Thursday, August 23, 2012

The best scenes of 2011

There's a famous aphorism attributed to the great director Howard Hawks: "A good movie is three good scenes and no bad scenes." Hawks knew quite a bit more about movies than I do, but I respectfully disagree with him on this particular point. One of the pleasures of visiting the theatre is that a brief passage of any given movie can be extraordinary, even if the film itself amounts to utter dreck (see: this scene). Not all great movies have great scenes, and not all great scenes appear in great movies. Yet when a director and his cast and crew collaborate on a truly memorable sequence, that's something worth celebrating, regardless of the quality of the surrounding product.

And so, the Manifesto is unveiling its first ever "Best Scenes of the Year" list. There is, however, one slight caveat: I'm restricting myself to clips that are currently available on YouTube. I'm imposing this rather cumbersome limitation for two reasons. First, I want my readers to be able to actually watch the scene in question. Second, it's difficult for me to evaluate a scene in detail from pure memory. The latter may be a valid excuse, or it may indicate one of my many failings as a critic. Now, in the Manifesto's Utopia, every scene from every movie is instantly accessible via YouTube, but although we're trending in that direction, we aren't quite there yet.

In any event, as a result of this technological travesty, I've been forced to limit myself to eight scenes. That said, the following additional eight sequences are all thoroughly spectacular and would be included in this post were they available online:

The Adjustment Bureau (bathroom meet-cute)
Carancho (final scene post-car crash)
Contagion (Kate Winslet's final scene)
Incendies (bus massacre)
Margaret (the accident)
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (take a freaking guess)
A Separation (opening scene)
Super 8 (train crash)

A challenge to all nerds living in their parents' basements enterprising Internet users: If you can find an unedited, decent-quality YouTube clip for any of the aforementioned scenes (or upload one yourself), point it my way in the comments, and I'll write it up. Also, this may be stating the supreme obvious, but spoilers apply for the forthcoming discussions.

And with that, here are the Manifesto's Best Scenes of 2011 (presented in alphabetical order, though I've saved the best for last):

The Adventures of Tintin – motorcycle chase. Movie-making is about possibility, and no field opens more metaphorical doors than that of animation, a medium in which virtually anything is indeed possible. But just because animators can do anything they want doesn't mean that they should; rather, the key is to ground their feverish imaginations in some semblance of reality. Only if viewers can rationally process the images they see on screen can they subsequently become awestruck.

And that's what makes this scene – an inspired, exhilarating chase sequence that instantly evokes fond memories of Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones franchise – so great. Theoretically, Spielberg could have filmed it in live action; it simply would have required 500 takes and a budget of roughly $10 billion, not to mention a singularly smart falcon. But with animation, he can manufacture a virtuoso, single-shot sequence in which the camera swoops and dives, lingers and sprints, hurtling breathlessly to inform us of the exquisitely choreographed action. Of course, there isn't really a camera at all, but that's the point: Because the animation conforms with the traditional boundaries of live-action shooting, we perceive the scene as a straightforward piece of filmmaking, if a particularly astonishing one. Hell, maybe I'm wrong – maybe the scene actually was filmed. Maybe that falcon is just damn smart.

Crazy, Stupid, Love. – backyard brawl. The irritatingly punctuated Crazy, Stupid, Love. is a gleeful mishmash of tones, ranging from wistful adult drama to tender romance to earnest coming-of-age story. Naturally, some of these elements work better than others in isolation, but when they all coalesce in this scene, the result is a happily preposterous slice of farce. Prior to this segment, Dan Fogelman's shrewd screenplay has withheld several of the characters' connections with each other, and the payoff here – when those connections are revealed – is enormous.

It wouldn't work at all, however, without the precise comic timing of the editing. Over the course of three minutes, directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa rapidly intercut between nine different characters, all with speaking parts, and each line is perfectly layered on top of its predecessor, like a verbal Vaudeville act. The actors are entirely game, and the scene's overall zaniness is anchored nicely by Steve Carell's deadpan ("I'm having trouble understanding what's going on right now" is a proxy for everyone except us), Ryan Gosling's bemusement, and Julianne Moore's increasingly hysterical reaction shots. The sequence reaches such a high pitch of hilarious confusion that when the comedy transitions from verbal to physical, it seems fitting; with this much chaos going on, the only rational response is to pick up a miniature windmill and threaten to "beat you until your brains fall out". Out of context, that's just absurd; as the centerpiece of the film, it's absurdly funny.

Hanna – underground fight. Stodge alert: Modern movie fight scenes suck. O.K., that's a gross generalization, but for the most part, contemporary combat sequences are plagued with the disease of frenzy, in which jumpy editing and lurching photography make it virtually impossible for audiences to discern just what the hell is happening. So maybe that explains why it took Joe Wright, a helmer of classical British period pieces (including the upcoming Anna Karenina), to concoct the most ravishing fight scene of the year. The execution is peerless: A single, blessedly steady camera (in all likelihood, Wright sneaks in a few invisible cuts here and there, but everything proceeds as an extended take to our eyes) follows Eric Bana into a subway station, where he fluidly deals death to a quartet of silent, nefarious henchmen. It's a masterful instruction in how to escalate tension, as the slow accumulation of details – the man shadowing Bana consciously avoiding his gaze, Bana quietly unbuttoning his jacket, that electric Chemical Brothers score – yields a palpable sense of sweaty anticipation. But the true marvel of Wright's bravura technique is that, although his actors frantically punch and kick and die, his camera never cuts or hurries. The result is a fight scene that is furiously kinetic but also marvelously lucid. Astonishing that it took the director of Pride & Prejudice to convey human carnage with such perfect clarity.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – courtyard dash. Structurally, the goal of this scene is simple: Harry, Ron, and Hermione must venture from Hogwarts Castle to one of its outposts. But journeying from Point A to Point B has rarely been so treacherous, nor so magnetically compelling. Eight films' worth of world-building climaxes with this 90-second sequence in which our trio of heroes fends off werewolves, dodges blows from a giant, and stares death in its black-veiled face. It's thrilling stuff, thanks especially to extraordinary work from the special effects team (witness the gasp-worthy moment when Hermione ducks between the giant's legs), but it also feels organic, the well-deserved payoff of the franchise's scrupulous definition of its meticulously detailed universe.

But here's the thing: Absolutely none of what we see is described in the book. Yes, J.K. Rowling wrote a scene in which Harry taps into Voldemort's mind and then sets off to find him, but it's a mere plot point, yet David Yates transforms it into an exhilarating set piece that is wholly cinematic. That's what makes Yates' adaptations so great – they aren't transliterations but movies, replete with their own vigor and verisimilitude and headlong sense of wonder. This scene embodies that filmmaking spirit more than any other in the entire octet. Elevated by Alexandre Desplat's rich, stirring score, it transports you into Yates' fully realized universe, a rush-and-tumble world featuring dark colors, bright lights, and – more than anything – its own singular brand of magic.

Martha Marcy May Marlene – home invasion. How would you respond? That's the harrowing question Sean Durkin poses in this quiet, terrifying scene. In an undertaking that plainly evokes the Manson Family, a handful of youths break into a remote luxury home, intent on pilfering its valuables. Suddenly, the owner (a wonderfully realistic Allen McCullough) emerges, demanding that they leave. He's a big man, apparently in control, and the burglars seem to shrink from him as he steers them toward the door.

Then, John Hawkes' disembodied voice calls out, "Calm down," and at that point, the balance of authority pivots instantly; as Hawkes strides into frame, a sense of profound doom settles over the owner, who reflexively retreats toward the opposite wall. "If you calm down, no one will get hurt," Hawkes says evenly, the aura of the threat emanating from his words like smoke. Physically, Hawkes doesn't cut a particularly imposing figure, but in his rigidly controlled performance here, he establishes absolute dominion without ever raising his voice. How do you respond to a man like that, when he tells you to calm down, when your life is so clearly in his hands? In the end, it likely doesn't matter, and that's the tragedy of Durkin's film: The man was destined to die as soon as he opened his mouth.

(Note: The embed below is the only clip I could find; it stops just before the scene actually concludes. It takes little imagination to determine what happens next.)

Shame – silent seduction. Shame is a movie about a man (Michael Fassbender) in the throes of sexual addiction, and it's a decidedly grim affair. While the majority of the film addresses the unsavory consequences of Fassbender's affliction, this riveting sequence wordlessly maps out his predatory instinct. Fassbender is constantly alert to the slightest possibility of sex, so even when he's surrounded by dreary commuters on the New York subway, he roves the crowd with his blue eyes, eventually alighting on a woman with reddish-blond hair (the obscenely gorgeous Lucy Walters). She at first shyly looks away, but Fassbender never drops his gaze, and she subsequently crosses her legs, suggesting her instantaneous arousal. (It's a credit to Fassbender's acting – as well as his absurd good looks – that her reaction is thoroughly plausible.) In a film laden with simulated sex and even more nudity, this mere exchange of eye contact is the most erotic moment in the entire movie.

But Shame isn't a snuff film, and as Walters shudders and struggles to compose herself, the real-world consequences of her flirtation with temptation become devastatingly clear. As she springs to her feet, the handheld camera centers on her wedding ring, a shot that beautifully crystallizes Shame's thesis: the battle between hedonistic impulse and human compassion. Walters eventually flees the subway as though she believed she were being pursued by an animal. The crux of Shame – to be made abundantly obvious in the passages that follow – is that she may have been right.

(Note: The scene is nicely complemented by the final sequence in the film, in which the weight of Fassbender's experience alters his response to the same situation. Shame, really, that these two silent bookends are by far the most memorable segments in the picture.)

War Horse – Joey's run. Ever since E.T., Steven Spielberg has proven himself a master in articulating the emotions of non-humans, but with War Horse, he sets a new standard. The movie's signature sequence begins with our hero, Joey (yes, the horse has a name), penned in on three sides, while an approaching tank cuts off his lone avenue for escape. The contrast is striking – the free-spirited animal pitted against the malevolent machine – but what really registers is Joey's frenzied emotional state. As the horse frantically bucks and futilely charges up the sides of the embankment, Spielberg plainly illustrates that his protagonist is overwhelmed by a single sensation: pure, primal fear.

What happens next is, in the great tradition of epic filmmaking, both horrifying and majestic. Joey seizes his only option and triumphantly leaps over the tank, then runs and runs and runs. He runs through and atop the various trenches, the camera streaming after him like a desperate tracker. As the sequence proceeded, I found myself mentally exhorting Joey – run! jump! climb! – as though he were a particularly beloved Olympic athlete, a sprinter attempting to flee the depths of Hell. Ultimately, Joey finds himself in no-man's land, stampeding through military impediments again and again until he finally succumbs. And in that image – a magnificent stallion entangled helplessly in unforgiving barbed wire – Spielberg demonstrates the cruelty, and the costs, of war.

And the Manifesto's favorite scene of 2011:

Drive – the elevator. The twin themes of love and death have animated artists for eons, but never have they been juxtaposed with such literal force than in this scene, a moment that is at once luridly violent and deeply romantic. It begins with Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan simply waiting for an elevator. Gosling's character is so enigmatic that he doesn't even have a name, but what he does possess is a purity of will, and he has devoted himself entirely to protecting Mulligan. He is her knight in scorpion-emblazoned armor, and as we've already learned by this point in the film, he takes his task seriously. So when the elevator doors open and a sinister man politely greets Gosling and Mulligan – followed by an agonizingly slow pan from the man's face down to the gun holstered in his jacket – we know that this man is going to die. Gosling knows it too, and he braces Mulligan with his arm, shielding her from the threat. Bloodshed is imminent.

Which makes what happens next all the more transcendent. The music flares, the lights dim, and Gosling slowly turns around, leans forward, and kisses Mulligan with exquisite tenderness. It's a kiss that marks the culmination of a simmering flirtation, and for it to finally take place during a moment quavering with incipient violence only certifies it as a union of two predestined souls. The camera cuts forward, ignoring the other man, focusing entirely on Gosling and Mulligan, and rightly so, for during this moment of romantic bliss, they are the only two people in the world.

But love and death are never far from each other's side. After an eternity, the music stops, the lights come back up, and Gosling snaps into action, first smashing the man's head against the wall, then literally stomping his face into mush. He has fulfilled his duty as Mulligan's savior, but he has also revealed himself to her, and when the elevator doors finally, mercifully open, she retreats in horror, as if she's uncertain of his very humanity. He is her angel; he is also the devil.

And so we bear witness to true love and grisly death, side by side, and we observe the daunting magnitude of both. It's a scene that reminds us of the evocative power of cinema, the medium's ability to convey startlingly pure feeling through the use of mere images. And while it's true that the kiss between Gosling and Mulligan serves as the apex of their fumbling journey into each other's arms, that connection is nothing compared to the real romance to be treasured here: that between us and our movies.

(Note: This embed only includes the first part of the scene; its conclusion can be found here.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

On Linsanity, stupidity, and the limits of one fan's endurance

There's a compelling scene in The Dark Knight in which Bruce Wayne decides to give up. The Joker has terrorized Gotham City so brutally and efficiently that its citizens have turned on Batman, their once-unassailable protector, demanding that he turn himself in. And Wayne – exhausted, bloodied, beaten – concludes that yielding and revealing himself as the Caped Crusader is the only possible solution against a foe as demented and inexorable as The Joker. But Alfred, his unwavering, loyal butler, disagrees. "People are dying, Alfred," Wayne laments. "What would you have me do?" Alfred's response:


Endurance has been the defining characteristic of New York Knicks fans for more than a decade. Ever since Jeff Van Gundy abruptly resigned in 2001, rooting for the Knicks has been a singularly grueling experience, a twisted Orwellian experiment in which the sports overlords sadistically push a fan base to its limits just to discover how much pain it can tolerate in the name of devotion to a fucking sports team. We've endured Isiah Thomas running the franchise like a nine-year-old hell-bent on acquiring the overpriced green properties in Monopoly (Steve Francis! Jalen Rose! Quentin Richardson!). We've endured Larry Brown browbeating rookies and shelving young talent in favor of "veteran leaders" like Qyntel Woods and Malik Rose. We've endured Jerome James' contract ($29 million, or $130,000 for every point he scored as a Knick). We've endured Renaldo Balkman's draft selection, Stephon Marbury's meltdown, Eddy Curry's Shawn Kemp-esque weight gain, Walt Frazier's insipid commentary, and countless other indignities.

To be fair, it hasn't been uniformly horrid. There were some jewels of varying luster buried amidst the wreckage (David Lee, Danilo Gallinari, Channing Frye), and the roster was usually at least talented, if utterly lacking in chemistry and coherence. The Knicks were never truly terrible, but that was part of the problem. In a salary-capped league, being mediocre is actually worse than being terrible. Even following the twin acquisitions of Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks appeared destined to remain suspended indefinitely in what my friend Brian calls "NBA Purgatory": not good enough to contend for an NBA title, not bad enough to bottom out and acquire blue-chippers through the draft. To wit, the Knicks haven't won a playoff series since 2000, but they also haven't made a top-five draft pick since Kenny Walker in 1986. Given that the Knicks play in hoops-crazed New York City (not to mention Madison Square Garden, basketball's Mecca), actively looting the franchise would never be an option, and once LeBron James spurned the Big Apple for South Beach, it became disturbingly plausible that my favorite team would keep churning out 40-win seasons for the next half-century. There was no hope in sight.

Then Jeremy Lin happened.

You know the story. How Lin had already been cut by two different teams. How he was sleeping on teammate Landry Fields' couch because he assumed he'd need to move to a new city in the immediate future. How an ugly 2-11 stretch for the Knicks – headlined by Toney Douglas' horrific point-guard play (in 17 January games, he shot 32% from the field and 24% from three) – led a desperate Mike D'Antoni to bring Lin off the bench against the Nets, only to see Lin erupt for 25 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists as the Garden crowd went berserk. How Lin ripped off six consecutive wins as a starter (mostly by himself, with Anthony nursing a groin injury and Stoudemire mourning the death of his brother), most memorably a 38-point bonanza against the Lakers on national television, not to mention an ice-water-in-his-veins game-winning three in Toronto. How Lin graced two consecutive Sports Illustrated covers, how the term "Linsanity" became irritatingly commonplace, how the media lustily seized upon the phenomenon and transformed Lin into a hybrid of Tim Tebow, Ichiro, and Michael Phelps.

You know all of that, but what you might not know is the precise way in which Jeremy Lin galvanized Knicks fans in a basketball sense. At its best, basketball is a beautiful game to watch; unfortunately, the Knicks' brand of basketball was rarely beautiful. Even in the Van Gundy era (when the team was actually good), the Knicks' philosophy centered more on defense and fortitude than elegance and ball movement. When pick-and-roll maestro D'Antoni took over, I nurtured the hope that he might bring some of the magic that made the Phoenix Suns the most exciting NBA team to watch since the Showtime Lakers, but other than some occasional flourishes (such as Chris Duhon's 22-assist game), the Knicks remained focused on individual ability at the expense of team play. No one epitomized this more so than Anthony, an extraordinarily talented scorer whose pet play – an isolation on the wing that featured him holding the ball for five seconds, then either burying a one-dribble pull-up jumper or driving hard to the rim – just happened to involve his four teammates standing motionless in designated spots on the floor, like extras in a movie.

Lin was different. He was always moving, always creating, always trying to make a play for a teammate. He had an uncanny talent for slithering his way into the lane and either (a) converting reverse layups on impossible angles, or (b) drawing shotblockers, then flipping up a lob to a big man for an uncontested dunk. He had exquisite court vision, especially on the fast break, constantly pushing the ball and getting teammates open shots before the defense could set up. His greatest allies were Steve Novak, a sharpshooting journeyman who morphed into a giant-sized Steve Kerr once Lin arrived, and Tyson Chandler, a defensive stalwart who embraced Lin's élan and became more involved on the offensive end than at any point in his career since he played with Chris Paul in New Orleans. In fact, immediately after Lin's tour-de-force performance against the Nets, I fired off an email to four friends who are fellow NBA diehards, quasi-sarcastically comparing Lin to Paul. He was that exhilarating.

He wasn't perfect, naturally, but even his deficiencies doubled as strengths. Defensively, he gave too much ground to penetrating guards, but he also had canny anticipatory instincts (at one point, he racked up 13 steals in a three-game stretch). His jumper was an absurd, Purvis Short-style rainbow, but it had smooth rotation, and he became a reliable closer at the free-throw line (in a game against Philly, he buried 10 consecutive freebies in the game's final six minutes). And of course, he turned the ball over constantly, including a ridiculous six-game span with at least six giveaways. But those mistakes derived from his relentlessly aggressive playmaking, and if I'm choosing a point guard, I'll always take a slightly reckless visionary who consistently generates opportunities for his teammates over a conservative floor general who makes the safe pass and never penetrates. (Trivia question: You know who finished in the top seven in turnovers each of the past eight years, including five different times in the top three? Steve Nash. Fuck turnovers.)

But truthfully, his weaknesses didn't even matter. Watching Lin was fun. Case in point: Before I wrote that aforementioned email, I'd hardly ever contacted my friends about the Knicks in years except to complain about their ineptitude. Lin changed that, and he changed my engagement with the Knicks' franchise. Rather than merely watching the team out of an inexplicable sense of duty (a concept that only makes sense in the cloistered world of sports fandom), I started eagerly awaiting the games. I was anxious to watch Lin, to see what remarkable, bizarre plays he might make. For the first time in years, I was happy to be a Knicks fan.

And for all Knicks fans, following Lin's ascendancy, one question became paramount: Given the team's precarious salary-cap position, would we be able to re-sign Lin? Mercifully, thanks to an obscure provision in the new collective bargaining agreement dubbed the Arenas Rule, the answer was an unequivocal "yes". So when the Knicks fired D'Antoni after a 2-8 skid that coincided with Anthony's return and replaced him with isolation guru Mike Woodson, I wasn't worried. (Technically, D'Antoni resigned. In reality? He didn't.) When Woodson immediately declared that Lin was "in a learning stage", that rookies should "sit and listen and learn", and that the offense would now run through Anthony and Stoudemire because they're "guys that have done it", I remained sanguine. Even when Lin tore his meniscus in late March and missed the rest of the season (which ended with the Knicks limply losing their first-round series to the Heat in five games), I was at peace. This season didn't matter. I was going to get to watch Lin lead the Knicks for at least the next three years. This was my reward for enduring The Isiah Era: to watch one of the most dynamic players in the NBA run my favorite team. Lin wasn't just a basketball player. He was the future. He was hope.

So when the Knicks ultimately declined to match the offer sheet that Lin signed with the Houston Rockets – instead trading for Raymond Felton, a 28-year-old player who last season shot 41% from the field, ranked 192nd in Player Efficiency Rating, and was widely despised by his own fan base – I wasn't just bewildered and disappointed. I was aghast. This was unfair. This was cruel. I'd been glumly rooting for the Knicks for the past 10 years, they had finally provided me with a blessed sliver of hope, and then, in a decision motivated by either spite or stupidity, they had snuffed that hope out.

I don't want to discuss the financials. If you really want to argue about the backloaded, poison-pill nature of Lin's offer sheet and the potential effect it would have on the Knicks' luxury tax, feel free to do so in the comments. I'll angrily counter with an excruciatingly detailed exegesis of the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, including the potential trade value of expiring contracts, the spread provision, Lin's overall impact on the Knicks' organizational market value, and a number of other esoteric points that are terrifically boring and also utterly irrelevant to my main point. Jeremy Lin, as both a basketball player and a mythic savior, transcended typical cost-benefit analysis. Matching the Rockets' offer was a move for the future, for the franchise, for the fans. And that's why the Knicks' decision to let Lin leave was indefensible.

Who's to blame? The obvious target is owner James Dolan, the notoriously free-spending Cablevision CEO who suddenly decided to tighten his purse strings where Lin was concerned because his feelings were hurt. But I'm also willing to level some criticism at Woodson, an avowed believer in an isolation-heavy offense (or as I like to call it, "Barf Ball") that's utterly anathema to Lin's distinctive panache. And I can't let general manager Glen Grunwald off the hook either, given that, you know, he's in charge of all basketball-related decisions. Hell, at this point in Knicks' history, I wouldn't be surprised if ESPN unveiled a headline tomorrow that read, "Source: Isiah secret puppetmaster behind Lin decision, says Lin would be just another good guy if he weren't Asian".

Is Lin himself to blame, given that he voluntarily signed an offer sheet with a different team? Maybe minimally. I suppose it's true that he could have insisted on a sheet with less oppressive luxury-tax ramifications for Dolan, although the notion that a player should actively structure his own contract in order to help his employer save money is rather absurd. My belief is that Lin fully expected the Knicks to match any offer sheet that he signed because, well, that's what everyone in the fucking universe assumed (including Woodson!), so he signed one that paid him a lot of money. But maybe he secretly wanted to leave the pressure of New York. I don't care about his motivations. I just care that the Knicks had the opportunity to match ... and they didn't.

And that, above all, is why I can no longer root for the New York Knicks. In the end, the issue of blame doesn't matter. Jeremy Lin is gone from New York, and I am left feeling betrayed. I recognize that this is not a rational response. I have never met any of the Knicks' executives. They did not let Lin leave as part of an ongoing, vindictive strategy to persecute me. But rooting for a sports team is not about rationality. It's about passion, about enduring perpetual struggle for the slender prospect of victory, about overanalyzing arcane statistics with friends, about devoting countless hours of your time to a group of athletes whose actions have no tangible benefit on your existence. And it's about a perverse sense of loyalty, a willingness to continuously support your team regardless of its boneheaded decisions and lackluster performance.

But there comes a breaking point, and this is mine. Rooting for the Knicks has become a burden I can no longer bear. I just can't imagine spending the next three years watching 82-plus games per season and not seeing Jeremy Lin split the trap off the pick-and-roll, glide into the paint, and deliver a perfect lob pass at the last second for a wide-open dunk. I should have had that tantalizing possibility to look forward to, and I can't forgive the Knicks for robbing me of it.

What will I do? I can't give up on the NBA entirely – I love basketball too much for that. Thankfully, in the era of NBA League Pass, I can watch any team I want. I can tune in to see Lin work his magic with the Rockets, no longer shackled by Woodson's feed-the-hole edict. I can check out the magnificent Spurs, the one team whose execution resembles poetry more than any other. I can follow my various beloved Duke players, be they J.J. Redick on the Magic, Kyrie Irving on the Cavs, or Mike Dunleavy on the Bucks (or, if my father somehow gains control over the team's rotations, Kyle Singler on the Pistons). And yes, I'll probably watch a handful of Knicks' games here and there. But I'll no longer habitually set my DVR for every single MSG telecast. That time is past.

I realize that I could have had it worse. I could have been a fan of the Raptors, or the Kings, or any of the other NBA teams that lack the Knicks' financial resources and large-market ability to seduce marquee talent. As painful and pathetic as this past decade of Knicks' hoops was, I still watched some awfully good basketball players do some awfully impressive things. I just always hoped that the team would eventually overcome its persistent failings from a management standpoint. Now, I'm giving up hope.

And so I've finally found the limits of my endurance. The Orwellian experiment has concluded, and the sadistic overlords have won. If I were a hero like Bruce Wayne, perhaps I could endure this. But my spirit has broken. Jeremy Lin has left the Knicks. And now, so have I.