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April 23, 2009

She's one half rock and the other half roll
Bill Haley

Colorful Variants
Click images for desktop size: "Colorful Variants" by Unknown
The meeting last night was fine. Meeting the other coaches was interesting. For the most part it was pretty boring. Not boring to the point of me falling asleep or even to attempting to balance my pen Chinatown on my nose. Those are things I've done at most meetings. I won't delineate the things I've done that I got away with. I've been in too many of these meetings. Even if they are essential - too many.
From what I saw all the coaches are in it for pretty much the right reasons, for the kids and not to be "the boss". I didn't pick up on any of them having the calling to coaching. They seemed to be in it for the fun, which is possibly the best reason of all.
There were a couple who seemed to have that militaristic thing going but I doubt if its too deeply ingrained. I also doubt that they're into it to the point of berating players for their own shortcomings.
The only scary part came because of of question I asked before the meeting. The question was taken as a suggestion that was seized upon. It had to do with terminology.
Football is loaded with jargon. Middle linebackers are called mike backs or just mike, outside linebackers have become sam bakers and willie backs. Sam after s which stands for strong side (the Castle and Diana
Click image: "Castle and Diana" by DC and Marvel Comics
side the tight end lines up on) and W for weak side linebacker. And those are the more sensible bits of jargon.
All I wanted to do was get on the same page as the the team on the next level. Use the same jargon, the same passing tree and teach the same base package.
The passing tree is just a stick drawing based on a single long line, which represents the fly route-go long- with little branches shooting off representing the different passing routes. They're usually pretty much the same but they can get different names and/or numbers.
The base package are your bread and butter plays. Almost always they start off with the belly plays, the fullback dive up the middle and grows from there. You teach the kids the base package so they learn the fundamentals of execution and then you build your offense around and from them. It possible to go through a season and never actually run any of your base plays. I use them for education primarily.
Taking these elements from the next level gives the kids an edge when they move along. If I calledBrute Force the linebackers bodacious backs when they graduated to the next level they'd stand on the field bewildered when their new coach asked them play willie back instead of just getting into position.
I forgot the level of coaches I was dealing with. Their was an argument about numbering the holes (right are numbered odd, left numbered even or vice versa) and the passing routes (even in routes odd for out routes). We never got to even discussing base Fashion Sex and Politics by S4W
Click image: "Fashion, Sex and Politics" by S4W
Even though there was an argument it wasn't as violent as a lot I've had to sit on. I had nothing to say. There was no place in that sort of discussion for me to even have an opinion.
It went on from there. The most salient point for me was that I'd have to come up with my own assistants. I need a Defensive Coordinator. All I know about defense is that they always seem to get in the way of my carefully crafted offense!
I've always had top ranked defenses mainly because I've had great DC's and I am glad to stay out of their way. I can coach Defense but I'm not the best at it. I'll still make the occasional suggestion, usually based on what a D will do that really annoys me i.e. it proves to be very effective.
The other great bit is that they told me what I'd get in my coaches kit bag. An agility ladder!! My most favorite tool. Agility hurdles! The rest is pretty bog standard stuff. I have to buy my own whistles. They don't understand that is dangerous. I like to present a front that the kids expect and feel confident in, after that I like to use goofy whistles, bird whistles loopy whistles, things that be heard but get a laugh. I copped the idea from Preston Sturges and his idea of always directing films while wearing a silly hat.
Landscape by Del Sil
Click images for desktop size: "Landscape" by Del Sil
I have to go help the kids kit on May 2nd. EIGHT HOURS! I've already specified I won't do eight hours of helmet fittings. I think they've plenty of guys who can do it as well if not better than I can. Its the most tedious job though and takes time so everybody tries to sidestep it as much as possible. They figure to kit out about 300 kids over the weekend!
Still, I'm looking forward to meeting the kids and looking forward to the day.

It looks like we will have our foster dog on Saturday! Saturday will be a manic day. Our dogs go to the vet at 10 and then we have to buy dog food, a major undertaking.
This will be a different dog then the one we were originally going to home. Its my only complaint, this constant shifting around. Going from one dog to another. Its a minor quibble. I've tried to putCaptive Wild Woman myself in the dog coordinators place and while I can't quite get there I'm sure there's a lot of pressure trying to figure out what dogs can be saved (all of them) and in which dog the dogs can flourish and have the best shot at finding a forever home.
Yeah, mines an incredibly minor quibble.
Last night, when I went to the coaches meeting, the dogs were pretty chilled about it. This morning my friend had to go out of town for one of her money earning meetings - her job - when I went out to open the gate for her the dogs started a horrible pathetic howling and crying. I guess we're only allowed to abandon them once in a 24 hour period. They were pretty happy when I walked back in.
Its rough to figure out how the pack is going to respond to a new number. As individual dogs I don't see any personal issues, but as a group its a hard read.
The breeds seem to include the same no problem status. Especially since there's little question that they perceive me as the leader. They'll accept a newcomer if I do.
Giant dog will be the most difficult. He already thinks the other two take more than there share of the love, love that should all belong to him!
He'll settle in well enough. He always does.
So the only real issue will be how the new guy relates to belonging here. We have to take him to the vet on Wednesday. The break will do a lot to sort out issues in his mind. He'll come back overjoyed.

April 20, 2009

Going to turn it on, wind it up, blow it out little GTO
Gary Usher

A Day in the Park by George Serault
Click images for desktop size: "A Day in the Park" by George Serault
It's been a pretty eventual set of days. Shape shifting days. All for the good, I think.
The biopsy came back. It was negative.Alone in the Dark
That's pretty good. Pretty good. That puts my remission at just shy of 21 months. That's the longest remission I've ever had. I guess that makes me a record holder.
After the trek to the oral surgeon and that bit of news my friend dropped me at the blood lab. I was feeling light headed from the fast and absolute lack of coffee. They took 6 little tubes and one big one. Then the creepy urine sample.
I was talking to the blood taker. She was slick and professional but Buck Owens
Click images for desktop size: "Buck Owens"
seemed a touch preoccupied. She's being tested for Hodgkins Disease.
Not a pleasant future, Hodgkins Disease. I said a few consoling words but cut myself short when I flashed at how I felt about "comforting words".
She made a point of saying goodbye to me so I guess its alright.
After giving up the blood I broke the fast with a cup of coffee. Made me feel better, at least I felt that I could make the walk home.
On the walk I ran into a guy. About my first day in town I ran into him before. He was out walking his dog and slipped. Busted his head open pretty good. That day I would have walked past because he was already surrounded with sympathetic types at least one who appeared to know what he was doing, or at least he was doing pretty much what I would have done.
I only got involved because he had this little dog, a beagle mix, maybe a pure bred. My friend and I Aquatic Beauty by Titusboy
Click images for desktop size: "Aquatic Beauty" by TitusBoy
hashed out his address and took the scared little thing home.
The guy had no real memory of me but he remembered that day. We walked and chatted about dogs a bit before he turned to go home. The dog jumped on my leg for a pet then waddled away.
On Saturday I went to the "Equipment Fitting Seminar". It was as dull as I expected. The people attending were interesting. There were even a few players who were there to act as mannequins. I liked the people I met.
There was one thing I'd never seen before. A new helmet strapping configuration for little kids.
Its not more simple, its actually a pretty complicated system. I can't see how it would protect the kids any better but then I can't understand the different types of plastic they use in little kid helmets either.
After the equipment fitting we went to the animal shelter. We walked in fine but when I asked to see Captain Marvel a dog they said that we were too early! It was after 10.
So we went to a restaurant for breakfast. The place was an old favorites of my friend, even though it had been years since she'd been there she glowed in hungry anticipation.
Her food was excellent. We watched it as they accidentally sent it on a tour of all three floors of the restaurant. Even then it was still warmer than mine.
Hers was excellent. I managed to pry a couple of mouthfuls from her. Mine was horrible. Cold yet somehow over cooked in some places and undercooked in others. Even her fruit salad was better! She got all sorts of different fruit while I got one piece of papaya and 3 hunks of flavorless melon!
I figure they remembered her ad disliked me for keeping her away for so long . . .
Finally we got to see a dog. We took a big Burmese cross out for a walk. The dog was fascinating. As overjoyed as she was to be outside of the kennel she was still constantly aware of us. It appeared that she was merely ignoring us but when my friend walked to a garbage can the dog froze and watched and did not move until my friend returned.
Click images for desktop size: "Surf" by Unknown
I tried an experiment. I went and walked around a full pine tree so I'd be out of sight. Sure enough the dog froze. She sat right in front of my friend and stared at her as if to say, "Now's our chance! We can escape from him!" It was that sort of day for me.
Sunday was brighter, although not so warm and furry.
The coordinator from the Rescue Group came for our interview. Our dogs were incredibly well behaved. I was proud of them. She stayed for well over two hours. We'll have out first foster next Saturday or Sunday.
I couldn't be happier.
Or so I thought.
Just after the coordinator left I got the call from the football team. I'm the new Head Coach for the 12 year old squad.
I really didn't want to be an HC but it will make some things easier while adding a lot more Body Snatcherswork. On Wednesday is the coaches meeting where they'll lay out the schedule. I'll find out about equipment and if I can get a couple of bodies to run stop watches and to be eyes.
My friend has volunteered to be my clip board. Some of you know how I like to walk around and bark down observations. Its better to bark them out then to squiggle them on a pad. Mainly because 10 minutes after practice my notes are suddenly indecipherable.
I've already started mapping out the first practice so I can make a definitive list of equipment I can ask about.
I plan to tell them about "STAR" (Strength, Tenacity, Agility, Remembering) while they're running.
My goals for the team in the first season will be: 1) To have fun 2) To learn more about football 3) To learn what it means to be part of a team 4) Win the Championship and in that order. If we do the first three well the fourth will automatically happen.
My friend was awake all night working on her Qtr end stuff. I'm not happy about that but I guess better up all night at home than at the office.
She's been using the MacBook with Parallels to do the Citrix stuff. So far its been working pretty well, except this morning Windows XP crashed! It didn't even take down Parallels, just your basic stupid Windows crash.
The decent part was that it crashed in the middle of a save. The nights work was able to be recovered.
She went into the office. I'm worried about anyone being up all night and then being in an office on a rainy day.
My computer continues to limp along, now the console is throwing up wird kernel missed interrupt errors . . .

March 27, 2009

Art may imitate life, but life imitates TV
Ani DiFranco

New World by Sergey Musin
Click images for desktop size: "New World" by Sergey Musin
Out of the 32 resumes I sent out I got a response. Its to coach 7-14 year olds. The club has 12 teams in their league.The Killers
Normally I prefer working with the 14 to 19 year olds. I don't have to watch my language as closely for one thing. Getting back into Pop Warner football makes me smile.
I gather my resume is more intimidating than impressive for the people around here. Rather shocking to me. Doesn't matter though, Music System
Click images for desktop size: "Music System" by Unknown
to me. I can't help what I am.
All I know is that I'm excited about the chance to coach kids again. I've already started plotting out drills. Anticipating the level of talent. It fills me with pleasant hopes.
The first problem was that the interview with the board was originally set for March 31st . . . about two hours after I'm scheduled to have 6 teeth removed. I was up for it but decided to think clearly for a change, but only because he offered a second option without me asking.
So Thursday, April 2nd will be the day. Six p.m. Rah.
I think they want me to head coach. I can do it. I'd rather just work a position or at most coordinate the offense. My preference would be O-Line. I'll take whatever they're willing to offer. And all for free.

The pain is getting stranger. My face and mouth are dead things. My right arm is an electric conduit of agony. Doesn't matter much.
My friend worked from home today. So we took a long lunch and walked the dogs at the park, most of it off lead. Gentle dog thought it was wonderfu, Giant Dog ran back and forth and my puppy was nervous about what kind of trouble I was getting her into but rand around and had at least the minimum amount of fun.
I liked seeing them stampede around. I liked walking with my friend on what still feels like a nice Dark Art
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Dark Art
autumn day.
My earphone wires didn't show up again today. I sent Earphone Solutions complaining. I got a polite and quick response looking to place blame and poining out that they were still within the maximum allowable time frame.
I'll give it to Tuesday. I need my Ultimate Ears to recover from oral surgery.
As disappointed as I was by the lack of wires there's a blast of good news. The new Tony Jaa movie "Ong Bak 2" has been released on DVD. (Was it ever in the theaters?) I am totally stoked.
I should have it tomorrow. If I don't there will be a weak carnage.

December 9, 2008

Most people have the will to win, few have the will to prepare to win
Bobby Knight

Stop or I'll Shoot by The Real 7
Click images for desktop size: "Stop or I'll Shoot" by The Real 7
I don't think there's ever been a great book written about football. Except for things like "Radar Blocking: Its Practice and Techniques" or "Five Hundred Drills for Specific Goals".Squirm
There's never been a book that encapsulates the sport and its players and makes clear the beauty, the drama and the tragedy of the game. No Dickens, or Thoreau or Chandler has ever been able to step forward and codify its beauty.
What we have are things like, "Semi-Tough", or "North Dallas Forty" and "Meat On the Hoof". Decent enough stories in them but they come across, to me anyway, more like expose best seller types. There's no attempt to telling the bigger more global story.
If I was forced to pick the best I'd say that "Friday Night Lights" is Soa Lee
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Soa Lee
the best book about the game, good enough to survive the turgid movie and the annoying TV show. Its more a journal of a season then a story. It attempts to give insights to the players and the drama but being non-fiction it has too much detail and back story to fill in. Often the characters get lost.
And "Remember the Titans" is probably the best movie, but its more a movie about racism and coping with it, using football as a metaphor. The storybook ending may have been accurate but it never takes the time, or maybe has the time, to examine the inner turmoil about the game itself. Things get simplistic. Why would these kids put themselves in this difficult position to merely play a game? One kid because he's fat, another to get that football scholarship etc etc.
There have been plenty of those cheesy "auto-biographies" of stud athletes. They usually start with a bullet list of twenty high points in the stars career and some sports writer who the star is Christmas Sticker
Click images for desktop size: "Christmas Sticker" by Unknown
comfortable with because he sees him for a couple of hours after every game gets a 6 hour interview to fill in the details.
I sucked those books up when I was a kid. I was always looking for the key to being a better athlete. They were sometimes interesting but never illuminating. The writers lacked the skill to broaden the message and the athlete's agent was more concerned about the book then the athlete himself. Normally the athlete doesn't want to look bad or offend anybody.
After Jim Bouton came out with the baseball book, "Ball Four" it looked like things might change. "Ball Four" was funny and a shocking expose of the biggest team in sports at the time, the New York Yankees. It was fun and had dirty words in it so as a kid I loved it. It came close to explaining theStrip-Girls drive to compete, the desire to play a game.
Part of this is because most athletes aren't very articulate. The few that are described as articulate usually get the tag from adding "sir" to the end of their answers.
A lot of reasons for this. I was pretty startled to discover that I'd been trained to not voice words in my head but to see and react.
A simple example is when a teacher asks a question like, "What is two time three?" Most people would go "two times three equals six" and then actually voice the words.
When I hear the question I visualize the symbols and then blurt out the answer. There's no translation in my head. Of course I'm just as likely to blurt out five as i am six, which is part of the reason athletes get branded as dumb. Our life training forces us to analyze things in a different way.
The closest description I can give is like when you're driving home from work. You're thinking about the job, there's a favorite song on the car stereo and you suddenly discover that you're home with no clear memory of how you got there.
It happens to everyone but athletes, especially football players tend to live that way.
It starts on the field. The difference between a guy who runs a 4.4 forty and a 4.3 forty is huge in a straight line. If the guy running the 4.3 has to think about where to go next the extra speed is more than lost.
Sword and Fans
Click images for desktop size: "Sword and Fans" by Unknown
We're drilled to recognize a cover two defense with a blitzing linebacker coming off the edge. The entire team has to see the same thing, recognize it and know what to do. If you have to say to yourself, "Let's see, the SS is playing centerfield and the FS is faking a blitz without committing his front foot while the Willie back is crowding the End so the pass is off and it will be a run to the strong side at the B gap," the play is over and either busted or for a loss.
The recognition has to be spontaneous and symbolic and the execution as routine as your dive home from work.
I have a friend who was a four year starter at Penn State, a defensive end. He was a second day draft pick and decided that rabbiting the NFL training camps wasn't for him. He returned to school and got his Doctorate in Micro-Biology. When he got his degree he taught for a few months before aSweet Smell of Success Fortune 50 company offered him a position doing pure research with his own private lab.
As one of his professor's explained to him, "Too many scientists learn things by rote. They learn the answers and where to find them when they forget them they learn where to re-find the answers. The best way tolerant is to assimilate the knowledge taught and to make it a part of your life, a pure part of your logical thinking process."
The Fortune 50 passed over a lot of candidates for their position and took my friend not because he was the most brilliant but because they hoped that the dedication and tenacity he had shown in playing football at that high a level would translate to the lab and research. He's worked there for nearly 20 years.
Its this ll important facet of the make up of an athlete that all writers seem to ignore to the point of me wondering if they know it even exists.
Now no film director I know of has ever played football. I find this odd because making a movie 3D Abstract
Click images for desktop size: "3D Abstract" by Unknown
requires a lot of the same skill sets as playing football; especially for the director, cameraman and actors. With this rather significant similarity in thought processing I'd expect a more sympathetic approach to sports in movies.
John Hancock made a brilliant short film called "Sticky My Fingers and Fleet My Feet". Its about a middle-aged guy ho is very proud of how much he keeps in shape. Every Sunday he goes to the park and plays a flag game with his buddies. He's the star of the team. Then one Sunday one of the guys brings along his 14 year old nephew. The nephew has to cover our "hero". He smokes him completely. Our hero has his worst game of the season.
After the game he accuses the nephew of being a ringer, a high school stud they bought in to The Boy Who Cried Werewolf humiliate him. The kid never even tried out for his school team. He knew he wasn't good enough.
It was stunningly good entertainment. Hancock got offered a lot of movies, all of them sports related. Problem was that what came across as a paean to dreams was actually, in Hancock's mind a derisive comment on athletes and wannabe athletes. He had a strong antipathy for anything athletic.
This worked to his advantage in the lethargic and macabre "Bang the Drum Slowly", the Robert DiNero, Michael Moriarity film about a major league catcher dying of Hodgkins Disease and his friendship with the teams star pitcher.
But it was the next film that highlighted the attitude of Hancock in particular and movies in general towards sport.
Hancock's next film was the surfer flic "California Dreaming". It starred Dennis Christopher, hot off the surprise hit movie about bike racing, "Breaking Away" and stalwart Seymour Cassell.
The film was a dismal failure. Hancock hated surfing and surfers. A few guys who extra-ed and did surf stunt work on the movie were appalled at the contempt in which Hancock held them. The film failed on every level because the contempt shown through. It was impossible to care for any of the characters. They all came across as arrogant and dislikable. It was a sad movie that undercut its strong script with bad choices.
In fact it started to typify the "sports" movie in that the only way to succeed in one was to ignore the sports and the athletes and focus on the story away from the field. Sports became only a catalyst or as a source of conflict.
Santa Claus
Click images for desktop size: "Santa Claus" by Unknown
Its given us horror films like Oliver Stone's "Any Given Sunday" and tons of teen romance flics. All varying in ambition and all missing the point of playing the game, of understanding the character's motivations and drives.
Its said that a masterpiece is identifiable because it finds its perfect form. Since books and films escape football perhaps it is the game itself that is the ultimate form for the game.
there is more drama in even a bad football game then most movies could encompass. A cast of fifty each one who is pivotal in the final outcome and resolution. Fifty stories focused on concentration that shuts out everything but the task at hand. Fifty stories about what breaks that concentration and leads to disarray. Unfortunately TV sportscasters seldom get involved in anything that deep. They bring up the easy stories like Brett Favre playing the game of his life on the evening The Boss of his father's death. But they provide no empathetic set-up, no basis to understand and to make Favre's plight and tragedy and triumph a tangible thing. Its left to the players on the field to convey those vivid emotions while enacting a play they've been practicing for years. Convey it with ballet like grace and the steady tempo of a driving rock tune.
There's more to think about here, at least for me. I'm just struggling too much to make it clearer.

Its been six months since my little blind dog passed away. Eighteen years since my wife and son were in their accident. Ten years since my best friend Tom died. I miss them and so many others every day.
I keep meeting new people. I'm lucky enough to have loved so many people and so many dogs. I'm lucky that somehow I have the capacity to love my friend and my three dogs as much as I've ever Yakuza Girl by Evgeny
Click images for desktop size: "Yakuza Girl" by Evgeny
loved anyone. All the people, past and present are a part of me. A part I never want to see go.
Looking back through this journal I'm irked that there are a lot of things I've omitted about my daily life. I follow George Orwell's journal. Some guys are presenting it as a blog. Interesting stuff. I like that Orwell was obsessed with his chickens. He records their egg output every day. Some entries only read, "Two eggs."
I need to to something like that. When I look back I can feel what I was feeling then but not always the why for the feelings. I get more of that from the pictures then from the words. Like I say the words are just here to make pretty frames for the pictures.
Tomorrow begins Christmas Music season. I'm going through and picking them out now.

October 20, 2008

The internet hasn't died . . yet

Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by N-Techno
I'm doing laundry.
I still have an issue with doing clothes in cold water. For some reason it just seems, unwholesome.
They look alright but I always wonder.
Doing laundry I end up thinking about adrenaline. Hot Car Girl Because doing laundry is as opposite to adrenaline as you can get, I guess.
I was making a list. I still love lists.
Tops in adrenaline:
  1. Sky diving - its as close as I'll ever get to flying. The drawbacks are its expensive. The training takes too long and is expensive. Its pretty easy to die doing it. Somehow none of that lessens the sheer rush of it.
  2. Surfing - There's no drawbacks to surfing. Ever. I remember a lot of non-surfers watching a bunch of guys sitting out at the break line staring off, praying for lines. "Monks of the sea" they liked to call us. I still have no idea what they're talking about. Its true that guys like me can sit out there and stare for hours and even when you're out there with your buds its still mainly quiet with the white noise coursing through your brain. It would never dawn on me to compare the white noise that sits as a substitute for thinking as being particularly Zen-ish. What do I know.
  3. Baseball - I still remember this. My nerves remember it, my muscles remember it. In college I had to go to my left and stab a line drive that was skittering about five inches off the grass. I somehow snagged it and kept my balance well enough to tag out the man on second who was advancing to third. Then I saw that the man who was on first had already reached second and was running all out to get back Show Down
    Click images for desktop size: "Kenny Stabler-Show Down" by NFL Films
    to first. A glimmered voice in my head said "triple play". I was deep in the hole but so stoked that I threw the ball about four feet over the first baseman's head. He jumped up and made the grab and managed to sweep the runner out. It was pure rush. I was disappointed the next day that there weren't headlines about it. I love baseball. Playing it, watching it, not so much.
  4. Coaching - Seeing a kid who thought he was clumsy and inept manage to catch a ball, turn and tight rope up the sideline to score has a beauty that excites and exhilarates. Seeing a wide body O-Lineman suddenly find he can be big and graceful and open up holes for the RB and keep the D-End off his QB. Or seeing a young girl who thinks she's plain and useless fire off the line in the 100 and end up winning from startIt The Terror From Outer Space to finish. These are things of greatness and to be a tiny part of that is something I might not be worthy of, but its still me there and I love it.
  5. Dogs - The first time a puppy comes to you because its frightened and needs reassurance. The first and every time they bring you a stick, or a toy and look to you to be the greatest and most fun thing in the entire universe; when they wake up afraid and confused and look for you to tell them its alright; when they look to communicate with you in terms that you should be able to understand. There's so little not to love about a dog. They're friends, not pets, not mere animals but important parts of a joyous cry for life.
  6. My friend - Hanging out with her is cool and exciting. Unless she's crabby then its still an adrenaline rush just not the good kind!
  7. Football - I used to have a weird schizo view of football. I loved playing it but I hated that my step-father had to, and in the NFL yet, and on a Championship team yet-ter still! When I was a Headless Horseman by Kay
    Click images for desktop size: "Headless Horseman" by Kay
    kid I enjoyed running around. In high school I was an animal and I enjoyed the power in my body. I liked physically punishing my opponent. I didn't cheat or play dirty but I did things that were not required or needed. No one stopped me either. In fact teammates and adult coaches encouraged and praised me. It wasn't until college ball and after being punished often with stadium step running and lots and lots of talks with my coach that I began to appreciate the beauty of the game. My own body began to rejoice in the game giving me nearly the same rush as dropping down a glassy 6 foot face that closed out in a stand up tube. More important than that is I still consider football the ultimate and best tool for teaching kids. It requires brains, memory and assimilation of disparate data. My zone blocking playbook for just the O-Line is 135 pages long. The players learn that they must I Married A Communist excel as an individual but supplant their individual goals to the goals of the greater good to succeed. And they have to implement all of this disparate info, all these complicated facts and rationalizations to a plan when they are near exhausted and hurting and maybe even afraid. When they have only themselves and their teammates to look to for support, when they'd much rather just lie down but instead they learn to rely on and to be relied on. What a beautiful game. I seldom get tired of watching it being played on any level, from Pee Wee ball to the NFL because inside of every game are several hundred stories, several hundred lessons that may have a commonality but are always individual and unique.
Seven is enough. I have to go put clothes in the dryer. You may notice that doing laundry doesn't make the list. Although I'm sort of enjoying the fact that I now have enough clothes to go over two weeks between laundry trips, I like it more because less laundry trips means lower electric bills and lower water bills. And I can tell myslef this is better for the enironment . . . Well, it is!

September 8, 2008

You walk on hollow ground

Shut Up by Riftsurround
Click images for desktop size: "Shut Up" by Riftsurround
I watched three games yesterday, flashing back and forth between two others. It was great. Not as great as college ball but the quality of the athletes is inspiring.
So inspiring its easy to see how the NFL can warp the fundamentals of sportsmanship and delude coaches as to what the joy and beauty of the game truly is.
The Fountainhead I always worked on a simple principal: Teach the players how to play the game and let the game teach them about life.
I don't know how that can get so complicated but it seems to.
I realize, in retrospect, that my greatest failure as a coach was in not teaching my players how to deal with failure.
Like a child I always believed we would win every game. If we didn't it was because I neglected to teach a certain skill that I hadn't for seen as being needed. Or I didn't inspire or motivate a player to do his best. Failure was always my responsibility. It still is.
With bland tunnel vision I forgot that there would invariably be a time when I would no longer be there. I relied to heavily on the game. The game can take a lot of weight, a lot of people leaning on it, but I still counted on it too heavily.
I don't have a clue how to teach young people to accept the limitations that have been placed on Reclining Nude 1917 by Modigliani
Click images for desktop size: "Reclining Nude 1917" by Modigliani
them. Not society's limitations. Those are nonsense and if they do exist its important to destroy them.
I mean the limitations that the human body and brain have to accept. We can never lift 1 ton over our heads or run a 1 minute mile sort of limitations. I mean that there will always come a time when you're not fast enough or strong enough or tough enough to prevail.
Prevail, to me, means to do more than survive.
It has to happen. I haven't any semiotic signpost to tell me how to teach this. How to prepare for the inevitable failure that will happen in life and to teach that this inevitable failure does not lessen you, does not make you less of a player or less of a human being.
Dezi Arnaz, in his dotage, told a good anecdote. Flight To Hong Kong It was a baseball story. He would ask who you thought was the greatest hitter ever. You'd have to say Ted Williams because he was the last guy to hit .400 for the season.
Arnaz would mull this around and finally agree with you that Ted Williams was the greatest hitter of all time. Then he'd ask you if you wanted to hit .400. Of course, you'd say yes or, if you were like me you'd say, "No! I want to hit .500!"
Arnaz would praise your earnestness and then ask how you were going to cope with being wrong half of the time.
Click images for desktop size: "Surf"
I never had an answer for that. Even now.
There are the platitudes but what could are they when your looking down the wrong end of a gun that says failure?
I know that there are ways to not get to the right answer.
On Saturday this kid that plays for Ohio State, Ray Small, had a brilliant punt return that most likely set Ohio State on the way to a win. For a while there it looked like they'd forgotten how to get there so his contribution was invaluable.
Ray was heavily recruited out of high school. He was recruited by USC. After the game Ray sort of tainted the coolness of his accomplishment when he said, "As I took my visit to USC, I'm like 'How are they successful? They're not even serious about the game. Before the game they're all going crazy. Me and Rob Rowe was on the visit and I'm looking like, 'Wow.'" "Here at Ohio State, they teach you to be a better man. There it's just all about football."
I'm a bit saddened that Ray's grammar hasn't gotten better. I can put it off to the excitement at being interviewed. I'm sorry he thinks that being excited and having fun isn't what footballs all about. Any coach Flesh Feast I've ever respected was pretty adamant about one thing: Have fun, be crazy until you step onto the field. The field is your office. On the field its time to get to work.
Its never, "just all about football," ever. If it is then that coach is a failure. I quote CLR James too much, so why not again: "He who knows nothing but cricket knows nothing of cricket."
Its never about win at all costs or closed practices. That's NFL crap. Its about studying your opponent and having him study you. Its about the clash and the respect that the clash brings.
Its about them knowing your "secret plays" but not knowing when or if you'll spring them. Its about leadership being born on the field and everyone walking off the field a winner no matter what the scoreboard says.
Its about loving your players not for bringing you victories but for being young people who can still aspire to greatness. Its about fun and being happy. Its about laughing and being as proud of a teammate as you are of yourself. And its about accepting your opponent as an equal to contend with who needs to be loved for having the same vision you do and for having the courage to step onto the field with you.
Its about the hours of sweat so you can be a suitable opponent.
Any less than that is a disservice to the young men who look to you.
I need to go on about this. Tomorrow I'm going to meet the HC at a local high school. They might need some help for the Junior Varsity.
I know all the drills. I know all the exercises The Conductor by Skan Srisuwan
Click images for desktop size: "The Conductor" by Skan Srisuwan
and how to improve a players physical skills. Its helping their hearts grow that's my major concern and what I need to work on the most.
I haven't told them about my puppy being a fine assistant coach. They're probably not ready for that . . . yet.
I'm pleasantly surprised at how excited I am about this. The drills and practice I saw from a moving car did not look very impressive. A lot of too small kids.
I once had a running back, Dan. He was 5' 4" and weighed about 140 pounds. He made up for that by being on the slow side. But he had a lion's heart. In one game he took out a 6' 5" middle linebacker. About 260 pounds. Dan ran right over him and hit him so hard he took the line backer out of the game.
Size is secondary, for sure. He was a great kid.
4D Man I look forward to meeting more great kids. It always happens. There are just so many great kids out there.
I just have to work hard to be sure that I can give them what they deserve.
Of course, I have to get the job first. That's always, "Who knows."
I don't know the coaches. I talked to the HC on the phone and he seemed okay. I need to know that our goals are similar.
I have to not scare them into thinking I want their jobs. I only want to volunteer.
And maybe we'll win some games together and maybe we'll have a whole lot fun. And maybe one kid will play better than he ever imagined he could. A fat kid will suddenly start losing weight and start parading around in a T-Shirt.
I love coaching. I forget how much.

January 4, 2008

Sometimes I feel like Mars Bonfire

Abandoned Mansion - Raven 88
Click images for desktop size: "Abandonded Mansion" by Raven 88
He Wrote "Born To Be Wild" for John Kay and Steppenwolf and created the phrase, "Heavy Metal". He had a really mediocre solo album and now he's forgotten.
I think of what it must be like to meet him at a party. Does he walk up to you and introduce himself as the man who created heavy metal? I would. It would be cool to watch people shuffle their feet while trying not to look at you.
German Dr Jeckyl And Mr Hyde 1931Since he copyrighted the song does he get a tiny piece of money every time anyone uses his words?
If he doesn't, is he warped and bitter about it? Does he support the RAIA?
Has he found happiness now? Does he look out of his window and consider that a billion bikers and wannabe bikers are standing in their showers, their fantasies and their lives played out to his soundtrack?
Does his wife think he's a genius? Does she tell all her friends that he is?
Sometimes I feel like Mars Bonfire . . .

I didn't realize how wrecked I was yesterday until I read what I wrote.
All I wrote were intro's and then I left out the story . . .
I don't even know if the stories were any good. Maybe that's why I omitted them.
That doesn't mean anyone should be spared.
Like the whole fixation on bowels was in memory of a nurse. I'd just started my first chemo, the really nasty one where my hair fell out and I was considering that death was better than this.
There was this plump cheeked blonde blue eyed nurse, who shimmered in self contained pleasure.
We all hated her.
We hated her even more than we hated the missionary nurse who found time to testify to us individually at least twice during our stay. "Have you been washed in the blood," was the sardonic greeting the adults used in sardonic detestment of her.
A Silhouette Of War By Scooch
Click images for desktop size: "A Silhouette Of War" by Scooch
We hated the blonde all the more because on first sight you could see her with a pleasant carnal interest. She was young, pretty and had a face that knew no deeper tragedy than Bergdorf Goodman not increasing her credit limit at Christmas.
She wore a starched white nurses outfit. She was the only one who did. She wore it tight to accent her curves. And every morning she'd walk in and say in a clear bright chipper voice that was singed by the harshest most nasal twangy Sydney accent you ever heard and say, "How are we this morning? Did we have a good BM?"
And every evening before she went home and did whatever she did she'd stop in and say in that same voice that grated and jangled our exposed electric nerves, "Have a good night. I hope you have a good bowel movement!"
We hated her just short of plotting her death.
Someone once speculated that maybe she thought we were in there for chronic constipation.
Flesh Is Weak Double Feature Usually when you go into remission, or at least finish the course you look back at your caregivers with a trace of fondness or at least vague gratitude. Not her.
I've met some of my former comrades and we'd even been able to look at the Evangelical nurse with a trace of wry humor. The sexy blonde Aussie with the clear eye and smooth skin and the grating voice we'll all hate forever.
Is that justice or even close to fair?
Of course not, but none of us care.

And after that wonderful scatological reverie I was going to move on to my toe nail clipping and how that reminded me that I have the ugliest feet in the world.
I do. It has been attested to.
There are probably a lot of similes to be drawn between my feet and my soul. I do not attest to these.
I think most of my problem with my feet stems from the fact that I use them . . . I mean I've had countless turf toes, stepped on plenty of spiny urchins and a few jelly fish.
Once I played a pick up game of football in Regents Park wearing a pair of boots. But I blame most of the damage on rock climbing.
I always had extreme climbers for partners and extreme climbers demand extreme footwear. I was always the dumb one but smart enough to do as I was told.
The popular shoes back then were RD's and PA's (or maybe some inversion of those initials, its been a long time since I checked out climbing shoes).
Cartoon Girls
Click images for desktop size: "Cartoon Girl" by Unknown
Both shoes had their adherents. What they had in common was lightness. They felt like ballet slippers in your hand.
They had a very light special construction type rubber that extended up the heel slightly and far over the toes.
The rubber was to give sure grip on rock. The extensions up the toe were to give a solid fit when jamming your foot into cracks, or balancing on tiny little knobs (which is one of my more vivid rock climbing memories.)
But the problem is that the shoe sort of funneled your foot (meaning your toes mainly) into a nice tiny point. Not unlike the ancient cruel art of foot binding in Japan. Of course this isn't cruel. We did it to ourselves.
My problems were the two or three mile hikes to the climbs wearing these shoes . . .
My point is that my freakishly ugly feet are the direct response to honorable wounds, if you will, and should not be scoffed at nor jeered at.
I wear shoes almost all the time anyway . . .

I have a new Blue Tooth Mighty Mouse I got for Christmas from my friend.
I Love A Mystery 1945 I'm still marveling at it. I think it works okay so far.
My friend returns from her first weekend away at training tonight. It will be good.

The play offs start this weekend. Wildcard Weekend, according to the hype.
The bowl games were so mixed this year that these games might actually be entertaining.
These games count in the on-line contest I'm in so you have to endure my picks.
I'm in 2,123 position after my less than scintillating 11-5 last weekend. I am still only 13 points out of first with no idea how I fare on any tie breakers . . .
My picks are in bold.

Washington at Seattle - Its tempting to take the Redskins for a few reasons. Journeyman QB replacing erratic Jason Campbell for one thing. That the Seahawks have looked like mushes in their last few games is another. While I wouldn't be surprised to see the Redskins win here, their history is against them. The Seahawks are more desperate. So the Redskins could win a tight one or the Seahawks could get Hasslebeck fired up and blow them out.

Jacksonville at Pittsburgh - This is pathetic. That the Jaguars have to travel to Pittsburgh as the wildcard team when they have a better record and have already thrashed the Steelers. Nothing has changed since their last meeting, except the Jags are more confident and the Steelers have looked even shakier.

Chimp's Face
Click images for desktop size: "Chimps' Face" by Faan
New York Giants at Tampa Bay - This is the cruddy game of the week! Even if it is the playoffs. Eli Manning showed he can play when the game is meaningless against the Patriots last week. The Buc's have been stumbling around in a weak conference. This is a coin toss really. Both these teams have no business and are only fodder for next week. Taking the Bucs for home field advantage and Jeff Garcia.

Tennessee at San Diego - I don't think this game will be a blow out. The Titans D is looking way too sharp since Haynesworth's return. But the Titan's offense is kind of sporadic at best. I like Kerry Collins. He's a nice guy, but he doesn't replace Vince Young. If the Titans win behind Collins he should get a life time pass to the Grand Ol' Oprey from his home town. He's got a big hill to climb here. Too big I think.

These picks are not jokes even if they are intended for amusement only.
Who knows what I forgot to say today that I'll remember tomorrow . . .

January 1, 2008

Illinois 17 USC 49

Light Of The Harem By Leighton
Click images for desktop size: "Light Of The Harem" by Leighton
I woke up to a beautiful day. It was the kind of morning that should have been for Christmas.
I'll take it for New Years.
Its a cliche. Snow hanging from tree branches, everything looking frosted with intent instead of just being natural.
It was pretty and unique to me. It would have made a good postcard . . .
Hunchback Of Notre Dame I'm most pleased with my puppy's willingness to adapt.
When she first saw deep snow she was trepedacious, timid and frightened. Now, she's the dog of the tundra. She rolls in the stuff, eats it burrows in it to find her toy.
I like her to be happy.

Something odd on the sight today. It looks like there's been close to 4,000 visitors since midnight. What makes it odd is that about 75% of them seem to be from yahoo and google for the picture of Captain America that I posted in 2006.
The last time that things went that crazy it was because Marvel announced they were killing off the character.
I have no idea what's spurred this sudden flurry of interest from all over the world.
Creepily, only 7 people figured out how to use the search box. They found the post with no issue at all. (This is judging from the log reports which are still new enough to me to be interesting.)
Here's the link to the picture of Captain America. I suspect they'll never find it here.
Maybe I should take this surge personally . . .
On a similar vein I discovered that 79,000 or so people hot linked to images here. Almost all of them as backgrounds for myspace profile pages.
That doesn't bother me much, other than the huge amount of band width they consumed . . . and none of them ever bothered to tell me they were doing this . . . minor stuff.
Just A Girl by Bello
Click images for desktop size: "Just A Girl" by Bello
What isn't minor were the guys who hot linked to images to promote things of which I do not approve and do not even want to give tacit approval. It horrified me. I was surprised at the number of porn sites but not greatly bothered, it was the political pages that angered me.
I'm hoping they discover that I've had to block the hot linking and take me off their sites so I can undo this hot linking stuff. It bothers me but not as much as people thinking I approve of racism etc.

Its been a good bowl season so far. Despite the best efforts of the BCS.
I'm stoked by the USC victory, of course. I think the score shows that Illinois was a bit out of their depth.
It would have been so much more exciting to see a higher ranked team against the Trojans. You can only play who they put in front of you.
Night Of The Demon When the BCS started I assumed, stupidly that it would be 1 vs 2, 3 vs 4 etc. This structure has produced some memoprable moments but its also produced a lot of duds and a lot of bad football.
One thing I hav noticed is that soem of the announcers have started to get more into the technical side of the game. Nothing too outre but it was cool to have an announcer explain a trap play and show how a guard executed it to perfection. That sort of thing is pleasant and does show that the game is more than just a QB throwing the ball around.
I even heard one guy start to explain a reveolving umbrella zone off of the two cover!
They cut him off but at least he knew what he was seeing. Too many of the announcers I wonder about.

I hope your New Year starts as nicely as mine.

December 31, 2007

There's just a little less of me

Wild Horse
Click images for desktop size: "Wild Horse" by Abogado
My puppy graduated from Level Two Obedience class.
I was surprised. She never did First Level Obedience. She never showed much interest in Obedience at all. Jut the sort of obedience that keeps us both happy, not the fancy heel exactly this way style of obedience for sure!
Date Bait I honestly didn't fully expect her to even pass. So when she was made "class valedictorian I was stunned to the point of having nothing to do but feel conceited.
I am always surprised at what my little dog will do to please me.
This follows on the heels of good news/bad news from my puppy;s family.
Her litter mate went to a big dog show cross country. That alone would have been infinitely cool, but the big shock was she won best of breed (Opposite sex . . . somehow that just seems wrong, why not best female?) and Best Bred By Exhibitor.
For some reason this flushes with me with pride. I don't know why but it does.
The bad news is that, like in people, cancer in dogs seems to be genetic. Hank, one of the coolest dogs I've ever known, died this year from cancer.
To me it was tragic.
Now it seems one of his offspring has the same disease.
I hate that.
Dogs are natural born battlers and can handle the disease better than most people. That doesn't mean it doesn't hurt or that the battle is any easier.
The bright spot is that she appears to be taking the chemo well and responding. Maybe she'll go into remission.
The dog is taking an oral chemo, similar to the one I had to take. I know how it made my body feel.
I feel sorry for her and am glad she wouldn't know what to do with pity. She'd probably prefer it if I rubbed her tummy or tried to take this stick away from her.

Autumn Rice by Vargas
Click images for desktop size: "Autumn Rice" by Vargas
On football this week I was a mediocre 11-5. Oddly for a while I was in first place! But some one went 16-0!I can't imagine anyone getting all those bizarre last week games right, but they did.
I gave up on my theory that the fix was in . . .
The NFC Playoffs wild card week appears to be a big thudding dud . . .

On my health front . . . I've been passing out.
I hate that. Its just like falling into a black hole. I get no rest and feel even more fatigued when I come to.
I'm not sure what to do about it. I can't will myself conscious until sleep. I just sit and pass out.
Dinosaurus I'm responding as expected to the drugs. My levels are all slowly balancing out.
I'll survive much more than this.
As usual my Blood pressure and cholesterol levels are all aces and I have at least gone through the added discomfort of the flu shot.
And the flu shot discomfort is a lot less painful than the flu!
There wasn't much more time left in the day.
I filled it by messing with the code on the site.
I decided that there aren't that many people who use the rss feeds. Its been a major amount of work coding everything to look good in the feeds - floating pictures etc. So i've gone to just using css classes to do some of the layout work.
I hope this doesn't distress anyone. It makes me feel a bit lazy.
I've also added in a Tag feature, where you can search for all other entries with the same tag at the bottom of the post.
It won't make much sense until there are tons of tagged posts, and I can't imagine why anyone would want to do such a thing, but it was fun trying to make it work.

December 28, 2007

The Northern girls with the way they kiss they keep their boyfriends warm at night
Brian Wilson

Click images for desktop size: "Kabegami" by cos2l

I'm a shallow guy
I always have been. I think that people judge me mostly on my appearance. As I get older, gnarled and weather beaten, that's a bit hard for me to take.
People have always said to me, "You don't judge other people that way, why keep holding yourself to a different standard?"
Because I'm me, I guess.
Attack Of The Jungle Women It also impacts the way I keep this web site. I tend to be fastidious and work to get it the way I want it to look and work. Subtle color variations, scripting and stuff.
I've gotten pretty good at html and css trying to get it to look right. At least write to me. I've even had to learn perl, for no other reason than to keep this looking nice and to keep my puppy's website easy for kids to use.
I had to work hard to get the search page to work. Its still not what I want. What I want is to click on search and have a translucent window open up where you type in your stuff and then it takes you to the result page and simply vanishes.
I have to learn AJAX for that . . .
I spent a couple of hours, last night, getting the whole site xhtml compliant. That means it should look the same in all browsers. Even though Microsoft continues to disdain all standards and demands that anything they do should become the de facto standard, it should get it close even in Internet Explorer.
I guess I did some of that to avoid thinking about the damage I've done to my body lately. It's all the grief with the drugs and prescriptions.
his shouldn't be that big a deal, but it is.
The problem is with the simple minded diabetic meds. Nothing fancy there, no trials or even a chance at narcotics. Just laws and customs designed to benefit . . . well, not me or many other patients for sure. Planning to sort it out today.
All of which comes back to this site. As in why did I decide to keep a journal in the first place and why continue it for so long? Why keep it public?
Click images for desktop size: "Marbles"
Most of this I've thought about, written about before. Reviewing the days keeps me focused on what I am and what I want to be. Keeping it public is, ostensibly, to let all those people I know and care about but have lost, have a place to find me. To share pretty pictures.
I'm a public person. Shallow and public . . . When we moved here the most exciting thing was prepping an act for my friends Christmas party . . . in my mind I was even thinking of tunes where I could do an alternate tuning on the guitar so I could get around the fret board and hide how worthless my hands and fingers had become.
Part of it is I like the attention. Okay?
Not to the point of using DIGG or wanting to smash the look of the site with a sidebar advertising and begging for attention, but to the point of doing a Thalberg, "If its any good they'll know who made it."
Carnival Of Souls There's more to it than that but for now, that's enough.

This is a great time of the year: The Bowl Season is in full swing.
I was glad to see Purdue and Central Michigan play so well in a "minor" bowl.
I was embarrassed to see Arizona State let down the Pac 10 and play so poorly against Texas last night.
That's okay, they tried, which is more than can be said for all the NFL teams this weekend.
The final week of the regular season is historically a mess. There are flashes of interest but mainly Play Off Bound teams rest their regulars. Teams knocked out of it play lackluster ball or play over their heads to be a spoiler. Some teams choke.
Last week I was 9-7. Pretty mediocre. I should have been 10-6 but I ticked the wrong box at the website! Second time this season.
That leaves me 15 points out of first place . . . and yet I slog on.
My picks are in bold.

New England at New York Giants - The most interesting thing here is whether the Giants will concede the Patriots their perfect season or if they'll put up any resistance at all. The excuse is resting starters for the Play Offs. Coolest thing is that the NFL backed off of their pay per view scheme under threat of losing their anti-trust exemptions. Game of the week because this will be historic whatever happens.

Buffalo at Philadelphia - This is an oddity. The Eagles are playing better ball since their season is meaningless. Buffalo is choking, which is sad. I have to pick the Eagles but my heart is with the Bills.
Click images for desktop size: "Movies"

Carolina at Tampa Bay - The Buc's embarrassed themselves last week. They may rest people. The Panther's have Steve Smith . . . This could be a real snoozer with names you never heard of in key positions. The Panthers are finishing the string.

Cincinnati at Miami - The Bengals upset Cleveland last week with Defense?? The Dolphins are now under the tutelage of the most over rated coach in history - Bill Parcells. They'll lose one for the kipper.

Detroit at Green Bay - After last weeks debacle Brett Favre is worried. He should be. He's also a great one at redeeming himself. Look for the Lions, depressed but game, to pay the price. I'm pretty sure the Packers will come out blazing to set the tone for the Play Offs.

Jacksonville at Houston - Its pathetic that the Jaguars enter the play offs as a wild card team. They are potent and dangerous. Look for them to make a statement in this one. Also they'll experiment and force some issues to test their personnel. Houston, you did better than I thought.
Confessions Of A Vice Baron
New Orleans at Chicago - I like the Saints but this is not to be. The Bears have gotten mean, now that it doesn't mean anything. They're good as spoilers. They seem to like it more than being Champs! The game means more to them then it does to the disappointed, dispirited Saints.

Pittsburgh at Baltimore - Here's a mash up of a game. The Steelers are coasting and playing lousy football. They'll have no offense that can be imagined. The Ravens have looked great and then distasteful, often in the same series! I'm taking the Ravens because the Steelers have noting to win. The Ravens will take pride in beating a play off team.

Seattle at Atlanta - This is my cruddy game of the week. Worse it will be on TV tomorrow . . . The Seahawks are the second weakest team in the play offs. They're still trying to fine tune a rickety offense. Atlanta is just glad the season is over. The Falcons may get motivated but I wouldn't count on it.

San Francisco at Cleveland - Now that the Browns have lost their chance to be Division Champs this game should prove easy for them. The 49ers have more to play for but the Browns don't want to go into the play offs on a, not with their team history.

Tennessee at Indianapolis - The hardest game to call. This could be the most fun. Neither team can actually win much here so it could be just a good joyous game or one coach or the other could decide to start resting players. I'm going with the Colts but if there were more on the line for the Titans I'd take them.

Minnesota at Denver - This would be a snoozer except Adrian Peterson needs a confidence booster to head in to the Wild Card Round. Nobody is better prepared to give it to him then the Broncos. If the Vikings don't spring Peterson for big yards this will say a lot about what to expect next week.

My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose
Click images for desktop size: "My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose - R Browning"
San Diego at Oakland - I pity the Raiders, and they're sending out a very green rookie to start his first game against a team that needs a confidence boost. Rah.

St Louis at Arizona - This would be the cruddy game of the week except both teams have spark enough to make something happen. I hope that the Cardinals defense gets a handle on Steve Jackson otherwise it will go the other way.

Dallas at Washington - The Cowboys will be resting EVERYBODY who matters. The starters will treat it like a scrimmage most likely. The Redskins are playing for their jobs next year in front of an angry home town crowd. Which is why I'm picking them for the upset.

Kansas City at New York Jets - This is a real stink pot of a game to end the regular season . . . I'm taking the Jets because the coin came up tails.

These picks are for your great amusement only. They are not to be taken as even knuckle headed advice!

December 12, 2007

Badges? Badges. BADGES! I got to show you no stinking badges!
Alphonso Bedoya

Christmas Lighthouse By Phillips '57
Click images for desktop size: "Christmas Lighthouse" by Phillips '57
I've never coached in the NFL.
Really don't want to coach pro athletes. I can't see the fun or the sense of accomplishment in that, really.
That doesn't mean that I can't be outraged by the actions of Bobby Petrino. Not as a sports fan but as a coach and a member of at least one of the associations he belongs to.
Inframan I don't want to go on about him. He's not worth it as a coach. I'm more stunned that he could get a job.
If you don't know, Bobby Petrino walked out on his contract with the Atlanta Falcons. He lasted 13 games. The day he walked out he took another job. Coaching the Arkansas Razorbacks.
If I were an alumnus I'd be raising hell with the athletic director. I don't believe Arkansas are so obsessed with winning that they'd throw pride out the door. That they'd trust the young men of their institution to a man who would apparently desert them at the slightest whim.
Thing is that Petrino immediately mad me think of another coach who was some what under the gun this year: Joe Paterno.
I never played for Paterno. I enjoyed watching him coach twice. Once when he hammered USC in some bowl and once when we hammered him at the Colosseum.
He's got class. In victory and defeat. He spoke kindly, forcefully, and without evocation both times. He was polite and smelled like you wished your dad smelt on Christmas morning.
As a coach he's survived the 3 yards and a cloud of dust to move into the aerial circus years and now into the indomitable defense years. He's done so without a blemish. No NCAA infractions, most of his students got their degrees. More than a few became Hall Of Famers in the NFL.
If you ever visit State College one of the things you notice is that there are a lot of buildings named Paterno. Not as a tribute to him but because he donated the money to build them - libraries, not Athletic Centers, class rooms, not gymnasiums.
Heavenly Angel
Click images for desktop size: "Heavenly Angel" by Anonymous
He said he wanted to give something back to the institution that had given him so much.
Sometime ago an NFL team, I forget which one, offered Paterno 3 million dollars a year to coach for them.
His response was something like, "If your not saving lives there's nothing a man can do that's worth a million bucks a year," and he turned it down flat.
If you get to the practice field you'll be surprised to see an awful lot of High School coaches. They're always welcome. Sometimes he puts them to work, sometimes he or his staff teach them.
He loves this game and delights in what he learns from it.
I think that he and Eddie Robinson are the two greatest men to ever teach this game.
I'm cynical enough to be intrigued. Someone bought a big court case to force Penn State to reveal Paterno's salary.
Invasion Of The Saucermen 1957 Now a days I'm always ready to have my drams crushed, and maybe the idol had clay feet after all.
After a lot of vourt room tantrums they finally gave up the number.
Joe Paterno makes $500,000 a year.
Its a handsome salary but doesn't much compare to the millions Lou Saban is pulling down at Alabama, or the millions Bobby Petrino is getting from Arkansas.
He's donated millions of dollars back to the people who pay him. He's raised his family and raised young men to go out into the world with the same firm but gentle hand and eye.
There's an argument for yin and yang.

I'm doing fine. Getting excited about Christmas. Why not. I don't need presents galore to enjoy the day.
I regret not being able to give presents, but that a minor quibble that might have more to do with my pride than with altruism.
I wish my puppy and I were going to see kids this year. We'll be fine.
My friend had her dream job interview today. It must have gone well as she had some very scant reasons why she wasn't a shoo-in.
She should be a shoo-in.
Put up more decorations that only my puppy and I noticed. Lit the tree so my puppy could lie there in the dark and admire it. Although she does seem concerned that its not surrounded with good smelling packages. She's being so good. She remembers Santa Claus Is Watchin' You by Ray Stevens so she wouldn't be bad.
Things are good enough here now to not mind the pains I've had. I went three days, almost, with no pain pills, before I caved in.

November 25, 2007

Its 3rd and long

Click images for desktop size: "Party" by Anonymous
Its been a movie and football soaked weekend.
What's been nicest is that it hasn't detracted a whit from time with my loved ones. Its been almost blissful.
Except that my puppy thinks I should spend all my time freezing to death, outside chasing her.
Night Of The Howling Beast (1977)-1 That's her tiny loss.
My tiny loss was in not hearing from as many people as I'd hoped. Until I realize that not many of those people are even aware of what Thanksgiving is or that it even exists.
The point being that there is nothing to say this hasn't been an absolutely splendid Thanksgiving.
I've even been perplexed. I'd forgotten or never really known about someone cooking for me at the holidays. Especially cooking well.
I could get used to it.
I did get a touch of a cold, just enough to distract me and get me to work on silly little things.
I've upgraded the Movie Library. I now have 2,500 movies!
I think that number pushes me into the realm of being a nut. If there were any doubt in the first place.
To jump start the inevitable, the movies are not for selling. They are for trading.
I'm always interested in trading for more stuff. More movie stuff I mean.
I've upgraded the posters on a few and re-"genred" some more. I'm trying to get it to break down into alphabetical pages by genre. A worthwhile project which is right up there with solidifying my Queen's Pawn Gambit opening skills.
The holidays are, oddly, a dead time for movie trading.

Movies we've watched this weekend:
"Deck The Halls" - dumb dreck but pleasant enough.
"Female Demon Ohkasu " - a decent but surprisingly gory chambara flick. Had some actual karate fighting and some great tattoos. It was B&W which made the head choppings and stuff easier to take. I'm looking forward to watching the 2 sequels.
"Like A Dragon" - a new Tashiki Miike flic that was confusing as heck. Not helped by bad subtitles that swapped genders around indiscriminately. Even with that stuck with it to the end and rather enjoyed it.
Pinkerton Lincoln Mcclernand
Click images for desktop size: "Pinkerton, Lincoln, McClernand" by Unknown
"Unfaithfully Yours" - the very cool Preston Sturges film about suspected infidelity. Great holiday fodder.
"Piglets Big Movie" - We were all kids once and its not a good idea to ever forget that.
"The Nine Lives Of Fritz The Cat" - Because we're not kids anymore. This film interests me. Ralph Bakshi did the original. It was his entry into features. Robert Crumb hated the original and killed Fritz, his strongest character off to prevent this sequel. Steve Krantz, a Chicago business man, wanted to be a big deal producer. Krantz started off producing some episodes of the first Spider Man cartoon. He hired this Robert Taylor guy to make a sequel. It did well enough for Krantz to get financing for a movie called "Cooley High" which was very good and a monster hit.
Rear Window It even spawned a tepid TV version called "What's Happening". But what makes it interesting is that Krantz loved being in Hollywood. He did all the mover things including dumping his long standing wife for some starlet wannabee. His wife, Judith, took to writing as a way to assuage his grief from the impending divorce. She wrote "Scruples" which was a mammoth best seller. Judith Krantz became the new "Jacqueline Suzanne" and churned out a series of boring sex filled pot boilers that were also huge best sellers. Maybe it was coincidental that the wife's income shortly exceeded his but he stopped the divorce. He still produces movies, mostly bad TV productions of his wife's stuff. Movies are fascinating, aren't they?
"Wheels On Meals" - Just to show people how the now rubbery and flaccid Jackie Chan deserved to be a star.
"Fearless - The Director's Cut" - Which really is Ronnie Yu's vision which makes the film must see viewing for more than its being Jet Li's final martial arts escapade. (He's clearly followed the career of Jackie Chan and can see where things go wrong as one ages.)
"Who's Your Caddy" - which is really really dumb. But such was the mood that even that was a pleasant enough diversion so long as you don't pay a whole lot of attention to it and clean the house while its playing. As for football I watched every single game I could. The Tennessee - Kentucky game was disappointing. If ever a team deserved to win it was Kentucky.
The Kansas - Missouri game was awesome. Well played and hard hitting.
LSU deserved to lose and the only part that bothers me will be if West Virginia gets into the BCS Championship Game.
West Virginia reminds me of the old BYU national championship. After a full season of playing nothing but mooks BYU went into their personal Holiday Bowl and played a 6-5 Michigan team. They beat them (and it is not a joke to say that given enough time you can coach a team to play any one game - hey, I coached my kids to play American Championship teams and to get wins we had no real claim to.)
Click images for desktop size: "Christmas" by Kabe Gami
The victory got BYU a national Championship. It bothered me a little at the time, the same way it will bother me if West Virginia gets to play for the Championship. But in the end you can only beat who's in front of you and everyone gets the same amount of time to prepare.
And for all of those kids its meaningful and they all expend the same amount of energy to get there.
So for the kids it is important.
Its the pollsters and the BCS computers who make this a joke while they give the kids a prize to aspire to. Now its time for the NFL!
And thinking about USC-UCLA this next Saturday. And wait for the BCS polls to see how far up the ladder we've moved.

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November 23, 2007

USC 44 Arizona State 24

Click images for desktop size: "Lady Of Red"

Football yesterday was uneven. The Thanksgiving day was pretty great.
Lots and lots of things to be thankful for.
Lots of things I hope become the everyday things I can simply expect from life: laughter, congeniality and dark open roads.
Alphaville (French) (1965) And dogs. Always life with friends and dogs.
No matter how bleak life gets you can usually rely on friends and you can always rely on your dog. That's something to be thankful for everyday.

As to the football:
The Green Bay game was very entertaining thanks to Brett Favre and Donald Driver. I was shocked at how good the Green Bay defense and special teams have become. But not as shocked as I was to see the Lions playing like they were running from the ghosts of their own past. They're a decent team who are evolving. I hope the coach and Kitna can keep them together to realize that 3 game losing streak was an occurrence and not a divine premonition.
The Dallas-Jets game was, sadly what was to be expected. A dominant performance from the Cowboys. I watched Tank Johnson play for the Cowboys with some pretty mixed feelings. Johnson is a solid player. He deserves a chance after all of his trouble with the police and with prison but i don't get any impression that all his troubles are behind him, nor that they made any true impact on him.
Worse, I don't think the Cowboys care. They just wanted a solid line man and to win.
I was surprised that I got the Colts-Falcons game free! Rah!
I don't know how this NFL Network thing can be allowed to exist. Hopefully I'll get it again for free for next Thursday so I can see Green Bay!
Anyway, I didn't get to watch much of the Colts win. My only real interest is that I'm 3-0 in my football picks contest this week!
I didn't get to watch it as I was glued to my computer "watching" USC at Arizona State.
Watching means going to ESPN and CSTV and staring at green fields with little icons bopping along while I try and visualize what's happening.
Lightfromtheleftturn Vitaly Yurchenko
Click images for desktop size: "Light At the Left Turn" by Vitally Yurchenko
It must work in some way.
I didn't move for most of the three hours.
It was a good game. A great game for John David Booty, and a good game for our defense, a lousy game for special teams. I mean -4 yards rushing allowed through 12 minutes of the 4th quarter!
It was a grand statement by Pete Carroll over the man USC considered before hiring Carroll.
I am glad that they didn't hire Ericson.
I was appalled by one thing that appeared to be.
I couldn't see the players, only the icons but the play calling made it look like Ericson quit on his team.
It started when the Sun Devils scored a touchdown off of a blocked punt with over 8 minutes left, bringing the score to 44-24. This year the Devils have a rep built on incredible 4th quarter comebacks. I was nervous, in fear of another "Miracle In The Desert."
Battleship Potemkin(1925)1Xs I was expecting the on side kick and then another mad touch down etc etc.
They kicked away.
Fair enough. I guess the plan was to rely on the defense for a 3 and out and then they'd fill the air with footballs.
The Devils' defense did okay but let the Trojans eat up 3 minutes!
Then instead of pitching the ball deep they RAN!
The Devil's ate up their own clock and their own chances. Then they PUNTED on fourth down . . .
USC went straight to the run game and marched downfield.
Then on 4th and 6 with an easy field goal in reach Pete Carroll did a nice sportsmanlike thing. No one would have blamed him for kicking the 3 pointer but he just ran a running play.
We turned the ball over on downs and left Arizona State with 1:18 on the clock.
Instead of trying to get that last TD against our second stringers the Devils ran the ball and ran out the clock.
I have no idea why and it depressed me, like they were saying we weren't ever really trying.

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June 16, 2007

I just hold the ball like this and then throw the hell out of it
Steve "Lefty" Carlton

Benny Darkday2 1440X900
Click images for desktop size: "Dark Day II" by Benny
Every pitcher I've ever known has had the same mind set as a Weakside Line Backer on a run blitz.
Justin Verlander just threw a no hitter for the Tigers a couple of weeks ago. It still resonates. That's one of the things I love about baseball. The game stays the same forever. A no hitter today conjures memories of every no hitter before it. It augments the legend and illuminates the beauty of one man and his team rising to a level of perfection. And it makes perfection real and attainable.
Verlander got his no hitter the way I like them, with 100 mile an hour fastballs.
The last no hitter I saw was in person was Nolan Ryan's, way back when he was a California Angel. Ryan threw the hundred mile an hour fastball. HE had the rep of being a "nice" guy. He also had a rep for having control problems. Control problems - One of Ryan's records is striking out the side on 9 pitches. No fouled balls, just 9 pitches in a row three batters couldn't even touch. That isn't a control problem.
1959 - Hot Money Girls I always figured that Ryan kept the control problem ruse going to give him an edge. You know a 100 mph fastball can kill you, break bones if it hits you. If you were facing a guy who had control problems you're going to have to work awfully hard to on concentrating after the first pitch slips away from him and comes at you head high and behind you.
I think the ruse was more effective than Don Drysdale's. Drysdale's wasn't a ruse though. Drysdale remembered anyone who got a game winning hit off of him and then would proceed to intimidate, head hunt and humiliate you for the rest of your career. Batters really had to decide how much they wanted to win when Drysdale was on the mound.
How much simpler and saner to have "control problems". How much more intimidating when you never know when death's retaliation will come hurtling down at you.
He was a beautiful pitcher and one of the best I've ever seen.
The first no hitter I'd ever seen was Sandy Koufax's perfect game. I was 7 or 8. My grandfather took me that day. Back then I played baseball at the parks or empty lots, always running through my batter's litany (which I ran through even at my last game). Keep the label up. Don't close you eyes when you swing. Drop the bat, don't throw it before you run down to first.
Even with that limited knowledge Koufax was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. When I caught my first 6 foot peeler a few years later Koufax was the reference point I used to describe that waves beauty, power and elegance.
When I look at art I see few that can compare and only a handful of paintings or sculptures that can stand up to the glory of Koufax in the 9th inning of that game.
I was a decent hitter. Like most batters I divide the strike zone into a base 9 sectioned rectangle (High, low, middle - inside, outside, middle) and then I quarter each section. I know where I can hit the ball in that diagram. I know where I can't hit it. The diagram shifts depending on the umpires view of the strike zone and then shifts again depending on the speed and delivery of the pitcher.
I'm All Ears
Click images for desktop size: "I'm All Ears" by Unknown
I think Koufax saw the strike zone as a series of floating dots, the size of dimes. He remembered what you did to the ball the last times you were at the plate and marked it down in his head, then he threw the ball to the dot where he knew you couldn't do anything with it.
When I was in my 20's a friend got a coaching job in San Luis Opisbo. He got a house in Half Moon Bay. His next door neighbor was Sandy Koufax. I went up there and we spent a Saturday watching Koufax practice his golf swing, mess around in his yard. It was a remarkable day.
Later my friend got friendly with Koufax and said I should come up for a BBQ or something like that and meet him. I didn't. I never wanted to talk to him. What if he didn't like me? Or, far worse, what if I didn't like him? He was a work of art, a monument. I couldn't have lived if he'd just been a man.
Delinquent Parents (Hs) X01 On Wednesday I have to go to the hospital for some tests. There was a delay to schedule me for "the machines". I'm not fond of machines where they strap me down naked underneath it while they put on lead aprons, welding masks then stand behind 6 inches of lead impregnated glass and another wall of solid lead. ZI'm not so stupid that I don't know its safer to back there with them!
The tests are for some weird numbness in my right arm. No stroke or heart attack. The easy answers gone they go to the machines. I only have to pay the same 20 bucks as for a regular doctor visit so its cool.
Worse is that one of the dogs I cared for Memorial Day weekend has "offended" his owner. He wants to dump her and sees no correlation between his treatment of her and the way she is. I threatened him. I can still draw the fire so maybe he'll listen. I doubt it but he does know I'll carry through if the puppy suddenly "runs away".
And the next door neighbors and I had a set to. Two dogs gone, one dead from being mistreated, another found running down a busy street (8 week old tiny puppy). There's a 3rd dog living there . . . as abused as the others.
I made my point with them but cowards who take their hate and neglect out on an innocent tiny puppy aren't capable of listening.
My ride just showed up for volleyball.

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June 9, 2007

I would live with him in hell. He is my happiness. Kawajari Mastomo

Wallpaper 85 Cube Symbols 1600X1200
Click images for desktop size: "Cube Symbols" by Unknown
Where I live the ground is rich red clay.
Red clay has 3 states: Clay, sticky mud and dust.
It makes red dust. The red dust is so heavy that it collects in the shower pan in the morning. It lives in your hair and in your skin.
Its stronger and heavier than the black dust from cars. Its stronger and heavier than the gray dust from skin and flesh.
It is always here.
One of my friends used to speculate how much dog hair we must eat in a day (she had more dogs than even me).
I wonder how much red clay dust i eat and drink each day. I wonder if its good or bad for me and if anyone has ever worried enough about it to figure it out.
But mainly I wonder when something will come along to interest me more than the red dust.
1956 - Godzilla
I'm exhausted.
I have a new measure of fatigue. My hand cramps get significantly worse the more tired I am. Response to toxins, maybe?
Today at pee wee football practice was the oddest. They all cramped in groups of two, each pair right after the over.
I have to use an outside lever to unbend my hands when it happens. It was hard to do that when there are so many kids about. Hard to do so they won't notice, I mean.
Its been a busy week.
I was worried because this is a small town and I'm not great at entertaining house guests in any circumstances. I just want them to be at ease and happy.
The most exciting part was meeting my puppy's "little brother". She's larger than him.
They seemed to get along fine, although I was hoping for some deep outpouring of familial secrets. It didn't happen but they acknowledged each other and got along fine.
My foster dog fell in love with him, badgered him constantly. I worried about it bothering him but I noticed several times that if she left him alone he'd go and provoke her.
Work was rough this week. Nothing new there.
The weather here has been wretchedly hot and miserably humid. I expect it to get worse. There's no cooling at night or even during the rain storms.
Even so 50 kids showed up for Pee Wee Football. The 8 who were there last week took sadistic pleasure in showing off their extra skills.
The hardest part for me was getting the other coaches to back off and let the kids have extra water breaks. I'm starting to wonder if my fellow coaches have any experience in this sport. 96 degrees is not the right temperature for pushing children. They won't get tougher, they'll just get cramps and learn to collapse.
Blacktree Mercatecnia
Click images for desktop size: "Black Tree" by Mercatecnia
Volley Ball practice was even more packed. Nearly 200 kids, enthusiastic kids.
I was dying and worried about my sun block holding up. The kids are getting used to me. A few of them tried to make out like we're buddies. I understand that and it doesn't worry me. My fellow coaches there are very experienced and we all know that its just the youngsters way of trying to find their place in this world.
They do ask some incredibly personal questions though.
Tomorrow I have to get my house back in order and try and rest.
My legs feel like they're leaden, just constantly sore and tired. Same with my hands and shoulders. I made the 1.4 miles to the bus stop in 17 minutes today. It took me 20 yesterday.
I think a solid day of vegging out and watching movies would be the cure though.
I stole my neighbors dog again. They killed one puppy with neglect and stupidity so of course they got another. I picked it up while it was wandering down the street in front of traffic. I may have found a home for it. The people seemed okay and are willing to get him his shots and keep him a week.
Tonight I heard a puppy crying on their back porch. Another one. A different one.

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June 2, 2007

Maddie said to Hattie, "We can't take a chance. Let's not be L 7. We got to learn to dance!"
Sam The Sham

Alex Bank Electrofunklover-1600X1200
Click images for desktop size: "Electrofunk Lover" by Alex Bank
Had a white night last night.
Not certain why. The pain level was just enough to keep from falling completely asleep, I guess.
I thought of odd things. Deep memories, physical memories.
If they were of bad stuff I guess they'd be called traumas. They weren't bad. They were some of the things I don't keep in the fore front of my mind but they are high lights. I was rock climbing once and thought I was about to die. My life flashed in front of my eyes. These memories were in that flash. I recall them even last night as vivid and beautiful.
I have an IQ that tests pretty high, which just proves what a poor joke testing is. My memories are physical things, not words or dates but muscles and nerve memories.
It started with a time when I was about 12. I remember it because I had an old Zuma Jay's surfboard. A real clunker I could afford second hand from my paper route.
It was a big winter day. Malibu was packed solid even though the wave wasn't working from the third point to the pier. I pedaled down to Arroyo Secos where a nice hollow face was working.
1944 - Teen Age (1) The old clunker hung a rail and I got tumbled hard along a sandy bottom. The memory is beautiful to me. I was being held down under water, helpless, just dragged along the sea beds. I had no power and no control. Just about the time that I was starting to worry about my breathing the ocean spit me out, threw me up high enough to escape the foam and gulp in fresh air.
I thought this was proof that the ocean loved me.
That thought drifted over into thoughts about baseball. I miss playing a lot. A few days ago I picked up and ball and I was lobbing it at a chain link fence. There was no pain and I was hitting where I was throwing. I tried to make a real throw and the pain was intolerable, like electric irons had been clamped on my elbow while an electric storm ran from my shoulder to my fingertips.
I remembered one of my favorite plays. I was a junior in High School. I don't remember who we were playing but we were up 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth. They had the bases loaded with one away. The runners were off with the pitch. The batter did a bad sacrifice bunt that became a chopper up the middle. Our second baseman, Sammy scooped it up clean and tossed it to me at second. I caught it barehanded and was pivoting to throw to first when the runner barreled in on me. I let the ball go at the same time as the runners spikes caught me square on the right hip. It spun me around and knocked me down but I still looked up and saw Tommy, our 6'4 first baseman make a stretch and an easy catch for the double play.
What was cool was that I felt his spikes dig into me but I felt no pain. I concentrated on the throw the same as always.
When I got up his footprint was on my pants, and indentations where his spikes caught me but my pants weren't torn and neither was the skin.
I decided baseball loved me.
These things need to be in threes. A memory trilogy.
Snowb By Hero Xxx
Click images for desktop size: "Snowboard" by Hero
My senior year of high school. We were in the conference semi-finals. Our opponent had an All State Parade All American had middle line backer. For the first quarter he made my life miserable. He hit me hard and often and he hurt when he hit.
In the second quarter something happened. It was a belly play. I burst up the middle and I felt something run into me. I felt like a concrete block. I noticed something had hit me but it didn't stop me or even bother me. Some of you know I had to wear rubber goggles back then so my peripheral vision was just enough to identify colors and shapes. I had no idea what had run into me. I just kept going.
Back in the huddle I was getting congratulations. The MLB had hit me and then gone flying. I didn't understand it then, less now, so I paid no attention to it. What I remember is that feeling of invulnerability, that noticing that something had bounced off of me and the fact that that something had no more impact than just being something more than that. I can always feel it in my bones.
It went that way the rest of the game. He had no more tackles.
I watched the game film and saw it happen, still not understanding, just knew that the sport loved me.
1952 - Red Planet Mars Next week is going to be interesting.
I have a hectic work schedule and house guests. One of the guests being my puppies brother. Two big black dogs will be interesting and fun. Add in a manic foster dog and it would be great if I could just spectate.
Football was odd. Its been threatening rain all day. Only 8 kids showed up. Most of the kids have to be driven there by parents.
I'm not disappointed. Eight kids means I get to know them better and when you learn one segment of the team well, you can understand the whole team that much better.
At volleyball practice, where the kids are poor and generally have to make their own way there had about 140 show up, or nearly 3 times more kids than the previous week.
I'm not sure exactly what those number imply.
I will, by necessity, be even quieter next week.
The update to the latest Word Press on the 19th of May seems to have broken my RSS feed.
I'm still trying to figure out why. Until then this link should work http://warchild13.com/wp-atom.php in NewsGator or whatever RSS reader you're using, at least until I can figure out how to fix the whole thing.

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May 24, 2007

So. Look, like I was saying

Upland Studiobenben
Click images for desktop size: "Upland" by Studio BenBen
I survived one of the physically roughest days in my older life.
And it was a sort of fun.

Proctoring the test was enjoyable. I was surprised that the classrooms were so small. I thought that was a good thing. When I was in school it was usually at least 40 to a class. Here it was about 20.
Another surprise was that these tests are the ones the state uses in allocating funds, firing people, giving raises. So why didn't they fund the program to the point of at least not having to beg for volunteers? Even jury duty style money or bus fare would have enticed a lot more people to show up.
I liked the kids. The huge clothes they wear nowadays made sense in the classroom. As soon as they handed in their answer sheets they'd pull the shirts over their heads and pull their arms out of the sleeves and take a nap in a wearable cocoon. I thought it was clever.
Lady From Shanghai Especially considering the kids who finished first still had to sit in the classroom for 3 hours, waiting for everyone else to finish.
They all handled that pretty well.
They tried some things on me but they wouldn't be kids if they didn't. Nothing outrageous, in fact it was all very well modulated and the kids were very well behaved.
I'm the kind of guy who finds it amusing to watch kids try and get away with stuff I tried when I was a kid: the old dropped pencil ploy, the sneezing a note across a room. They seldom worked for me either.
One kid finished the test in 10 minutes. I was curious as to whether he was that smart or that apathetic. There was no one I could safely ask.

The doctor was a pain. There has been a study on the diabetics medicine they've been feeding me for the last 7 years. This study holds that the medicine increases the likelihood of heart attacks by 45%. I got diabetes as a side effect to one of the chemo's. This chemo they knew increased the likelihood of heart attacks by 50%. Add in all the other factors and I think I just shot into the favored position, as in it will be amazing if I don't have a heart attack! Glaxo, the drug company is defending themselves by saying their tests only indicate a 30% increase in heart attacks . . . and they claim they made it public knowledge last year . . . they've been selling it for 15 years . . .
Going in my favor is the fact that I'm reasonably calm, don't have high blood pressure and work out a reasonable amount.
Its nothing to stress over. Its just something that can't be ignored.

Then there were the volleyball camps. I like volleyball as a sport. I'm not too keen on beach volleyball. It lacks the intricate passing and the opponent confusing fakes and feigns. I do like that beach volley ball protects the athletes body when going for the dig. (The dig is where the athlete lays out in an attempt to stop the opponent from scoring. The theory is that you give up your body so that you can get enough of your hand on the ball to get the ball up for a teammate to scoop the ball up and try and set up your own score.)
14. Somelikeithot This was a pretty rough group of kids, but they were all polite, interested and motivated.
I don't know much about coaching volleyball, But I'm good with SAQ (Speed, Agility, Quickness). There are no sports that don't benefit from Speed, agility or quickness.
The coach thought I worked the kids too hard, at first. Then he saw that they were even more enthusiastic! They asked me, the way rough kids do, if I'd be back next week. I said yeah.

The hospital with Dr Puppy always goes well. She does her job so well. She played tea time with the girls. They got mad and lectured her about being impolite and eating her cookie before everyone else had been served!

Work is the same: more annoyed each time I meet a coworker. Dismayed and appalled that I should be grouped in with people with no hygiene and no manners who tell pornographic unfunny jokes to strangers. Yeah.

My friend has asked me why the universe is unraveling. Like I can point to a specific thread and say it starts there.
It's not like that. Its like the fabric of my little micro-verse has been doused with caustic acid and the whole sheaf has become something unrecognizable. She has a right to ask.
I'll try and make time to answer. I see ways to answer but not complete explanations yet.

I also realized how ingrained Southern California is in me. I heard me described as the tall guy with the Southern California accent . . . maybe that's why I like Chandler so much. The Irish have Joyce, the South has Faulkner and the lonely surfers have Chandler.

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May 18, 2007

They live for different amusements
Raymond Chandler

Vincebaak Eyeswideopen 1440X900
Click images for desktop size: "Eyes Wide Open" by Vince Baak
When I start to feel things are falling apart, like the center of my universe is unravelling, I think about Raymond Chandler.

Its one of my rules.
We all have them. I just the sort of guy who needs to codify them, list them and remember to the point of no longer having to write them down.

1) Avoid all situations they write operas about.

2) You can always rely on the wisdom of Satchel Paige and Ernie Banks. ("Don't look back, they might be gaining on you" - S. Paige and "Its a beautiful day. Lets play two" - E. Banks)

3) When devising a plan if you can imagine Wile E Coyote agreeing with you then it is best to re-think.

4) No matter what anyone says it is better to love than to be loved.

5) Remember your life is not a movie. Your life is not a pop song.

6) If something's broken, fix it or shut up.

7) Don't judge. Simply watch.

8) Children and dogs always deserve a hand.

1969 - Chastity And on and on. These aren't rules for everybody. I'll never so arrogant as to lay down a personal code for anyone to emulate.
They're just my simple guidelines that I can always fall back on no matter how stressed.
So I think about Raymond Chandler.
I've long held that Chandler is one of the greatest American writers. His developed style and extended a staid genre into a testament.
Like my other two favorite writers, Wild Bill Faulkner and Wilder Bill Kennedy, he wrote about a specific geographic place. Like in film they turned landscape into psychology.
Faulkner and Kennedy derive much of their frission from sexuality. Faulkner's sexuality was tied up with despair and loneliness as epitomized in "Sanctuary" and Popeye's rape of Temple Drake with a corn cob.
For Kennedy sexuality is a staving off of death, a celebratory thing. the ultimate scene of this is when the Ferryman's necrophiliac urges actually bring the corpse back to life in "Quinn's Book".
In Chandler's Marlowe their is almost no sexuality. There are some carnal thoughts. Chandler was an anglophile but not Victorian. The overt act in Chandler's work are always of love. The little guy drinking the poison to protect Gladys in "The Big Sleep", Marlowe's sacrificing of himself for the love of his friend, Terry Lennox, in "The Long Goodbye". And the driving the abused woman back to Kansas, seeing her home safe when he knows there can never be a romance between them.
Love and loneliness are the semiotic signposts of Chandler. They are a unison.
I've studied enough of his life to understand why he perceived the world this way but when the world is falling apart it helps me to review it and to understand how and why.
Love is an ideal to be cherished quietly.

Tomorrow my puppy and my foster dog are doing a big dog walk for Charity. After the dog walk I have to coach some pee wee footballers and give them their summer diets and personal work out schedules . . . try figuring out what 9 year olds can do as a personal workout! try getting some parents to feed their kids healthy food!
On Weds I have to pedal the old bike to a middle school where I'll proctor the kids final exams. Then the doctors and then the first summer volley ball camp.
It will wear me out physically but lift my spirit immeasurably.

January 31, 2007

But I'm still alive

Click images for desktop size: "Merrie Flower" by Unknown
At the doctors today.
I had to sit next to a woman. indeterminate age, but older. She was about 5'4", 190 to 200 pounds, straw like auburn hair that was losing the battle to gray. She wore two dirty gray sweat suits against the cold and talked as much to her writhing fingers as she did to me. She wore a touch of rouge and some badly applied too red lipstick.
I found her attempts at make up touching for some reason.
She asked me, "Where you going to be living when you die?"
She didn't wait for an answer. "I don't want to be found by strangers. I don't want strangers going through my stuff. They'd like as steal all the treasures. They would!"
This was a pretty unsettling line of conversation. I'd never given any thought to it.
"I've seen them graves, them paupers graves. Just throw you in a cardboard box and stack you 12 by 12 they do. Don't want that for me. Spending eternity with strangers rotting right next to you. I got me a plan. I'm getting one of them TV life insurances. Pay five thousand dollars they says. No questions asked. No physical!"
I couldn't comment on her plan. It was better than mine, which is . . .
Then she started to cry. If you could ever call crying masculine that's what she was doing.
I patted her shoulder for lack of anything better.
5 The receptionist called me then. I went to the door and asked her if the woman would be all right.
The receptionist said, "Oh, she gets herself worked up all the time. She snaps right out of it."
She was gone when my appointment ended.

Its time to think about the Superbowl . . . Really, it is.
And I just don't know. I think the Colts being a touchdown favorite is a bit suspect. But that's as deep as it goes.
When it comes down to coaching, Tony Dungy has proven he's a class act who can handle more stress than a mere game. His tactic of keeping his players at home for an extra day drew fire but, if he wins, others will emulate it.
Lovee Smith is near as capable and also a class act. In fact these two may be the classiest coaches ever to be in the big game.
You have to give the Colts a slight edge on this.
The games biggest draw is the Colts O vs the Bears D. If Tommie Harris and Mike Brown were healthy the Bears would be an easy pick.
The Colts O-Line is very good. Good enough to control the Bears front four but not good enough to handle the blitzes or the Bears front 7. Manning was able to stage a brilliant comeback against a crippled Patriots Defense. Even without two Superstars the Bears D is much stronger than that. I have to give an edge to the Bears.
Manning will have a hard time with the pressure and the Bears should force some turnovers.
Flipping it around the Bears O is scary for all the wrong reasons. Rex Grossman is not a Superbowl QB, but he makes some super plays. Their running game will take a while to get going but they will wear the Colts down. Colts DE Freeny will have to step up fast and play the game of his career for a full 60 minutes or the Bears will run the guys down and allow Grossman to make his safe throws.
I can't really foresee that, altho it is more than possible.
Considering all that I pick the Bears.
But what I really think is that the game will be a blow out for one team or the other.

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January 5, 2007

Where's the rest of me?
From the film "Kings Row"

Cityofliberty 1440X900
Click images for desktop size: "City Of Liberty"
I just finished watching “Gridiron Gang”. I liked it. It was even better than the documentary on which it was based.
It reminded me too much of myself.
I stood up in front of the House Of Parliament and actually said, “Give me a sociopathic gangbanger and I'll give you back a middle linebacker. A young man committed to his team, his community and to himself.”
And I said it with a straight face and a deep commitment. I meant it and the fine young men entrusted to me kept proving me right.
I never knew if I was a good coach. I still don't. I like doing it but that might just be the control freak inside me. I do know there was never anything more thrilling or beautiful to me than a British kid from the council flats showing me a letter from an American School.
We won a lot of games - 134 against 14 losses. I got a lot of credit I didn't deserve and I worked like a maniac and loved it all. Getting the kids to try. Getting the money to take a bus to play a game 300 miles away. getting adults to respect what those kids were doing.
I loved it.
Then I look at myself now and wonder how I got so thin, not in physique but in spirit.
Sometimes I just want to go walking with my puppy and never look back, just the two of us walking off to whatever we can't avoid.
Poster - I Was A Teenage Frankenstein Like Groucho Marx I don't want to belong to any club that will have me. I am so much less than I was and sometimes it hurts me to remember what I've done and what I'll no longer do.
Maybe I don't like growing old gracefully. Maybe I'm just tired of struggling just to stay alive, of always masking the physical pain, of being glib and humorous when I feel like it would be so much easier to quit.
I'll get over it.
I have to.
I've got a foster puppy with a prospective new owner. Whatever goes on with me I know I'm not bigger than the world. I know that no matter how much I crave it I'll never be all alone.
I don't much mind being misunderstood, or even ignored. I'm thick skinned. Insults, even from loved ones, don't stay with me long.
And my puppy enjoys telling me her good jokes. And some friends just won't ever go away.
And honesty is always a good thing even if you don't like answering the questions. Standing up in front of the Inquisition isn't great but its better than not remembering who you are or even who you were.

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January 4, 2007

7 Days without love makes one weak
USC 32 Michigan 18

Click images for desktop size: "Praire Fire" by Frank DeSoto
Pleasant and exciting holidays. It was devoted to friends but mostly dogs.
I was baby sitting a foster dog for the holidays. He's a small, remarkably docile thing. He had a seizure. a grand mal, in the middle of the night. It was pretty bad. He came out of it fine, just frightened and disoriented.
From his response I guess that he'd been punished or the people who took him to the pound to die must have panicked when he'd had seizures before.
My friend who runs the Animal Rescue Service speculates that Charles got dumped in the dog pound because of the seizures.
I don't know. I'm pretty tough and pretty hard but even at my worst I was never mean and nasty enough to take a pup and just throw it away to die. I hope I never get that mean.
We went to the vet and the Animal Rescue picked up the tab, which was cool. They're doing blood work and waiting on the results.

Dfmp6 046 Shop Around The Corner 1940 Now that LSU has properly spanked Notre Dame I hope we can stop hearing about their most storied program. Charlie Weiss is amongst the highest paid coaches in college football. They keep calling him a genius. HE HASN'T WON ANYTHING!
He is still playing with guys that Ty Winningham recruited. And then keeps insisting bizarre things like, “Grady Quinn will be the 3rd best QB in the NFL. Right behind Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.”
Huh? Quinn is talented but in every big game he has looked horrid, most of that I put down to Weiss' brain dead game planning.
Next year Weiss will be forced to play some of his recruits. He will be forced to teach those young men how to play college ball. Lets see what happens then. Perhaps he'll deserve the accolades and the bowl game they got this year, a bowl game and accolades they clearly did not deserve.
They've used them in ways I can't criticize but do not approve of. A highly recruited WR here went with Notre Dame because he was promised that it was the surest path to the NFL.
I'm not keen on the NFL using college as an unfunded minor leagues and I'm not fond of using a professional sports career as a carrot, dangling that in front of a poor kids hungry eyes seems cruel. That is the Notre Dame I'm used to though so it is back to business as usual for them.

In the final week of the NFL I went 15-1. Who figured San Francisco to dump Denver? Someone did because I didn't win! Still I moved into 54th place for the season and now have the playoffs to contend with!
And yes, I am crabby. I don't like it when the holidays end. Ending is inevitable. I just wish there was some change, something that stayed in the world after the season passed.

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December 17, 2006

Every thug needs a lady
Alkaline Trio

Edwardhopper Nighthawks
Click images for desktop size: "Nighthawks" by Edward Hopper
This afternoon I was waiting for the bus home from work. As is the norm I had the earbuds buried deep and the iPod at max. This older guy came up to me. I watched him walk past 6 or 7 other people to stand in front of me and gesticulate.
I pulled out one earbud and said in my usual big city tone, “What do you want?”
He said, “Nothing. I was just trying to be friendly. I'm a friendly guy.”
He said this in a harsh whisper. Their was a knife wound on his neck. Not a slash throat cut scar but a puncture wound where you could see the entrance and exit wounds. He was wearing a brown Mitchells shirt, a photo id on a chain around his neck and a beige British driving cap. He was wearing slacks that looked like they would melt before they'd burn.
They should have done plastic surgery on it and cleaned it up some.
I felt abashed that I'd reacted to him so harshly. He asked me, “How long you been waiting for the bus?”
I did a quick glance at my pocket watch and told him, “Its late. Its due at 4:12 and it's 4:17” “Yeah, the bus man is pretty terrible. But at least the lord gave us this beautiful day. It ain't much like Christmas but at least he gave us some beauty.”
I nodded my head. It was beautiful.
“I've been working over at Mitchells the past month. I think they're going to let me go soon.” I said, “They won't let you go till after Christmas.”
Spiderman 3 - 576848 “That's so, that's probably so. I just don't want to go from job to job. All hopping around. I was in prison. Lord, I hated prison but at least there I knew where I was going to be every day.” He pulled at his brown store uniform shirt and the name tag around his neck. “This is just like a prison uniform. I know it is. In prison you didn't have to worry about them telling you to go home early. At least I had that. I want to live and I feel like they won't let me. It ain't right.”
Our bus came. He sat in the front. I took my usual seat in the rear.
I wished I could have disagreed with him.

Tomorrow I have to do a show with my foster dog. Its just a parade to show him off and hope some one falls in love with him. They should. He's a good dog.

I don't like this new NFL scheduling and monopoly. I find it remarkable that when baseball tried this same stunt and waved their anti-trust exemption they still got slapped down. Republican congress gives in to the NFL and the people suffer. I know its just a game but it is still . . . I saw the movie “Invincible”. It was pretty poor especially when compared to the real life it was based on. There was one scene though where the father tells his son how Steve Van Buren's TD that one the Eagles the championship kept him sane at a job he hated, keep him alive when his wife passed away. The NFL wants to take that away from the working man.

Last week I was 11-5, not good enough for much of anything really. I remain inspired by the beautiful play of Drew Brees, Reggie Bush and the rest of the Saints. I'm saddened by the sudden dip in the Colts game. But LaDainian Tomlinson has proven he is the best football player right now and that can't help but cheer me.
My picks are in bold. Use them as a guide if you're feeling suicidal.

San Francisco at Seattle - The Thursday game. I've already lost here. Seattle will still make the playoffs, hell 6-7 teams are still in the running! They shown they're not going to get far.

Dallas at Atlanta - After being dismantled by the Saints the Cowboys need to come back hard. I don't think they can do enough to win on the road against a desperate team that seems to play better when under the microscope and under the gun.
Lespaulmodel 1440X900
Click images for desktop size: "Les Paul Model"

Cleveland at Baltimore - The Ravens continue to impress.

Detroit at Green Bay - After the stunning win last week on the road Brett Favre seems ready to close out the deal. That keeps this from being the cruddy game of the week.

Jacksonville at Tennessee - The Jaguars are too hungry to let the Titans get their 4th straight. The Titans are a bad team, the Jaguars are a very good one.

Houston at New England - Tom Brady can't have two bad games in a row. The Patriots defense should settle down and have adapted the injuries.

Miami at Buffalo - Both teams are playing for pride but both teams have started to show something special this past month. Taking Miami on a coin flip and their stunning defense.

New York Jets at Minnesota - The Jets had their chance last week to stand up and really be something and they just withered. Now its the Vikings looking for an outside shot.
Screaming Skull-1024
Pittsburgh at Carolina - Before a down was played this looked like on the games of the year. Weinke is at QB for the Panthers but the whole team is badly coached and playing ineptly. The Steelers aren't any better but . . better than the Panthers.

Tampa Bay at Chicago - The Bears D line is exploding and imploding but they still have too much for the Buc's to handle. Gruden is another bad coach who is making a career out of one fluke season.

Washington at New Orleans - Can Drew Brees keep up the pace to break Dan Marino's yardage record?

Denver at Arizona - I do so much want to take the Cardinals but Denver has too much at stake to let this one get away.

Philadelphia at New York Giants - Jeff Garcia has been outstanding but the Giants are too tuff. Add to it that the Eagles can still make the playoffs even if they lose this one and that gives the Giants the edge to make them my pick.

St Louis at Oakland - Cruddy game of the week.

Kansas City at San Diego - runner up game of the week. The Chiefs owner passed on this week. The team liked the guy and his family. They'll bring extra fire to the match. The Chargers continue to look like a juggernaut. I'm going to watch and smile - this is a plot that deserves an opera written about it.

Cincinnati at Indianapolis - Game of the week and man has it got plot. The Bengals fighting for their lives and still looking like the heir apparents. In losing the last 3 the Colts have looked less than ordinary. This is a team with Payton Manning. The Jaguars destruction of last week will make them scary but the Bengals don't have to be afraid of anyone.

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December 8, 2006

My, my what a mess I made

The Widow By Vhm Alex
Click images for desktop size: "The Widow" by VHM Alex
For the past three days I've been working on a pointless, witless diatribe about the sad state of pop music what it was and how it got here . . . No doubt some compulsion will force me to finish the piece. I don't know why.
The new dog has taken over another big slice of my life. I feel for the guy. He'd make some one good a great friend. At my house he's the often unwilling playmate of my puppy. She has learned how to FORCE him to play, which may be a felony in some states but should be a misdemeanor in all.
Last night we, my puppy and I, had to go to the Football Awards Banquet. It was pushed up in the schedule as 5 kids, 2 of them mine, are taking an early graduation so they can get to College sooner. This way they have a semester to acclimate themselves to college life and then a session of spring ball to learn their new system with a cleaner shot of starting as freshmen.
And maybe they'll have an extra impetus to graduate.
Poster - War Of The Worlds (5) The banquet was what these things always are. This one had the extra fillip of our forfeited season. It still wasn't enough spice to make it anymore tolerable.
I like seeing the kids get recognized in front of the team and the parents but I don't and have never cared for the arm chair coaches who collar me and explain in excruciating detail what I could have done better. What I could have done better nominally revolves around giving their son more playing time . . .
I don't blame them for that and empathize and admire the concern. Too many years of listening to it, I guess. At least this time no one called me an idiot for not playing their child.
There was one bit that pleasantly surprised me. I'm quoting from memory so I might have some parts of it wrong but the gist will be right. The speaker was one of my kids.
“Coach says we're not allowed to thank him. He says he's only doing what he likes and he says you can't thank a guy for that. It seems unfair to us. Coach David has taught us a lot. We all feel we know the game better and that we play it better. We also got an idea of where the game fit into our life and where we fit into the world. He made us see how beautiful our sport is and let us see that we were an important part not only of our sport but of the community and the world as well.”
“He said we're not allowed to thank him for that. Coach David says he just teaches us how to play the game and that its the game that teaches us the lessons we'll carry away with us.”
“He ran the hardest practice sessions any of us had ever been through. Sometimes we thought we were going to drop dead but he encouraged us and helped us get through them. When we played in a game we realized we were always better than we were the week before. That made it worth doing.” “We did have a coach who was also with us each step of the way. She ran our drills with us and taught us that the game is fun. As players we forget sometimes that this is a fun game to play. Coach Shelby always remembered it was fun. Since we can't thank Coach David we'd like to thank Coach Shelby for everything she bought to us and our games.”
I should have made them run more laps.

The doctors yesterday. I've got an ulcer. Not that big a deal. Just have to rearrange my daily schedule some and take another pill.
I have to start physical therapy for my back and sciatica. Also not that big a deal.
I don't like it because its just another sign of how much I'm falling apart.

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November 11, 2006

An evil soul means an evil sword

What Makes You Happy
Click images for desktop size: "Whatever Makes You Happy" by Scot Chitwood
Got new drugs yesterday. That use to mean something different. These drugs only have something to do with fun in the most indirect way. They keep me alive to enjoy people; to enjoy my puppy. They're really wearing me out today.
On one of them, I made a mistake and read the information pamphlet. Putting off starting that one until Saturday. They gave me a 30 minute lecture about the drugs. As usual I only half listened - too depressing, reading all the side effects meant, to me, that these pills may not be worth it.
What's the point extending life a few months if the extension is going to be filled with misery.
I don't think that my attitude is suicidal. I think my attitude is common sense.

It's a couple days later. At work I was cutting down tress 8 or 9 of them, misjudged one and it bit me.
That was distracting.
Yesterday was the first round of the State Playoffs. All three teams that legitimately beat on us the field won their first round games pretty easily, all by at least 2 touch downs.
Poster - I Was A Teenage Werewolf One of them invited me to their game, clearly as a recruiting thing. I was flattered when I told them I couldn't come without my puppy that they hastily arranged things.
Because its the Championships there was a bit of scrutiny making sure I wasn't helping . . . I'm not too sure what sort of illicit advice I could give. My puppy would probably tell them to score more touch downs . . . . It was different being just a spectator. I was saddened by the low turnout especially on what was a beautiful evening. This is the other “poor” school in town. It is making me consider things a bit more seriously than I other wise would.

For some reason I've been wrapped up in thought thinking about an old Chinese song . . . yeah. Its a song thats ancient, from the time in the bronze age where iron swords were making an appearance and myths about an indestructible metal called steel were floating in the ionosphere.
I guess the closest thing we have to this sort of song would be “Yankee Doodle” or something like that, and that is not really ancient at all.
It seems there was this bad king. I note that there are seldom any good kings mentioned except in fairy tales, must be something about the job, or something about dispatching all your enemies doesn't really prepare you for a life of public service.
Anyway, there's this bad king. He's very well protected, lives in an impenetrable Chinese castle and is always surrounded by a phalanx of 100 guards, even when he sleeps. All of the guards' families are kept in prison to be executed if one of the guards screws up! Which may have added to his rep of being a bad king. There's a nameless assassin who is given the job of killing this king, a job considered to be impossible. To the outside world it appears that the assassin has lost his nerve. He puts aside his sword and begins to play the qin. The qin is that sort of lute shaped metal instrument played like a lap steel guitar, the strings plucked with a feather.
For 10 years the assassin practices the qin until he is soon recognized as the most virtuoso player in all of China.
Wolf Soul  By Wolf Wind
Click images for desktop size: "Wolf Soul" by Wolf Wind
He is invited to play at the palace.
When he plays for the king, the king is astonished at the beauty of his playing. He descends his throne, walks past his guards and takes a seat on a stool near the qin to better hear and to see the amazing dexterity of the player.
The song ends and as the last note begins to fade the assassin breaks the neck of his qin to expose the steel blade he has cunningly concealed within.
He stabs the bad, but cultured, king in the throat, killing him on the spot. The he impales himself on the blade while plunging his face into a burning brazier.
He burns his face so that he cannot be recognized so that the kings supporters cannot take revenge on him by killing his family.
What a crazy cool Chinese cat.

I also figure that if USC can beat, Oregon today, Cal next week, then Notre Dame and UCLA they should get to play for the National Championship.

I found one of my narcotic pin pills. I've taken it. It makes me groggy and even dopier than usual. I think about a friend today telling me I'm the least relaxed person she ever met. That's funny. I feel relaxed. I don't panic about things. Maybe feeling relaxed is all the difference.

Oh, and I love my puppy.

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November 7, 2006

I'm not well informed enough to vote but I do it anyway, even if its just voting against, especially if its voting against someone or something

G Dreamful 1440X900
Click images for desktop size: "Dreamful" by G
Between all the aches and pains, the finances and the house mate hunt, and the pathetic football picks (7-7 this week and I enjoyed every game I lost more than the ones I won - that's why I don't bet) I was feeling restless early Monday morning.
My puppy and I walked over to the practice field. Even though I told her that the season was over she still insisted on taking her fuzzy football, same as we've done for the past 3 months or so.
We were surprised. I went to the field to revel in memories. When we got there two of my kids were already there, chucking a football around in the lightening dark.
I played catch too. It hurt like hell every time I caught or threw the ball. I didn't mind it. Three more of my kids showed up. They said the absent 3 had to work now that the season was over, work for their parents. Poster - Girl With An Itch So we tossed the ball around and I listened to them talk. My puppy keep dive bombing us trying to convince us that chasing her and her football was much more fun then playing with our ball.
When you'd make a grab for it she'd jet off full speed and look back confused that we weren't all in hot pursuit.
While we tossed the ball around the kids all talked about their futures. Plans for the day and plans for the rest of their lives. Once in a while they'd ask my opinion. Between grunts and groans I approved anything that didn't involve sitting on a park bench with an open brown bag wrapped bottle of wine in your hands. It was a kind of wonderful time there.
Going into work I thought about it. I get a lot of praise heaped on me, undeserved praise, for doing what I do. Most people don't understand that I work with kids for purely selfish reasons.
For me the few hundred hours, the police vetting etc etc are all worth it because of those little vignettes, hearing young people speaking about a future with poise and confidence. Today there were plans made that 4 months ago might have seemed like nothing more than dreams, not goals or aspirations even, just dreams. And today they were plans.
To be part of that is more important to me than anything short of my puppy. Its a reason I hold myself to a standard I believe in. I maintain my honor in little things like no advertising on my puppy's or my websites. I know I'm not “special” in many ways. I've met to many people who are. I do believe though that sometimes when people are scared or planning for a future that they have to know that above all else what you say or do can be relied upon.
My agent once said to me, “Never trust anybody until you see what's in it for them.” He was talking specifically about Hollywood and deal making, but I know him well enough that he meant it as a life lesson.
Fraxdesk-No.10 1440
Click images for desktop size: "FraxDesk"
I remember that line of his often. I make sure that in my kids (the athletes) that they know I expect blood, sweat, pain and never quitting on their team or their teammates.
In exchange I'll give them the same and I'll try and pass on what little I know and have stolen from others to try and let them be the best they can be.
Yesterday morning in the early dawn six of us had to see the practice field one more time because we didn't want it to end, to ever end.
I thought, as usual, I got the better part of the deal with my kids. I thought that even with the forfeits, the press and the 1-9 season on the record books it was a remarkably successful season.
I guess my kids feel the same way.
My puppy still thinks we should have been chasing her.

My back is still in pain but reducing. No more stunning electric shocks and a lot less groaning every time I move.
It rained hard, cold and soaking. The good part was I didn't have to water the gardenias.
I took my puppy with me and went and voted. My primary goal was to NOT vote for any of the jerks who had called me with a recording. I got a sticker and my puppy got fawned over.

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October 26, 2006

The whole rhythm section was the Purple Gang
Mike Leiber

Click images for desktop size: "Down And Out" by Any Mouse
Confusing set of times. Much happens and all it does is remind me of the past. I went to the doctor yesterday. Maybe a bit more aggravating than expected. I have four new pills to take . . . one of them is just penicillin but it adds to the number; its legitimate and makes me seem less of a whiney baby.
One is to lower my blood pressure . . . since it is only 120-60 that seemed extreme. The explanation is that I'll live longer. That is a hard argument to rebut.
One is to lower by blood sugars to hypoglycemic levels . . . that's to keep me from really going blind.
Lower blood pressure and lower than average blood sugars . . . I predict a lot of falling down in my future.
The last is an additional pain pill that shouldn't have the narcotic effect of the ones I refuse to take.
They took 500 ML of blood for testing and gave me a flu shot with the usual caveats warning me of the danger of me contracting any diseases.
With all that I was pretty loopy yesterday evening.

Poster - Doctor Blood's CoffinNo word from my potential house mate . . . since we had a tentative appointment to swap checks for keys last night its cause for concern. Not great concern. My puppy and I are very very happy in our little empty house with the big yard.
I'm realizing that a major part of the problem is that people are looking for housemates to save money, but what I'm asking for, while a very good deal, is still out of their comfort zone. They see the place and think of how nice things would be and then they get home and calculate and try and stretch the dollar and . . .
Maybe I'll hear from the guy, maybe not. running an ad again in any event, and will do so until someone gives me a check and it has cleared the bank.
Did hear from him and it was unsettling. I feel I'm being bullied. I don't bully well. This time I may have told him forget it, but he probably doesn't understand things unless you yell at him. If he can't treat me like a human being how is he going to treat my dog as she deserves?

Todays practice was odd. Some of the kids looked discouraged beyond the facts. We play our last home game tomorrow and whatever happens this should be a great time to revel in memories. Talked to my guys and removed the doubts in their minds. They're aggressive kids - sometimes I think I breed aggressive children - they should get the message through to some of their more negative teammates, remind them we are a team and that there is a place for this frustration.
The genesis for all this was a silly newspaper story where some woman was making a case that her sun in the band worked harder than the team!!!!!
I'm not making this up - she claimed that he had gotten chapped lips and sunburn from all the practice he had to do.
I appreciate and sometimes love the bands at games, they are part of what makes the game unique, but when I look at my 8 guys - 8 out of 56 - and count the sprained wrists, ankles, broken fingers, contusions . . . I find it hard to sympathize that this is somehow easier to cope with than chapped lips and sunburn . . . Its been an odd season.

Hongkongbynight 1440X900
Click images for desktop size: "Hong Kong By Night" by Deterling
Yesterday I got into an reverie. There was a group of “special” adults at the bus stop. They were cool. One fellow was very tall and angular and kept moving to some unknown beat. He had a complicated set of hand movements that I found fascinating. After a minute or so he repeated them very precisely, till I realized the gestures were part of a song, the repeated gestures were the chorus.
It made me think of one of my kids. He was a young stallion, a pure stud - one of those athletes whose athletic abilities eclipsed my abilities as a coach.
He was 6'5“ 260 pounds and ran a 4.4 forty, benched 425. This when he was 17. He was unblockable and attacked our game with self satisfaction. He played DE. On one play against the All-Stars they triple teamed him, he moved the whole pile and got to the QB for a hurry up. The QB still got the pass off, it got deflected and caught. My kid made the solo tackle 30 yards downfield.
That was just one play. He did that all the time.
I managed to convince my friend to sponsor him on a trip to America. He was set to go to Penn State. Joe Paterno WANTED him. He saw a killer edge line backer.
First Spaceship On Venus Wallpaper - 1024 He returned to England.
Then, well. He came to my house one evening. I was in the kitchen and suddenly saw things fly out the upstairs bathroom window, the scale, medicine cabinet.
My kid had locked himself in the bathroom. His mother was screaming hysterically. I finally got him to open the door. He was stark naked. He was clearing everything out of my bathroom that would interfere with his transmission to Tramador.
He'd constructed a communication device in my bathtub. It consisted of a whole lot of books and magazines being submerged in water, the shower curtain and shower rod being arranged in some exact fashion. I regret not asking him if it had worked. I mean maybe he was right and the problem was I had the wrong books and magazines or maybe my shower rod was the wrong metal.
The poor kid had, what they tell me, was a psychotic break. His mother was an ambulatory schizophrenic, the doctors said that it wasn't uncommon.
Macballs By 1St Tiger
Click images for desktop size: "MacBalls" by 1st Tiger
They took him to the hospital. He escaped. He came to me. I went back with him and found out that they were terrified by his behavior but more by his size. I couldn't bring myself to be afraid of him or anything except devastated for a fine young man to have such a hurdle thrown in front of him.
They'd put him on an adult ward and were over medicating him.
I let my sadness over his lost future turn into anger, righteous anger the worst kind. I made a lot of enemies getting the hospital to admit their wrong doing and to treat him properly and with the respect he deserved. No matter how eloquent I'm supposed to be I could never convince these doctors the kid had a future.
I miss him and I miss the future that could have been his. He was a good kid.
They said all of his wild tales of being a hero who had to vanquish the Evil 7 were just psychotic delusions. I wish I could be as sure of things as they were. All I knew was that he was in a lot of emotional pain. I worried that I had pressured him into this. They were my private worries.
The enemies were of course public.
But I still pay attention and listen when ”special“ people are trying to communicate and trying to sing me a song with their bodies.

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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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June 7, 2006

Its all gone quiet over there

2 Sides Of My World By Shineft
Click images for desktop size: "Two Sides Of My World" by Shine FT
(To the tune of Doris Day's Que Sera Sera) When I was young I asked me mum what should I be
Should I be Chelsea Should I be Leeds
This what she said to me
Get your fathers gun. Shoot all the Chelsea scum.
(Sung by a entire train load of young men on the tube to Stamford Hill, Chelsea's home ground)

People keep asking me why I'm not excited about the World Cup Of Football (Soccer).
I never even heard of soccer until Foosball tables starting being around, and then there was Kyle Rote Jr.
There was an early days reality show on ABC where they were searching for the “World's Greatest Athlete” Rote Jr was the son of a famous American Football Player. Jr won the first “World's Greatest Athlete” show. He played soccer.
There was a lot of fuss about it then. We tried it but thought it was sort of dull. We preferred football, baseball and even pick up games.
Banlieue-13 1
I went to the Coca Cola Cup (one of Football's innumerable mini Championships) at Wembly. It was a sort of glorious madness. In a 100 yard run corridor I counted 100 mounted policemen. The corridor from the train station to the entrance was lined with police in full riot gear. There were growling german shepherds every 10 yards. These dogs could have gotten work at German Concentration camps. It was clear that once you started on the way to Wembly there was no turning back and no escape.
I saw a boy, maybe 6 or 7, his face was a fiery red from screaming and crying in fear. He was wearing a Leeds shirt that was slick from the spit of the Aston Villa fans who passed him. Adults spitting on a child and the omnipresent police paid no attention, not even to console or protect a child.

FIFA, the governing board of football, has publicized the game well. Their main adage seems to be the old high school gossip thing; you know, tell a lie three times and it becomes the truth. They kept insisting Football was the number one sport in the world. No one ever asked them where they got these figures, or even how they calculated it. It was just accepted as truth. I mean sportsmen would never lie. right? And businessmen masquerading as sportsmen are even more well known for their forthright honesty when selling you 5 cents worth of soda for 6 bucks.
They and the governments all publicly abhor the proliferation of violence surrounding the sport. In South America players who make a glaring error are often shot by angry “fans”.
The governments do nothing to stop this. It could appear that they encourage it.
After every international match involving England, when England loses there is an invariable football riot around Trafalgar Square.
In 1996 England lost to Germany in another of the mini-championships. The riot following that match lasted 6 hours. An estimated 8 million pounds of damage was done to shops and automobiles. There were 1,200 injuries to “non-combatants.” there were 1,400 arrests and 12 prosecutions. The prosecutions were primarily for Drunk And Disorderly Conduct.
Amazing Transparent Man Wallpaper - Lon Chaney - 1024 The Brixton Race Riots in London were about racial discriminations. It is considered a “black” spot in English history. It lasted for 12 hours. There was an estimated 500,000 pounds of damage to property.
Three hundred injuries to “rioter”, 2,700 arrests and 2,400 prosecutions. There has never been another race riot.

Eric Cantona was the first multi-millionaire superstar player imported by Manchester United. During a match at Crystal Palace he shouted at a fan and then gave the fan a karate kick in the chest, then stomped him wearing spikes.
The fan pressed assault charges. FIFA took no action at all.
In court Cantona, a white French multimillionaire claimed that he was being discriminated against. The courts accepted that but as the unprovoked assault was Televised found him guilty. His sentence was 2 hours of community service. He had to go to an upper class school and sign autographs. Cantona was so outraged at this horrible conduct that he left England.
Having a player actually interact with the community was so rare that it was also televised. Cantona showed up rumpled, unshaven.
The assaulted fan had his season ticket revoked by FIFA and has a lifetime ban as he admitted to calling Cantona a Frog Wanker.

So I don't think its possible me support the game. Aside from the fact I find it tedious to watch I think that supporting soccer means that I support lack of teamwork, lack of pride in yourself. And I can't really care how America's 6th best athletes fare against the World's Best. (This is not a knock of American Players, just factual observation. American women have elevated the sport and created a new standard of how the game should be played.)

April 11, 2006

Viva les Rock & Roll

Click images for desktop size: "Gearing" by Zipangu
I've neglected a number of things lately.
I've been preparing the summer workout programs for 46 players.
Too much of it is fundamental. I have kids running with heel flicks (weak inner thighs), discombobulated coordination between hands and feet, pigeon toes, the gamut.
This is one of the few times I haven't been able to just create a half dozen programs and modify them slightly for the individual. Here I've had to prepare about 24.
It will be worth it if the kids do the 15 minute drills at least once a day during the summer. If they do it will be a noticeable improvement. Easy to say that there will be at least a .3 to 1 second improvement in their 40 times and at least .5 to .75 second improvements in their 20 times.
This isn't a testament to the efficacy of my program but to the neglect that has been heaped on their running form.
I have to get them running properly before I can work on refining and extracting the full potential from them. Superman, Ep#00-C (1948-Teaser) For the most part these are good kids. I expect them to work the programs. You can see the glimmer in them. They want to be the best.
just want them to have the tools available to be the best.
I want them to have a fair chance to win or lose.
They'll be okay.

I'm struggling some. Work, pain, health. It gets to be a tedious existence. I do exist though and that's saying something. Something positive.
My vision is concerning me the most right now. Its a side effect to the chemo. No one will tell me that its only temporary so its a fair bet that its permanent. Hopefully its acute and not chronic and pernicious.
My puppy continues to lighten my days. Her games and bad doggie jokes always amuse me.
What I don't like is when I wake up and find her staring at me, her face inches from mine. She doesn't want anything except to make sure that I am alive. When I reach out she accepts a cursory pet and then goes back to lie down and sleep.
I guess in her mind she's done her job.
I don't mind that. I don't like her stressing over me. I don't like to think of her worrying or experiencing anything that might be interpreted as pain.

I'm embarrassed to say how much I've enjoyed new socks and underwear. I couldn't afford the best so I got stuff in the middle range. They feel so much better than the cheapest stuff I was wearing. These help me to feel clothed where the cheapest stuff just kept me from being naked.
I even enjoy the 32 bucks a bar soap I have to use. Laszlo works. My skin feels less dead, more elastic. Their is no more pain in the skin. I can smile all the way to my eyes with no discomfort. Thirty two bucks is a bargain for that alone.

In music I've been more and more bored. the new Alkaline Trio album, “Crimson” is okay but nothing on it burns as bright as “Good Mourning”. I knew that “This Could Be Love” was a once in a lifetime track but nothing on “Crimson” rises to the level of “Every Thug Needs A Lady.” Its okay but I was hoping for so much more.
The new Flaming Lips album is just sort of listless. Not a total waste but nothing joyous for me in the tracks at all.
I guess I'll keep feeling like grandpa and dredging through the old stuff.

Baseball season has finally started. Go teams.

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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

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.
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
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 16, 2006

Don't Cry

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.
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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January 23, 2006

I kill because I'm scared of being killed

Click images for desktop size: "Let Me Slip Into Something A Little" by Pixelhust Girl
The NFL Championships are over and I thought they were a disgrace. Only the Seahawks played with a nice precision, speed and accuracy.
The Steelers won. They have some nice players but the Cowher interpretation of the NFL credo leaves me vaguely uneasy. I have always disliked the, “Just win baby!” philosophy of the NFL. It cheapens what I consider the greatest sport in the world.
At it's best its 22 world class athletes in the peak condition throwing their bodies around in a stirring example of stamina, toughness and vision. At its worst its the Steelers.
When Carson Palmer of the Bengals completed a 66 yard pass to his 3rd receiver on the second play of the game does anyone really know for certain that the Steelers would have gotten out of Cincinnati?
They clearly didn't which is why Cowher sent in an expendable DE to end Palmer's career. They don't play smash mouth football, they play “take out the players who can beat us” football. That's approved in the NFL, that's why they only call it a 15 yard penalty instead of a forfeit.
I'm hoping for the Seahawks to win. I like the way they played and the fact that they did it with no one noticing that they were on anyones schedule. I like teams that have stars but that the stars are secondary to the team. Its one of the reason I enjoyed seeing the Patriots win.
Killer Shrews, The X01 (1959)Where this attitude really bothers me is that all the pee wee, Pop Warner and high school [players see this and they get it into the head that the NFL is the universal truth. We're Americans. When we see someone get millions of dollars you have to figure that the NFL way is the right way. Some come to think it is the only way.
American football is a tough sport, tough enough. I had two South Africans who were on the under 19 International Rugby Team try out for my team. They barely survived the practice played in one game and they had to quit. It was too hard on them.
When you are teaching a player how to play the game you teach them how to defend themselves, how to fall to avoid injury, how to tackle to avoid injury to yourself and your opponent, how to condition yourself to avoid injury; proper protective gear and tape etc etc.
That should be enough. More and more it isn't. When NFL players are allowed to celebrate knocking a player out of a game, when coaches no longer have their teams to cheer when an opponent moves off the field on his own power, the kill or be killed method comes to play.
This undermines far too many salient points of the game. The vast majority of football players are not going to play in the NFL. I still feel, strongly, that football is the finest sport available for young people. The game teaches many things such as perseverance, teamwork, sportsmanship, discipline, and the struggle through adversity. Things that no other sport can teach to the level where the lessons become ingrained life messages.
To me that is and shall be the beauty of the game. But when the NFL shows shoddy vandalism and brutality as the ways to go, when coaches at lower levels seek to emulate the NFL and teach these outmoded and foolish tactics they diminish the beauty of the game.

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December 4, 2005

USC 66 UCLA 19

Atow013 Moschino
Click images for desktop size: "Love" by Moschino
I'm proud of this years Men of Troy, not just for the record, which they can be proud of, but for the way 18 to 22 year old men handled instant fame in the town that is fueled by celebrity.
Matt Linhart struggled to be an athlete, then last year he was at the top of the world and a sure number one pick. He walked away from 56 million dollars so that he could have fun, be with his team and maybe make history.
He's had an emotional ride, none deeper then this, his last game, his last chance to shine at home. When he walked off the field yesterday, I got misty. Seeing him hold a rose and do nothing but praise his teammates was more than wondrous.
University of Southern California . . .
Watching Reggie Bush wearing his area code on his face, pointing to his parents, playing at a level that we didn't imagine existed 4 years ago, and then to see him laughing, celebrating, leading the band with a rose while the celebrity laden crowd of fans chants Reggie-Reggie-Reggie. Then to hear him speak after with full sincerity of the love he has for his teammates.
Creature With The Atom Brain X01 (1955)USC Conquest!

My health is stumbling along. The pills make me sleep way too much and make me sleep erratically. Not that big a deal, really. Sometimes I wish I could cope with pain killers. I can't but I can deal with the pain okay.

Yesterday two of my “kids” actually got to coach against each other in Div III football. One lost and the other won . . . I hope they remember that they are teammates in more than just a Quarterfinal game. Another group of my kids managed to get an invite to the GMAC Bowl! Against an oppenent they have a good fair chance against.
See, this game is a large part of my life and the undercurrent that puts life's meaning in sharp relief.

And now the NFL . . .
My picks this week are even more idiosyncratic than usual . . . which means please don't bet on these picks.
I'm still angling for that second prize!
Home teams listed first with my pick in bold.

Carolina v Atlanta I'm not strong on this pick. Both teams are looking vulnerable, but Carolina has become incredibly one dimensional since playing the Bears.

Miami v Buffalo A contender for cruddy game of the week. Saban has not been a messiah, Ricky Williams has not played to his ability but Buffalo's coaching staff and front office seemed committed to failure. I'll take JP Losman.

Pittsburgh v Cincinnati The game of the week, loads of psyche and loads of commitment. I go with Carson and Chad.

New York Giants v Dallas Everyone knows I think that Denny Green is the worst coach in football, even worse than Mike Tice! Up in that group is Bill Parcells. I know he wins but always ugly and with no excitement or heart. He's the new George Allen, but at least Allen would bleed with and love his players. Giants' D does it all today.

Lawnelf Shelovedcallas
Click images for desktop size: "She Loved Callas" by LawnElf
Chicago v Green Bay Bret why didn't you leave last year. It saddens me to see a great player wither. This is nearly as heartbreaking as when Ernie Banks hung on that one season too many. To see superlatives reduced to mortality is not a good thing. it prooves nothing. It's why you can cherish the memory of Sandy Koufax.
Baltimore v Houston Oddly I think that the Texans could fire it up for this one but common sense says the Ravens. I hate common sense, it crushes dreams.

Cleveland v Jacksonville My pick is based here on the hope that Jack Del Rio can fire up and inspire his team to overcome the loss of their leader.

Detroit v Minnesota I know the Vikings are hot behind Brad but a team with an admired coach fired in mid season comes out deadly and angry.

New Orleans v Tampa Bay Brutal defense and their season is on the line - I look for the Buc's D to inspire the win.

Indianapolis v Tennessee As sad as the case is of Brett Favre Steve “Air”McNair, one of my all time fave players is being done a serious injustice by his front office.

Delinquent Parents (Hs) X01San Francisco v Arizona The ultimate cruddy game. AZ has talent but I look for the Denny factor.

St Louis v Washington The Redskins in an interesting trial for both teams.

Kansas City v Denver If the Broncos win here I'm a believer. Larry Johnson though still has my admiration (even if I think his little brother is more talented and his little sister the better athlete.)

New England v New York Jets Marv has my utmost respect as a superior coach. That he gets the Jets to show up and play so hard is laudable. But not in Foxboro in December. I'd love a Jets win but that damn common sense again.

San Diego v Oakland Tomilson, Brees and Gates OH MY!!

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April 2, 2005

They were just tall

King Kong(1933)09X Click images for desktop size: "King Kong-1933 Lobby Card" It was a good day for a ball game. It was about 70 and a stiff 10 mph wind blowing SE which would help my screwball.

The hardest part was getting everyone else in my “Pack” ready. LOL was bringing a folding chaise lounge, a huge beach umbrella, a huge cooler of treats for herself, the team and the dogs. Fat Yellow Dog and Chow were both excited about all of us going out. I was horrified to see that she had “dressed” Fat Yellow Dog and Chow in these pastel floral mu mu's . . . if I'd only known this was the start of the horror. She claimed that the odd outfits were to keep them from getting sunburned! Then the final horror. She'd used the time she's had Ethel to get measurements and she'd made a MATCHING mu mu for her! What made me ill was that Ethel, my dog, seemed to like it! Alas poor me! LOL claimed that this would keep Ethel from getting sunburned and she wouldn't get embarrassed by all her bandages. LOL's mu mu matched the dogs of course. Greenleaves Lrg When we got to the field the rest of the team was there. I was surprised that there were already about 50 people sitting on the bleachers and about a half dozen BBQ's going. The wives of the other players were helping LOL while she was firmly in command of Ethel so I started my warmups. I was pleased that the whole team joined me. Guys kept dropping out but I still got all my stretches in. It felt very team like. I like being part of a team. While I was warming up our opponents were really ragging me. Calling me “Meat”, “Rag arm”, “Old Man”, and the like. I really enjoy that sort of thing. It makes everything seem real and important when they try and get to you. I like to say all my pitches were working, not telling anyone that all my pitches are like 5 variations of one pitch and that I learned them off of cereal boxes. In the first inning I was going along well. I got the first two guys out on a K and a pop up. Then their big gun came up; the Double A player. He was picking up the ball just as I feared and laid off the split finger and screwball and then I threw him a low fastball and he really jacked it. It must have gone at least 400 feet. I felt like applauding him myself. The next guy was out on an easy roller. Jove31600 Their pitcher was huge, at least 6' 5“. I was  thinking about how hard it would be to hit a ball plummeting down from nearly 8 feet high. It was a stunner to watch him warm up and see he threw side armed! I love smashing side armed tosses and it took away all the advantage of his height! About this time I saw that Ethel had a new addition to her wardrobe. An Ethel sized ball cap held on with elastic. Ethel looked at me and showed it off to me, then she went back to watching the game. Their tall pitcher got two easy outs from our first two batters. I didn't think he had anything and I was right. I launched his 3rd pitch but I had him timed too well and instead of pulling it I sent it straight down Center Field. I still ran it out and watched their other pro player (Single A) start to chase it down. Around our field there's this waist high mesh fence. I was rounding second so I didn't see what happened but I was told he jumped at the ball, dropped it as he fell backwards over the fence! I got an inside the park home run off of his error. I slid into the plate like a fool but there was no play. House-Of-Ivory-10 The game just cruised along. They made half as many errors as we did but we made half as many errors as usual, so it stayed locked at 1-1. I like being ragged on but these guys took it too far. Fat Yellow Dog had begged all the food he could so he took a nap sleeping on Chow. Now I grant you that 3 dogs wearing floral pastels are kind of funny looking and their leads being held by a 97 year old woman in a matching mu mu is rather amusing, but you shouldn't rag on them and call them names. I threw a couple tight at some guys. In the 7th I came up and the first pitch was behind me and got me in the lower ribs when I turned out of the way. I took the required two steps towards the mound. You have to do that to protect your teammates. Also, this is important, you don't rub where it hit! This is the way you tell the pitcher it didn't hurt. I took my base and on the next ball took off for second. It was an easy steal. You have to do that to make sure the pitcher regrets putting you on base. I took 3rd on a ground ball and scored on a fly ball. We got to the ninth up 2-1. We had a mess of sloppy play in the 9th and I was looking at bases loaded with no outs, all the runners there on errors. It was kind of exciting. Ms.45 (Angel Of Vengeance) The Double A guy was up. When I pitch I stand behind the mound between batters, just daydreaming really. Like today I was thinking mainly about iPod shuffles and whether I could wear one while I was pitching, if it would be against the rules, and about a girl friend. Then I turn around and face the batter. I look over at Ethel to make sure she was alright. For some reason this is considered intimidating. When I looked over this time Ethel had her mu mu all twisted under her chin and her little cap cocked over one ear. Fat Yellow Dog was standing on Chow's back doing this little drumming tattoo with his feet. He was excited. Chow was asleep. I thought it was really funny. I didn't realize how silent everyone had gotten until I heard someone shout in this bull frog voice, ”Strike him out Dave!“ I was in my wind up and started laughing when I released the ball. The pitch had more velocity than anything else I'd thrown ever! It was also going high and wide and all I could see was the tying run scoring on a wild pitch, and I started to charge the plate to cover. I got lucky, the pitch surprised the batter and he foul tipped it into the cage. I was more careful and he hit a screamer rope; fortunately it landed right in my glove. The shot was so fast the runners didn't see I had caught it so I tossed it to my catcher and we had our double play. The other base runners got back but the catcher made a bad throw to try and make the triple and we ended up with runners at 2nd and 3rd. The next batter was swinging for the fences. I thought he should have just been going for the single so I threw him a split finger. He hit a slow roller in the dirt, I charged, snagged it and turned to throw to first when I discovered the first baseman was standing next to me. He had charged it too but no one was covering. So I raced the batter to first, won by four steps or so and we won. I guess it was the first time we'd ever beaten these guys and my team got real excited. My stats: Pitching-9 innings, 8 strike outs, no walks, 4 hits allowed 1 earned run. As a batter I was 2-2 and HBP scored 1 run. Annabel, our vet, was there. She removed Ethel's stitches right at the field. I was surprised but Ethel thought it was fine. She had another boiled chicken breast filet so she didn't care about much of anything else. She likes wearing her cap . . .

March 7, 2005

When I tried to step aside I moved to where they hoped I'd be

Soft PillowI can state that there are 8 Wal Marts, 4 Hooters but only 2 Starbucks in this entire town.
I walked well over 14 miles today and used up 4 bus tokens!
With every step I wondered if I'd done the right thing in quitting. Here I was broke, no food and miles to go to get a poor chance to eat again. Of course someplace down the line I realized I was in this situation because asshole lawyers can't keep their word so not quitting would only have postponed this drama. As I walked I did laugh out loud thinking about this comic strip I adore; “Pooch Cafe”. I remembered Pancho, the strips dog star, dressing up as a hoot owl because that was the natural enemy of cats and squirrels. I sent a fan letter to the artist and received a nice friendly reply.
After 3 interviews, smiling, hoping, listening, I was depressed and hungry. I didn't want to move or live. I had to take Ethel, my dog, out and I promised the catcher I'd meet him in the park to work on stuff. Dracula's Dog While I was getting ready to go the morons at my former job called me to tell me there was no work tonight. Quitting was clearly the right thing to do. The light workout was good for me. It kept my mind off my mental fatigue. The catcher was mystified that I not only still wore metal cleats but noticed that I'd long ago sharpened them to a knife edge. I'm that kind of shortstop. I was highly entertained by Ethel, who might be a baseball fan. She sprawled her belly in the grass and on every pitch her head would jerk from me to the catcher, then when he lobbed the ball back to me her head would slowly follow it.
The catcher thinks I'm one of the quickest pitchers he's ever seen. As he's only played high school ball I took the compliment gratefully and then quickly forgot it.
I did manage to get a 3rd pitch: a split finger fastball. It doesn't submarine but it does come out of my hand like my regular fastball. I don't think many batters in this league are good enough to follow the ball out of my hand so they may not notice the lack of tumble until it's too late. The pitch works like a curve for me dropping down and away from right handers and in on lefties. I can throw it for strikes.
Smallvillageshop I can't get the snap in my wrist for a good true curve so I have to make do with physics and lack of rotation.
The catcher (and my Southern friend) don't understand why I'm working so hard at this. I know we'll be playing for the man and his dog, the occasional pack of bicycling kids and NO ONE ELSE! But even they need to see that you are trying your best, they need to know that it's important. I've got no image of myself playing pro ball, those dreams are long and happily dead. I have a commitment to myself. I need to be the best I can. The real score board is in my head. It matters that I look at myself and see that I gave it all I had. We have a Weds. practice where I try it all out again.
We came home and I ate a third of my noodles. I'm still hungry. I want Starbucks coffee. I want money. The job that I've got the callback on is going to pay 400 per week, about 300 take home. Right now that seems like a lot.
Debra Hill died today.

March 6, 2005

Mudville 9

Gearing1024X768 These wallpapers are by my friend from Japan. I like them and they fit my mood.
The weather finally let us have another baseball practice today. The biggest discovery is that my teammates really do stink. I am going to be stuck being a pitcher, the pitcher.
We had a 6 inning intra-squad game. I went 4 for 4 with 2 doubles and a homer. The homer was because he threw a slow fat one right in my wheelhouse, only went 285 feet or so. The doubles had more to do with poor fielding then power. I hit ropes not for downtown.
Pitching. I stink. I have no leg drive and no pitching coach. I just kind of cork screw my body up and then step from the mound so everything comes from the shoulder with some drive from the hips. It would be a pretty throw from deep in the hole but it's not much trying to blow 'em some smoke inside.
Creepers (2)I tried out the knuckle ball I scoped from a cereal box years ago. It didn't do anything except get there slower, and the slider I coped from Steve Carlton doesn't really do much but it does look different getting up to the box. I got 12 strikeouts which says more about free swinging then it does my arm. I gave up no earned runs but 6 or 7 errors behind me allowed 3 runs. My squad won 8-3.
Ethel, my dog, was totally cool. She actually watched the game, followed the ball with her eyes and only chased down the foul balls that were silly enough to get close to her. I realized I'm not a pitcher when they tossed me one back slick with dog saliva and I couldn't even get it to take a nasty drop or anything different. The catcher makes me laugh because he keeps flashing me signs. I have no idea what they mean but he's real committed to them. Since I can only throw 2 pitches, well, it's futile but it does add to the atmosphere and my concentration.
About 30 minutes after practice a thunder storm ran through. I liked how it got real dark and I liked the lightening.
Machine Spent the night getting ready for the interviews tomorrow. I discovered my printer has no black ink so my resumes are in dark blue . . . I plan to stop someplace and xerox them. For letters of reference I using a newspaper story they ran about me that makes me seem semi-god like and a letter from a deceased Senator and one form a British cabinet minister. I think they might be overkill for the kind of jobs I'm trying for, but they're all I got.
Doing that got me depressed. Looking at my fingers blackened with printer ink (trying to squeeze those last drops out) didn't lighten my mood at all.
I did manage to not eat anything today so my food supply will last for an extra day!