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March 31, 2006

The important thing is to always keep moving

Donato Giancola-1
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Donato Giancola
Its been a hard week physically. Yesterday I found that my right eye was seeing the world about 3 stops darker than my left and that my left eye was nearly twice as blurry as usual.
Seems to have sorted itself out with some sleep.
Curious stuff.
I've been feeling sick and lonely.
Sick I'm used to. I think I've accepted it as the way of my life from now on. Lonely is pretty alien. I don't know what to do about it other than to feel it.

When you undertake any project working with a moderately sized group of people the groups always seem to break into smaller groups. Doesn't seem to much matter if its a team, a film or a music group:

“We never did things this way”: I've only got 6 of this type. They are not athletes but like all young people they show potential to be something, but not if they don't get their motives straight. I have a habit of spending too much time with this group, looking to maybe get them to step up and not be left behind waiting for progress to stop.

Return Of Chandu, The Ep#00-A (1934-Teaser) “This is new. I don't like it but he's the coach”: This is usually the largest group. I've got 23 in here. this is usually a mix of non-athletes, good players and the unmotivated. They respond to results.
“I don't understand this but I want to be better”: A larger mix than usual here. I've got 18 of kids I'd put here. They form the core of the team. This many usually means the potential for Championships.

“This is new. I've studied up on it. This could work for me”: Its everyone's dream to have more of these types, you want to take them to that next level of the elite. I've only 8 I'd put here.

“I'll do whatever it takes to improve me and the team” The Elite: These are the stars of the team. The ones the team comes to rely on. They have more talent and nearly as much knowledge as I do. Some have demons, seldom do they have angels. Always Class 1 or class 2 athletes, they burn brightly. As a coach my main goal is not to mess them up physically and to try and bring out social and leadership skills. this team is barren. I count only 4.
The 4 all asked for a Saturday workout with me. We got approval. When it got around they were attending 22 more asked to come by Saturday afternoon. Maybe tomorrow the whole team will show.
It would be good that way.

Long talk with the Head today. I'm glad again that I wear dark glasses as I hoped he didn't see the look of surprise on my face.
He wanted to tell me how happy he was with my work. He seemed to think I'd find his approval important.
I forget that I always assume I'm doing a great job.
He agrees on my assessment of the team. Right now they are pretty poor but I can see a few things lining up that can make them champions.
Next week we'll split off into true football stuff. I get both lines, the wide bodies and, I have always contended, the heart of any great team.
I have this little cheer leader statistician who records every number the team spits out into her notebook computer.
She told me that the team speed had improved .05 seconds in the 40 and .4 seconds in the 20. Its a start.
My puppy still beats them all. She insists on taking her fuzzy football with her to practice.

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March 27, 2006

There's no telling

Ayumi Hamasaki Marcus By Kinoute
Click images for desktop size: "Ayumi Hamasaki Marcus" by Kinoute
Its been a long day but satisfying.
In the early morning, watching the sun come up and then watching the kids trying to be hard, dreesed in shorts and T-Shirts in the near frozen turf.
They made me smile to myself.
I started them off easy with a reduced warm-up.
I'm a strong disbeliever in static stretches (I didn't used to be). I know ask all my players to stretch on the run. It works and works well. I can point to the fact that in 10 years the squads that I've coached have missed only 1 game in total due to sprains or pulled muscles.
Then I timed the 40's . . . it was disappointing. There's a kid, about 6'7 and a baby fat 325 who looks like a dream player but he turned in a 6.45. He wasn't the worst.
Most disappointing was the 20 yard times. The best one was 2.8 from a WR. That's worse than the time I expect from line men.
Looked at the right way the best thing is the world of improvement these kids will see at the end of the spring camp.
They all ran terribly. Duck toed, improper arm swing, flat footed. Easy things to fix. At the end of camp they'll feel like they're flying across the grass.
92 In The Shade They did better in endurance. I asked them to do ten 100 yard dashes in their own time, they just had to finish them all in 6 minutes.
Some of them struggled, but not badly and all of them finished.
While they caught their breath I gave them a short reason for what we were going to do in the next weeks and detailed how this would help them as players. I also explained how it was imperative that they combine these drills with their weight routines.
I explained how I wanted them to come out on to the field and feel like young gods.
They asked me if these were the drills I used in Texas. I answered that I had learned more since Texas but that we were only going to get to the fundamentals this camp. At summer camp we would specialize for person and position.
Then we broke for some base stick drills and simple agility.
They'll be fine.

My puppy spent the time running the field. She bought her rubber football with her and just danced around and scored countless touchdowns. Most of the time she pretended the kids were chasing her and ran, with her football in her mouth, as fast as she could, she'd then circle the goal posts and come running back.
She liked all the activity. I liked watching her trying to boss people.

I felt incredibly fatigued all day. Not tired from getting up so early but bone crushingly fatigued.
I'll get over it.

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March 25, 2006

Its time for living not for dying
Ray Davies

Fluidg4Yourami
Click images for desktop size: "Yourami" by Fluid G4
Feeling tired after a turbulent week.
Nothing negative happened, just time to set things right, to stop accommodating others and time to insure the happy survival of my puppy and myself.
It wears me out, like hose sort of stands tend to do.
Came home from work today and slept for three hours. That aggravates me. I want to fill my hours with . . . with . . . stuff! Sleep is not stuff!
Next week starts a fun but physically stressful time. I'll be at the local high school at 6 AM to lead the start of spring ball. As a volunteer. I still have issues about taking money for working with kids. I think that working with young people is a privileged duty and offers more than enough rewards. Getting anything more than a stipend I find somehow fills me with self loathing. It is at least something that I would have to address with full bluntness.
King Of The Rocket Men, Ep#00-B (1949-Teaser) I was surprised that the assumption at the school was that I was an executive at one of the banks. The banks and a couple of other large businesses in the area try to sot their consciousness and get a credible tax credit by paying their lower level exec's to “go out and be a part of the community”.
On the surface this seems like a good thing. Deeper than that and it is something I would refuse to be associated with. I've seen the effects that this sort of “good samaritism”, “enforced community service” has on the people participating.
If its not being done con amore I think it is better left undone. Or has America become so blistered that no one has the strength left to stand up and offer a gentle hand to a child without a carrot dangling in front of them.
Kids know the difference. I'm often asked about it by them. (Kids have a natural spy and gossip grapevine that would shame Washington.)
My specialty, as far as the coach can see, is speed and agility. I promote the STAR approach with my players. Meaning that their are four traits that I believe lead to greatness, on the field and in life.
Speed
Tenacity
Agility
Remembering (which should actually be memory but STAM is a pretty stupid acronym)
I can teach speed and agility. I have the drills and I've seen them succeed. The games teach tenacity, on every play and over the length of a season.
Remembering is just learning - analyzing each past situation and correcting your mistakes and exploiting the mistakes made by your opponent.
Teaching kids is an awesome joyful task. It overwhelms me.
Yesterday four of the players happened to drop in on me at work, you know, just happened to be in the neighborhood . . .
They were a bit frightened. Not by me but from the grapevine. That I coached in Texas - which over all I think still has the best athletic football programs - if not the best results for young men and their attitudes - seem to cause them the greatest concern.
They were worried I'd make them run a lot . . . but they were also worried about what kind of man I was. I respect that and admire them taking the initiative to put themselves at ease.
I know my role in this play and I didn't let them feel to at ease. I just spouted the aphorisms, that I staunchly believe, by the way: I just want to help each player be the best that he can be so he can be proud of himself, his team and the community etc etc
Wolfcub
Click images for desktop size: "Wolf Cub"
Which should let them know I won't kill them . . . right away.
I am always humbled when I step out on the field. Some of it is feeling the history of this game I teach. Some of it is seeing the youngsters trying to take that steps into the world and playing a brutal game as part of their path.
I had some of their motives myself and I've been at it long enough to understand most of the motives I don't share.
One of the most impressive men I've ever met and heard speak was Eddie Robinson, the old coach from Grambling.
He told a lot of stories about the early days that I related to: About setting up the field, marking it out with lime before games. Putting away the pylons and markers and chains after a game and how it felt when a player, unasked, would suddenly appear to help. About watching those players step onto the field and strive for a moments greatness. About watching the mediocre athlete suddenly step up and excel for a moment of glory for his team, for his school.
And I'll always remember when he said, “If you don't love your players, really love and care about them, I don't think you have a place in coaching.”

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March 21, 2006

Hooves made of steel

00726 Blackcat 1440X900
Click images for desktop size: "Black Cat" by Edgar Allen Earnesto
Yesterday I wrote down the story about the two guys chasing each other.
Its been pointed out that I left out a part of the story, a part some think was important.
The two were involved in all this because of road rage.
One of them cut the other off and then they chased each other for miles and then threatened to kill each other etc etc.
Not very interesting, to me anyway.
People are always looking for a reason to claim they were out of control. road rage is easy and kind of boring.
The after effects never are.

Remember when I could tell a story properly?
There was a time, but I still would rather be told a story than to tell one.

March 20, 2006

Like a storm that has no place to rain
The Paupers

Zebra And Zebra By Ilona
Click images for desktop size: "Zebra And Zebra" by Ilona
A funny thing happened a couple of days ago.
I was at work and talking to my puppy when I saw a car pull into the parking lot. The car was rapidly pursued by a late model black Mercedes. I saw the driver get out enraged, about 6' 1“ and a fat 280 or more. the customer is one of those ”tuff“ guys with pipe cleaner arms and a rat tail . . .
The first car was a customer. The two of them were screeching into their mobiles and starting to circle each other.
I had to keep my puppy quiet because it was obvious I was going to have to be the cooler here before things got nastier.
From there it went as expected, both men wanted to tell me their story and side with them. They really couldn't grasp that all I cared about was peace and quiet and to go back to work and my puppy.
I got them into my office. It chilled some although I think it had more to do with them being terribly out of shape then any calming influence I might have had.
Plan9.Poster I got up and was going to walk the big fat guy to his Mercedes. I stepped out of the office, my puppy in front of me and, well, I forgot about the two of them screaming into their cell phones. There were 6 cops hunkered behind their cars their guns all aimed at me.
Without thinking I called out, ”Nothing to worry about. Its all fine now.“
And this is the goofy part, as one they all stood up and holstered their pistols . . .
None of them knew me. I knew none of them.
The pipe cleaner armed guy said, ”Hell, if you'd had a gun you could have taken them all out.“ It made me think of the time I went with my friend to have lunch at Parliament, in London. My friend is super rich and looks the part. I was wearing jeans and dark glasses. I just strolled in, talking to him when I suddenly realized that he wasn't beside me anymore. I turned around and Security had stopped him and were searching him . . .
I went back and smiled and they let him follow me.
I remembered this day, at my cruddy job, that I used to be the whirlwind, the man who owned every place he stepped foot into.
Im not that anymore.

Today and everyday I'm near overwhelmed by my puppy. We love each other and I've no rationilization for why she should love me.
My arm stopped hurting. Not completely but the biting constant screaming ache of the past two months has miraculously left. Its still all tingly and numb. I still can't throw a baseball but the pain has stopped.
I have this totally unscientific theory about it.
I believe that the electromagnetic charge recieved from stroking a puppies nobby skull has somehow translated into a bio-electromagnetic charge that has soothed the throbbing nerves.
Either that or the pain receptors have finally worn out . . .

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March 16, 2006

Don't Cry

Wave
Click images for desktop size: "OSX Wave"
One of my favorite songs is Sam Cooke's “Chain Gang.” It's been covered hundreds of times and I've yet to hear a version that approaches the original.
Interpretation. It's about working on a prison road gang under dire conditions. In Cooke's interpretation, and he wrote it, the hell is endured by a near secular vision of a woman he loved and a vision of home.
Against the steady cadence of a recreated idealized chain gang Cooke switches from observer to participant and sings the whole thing in his purest tone, without rancor without hatred but with passion.
In the hundred covers I've heard none seem to get that the passion is what matters and the dream.
Ivl101748 01 I haven't been feeling well. Say it the Brit way, I've been unwell. Sounds hokier but more accurate.
I took a walk with my puppy. It should have been a nice little 60 minute stroll with plenty of adventure. We got adventure and a 3 and a half hour slog.
Roads on the map suddenly ended and were impassable. Four miles on the map became nearly 7 miles in reality, with a lot of back tracking and map studying. We found rivers that supposedly weren't there. It was a struggle walking along roads-streets that had about 4 inches for access, and warning signs to watch out for pedestrians and bicyclists. We came across curbs that were handicap access friendly but they were completely inaccessible! But they existed.
Maybe it's where I was raised but to me it just looked like the fruit of civic corruption.
My puppy handled it gamely and I walked on and thought about struggling. Fighting against illness is stupid. You struggle on or you die. What else is there to do?
I've suffered worse but accomplished more in training for sports. While right now the struggle seems isolated and too encompassing and the struggle seems Carrollian; “You have to run as fast as you can just to stay in one place. To get anywhere you have to run twice as fast!”
Whenever I was frustrated or confused I'd do a karate kata. I've noted that for the past few months I've been seeing my favorite kata in my head, each step performed perfectly. It's in my head so why not.
Detailed performance, even imaginary performance seems to calm me and allow my thought, such as they are, to re-organize themselves into dealable chunks.
For the record it's the nunchuk kata based on Tekki Shodan. Tekki Shodan was always my favorite. The kata that has no grace but just sheer power and tight speed . . . some people are not surprised it's my favorite.
Buckweaver-Onelonelyman
Click images for desktop size: "Buck Weaver - One Lonely Man
Bearing all that in mind . . .
Next week I begin coaching the O-Line for the local high school team. Jut spring training, a time to assess and give kids some training programs for the summer - at least in my mind.
After that I've decided to go back into karate training. I never got further than a brown belt. I tried tae kwan do but got bored and the fancier kicks were too hard on my knees. Shotokan, as taught by Tstumo Oshima, fulfilled all my desires. A not for profit group that focused on the direct meaning of the works of Guichin Funakoshi, the training was vicious and satisfying.
Mr Oshima won't be teaching here but there's a school run by a black belt who is 3 teachers removed from him.
It will be good enough. It's 40 bucks a month. Dead cheap, really.
I'll be with a group and we'll suffer through the most arduous martial training extant. It will be good to struggle with a purpose. Perfection of spirit. It will be good to struggle with a group.
It will make the day to day struggles more bearable and simpler.

The web site got it's database corrupted!
I think I've gotten it fixed. Not well but maybe well enough to repair properly.

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March 6, 2006

Every man's death lessens me
William "Big Bill" Blake

Marilyn-Bg02 I watched the Academy Awards last night.
In that little bit of rather creepy obituary they folded into the rest of their montages I discovered that Joel Hirschhorn had died.
I can't really describe out relationship. If you've owned a dog in the city you'd understand.
There are generally only a few places in any area where you can take dogs to run and play; a vacant lot, an ignored park wherever it is dog owners will congregate there.
When most people congregate you'll generally end up in conversation. Some people are friendly, some just want to pass the time.
Its different than going to functions with your kids. When its your kid you've got some anxiety going on; pride or worry maybe. When its a dog you're relaxed, probably even happy.
Lastembrace I can't describe it any better than that. There are some parts of the human existence that don't describe well - most of them too dramatic to consider. This have the pleasantness of being mundane.
Joel and his wife had two dogs. I had three. You could easily tell us from the rest. We were generally shouting at one of our "pack" to knock it off.
Joel thought I was funny because I talk with my dogs and listen to their side of the conversation.
I forget the circumstances but he invited me over to his house for some reason. He lived a few blocks from me but it was on my way.
We weren't friends. Event hough we were both musicians we were at the far opposite ends in musical tastes. But we could like each other for our dogs and that is more than just something.
We went into his den and I was mildly surprised to see two Oscars on his fireplace as well as the certificates, framed, the Academy gives you so no one will doubt you were nominated, I guess.
Joel saw me looking at them and said, "Wanna hold one?"
I said, "Yeah."
As I held it, he said, "Fun, huh?"
I smiled and he went on, "What I like to do is take one in each hand and hold them over my head. Try it."
I did and said, "You know. This is fun. Thanks."
In LA most people have managed to wangle an invite to the Oscars and a few of the parties. I even once got to go to the Chasens Chili Oscar Party and once to Spagos. And while everyone knows what that buzz is all about there aren't many chances to actually hold or touch one.
It was something I don't forget.
I always thought of his wife as an eastern intellectual, but I wish I'd been able to say something to her. I mean, I like to remember those little golden moments that my loved ones created for others. I'm guessing she would have too.
This is the bad part about not having a home, a real home, anymore.

I was messing around with the site yesterday and got a data base corrupt message. Hard to guess whether this will even get through, and also verification that I need to move everything to Movable Type.
I had to say it though, prints out or not.

At work a bad crazy person harangued me for an hour. It was stressful I suppose, and irritating.
Not a good day.

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March 4, 2006

The Night Is So Lonely ~Gene Vincent

Micahelparkes-14
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Michael Parkes
Yesterday was payday.

My housemate is always astonished that I buy things. Useless things, like new sheets and duvet (comforter) and a new rug.
This is the second rug in a month. The first one was fine but it wasn't machine washable. My puppy thinks the rug is a great place to eat the messiest of her treats and stained it.
I don't mind that, she's already shown a preference like that for the new rug; it is machine washable. The old one is now in front of her bed (which she won't sleep in). I'm happy with the arrangement.
My housemate doesn't comprehend that my puppy is part of my family and she can do what she wants (within reason). She's family to me.
I also got a microwave. My housemate had one he was proud of as it was at least 25 years old. It was also leaking RF and microwaves like a sieve.
He was unconcerned until it actually knocked out his internet connection! he said he unplugged it and I had to explain about capacitance tubes.
Nevertheless I got a nice shiny new one. I like it. Its clean and modern looking. Sleek.
I like light airy modern and sleek things around me.

Monkey Business

My puppy and I were rejoicing in payday and just having a good time. We fell asleep content.
The only negative was that I really re-wrecked my shoulder lugging the microwave for a mile and a half. No one to blame for that.

Then I got a phone call from an old friend. My brother-in-law (ex?).
Years ago, when my wife was alive, her father showed us the hours of home movies he'd taken. they were pretty fascinating. They were on 8-mm, a medium I still love.
For an anniversary gift I took the films got them cleaned and edited them down. Nothing fancy, these were memories not a movie. Cut out all the vertiginous stuff and the long shots of grass and floor stuff, did some simple A-B rolling for dissolves and stuff. Easy stuff.
I then magstripped the reels and got Howard Anderson to transfer them to Beta 1. Took that to the studio and got the guys to foley in some some stuff, added some sound effects and a light, innocuous music score.
I then transferred them to Laser Disk and to VHS tape.
He called me late at night. Now I'm tough, but this guy is hard. If you know him you know what I mean.
He's my friend, close to I'd say, but he's probably a sociopath. So was my best friend. I don't seem to have issues with that.
He had the Laser Disks transferred to DVD when his father passed away and he'd been watching it last night.
I guess, for him, it was watching his history, his past, his life up till now.
He told me some great stories, a few I'd heard before, about this relative and that. About the crazed uncle who ran a casino in his basement and who ran the cops off with a machine gun when they came to ask for more protection money; that was one that was new.
And the story about his grandfather who looked so delicate and refined in the movies but who, when he found rats in his house went and caught one, cooked it and ate it in the basement so that the surviving rats would know that he was not a man to be trifled with.
Family legend says he never had another problem with rats.
He called me to tell me those stories and something else he couldn't or wouldn't articulate.
That's okay.
One of the perks of friendship is you don't always have to be explaining yourself to someone you love.


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March 2, 2006

Lazlo saved my life! George Axlerod ~Lord Love A Duck

Chris Ferris Robotm1 1440X900
Click images for desktop size: "Robot M1" by Chris Ferris
I'm sorry that so many people seemed upset about my doctor's conference yesterday.
It was no big deal.
I took my puppy. With a good dog not much can ever go wrong.
The start of the meeting was fine. My puppy checked out all the doctors, making sure they were genuine and not just there for the show. There were about 7 of them - the team.
My puppy's first priority, and it was a good one, was to make sure that they understood she was a doctor dog and be included in all privileges, including any steak sandwiches which might be passed out at a later time.
After that was a whole lot of rigamarole where I nod my head and try and figure out what the hell they're talking about.
When people are nervous they tend to get technical on you, and some people who are bright have this habit of assuming that you are no where near as bright as them, and hence much stupider than you really are.
Nightwatch(2004)-04 I have relied on that most of my life and I'm seldom in trouble unless you meet someone genuinely smart.
In essence I need a bone marrow transplant. I have no blood relations to ask.
(Which beggars the question; how do you ask?
“Hey, remember me? I was just wondering. Would you mind a couple months of excruciating pain so I can live?”
Yeah, that's probably how I'd do it.)
So I go on a list and wait. I made sure that kids have priority and was assured that they do. Thing is that even for kids the wait is about two years.
Having a puppy that some people mistake for a big vicious dog can be a plus. I made them aware that I took this as a promise that I'd survive a least at this level until that time.
My stern demeanor would have had more effect if my puppy had growled menacingly on cue. That she was busy playing with a piece of paper like a cat might have diminished the over all impact a little.
Although she did work her stupid trick to great effect. (When she works as a doctor dog with children she and the kids have devised this little trick that she adores. She stalks her victim {how does a dog think that lowering itself an inch suddenly renders them invisible . . .} and then when right behind them licks their elbow! She quickly takes two steps back to examine the result while she and the kids have a good laugh.) It was warm yesterday and there were plenty of doctors in short sleeved shirts.
Oh yeah. My diet is changed a bit. It used to be that if I hated a food I could have plenty of it. Its been amended to “if I dislike something I can have some of it.”
I also have to use a phylityl soap. Expensive. Lazlo makes the cheapest one.
Color Butterfly By Dimitra25
Click images for desktop size: "Butterfly" by Dimitra 25
So that's it really. Nothing to mind at all.
I did sprain my wrist and index finger again trying to show a kid outside how to throw a knuckle curve ball with a rock. Its really irritating and I'll take all the sympathy I can for that.

Work was busy today. Still had plenty of time for puppy play. Sometimes I can't get over how many people just come in to talk to me.
A fellow today had a real interesting story. He was old, older than me anyway, and was a Cherokee steeplejack.
People may not remember, and they should, that most of the early sky scrapers in America were built by Native Americans. The pay was good and they had little competition. About a third of them died.
No unions.
No knowledge of safety regulations.
He told me about painting bridges and rigging his own harnesses and bosun chairs so he could stay alive. But thats not the interesting story.
When Walt Disney was alive he acquired the Columbia Ranch Studio for a while (now part of Warners). there was a Radio Tower.
Disney was close to death at the time and could see the tower from his hospital room. It might have been the only part of his empire he could see, would see again.
This fellow was hired to paint the tower and everyday he was greeted with a personal memo from Disney commenting on his previous days work and detailing what he wanted to see done today.
The fellow showed me one.