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August 25, 2006

A world without passion

Look Look By Ilona
Click images for desktop size: "Look Look" by Ilona
It has been a wearisome week.
That is not a bad thing, not bad at all. The only negative is pointing out to me how shallow my reserves of energy have become. Its always good to know your limitations, if only so you have a bar to realize when you've exceeded them - your limitations, I mean.
The week was devoted to football practice. We have our first game tonight.
The games are important to me and to the players. To me it is the only gauge to how well I've been teaching. Its attitude and physically grooming young men to exceed their self imposed limitations.
One thing I learned this week is that one of my British players has actually made an NFL squad. No one can really grasp the tremendous amount of work, the enormous hurdles that a Brit has to overcome to even get an invite to a training camp, that such a player would overcome so much and still be named to the practice squad, to be told he has value in the hard core world where nothing matters except victory, is pretty amazing and speaks legions about the young mans attitude, commitment and the path of his success.Poster - Evil Dead 2 (2)
The games are important to the players. I've been accused by opposing coaches of “molly coddling” and “mothering” my players. The truth is that I demand more of them physically than the vast majority of coaches. And to top it all off I demand from them mentally, emotionally. I demand they commit to their community and to society.
These kids came and picked up garbage along the side of the road because the city wouldn't do it.
Winning spells out to these kids that I may be right, not only in the vicious and violent things I ask of their bodies, but in the way I've demanded their humility, their patience and their understanding of the game and of life.
I teach them how to play the game to the best of their and my abilities. The game teaches all the rest.
Victory means to them that all of this has purpose, meaning. They stop wondering why they had to run twice as far as their teammates, they stop questioning why they have to step outside themselves and volunteer for the crappy jobs I present to them. They understand the drills that they “never had to do before.”
In the flush of victory they can see why it is important to beat their opponent into submission but to give him and hand up when he is down, to value him in defeat and to see him as equal to themselves.
When they leave the field they can see that all men are equal to them and that they are as big and as great as anyone else out there.
Otherwise I love the game so much I wish they could play without keeping score.
My idol has always been Eddie Robinson. Coach Robinson had a poster in his office. It was a black and white photo of an 8 or 9 year old in full kit running down the sidelines with a look of steely determination, at least as steely as an 8 year old can look. On the sidelines a man with a clip board smiles hugely, pleased for the kids success.
On it the words were - “He's not your father. He's not your brother. He's as important as that but he's your coach.”
I remember that always.
We lost. My kids played well but its a team sport. There's a lot to learn there too.

Click images for desktop size: "Dale" by Thailand
On Thursday I had to speak in front of the City Council. For those of you who knew me when I used to make extempore speeches in Parliament and such, back when, “in a room full of potentates, kings and rulers, he blew in like a strong wind and made them all look and feel shabby.” I'm not like that anymore, as if anyone ever actually was.
The Council meeting was only 7 guys, one of them the mayor. And the major issue I was there to talk to them about was child safety. Which is what I'm always talking about I guess but in this section it was only about traffic and children.
After my breif speech and question and answer bit I thought it was a waste of my time.
Today walking to the bus stop I saw a crew putting up a stop light where I wanted a stop sign. On the bus to work I saw another crew putting up a stop sign where i wanted one.
I guess it wasn't such a waste of time after all.

Next week I'm taking a vacation. For one thing, its my birthday. My puppy and I will celebrate by taking a walk, I think.
I'm using the time off to look for work and to make sure I get paid for some of the vacation time I've accrued.
My puppy I'm taking the time off becasue I don't get to spend enough time with her.
She has a point.
Tomorrow my friend Patrick debuts his new band at some club or other. I'm going to go see him.
Life feels good. I'm getting a chance to live it.

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August 20, 2006

Summer Means Fun
Terry Melchoir

Click images for desktop size: "Simple Sunset" by Iconoclast
There's a lot I like about this time of year.
The baseball races are locked in and the burning questions remain: Will the Cardinals fold? Will the Dodgers be able to maintain the sparkling play from the past month and get to the Series or will the suddenly hot Giants make a move?
In the American League the Red Sox and Yankees are always amusing but the real baseball is in the Central where the Tigers have shown they are not going to fade and keep staying in front of the White Sox, who are playing brilliant ball, and even the twins refuse to go quietly into that goodnight.
And then there's pre-season football . . .
Now that Mike Tice has departed there is no question that Denny Green is the worst coach in the Sport. He is always amusing in the way he manages to confound with the sheer inanity of his statements and his decisions.
Poster - Angels Hard As They ComeMatt Linhart has a whole week of practice in so announce to Billichik, still the best coach in the game, that you are going to start Matt in the 2nd quarter . . . in case Billichik decides to leave his starters in a little longer . . . Matt is cool and will probably survive it. Probably or at least possibly.
Remember when they started Rookie John Elway against the Pittsburgh Steelers? Brutality got a new name. It took Elway 2 years to properly recover from that beating.
Greene is a fool.
Warner will win them some games, the WR's in AZ can do it, but he won't win any more championships, so in a coaching snit you make a lamb of the main hope for your franchise?
At another end of the talent spectrum there are the NY Giants. The defense this year will be very scary. They should easily retake the division title and, with very few good breaks, should make it to the SuperBowl. Gibbs doesn't have a QB in Washington, Parcell's continues to be the most over rated coach in History at Dallas, Philadelphia doesn't have it anymore.
Going through the rest of the league the only other point of interest is Carolina: Scary defense but an offense that always seems to break down.
The Bears? Getting hammered by the 49er's, even in pre-season says too much about them, especially with Favre fired up in Green Bay and the Vikings looking patient. The Bears defense showed some life against new starter Philip Rivers of San Diego, but so what?
In the AFC its unrealistic to expect the Steelers to repeat. The Bengals, if they get Carson back at QB are talented. The Colts aren't dead yet but the Patriots kept them from the SuperBowl when they had the drive to win.
No team really captures the imagination in the AFC but there are interesting side trips.
Duante Culpepper is one of my favorite players. He was born in a woman's prison and managed to find the attitude and the heart to play in the NFL. If he is rehabbed he can make some exciting moments and win some games for Miami.
Dragon Lantern
Click images for desktop size: "Dragon Lantern" by Unknown
The Jets and KC will limp along and try and adjust. Larry Johnson, one of my fave people, will provide some magic in KC but Trent Green will not.
Anyway you look at it the AFC is pretty wide open.

My kid's team starts the season next Friday night. The local paper actually had a comment about our unit. A nice comment too, especially when the O-Line is so seldom noticed except when things go wrong!
Practice tomorrow and it will be serious.
My college player has been coming to my job so I can observe him. He's feeling good about it and understands the concepts. He says it is helping him at his college camp.

Yesterday the pain was pretty intense, but I was able to calm it down with just a couple of mild pain pills instead of the killer pain killers. It didn't remove it but made it tolerable and this morning the pain has diminished and no drug hang over.

They Made Me A Criminal Wallpaper - 1024I've crossed the 1,100 DVD/movie line . . . Mainly due to some early birthday gifts. Three sets of 50 movies in the horror, gangster and Western vein. Good stuff.
I also got a great set of 8 classic Kung Fu films - Liu Chi Ling films. They're in Chinese (Mandarin) but are fantastic looking so far. I've seen all the films but the DVD transfers are so bright and crisp they feel brand new and exciting.

The Mayor's office called me Weds. They want me to address the City Council about Item 25, Child Safety. I haven't decided yet. Don't know if it will do any good or not.

So everything is alright for a while. My puppy is fine and showing some small signs of weight loss. I'm fine what more could want?
Maybe a little more money but who doesn't want that.

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August 14, 2006

No one will understand what I've got to do
Del Shannon

Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Eric Bowman
I've been busy and wrapped up in dreaming.
I had my first training session of the season. It was great.
I have a little statistician who follows me around and worries me with her Dell notebook. She has some nice facts. The first is that its obvious that most of the kids paid attention to me and used the summer well. There was an average improvement of .34 seconds in 40 yard times, since no one turned in a worse time and the largest single improvement was .52 seconds that speaks well of the whole team, of all their efforts.
The College RB showed up. He's only a couple years older than my kids but years ahead of them in his athletic ability. It humbled them in a good way and gave them a yardstick to measure themselves against. The effort he put forth was welcome, at least by me.
Poster - Curucu, Beast Of The AmazonNone of my kids were slacking but watching him and my puppy dust the kids in the sprints and speed drills let them know how far they have to go while showing them that it is attainable.
On Sunday they went off to a week of football camp. I couldn't join them. I got to work, you know.
We went to say good luck. I find it interesting that I got a lot of, “Coach,” and a head nod, my puppy got a lot of, “Hey Coach Puppy! Thanks for coming!” with a lot of pats on her head and the occasional unsuccessful grab at her stuffed football that she insisted on bringing along.
The night before I had to go to the HC's house to run over the drills I want run and the grading system. All I want now is speed and footwork drills and for my big wide bodies on the OL I want them to work out on Speed Bags, the boxer drills.
What happens in the trenches in a football game is a lot like the last 10 seconds of the final round in a boxing match, except that football players have a better opportunity to get their weight and hips involved in the initial punch.
It is my axiom that the player who gets his hands on his opponent first always wins. When you get an opponent having to react to your initial contact you control the line and his motion.
That surprised the HC. He surprised me when he asked me which of the kids were, “on the bubble”. meaning which ones I thought may not make the team.
I told him what I feel and that its my job to make sure that all of them make the team. If they aren't good enough or motivated enough the fault lies with me and not with them.
I thought that was understood.
That she stood there with her stuffed football in her mouth just completed the image.
Next time I'm carrying the football.
The job hunt continues.
I'm still waiting for my housemate to move.
Life is in flux, but not bad.

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August 10, 2006

Have you buttered the vest? I've xeroxed the coffee already

My Asylum By Karincoma
Click images for desktop size: "My Asylum" by Karincoma
The past couple of days I've been haunted by some images. Odd because they are not at all personal imagery, but I suppose the feelings they bring up are personal. We like to think those feelings we have are always personal and unique. It's what keeps Hollywood rich and I've no problem with that.
One thing that needs to be understood is how much I dislike the Pet Shop Boys. Not personally, but as concept - mass marketed artiste's who make dance music and claim to be avant garde make me bilious. It lacks even the humor potential of Britney Spear's cover of “I Love Rock 'N Roll”.
It may have been the Millennium Celebration, I'm sure it was New Years. I had to go to some show or other and the Pet Shop Boys were one of the acts. When I walked in it was to a most amazing sight.
The stage was lit in bright but neutral lights. Stage right was filled with risers. On the risers was the Welch Miners Men's Choir. They were dressed in rough work clothes - yellow canvas jackets, filthy canvas jeans and beaten, dusty red helmets. A couple carried picks. A couple more had shovels.
Negadon(2005)-02The Pet Shop Boys were dressed in a techno (?) version of Welsh miners gear. They wore black slacks, tuxedo shirts and shiny bright plastic yellow jackets and shiny red miner's helmets.
They were singing the old Village People's gay anthem, “Go West”. It took me a moment to relate that Wales was the far west if you were in London.
While the lead singer stood their or pranced the fifty burly men in the choir stood stock still and sang their lines in deep ultra macho pleasantly profondo voices.
At the time their were a lot of headlines about Welsh Independence. Maybe that was the gravitas they were looking for, I've no clue.
What stuck with me was the similarity of the faces of the men in the choir and the faces of the Virginia coal miners, the men who live under ground scrabbling to provide for their families, the men of Matawan and the men we never think about until there's a mine cave in and a dozen of them die.
All in all it had a power for me that has always stayed with me. A power that pop music has always had but seldom uses.

Then there's the movie that keeps rolling around in my head. Its a Korean flic, “You Are My Sunshine”.
Its one of those films that is clearly inspired by Douglas Sirk and a movie that would have caused Ranier Werner Fassbinder to go apolectic in delight. Its about emotions.
A naive but aggressive farmer is looking for a wife. He takes a tour to IndoChina to go to a wife shopping mart! He doesn't find anyone he likes and creates a scene because he wants his money back from the tour operators. In the one man brawl he is thrown into a pretty skinny girl.
She works at a coffee shop. She delivers coffee. This type of girl is generally considered a sort of light weight prostitute.
He sees her and is attracted. He rents a hotel room and has her deliver coffee. They have sex and from that moment he is desperately in love.
Click images for desktop size: "Deskpad" by ResExcellence
She is not really interested. She just thought he as fun for the moment. But he pursues her.
We find out that she has moved to this bucolic community to escape from her pimp/husband. She used to be a street walker in Seoul for many years. She escaped. She's sees our farm hand's attempts at wooing her as just another trap.
His love for her gets so tragic that he withdraws all the money he has been saving for years to buy his own farm and a fine cow. He offers it to her so she can stop working as a delivery girl. There are no strings. He just can't bear the idea of her sleeping with other men.
He has figured out meticulously, with pencil and paper how much she must earn as a hooker.
She throws the money up in the air and storms away insulted.
Eventually he wears her down. She dates him. He may seem a big oaf but she begins to see his humanity and she falls in love with him.
Despite the serious objections of his family (His mother spends her time at the Engagement party telling every one, “She worked in the coffee shop but she hardly ever made any deliveries!) the two of them marry.
Mysterious Dr Satan Ep#05 (1940)Their married life is idyllic. They buy a farm and a cow. They see a future.
Until the doctor calls him in and tells him that a recent blood test shows that his wife has HIV. He does not.
While he is finding it his wife is being raped by her ex-pimp who has finally tracked her down.
After the graphic (but not hardcore) sex he tracks down the husband and promises to go away if he pays him off.
He sells his cow to rid his life of the pimp. Of course the pimp keeps making secret rendezvous with her and keeps making abusive threats until she runs away from the farmer and her pimp.
She goes back to Seoul and begins again working as a prostitute. Her reason is to earn back the money to repay her husband for the cow he sold to protect her.
While his family is pleased that she ran off the farmer is lost and devastated. he searches for her every day in every place his limited imagination would lead him.
He tracks her down when she sends him a money order to buy a new cow. He rushes to Seoul and finds her in a way he did not imagine.
She is picked up in a vice sweep to empower a new law. She is tested and discovered to have HIV.
Under the new law sex workers who have the disease are considered criminal and face up to 15 years in prison.
As the first sex worker charged under the law she is all over the TV news and papers.
He rushes to the police but she refuses to see him. Outside he confronts her pimp who admits to him that he was the one who turned her in as revenge for deserting him. The farmer knocks him down.
There is a messy court trial where the bumbling husband defends her but illogically. It is proven that she did not know she had Aids but the Judge gives her 3 years as a warning to others.
He goes back to his farm. She goes to prison.
In prison she dreams of the soft romantic times they had together. He works but every week he comes to town and waits to visit her. She refuses to see him.
He attempts suicide by eating lye. He still makes it to town on visiting day.
Finally her release date nears. This time she agrees to see him. He is ecstatic.
The Brain That Wouldn't Die Wallpaper - 1024Sitting there behind the plexiglass she is brutal and tells him that she plans to shape her life without him. It is time for him to go away and find someone else. She is tired of his dogged devotion.
She rises to leave, escorted by a thick set guard.
Then, I told you all of that so you might understand what happens next.
As she turns he pounds furiously at the plexiglass and starts screaming her name. Over and over he screams, I love you!
She and the guard both watch stunned as he gets on the ledge and tears apart the ventilation screen, making a hole just large enough to get his arm through.
She breaks down. She pulls away from the guard and rushes and grabs his hand, crying, sobbing, I love you.
And the guards on both sides of the plexiglass try and pull them apart, pull them away but they keep holding hands.

They call both those sort of moments, the music and the movie a frission, a time that thrills become personal, when the excitement comes from inside and out. Better than an epiphany.

My puppy continues to please me. She makes each day a day of hope and fun . . . whether I want fun or not!
My health stays the same. My eyes are bothering me but I went and ordered some cheap glasses while I wait for an opthamologist appointment.
Some odd but good news is that they tried a drug on me gluco something, that they felt more secure with than me injecting myself with insulin. It seems that the trial chemo I'm on had been used with this gluco thing but there was no record of it being used with insulin.
The good news is that the new drug has made me hypoglycemic!! They say it is good because it means that everything is working and that the hypoglycemia will soon measure out and settle down.
You have to be impressed with what doctors consider good news.

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August 6, 2006

You wait for some clown on stage to explain all of life's mysteries
Chris Bailey

Moonrise By Daunity
Click images for desktop size: "Moonrise" by Daunity
On Thursday the “big boss” came in and spent 5 hours with me. She was trying to talk me into rescinding my resignation.
I intend to quit. I have no other job lined up and little faith in temp agencies, so I agreed to extend.
On Friday I found out that while we were talking around my quitting Arthur Lee died in LA.
He had leukemia. Different strain of the same disease I'm coping with.
Some people might not know who Arthur Lee was, not some, most people not from LA in the late 60's don't know who he is.
Lee founded a band called Love.
Love was best known for their logo - the O in Love was replaced with a merged male and female symbol. They had it on their first 45, (those slabs of vinyl that only held two songs). Then that seemed like anarchy and was nothing less than cool.
Miamivice(2006)-06Their first single was a garage punk version a Burt Bacharach - Hal David song; “My Little Red Book” all tambourines, beat and chunky power chords. It was great. It was so great that Bacharach had to make statements deploring what these new bands were doing to his mellow music.
“My Little Red Book” became a garage staple. It got covered everywhere and by everybody. Bacharach reversed his stance and Love was on their way to being the Number 1 band in LA.
They had the surfers, the hair boys, the car boys, the rich kids and the barrio strollers.
The apochraphyl story is about Jim Morrison of “The Doors” telling Crawdaddy Magazine that his ambition was to be as popular as Love.
I was just a kid but you could always see them walking the Strip, the same way you'd see Motley Crue and then Guns N Roses strolling the Strip and the Boulevard in their stage clothes. But I never saw anybody light up the street and remake the world like Arthur Lee when he walked down those sun stricken streets.
They had a house up in the hills. Once we rode up there on our bikes and listened to the band rehearse. It was kind of wonderful being young kids stretched in the ivy on the dirt peeking over the hills and listening to guitars and chords we couldn't name.
The odd thing that no one paid much notice too was that Lee was black. Love was a white group with a black frontman who wrote and produced all of the songs. Like Hendrix race was secondary, he was just a great songwriter, a good guitarist and a better than average singer. Nothing else mattered.
But Lee hated to tour. Who wants to leave LA during that golden time anyway? They didn't become world famous. They were just the most famous band in a town where the rest of the world comes to get famous.
The album that got them “respected” was “Forever Changes”. It had strings, acoustic guitars and lyrics. It moved with different rhythms and moving beats and chord changes.
Detour Wallpaper - Film Noir - 1024Neil Young wanted to be a part of Love. Jimi Hendrix wanted to be a part of Love. . . We all did.
I read a comment someone wrote about Lee's passing. They wrote, “Love died today”.
I understand that.

My puppy is making steps to being my dog.
She doesn't like not being with me around the clock but she keeps being a good girl. She's always excited to see me and thinks their is no greater joy than teasing me or forcing me to pet her.
Other people tell me stories about their dogs and the problems they've had and all I can think is that my puppy doesn't do anything like that.
I've had some bad breaks in my life, some worse than most, and I don't understand enough about the world to really grasp why I've been so lucky in other ways.