Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tides That Bind

A clanging pest of a bell pierces the air,
in tune with a relentless horn that defines Sequin.
Can’t even see the pilings;
the mist has turned so thick.
Bay Point might as well be
New Brunswick or Paris.
Nothing’s quite right.
And yet everything’s safe.

The Kennebec, old man that he is,
keeps churning to steady sounds,
chasing the mysteries of the moon.
Rolling in and heading up,
and then turning as if on a string
before heading down, and rolling out.

You ache to somehow become part of the current;
to go with that flow that you hope runs free.
But you must wait till that river smiles,
or at least until a fresh paperback arrives.

With intuition half as certain
and imagination twice as kind,
the Kennebec dances with the sea
when it heeds the tides that bind.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Life's Good Friends

In my view, yesterday evening at 6:02 p.m. Eastern Standard Time marked the beginning of the 2012 golf season as much as it pinpointed the end of The Lost Years.

A friend and I chatted briefly after the cannons fired and the smoke swirled away, and he had a terrific point about the timing of TW's victory – he doesn't have to wait until his next event (at the end of January) to find out if his latest swing philosophy can take the hottest heat down the stretch. TW doesn't have to mull or ponder what might be in that regard, and that means he can get back to work on everything. 

The big news, of course, is that TW rose to a big occasion with some serious pressure – a great deal of it self-imposed for an "unofficial" event, but if you saw the telecast yesterday, there was nothing silly about TW's demeanor. Yesterday he was totally involved, and wouldn't a certain basketball team do wonders if it had a similar focus?

Roger Maltbie – a TW supporter – kept the faith on air, while Dan Hicks either reminded us of the victory drought or just basically talked too much yesterday. Maltbie's explanation of the long iron that TW mishandled with video and comments put the entire "process" into perspective. Under pressure, people (particularly golfers) gravitate toward what is comfortable, and as Roger pointed out, TW's position at the top of that swing was Classic Haney as opposed to Nouveau Foley.

Some of the keen eyes in regard to the golf swing (I'm not a member of that group, but I do pay attention to what they opine), believe TW will NEVER ________.  I bow to their acumen with one caveat: No one is going to get rich predicting what TW will NEVER do.

In my opinion, the short game has returned, and the irons, for the most part, never left. There are issues with the long swing and putter that remain, however, and in a few weeks, when TW gets back to work, it's easy to believe that he will resume his "process." But with, perhaps, a slightly different mindset.

As Raymond Floyd once said, "Golf is 100 percent mental." Raymond was not talking about high handicappers, obviously, but rather the elite – and it's the mind that separates a Sergio Garcia from a Tiger Woods. I believe the wisdom of Harvey Penick is also at play with a paraphrase of Penick's genius advice on the flatstick; "You want to be a better putter, make some putts." In other words, confidence is what makes a better putter.

Let's amplify that confident theme to winning: If you want to be a consistent winner, winning again will be the first step.

My friend used a metaphor yesterday on this thread that TW had been carrying a fire hydrant on his back for two years. And during our phone conversation, he said it was "the weight of the world."

Exactly. And it's been lifted through diligence, patience, and faith.

It's no secret TW will work hard. At times we've questioned his patience, but it's the faith issue I'm compelled to address.

Last summer when Fred Couples picked TW early, I was not fond of that pick, simply because of enormous doubt. We saw some baby steps at the Frys.com, and then the journey to Australia, where the steps got a little bigger. Three good rounds in Sydney set the stage for the Presidents Cup. And by then, even the TW haters were aware that significant progress was being made.  I thought the singles match with Baddeley was the turning point. You could see the Old Tiger Woods and the New Tiger Woods pretty much at peace with each other, and when the putts started to fall, confidence soared.

Those of us who endured vampire schedules by watching the Presidents Cup live were treated to the evolution that we've hoped to see since The Lost Years phase began. As it turned out, Fred Couples is a key figure in the return of Tiger Woods. Where would this "process" be if Couples had not picked TW? Would we have seen a similar performance at the Chevron?

I doubt it very strongly, but not so much from a golf standpoint, but rather the intangible good that one receives when a friend gives you the support you need at precisely the right time. I wonder if being picked meant as much to TW as I think it did. Fred climbed out on a very shaky limb to make a pick that many keen golf analysts criticized, but I doubt Fred relayed the pressure on him. We've discussed how Norman tried to put some heat on TW as well, and that backfired.

I want to believe that when TW went to Australia, he went to find his game, to win if he could and play as well as he could for his team, his country, himself, and for Fred. And I want to believe that the Fred part of that equation was much more than 25 percent.

James Taylor once observed that "life's good friends are hard to find."

And hard to keep when things turn awry. You know who your friends are when trouble comes.

As Tiger continued to walk down a dark, uncertain alley, maybe it helped him find the light, knowing that someone had his back, which in this case happened to be Fred Couples. I want to believe that, at any rate.

Friday, October 28, 2011

HOT HAND LUKE (The Sequel)

In honor of Luke Donald's incredible year, a modest fantasy based on a smattering of facts and hyperbole. In other words, as Foghorn Leghorn would say, "It's joke, son. a joke."

Turns out Luke doesn't get killed in prison. Instead, a kindly guard took the "rebel" under his wing and taught him how to swing a golf club. Luke was a natural. The kindly guard and his poker buddies decided to see how far Luke could go once he'd been paroled, which finally happened without further incident involving any sort of failure to communicate. Luke evolved into a model prisoner, working in the prison library, where he read constantly. And then he was released, a little wiser, a little smarter. But that didn't last. Never does.

Anyway, the kindly guard/buddies invited Luke to their modest farm, where he hit balls dawn to dusk for more than 18 months. In addition to the practice, Luke began playing 72 holes a week at a nearby course. 

Fast forward another 24 months. Luke entered his first event and had his first "taste" of having a gallery. Most of those in Luke's gallery were female and quite attractive. Of course, Luke had been on the farm so long that it didn't take much to attract him. One thing led to another.

Luke made the cut in his first event in spite of getting almost zero sleep. He did get herpes, however, but that didn't bother Luke. He just rolled with the punches.

A grizzled caddie veteran, known only as Daly, who'd been cooking crystal meth in Santa Fe, happened to run into Luke in a coffee shop in Tulsa. Luke and Daly joined forces. By day they played golf, while at night, they sold drugs.

For a while, life was good. Luke entered regional events, and when he wasn't phucked up on crank, he dreamed of playing on the PGA Tour. He was almost 40 years old at that point, but a man can dream, can't he?

Daly got busted in Tucson, and Luke met a waitress named Heather in a Waffle Shop, who not only was quite attractive but also eager to see the world. She begged Luke to let her be his caddy, and after 48 hours at a Motel 6, Luke agreed.

Heather didn't do drugs, nor did she wear underwear. Gotta take the good with the bad.

As luck might have it, Luke and Heather made it on time to Q School. Luke did okay, but on the final day, he needed a great round to have a chance of earning his card.

And so it came to pass. Luke played like vintage Tiger Woods. Like Tiger Woods in the year 2000.

Luke earned his card, and Heather said she was pregnant. One step forward, two steps back.

So, Luke and Heather got married, and as it happened, Heather had a twin sister named Harriet who lived in Seattle. Harriet flew to Houston, where Luke and Heather had rented a trailer. A double wide. Harriet moved in, and oddly enough, one thing led to another.

Harriet got pregnant. Apparently, no one had ever bothered letting Luke know about birth control. Or Heather. Or Harriet.

Luke took a long walk one night, mulling what had happened to him. And suddenly, it all became clear. He would devote himself to his craft – playing golf – and provide for his rapidly expanding family. 

Even better when the time came, he'd buy a box of rubbers.

Luke dreamed of becoming the world's number one husband, father, golfer, and lover, but not necessarily in that order. Ah, the wicked ways of the flesh have doomed even the brightest stars.

But Luke had one thing going. He never looked back. He took Satchel Paige's advice literally, and thus kept his eyes on the prize. Actually prizes. Not to mention that he had a "great" relationship with Heather and Harriet.

Luke won his first PGA Tour event and learned that the gravy train now stopped at his trailer. Well, the trailer days were soon over. Luke moved to Orlando, where he purchased a house in Isleworth with a busted tree and fire hydrant in the yard, and Escalade glass still on the lawn. Luke got a pretty good deal, too.

But Luke soon learned that Orlando is no Mickey Mouse town when it comes to ghosts. Apparitions followed Luke like hungry wolves; voices whispered in the wind, and in no time, Luke fell into a burning ring of fire.

In fact, Luke met a Golf Channel reporter who had studied at UNC. She seemed like the girl next door, but in actuality, she was more like the girl next door in the fancy hotel. You might say Luke had stumbled into a win-win-win situation.

Luke's golf suffered, but he had a good time until Heather and Harriet found out about the reporter. Well, let's just say they weren't happy. And, of course, what goes around, comes around. They beat the sheite out Luke and his Suburban in the driveway, using a 3- and a 4-iron. One wag posted on his golf blog that Heather and Harriet suffered from Elin Sindrome. He was right, of course.

Heather got a divorce, and Harriet returned to Seattle with her baby daughter. Luke was left in shambles.

It didn't take long before Luke went to a spiritual retreat in North Myrtle Beach to sort things out. Will he ever return to golf? 

It was an Allman Brothers/Eric Clapton moment: You might say that Luke was tied to a whipping post, down at the crossroads. There were at least seven turns on the highway, and for a rambling man devoted to the sunshine of many loves, there were no alibis, no money and cigarettes, and no way out. In fact, Luke felt there was nobody left to run with.

That is, until he met Sweet Melissa. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Phone rant


I have been shaking my head for a week about the enormous clamor and passion about the latest iPhone. Okay  It's a new Apple product. And I'm definitely an Apple guy. We have two iPods and three Macs. We are as nuts about Apple as the Phoneites. No argument there.


Here's my thing. Of course, the phone has plenty of tremendous aspects. But at the end of the day, it's still a phone. What I think is sad is that people, and not just in the United States, now have relationships with these devices. I read on twitter where a young woman went into withdrawal because she lost her phone.

SMH.

It's a phone. Not a cause. Or a person. Or even a writing project.

And the obsession with this technology is not restricted to age or economic class. The planet is now texting itself toward an intellectual wasteland. It's more important to have working thumbs than it is for a mind to be able to discern what it is processing. Or in many instances, SHOULD be processing.

This is where technology, imo, has turned insidious, and the smart phone has evolved into the most dangerous "toy" because it has spawned and enhanced a global obsession with the quick text, the instant you-tube, the clever tweet, and sometimes actual conversation. But minds are not being stretched or expanded with these devices, or at least as much as some might have you believe.

My opinion is that reading words in the linear plane is the best mental exercise possible, and this is where the iPad and Kindle-esque machines are truly valuable. The phone, however, has nothing to do with linear thinking. Why anyone would watch a film on a phone is beyond mystifying. I do not, for instance, want to watch LAWRENCE OF ARABIA on a screen the size of a business card.

I know people who say they are writers because they concoct a lot of email. Wrong. Email is often one step above a coffee rant because one has to type. But not a big step.

What is worse, at least from my view, is that reading comprehension has been replaced with "skills" that impede rather than activate the imagination. It's simple. You want to get smarter? Do some serious reading, instead of using your thumbs to text acronyms and bull shit.

Don't get me wrong. I love technology. I love the internet. I love being able to communicate instantly with someone in Fiji. I love my laptop. I couldn't possibly go back to the typewriter and buckets of white out. Barrels in my case. Sigh.

But I'm also fond of the printed word in a book, magazine, or newspaper that I hold in my hands and get lost inside BECAUSE my mind takes me there. As I said, the iPad and Kindle are terrific in that regard. I am never going to get lost inside an iPhone. And if i hear the word "apps" one more time, I am going to vomit.

Obviously, this rant dates me. So be it. Call me old school. Key word, however, is school.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

New Orleans (by Chuck Perkins)

New Orleans

If your American dream is painted on a canvas
Neatly folded in the corner of Andy Warhol’s mind
New Orleans is a hurricane beating down your coast

If you close your eyes
And feel the easy ride
Of the St. Charles Street Car
Where a solo tuba
Blows the scent of magnolia
Down narrow streets
and everyone plays possum with the heat
and no one’s too big or too small
to paint their tongue with a snowball

where former slaves pay homage to the first Americans
by masking in suits of rhine stones and bright colored feathers
that transform security guards into Indian Chiefs
doing rain dances on Congo Square
where the drums drum
and the wine drink
and the big chief sing
somebody give me a quarter
cause pretty big chief want some water

if you can envision the souls of yesterday
living in the music
that rises from the cracks in the sidewalks
New Orleans is your dream
With a heart as soft
As the spanish moss
Dripping from centuries old oak tress

She’s a pretty face with dirty feet
The good witch of lake Ponchartrain
The spice god of shrimp and crawfish
Keeping the spirits fed

Communities of windowless monuments
Masquerading as cemeteries
Tower above ground
No earth or worms to cover the flesh
No silver bullets to turn out the spirits
That still dance with her 

Spin your umbrella
And wave your bandanna
It’s Mardi Gras time
And everybody’s happy

Armed with a blue print of civilization
The new world stormed in
With enough asphalt and cement
To pave a boulevard back to Paris

the spirit of the swamp still hasn’t submitted
Leaving mildewed kisses of disapproval
On every thing foreign to the wet lands

Catholicism could not turn out the spirit of Marie Laveau
The wrecking ball could not turn out the spirit of Storyville
And death could not turn out the spirit of Louie Armstrong
When yesterday hangs on to forever
Tradition is a temple.
Chuck Perkins

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A plug

LINK:    Nice words in regard to WHO KILLED 20G?

Excerpt:

Phialas’ debut novel, which is hopefully the first of many. Trent Jones is a gruff, troubled, but highly likable and entertaining anti-hero; readers, especially fellow Tar Heels, will root for him from the start to the final buzzer.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Family Obligations

Instead of vacationing at Atlantis, The Padraig Harrington Family opted for Greensboro, at the suggestion of Mrs. Paddy – according to Mr. Paddy after his round in his interview with Golf Channel. Paddy might be slow on the course, but he's eventually going to tell you the truth if you ask. Paddy entered the final PGA Tour event before the FedEx Cup begins to earn a place in the “playoffs.” Another golfer, Tiger Woods, opted to not play, citing “family obligations.”

Paddy said that his older son was somewhat disappointed, but that the 3-year-old had no clue they weren't at Atlantis. Paddy mentioned that he needed to keep working on a few things, which is code for "I'm tinkering as usual, and I have the family's blessing."

The "family obligations" line, going by Steve Elling's tweets – and let's be clear, Elling is quite vindictive about TW, rings as hollow as all the other crap that TW spews. With TW, we must stick to actions to determine what is happening, because he certainly isn't going to tell us. Elling told us that last Tuesday Tiger Woods was involved with working on his next video game with EA Sports. As usual, Woods either told us a half truth, or a total falsehood in his smug, can’t you see I’m being honest demeanor.

Long before the scandal, I hated this aspect of TW's control freak mentality Everyone is a pawn on his chess board, and his reason/excuse is "I"M NOT LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE."

That's true to a certain extent, but the very best move TW could make is that he join the human race. In some ways, TW is different, while in some ways, he's just like you me. We know, for instance, he's capable of remorse. Yes, at that absurd friends only press conference in February 2010, TW said he was sorry, and if you bothered to fill in the blank, he was sorry he got caught. At that time he promised to put his family first, but when The Masters rolled around, as all the realists/cynics/haters and even some admirers predicted, TW returned to golf. And that, at least in my view, was the last self-absorbed straw Elin Nordgren (Woods) would take. And good for her, too.

If you play golf, or merely care about golf, it shouldn't be too difficult to acknowledge the incredible golf that TW has played in his career. TW the golfer is amazing; TW the person is SUCH a jerk. No one with sense has ever suggested that his personal life is a blueprint for others, or that in any way, any of that bullshit is acceptable.

Once TW steps off the course, and at times even when he's on it, he's a first class butthead. I hate that aspect, but I can separate the butthead from the golfer. I'm the kind of golf fan who needs somebody to pull for, or else I'm just watching highly competent players on the range. None of them have faces or personalities, and all of them hit the ball well. Yawn.

Arnie introduced me to golf, and I hated the young Nicklaus as if he were the consummate villain, Dr. No to Arnie's Professor Yes. Then, I gradually grew to love Jack. I had a brief "fling" with Tom Watson, that in some ways lingers to this day, before going with The King of Broken Hearts, Greg Norman. In 1996 I was certain Norman would finally win that elusive Masters, and watched in horror, as he self-destructed in the final round against Faldo, of all people.

I'm still not much of a fan of Faldo, but his time on ABC with Paul Azinger softened me somewhat.

Tiger Woods emerged, and it's true that as a fan I was spoiled. TW showed up at big events with his game. You could count on it. Even if he wasn't playing well, he was a factor. If he played well, forgetaboutit.

I'm ready to move on now. I'm tired of the TW spin and dodge. But, and this pizzes me off more than one might be able to guess, I still cling to the belief/fantasy that TW has some gas in his tank, if only he could find the tank, if only he could pump the gas.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Open Man

Darren Clarke, a talented and somewhat underachieving player, has had a successful career in a lucrative field. Like his associates and peers, he's reveling in the great life. That's a given.

I doubt few hackers see themselves in Clarke, other than that he's overweight and doesn't give a shit about it. We're told he likes to have fun. We see the game's best players hover around him after his greatest victory, and they say they couldn't be happier for him.

Why has Clarke has connected so strongly with fans and his colleagues?

In my view, part of the Everyman Theme is Clarke's age and profound disinterest in going to the gym, as well as his notorious thirst for Guinness. But, at least from my perspective and only from what I've observed on TV, Clarke seems to genuinely communicate with the media, fans – anyone involved with the golf industry.

If you happened to catch Golf Channel's LIVE at The Open Championship last night, David Feherty nailed it when he said – words to this effect – that Clarke goes out of his way to interact with fans and media. That he will do interviews and do autographs BEFORE a round, as well as after.

This is not to suggest that Clarke's manner should be a template for all professional golfers, but it would be ideal if more operated that way. This behavior strongly suggests that Clarke is keenly aware of how fortunate those making a living with golf have become, and how important the EveryFan has been and continues to be to the growth of the sport.  

Another integral element, of course, involves cancer, which refuses to play favorites; king or pawn – cancer doesn't care. And for those whose lives have been altered, threatened, and in some cases taken, there's a bond. Clearly, Phil and Mickleson are among those who can relate totally to what happened to Clarke and his family.

We live in the technological fast lane with tiny devices that possess 1,000 times the memory and capability of the massive, oaf-like computer that guided the rocket to the moon. We can connect with someone in Fiji as easily as if they were in the next room. We can send photos and videos of anything to anyone at anytime. We have become Big Brother.

And for the most part, we have also become detached, cynical, too sexy for our shirts, and while we have all of these tools that make contact so simple, we choose the passive/aggressive route. This goes triple for those in the public eye, who seem, in many cases, to put up with answering a few questions about themselves with the attitude that how dare anyone intrude on their self-absorbed, entitled lives.

But petulance is not the only theme. Others crave the attention, but rarely with candor.

For me, the combination of being accessible and truthful is very rare. And that's what I like most about Darren Clarke. He doesn't seem to put up with interviews because his sponsor or agent insisted, nor does he appear to have an agenda, other than sharing his thoughts on what has happened, what is happening, and what it means to him. In essence, he's an open man.

Clarke knows he's living the dream, that his path has also been, at times, a nightmare. He likes to laugh, drink a beer or 10, hang out with attractive women, play golf, and generally enjoy being with those around him. I don't begrudge the fast cars and expensive cigars any more than I begrudge his ability to hit a golf ball. I hope that if I'd had the talent to play professional golf at that level, that I would have also possessed Clarke's consistent consideration and graciousness.

Not every man can do that.

Today, I am grateful that Darren Clarke –the open man – has, at last, claimed The Open Championship. 


Monday, June 27, 2011

Travis McGee, Bret Maverick & Trent Jones

A severe, icy morning in late January 2009 shoved Florida into my mind as I fought traffic on the way to my gym in Raleigh, N.C. I rode an exercise bike and listened to a collection of Jimmy Buffett songs that kept me thinking about Key West, Miami, and Tampa Bay. Eventually, I trudged into the wet area and eased into the whirlpool.

Later, as I stretched out on a white, somewhat durable plastic lounge chair, I thought about Travis McGee, the hero of John D. MacDonald's legendary series, who lived on a house boat in Ft. Lauderdale. I missed Travis almost as much as I missed the sun that morning. I wished John D. was still with us, and that another Travis adventure would soon be available to read.

I stretched out on the lounge chair and drifted toward a light nap with images of Travis and his friend, Meyer, having cocktails on The Busted Flush. At one point, Travis morphed into Bret Maverick, dealing cards and carrying on, but instead of a casino, he sat at a round table for eight in a private room at a country club. And rather than Bret's trademark black coat, matching pants, white shirt and black string tie, Travis wore a white golf shirt, navy shorts and ancient Reebok running shoes with no socks.

I saw cards sliding across the table to each player, and I recalled the chorus to the theme song for the TV series MAVERICK:

Riverboats ring your bell
Fare the well, Annabel
Luck is the lady that he loves the best
Natchez to New Orleans
Living on jacks and queens
Maverick is a legend of the west

This intrigued me, as I'm partial to golf courses, Seven-Card Stud, hanging out, talking smack, and avoiding work.

I drove home and got involved with other matters, but later that evening, the image of Travis McGee turning into Bret Maverick returned, grabbed me by the throat, and refused to let go. I'd written lyrics for songs, horrid poetry, stuffy plays, short stories, newspaper columns, and magazine articles, but I'd never found the attention span or the motivation to venture down (or up) the meandering path that leads to a completed novel. I thought The Trent Jones Spell would pass.

It didn't.

Pretty soon, I stitched together some of the places I've been and some of the people I encountered along the way. And Trent Jones began to take on a life of his own.

He's done some things that made me cringe, and I want to believe his drinking problem is even worse than mine. I was able to make a choice in my life, but because I want to write a series, I don't think Trent is going to be able to turn his back on the windy side of care, as Shakespeare might say. Actually, I can guarantee it.

Trent Jones is happiest when he has just a bit more than he can handle, whether that might be on a losing streak in cards or romance, poor putting, or someone with a gun who wants to kill him. He drinks too much, lives too much for today, and is easily distracted by good-looking women with uncertain intentions. In fact, the more uncertain, the better.

He's lazy, somewhat self-absorbed, and has a blinking neon light when it comes to morality. There's no doubt he'd rather play golf, deal cards and sip single malt than focus on the real world. But when violent push comes to lethal shove, particularly with his friends, a different Trent Jones emerges.

And maybe you will agree. He's a good guy in spite of himself.



Monday, June 20, 2011

Rory McIlroy & Tiger Woods

...

Comparing Rory to Tiger (this morning) is understandable, particularly with such a dominating performance in the U.S. Open.

A closer look at Tiger's runaway victory at Pebble Beach in 2000, and you find that he was the only player to finish the event under par, and he won by 15 shots.

Yesterday, 20 players, including Rory, finished under par for the week.

This, of course, does not diminish what Rory accomplished, but in my opinion, puts the week in sharper perspective.

There's so much to admire with The Rory, even before you analyze his swing, comment on his play, mull his vast potential.

1. He's a resolute, old-headed young man, coming into his own with focus and humility, who suffered horrific, confidence-sucking rounds in the British Open and The Masters that he handled with grace.

2. After the final round at The Masters, he gave without a doubt a fantastic interview with Peter Kostis that demonstrated he'd already started putting the disaster into true perspective. That night (or the following day) on a private plane flight with Charl Schwartzel (who has the same agent), Rory was seen in a picture widely distributed online and Twitter congratulating his friend. That did not remind me of anyone.

3. Then, Rory hooked up with putting guru Dave Stockton, worked on his short game, spoke with and listened to Jack Nicklaus, who discussed failure in a big event as being a springboard to eventual success – if you keep at it. This may sound a tad maudlin, or simplistic, but the result this week speaks for itself.

Clearly, Rory has unlimited potential –so it seems today. I think he will be an enormous factor in professional golf, and I also believe he'd be among the first to say he'd relish staring down Tiger Woods on the back nine of any tournament, particularly a major.  I hope that comes to pass.

Those predicting that Tiger Woods is finished might be right. Then again, wouldn't it be wonderful for golf to have a 21st century version Nicklaus vs. Watson?

There's been so much talk the past two seasons about The Young Guns, who, for the most part, have either shot with blanks or missed their targets. Most golf observers wondered which one of these phenomenons would rise to the next level.

We have our answer.

 ...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Baffling Circumstance

...

Baffling circumstance

Cloaks the here and now.
Frenzied happenstance
Makes a schizoid vow.
You might jump the moon
If someone said cow.

Trampoline logic
Of the self-absorbed
Too paranoid
To remain ignored
Acid bounce of the
Terminally bored

Someone call a taxi
Maybe pound a nail
My harpoon’s swollen
Cause I saw the whale
The mast is broken
Someone stitch the sail

Close encounter with
Those shrewdly enshrined
The elastic moment
So hard to define
Takes one to know one
And some peace of mind

...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Rocky ... in real life.

...

Ken Green Marches On


It's hard for me to fully comprehend what Green has been through and continues to face. He survived an accident in June of 2009 that killed his girl friend, his brother and his dog. His right leg didn't make it, and it would seem that he'd lost his chance to play golf for a living.  In January of 2010, Green's son died of an overdose in his college dorm.

And again, I can't imagine the amount of pain and suffering that Green endured and continues to endure.

Cynics will recall Green's brash behavior in the 1980s on the PGA Tour. In the late 80s, Green blew a Sunday lead in the GGO, which was then played the week before The Masters. Green raised a huge commotion in the press tent when he claimed he wasn't interested in returning to Augusta, a visit that a victory that day would have provided.

During that final round, I walked with Ken Green's wife, who was devastated for all the right reasons when things didn't go her husband's way in the final round. I felt bad for both of them.

Green's career on Tour rapidly deteriorated as did his marriage. More than two decades passed, and I doubt I thought about Ken Green more than a couple of times. I did hear about his accident, and then his son. I knew about his battles as a younger man with depression, and until I read the story linked directly above this post, I had no idea that Green would pursue his next dream – finishing in the Top 20 of a Champions Tour Event.

Like a certain boxer from Philadelphia, Green just wants to finish. Perhaps there's no Adrian, or Apollo Creed, or Mickey, or Paulie. But I do think there's someone in Green's corner that is helping Green keep his focus, which I'm sure all golfers will agree needs to be extraordinary.

Playing golf well when one is completely mentally and physically healthy is not easy. Playing golf at all when a leg feels as it's being tasered requires – in my humble opinion – extraordinary commitment.

Of course, we now know that someone can play golf at the highest level with a broken leg, that that person could endure 91 holes with certain pain after every swing, half swing, perhaps even a chip. That performance was truly remarkable, and I doubt I will ever see a more riveting five days of golf.

And now another golfer, playing on one leg and in pain, seeks a more tangible, modest goal that in my view is almost as important as the process – victory is achieved simply by keeping on keeping on.

At what point does this level of resolve transcend denial? Does reality matter?

All that matters is that Rocky 
in real life goes the distance. 

...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Fighter

...

Chapter 22/Late To Party –  Please allow me a few moments to discuss the film, The Fighter, which I finally saw two nights ago.

Yes, I was aware that Melissa Leo and Christian Bale each won Academy Awards for their performances in supporting roles, that the film had 7 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. Amy Adams also received an Oscar nomination for her performance in a supporting role, usually a kiss of death for two actresses (or actors) from the same film. Not this time, however.

Did this tangible acclaim power me to a theater? Of course not. In short, i was a stoopid.

From Wiki:

The Fighter is a 2010 biographical sports drama film directed by David O. Russell, and starring Mark WahlbergChristian BaleMelissa Leoand Amy Adams. The film centers on the life of professional boxer "Irish" Micky Ward (Wahlberg) and his older half-brother Dicky Eklund (Bale). The film also stars Amy Adams as Micky's love interest, and Melissa Leo as Micky's and Dicky's mother. The Fighter is Russell and Wahlberg's third film collaboration, following Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees.
The film was released in select North American theaters on December 17, 2010, and was released in the United Kingdom on February 4, 2011. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, winning the awards for Best Supporting Actor (Christian Bale) and Best Supporting Actress (Melissa Leo). It was the first film to win both awards since Hannah and Her Sisters in 1986.
  • Mark Wahlberg as 'Irish' Micky Ward: Wahlberg elected to star in the film due to his friendship with Ward, based on their similar inner-city working class Massachusetts upbringings of being in families of nine kids. Wahlberg also was a huge fan of Ward's, calling him a "local sports hero." The actor was also attracted to the film's central theme, of having an ordinary person in "an against-all-odds story," which he previously explored in Invincible. To mimic Ward's habits and mannerisms, Wahlberg had him "on set, watching me every single day." During pre-production, the Ward brothers temporarily moved into Wahlberg's home. To add to the film's realistic nature, Wahlberg refused a stunt double and took real punches during the fight scenes, which resulted in him nearly getting his nose broken a couple of times. Wahlberg underwent a strict bodybuilding exercise regimen, dedicating over four years of training to obtain the muscular physique to convincingly play Ward. "The last six movies I did I was also secretly preparing for The Fighter at the same time," the actor continued, "so I would leave three hours early for work and go to the gym and spend three hours there. I would bring the trainers with me on every movie that I did." His uncertainty over the film's development was overruled by his persistence to get the film made. "There were certainly times where I would wake up at 4:30 in the morning, you know, my trainer would ring the bell, and, 'Oh God,' I'm like, 'I better get this movie made.' You know, 'Kill somebody if I don't get this movie made.'" Wahlberg hired Freddie Roach as his boxing trainer, helping the actor model Ward's specific fighting style. The last two years of Wahlberg's training resulted in the construction of a "dream gym" in his house for daily use, with a personal boxing ring. He received additional boxing preparation from Manny Pacquiao.
  • Christian Bale as Dick "Dicky" Eklund: After both Brad Pitt and Matt Damon dropped out due to scheduling conflicts, Wahlberg suggested Bale for the role after meeting the actor at a preschool their young daughters both attended. Given Eklund's drug addiction, Bale had to lose weight, which he found easy as he previously went through the task of losing sixty-three pounds in 2003 for The Machinist. Bale researched the part by taking notes on Eklund's mannerisms and recording conversations for the character's distinct Boston accent. Director David O. Russell believed Bale's task involved far more than mimicry. "Dicky has a whole rhythm to him, a music. Christian had to understand how his mind works." Russell and Eklund were both impressed by Bale's dedication to staying in character throughout filming. Bale went on to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor at the 83rd Academy Awards for his role as Eklund.
  • Amy Adams as Charlene Fleming: Russell said of the actress, "There are very few things that a director can have at his disposal better than an actress who's dying to break type and is extremely motivated to break type. Amy was extremely motivated to play a sexy bitch and that's who the character of Charlene is. ... She said, 'As long as it happens between action and cut, I'll do anything." And I said, "That's my kind of actress.' I loved that she had that attitude." Adams was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress at the 83rd Academy Awards for her role.
  • Melissa Leo as Alice Ward, mother to both fighters and seven additional siblings, all sisters. Leo won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress at the 83rd Academy Awards for her role.

In my opinion, Christian Bale's performance ranks with the best in film history. He's phenomenal. And partly so because the entire cast is so damn good. Everyone brought the A game ... the serious A game, at that.

Mark Wahlberg was tremendous as Mickey, and as Executive Producer of a film that claimed 7 Academy Award nominations, that's a huge victory. Best Picture, Best Director, 3 nominations for Best Supporting Actor/Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Film Editing. Still, I think praise for Walhberg's performance (and vision) should at least have earned Wahlberg a Oscar nomination for Best Actor, which the Golden Globes did "give" him.

The following quote, also from Wiki, reveals part of the source of Wahlberg's persistence:

"I’ve seen every boxing movie ever made. I’m also a huge fight fan. I fought a little bit when I was younger. Nobody in my opinion, and some of the greatest movies ever made – you talk Raging Bull and Rocky I saw 30 times – but the fighting just wasn’t as realistic as what we hope to achieve and accomplish in this movie."
— Mark Wahlberg in an October 2007 interview

You might not be a Mark Wahlberg fan, or a Christian Bale, Melissa Leo or even Amy Adams fan. You might loathe boxing. Perhaps even hate Boston accents. But if you are a fan of seriously strong acting, don't miss seeing this wonderful film. 

IMO, The Fighter is the current gold standard for commitment to a project.

See it.

...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A U.S. Open at Augusta National?

...


One of my golf buddies recently suggested the U.S. Open be held one time at Augusta National Golf Club. He knew the odds, but thought he'd ask: Why not?


I liked the idea, but the fact that the course closes for summer might be the first reason that it will never happen. That's a tradition that has been there since the course was built. That might be the press release, but I think much more would be involved. 


Don't get me wrong. I'd love it if the U.S. Open was held at ANGC.

But The Masters folks are not going to let anyone – the USGA particularly – take over their golf course. Heck, they won't even describe the new members hut near the 13th hole.

So far, I've come up with two "major" obstacles, and as i said, I WANT it to happen.

ANGC's armour might have softened in regard to online coverage, and that they will have a lottery for tournament tickets and practice round tickets for 2012. That's huge news – the first time in 47 years – that "live" tournament tickets will be offered ... even if it's a lottery that will include this solar system and four others.

Convincing ANGC to do anything requires the most silver of all silver tongues. The legendary Daniel Webster, who beat the devil, might come up short if he's asking that ANGC do the following:

1. Allow an outside source to change even a blade of grass.

2. Have an a SECOND tournament in their sanctuary, and that it will not be run by the club.

3. In essence, give up control and cash, as well as allow "someone else" to sell daily passes to their kingdom in a manner that would defy the normal ANGC stance, which is similar to the Cuban government in regard to issuing passports and visas to its citizens – a slow process that's not likely to happen.

What does ANGC gain? They don't need another tournament, and my suspicion is that they don't want. it. But that's my opinion.

With all that said, the idea of growing rough and converting par 5s, keeping the pace of the greens, and forcing the field to focus on a brutal golf course in June heat .... that process will not identify the best player ... it will identify the player who survived. As the US Open usually does. Let's say that's true. What does the USGA gain? 

Perhaps the dynamic would be similar to asking Roy Williams and MIke Krzyzewski to co-coach the US Olympic team. I think the staff meetings would be more interesting than the games.  

Or asking Norman Rockwell and Salvador Dali to work on the same painting. 

The most exclusive of all Good Ole Boy clubs, which has more cash than China, would politely decline, imo, with the longest, slowest Southern drawl that one could imagine, turning phuck you into a five-syllable word.


...