Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Great Gatsby - And A Great Win

TigerBlog first read "The Great Gatsby" in 10th grade, in Mr. Ridley's American Literature class.

Until TB later read "A Prayer For Owen Meany" a few decades later, he thought Gatsby was the best book he ever read. It's not a book with great action or wildly dramatic plot twists; what sets it apart is that it is so well written.

TB was re-reading Gatsby for about the millionth time last night, going through some of his favorite parts - and piecing back together some parts that he had forgotten.

At the same time, he had the livestats for the Princeton-Maryland field hockey game going on the laptop, set on the table where he was reading, so he could glance from the pages to the screen to see if anything was happening.

As Gatsby was explaining to Nick that Daisy's voice was full of - money, it was still 0-0. Of course, Nick had spent a great deal of time trying to figure out what it was about Daisy's voice that made it so unique. TB has long suspected that part of the reason that there was such an emphasis on side characters who could sing or who were famous stage performers was to show that despite how great their voices were, there was a quality to Daisy's voice that left it above the others - only Nick couldn't figure out what it was.

The game stayed scoreless as two cars went from Long Island to Manhattan and most of the way back. By the time Myrtle's day took a big turn for the worse, though, it was 2-0 Princeton.

It stayed that way through chapter 8, which doesn't exactly have a lot of big laughs in it. It does, though, include one of TB's favorite lines from the book, which Nick shouts back to Gatsby: "They're a rotten crowd," I shouted across the lawn. "You're worth the whole damn bunch of them."

TB has never completely understood what the point of the next line is: "It was the only compliment I ever gave him, since I disapproved of him from beginning to end." Is Nick really saying that? Or is it difficult for him, all these years later, to admit that Gatsby - who had so many values that Nick found contrary to what he thought were his own - was really his hero?

It was 2-0 for a long time, through George Wilson's attempt to figure things out and then his misinterpretation of events, which has a somewhat tragic twist to it. It was still 2-0 when Nick ran into Tom in New York, long after those tragic events had played out.

And then it was 2-1 before Nick could get a word in. And then, just after Tom was explaining to Nick how hard it all was for him, it was 3-1 Princeton. And then, before Nick could sort it all out, it was 3-2. And, by the time Nick finished the best paragraph of the book - and perhaps the best one TB has ever read:

"I couldn’t forgive him or like him, but I saw that what he had done was, to him, entirely justified. It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made" ...

... it was 4-2 Tigers.

By the time we were beating on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past, the game was over.

Princeton came into the game ranked fourth, behind an ACC trio of Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. All four were undefeated before last night.

Princeton lost 7-5 to Maryland in last year's NCAA semifinals, and Maryland then lost the final to North Carolina.

This year, Maryland came into the game ranked No. 1 nationally. The Terps left with their first loss - and wondering what a possible rematch might be like.

Princeton's win over Maryland marked the fourth time in the last three years that a Tiger team has beaten the No. 1 team. The other three? The squash team's win over Penn in the 2008 Howe Cup final, the women's hockey team's 2-1 win over New Hampshire in 2007 and the men's lightweight rowing team's win over Harvard in the IRA final last spring.

TigerBlog thought the men's lacrosse team's 12-8 win over Syracuse in the 2009 Big City Classic came when the Orange were ranked No. 1, but they were actually No. 2 at the time.

The 2010 Princeton field hockey team, which starts only one senior (Alexandra Douwes), has 10 regular season games left - five Ivy games and five other games against ranked teams.

Included in that stretch is a game at Virginia a week from Friday, as well as a home game against American this Sunday as part of Play for the Cure.

In other words, it's a bit early to start thinking about Final Fours and beyond. Still, anytime Princeton tops the No. 1 team, even in midseason, it's big news.

Of course, this year's Final Four will be played at Maryland.

Princeton probably would sign right now for a home-and-home in a series with the Terps.

Who's No. 1 right now? There's still a long way to go in this field hockey season, but Princeton has established that it is at least in the conversation of who might be No. 1 when it's all over.

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