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September 24, 2006

USC 20 Arizona University 3

Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Transmet
Very rushed. New potential housemates coming today. We'll see what comes of it or if anyone even shows up!
My high school team lost Friday 20-10. Shouldn't have happened. I've never seen an O-Line dominate the line of scrimmage the way we did and not control the game. We did in every way except the score.
My puppy was very disappointed in me.

My picks this week are in bold. So far I'm 27-5 for the season, which only makes a difference if I was parlaying with a bookie. I finished in first place last week but lost the tie breaker (total points scored Monday Night!)

Carolina at Tampa Bay - These are probably the two most disappointing teams so far this season. This is a contender for the cruddy game of the week. I'm taking the Panthers only because they look a bit less cruddy. They'll miss Julius Peppers a lot but the Buc's have no one to miss!
Poster - Zombies Of Mora Tau-1 Chicago at Minnesota - I don't think the the Bear's Grossman is for real. I also think the Vikings could win but the Vikings really haven't done anything except win. Both their wins took a lot of help from their opponents ineptness. I don't think the Bears will make those kind of mistakes.

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh - I wouldn't be too surprised if the Steelers didn't make it to the playoffs. Ego and believing they deserve to win are washing over the reality and their talent. The defense is good and the offense unpredictable. Parker is NOT a great back. The Bengals are real and when Chad Johnson says he has a new end zone dance just for the Steelers I believe him. He's too classy a player to unveil it unless its a game decider!

Green Bay at Detroit - The Lions main accomplishment this season has been to show Seattle ain't what they used to be. Green Bay is playing for pride and with Favre that's a lot of pride. Favre keeps this from being the cruddy game of the week.

Jacksonville at Indianapolis - The Colts know how to win regular season games better than any team in recent history. Jack Del Rio (A former USC Trojan catcher - I had to say it) has taught the Jaguars what winning is really about. This is the game of the week (until Monday) and will provide too much entertainment. Look for the Jag's to disrupt Manning in a big way. Without Edgrin James the Colts lack the ground game to protect him. The Jag's might have enough to do this.

New York Jets at Buffalo - The Bills are looking better than their talent says they should. I like that. The Jets don't have the defense to stay in the game but this should still be highly entertaining.

Tennessee at Miami - Duante Culpepper has been the most disappointing player in the league. He can get well this week as the Titan's only threat is to drive the team bus into the stadium and run over their opponents. The only mystery for the Titans is when will they push Vince Young into the game.

Washington at Houston - Too cruddy badly coached teams. This is the cruddy game of the week and because the Texans don't play Miami or the Lions could be the cruddy game of the year. I pick the Texans because more of their guys stand to lose their jobs if they lose this weekend.

Baltimore at Cleveland - The Browns dirty play won't impress the Ravens, they'll welcome it and eat it up. The Ravens haven't allowed a TD this season and McNair is getting more comfortable. The Browns come out still winless.

Click images for desktop size: "Wet Dog" by Sandalwood
NY Giants at Seattle - This is a must win for the Giants to stay amongst the elite. The spread confounds me. The Seahawks are favorites but I can't figure out why. People's memories and Deon Branch? It should be as exciting a game as there can be this week.

Philadelphia at San Francisco - The Eagles are getting ridden hard. The 49er's are not that much improved to handle a talented former elite team.

St Louis at Arizona - The Rams will keep this close only because Denny Green is and shows his intention to remain the worst coach in the league.

Denver at New England - The Bronco's Jake Plummer has started to play like last season was an aberration. They have stunk the joint out! The Patriots and Tom Brady are going to be seriously revenge minded after losing the first play off game in years. Even beaten up the Pats will come out on top.

Atlanta at New Orleans - The game of the year for reasons that have nothing to do with football. After being screwed by the NFL and the United States Government the Saints have played angry football. The Falcons look real and, on a normal day, would hand the Saints their heads. But this isn't normal. If God has any interest in sports or the people of the city of New Orleans the Saints should get an unlikely win. (And I almost managed to not mention the Saints have Reggie Bush!)

September 18, 2006

I felt like I'd written a beautiful poem and then lost it and would never remember it again
Raymond Chandler

Stevetruett Feathers 1440X900
Click images for desktop size: "Feathers" by Steve Truett
So much going on. My housemate is finally moving out. This is good. I was paying half the rent and all the bills but living in one room with my puppy. He filled up the rest of the house with kibble and junk. (See Philip K Dick's “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep” to properly understand the properties of kibble.)
I'v been advertising for new housemates. There comments have been on the order of, “You must be pretty calm to have put up with this!”
But as much as that bothers me, its less than his never cleaning or helping with cleaning or even just watching me clean. That's trivial but merely disconcerting at times. It bothers me that when he's alone with my puppy he's created some odd behavior patterns within her. I finally figured out its his odd habit of teasing animals, not viciously mind you, but in a way that blurs his concept of others. Its something I can deal with but don't need to.
Poster - Dr.CyclopsThe other worry is that when he goes, on short notice . . . I'll be stuck for twice the rent, as its clear no one will want to rent the place while it is filled to overflowing with his kibble that means I'll be living extremely thinly for a while. But I'll be living, my puppy will be happy and that's good enough.
The pain has been really bad. The pain killers I take are prescription strength ibuprofen. I realized all they were was double the strength of the stuff you buy at Walgreens, double the strength for 8 times the price! So I just double up on the cheap stuff and save the prescription for real, “O my god, I'm out!” style emergencies. Then I realized I was up to double the prescription dosage so I figured I had better cut down! I tried taking one of the narcotic ones (No more than 2 in a 24 hour period) and they do work but the price is too high.
Mainly I deal with pain by ignoring it as best I can.
I deal with the stress like the house and money by thinking it through until I've come to a conclusion and then not thinking about it again.
Sports do a great job of keeping my mind off of these things, but the Sunday games were terrible! Some stellar performances dotted in but this was just a boring Sunday.
Now that the Dodgers have fallen out of first place (I know I'm not a big pro sports fan but I was raised in the Ocean and at Chavez Ravine {Dodger's home field}) even baseball was not fun to think about. I've already worked out my coaching strategy for the week. We have a big game this Friday night - cross town rival and the winner has the inside track on making the State playoffs - and I had to focus on where best to put our limited practice time.
So I did a LOT of house cleaning . . . odd that I can still feel so sick and so much pain while performing the required drudgery.
What I thought about was a question the kids are always asking me: What was the best championship I ever won?
They wouldn't like the answer.
Un Dia De Relax By Libros
Click images for desktop size: "Un Dia De Relax" by Libros
They look up to me because I've played big time college ball. Its the next step they want to take. I'm blind enough to think that there's no reason any player can't do what I do.
A lot of coaches think I'm foolish to believe this. Its the same coaches who think I was foolish in thinking a British kid could ever make it to the NFL.
They were wrong there too. You can never ever discount the power of a dream.
But my favorite championship?
It was not football but baseball. And not College ball but Little League. It wasn't even the first one my team won. I was 10 years old. My buddy Tom was 11. Tom was 6'2“ then and I was 5'9”. We learned early to always keep our birth certificates in our back pockets on game day.
This was just a neighborhood team, a park league, because back then they made sure there was money for park leagues. I think they used 1/2 of 1% of the money they now earmark for prisons.
We didn't even have a coach. We did, you had to have an adult, but he went to jail for alimony or something. Jail scared us too much to investigate fully. So we would round up whatever adult we could find and get him or her to present our line up card to the umpires.
White Zombie Bela Lugosi -1024 Sometimes our emergency managers would even stay and watch part of the game.
I think we were undefeated that season. I remember the championship game was a pretty lop sided victory. I mean we were all gremmies, super fit kids who loved playing the game.
The only thing I remember about it was Pete making one of his patented catches where he climbed the 5 foot chain link fence and dived off of it to steal a homer from our opponents.
Pete did that stuff all the time but this time was remarked upon because the opposing manager, a real serious guy complained about it bitterly to the umps.
So we won and all got our little trophies and one big trophy.
Pretty soon everyone else had gone and we were there looking at our trophies and not feeling much of anything at all. There were 12 of us so we chose up sides and played six on six. We would play it that odd innings right field was an automatic out - even innings left field was an automatic out. That way we were convinced we'd learn to pull the ball!
We played until it was too dark to see. While we played I realized we were the best, the 12 of us were the best team in the area. My team won that game against ourselves.
Its my favorite and most memorable championship. Still.

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September 17, 2006

USC 28 Nebraska 10

Elephanteyes 1440X900
Click images for desktop size: "Elephant Eyes"
Last week I went 13-3 in my picks. In the local contest that put me 11th out of nearly 150,000.
What surprising is that there was an online contest that I thought was too complicated. I did the one entry and forgot about it. I won!
The prize is sort of odd and sort of cool. I won a vacuum cleaner ROBOT!
I love robots. Sadly this one does not look like the one in the Chuck Jones cartoons. You know, the one that cleans up the “House Of Tomorrow” and then has a nervous breakdown trying to clean up after insane mice/rabbits/dogs/cats!
This one is just a round disc. It has a remote control.
I sense madness for all dogs in the universe!
Poster - An Adventure In Nudism
This week is not as interesting as the first week. Here are my picks in bold home team second.

Buffalo at Miami - They kind of stunk out the joint against the Steelers. Buffalo might be able to beat the Dolphins at home but it seems unreasonable to expect them too. The most interesting thing about this game will be the performance of Culpepper. What happens today will spell the rest of Miami's season.

Carolina at Minnesota - This feels like a weird pick. The Vikings beat a terrible Washington team, barely. The Panthers looked terrible against the Falcons. They won't have Steve Smith this week either. Right now they look like they might be that bad. The Vikings don't look that good but good enough to handle the Panther D and Carolina's offense will play close but will probably have a hard time in the MetroDome.

Cleveland at Cincinnati - Give the points and sit back and watch. This should be a laugher or at least another step in Carson Palmer's rehab.

Detroit at Chicago - I feel sorry for the Lions. They might give the Bears two consecutive shut outs. Then the question is how many points will the Bear's D put up. The Bear's offense is even worse than Washington's.

Houston at Indianapolis - One of the “business as usual” things I despise about the NFL is the blatant lying. Reggie Bush didn't announce he would leave USC until Houston swore they were going to take him with the first pick.
They didn't. Emotionally I hope the Texan's never win another game. intellectually I'm just glad they still stink.
The “interest” in this game is whether the guy they took, A DE from North Carolina State, will fire up and look like a number 1 against Peyton Manning. Who cares? The Colts will roll professionally and easily.
Dc Cover Infinitecrisis 07 (Perez)
Click images for desktop size: "Infinite Crisis" by M Perez
New Orleans at Green Bay - I love Brett Favre and was saddened that he looked like my worst nightmare against the Bears. What's easy to over look in that moment was just how abysmal the Packers' defense looked and played. This might be a coming of age party for Reggie Bush and Drew Brees. I don't expect Favre to get shut out again but I don't think they can throw up as many points as the Saints are capable of.

New York Giants at Philadelphia - The Eagles did not look good against the Texans. Weirdly they seem satisfied with just winning. The Giants looked almost good enough to join the elite in their defeat at the hands of the Colts. This should be a mild upset, especially if the Giants D plays in the Eagles backfield 4 times a quarter.
Poster - Assault On Precinct 13 (3)
Oakland at Baltimore - An offense worse than the Bears? The Raiders may have found a way to be totally inept. The Ravens are showing the potential. This should be another shut out for the Ravens.

Tampa Bay at Atlanta - While I don't think the Falcon's O is “that good”, their defense looked very very real. This should be an easy win unless . . . well, there's no unlesses I can figure out. Maybe Vick fumbles twice and throws 3 INT's . . .

Arizona at Seattle - Rah! No team looked as bad winning as the Seahawks did last week. The Cardinals are definitely on the rise. My heart says go with the Cardinals and take the points but if there is any pride in Seattle at all they should win their home opener and handily.

St Louis at San Francisco - The 49ers are improving. The Rams will want to prove beating Denver was no fluke. This is my cruddy game of the week. I can't think of anything interesting here.

New England at New York Jets - If it weren't for Seattle looking so bad everyone would be talking about how poor the Patriots looked. I really think this could be a Jets upset. Pennington has too much to prove. Their defense looks to weak and they still have nothing that looks like a running game so I have to stay with the Pat's.

Tennessee at San Diego - The Chargers - well, Philip Rivers proved he is capable of not losing a game and Ladainian Tomlinson continues to prove he might be the best player in the game. The Titans will definitely show up unles the bus gets a flat tire . . .

Pittsburgh at Jacksonville - The Steelers played good D against the Dolphins but Tryo Palomulo is dinged up. The Jaguars keep playing over their head to the point that it is now their game. This is my game of the week. I'm sticking with Jack Del Rio and Brian Leftowich and company to get a win that is important to them.

Washington at Dallas - Another cruddy game. Dallas should win handily.

My high school team won Friday night 41-6. My puppy takes all the credit.

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September 14, 2006

The Fate Of Lee Kahn

Minimalistic Black And White 5 By Knives Banime
Click images for desktop size: "Minimalistic Black And White 5" by Knives Banime
I got this DVD as a belated birthday present. Now the DVD itself is horrible. Its from a scratchy faded print with the old Honk Kong cinema hard coded subs. There's enough jitter and lines through this to convince me its from a VHS master!
That said this is probably one of the most enduring endeared films in my collection.
King Hu is a killer filmmaker. He made movies for Chinese audiences. Never paid any attention to forgien markets. This paid off in spades for one of the greatest films of all time, “A Touch Of Zen”. As great as that movie was this film is probably more important. Without “Lee Kahn” there might not even be an Asian film industry, and we would all be poorer for that.
After Bruce Lee died the “Kung Fu” market was lost and consigned to fad status, much like its predecessor, spaghetti westerns. The apex and the nadir for the genre was when “Chinese Hercules”, an insignificant film otherwise, actually made the Box Office number 1 grossing movie list.
Poster - Simon King Of The Witches Both before and certainly after “Chinese Hercules” the main drive of Kung Fu movies was hucksters looking to turn a quick buck. They'd pick up the cheapest product they could (Chinese Hercules was rumored to have a $5,000 US negative cost) and then sell the pictures at a flat fee, usually one to three hundred bucks a week.
Flat fee films would never play the big first run houses. They were consigned to the grind houses. In LA that was in theaters like the World on Hollywood Blvd. The World was a “prestige” grind house, next to the porno Pussycat Theater. Most of the grind houses were downtown near skid row. You'd get 4 films for a $1 admission price and most of the theaters were open 24 hours. They employed an usher who's main job was to wake up the tenants who found it cheaper than a hotel room.
For the few who wanted to see one of the films it was an education that a DVD will never be able to recreate.
(One of my perverse favorites from this time was a movie called “Hong Kong Cat”. These guys had picked up for almost free a bunch of really bad Thai and Taiwan kung fu flics. They were so bad that there decision was to get a cheap but nifty looking black and white poster and then just cut out all the fight sequences and stick them together in any fashion they happened to fall in. This was amazing cinema. Some guy you'd never seen before would throw one punch and then there'd be a 3 minute fight scene featuring a whole different bunch of guys fighting and on and on for seventy minutes! Sometimes the fighters would re-appear later on but most of the time they didn't.)
Then in the UK censorship had gotten ugly. They cut the films up so badly it was like watching hard core porn on an R rated cable channel.
The best example of this was in Lee's “Way Of The Dragon”. Lee walks out into the alley with the thugs and in the next shot he walks away from the alley while the thugs lie all beaten up on the ground! Kung Fu was dead.
“Sight and Sound” is a stuffy, pretentious British FILM magazine. Right around this time they published an article by Tony Ryans' called “Threads In A Labyrinth”. Moonrise By Daunity-1
Click images for desktop size: "Moonrise" by Daunity
Ryans was attempting to do for Chinese movies what Donald Ritchie had done for Japanese movies with his works on Ozu and Kurasawa.
The Labyrinth article attempted an auteur semiotic examination of Chinese cinema by examine King Hu's “The Fate Of Lee Kahn” and Chang Cheh's “Golden Swallow”, with a history of each directors work until that time.
Ryans article was brilliant and ended with the comment that these two men were merely examples and served his point to illustrate what were merely threads in a dense impressive cultural labyrinth. (Hence the gooney title)
Of note were his observations on the way the Chinese read films. In Western films we read left to right; so that a plane flying right to left signifies danger and creates tension (as a simple example of composition). The Chinese read up and down and use a different dialect.
He also pointed out that the cultural imperative. To describe a phenomenal feat, such as jumping 6 feet straight up, the Chinese theater was used to this sort of hyperbole. So that the Asian viewer had a different set of filters in place when watching a film.
Poster - Sympathy For Mr.Vengeance Suddenly kung fu movies had cachet! Hong Kong's response was to up their price.
The Hollywood distributers response was to pick up more American indy and Italian films (Last House On The Left, giallo being the immediate beneficiaries, films like “They Call Her One Eye (Thriller)” “Gone In 60 Seconds” and “Sword Of Vengeance” (Part 3 of the Lone Wolf and Cub films) got chances they wouldn't have had otherwise.)
“The Fate Of Lee Kahn” started things rolling. It got a two week run at the Fox Venice (known for it's art film leanings) and at the Oriental Theater (known as a second run house), completely side stepping the grind houses.
In England it was used to side step the censors. Distributors rented theaters. To see the film you had to sign up for a private membership. To get the private membership you merely had to buy a ticket.
In America this practice is called Four Walling, where the distributor would take his film and rent the theater for the time needed, keeping all the profit. It was new in modern film distribution in England.
The end result was that in Europe, “Lee Kahn” made 86% of the Best Film Of The Year lists. In England some of the great Chinese movies suddenly had a new market.
Hong Kong didn't make much money from those deals. The USA was still the prize, but all the quality films were deemed too expensive. For a few thousand dollars you could buy some old Green Hornet episodes, splice them together and have a new Bruce Lee film, one that even played on the Champs Elysee in Paris complete with a 15 foot, half block long mural of Lee.
For Chinese movies the only thing selling were the super cheap Bruce Lee rip offs and the occasional hum dinger like “Master of the Flying Guillotine” and Chang Cheh's “Five Deadly Venoms”.
And that could have been the fate of Chinese movies - the odd cheap film and the Art House presentation. But then came home video and “Black Belt Theater”.
That's got little to do with King Hu though.

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September 11, 2006

I said, yes I'll be here when the morning comes
Jumpin' Gene Simmons (194?-2006)

Tomdarro Womanwhodreamedofthewhitewolf
Click images for desktop size: "Woman Who Dreamed Of The White Wolf" by Tom Darro
We all have those times when we want the phone to ring. We want somebody, anybody, to drop by. We all have times when we need to remember that we are human and we don't always feel like like . . . this. When its hard to recognize the face in the mirror.
There's the other times too. Those moments when you wrap yourself in a black cocoon and relish being not of this earth. Sometimes you think those thoughts filled with hate that come from someplace you don't recognize. Later on those thought repulse you and force you into being more the person you are and want to be.
Some people just sit around scared.
To be human you have to have light and dark inside of you so that it becomes up to you which side to show to the world. So you can be the chilled relaxed person who is comfortable in your own skin.
Then you can face the world knowing what's inside of you.
Poster - The Young, The Evil And The Savage One of the free penny papers did a story about me, my puppy, football and music and about me talking to the city council.
I just wanted to be invisible. To suffer quietly.
I don't like newspapers.
Journalists. I've had them as friends. Been fond of a couple of them so I know that they are people and feel and act just like the rest of us. But they have a job and when it comes down to their job they can't help but use everything they know about you. For a journalist the biggest loving act they can do in your behalf is keep silent. They twist the knife, not with hatred which you can deal with and expect, but con amore, only because it is their job and what feeds their kids.
I don't like even sweet puff pieces fascinated that I'm like a side show freak. I like music, football and puppies and I care that children not be harmed.
That's normal for me but worth a quarter page in a throw away paper?
I want to be invisible all over again.

The pain has been bad. I've been swallowing pain killers pretty steadily. Not the narcotic ones. I hate them and avoid them at all costs. They knock out the pain but then I feel hung over for the next 3 days. the pain is still manageable.

Going into tonight I'm 11-3 in my football picks. One of the losses was picking a major upset, picking Miami. The other was a shock. Who could have figured that John Abrahams and Grady Little could suddenly convert the Atlanta defense into championship caliber, or is it that Carolina is really a one dimensional team and without Steve Smith fall into the ordinary.
Probably both are true.
And then I picked the Giants . . . they played horridly on O and stunningly on D. It doesn't matter, who I picked. It was a highly entertaining game.
Now the two games tonight. I'm so drained I hope I can stay awake for them.
Between football and the Dodgers and the American League Central I can barely keep my mind on the hurting. This is truly a golden time that comes each year and then on Saturday Southern California against the Nebraska Cornhuskers!
I'm shallow. These are reasons to rejoice in life. Then my High School team gets to play an 0-4 team.
Hopefully we can learn sportsmanship while perfecting our performance.
Michaelwhelan Hplovecraftpanel2
Click images for desktop size: "HP Lovecraft Panel 2" by Michael Whelan
And I have a dog I love.
What else matters.

For my birthday I got a couple of really great books. They came from Amazon with a gift note but absolutely NO NAME or even clue as to who might have sent them. I took the tact that, instead of thinking about it, I'd wait until I got a nasty note or phone call.
It came today BUT it came with even more gifts! More MOVIES - King Hu's “The Fate Of Lee Kahn”. This is a Chinese disk. I hope it has subtitles. “The Fate Of Lee Kahn” was the first Chinese film to be noticed outside of the grind houses way back in the 70's. Respected critic Tony Ryans, astounded everyone by writing a pivotal piece, “Threads In The Labyrinth”. The films he wrote about most eloquently were King Hu's. I have never seen the movie so I am stoked.
If that's not enough it also included a box set of 5 spaghetti Westerns!
Hecrules And The Captive Women-1024 This proves my puppies cynical syllogism, “The ruder you are the more they like you.”

This is September 11th. Five years ago. One of my best friends was a Lt. Commander. He was at the Pentagon and died there. The real hell was that it took 3 days for the US government to even acknowledge he was there and 2 more days to find out what happened to him.
I miss him. Even so neither his wife or his mother and certainly not me believe that all Muslims should be killed on sight. We don't believe that this war in Iraq has anything to do with what happened that day.
Even though we have been touched by it we all still feel that this is a phony war designed for the most base political and monetary motives. I don't want to understand them, I want the people who killed my friend to be dead and I despise a President who seeks to justify his self serving acts with the blood of my friends and the young men and women who's lives he throws away.

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September 7, 2006

You could join the Church Of Indifference . . . maybe
The Saints

Trust Nature
Click images for desktop size: "Trust Nature" by Pixel Hust
Just waiting for the season opening game. Listening to experts ridicule my choice of the Dolphins to get the mild upset.
There was that commercial for the new Bob Dylan album available on iTunes. I read Dylan's comments on why he's finally decided to distribute his music digitally, “The new recordings sound terrible. When I heard the masters of the new album I couldn't believe how it sounded nothing like what we were doing in the studio.”
I guess that music sounds so bad now why not just throw it out there on iTunes or whatever. If Bob weren't so rich already you could make a lot of accusations. Thing is that most of Bob's attack was launched at CD's!
The UndeadI think most of his complaints have to do with the horrific mastering job they're currently doing. I prefer the sound of analog tape recordings being digitally mastered. It gives a near perfect clone of the original recording. The White Stripes have killed using this technique. It also explains the brilliant sound of some of the retro stuff I like.
Straight digital records have a sharp hollowness that I find fatiguing but the worst part is that re-mastering engineers have taken digital and gone berserk with it. The old RAIA standard called for heavy compression to pump up the lead voices and instruments without losing the background. Now the compression can be even more extreme and the overall sound level pumped up to the max, sometimes coming distorted before they are even played. They do sound louder when played through any equipment and that seems to be the point.
I think Bob's complaints have to do with the re-mastering process and not the recording step. I've looked at the aiff's of the new album, Modern Times, and they are as squelched as Green Day's! Somehow even Bob seems to have little control over this.
The best thing out of all this was the comments coming from Kid Rock's manager. I like Kid Rock a lot. But . . .
His manager refused to let Kid's music go digital because he doesn't like people only being able to buy the tracks they like. He was actually making that incredibly stupid argument that “the album has artistic integrity that should not be allowed to be decided by the consumer” . . . RAH!
The Devil Without A Cause a work of art?!? I shouldn't be allowed to decide what is a good track?
I liked it better when it was just pop music.

Other than that it was just another day. Nothing more and it couldn't be much less.
My puppy found a mole. It was sick. She's nursing it. She is very serious about this.

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September 6, 2006

While the rich get their kicks with their affluent antics Ray Davies

Waiting For An Earthquake 1
Click images for desktop size: "Waiting For An Earthquake" by Hama
One of the reasons I've felt pain lately is what I can only describe as a feeling that my bones and teeth are shifting, remaking themselves in some way; changing me and the way I look.
They tell me that the physical feeling is pretty normal as is the painful biting the inside of my mouth and tongue. Go figure normal.
The pain I can tolerate. Its the feeling I'm turning into a grotesque that's hardest to cope with.

Today I had to make my weekly trip to the clinic. Its annoying and feels time consuming. There's no logical way to stop resenting it, hating it.
Today was good though. Not that the pills and the prodding were any different but people approached me. Normally I don't care much about that. I've never liked it. Today I decided to accept it. It made me feel better.
One woman rushed across the clinic waiting room and grabbed my arm. She wanted to know if I was the coach with the beautiful dog.
Poster - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 Its not the way I'm used to being recognized but it was okay. She chattered at me and gave me her phone number. I made it pretty clear that I was not of a mind to ever call but she wrote it on the back of her appointment card. I think I already lost it.
I had to go to a finance window, along with the hundreds of others every day. I'm always disconcerted that the women in finance always remember my name and my account before I get there. Today I decided to take it as a compliment and believe, if only for a little while, that I wasn't getting older and more decrepit.
These things have to happen in threes or its just happenstance.
I took the bus to the clinic because I was waiting for rain that never came. While I was waiting at the bus stop to go home a car passed me and then stopped and turned around.
It was a Honda Fit, that I'd never seen before and I can't say I like the model. It was driven by a little coed type who saw me at my friend, Patrick's, gig a couple of Saturdays ago. I guess, because of my dark glasses, most of the people there thought I was blind and that my puppy was some sort of frisky guide dog.
She wanted to tell me she loved our version of “God Knows Why”. When her friend told her it was a Kid Rock tune she got the album and was sad that it was different than our version.
My bus came then so the conversation got to end before it became embarrassing, which is the best way for conversations to end, I think.
Tomorrow I have to go back to work. I don't like my job but its better than starving.
I'm still trying to figure out how America became the country that despises the working man. How it decided that the world would be a better place with serfs or at least back before the battles of Matewan and into the days of the Pinkertons and the skull breakers.
I have a call back interview on Friday.
My puppy and I are happy. What's better than that?
We make each other laugh. Out loud.

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September 5, 2006

What's the score?

Click images for desktop size: "A Sign Of Strength" by Anonymous
It feels nice right now. High School football and College Football are in full swing. The pennant races are sorting out with enough tantalizing questions to make the dreaming on it better than a first date. (Can the Tigers get to the series, will the Dodgers hold on to first, does anyone want to win the wild card?)
The NFL starts this week. I don't like this Thursday games idea, they mess up the symmetry of my punk little universe. High School ball on Friday. Colleges on Saturday, the pros on Sunday and then Monday night cause there's nothing else on TV anyway.
That's the way the world was intended.
There's one thing I like. The players know about it. In the pre-season games the guys trying to make the team play the hardest but when the season starts the intensity level cranks up to 11 for everyone. The hits are harder and the mind concentrates fully until just reflex and instinct take over.
Its a beautiful thing.
Poster - The Mole PeopleAlso beautiful is Ryan Howard of the Phillies. Howard is having a fabulous season and has the Phillies in the thick of the Wild Card race. He said something about how relaxed the team was and just focusing on playing good ball. Laughing and joking.
How very much the same point for athletes to be in but coming from opposite directions.

This is an interesting first week to the season. My picks are in bold and the home team is the second listed:

Miami at Pittsburgh - The Steelers are the most boring team ever to win a SuperBowl. Cowher is the epitome of an NFL coach - win at all costs, winning is all that there is. Miami's Saban isn't much better in that regard but at least he's not coaching young people anymore.
I pick the Dolphins. The Steeler defense is in a “get it done” mode; they'll step up but they can't overcome the deficiencies of the 2nd string QB, Charlie Batch. The Dolphins Duante Culpepper has a lot to prove and this will be a big stage. I'd take the Dolphins and the points.

Atlanta at Carolina - Michael Vick is fun to watch but he is no messiah. The Panthers are for real and have the talent to make this a laugher.

Baltimore at Tampa Bay - Everything on paper says this should be a win for the Buc's, as easy as any win can be over the Ravens. The Ravens D is elite and Steve McNair is Hall Of Fame bound so I pick the Ravens in a mild upset. This is a game where the intensity level will pay off.

Buffalo at New England - This should be a slaughter. If the Patriots don't blow them out it means they have more problems than are readily apparent.

Cincinnati at Kansas City - If Carson Palmer plays this will be a chance for him to set records. The Bengals can stop Trent Green but I wouldn't be surprised if Larry Johnson, who is one of the finest young men imaginable, runs for over 200 yards and 3 touchdowns. But against Palmer, another fine young man, and Chad Johnson, whom I've never met but like his attitude, that won't be enough.

Denver at St Louis - Jake Plummer of the Broncos is a scary guy. He wins games he shouldn't and loses some that he should have wrapped up. St Louis is only a shadow of itself, but, oddly enough this game looks like either team is capable of blowing the other out of the stadium. I can't see this being a close one but I can see either team scoring 3 TD's in the final 5 minutes to win it.

Texan Lunberjack Drop 1440X900
Click images for desktop size: "Drops" by Texan Lumberjack
New Orleans at Cleveland - Drew Brees hasn't settled in well and Reggie Bush has looked like an excellent but not yet a magical back. This is a good opener for the Saints. A chance to get it all right on the offensive side. Their defense will continue to stink but Cleveland can't exploit it well enough to win.

NY Jets at Tennessee - This should be the cruddy game of the week. The most interesting thing will be seeing if the Titans panic and rush Vince Young in.

Philadelphia at Houston - The Texans lied (business as usual in the NFL) and took a D End from a 6-5 team with the number 1 pick. Kubiak was a great QB coach but he may be in too deep as a head. Who knows what the future holds for them or for the Eagles, but this game should be a blow out. If it isn't . . . Andy Reid could get run out of town.

Seattle at Detroit - The poor Lions. Have to publicly announce they were dunderheads and cut the Number 2 pick from 2004 then then they get the SeaHawks. Shouldn't have to happen to them in a year, yet alone in a week.

The Bat - Vincent Price -1024Chicago at Greenbay - This looks interesting because it could also be a disaster for Green Bay. Four games are not enough experience for the Packers Offensive unit. If the Brilliant Brett Favre can keep his cool he knows how to make the vaunted Bears D look bad, but if he goes into gunslinger mode it could be terrible. The Bears O is still pathetic.

Dallas at Jacksonville - Parcells keeps himself in the spotlight, but the Cowboys still have enough fire power and defense to take it to the Jaguars. I like Jack Del Rio more and can't help but admire the grit of Brian Leftowich, so against all sense I'm picking the Jaguars, even if I expect the Cowboys to win.

San Francisco and Arizona - Another cruddy game candidate. Is Alex Smith improved? is the main interest. How will Denny Green come up with a way to lose is the other question. Still the Cardinals at home against the worst team in the NFC should get a close win.

Poster - The Soul Of A MonsterIndianapolis at the NY Giants - Sunday night prime time and its got the hook you can't ignore - Manning v Manning. Sibling rivalry taken to the big stage. The brothers have a quirky sense of humor about it (See their ESPN commercial hyping the game?) but are both, if nothing else, solid competitors.
Peyton is one of the best QB's ever to step onto a field. His little brother Eli wants to be and thinks he can be.
If it were just QB against QB Peyton wins it, but the Giants have a better team - a more balanced attack and a better Defense. This is still the game of the week and I'm going with the Giants because of home field advantage and I have to pick somebody. There's a chance for beauty here and in this world and this life no one can ignore beauty.

Minnesota at Washington - Gibbs isn't really ready for 21st Century football and the salary cap. He was a great coach.
The Vikings should have enough to win.

San Diego at Oakland - Philip Rivers . . . Tomlinson is one of the all time great backs and should run riot against the Raiders, unless Rivers puts them in to too deep a hole.

With these things to think about its easy to ignore the pain I'm in.
I hated going back to work today but my puppy made me laugh hysterically when I go home.

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September 3, 2006

USC 50 - Arkansas 14

Hug By Deepbluerenegade
Click images for desktop size: "Hug" by Deep Blue Renegade
We won Friday night.
It was a good win. Plenty of good plays for everyone, winners and losers.
The only drawback was there was a driving rain. We weren't allowed into the locker rooms until an hour before kick off.
I hate gamesmanship.
Someone pointed out that when I used that word they thought it was a synonym for sportsmanship and couldn't understand why I used it with such disgust.
I don't know the origins of the word gamesmanship. I think of it as a word for some people who don't understand the beauty of the game and instead get confused and think the game is about winning so they create these little mind games to bewilder and put off the players from the real task in front of them.
Poster - The Leech Woman Its sort of like asking a painter to paint you a masterpiece and then hiding some of his brushes.
Sadly it was apparent in USC's opener as well, when Arkansas called 3 consecutive time outs with 5 seconds left to try and rattle the USC field goal kicker.
I don't like that. I like to see everyone bring a clear mind and a clearness of purpose. To play their best against my best.
Or else, what's the point and it might just be a street fight and there's no glory in that, just survival.

September 1, 2006

I'm an easy going guy but I always got to have my way
Eddie Cochran

Click images for desktop size: "Etcher" by Anonymous
Its been a harsh week.
I took the week off to look for work. That didn't go well. At least I left myself the opening to go back to the old job.
It makes me feel like a prisoner, but I'll get around that.
For some reason it brings to mind an event in Texas. I was working at this job I didn't mind but most of the time we'd show up for work and get sent home - no work no pay sort of thing.
I was walking home when these 2 crazy girls from work picked me up - crazy as in crazy and girls as in both under 25 and living with the parents. They wanted to come over to my place. They were pretty explicit.
I said no. I didn't want them in my space, learning that much about me.
I turned them down. Really. I did.
The same way having two girls intrude into my dog's and my life made me feel its that same sense of intrusion, of lack of freedom and choice that my job presses in on us.
Possession If I had to chose between them I'd take the two crazy girls . . .

Football has been going very well, for me and my kids anyway. The other coaches are panicking. I try and remember that their jobs might hinge on this. They take the loss in ways that don't affect me.
My goals always stay the same. To work out problems I've seen in the film and to endure that my kids play better than they did the week before.
I still see their deficiencies as a failure on my part. Not on theirs. I can't drill sergeant and blame them for not listening or not trying hard enough.
My other big fear is that we'll win tonight and the staff will see that as justification for this weeks methods. I expect to win tonight. I always expect to win. I take losses very personally.
Again I remember Eddie Robinson - “No coach ever won a game and no player ever lost one.”
My kids have given me everything I've wanted for them. They walk with pride and now they need to swagger.

It was my birthday this week. I got cool stuff. My friend sent me flowers. I noted that they were her favorites - color and type. I liked being remembered. I like them.
I also got ELEVEN DVD's!
A box set of eight Shaolin Temple films! Including five by Liu Chia Liang! And that subset includes The 36th Chamber films.
They're from a Chinese Company called Celestial which has lavished as much attention on them as Criterion does on it's classics. They are very beautifully restored and fully merit the extra attention. I also got a beautifully restored DVD of Django! Its most noticeable feature (aside from the Italian sound track) was a tiny 2“ DVD of a 10 minute film called ”The Last Pistolero“. It wasn't very good but it starred an aged Franco Nero. His presence gave the little movie weight and power.
Flames   Blue Metal Wide By Jbensch
Click images for desktop size: "Flames - Blue Metal" by J Bensch
A mildly interesting new film called ”Warriors Of Heaven And Earth“ and a remarkable film, ”A Man Called Blade“.
”A Man Called Blade“ is a slightly above average spaghetti western. What makes it memorable is the soundtrack by the Anti-Morricone's - The DeAngilis Brothers. There idea of what makes a music score is so avant garde it would be stunning in experimental cinema. That they carved out a career in main stream exploitation films is heady stuff.
Their music isn't outre, or pretentious. In fact its primitive and relies more on voices and pitch than anything else. Its cool and funny. Not much fun outside of the movie, but in a film it is revelatory stuff.
And finally someone sent me two books! Charles Dodgson's ”Symbolic Logic“ and ”Lewis Carroll Puzzles“. The puzzle book is dull and not even Lewis Carrol puzzles. Just stock stuff that they've illustrated with some pix from the Alice Books and ”Hunting Of the Snark“. It is so dull they even credit the Snark pix to Tenniel.
Poster - Rope Of FleshThe book on logic is satisfying. I had a first and lost it so this is a very welcome thing.
The only sad part is that they were sent from Amazon and Amazon CUT OFF THE NAME OF THE SENDER!
So what I'm hoping for is that in the next few days I get an email or letter calling me an insensitive oaf for not responding with a proper thank you!

No one sent me a birthday present for my dog. She is pretty huffy bout this.

This week I had two doctors appointments. One was for my eyes. No glaucoma and no loose retinal nerves or anything. My vision is getting worse though.
I always imagined going blind as the same as walking around with my eyes clothes - nice inky blackness sort of thing. I didn't think it would be a matter of blurriness and grays.
They dilated my pupils for the picture taking. It took 3 days for the drops to stop screwing up my eyes.
I have to go back in October.
I had a physical. My cholesterol is excellent. My good cholesterol has even looked positive, much improved. I credit that to the flavorless but better than nothing Olive Oil margarine I've started eating lately.
My blood pressure is 120 over 70. That's good but they want me to lower EVERYTHING!
They are even considering putting me on blood pressure medicine!!!
They are trying to stretch me out to the max on that 10 years they promised me, I guess. One interesting thing is that for some unknown reason I developed this odd rash on the back of my left hand. It is all little, smaller than a pinhead, white dots. It hasn't spread and the 50 or so on my left hand are matched with about 4 on the back of my right.
No pain, no itching. They make my skin feel like snake skin!
Maybe people will use it as an excuse to start calling me snake!
I've always wanted a nick name like Snake!

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