Saturday, April 26, 2003
I'm sitting here, three days from a shave, face itching like a two-year bum. Mind is racing. As I mentioned earlier, I have had a down day. When the feet won't walk the brain begins to run. I wonder what else I could be doing with my life. The whole thing. Not the right-now life. I have that pretty figured out. But I look back at some things, and look forward to others.
I should have stayed in basketball. Tenth grade I skipped sports to become a loser. I succeeded admirably, only to find out I was a loser (go figure). Maybe it is the wistful voice of Norah Jones playing in my ears (and on my MP3 player), but I started thinking I should have worked harder back then to get to where I am now. My body is willing now, but I am missing a lot of the fundementals I should have learned back then. I am not sure I am still talking about basketball anymore. For two years I wandered a twisted path. A lot of people say they wander a path, but they don't know what wandering is until they have killed their ambition with pot and worthless friends. So far two are in prison. One still lives in a basement. His parents' basement, of course. I haven't heard form the others. I hope no news is good news for them, but I have my doubts.
I should have let Lars reach out to me. He tried. Really, he was the only one from the new group of friends I could have been close to. I always had Adam and Mike, and for that I am thankful. But Lars had a certain way that makes me wish I could have been a little nicer. It's not just because Tiny Dancer is playing now, I really htink guys develop deeper bonds then women do. We are quicker to anger, but quicker to forgive. And we understand little thing sare just little things.
I need to get my book done. The first one is a bust-for now. I can't seem to write what I want. It is a deeper story, so I am sure I have to be deeper for it to work. The backbrner is a fine place for it, for now. Let it stew. But this one flows very well. It has a good plot that keeps on growning. It has two characters you want to find out more about. I actually don't know how it will end-and I'm a planner. It started with a dark ending, but it is growing away form me now. I have to get back to it to see how it will end. I am lucky enough to be a reader who can write.
This summer might be a good time. I am not sure how it will be living at home all summer. I haven't done that since I was a mid-teen. I get along better with my Mom and Clint, but I don't want to fuck that up, either. I need to stay out of the way when I can. Catch up on my writing and my lifting. Take some time for me. Mom tells me we won't have the land area I need to build my own log cabin. That disappoints me-I wanted to see if I could create something big. Maybe the book will be that. I am not sure, but I think I would rather build a cabin this summer. I like working with my hands, and I like seeing things come together. This book is out of my control. I am spectating as I write. You can't spectate building a cabin-especially when you are the sole builder.
Next semester I am moving in with Car. I don't get nervous about moving in with her-I get nervous of our neighbors-of bills-really it's all about change right now. Car and I will live with anything, but I don't want her to have to settle. Sometimes she needs to tell me when things aren't going right. I have such a hard time taking my own blinders off. This summer wil be rough without her-we don't have the built in excuse of camp keeping us apart-so it will be our own fault if we don't get together. I worry about things like that (Jude Law and a Semester at Sea is playing, now). Remember, Car, you have a boy back in the states :)
I wondered if I could walk on to the Bemidji Squad next year. Turns out they don't even have open try-outs. I am not sure it would matter i nany case-I am not that level of a player. Maybe this summer I will prove myself wrong on that front, too. Mom should get a rim up for me. I want to Be Like Mike-and work my tail off.
Wow, I am rambling. I've got rambling on my mind. People reading this would think I was on drugs, except they all know me. I won't even take aspirin anymore. I am high on life now, people.
there we go! Now my arms are sore form the workout. I was wondering when that would come. They are getting stiff, that means I did something right. If the weather holds, I will go play basketball at dark to loosen them up. My knees are still holding out-three days in a row. Need to get my belly in line with the rest of my body though. Can't be one of those guys with the big shoulders and the hard mound of gut. Don't need a six pack-just two will do.
Ok, free form over class. Listening to Tuesday's Gone, hoping mine isn't.
~ "Write the bad things that are done to you in sand, but write the good things that happen to you on a piece of marble."
Tried to do schoolwork. Tried to go play B-Ball (twice). Tried to write. Tried to work out. Tried to watch the draft, then the playoffs.
~ "Creative minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training."
~"A will finds a way."
-Orison Swett Marden
Friday, April 25, 2003
Stats, Trends, Garbage
I know I have blogged a lot about the NBA lately...but it's playoffs baby! Here's the latest, most exciting look at my favorite team: The Timberwolves.
When I was talking to Carly about the Timberwolves chances this year I was optimistic. It looked like we would nail down the four seed, and draw the Trailblazers in the first round. Five games later, we would be out of our first round for the first time. Worthless Stat #1: Timberwolves, since acquiring Garnett have gone to the playoffs six times, and lost the first round series six times.
Low and Behold, we drew the three time defending champion L.A. Lakers instead. All the writers said sweep (lakers sweep, of course).
I was still optimistic. Logic says we would have to face them SOMETIME to get to the finals. Might as well be the team to beat them right away. Worthless Stat #2: The Lakers and T-Wolves tied the season series 2-2
We split home and away. But they came out the first game and took it to us. I mean they outplayed us for three quarters, and withstood our one run. Worthless Stat #3: The team that wins the first game goes on the win 78.8% of the best of seven series.
It looked like we were in for another short summer.
But, as a fan, I watched the next game, mad as I was. The T-Wolves were a different team. They outhustled, outscored, flat out outplayed the Lakers, and we won it by 28 points. It was what people would call a statement game. Worthless stats #3-4: After a big blowout (four in Lakers playoffs history over 20 points) the Lakers go on to win the series. Further, in 55 playoff games-dating back to may 2000, the Lakers have not lost two consecutive games.
It didn't look good for the Wolves. They had lost home court advantage, and were going in to the Staples center. Worthless Stat #6: the Wolves lost 26 of the last 28 at Staples.
The odds were so stacked against us, NASA had to figure to odds for Vegas.
And the game was tense-and intense. The Lakers led through most of the first and second quarters, then the T-Wolves made a run to lead, led through the second and third, and the fourth was back and forth. And back. After some "questionable calls", the Lakers tied the game-and we went into overtime. Worthless Stat #7: The Timberwolves are 3-2 in overtime this year. The Lakers are 6-3.
Then, in what Charles Barkeley called "one of the worst officiated games [he's] ever seen" The worst call of the season happened. Kevin Garnett fouled out on a flop by Robert Horry. The national announcers, who are supposed to be unbiased, were calling it a flop. They were barking at the officials for a series of bad calls to follow. In the end, despite the shinanigans of the stripes, the T-Wolves pulled of the statistical coup: 114-110(OT) WIN over the LAKERS, at STAPLES.
Here are the rest of the stats: After going down 2-1 in a 7 game series, Phil Jackson (Lakers coach) is 0-3. Home court teams are 75.7% winners in best-of-sevens. Of the 200s of best-of-seven series, only 6 teams have come back to win.
Will these stats be worthless, too?
Wednesday, April 23, 2003
Thanks for Listening
I was paid one of the highest compliments of my writing life today after class. Someone had said that while she was driving home she was wondering what had happened to those two characters she was thinking about, and wanted to go home and read the rest of the book. It turns out she was thinking about the first two chapters of MY book I had shared with the class. She actually wants to read more, not out of classroom obligation. I was giddy.
You see, I always wonder if people are paying me lip service because our class is so damned nice to one-another. This proves that while most probably still are-she isn't. I am elated to find I might one day be able to affect a readership. Yay for me.
Wednesday, April 16, 2003
one last look
Regardless of what the title says, this probably won't be the last. Just read this from the greatest player ever:
I missed more than 9,000 shots in my career.
I've lost almost 300 games.
Twenty-six times I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed.
I've failed over and over and over again in my life...
and that is why I succeed."
The NBA and ME
Before I get into what I was scheduled to write today (I am my own boss, so I won't mind if I don't get right to work), I need to address something I have noticed. We are writers. I use "we" here to include myself, all my writing peers in the BFA program, and the faculty. As writers, we need o experience life, not just write about it. Everything we do has the potential to make us better, not just as writers, you see, but as humans as well. Yet I see this growth of contempt amongst the writers around me for physical activity. I am not saying they are lazy, though some are I would imagine. Instead, it seems to be a deep seeded hatred for the sports world.
Perhaps, in their developmental years, hey were not picked first (or worse still, picked last) for all the group activities in phys ed. Perhaps they took the classic look at writers and thought they had to be studious book worms and geeky techies in order to be thought successful. Perhaps they weren't hugged enough. Whatever the case may be, they have grown into a group, by and large, that thinks sports is a departure from academia. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Even though some atheletes seem sloth like in speech or cave man like in attitude, the fact of the matter is most are very intelligent. It takes a lot more reasoning than one might think in order to break down a defense, make a no look pass, or execute a well designed play. Just because they are phsically endowded does not mean they are lacking in intellect. To think so is akin to thinking women should only be able to cook and clean, or that all chinese people are good at math. It is a stereotype, and should be treated as such.
Still, as a writer who enjoys sports, or a jock who enjoys writing, I am met with this bais regularily. What do I do about it? I let them think what they will, knowing my own anger would only fan the fire, and I continue to enjoy the two things equally. The more passions you can gain the better, I think.
And Now, As Promised, MVP Awards
Today is the last day of the regular season of the NBA. Of all the sports I enjoy, basketball is my favorite. It seems to be the perfect balace of team and individual. The team award is a simple one: the team who wins the playoffs is the best team-cut and dry. The individual awards are a bit harder. Defensive player of the year, Most improved, Best Sportsman, and Most Vaulable Player. These are all hard things to quantify. The stats don't always do the man justice. Some defenders can break you down with their on court presense as much and their defensive talent. I don't think you can measure that fully. I don't want to try.
I am going to look only at the MVP award, as it is the most exciting race we have had in a long time. There are five candidates who are mentioned, and another who is mentioned without serious regard. I will show the merits of each, as well as the shortcomings, and try to decide who should get the award.
More to come readers...taking a break.
This guy is doing it without help, at all, and is doing it well. He lead the regular season in scoring, and managed to become one of the 25-5-5 ers. Other previous 25-5-5, Michael Jordan was one, Wilt another. But that alone won't make you an MVP. Kobe has similair numbers, so does Duncan and Garnett, for that matter. Tracy gets his nod because he is doing it all alone, and the magic are better of for it. Before, when McGrady would take matters into his own hands the result was a spectacular show, and a loss for the Magic. Now they are winning. He has found that he can make his team better by playing better, and he is distributing the ball now. All these things are improvements, which is why he should be looked at for Most improved (but he won't, because the league doesn't give that to stars).
This is another one man show kinda guy, but he has a bit more help than T Mac does. Eric Snow has done a grat job for the team, and AI gets production from his frontcourt on occasion. Still, a guy who can drop double nickels while standing 5'11"(and that's generous), he should be talked about every year. He really gets a good nod because of the growth he has gone through as a person. He is a leader now. Whatever people think about him off the court-this guy makes other players better. He is good at the point, and has improved in the assist column, and he has not lost his edge with his maturity. Plenty of games would have been lost for Philly if AI had not stepped up.
Listen, you can't talk MVP without talking Kobe. This guy does it all. He shoots better than anyone in the league, creates space when it shouldn't be there, and still gathers over 6 boards and assits a game. People can say what they want, but there are some nights where he just isn't getting any help either. He played very well without Shaq this year, when he had to, and he put up that killer string of 40s. But during that time his team did more losing than winning. THis guy will be the next Michael Jordan, but he needs to learn how to lead. Like Mike, he is a yeller-he yells at the other players on and off the court. He called them out after that horrible 11-19 start and got production-and that is saying a lot when you look at some of the guys starting to produce (Mark Madsen-c'mon). But Jordan knew WHEN to do it, and Kobe needs to learn that. He could take a look at his coach for that skill. In the end though, the guy is just too self-reliant. He needs to Learn how to differ. If I had Shaq on my team, I would defer like crazy.
He doesn't really get talked about, and that is a shame. He IS the dominant force in the NBA. BUt is he the most valuable? No. What he does is something special, but without him, Kobe did pretty good. Smaki stepped up into the saddle, and Kobe went off. I don't think the same could be said in reverse...Without Kobve, Shaq qould have to take the whole load. I would like to see that, just to see how he would handle it, but I don't think it would go too well. Shaq needs someone to take pressure off of him, and defer to him when they need to overpower. I don't think he has learned how to lead, and I question his work ethic at times. an MVP is an MVP for 82 games, and I think the real Shaq only showed up for about 40 (injury and lame excuses kept him from the others).
Now we are getting somewhere. This guy is a 20-10-5 a night guy. That means a lot for a team. He also wrangled the number one seed, and that speaks highly for him. He is the reigning MVP and he is putting up similair numbers this year. I am not sure of his abilty to finish this year, though. It seems like I saw Tony parker with the ball too much at the end of ogames. Or Jackson. Duncan should want it. He doesn't seem too hungry anymore. I think maybe he is looking too far ahead at other teams to move to next year, and it is hurting th ehere and now.
This years winner, in my book. He is another 20-10-5 player, but the numbers are even better this year than last. And he got the ailing T wolves home court advantage. He leads games now, makes role players stars (wally and Troy) and takes over games at the end. He lead the Crunch time stats with over 300 points this year, the next being Kobe with 270ish. That says a lot to shut up his critics, who claimed he didn't finish. Most importantly though is he is an all around player. He plays defense and offense all game long-is second in total minutes, with over forty, leads SF position in rebounds and assists, and gets 23 ppg. Not too shabby. A lot of players are one sided, but he also has over 2 blocks a game, and somewhere around a steal and a half. He usually gets the terams best player, and he shuts them down regularly. He also led the league in triple and double doubles. What he does in the post season (series tied 1-1 as I write) has no bearing on this award, but I should point out he just had a 35-20 night. Without him, the T wolves would be a lottery team.
SO KG gets it this year in my book, and I think he might from others as well. David Aldridge wrote him up, as did SI writer Jack MacCullum. You can check out what they, and a host of other writers, had to say about KGs chances here
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
Davey Jones' Locker
One of my Bettas died today. He had a good run-I bought him in September. THe other one I bought at the same time is doing fine, and now has twice as much space to swim around in.
Possible causes of death:
*Frustration-The two fish were divided, but could see each other. I caught this one trying to break through the plastic divider to get to his pal.
*Confinement-He took his own life after failing to escape his half-year prison.
*Neglect-Over Winter break I forgot to have them fed. After four weeks of malnourishment he had halved in size. It was only a matter of time . . .
*Natural selection-See above-except the other fish just got stronger.
In Other News
Few things in life are greater than chicken wings. Little fleshy bits of tender white meat, smothered in sauce. Mmmmm. Yes, I just typed the sound of joy.
One thing is better for sure, though. Last night, I ate wings with Carly. See how things get better? Wings AND my girlfriend. She stayed over again. Even though I miss the sleep after she stays over (I think I have mentioned she is a bed hog) I miss it even more when she doesn't stay over.
And now, the best thing of all-The promise of more winged nights to come. We are moving in together after the semester is over. We were going to move into a hous ewith a few friends, but we found a nice one bedroom, and I thnk we have settled on that. Thoughts of decorating my new home with her, being able to cook my own meals (good-bye wally's cafe), and most importantly, a full sized bed, dance through my head. I couldn't ask for more.
Ok, Maybe a big-screen TV.
Tomorrow, I will talk about the MVP race, and the post season, but I just can't think about it today.
~"Woe to the man whose heart has not learned while young to hope, to love - and to put its trust in life."
Thursday, April 10, 2003
I just got an email from Adam, my friend since second grade. We did everything together, from legos to basketball to theatre-everything in between. We won two Leo awards for our commercials, and we remade Pulp Fiction into a physics movie.
It was he who introduced me to the Boy Scouts of America. Later, he got me a job at L.E. Phillips Scout Reservation, in Haugen Wisconsin. Don't worry if you don't know where Haugen is-no one does. We have worked there during the summers ever since.
As a wierd twist, I was the one who got nim the climbing job there he wanted so badly. We worked together in the climbing program, teaching wall, rock, and C.O.P.E. until I was "called up" to work an office job. I started working in the office at Cub World, and eventually jhad to run the camp myself (even when Dan was there, I was on my own). This year, I was supposed to take over completely.
Adam stayed at climbing. I am starting to see his genius. While I have the headache of dealing with people who are ruining the program from the top, he gets to top out with the kids-teaching them a safe, and valuable program.
Not that my job was not valuable. Far from it, I was a team leader. I had to keep everyone going when all they wanted to do was quit. And now I am quitting.
When I got my contract I thought they had made some mistake. The average raise is 15% a year. My raise was 0%. I didn't mind, and was still going to work for them, I just needed an explaination. I called and left messages for three weeks. No response. From the people who were supposed to be teaching young boys how to become men, I was getting the run around. Worse than the run around, I was getting the silent treatment.
I traked it back to our Council Executive, Mr. Dennis Horn. It is his job to make sure this non-profit organization turns a profit. Someone has to get rich, and profit margins mean pay raises for upper level workers like him. First year staff still make 110 a week. Hard to get 15-16 year olds away from their families and friends for that money. See, the other thing is, it is a 24 hour a day job: on-site living.
The appeal for me? I was a part of something special. I learned a lot about what it really means to be a man-in that non-gender way as well as the old fashioned sense. I learned a lot about growing up, and more about not growing old. I made friends I could not ever forget. And all the while, I got to hang out with Adam-extend our high-school commraderie.
That is all gone now. The day I stepped into the office I learned what camp was really about. I learned all the dark secrets that keep a camp of 50 male workers and 10 female workers happy. I learned how to turn a blind eye to things we taught our children were wrong. I learned double-speak, beurocrat, and flat out lying. I kept the ship sailing with tattered sails and drunken shipmates. At the end of the year I got a bonus, a gold leaf thank you card, and more responsibility.
I hope Adam has a good time climbing. I wish I could be there with him. Our trips to Taylors falls may have been the highlights of my summers. Watching the kids learn more about what they could do, and more about the environment. Watching them discover their was more to climbing than a rope and a rock-discovering the pot-hole trail-the ecology of the area-the geology of the face they were staring at-the preservation techniques that wills our sport to the next generation. I envy him for making the right choice, and staying with what he loved. At the time I thought it was my duty-that's what I told people-to move up the ladder. In truth, it was my pride that let me take jobs I did not want. Pride went before the fall.
Good luck Adam, and thank you for the years of fun. We will get together at Fancy Dancer-you lead.
~"On my honor I wil do my best to do my duty to God and my Country and to obey the scout law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight." -The BoyScout Oath
Wednesday, April 02, 2003
MAN, if I hear one more person say "prose poem" I will ask G.W. to go to war with them
. Ok, maybe I am being a bit severe, but I would like to point out the idiocy of this statement, once and for all.
This from the encarta online dictionary
prose [ prz ]
noun (plural pros·es)
1. language that is not poetry: writing or speech in its normal continuous form, without the rhythmic or visual line structure of poetry
2. ordinary style of expression: writing or speech that is ordinary or matter-of-fact, without embellishment
3. christianity See sequence n.6
verb (past prosed, past participle prosed, present participle pros·ing, 3rd person present singular pros·es)
1. transitive and intransitive verb write in prose: to write something in prose, as opposed to poetry
language that is not poetry
2. transitive verb rewrite as prose: to turn poetry into prose
3. intransitive verb speak or write prosaically: to speak or write in an ordinary, matter-of-fact, or unimaginative style
[13th century. Via Old French from Latin prosa (oratio) straightforward (discourse) from, ultimately, provertere to turn forward, from vertere (see verse1).]
See that first one "langauge that is not poetry". I am not making this up people, go see for yourself. Prose poetry, then, would be poetry that is not poetry. Which, I guess, is what I have been saying all along, as in "I don't know what this is, but I know what it's not, and that is poetry". Of course, everyone thought I was just being harsh. Really, it is not poetry.
Yet still I hear educated students, even faculty, proclaim the wonders of "Prose Poetry". Ughh.
I think I may have found the confusion. See, you can have prose that is like
poetry. It is listed fourth here:
po·et·ry [ ptree ]
1. literature literature in verse: literary work written in verse, in particular verse writing of high quality, great beauty, emotional sincerity or intensity, or profound insight
2. literature poems collectively: all the poems written by a particular poet, in a particular language or form, or on a particular subject a collection of love poetry
3. literature writing of poems: the art or skill of writing poems
4. literature prose like poetry: writing in prose that has a poetic quality
5. beauty or grace: something that resembles poetry in its beauty, rhythmic grace, or imaginative, elevated, or decorative style
6. poetic quality: a poetic or particularly beautiful or graceful quality in something
[14th century. Via Old French from, ultimately, Latin poeta (see poet).]
Of course, it is commonly thought that if you can have something, you can also have the opposite of it. This just isn't the case here. The very definition of the words prohibits such a thought. Still, I am assaulted daily with this new vein of writing. And it is killing off would-be genius, fashioning itself for the lazy. It has become a catch-all phrase for anyone who thinks they have something to say, says it, and calls it poetry.
I will, of course, stay the course, fighting the good fight against this literary invasion of lunacy. Stay tuned, avid readers, for the results.
~ "I gave up on new poetry myself thirty years ago, when most of it began to read like coded messages passing between lonely aliens on a hostile world."