Friday, November 29, 2013
E-I to the G-H-T-Y 6
Santa Claus couldn't haul my bag of tricks
New things for that vulture verse writing guy. Or at least an expansion of an old thing. A promotion at The Penalty Flag. I'm now Division Leader for the NFC West and AFC West sections.
I'll be writing about both divisions and fantasy football weekly. The AFC part is new, but I've been writing Seahawks articles and the Creeper Report every week this season. Also, I'm responsible for promotion and editing of the other writers. And I need to recruit more.
That means: The Penalty Flag needs you. Are you a great writer and a football genius? Neither are we. Join us. All you need is love for your team and the desire to write a short post about once a week. Or at least once a month. By definition we are not a source of breaking news and game recaps. We're a bunch of football fans delivering our side of the story.
I can't promise you much money. You can make $5-10 for your most successful articles. Most might not earn anything. But you'll get read and become part of a fun community. You'll enjoy the game more. You'll probably be seen on Yardbarker.com by Fox Sports and other websites. The company has been growing. Grow with it and who knows what might happen?
An article I recently did on Russell Wilson busted out for 11,000 page views in half a day. A friend of mine ran into it on MSN and emailed me back the link.
So that's a major development for me. I'd love your help writing. Or at least read me. Even if you're not big into football I promise to keep it interesting. My Creeper Reports have included cigar review and limericks.
Want to get involved? Go here and keep and eye on what David Klenda is doing.
I'm still writing for Bright Hub a few times a month. Links to my work are on the right. Other creative projects are on pause for now. My ebooks are free at Smashwords. Expanding "Inside the Skull" into a full novel is on my mind, just not on my schedule. I'm sinking my teeth into this football project for now. Public demand for another book would get me moving. Just ask and have your friends ask.
Saturday, October 12, 2013
I put the "blah" in blogger. My son puts more exciting content in his diaper every day. Towns with no paved roads or stoplights get more traffic than my blog. A scorpion crawled out of the desert and onto my blog and said: "Ah, so much quieter." Escaped convicts have been playing dominoes on my blog, sure that no one would find them here.
Have you ever put something off until you're so far behind it will take a ton of work to catch up? Then because it requires a ton of work, you put it off more? Until it takes two tons of work?
That's my blog.
"I've been busy" is a common excuse for everything. It doesn't mean a person hasn't the time to do it. It means they choose to spend their time on other things. That's me. Sorry, blog.
I've been writing up to six pieces a month for Bright Hub Education. Look at the Help with Writing section. I own that thing, including a recent piece on how to write a ghazal featuring a poem I wrote about Zero Eight. What's a ghazal? Look it up. You'll find everything I've done (except the one I hated) to the right under My Work for Bright Hub.
And the Penalty Flag has been keeping me busy. Since the start of the NFL season, I've been writing one Seahawks piece and one Fantasy Football piece per week. "The Creeper Report" is my fantasy piece, named after and chronicling my four teams. Each report features reactions and predictions plus a cigar review and a limerick.
The Creeper Report is still scratching for a following, but my Seahawks work has been getting some attention. I wrote 3 of the top 10 articles in September. I've been granted the ability to post and edit my own work, rather than submit and wait for editing. I appreciate that greatly. I'm aiming to have a great football season as a writer. Who knows where it could lead? I asked myself, who has more money? The National Football League or the largest professional poetry association you can think of?
My bio at the top of this site says I write for The Penalty Flag, Bright Hub and myself. The myself part has been lacking. The best I've done lately has been to compile a collection of my own work and staple it into a booklet. Sort of a vanity/birthday present for myself. I have scattered a dozen or so copies into the wind. I should put it into ebook form also. Speaking of those, all mine have been free at Smashwords.com for some time now. Putting that link at the end of my TPF articles have increased the traffic there.
An idea for a novel has starting clanking around my brain-case. Continuing the idea from Road from Nowhere of an Orbital Defense system gone rogue that decimates the planet, I want to follow one of its builders. A satellite laser system initially built to protect the USA from enemy missiles and planes begins to reinterpret the definition of "enemy". I also redefines who and what it should protect. Our narrator will be living in a post-apocalyptic world "protected" by this satellite from almost everything, including everyone else. It is the story of isolation, regret and too much power. I'm just starting to scratch my head. I'll get to work on some notes as soon as this is posted.
I will under-promise and over-deliver regarding content to the blog. I will never aspire to do more here than simply report what I'm up to. I will try to do it more often
If you came here through one of my football articles, thank you. This site is almost completely not about football, but there is barbecue, guns and fighting if you look closely enough.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Peyton Manning starts the season by making Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas into fantasy beasts. The running backs were afterthoughts.
The trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans) practically cares for itself. It is so easy to care for, if you have problems, you should give up gardening.
From eHow: How to Care for Trumpet Creepers
How Were My Predictions?
Last week I said: “Receivers yes, runners no in Denver.” 462 passing yards and 7 touchdowns compared to 21 rushes for 67 yards. Three guys shared those carries. Knowshon Moreno got the start and saw most of the reps. Montee Ball got the bulk of the garbage-time running. Ronnie Hillman was there, too. Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas all scored twice. Eric Decker was left out in the cold and his hands looked a bit frigid, but he should get his points next week.
I also said Seattle would feel no East Coast slump in week one, yet they came out sluggish and unfocussed. The Seahawk offense was dragging their tails in the heat and humidity. Four other 10am East Coast games for Seattle this year. It will be a tough road.
And never forget to look at the weather. I remember one year I started Shane Graham on a day the winds were swirling nutty in Cincinnati. He scored almost nothing for me. Watching the highlights on TV, kicks were going about ten yards before spinning off into the maelstrom. Maybe I should have started someone playing in the Superdome.
Tampa Bay defense versus the Jets? New York is the team to pick on this year. Tampa Bay got five sacks and two turnovers, giving up 16 points. Not a bad result, so I won't regret it.
I also suggested the defenses of Kansas City and Miami. Both dominated against bad quarterback play by Jacksonville and Cleveland. Who plays the Jags and Browns this week? Raiders and Ravens.
I doubted CJ Spiller and Stevie Johnson, especially if EJ Manuel couldn't play. EJ played and did okay. CJ had 55 total yards and a fumble while Fred Jackson produced 108 yards. Stevie had only three catches for 39 and a score. Next week, they get the Panthers, who made it very tough on the Seahawks. Follow up on the shot to the head CJ took and keep your hopes low.
I predicted a shoot-out between Minnesota and Detroit, though I'm not sure what actually happened. Adrian Peterson took his first carry 78 for a score, then got 15 yards on his next 17 carries. Jerome Simpson gained 140 yards receiving while the whole rest of the team shared 96 yards.
On the other side, Matthew Stafford threw for 357 yards and two scores. Reggie Bush gained 191 all-purpose yards with one touchdown and two injuries (dislocated thumb and groin) so will that be his best game of the year? Joique Bell vultured away a pair of TDs. Somehow Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew combined for only six catches and 43 yards.
I should say something smart here, but I don't know what to think. Trust the big names on both of those teams and take your chances with the rest.
Pickups for Week Two
Julius Thomas showed he is a big play guy on Thursday. Peyton Manning's trust in him should only grow. Probably got snacked up by your league-mates that night if you didn't get there first. I got him.
When Jacoby Jones was crashed into by his team-mate Brynden Trawick, it created an opportunity for Marlon Brown. The Ravens had a tough first game in Denver, but expect better of them at home against Cleveland. Joe Haden should eat up Torrey Smith like he did Mike Wallace, making space for Brown.
Terrelle Pryor showed he can throw and run against Indianapolis. At home against Jacksonville, he should do even better. Because I play with my head and not my heart, I picked him up as a backup in my Euro league. I still hate the Raiders.
Rueben Randall had five catches for 101 yards against Dallas. I expect a shoot-out this week against Denver. They can't cover him, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks at the same time. And Randall looks ready to break a punt return also.
Jared Cook is finally out of Tennessee. It looks like he and Sam Bradford will be a good thing. Seven catches for 141 and two scores. He's big, fast and could be available.
Julian Edelman is the most experienced and most healthy receiver for New England. Tom Brady needs smart receivers, which is why rookies rarely click. Cagey veterans do, even if they're not particularly big, fast or flashy. Right Wes?
Defenses for Week Two
Dallas was unowned in most of my leagues. Although the Giants looked very sloppy and made it easy for the Cowboys to collect turnovers, Dallas was still flying to the ball. DeMarcus Ware looks healthy, strong and fast. I think they do some damage against Kansas City, who looked improved this week. But Jacksonville makes everyone improve.
Who's playing the Giants, Steelers, Jaguars, Browns and Jets this week? (Yeah, they won, but I'm still picking on the Jets.) Broncos, Bengals, Raiders, Ravens and Patriots are the answers.
With a crack and a cut on his throwing hand, I think Blaine Gabbert is out, meaning the Jacksonville team that managed two points against the Chiefs is starting Chad Henne. If your kid's ballet group was playing the Jags, I'd start them. This week it's the Raiders, and though I hate them, I'm still using them. That's a Raider QB and defense on one of my teams. Use the head, not the heart.
Different Leagues, Different Rules, Different Strategies
Being in four leagues reminds me that they're not all the same. The size, lineups, depth and scoring all add a twist to how you should play them.
My Euro league is huge. Sixteen teams. I drafted with my normal strategy of waiting on a quarterback. Suddenly I realized Mike Vick was the best one available. Preseason, I just thought he was too much a risk, but I had to take him. After Week One, it looks like a good call, but I had no backup. Post-draft, I realized Blaine Gabbert was the best #2 QB I could get. Wow, Mike. Stay healthy. This week, I swapped Gabbert for Terrelle Pryor. Have to move quick on free agents in this league, because with sixteen benches out there, no one is a free agent. George Blanda got drafted in this league.
Andy's league has the 2 RB, 2 WR, 2 Flex lineup I like. Lots of flexibility. Draft with balance. Start four runners and two receivers one week and the opposite the next, if match-ups dictate. Ten teams, so talent is not too deep and not too shallow.
Nate's league starts 3 WR and 2 RB with one Flex. I realized this a bit too late in the draft. I'm stronger at RB than WR and should be the opposite. I'll be making up for that mistake all year. Also the only league I've ever been in with IDP. I got NaVorro Bowman as a free agent (somehow) and I'll just roll with him all year. Because I've never thought much about IDP. Does being on a team with a bad offense help because you're always on the field making tackles? What happens when you cross an elephant and a rhino? Ellafino.
The TPF league auto-drafted, so all we could do was adjust our ranks. Being that I love depth at running back and wide receiver, I put every tight end, defense and kicker on my “do not draft” list and ended up with Peyton Manning, RG3 and a slew of runners and catchers (including Demaryius, which was a nice one-two punch). After the draft, I tacked on Zach Miller, Steven Hauschka and Indianapolis. I dropped Chris Ivory, Rashard Mendenhall and Mike Williams. Only the TB WR made me hesitate, but a fellow needed a defense.
Now the craziest part about the TPF league is the small lineup: 3 WR and 2 RB with no flex. Only two backs? This week I chose David Wilson over Reggie Bush, but Peyton bailed me out of that.
My Thoughts for Week Two
David Wilson might be terrible. I don't know what Tom Coughlin or myself is going to do with him. He fumbles, can't gain tough yards and can't block. The only thing he probably can do is break off a long touchdown just before you give up on him. Fantasy headache defined. I have him in two leagues and don't think I can play him.
It's good for your QB to be behind. In this game, there are no points for winning. Great passing performances come around when your quarterback is down early. Meanwhile, the guy with the lead is milking the clock and handing the ball off. I'm looking at you this week, Eli Manning, Phillips Rivers and Carson Palmer. Especially if Chip Kelly's Eagles come out quick again and cool off in the second half. RG3 almost pulled of the comeback and Rivers can too.
DeAngelo Williams and who else? Jonathan Stewart and Kenjon Barner are out. Mike Tolbert has a bad hamstring and spent most of Sunday as a lead-blocker anyway. Cam Newton is his own goal-line back, but other than that, it's DeAngelo's show. Before a costly fumble, he had 100 combined yards against the Seahawks. Expect the Panthers to have easier running against the Bills.
I told you not to trust the Patriots. Tom Brady had a satisfactory day, finishing between EJ Manuel and Geno Smith in fantasy points. If you drafted him early, you're disappointed. Danny Amendola caught ten passes for 104 yards, but missed part of the game with a groin injury. How do you feel about him for Thursday? Rookies Kenbrell Thompkins and Zach Sudfeld did very little despite lots of hype. I'm happy I ignored all the Stevan Ridley talk preseason, because he fumbled and was benched. Shane Vereen took over, racking up 159 total yards before breaking a bone in his wrist. Which Belichick back do you want to start now? Julian Edelman, with seven catches for 79 and two scores, is the Patriot I trust most. Plus you never know when he might return a punt all the way or even get an interception.
Creeper of the Week
Da'Rel Scott will get his chance for the Giants at running back. David Wilson is in the doghouse, Andre Brown is out with a broken leg and New York is trying out Brandon Jacobs again. Do it or don't, Mr. Scott. It's up to you. Hold on to the ball, pick up blitzes, keep your pads low and run north-south. Do the dirty work and you'll put up numbers.
What I'm Smoking
1876 Reserve Churchill, Dominican, 7.2 x 50. I got a couple for under two bucks a piece. Quite worth it. A lighter wrapper and a mellower taste than I normally choose, but I can't smoke squid ink all the time. It started light and smooth but grew in flavor. It hit the sweet-spot halfway through and had a rich leatheryness like my favorite bomber jacket. The burn was nice and even. The finish was non-bitter. Even after half a foot of cigar, I didn't want it to stop.
I think this is a great smoke for the newbies. Convert them from the machine-rolled, flavored, infused, pencil-sized crap they've been puffing. For the price of a soda, damn good.
Your Limerick for the Week
There once was a QB named Joe
Who pocketed most his team's dough.
But despite all his wealth
Couldn't throw to himself.
Last year might have been their plateau.
Until next week, good luck and happy creeping.
On a hot, humid late-summer day in Charlotte, North Carolina, Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks ground out a 12-7 victory.
I'd rather have seen Marshawn Lynch go beast for a hundred-plus, leaving a wake of crushed Panther helmets. I'd be happier if Russell threw a touchdown each to Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin and Zach Miller. I'd be ecstatic with a shutout and a couple of defensive scores.
But what I got was a sweaty, nasty win that took a whole team to create.
I thought on the first week of the season, traveling way back east and playing at 10am wouldn't be a big deal. Yet the Seahawks did come out sluggish and unfocussed. Luke Wilson had a first-possession false start, pushing Seattle back into their own end-zone where Russell was nearly sacked for a safety. On the next possession, Marshawn dropped a pass and they went three-and-out. Carolina's pass rush came out wicked and the Seahawks couldn't get in a rhythm.
And the muggy, sticky southern weather was no joke.
When all else fails, go deep. If that fails, go deep again.
Down 7-6 with ten minutes left in the game, Russell let one fly down the right sideline to Stephen Williams, who stretched out and nearly caught it. Would have made my Creeper of the Week call look really good. On the next play, he sailed another down the same sideline to Jermaine Kearse, who jumped over two defenders to grab the ball in the end-zone.
After the Seahawks failed to convert the two-pointer, Carolina went on the attack. They drove the ball into the Seattle red-zone before Earl Thomas punched the ball away from DeAngelo Williams at the ten. The Seahawks recovered and snuffed the clock.
It wasn't pretty. It wasn't decisive. I wanted to confirm all the Superbowl hype by stomping a mud-hole in Carolina. But it was the type of win that brings a team together.
Week Seventeen of last year, Seattle beat Saint Louis with a brilliant Russell Wilson two minute drill. Following blowouts of the Cardinals, Bills and 49ers, the close victory over the Rams grounded the team and reminded them winning any NFL game is hard. I feel the Rams game put the Seahawks in the proper playoff mindset to beat the Redskins and almost defeat the Falcons.
If all the “Seahawks to the Superbowl” talk has made any Seattle player think a deep playoff run is inevitable, the Panthers game should bring them back to Earth. This road is going to be tough, with more 10am games back east against the Texans (9/29), Colts (10/6), Falcons (11/10) and Giants (12/15). Seattle has the #11 toughest schedule overall and the #2 most difficult road schedule. Denver has the easiest schedule.
The Broncos are a popular choice to represent the AFC in the Superbowl. Chalking up a bunch of blowout wins should be easy, with the Raiders, Chiefs and Chargers in the division, plus games against the Jaguars and Eagles. Peyton Manning could throw seven touchdowns a lot.
But ask the 2007 Patriots if going 18-0 prepares you for a trench fight in the Superbowl.
Give me and my Seahawks the dirty, potholed, ugly road and we'll slog through the ditch all the way to the Superbowl. On offense and defense, I know we have guys who'll make plays when they count in the fourth quarter. Even if it feels good all year, I don't want the high-scoring easy wins. Give me the nasty ones with a couple tough losses to keep everyone humble.
Well, I will take another 42-13 punishing of San Francisco next week without complaint.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
I made it back to Broken Mic for the first time in a few months. I've been working a lot, often on Wednesday, and taking a night for myself is taking a night from my wife and kids. I'm glad I made it. Being around writers, whether you agree with them in content or style or not, is good for my energy. It always makes me want to work and reminds me I am more than a guy who does a job for money.
I attended the local Slam Championships back in May when Team Spokane was selected. They will represent us in Boston for the National Championship. Individual slams take place every other Sunday throughout the year with the best performers making it into the finals.
It opened my eyes. It's a whole different game. I've always been a critic of "Slam Poetry" primarily for the fact that it calls itself poetry. Poetry is something different: written for the page to be read when the writer is absent. Slam is written to be performed aloud by the writer in three minutes or less. That's a whole different art form.
But I thought: "I can do this. It will be hard, but I can do this." Everything I've ever read at the open mic I had written previously to be read from the page. Never before had I written something specifically to perform in front of people. I've written to a specific length, but never to a specific time.
Last night was the first time I brought something to Broken Mic written specifically for the time and place. I won't call it a poem, rather a script. The open mic suggest a 3 minute "time guideline" that often is run over. In truth, the event has to end at 9. It's an all ages thing in a bar, so minors have to get out. If your piece goes 4, 5, 6 minutes or more, you're robbing time from another. Every night, some people are trimmed from the end of the program because of time.
So, starting with an emotion I began to feel as I headed of to my last job (hell no, I don't want to go back) I wrote a 3 minute piece and memorized it. To this day, I can scarcely remember anything I've written. Fake Flowers is about it. I just don't do that. But I did it. I repeated it over and over before sleeping Tuesday, timing myself and finding the results between 2:40 and 3:30. You need to factor in some stammer time. You may pause to remember a line or read more deliberately than intended. You may have to stop for laughter.
I had it nailed as I drove downtown, but nothing prepares you for having a room of people staring at you and hearing your voice over a mic. But as Kurt Olson put it last night, when do you have 40-50 people actually listening to you? Behind a bar or table-side, I'm comfortable talking with people and feel very natural. But until you've spent a lot of time on stage, you are understandably rattled. So I didn't know if my memory would fail or if I'd bring the personality I wanted to the piece. Of course I had a copy on me. I had to look for the third line, but after that I nailed it.
But it's terrifying. Someone should monitor our vitals over the course of the night. Heart rate, adrenaline, sweat, facial color. Before, during and after. I don't know how they decide the order of the readers. It's not the order in which you signed up. Half the readers read, then they have a featured reader and a break, then the second half. It seems to me they bracket the first and second halves with someone they know and fill the middles with the unknowns. Yet my first time there they just threw me on first, which was a bit of relief. Just throw me in the water with no time to think about the sharks.
I find myself going through rapid cycles of emotion. I never know if I'm reading next. Naturally, I'm excited to do it, nervous about my performance, anxious I might forget and proud of what I wrote. I feel all this in the moment before someone does or does not call my name. (Awesome that this is the only place in the physical world people will call me Eighty Six.)
I am relieved every time another's name is called. For 3 minutes, I don't have to worry about reading. I can make no mistakes during that time. But as that reader finished, my pulse increases, my nerves begin to rattle. If I took the mic at this moment, I'd be tight as a drum skin and shaking like a willow. I need to calm myself. I take deep breaths and try to be zen. Paper in hand, I get ready to stride confidently to the front of the room.
Then they call another's name. The cycle repeats. In 3 minutes I'm vibrating again, wanting to be next so I can finally relax but knowing it will be easier to just sit and wait. It's exhausting. The constant up and down. I've been trying to describe it and hope to get it into a poem. It's something like sound waves, the rapid oscillation. The effect compresses as the night moves on. The later it is, the more sure I am the next one will be me, which is some relief. I know it's finally coming. This is like the Doppler effect, perhaps, where the sound waves are compressed and increase in perceived frequency because of velocity.
We're approaching 9. I know they ask people if they'd accept being cut. Typically they ask people they know are understanding. I haven't been here in months. I don't know what side of that line I'm on. Tim asks me quietly how long my piece is. I hold up 3 fingers, happy I timed it. I've walked in here with 4-5 minute pieces before and felt guilty about it.
So I did it pretty strong. As I said, I had to check my sheet for the third line. That was all nerves, not memory. I came off fairly natural, though I was certainly stiff. I mostly looked up at the lights and over people's heads, but did look down into faces as I moved on. I delivered the last lines the way I wanted. I got some whoops, as you always will, at the dirtiest parts and when I said "selling pot".
Relieved to be done, I could have taken a nap right there. One more person read and we were done. I'm not sure what to think about my second-to-last placement. I'm sure they deliberately finish strong, but I don't know the psychology behind the selection of the reader just before. Nerve racking, though. I'd almost rather be first.
I want to condense these thoughts into some verse, but that will come later. Until then, here's my script. I'll call it a script, because poems are something else.
Hell no, I don't wanna go back
I'm choking on post-its, staples and thumbtacks
This train is off track
The discipline's slack
From HR to PR, FNGs to presidency
You have no spines in your backs
Our competition's on the attack
And our whole business structure is cracked
We aim to be 5 star
But the sky is clear and blue
It's high noon
Day dreaming like the last day of school
But I need some production from my work station
I don't know if your money's delivered by elves
But my bills just don't pay themselves
Looking over the fence for greener grass
Shoulder-deep in my pocket and I can't find cash
Just sweat and lint
My glasses are losing that rose-tint
Getting that happy-feet syndrome
I'd rather be home
I'd rather be gone
Rather be fed to ants than be here
I don't care
Put me back table-side in the food and drink biz
At least I know how that is
Do it right, collect more tips for the night
Screw up, crumbs and pennies in your cup
So while you're in you cube, typing reports for the shredder
I'm serving kobe beef and aged cheddar
And while you're calculating profits, losses and risks
I'm stirring shrimp bisque
Shaking martinis with twists
But that game's gotten old before
Give it a few months and I'm staring at the door
Thinking, why am I in here banging my head
On the wall serving water and bread
To the boozed-up and brain dead
When I could have a career instead?
But office, hotel or barber-shop
Casino or truck-stop
Hu-Hot, astronaut or selling pot
Cafe or race-track
Or if you go to work flat on your back
It all sucks
They never have enough bucks
Enough sick days
The right perks
And every single day is berserk
The wrong benefits
And the shoe won't fit
I'm filled with apprehension I'll never live to see my pension
And I just can't get gay
About this 401k
I'm giving myself a permanent vacation
Because I get no satisfaction
No warm and fuzzies
So hell no you can't employ
The EI to the GHTY 6
I'd rather lube your grandmama with chap-stick
I'd rather turn butt tricks for Dick Butkus
I'd rather visit my sister for Christmas
This company and I, we're finished