Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ernest Hemingway's Snows of Kilimanjaro Still Resonates

The Snows of Kilimanjaro, which Ernest Hemingway wrote in 1936, some 25 years before his death, still stands as perhaps one of his most autobiographical, and important works.
I recently re-read Snows of Kilimanjaro after stumbling upon a short story collection book that my sister-in-law, Jai-Tip, bought.  I haven't had a chance to sit down with Tip, who happens to be the artist who created the cover of my soon to be released short story collection book, "And They're Off!  Stories From the Racetrack", but I felt the need to blog about the story anyhow.
It's just too important of a story for any artist, much less any writer, to not think about and contemplate.  Hemingway, lest we forget, committed suicide in 1961 by putting a double-barrel shot gun to his forehead and pulling both triggers.  Gruesome and destructive, but almost poignant considering his works.  I don't want to get into why I believe it was poignant, that's a discussion, that could lead to some believing me a dark individual on the Jerzy Kosinski level.
Instead, I want to remind readers of the brilliance of Hemingway and Snows of Kiliminjaro which jarred me quite literally off of the toilet, yes, I was reading while doing number 2, in a way that I cannot explain.
Snows of K is about an author, Harry, who lies dying on a cot because of an infection he received, while the woman he is currently seeing, tries desperately to tend to him. 
In a bit of brilliant semi-stream of conciousness, removed from the Joycian style yet utterly effective, Harry decries the life he has led, the utterly insatiable need for things that "don't matter", the Bohemian life style that he has embraced, "living" so to speak, instead of writing what matters to him.
It's an example of the writer's dilemma - - one must live in order to find what to write, yet one must write in order live.
I believe that all writers, all artists really, understand this dilemma.  Tip and I certainly do as we travel on the fruity and nutty streets of Los Angeles.  My freind Chenjerai, formerly of the the rap group The Spooks does, as he works towards a phd at Penn State while trying to satisfy his musical hunger.  My friend Lin and my friend Andrew certainly do as one puts together moving pictures of daily struggles and the other creates brilliant momentos through an art form, poetry, that nobody seems to think about anymore.  My friend Damon does as he uses his extreme talents to makes sense of the world through a medium, Hollywood filmmaking, that has become overblown with sugarless candy.  My brilliant sister, Jennifer does, as she raises a family while creating an entirely different world for her young adult characters, their minds and hearts reacting to the hardness of life that they are just discovering. 
But...all of us are young and alive.  Hemingway is dead and so is Harry. 
As I read Snows of K, on that fantastic toilet that my wife Jomjai installed that would literally suck the hairs out of my ass if I didn't raise my buttocks just a bit before flushing, the damn thing is so powerful, I suddenly realized why it struck me so. 
Time.  We all need more of it.  We never get enough of it.  And, we all cry about it.  That is the artist's life.  It is all about time.
At the end of the day, all artist's believe, all artist's feel, that they are running out of time.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Tiger's Meltdown Shouldn't Overshadow Watson

Tiger melted down.  Yes, he did.  There's no other way to say it.  More than one person has told me today that he just...well, melted down.  He wasn't in the game mentally.  We know this becasue every time he took a shot into the high grass, he seemed to lower his head, bang his club...meltdown.
Hey, it happens.  It happens in every sport and it especially happens in a sport like golf where the environment changes week to week, hour to hour and sometimes, at a place like Turnberry, minute to minute.  Lest we forget, Tiger is still coming off of a devastating knee injury.  Has the knee fully healed?  Yes.  But the harsh conditions at Turnberry today couldn't have helped matters.  The knee has healed for say the AT&T National under perfect conditions or the Arnold Palmer under decent conditions, but Turnberry?  Where the wind is crazy intense and the cold can seep into the knee and practically freeze it?
Let's give the greatest golfer a Mulligan for once.  We've given plenty to Ali, Jordan and Brett Favre.  No worries, El Tigre.  We know you'll be back!
What golfing fans should do is turn their attention to Tom Watson.  Watson started the day at -5, then bogeyed four of the first seven holes to go to -1 but climbed his way back and into a tie for the lead by shooting par for the round and finishing at -5 again.  That's amazing considering that he's 59 years old.
Watson's lead at Turnberry is especially cool considering that everybod's been talking about The Duel with Jack Nicklaus in the 1977 British Open on this course.  
The fact that Watson had to regain his composure and get hmself back into the lead after shooting a +4 during the first seven holes today tells me that the legend has an actual shot at winning this thing.   

Kobe Bryant Steps Up For Jimmy V.

Every morning, I listen to Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio.  Colin's easily one of the best radio personalities I have ever heard in my life.  Not only does he talk about a subject dear to my heart, sports, but he does so with an absolute understanding of the subject.
The man is never afraid to tell it like it is.  He also isn't afraid to steer away from controversy, but that's for a different post.
Well, this morning he told his listeners about a call, a private call, that he received from Kobe Bryant the other day.  ESPN was giving away sports packages, trips to major sporting events, airfare, tickets, hotel lodgings, etc., for donations to the V Foundation, the cancer reserach non-profit organization founded and named after the late Jim Valvano.
One of the indivdiuals who called Colin to buy one of the packages was Kobe Bryant.  Kobe didn't want his name to come up.  He didn't want it publicized, although Colin did anyhow.  Kobe just wanted to give.
What did he give?  $10,000 for one of the packages and he told Colin to give it away.  So, what Bryant did was not only give $10,000 to the V Foundation, but he gave away the package he bought to some lucky listener.
And he didn't care if anybody knew about it. 

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tiger Struggles in British Open But Stricker Looks Good

Tiger Woods shot a 1 over par in the first round of the British Open today at Turneberry.  Playing with Lee Westwood and Ryo Ishikawa, the Japanese teenage sensation, El Tigre just couldn't keep pace, getting outshot by 3 strokes today.

The bad news is that Tiger is in 71st place.  The good news is that Tiger is only off by 6 strokes.  That shouldn't be a problem at all for the best golfer in the world.  A bigger story might be last week's John Deere Classic winner, Steve Stricker, who is ho once again. Stricker shot a 4 under par to finish five strokes ahead of Woods and one stroke off the lead.  If Stricker continues his hot play, then he's probably the winner on Sunday.

Who is in the lead at Turnberry?  How about one of the participants of the famous "Duel" in 1977.  Tom Watson, who beat Jack Nicklaus in the 1977 British Open, is atop the leaderboard with a day best -5.  Who knows if it will last as some of the best golfers in the world, including two time winner Padraig Harrington, are still out there on the course.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Halfway Point in MLB Season Points to a Freeway Series

We're at the halfway point in the MLB Season and all signs point to a Freeway Series between the still red hot Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels.  Even though the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers have done well in the American League, the Angels have suddenly come to life to lead the Texas Rangers atop the A.L. West Division.
It's all about timing and the Angels are starting to really roll while the Yankees, Tigers and Red Sox, to some degree, still haven't found their way just yet.  If the Angels keep it up, the best record in baseball could be theirs after the second half of the season.
In the N.L. its all about the Los Angeles Dodgers at this point.  The Philadelphia Phillies might be the best team in the N.L. right now, but they aren't consistent enough yet and the Dodgers can't help but be better in the second half of the season now that star Manny Ramirez is back.  The other challenger to the N.L. Pennant should be the St. Louis Cardinals now that two 2008 contenders, the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs, have proven to be less than competitive in 2009.
Who's the surprise team in the N.L.?  How about the San Francisco Giants who lead the league in ERA and are second in WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) which are the key stats in regards to pitching.  The Giants have one of the best rotations in baseball.  That means that they could be tough in the second half of the season.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Thoughts on Michael Jackson

The single most important image that I saw after the death of Michael Jackson didn't occurr at his funeral.  It wasn't the faces of his friends and family.  It wasn't the terrific performance by his peers.
The image I saw that means the most to me was the day after Jackson's death when Janet, his sister, drove herself away from his rented home in the Holmby Hills.  Simply put, at the end of the day, Michael Jackson was just like everyone else.  Did he have issues?  Yes.  Was he supremely talented, yes.  But he passed away, like all of us will someday, and his family, those he left behind, had to do what all of our family friends will have to do.
They had to get together and discuss who was going to do what.  Michael's family had to get together after his death and decide who would take care of the things he had at his home, pack them up, bring them back to the family in Encino.  Who was going to make funeral arrrangements.  Who was going to decide where and how he was buried.
These are things that all families go through after the death of a loved one, and to me, it was no more obvious that the Jackson's are a family then when I saw Janet driving herself away from Michael's home.
An icon?  Absolutely.  The greatest entertainer the world has ever seen?  Probably.  But Michael was also a brother, a son and a father.  That's what I believe is most important to remember about Michael Jackson.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Remembering Steve McNair

Steve McNair's tragic death due to multiple gun shot wounds, in what I believe will prove to be a murder-suicide, no doubt will personally impact a number of NFL fans.
It's difficult to describe what McNair's impact was on the NFL to folks who do not follow professional football.  McNair was the ultimate underdog coming out of college.  He had been given the moniker "Air", as in Steve "Air " McNair, while throwing the ball for Division 1-AA Alcorn State.  Making it in the NFL from a Division 1-AA school is difficult to do.  Making it as a quarterback is virtually impossible.  Making it as a black quarterback, in a time when a stigma still surrounded the black quarterback, although nothing was being said, was supposed to be impossible.
Yet, McNair did it.  How difficult is it to make it in the NFL as a quarterback in general?  Although the American public may not know the following names, NFL fans surely do.
Jeff George, Tim Couch, Akili Smith, Joey Harrington, Cade McNown, Todd Marinovich and Ryan Leaf all were drafted in the 1st round by NFL teams to play quarterback and all, arguably, had a better chance at success than Steve McNair.
But "Air McNair proved them wrong and in doing so he, along with Warren Moon and Donovan McNabb, further opened the door for the black quarterback.  That's an important note for a league run by mostly rich white men.
Rest in peace, Steve.  You will be missed.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th From North Korea

North Korea fired off 7 missiles today in order to send a message to the United States.  And we thought Iran was an issue?  The truth is that North Korea probably isn't anywhere close to being able to hit the U.S. mainland with their missiles, but Hawaii...okay, that could be another story.
The reason I bring this up is because nobody knows really, truly, what goes on in the secretive regime.  Regime change is so far from the minds of the North Korean people that the U.S.  is in a very difficult position. An egomaniac, like Kim Jong, can turn on a dime, to quote a very famous cliche.  One day, he might want to keep the regime going.  The next day he might just rush into Seoul and take down the South Koreans.
Either way, the U.S. is in a pickle in regards to this.  Who's to blame?  Two countries.  Ourselves, of course, and the South Koreans who have taken their cue from traditional American capitalism without trying first to instill a bit of their past culture.  By doing so, North and South Korea are literally two separate countries that are increasingly becoming more and more separate.  There's nothign between the two countries that look the same, no ties that bind so to speak.
Shame on South Korea for doing that.  And, shame on the U.S. for wiping the asses of the South Koreans for so long.  Am I too harsh?  Maybe.  But when a serious threat like North Korea continues to give my nation the "finger" in the form of ballistic missiles, I begin to worry.  These are my friends, my family, my wife and child that could be in danger.
So, step it up U.S. and get the South Koreans to take charge of their issue.  Get China even more invovled and hand over the DMZ.  This ridiculous hand holding has been going on long enough.  Most Americans are just plain sick of it.
Our "friends" the South Koreans have been taking advantage of our good graces for way, way too long. 
Happy 4th.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Tiger vs. Anthony Battle at AT&T National Figures to Go Into the Weekend

Tiger Woods finished up his second round at AT&T National on Friday by shooting a 4 under par to take a 1 stroke lead over Anthony Kim into the clubhouse.  Of course, Kim has a lot of golf to play and no doubt could be leading Tiger going into Saturday's third round.
For both Woods and Kim, the AT&T National has been an exceptional tournament so far.  Woods needed something positive after failing at Bethpage roughly two weeks ago in the U.S. Open and Anthony Kim hasn't been very good this year.  Woods's bounce back at AT&T signals that he is still the best in the world.  Kim's bounce back signals that the potential he showed last year might be turning into something else - - actual talent.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Arizona Approves Bill Allowing Guns in Bars

I really shouldn't feel the need to blog about this.  I mean, do I have to spell it out?  Does anyone have to spell it out?  The wild, wild, west that is the stat of Airzona has done it again.  Making inmates live in tents under the hot Arizona sun was bad.
But, this?  Allowing individuals to carry guns into bars?  Are you serious?  You...yes, you, 'Zona!
I hear the gun lobby saying now, "You have to get a permit in order to carry a gun!  If you go through the trouble to get the permit, why not be able to carry it into a bar?"  Right. 
Unbelievable.  The best part is that critics of the bill felt it necessary to say that they believe that "alcohol and guns are a dangerous combination."  Hmm...I hadn't thought of that one.
Guns in  That's all I can blog.  Wow.

Jim Brown Knocks Tiger Woods For Not Being an Individual for Social Change

Jim Brown knocks Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan for not being individuals for social change in a segment on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.  Brown says, regarding Tiger Woods, "This cat is a mamajama; he is a killer. He'll run over you, he'll kick your ass. But as an individual for social change, or any of that kind of ----? Terrible. Terrible."
I get Brown's point regarding both Tiger and MJ, but I'm not exactly sure I agree with the very notion that Woods or Jordan should be individual's for social change.  The truth of the matter is that both Woods and Jordan, I believe, Woods for sure, have foundations and give money to charity.  Beyond that, what are rich people expected to do in this country?  And, if Tiger and MJ are anything, beyond being black, it's taht they are super, super, rich.
Again, this isn't saying that Brown's wrong, it's just saying that Tiger and MJ, most Americans, me included, and hopefully, Jim Brown, are doing what we are expected to do.  That is take care of our personal "tribes", our families - - spouses, parents, children, nieces and nephews and grandparents - - before taking care of anyone else.
Isn't that the goal of any individual anywhere in the world?  Besides, social change has always come about due to huge movements directed by groups of human beings, not by any one individual.  When Muhammed Ali said that he had "no quarrel with them Viet Cong", he meant it.  He didn't think that he was taking a political stand.  It was a personal stand.  It led to a political stand.
We take care of our "tribes", our families, first.  Then, we do what we feel is right for everyone else afterwards.  Maybe, Jim Brown should think about that before hitting another woman.
I know, I know, I didn't have to go there, but it is sort of ridiculous that Brown is proselytizing, don't you think?

FDA Says No More Vicodin and Percocet

The FDA has said, in the words of Amy Winehouse, "No, no, no!" when it comes to the alarmingly addictive drugs, Vicodin and Percocet.  Sounds good to me.  I started out my career as a communicator by working for Cigna Healtchare, in their call center, way back in the mid 1990's.  I took a call one day from an individual claiming to be a big time radio personality in the Valley of the Sun, that's Phoenix, AZ., begging me to call his primary care physician or pharmacist to release Percocet to him.  I was 23 at the time. 
You can imagine what I was thinking.  The truth is that I had no idea what Percocet was, but after talking to a couple of older individuals on my team, I quickly found out that the stuff was worse thatn drug I had heard of growing up.  So, I told the poor fella no and went on with my day.
Good job, FDA.  Too bad it's happening so late.