|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Saturday, September 30, 2006
The Part About Thoroughbred Selections
I've got some picks posted in my nearly defunct horse racing blog. Just didn't want to clutter the space here this morning.
On a side note, we're targeting Breeders' Cup Day in early November to tackle the Pick Six again. Our previous investors from a couple Sundays ago are essentially freerolling with us, but it's going to be a bitch of a card to handicap. Just lowering expectations...
Friday, September 29, 2006
Obliquities and Inertia
I've started and stopped and scrapped and reapproached this post all week, and I'm starting to get frustrated. I think I've just got to commit to spinning phrases from my fingertips and hope that somehow they connect into something tangible. Sigh...
I think it'd be interesting to construct a Venn diagram of all the things at which I've succeeded or at which I've found myself capable in this young life of mine alongside the list of things at which I've truly had to try. The shaded area in the middle wouldn't be big enough to paralell park a Hyundai.
I talked a little this week with the shrink I'm seeing about avoidance as a means of defense. There's been a multitude of reasons and incidents over the past months that I can point to as to why I've chosen to revisit therapy, but beyond the panic attacks and general feelings of loneliness the single most confusing and potentially disturbing display of detachment I've had was on the prep table just prior to my surgery. For what should have been an emotionally difficult time, for what should have had me re-examining my habits and lifestyle, and for what could very easily have had me leaning over the guard rail peering into the consequences of a wasted mortality...
Shouldn't I have been more... something? Whatever that something was, shouldn't I and why didn't I? Why did I crack jokes with the nurses, and why didn't my heart start racing? Why did that Monday feel like almost any other Monday, and why didn't I seem to care about the things that could have gone terribly, terribly wrong?
I've talked before about sleepwalking, about how it seems that my interpretation of depression isn't the standard can't-get-out-of-bed variety, but instead a waking slumber. Get up at six, brush teeth, shower, morning show with coffee, leave for work at seven, five crackers with peanut butter and two more cups of coffee, lose focus by nine, eat my sandwich at 1130, leave around 430. Each day the same, each day alone and detached from any sort of stimuli that could provoke genuine feeling.
The shrink said it was "probably healthy" that my defense mechanism during my health problems kept me outwardly buoyant and upbeat. Really Doctor? I can't buy that.
There was a period of time between college and my marriage where I pined heavily for the woman who would become my ex. We got close over my last few months at school, but she ran back to something familiar and safe when I left town, convinced that 90 miles would be too much to handle. I tried to compartmentalize her choice, despite the intersection of rationality and destiny in my head that told me this was "the one." I tried to be her friend, tried to spend time on the phone small talking with no subtext, but I couldn't do it.
Actually, I could do it and I did do it. I wouldn't and didn't bait her with unwarranted flirtations, there was no begging and pleading and gnashing of teeth. I never thought myself defeated, but I never put her to the choice between me and the other either.
Instead? On nearly every single call, at least twice a week for months on end, I would find a moment to mute the phone and rush to the bathroom to heave up all the discomfort welling in my stomach.
Avoidance. Defense. Even on the two or three occasions that I visited her during this time I'd quietly excuse myself to the bathroom to toss ill overboard. Only once did it manifest in front of her, down in the parking lot of her best friend's apartment building. She hugged me, I pushed her off and ruined the nearby landscaping.
I didn't try, didn't give sign that I wanted and needed her so badly at that point, didn't tell her how much her abandonment in that time of my life was absolutely killing me.
I deserved everything I didn't try to get.
This isn't about my ex-wife though, as every single key juncture of my life to this point and time has been met with the same stoic dismissal, the same lack of effort, the same resignation to inertia.
The only arrow I've ever had in my quiver is a shrug.
I thought F-Train's comment about poker blogs dying was an interesting one, and Maudie and I nearly had him engaged on the subject before we got (cough) railroaded off-topic at the Boathouse.
My point in all this isn't that the blogs are dying, it's that the perceived interest in what we've come to know as "poker blog content" is withering.
Instead of writing a long dissertation on all of this, let me offer a disclaimer asterisk here*, and get on with the point otherwise.
There's nothing that's either groundbreaking or interesting about most posts that reference poker anymore. The really good "poker bloggers" are more acknowledged now for the quality of their non-poker content, while those who are still writing almost solely about poker are relying on a number of devices to keep their membership active.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but much like how there hasn't been variation in sitcom plotlines for years, there really are only a small number of poker blog post types on which the poker blogger relies:
-- How I did last night at the tablesIt's really just variations on a theme from there. Here's the thing... For a large number of us who have been doing this thing awhile, we may have our enthusiasm about writing and we may have our enthusiasm about poker, but these things don't necessarily intersect anymore. It's not at all easy to rehash the same seven topics over and over again, and those that do? It's a device, a crutch, the easy way out.
The perception that poker blogs are dying comes from those of us who have been reading them for years, who realize that we've read the post we're reading a few dozen or hundred times before, and who feel that every new voice adding to the clamor feels derivative of the voices that came before.
*The Disclaimer: There's a difference between the writer's enthusiasm when he finds a like-minded group of people to talk poker and the veteran reader's enthusiasm for reading the same sorts of things over and over and over again. It doesn't make the writer terrible, it doesn't make the reader a bad person. It's just an explanation as to why an old timer perceives poker blogs to be dying. Also note I said "feels" derivative. I'm absolutely positively not trying to pin anything on the writer here, just that there are only so many ways to explore the studio space here, and after three-and-some-odd years in the fray, I'll be shocked and pleased to find a new one when (s)he arrives.
What it feels like out there is white noise. The most unique voices of this community have moved beyond the single subject matter, and that only magnifies the perceived "problem" that somehow we've heard all this before. That yet another post saying, "I played the DADI and so did eleven other bloggers," with eleven Rashomon views of the same online MTT popping up in my Bloglines folder just feels like the same thing I've been reading for years upon years now.
Using devices and writing the same posts is lazy and easy and a cop out to what's honest and true and sometimes difficult. It's like when using Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" with no dialogue at the end of a TV show gives us shorthand for brooding introspection. It takes no skill to be obvious, and it takes no effort to do the same thing time and time again.
My greatest fear in this space is being derivative. Derivative of others or derivative of myself. I don't write about poker because everything has already been said, and better than I'm capable of saying it anyway. But where I've been running into a wall lately? I feel like I don't have any more stories to tell, and that everything that comes off the keyboard intended for the blog is lame and awful and the same shit either I've said or someone else has before.
I almost envy those that have that crutch, who almost revel in writing the same posts time and again. Because at this point, I'm not even trying. The simple act of writing is too difficult, and I shrug it off. I play my stupid football game, I click the refresh button in my Bloglines window, and I look for any distraction possible to not be staring into an MS Notepad window deleting the same three or four gawdawful sentences because they aren't good enough and I feel like I'm bereft of anything new to say.
Poker blogs might be dying because there's nothing new to say. Mine's dying because I refuse to say anything at all. Maybe I'm projecting my midlife crisis onto my blog, but for the first time since I can remember, "what's easy" isn't at all what's going to work for me anymore.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
A long time ago I came to the conclusion that the only things I write more poorly than trip reports are hand histories and tournament recaps. So, in other words, you're not going to get the blow-by-blow of my weekend with links all over the fucking place referencing those with whom I partied.
Despite my half-assed efforts above, Speaker actually wins the award for most pandering link-filled trip report of all time that still was actually readable. I'm surprised he didn't link Flanigan's Boathouse, Philadelphia International Airport and the homepage of WaWa Gas and Sip stores everywhere, but I think he got everything else covered. Well done Kent, I'm too goddamn lazy to look up all the necessary URLs.
I did want to mention a quick few things that stood out for me...
First, Gavin busted my balls solidly for 36 hours, which, since it was for charity, I chose to endure. Of course, it probably didn't help much that within minutes of meeting him I mentioned that I didn't believe "Canadians were for much of anything on the world stage, save igloos and fur-lined mittens," and volleyed another bon mot that Spaceman had to explain to him when I set up a punchline about the metric system in too convoluted a fashion for a guy
The most wonderful sight of all on Friday and Saturday nights was watching Big Mike's cousin Steve - Michael's father, he of the intense struggles with Cystic Fybrosis - throw his cares behind him for a few hours to just have a good time. It was really terrific to see the genuine gratitude in his eyes for all the things - big and small - anyone did to help everyone have a great time this weekend.
Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention getting a chance to sit and talk for awhile with Maudie, the time I got to spend with CJ and the couple Spaceman, getting lost in and out of AC with StB and Falstaff, and seeing faces familiar and not so much over the course of two days.
So here's the thing in general, something I want to post quickly before I lose the urge and maybe I'll possibly dig into it deeper tomorrow or the next, work bullshit forgiving...
I was watching "House" on TV tonight, episode three in season three. Here's the trick: there are two plot devices they're leaning on nearly every week that bother me. First, you've got the observation-as-revelation thing where the protaganist manages to find the key for the mystery by standing under running water or watching a toy tidal wave rock back and forth. He sees something, has the revelation, solves the mystery. It's easy, it provides a visual clue, it plays on the conceit that the audience is smart enough to understand what's at stake, what's in play, and the heroic conclusion that's rising in his eyes. Two, instead of writing a denoument the writers rely on a piece of mood rock and faraway looks to settle the score at the end, tie up all loose ends, and bring you to the same emotional conclusion.
Both of these things are lazy, trite and derivative. Both are born out of a half-assed effort to turn something complicated into something easy, or at least easier, for middle America to swallow. Since MTV doesn't play videos anymore, this is what passes. How many shows used the dirge-version of "Hallelujah" a few years back with characters staring wistfully from rain-soaked windows? Since we don't have Mary Jane in the form of Kim Basinger to give us the appropriate imagery to Tom Petty goofery anymore, network television feels the need to give us our visual cues.
Hallelujah indeed. It's a short order way of turning something potentially complex into something palatable and easy. Foie gras into cherry Jello. Plain and simple.
I've got a problem with this, personally and professionally.
And I'm not really talking about television anymore.
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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