Thursday, July 18, 2019
If there is some skill or ability I enjoy most in watching sports it is probably positional awareness. I love positional awareness. In soccer it is that nearly magical ability to know where everybody is and where everybody will be in a second or two. It's the ability to know all of that even while one is super busy with other things, like maneuvering for position with another player, or kicking a ball, or both, all at the same time. The two athletes I've most enjoyed watching in my life were transcendent in this ability: Lionel Messi and Magic Johnson. Messi doesn't just thread the ball in a pass like it's going through the eye of a needle, he sends it through two moving needles to float into the perfect trajectory of a player hidden across the field who then, with open space in front of the goal, well, it wasn't a great Spring for his team so we'll just leave the story off there. Magic, in a very different game, would look completely away from the play and, functionally blind and operating purely from positional awareness, feed the ball into his onrushing teammate who would score, because basketball is different than soccer, and it's easier to score.
Curiously, positional awareness comes into play heavily in my job as well. I don't care that much about hard work, which is only relevant to me with surprising rareness and can be a bit of a scam anyway. I value accuracy and competency very much, but it can be a little hard to track it in all these many people I work with at the library. But the positional awareness of my colleagues makes a difference to me every day I work and it is the main thing I judge my co-workers on and value them for.
What is it?
It's knowing how many empty bins are left and whether we're likely to need them. It's knowing how competent the co-worker next to you at the front desk is and what the third person in line at the desk is probably there for. It's knowing where a book might be and what the whining squeak means on the automated machine behind you. It's knowing when you can walk away for 15 minutes and effect no one instead of leaving someone helplessly to do your job, who, after all, might be me, or you, or it might be no one at all. There is a momentum to the work of any institution, and positional awareness in it is all about keeping that immensely useful momentum going forward while essentially, at the same time, keeping everyone out from under its dangerous wheels.
But really, in the end, having a skill in positional awareness, whether in sports or in some occasionally grinding job, allows a fundamental, important, and valuable thing: When something comes one's way, one will be able to gracefully handle it according to it's value and importance, all while best complementing everything around it. Which is not a bad plan for life.
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
This is a music review for some music by Vivaldi, who, apparently, was the shit.
I mean that in a good way.
I don't know what the songs were, but, I mean, fuck! Seriously. I heard this shit live on the radio and I was like, what? the? fuck?
It was thrilling. I was going crazy. There were all these, like insane violins that were super old and all these dudes were going nuts on them, like, super fast and all at the same time so that it was rocking. I mean it was screaming. My heart was racing. I had all these goddamn feelings fucking bursting through my chest! I thought I was going to die it was so fucking amazing!
Then it got quiet for a minute like I was being hunted in the woods, and then it took off like it wanted to tell me things I didn't know you could even fucking feel.
How can something this old still be so fucking new and wicked? I didn't know whether to tear my hair out or weep or what.
7 out of 10
Tuesday, July 16, 2019
My favorite sign that I come upon in my work commute is located on the fringes of the University of Minnesota. I am either walking or biking along and see a well made plaque posted to the corner of a large building. It reads:
Please trespass silently.
It's at once clever and faintly creepy, but most of all it seems like a kind of giving up. As if to say, "Fuck it, y'all are gonna be tramping through our yard anyway, the least you can do is keep your goddamn voices down a bit when it's two in the morning. And if you're going to be throwing a brick through a window have the decency to wrap it in an old t-shirt or something to muffle the crash. Some of us have to get up for work in the morning you know!"
Monday, July 15, 2019
In a recent post called "Fireworks" I mentioned my wife and I watching a movie for the tenth time in our apartment aerie over the city as fireworks burst behind the screen. This could have been taken by a reader as a disparagement of watching the same movie over and over. This would not be the fault of the reader. Sometimes I leave the meaning of these things I write very... open. The downside of that is a lot of things can walk in through such a flung wide door. And sometimes they can fit, even if, as in this case, I don't want them to.
So I would like to take this opportunity to throw out this disparagement of repeated viewings. It is unwelcome. I believe art is at its most enjoyable and powerful when we are already acquainted with it. It is only by repeated exposure to myths and stories that their deeper meanings are revealed and can inform one's life. Also I find the tension of the evaluation and coming to terms with (slightly) new ideas, stories, images, and events to have a desultory effect on engagement.
I love engagement. I believe the real power of art, and even of entertainment, lies in its depths, in our deeper relationship to it, and even in its familiarity. On a simple level I can say things like Caravaggio's The Calling of St. Matthew, or The Godfather, or Moonstruck, or Ocean's Twelve, or Hat Full of Sky, or Blue are favorite works of art of mine. But each time I interact with any of them is different, and on another level it would be far more accurate to say the third time I read Hat Full of Sky is one of my favorite books ever, or the eleventh time I watched French Kiss is one of my favorite movies. The fifth time I walked into that Church of the French in Rome and saw The Calling of Saint Matthew hanging in the gloom is the moment where it was the greatest painting I ever saw.
There is very little that I have seen or read or heard just once that has full power in my soul.
All good things have depths.
We learn and grow by doing the same things over, being changed by them and changing them a little on our own.
Like with blog posts.
Though you might need to read this six or seven more times for it all to come sufficiently clear to you.
Sunday, July 14, 2019
One doesn't expect in the normal course of one's life to spontaneously recreate an iconic moment from a famous movie. I don't see myself scrabbling in the dirt for root vegetables in front my tattered mansion crying out "As god as my witness I'll never be hungry again!"
I don't even have a mansion.
And I don't expect to ever excuse myself to go to the bathroom in an Italian restaurant in order to retrieve a hidden gun to come back with to shoot a Police Captain. Even if there are probably a few of them who totally have it coming.
Also I'm fairly indifferent when it comes to cannoli.
I fervently hope I am never stabbed to death in a shower by a lunatic but wish I didn't mention it because now I'll be vaguely worried about it when I do shower tomorrow morning. I am exceedingly unlikely to drown out Nazis by singing the French National Anthem with a bunch of other people at a nightclub, especially given how I don't know any of the words of the French National Anthem, though I guess I could vaguely hum it. And as fun as it might be I guess I won't really be hanging out with a lost, beneficent space alien, helping them call home.
But the other day at the library our check in machine was having a lot of problems. I left the front desk to help. After multiple reboots and temporary fixes things went completely south. It clearly had something to do with the return path from the front entryway. I opened the locked door behind the Friends of the Library bookstore to get access to where returns come through an automated flap, run up a long ramp, and proceed along a conveyor system hugging the ceiling. At the top of this ramp was a clot of hundreds of materials, massed into an almost biological host, rammed up above and contained only by the ceiling itself.
I climbed onto the conveyor belt. I ascended halfway and got on my knees, and then, as the space between me and the ceiling shrank, crawled on my belly to get at this fantastical lump. As I slithered along the belts and pathways of this huge industrial machinery in service to its problems it suddenly struck me:
I'm in Modern Times.
Saturday, July 13, 2019
A while back I wrote you asking you to consider my manuscript for publication. You weren't interested. That's fine, I mean, it's extremely painful, sure, but I only let that bitter disappointment strengthen my resolve. I turned right around and sent you another proposal.
You weren't interested.
I don't know why. My writing is terrific. It's funny, and wise, and elegiac, and extremely unpopular. So I was mystified.
But I wasn't defeated! I sent you a manuscript again. Then I sent another hoping that my new edits, in which I got rid of the words "a lot", would make my work a lot more appealing to you. It might have, but not appealing enough for you to publish it.
I didn't say die.
Winners never quit.
I tried new angles. I took new approaches. I reformatted. I experimented with fonts, paper stock, ink color, veiled threats, small gifts, and decorated envelopes.
But after 37 submissions to you (and counting!) I still haven't met with success.
Oh well, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take. Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly. When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. Fortune favors the bold. It's always darkest before the dawn. Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
I learned that from all the books you do publish.
I refuse to believe you're a liar.
at least until the stamps run out,
Friday, July 12, 2019
It's tiger lily season! The tiger lilies are blooming all across The Twin Cities. I love the beautiful, bright tiger lilies. They're like if cats were mixed with sunsets and sprinkled across the thickest part of Summer. When we had a yard we had tiger lilies growing in it. Now I just walk around and visit them and guess what?
It's just as good!
It turns out one doesn't have to own a tiger lily to enjoy a tiger lily.
What if it turns out you don't have to own things to enjoy them?
No one would bother to own anything. No one would steal anything. No one would bother to buy anything. No one would sell anything. The whole world would be a...
Thursday, July 11, 2019
Among the unexpected treasures of the Upper Midwest is the Minnesota Marine Art Museum of Winona. Winona is a little Mississippi River town that's roughly a three hour drive south of the Twin Cities. The population of Winona is around 27,000. I guess someone there created a gigantic hardware supply business that made a fortune and so they collected "Great art inspired by water" and built a very beautiful museum out on the Winona riverbanks to house it.
Now maybe you're thinking "That's nice. How quaint." I might think that too. But when I say "unexpected treasure" I mean it. One of the interesting paintings this museum has is "Washington crossing the Delaware". The artist, Leutze, painted two copies of the original back in the mid 1800's. The original was destroyed in WWII. One copy is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. One was in the West Wing of the White House until 2015, but now it's hanging in the Minnesota Marine Art Museum.
"Okay" Maybe you're thinking. "That's just a weird one-off hung up among the more regional bric-a-brac." I might think that too. So here is a very partial list of artists who have paintings in this Museum:
Or, "Oh." You might say. I know I totally did.
Now with all this praise you might think that I have actually been to this intriguing sounding museum.
I haven't! It's hours away!
There's this elderly library patron I talk to though who is super into this museum. He is almost obsessively into this museum. I have been helping him and his wife at the front desk of my library for at least a decade. Every single time I see him, for years and years, he says "So, have you and your wife been to the Marine Museum yet?"
I always have to say no and make lots of excuses like "It's hours away!"
Then he gets all disappointed and tells me how I really should go.
And I say "Mmm hmm."
It's like a ritual.
But now I am going to the Minnesota Marine Art Museum with my fabulous wife on an exciting overnight trip. I am super excited!
And I am really keen to tell this (sort of) nice old man about my upcoming trip.
Unfortunately I haven't seen him around for awhile and think he might have died of old age.
Hmm, that kind of turned out to be a bit more of a bummer than I meant it to be.
He's probably fine. And even if he's not I think we should look on the bright side:
I'm pretty sure my wife and I must be fulfilling his final wish.
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
Hey, you on the far right,
Come on over to our side on the far left! It's almost exactly like where you are now except facts, science, truth, art, psychology, ethics, and God, if God would only have the decency to exist, all support us! I think you'd really like that!
Also, out here on the far left no one gets hurt. Well, except us, which, come to think of it, you probably wouldn't enjoy that much, but you sort of get used to it.
Have a nice Summer! (Unless you're still a Nazi),
Your (future) friend on the far left.
Tuesday, July 9, 2019
It was Monday morning after a lovely extended holiday weekend. I was walking across the Mississippi River to get a bike to take to work. The sun was shining out all jewels on the cold river that the Kayakers paddled on below me. As I so often do on Monday morning, faced with the prospect of working all day, and also faced with Summer and all the promise of the World, I thought "I just want to have fun today!"
But what is fun?
I don't know.
I think it might be something that only happens when I'm paying it no attention.
Monday, July 8, 2019
I was just sitting here writing a super boring blog post when I suddenly thought "Hey, you don't have to write this super boring blog post! You could instead write a really fun, witty blog post that will make you chuckle deviously to yourself at your sharp wit, and it will be this super funny blog post. And everyone out on the Internet is going to think it is totally clever what you wrote, and they will share it all over Facebook and Myspace and Imgur and Reddit and Wikipedia, where it will go super viral, so viral that CBS News will report on it in the morning saying "And in Cyber news today there was a super funny blog post that went viral today and it was so so funny! You should totally check it out." And then even more people will share and read it until there are, like, hundreds of people who read it, and there will be t-shirts of it and Random House will call you up, though how they found your number I'll never know, and they'll say "Hey, are you the guy that wrote that super funny blog post today that CBS News reported on?" And you'll say "I am!" And they'll say "We'd love to do a book maybe if you have any more that's as super funny as this one. Do you have any more like it?" And you'll say "No. That one was so super funny though!" And they'll say "Oh. Okay, thanks for your time." and hang up, and you'll feel like maybe you blew your big chance, but that doesn't matter because the important thing is you have a good time!"
Which was a good point.
Sunday, July 7, 2019
Among the many magnificent tableaus of the Ocean's movies there is a typically brilliant one in which Basher, the team's demolitions expert, is sitting watching TV in a luxurious hotel room in Las Vegas. Behind him, out the large, upper story windows, an old multi-story building is being demolished with explosives. He watches the event happen on his television, apparently oblivious, with his back turned to the perfect and real view of the spectacle behind him.
Where we live we have a clear and excellent view too! And so I was much looking forward to our first Fourth of July here.
It came early.
On July third the golf course hosted some sort of big annual outdoor picnic. I came home from work to see it still plugging along below us. It looked like there might be fireworks.
There were fireworks! They were really good, really long, really expensive fireworks. And from the privacy of our apartment we had an astonishingly close and perfect view. Neither of us has ever enjoyed fireworks so completely. It was an amazing treat.
And so July Fourth itself became more of a curiosity.
The real Independence Day fireworks started around 9:30 on Thursday night. It was still pretty light out, but I guess people were keen to get going. Three different locations out on the horizon, fronting the skyline, were running steady shows. There soon were occasional sporadic bursts climbing out of the trees of the Minneapolis neighborhoods. Some people had clearly climbed down to the river to shoot stuff off from the shore out towards the St. Paul side. Over the hill in St. Paul another slow show began as it got darker. At any given moment, in the distance and sometimes nearer, I could see three or five explosions flowering the sky or in among some trees.
It wasn't that long though before it all stopped being that interesting. So we put our TV screen up against our window, where our couch faces, and we watched a movie.
Only ever so rarely were we distracted by the dazzling displays carrying on in the background of our screen. Instead we sat peacefully among the explosions, watching instead a movie we'd already seen a dozen times before.
Saturday, July 6, 2019
In my wanderings across American Culture I have occasionally come upon people siting a condition called "Trump Derangement Syndrome". Apparently this refers to people who are so apoplectic about the President of the United States that they somehow take leave of their senses by being all... angry. Really really angry. Unreasonably angry!
Being, as I am, susceptible to these feelings of rage, alarm, and disgust at Trump and what he means about my Country, humanity, and the state of the world, I have decided to take stock.
And so I asked myself: "Self, is it wrong to get angry at evil?"
And so as I leave you to go wandering some more out in Internetland I will look upon the mentions of "Trump Derangement Syndrome" with fresh eyes.
"Oh calm down." They are saying. "Don't you want to do evil too?"
Friday, July 5, 2019
A total stranger came up to me yesterday and asked "Do you have sweet dreams?"
What kind of question is that?
It's a little bit too personal for me, thank you very much!
Unless maybe they were talking the movie starring Jessica Lange.
Which they were. We didn't have it on the shelf so I requested it for them.
Though why they didn't simply ask me if I had Sweet Dreams I guess I'll never know.
Thursday, July 4, 2019
Imagine if you will a box.
Every time you open the door of it something different is inside. Open it one time and there is a crumpled five dollar bill inside. Open it again and there is a silver ring with a Celtic design. Open it a third time to find an espresso cup, or a chunk of Parmigiano Reggiano.
Now imagine that that box is so big that you can get inside of it.
You walk in through the open door of it. You close the door. And when you open the door again you find that something entirely different is outside; a room with a table of flowers for instance, or a party. You close the door and open it again to find there is a bright hallway there that leads to where you live.
This is why I love elevators.
Wednesday, July 3, 2019
I am upstairs once again shelving 65 books (an average cart load). There are four relatively easy levels to shelve on, and there is one, miserable bottom row.
To spot where your book goes you have to be able to see the Dewey Numbers. This is plain and easy on the top four rows, but the bottom row requires shuffling along sideways with your body bent into the shape of a candy cane to be close enough to see. Once you have acquired sight of the theoretical gap your book belongs in, you must squat, insert the book, them climb into a standing position. Then you rub your lower back vigorously, take a sip of water or coffee, and then walk around for a bit stamping your foot and leg which has badly cramped up.
I hate the bottom shelf.
All 65 of the books I am shelving today go on the bottom shelf.
"How" You wonder "Is this possible!"
You and me both.
Even if we accepted the outlandish, against all odds premise that people were searching for specific books and luck had it that they were all bottom shelf books, these books are too low quality and random for people to have chosen them ahead of time. These books were all the result of random browsing!
But we also know from our long study of human behavior that people do not browse from uncomfortable positions. They browse where it is convenient to their reach and their eye level.
Which brings me to the strange, inescapable, and surprisingly hopeful conclusion of our study:
Small children are the only people checking out our adult non fiction anymore.
Tuesday, July 2, 2019
Over the past five or so years I have seen a lot of soccer games. And in almost every one of them a team has lost. Even in the occasional tied game there is the lurking element that it is a kind of loss for both teams because ties in soccer are worth so much less than a win. So then let's just say that in every single one of this vast array of games I have had to watch a team lose.
It happened yesterday.
It happened today.
And it will, ugh, happen tomorrow.
I am too sensitive for this! I already bear a burden of grief. Where am I supposed to put all these losers? How big a heart do you think I have?
That last question was directed to god. I don't expect you to answer. Though go ahead if you like because god sure as hell won't be stepping up.
Excuse me. Let me just take a deep breath.
I am a strong person.
I think I could handle this. I have resources to draw on. I believe in myself.
I could probably endure a team losing in every game of soccer I watch. If only it wasn't so freakishly often the team I want to win.
Monday, July 1, 2019
How can you tell it's Summer in the library?
By the smell.
In the warm weather all the human fats, pressed millimeter by millimeter into the plastic covers of the books, loosen up, and an old, slightly stale, musty, uneasily human smell drifts out around the building.
But we don't talk about that. If we did who would want to take the books home?
I guess I still would, but I'm not happy about it. I'm American too. I like new, shiny, untouched things full of promise.
But I like literature too. It's so confusing.
But then, Summer is confusing here too. The sea of patrons becomes volatile, pouring in in great surges when it's raining, or night, or when it's beautiful out, and then leaving us practically vacant when it's hot out, or when it's windy, or just because it's a Friday at lunch time. It's hard to see any rhyme or reason for why they come or don't come. Science can detect no pattern. Groups of people apparently don't think. And individuals are all mysteriously bespoke. We can ask them questions, but if we remain open to their full answers they're all mad answers. We have to ignore what they said for them to make sense. And only when we systematically gather their collective data together, carefully process it, interpret it, and subject it to a ruthless, exhaustive analysis can we see that... it's Summer, and things just happen.
And here is where we make up the fake explanations.
Sunday, June 30, 2019
At sunset everything turns pink; the city, the string of clouds running unevenly over the horizon, and the river itself. The brown Mississippi is lurid pink, trees, the city of skyscrapers is shimmering pink, sky, the clouds are just... pink. I lean up against my windows. A giant mote of cottonwood fluff floats right, then it floats left, then it drops straight down.
It's all too pretty.
It may be a trick.
"Just try and distrust miracles." It challenges.
And then night comes before I can manage it.
Saturday, June 29, 2019
I'm not usually a fan of the soccer announcers. Mostly I get English people who pretend to be calm and neutral but aren't really, deep down. And it's not that deep down either once they wake from their talking slumber. The Women's World Cup has been a mixed bag, and the in-crowd fandom of the American commentators gets to me a little, but once I set aside the "rah-rah our team" stuff, and see it through the lens of "I'm just so excited about all these players and how women's soccer is a big deal right now" it takes on a kind of disarming charm. It can be blunt and unabashed. My favorite moment came in the first half of the France vs. America game.
During a lull in the action talk turned to the heatwave in France. It's in the 90's while they're playing which can pose problems. The main narrators of the game briefly took the discussion to some specialty analyst to discuss the U.S. team preparations for these challenging conditions. The analyst said their preparations have been very thorough and complete. They've even been scientifically measuring the players hydration levels on a daily basis.
Then they went back up to the booth where the play by play announcer was dutifully impressed, and said so. But the commentator said
"She just means that they check the color of their pee. She was just being fancy."
Friday, June 28, 2019
I watched the Democratic debates. And because the odds are that you didn't, a choice I can't much fault, I am here to tell you who won!
This is super important in Presidential Debates because most people, including me, usually catch only a bit of the debate, or none of it at all, but might hear a snatch of news. So they, or we, mostly walk away with some kind of media consensus winner. One might even say that for the vast majority of us the whole candidate of our choice is not put together from long, disciplined study, but rather from little bits of cobbled together scraps. Too often it's made out of the scraps of other people's opinions.
But not so at least with these debates. I have the authoritative winner for you right here. I watched them for us all. This is the objective stuff, the real deal.
The winner was:
Whoever you wanted it to be.
I'll back you up on that. Unless it's Biden. Fuck Biden.
Thursday, June 27, 2019
I know, dear readers, that while I have been home in my convalescence I have written a lot of posts about soccer. A lot of soccer.
Can I see a show of hands as to how many of you are soccer fans?
Oh. That's like 40 percent of my readership! I was thinking it would be so much less. In fact I predicated this whole post on no one even bothering to raise their hand, at which point I would say:
Don't worry! Today's post will not be about soccer!
It's about golf.
How many among you are golfers or golf fans? Don't be afraid to let yourself be known. I'm super welcoming here.
I just hear crickets.
This is amazing. I am delighted that members of the insect class have taken an interest in clerkmanifesto. It is an especially delightful surprise considering that I primarily write... for the birds.
Actually, what's even more surprising is that all these crickets reading my blog like golf.
Cool. Cute. Can't you just picture them with their little clubs?
One reason that we have nothing to say regarding soccer is that there were no games today. So instead I tended to health stuff, found a fairly wonderful youtube channel (believe me, not an easy thing to do) called Philosophy Tube, and looked out the window.
Out the window sometimes there is golf.
I see the green. And I see the golfers try to sink their ten foot plus putts. No one ever makes them. This season I have seen a few hundred of these putts. Zero people have made them. Not only do I find this astonishing, but it also seemed like at some point it might be a useful thing to tell you about it here. So when people lined up their putt I'd get a little nervous. What if someone makes it and this amazing fact has to be qualified?
But no one has. And here I am.
They line up their shot. They take a couple of practice swings. They go for it. It falls short. It rolls past. It curls right. It cuts left.
They look a little sad, these golfers, a little disappointed. I can't see much detail from where I am, but they look like they feel they should have made it.
It looks like they should have made it.
But out of hundreds of golfers I have seen, in a random sampling, not a single golfer was any better than them.
I wish they knew that.
Wednesday, June 26, 2019
Home tending to my mysterious ailment which I wish I'd stop mentioning, I am watching plenty of Women's World Cup soccer. So that's what you''ll hear about, not my mysterious ailment, which keeps coming up, even though this is all about soccer, and not about my embarrassing ailment which please god we are finished covering on the blog and will all be super cured any second now.
The morning game brought us China v Italy, and if I was inclined to toss it off as a team that over achieved to the top of their group (Italy) versus an able but mediocre team slated for destruction (China), the afternoon game of Netherlands vs. Japan has really brought this home. I was happy to see Italy go so surprisingly far this tournament, but Japan and Netherlands are really good teams, and I have quite warmed up to the skill level of this tournament.
I am all in on this Netherlands team, which sadly may sign their death warrant, going by my luck. I have only seen the first half so far and it's anyone's game. One thing that makes me fond of the Netherlands is certainly their fans. They are heavily represented here, wear a ton of their team's signature color (orange), and seem to bring horns to their games where they play songs in the audience. I was sad that one of their ferocious wingers, who wore her hair as leopard spots on her head, reverted to a platinum blonde crew cut, but I'm willing to accept that that's none of my business. Lieke Martens, the best player for Netherlands, managed the kind of brilliant goal one has to figure is mostly luck, but also leaves one curiously wondering. The ball came from a corner to her feet and she one touch redirected it thorough the legs of the Japanese defender into the bottom right corner of the net. One nothing Netherlands.
But Japan has rather won me over too, to my surprise. After a lackluster group stage they play cohesively, technically, and with wonderful passing. At the end of the first half they produced possibly my favorite goal of the tournament to tie it up. It started with a nice pedestrian pass in to the middle. At the top of the box a player passed with one touch in tight company to their teammate, who brilliantly let it pass between her legs, spun round, and sort of double touched it through the middle to the charging Hasegawa who just sliced it over a sprawling keeper for the goal. Beautifully done!
So I'm looking forward to the second half.
Too bad someone has to win.
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Today I was home sick, with an ailment that I.. don't... really... want... to.... discuss. So I watched the day's Women's World Cup Round of 16 matches. If you are thinking I faked sick to watch these games, well, I can see how you would, but there is a lot of soccer in this world, and The Women's World Cup Round of 16 is not going to be a "fake sick" level event. I am actually legitimately at home and fairly uncomfortable, but it's a little embarrassing to discuss with exactly what, so can we please move on already?
Let's talk about Spain vs. The U.S.A.
I was rooting for the wild underdogs that were Spain. They lost even though they had the only thing I'm willing to consider a real goal in the game; a beautifully composed shot lofted patiently over the keeper by the occasionally quite excellent Jenny Hermoso. The U.S. scored their two goals off of penalties, the second of which was rather dodgy even if not outright unfair, which sums up soccer about 80 percent of the time.
Here, that's important:
Soccer is a beautiful game of skill that's strangely dodgy about 80 percent of the time.
But instead of merely seeing a team I was rooting for fall to defeat, I brought myself back from despair and from my default total fatalism on the strength of my will and the following points:
Spain played close to level with a team wildly outclassing them and can certainly hold their heads high.
Players aside, the American fans deserved it. That's right, the American fans deserved this!
"What!" You cry. "The Americans are the neighborhood bullies, fat with their success, violence, and hegemony. How can they deserve anything!"
Despite being sympathetic to this point of view I'd like to point out that this is the still mildly obscure and developing sport of Women's Soccer. It's progressive. It speaks to equal rights and girl power. One of the U.S. players, the talented Megan Rapinoe, was the first white athlete to take a knee. This is a positive and growing sport. And yet as I watched game after game of these early matches, of this essential, rare, epic tournament, I was horrified to see largely empty stadiums. Sure, the French games had good crowds as this world cup takes place across France and France are among the favorites. And one can't expect Nigeria or Thailand to put a ton of fans in the seats of their games. But Spain? Spain is right next door to France. Spain is merely a long, pleasant drive up the European Highway to see their wonderfully improving team, in their nation's far and away favorite sport, in the World Cup.
But who was in that Spain v. USA audience?
It was packed with Americans, all of them flown on miserable, shitty airlines and paying all kinds of exorbitant, hyper in season prices. That stadium was full of dedicated American fans, fans who had made an effort. Fans who had suffered for it. Maybe they deserved a victory.
And maybe the tenacious, slightly violent Spanish team could have pulled that upset off, if only they had the cheers of their hopeful countrymen urging them on, instead of merely the mighty, disheartening chants of "U.S.A.!" thundering in their ears.
Monday, June 24, 2019
Why am I watching so much of The Women's World Cup? It's a multiple choice question!
A. Because it's the beautiful game!
B. Because I am running an office pool and have to be able to discuss it all thoroughly and intelligibly with my co-workers even if they remain largely uninterested and vaguely ignorant of the whole thing.
C. Someone has to watch The World Cup or they might just give up and stop covering it on my computer.
D. I won't let the h8ers win! Suck it h8ers!
E. The more my heart breaks the stronger it becomes (RIP Australia).
And what have I learned this World Cup. This is also multiple choice!
A. It's only the beautiful game until I become invested in who wins.
B. I'm the only one who cares so it's only right that the teams I want to win should win!
C. The more I want a team to win the worse the officiating becomes.
D. The Zen soccer phrases "All to play for" and "It wasn't meant to be" might as well mean the same thing.
E. I just keep learning the same things over and over.
Sunday, June 23, 2019
I have prepared a list for you of reasons why you should publish my book. You could read my manuscript and decide for yourself, but that seemed so cumbersome and unlikely, whereas I think you'll find this list super convincing and readable.
Why You Should Publish My Book
1. We share the same birthday! (Only applies to Publishers born in October. Contact me for more specific details).
2. Free gift for the first ten publishers!
3. Not publishing my book is kind of the obvious move at this point.
4. The cost of paper and binding has come down significantly since the 1400's.
5. Publishing isn't just about selling books!
Oh. It is? Sorry, never mind.
6. It's our best chance at stopping Trump! (I know that sounds crazy, but Joe Biden seems to be running a whole successful campaign on it!)
7. I'm a pretty good writer, though, admittedly, I'm no Warwick Deeping, placing myself more at the level of Charles "Chic" Sale.
8. I work at a library and could probably talk them into buying a few copies of my book. Though it would be better if I didn't have to since it all seems so... awkward.
9. I take it back. I can totally write as well as Warwick Deeping! I was just being self effacing!
10. What are you going to do, publish someone else's book? Good luck with that!
For the next ten reasons send $9.95 and a book of first class stamps to:
Twin Cities, MN 55555
Saturday, June 22, 2019
One of my co-workers was telling me the status of her preparations for her upcoming trip to France. There were some pending issues about car rental and/or getting a train out to Normandy and to their base of operations there in the gorgeous city of Bayeux.
This concerned me greatly. "Oh," I said. "You really want to make sure everything goes well in Bayeux. It's too important to mess up in any way."
My co-worker wasn't too worried about it. She felt it would work out. But I was still seriously concerned.
"No, really." I emphasized. "I mean it. You don't want to have saved your nickels and dimes, worked here til the sun didn't shine, only to come back someday, come what may, from your one and only trip ever to Normandy saying ' I... blew Bayeux."
I'll be here all decade.
Friday, June 21, 2019
Dear Literary Agent:
I read somewhere, maybe it was in Writer's Digest, or Publisher's Weekly, or The 2019 Writer's Guide to Publishers, or possibly even in some mercenary little fake blog post somewhere, that the big publishers, of which, tragically, there are only five now, won't even deign to look at anyone's submission for publication unless it's being sent in by a bona fide literary agent!
I am only willing to publish with the Big Five because I believe they are the only people powerful enough to bully the masses into reading my prose.
The literary distance between me and Mark Twain is mainly in marketing at this point. A little bit in sheer talent, sure, but mainly in marketing.
What does this mean?
It means that I have been wasting my time sucking up to Random House when all along I should have been sucking up to you!
It suddenly occurs to me that from your perspective this might not sound great.
Nevertheless I feel a person of your perspicacity, and one wearing such a dazzling cravat, can surely rise above it and represent me. A genius like yourself will undoubtedly make a success of it!
I look forward to receiving one of your unearthily beautiful contracts soon in the mail.
With almost fawning regard,