I love Sports. This is no secret. Likewise the truth is out there that during the NFL offseason I get positively B-O-R-E-D about the sporting world. Golf… is not a sport. Basketball seems more notable for being fashion forward than displaying any great team excitement (before the playoffs that is). The NCAA is solid… in MARCH. So, that leaves me a bit sports empty. I drove by a youth flag football practice the other day and my partner might have compared me to a dog salivating over a bone.
It gets that bad.
Video Games don’t cut it so much anymore in the sports arena. So I wind up patrolling NFL.com in search for some football pleasure. I also watch my kids play. I’m trying to separate myself from thinking about my kids sports as anything more than stuff I enjoy watching, because getting caught up in the coaching stuff and placing too much value on youth sports can be disastrous and in a sense destabilizing for the families involved.
So, I find myself studying the Giants offseason and reveling in the mystery of what will happen next and how things will be different from last season. That is the pleasure of football and of life. There is always another turn of the page and another chance to make something magical.
- I am thoroughly enjoying ‘Everything Sucks’ on Netflix.
Afterwards, my partner asked me, “Why are you willing to forgive Garland for things in the movie you aren’t willing to forgive Vandermeer for?” She has a point. After all, the book won the Nebula and the Shirley Jackson in 2014. Maybe I’m wrong.
Or, maybe we are all just thirsty for wonder.
Annihilation is the first book in Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy. It is told by an unreliable narrator and, for all intents and purposes lays a form of ground rules for the trilogy at large–giving us pieces of a puzzle that we can (supposedly) later decipher. Kim Stanley Robinson, who I respect, writes that the book “reads as if Verne or Wellsian adventurers exploring a mysterious island had warped through into a Kafkaesque nightmare world.” That is an awful lot of name dropping there to speak of a story that, in my opinion, isn’t.
The book focuses on a handful of characters who are not named and in fact the narrative works extremely hard to make those characters two dimensional. They are relevant only in their role vs. their selves. In truth the only character given any true depth in the story is the world itself. We see the world beyond the bright (in the movie it is the shimmer) as a living thing; both deuteragonist and antagonist as the POV character makes her way across a reshaping world.
The movie plays off this and plays on the skillset of director Alex Garland, who brings his skillset for beauty and synchronicity to the big screen in a very big way here. It is easy to fall in love with how beautiful everything in the movie is. Likewise it is easy to fall in love with how beautiful some passages from the book are. In both cases we tend to forget that there is not a lot of story there being told and we are learning absolutely nothing about the character. I would argue there is no arc.
Maybe I’m just being a writer (read: hater) but I think that yeah, I give Garland a pass for beauty, but the source material just isn’t that hot.
Jake Tapper is trying to build a career off of being confrontational. The problem with being confrontational is that it can create the impression that you are entering the ‘interview’ with a position contrary to gaining information. You are, in fact, looking for a gotcha moment. You are looking to expose someone in some way on national TV. Scott Israel went on TV this morning to explain to the public what happened during the Broward County School Shooting. Tapper was, in a sense, following the age old tradition of going for the most visible leader and trying to take them out in order to get fame and show that it is the responsibility of the top guy always when anything goes wrong in the organization. Jake Tapper wanted this guy to lose his job. Jake Tapper didn’t care whatsoever that the people directly responsible for the failures were immediately suspended. He wanted the head of the king.
“Of course I won’t resign” said the Sheriff. I nearly applauded. The Sheriff answered every question evenly and to the best of his ability. He was openly assaulted and questioned on every aspect of his job and made to seem like he was highly incompetent. In fact his responses and explanations show that he was anything but incompetent. He moved to address anyone and everyone directly involved who screwed up. Moreover he started an after action report to further analyze how we got here.
It has become political trade to attack the highest leader/official of any group who has something go wrong. CNN lives in that world and it honestly makes them hard to identify with. I cannot watch them and feel I’m getting a straight answer. Meanwhile, I cannot watch Fox News because they’re spinning a singular point of view with no regard to truth or reality. So, where do I turn to get information that is not distorted to one ideal?
The problem now is that if you want to be informed you have to work at it and the majority of us are too disinterested, too busy, or just too lazy to put in that effort. As a result we get a version of the truth that conforms to what others with a clear agenda want us to believe. That only sows divisiveness and creates conflict designed to further the profit of those creating the conflict.
I’m fat on bbq potato chips and cups of water as I sit here in my office on a Saturday afternoon. Usually I’m coming or going at this time–drawn fly-like to a sporting event my kids are competing in. No such situation this weekend, and the temporary lull has me feeling that we need more such lulls. I love sports. I love watching my kids compete and excel. The running around is less loved. The buying food out every weekend eats at my wallet like a tapeworm. Still, there are far less chips on the road.
Fact: I haven’t left the house but once all day.
I used the brief excursion to get those chips. Later I’ll pour some wine, drink it, and probably have more chips. Its a problem that feels a little like the moment before hibernation are said to feel. I am fattening up not for the winter but for the week. I ought to be grading and writing and being absurdly productive, but the desire in my heart extends so far as a cup of coffee and maybe filling up the fountain in my room.
This is not healthy. On Monday I expect I’ll swing by the new gym and sign up–some post new years effort to try to get fit that will meet the slow death that also awaits me should I continue to consume at this pace. Things can go better. They can turn around and I can eat healthy. I enjoy the healthy eating. However, it is far easier and more accessible to junk out. So, that is what I do. I suppose that means lazy remains a key part of the problem.
Not the brightest morning. It behooves me to think of how depressing this blog has become over the past year or so. No, I cannot entirely blame Trump. He sure didn’t help though.
I don’t have a lot to say, so I will rattle off…
- I’d hoped my general ennui would pass following the blog and a decent night of rest. No such luck. If anything it clings to me like sweat.
- Dad fail this morning. I didn’t finish the laundry last night and now there are no pants. The kids will miss their morning practice, but with any fortune they will get to the bus stop okay.
- Jarvis Landry ought to be a Giant. That would make the team incredibly attractive to future Qbs. We are talking about 4 legitimate receiving threats that require top level coverage. Add a banger of an RB and a decent line… I see big things happening for the G-men offense for years to come.
- Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writing Conference is in Phoenix this weekend. Should be pretty sweet.
- A sheriff’s deputy waited outside the school for backup during the Parkland shooting. Why? Because he was scared. He wanted backup. He wanted someone else in there with him, because he didn’t have a clear understanding of the situation. This is a trained police officer who is paid to do exactly this job. He didn’t go in, but a lot of Americans think that an armed school teacher is going to stop a gunman with an assault rifle. Get real, people.
- The cop was fired. How long before the blame shifts to him? That is one of the many reasons I oppose arming teachers. It takes the blame off the guns (again) and points the finger at teachers. Now we have to be trained gunman as well? Child, please.
- Lets not forget that arming a teacher in an environment like that could eventually lead to a teacher overreacting to a threat from a kid. Just saying… We train cops not to be bad apples and many still are that or just plain scared. Underpaid and overworked teachers who have basically no recourse to deal with undisciplined children might snap too. Or at the very least threaten. Then what? Robot sentries?
- Yeah, I’m not on top of my game…
You might mistake this as a rant. You might think I am angry and want to spread that anger like the wide black wings of a raven and cast darkness on anyone who creeps near my peculiar corner of the internet. I’m not angry. I’m sad. I’m not venting or ranting. I’m crying your pardon.
A lot has happened over the past week or so to make me world weary. I listened to a woman talk about how she finally feels safe because Trump is president. I read about people who are convinced the kids organizing after the recent school shootings are actors. I’ve watched the lowest and most awful segments of American culture rise to power and become the cadre of leadership driving the conversation in nearly every sector. I watch and I am entirely powerless.
I cry your pardon.
I simply have no understanding of how to fight back. I don’t even know that ‘fight’ is the proper word to use. I’ve been so beaten down by this finely tuned false reality that I am starting to believe that the majority of people really feel this way–that a river of stereotypes have slid down our throat and now we know nothing but the worst version of diversity. We know and we don’t care enough to do anything about it.
I cry our pardon.
We let this thing get away from us. The cyclic momentum seen in the Obama election, in Woodstock, and many many cycles before ended abruptly and the Yang rose to claim what the Ying could not hold. We are indeed behaving like the worst versions of ourselves and justifying it by allowing our leadership to behave in the most horrible way. We are victims of Russian social distortion not because they are so technologically savvy, but because we are so broken and misguided that we search for leadership without even looking to see if what they say or if they themselves are true. We are more interested in selfishly hearing our opinions propped up and justified than we are in having conversations that could possibly change our minds. Why change our minds when doing so has become equated with a loss in a zero sum game in a world where we can never be the losers.
So, I cry pardon. We are lost and we don’t know when we will be found again.
I came up with a thought in the shower. I was thinking that I wanted to teach my kids how to play QB. I thought about it in terms of how the world reacts to people–simply out of habit. See, my youngest started playing tackle about a year ago. In his first two seasons he was completely overlooked as a QB. When I asked coaches why (I was literally on staff for one of the teams) I was informed that the kid did not know how to play QB. It reminded of the old experience conundrum: you cannot get hired because you don’t have experience, but you cannot get experience until you get hired.
And then I let it go.
That is where I failed as a father and a coach. My son was 7 at the time. What was the expected level of experience? No, what really unfolded there was that the coaches did not want to teach the kid how to be a QB and wanted to use him elsewhere. They closed the door on him because it was inconvenient to leave it open. I think that was the moment I started to build a slow seething dislike for coaching. I started to recognize what was really at stake for them and why they didn’t give the kid a real opportunity–why I often don’t do the same. There simply isn’t enough time to train a single kid. You look for the people who already know enough. You try to put something together that works vs. teaching all you can, because that is often all you can do.
That, or you’re a daddy coach who plays favorites.
Both of those things are true of a lot of coaches and in the end the politics of a thing tend to shape a thing. So now my kids have zero thoughts that they can ever play that particular position. I wondered how that ‘loss of wonder’ translated into other areas of their life. I feel like there are a lot of doors that have been shut already beyond sports. They don’t read certain types of things, consider certain career paths viable, etc. Their lives, like my own, like a story, have been a series of narrowing options. Maybe it is on me to add a few.
I think I’ve hit the point where I am just done putting up with nonsense. Yes, nonsense is out. Common (ass) sense is king in my world now. I’ve been running myself ragged lately trying to handle a bunch of business and I realize that entirely ruled out having time for nonsense. I find that there is a lot of noise over the course of a day–largely coming from people who are unhappy where they are in their day/life. If I start to tune that out I’ll have more time to tune into the people who are positive and are trying to be powerful influences in the world.
- I think there might be a role for a center for Social and Cultural Engagement at my college.
- I am very pleased that the Vikander Tomb Raider doesn’t have giant boobs. Thanks for being semi legit…
- Still want to build a sick treehouse.
- Still in love and falling…
Light on the big thoughts tonight. Still have some little ones…
- Another day where I didn’t get in 30 on my novel and that is entirely my fault. I continue to grind this out–fighting through the tougher moments where I lose sight of what I am trying to say. The days after the tough days are often the ones I ‘lose track of time’ and don’t get it written. Perhaps if I am having issues and can’t get anything down I ought to make those research days.
- A recent conversation with my partner reminded me that I really do enjoy this teaching thing–some classes more than others.
- I am developing the very bad habit of eating in bed. This can’t last, of course. And should not.
- Spent time at Planet Fitness today. I may join. There is a simplicity to the place that makes sense for the price. I can get the basic exercise I need, a free massage, and even the weird new red light treatment. All for under 25 a month. Beats the drama of Lifetime Fitness.
- Doing charity work with the kids tomorrow. It ought to be a really good look for them. My kids need to recognize the value of giving back and how we are all connected and interdependent on each other as a species. Beyond that, they ought to experience how good it feels to help others.
“You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing and dance, and write poems and suffer and understand, for all that is life.”Jiddu krishnamurti spoke those words many cycles ago, imparting to the future the wisdom of all times. It is a basic truth that we must be rounded and understand all things. I most recently have applied that to the dual worlds of pleasure and pain, but it feels like it needs to be applied to more spectrums. The doldrums of routine, for example, are a form of meditation that helps us to understand freedom and spontaneity. Struggle is required to reflect upon success. Disdain is equally important as appreciation.
In a greater sense he was not speaking of spectrum or opposites. When he said, “truth is a pathless land” I believe he meant to convey the openness of life, of how the world is but a medium through which we discover self and that self-discovery happens in its own way for each of us. For myself I have discovered that I value experience so much more and hold on tightly to everything I experience–even that which brings me pain. I do not value these things equally, but I do recognize that everything and everyone has purpose and a role. That allows me to appreciate them in some form.
- It is getting harder and harder for politicians to ignore the cries for gun control.
- It is getting easier and easier not to take Trump seriously, which likely means he will win another election and ride off into the sunset believing he was the absolute shit. I don’t care as much as I used to. It isn’t my place to tell him he’s wrong. People have the right to live their own truth, and seven more years of his is going to create a lot of opportunity to see the ‘truth of hatred’ living strong in our nation. I don’t consider that a setback the way I once did, because I believe we have strong enough leaders beyond him to help us all recognize how ugly that hatred makes all of us.
- Black Panther has an entire speech about that at the end. Mid credits. It is all kinds of dope.