Monthly Archives: July 2011

that’s all right, that’s okay

7/31/11

Before we move on to other topics (HA-HA!), I asked my buddy Anonymous Carolina Hero to do tonight’s blog, as he sums up the UNC coaching/administration fiasco about as well as such a thing can be summed up. ACH knows his shit as well as anyone, so I’ll let him say it:

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A few days later here is my last (unsolicited) two cents:

The only thing wrong with this whole thing is the timing. Davis should have been fired last year. When it comes down to it, UNC’s reputation is what is at stake. Everyone keeps talking about “The Carolina Way” – which is really just the “Carolina Reputation for Doing Things the Right Way.”

So let’s say Butch stayed on and went 12-0 and won the NC this year. Outside of the UNC family/fans, what’s the reaction? “Of course, UNC won… they cheat.” How about if Butch went 7-4… the reaction? “Wow, you cheat and all you get is another average year?”

There was no way to scrub the stink of this off. That’s what Holden Thorp was saying about “chipping away” at the University’s reputation. Everyone keeps asking what changed that made the decision happen now. I think it was more info coming out about the McAdoo paper. When you throw academic fraud into the mix, then you’ve reached a tipping point.

We have nine (NINE) NCAA violations leveled against us. The NCAA could easily come down in Oct with probation, loss of scholarships and even forfeit some game. That’s bad for any school, but unthinkable for UNC. “The Carolina Way” really should have dismissed him last September.

Holden and others thanked Butch for everything he did for UNC. Some (ok, me) might challenge that. Thank him for what? For being paid handsomely to win 60% of his games? For recruiting knuckleheads like Austin and Little? For hiring a #1 assistant who had been apparently running for an agent for 20 years? For personally hiring a tutor who then wrote papers for players? For getting the $70m Kenan extension sold into the deal?

Once nine NCAA infractions came down there was no way out of this. We make fun of places like UK with Cal and all the football factories (Auburn, USC, etc.), but what are we really making fun of? Their reputation. People are saying UNC reacted too much to the Raleigh News & Observer or rival fans. But perception becomes reality. The timing was off, but the decision was sound. No way around that.

Trust me – I know how the real world works – especially in athletics. Hell, when I was an assistant [at a bigtime high school for hoops], I’m the one who basically told one of my kids to “do what you have to do” before he took his SAT… knowing it was either qualify for a D1 scholarship or wind up back in Kannapolis drinking a 40 on his front porch.

And I surprise myself around my feelings about UNC’s reputation (superiority?). But Butch resided over a program that could very well be put on probation (seriously, think about that). This happened on his watch. There was no way around it.

I’m now going to hitch up my plaid pants, hit the early bird special and be asleep by 8:00 tonight.

Curmudgeonly,

ACH

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UNC legend Charlie “Choo-Choo” Justice confers with Coach Snavely during William & Mary game, 1948

what is was, was scandalous

7/28/11

I don’t know if this counts as irony, but on one of my last 3-day writing benders, I had to take time out for a UNC press conference: it was Harrison Barnes announcing he was coming to Carolina. Alas, during today’s bender, there was yet another press conference with polar opposite news: our football coach Butch Davis was being fired, and our Athletic Director Dickie Baddour was retiring. You guys know I bleed Carolina blue, but I still have little-to-no idea what scandal plagued our football team, why our coach wasn’t fired last year, and why, somehow, Mr. Baddour had to pay for it all with his job, when he seems like the only one with his head on straight.

This is where fans of other teams (and people who don’t like sports) tend to fall asleep, so I’ll go ahead and get quickly philosophical and make absolutely no sense: sometimes it’s as though the Natural Order of the Universe decrees that some sporting activities are simply impossible from a sub-atomic standpoint. I’m talking about the Chicago Cubs, Clemson basketball vs. us at home, and Carolina football.

There is a magnetic dis-resonance, a tectonic fault, a barely-perceptible harmonic cacophony when it comes to our football team. We’re not even terrible enough to be interesting; we skirt the edges of “good” just enough to give die-hards like me occasional hope, only to dash them in the most drawn-out, boring way possible.

There are stories of us being pretty good in 1948. I remember hearing we were also good in 1982, until this one Maryland game sunk us for 15 years. Then we got very close to good in 1997, until this one intercepted pass against Virginia sunk us for another 15(?) years.

We tend to lose games on odd technicalities that aren’t sorted out until you’re forced to say “wait, um… that’s it?” We have a beautiful stadium, incredible uniforms, an unmatched student body, a rabid fan base, and in the last fifteen years we’ve won 72 games and lost 86.

The Natural Order came to us and said, “We have given you basketball, the greatest players to have played the game, and a yearly chance at the National Championship. But the price will be football.” And so we must say “okay.”

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Scotty and I sweat through UNC vs. Texas, September 2002

verse chorus refrain

7/27/11

As a few of you might know, ever since my successful 24-hour writing binge described here on these pages, I’ve made it a yearly habit to sequester myself away for two nights at a local hotel to write an entire script. That particular bender in 2006 became – with Tessa’s crucial guidance – the script that has been our calling card for years, with other fruitful marathons in 2008 and 2010. And here I am, once again, staring at the mini-bar and wondering if $75 really is too much for a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos.

This current project pretty much breaks all the rules you’re supposed to follow when writing a television “spec”, but something in me clicked about a year ago, and I’m well past caring. It’s slightly supernatural, it’s dark, it has swear words, it’s set in New York, and it’s in two parts (meaning a 2-hour pilot). None of which I would recommend to beginners, but hopefully we’ve built up enough street cred and good will to keep us from being laughed out of the room.

Either way, if you’re involved in something artistic, you don’t choose the project, the project chooses you. I recognize how faux and dinky-dinky-doo precious that sounds, but if you start telling your ideas you don’t like them, they’ll stop showing up. All things being equal, the writer (or writing team) that pitches something they actually love will shine two shades brighter, and it’s usually contagious.

What a bizarre job we have. Any amount of close observation, and it disintegrates like ash. Best to not think too much on’t, and keep writing stories you can’t put down or turn off. Save the navel-gazing for our autumn years, when we look back upon it and pick apart the miracle of pulling it off.

don’t rake up my mistakes, I know exactly what they are

7/26/11

Since my computer is STILL in the monkeyfrickin’ shop, I’ve been using Lucy’s little laptop to perform the barest minimum of online duties. It’s hardly Lucy’s to begin with – she used it when she was 4 to play some Boowa & Kwala games, spilled yams on it, and hasn’t really touched it since.

All of the emails I’ve been sending are stuck here on the desktop, one of which just caught my eye. A good, wonderful friend was bemoaning her lack of self-confidence, how she believes it may have thrown her into terrible relationships and kept her dong things she should have quit years ago. She imagines a world where she might go back in time, and fix this part of her. Here’s a bit of what I wrote back:

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As an annoying person, occasionally I have to remind certain people that my flaws are not separate from who I am, they are part of everything I do, and that includes the good stuff. In my case, I can spend days not appearing to do anything, forgetting to do basic household stuff, forgetting deadlines and staying up too late going down “research” rabbit holes with no apparent relevance to anything we’re doing. It sucks, and it’s no fun for the family when I sleep in too late.

But then, occasionally, I will save our ass in a meeting with a high-level exec because I happen to know a bizarre amount of detail about their personal passion, which is because I spent one night, months before, looking at maps of every Class IV, V and VI whitewater rapids in the country AND I HAVE NEVER GONE WHITEWATER KAYAKING.

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although it looks awesome

Even better, one tidbit in this mountain of daydreaming and free-association “study” will germinate into an idea that becomes a script that eventually pays for our health care.

Granted, I can already see the eye-rolling and the ways this can be twisted to justify any sort of laziness, and it runs the risk of becoming precious, yes, yes, I know. And this doesn’t mean shit like “if I don’t do heroin I won’t be a rock star.” But the larger point is that anyone’s flaws could be considered part and parcel of their best features.

You might look at your “lack of self-confidence” as something that has served you in good stead, maybe even helped you in the past. Call it something else, perhaps… it’s not “lack of self-confidence” but more a desire for love combined with trepidation. Consider your flaws like baker’s chocolate; gross by itself, but delightful in a mousse.

It’s okay to try and fix it if you’re constantly annoyed by it – I have also truncated my habits and now get up hours before I used to – but the next time you get angry by your past confidence issues, just remind yourself it’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

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I suppose my question to you is… do you agree with this in principle? And if so, what is your flaw, and how is it part of something wonderful in you?

let me seal this wax with my ring

7/24/11

It’s official, my laptop has suffered a total motherboard failure, and is somewhere in the skies above America awaiting a new brain. I haven’t had it since Thursday, and won’t get it back before Tuesday, which for me and my job, is a little like sending a hockey player onto the rink with Speedos and no stick. At first, I went through the usual withdrawal – where is, what am I, how’m I supposed to – but it was gradually replaced with… relief.

I don’t know if any of you have had the chance to truly UNPLUG recently, but if you can do it without anxiety, it’s really worth it. I know the concept of breaking the electronic tether makes me sound like one of those smelly dudes who absolutely swear their lives were changed by a series of barium enemas, but it’s amazing what returning to the physical world feels like by Day 3.

I’m a bit loath to admit this, but I think it’s representative of a direction I’ve been taking for a while. I’m beginning to lose faith in what “The Internet” seemed to promise us. I am organically losing interest in Facebook, constantly forgetting to check Twitter, fallen out of all the message boards I used to frequent, and only really care to hear what you folks have to say here on the blog (even though the summer has certainly quieted these fields as well).

This is not the fault of social media, or even a “failed promise” of technology, it’s just a creeping feeling that my friends and peer group may be bumping its collective heads against the limitations of what these things can provide. In essence, it all comes back to the tangible world, your physical community, back to analog.

Lately I’ve found succor in deeply analog things. I have become enrapt with gardening, especially with Lucy, where we try to grow weird things that require dirt experimentation. I have been building a lot of crazy shit (pictures forthcoming, you know, when I have a computer) with wood and machinery. I’ve been playing music on guitars with steel and nickel strings that require callouses and tuning. And I’ve been communing with old friends in person, seeing the way their eyebrows arch, their teeth, their unconscious tics and sudden bursts of hilarious inspiration.

In more pedestrian terms, I have found myself giving up on my well-documented wireless fetish and going back to cables. I spent a while at the farm rehabbing an old rotary-dial phone for upstairs, and even our internet in California is looking like this:

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Yes, that’s a shitload of cables going to all parts of the house. It might seem ironic that a bird’s nest of Cat-6 ethernet cables is actually a step backwards, but it’s a rejection of even the newest wireless technology that gives us constantly shitty transfer speeds. I rarely use the wireless in the house anymore. Hell, I’m writing this blog on the computer we (sorta) left in Lucy’s room, an ancient laptop that doesn’t have any programs on it except Text Edit, powered by tiny hamsters.

I know I won’t always feel like this – I’m enough of a self-conscious flake to realize my little epiphanies rarely make it past the 3-month mark. But I can’t deny what I’m feeling right now. I love not checking Google News and seeing the latest unfathomable atrocities around the world. I love not knowing what cynical bullshit Republicans are trying to foist on America. I regard all cell phone calls and texts with suspicion, and being shielded from email feels like I’m back on my red Huffy bike again, with the whole neighborhood at my disposal.

Break out the carrier pigeons and telegrams, settle in for a long night on the porch discussing philosophy and sports, put on an album that you have to turn over after four songs. Is it possible to have an analog summer?

uranus in retrograde, oh yeah

7/20/11

ZOINKS! Catastrophic failure of my main hard drive in the laptop AND complete screen freeze and quasi-bricking of my smartphone AND the wifi in our house is on the fritz… I am facing almost complete techno fail.

If it weren’t for the hand-crank on this old Model A giving my telegraph juice, and a kindly sharecropper’s family giving me copper wire for a dipole antenna over this abandoned train station, I don’t know how I could have sent you this missive.

Oh the hubris! Oh the unbridled faith I had in my gadgetry! How was I to know a few dangling electrons would have brought this whole house-a-cards tumbling down!

No more of this nanofoolery for me; no more cowering at the whim of a few light-speed transconnections. It’s back to the plow! It’s back to the pumpkins, the Atlantic Giants, the fields of self-pollinating fruit. It’s back to the tomatoes, the heirlooms, the Brandywines, the Pink Bulgarians, the Zogola and Cherokee Chocolate.

Keep your code, I’ve got cow dung, and taking orders.

lacking both compunction and punctuation

7/19/11

While we’re making lists…

My Top 10 Reactions to the News Over the Last Month:

1. “He died? I thought he was already dead”

2. “Oh, you’re all such motherfucking morons”

3. “I knew her in the early ’90s. Suffice to say she wasn’t always such a robot”

4. “If we had to lose, I guess losing to them was okay”

5. “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP YOU COW”

6. “Karma took its sweet time on this one, that’s for sure”

7. “Whaddya mean, ‘the government’? You ARE the ‘government’, you dick!”

8. “of course it is, that’s why they call it SUMMER”

9. “come on, America, stop being a bunch of fuckin’ pussies

10. “Another Self-Evident Bulletin from Obviousville”

the ornithischia shoulda seen it comin

7/18/11

Lucy’s Obsessions, 2011

1. dinosaurs

2. Pangaea

3. “So You Think You Can Dance”

4. tomato seedlings

5. the “fairy telephone”

6. her cousin Marlena

7. the robot dance

8. the Gobi Desert

9. “Loca” (Spanish version) – Shakira

10. monkey bars

Lucy’s Top 10 Favorite Dinosaurs

1. Brachiosaurus

2. Amargasaurus

3. Diplodocus

4. Triceratops

5. Zigongosaurus

6. Coelophysis

7. Lambeosaurus:

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8. Parasaurolophus

9. Stegosaurus

10. Quetzalcoatlus

Worst Conversation Topics According to My Daughter and Her Stuffed Giraffe “Necky”:

1. thumbtacks

2. salad

3. old weather

4. getting “sworded” with swords

5. dirty napkins

6. traffic

7. how a kilometer isn’t really half a mile, and how a meter isn’t really a yard

8. splinters

9. conditioner

10. farts

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Teddy and Necky discuss the Chrysler Building, March 2011

amethysts from the shallow mines

7/17/11

I’m sitting here jetlagged back in California, so tired I cannot sleep, but I want to add a few comments to the problems raised in Friday’s blog. If I were to give snap advice, here’s what’d come out:

Anne: Have I ever known exactly what you do? If not, shame on me, but post what kind of gig you’re looking for in the comments section so that the binary karma can be sent out hither and yon. Also, if you’re planting tomatoes and it’s not too late to start a couple more, I have some rare heirloom seeds I can send.

The Red Dragon: Congrats on losing all that weight, which is very hard to do and commendable in itself. At the very least, you now owe it to yourself to have a sit-down with your partner and discuss why he/she is making you insane – otherwise you will “move on” emotionally without even knowing it, and it’ll absolutely be over.

CM: Excellent news about your book, and just having the temerity to say out loud that it “may be a piece of crap” gives it excellent odds of not being that at all. And go into your family stuff, what’s up?

Lurker Ann: My sister Michelle is in the exact same position and just went back to work last week – I’m sure you could exchange notes. I can’t fathom the experience of going back to work so quickly after childbirth; every country in Europe seems to be so much more humane about maternity (and paternity!) leave…

LFMD: I’m with Carolyn, fucking grab that job if you can! You have spent enough years in the “waking sleep of constant habit” (thank you, “My Dinner With AndrĂ©”) and it’s time to pull back the elastic and shoot forward.

xuxE: Excited about you coming to LA… will we see you? And your son’s violin success warms my heart; that’s how I got into every college I applied to, y’know.

Carolyn: People, have you ever met or seen Carolyn? She’s a firestorm of awesome, and not to be sexist, she’s also old-fashioned hot. In any other economy, she’d be turning down sub-par offers, but the country is currently stuck in pancake syrup. Darlin’, can you use the comments section about what you want outta life, and link to a good picture for the odd casting directors out there?

kevin from NC: I just cannot believe the two years you’ve had. First the bike shop and now this – I can only tell you that yes, by all measures, this is an absolutely terrible chapter in your history. We can bear witness to that. I can also say there will be many more chapters, and you possess a resiliency that reminds me of someone else who is on this blog a lot (chime in if you know who you are). The cool thing about deserving better is that 79% of the time you end up getting it.

your panphobia has pantaphobia

7/14/11

So… it’s been a long time since we talked. I mean, really talked. Really rapped with each other, you digging me?

So how are you? Lurkers, regulars, is your summer panning out the way you wanted? Any major crossroads? Any problems? Any big-picture life issues, any niggling yet chronic annoyances… write ’em down, we’ll solve them.

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