we also needed less food. Instead of two trains we ran one, but one sufficed. I don’t remember the day when I finally took the black garbage bag from its resting place and walked it to the chute. “How are you holding up?” a male voice would say on the street. “Fine, I guess. And you?” I’d answer. ##!! wrote a piece of Python code to predict the box office profitability of new movies, in which real actors played alongside computer-generated actresses. The code was only partially successful. Because while it did accurately predict the success of new movies in relation to one other, it failed to include the overwhelming popularity of re-releases of films from the past—films starring Bette Davis, Giulietta Masina, Meryl Streep: women who at least on screen were still flesh and blood. Theatres played retrospectives. On Amazon, books by female authors topped the charts. Sales of albums by women vocalists surged. We thirsted for another sex. I watched, read and listened like everyone else, and in between I cherished any media on which I found images or recordings of my wife. I was angry for not having made more. I looked at the same photos and watched the same clips over and over again. I memorized my wife’s Facebook timeline and tagged all her Tweets by date, theme and my own rating. When I went out, I would talk to the air as if she was walking beside me, sometimes quoting her actual words as answers to my questions and sometimes inventing my own as if she was a beloved character in an imagined novel. When people looked at me like I was crazy, I didn’t care. I wasn’t the only one. But, more importantly, my wife meant more to me than they did. I remembered times when we’d stroll through the park or down downtown sidewalks and I would be too ashamed to kiss her in the presence of strangers. Now, I would tell her that I love her in the densest crowd. I would ask her whether I should buy ketchup or mustard in the condiments aisle. She helped me pick out my clothes in the morning. She convinced me to eat healthy and exercise.
In November, I was in Bakshi’s apartment for the first time, waiting for a pizza delivery boy, when one of Bakshi’s friends who was browsing Reddit told us that the Tribe of Akna was starting a Kickstarter campaign in an attempt to buy the Republic of Suriname, rename it Xibalba and close its borders for all except the enlightened. Xibalba would have no laws, Salvador Abaroa said in a message on the site. He was banging his gong as he did. Everything would be legal, and anyone who pledged $100 would receive a two-week visa to this new "Mayan Buddhist Eden". If you pledged over $10,000, you would receive citizenship. “Everything in life is destroyed by energy,” Abaroa said. “But let the energy enlighten you before it consumes your body. Xibalba is finite life unbound.” Bakshi’s phone buzzed. The pizza boy had sent an email. He couldn’t get upstairs, so Bakshi and I took the elevator to the building’s front entrance. The boy’s face was so white that I saw it as soon as the elevator doors slid open. Walking closer, I saw that he was powdered. His cheeks were also rouged, and he was wearing cranberry coloured lipstick, a Marilyn Monroe wig and a short black skirt. Compared to his face, his thin legs looked like incongruously dark popsicle sticks. Bakshi paid for the pizza and added another five dollars for the tip. The boy batted his fake eyelashes and asked if maybe he could do something to earn a little more. “What do you mean?” I asked. “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe I could come upstairs and clean the place up a little. You two live alone?” Bakshi passed me the two pizza boxes—They felt hot in my hands.—and dug around in his wallet. “It’s not just the two of us,” I said. The boy smiled. “That’s OK. I’ve done parties before if that’s what you’re into.” I saw the reaction on Bakshi’s face, and I saw the boy’s grotesque caricature of a woman. “There’s condoms and lube in the car,” the boy said, pointing to a sedan with a pizza spray-painted across its side parked by the curb. “My boss says I can take up to two hours but it’s not like he uses a stopwatch.” I stepped on Bakshi’s foot and shouldered him away. He was still fiddling with his wallet. “We’re not interested,” I said to the boy. He just shrugged. “Suit yourselves. If you change your mind, order another pizza and ask for Ruby.” The elevator dinged and the doors opened. As we shuffled inside, I saw Bakshi’s cheeks turn red. “I’m not actually—” he mumbled, but I didn’t let him finish. What had bothered me so much about the boy wasn’t the way he looked or acted; in fact, it wasn’t really the boy at all. He was just trying to make a buck. What bothered me was how ruthlessly we’d already begun to exploit each other.
For those of us who were heterosexual, sex was a definite weakness. I missed it. I would never have it with a woman again. The closest substitute was pornography, whose price rose with its popularity, but which, at least for me, now came scented with the unpleasantness of historicity and nostalgia. Videos and photos, not to mention physical magazines, were collector’s items in the same way that we once collected coins or action figures. The richest men bought up the exclusive rights to their favourite porn stars and guarded them by law with a viciousness once reserved for the RIAA and MPAA. Perhaps exclusivity gave them a possessive satisfaction. In response, we pirated whatever we could and fought for a pornographic public domain. Although new pornography was still being produced, either with the help of the same virtual technology they used for mainstream movies or with the participation of young men in costume, it lacked the taste of the originals. It was like eating chocolate made without cocoa. The best pornography, and therefore the best sex, became the pornography of the mind.
The Tribe of Akna reached its Kickstarter goal in early December. On December 20, I went to church for the first time since getting married because that was the theoretical date that my wife—along with every other woman—was supposed to have given birth. I wanted to be alone with others. Someone posted a video on TikTok from Elia Kazan’s On The Waterfront, dubbing over Marlon Brando’s speech to say: “You don’t understand. I could’a had a piece of ass. I could’a been a school board member. I could’a been a son’s daddy”. It was juvenile and heartbreaking. By Christmas, the Surinamese government was already expelling its citizens, each of whom had theoretically been given a fraction of the funds paid to the government from the Tribe of Akna’s Kickstarter pool, and Salvador Abaroa’s lawyers were petitioning for international recognition of the new state of Xibalba. Neither Canada nor the United States opened diplomatic relations, but others did. I knew people who had pledged money, and when in January they disappeared on trips, I had no doubt to where. Infamy spread in the form of stories and urban legends. There’s no need for details. People disappeared, and ethicists wrote about the ethical neutrality of murder, arguing that because we were all slated to die, leaving the Earth barren in a century, destruction was a human inevitability, and what is inevitable can never be bad, even when it comes earlier than expected—even when it comes by force. Because, as a species, we hadn’t chosen destruction for ourselves, neither should any individual member of our species be able to choose now for himself. To the ethicists of what became known as the New Inevitability School, suicide was a greater evil than murder because it implied choice and inequality. If the ship was going down, no one should be allowed to get off. A second wave of suicides coincided with the debate, leading many governments to pass laws making suicide illegal. But how do you punish someone who already wants to die? In China: by keeping him alive and selling him to Xibalba, where he becomes the physical plaything of its citizens and visa-holders. The Chinese was the first embassy to open in Xibalban Paramaribo.
The men working on Kurt Schwaller’s theory of everything continued working, steadily adding new variables to their equations, complicating their calculations in the hopes that someday the variable they added would be the final one and the equation would yield an answer. “It’s pointless,” Bakshi would comment after reading about one of the small breakthroughs they periodically announced. “Even if they do manage to predict something, anything, it won’t amount to anything more than the painfully obvious. And after decades of adding and subtracting their beans, they’ll come out of their Los Alamos datalabs like groundhogs into a world blanketed by storm clouds and conclude, finally and with plenty of self-congratulations, that it’s about to fucking rain.”
It rained a lot in February. It was one of the warmest Februaries in Toronto’s history. Sometimes I went for walks along the waterfront, talking to my wife, listening to Billie Holiday and trying to recall as many female faces as I could. Ones from the distant past: my mother, my grandmothers. Ones from the recent past: the woman whose life my wife saved on the way to the hospital, the Armenian woman with the film magazine and the injured son, the Jamaican woman, Bakshi’s wife. I focused on their faces, then zoomed out to see their bodies. I carried an umbrella but seldom opened it because the pounding of the raindrops against the material distorted my mental images. I saw people rush across the street holding newspapers above their heads while dogs roamed the alleyways wearing nothing at all. Of the two, it was dogs that had the shorter time left on Earth, and if they could let the rain soak their fur and drip off their bodies, I could surely let it run down my face. It was first my mother and later my wife who told me to always cover up in the rain, “because moisture causes colds,” but I was alone now and I didn’t want to be separated from the falling water by a sheet of glass anymore. I already was cold. I saw a man sit down on a bench, open his briefcase, pack rocks into it, then close it, tie it to his wrist, check his watch and start to walk into the polluted waters of Lake Ontario. Another man took out his phone and tapped his screen a few times. The man in the lake walked slowly, savouring each step. When the police arrived, sirens blaring, the water was up to his neck. I felt guilty for watching the three officers splash into the lake after him. I don’t know what happened after that because I turned my back and walked away. I hope they didn’t stop him. I hope he got to do what he wanted to do.
“Screw the police.” Bakshi passed me a book. “You should read this,” he said. It was by a professor of film and media studies at a small university in Texas. There was a stage on the cover, flanked by two red curtains. The photo had been taken from the actors’ side, looking out at an audience that the stage lights made too dark to see. The title was Hiding Behind The Curtains. I flipped the book over. There was no photo of the author. “It’s a theory,” Bakshi said, “that undercuts what Abaroa and the Inevitabilists are saying. It’s a little too poetic in parts but—listen, you ever read Atlas Shrugged?” I said I hadn’t. “Well, anyway, what this guy says is that what if instead of our situation letting us do anything we want, it’s actually the opposite, a test to see how we act when we only think that we’re doomed. I mean what if the women who died in March, what if they’re just—” “Hiding behind the curtains,” I said. He bit his lower lip. “It sounds stupid when you say it like that but, as a metaphor, it has a kind of elegance, right?” I flipped through the book, reading a few sentences at random. It struck me as neo-Christian. “Isn’t this a little too spiritual for you? I thought we were all locked into one path,” I said. “I thought that, too, but lately I’ve been able to do things—things that I didn’t really want to do.” For a second I was concerned. “Nothing bad,” he said. “I mean I’ve felt like I’m locked into doing one thing, say having a drink of water, but I resist and pour myself a glass of orange juice instead.” I shook my head. “It’s hard to explain,” he said. That’s how most theories ended, I thought: reason and evidence up to a crucial point, and then it gets so personal that it’s hard to explain. You either make the jump or you don’t. “Just read it,” he said. “Please read it. You don’t have to agree with it, I just want to get your opinion, an objective opinion.”
I never did read the book, and Bakshi forgot about it, too, but that day he was excited and happy, and those were rare feelings. I was simultaneously glad for him and jealous. Afterwards, we went out onto the balcony and drank Czech beer until morning. When it got cool, we put on our coats. It started to drizzle so we wore blue plastic suits like the ones they used to give you on boat rides in Niagara Falls. When it was time to go home, I was so drunk I couldn’t see straight. I almost got into a fight, the first one of my life, because I bumped into a man on the street and told him to get the fuck out of my way. I don’t remember much more of my walk home. The only reason I remember Behind The Curtains at all is because when I woke up in the afternoon it was the first thing that my hung over brain recognized. It was lying on the floor beside the bed. Then I opened the blinds covering my bedroom window and, through my spread fingers that I’d meant to use as a shield from the first blast of daylight, I saw the pincers for the first time.
They’d appeared while I was asleep. I turned on the television and checked my phone. The media and the internet were feverish, but nobody knew what the thing was, just a massive, vaguely rectangular shape blotting out a strip of the sky. NASA stated that it had received no extraterrestrial messages to coincide with the appearance. Every government claimed ignorance. The panel discussions on television only worsened my headache. Bakshi emailed me links to photos from Mumbai, Cape Town, Sydney and Mexico City, all showing the same shape; or rather one of a pair of shapes, for there were two of them, one on each side of the Earth, and they’d trapped our planet between themselves like gargantuan fingers clutching an equally gargantuan ping-pong ball. That’s why somebody came up with the term “the pincers”. It stuck. Because I’d slept in last night’s clothes I was already dressed, so I ran down the stairs and out of my apartment building to get a better look at them from the parking lot. You’re not supposed to look at the sun, but I wasn’t the only one breaking that rule. There were entire crowds with upturned faces in the streets. If the pincers, too, could see, they would perhaps be as baffled by us as we were of them: billions of tiny specks all over the surface of this ping-pong ball gathering in points on a grid, coagulating into large puddles that vanished overnight only to reassemble in the morning. In the following days, scientists scrambled to study the pincers and their potential effects on us, but they discovered nothing. The pincers did nothing. They emitted nothing, consumed nothing. They simply were. And they could not be measured or detected in any way other than by eyesight. When we shot rays at them, the rays continued on their paths unaffected, as if nothing was there. The pincers did, however, affect the sun’s rays coming towards us. They cut up our days. The sun would rise, travel over the sky, hide behind a pincer—enveloping us in a second night—before revealing itself again as a second day. But if the pincers’ physical effect on us was limited to its blockage of light, their mental effects on us were astoundingly severe. For many, this was the sign they’d been waiting for. It brought hope. It brought gloom. It broke and confirmed ideas that were hard to explain. In their ambiguity, the pincers could be anything, but in their strangeness they at least reassured us of the reality of the strange times in which we were living. Men walked away from the theory of everything, citing the pincers as the ultimate variable that proved the futility of prognostication. Others took up the calculations because if the pincers could appear, what else was out there in our future? However, ambiguity can only last for a certain period. Information narrows possibilities. On April 1, 2026, every Twitter account in the world received the following message:
as you can see this message is longer than the allowed one hundred forty characters time and space are malleable you thought you had one hundred years but prepare for the plucking
The sender was @. The message appeared in each user’s feed at exactly the same time and in his first language, without punctuation. Because of the date most of us thought it was a hoax, but the developers of Twitter denied this vehemently. It wasn’t until a court forced them to reveal their code, which proved that a message of that length and sent by a blank user was impossible, that our doubts ceased. ##!! took bets on what the message meant. Salvador Abaroa broadcast a response into space in a language he called Bodhi Mayan, then addressed the rest of us in English, saying that in the pincers he had identified an all-powerful prehistoric fire deity, described in an old Sanskrit text as having the resemblance of mirrored black fangs, whose appearance signified the end of time. “All of us will burn,” he said, “but paradise shall be known only to those who burn willingly.” Two days later, The Tribe of Akna announced that in one month it would seal Xibalba from the world and set fire to everything and everyone in it. For the first time, its spokesman said, an entire nation would commit suicide as one. Jonestown was but a blip. As a gesture of goodwill, he said that Xibalba was offering free immolation visas to anyone who applied within the next week. The New Inevitability School condemned the plan as “offensively unethical” and inequalitist and urged an international Xibalban boycott. Nothing came of it. When the date arrived, we watched with rapt attention on live streams and from the vantage points of circling news planes as Salvador Abaroa struck flint against steel, creating the spark that caught the char cloth, starting a fire that blossomed bright crimson and in the next weeks consumed all 163,821 square kilometres of the former Republic of Suriname and all 2,500,000 of its estimated Xibalban inhabitants. Despite concerns that the fire would spread beyond Xibalba’s borders, The Tribe of Akna had been careful. There were no accidental casualties and no unplanned property damage. No borders were crossed. Once the fire burned out, reporters competed to be first to capture the mood on the ground. Paramaribo resembled the smouldering darkness of a fire pit.
It was a few days later while sitting on Bakshi’s balcony, looking up at the pincers and rereading a reproduction of @’s message—someone had spray-painted it across the wall of a building opposite Bakshi’s—that I remembered Iris. The memory was so absorbing that I didn’t notice when Bakshi slid open the balcony door and sat down beside me, but I must have been smiling because he said, “I don’t mean this the wrong way, but you look a little loony tonight. Seriously, man, you do not look sufficiently freaked out.” I’d remembered Iris before, swirling elements of her plain face, but now I also remembered her words and her theory. I turned to Bakshi, who seemed to be waiting for an answer to his question, and said, “Let’s get up on the roof of this place.” He grabbed my arm and held on tightly. “I’m not going to jump, if that’s what you mean.” It wasn’t what I meant, but I asked, “why not?” He said, “I don’t know. I know we’re fucked as a species and all that, but I figure if I’m still alive I might as well see what happens next, like in a bad movie you want to see through to the end.” I promised him that I wasn’t going to jump, either. Then I scrambled inside his apartment, grabbed my hat and jacket from the closet by the front door and put them on while speed walking down the hall, toward the fire escape. I realized I’d been spending a lot of time here. The alarm went off as soon I pushed open the door with my hip but I didn’t care. When Bakshi caught up with me, I was already outside, leaping up two stairs at a time. The metal construction was rusted. The treads wobbled. On the roof, the wind nearly blew my hat off and it was so loud I could have screamed and no one would have heard me. Holding my hat in my hands, I crouched and looked out over the twinkling city spread out in front of me. It looked alive in spite of the pincers in the sky. “Let’s do something crazy,” I yelled. Bakshi was still catching his breath behind me. “What, like this isn’t crazy enough?” The NHL may have been gone but my hat still bore the Maple Leafs logo, as quaint and obsolete by then as the Weimar Republic in the summer of 1945. “When’s the last time you played ball hockey?” I asked. Bakshi crouched beside me. “You’re acting weird. And I haven’t played ball hockey in ages.” I stood up so suddenly that Bakshi almost fell over. This time I knew I was smiling. “So call your buddies,” I said. “Tell them to bring their sticks and their gear and to meet us in front of the ACC in one hour.” Bakshi patted me on the back. Toronto shone like jewels scattered over black velvet. “The ACC’s been closed for years, buddy. I think you’re really starting to lose it.” I knew it was closed. “Lose what?” I asked. “It’s closed and we’re going to break in.”
The chains broke apart like shortbread. The electricity worked. The clouds of dust made me sneeze. We used duffel bags to mark out the goals. We raced up and down the stands and bent over, wheezing at imaginary finish lines. We got into the announcer’s booth and called each other cunts through the microphone. We ran, fell and shot rubber pucks for hours. We didn’t keep score. We didn’t worry. “What about the police?” someone asked. The rest of us answered: “Screw the fucking police!”
And when everybody packed up and went home, I stayed behind.
“Are you sure you’re fine?” Bakshi asked.
“Yeah,” I said.
“Because I have to get back so that I can shower, get changed and get to work.”
“Yeah, I know,” I said.
“And you promise me you’ll catch a cab?”
“I’m not suicidal.”
He fixed his grip on his duffel bag. “I didn’t say you were. I was just checking.”
“I want to see the end of the movie, too,” I said.
He saluted. I watched him leave. When he was gone, my wife walked down from the nosebleeds and took a seat beside me. “There’s someone I want to tell you about,” I said. She lifted her chin like she always does when something unexpected catches her interest, and scooted closer. I put my arm across the back of her beautiful shoulders. She always liked that, even though the position drives me crazy because I tend to talk a lot with my hands. “Stuck at Leafs-Wings snorefest,” she said. “Game sucks but I love the man sitting beside me.” (January 15, 2019. Themes: hockey, love, me. Rating: 5/5). “Her name was Iris,” I said.

Iris

“What if the whole universe was a giant garden—like a hydroponics thing, like how they grow tomatoes and marijuana, so there wouldn’t need to be any soil, all the nutrients would just get injected straight into the seeds or however they do it—or, even better, space itself was the soil, you know how they talk about dark matter being this invisible and mysterious thing that exists out there and we don’t know what it does, if it actually affect anything, gravity…”
She blew a cloud of pot smoke my way that made me cough and probably gave her time to think. She said, “So dark matter is like the soil, and in this space garden of course they don’t grow plants but something else.”
“Galaxies?”
“Eyes.”
“Just eyes, or body parts in general?” I asked.
“Just eyes.”
The music from the party thumped. “But the eyes are our planets, like Mars is an eye, Neptune is an eye, and the Earth is an eye, maybe even the best eye.”
“The best for what? Who’s growing them?”
“God,” she said.
I took the joint from her and took a long drag. “I didn’t know you believed in God.”
“I don’t, I guess—except when I’m on dope. Anyway, you’ve got to understand me because when I say God I don’t mean like the old man with muscles and a beard. This God, the one I’m talking about, it’s more like a one-eyed monster.”
“Like a cyclops?” I asked.
“Yeah, like that, like a cyclops. So it’s growing these eyes in the dark matter in space—I mean right now, you and me, we’re literally sitting on one of these eyes and we’re contributing to its being grown because the nutrients the cyclops God injected into them, that’s us.”
“Why does God need so many extra eyes?”
“It’s not a question of having so many of them, but more about having the right one, like growing the perfect tomato.” I gave her back the joint and leaned back, looking at the stars. “Because every once in a while the cyclops God goes blind, its eye stops working—not in the same way we go blind, because the cyclops God doesn’t see reality in the same way we see reality—but more like we see through our brains and our eyes put together.”
“Like x-ray vision?” I asked.
“No, not like that at all,” she said.
“A glass eye?”
“Glass eyes are fake.”
“OK,” I said, “so maybe try something else. Give me a different angle. Tell me what role we’re playing in all of this because right now it seems that we’re pretty insignificant. I mean, you said we’re nutrients but what’s the difference between, say, Mars and Earth in terms of being eyes?”
She looked over at me. “Are you absolutely sure you want to hear about this?”
“I am,” I said.
“You don’t think it’s stupid?”
“Compared to what?”
“I don’t know, just stupid in general.”
“I don’t.”
“I like you,” she said.
“Because I don’t think you’re stupid?” I asked.
“That’s just a bonus. I mean more that you’re up here with me instead of being down there with everyone, and we’re talking and even though we’re not in love I know somehow we’ll never forget each other for as long as we live.”
“It’s hard to forget being on the surface of a giant floating eyeball.”
“You’re scared that you won’t find anyone to love,” she said suddenly, causing me to nearly choke on my own saliva. “Don’t ask me how I know—I just do. But before I go any further about the cyclops God, I want you to know that you’ll find someone to love and who’ll love you back, and whatever happens you’ll always have that because no one can take away the past.”
“You’re scared of going blind,” I said.
“I am going blind.”
“Not yet.”
“And I’m learning not to be scared because everything I see until that day will always belong to me.”
“The doctors said it would be gradual,” I reminded her.
“That’s horrible.”
“Why?”
“Because you wouldn’t want to find someone to love and then know that every day you wake up the love between you grows dimmer and dimmer, would you?”
“I guess not,” I said.
“Wouldn’t you much rather feel the full strength of that love up to and including in the final second before the world goes black?”
“It would probably be painful to lose it all at once like that.”
“Painful because you actually had something to lose. For me, I know I can’t wish away blindness, but I sure wish that the last image I ever see—in that final second before my world goes black—is the most vivid and beautiful image of all.”
Because I didn’t know what to say to that, I mumbled: “I’m sorry.”
“That I’m going blind?”
“Yeah, and that we can’t grow eyes.”
This time I looked over, and she was the one gazing at the stars. “Before, you asked if we were insignificant,” she said. “But because you’re sorry—that’s kind of why we’re the most significant of all, why Earth is better than the other planets.”
“For the cyclops God?”
“Yes.”
“He cares about my feelings?”
“Not in the way you’re probably thinking, but in a different way that’s exactly what the cyclops God cares about most because that’s what it’s looking for in an eye. All the amazing stuff we’ve ever built, all our ancient civilizations and supercomputers and cities you can see from the Moon—that’s just useless cosmetics to the cyclops God, except in how all of it has made us feel about things that aren’t us.”
“I think you’re talking about morality.”
“I think so, too.”
“So by feeling sorry for you I’m showing compassion, and the cyclops God likes compassion?”
“That’s not totally wrong but it’s a little upside down. We have this black matter garden and these planets the cyclops God has grown as potential eyes to replace its own eye once it stops working, but its own eye is like an eye and a brain mixed together. Wait—” she said.
I waited.
“Imagine a pair of tinted sunglasses.”
I imagined green-tinted ones.
“Now imagine that instead of the lenses being a certain colour, they’re a certain morality, and if you wear the glasses you see the world tinted according to that morality.”
I was kind of able to imagine that. I supposed it would help show who was good and who was bad. “But the eye and the tinted glasses are the same thing in this case.”
“Exactly, there’s no one without the other, and what makes the tint special is us—not that the cyclops God cares at all about individuals any more than we care about individual honey bees. That’s why he’s kind of a monster.”
“Isn’t people’s morality always changing, though?”
“Only up to a point. Green is green even when you have a bunch of shades of it, and a laptop screen still works fine even with a few dead pixels, right? And the more globalized and connected we get, the smoother our morality gets, but if you’re asking more about how our changing morals work when the cyclops God finally comes to take its eye, I assume it has a way to freeze our progress. To cut our roots. Then it makes some kind of final evaluation. If it’s satisfied it takes the planet and sticks it into its eye socket, and if it doesn’t like us then it lets us alone, although because we’re frozen and possibly rootless I suppose we die—maybe that’s what the other planets are, so many of them in space without any sort of life. Cold, rejected eyes.”
From sunglasses to bees to monitors in three metaphors, and now we were back to space. This was getting confusing. The stars twinkled, some of them dead, too: their light still arriving at our eyes from sources that no longer existed. “That’s kind of depressing,” I said to end the silence.
“What about it?”
“Being bees,” I said, “that work for so long at tinting a pair of glasses just so that a cyclops God can try them on.”
“I don’t think it’s any more depressing than being a tomato.”
“I’ve never thought about that.”
“You should. It’s beautiful, like love,” she said. “Because if you think about it, being a tomato and being a person are really quite similar. They’re both about growing and existing for the enjoyment of someone else. As a tomato you’re planted, you grow and mature and then an animal comes along and eats you. The juicier you look and the nicer you smell, the greater the chance that you’ll get plucked but also the more pleasure the animal will get from you. As a person, you’re also born and you grow up and you mature into a one of a kind personality with a one of a kind face, and then someone comes along and makes you fall in love with them and all the growing you did was really just for their enjoyment of your love.”
“Except love lasts longer than chewing a tomato.”
“Sometimes,” she said.
“And you have to admit that two tomatoes can’t eat each other the way two people can love each other mutually.”
“I admit that’s a good point,” she said.
“And what happens to someone who never gets fallen in love with?”
“The same thing that happens to a tomato that never gets eaten or an eye that the cyclops God never takes. They die and they rot, and they darken and harden, decomposing until they don’t look like tomatoes anymore. It’s not a nice fate. I’d rather live awhile and get eaten, to be honest.”
“As a tomato or person?”
“Both.”
I thought for a few seconds. “That explanation works for things on Earth, but nothing actually decomposes in space.”
“That’s why there are so many dead planets,” she said.
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2020.10.01 21:47 normancrane Iris [4/5]

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Since

Blood, guts and bone shards blanketed the surfaces of the waiting room, making it look like the inside of an unwashed jar of strawberry jam. My wife was gone. Every woman in the room was gone. The space behind the reception desk stood eerily empty. The television in the corner was showing the splattered lens of a camera that a hand suddenly wiped clean—its burst of motion a shock to the prevailing stillness—to reveal the peaceful image of a Los Angeles street in which bloodied men and boys stood frozen, startled…
I was too numb to speak.
Someone unlocked the hospital doors but nobody entered.
The waiting room smelled like an abattoir.
My clothes smelled like an abattoir.
I walked toward the doors, opened them with my hip and continued into the morning sunlight. I half expected shit to rain down from the skies. If I had a razor blade in my pocket I would have slit my wrists, but all I had was my wallet, my car keys and my phone. Sliding my fingers over the keys reminded me how dull they were. I didn’t want to drive. I didn’t want anything, but if I had to do something I would walk. I stepped on the heel of one shoe with the toe of another and slid my shoe off. The other one I pulled off with my hand. I wasn’t wearing socks. I hadn’t had enough time to put them on. I threw the shoes away. I wanted to walk until my feet hurt so much that I couldn’t walk anymore.
I put one foot in front of the other all the way back to my apartment building, waited for the elevator, and took it to my floor. In the hall, I passed a man wearing clean summer clothes. He didn’t give my bloody ones a second glance. I nodded to him, he nodded back, and I unlocked the door to my apartment and walked in. My feet left footprints on the linoleum. A dark, drying stain in the small space between the fridge and the kitchen wall was all that was left of Pillow. She’d squeezed in and died alone. I took out a mop and rotely removed the stain. Then I took off my clothes, flung them on the bed, which was as unmade as when we left it, took a shower and laid down on the crumpled sheets beside the only pieces of my wife that I had left. My sleep smelled like an abattoir.
I awoke to a world without women.
I rolled off the bed into sore thighs and guilt, got up to emptiness that echoed the slightest noise, and left my wife’s clothes on the sheets without thinking that eventually I’d have to pack them into a plastic bag and slide them down the garbage chute. I felt magnified and hollow. In the kitchen, I used the stove top as a table because the actual table had my wife’s tablet on it, and spilled instant coffee. What I didn’t spill I drank in a few gulps, the way I used to drink ice cold milk as a boy. I stood in front of the living room window for a while before realizing I was naked, then realizing that it didn’t matter because men changed in front of each other at the pool and peed next to one another into urinals in public restrooms, and there weren’t any women to hide from, no one to offend. The world, I told myself, was now a sprawling men’s pisser, so I slammed the window open and pissed.
I wanted to call someone—to tell them that my wife was dead, because that’s a duty owed by the living—but whom could I call: her sister, her parents? Her sister was dead. Her father had a dead wife and two dead daughters. There was nothing to say. Everyone knew. I called my wife’s father anyway. Was he still my father-in-law now that I was a widower? He didn’t accept the connection. Widower: a word loses all but historical meaning when there are no alternatives. If all animals were dogs, we’d purge one of those words from our vocabulary. We were all widowers. It was synonymous with man. I switched on the television and stared, crying, at a montage of photographs showing the bloody landscapes of cities, hospitals, retirement homes, schools and churches, all under the tasteless headline: “International Pop”. Would we clean it up, these remnants of the people we loved? Could we even use the same buildings, knowing what had happened in them? The illusion of practical thinking pushed my feeling of emptiness away. I missed arms wrapping around me from behind while I stared through rain streaked windows. I missed barking and a wagging tail that hit my leg whenever I was standing too close. Happiness seemed impossible. I called Bakshi because I needed confirmation that I still had a voice. “They’re the lucky ones,” he said right after I’d introduced myself. “They’re out. We’re the fools still locked in, and now we’re all alone.”
For three weeks, I expected my wife to show up at the apartment door. I removed her clothes from the bed and stuffed them into a garbage bag, but kept the garbage bag in the small space between the fridge and the kitchen wall. I probably would have kept a dead body in the freezer if I had one and it fit. As a city and as a world, those were grim, disorganized weeks for us. Nobody worked. I don’t know what we did. Sat around and drank, smoked. And we called each other, often out of the blue. Every day, I received a call from someone I knew but hadn’t spoken to in years. The conversations all followed a pattern. There was no catching up and no explanation of lost time, just a question like “How are you holding up?” followed by a thoughtless answer (“Fine, I guess. And you?”) followed by an exchange of details about the women we’d lost. Mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, girlfriends, friends, cousins, aunts, teachers, students, co-workers. We talked about the colour of their hair, their senses of humour, their favourite movies. We said nothing about ourselves, choosing instead to inhabit the personas of those whom we’d loved. In the hallway, I would put on my wife’s coats but never look at myself in the mirror. I wore her winter hats in the middle of July. Facebook became a graveyard, with the gender field separating the mourners from the dead.
The World Health Organization issued a communique stating that based on the available data it was reasonable to assume that all the women in the world were dead, but it called for any woman still alive to come forward immediately. The language of the communique was as sterile as the Earth. Nobody came forward. The World Wildlife Fund created an inventory of all mammalian species that listed in ascending order how long each species would exist. Humans were on the bottom. Both the World Health Organization and the World Wildlife Fund predicted that unless significant technological progress occurred in the field of fertility within the next fifty years, the last human, a theoretical boy named Philip born into a theoretical developed country on March 26, 2025, would die in 93 years. On the day of his death, Philip would be the last remaining mammal—although not necessarily animal—on Earth. No organization or government has ever officially stated that July 4, 2025, was the most destructive day in recorded history, on the morning of which, Eastern Time, four billion out of a total of eight billion people ceased to exist as anything more than memories. What killed them was neither an act of war nor an act of terrorism. Neither was it human negligence. There was no one to blame and no one to prosecute. In the western countries, where the majority of people no longer believed in any religion, we could not even call it an act of God. So we responded by calling it nothing at all.
And, like nothing, our lives persisted. We ate, we slept and we adapted. After the first wave of suicides ended, we hosed off what the rain hadn’t already washed away and began to reorganize the systems on which our societies ran. It was a challenge tempered only slightly in countries where women had not made up a significant portion of the workforce. We held new elections, formed me boards of directors and slowed down the assembly lines and bus schedules to make it possible for our communities to keep running. There was less food in the supermarkets, but we also needed less food. Instead of two trains we ran one, but one sufficed. I don’t remember the day when I finally took the black garbage bag from its resting place and walked it to the chute. “How are you holding up?” a male voice would say on the street. “Fine, I guess. And you?” I’d answer. ##!! wrote a piece of Python code to predict the box office profitability of new movies, in which real actors played alongside computer-generated actresses. The code was only partially successful. Because while it did accurately predict the success of new movies in relation to one other, it failed to include the overwhelming popularity of re-releases of films from the past—films starring Bette Davis, Giulietta Masina, Meryl Streep: women who at least on screen were still flesh and blood. Theatres played retrospectives. On Amazon, books by female authors topped the charts. Sales of albums by women vocalists surged. We thirsted for another sex. I watched, read and listened like everyone else, and in between I cherished any media on which I found images or recordings of my wife. I was angry for not having made more. I looked at the same photos and watched the same clips over and over again. I memorized my wife’s Facebook timeline and tagged all her Tweets by date, theme and my own rating. When I went out, I would talk to the air as if she was walking beside me, sometimes quoting her actual words as answers to my questions and sometimes inventing my own as if she was a beloved character in an imagined novel. When people looked at me like I was crazy, I didn’t care. I wasn’t the only one. But, more importantly, my wife meant more to me than they did. I remembered times when we’d stroll through the park or down downtown sidewalks and I would be too ashamed to kiss her in the presence of strangers. Now, I would tell her that I love her in the densest crowd. I would ask her whether I should buy ketchup or mustard in the condiments aisle. She helped me pick out my clothes in the morning. She convinced me to eat healthy and exercise.
In November, I was in Bakshi’s apartment for the first time, waiting for a pizza delivery boy, when one of Bakshi’s friends who was browsing Reddit told us that the Tribe of Akna was starting a Kickstarter campaign in an attempt to buy the Republic of Suriname, rename it Xibalba and close its borders for all except the enlightened. Xibalba would have no laws, Salvador Abaroa said in a message on the site. He was banging his gong as he did. Everything would be legal, and anyone who pledged $100 would receive a two-week visa to this new "Mayan Buddhist Eden". If you pledged over $10,000, you would receive citizenship. “Everything in life is destroyed by energy,” Abaroa said. “But let the energy enlighten you before it consumes your body. Xibalba is finite life unbound.” Bakshi’s phone buzzed. The pizza boy had sent an email. He couldn’t get upstairs, so Bakshi and I took the elevator to the building’s front entrance. The boy’s face was so white that I saw it as soon as the elevator doors slid open. Walking closer, I saw that he was powdered. His cheeks were also rouged, and he was wearing cranberry coloured lipstick, a Marilyn Monroe wig and a short black skirt. Compared to his face, his thin legs looked like incongruously dark popsicle sticks. Bakshi paid for the pizza and added another five dollars for the tip. The boy batted his fake eyelashes and asked if maybe he could do something to earn a little more. “What do you mean?” I asked. “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe I could come upstairs and clean the place up a little. You two live alone?” Bakshi passed me the two pizza boxes—They felt hot in my hands.—and dug around in his wallet. “It’s not just the two of us,” I said. The boy smiled. “That’s OK. I’ve done parties before if that’s what you’re into.” I saw the reaction on Bakshi’s face, and I saw the boy’s grotesque caricature of a woman. “There’s condoms and lube in the car,” the boy said, pointing to a sedan with a pizza spray-painted across its side parked by the curb. “My boss says I can take up to two hours but it’s not like he uses a stopwatch.” I stepped on Bakshi’s foot and shouldered him away. He was still fiddling with his wallet. “We’re not interested,” I said to the boy. He just shrugged. “Suit yourselves. If you change your mind, order another pizza and ask for Ruby.” The elevator dinged and the doors opened. As we shuffled inside, I saw Bakshi’s cheeks turn red. “I’m not actually—” he mumbled, but I didn’t let him finish. What had bothered me so much about the boy wasn’t the way he looked or acted; in fact, it wasn’t really the boy at all. He was just trying to make a buck. What bothered me was how ruthlessly we’d already begun to exploit each other.
For those of us who were heterosexual, sex was a definite weakness. I missed it. I would never have it with a woman again. The closest substitute was pornography, whose price rose with its popularity, but which, at least for me, now came scented with the unpleasantness of historicity and nostalgia. Videos and photos, not to mention physical magazines, were collector’s items in the same way that we once collected coins or action figures. The richest men bought up the exclusive rights to their favourite porn stars and guarded them by law with a viciousness once reserved for the RIAA and MPAA. Perhaps exclusivity gave them a possessive satisfaction. In response, we pirated whatever we could and fought for a pornographic public domain. Although new pornography was still being produced, either with the help of the same virtual technology they used for mainstream movies or with the participation of young men in costume, it lacked the taste of the originals. It was like eating chocolate made without cocoa. The best pornography, and therefore the best sex, became the pornography of the mind.
The Tribe of Akna reached its Kickstarter goal in early December. On December 20, I went to church for the first time since getting married because that was the theoretical date that my wife—along with every other woman—was supposed to have given birth. I wanted to be alone with others. Someone posted a video on TikTok from Elia Kazan’s On The Waterfront, dubbing over Marlon Brando’s speech to say: “You don’t understand. I could’a had a piece of ass. I could’a been a school board member. I could’a been a son’s daddy”. It was juvenile and heartbreaking. By Christmas, the Surinamese government was already expelling its citizens, each of whom had theoretically been given a fraction of the funds paid to the government from the Tribe of Akna’s Kickstarter pool, and Salvador Abaroa’s lawyers were petitioning for international recognition of the new state of Xibalba. Neither Canada nor the United States opened diplomatic relations, but others did. I knew people who had pledged money, and when in January they disappeared on trips, I had no doubt to where. Infamy spread in the form of stories and urban legends. There’s no need for details. People disappeared, and ethicists wrote about the ethical neutrality of murder, arguing that because we were all slated to die, leaving the Earth barren in a century, destruction was a human inevitability, and what is inevitable can never be bad, even when it comes earlier than expected—even when it comes by force. Because, as a species, we hadn’t chosen destruction for ourselves, neither should any individual member of our species be able to choose now for himself. To the ethicists of what became known as the New Inevitability School, suicide was a greater evil than murder because it implied choice and inequality. If the ship was going down, no one should be allowed to get off. A second wave of suicides coincided with the debate, leading many governments to pass laws making suicide illegal. But how do you punish someone who already wants to die? In China: by keeping him alive and selling him to Xibalba, where he becomes the physical plaything of its citizens and visa-holders. The Chinese was the first embassy to open in Xibalban Paramaribo.
The men working on Kurt Schwaller’s theory of everything continued working, steadily adding new variables to their equations, complicating their calculations in the hopes that someday the variable they added would be the final one and the equation would yield an answer. “It’s pointless,” Bakshi would comment after reading about one of the small breakthroughs they periodically announced. “Even if they do manage to predict something, anything, it won’t amount to anything more than the painfully obvious. And after decades of adding and subtracting their beans, they’ll come out of their Los Alamos datalabs like groundhogs into a world blanketed by storm clouds and conclude, finally and with plenty of self-congratulations, that it’s about to fucking rain.”
It rained a lot in February. It was one of the warmest Februaries in Toronto’s history. Sometimes I went for walks along the waterfront, talking to my wife, listening to Billie Holiday and trying to recall as many female faces as I could. Ones from the distant past: my mother, my grandmothers. Ones from the recent past: the woman whose life my wife saved on the way to the hospital, the Armenian woman with the film magazine and the injured son, the Jamaican woman, Bakshi’s wife. I focused on their faces, then zoomed out to see their bodies. I carried an umbrella but seldom opened it because the pounding of the raindrops against the material distorted my mental images. I saw people rush across the street holding newspapers above their heads while dogs roamed the alleyways wearing nothing at all. Of the two, it was dogs that had the shorter time left on Earth, and if they could let the rain soak their fur and drip off their bodies, I could surely let it run down my face. It was first my mother and later my wife who told me to always cover up in the rain, “because moisture causes colds,” but I was alone now and I didn’t want to be separated from the falling water by a sheet of glass anymore. I already was cold. I saw a man sit down on a bench, open his briefcase, pack rocks into it, then close it, tie it to his wrist, check his watch and start to walk into the polluted waters of Lake Ontario. Another man took out his phone and tapped his screen a few times. The man in the lake walked slowly, savouring each step. When the police arrived, sirens blaring, the water was up to his neck. I felt guilty for watching the three officers splash into the lake after him. I don’t know what happened after that because I turned my back and walked away. I hope they didn’t stop him. I hope he got to do what he wanted to do.
“Screw the police.” Bakshi passed me a book. “You should read this,” he said. It was by a professor of film and media studies at a small university in Texas. There was a stage on the cover, flanked by two red curtains. The photo had been taken from the actors’ side, looking out at an audience that the stage lights made too dark to see. The title was Hiding Behind The Curtains. I flipped the book over. There was no photo of the author. “It’s a theory,” Bakshi said, “that undercuts what Abaroa and the Inevitabilists are saying. It’s a little too poetic in parts but—listen, you ever read Atlas Shrugged?” I said I hadn’t. “Well, anyway, what this guy says is that what if instead of our situation letting us do anything we want, it’s actually the opposite, a test to see how we act when we only think that we’re doomed. I mean what if the women who died in March, what if they’re just—” “Hiding behind the curtains,” I said. He bit his lower lip. “It sounds stupid when you say it like that but, as a metaphor, it has a kind of elegance, right?” I flipped through the book, reading a few sentences at random. It struck me as neo-Christian. “Isn’t this a little too spiritual for you? I thought we were all locked into one path,” I said. “I thought that, too, but lately I’ve been able to do things—things that I didn’t really want to do.” For a second I was concerned. “Nothing bad,” he said. “I mean I’ve felt like I’m locked into doing one thing, say having a drink of water, but I resist and pour myself a glass of orange juice instead.” I shook my head. “It’s hard to explain,” he said. That’s how most theories ended, I thought: reason and evidence up to a crucial point, and then it gets so personal that it’s hard to explain. You either make the jump or you don’t. “Just read it,” he said. “Please read it. You don’t have to agree with it, I just want to get your opinion, an objective opinion.”
I never did read the book, and Bakshi forgot about it, too, but that day he was excited and happy, and those were rare feelings. I was simultaneously glad for him and jealous. Afterwards, we went out onto the balcony and drank Czech beer until morning. When it got cool, we put on our coats. It started to drizzle so we wore blue plastic suits like the ones they used to give you on boat rides in Niagara Falls. When it was time to go home, I was so drunk I couldn’t see straight. I almost got into a fight, the first one of my life, because I bumped into a man on the street and told him to get the fuck out of my way. I don’t remember much more of my walk home. The only reason I remember Behind The Curtains at all is because when I woke up in the afternoon it was the first thing that my hung over brain recognized. It was lying on the floor beside the bed. Then I opened the blinds covering my bedroom window and, through my spread fingers that I’d meant to use as a shield from the first blast of daylight, I saw the pincers for the first time.
They’d appeared while I was asleep. I turned on the television and checked my phone. The media and the internet were feverish, but nobody knew what the thing was, just a massive, vaguely rectangular shape blotting out a strip of the sky. NASA stated that it had received no extraterrestrial messages to coincide with the appearance. Every government claimed ignorance. The panel discussions on television only worsened my headache. Bakshi emailed me links to photos from Mumbai, Cape Town, Sydney and Mexico City, all showing the same shape; or rather one of a pair of shapes, for there were two of them, one on each side of the Earth, and they’d trapped our planet between themselves like gargantuan fingers clutching an equally gargantuan ping-pong ball. That’s why somebody came up with the term “the pincers”. It stuck. Because I’d slept in last night’s clothes I was already dressed, so I ran down the stairs and out of my apartment building to get a better look at them from the parking lot. You’re not supposed to look at the sun, but I wasn’t the only one breaking that rule. There were entire crowds with upturned faces in the streets. If the pincers, too, could see, they would perhaps be as baffled by us as we were of them: billions of tiny specks all over the surface of this ping-pong ball gathering in points on a grid, coagulating into large puddles that vanished overnight only to reassemble in the morning. In the following days, scientists scrambled to study the pincers and their potential effects on us, but they discovered nothing. The pincers did nothing. They emitted nothing, consumed nothing. They simply were. And they could not be measured or detected in any way other than by eyesight. When we shot rays at them, the rays continued on their paths unaffected, as if nothing was there. The pincers did, however, affect the sun’s rays coming towards us. They cut up our days. The sun would rise, travel over the sky, hide behind a pincer—enveloping us in a second night—before revealing itself again as a second day. But if the pincers’ physical effect on us was limited to its blockage of light, their mental effects on us were astoundingly severe. For many, this was the sign they’d been waiting for. It brought hope. It brought gloom. It broke and confirmed ideas that were hard to explain. In their ambiguity, the pincers could be anything, but in their strangeness they at least reassured us of the reality of the strange times in which we were living. Men walked away from the theory of everything, citing the pincers as the ultimate variable that proved the futility of prognostication. Others took up the calculations because if the pincers could appear, what else was out there in our future? However, ambiguity can only last for a certain period. Information narrows possibilities. On April 1, 2026, every Twitter account in the world received the following message:
as you can see this message is longer than the allowed one hundred forty characters time and space are malleable you thought you had one hundred years but prepare for the plucking
The sender was @. The message appeared in each user’s feed at exactly the same time and in his first language, without punctuation. Because of the date most of us thought it was a hoax, but the developers of Twitter denied this vehemently. It wasn’t until a court forced them to reveal their code, which proved that a message of that length and sent by a blank user was impossible, that our doubts ceased. ##!! took bets on what the message meant. Salvador Abaroa broadcast a response into space in a language he called Bodhi Mayan, then addressed the rest of us in English, saying that in the pincers he had identified an all-powerful prehistoric fire deity, described in an old Sanskrit text as having the resemblance of mirrored black fangs, whose appearance signified the end of time. “All of us will burn,” he said, “but paradise shall be known only to those who burn willingly.” Two days later, The Tribe of Akna announced that in one month it would seal Xibalba from the world and set fire to everything and everyone in it. For the first time, its spokesman said, an entire nation would commit suicide as one. Jonestown was but a blip. As a gesture of goodwill, he said that Xibalba was offering free immolation visas to anyone who applied within the next week. The New Inevitability School condemned the plan as “offensively unethical” and inequalitist and urged an international Xibalban boycott. Nothing came of it. When the date arrived, we watched with rapt attention on live streams and from the vantage points of circling news planes as Salvador Abaroa struck flint against steel, creating the spark that caught the char cloth, starting a fire that blossomed bright crimson and in the next weeks consumed all 163,821 square kilometres of the former Republic of Suriname and all 2,500,000 of its estimated Xibalban inhabitants. Despite concerns that the fire would spread beyond Xibalba’s borders, The Tribe of Akna had been careful. There were no accidental casualties and no unplanned property damage. No borders were crossed. Once the fire burned out, reporters competed to be first to capture the mood on the ground. Paramaribo resembled the smouldering darkness of a fire pit.
It was a few days later while sitting on Bakshi’s balcony, looking up at the pincers and rereading a reproduction of @’s message—someone had spray-painted it across the wall of a building opposite Bakshi’s—that I remembered Iris. The memory was so absorbing that I didn’t notice when Bakshi slid open the balcony door and sat down beside me, but I must have been smiling because he said, “I don’t mean this the wrong way, but you look a little loony tonight. Seriously, man, you do not look sufficiently freaked out.” I’d remembered Iris before, swirling elements of her plain face, but now I also remembered her words and her theory. I turned to Bakshi, who seemed to be waiting for an answer to his question, and said, “Let’s get up on the roof of this place.” He grabbed my arm and held on tightly. “I’m not going to jump, if that’s what you mean.” It wasn’t what I meant, but I asked, “why not?” He said, “I don’t know. I know we’re fucked as a species and all that, but I figure if I’m still alive I might as well see what happens next, like in a bad movie you want to see through to the end.” I promised him that I wasn’t going to jump, either. Then I scrambled inside his apartment, grabbed my hat and jacket from the closet by the front door and put them on while speed walking down the hall, toward the fire escape. I realized I’d been spending a lot of time here. The alarm went off as soon I pushed open the door with my hip but I didn’t care. When Bakshi caught up with me, I was already outside, leaping up two stairs at a time. The metal construction was rusted. The treads wobbled. On the roof, the wind nearly blew my hat off and it was so loud I could have screamed and no one would have heard me. Holding my hat in my hands, I crouched and looked out over the twinkling city spread out in front of me. It looked alive in spite of the pincers in the sky. “Let’s do something crazy,” I yelled. Bakshi was still catching his breath behind me. “What, like this isn’t crazy enough?” The NHL may have been gone but my hat still bore the Maple Leafs logo, as quaint and obsolete by then as the Weimar Republic in the summer of 1945. “When’s the last time you played ball hockey?” I asked. Bakshi crouched beside me. “You’re acting weird. And I haven’t played ball hockey in ages.” I stood up so suddenly that Bakshi almost fell over. This time I knew I was smiling. “So call your buddies,” I said. “Tell them to bring their sticks and their gear and to meet us in front of the ACC in one hour.” Bakshi patted me on the back. Toronto shone like jewels scattered over black velvet. “The ACC’s been closed for years, buddy. I think you’re really starting to lose it.” I knew it was closed. “Lose what?” I asked. “It’s closed and we’re going to break in.”
The chains broke apart like shortbread. The electricity worked. The clouds of dust made me sneeze. We used duffel bags to mark out the goals. We raced up and down the stands and bent over, wheezing at imaginary finish lines. We got into the announcer’s booth and called each other cunts through the microphone. We ran, fell and shot rubber pucks for hours. We didn’t keep score. We didn’t worry. “What about the police?” someone asked. The rest of us answered: “Screw the fucking police!”
And when everybody packed up and went home, I stayed behind.
“Are you sure you’re fine?” Bakshi asked.
“Yeah,” I said.
“Because I have to get back so that I can shower, get changed and get to work.”
“Yeah, I know,” I said.
“And you promise me you’ll catch a cab?”
“I’m not suicidal.”
He fixed his grip on his duffel bag. “I didn’t say you were. I was just checking.”
“I want to see the end of the movie, too,” I said.
He saluted. I watched him leave. When he was gone, my wife walked down from the nosebleeds and took a seat beside me. “There’s someone I want to tell you about,” I said. She lifted her chin like she always does when something unexpected catches her interest, and scooted closer. I put my arm across the back of her beautiful shoulders. She always liked that, even though the position drives me crazy because I tend to talk a lot with my hands. “Stuck at Leafs-Wings snorefest,” she said. “Game sucks but I love the man sitting beside me.” (January 15, 2019. Themes: hockey, love, me. Rating: 5/5). “Her name was Iris,” I said.

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2020.09.30 22:49 TasmanianPenguin Overview of my MCAT journey, hope someone finds it useful/helpful. Feel free to ask questions

I just wanted to post this just to share a little bit of the process I went through and to give back. This site was super helpful for me and I couldn’t have done as well on the MCAT without people giving so many useful tips and guidance. This might not be helpful to any people, but if something that I wrote or any questions I can answer is helpful or useful to at least one person then I'll be glad that I posted this.
Test date: 9/12/2020 @ 12:15 pm
Score: 517 (130, 129, 128, 130)
Major: Biochemistry '20
I was planning on starting to study over the summer before my senior year (2019) and then taking the MCAT in January 2020. However, I decided I needed to primarily focus on a summer research internship and push off studying until after the summer. Once the fall came though, preparing for the MCAT never ended up being a viable option in my opinion as balancing classes, work, volunteering etc made things extremely difficult. I was attempting to fit in all of my junior and senior year biochemistry classes into a one year period, which was not convenient for having plenty of extra time to invest into MCAT preparation. My mindset was wait until after I graduate to prepare for and take the MCAT as I would rather succeed at the highest level possible first in university classes and then the MCAT. The last thing I wanted was to string myself too thin and be mediocre academically, at work, volunteering, etc and obtain a less than ideal MCAT score. I think if at all possible try to cut back at least to some extent from commitments to ensure you are adequately readying yourself for the MCAT
I received a great deal of helpful MCAT advice from friends who applied in this 2020 cycle. I partially based my preparation off of them and also made my own personal adjustments to fit what worked for my strengths and weaknesses and the time frame I had to prepare before taking the test on 9/12. I think it’s key to experiment and find out what works best for you personally as MCAT prep is not one-size fits all.
I started prep around the end of June. I started with content review using the Kaplan set of books. My approach was to read each book from start to finish sequentially (the order I chose to do them in was in order of my perceived weaknesses or what was least fresh in mind aka it had been 3 years since I’d taken gen chem and physics: 1) physics (2) chem (3) ochem (4) biochem (5) biology …… skipped CARS and psych books but will come back to that). Some people recommend jumping from chapter to chapter alternating books, however, I preferred the continuity of the topics and chapter content building off of each other. Whatever works best for you though. There is a document called “Uearth and Kaplan connection”. My process was to read chapters in chunks, creating Anki flash cards as necessary, and then doing the corresponding Uearth questions that were related to those chapters. I did not do the Kaplan practice questions in the book as they are not really similar to the MCAT style at all. Uearth is an incredible resource of 2000+ passage based and discrete questions that I highly recommend.
For CARS, I always enjoyed reading and felt that was a strength of mine. However, MCAT CARS is a totally different beast that is definitely worth preparing for even if you consider yourself a good reader. I essentially did 8 Jack Weston passages at least every other day to replicate the length and stamina required for the CARS section. I would do 1 passage, check my answers and then proceed to the next passage. I also took all the free CARS JW tests that are available….. i.e. “Toronto, Los Angeles, New York, etc”. I also temporarily got the Wall Street Journal subscription for the summer and made it my routine to read/skim it through from beginning to end throughout the day during meals. The opinion articles written I think were honestly helpful in analyzing and interpreting the points authors were trying to make, a similar skill needed for CARS.
For psychology/sociology, I watched all of the Khan Academy videos and read the 300 pg document. I also used Premed 95’s psych/soc deck. I eventually did a skim through the Kaplan psych/soc book, but the KA videos are what I would consider more helpful.
I made an effort to take a great deal of practice tests and questions, and I felt that was the most vital part of my prep. On the NS diagnostic (6/20) I got a 504. I took the Kaplan tests that I received access through from my set of books (FL #3: 505 (7/10), FL #2: 505 (7/21), FL #1: 506 (7/28) FL #7: 508 (8/5). At this point I essentially quit reviewing Anki flash cards consistently and focused on reading the books, watching KA videos and Uearth (flashcards were never really my thing and I wish I had spent less time with them).
After finishing my initial round of content review and completing all of the Uearth questions, I began a second stage focused more on practice tests. I did a NS FL exam and review of the exam every few days mixed in with a faster re-read of all of the Kaplan books (this 2nd time just reading/skimming and not making flashcards). Results were as follows: NS FL #6: 509 (8/13), NS FL #5: 512 (8/17), NS FL #4: 510 (8/19), NS FL #3: 509 (8/21), NS FL #2: 512 (8/23), NS FL #1: 510 (8/26).
The final stage of preparation in the last 2-3 weeks before my test was spent almost exclusively on AAMC material. I did a pattern of day #1: AAMC FL test, day #2: review of AAMC FL test, day #3: a selection of roughly 240 AAMC practice questions from various sections of the qpacks and section bank and review of my answers. I also did targeted review with books and videos of specific areas I struggled with.
Results were as follows: AAMC sample: 512 (128, 127, 128, 129) (8/27), AAMC FL #1: 516 (129, 130, 128, 129) (8/30), AAMC FL #2: 515 (130, 128, 128, 129) (9/2), AAMC FL #3: 519 (131, 128, 129, 131) (9/5), AAMC FL #4: 521 (132, 128, 131, 130) (9/5).
Other AAMC material: AAMC OG test (overall: 84%) (9/6), Physics Qpack: 88%, Chem Qpack: 90%, CARS Qpack #1: 76%, CARS Qpack #2: 83%, Bio Qpack #1: 88%, Bio Qpack #2: 78%, Chem section bank: 77%, BB section bank: 77%, Psych/soc section bank: 72%.
I think I was capable and trending towards a 520+ score. But test day on 9/12 @ 12:15pm I was not in the best frame of mind. I had family evacuated in the fires occurring in the West Coast and had friends that had completely lost their homes. I was also moving to the East Coast the next morning on 9/13. Additionally, not practicing the covid shortened format was not a good move on my part. I was used to starting slow and picking up speed/pace as I went through each section. My PI/mentor from the previous year also unexpectedly passed away that same weekend. Anyways, I feel like I was capable of scoring significantly higher, but due to the circumstances, I am extremely happy that I was able to push through a lot of extra stress and whatnot to obtain a score that I am okay with. The 9/12 test I took felt very strange and not very similar to the AAMC practice tests. There were very obscure and convoluted questions/passages that I was honestly not prepared for or expecting.
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2020.09.28 21:18 normancrane Iris [3/3]

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3 <-- You are here.
I awoke to a world without women.
I rolled off the bed into sore thighs and guilt, got up to emptiness that echoed the slightest noise, and left my wife’s clothes on the sheets without thinking that eventually I’d have to pack them into a plastic bag and slide them down the garbage chute. I felt magnified and hollow. In the kitchen, I used the stove top as a table because the actual table had my wife’s tablet on it, and spilled instant coffee. What I didn’t spill I drank in a few gulps, the way I used to drink ice cold milk as a boy. I stood in front of the living room window for a while before realizing I was naked, then realizing that it didn’t matter because men changed in front of each other at the pool and peed next to one another into urinals in public restrooms, and there weren’t any women to hide from, no one to offend. The world, I told myself, was now a sprawling men’s pisser, so I slammed the window open and pissed.
I wanted to call someone—to tell them that my wife was dead, because that’s a duty owed by the living—but whom could I call: her sister, her parents? Her sister was dead. Her father had a dead wife and two dead daughters. There was nothing to say. Everyone knew. I called my wife’s father anyway. Was he still my father-in-law now that I was a widower? He didn’t accept the connection. Widower: a word loses all but historical meaning when there are no alternatives. If all animals were dogs, we’d purge one of those words from our vocabulary. We were all widowers. It was synonymous with man. I switched on the television and stared, crying, at a montage of photographs showing the bloody landscapes of cities, hospitals, retirement homes, schools and churches, all under the tasteless headline: “International Pop”. Would we clean it up, these remnants of the people we loved? Could we even use the same buildings, knowing what had happened in them? The illusion of practical thinking pushed my feeling of emptiness away. I missed arms wrapping around me from behind while I stared through rain streaked windows. I missed barking and a wagging tail that hit my leg whenever I was standing too close. Happiness seemed impossible. I called Bakshi because I needed confirmation that I still had a voice. “They’re the lucky ones,” he said right after I’d introduced myself. “They’re out. We’re the fools still locked in, and now we’re all alone.”
For three weeks, I expected my wife to show up at the apartment door. I removed her clothes from the bed and stuffed them into a garbage bag, but kept the garbage bag in the small space between the fridge and the kitchen wall. I probably would have kept a dead body in the freezer if I had one and it fit. As a city and as a world, those were grim, disorganized weeks for us. Nobody worked. I don’t know what we did. Sat around and drank, smoked. And we called each other, often out of the blue. Every day, I received a call from someone I knew but hadn’t spoken to in years. The conversations all followed a pattern. There was no catching up and no explanation of lost time, just a question like “How are you holding up?” followed by a thoughtless answer (“Fine, I guess. And you?”) followed by an exchange of details about the women we’d lost. Mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, girlfriends, friends, cousins, aunts, teachers, students, co-workers. We talked about the colour of their hair, their senses of humour, their favourite movies. We said nothing about ourselves, choosing instead to inhabit the personas of those whom we’d loved. In the hallway, I would put on my wife’s coats but never look at myself in the mirror. I wore her winter hats in the middle of July. Facebook became a graveyard, with the gender field separating the mourners from the dead.
The World Health Organization issued a communique stating that based on the available data it was reasonable to assume that all the women in the world were dead, but it called for any woman still alive to come forward immediately. The language of the communique was as sterile as the Earth. Nobody came forward. The World Wildlife Fund created an inventory of all mammalian species that listed in ascending order how long each species would exist. Humans were on the bottom. Both the World Health Organization and the World Wildlife Fund predicted that unless significant technological progress occurred in the field of fertility within the next fifty years, the last human, a theoretical boy named Philip born into a theoretical developed country on March 26, 2025, would die in 93 years. On the day of his death, Philip would be the last remaining mammal—although not necessarily animal—on Earth. No organization or government has ever officially stated that July 4, 2025, was the most destructive day in recorded history, on the morning of which, Eastern Time, four billion out of a total of eight billion people ceased to exist as anything more than memories. What killed them was neither an act of war nor an act of terrorism. Neither was it human negligence. There was no one to blame and no one to prosecute. In the western countries, where the majority of people no longer believed in any religion, we could not even call it an act of God. So we responded by calling it nothing at all.
And, like nothing, our lives persisted. We ate, we slept and we adapted. After the first wave of suicides ended, we hosed off what the rain hadn’t already washed away and began to reorganize the systems on which our societies ran. It was a challenge tempered only slightly in countries where women had not made up a significant portion of the workforce. We held new elections, formed me boards of directors and slowed down the assembly lines and bus schedules to make it possible for our communities to keep running. There was less food in the supermarkets, but we also needed less food. Instead of two trains we ran one, but one sufficed. I don’t remember the day when I finally took the black garbage bag from its resting place and walked it to the chute. “How are you holding up?” a male voice would say on the street. “Fine, I guess. And you?” I’d answer. ##!! wrote a piece of Python code to predict the box office profitability of new movies, in which real actors played alongside computer-generated actresses. The code was only partially successful. Because while it did accurately predict the success of new movies in relation to one other, it failed to include the overwhelming popularity of re-releases of films from the past—films starring Bette Davis, Giulietta Masina, Meryl Streep: women who at least on screen were still flesh and blood. Theatres played retrospectives. On Amazon, books by female authors topped the charts. Sales of albums by women vocalists surged. We thirsted for another sex. I watched, read and listened like everyone else, and in between I cherished any media on which I found images or recordings of my wife. I was angry for not having made more. I looked at the same photos and watched the same clips over and over again. I memorized my wife’s Facebook timeline and tagged all her Tweets by date, theme and my own rating. When I went out, I would talk to the air as if she was walking beside me, sometimes quoting her actual words as answers to my questions and sometimes inventing my own as if she was a beloved character in an imagined novel. When people looked at me like I was crazy, I didn’t care. I wasn’t the only one. But, more importantly, my wife meant more to me than they did. I remembered times when we’d stroll through the park or down downtown sidewalks and I would be too ashamed to kiss her in the presence of strangers. Now, I would tell her that I love her in the densest crowd. I would ask her whether I should buy ketchup or mustard in the condiments aisle. She helped me pick out my clothes in the morning. She convinced me to eat healthy and exercise.
In November, I was in Bakshi’s apartment for the first time, waiting for a pizza delivery boy, when one of Bakshi’s friends who was browsing Reddit told us that the Tribe of Akna was starting a Kickstarter campaign in an attempt to buy the Republic of Suriname, rename it Xibalba and close its borders for all except the enlightened. Xibalba would have no laws, Salvador Abaroa said in a message on the site. He was banging his gong as he did. Everything would be legal, and anyone who pledged $100 would receive a two-week visa to this new "Mayan Buddhist Eden". If you pledged over $10,000, you would receive citizenship. “Everything in life is destroyed by energy,” Abaroa said. “But let the energy enlighten you before it consumes your body. Xibalba is finite life unbound.” Bakshi’s phone buzzed. The pizza boy had sent an email. He couldn’t get upstairs, so Bakshi and I took the elevator to the building’s front entrance. The boy’s face was so white that I saw it as soon as the elevator doors slid open. Walking closer, I saw that he was powdered. His cheeks were also rouged, and he was wearing cranberry coloured lipstick, a Marilyn Monroe wig and a short black skirt. Compared to his face, his thin legs looked like incongruously dark popsicle sticks. Bakshi paid for the pizza and added another five dollars for the tip. The boy batted his fake eyelashes and asked if maybe he could do something to earn a little more. “What do you mean?” I asked. “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe I could come upstairs and clean the place up a little. You two live alone?” Bakshi passed me the two pizza boxes—They felt hot in my hands.—and dug around in his wallet. “It’s not just the two of us,” I said. The boy smiled. “That’s OK. I’ve done parties before if that’s what you’re into.” I saw the reaction on Bakshi’s face, and I saw the boy’s grotesque caricature of a woman. “There’s condoms and lube in the car,” the boy said, pointing to a sedan with a pizza spray-painted across its side parked by the curb. “My boss says I can take up to two hours but it’s not like he uses a stopwatch.” I stepped on Bakshi’s foot and shouldered him away. He was still fiddling with his wallet. “We’re not interested,” I said to the boy. He just shrugged. “Suit yourselves. If you change your mind, order another pizza and ask for Ruby.” The elevator dinged and the doors opened. As we shuffled inside, I saw Bakshi’s cheeks turn red. “I’m not actually—” he mumbled, but I didn’t let him finish. What had bothered me so much about the boy wasn’t the way he looked or acted; in fact, it wasn’t really the boy at all. He was just trying to make a buck. What bothered me was how ruthlessly we’d already begun to exploit each other.
For those of us who were heterosexual, sex was a definite weakness. I missed it. I would never have it with a woman again. The closest substitute was pornography, whose price rose with its popularity, but which, at least for me, now came scented with the unpleasantness of historicity and nostalgia. Videos and photos, not to mention physical magazines, were collector’s items in the same way that we once collected coins or action figures. The richest men bought up the exclusive rights to their favourite porn stars and guarded them by law with a viciousness once reserved for the RIAA and MPAA. Perhaps exclusivity gave them a possessive satisfaction. In response, we pirated whatever we could and fought for a pornographic public domain. Although new pornography was still being produced, either with the help of the same virtual technology they used for mainstream movies or with the participation of young men in costume, it lacked the taste of the originals. It was like eating chocolate made without cocoa. The best pornography, and therefore the best sex, became the pornography of the mind.
The Tribe of Akna reached its Kickstarter goal in early December. On December 20, I went to church for the first time since getting married because that was the theoretical date that my wife—along with every other woman—was supposed to have given birth. I wanted to be alone with others. Someone posted a video on TikTok from Elia Kazan’s On The Waterfront, dubbing over Marlon Brando’s speech to say: “You don’t understand. I could’a had a piece of ass. I could’a been a school board member. I could’a been a son’s daddy”. It was juvenile and heartbreaking. By Christmas, the Surinamese government was already expelling its citizens, each of whom had theoretically been given a fraction of the funds paid to the government from the Tribe of Akna’s Kickstarter pool, and Salvador Abaroa’s lawyers were petitioning for international recognition of the new state of Xibalba. Neither Canada nor the United States opened diplomatic relations, but others did. I knew people who had pledged money, and when in January they disappeared on trips, I had no doubt to where. Infamy spread in the form of stories and urban legends. There’s no need for details. People disappeared, and ethicists wrote about the ethical neutrality of murder, arguing that because we were all slated to die, leaving the Earth barren in a century, destruction was a human inevitability, and what is inevitable can never be bad, even when it comes earlier than expected—even when it comes by force. Because, as a species, we hadn’t chosen destruction for ourselves, neither should any individual member of our species be able to choose now for himself. To the ethicists of what became known as the New Inevitability School, suicide was a greater evil than murder because it implied choice and inequality. If the ship was going down, no one should be allowed to get off. A second wave of suicides coincided with the debate, leading many governments to pass laws making suicide illegal. But how do you punish someone who already wants to die? In China: by keeping him alive and selling him to Xibalba, where he becomes the physical plaything of its citizens and visa-holders. The Chinese was the first embassy to open in Xibalban Paramaribo.
The men working on Kurt Schwaller’s theory of everything continued working, steadily adding new variables to their equations, complicating their calculations in the hopes that someday the variable they added would be the final one and the equation would yield an answer. “It’s pointless,” Bakshi would comment after reading about one of the small breakthroughs they periodically announced. “Even if they do manage to predict something, anything, it won’t amount to anything more than the painfully obvious. And after decades of adding and subtracting their beans, they’ll come out of their Los Alamos datalabs like groundhogs into a world blanketed by storm clouds and conclude, finally and with plenty of self-congratulations, that it’s about to fucking rain.”
It rained a lot in February. It was one of the warmest Februaries in Toronto’s history. Sometimes I went for walks along the waterfront, talking to my wife, listening to Billie Holiday and trying to recall as many female faces as I could. Ones from the distant past: my mother, my grandmothers. Ones from the recent past: the woman whose life my wife saved on the way to the hospital, the Armenian woman with the film magazine and the injured son, the Jamaican woman, Bakshi’s wife. I focused on their faces, then zoomed out to see their bodies. I carried an umbrella but seldom opened it because the pounding of the raindrops against the material distorted my mental images. I saw people rush across the street holding newspapers above their heads while dogs roamed the alleyways wearing nothing at all. Of the two, it was dogs that had the shorter time left on Earth, and if they could let the rain soak their fur and drip off their bodies, I could surely let it run down my face. It was first my mother and later my wife who told me to always cover up in the rain, “because moisture causes colds,” but I was alone now and I didn’t want to be separated from the falling water by a sheet of glass anymore. I already was cold. I saw a man sit down on a bench, open his briefcase, pack rocks into it, then close it, tie it to his wrist, check his watch and start to walk into the polluted waters of Lake Ontario. Another man took out his phone and tapped his screen a few times. The man in the lake walked slowly, savouring each step. When the police arrived, sirens blaring, the water was up to his neck. I felt guilty for watching the three officers splash into the lake after him. I don’t know what happened after that because I turned my back and walked away. I hope they didn’t stop him. I hope he got to do what he wanted to do.
“Screw the police.” Bakshi passed me a book. “You should read this,” he said. It was by a professor of film and media studies at a small university in Texas. There was a stage on the cover, flanked by two red curtains. The photo had been taken from the actors’ side, looking out at an audience that the stage lights made too dark to see. The title was Hiding Behind The Curtains. I flipped the book over. There was no photo of the author. “It’s a theory,” Bakshi said, “that undercuts what Abaroa and the Inevitabilists are saying. It’s a little too poetic in parts but—listen, you ever read Atlas Shrugged?” I said I hadn’t. “Well, anyway, what this guy says is that what if instead of our situation letting us do anything we want, it’s actually the opposite, a test to see how we act when we only think that we’re doomed. I mean what if the women who died in March, what if they’re just—” “Hiding behind the curtains,” I said. He bit his lower lip. “It sounds stupid when you say it like that but, as a metaphor, it has a kind of elegance, right?” I flipped through the book, reading a few sentences at random. It struck me as neo-Christian. “Isn’t this a little too spiritual for you? I thought we were all locked into one path,” I said. “I thought that, too, but lately I’ve been able to do things—things that I didn’t really want to do.” For a second I was concerned. “Nothing bad,” he said. “I mean I’ve felt like I’m locked into doing one thing, say having a drink of water, but I resist and pour myself a glass of orange juice instead.” I shook my head. “It’s hard to explain,” he said. That’s how most theories ended, I thought: reason and evidence up to a crucial point, and then it gets so personal that it’s hard to explain. You either make the jump or you don’t. “Just read it,” he said. “Please read it. You don’t have to agree with it, I just want to get your opinion, an objective opinion.”
I never did read the book, and Bakshi forgot about it, too, but that day he was excited and happy, and those were rare feelings. I was simultaneously glad for him and jealous. Afterwards, we went out onto the balcony and drank Czech beer until morning. When it got cool, we put on our coats. It started to drizzle so we wore blue plastic suits like the ones they used to give you on boat rides in Niagara Falls. When it was time to go home, I was so drunk I couldn’t see straight. I almost got into a fight, the first one of my life, because I bumped into a man on the street and told him to get the fuck out of my way. I don’t remember much more of my walk home. The only reason I remember Behind The Curtains at all is because when I woke up in the afternoon it was the first thing that my hung over brain recognized. It was lying on the floor beside the bed. Then I opened the blinds covering my bedroom window and, through my spread fingers that I’d meant to use as a shield from the first blast of daylight, I saw the pincers for the first time.
They’d appeared while I was asleep. I turned on the television and checked my phone. The media and the internet were feverish, but nobody knew what the thing was, just a massive, vaguely rectangular shape blotting out a strip of the sky. NASA stated that it had received no extraterrestrial messages to coincide with the appearance. Every government claimed ignorance. The panel discussions on television only worsened my headache. Bakshi emailed me links to photos from Mumbai, Cape Town, Sydney and Mexico City, all showing the same shape; or rather one of a pair of shapes, for there were two of them, one on each side of the Earth, and they’d trapped our planet between themselves like gargantuan fingers clutching an equally gargantuan ping-pong ball. That’s why somebody came up with the term “the pincers”. It stuck. Because I’d slept in last night’s clothes I was already dressed, so I ran down the stairs and out of my apartment building to get a better look at them from the parking lot. You’re not supposed to look at the sun, but I wasn’t the only one breaking that rule. There were entire crowds with upturned faces in the streets. If the pincers, too, could see, they would perhaps be as baffled by us as we were of them: billions of tiny specks all over the surface of this ping-pong ball gathering in points on a grid, coagulating into large puddles that vanished overnight only to reassemble in the morning. In the following days, scientists scrambled to study the pincers and their potential effects on us, but they discovered nothing. The pincers did nothing. They emitted nothing, consumed nothing. They simply were. And they could not be measured or detected in any way other than by eyesight. When we shot rays at them, the rays continued on their paths unaffected, as if nothing was there. The pincers did, however, affect the sun’s rays coming towards us. They cut up our days. The sun would rise, travel over the sky, hide behind a pincer—enveloping us in a second night—before revealing itself again as a second day. But if the pincers’ physical effect on us was limited to its blockage of light, their mental effects on us were astoundingly severe. For many, this was the sign they’d been waiting for. It brought hope. It brought gloom. It broke and confirmed ideas that were hard to explain. In their ambiguity, the pincers could be anything, but in their strangeness they at least reassured us of the reality of the strange times in which we were living. Men walked away from the theory of everything, citing the pincers as the ultimate variable that proved the futility of prognostication. Others took up the calculations because if the pincers could appear, what else was out there in our future? However, ambiguity can only last for a certain period. Information narrows possibilities. On April 1, 2026, every Twitter account in the world received the following message:
as you can see this message is longer than the allowed one hundred forty characters time and space are malleable you thought you had one hundred years but prepare for the plucking
The sender was @. The message appeared in each user’s feed at exactly the same time and in his first language, without punctuation. Because of the date most of us thought it was a hoax, but the developers of Twitter denied this vehemently. It wasn’t until a court forced them to reveal their code, which proved that a message of that length and sent by a blank user was impossible, that our doubts ceased. ##!! took bets on what the message meant. Salvador Abaroa broadcast a response into space in a language he called Bodhi Mayan, then addressed the rest of us in English, saying that in the pincers he had identified an all-powerful prehistoric fire deity, described in an old Sanskrit text as having the resemblance of mirrored black fangs, whose appearance signified the end of time. “All of us will burn,” he said, “but paradise shall be known only to those who burn willingly.” Two days later, The Tribe of Akna announced that in one month it would seal Xibalba from the world and set fire to everything and everyone in it. For the first time, its spokesman said, an entire nation would commit suicide as one. Jonestown was but a blip. As a gesture of goodwill, he said that Xibalba was offering free immolation visas to anyone who applied within the next week. The New Inevitability School condemned the plan as “offensively unethical” and inequalitist and urged an international Xibalban boycott. Nothing came of it. When the date arrived, we watched with rapt attention on live streams and from the vantage points of circling news planes as Salvador Abaroa struck flint against steel, creating the spark that caught the char cloth, starting a fire that blossomed bright crimson and in the next weeks consumed all 163,821 square kilometres of the former Republic of Suriname and all 2,500,000 of its estimated Xibalban inhabitants. Despite concerns that the fire would spread beyond Xibalba’s borders, The Tribe of Akna had been careful. There were no accidental casualties and no unplanned property damage. No borders were crossed. Once the fire burned out, reporters competed to be first to capture the mood on the ground. Paramaribo resembled the smouldering darkness of a fire pit.
It was a few days later while sitting on Bakshi’s balcony, looking up at the pincers and rereading a reproduction of @’s message—someone had spray-painted it across the wall of a building opposite Bakshi’s—that I remembered Iris. The memory was so absorbing that I didn’t notice when Bakshi slid open the balcony door and sat down beside me, but I must have been smiling because he said, “I don’t mean this the wrong way, but you look a little loony tonight. Seriously, man, you do not look sufficiently freaked out.” I’d remembered Iris before, swirling elements of her plain face, but now I also remembered her words and her theory. I turned to Bakshi, who seemed to be waiting for an answer to his question, and said, “Let’s get up on the roof of this place.” He grabbed my arm and held on tightly. “I’m not going to jump, if that’s what you mean.” It wasn’t what I meant, but I asked, “why not?” He said, “I don’t know. I know we’re fucked as a species and all that, but I figure if I’m still alive I might as well see what happens next, like in a bad movie you want to see through to the end.” I promised him that I wasn’t going to jump, either. Then I scrambled inside his apartment, grabbed my hat and jacket from the closet by the front door and put them on while speed walking down the hall, toward the fire escape. I realized I’d been spending a lot of time here. The alarm went off as soon I pushed open the door with my hip but I didn’t care. When Bakshi caught up with me, I was already outside, leaping up two stairs at a time. The metal construction was rusted. The treads wobbled. On the roof, the wind nearly blew my hat off and it was so loud I could have screamed and no one would have heard me. Holding my hat in my hands, I crouched and looked out over the twinkling city spread out in front of me. It looked alive in spite of the pincers in the sky. “Let’s do something crazy,” I yelled. Bakshi was still catching his breath behind me. “What, like this isn’t crazy enough?” The NHL may have been gone but my hat still bore the Maple Leafs logo, as quaint and obsolete by then as the Weimar Republic in the summer of 1945. “When’s the last time you played ball hockey?” I asked. Bakshi crouched beside me. “You’re acting weird. And I haven’t played ball hockey in ages.” I stood up so suddenly that Bakshi almost fell over. This time I knew I was smiling. “So call your buddies,” I said. “Tell them to bring their sticks and their gear and to meet us in front of the ACC in one hour.” Bakshi patted me on the back. Toronto shone like jewels scattered over black velvet. “The ACC’s been closed for years, buddy. I think you’re really starting to lose it.” I knew it was closed. “Lose what?” I asked. “It’s closed and we’re going to break in.”
The chains broke apart like shortbread. The electricity worked. The clouds of dust made me sneeze. We used duffel bags to mark out the goals. We raced up and down the stands and bent over, wheezing at imaginary finish lines. We got into the announcer’s booth and called each other cunts through the microphone. We ran, fell and shot rubber pucks for hours. We didn’t keep score. We didn’t worry. “What about the police?” someone asked. The rest of us answered: “Screw the fucking police!”
And when everybody packed up and went home, I stayed behind.
“Are you sure you’re fine?” Bakshi asked.
“Yeah,” I said.
“Because I have to get back so that I can shower, get changed and get to work.”
“Yeah, I know,” I said.
“And you promise me you’ll catch a cab?”
“I’m not suicidal.”
He fixed his grip on his duffel bag. “I didn’t say you were. I was just checking.”
“I want to see the end of the movie, too,” I said.
He saluted. I watched him leave. When he was gone, my wife walked down from the nosebleeds and took a seat beside me. “There’s someone I want to tell you about,” I said. She lifted her chin like she always does when something unexpected catches her interest, and scooted closer. I put my arm across the back of her beautiful shoulders. She always liked that, even though the position drives me crazy because I tend to talk a lot with my hands. “Stuck at Leafs-Wings snorefest,” she said. “Game sucks but I love the man sitting beside me.” (January 15, 2019. Themes: hockey, love, me. Rating: 5/5). “Her name was Iris,” I said.

Iris

“What if the whole universe was a giant garden—like a hydroponics thing, like how they grow tomatoes and marijuana, so there wouldn’t need to be any soil, all the nutrients would just get injected straight into the seeds or however they do it—or, even better, space itself was the soil, you know how they talk about dark matter being this invisible and mysterious thing that exists out there and we don’t know what it does, if it actually affect anything, gravity…”
She blew a cloud of pot smoke my way that made me cough and probably gave her time to think. She said, “So dark matter is like the soil, and in this space garden of course they don’t grow plants but something else.”
“Galaxies?”
“Eyes.”
“Just eyes, or body parts in general?” I asked.
“Just eyes.”
The music from the party thumped. “But the eyes are our planets, like Mars is an eye, Neptune is an eye, and the Earth is an eye, maybe even the best eye.”
“The best for what? Who’s growing them?”
“God,” she said.
I took the joint from her and took a long drag. “I didn’t know you believed in God.”
“I don’t, I guess—except when I’m on dope. Anyway, you’ve got to understand me because when I say God I don’t mean like the old man with muscles and a beard. This God, the one I’m talking about, it’s more like a one-eyed monster.”
“Like a cyclops?” I asked.
“Yeah, like that, like a cyclops. So it’s growing these eyes in the dark matter in space—I mean right now, you and me, we’re literally sitting on one of these eyes and we’re contributing to its being grown because the nutrients the cyclops God injected into them, that’s us.”
“Why does God need so many extra eyes?”
“It’s not a question of having so many of them, but more about having the right one, like growing the perfect tomato.” I gave her back the joint and leaned back, looking at the stars. “Because every once in a while the cyclops God goes blind, its eye stops working—not in the same way we go blind, because the cyclops God doesn’t see reality in the same way we see reality—but more like we see through our brains and our eyes put together.”
“Like x-ray vision?” I asked.
“No, not like that at all,” she said.
“A glass eye?”
“Glass eyes are fake.”
“OK,” I said, “so maybe try something else. Give me a different angle. Tell me what role we’re playing in all of this because right now it seems that we’re pretty insignificant. I mean, you said we’re nutrients but what’s the difference between, say, Mars and Earth in terms of being eyes?”
She looked over at me. “Are you absolutely sure you want to hear about this?”
“I am,” I said.
“You don’t think it’s stupid?”
“Compared to what?”
“I don’t know, just stupid in general.”
“I don’t.”
“I like you,” she said.
“Because I don’t think you’re stupid?” I asked.
“That’s just a bonus. I mean more that you’re up here with me instead of being down there with everyone, and we’re talking and even though we’re not in love I know somehow we’ll never forget each other for as long as we live.”
“It’s hard to forget being on the surface of a giant floating eyeball.”
“You’re scared that you won’t find anyone to love,” she said suddenly, causing me to nearly choke on my own saliva. “Don’t ask me how I know—I just do. But before I go any further about the cyclops God, I want you to know that you’ll find someone to love and who’ll love you back, and whatever happens you’ll always have that because no one can take away the past.”
“You’re scared of going blind,” I said.
“I am going blind.”
“Not yet.”
“And I’m learning not to be scared because everything I see until that day will always belong to me.”
“The doctors said it would be gradual,” I reminded her.
“That’s horrible.”
“Why?”
“Because you wouldn’t want to find someone to love and then know that every day you wake up the love between you grows dimmer and dimmer, would you?”
“I guess not,” I said.
“Wouldn’t you much rather feel the full strength of that love up to and including in the final second before the world goes black?”
“It would probably be painful to lose it all at once like that.”
“Painful because you actually had something to lose. For me, I know I can’t wish away blindness, but I sure wish that the last image I ever see—in that final second before my world goes black—is the most vivid and beautiful image of all.”
Because I didn’t know what to say to that, I mumbled: “I’m sorry.”
“That I’m going blind?”
“Yeah, and that we can’t grow eyes.”
This time I looked over, and she was the one gazing at the stars. “Before, you asked if we were insignificant,” she said. “But because you’re sorry—that’s kind of why we’re the most significant of all, why Earth is better than the other planets.”
“For the cyclops God?”
“Yes.”
“He cares about my feelings?”
“Not in the way you’re probably thinking, but in a different way that’s exactly what the cyclops God cares about most because that’s what it’s looking for in an eye. All the amazing stuff we’ve ever built, all our ancient civilizations and supercomputers and cities you can see from the Moon—that’s just useless cosmetics to the cyclops God, except in how all of it has made us feel about things that aren’t us.”
“I think you’re talking about morality.”
“I think so, too.”
“So by feeling sorry for you I’m showing compassion, and the cyclops God likes compassion?”
“That’s not totally wrong but it’s a little upside down. We have this black matter garden and these planets the cyclops God has grown as potential eyes to replace its own eye once it stops working, but its own eye is like an eye and a brain mixed together. Wait—” she said.
I waited.
“Imagine a pair of tinted sunglasses.”
I imagined green-tinted ones.
“Now imagine that instead of the lenses being a certain colour, they’re a certain morality, and if you wear the glasses you see the world tinted according to that morality.”
I was kind of able to imagine that. I supposed it would help show who was good and who was bad. “But the eye and the tinted glasses are the same thing in this case.”
“Exactly, there’s no one without the other, and what makes the tint special is us—not that the cyclops God cares at all about individuals any more than we care about individual honey bees. That’s why he’s kind of a monster.”
“Isn’t people’s morality always changing, though?”
“Only up to a point. Green is green even when you have a bunch of shades of it, and a laptop screen still works fine even with a few dead pixels, right? And the more globalized and connected we get, the smoother our morality gets, but if you’re asking more about how our changing morals work when the cyclops God finally comes to take its eye, I assume it has a way to freeze our progress. To cut our roots. Then it makes some kind of final evaluation. If it’s satisfied it takes the planet and sticks it into its eye socket, and if it doesn’t like us then it lets us alone, although because we’re frozen and possibly rootless I suppose we die—maybe that’s what the other planets are, so many of them in space without any sort of life. Cold, rejected eyes.”
From sunglasses to bees to monitors in three metaphors, and now we were back to space. This was getting confusing. The stars twinkled, some of them dead, too: their light still arriving at our eyes from sources that no longer existed. “That’s kind of depressing,” I said to end the silence.
“What about it?”
“Being bees,” I said, “that work for so long at tinting a pair of glasses just so that a cyclops God can try them on.”
“I don’t think it’s any more depressing than being a tomato.”
“I’ve never thought about that.”
“You should. It’s beautiful, like love,” she said. “Because if you think about it, being a tomato and being a person are really quite similar. They’re both about growing and existing for the enjoyment of someone else. As a tomato you’re planted, you grow and mature and then an animal comes along and eats you. The juicier you look and the nicer you smell, the greater the chance that you’ll get plucked but also the more pleasure the animal will get from you. As a person, you’re also born and you grow up and you mature into a one of a kind personality with a one of a kind face, and then someone comes along and makes you fall in love with them and all the growing you did was really just for their enjoyment of your love.”
“Except love lasts longer than chewing a tomato.”
“Sometimes,” she said.
“And you have to admit that two tomatoes can’t eat each other the way two people can love each other mutually.”
“I admit that’s a good point,” she said.
“And what happens to someone who never gets fallen in love with?”
“The same thing that happens to a tomato that never gets eaten or an eye that the cyclops God never takes. They die and they rot, and they darken and harden, decomposing until they don’t look like tomatoes anymore. It’s not a nice fate. I’d rather live awhile and get eaten, to be honest.”
“As a tomato or person?”
“Both.”
I thought for a few seconds. “That explanation works for things on Earth, but nothing actually decomposes in space.”
“That’s why there are so many dead planets,” she said.
submitted by normancrane to cryosleep [link] [comments]


2020.09.24 06:13 TheMidnightArchive The Abduction and Murder of Amber Hagerman

A Trip to The Grocery Store
The late winter in Texas is a mild time usually, with steady wind and a biting chill in the air. The season is one of change, the life force of the previous year is fading away to succumb to a newness imbued by the heat of the Spring and Summer. January 12th, 1996 in Arlington, Texas was no different, the sun was shining, the wind was steady, and the temperature hovered around the mid-sixties. On this day Donna Whitson and her two children, nine-year-old Amber and five-year-old Ricky Hagerman were in Arlington visiting Donna’s parents, Glenda and Jimmie Whitson. The family arrived at their destination around 3pm and upon disembarking Donna’s car the kids asked to ride their bikes, the ones that Donna had her parents keep at their home for them. Donna, without a second thought, assented to the request with the limitation that the kids stay within a block of their grandparents’ home. She wanted them to be safe.
Once astride their bicycles and away from nagging adults, Amber disregarded the boundary set upon her and her brother. Amber led Ricky to the local neighborhood play spot, a shuttered Winn-Dixie grocery store and after approximately 15 minutes of riding around the parking lot and loading dock the younger Ricky was ready to turn back home, whether out of fear of being beyond their boundary or being tired is unknown. What is known is that Amber had elected to stay and ride her bike around the parking lot of the store on her own for a while longer, that Ricky went home alone, and that in the intervening time something horrible would happen to Amber that would shape substance and conscious of the her family forever.
On January 12th, Mr. Jim Kevil was sitting on his back porch looking out over his yard and fence, a view that happened to encompass the next-door Winn-Dixie store’s loading dock and the street it was on. Around 3:15 pm Mr. Kevil saw a lone young girl riding a colorful bike around the grocery store loading dock when a dark colored truck quickly pulled into the parking lot. Jim Kevil would later state that the driver of the truck was either white or Hispanic and between the ages of 25-40, this unknown subject grabbed Amber, who let out a scream and began kicking her abductor. The driver then put Amber in his vehicle before he sped off West bound down Abrams Road. Not just a passive witness, Mr. Kevil called 911 to report the incident to the police and to try to aid in the capture of the kidnapper and the return of the little girl. This would be the last time that anyone would see Amber Hagerman alive.
After arriving home alone five-year-old Ricky Hagerman was sent by his family back to the Winn-Dixie to retrieve his sister. Turning his bike around Ricky did as requested, only to return to an empty parking lot. Only a brief eight minutes had elapsed since he had last seen his sister, but it was too late; Amber was gone. Ricky once again arrived alone to the Whitson home prompting Grandfather Jimmie Whitson to race to the store in his car to search for Amber himself. Jimmie would arrive at the store at about the same time as an Arlington police officer, summoned by Jim Kevil’s 911 call did; the only remnant of Amber was her abandoned bicycle.
Law Enforcement, including the local police and the FBI (involved as a result of the pleas of Amber’s distraught family), coupled with a mass of volunteers began a wide net search for the missing girl, but came up empty. Amber had vanished.
Discovery
January 16, 1996 is a day that Amber’s family will never forget. Four days after she had been taken by an unidentified male from that Winn-Dixie parking lot, Amber Hagerman’s body was discovered in the early morning hours by an anonymous man walking his dog near the Forest Hills Apartment Complex in Arlington, Texas. Her body was found face down in a creek approximately 4 miles from her abduction site. Prior to this, apartment maintenance workers had been in that area and seen nothing, suggesting that the remains were either placed there after the workers had left or moved down stream by a torrential rainstorm that had just occurred. Amber’s family was informed shortly after the discovery, shocked they initially refused to believe the news with her father quoted in a New York Times article written at the time as saying, “She’s still alive” to the reporters covering the case and camped outside the Whitson home.
Amber was discovered wearing nothing but a single sock and the medical examiner would later confirm investigators suspicions, there was evidence of sexual assault and physical abuse, the cause of death: lacerations to the neck and throat. Additionally, the medical examiner stated that there was evidence that Amber had been kept alive for at least two days after her abduction before she was murdered, and her body disposed of.
Investigation Still Ongoing
More than 20 years later the investigation is still technically ongoing, to date the Arlington Police Department (APD) has not formally announced that they have any suspects or persons of interest. APD Detective Ben Lopez stated in a recent interview that the APD still receives tips regularly regarding the case and the department thoroughly investigates each one like it could be the piece of the puzzle that finally gives Amber’s family closure and justice.
An explanation of this unsolved murder most likely lies in the fact that Amber’s body was left in running water for an indeterminate amount of time, coupled with the storm that raised the creek level and most likely moved the body from the dump site, forensic evidence would have been all but erased and any physical evidence diluted or washed away. Not helping the investigation is the fact that there is only one witness to the crime: Jim Kevil was the sole person to come forward with information regarding the abduction, despite the fact that Amber was taken in broad daylight on a residential street. To date no one else has come forward with evidence or statements to aid in the apprehension of the unknown subject. Some reports assert that this is a result of the immigrant community in the area and the traditional apprehension of this population in talking to law enforcement thought that remains unsubstantiated speculation.
It is believed that Amber’s abductor and murderer was a stranger to her given that he took her by force and did not attempt to talk her into his vehicle. With this, I agree with the official narrative. Where I differ is on why Amber was taken. Based on the speed at which the abduction occurred it suggests to me that Amber may have been watched for some time before being taken. As stated previously Amber Hagerman was abducted in a window of approximately 8 minutes from when her brother left and then returned to bring her home. The official narrative is that this was an act of extreme opportunity when the perpetrator just happened to be driving by when he saw her alone. This would suggest that there was an event that triggered sporadic actions in the perpetrator, to quote a popular television show there must have been a stressor that induced this action.
Regardless of the why, the fact of the matter is that Amber Hagerman’s killer is still at large. He has gone unpunished for his heinous actions against this innocent little girl and by extension her family. As a result of chance and a fluke of nature no evidence or additional witnesses remain of what happened on that fateful winter day. Amber’s killer is nameless, and her family is left with no closure or answers, only questions and heartache.
Possible Suspects
Richard Lee Franks
Richard Lee Franks was charged on March 16, 2000 with the aggravated kidnapping of Opal Jo Jennings from Saginaw, a town a few miles north of Fort Worth. On March 26, 1999 6-year-old Opal was playing with her 3-year-old cousin in a vacant lot next to her grandparent’s house when Franks pulled up to the lot in his black Mercury Cougar. He then exited his vehicle and approached the kids feigning conversation with them. When Franks was close enough, he plucked Opal off the ground, punched her in the chest and put her in his car. What happened next was not unlike in Amber’s case, a large-scale search was launched for Opal led by her family and the local police department, it would not be for five years that Opal would be found. Her remains were discovered in a wooded area while two individuals were riding their horses along a remote trail. As a result of the state in which the remains were found, there was little physical or forensic evidence. What was clear was that the cause of death was most likely the result of a blow to the head. Franks would later be charged with Opal’s kidnapping but not her murder as there was no evidence to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that Franks had indeed murdered her. In fact, he claimed that he had driven her to a local store to get a drink and left her there. What lends credence to Franks as a potential suspect is the similarity between Amber and Opal, and the way that they were taken. Both were seemingly impulse driven abductions based on the speed in which they occurred.
This link between Opal and Amber was not solely based on the research of internet sleuths. Mark Simpson, an investigating officer in the Hagerman case in an address to the National Children’s Advocacy Center’s 26 Annual National Symposium on Child Abuse to the fact that Franks had prior criminal history involving children, all young, brown haired girls and that Opal’s kidnaping occurred in the same county as Amber’s. Based on proximity, prior history, and similarity in method at the very least one could expect that APD would investigate Franks as a person of interest however, that has not been the case.
Terapon Adhahn
Born in Bangkok, Thailand. Terapon immigrated to the United States as a child when his mother married a U.S. serviceman and he returned to the United States. As he grew older Terapon would become a Buddhist monk as well as follow in his stepfather’s footsteps and join the U.S. Army. Adhahn has been connected to (either directly as the known perpetrator or suspected) multiple offenses, both resolved or unresolved, against children throughout Washington State including rape, kidnapping, and murder. He has also been questioned in connection the Amber Hagerman case by APD though has not been named as an official suspect.
In 1990 Adhahn was charged with sexual assault against a 16-year-old relative. This charge would result in him being forced to register as a sex offender and enter rehabilitation but as a first offense was not enough for him to be deported.
On May 31, 2000 an 11-year-old unnamed (for reasons of privacy) Spanaway County Girl was abducted on her way to school. She was bound and taken to a secluded training field close to the Fort Lewis Military Base where she was repeatedly assaulted over the course of an hour. After the assaults Adhahn left her bound on a road nearby where she would be discovered walking, still bound with her eyes taped over, by a Tacoma City Police Officer.
In December 2005, Adre’anna Jackson would also be abducted on her way to school, she disappeared from Lakewood in Pierce County, Washington and was never seen again. Over a year later, April 2006, skeletal remains were found in a field near her Tillicum neighborhood. Investigators showed pictures of Adhahn to residents who identified him as a known handyman who frequently worked in the area. He is regarded as a person of interest in this case.
On July 4, 2007 Zina Linnik had been watching a firework display with her siblings on a hilltop near her home when her father, Mikhail Linnik, on his back porch presumably also watching the display, heard his daughter cry out. When he arrived at the spot that Zina was taken all that was left was a single shoe she had been wearing, Mikhail also saw a gray Chevy Astro van speeding away and he was able to partially make out the license plate. Four days alter Terapon Adhahn was arrested for the kidnapping of Zina. However, this speedy apprehension was not enough, on condition of prosecution not seeking the death penalty, Adhahn led investigators to the remains of young Zina Linnik. She had been strangled with a zip tie though Adhahn would claim that her death had been an accident.
Additionally, while living in the Tacoma area, Adhahn was responsible for the care of an unnamed (again for the sake of privacy) 12-year-old girl. Her mother allowed the girl to live with Adhahn since she was unable to provide for her daughter, Adhahn only a “friend of her mother’s boyfriend”. Over the course of the next three years Adhahn would subject the young girl to repeated sexual assault, stopping only when she was able to run away after being assaulted at gun point.
Why Terapon Adhahn? It has been reported that, coupled with his extensive and horrendous history with children, Terapon lived for a time with his aunt in the Fort Worth area around 1996. During the investigation, law enforcement noticed striking similarities in the method of kidnapping, assault, and victims in the Adhahn case and with a few officers having been trained in Texas for the Amber Alert System, were familiar with the Hagerman case. Additionally, he used a similar vehicle in the Fort Lewis incident as was seen in Amber’s abduction. Terapon has been question regarding Amber's abduction and murder though not formally named as a suspect or even a person of interest.
Similar Cases
Heidi Seeman – San Antonio, Texas
On August 4, 1990 11-year-old Heidi Seeman was walking home from a sleep-over at a friend house the previous night. Her unnamed friend walked Heidi a part of the way home, to a midpoint between their houses at the intersection of Stahl road and Willow Run Street. Approaching the intersection Heidi’s friend as well as neighbors in the area reported seeing a red car with dark tinted windows pass by the girls slowly, and the driver watching them intently. Thinking nothing much of it, the girls parted ways and Heidi was never seen again. On August 25th, 1990 her remains were found in Hays County, Texas. No additional details were released regarding her death aside from the fact that a medical examiner ruled her death as a result of homicide.
Erica Botello – San Antonio, Texas
Closer in circumstance to Amber Hagerman, 7-year-old Erica Botello was taken on August 23, 1990 from the playground (or road next to depending on source) near her apartment complex. She was not unsupervised or alone the entire time she was playing. Erica was with her Father however he stepped inside for a brief time. When he went back outside, Erica was gone. Her remains would be found on August 25, 1990 in a storm drain about a mile from her home and abduction site. There is little information regarding Erica’s as she was and is eclipsed by the case of Heidi Seeman, a young white girl just a few years older than Erica, a girl of Hispanic dissent, from a wealthier side of San Antonio to the working class area that the Botello family lived in. Any information found on Erica is usually limited to brief sentences and always in tandem to Heidi.
Legacy and Aftermath
What happened to Amber Hagerman is not a mystery, it is known. She was taken from her family, held and assaulted over the course of two days, killed, and her body was disposed of in a creek not far from her abduction site. Her killer did all of these things without leaving any evidence, and slipped away. What isn't known is who did those things to her? Was it someone she knew? Had that person been watching her? Was this all really the result of chance and opportunity? One can hope that these questions, and more, will be answered one day but with each passing day the possibility that they never will be becomes all the more real.
It has been 24 years since Amber Hagerman was abducted and murdered yet her legacy lives on.
Amber’s abduction and murder was the impetus for the creation for the AMBER Alert System. This is a coordinated effort between law enforcement, radio, television, and cellphone broadcast systems to alert the general public in the region of an abduction to the incident and any information that law enforcement has on the abduction such as their physical description as well as the description of the vehicle they were last seen with. This system has resulted in the safe return of almost 1,000 children in the United States since its inception as a regional program in 1997, then national (and international) in 2000 however it is also under scrutiny for saving so few and being so annoying as an alert results in an alarm blaring through the device that receives it, and for saving so few. Critics question whether it saving just one life is worth it, is saving so few worth it?
I say yes.

Sources
Amber Hagerman
Arlington police mum about whether DNA evidence exist in unsolved Amber Hagerman case
CRIME HUNTER: Sleep interrupted? Think about Amber Hagerman Toronto Sun
[APD "Missing" flyer for Amber Haggerman, 1996] - Side 1 of 1 - The Portal to Texas History
AA28.pdf
Gale In Context: Biography - Document - Body of Kidnapped Texas Girl Is Found
Body of Girl Who Was Dragged Screaming Off Bicycle Is Found - Los Angeles Times
How Were Amber Alerts Created? The Amber Hagerman Cold Case - A&E
Child abuse symposium speaker tells of similar abduction/murder cases with different endings - al.com
Richard Lee Franks
Medical examiner: Remains are those of missing girl - Plainview Herald
Richard Lee Franks Texas Prison Inmates The Texas Tribune
FRANKS v. STATE FindLaw
Family prepares to bury girl who was abducted five years ago - Midland Reporter-Telegram
FBI, Texas Rangers investigating death of 6-year-old girl in Saginaw Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Terapon Adhahn
Adhahn pleads guilty to murder of Tacoma girl, 12 The Seattle Times
Killer of Tacoma child reveals motive in papers The Seattle Times
Terapon Adhahn pleads guilty to rape, murder of Zina Linnik HeraldNet.com
Child abduction-rape investigation widens - seattlepi.com
Heidi Seeman and Erica Botello
August marks 30 years since disappearances of Heidi Seeman, Erica Botello
1990 kidnapping, murder of two San Antonio girls still unsolved
submitted by TheMidnightArchive to UnresolvedMysteries [link] [comments]


2020.09.24 06:08 TheMidnightArchive The Abduction and Murder of Amber Hagerman

The Abduction and Murder of Amber Hagerman
A Trip to The Grocery Store
The late winter in Texas is a mild time usually, with steady wind and a biting chill in the air. The season is one of change, the life force of the previous year is fading away to succumb to a newness imbued by the heat of the Spring and Summer. January 12th, 1996 in Arlington, Texas was no different, the sun was shining, the wind was steady, and the temperature hovered around the mid-sixties. On this day Donna Whitson and her two children, nine-year-old Amber and five-year-old Ricky Hagerman were in Arlington visiting Donna’s parents, Glenda and Jimmie Whitson. The family arrived at their destination around 3pm and upon disembarking Donna’s car the kids asked to ride their bikes, the ones that Donna had her parents keep at their home for them. Donna, without a second thought, assented to the request with the limitation that the kids stay within a block of their grandparents’ home. She wanted them to be safe.
Once astride their bicycles and away from nagging adults, Amber disregarded the boundary set upon her and her brother. Amber led Ricky to the local neighborhood play spot, a shuttered Winn-Dixie grocery store and after approximately 15 minutes of riding around the parking lot and loading dock the younger Ricky was ready to turn back home, whether out of fear of being beyond their boundary or being tired is unknown. What is known is that Amber had elected to stay and ride her bike around the parking lot of the store on her own for a while longer, that Ricky went home alone, and that in the intervening time something horrible would happen to Amber that would shape substance and conscious of the her family forever.
On January 12th, Mr. Jim Kevil was sitting on his back porch looking out over his yard and fence, a view that happened to encompass the next-door Winn-Dixie store’s loading dock and the street it was on. Around 3:15 pm Mr. Kevil saw a lone young girl riding a colorful bike around the grocery store loading dock when a dark colored truck quickly pulled into the parking lot. Jim Kevil would later state that the driver of the truck was either white or Hispanic and between the ages of 25-40, this unknown subject grabbed Amber, who let out a scream and began kicking her abductor. The driver then put Amber in his vehicle before he sped off West bound down Abrams Road. Not just a passive witness, Mr. Kevil called 911 to report the incident to the police and to try to aid in the capture of the kidnapper and the return of the little girl. This would be the last time that anyone would see Amber Hagerman alive.
After arriving home alone five-year-old Ricky Hagerman was sent by his family back to the Winn-Dixie to retrieve his sister. Turning his bike around Ricky did as requested, only to return to an empty parking lot. Only a brief eight minutes had elapsed since he had last seen his sister, but it was too late; Amber was gone. Ricky once again arrived alone to the Whitson home prompting Grandfather Jimmie Whitson to race to the store in his car to search for Amber himself. Jimmie would arrive at the store at about the same time as an Arlington police officer, summoned by Jim Kevil’s 911 call did; the only remnant of Amber was her abandoned bicycle.
Law Enforcement, including the local police and the FBI (involved as a result of the pleas of Amber’s distraught family), coupled with a mass of volunteers began a wide net search for the missing girl, but came up empty. Amber had vanished.
Discovery
January 16, 1996 is a day that Amber’s family will never forget. Four days after she had been taken by an unidentified male from that Winn-Dixie parking lot, Amber Hagerman’s body was discovered in the early morning hours by an anonymous man walking his dog near the Forest Hills Apartment Complex in Arlington, Texas. Her body was found face down in a creek approximately 4 miles from her abduction site. Prior to this, apartment maintenance workers had been in that area and seen nothing, suggesting that the remains were either placed there after the workers had left or moved down stream by a torrential rainstorm that had just occurred. Amber’s family was informed shortly after the discovery, shocked they initially refused to believe the news with her father quoted in a New York Times article written at the time as saying, “She’s still alive” to the reporters covering the case and camped outside the Whitson home.
Amber was discovered wearing nothing but a single sock and the medical examiner would later confirm investigators suspicions, there was evidence of sexual assault and physical abuse, the cause of death: lacerations to the neck and throat. Additionally, the medical examiner stated that there was evidence that Amber had been kept alive for at least two days after her abduction before she was murdered, and her body disposed of.
Investigation Still Ongoing
More than 20 years later the investigation is still technically ongoing, to date the Arlington Police Department (APD) has not formally announced that they have any suspects or persons of interest. APD Detective Ben Lopez stated in a recent interview that the APD still receives tips regularly regarding the case and the department thoroughly investigates each one like it could be the piece of the puzzle that finally gives Amber’s family closure and justice.
An explanation of this unsolved murder most likely lies in the fact that Amber’s body was left in running water for an indeterminate amount of time, coupled with the storm that raised the creek level and most likely moved the body from the dump site, forensic evidence would have been all but erased and any physical evidence diluted or washed away. Not helping the investigation is the fact that there is only one witness to the crime: Jim Kevil was the sole person to come forward with information regarding the abduction, despite the fact that Amber was taken in broad daylight on a residential street. To date no one else has come forward with evidence or statements to aid in the apprehension of the unknown subject. Some reports assert that this is a result of the immigrant community in the area and the traditional apprehension of this population in talking to law enforcement thought that remains unsubstantiated speculation.
It is believed that Amber’s abductor and murderer was a stranger to her given that he took her by force and did not attempt to talk her into his vehicle. With this, I agree with the official narrative. Where I differ is on why Amber was taken. Based on the speed at which the abduction occurred it suggests to me that Amber may have been watched for some time before being taken. As stated previously Amber Hagerman was abducted in a window of approximately 8 minutes from when her brother left and then returned to bring her home. The official narrative is that this was an act of extreme opportunity when the perpetrator just happened to be driving by when he saw her alone. This would suggest that there was an event that triggered sporadic actions in the perpetrator, to quote a popular television show there must have been a stressor that induced this action.
Regardless of the why, the fact of the matter is that Amber Hagerman’s killer is still at large. He has gone unpunished for his heinous actions against this innocent little girl and by extension her family. As a result of chance and a fluke of nature no evidence or additional witnesses remain of what happened on that fateful winter day. Amber’s killer is nameless, and her family is left with no closure or answers, only questions and heartache.
Possible Suspects
Richard Lee Franks
Richard Lee Franks was charged on March 16, 2000 with the aggravated kidnapping of Opal Jo Jennings from Saginaw, a town a few miles north of Fort Worth. On March 26, 1999 6-year-old Opal was playing with her 3-year-old cousin in a vacant lot next to her grandparent’s house when Franks pulled up to the lot in his black Mercury Cougar. He then exited his vehicle and approached the kids feigning conversation with them. When Franks was close enough, he plucked Opal off the ground, punched her in the chest and put her in his car. What happened next was not unlike in Amber’s case, a large-scale search was launched for Opal led by her family and the local police department, it would not be for five years that Opal would be found. Her remains were discovered in a wooded area while two individuals were riding their horses along a remote trail. As a result of the state in which the remains were found, there was little physical or forensic evidence. What was clear was that the cause of death was most likely the result of a blow to the head. Franks would later be charged with Opal’s kidnapping but not her murder as there was no evidence to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that Franks had indeed murdered her. In fact, he claimed that he had driven her to a local store to get a drink and left her there. What lends credence to Franks as a potential suspect is the similarity between Amber and Opal, and the way that they were taken. Both were seemingly impulse driven abductions based on the speed in which they occurred.
This link between Opal and Amber was not solely based on the research of internet sleuths. Mark Simpson, an investigating officer in the Hagerman case in an address to the National Children’s Advocacy Center’s 26 Annual National Symposium on Child Abuse to the fact that Franks had prior criminal history involving children, all young, brown haired girls and that Opal’s kidnaping occurred in the same county as Amber’s. Based on proximity, prior history, and similarity in method at the very least one could expect that APD would investigate Franks as a person of interest however, that has not been the case.
Terapon Adhahn
Born in Bangkok, Thailand. Terapon immigrated to the United States as a child when his mother married a U.S. serviceman and he returned to the United States. As he grew older Terapon would become a Buddhist monk as well as follow in his stepfather’s footsteps and join the U.S. Army. Adhahn has been connected to (either directly as the known perpetrator or suspected) multiple offenses, both resolved or unresolved, against children throughout Washington State including rape, kidnapping, and murder. He has also been questioned in connection the Amber Hagerman case by APD though has not been named as an official suspect.
In 1990 Adhahn was charged with sexual assault against a 16-year-old relative. This charge would result in him being forced to register as a sex offender and enter rehabilitation but as a first offense was not enough for him to be deported.
On May 31, 2000 an 11-year-old unnamed (for reasons of privacy) Spanaway County Girl was abducted on her way to school. She was bound and taken to a secluded training field close to the Fort Lewis Military Base where she was repeatedly assaulted over the course of an hour. After the assaults Adhahn left her bound on a road nearby where she would be discovered walking, still bound with her eyes taped over, by a Tacoma City Police Officer.
In December 2005, Adre’anna Jackson would also be abducted on her way to school, she disappeared from Lakewood in Pierce County, Washington and was never seen again. Over a year later, April 2006, skeletal remains were found in a field near her Tillicum neighborhood. Investigators showed pictures of Adhahn to residents who identified him as a known handyman who frequently worked in the area. He is regarded as a person of interest in this case.
On July 4, 2007 Zina Linnik had been watching a firework display with her siblings on a hilltop near her home when her father, Mikhail Linnik, on his back porch presumably also watching the display, heard his daughter cry out. When he arrived at the spot that Zina was taken all that was left was a single shoe she had been wearing, Mikhail also saw a gray Chevy Astro van speeding away and he was able to partially make out the license plate. Four days alter Terapon Adhahn was arrested for the kidnapping of Zina. However, this speedy apprehension was not enough, on condition of prosecution not seeking the death penalty, Adhahn led investigators to the remains of young Zina Linnik. She had been strangled with a zip tie though Adhahn would claim that her death had been an accident.
Additionally, while living in the Tacoma area, Adhahn was responsible for the care of an unnamed (again for the sake of privacy) 12-year-old girl. Her mother allowed the girl to live with Adhahn since she was unable to provide for her daughter, Adhahn only a “friend of her mother’s boyfriend”. Over the course of the next three years Adhahn would subject the young girl to repeated sexual assault, stopping only when she was able to run away after being assaulted at gun point.
Why Terapon Adhahn? It has been reported that, coupled with his extensive and horrendous history with children, Terapon lived for a time with his aunt in the Fort Worth area around 1996. During the investigation, law enforcement noticed striking similarities in the method of kidnapping, assault, and victims in the Adhahn case and with a few officers having been trained in Texas for the Amber Alert System, were familiar with the Hagerman case. Additionally, he used a similar vehicle in the Fort Lewis incident as was seen in Amber’s abduction. Terapon has been question regarding Amber's abduction and murder though not formally named as a suspect or even a person of interest.
Similar Cases
Heidi Seeman – San Antonio, Texas
On August 4, 1990 11-year-old Heidi Seeman was walking home from a sleep-over at a friend house the previous night. Her unnamed friend walked Heidi a part of the way home, to a midpoint between their houses at the intersection of Stahl road and Willow Run Street. Approaching the intersection Heidi’s friend as well as neighbors in the area reported seeing a red car with dark tinted windows pass by the girls slowly, and the driver watching them intently. Thinking nothing much of it, the girls parted ways and Heidi was never seen again. On August 25th, 1990 her remains were found in Hays County, Texas. No additional details were released regarding her death aside from the fact that a medical examiner ruled her death as a result of homicide.
Erica Botello – San Antonio, Texas
Closer in circumstance to Amber Hagerman, 7-year-old Erica Botello was taken on August 23, 1990 from the playground (or road next to depending on source) near her apartment complex. She was not unsupervised or alone the entire time she was playing. Erica was with her Father however he stepped inside for a brief time. When he went back outside, Erica was gone. Her remains would be found on August 25, 1990 in a storm drain about a mile from her home and abduction site. There is little information regarding Erica’s as she was and is eclipsed by the case of Heidi Seeman, a young white girl just a few years older than Erica, a girl of Hispanic dissent, from a wealthier side of San Antonio to the working class area that the Botello family lived in. Any information found on Erica is usually limited to brief sentences and always in tandem to Heidi.
Legacy and Aftermath
What happened to Amber Hagerman is not a mystery, it is known. She was taken from her family, held and assaulted over the course of two days, killed, and her body was disposed of in a creek not far from her abduction site. Her killer did all of these things without leaving any evidence, and slipped away. What isn't known is who did those things to her? Was it someone she knew? Had that person been watching her? Was this all really the result of chance and opportunity? One can hope that these questions, and more, will be answered one day but with each passing day the possibility that they never will be becomes all the more real.
It has been 24 years since Amber Hagerman was abducted and murdered yet her legacy lives on.
Amber’s abduction and murder was the impetus for the creation for the AMBER Alert System. This is a coordinated effort between law enforcement, radio, television, and cellphone broadcast systems to alert the general public in the region of an abduction to the incident and any information that law enforcement has on the abduction such as their physical description as well as the description of the vehicle they were last seen with. This system has resulted in the safe return of almost 1,000 children in the United States since its inception as a regional program in 1997, then national (and international) in 2000 however it is also under scrutiny for saving so few and being so annoying as an alert results in an alarm blaring through the device that receives it, and for saving so few. Critics question whether it saving just one life is worth it, is saving so few worth it?
I say yes.

Sources
Amber Hagerman
Arlington police mum about whether DNA evidence exist in unsolved Amber Hagerman case
CRIME HUNTER: Sleep interrupted? Think about Amber Hagerman Toronto Sun
[APD "Missing" flyer for Amber Haggerman, 1996] - Side 1 of 1 - The Portal to Texas History
AA28.pdf
Gale In Context: Biography - Document - Body of Kidnapped Texas Girl Is Found
Body of Girl Who Was Dragged Screaming Off Bicycle Is Found - Los Angeles Times
How Were Amber Alerts Created? The Amber Hagerman Cold Case - A&E
Child abuse symposium speaker tells of similar abduction/murder cases with different endings - al.com
Richard Lee Franks
Medical examiner: Remains are those of missing girl - Plainview Herald
Richard Lee Franks Texas Prison Inmates The Texas Tribune
FRANKS v. STATE FindLaw
Family prepares to bury girl who was abducted five years ago - Midland Reporter-Telegram
FBI, Texas Rangers investigating death of 6-year-old girl in Saginaw Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Terapon Adhahn
Adhahn pleads guilty to murder of Tacoma girl, 12 The Seattle Times
Killer of Tacoma child reveals motive in papers The Seattle Times
Terapon Adhahn pleads guilty to rape, murder of Zina Linnik HeraldNet.com
Child abduction-rape investigation widens - seattlepi.com
Heidi Seeman and Erica Botello
August marks 30 years since disappearances of Heidi Seeman, Erica Botello
1990 kidnapping, murder of two San Antonio girls still unsolved
submitted by TheMidnightArchive to u/TheMidnightArchive [link] [comments]


2020.09.04 10:20 KagsTheOneAndOnly Jimmy Butler's strengths and weaknesses

(Repost, edited some parts!)
Definitions and Terms I'll be using:
FULL LIST + EXPLANATIONS ON IMGUR: per 75, TS%, rTS%, ORTG, rORTG, PnR, PPP, AST%, Backpicks Passer Rating, Box Creation, PIPM, BPM, RAPTOR, RPM.
Name:

Jimmy Butler "Jimmy G. Buckets"

In a nutshell: 30 y/o, Miami Heat SF/PF, 6-7, 230lb, All-NBA Candidate
2020 regular-season stats: 19.9/6.7/6.0/1.8/0.6 with 2.2 TOVs on 45.5/24.4/83.4 shooting splits (58.5 TS%), 58 games played
2020 postseason stats: 22.0/4.7/4.0/2.5/0.8 with 3.3 TOVs on 46.8/54.5/85.7 shooting splits (63.0 TS%), 6 games played
Nerd stats: 25.1% Usage, +6.4 On/Off, +3.54 PIPM (16th) , +6.1 RAPTOR (10th) , +4.1 BPM (Backpicks) (13th) , +5.4 BPM (BBRef) (9th) , +3.08 RPM (23rd) , +2.21 Luck-Adjusted RAPM (12th)

🟢 The Good:

  • 🟢 Efficient volume-scorer; "Jimmy G. Buckets, The 'G' stands for 'Gets'": 21.6 Points/75 on 58.5 TS% (+2.0 rTS%) in the regular-season, 23.8 Points/75 on 63.0 TS% (+5.7 rTS%) in the playoffs thus far
Butler finished the regular-season as Miami's leading scorer. He's highly resourceful at racking up points, utilising strength, speed, craft, handles, and deft touch in the paint to compensate for a jumper that deserts him on occasion. Per Basketball Index, Butler is in the 95th-percentile at off-ball movement and finishing among wings, and in the 93rd percentile for post-scoring.
Jimmy Buckets's scoring-breakdown by zone in the 2019-20 regular-season: (per stats.nba.com)
    • 38% of his shot attempts come in the restricted area, where he's finishing at an above-average rate for forwards (64 FG%)
    • 24% of his shot attempts come in the non-restricted area of the paint (a.k.a. "floater range"), where he's also scoring at above-average rate (43.4 FG%)
    • 22% of his shot attempts come from the midrange, where he's unfortunately shot at the 2nd-worst rate in the league (31.7 FG%)
    • 16% of his shot attempts come from 3, where he's shooting at the worst rate in the league (24.8 FG%)
Jimmy uses his strength/speed/footwork combination to bulldoze or finesse his way to the rim and finish through contact, capable of athletic finishes through multiple defenders. When in the post/paint, Jimmy utilises hesitation moves and jab steps effectively, has an effective handle, excellent at keeping defenders on his hips before exploding forward and finishing either at the rim or a bit further out, with a nice little floater off two feet to finish over shotblockers. Butler is also highly physical, using his body to create space - he dips his shoulders on drives, throwing his momentum into his defender's body; he doesn't lack craft, however, using ball fakes and spins a lot (he even throws a spin-fake in there sometimes!).
To quote the great Evin Gualberto:
(Butler's) foundation is his phenomenal footwork. He’s got the poise and patience to pivot and pump, and twist, and then rip through and power to the paint. He can use his force or finish with finesse; he’ll go any way he needs in order to get to the basket, whether that’s under the defender, over, around, or even through them. He’s got the ability to hit from distance, his post game is pretty with the pristine pivoting he does, but he can also go full bully ball. Speaking of, he’s an absolute bull when he wants to get to the rim. He can score any kind of way, so as a defense, all you have to do is make him take the toughest shot possible…the only problem is, yeah, he can make those with worryingly regularity as well. He is Jimmy G Buckets after all, the G stands for gets.
In previous years, Jimmy has been a decent 3-point-shooter (36 3P% in the previous 3 seasons, on 3.2 3PA/game) and has generally shot in the high 30s from midrange, which isn't fantastic but is still a value-add to his versatility as a scorer.
In the playoffs thus far, however, Butler has been money on his jumpshots, connecting on over half his threes (though on low volume - 1.8 3PA/game) and 42% of his midrange shots (again, low volume - 12 midrange attempts) so far.
As an overall scorer, Jimmy is:
    • A hyper-competent and -active cutter (8% of his possessions, 97th percentile efficiency)
    • Fantastic in transition (12% of his possessions, 92nd percentile efficiency)
    • A competent post-operator (7% of his possessions, 80th percentile efficiency)
    • A passable PnR finisher (36% of his possessions, 56th percentile efficiency)
    • Solid in isolation situations, likely buoyed by his very good rim-finishing (10% of his possessions, 68th percentile)
    • Below-average scoring from spot-up scenerios and handoffs
Despite his jumpshot having deserted him in the regular season, Jimmy ekes out efficient scoring options via drawing fouls and very solid rim-finishing in transition, isolation, and by cutting often and decisively. To quote Zach Lowe:
(Butler) can blend into a broader offensive system as a shoulder-checking cutter, and supersede that system when the situation requires.
Accordingly, 41% of Butler's buckets are assisted, a very solid rate for a primary ball-handler who had a non-existent jumpshot during the regular-season, that showcases his off-ball activity as a ferocious cutter.
  • 🟢 Free-throw rate that would make Shaq blush
Jimmy Butler's foul-drawing rate this season has been, to put it mildly, something of an outlier.
Butler is 29th in the NBA in Points/game (19.9), but 5th in the NBA in FTA/game (9.1), and just to emphasize how absurdly often Butler's been finding his way to the line relative to his total shot attempts, here's a fun little table comparing Butler's FTA/game and Points/Game to the league's other elite free-throw-attempters: [TABLE].
To try and add even more context, Free Throw Rate (FTr) is a very simple statistic that gives the ratio of free-throw attempts to field-goal attempts.
Just to ballpark the sort of numbers we expect from high-volume free-throw shooters: famed foul-shot-aficionado James Harden's FTr this season is 0.528, meaning that he averages 0.528 free-throw attempts for every field-goal that he takes. (The Beard's career-high was 0.592, set in 2013.) Paint-destroyer Giannis Antetokounmpo has a FTr of 0.508 this year, and low-post monster Joel Embiid has a FTr of 0.543. A pretty dominant fella who went by the name of Shaquille had a career-average FTr of 0.578, averaging an incredible 0.653 in a 5-year span from 2001 to 2005.
Now, keeping all of this in mind ... Miami Heat All-Star wing Jimmy Butler's Free-Throw Rate, in the 2019-20 season, is 0.693.
(If you're wondering, Butler has more than managed to maintain this in the playoffs too -- after 6 games, Jimmy is 2nd in the entire playoffs in Free-Throw Rate, posting a ludicrous 0.810 FTr. Small sample size, obviously, but wow.)
  • 🟢 Good playmaker
First, some numbers: 6.0 Assists/Game, 7.5 Passer Rating, 7.4 Box Creation. Miami have a fairly strong offense (+1.9 rORTG, 6th) which improves by +4.1 points with Butler on the court. Per Basketball Index, Jimmy is in the 91st percentile for playmaking among wings.
For a few seasons now, Jimmy has been a very solid passer and playmaker. Mimicking another former well-known Chicago wing who went by the name of Michael, Jimmy is a low-turnover player (career 1.5 TOV/game; this season: 2.2 TOV/Game, excellent 2.73 AST/TOV ratio). He is a decisive and relatively low-error ball-handler and shot-creator, hitting bigs and shooters well off PnDHO-action. Butler manipulates defenders with his eyes to unlock shots for teammates, and is also adept at punishing help defenders who have to react to his bruising drives to the rim by kicking to shooters and dropping it off to cutters. He's developed especially good chemistry with Bam (25% of Butler's 6.0 AST/game go to Adebayo), Duncan Robinson (who receives 17% of Butler's assists), and rookie Kendrick Nunn (18%).
Some clips of Jimmy's playmaking: (Source: stats.nba.com)
  • 🟢 Excellent defender
Jimmy at his peak is easily an all-league defensive talent, with tremendous instincts and effort on D, generally remaining incredibly active on that end both on- and off-the-ball. Miami's 12th-ranked defense (-1.0 rDRTG) improves by 1.0 points with Butler on the floor. Butler’s defensive awareness is top-tier, as is his lateral quickness - he's comfortable chasing speedy guards around the court; Jimmy is also uber-switchable for his size, guarding positions 1-4 at least 18% of the time each, and guarding centers for 10% of his possessions, when switched onto bigs in Miami small-ball lineups. Jimmy is in the 82nd percentile of post defenders, fantastic given his position, and players shoot a whopping 4.4% worse on 3s when Butler's the closest defender, demonstrating his defensive engagement and closeout-speed. Butler is a very physical defender as well, often "bodying-up" larger players the post, Marcus Smart-style, crowding their space and making scoring uncomfortable.
To again quote Evin:
(Butler's) ability to stand up powerful post-up players, coupled with the quickness to stick with the shiftiest wings, and the instincts and IQ to know when to stay down and when to jump to contest, make him a dynamite defender... (he) frustrates opponents with foot speed and anticipating with active hands, he’ll blow up pick and rolls, or send his man one way only to remarkably beat him to that same spot. You’ll see jumping in passing lanes, but you’ll also just see him holding his ground a lot; in one, he even holds Melo off with one arm while grabbing the rebound with the other. His intelligence shines through when he avoids getting screened and when he forced ball handlers into help.
Butler is quite disruptive off-ball (7th in Deflections/Game, 7th in Steals/Game, 13th in Steal-%, 14th in loose-balls recovered/game), often jumping passing lanes or making crisp rotations to cut off offensive angles. He's also a plus-rebounder for his position, snagging almost seven boards a game; the Heat's defensive-rebound-% spikes by almost 3 percentage points with Butler on the court. He's generally very engaged on D, providing hard closeouts to shooters (players shoot almost 4.3% worse from 3 when Jimmy is the closest defender) and providing help when the primary Miami defender is beat. Along with Adebayo, Butler is one of the main reasons Miami's defense is still better than league-average even though many of their lineups prioritise shooting over defense (see: Robinson, Herro, Leonard, Olynyk).
Most defensive metrics (taken with a spoonful or two of salt, of course) think of Butler as a very solid positive on defense (+1.0 to +2.0); Basketball Index has Jimmy as the 4th-best Wing Stopper at Passing Lane Defense, and ranks him in the 90th percentile of perimeter defenders in the league overall. It also has him in the 71st percentile as a defensive rebounder, and in the 47th percentile as an interior defender.
Here are some clips of Jimmy's defense:

🔴 The Not-As-Good:

  • 🔴 Inconsistent jumpshot
Butler suffered the 7th-biggest drop in the league in perimeter shooting grade from last year to this year (per Basketball Index). Famously, he was the least efficient jump-shooter in the league by eFG% in the regular-season.
As mentioned, though, his jumpshot has been very respectable in the bubble for now, albeit on very low volume.
  • 🔴 Room for improvement in some areas of scoring
Namely: spot-up shooting, handoffs, and PnR scoring, all likely related to his regular-season shooting woes.
  • 🔴 Some areas of playmaking
From my very limited film study (~15 games), Jimmy doesn't seem to try advanced passes often (though that might be a Miami Heat scheme-related issue), rarely slingshoting cross-court skip-passes to corner shooters like LeBron/Luka/Trae do (please correct me if I'm wrong, Heat fans!). He can occasionally miss cutters while hunting for the kickout pass for 3. Butler's delivery can sometimes be a bit wild or inaccurate as well.
  • 🔴 Some areas of defense
Jimmy's activity does dial down on occasion. He also lacks size/strength/length to defend larger wings consistently, and his gambles can blow up on him at times too when he's springing passing lanes, with the player he's supposed to be guarding getting an open 3 or cutting to the rim as Butler isn't there to recover in time. Jimmy is also vulnerable to size at the rim - despite posting one of the best block rates in the league for a guard/forward, these are mostly on smaller players and he doesn't seem to influence shot attempts at the rim too much in general - opponents shoot almost 6% better within 6 feet of the hoop when Butler's the closest defender. It also appears that Butler's pick-and-roll defense may have some room for improvement as well (46th percentile in defending PnR ball-handlers), he may have trouble negotiating man and ball occasionally.
  • 🔴 A few regular-season clutch woes
Jimmy shot 45.1 TS% in the clutch this season, with a -10.4 individual clutch net rating, while Miami as a team were 24th in clutch net rating.
However, the team still broke even in the wins column (18-18) and had a 14-10 clutch record when Butler played.
In addition, I say "regular-season" for a reason (keep in mind the usual "low sample size" asterisk, of course): Miami have been the 4th-best clutch team in the playoffs by net rating, winning all 3 of their close games so far, while Jimmy himself is sporting a blistering hot 88.7 clutch TS% and +29.8 clutch net rating at the moment, with an absolutely scorching +137.5 clutch offensive rating.
  • 🔴 Few durability questions
Jimmy G. Buckets (the 'G.' stands for 'Gets') has played >67 games only twice in his 9-year career.
HOWEVER, he's been very available for the Heat this season, missing 'only' 11 games.
Indeed, Butler played heavy minutes in his last playoff run for Philadelphia (38mpg in 2nd round) as well, performing admirably in a razor-close loss to the eventual champion Raptors in the 2nd round (22/7/6 on 56ts%, +1.0rTS%, vs Toronto), very nearly pulling through a Sixers team otherwise starved of late-game offensive-creation into the Conference Finals.

That's it for today, thanks for reading!

(P.S. Here's Butler's playoff career-high 40-point performance against Milwaukee in Game 1 for your viewing pleasure: LINK.)
BONUS
heres some other things I've written (if you're interested in this sort of stuff or just wanna pass the time while waiting for the games to begin)-
submitted by KagsTheOneAndOnly to nbadiscussion [link] [comments]


2020.09.03 17:21 KagsTheOneAndOnly [OC] I tried writing up a short Jimmy Butler player breakdown:

"short"
Definitions and Terms I'll be using:
FULL LIST + EXPLANATIONS ON IMGUR: per 75, TS%, rTS%, ORTG, rORTG, PnR, PPP, AST%, Backpicks Passer Rating, Box Creation, PIPM, BPM, RAPTOR, RPM.
Name:

Jimmy Butler "Jimmy G. Buckets"

In a nutshell: 30 y/o, Miami Heat SF/PF, 6-7, 230lb, All-NBA Candidate
2020 regular-season stats: 19.9/6.7/6.0/1.8/0.6 with 2.2 TOVs on 45.5/24.4/83.4 shooting splits (58.5 TS%), 58 games played
2020 postseason stats: 22.0/4.7/4.0/2.5/0.8 with 3.3 TOVs on 46.8/54.5/85.7 shooting splits (63.0 TS%), 6 games played
Nerd stats: 25.1% Usage, +6.4 On/Off, +3.54 PIPM (16th) , +6.1 RAPTOR (10th) , +4.1 BPM (Backpicks) (13th) , +5.4 BPM (BBRef) (9th) , +3.08 RPM (23rd) , +2.21 Luck-Adjusted RAPM (12th)

🟢 The Good:

  • 🟢 Efficient volume-scorer; "Jimmy G. Buckets, The 'G' stands for 'Gets'": 21.6 Points/75 on 58.5 TS% (+2.0 rTS%) in the regular-season, 23.8 Points/75 on 63.0 TS% (+5.7 rTS%) in the playoffs thus far
Butler finished the regular-season as Miami's leading scorer. He's highly resourceful at racking up points, utilising strength, speed, craft, handles, and deft touch in the paint to compensate for a jumper that deserts him on occasion. Per Basketball Index, Butler is in the 95th-percentile at off-ball movement and finishing among wings, and in the 93rd percentile for post-scoring.
Jimmy Buckets's scoring-breakdown by zone in the 2019-20 regular-season: (per stats.nba.com)
    • 38% of his shot attempts come in the restricted area, where he's finishing at an above-average rate for forwards (64 FG%)
    • 24% of his shot attempts come in the non-restricted area of the paint (a.k.a. "floater range"), where he's also scoring at above-average rate (43.4 FG%)
    • 22% of his shot attempts come from the midrange, where he's unfortunately shot at the 2nd-worst rate in the league (31.7 FG%)
    • 16% of his shot attempts come from 3, where he's shooting at the worst rate in the league (24.8 FG%)
Jimmy uses his strength/speed/footwork combination to bulldoze or finesse his way to the rim and finish through contact, capable of athletic finishes through multiple defenders.
To quote the great Evin Gualberto:
(Butler's) foundation is his phenomenal footwork. He’s got the poise and patience to pivot and pump, and twist, and then rip through and power to the paint. He can use his force or finish with finesse; he’ll go any way he needs in order to get to the basket, whether that’s under the defender, over, around, or even through them. He’s got the ability to hit from distance, his post game is pretty with the pristine pivoting he does, but he can also go full bully ball. Speaking of, he’s an absolute bull when he wants to get to the rim. He can score any kind of way, so as a defense, all you have to do is make him take the toughest shot possible…the only problem is, yeah, he can make those with worryingly regularity as well. He is Jimmy G Buckets after all, the G stands for gets.
In previous years, Jimmy has been a decent 3-point-shooter (36 3P% in the previous 3 seasons, on 3.2 3PA/game) and has generally shot in the high 30s from midrange, which isn't fantastic but is still a value-add to his versatility as a scorer.
In the playoffs thus far, however, Butler has been money on his jumpshots, connecting on over half his threes (though on low volume - 1.8 3PA/game) and 42% of his midrange shots (again, low volume - 12 midrange attempts) so far.
As an overall scorer, Jimmy is:
    • A hyper-competent and -active cutter (8% of his possessions, 97th percentile efficiency)
    • Fantastic in transition (12% of his possessions, 92nd percentile efficiency)
    • A competent post-operator (7% of his possessions, 80th percentile efficiency)
    • A passable PnR finisher (36% of his possessions, 56th percentile efficiency)
    • Solid in isolation situations, likely buoyed by his very good rim-finishing (10% of his possessions, 68th percentile)
    • Below-average scoring from spot-up scenerios and handoffs
Despite his jumpshot having deserted him in the regular season, Jimmy ekes out efficient scoring options via drawing fouls and very solid rim-finishing in transition, isolation, and by cutting often and decisively. To quote Zach Lowe:
(Butler) can blend into a broader offensive system as a shoulder-checking cutter, and supersede that system when the situation requires.
Accordingly, 41% of Butler's buckets are assisted, an extremely solid rate for a primary ball-handler who had a non-existent jumpshot during the regular-season, that showcases his off-ball activity as a ferocious cutter.
  • 🟢 Free-throw rate that would make Shaq blush
Jimmy Butler's foul-drawing rate this season has been, to put it mildly, something of an outlier.
Butler is 29th in the NBA in Points/game (19.9), but 5th in the NBA in FTA/game (9.1), and just to emphasize how absurdly often Butler's been finding his way to the line relative to his total shot attempts, here's a fun little table comparing Butler's FTA/game and Points/Game to the league's other elite free-throw-attempters: [TABLE].
To try and add even more context, Free Throw Rate (FTr) is a very simple statistic that gives the ratio of free-throw attempts to field-goal attempts.
Just to ballpark the sort of numbers we expect from high-volume free-throw shooters: famed foul-shot-aficionado James Harden's FTr this season is 0.528, meaning that he averages 0.528 free-throw attempts for every field-goal that he takes. (The Beard's career-high was 0.592, set in 2013.) Paint-destroyer Giannis Antetokounmpo has a FTr of 0.508 this year, and low-post monster Joel Embiid has a FTr of 0.543. A pretty dominant fella who went by the name of Shaquille had a career-average FTr of 0.578, averaging an incredible 0.653 in a 5-year span from 2001 to 2005.
Now, keeping all of this in mind ... Miami Heat All-Star wing Jimmy Butler's Free-Throw Rate, in the 2019-20 season, is 0.693.
(If you're wondering, Butler has more than managed to maintain this in the playoffs too -- after 6 games, Jimmy is 2nd in the entire playoffs in Free-Throw Rate, posting a ludicrous 0.810 FTr.)
  • 🟢 Good playmaker
First, some numbers: 6.0 Assists/Game, 7.5 Passer Rating, 7.4 Box Creation. Miami have a fairly strong offense (+1.9 rORTG, 6th) which improves by +4.1 points with Butler on the court. Per Basketball Index, Jimmy is in the 91st percentile for playmaking among wings.
For a few seasons now, Jimmy has been a very solid passer and playmaker. Mimicking another former well-known Chicago wing who went by the name of Michael, Jimmy is a low-turnover player (career 1.5 TOV/game; this season: 2.2 TOV/Game, excellent 2.73 AST/TOV ratio). He is a decisive and relatively low-error ball-handler and shot-creator, hitting bigs and shooters well off PnDHO-action. Butler manipulates defenders with his eyes to unlock shots for teammates, and is also adept at punishing help defenders who have to react to his bruising drives to the rim by kicking to shooters and dropping it off to cutters. He's developed especially good chemistry with Bam (25% of Butler's 6.0 AST/game go to Adebayo), Duncan Robinson (who receives 17% of Butler's assists), and rookie Kendrick Nunn (18%).
Some clips of Jimmy's playmaking: (Source: stats.nba.com)
  • 🟢 Excellent defender
Jimmy at his peak is easily an all-league defensive talent, with tremendous instincts and effort on D, generally remaining incredibly active on that end both on- and off-the-ball. Miami's 12th-ranked defense (-1.0 rDRTG) improves by 1.0 points with Butler on the floor. Butler’s defensive awareness is top-tier, as is his lateral quickness - he's comfortable chasing speedy guards around the court; Jimmy is also uber-switchable for his size, guarding positions 1-4 at least 18% of the time each, and guarding centers for 10% of his possessions, when switched onto bigs in Miami small-ball lineups. Jimmy is in the 82nd percentile of post defenders, fantastic given his position, and players shoot a whopping 4.4% worse on 3s when Butler's the closest defender, demonstrating his defensive engagement and closeout-speed.
To again quote Evin:
(Butler's) ability to stand up powerful post-up players, coupled with the quickness to stick with the shiftiest wings, and the instincts and IQ to know when to stay down and when to jump to contest, make him a dynamite defender... (he) frustrates opponents with foot speed and anticipating with active hands, he’ll blow up pick and rolls, or send his man one way only to remarkably beat him to that same spot. You’ll see jumping in passing lanes, but you’ll also just see him holding his ground a lot; in one, he even holds Melo off with one arm while grabbing the rebound with the other. His intelligence shines through when he avoids getting screened and when he forced ball handlers into help.
Butler is quite disruptive off-ball (7th in Deflections/Game, 7th in Steals/Game, 13th in Steal-%, 14th in loose-balls recovered/game), often jumping passing lanes or making crisp rotations to cut off offensive angles. He's also a plus-rebounder for his position, snagging almost seven boards a game; the Heat's defensive-rebound-% spikes by almost 3 percentage points with Butler on the court. He's generally very engaged on D, providing hard closeouts to shooters (players shoot almost 4.3% worse from 3 when Jimmy is the closest defender) and providing help when the primary Miami defender is beat. Along with Adebayo, Butler is one of the main reasons Miami's defense is still better than league-average even though their lineups prioritise shooting over defense (see: Robinson, Herro, Leonard, Olynyk).
Most defensive metrics (taken with a spoonful or two of salt, of course) think of Butler as a very solid positive on defense (+1.0 to +2.0); Basketball Index has Jimmy as the 4th-best Wing Stopper at Passing Lane Defense, and ranks him in the 90th percentile of perimeter defenders in the league overall. It also has him in the 71st percentile as a defensive rebounder, and in the 47th percentile as an interior defender.
Here are some clips of Jimmy's defense:

🔴 The Not-As-Good:

  • 🔴 Inconsistent jumpshot
Butler suffered the 7th-biggest drop in the league in perimeter shooting grade from last year to this year (per Basketball Index). Famously, he was the least efficient jump-shooter in the league by eFG% in the regular-season.
As mentioned, though, his jumpshot has been very respectable in the bubble for now, albeit on very low volume.
  • 🔴 Room for improvement in some areas of scoring
Namely: spot-up shooting, handoffs, and PnR scoring, all likely related to his regular-season shooting woes.
  • 🔴 Some areas of playmaking
From my very limited film study (~15 games), Jimmy doesn't seem to try advanced passes often (though that might be a Miami Heat scheme-related issue), rarely slingshoting cross-court skip-passes to corner shooters like LeBron/Luka/Trae do (please correct me if I'm wrong, Heat fans!). He can occasionally miss cutters while hunting for the kickout pass for 3. Butler's delivery can sometimes be a bit wild or inaccurate as well.
  • 🔴 Some areas of defense
Jimmy's activity does dial down on occasion. He also lacks size/strength/length to defend larger wings consistently, and his gambles can blow up on him at times too when he's springing passing lanes, with the player he's supposed to be guarding getting an open 3 or cutting to the rim as Butler isn't there to recover in time. Jimmy is also vulnerable to size at the rim - despite posting one of the best block rates in the league for a guard/forward, these are mostly on smaller players and he doesn't seem to influence shot attempts at the rim too much in general - opponents shoot almost 6% better within 6 feet of the hoop when Butler's the closest defender. It appears that Butler's pick-and-roll defense also has some room for improvement as he may have trouble negotiating man and ball sometimes - he's in the 46th percentile in defending PnR ball-handlers, which isn't terrible, by any means, but is still far from elite.
  • 🔴 A few regular-season clutch woes
Jimmy shot 45.1 TS% in the clutch this season, with a -10.4 individual clutch net rating, while Miami as a team were 24th in clutch net rating.
However, the team still broke even in the wins column (18-18) and had a 14-10 clutch record when Butler played.
In addition, I say "regular-season" for a reason (keep in mind the usual "low sample size" asterisk, of course): Miami have been the 4th-best clutch team in the playoffs by net rating, winning all 3 of their close games so far, while Jimmy himself is sporting a blistering hot 88.7 clutch TS% and +29.8 clutch net rating at the moment, with an absolutely scorching +137.5 clutch offensive rating.
  • 🔴 Few durability questions
Jimmy G. Buckets (the 'G.' stands for 'Gets') has played >67 games only twice in his 9-year career.
HOWEVER, he's been very available for the Heat this season, missing 'only' 11 games.
Indeed, Butler played heavy minutes in his last playoff run for Philadelphia (38mpg in 2nd round) as well, performing admirably in a razor-close loss to the eventual champion Raptors in the 2nd round (22/7/6 on 56ts%, +1.0rTS%, vs Toronto), very nearly pulling through a Sixers team otherwise starved of late-game offensive-creation into the Conference Finals.

That's it for today, thanks for reading!

(P.S. Here's Butler's playoff career-high 40-point performance against Milwaukee in Game 1 for your viewing pleasure: LINK.)
BONUS
heres some other things I've written (if you're interested in this sort of stuff or just wanna pass the time while waiting for the games to begin)-
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2020.08.01 12:10 jagsfanski Offseason Review Series: Jacksonville Jaguars

Before anything, I just want to preface by saying that I am filling in some huge shoes by following the legendary u/JaguarGator9. I am NOT a typical writer nor do I have any experience in analysis, I just wanted to take a stab at analyzing and writing about my favorite team that has been terrorizing my happiness for 15+ years. So, apologies in advance if there are some incorrect points made.
Also gotta give a shoutout to u/PlatypusOfDeath for continuing to run this series and for the formatting help! Also a thanks to u/flounder19 for directing me towards the thread where half of the info comes from and my bro u/MikeFanto4 for giving me the positive reinforcement through the writing of this. With that being said, hope y'all enjoy!

Jacksonville Jaguars

AFCS

2019 Record: 6-10 (4th in Division)

Coaching Changes

Fires:

Tom Coughlin – VP of Football Operations/Dictator: This will be discussed in the news section. Please hold.
Jon DeFilippo – Offensive Coordinator: It never really occurred to me until recently (give me a break Jags fans), that the firing of Flip was most likely directly related to Foles (even more so once he got hired by Chicago as QB coach). Once Foles was gone, Flip wanted out and they ultimately “mutually agreed to part ways”. While according to fans it would’ve been nice to see the other coordinator go, it shows that the front office “admitted” their mistake and decided to move on from the experiment.
Scott Milanovich – QB Coach: Milanovich took a job as the HC of the Edmonton Eskimos in the CFL. Before his 3-year stint in Jacksonville, he was the HC of the Toronto Argonauts in the CFL where he won the Grey Cup in 2012 and was also named Coach of the Year.

Hires:

Jay Gruden – Offensive Coordinator – The once HC of the Washington Football Team, Gruden comes into the organization bringing experience in molding younger quarterbacks. A big help is the fact that GM Dave Caldwell brought in a few players familiar with his scheme to assist in adjusting the other players to the playbook. Of all the OC candidates, Gruden is best fit for Minshew’s playstyle due to his West Coast Offense.
Ben McAdoo – Quarterbacks Coach: Brought in to replace Milanovich, McAdoo also brings HC experience to the team. Even though his time in the Giants organization is best left to be forgotten, his experience as an OC and QB coach makes him a prime candidate. He spent two seasons in Green Bay working with Aaron Rodgers and also helped the Giants to the 6th best scoring offense in the NFL in 2015.
Denard Robinson – Offensive Quality Control Coach: Not really a huge hire, but a nice reunion. Former QB turned RB, Denard “Shoelace” Robinson, continues his time in Duval as an assistant. He was drafted in the 5th round of the 2013 draft as an “Offensive Weapon” but played primarily at RB during his time as a player.

Free Agency/Trades

Players Lost/Traded

Player Position New Team Compensation
Nick Foles QB Bears Compensatory 4th round draft pick
Calais Campbell DE Ravens 5th round pick
A.J. Bouye CB Broncos 4th round pick
Marcell Dareus DT Free Agent
Marqise Lee WR Patriots 1 yr / $1,047,500
Jake Ryan ILB Free Agent
Cedric Ogbuehi RT Seahawks 1 yr / $2,300,000

Key Losses:

Nick Foles: After signing him to a MASSIVE 4-year contract worth $88 million, with $51 million guaranteed, the Jaguars thought they had their man in Super Bowl MVP Big Dick Nick. However, that did not live long since Foles broke his left clavicle during a 35-yard touchdown pass to DJ Chark. Once he was replaced by Bomb-Chuckin’ and Mom-Fuckin’ Gardner Minshew II, he was basically left as an afterthought in the Jaguars fanbase…..until the bye week. He was named the starter for the rest of the season and was severely disappointing in his limited time as it, thus resulting in him being benched after 3 games. In his time as a starter, he completed 77 passes for a completion percentage of 65.8%, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, with a passer rating of 84.6. He was largely disappointing in his time here but left the door open for Minshew Mania. Foles was traded to the Bears for a 2020 Compensatory 4th round pick AND took parts of his massive contract and helped us start the return from cap hell. D+ for his play, B for the trade return.
Calais Campbell: I’m like, really upset about this one. I remember exactly where I was when I found out that this glorious human was traded to the Baltimore Ravens for a 5th round pick. Chump change for the 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year award recipient. After being signed to a 4-year deal worth $60 million with $30 million guaranteed in 2017, the man proceeded to become the Mayor of the Defensive Line Formerly Known as Sacksonville. Amassing 31.5 sacks, 77 QB hits and 44 TFL in his 3 years on the team; not only was he a force on the field, he was very much involved in the Phoenix and Jacksonville communities. In 2019, Campbell won the Walter Payton Man of the Year award – given to the NFL player that best demonstrates outstanding community service and excellence on the field. His charity, CRC Foundation, has been helping young people with critical life skills since 2009. Adding to that, he has also hosted many holiday shopping sprees, the JaxPAL Youth Football and STEM Camp and has spent countless hours speaking encouragement to children in area schools. The fact that the Jaguars let him go for a 2020 5th round pick says a lot about what the teams feels about their cap situation. A for play, D- for trade return.
A.J. Bouye: Bouye was signed in 2017 as a free agent from Houston. His final season on the Texans is what attracted the Jaguars the most, landing him a 5-year contract worth $67.5 million with $26 million guaranteed. In his time with the team, he accrued 8 interceptions, 34 passes defended, and allowed just a 64.4 completion percentage when thrown to since 2018. 2017 was by far his best season opposite Jalen Ramsey in which they formed one of the most feared duos that year. He saw significant drop off in the 2 years to follow, leading to the team wanting to move in a different direction. He was traded to the Denver Broncos for a 2020 4th round pick and saving over $11 million from his remaining contract. B for play, C+ for trade return.
Marcell Dareus: Dareus was traded from the Bills to the Jaguars mid-season 2017 for a 2018 6th round pick to help solidify the lone run-defense weakness in what was a near impeccable defense. Although his stats don’t show it, (2.5 sacks, 45 combined tackles, 4 TFL and 5 QB hits) when healthy, he was a stud in the run game. The Jaguars ultimately decided not to pick up his 2020-year option and he remains a free agent. A team struggling in the run game could pick him up for cheap and I’m not 100% sure why he hasn’t been signed by a team yet. Dave Caldwell has said he is open to bringing him back on a separate deal, but hasn't acted on it yet. C

Players Signed

Player Position Old Team Length Salary
Tyler Eifert TE Bengals 2 years $9,500,000
Joe Schobert ILB Browns 5 years $53,750,000
Chris Thompson RB The Washington Football Team 1 year $1,400,000
Al Woods DT Seahawks 1 year $2,500,000
Rashaan Melvin CB Lions 1 year $1,750,000
Mike Glennon QB Raiders 1 year $1,187,500
Rodney Gunter DE Cardinals 3 years $18,000,000
Aaron Lynch OLB Bears 1 year $1,100,000
Cassius Marsh DE Cardinals 1 year $1,047,500
Lerentee McCray OLB Jaguars 1 year $1,047,500
Tyler Shatley C Jaguars 1 year $1,512,500
Keelan Cole WR Jaguars 1 year $3,259,000
Brian Price DT Jaguars 2 year $1,815,000
Yannick Ngakoue DE Jaguars 1 year TAG $17,788,000
Source: Spotrac.com
 
Notes
Tyler Eifert: Going into the offseason, the biggest hole in an already lackluster offense was the Tight End position. The Jaguars drafted Josh Oliver in the 3rd round of the 2019 draft to help with that, but he went down with a hamstring injury in the preseason and a back injury during the regular season which limited him to 3 games. James O’Shaughnessy was one of Minshew’s favorite targets but went down with an ACL injury early on as well. Tyler Eifert comes in already familiar with Jay Gruden’s offense. The Jaguars are taking a risk in signing Eifert if they expect him to play even close to his 2015 production (52 catches for 615 yards and 13 touchdowns). However, if he stays healthy and can play even half as good, that’s a massive upgrade over what our Tight End group has produced over the past 5+ years. A 2-year contract worth $9.5 million filled with incentives should give Eifert the motivation to stay healthy and contribute immediately. But if he doesn’t produce as expected, the team should be able to release him with little cap hit. C+
Joe Schobert: Schobert from the Cleveland Browns could be considered the teams’ “marquee” free agent, signing a 5-year, $53.75 million contract with $21.5 million guaranteed. He comes into a linebacker corps that hasn’t had a true MLB since Posluszny retired. This addition allows Myles Jack to move to weak side and gives the opportunity for competition at strong side. Schobert gives the Jaguars a leadership type figure in an already incredibly young defense. Since Telvin Smith retired and decided to be stupid (more on that later on) and Poz choosing to hang up the cleats as well, there hasn’t been someone that could command the defense; Jack tried previously but had probably his worst year to date. Schobert solidifying the middle also gives Jack the opportunity to use his athleticism on the outside. Schobert is top 10 in pass coverage, but still needs to improve in the run game (which is something the team has struggled in for years). I feel like this is a boom-or-bust signing, but am cautiously optimistic. B+
Chris Thompson: Leonard Fournette is still this team’s workhorse back. Rumors started spreading that he would be traded prior to the draft, which ultimately fell flat. Just because the Jags are going to rely on Fournette even more, doesn’t mean that Minshew doesn’t need as many weapons as possible. This is another signing that works well with Gruden’s offense since he had played for him in Washington. This also gives Minshew another weapon out of the backfield. On the other hand, this is another signing that is based solely on whether he can stay healthy or not. A one year, prove-it deal worth $1.4 million is smart on the teams end because when healthy, Thompson can still have the capability to make plays. B
Rodney Gunter: A Calais Campbell clone? Probably not, but a man can dream right? The DE from Arizona signed a 3-year deal worth $18 million to pretty much help rotate through his old position, though. He hasn’t really shown much as a pass rusher (11 sacks in 5 years) but will probably be a rotational piece mostly used in run downs. C
Rashaan Melvin: With the departure of Bouye, the team looked thin at the position prior to the draft. The Jags also hit a homerun with their previous CB signing from Detroit, DJ Hayden. Melvin comes in on another one-year deal to compete with last years UDFA surprise, Tre Herndon for the CB2 spot opposite CJ Henderson. In his 4 years with Detroit, Oakland and Indianapolis, he posted 4 INT and 41 Passes Defended and 2 FF. This puts some competition in camp (if there is one) with experience vs. potential. B-
Al Woods: Caldwell goes in again on defense and signs the large run-stuffer from Seattle on a 1-year, $2.5 million deal. The loss of Marcel Dareus put a large hole in the already weak run defense and Woods helps plug it back in with a decent resume stuffing the middle. This gives the Jags a nice rotation between him, Abry Jones and Davon Hamilton. B EDIT: As of posting this, Al Woods has opted out of the 2020 season.

Draft

After trading away Jalen Ramsey, Calais Campbell, AJ Bouye and Nick Foles, the Jaguars ended up with a total of 12 draft picks (most in franchise history).
 
Round Number Player Position School
1 9 (9) CJ Henderson CB Florida
1 20 (20) from Rams K’Lavon Chaisson DE/LB LSU
2 10 (42) Laviska Shenault Jr. WR Colorado
3 9 (73) DaVon Hamilton DT Ohio State
4 10 (116) Ben Bartch OL St. Johns (Minn.)
4 31 (137) from Broncos Josiah Scott CB Michigan State
4 34 (140) from Bears Shaquille Quarterman LB Miami
5 12 (157) from Ravens Daniel Thomas S Auburn
5 20 (165) from Rams (Fowler trade) Collin Johnson WR Texas
6 10 (189) Jake Luton QB Oregon State
6 27 (206) Tyler Davis TE Georgia Tech
7 9 (223) Chris Claybrooks CB/Return Specialist Memphis
 

Analysis

C.J. Henderson: There was a lot of speculation as to who Caldwell was going to draft with the first of 2 first round picks. Was it going to be an OL? WR? QB?(for some reason). Dave ultimately went with the heir to the Ramsey throne. Gone are the days of back injuries and in are the days of another Florida school product. This man is 6-foot 204lb and is extremely good in coverage, which is something that the team needs in replacement of Ramsey. One glaring weakness in his game is his tackling, which seems like there is some hesitation and looks to often miss open field tackles. He immediately fills the CB1 role that was previously held by surprise UDFA Tre Herndon. B
K’Lavon Chaisson: Alright, I’ll address the elephant on the team now. Yannick Ngakoue is not playing another down for the Jacksonville Jaguars. I was a believer that they could strike a long-term deal and keep the talented pass rusher but NOOOOO, he just had to beef with the owner’s son and ruin any chance, but I digress. The first of the Rams 1st round picks from the Jalen Ramsey trade yields the replacement for the other man who really wants out. The LSU product brings an incredible motor and raw talent. He has all the physical tools you could need in a DE/LB at 6’3” and 254lbs but has a high ceiling if he works on his technique. A line edged by Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson sounds relentless to me. A-
Laviska Shenault Jr.: There was plenty of WR talent deep in this draft class and I feel like the Jags found a secret weapon in the Colorado prospect. Despite dealing with numerous injuries and not the best quarterback play, he was still able to produce over 2000 scrimmage yards through his SO and JR seasons. If he can stay healthy, he’ll be able to line up all over the field. Gruden will be able to set him up at WR, RB and even Wildcat QB if he’s feeling frisky. At 6-2 220LB, Minshew has versatile target that has the chance to produce really well if he can stay healthy. B+
DaVon Hamilton: The 6-4, 320lb DT was a wall in the center of the Buckeye line. He amassed 6 sacks, 28 tackles (9.5 for a loss) with 1 forced fumble in his redshirt senior season. Hamilton was drafted to help shore up the middle once held up by Dareus, but also now partially manned by Al Woods. His specialty is in the run game, which is something the Jags desperately need. B
Ben Bartch: The Smoothie King comes to Duval. Everyone knows the story of Bartch’s insane smoothie recipe that helped him gain 86lbs. Coming out of DIII St. John’s in Minnesota, he dominated competition enough to earn him a spot at the Senior Bowl. Even though he doesn’t have much experience against NFL caliber competition, Bartch has the tools necessary to grow in the league and become a serviceable backup or eventually challenge current starting RG, AJ Cann. B-
Josiah Scott: On the smaller end of the spectrum (5’9”, 185lbs), Scott has had to overcome his size with speed and knowledge. He’s too small to be anything more than a slot corner; but he can be great depth behind DJ Hayden and helpful in the run game. The Jags lost a lot in the CB department, so I understand the depth pick. C+
Shaquille Quarterman: Quarterman was a 4-year starter and a captain while at Miami. Caldwell really wanted to shore up the run defense this offense and this pick doesn’t stray away from that narrative. He may not be the best in the pass game since he has limited speed, but on running downs he could be very helpful and a leader in the locker room. B
Daniel Thomas: I’m actually a fan of this pick solely for depth purposes. The best backup safety on the team is Andrew Wingard, so any help at the position is good. In his time at Auburn, he notched 5 interceptions, 199 total tackles and forced 3 fumbles. B
Collin Johnson: I feel like Johnson will be an asset in the red zone. His large stature at 6’6”, 220lbs+ will be great for jump-balls. The Jags receiving corp. has almost every kind of receiver you would need except for a big bodied guy to get up after 50/50 balls. While I’m not happy it took Dave this long to get more help for Minshew besides Shenault, this isn’t the worst consolation prize. C+
Jake Luton: Caldwell has had a history of selecting a QB in the 6th round. So, I’m not surprised by this pick. But the question is: will he be another Minshew, or a Tanner Lee? The Oregon State Beaver threw for 42 touchdowns to 11 interception in 3 years there. My money is on him being a camp body or not making the roster at all. D
Tyler Davis: Davis started his career at UConn as a Quarterback but switched to WR as a sophomore and ended up a TE before transferring to Georgia Tech as a TE. His receiving stats leave a lot to be desired but has some strength in run-blocking. In an already crowded position group, he’ll have to really show off to make the final roster. D+
Chris Claybrooks: Caldwell and Marrone both agreed that Claybrooks was drafted for returning purposes. Supposedly running a 4.25s 40 in a video sent to every NFL team, he has the speed to make a difference on special teams. In his time returning kicks at Memphis, he returned 11 for 338 yards for an average of 30.7 – a much higher average than the 24.2 yds/rt the Jaguars did in 2019. B+
 

UDFA

Luq Barcoo, CB, San Diego State; Doug Costin, DT, Miami (OH); Nathan Cottrell, RB, Georgia Tech; Ben Ellefson, TE, North Dakota State; Nate Evans, LB, Central Florida; Tavien Feaster, RB, South Carolina; Josh Hammond, WR, Florida; Amari Henderson, CB, Wake Forest; Ross Matiscik, LS, Baylor; Steven Nielson, OL, Ohio; J.R. Reed, S, Georgia; James Robinson, RB, Illinois State; Marvelle Ross, WR, Notre Dame College; Connor Slomka, FB, Army; Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms, OL, Missouri; Kobe Williams, CB, Arizona State; Brandon Wright, K, Georgia State.

Other Offseason News that Affected the Team

 
Oh my word…..there was so much that happened. I wish I had enough time to go into full detail on everything, but new job has my time extremely limited. I’ll unfortunately have to stick with short synopses on these.
 
Tom Coughlin Fired
The Tom Coughlin era 2.0 is finally over. The Jaguars have had enough of his dictatorship and days after the NFLPA sent a warning letter to players to stay away, they relieved him of his duties. A few of the grievances included:
  • Fining Dante Fowler Jr. $700k for not rehabbing in Jacksonville
  • Nearly forcing Jalen Ramsey and Telvin Smith to participate in voluntary workouts
  • Fining Fournette for sitting while inactive during the 2018 finale
But wait! There’s more! Not only did he have a number of grievances filed against him, he:
  • Gave Blake Bortles a deal averaging $18m a year, only to be released
  • Signed Nick Foles to a deal worth $88m, and wouldn’t let it go when it was proven he wasn’t the guy
  • Other general day-to-day nuances that make him an overall unlikable person
 
Now that he’s gone, the clocks have gone back to normal time and hopefully the morale of the team improves greatly. This is also a final chance for Doug Marrone and Dave Caldwell to show that a major factor in the teams lack of recent success can be directly attributed to the Tom Coughlin culture.
 
Telvin Smith arrested
Oooooh boy……what to say about this one. Former 5th round pick out of Florida State turned top MLB in the NFL arrested and charged with unlawful sexual activity with a minor. He retired in 2019 stating that he needed to focus on his family and health. Smith first met the girl in the summer of 2019, recently after she turned 17; and in their 2-month time together, they had sex multiple times in Smith’s car and home. Adding onto that, Smith offered the underage girl $200 to keep quiet, $100 of which she ultimately took. He was released on $50,003 bond. DON’T.FUCK.KIDS.OR.TEENS.PEOPLE.
 
Yannick Ngakoue
I don’t really know where to start this since so much has happened. Yannick Ngakoue is trying to pull a Jalen Ramsey and tweet himself out of Duval County. Ngakoue has been (and still is) very open about his displeasure towards the organization. Since late 2019, he has tweeted numerous times about wanting to be traded, even calling out Tony Khan (son of owner Shahid Khan) on the site. The team franchise tagged him and tried shopping around. Their asking price was a MINIMUM of a first round pick, but the Twitter tirade ruined basically any chance of that return. There was an offer that included a Pro Bowl player recently, which was declined since the player “didn’t fit their system”. People are split between whether he plays if he doesn’t get traded or sitting out the season, which I guess we’ll see once (if) the season commences.
 
No 5th year option for Fournette
Just like Ngakoue, the former 4th overall picks’ relationship with the front office has not been the most ideal. He was one of the many players that filed a grievance against the team for the fine for sitting on the bench in 2018 while inactive, which he got back. The Jaguars decided not to pick up his 5th year option, which would’ve netted Fournette $8.43 million. This means that, unless an extension is made, he will be an unrestricted free agent in 2021. The team will most likely not extend him beyond this season since they were even trying to get rid of him this offseason. They had discussions with teams about moving him, but no deal was done. Caldwell ultimately decided that Fournette will stick around and be the RB1 for the 2020 season but has not made any mention of beyond that. This is a contract year for him, and he wants to prove that he was worth the 4th overall selection.
 
COVID-19
As most of you may know, the Jacksonville Jaguars have another name: The London Jaguars
But in all seriousness, it’s been seeming to the general public that the team will move to London; especially after this year when Khan moved a second home game to Wembley Stadium. The reasoning behind the move is to increase local revenue. The front office believed that the reasoning behind the low revenue was the local market, not the product on the field. No one, not a single fan took this piece of news positively. It seemed like it was doomed from the start, something that could only be slowed down by say a…..pandemic? (un)Luckily so, one such pandemic happened. Creating an international travel restriction and preventing any NFL teams from playing in London. When the season does start, the home games, which would’ve been vs. the Lions and Browns in non-consecutive weeks, will actually be played at home. In other COVID news, former Jaguar great Tony Boselli contracted the Coronavirus and was admitted to the ICU for five days. Things got so bad that he was hooked up to two IVs and needed oxygen to help his breathing. Luckily, he was able to recover mostly and was released on March 30.

Projected Starting Lineup with Camp Battles

Positions won in a camp battle italicized
QB- Gardner Minshew: This is Gardner Minshew’s team in 2020. After a promising rookie season, added weapons and a more workable scheme, Minshew should solidify himself as the quarterback of the future - given he slows down on the turnovers.
RB- Leonard Fournette: In a contract year after his 5th year option was declined, he will be running with a chip on his shoulder. The team looks to run him as much as possible before he leaves.
TE- Tyler Eifert, James O’Shaughnessy: Free agent signing Eifert will fill the starting role as long as he is healthy. I think O’Shaughnessy beats out Josh Oliver for the TE2 spot due to last years chemistry with Minshew.
WR- D.J. Chark Jr., Dede Westbrook, Chris Conley, Laviska Shenault Jr.: This group is easily the strength of this offense. Chark looks to build on a really nice 2019 season, Westbrook and Conley weren’t bad as WR2 and 3, but they weren’t spectacular either. I added Shenault as well because he will be put in at a bunch of different positions.
LT- Cam Robinson: Robinson battled through an ACL injury in 2018 which basically sent his development back over a year. He’s been inconsistent in his time playing, playing well during some games but slacking big time in others.
LG- Andrew Norwell: The coaching staff is still sticking by the second highest paid guard in the NFL, even though he hasn’t been playing like it at all. He missed time in 2018 with a foot injury and has been battling through that since. But ultimately needs to play even remotely like the former 1st team all-pro in order to provide some return on his contract. He has been arguably the worst lineman on an already weak line.
C- Brandon Linder: One of the more underrated lineman in the league. Linder has been a consistent leader on the offense since being drafted in the 3rd round in 2014.
RG- A.J. Cann: Cann is just one of those guys where you kinda forget about him until he has a terrible game and then you remember that he’s actually not good. I’m considering this one a battle because I feel like rookie Bartch can snag a start or two during the season.
RT- Jawaan Taylor: After dropping to the Jags in the second round of last years’ draft, Taylor has lived up to expectations. While having the typical rookie growing pains, he was extremely solid playing against pro-level talent.
DL- Josh Allen, Abry Jones, Taven Bryan/Rodney Gunter, K’Lavon Chaisson: A group that is primed to surprise people. The Good Josh Allen is already a forced to be reckoned with, Abry Jones is a solid piece with some rotational help, Taven Bryan is only getting better at the run while Gunter will help with the pass rush. Finally, 1st round pick K’Lavon Chaisson comes in with an incredible motor to help with the loss of Ngakoue.
LB- Myles Jack, Joe Schobert, Quincy Williams: Myles Jack is on his 3rd position, so hopefully this will unlock his full athletic potential. Schobert will command the defense up the middle and drop into coverage. Quincy did not play well last year as a rookie. I hope he is able to progress this season or we might be in trouble there.
CB- C.J. Henderson, Rashaan Melvin, D.J. Hayden: 9th overall pick Henderson gets the start at the CB1 position. Melvin and Tre Herndon are going to be battling for the CB2 spot, but I give the nod to Melvin solely because he has more experience. D.J. Hayden is another underrated player in the NFL and is quietly one of the top Nickel corners.
S- Ronnie Harrison, Jarrod Wilson: Ronnie Harrison has been really coming into his own over the past season and will only get better. Jarrod Wilson played fairly well in 2019 and was exercised his option during the offseason.
K- Josh Lambo: Lambo is one of the most consistent kickers in the NFL today. Hitting over 94% of his kicks since coming to Jacksonville (while also leading the NFL in 2019 with 97.1% FG made).
P- Logan Cooke: Cooke is top 10 in yards/punt and has no need to worry about losing his job.
KR- Chris Claybrooks: The 7th rounder from Memphis was drafted specifically to return kicks, hopefully he brings the spark that the team desperately needs on ST.
PR- Dede Westbrook: Westbrook was 14th in the NFL in punt returns, he hasn’t been great in the field, but he also hasn’t been terrible.

Schedule Predictions

Week 1: IND (L) – Philip Rivers has had our number over the years (7-2, 24 touchdowns to 5 interceptions); and a team that’s a QB shy from competing now has the Jaguars literal kryptonite. I have my faith in the young defense, but Rivers will probably have a field day. 0-1
Week 2: @TEN (W) – Huh, no annual TNF Titans-Jaguars trash bowl? 2020 is really a weird year and I don’t like it. Here’s hoping that at least one trend sort of-continues: a split in games. The Jags revamped run defense slows down Derrick Henry for a game and CJ Henderson gets his first career pick off of Tannehill. Minshew is going to be the deciding factor in this game. 1-1
Week 3: MIA (W) – If it’s Fitzpatrick, it’s a loss. But I believe Tua takes the job early in the season(maybe?) and has his typical rookie growing pains. One of which is losing to a bad team that you shouldn’t lose to. 2-1
Week 4: @CIN (W) – Just like Tua, Burrow is set to have his growing pains. But this isn’t one of those games. The first overall pick goes into a shootout with The Man, The Myth, The Legend but comes up short due to a questionable play call in the final seconds. 3-1
Week 5: @HOU (L) – Even though Houston no longer has DeAndre Hopkins, Deshaun Watson is still able to work through the Jags D to come up with the win. 3-2
Week 6: DET (L) – Matthew Stafford has a really good week and Jeff Okudah outmatches his top 10 counterpart in another close game that comes down to game management experience. 3-3
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: @LAC (W) – Even though Jacksonville isn’t typically good on the west coast, they’re facing a team manned either by Tyrod Taylor or Justin Herbert. If they’re facing the latter (I’m sticking with a first round rookie start), then they’ll pull off a win they shouldn’t have. 4-3
Week 9: HOU (L) - Just like week 5, Watson goes off again while Brandon Cooks has 150+ yards receiving. Minshew attempts a 4th quarter comeback and brings it close, but ultimately falls short. 4-4
Week 10: @GB (L) - Aaron Rodgers is obviously unhappy with the drafting of Jordan Love and is on a mission to prove that he’s still got it in the league. Even though the rest of the roster is lacking pieces, you can never count out Rodgers. Especially when it’s against lower competition. 4-5
Week 11: PIT (L) – I feel like this could be the start (or continuation) of a decent non-divisional/former divisional rivalry. Big Ben is back and has a good back in James Conner. Besides JuJu Smith-Schuster and Eric Ebron, there isn’t anyone that inflicts fear in secondaries. This game could go either way, but I’m giving the nod to Pittsburgh in a close match. Their defense has enough to slow down our offense, but our defense lacks the “star-power” against their offense to really make up for it. 4-6
Week 12: @CLE (L) – Chubb is good, Beckham is good, Landry is good, Hooper is good. Unfortunately I don’t see us being close in this one. 4-7
Week 13: @MIN (L) – Minnesota, at this point, is looking towards the postseason and will not hold back. Thielen and Cook will carry their offense to 3 touchdowns while the Jags offense falls flat this week. 4-8
Week 14: TEN (L) – The split game. Again….WHY NO TNF?! The Jaguars come into the game tired and eliminated, while the Tacks come into the contest nearing a berth and are hungry for a win. Derrick Henry is Derrick Henry and just runs train. 4-9
Week 15: @BAL (L) - I may be biased but I’m not delusional. 4-10
Week 16: CHI (W) – I’m basing this off my prediction that Foles will outplay Trubisky and stays healthy. Foles plays better than Trubisky, but that’s not saying much. Henderson is able to keep Allen Robinson at bay; and while Khalil Mack will be effective, his impact will be kept to a best-case scenario. 5-10
Week 17: IND (W) – Indianapolis already clinched a playoff spot and is resting their starters for their inevitable 1st round elimination. So, the Jags will win in semi-convincing fashion against a team starting backups. 6-10
Final Record: 6-10. I genuinely believe this team has improved overall despite the major losses throughout the defense. There are going to be a lot of close games, especially if more players opt-out of the season. I feel like many of these games could steer in either direction. Besides Baltimore, Minnesota, Houston and Green Bay, of course. The ceiling of this team could push .500, but the floor could really bottom out at 1 or 2 wins. This team is extremely young and still needs to mesh. Depending on next years draft picks (looking at you, Rams. Please suck, thanks), this team is poised for a huge jump in the near future. This isn’t a full rebuild, it’s a partial one. I do not see this team making the postseason this year, but they could definitely play party-pooper to a couple of teams.

Schemes

Jay Gruden – Gruden utilizes a West Coast Offensive scheme. This scheme was created by Bill Walsh in the 60’s when he worked for the Cincinnati Bengals as the QB coach. This offense relies heavily on shorter throws spread out throughout the field, eventually opening the top up for the occasional long ball. The use of a mobile QB and a variety of receivers can really help spread out the defense as well and easier for him to make throws.
Todd Wash – Although there have been rumors of a scheme change, and the signing of certain players seem to suggest the same, Todd Wash is still sticking a base 4-3 defense. One of the more common schemes, it involves four down linemen consisting of a nose tackle, a defensive tackle and two ends. Behind the linemen are 3 linebackers: The Mike, Will and Sam linebackers. The Mike, or middle, will line up behind the nose tackle and covers the A gap. The Will, or weak, lines up on the side not containing the TE and covers the B gap on that side. The Sam, or strong, lines up on the side of the Tight End and will contain the C gap on that side. The secondary will always have two CB’s, a SS and FS; the CB’s will cover the receivers, the FS will line up deep on the side of the weakside linebacker and the SS will do the same on the opposite side.
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2020.07.31 05:28 -screamin- [SPOILERS FOR ALL S01] In-depth breakdown and commentary - S01E10 "The White Violin"

S01E01 - We Only See Each Other at Weddings and Funerals breakdown
S01E02 - Run Boy Run breakdown
S01E03 - Extra Ordinary breakdown
S01E04 - Man on the Moon breakdown
S01E05 - Number Five breakdown
S01E06 - The Day That Wasn't breakdown
S01E07 - The Day That Was breakdown
S01E08 - I Heard A Rumour breakdown
S01E09 - Changes breakdown
Hello, I'm back with my last analysis for S01! (Sorry about the delay!) Unmarked spoilers for all of S01 follow, so last chance to back out. Please, no untagged spoilers for the comics if you have read them - I would like to read them after the show has run its course. Also, now that we're getting more S02 information, please spoiler tag S02 stuff as well if you are posting about it below.
Spoiler markings are done like this:
typing >!spoiler text!< becomes spoiler text
Anything between those two markings gets changed to a black redacted block. However, you can still see what's under that if you want, by clicking the black block.
Once again, I'm posting this for discussion, so if you have any insights, corrections, comments, feedback, etc. please post it below!
Thanks for taking part!
  • Title meta: a reference to the violin that Vanya bleaches white in the season's climax. Also, from what little I know of the comics, a title for Vanya herself or this out-of-control persona? That's really fucking badass. Anyway, this episode is essentially Vanya's rampage. She's ceded all control to her increasingly intense feelings, and the sound around her, if that makes any sense, and you see this best when she's lost in her performance at the Icarus Theatre. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
  • A younger RH strides into shot as the byline "Long ago..." appears at the bottom of the screen. He looks even more Victorian than he usually does, but the room itself is decorated quite strangely, and I can't place the time period.
  • The implication is that the lady is very sick and close to death, and also romantically involved with "Reggie". (Did not think "Reggie" had it in him when I watched this episode for the first time, by the abysmal way he treated the kids.) Also, she apparently plays the violin. "Find someone who will love it as much as I have."
  • This is such a confusing scene. It looks like the crops outside are withering, and you see multiple modern-looking rockets taking off into the atmosphere, as RH empties a... lantern of some kind? With like fireflies inside? What the fuck. It seems to be another apocalypse, except different to the ones experienced by Five and the rest of the siblings. This one seems to have started off slow and become un-ignorable. I am having serious doubts that this scene is even in the same timeline or universe as the rest of the show. Maybe RH is from an alternate universe/timeline, since the two have British accents? Also, I've seen this actress before, in another show/movie, but I can't place her...
  • And now we appear to be at the beginning of century, boarding a boat. How the fuck did we go from rockets to here? I feel like RH is in the show's past now, out of wherever he was before.
  • There's a quick shot of the ship's log book, the stamp contains the number 1928. This could be the year, but if you also look at the log book underneath, there's a column of months, with the title being 1880. Could be an old page in the log book. The clothing on the other people in the scene, as well as the motor car we see later also suggest 1920s. But RH looks like he's dressed for the 1880s, his clothes seem like an older style in comparison to the "newsies" look the other men in this scene have.
  • I wonder if Hargreeves is his actual surname. He pronounces it slightly hoarsely.
  • By the way, RH looks fucking 40 here. You're telling me that he's like 150 years old in 2019???? He looked like he was 70 something!! How the fuck?? (I digress, but Colm Feore was an awesome choice of actor for this role. He has a similar feel to Patrick Stewart, in that yes, he's gone bald early, but besides that, he still looks the same as he did when he was younger. Dude is over 60, I can't believe that he even looks twenty years younger here with the addition of some hair and improved posture, and how much older than his actual age they've made him look during this season. I have been made aware that (S02 trailer spoilers) the gang are probably going to encounter a younger RH in the past; he's going to be pretty easy to de-age with makeup/CGI.)
  • With the (pretty good - better than Hopper's American) British-sounding accent Feore's affecting, I want to say RH is travelling by ship from England to the U.S.A. If he's really been around since the 1920s, from a timeline/universe with different technological advancements, it could explain how he managed to set up such a successful company by 2019. Everything is more likely to end up in your favour when you have more time and knowledge than everyone else.
  • So this whole bit where RH puts his monocle in and sees the umbrella place... dude's body language screams "tourist". I was concerned for a moment the first time I watched this that he wouldn't be able to actually open the umbrella, he looks like he's opening one for the first goddamn time in his life. It's like he's recognised the picture of the umbrella as being important for some reason. Wondering if there's more to that monocle than meets the eye (I couldn't resist the pun, okay?). Maybe it's like Google Glass or something? He pops the monocle in, and suddenly he's more purposeful and goal-oriented instead of looking around in a sightseeing kind of way. Now that I think about it, it's interesting how Pogo and RH put the monocle at the centre of the "murder", since the plan seems to have been for Grace, glitching and confused, to have been framed for it. It's a shame Diego didn't use the monocle before chucking it in the river... maybe RH did leave a message of sorts behind after his death?
  • I digress, but monocles look hard to use. You'd have to squint like a cowboy to 'grip' the monocle over your eye. Glasses seem so much lower effort.
  • And back to the present day, where Vanya has finally lost it. I like the pan over the broken glass in the chamber window. She won't be behind that window ever again.
  • There's the sound of wind (the subtitles even helpfully point it out) but Vanya's hair is still. She seems to have greater focus of her power in this state, but the hallucinations show that she's lost in her memories and feelings.
  • Lol, this shot with the three Vanyas at different ages - Ellen Page is amazing but she's also ridiculously fuckin' short, to the point where Vanya's teenage actress is actually a little taller than her. (Teen!Vanya is slightly bigger than Five (S01E02) and adult!Vanya is about the same size as (if not shorter than) Five (S01E01, E02)). So, the shot is in forced perspective, with the younger girls slightly behind the adult Vanya.
  • Anyway, this little bit underscores that Vanya in this state is exacting punishment for her treatment as a child. This new Vanya has more in common with the little powered girl who killed her nannies because she wasn't happy about eating her porridge. Feelings first, morality later; a regression.
  • There's a sadness but also a finality about Vanya as she hallucinates her younger brothers and sister rejecting, excluding and isolating her. She's had enough and they are never ignoring or underestimating her again. If she can't join them, she's going to beat them.
  • I've said this before elsewhere - Vanya's hallucination of younger Ben speaking to her means that every character in the family (even Grace!) has spoken to her in some fashion at some point this season, except Klaus. He and Vanya literally do not speak a single word to each other this season. Even Ben manages to do that, and he's dead! They better fix that right smart next season.
  • Also, note the bottle of booze on the table in front of younger Klaus.
  • Vanya hallucinates younger Luther and younger Allison about to kiss, before they see her and throw themselves away from each other and rush to shoo her away. So the implication is that both Luther and Allison are aware at this age that a romantic relationship between the two of them is taboo, no matter how adopted they might be...
  • This unblinking glassy stare that Vanya's got going on is pretty fucking creepy. Made even worse by the bluish-silver glowing irises. And the absence of visible emotion as she wreaks havoc.
  • Ben manages to pull Diego out of harm's way - he also saves Klaus himself, because he's holding on to Diego's back. That's two fully-grown men he's moved. How much of this is Klaus and how much is Ben?
  • Here's RH and the Academy taking a family photo in front of Vanya, with RH acknowledging that he didn't actually forget her, and ordering her not to be part of the photo. That's incredibly harsh. I've been pointing out in previous breakdowns that in comparison to the Umbrella Academy, there is almost no evidence that Vanya grew up with them, or even just a photographic record of her childhood - there's only the faded photo of Vanya as a child on the front cover of her book, and the surveillance footage in S01E02, that's all. Compare that to the oodles of Umbrella Academy posters and memorabilia around the Academy, as well as the multiple portraits of the Umbrella Academy kids with RH. I think that the photo of Vanya taken for the back cover of her book was only the second photo anyone had ever taken of her (goes some way to explaining why she is so nervous for the sitting in S01E03, and why Allison is walking around showing folks in S01E08 the dustcover for the book, instead of y'know, an actual photo of your goddamn sister), the flyer for the chamber orchestra concert (S01E07) being the third. You get the feeling that one of the reasons Vanya wrote her memoir in the first place was to prove that she actually existed as a child.
  • Compare Vanya's body language now to her body language prior to this point, they're so far removed from each other. Look at the tilt of her chin as she looks down at Pogo. She's utterly confident in her power, there's nothing it can't do when you're no longer trying to avoid hurting or killing people.
  • Vanya momentarily snaps out of it for a second, and her eyes are suddenly teary. Once Pogo admits his role in her abuse, the unshed tears disappear and the stark irises return. It's almost like this version of Vanya is a protective mechanism.
  • You can tell Pogo knows what's coming. And he tells the whole truth for once. Vanya doesn't immediately return to her destructive alter ego - she nods almost appreciatively, like a parent listening to their child coming clean.
  • "Did you know?" These are the last words Vanya speaks for the rest of the episode and the season; she never speaks while in her altered state. In this way, she becomes similar to Allison with her damaged vocal cords. Bechdel probably has a headache about now.
  • Vanya impaling Pogo with just a flick of her head, using the sound of his own heartbeat. It's basically the opposite of that little scene in S01E07 where Vanya tries to move a boat on the lake, all the while snarking at a frustrated Leonard, and only succeeds in giving herself the giggles. Pogo's death is very reminiscent of Leonard's as well.
  • Diego hugs Klaus for saving his life; irking Ben, but Diego can't see ghosts, it's a reasonable response. But he catches sight of Grace waving and blowing a kiss from an upper window as the Academy begins to collapse under Vanya's onslaught. Oh shit, she's fucked.
  • The pan down of the crumbling Academy front reminds me of the shot of Vanya arriving at the Academy and looking up at it in S01E01, except the two shots are opposites.
  • Check out the moon framed by the collapsed Academy in the background. That moon is only just rising, it's apparently still early in the evening on Friday. But isn't the apocalypse supposed to be on the 1st of April? More on this in a tick.
  • Diego's stutter returns again, just as it did after he deactivated Grace in S01E03. Jesus Christ, that hurts.
  • And Five reappears after his absence throughout Vanya's incarceration, with the newspaper he remembers from the day of the apocalypse, convinced that nothing has changed and the apocalypse is still on.
  • Right, this is where I'm a little iffy about the timeline, and whether S01E09 and S01E10 take place on the same day. If this is Saturday 1st April's paper, it must be early on Saturday morning for it to be dark and Five to have even got his hands on it. (Diego says, "The time could've been altered since that newspaper came out this morning. And Five doesn't correct him, because it's today's paper, Friday's.) And the apocalypse happens during Vanya's concert, which is in the evening. But we know that Vanya freed herself just as dusk hit on Friday, and destroyed the Academy in short order; by this measure, it should still be pretty early on Friday night. Also, if they're regrouping at the Super Star bowling alley early Saturday morning, it ain't gonna be open for kids' birthday parties at that time. Are we saying they waited for the place to open for the morning and then, what, had brunch and played a couple of games before getting down to the business of stopping the apocalypse? Similarly, are we saying that Vanya, who's gone around the twist, killed a bunch of people and brought down the Academy in a fit of rage, is, what, suddenly gonna tuck herself into bed with some hot milk and lie low for at least half a day until that evening's concert? There is nothing in this episode to suggest that there is daylight before the apocalypse. By Five's count, there are eight days to stop the apocalypse when he lands in 2019 and since it's explicitly stated in the show by Vanya herself that Five arrives on the 24th March, in S01E01, eight days from then should be the 1st April, right? But the way events fall this episode, the world seems to end on the evening of the 31st, which is a Friday, only a week from Five's arrival. This would also mean that the chamber orchestra concert premieres on the Friday night, which explains Vanya's comment to Leonard in S01E08 that she has to practice because her concert is the next day. Maybe the world ends a day earlier than Five expects because of his interference in the timeline... but then why would he recognise the newspaper? It'd be the one from the day before the apocalypse in the timeline he saw. I'm so confused.
  • "But here we are, the Moon's still shining, the Earth's still in one piece." So the Moon was also damaged in Five's bad future.
  • Hazel and Cha-Cha look like they've been forced to attend couple's counselling.
  • Check out all the takeout on the coffee table. The Handler isn't on her liquid diet anymore, lol.
  • Oh man, Barracuda by Heart kicks in as the Handler drives home that Hazel and Cha-Cha must do as she says or die. Or die doing what she says. Such a badass song.
  • Aaaaand here's Vanya looking fucking incredible in her concert tails. She seems to have gone home to her apartment, changed, picked up her violin, and headed straight for the concert. No lying low waiting for Saturday evident.
  • Lol at power-drunk!Vanya still deigning to switch off the lights and lock her apartment door.
  • Vanya uses the sound of the angry driver's horn to blow his car down the street. It's like Vanya using the sound of the truck engine in S01E07 to stop the thugs beating Leonard to a pulp, and little Vanya using the whistling kettle to toss her nannies around like dry leaves.
  • Fuck, that driver is either dead or pretty badly injured. Add it to Vanya's list of infractions.
  • So the Superstar is a bowling alley. Definitely gives off Griddy's vibes in that they likely frequented this place as kids, otherwise they wouldn't all have known to come here (especially Five since he left when he was thirteen and doesn't know the modern layout of the city, as per him asking for directions to Delores' department store in S01E01).
  • I love seeing all of them together like this, even if Vanya is missing. Look how much more comfortable they are with each other in comparison to a week ago, sitting in the Academy living room in S01E01. Then again, it could be because they're in a different environment, one they probably used to have fun in.
  • Luther saying they might have no choice but to do whatever it takes to stop Vanya is the opposite of what he was telling Pogo at the kitchen table after his bender when he found out RH killed himself and made it look like a murder mystery (S01E08) - "You always have choice." Underlined by Klaus and Diego instantly disagreeing and saying that there's always a choice.
  • Haha, Five's got bowling shoes on. Iconic look with the Academy uniform. Klaus being a fashion trailblazer makes them look effortlessly cool. (Tbf Robert Sheehan has this superpower too. He could make a bin liner look glamorous.)
  • "You know, I liked you a lot better before you got laid-" What the fuck is Allison's sulky reaction to Luther here?? Put aside the fact that THEY ARE SIBLINGS and they refer to each other as such - they are adults who are not dating each other! It's not like Allison hasn't gotten laid herself?? God, this is such a toxic response. And Klaus automatically feeling like he has to walk it back and excuse Luther for making his own decisions...
  • Here's this lady again, asking if her son can play with Five! She's popped up in at least four different episodes now, I wonder if she'll be around next season. She seems to be a different character each time, it's giving me Stan Lee vibes.
  • "I would rather chew off my own foot." Haha, looks like Five isn't really ready to start his second childhood again. And Diego and Klaus apparently looking like they're married and Five is their kid. It's like that lady's words were constructed specifically to hit as many of Five's buttons as possible, lol.
  • So the lollies the Handler gave Five are revealed as trackers. Wonder if she had that particular flavour because she knew Five would want more. But more importantly, the Commission have known where Five is this whole time. Why did they not go for him earlier? Is it possible that there was a chance they could have stopped the apocalypse in this episode and that's why the Commission had to get involved at this particular point in the timeline? They are outside of time, they were able to take as long as they needed to build up again from Five's attack (as evidenced by the Handler being in action again and revealing later this episode that more time has passed for her than it has for Five).
  • I like how the Handler and Five are still mutually impressed by each other's plays (the concealed tracker, and getting Hazel and Cha-Cha to take each other out respectively).
  • Hazel wasn't born yesterday and he knows that the Handler's offer is too good to be true - since they are now being forced into making sure the apocalypse happens "at all costs", where is their escape rope if they are successful? Odds are the Handler is leaving them to be swallowed up in the destruction.
  • power-drunk!Vanya getting on a bus (she actually paid her fare! If she didn't have the weird eyes, you'd wouldn't guess she'd just killed a bunch of people and wiped the Academy block off the face of the planet!) to go to the Icarus Theatre. There's more to this, I think, than just "I don't have a car and I don't think my new powers let me fly, I need to get from A to B by a certain time, time to jump on some public transport." we've only seen Vanya use taxis or her own two feet to get places so far. I think this one might partially be explained in what little we see of Extraordinary, Vanya's memoir. From my S01E05 breakdown-
"One morning, I left the Academy [unreadable] the gills with clothes, snacks, and mementos [unreadable] behind, I think I even brought a dream catcher [unreadable] nightmares from home following me wherever I went [unreadable] it to a bus stop, and I sat there all day long - and strangely for the first time in my life it hit me that I was completely alone. I had thought I was alone my entire life, but this was something new and entirely different. I was afraid of what I didn't know, and I would choose Dad's torment over the endless dark that stretched down our street. Buses came, but I waved the kind drivers away. That night, I walked back through the double doors, and no-one knew I had ever left in the first place. I wonder how long it would have taken them to realise - the extra girl they never needed was absent. Would it have made a difference? To this day, I'm not sure. The next [unreadable] was when we all did. After what happened to Ben."
I think this is power-drunk!Vanya still buried in her memories, lost in the past. (In fact, next we see her going straight into another flashback after seeing a girl smile at her and her violin.) She's finally getting on that bus that she should have so long ago.
  • Watching teen!Vanya walk past camera into the Academy living room, I wonder if the uniform comes across as strange and creepy to people from other countries? I understand most American kids don't wear uniform to school. Aussie kids wear uniform like this in primary and secondary school, so it seems kind of normal, if a bit posh. The blazer looks really similar to my own old high school one so it just feels familiar to me...
  • Aha, the violin Reggie's love gave him, to give to "someone who'll love it as much as I have." It's funny that Vanya ends up with it (not without asking for it, mind), the way RH has treated her so far. And the little smile on his face as he listens to Vanya and Grace talking. This is like the second piece of evidence that RH might have some sort of actual honest-to-God love for his kids, the first being him asking after Luther in S01E07. Is this still the same violin she has now? I doubt she would be able to bring herself to stop using that. This is certainly a different carrycase though.
  • So did teen!Vanya teach herself the goddamn violin???? Well enough to end up a professional violinist and first chair in an orchestra???? And she doesn't think she's a fucking prodigy???? Those pills, the brainwashing, the isolation and the emotional abuse really did a number on her...
  • I like seeing Vanya confide in Grace like this... I guess she has noone else to talk to. I wonder if she has come up with her "Grace is just an extension of RH" theory (S01E03) at this point...
  • "Put your whole heart into it, and one day, you will be." Well, Vanya proceeds to do just that. Pity she blows up the Moon doing it.
  • Luther trying to explain himself (ugh) to Allison. Check out the surprise on mute!Allison's face when Luther mentions that RH sent him to the moon for nothing. In this timeline, it was Klaus, not Allison, that found him breaking down after learning this information.
  • This phone booth conversation would be so sweet IF THEY WEREN'T SIBLINGS. Luther is literally identifying herself as Uncle to Claire... Also, the extremely thinly veiled implication is that Luther is basically telling Claire what he wants to tell Allison.
  • It's heartbreaking that Allison has to try and convey to her child how much she loves her and wishes she could be with her, through a proxy, when she knows the world is ending tonight and she won't be with her if it happens. For Allison, having the world end for her daughter is nigh unthinkable... which makes it even more amazing that she doesn't go along with the whole "if it means Vanya dies and the world is saved, that's fine" idea that Luther (and Five) floated earlier. Remember her tiff with Vanya in S01E02? "Like when you're apart from her, you can't breathe? Like you would- you would die, and I mean actually... die, to know that she's okay and happy?"
  • Sounds like Cha-Cha's channeling the Awkward Exposition Fairy when she's announcing that Vanya is Getting Off The Bus And We Have To Go After Her. But then it becomes apparent that she's saying this because Hazel isn't doing anything - because he's waiting till Cha-Cha removes her seatbelt before crashing the car.
  • Fuck, Cha-Cha should have died after that ejection and concrete impact at speed. Also, she still has her handcuff on. Hazel should also have some killer whiplash...
  • Also, Hazel's not pulling any punches now that Agnes is at risk. He couldn't kill Cha-Cha before, remember.
  • "The concert starts in 30 minutes." How do you knowwww??? The flyer in the paper (identical to the flyer on the fridge in S01E07 that Diego sees) doesn't mention a date, let alone a time!! Diego does the same thing earlier - "That's right, her concert is tonight." Maybe the date was left off to not allow viewers to become suspicious early that the apocalypse seemed to coincide with the concert and put together that they were gonna happen at the same time because Vanya was the cause? I mean, I started considering that Vanya might be Little Miss Apocalypse once she showed that her power haze could stretch halfway across the city, from Leonard's place to the Academy (S01E05), and then killed two guys in self-defence with her power (S01E07)... it seemed pretty obvious...
  • Check out the timepieces built into those almost steampunkish uniforms. Totally Commission crack troops. Too bad they can be taken out with birthday cake. (Yum, cake.)
  • The song playing during the shootout (which starts playing for real in the scene because the jukebox gets hit! I love that kind of thing!) is "Saturday Night" by the Bay City Rollers. This just adds even more confusion to the whole 'is it Friday or Saturday??' conversation...
  • So the Handler drew Five away from the Super Star... to kill his family and spare him to still possibly stop Vanya?? Does she still have some weird soft spot for him? Or is she worried that if he's there he'll pull another Griddy's shootout (S01E01)? Five does say later that "we're screwed" in response to the goons - not even he knows how to fight them all.
  • Lol, did absolutely noone see the crazy eyes on Vanya before letting her on stage to play? "All my intuition is telling me you're not in your right mind, but hell, it's opening night, we need a first chair, so get up there! Love the glowing contacts, by the way!" Maybe she mesmerised them like she did the conductor and sponsors in S01E05.
  • This theme is so beautiful with a full orchestra. I recall hearing that the other players are all students of a Toronto music school nearby or something, it's only Page who is (admittedly doing a bang-up job) faking it. They've also shot and edited it really well with a very-similar-looking violinist double.
  • Is this violin RH's violin? Perhaps it's differently built to other violins... could it be enhancing Vanya's power? I dunno.
  • Luther's mistake here was not being upfront with Allison - he should have just told her what he was doing and why. It's understandable that Luther is desperate to neutralise Vanya - not only has she hurt Allison, but she's brought down the Academy and killed Pogo and Grace, let alone the fact that Five's new scarily-plausible theory is that Vanya herself causes the apocalypse. Instead.. he used the girl he was so worried about... who was hurt by Vanya so badly... as a distraction for the human bomb he's trying to stop? Wha??
  • Anyway, Vanya starts swinging her bow around and letting off power blasts, one of which seems to force every single one of the other members of the orchestra to sit their butts right back down and keep playing like nothing's happened. Can I just say, there's an argument to be made for powers, instead of power, in Vanya's case? Yeah, she can channel sound and turn it into telekinetic energy, but there's also evidence that she has abnormally sharp hearing/sense of sound waves, being able to hear the cabin windchimes from deep in the woods. Add that to the apparent ability to influence people's thoughts with the sound of her violin, and even it goddamn raining when she uses her powers... Klaus also shows power development throughout the series, but it's all connected to his ability to channel ghosts. He goes from being able to talk to them, to manifesting them in the living world.
  • Hazel pings the Handler right in her forehead. No more shaky gun when Agnes is at risk. (I gotta say it, people have been known to survive gunshots to the forehead, because it's very bony and thick there. I'm not saying you wouldn't be sore or not have a lot of rehab ahead of you, but she's done it once before...)
  • Oh my god, the Handler put her suitcase in the (backlit!) vent just like Hazel did in S01E02.
  • The siblings (except Klaus, I think he's getting a kebab or something) get to see Vanya do the solo, and they all look pretty impressed. And the smile on Vanya's face when she sees Allison watching her proudly... would she have blown up had they just not done anything, just sat down and listened for once in their lives? (Regardless, I think that doing nothing on the siblings' part would have been too risky a bet to take.)
  • "Well, I almost lost you once, I wasn't about to lose you again." Yeaaaah, suuuuure, Luther. That's why you let Allison play distraction.
  • I don't think Vanya has killed anyone here yet. As in, the bystanders. The theatre patrons, the musicians. She doesn't even kill the Commission goons who start shooting up the theatre. So far, everyone she's killed/hurt has either attacked her or someone she cares about directly, or had some part to play in her shitty upbringing. Even Allison falls into this latter category.
  • Fight scene between Diego and Cha-Cha - the actors are definitely doing some of their own fight choreo. Nice.
  • I can't believe it's Ben that notices the gunfire in the Icarus Theatre. Klaus got his PTSD triggered just walking into a rave, but doesn't clock actual gunshots.
  • Klaus enters and starts channeling Ben. It seems he's made Ben tangible, and Ben is then able to affect the world around him, in this case, ripping a bunch of Commission goons into bits. It also seems that making the tentacles appear is painful for Ben in some way.
  • Aaaand Vanya bleaches her suit and her violin white as she absorbs more and more sound from it. Page here looks so confident with the violin; it definitely looks like she is playing, and playing well. (To the point where I'm wondering if they merged footage of her and her double playing??) And holy heck is she mind-meltingly hot in this white suit. (She was hot in the black tails too but this is like another level of hot. A-hem.)
  • Powered-up!Vanya doesn't blink in her close-ups.
  • Allison refuses to take part in the final confrontation, but then enters from behind Vanya with a gun once her four brothers are incapacitated. I guess she picked it up from one of the Commission goons? You can see the despair and indecision all over her face. A+ acting.
  • So Allison mercifully decides to deafen Vanya to neutralise her. Fuck, so why didn't they just get her to wear earplugs, stick some quality noise-cancelling headphones over the top, instead of locking her in the anechoic chamber? Dampen her powers enough to scribble on a pad and calmly explain what's going on at the kitchen table instead of shutting her in a place that triggers her childhood trauma and just leaving her there? I know she can still use her heartbeat, but she ended up using that anyway.
  • It's painful watching that amazing white violin clatter onto the floor.
  • The CGI when the moon is destroyed is FUCKING AMAZING. The CGI across this whole show is really good for TV, but this bit is movie-quality, in my opinion.
  • Klaus grabs his/Dave's dog tags when he realises the world is still fucked. And you can see the cogs turning in Five's head in the background, thinking about proposing time travel. Bet the Handler put that in his head a bit as well when she made her falsely-dichotomous offer to Five earlier this episode. "Unlike the rest of the world, you have a way out."
  • Also, Klaus grabbing Vanya's feet as Luther picks her up and they form a circle... my poor heart...
  • Five has been chasing the reason behind the apocalypse so long and with so much determination that he has had to give up almost every value he possessed along the way - except his family. He openly talks about killing multiple people, with precision and pragmatism, to ensure the apocalypse doesn't take place. So what happens when it turns out his own sister is the cause of the apocalypse? Even Allison tearfully contemplates shooting a psychotic, out-of-control Vanya. Not only does Five not take her out, he's the one that suggests "fixing" her by undoing the emotional damage that was done to her as a child. Despite his outward detachment, his family brings out the values he thinks he's lost, and I wouldn't be surprised if we see more of that next season.
  • So, the apocalypse happens at the Icarus Theatre. Named, I guess, for Daedalus's unfortunate boy who flew too close to the sun, which melted the wax holding his wings together, causing him to fall into the ocean and drown. An allusion that pertains to Vanya, first and foremost, having come here to prove that she's extraordinary like she promised so long ago in that bus flashback - but destroying her world in the process. But this could also refer to Five, who decides that he's brave enough to screw with time again, this time with multiple people along for the ride. I haven't seen the S02 trailer, or much of anything related to S02 at all, but I'm going to bet that things don't go so well in the process. Icarus could also refer to the other six siblings as a whole, for daring to think that they ever had a hope of stopping the apocalypse.
  • We get to see Chedder (moustache cop from Jackpine Cove in S01E08, reading a copy of the magazine Allison was looking at in S01E04!), Cha-Cha (trying to call the Handler but getting a dial tone), and Beeman's last moments (opening a package containing Hazel and Cha-Cha's guns - Diego had already decided to get Patch's killers lawfully before he saw Cha-Cha in the theatre) before they apparently disintegrate. I have a feeling this means that they will make an appearance in future episodes...
  • And the siblings are all de-aged as they prepare to go back in time. (I love how we go around the circle of adults before Five looks wildly around the circle like 'oh... fuck' and we realise they've all de-aged like him! Also teen!Luther holding teen!Vanya like a feather, just like his adult self did.) Are they going to grow up again? I doubt they're gonna give up their star adult actors for a bunch of kids. It could happen in a time skip, though.
Holy fuck, I'm done with about half an hour to spare. Sorry for the delay again, please leave comments/feedback/discussion below! Bring on S02!!
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2020.07.27 17:32 pahohi1327JJul Christian Harmony Da-ting Si-te

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Parker(self) 1 [Book] Marsh's Becoming a Teacher(self) 4 [Book] Germans Against Nazism: Nonconformity, Opposition and Resistance in the Third Reich: Essays in Honour of Peter Hoffmann by Francis R. Nicosia and Lawrence D. Stokes(self) 4 [Chapter] The Standard Story and Its Rivals(self) 1 [BOOK]Agrarian and Other Histories Essays for Binay Bhushan Chaudhuri - Edited by Shubhra Chakrabarti and Utsa Patnaik(self) 1 [Book] Regional modernities : the cultural politics of development in India. Ed. K. Sivaramakrishnan; Arun Agrawal(self) 1 [Chapter] Damping in Structures(self) 1 [Book] Gerontología y geriatría: valoración e intervención. Editorial Médica Panamericana. José Carlos Millán-Calentí(self) 1 [Book] Lotman's Cultural Semiotics and the Political - Makarychev & Yatsyk (2017)(self) 2 [Book] (Brill) The Handbook of Austroasiatic Languages (2 vols)(self) 1 [Book] Indian Films in Soviet Cinemas: The Culture of Movie-going After Stalin by Sudha Rajagopalan(self) 4 [BOOK] Decolonizing Theory: Thinking across Traditions by Aditya Nigam (1st edition, Bloomsbury India)(self) 3 [Request] [Article] Cell-by-Cell Deconstruction of Stem Cell Niches(self) 1 [Book] Social research methods- fifth edition, Bryman, Alan (2016)(self) 4 [Book]Chinese and Indian Warfare – From the Classical Age to 1870(self) 1 [Book] PC-Forensik Christoph Willer(self) 1 [Book] Designing for Empathy: Perspectives on the Museum Experience(self) 4 [book] American Communism and Black Americans by Philip Foner(self) 4 [Book] Marcus Franke : War and Nationalism in South Asia The Indian State and the Nagas(self) 8 [BOOK] Natural Resources, Extraction and Indigenous Rights in Latin America. Exploring the Boundaries of Environmental and State-Corporate Crime in Bolivia, Peru, and Mexico(self) 1 [Book] International Human Rights Law (3rd edn) Edited by Daniel Moeckli - Oxford University Press(self) 4 [Book] Participatory Heritage, Edited by Henriette Roued-Cunliffe , Andrea Copeland(self) 4 [BOOK] Political Representation in Southern Europe and Latin America Before and After the Great Recession and the Commodity Crisis - André Freire, Mélany Barragán, Xavier Coller, Marco Lisi, Emmanouil Tsatsanis(self) 4 [BOOK] Latin America and Policy Diffusion From Import to Export - Osmany Porto de Oliveira, Cecilia Osorio Gonnet, Sergio Montero, Cristiane Kerches da Silva Leite(self) 0 [Book] Sexual behaviour in Britain: The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (1994)(self) 1 [book] Studien zur Hirnpathologie und Psychologie - Pick, Arnold(self) 4 [Other] Special Issue, Blockchain innovation and public policy, Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy: Volume 9 Issue 2(self) 4 [BOOK] baby jails: the fight to end the incarceration of refugee children in america/ jstor account??(self) 1 [Journal] Special Issue: Blockchain innovation and public policy, Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy, Volume 9, Issue 2(self) 1 [Book] Blackstone's EU Treaties and Legislation 2019-2020 (20th ed)(self) 3 [article] Deep Graph Kernels(self) 5 [Book] Routledge Handbook of the South Asian Diaspora - By Joya Chatterji, David Washbrook(self) 4 [Book] Growth and distribution(self) 1 [BOOK] The Radical Left in Europe in the Age of Austerity - Babak Amini(self) 4 [Book] Political Myth by Christopher Flood (Routledge) (2002)(self) 2 [Article] Robotic Assisted Radical Cystectomy vs Open Radical Cystectomy: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis + Niranjan J Sathianathen et al(self) 1 [Book] Folk Art Potters of Japan Beyond an Anthropology of Aesthetics (Routledge) by Brian Moeran(self) 1 [book] Revolution: How the Bicycle Reinvented Modern Britain(self) 5 [BOOK] Radical Left Movements in Europe - Magnus Wennerhag, Christian Fröhlich, Grzegorz Piotrowski(self) 4 [BOOK] Party System Change, the European Crisis and the State of Democracy - Marco Lisi(self) 5 [BOOK] Routledge Handbook of Contemporary European Social Movements. Protest in Turbulent Times - Cristina Flesher Fominaya, Ramon A. Feenstra(self) 4 [Book] Attorney-Client Privilege in International Arbitration(self) 1 [Article] An Alternative Ontology of Food Beyond Metaphysics by Lisa Heldke. Published in Radical Philosophy Review, Vol 15, Issue 1, 2012(self) 1 [Book] Bello, Walden 2005 Dilemmas of Domination: The Unmaking of the American Empire. Zed Books, 2005.(self) 1 [Article] Owning the PastOwning the Past Reply to Stokes(self) 1 [Article] Owning the PastOwning the Past Reply to Stokes(self) 1 [Book] McQuire, Scott. Crossing the Digital Threshold. Brisbane: Australian Key Centre for Cultural and Media Policy, Faculty of Humanities, Griffith University, 1997.(self) 3 [Book] Request: Migration and the Refugee Dissensus in Europe: Borders, Security and Austerity by Nicos Trimikliniotis.(self) 9 [Article] Masculinity in videogames: the gendered gameplay of Silent Hill(self) 1 [BOOK] 'Truth games : lies, money, and psychoanalysis' by John Forrester, Harvard University Press, 2000(self) 1 [Book] Osterloh, Jörg, und Clemens Vollnhals. NS-Prozesse Und Deutsche Öffentlichkeit: Besatzungszeit, Frühe Bundesrepublik Und DDR.(self) 2
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2020.07.13 17:42 AwesomeMathUse Easing Population Growth to Weigh on Housing

Source: TD
Rishi Sondhi, Economist
Dated July 8th, 2020

Highlights


Chart 1 - Pandemic Blows a Hole in Immigration

Rental Market To Feel A Large And Immediate Impact From The Population Slowdown


Chart 2 - Pandemic-Related Job Losses Concentrated in Younger Workers, Damaging Rental Demand

Chart 3 - GTA Condo Rental Supply Soaring Heading Into the Pandemic

Chart 4 - Weaker Demand, Rising Supply Pushing Rents Lower

Reduced Immigration To Have Lasting Impacts On Ownership Housing


Chart 5 - Rapid Rise in Condo Prices Increases Their Vulnerability to Correction

Chart 6 - Recent Immigrant Homeownership Rates on the Rise, but Lag the Overall Canadian Rate

Chart 7 - Immigrants Tend to Own More Expensive Properties

Regional Impacts Will Vary


Chart 8 - Most Immigrants Settle in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, and Calgary

Chart 9 - Robust Immigration Boosts Housing Demand in Atlantic Canada

Non-Permanent Residents To Impact Resale Market Through Multiple Channels


Chart 10 - Non-permanent Residents Make Up Small Share of Ownership Housing Demand

Past Population Growth Matters Too


Chart 11 - Recent Immigrant Employment Hit Harder During Pandemic

Chart 12 - Slower Population Growth Partly Drives Forecast Downgrade

Bottom Line

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2020.07.06 17:54 sonofabutch The All-I Team!

Recently I put together an All-Q Team -- the 25 best of the 51 players in MLB history who have last names starting with Q. (And that followed my post as to which last name has the most players (M, 2,040) and which has the least (X, 0). Q has the second-fewest, with 51.)
The Q team's performance would be... shall we say... Questionable. Basically it's starting pitchers Jack Quinn and Jose Quintana, relievers Dan Quisenberry and Paul Quantrill, and one hitter -- slugger Carlos Quentin. Everyone else had career bWAR in the single digits, or negative.
The letter with the next fewest players is I, with 59. I thought it would be Interesting to look at the All-I Team. Would it be as Inadequate as the All-Q team, or would a pool of just eight more names be a big Improvement?
Of the 59 players, six are still active, according to baseball-reference.com; five played in MLB in 2019. (The active player who didn't appear in MLB last year was pitcher Gregory Infante, who had been signed by the Orioles but released before the season started; earlier this year they again invited him to spring training, but he's not on the 60-man roster.)
One odd thing I noticed is a fair number of these I-guys would become minor league managers, just as it seemed a disproportionate number of Q'ers died relatively young. I guess baseball teams think if your last name starts with I, you must be Intelligent enough to be a manager!
Batters: The I's have much more Impressive hitters than the Q's. The leading hitter on the Q-team is OF Carlos Quentin, with 10.5 bWAR; he'd rank 11th on the I-team! The Q-team's starting nine had just 27.1 career bWAR; the I-team's lineup has 152.3!
C Chris Iannetta - 15.0 bWAR, .230/.345/.406 (98 OPS+), 3,563 AB (2006-2019). "Sponge" consistently posts an OBP a hundred points higher than his batting average -- even in 2010, when he hit .197 but still got on base nearly 32% of the time. Casual fans look at a walk as something negative the pitcher did, not something positive the batter did -- a mistake by the pitcher rather than an accomplishment by the batter. But it's absolutely a skill and Iannetta proves it every year. Pitchers don't want to walk a guy with a career .230 BA, yet he gets walks.
1B Frank Isbell - 14.6 bWAR, .250/.289/.326 (89 OPS+), 4,219 AB (1898-1909). Nicknames in the Deadball Era were notoriously cruel. Hazen Cuyler was a stutterer who had trouble with his own last name; he's immortalized as Kiki Cuyler, mocking the way he pronounced it. William Hoy, who was deaf, was known as "Dummy." Charles Briody's round face and growing waistline earned him the nickname "Fatty." As for Frank, who was sensitive about losing his hair early in his 20s, his teammates dubbed him "The Bald Eagle." Frank's career slash-line of .250/.289/.326 isn't impressive, but he did have a tremendous year for the 1905 Chicago White Sox (.296/.335/.440, a 149 OPS+). Isbell played most of his games at first base, but he played all over the field -- literally, as he's one of the few men in MLB history to have multiple games at every position. He even pitched in 17 games, posting a 3.46 ERA in 88.1 innings!
2B Omar Infante - 16.9 bWAR, .271/.308/.387 (87 OPS+), 5,271 AB (2002-2016). Omar is the first of many players born in Venezuela; are last names starting with I more common there? Infante was primarily a utility man for the first half of his career, playing second, third, short, and all three outfield positions; it wasn't until 2010, at the age of 28, the Braves gave him 500+ plate appearances for just the second time in his career. He responded with his best season, hitting .321/.359/.416 and making his one and only All-Star appearance. He would spend the rest of his career as a starting second baseman. A tragic note: Omar's older brother, Asdrubal Infante, was a promising pitching prospect with the Tigers -- he posted a 1.09 ERA with 51 K in 33 IP in rookie ball in 1999 -- but was murdered that same year in a robbery in Venezuela. He was just 17 years old.
3B Brandon Inge - 19.2 bWAR, .233/.301/.384 (82 OPS+), 5,014 AB (2001-2013). Inge was a shortstop and pitcher at Virginia Commonwealth University, but the Tigers drafted him in the 2nd round in 1998 with the intention of converting him to a catcher. After three seasons in the bigs, he was moved to third base, where both his offense and his defense greatly improved. (Inge would hit .199/.260/.330 in 1,271 PA as a catcher, and .243/.315/.402 in 4,102 PA as a third baseman!) In 2008, Inge went on the disabled list when he strained a muscle trying to position a pillow under the head of his sleeping son.
SS Arthur Irwin - 15.2 bWAR, .241/.299/.305 (81 OPS+), 3,871 AB (1880-1894). The Q-Team had a lot of Quinns -- 13 of the 51 Q's in MLB history, or 25%, have the last name Quinn. For the I's, it's Irwin. Eight of the 59 I's are Irwins, or 13.5%. The first in both alphabetical order and by most bWAR is Arthur Irwin, a 19th century infielder who was later a manager, umpire, scout, and part-owner of a minor league team. At the age of 63, Irwin -- who during his playing days was known by the nicknames Doc, Foxy, and Sandy -- took ill and was hospitalized. His son came to visit him... and was surprised to discover another son visiting him as well. It turned out Irwin had married two women and had two families, one in New York and another in Boston. Soon after, Irwin boarded a ship and was never seen again. It was ruled a suicide, but who knows... maybe he settled down with a third family!
LF Raúl Ibañez - 20.9 bWAR, .272/.335/.465 (111 OPS+), 7,471 AB (1996-2014). Ibañez, the son of Cuban refugees, hit .272/.347/.572 and set career highs in OPS and HR (34) in his lone All-Star season... at the age of 37! Over his 19-year career, Ibañez had an OPS+ over 100 twelve times. His career bWAR was dinged by his defense -- 28.7 oWAR, but -17.3 dWAR. CF Ender Inciarte - 18.9 bWAR, .286/.338/.398 (95 OPS+), 2,922 AB (2014-2019). A 2017 All-Star and three-time Gold Glove award winner, Inciarte was signed out of Venezuela as a 18-year-old amateur by the Diamondbacks in 2008, but he would spend the next six years in the minors; the Phillies claimed him via the Rule V draft prior to the 2013 season, but had to return him after just one game (in which he didn't play) when they claimed Ezequiel Carrera off waivers. The D'Backs finally gave Inciarte a chance in 2014, and he would hit .292 for them over the next two seasons. Arizona then traded him to the Braves (with former #1 overall pick Dansby Swanson and Aaron Blair) for Shelby Miller and Gabe Speier, one of the moves that doomed Arizona GM Dave Stewart.
RF Monte Irvin - 21.3 bWAR, .293/.383/.475 (125 OPS+), 2,499 AB (1949-1956). "Mr. Murder" was a Negro Leagues star whose career was cut short by segregation and military service. Most believed he was the best player in the Negro Leagues, but it was Jackie Robinson, not Irvin, who first crossed the color line. Irvin was 30 years old when he finally got the chance, two years after Jackie, to play in the bigs. His best year was 1951, when he hit .312/.415/.514 with 24 HR and 121 RBI, finishing third in the MVP race. "As great as he was in 1951," said Roy Campanella, who won the MVP that year, "he was twice that good 10 years earlier." Irvin was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1973.
DH Pete Incaviglia - 10.3 bWAR, .246/.310/.448 (104 OPS+), 4,233 AB (1986-1998). "Inky" was one of the best college players of his generation, setting an NCAA record with 100 home runs in 213 games at Oklahoma State. He told teams interested in drafting him that he wouldn't sign unless they allowed him to skip the minors; the Expos took him 8th overall but immediately traded him to the Rangers. (MLB later adopted a rule prohibiting trades of newly drafted players, informally dubbed "The Pete Incaviglia Rule.") Incaviglia would then hit 30 home runs as a 22-year-old rookie... which would turn out to be his single-season career high. A low-average, high-strikeout player, Incaviglia played for six teams in 12 seasons -- not counting the Expos or the Diamondbacks, who signed him to a minor league deal in his final season -- plus one season in Japan. He would later be a hitting coach and manager in the minors.
Bench: There were an extraordinary amount of Infielders whose last names start with I; some good ones couldn't make the cut. The five guys on the bench total 45.3 bWAR... Q's bench was -1.5.
UT Maicer Izturis - 11.3 bWAR, .269/.331/.372 (90 OPS+), 3,013 AB (2004-2014). "Mighty Mouse" nearly evenly split his career between third base (2,552 innings) and second base (2,456 innings), but he also played nearly 1,700 innings at shorstop. Though his career OPS+ was below average, he did have some good offensive years -- .293/.365/.412 in 2006 and .300/.359/.434 in 2009. A series of injuries ended the Venezuelan's career after the 2014 season.
SS José Iglesias - 11.1 bWAR, .273/.315/.371 (84 OPS+), 2,706 AB (2011-2019). The 18-year-old Iglesias defected from Cuba during the 2008 World Junior Championship and signed with the Red Sox, immediately becoming one of the team's top prospects. He bounced up and down between Boston and the minors in 2011 and 2012, but in 2013 he won the starting job and after a tremendous start (.330/.376/.409 in 63 games) was included in a three-team deal for Jake Peavy. He would spend five seasons with the Tigers, hitting .268/.312/.364; last year he signed with the Reds and hit .288/.318/.407. Now 30, this off-season he signed a one-year deal with the Orioles.
3B Charlie Irwin - 9.2 bWAR, .268/.331/.345 (82 OPS+), 3,685 AB (1893-1902). Primarily known for his glove -- he ranked 1st or 2nd in 3B fielding percentage in five of his 10 seasons -- Irwin hit a respectable .273/.346/.317 (105 OPS+) with the Brooklyn Superbas in 1902, his final season in the bigs, then would go on to play several more seasons in the Pacific Coast League, and like so many others on this team would later be a manager.
1B/3B/OF Mike Ivie - 7.3 bWAR, .269/.324/.421 (110 OPS+), 2,694 AB (1971-1983). The first overall pick of the 1970 draft by the San Diego Padres, Ivie made his debut as a September call-up at the tender age of 18, going 8-for-17 with 3 RBIs in six games as a catcher. He'd return to the bigs in 1974, now a first baseman; they'd later try him at third and in the outfield, too. (His best position was probably DH.) A right-handed hitter good at mashing lefties (.693 OPS vsR, .846 OPS vsL), Ivie would top 400 ABs just three times in 11 seasons. He retired at the age of 30.
2B Tadahito Iguchi - 6.4 bWAR, .268/.338/.401 (93 OPS+), 1,841 AB (2005-2008). A star player in Japan, Iguchi came to MLB as a 30-year-old in 2005, signing with the White Sox. He would hit .278/.342/.438 and finish fourth in the ROY voting, and became the first Japanese-born position player to win a World Series. He returned to Japan in 2009 and would finally retire in 2017 at the age of 42. Iguchi has four rings -- one with the White Sox and three from Japan -- and since 2018 has been manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines.
Starting Pitchers: So it's going to be great hitting vs great pitching. The I-team has the bats, but the Q-team has the arms: The I's best pitcher would be #3 on the Q's, and after that... it's not pretty. The I-team has just 21.4 bWAR from its rotation, compared to 77.9 for the Q-team.
SP Hisashi Iwakuma - 16.9 bWAR, 63-39, 3.42 ERA, 1.143 WHIP, 883.2 IP (2012-2017). One advantage the I-team has over the Q-team is Japanese players, who represent three-fifths of the starting rotation. The ace is Kuma, who went 107-69 with a 3.25 ERA in Japan and then came to the United States where he had six pretty good seasons, all with the Mariners and all after his 30th birthday. His best year was 2013, when he was an All-Star and finished third in the Cy Young Award voting, going 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA and 1.006 WHIP.
SP Hideki Irabu - 3.4 bWAR, 34-35, 5.15 ERA, 1.405 WHIP, 514.0 IP (1997-2002). Irabu was a star in Japan with the Chiba Lotte Marines who wanted to pitch in MLB... specifically with the Yankees. Under an existing arrangement with the Padres, Chiba sold Irabu's rights to San Diego in 1997 and then traded him to New York for Ruben Rivera, Rafael Medina, and $3 million in cash. The first season of Irabu's four-year, $12.8 million deal was a disaster (5-4, 7.09 ERA, 1.669 WHIP), but he wasn't bad in 1998-1999 (24-16, 4.44 ERA, 1.315 WHIP). But Boss Steinbrenner didn't like him and he was traded to the Expos, where he went a disappointing 2-7 with a 6.69 ERA in two seasons. In 2002 he was used as a reliever with the Rangers, going 3-8 with 16 saves. He would then return to Japan, pitching two seasons before retiring in 2005. He briefly came out of retirement in 2009 to pitch in independent leagues in both the United States and Japan. In 2011, Irabu apparently hanged himself in his California home. He was just 42.
SP Mike Ignasiak - 0.9 BWAR, 10-4, 4.80 EARA, 1.504 WHIP, 137.0 IP (1991-1995). A teammate of Barry Larkin, Jim Abbott, and Scott Kamieniecki at the University of Michigan, Ignasiak went 47-25 with a 3.23 ERA in eight minor league seasons -- including a 55.2 scoreless inning streak between 1993 and 1994 -- then went 10-4 with a 4.80 ERA over four seasons with the Brewers. In 1996, he signed with the Red Sox but suffered a back injury that ended his career. He took up golf in his mid-30s and became one of the top amateur players in the country.
SP Bert Inks - 0.5 bWAR, 27-46, 5.52 ERA, 1.733 WHIP in 603.2 IP (1891-1896). A 6'3" lefty, Inks and his brother Will both played for Notre Dame. Will and a third brother, Fred, also played a little pro ball but only Bert made it to the bigs. He pitched for six teams in just five seasons, most of them bad.
SP Kazuhisa Ishii - -0.3 bWAR, 39-34, 4.44 ERA, 1.528 WHIP, 564.0 IP (2002-2005). Walks were Kaz's downfall, with 5.6 BB/9 over his four-year MLB career. After leaving the bigs, the lefty returned to Japan where he'd pitch until the age of 40 for a total of 18 seasons. In Japan, Ishii went 143-103 with a 3.63 ERA and 1.307 WHIP (and 3.9 BB/9, 8.8 K/9).
Relief Pitchers: Once again, the Q-team comes out on top. Team Q had 54.4 bWAR from its relievers; the I-team, less than half that at 25.3 (and most of that coming from their closer).
RP Jason Isringhausen - 13.0 bWAR, 51-55, 300 SV, 3.64 ERA, 1.328 WHIP, 1007.2 IP (1995-2012). One of the first players I think of when it comes to I-names, Izzy finished fourth in the NL ROY voting after an impressive debut season (9-2, 2.81 ERA, 1.280 WHIP) with the New York Mets at the age of 22. But injuries, ineffectiveness, and a bout with tuberculosis caused his Mets career to fizzle, and in 1999 he was traded to the Oakland A's where he would become a top closer. He was named to two All-Star teams and recorded 11 post-season saves.
RP Raisel Iglesias - 8.3 bWAR, 14-29, 98 SV, 3.17 ERA, 1.135 WHIP, 388.2 IP (2015-2019). Raisel Iglesias apparently isn't related to Jose Iglesias, but were born in, and fled from, Cuba. Raisel signed with the Reds, who converted him to a starter (he had been a reliever with the Cuban national team), but after going 4-8 with a 3.88 ERA in 21 starts, they switched him back to a reliever. In 231 relief appearances, he's posted a 2.85 ERA with 98 saves; overall, he's struck out 448 batters in 388.2 IP.
RP Jeff Innis - 4.6 bWAR, 10-20, 5 SV, 3.05 ERA, 1.272 WHIP, 360.0 IP (1987-1993). Jeff pitched all seven seasons of his MLB career with the New York Mets. A side-arming sinkerballer, "the I-Man" was known for his impressions of players and staff, including GM Frank Cashen. Maybe that's why the Mets declined to offer Innis a contract after the 1993 season. He signed with the Twins, and that spring training had the distinction of giving up the first professional base hit to a 31-year-old rookie named Michael Jordan. Jeff would stick around in the minors for a few more seasons, even working on a knuckleball, but never made it back to the bigs.
RP Gregory Infante - 1.0 bWAR, 3-2, 0 SV, 3.56 ERA, 1.332 WHIP, 68.1 IP (2010-2018). Infante was a baby -- ha, ha -- when he came up the first time in 2010, as a 22-year-old reliever with the White Sox. He pitched in five games without allowing a run and struck out five batters, though he did give up two hits and four walks in 4.2 innings. He would then spend the next eight seasons bouncing between organizations in the minors before finally returning to the bigs in 2017 with... the White Sox. So in nine years, he's pitched in 67 games, all with Chicago. Infante, now 30, signed with the Orioles last year but was released before the season started; the Venezuelan spent this off-season pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League.
RP Cole Irvin - -0.2 bWAR, 2-1, 1 SV, 5.83 ERA, 1.392 WHIP, 41.2 IP (2019). A 5th round pick by the Phillies in the 2016 draft, Swirvin Irvin went 6-1 with a 3.94 ERA in 16 starts and one relief appearance in Triple-A, then was promoted to the bigs where he had three starts and 13 relief appearances. The lefty was named the 2018 International League Pitcher of the Year after going 14-4 with a 2.57 ERA for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
RP Ryota Igarashi - -1.4 bWAR, 5-2, 0 SV, 6.41 ERA, 1.808 WHIP, 73.0 IP (2010-2012). Once renowned as one of the hardest throwers in Japan -- he struck out 97 batters in 78 innings in 2002 -- the New York Mets signed the 31-year-old reliever in 2010 but he struggled, giving up 24 runs, 29 hits, and 18 walks in 30.1 IP (but he did strike out 25 batters). The following year he gave up 20 runs on 43 hits and 28 walks in 38.2 IP (with 42 Ks), and the Mets released him. He signed with the Pirates, but was traded to the Blue Jays; they released him after two disastrous outings and the Yankees signed him, and they gave up on him after two more ugly appearances. Igarashi returned to Japan, where he's still pitching at age 41!
The I's who were... Ignored:
Here are the remaining 34 players whose last name starts with I. Some were fairly Impressive, others were Inferior.
Reliever Edgar Ibarra pitched in two games with the Angels in 2015, giving up one run on four hits and three walks while striking out three in four innings. The lefty has spent the last few seasons pitching winter ball in his native Venezuela.
Ham Iburg's real name was Herman; I don't know why they called him Ham. A San Francisco native who started and ended his career in the Pacific Coast League, Iburg had just one season in the bigs, going 11-18 with the 1902 Philadelphia Phillies; he was under contract to return in 1903, but he went back to California instead. The Pacific Coast League of that era offered better weather, easier travel, and sometimes better salaries than MLB, and many players like Iburg simply preferred playing on the west coast than in the Show.
Kei Igawa was a fading Japanese ace -- he even was briefly sent to the minors in 2005, and had become unpopular with fans -- but the Yankees needed an answer to the Red Sox signing Daisuke Matsuzaka two weeks earlier. After going 2-1 (with a 7.63 ERA) in his first six games, Igawa was sent to the minors; he'd return in June, get sent down again, and then be back in September. He'd end the year 2-3 with a 6.25 ERA. He would get bombed in two more appearances the following year, giving up six runs on 13 hits in just 4 innings, and would never resurface in MLB, despite posting adequate numbers in Triple-A (33-22, 3.81 ERA, 1.297 WHIP). After his release in 2011, Igawa returned to Japan, where he would pitch several more seasons with the Orix Buffaloes.
Gary Ignasiak is the big brother -- by 18 years! -- of pitcher Mike Ignasiak. Gary got into three games with the Tigers in 1973, striking out 4 batters in 4.2 innings but also giving up five hits and three walks. They sent him back to the minors but he never mastered his control, walking 647 batters in 825.0 minor league innings, and was out of pro baseball by the age of 25.
Reliever Blaise Ilsley made 10 appearances with the Cubs in 1994, giving up 13 runs on 25 hits and nine walks in 15.0 innings. Not surprisingly, the Cubs didn't bring him back. But he did have a long minor league career, and was later a pitching coach in the minors and a bullpen coach with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Doc Imlay had nine appearances for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1913, giving up 13 runs on 19 hits and seven walks in 13.2 innings. Imlay would then have a more successful career as a dentist in New Jersey.
Infielder Alexis Infante went 5-for-27 with the Blue Jays between 1987 and 1989, and 1-for-28 with the Braves in 1990. He would later be a manager in the Dominican Republic. The three Infantes in MLB history -- Alexis, Gregory, and Omar -- do not appear to be closely related, though all are from Venezuela.
Bob Ingersoll was a 31-year-old reliever who made four appearances with the Reds in 1914, giving up two runs on five hits and five walks in six innings.
A utilityman with the 1911 Boston Rustlers -- they wouldn't become the Braves until the following year -- Scotty Ingerton would get 521 AB while playing six different positions, hitting .250/.304/.340. After baseball, the former Rustler would become a deputy in Ohio.
A century later, another utilityman named Joe Inglett would play six positions (and pitch an inning!) across six seasons with the Indians, Blue Jays, Brewers, and Astros. Inglett would hit a respectable .283/.342/.392 in 808 career AB, but didn't get to the majors until he was 28 years old and never really got a chance; his best season was 2008, when he would hit .297/.355/.407 in 344 AB.
Charlie Ingraham caught one game for the Baltimore Orioles in 1883, going 1-for-4.
Utilityman Garey Ingram got into 82 games for the Dodgers between 1994 and 1997, going 37-for-142 (.261 BA). He played second, third, and outfield. He'd later be a coach in the minor leagues.
Mel Ingram -- apparently no relation to Garey -- had a "Moonlight Graham" MLB career, playing in MLB but never getting a plate appearance. He appeared in three games, all as a pinch runner, and scored a run for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1929.
The third man with this last name, Ricardo Ingram, played in 12 games with the Tigers in 1994 and four with the Twins in 1995, going a combined total of 6-for-31 (.194). He would later be a minor league coach and manager, but tragically developed brain cancer and died in 2015 at the age of 48.
Brothers Dane Iorg and Garth Iorg played in the 1970s and 80s. Dane was a 1st round pick by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1971, but he didn't make it to the Show until 1977; then, after just 12 games, was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Bake McBride. A left-handed hitter, Dane was platooned throughout his career, hitting .284/.326/.387 in 1,502 AB vsR but just .200/.220/.276 in 145 AB vsL. Given his lack of power (14 career HR), speed (5 career SB), and defense (-3.1 career dWAR), it's surprising he had a 10-year MLB career. But he did win World Series rings with the '82 Cardinals and '85 Royals, going 12-for-23 (.522) with five doubles and a triple when it mattered most! Big brother Garth was originally drafted by the Yankees, but the Blue Jays took him in the 1976 expansion draft and he'd play his entire career as a utilityman for Toronto. After his MLB career ended, he would play in the short-lived Senior Professional Baseball Association, then would be a coach with the Brewers as well as a minor league manager. His sons Isaac, Eli, and Cale all played in the minors but never made the Show.
Happy Iott played in three games with the 1903 Cleveland Naps, going 2-for-10. A Maine native, the outfielder would later play in minor league and semipro teams in his home state.
Apparently no relation, Hooks Iott pitched in two games as a 21-year-old rookie with the St. Louis Browns in 1941, then in 24 games with the Browns and Giants in 1947... something must have happened in the middle... oh right, World War II. The lefty served in the U.S. Army Air Force during the war. He went 3-9 with a 7.05 ERA in 81.2 IP in his bifurcated MLB career, then would pitch into the late 1950s in the minors, including going 24-9 with a 1.83 ERA in 260.0 IP with the St. Petersburg Saints of the Florida International League in 1952.
Switch-hitting infielder Hal Irelan played just one season in the bigs, hitting .236 in 67 games with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1914. He would have a much longer career in the minors, still playing for Decatur in the, appropriately enough, Three-I League in 1926. He'd later be a minor league manager.
Another switch-hitting infielder came along in the early 1980s, Tim Ireland. He would go 1-for-7 in 11 games with the Royals scattered between 1981 and 1982. After a long career in the minors, Ireland would spend two seasons with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, hitting .275 with 18 HR in 585 AB. Like many others on this list, he would later be a manager in the minors.
Venezuelan Hernan Iribarren hit .185 in 27 AB for the Brewers between 2008 and 2009; he returned to the majors in 2016 at the age of 32 and hit .311 in 45 AB for the Reds. A utilityman, Iribarren saw time first, second, third, and all three outfield positions.
A highly prized prospect at Ferrum Junior College, Daryl Irvine was selected in three different drafts -- in the 3rd round, in the 2nd round, and finally in the 1st round -- before signing with the Red Sox in 1985. He posted a 3.34 ERA in nine minor league seasons, but never mastered his control, with 291 walks in 711.2 minor league innings. In the bigs, he posted a 5.68 ERA and an unsightly 4.7 BB/9 (with just 3.8 K/9).
Bill Irwin somehow acquired the nickname Phil. He pitched in two games for the Cincinnati Red Stockings late in the 1886 season, giving up 19 runs (11 earned) on 18 hits and eight walks. Each was a complete game loss!
Third baseman Ed Irwin played in one game with the Detroit Tigers in 1912, going 2-for-3 -- and both hits were triples! How he came to play in one and only game is a tale in and of itself. Ty Cobb had been suspended indefinitely for one of his more infamous incidents -- he'd jumped into the stands to beat up a man who had no hands -- and Tiger players refused to take the field until he was reinstated, or at least given a punishment with an end date. Rather than forfeit the game, the Tigers recruited some local college and semipro players, including Irwin. They were crushed 24-2 by the A's. League President Ban Johnson then told the Tigers that he'd kick all of them out of baseball if they refused to play again, and the strike ended. Cobb was reinstated on May 26. As for Irwin, he was killed in a bar brawl four years later. It's believed he still has the record for "most triples by a player without another base hit."
The brother of Arthur Irwin, infielder John Irwin hit .246 in 1,269 career at-bats. It's said he owed at least some of those at-bats to the fact that big brother Arthur was his manager with the 1889 Washington Nationals and 1891 Boston Reds.
Phil Irwin had two starts in the bigs, one with the Pirates in 2013 and another with the Rangers in 2014; he gave up eight runs (seven earned) on 12 hits and six walks in 8.2 innings. In 2015, he pitched in the Korean League, going 1-7 with a 8.68 ERA.
Shortstop Tommy Irwin got into three games with the Cleveland Indians late in the 1938 season; he went 1-for-9. Later in life he'd be a scout for Cleveland.
The last of the Irwins is Walt Irwin, who got into four games as a pinch runner and pinch hitter for the 1921 St. Louis Cardinals; he struck out in his only at-bat.
Orlando Isales started his pro career at the tender age of 15. By the time he reached the bigs in 1980, he was a veteran... at the age of 20. He played in three games for the Phillies in 1980; he went 2-for-5 with a triple, a walk, and three RBIs (.400/.500/.800!). But he never got another chance; he was in Triple-A for a few more years, then left for the Mexican League.
Travis Ishikawa is best remembered for his walk-off home run off Michael Wacha in the 2014 NLCS to send the Giants to the World Series for the third time in five seasons. "Smoky" only topped 200 AB once in his career, and accumulated just 1.1 career bWAR, but Giant fans won't ever forget him. He would later be a hitting coach for the Giants in the Arizona Fall League.
Akinori Iwamura was a top performer for the Yakult Swallows, topping .300 BA/30 HR in three straight seasons prior to signing with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2007. He hit a respectable .281/.354/.393 with the Rays over his first three MLB seasons, but cratered in 2010, hitting .182 with the Pirates and then .129 with the A's. After his release, the infielder would return to play in Japan for four more seasons.
Cuban-born catcher Hank Izquierdo went 7-for-26 in his only MLB season of 1967, playing for the Minnesota Twins. A lifer in the minor leagues, he didn't get the Call until he was 36 years old; his pro career started as a 20-year-old with Galveston in the Gulf Coast League in 1951, and ended with Veracruz in the Mexican League in 1974. He had 1,870 games in professional baseball, but only 16 in the bigs. He was later a minor league coach, a Mexican League manager, and a scout with the Minnesota Twins.
Another Cuban-born player, Hansel Izquierdo, defected when he was a teenager on the Cuban national junior team. He pitched in 20 games for the Florida Marlins in 2002, giving up 17 runs (15 earned) on 33 hits and 21 walks in 29.2 innings. He never resurfaced in the bigs, but he would pitch for 11 years in the minors, including stints with the White Sox, Expos, Yankees, and Pirates.
Cesar Izturis, Maicer's half-brother, played 13 years and accumulated 4,350 AB despite a career 64 OPS+, a testament to his glove. Over his career, the Venezuelan was 64 runs better than the average shortstop. Although his only All-Star selection came in 2005, his best year was the year before that, when he hit .288/.330/.381 in 670 AB, set career highs in nearly everything, and won a Gold Glove. His son, Cesar Izturis Jr., is a 20-year-old prospect in the Seattle Mariners system.
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