Thursday, October 16, 2014

Friday, September 26, 2014

Little League

I volunteered to coach a Little League team this year.  I don't have a kid or anything.  I don't know why I signed up.  At the time I must have been drunk.

It is strange, as a sports fan, when you reach a certain age, and you notice that the players entering the leagues with great fanfare and promise are the same age as you.  And then the league slowly fills with your peers.  And then they start to describe players your age as "peaking physically."  You may or may not be employed at this moment.  And then they begin to describe players your age as "leaving their primes."  Eventually, I'm sure, although it hasn't happened to me just yet, these same players you've aged with will be declared to have "lost a step," and then shortly thereafter to be "finished," at which point they will then be guided into retirement by their impatient fans and bosses and by wave after wave of younger, fresher, more promising players.  And it will be difficult to avoid imagining yourself as also somehow finished, or spent, or newly worthless, with your own life stretching idly before you for another maybe 60 years.  This uncanny effect of premature obsolescence is magnified for the observer of Little League Baseball.

They gave me the Twins.  All the teams were named after real Major League teams.  There were Tigers and Rangers and Diamondbacks and Astros.  My kids were disappointed -- they noted that Twins were the least cool and tough team nickname in our Little League.  I pointed out that Minneapolis and St. Paul are known as the "Twin Cities," and so the nickname "Twins" is a source of local pride to fans.  They said, ok, but we don't live in Minnesota.

I ran the kids through some drills.  I looked up drills on the internet.  We did some hitting off a tee and some fielding grounders and some baserunning drills.  That seemed like enough.  A couple kids wanted to pitch, that seemed fine.

We lost our first game 2-1.  We lost our second game 4-0.  We lost our third game 8-1.  By our fourth game, our opponents were scoring in the double digits.  By our sixth game, they were topping 20 runs.  The most we scored was three -- the opposing pitcher hit a couple batters and threw some wild pitches and started choking on swallowed tears on the mound.  We only lost that one by 18.

I tried everything.  I put our sluggers in the middle of the lineup to give them the most RBI opportunities -- our sluggers were the kids who could hit it out of the infield once in a while.  I put our high OBP kids in the first and second spots to set the table -- our high OBP kids were the ones who were too scared to take the bats off their shoulders and so they got to first when the pitchers couldn't throw a strike.  We practiced twice as much as every other team; we showed up to games exhausted and wanted to quit halfway through.  I cancelled all practices; infielders and outfielders alike kept crashing into each other or letting pop flies fall undisturbed, like they'd never seen a diamond before.

The problem was that we didn't have any high-character leaders who could inspire the group with their tough, gritty, never-quit play.  The other problem was that they didn't know how to play baseball and I didn't know how to manage them.

Our ninth game was against the team we'd played in the first game.  I thought we had a real chance to turn things around here -- they'd only beaten us 2-1 the first time.  But they had a couple players who'd been sick for that game, I guess.  They were the first ones to top 40 against us.

I asked my priest for guidance.  The kids were losing their spirit.  Several of our fatter players had already quit.  He said that many important values could be strengthened through the process of losing.  I asked him for an example.  Well, he said, one might gain a more accurate understanding of one's own weaknesses.  I brought that to the kids at the next practice but it didn't seem to help them.

Our best player, David, he quit not long after that.  He claimed he had tendinitis or something and couldn't play.  He showed up the next week on the Marlins, laughing and cheering, giving out high fives to his new teammates.  Wouldn't make eye contact with any of us.  You're not supposed to be able to poach players in Little League, so I complained to the umpire, but he threatened to throw me out and the other manager just grinned at me.  David knocked in 8 RBI against us in the first three innings for his new team.  After that I told our pitcher to throw at him.  I thought we needed to take a stand; I thought it would buoy my kids -- I thought we'd been through enough.  Our pitcher missed wildly though and threw four pitches about ten feet over everyone's head, straight into the backstop, then he yelped in pain and grabbed his elbow and let his arm dangle, limp and swelling.  David ended up stealing second on the next pitch, then stole third and scored after our catcher hurled the ball into deep left-centerfield trying to throw him out.  The kid I told to bean him won't be able to throw a ball for the rest of his life, the doctors say.

We kept our last game close.  4-0.  It was right in the heart of summer, the other team only had seven players.  They only had one kid in the outfield until they realized we never hit it out there anyway, so they played most of the game with an extra infielder and no one past the dirt.  We did a bunch of bunting which didn't do anything except piss off the other manager, which was enough.  After the game was over I handed out little certificates and awards to the kids.  They were all condescending, "Best Hustle," "Best Attitude," "Best Heads-Up Play," "Least Complaints."  With every one I handed out they looked more and more upset.  They kept expecting me to pull one last certificate, the one that would make it ok, that would be something beautiful, forged from their suffering.  They just wanted their miserable season to be over.  We were alone on the empty field -- the other team had already left.  The parents were milling around near the bleachers, waiting for me to wrap it up so they could go home.

There was no lesson, no beauty.  There was no greater truth to behold, no better version of ourselves we could now become.  Sometimes in the world, you lose and lose and lose, and when it's over and you reassess, you realize that all that happened is you lost, and now you're in a worse place than you were before.  Even learning that is not a lesson.  Even that is just another loss.

Friday, August 29, 2014

How to Penguins

Penguins are interesting animals.  Their main foods are fish, plants and ice.  They also eat shit.  They lay eggs of round ivory.  When the ivory cracks, the penguin knows its baby is to be born.  It steps off the egg and pecks through it with its sharp beak.  The baby is pulled from its yolky home.  It takes two days for the baby penguin to be able to walk on its own, but once it is able, they are very independent creatures, walking around the ice looking for fish to eat.  Most fish of the region live on the ice and walk around and have feathers to keep them warm in the cold, inky water.  The water of the region is inky black because it is the dwelling of Satan.  It falls to the penguin to beat back the encroaching evil that awakens every cold season in the deepest Antarctic and hopes to claw its way north into our hearts -- beginning with those in the southernmost Americas and pooling outwards from there like, again, a drop of ink in a pure clean liquid-glass.  Thousands of penguins die every season in defense of the continents from this assault.  So if you see a penguin, give him your thanks, and a hearty meal of shit, for he will need such support as he wages his lonely battle with the cold that chills your heart at night: the rage, the despair, the death-wishing, the pure burning hate for everyone you see and everything that's ever happened and for above all your own weak, miserable, disgusting self.  It is thanks to the penguin that this cold is not worse.  Penguins also have webbed feet.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chris's Midterm Forecast

Based on the latest polls, sophisticated number-crunching and a lifetime of experience covering Washington, Chris's Midterm Forecasts are a must-read for any political junkie!  Unafraid to talk tough and go against the grain of conventional wisdom, Chris's take-no-prisoners forecast cuts right to the heart of what's happening on the Beltway!

ARKANSAS
Wow, tough one to forecast!  Here you've got a real "swing state showdown" between two strong candidates.  Tom Cotton and Mark Pryor, two real great guys, I'm sure.  Hey, if I told you I knew what was going to happen I'd be lying!  This one's a real coin-flip for me.
VERDICT: TOSS-UP

KENTUCKY
Another toughie!  Couple of great candidates, I love them both.  Everyone's asking, will Grimes pull off the upset?  Does she have a chance?  Seems like -- I don't know.  Probably not, I guess.  But she definitely could win -- I'm not saying she couldn't.  Don't think I'm saying anything bad about her.  This one's a coin-flip if I've ever seen one.
VERDICT: TOSS-UP

TEXASTwo real solid candidates here, I am truly in love with these candidates.  I feel like Cornyn's got the edge, but I'm not gonna close the book on Alameel just yet.  Hmm, tough call, tough call.  Hold on, I'm gonna check what FiveThirtyEight says.  All right, they've got Cornyn at a 99% chance to win.  Wow.  That seems a little high.  I'm sure this Alameel guy is a smart guy, and he's probably trying hard.  Seems like if you're TRYING to win, they should give you better than a 1% chance right off the bat, but what do I know.  I don't want to say anything bad about him just because he's losing.  Or she's losing, I don't know.  What's Alameel's first name?  "David."  Probably a man, but I knew a girl named David, so it could go either way.  I remember I had gym with her in grade school and she fell off the balance beam and slammed her teeth right into it and they completely shattered in her mouth.  Or was her name Dana?  That would make more sense I guess.  Who do I know named "David?"
VERDICT: TOSS-UP

LOUISIANA
I've never even BEEN to Louisiana.  I'm supposed to act like I know what's going to happen there when I've never even been there?  Forget it.  Flip a coin.
VERDICT: TOSS-UP

MONTANA
Montana.  Two tough competitors there, I'm sure!  I fucking love both of these fucking candidates, pardon my language.  All right, so they've got a Democratic incumbent, but he looks like he's polling really bad.  Walsh.  But he seems like a good guy, I mean I don't know anything about him, but you don't get into the Senate if you don't have something going for you.  Man, though, look how bad he's doing.  Other guy.  Aah!  I don't know.  All right, I'm going to close my eyes for five seconds and clear my mind, and then I'll open my eyes and I'll just have a FEELING who's going to win.  Five-four-three-two-one.  FUCK!  Nope, again.  Five-four-three-two-one.  Other guy.  Ok, the other guy, NOT Walsh.  Or Walsh?  Now I'm really feeling Walsh all of a sudden.  Fuck, coin-flip, coin-flip.
VERDICT: TOSS-UP

SENATE CONTROL
Hey, this one's still too close-to-call!  Lots of great candidates, could go either way -- 2014's shaping up to be a real "coin-flip" year!  I love politics!
VERDICT: TOSS-UP

Thursday, July 17, 2014

My shell

Sure is hot today, isn't it?  One of those days the sun seems to beat down on you without mercy.  Where you can hardly move because it feels like all the energy's been sucked out of you by the sun's thirsty rays.  It's just plain hot.

That's why I'm wearing this turtle shell made of cardboard and paper on my back.

See, because I was in my apartment the other night, sweating away as usual, when I started to think to myself, maybe I should not be so arrogant as a person as to believe that I have all the answers, and maybe I should look to the animal kingdom for a clue to the question of how to beat the heat.  For aren't there many animals that live in these kinds of temperatures frequently with hardly a complaint?  And what animal is more effective at this than the turtle, who lives for hundreds of years in hot, filthy muck?  So I went to the library and checked out several books about turtles and learned that they cooled themselves by rubbing wet grass on themselves and hiding in their shells, which also protect them from predators.  And I said, well there you go, if that isn't the answer right there in front of you!

I thought about rubbing wet grass on myself also, as the turtles do, but I didn't want to look like a weirdo.  So I decided only to wear the shell.

I made the shell out of cardboard and paper last night in my apartment.  What I did was I took a couple pieces of an old box and taped them together and then kind of bent them into a bit of a round shell shape, which was a little tricky, because the boxes were originally rectangles.  And then I used a couple pieces of twine to make straps so that I could hold it on my back in a manner similar to that of the turtle (although turtles don't have straps, it is my understanding that their body is just sort of mooshed inside).  I also painted the shell green to give it a real turtle feel, which I thought would get people more excited about it.

The turtle shell was almost immediately effective.  As the heat in my apartment grew, I just pulled myself inside and felt as if I were entering a refrigerated igloo!  And even walking around, the sun didn't feel as hot, because it didn't beat on my back.  The turtle shell was so effective that I wanted to share it with others in the park.  I could just imagine how every person having a shell might change society.  We might eliminate heat wave-related deaths by encouraging our elderly and vulnerable who are unable to afford air conditioners to retreat into their shells for hours at a time.  We could begin to inhabit previously inhospitable climates -- not to speak of global warming, if that's true as they warn (I certainly don't want to take a controversial political opinion on that one!)!

I began to approach people casually in the park to strike up a conversation with them.  I would usually begin by discussing something relevant like the weather, and then only jumping at them and showing off my shell when their guard was dropped.  In this way I was able to shock many people, which was the intended effect, but I was somewhat perplexed by the "cool" reaction (no pun intended!) I was receiving to my shell from others.  A couple people I was able to engage in conversation only after removing my shell, but then when I put it back on they walked away from me very quickly.

Towards the end of the day, I was approached by some tough teens.  I could hear them snickering at me as I approached.  I tried to walk past them in a nonchalant manner, not making eye contact with them, but they grabbed me as I walked by.  They asked me about the faggot construct I was wearing on my back.  I decided to talk to them confidently, and began to explain some of the primary benefits of wearing the shell, but before I was able to finish they began to shove me.  I realized, I could get myself out of this situation peacefully, if only I followed the example of the turtle!  I curled up and hid in my shell, but it didn't take long for the teens to stomp a hole in it and then continue stomping at me until I was injured enough for their satisfaction.

But the truth is, I have enough cardboard at home to make yet another turtle shell for the warm weather, and I plan to do exactly that tomorrow!

I think there are many lessons we can learn from the turtle, and we probably already have.  What are buildings, but shells that we put in the ground instead of carrying on our backs?  And isn't a sharp beak to cut through leaves a better (and healthier!) option than many teeth that can be corroded by too much soda and candy?  I hope to be getting a beak soon.  Society is another thing that can be reorganized to more closely resemble the world of the turtle.  The turtle, others have said, does not love -- it merely procreates bloodlessly, its spawn hatching out of thick, leathery eggs, abandoned by all but the tides.  This, many would say, is less than what we humans have now.  But the turtle also never feels alienated and humiliated by its own kind, for larger turtles receive no satisfaction from victimizing their smaller brethren.  And so if the turtle's experience of life is narrower, it is narrower on both ends, with less love but less hurt too, and how many of us are truly lucky enough to be in a position to say honestly that we would not be better off living as the turtles do?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Readings from the Holy Bible

Please follow wildaggressive on Twitter or subscribe to wildaggressivedog on Youtube for thrice-weekly inspirational Readings from the Holy Bible.

The first one is Mark 5:9.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Music theory

There are a total of eight notes in music.  They are: doop, bop, bee, bow, hum, zip, THUNK and dip.  Notes can be combined to form objects called chords.  Some of the most famous chords including brum, brrem and brrrm.  These three chords make up the popular musical hymn "Alone With Christ."

Alone with Christ;
Alone with Christ;
A love fulfilled,
Alone with Christ.

Though extremely popular, "Alone With Christ" is far from the only song one can construct using music.

In fact, many songs share the same chords with each other.  Sometimes the chords are played in a different order, or at different intervals (called, in music terminology, "beat-marks").  Sometimes the chords are played in the same order and with the same beat-marks and it is other factors, such as instruments or notes, which makes the songs different.

The truth is, music is kind of a scam.  It's all the same shit.  Just find an old song and rerecord it and change a couple words and do some stupid shit over it like add record scratch noises or something and now you can claim it's your intellectual property.  Any moron can take fifteen minutes and write a fucking song.  Play a couple chords, throw in a chorus, play the same chords, you're done.  Or just plonk a few things into a piano or get one of those annoying boxes where you sing into it and loop your disgusting grunting noises and sing some ethereal garbage over it, there you go, it's a song.  Get a gangly guy to fiddle around on a drum machine and that's all you need.  Huge scam.

Another factor to keep in mind during the appreciation of music is tempo.  This means how fast or slow the song is being played.  Another factor in music is volume.

I loved a musician once.  She played in a band with a couple of other guys I didn't like, I didn't like the band either, not because I didn't like the guys but just because they weren't very good.  Still, she was living the kind of life I wanted to live, not in the details, but in feel and meaning and scope -- in aim; in direction.  I told her this one night, but that was after I told her I thought her band was bad, so she didn't pick up most of it, I don't think.  She told me I lived like one of the stupider and less popular species of animals, docile and afraid.  I said, fair enough.  She told me my soul was a kind of deep, stinking rot.  Ably described.  She told me I lacked the capacity and the brain size to imagine another kind of life for myself and I told her it wasn't true, and that I meant to show her, and I closed my eyes then and reached down into what I understood to be myself and tried to get a hold of all the feeling and meaning and experience that had accreted there like salt on a pier, but I found nothing except for a kind of love I'd already given up on and a scared animal that wanted to be left alone and a very strong urge to, for the first time in my life, smoke a cigarette.