Friday, September 30, 2011

Another Yankee Postseason

Despite being a Jets fan, I've been blessed as a sportsfan. I grew up in a baseball split house. My mom, sister, and I were Yankee fans while my pop and brother were Met fans. But neither side hated the other team so we used to go to both Yankee and Met games all the time. Because of that, my first great sports memory was the dissapointment of the 1976 Yankee World Series loss to the Reds. It's more of an emotional memory than remembering events. I remember the dissapointment of my family. Then 1977 and the great penant race of '78, which both culminated in Yankee championships. I was also able to celebrate the Mets' triumph in 1986, unfortunately, their last championship.

Since I've been following baseball I've got to celebrate 8 championships in my lifetime (8 Yankee titles and 1 Mets). That's more than I could ever ask for. That has balanced out the annual heartbreak of the Jets (who went from laughing stock to perennial contender) and the embarrassment of the Knicks under the stewardship of the Scourge of New York Sports, the second worst owner in the history of this town, James Dolan (he's not 1st only because the worst owner committed outright fraud to buy the Islanders and ended up in jail because of it. Yes, Dolan only fell to No. 2 because someone else was a criminal).

Now another postseason for the Yanks is upon us, the 20th in my lifetime. Amazing considering the Yanks missed the posteason for 13 straight years. This is a tough matchup in the first round against the Detroit Tigers, who I think is the best team in the American League. I'll be rooting hard as I always do, but at the same time I'm eternally grateful for the wonderful memories I have of championships past.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sixteen One-Game Seasons

The saying used to be that for the New York Yankees they played 162 one-game seasons each year based on the media and fan scrutiny. Every loss was the end of the world and every win euphoric. That's what happens when you're a winning team. So what do you get when you combine those feelings with a doom-and-gloom fanbase who had suffered PTFD (post traumatic fandom disorder), you get the New York Jets!

The Jets lost yesterday to fall to 2-1, the same record they started last season when they went to their second consecutive conference championship game after going 11-5. Reading the message boards none of the past matters. Heck, nothing last week matters. Jets lost this week and many fans are conceeding the season, saying that the team won't make the playoffs. It's absurd, of course, but Jet fans are mainly absurd. They've constantly killed Mark Sanchez and make the ludicrous claim that "he hasn't improved," but he has actually been better by essentially every metric. That doesn't matter when doom-and-gloom is part of your fandom DNA.

So we have these 16 one-game seasons this year and right now the world is at an end because the Jets lost. We'll see how next season is after this coming game Sunday night.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Losing a First Love

While I wait on John to get back to me on the revisions forDRAGORO, I've jumped back into writing my WIP, a YA paranormal thriller called LISTEN. I had stopped at 10,000 words when I got the offer of rep and spent my writing time on the revisions. I took a little hiatus before picking up the WIP, revising the first part and adding some more so I'm about halfway through the first draft. In the past when I was between projects I would spend my time with my first creative love--drawing & rendering.

I was drawing since I was in diapers. That, and making sculptors out of aluminum foil and colored tape. Those were my first two creative loves. I stopped sculpting as my writing took prominence 10 years ago, but drawing has been with me forever. I had first started out in pencil and by my teenage years moved on to pencil with ink and then finally paint markers that were popular with illustrators and production designers of the day. The coloring part of it is called rendering for those that don't know.

Always a big comic book fan, I became infatuated with the then new way comic books were colored--through digitial painting. The program of choice was and still is Photoshop. So about 7 years ago I bought the program along with a Wacom Tablet which uses a stylus that acts just like a pencil or pen. I instantly fell in love and all my renderings have been done on the computer. I'd start with a pencil drawing and scan it, or do a digital drawing in Photoshop and then get to painting. I had spent hours upon hours doing it.

Unfortunately, that seems to have taken it's toll. Back in May when I started working on the Dragon piece for DRAGORO, I began to feel a sharp pain in the third finger of my right hand while working with the stylus. I thought it was just fatigue or the way I was holding the stylus. The problem was that with the pain I no longer had the control of the stylus as I needed. I still feel that discomfort today, but while writing and I've noticed that my penmanship has suffered.

I haven't drawn or rendered anything of substance since June. I'm worried that the pain will return. But I can deal with the pain. The problem is the resultant lose of control of the stylus or pencil, the tools I use to put my visions to canvas, digital or otherwise.

I will try again, perhaps after I finish the first draft of my WIP. But I can see the writing on the wall. I'm slowly losing my first love.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Great Mariano Rivera

The other day, New York Yankee great Mariano "Mo" Rivera recorded his 600th save, only the second closer in MLB history to do that. The San Diego Padre's longtime closer Trevor Hoffmann retired after 601 saves, which means Mo will be the all-time saves leader with 2 more saves. Yet his Hall of Fame resume is so ridiculous that he'd still be a first ballot entry to Cooperstown without the saves record.

I recently debated with a friend about who are the great closers in MLB history. I agreed with his choices and he disagreed with some of mine. It didn't Obama-it, mind you, and conceded my choices and call it a comprise. Instead, I explained that it is the problem of relativity in that Mo makes every other closer utterly pale in comparison.

Mo is the Babe Ruth of closers. In 1927, Babe Ruth hit more home runs than many teams combined. Babe Ruth was simply that much better than everyone else. That is how Mariano Rivera is with closers. It is unfair to judge other closers to his standards because they will always come out wanting. In life, we all can be great, but sometimes there are those whose greatness outshines everyone else. One of those is Mariano Rivera. Congratulations, Mo. It has been an honor watching you pitch all these years.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In Memoriam, 9/11

Ten years. I don’t know if it feels like yesterday or decades ago. That day remains vivid in my mind, however. What I have a hard time remembering was September 10, 2001. I remember going down to court the week before. The courthouse was not far from the World Trade Center. Coming out of the subway the towers were to my left in the distance, dominating the skyline. I go to that same subway station and I have a hard time remembering how the towers looked from that view. It puzzles me. Pre-9/11 seems like a dream. Maybe that’s why I can’t tell if it feels like yesterday or in the distant past. There seems to be no prologue. Just the post-9/11 world that I’ve become accustomed.

I can look back on my life of the last ten years and so much has changed. I got married, bought a house, we have a son and now a daughter on the way. Life has endured, as America has endured despite what had happened. That was probably the hardest thing to foresee on 9/11. How life would go on.

Nearly three thousand people were murdered that day and their loved ones have had to find a way to live on, and they have. There are countless articles and exposés on them out now to commemorate the anniversary. To the survivors, this past decade has been an elegy.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Happy 45th Anniversary, Star Trek!!!

Forty-five years ago today on September 8, 1966, NBC aired "The Man Trap," for the original STAR TREK. It was the first episode of the series aired, but it was not the first produced. Back then, studios got to chose what episodes to air and NBC likely chose "The Man Trap" because of it's monster-on-the-loose storyline. The original STAR TREK lasted only 3 seasons, but as we all know it became a cultureal phenomenon in reruns. Since I was born after the series went off the air, that's how I became a fan and have remained such for all these years.

As I previously wrote, my moral framework was formed by STAR TREK. I was a toddler glued to the screen watching reruns of the original series on WPIX. Yes, that’s completely geeky, but so what? I remember when I found out as an early teen that the US didn’t follow the Prime Directive (i.e., all peoples—alien or otherwise—had a right to self determination) and was devastated by that. There is something inherently noble about the original STAR TREK universe. Dave Marinaccio’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Watching Star Trek perfectly captures what I learned from STAR TREK and all what I needed to know how to live, what to do, and how to be:

- Each person or each species, no matter how alien, has the right to live their lives as they wish. (AS long as they’re not trying to take over the galaxy or eat you or something.)

- Everyone has a role in life. Sulu is the navigator. Uhura is the communications specialist. Do your own job and the ship will function more smoothly.

- Whatever you are doing, answer a distress call. The most important time to help someone is when they need it.

- If you mess something up, it’s your responsibility to make things right again (Say you disrupt history and cause the Nazis to win World War II. To correct matters, you have to let Joan Collins walk in front of a car even though you’re in love with her.)

- The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play

- If you can keep your head in a crisis you’ve got a fighting chance.

- The unknown is not to be feared. It is to be examined, understood and accepted.

- Close friends become family and family is the true center of the universe.

- End every episode with a smile.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. It was a sort of epiphany seeing this. Yes, this is how we should live. Thank you, Gene Roddenberry and STAR TREK, and happy anniversary!!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Back to School!

Today was my son's first day of 1st grade. I was more excited about it than he was. It's a half day and he was more amped about the scheduled playdate with his two budies, twins named Josh & Joey, when school lets out. I handled this better than his first real day of school, which I blogged about two years ago when he started Pre-K.

We ended the summer on a good note. I took him to Splish Splash on Sunday after church and we went to see Spy Kids 4 yesterday because he really wanted to try out the "Aroma Scope," the scratch-n-sniff gimmick that went with the movie. Whatever he wants because now he has a long year ahead.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Farewell Summer

Jeesh, it's September 1st already. Where the heck did the summer go? I do feel that as I've gotten older the days have become shorter (since I've accumulated so many in my existence) that a week is like a day and a month is like a week. For my son starting 1st Grade next week, the summer was like a year. But, of course, he's lamenting going back to school. Don't get me wrong: he loves it, but he loves camp more.

Me? I didn't take a vacation this year. I hardly do anyway and work through summer. But I enjoy the sun waking me in the morning before I get ready for the day and still being out when I leave work in the evening. The nice temperatures (I can even deal with a heat wave). That is what I lament. Spring is my favorite season because I think of birth and renewal. Life begins anew. The fall, while beautiful with the comfortable temperatures (and football season, of course), is bittersweet. If makes me think of endings and death.

The official end of summer is not until the end of September, but Labor Day has always marked it for me (and millions of others, of course). So goodbye, summer. It was fun, but all too quickly gone.