A Splendid Day

(Sometimes this is a blog.)

I had an epiphany this morning as I sat in front of our new flat screen TV (one of us finally got paid, we had a rush of blood to the head, and spent weeks eating bread and dripping), laptop on my knees, gazing raptly at the live coverage of the Tour de France, I finally realised why I’ve started spending Northern summers in New York City: I can follow the Tour LIVE at a reasonable hour and still get some work done. In New York the Tour doesn’t make me lose any sleep. Well, except for that scary, God-hates-all-Aussie-cyclists first day.

Other than any cricket test ever, the Tour de France is my favourite sporting event in the universe. Actually, it has a lot in common with test cricket: a long history, it ebbs and flows over the course of many days, strategy and skill are everything, but then so is luck: one nasty prang or cricket ball to the face and you’re gone.

The Tour is also unlike any other sporting event ever. It’s both a team and an individual sport. A contest that is between nations and also not. It combines endurance with sprinting with strategy. It’s everything. I only wish we had more than two hours of live coverage.

I started following it years ago back home in Sydney when there was only a half hour of coverage daily before the SBS news. That’s when I was first introduced to the dulcet tones of Phil Ligget. Bless him. He’d better not die, the Tour won’t be the same without him.

On my laptop I follow the Tour coverage of the Daily Peloton with its gorgeous Le Tour Delicieux reports by Crazy Jane. We do not share the same taste in men (Lance Armstrong delicious?) but she’s wonderful all the same. Today I emailed back in forth with my friend Gwenda watching in Lexington, Kentucky. She managed to do some work while watching. Not me.

Once the Tour was over for the day, after checking out all the online commentary about the Tour, Tingle Alley and my other favourite blogs, I wrote a thousand words of Magic or Madness II. The first day since I started that I’ve made my quota. This called for a major celebration. So Scott, who’d written 2,500 words (he doesn’t follow the Tour, okay?), said he’d watch my favourite movie of all time with me: Out of the Past.

He loved it and agreed with me about the superlative performances of Jane Greer, Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas, Paul Valentine, and Dickie Moore (in that order). We’d just seen Murder My Sweet and the contrast in acting styles between the two films was, well, stark. Felt like they’d been made twenty years apart, not two.

Every film noir has at least one plot point that makes no sense, for Scott it was how Jeff knew where to find Cathy in San Francisco. After a couple of drinks at one of our favourite Italian wine bars, where we learned the origin of the Bellini (a World’s Fair in Venice made with seasonal white peaches), Scott decided not to worry about it. We concentrated on the dialogue, rejoicing in the screenplay by Geoffrey Homes (Daniel Mainwaring) from his own novel, with additional writing by Frank Fenton and James M. Cain:

“I often wondered what happened to him, then one day I’m breezing through here and there’s his name up on the sign.”

“It’s a small world.”

“Yeah, or a big sign.”

Sigh. Wish I could write dialogue like that.

We decided to go see a late session of Spiderman 2, bought two of the last tickets for the 10:30 show, and only then noticed the queue to get into the cinema curving around the block. We sold the tickets, then strolled home, enjoying the steamy weather, talking about Out of the Past (I hadn’t remembered it being so dirty), looking forward to the Liberty game tomorrow with our friend Chris who doesn’t even like basketball (he was only convinced he might enjoy it when I told him Joan Jett sits opposite us).

We got home to discover that Scott’s website is now up and running, thanks to the amazing efforts of Deb Biancotti. Looking good too. Scott’s already gotten his first fan mail to his brand new email address, from an actual member of the young adult target audience. Very exciting. The deluge next (we hope).

In the morning there’ll be more Tour de France and with luck another thousand words, I’ll get to hang out with Chris, and hopefully the Liberty will win. Another splendid day.

New York City, 5 July 2004