Monday, August 31, 2009

ABMOD for permanent head coach

Go ahead and call for a foreign coach, they haven't had much success in MLS this decade. If you want someone who knows the system inside and out (and Lord knows New York needs one), you don't hire a guy with no MLS experience (Westerhof for Chivas, Gullit for LA) or someone with a big ego (pre-deflated Arena). You go with the guy who just works hard and expects his men to put in ninety minutes every game. We thought that was Osorio. We hope that's Richie Williams.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A little rant about poetry and writing

Back when I was putting all my writings on Elfwood, I used to comment about the "poetry" on that website and the lack of any sort of quality put into it. That was ten years ago and I'm older now, but I don't think my opinion has changed one bit.

I'm reminded about this from listening to last week's Prairie Home Companion, a clip show dedicated to poetry. There is a rhythm and a pattern to poetry. Sometimes it rhymes, and nine times out of ten it should have some sort of sound that appeals to the senses. Even prose has a flow that readers find appealing. It's OK to free verse, to stream of consciousness, but there must be an actual reason that has very little to do with laziness. And as a teacher now, I have spent years tuning my radar to laziness.

What does this mean? Go to the major creative websites these days: Elfwood, FictionPress, DeviantArt. The poetry there sucks. It SUCKS. It totally, absolutely...SUCKS.

If you're the writer, your response will typically be, "If you don't like it, don't read it." How selfish and petty of you, I say. You think I read your writings to stroke your ego and make you feel important? Don't flatter yourself. Quite frankly, you are here for my entertainment and the entertainment of others. If you waste my time, you will hear from me. Rowling got it, which is why, despite Harry Potter being elevated to quasi-able-to-be-used-in-AP-English-Literature-essays, the author made a TON of money off of the series and garnered a ****load of accolades the world over. Controversial and dark or otherwise, Harry Potter got the audience's attention and kept it these past few years.

Here's my point: if you can't do that, if you can't get my attention or anyone else's attention and keep it, you don't deserve to be called a writer.

You are writing for us. You are not writing for yourself. The creation of literature, amateur or professional or epic, is not about you. I don't begrudge anyone's talent for self-expression (or else I wouldn't be blogging away), don't get me wrong, but self-expression that sees the light of day must always be subject to how it is received by others. If you think otherwise, shove all of your writings into your drawer and lock them away. Please don't upload them onto the Internet and invite my criticism or others.

But if you are brave enough to have your works judged and to accept the collective judgment of all of your readers, then by all means, write away.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The New York Red Bulls suck

That's my analysis.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Azteca will fall today

Arena couldn't do it. Sampson got the closest. Bora didn't need to. And today, neither does Bradley.

But after two consecutive cup finals in a summer made for American soccer, three points at the last impregnable fortress in the region in a World Cup qualifier will cement the United States' reputation as the undisputed force in CONCACAF.

It needn't happen today. But it can. And it will.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Death Panels

Rated R. Opens this Friday.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

****. ****. ***-**** it.

No matter what the score was, no matter who the opponent was, no matter how important the game was, I had always thought that the players on the field cared more than the people they were playing in front of.

I don't believe that tonight.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Alone on a big comfy sofa

I have to wake up in three hours so I can catch a flight back to Japan in nine. It is dark and quiet, and all I can think about is what happens next.

I'm not a rich man; choosing teaching as a profession and research interest makes the odds on those prospects seem daunting. And the rumor is that teaching in Japan will become a bit more expensive for me if I want to renew my visa. As I've said before, I don't have the sort of checking account I can show to a daughter's father. So we're long shots on those opportunities as well.

It's not just about money either. All good teachers (or at least well-intentioned ones) should never be satisfied with their teaching (those who are, sadly, have been quite common in every stint in my career). I'm certainly not with mine. Often, it's good, because one should always want to improve. However, every now and then, like moments such as this one, it can really get you down.

And let me tell you how my vacation went: I went to Cheesecake Factory, I went to Applebee's, I saw most of my old friends, I watched soccer in a bar with fellow fans, I watched a television that had four hundred channels, I drove around for miles. None of those things I ever did in Japan, despite how much I love the place. And I go back tomorrow.

The takeaway from Joyce's Portrait... is the leap of faith one takes not on religion, not on society, not on politics, but a leap of faith on one's own intuitions, when no one else tells you what you should or it is until it's too late. So soldiering on and pressing forward can yield great rewards, but they can also produce devastating hardships.

Ditka says something along the lines of one can never be a loser unless he quits trying. Simply put: no guts, no glory. I've been reminded of this twice in the last two weeks: one, when a woman in a bar all alone falls victim to one of the worst pickup routines I have ever executed, and another in an email from an old friend.

With the former, at least I tried. The latter, I'll regret until I die the things I never did.

The choice is clear: giving up, packing it in and going home is just about the dumbest thing one can do at this point in time. This too shall pass. The funk will go away and I'll be back in the swing of things, like this night never happened.

Until then, I say this about the life I chose: "This better f***ing work."

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Joe Queenan on Real Time this week

You know those otaku who go to anime cons and think sarcasm every five seconds is a clever tool to win girls over? That was Joe Queenan tonight.

Is there a bigger, more bitter, more clueless scumbag that sounds completely respectable in the American zeitgeist today?