Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorializing the end of May

My new women's team is really taking off. Brooklyn's Women's Team Frisbee had tryouts this weekend and announced a roster of 18. There will be 9 more players added through June. We will be a pretty young team. It should be a lot of fun and also a lot of work I cannot really believe I signed myself up for.

Beacon High School Girls Ultimate is pretty much wrapped up for the year. I survived the trip to Vermont. I drove 14 hours in 3 days in a giant SUV packed with screaming girls. It was pretty much hell. We all slept on the floor together in our host house. There is no predator as vicious as a high school girl. The girls actually did pretty well, finishing 7th in the tourney and 8th in spirit. 7th out of 10 might not sound so great, but they beat their cross town rivals from Stuyvesant for the first time in years. They all seemed to have a tolerably good time, though you'd never know it from their permanent scowls.

I recently finished Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, and of course it was incredible. That's all I can really say. I love the chapters by each character, the changing point of view. I especially love the chapters from Vardaman the 7 year old son. Faulkner had a lot of courage. I could never write something that leaves so much out at the beginning, that requires the reader to work so hard. I would be afraid of readers giving up or missing my point. (Of course it goes without saying that I could never write anything like Faulkner could write, but I'm specifically pointing to this one aspect of his writing, which is this deliberate and bold choice to slowly dribble the details through a murky filter, heightening the suspense.) Five Stars.

Other news:
Well, I gave blood again. My hemoglobin is still low, but I found a guy with a broken meter!
I am pretty amped about the NBA finals: Celtics/Lakers. Go Rondo!
I am looking forward to the world cup as well. Should be alright.
Went out to the Frying Pan for Tim Barbie Dahl's birthday, which was a great time.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Let's Hear it for the Girls!

We're #7! We're #7!

On April 24 & 25 I traveled to Springfield, PA with the Beacon High School Girls Ultimate team to compete in the O'Hara Invite Girls Ultimate Tournament. You'll recall I'm coaching the team this season with O-Town.

I was very nervous. Being responsible for 16 high school girls for an entire weekend petrifies me. My goals were straight forward: I wanted to return 100% of the girls to their parents by EOD Sunday with none suffering from exposure, dehydration, sunstroke, starvation or major injury. I hoped to avoid felonies and unintended pregnancies for all 16, and was really aiming to have none of them run off to Atlantic City or join the circus.

By these metrics the weekend was a rousing success. At this very moment I believe the are all alive and in relative good health. VICTORY.

By some other standards, the results for the weekend were a bit more mixed. We lost all 4 games on Saturday, at a combined margin of 8-49. We were destroyed. Our girls are just not in the kind of shape the other teams are in and we cannot match the skill level in throwing and catching. This game of ultimate is pretty much no fun at all if you cannot catch.

It was a hard day for the team. Most of them got up around 4 am to get their rides to Philly. They lost 4 games in a row badly. They were in no mood to listen to my tips on swinging the disc off the line, or preventing ACL injuries. When hotel rooms were assigned there were tears, actual tears. You would have thought I was arranging marriages, not assigning 4 teammates rooms for one night in a Howard Johnson.

That evening I had this telling exchange with one of the girls on the team:

Team Member: Boys are so weird.
Me (nodding, grateful to have identified any common ground): They sure are. It gets a little better after college, but not much.
Team Member: Like, take for instance our Boy's ultimate team. They get so mad when the other team scores or they make a mistake.
Me (still nodding, quizzically now): mmm-hmmm.
Team Member: What are they so mad about? Don't they know it's just a game? It doesn't matter.

As you know, I'm not often silenced, but this had me speechless. I nodded dumbly and felt around the table for another breadstick.

Sunday was better. We played two games in the losers bracket and won them both. They were the first wins of the season, and the first back to back wins for the club. We earned a 7th place in the tournament (out of 10) which beat seed and made the long congested Sunday drive back to the city more tolerable for everyone.

Yesterday, the team scrimmaged downtown rivals, Stuyvesant HS in Prospect Park. The team was down 7-1 at half and got the game back to a much more respectable 8-5 final, so we'll count that as progress.

I'm driving them to St. Johnsbury Vermont in a couple of weeks. I just may find religion.

In other news:

Book Reviews:
I have been reading, but a little slack about telling you what I was reading.

A while back, I read the recently released short story collection Look at the Birdie from my beloved Vonnegut. The book's full title is actually, "Look at the Birdie: Unpublished Short Fiction" which pretty much makes no sense at all and I'm sure Kurt would have edited, but I know what they meant. I was a little leery. I love Vonnegut like no other author, but he's published more posthumously than Tupac, and I was concerned that the stuff getting churned out after his death was stuff that he wouldn't have published while he was alive for a reason. Maybe there was some reason, but it isn't that this is poor quality work. It's vintage Vonnegut. I was delighted to find a little bit more of something that I thought had been all used up forever. My favorite short story in the collection is Ed Luby's Key Club, which really should be a movie, likely starring Bruce Willis.

I finally read Letham's Motherless Brooklyn, which I guess Ed Norton is turning into a movie now. I've loved Letham for years. Girl in Landscape and Gun, with Occasional Music were favorites of mine in back in college. I loved Fortress of Solitude. For some reason I just skipped Motherless Brooklyn. Maybe it was that it seemed MB was when Letham really blew up and I wasn't ready to share just yet. At any rate, it's great. Not as good as Fortress, but compelling and quick paced and worth your time as a read. With a protagonist with Tourette's I found myself observing everyone for tics. Maybe we're all on the Tourette's spectrum somewhere and it's amazing how common these little involuntary urges appear in folks when you watch for them. There are all kinds of clicking, tapping and jerking on the plane when it's time to touch down.

Speaking of the plane, for the second time, some jerk sitting in the seat next to me has woken me up, to tell me I was nodding off. "No Kidding, sir! Thanks for the update. Keep me posted as this story develops." This is baffling. We're adults traveling. Having been randomly assigned the seat next to me does not make you my buddy for the field trip. This guy, a fat guy in his 50s or early 60s, had the nerve to wake me up, tell me I was nodding off and then offer that, if I wanted to, I could lean on his shoulder. Grrrr!!! My birthday is coming up, so whoever is getting me that large engraved, "Leave me alone!" sign to wear around my neck, maybe we could accelerate that.

I hate cops. I always have. They are just a violent gang that is funded by my taxes. Other violent gangs at least fund themselves. Here's a VERY DISTURBING video I can't recommend where the cop gang shoots some dogs on a drug raid over possession of marijuana. The shoot a corgi. A corgi!

Links: Thanks to Kalb for this democratic way to determine the most awesomest thing ever.

Fitness-wise, I did another SNERTZ about a week ago and my times continue to improve, though it is leveling off a little. This time I was about two minutes faster overall than the last time. I finished the whole workout in 49:35 (first set = 12:10, second set = 25:40, third set = 37:20). I'm planning another one on Sunday with Erica, so I'll let you know how that goes.

I ran a 10 hard minutes today in the park. That went pretty well.

I've been watching a lot of the NBA playoffs. I'm pretty much in anyone but the Lakers mode. Right now I feel like the Magic are my best hope.

Best to my cousin Madison who is recovering from a major surgery. Hang in there, my dear.