Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Return of Tiger

The cover story in last week’s NY Times Magazine was about Tiger’s return to the PGA. Jonathan Mahler wrote “The Tiger Bubble”, and you can find the article in its entirety here. There were some hilarious and informative passages, some of which I have included below.

Speaking of Tiger, Mahler writes, “The athlete who dominated a sport of discipline, focus and self-control—his father, an ex-military man, once compared him to Gandhi—was a sex junkie. Even as Wood’s sponsors quickly began to drop him, their advertisements lingered awkwardly throughout America: a life-size image of the world’s most famous philanderer greeted airport travelers over Accenture ad copy that read as if it had been written for the occasion: “Go on. Be a Tiger.””

The author reports a quote from Sean McManus, the president of CBS News and Sports, as saying, “I think the first tournament Tiger Woods plays again, wherever it is, will be the biggest media event other than the Obama inauguration in the past 10 to 15 years.” I’m not entirely sure of this. No doubt, the Masters, especially that first day, will be a huge event, but I think McManus assumes a lot to say only the Obama inauguration will overshadow this event in the timeline of the last 10 to 15 years. I have no knowledge about media events or what constitutes a media event, but wouldn’t the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics constitute a media event? Will that truly pale in comparison to Woods stepping onto the first tee? Maybe. I don’t know. I sort of don’t want it to. I wish it was just another Masters with Woods favored to win, but it is anything but that.

I learned a lot about the PGA season that I didn’t know before, like the first tournament televised by a major network is the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. As everyone knows, Tiger wasn’t present this year, but some old friends showed up. “One afternoon, an airplane hired by a local strip club flew overhead, trailing a banner that read, “WE MISS YOU TOO, TIGER! DREAMGIRLS.”” Wow.

Much of the article focused on Tiger’s impact on the game, which has, for the most part, been immeasurable. But there are ways to measure some of the impact:

Over the course of Wood’s career, the tour aggressively raised the price of entry for corporate sponsors. In the process, purses grew by an average of 400 percent. A lot of money found its way into Wood’s pocket. Last year alone, he won $10.5 million, bringing his career total to about $93 million. But there was also a powerful trickle-down effect on his fellow golfers. In 1996, only nine players on the tour earned $1 million. In 2009, 91 golfers did.

And this stat about the PGA’s charitable donations:

Earlier this year, it [the PGA] rolled out a new marketing campaign to draw attention to golf’s charitable giving, which is considerable. All tournament profits are donated to charity; last year, the total came to $108 million, which dwarfs that given by other sports.

I would have never guessed that tournament profits always go to charity, that’s awesome, but also not feasible in some other professional leagues due to how they differ in structure compared with the PGA. But that is freaking sweet.

If you have any interest in sports or Tiger, I recommend clicking over to the article. It is free for now, and you may as well take advantage of that. I think the days of free NY Times are numbered.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Out West

Kate, happy to see her Scotty dogs. Max and Molly.

What do you do in Laramie on a Saturday? Well, you could go to see the peewee rodeo. This was fun, albeit quite smelly. Made even more fun if you bring a vegetarian along and they start crying.

The smallest cowboy I have ever seen. He is tying a string on the goat's tail.

A look across Prexy's Pasture.

A sculpture on Prexy's that looks like it is straight out of the movie version of Where The Wild Things Are.

War Memorial Stadium, currently under construction and on steroids.

Somewhere between Laramie and Fort Collins on highway 287. Beautiful.

Leftovers of the freak snow storm we had in Denver on Tuesday night.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Back West

And you know we are going to stop at the Rio...
Back in less than a week.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

To Allen Drive

I threw it into Lake Michigan. It flew threw the air like a rock I was trying to skip and it may have skipped if it hadn’t turned vertical and entered the water without a splash. I had been saving it for some sort of closure, waiting to throw it into a body of water. I was thinking as soon as I brought my arm forward it would fly out of my left hand and like people do in the movies, I would instantly feel better about what took place and the hole in my heart would be covered up instantly. It wouldn’t be filled, that’s impossible. Just covered up so I can’t fall into it again and again.

For minutes before I threw it, I held the piece of metal in my hand, thinking of where I had taken it, of when I received it; of the times I used it. For ten and a half years I have had it on my being. It doesn’t necessarily look that old, but it feels older. The metal texturing, similar to sand paper, has been worn smooth at the center of its broad end where I grasped it so many times, often in the dark, fumbling around in the cold.

I looked at it resting in my palm, noticing the unnatural bend of the metal, something I gave to it months ago out of anger. I had bent it to a ninety-degree angle and then felt embarrassed about my anger and I bent it back, but there is a scar now. It isn’t perfectly straight like it once was and I wonder if I could still use it if I needed to. But I know I won’t need to. It can’t be used anymore, but it is the last physical object of that place I have, giving it meaning beyond its functionality, which is the reason I still have it, five months after it ceased to be useful.

But it was time to let it go. Just the sight of it over the last months has vexed me. I don’t need to keep it for its meaning, I don’t need another thing lying around the apartment that brings to mind that hurt and shock. That was why I was there, I guess, on a sunny, warm day on the shore of Lake Michigan, because there will always be that hurt and shock, regardless of whether or not I keep this metal. So as I brought my arm back I was tempted to curse once again the people and places that made this metal useless, but I didn’t. I tried to let go of some of the aggression and I flung it into the water, which was Caribbean blue that day, hoping that some of the anger sank to the bottom of Lake Michigan along with the key to 706. I can only hope.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Jesus Called

I am not a fan of bumper stickers. There are two designs I will allow to grace my car, the Wyoming bucking horse logo and the MxPx pokinatcha punk face. Currently, neither of these stickers are on my car. I feel like if I have something important to say, I want to say it, and not have people read it on the back of my car. These opening sentences are all part of a tangent to the story I originally wanted to share with this blog.

Now that I’ve established that I am above putting nearly all bumper stickers on my car, I want to say that I still admire a great bumper sticker. I saw one last week. It read: Jesus Called, He Wants His Religion Back.

You don’t read too many opinions (at least in the West) that posit a highjacking of the Christian faith for purposes of power, persuasion, war, etc. Most of the time it is the terrorists who are responsible for a highjacking of faith (Islam). But our gaze is too often external, and what I specifically like about this bumper sticker is that it makes you think internally, at least in terms of the Christian body. Something about “Jesus Called, He Wants His Religion Back” stings and I figured out what it is. It is the truth in the statement. There are as many people involved in Christian malpractice as there are people involved in Muslim malpractice. The results aren’t always the same, especially in terms of coverage in the news outlets.

Jesus’ teachings are pure, beautiful, inclusive, and non-violent. The religion that springs forth from those teachings isn’t always that. Bugger.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dark, Quiet, and Cold

I think I woke up because of the quiet. Maybe it was the darkness. I can’t remember exactly. I knew, somehow, in my sleep that something was different. Coming into focus, my eyes stared at the VCR (yes, we still have a VCR). The current time in its familiar orange glow did not stare back. I rolled over and looked at the alarm clock. Blank. My cell phone was the nearest reliable clock. I picked it up and it’s small screen lit up the wall at the head of my bed like a flashlight. 3:22am.

“The power is out.” I had needlessly said. My wife had to work at 7 this morning. I asked her if her cell phone’s alarm clock was set. It was. I asked her if I should set mine too for her. Yes, 5:45am. Okay. I did. We rolled over and tried to fall back asleep, but every once in a while we would chime in about the power being out. She shared a story about she and her sisters trying to warm ham in a pan over a candle during a power outage in her childhood. That’s a very Bradley thing to do. The first concern: food. How are we going to eat?

We finally fell asleep. For a moment we woke up a little after 5 when the power switched on, humming in high and low keys for a few seconds and then off. Back to sleep and up at 5:45 when the cell phones went off. We got out of bed and lit candles in the bathroom and living area. I used a mini Maglite to light my way around the house. We first went downstairs to the garage to see if the door would open. It did. Very slowly it crept up onto the rails parallel to the ground. My wife was moving her car outside. She told me to lift to help the garage door up. It didn’t make a difference. It opened all the way and I got in the car and we drove to ground level and parked.

Back inside the apartment I lay on the bed and watched my wife move about the apartment by candlelight. Immortalized by the soft yellow glow of the light. I stared, changing my position every half-minute, alternating from eyes closed and head down to eyes open and head up watching to see if she was ready to leave.

I walked her out to her car. It is darker now in the morning, the night the clocks sprung forward, robbing us of an hour we won’t get back until the fall. We could see just fine. The sun hadn’t yet risen, but its glow lit up clouds thousands of feet above us which were now operating as mood lighting, an orange glow from the far-off sun and nearby city lights. But the buildings were dark. No exterior or interior lights on. The only sign of life or inhabitance being furniture on patios and different arrangements of the blinds. We arrived at her car. A kiss goodbye and I turned to walk back into the darkness.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Conference Championship Pictures

Swimming staff pre-400 Free Relay and conference champions celebration, hence the dry eyes of the coaches on the left half of the picture. I thought I would cry a little bit when victory finally arrived, but all I could do was smile, laugh, and yell.

The scoreboard. Beautiful.

Blurry chanting and celebrating.

Our retiring swimmers in a post-conference embrace.

A glance in Kate's direction during the pandemonium.

The pool. Devoid of bodies. Nearly quiet. And trying to calm its surface.

The coaches with most of the hardware from the victorious weekend. (3-14-10 - I realized I had already posted this picture. It's good enough to have up here twice.)

John Wooden + The Onion

A headline from this week’s Onion:

John Wooden, 99, Found Dea—Never Mind, False Alarm

It still has me laughing and I read it ten minutes ago.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Oscar's 'Kanye' Moment

About that interrupted acceptance speech. The NY Times has the scoop. Read here.

Oscar Predictions and Results

I broke my Lenten fast from TV to watch the Oscars last night. Call it cheating, whatever you want, I wanted to see them and I think watching one program in 40 days is still okay.

Anyway, let’s see how I did with my predictions. I started out okay, but then I hit a streak of three bad picks in a row. That’s okay. Those were all guesses.

16 Correct Picks. 8 Incorrect Picks.

Best Picture: The Hurt Locker – I was right. This movie was good, but had I seen all ten of the nominated films, I’m not sure I would have felt it was worthy of a win. Overall, I think the field seemed a little weak this year. I was left with a lot of feelings after watching The Hurt Locker, but not the feeling that I had just seen a movie worthy of Best Picture.

Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow – Right. Not much surprise here I think. Although, in my opinion, the movie she directed wasn’t downright amazing, the work that went into it had to be amazing. I mean, think of all the successful movies about the Iraq War. Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Best Actress: Sandra Bullock – Wrong. I went with Carey Mulligan, the underdog. After seeing how truly young she looked I knew I wasn’t going to get this one right. Bullock must put in a hell of a performance in The Blind Side because I have never thought of her as an actress that could beat out the likes of Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep. Odd.

Best Actor: Jeff Bridges – Right. Easy pick. I don’t think anyone was shocked. His acceptance speech was great, not necessarily the words, but the childlike giggles that came out of him in between sentences and natural pauses in his speech. You could see and hear his genuine happiness. Very cool.

Best Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique – Right. She said something about the Academy awarding the performance and not the politics and how she was very thankful about that. Well, I don’t really know what that means because in my recent memory most of the actors that did the best job were awarded the Oscar. She would probably disagree with this sentiment, but that’s the way I see it. She was awarded an Oscar because she deserved it and for no other reason.

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz – Right. Easiest pick of the night. I love his English. He sounds so damn proper.

Animated Feature: Up – Right. Also an easy pick. It is hard to dethrone the genius of Pixar.

Original Screenplay: The Hurt Locker – Right. You have to give the award to the writer who finally made an interesting movie about at least one of our current wars. All the rest, unless they were documentaries, have failed miserably.

Adapted Screenplay: Precious – Right. I just went with momentum here because Precious has it. Although, Up in the Air would not have been a bad pick.

Art Direction: Avatar – Right. Any surprise here? It would have been like snubbing Christoph Waltz. Just not going to happen.

Cinematography: Avatar – Right. This was a beautifully shot movie. Lots of long shots with little cutting to make you feel like you were in Pandora. It is hard to turn it down.

Film Editing: The Hurt Locker – Right. This movie, compared to the rest, seemed the most artfully cut with very little wiggle room. Meaning, if it was done just slightly different, it would have been a completely different movie.

Foreign Language Film: El Secreto de Sus Ojos – Wrong. I don’t know anything about these movies. Totally guessed. Totally wrong.

Original Score: Up – Wrong. I picked Avatar, but I did mention Up as a strong contender. I did think Avatar’s soundtrack was impressive. It wasn’t stale and over-the-top like it had a great danger of being. Just right.

Best Original Song: Weary Heart – Right. Jeff Bridges said this song helped make the movie. I went with his feeling.

Costume Design: The Young Victoria – Right. Rule #1: When making a prediction for the award for costume design, go with, when available, the movie made about the monarchy.

Best Documentary: The Cove – Wrong. I didn’t see any of these, but this movie looks depressing, which is often a good sign when you are in search of great documentaries.

Best Short Documentary: Music by Prudence – Wrong. I went with the GM movie. This was the acceptance speech where one of the people involved in the movie totally interrupted the winner’s acceptance speech. A weird moment. He didn’t look happy.

Best Short Film (Animated): Logorama – Wrong. Where does one see these movies is my question?

Best Short Film (Live Action): The New Tenants – Wrong. This was part of my bad streak last night.

Best Makeup: Star Trek – Right. Okay, back on track. Sort of easy to pick this winner.

Best Sound Editing: The Hurt Locker – Right. See what I wrote about the editing.

Best Sound Mixing: The Hurt Locker – Wrong. I went with Transformers. I wonder how often do the two big sound awards go to different movies?

Best Visual Effects: Avatar – Right. Surprise. Surprise.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Oscar Predictions

For what it is worth, I’ll take another shot at predicting those who will be victorious tomorrow at the Academy Awards.

Best Picture: The Hurt Locker

I think this is a much harder year to predict in some categories, best picture being the hardest. I could see the underdog, An Education, winning. Even Inglourious Basterds. But if I had to pick one movie that might usurp The Hurt Locker, it is Avatar. I am just not confident about The Hurt Locker’s chances, even though I feel it has all the momentum going into tomorrow even with considering the revelation that a producer emailed voters to tell them to vote for The Hurt Locker.

Actor in a Leading Role: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

I haven’t seen the movie, but from what I have read and seen on TV about Bridges performance, this is his year. That’s great. I’ve always enjoyed his work.

Actor in a Supporting Role: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

This is easily the most predictable category. If Waltz doesn’t win, I don’t know anything and neither do most of the top film critics out there. I had heard that his performance was outstanding, but after watching the movie a couple of weeks ago, I would say that outstanding is an understatement. He dominates every scene he is in. You hang on his every word and are awestruck at his humorous overtures and hand waving and then, once he has tricked you into liking him, he shows his dark side and he does it over and over again throughout the movie. Brilliant.

Actress in a Leading Role: Carey Mulligan, An Education

I haven’t seen the performance, but people are buzzing about it. Out of all the movies that are home to nominated performances, I most want to see An Education. It looks great and I saw the preview tonight when I watched The Damned United. (Great movie by the way!) Anyway, I wouldn’t be surprised by a win for Gibourey Sidibe here, but I think Mo’Nique will take the victory for Precious in the Supporting Role category. I would be surprised if Sandra Bullock won. Then I might actually have to see The Blind Side.

Actress in a Supporting Role: Mo’Nique, Precious

I wonder what her last name is? I haven’t seen the movie, but if I ever come out of obscurity and am famous for some reason I want to have one name. Any ideas?

Animated Feature Film: Up

The thing I remember most about this film is that Kate was crying 11 minutes into it. That’s an accomplishment. It is almost like that first eleven is a movie unto itself. Then you just end up watching the second movie to see what happens to the old man.

Art Direction: Avatar

It has got to start racking up awards sometime, right. Well, I think Avatar is a shoe-in for this one.

Cinematography: Avatar

I don’t think it is going to win best picture or best director, but it has to take home some statues.

Costume Design: The Young Victoria

The only reason I picked this film: because doing costumes for a movie set in 19th century England seems harder than all the rest.

Directing: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker

Bigelow beats out her ex. Does anyone else think James Cameron’s hairdo is awful?

Documentary: Food, Inc.

I haven’t seen this one either, but I’ve essentially read the books. See Michael Pollan.

Documentary Short: The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant

I’m totally guessing here. No clue. Probably wrong.

Film Editing: The Hurt Locker

Foreign Language Film: Ajami

Because I like the title. No other reason.

Makeup: Star Trek

Music (Original Score): Avatar

But if another movie wins, I think it will go to Up. Maybe I’ll be wrong on both.

Music (Original Song): “The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett

Short Film (Animated): A Matter of Loaf and Death

Again, because I like the title.

Short Film (Live Action): Kavi

Sound Editing: The Hurt Locker

Sound Mixing: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Visual Effects: Avatar

No other movie deserves this award.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay): Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire

Writing (Original Screenplay): The Hurt Locker

Thursday, March 04, 2010

With Regards

I read the words. I don’t read the sentence. I don’t get to the period. My eyes jump to the letterhead and I bore through the paper with my thoughts. I am not looking at the letter. The school’s signature and font merely screen thoughts of other schools from muddling this moment, the moment in which all my imagining of what getting an MFA from this specific school might have looked like—the move there, my commute, the surrounding city, the classes, the hours spent working on assignments, the time at the writer’s desk—is shattered. I don’t know why it is a wine glass, but it is, and it holds all of those hopes and my ambition and it is falling from a not so great height, because it doesn’t take a great height to break a wine glass, and it hits the ground and the thin stem folds under the weight of my future. It splits, breaking into sharp pieces of a dream that scatter along the floor into dark corners where sweeping won’t work.

I feel like there are ten of me. We each have a door in front of us representing a school I applied to. Four of us now are lying on the ground motionless. I should only be 4/10 less hopeful, but I feel 9/10 less hopeful.

The schools that have rejected me are erased from my memory. I grab each vision of a future there and throw it in the trash. I file the rejection letter away. I don’t know why I am keeping it. Maybe I will frame them all in the end, a testament to a magnificent failure. Something I like to think of as being wildly motivational, but really, it is just depressing, what I received in turn for dreaming, “I regret to inform you.”

Monday, March 01, 2010

2010 Horizon League Men's Swimming and Diving Champions

There will be a time to try to put into words the events and emotions of last week, but that is not now. Here are some select pictures from the 2010 Horizon League Swimming and Diving Championship Meet. Men: 1st. Women 2nd. In the above photo, a senior and captain lifts high the 2010 Men's Swimming and Diving Championship Trophy.

The sprinters (a.k.a. the Bonecrushers) and their coach.

Post-meet celebration. Going for a swim with the team. Watch the video here. For the official recap, you can go here.

Taking an extended dip in the pool with Belton.

Me and the 2010 Horizon League Men's Swimming Coach of the Year.

Bringing home some hardware. Belton (equipment manager, record keeper, meet scorer, Bryce's go-to-guy, pretentious punk), Me, Erica, and Kyle.

Midnight. Back at home. We cleared space on a display table in the athletics front office for all the trophies we brought back. Unbelievably great picture.