Saturday, April 06, 2013
I'd like to say this is an isolated lapse, an anomaly, but that just wouldn't be accurate. The truth is that I'm out of regular contact with a number of people I shouldn't be, people that, even after all this time, I number among my life's great friends. Part of this can be attributed to a natural evolution: time has passed, and now everyone is scattered to various places on the map. I'm also at an age where I find that nearly everyone around my age has children of a fairly young age, which I know leaves little time for long, leisurely phone calls or emails. I don't have that particular demand on my time, but there are others.
Everyone's busy. That's hardly a news flash. Everyone has always been busy. After our days at THS, Jess went to BGSU, where I eventually found myself as well; as she got close to graduation (I hung on for another year), she had so much going on that she and I actually had to schedule "appointments" to get together once a week or so. We made it work then, so what's different now? You know, now that everyone carries a telephone/computer in their pocket?
I have a couple of thoughts.
I got my first cell phone about thirteen years ago. I've been cell-exclusive (no land line) for probably ten years, maybe eleven. That's a pretty long time...and yet, I've never quite gotten used to making more than just a quick call on a cell. Sure, I've done it on occasion, but settling in for a lengthy conversation on one still feels alien. (This is me showing my age.) And, frankly, it's a little bit of a pain. The phone gets hot, smashed up against your face, and you have to keep an eye on the battery, and no matter how strong it says your signal is, it seems you're likely to lose service at least once.
And then there's social networking.
I used to write a lot of emails. And not short ones, either. Going back to Jess one more time, I used to write her such epic emails that, looking back, I'm at least a little shocked she never sent me a "cease and desist" order. The problem was that I had several correspondents, and I found myself essentially writing the same things over and over again. One of the reasons I started keeping this blog, in fact, was in answer to this very problem. I figured I could write my thoughts just once, and everyone could read it. The problem with that approach, of course, was that it was a one-sided conversation with no interactivity. It was all "Guess what happened last weekend!" and no "How's your job going?" or whatever.
Of course, I barely write in my blog anymore either, but in that I'm hardly alone. I feel like most personal blogs, once so scrupulously maintained and updated, have fallen by the wayside, replaced by timelines and news feeds. Now, I like Facebook, but it's devious. I see a picture of a friend's kid or cat, or a post about somewhere they're visiting or what they're eating, and maybe we comment back and forth a couple of times. Hey, I don't need to call or email...we're keeping in touch on Facebook! Right?
Well, sure, in the same way you keep in touch with the lady that cuts your hair, or the celebrity you follow on Twitter that actually tweeted you back that one time (ZOMG!). It's small talk. Don't get me wrong, it's better than nothing, but it's superficial: it should be an appetizer or dessert, if you will, rather than the meal itself.
Thus it is that in 2013, when communication across vast distances is easier than ever, the time and will to do so remains elusive. Unfortunately, although I've pinpointed what I think are a couple of factors, I don't really have any solutions, other than "suck it up and pick up the phone, jerk." Anybody have any thoughts? How do you keep in touch with your far-flung friends?
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
So yeah, my tune has changed. It's time for some new blood to lead the program. Unfortunately, Coach Orr has another year left on his contract...and it was announced tonight that BGSU will honor that year, allowing him to coach another season instead of buying him out and moving on.
I knew that would probably be the case. Still, it's disappointing. Letting a coach serve a final year of a contract doesn't just place that one season at risk. It's bad enough to have one more season of low expectations, but it makes recruiting so, so difficult. If you're a college basketball player, would you want to go to a program knowing it's almost a certainty that you'll be playing for a different coach in a year's time?
Look, it's not the losing that bothers me, per se. Dakich's last few teams lost more than they won, and I still went to games and enjoyed them, for the most part. What bothers me is that Orr's teams don't seem to have any personality. What bothers me is that players don't really seem to get better from one year from the next, or even from the beginning of their careers to the end. What bothers me is that there are so many guys on the team who just can't score. What bothers me is that some guys play a ton of minutes without doing much while other guys languish on the bench even though they seem to do more in the limited time they see. What bothers me is that going to games seems more like a chore than something fun to do. What bothers me is that BGSU opened a beautiful new basketball arena and hasn't been able to parlay it into any on-the-court success.
I only made it to four games this season. They won the first one, against Lake Erie College, which was disappointing because they played poorly against a far inferior opponent. They lost the other three (vs. Michigan State (good team), Ohio (good team), and Miami (dreadful team)). Now, I live an hour and a half away from Bowling Green, but believe you me, the drive is not the main reason I don't find myself up there more often. I think I only missed one home game during Coach Dakich's ten-year tenure, and that includes time spent living here, and one season when my wife lived in Stow (near Akron). Not kidding: one time I drove from Toledo to Stow (~2 hours) on a Friday night, drove back to BG the next afternoon for the game, then drove back to Stow after the game. There's no way I'd do that now; I don't mind the drive itself, but it's not worth it when there's such a good chance you're going to watch a poor, uninspired performance and come away disappointed.
I don't know what I'm going to do next season. The athletic department seems to have written it off, so maybe I'll do the same. I went to Wright State for two years before I transferred to BG; maybe I'll get season tickets to watch the Raiders play next season. They have a young coach, a young team, and just played in the Horizon League championship game.
I say that now in frustration. I know when next season rolls around I'll probably do what I did this year: go to a handful of games, mostly when I happen to be in the BG area anyway, watch the rest of the games via crappy Internet stream, complain about how badly the Falcons play, and pine for the days of Pardon, McLeod, Klassen, and Matela. It just pains me that I even have to ponder an alternative to watching another crappy season after what we've already gone through.
No, it doesn't just pain me; it nearly kills me. I was a student at BGSU for three years. I lived in Rodgers Quad for two of those years, and spent a lot of time on campus in East Hall and the Jerome Library, not to mention watching the football team at Doyt Perry Stadium. But some of the best, most amazing, most intense times of my college career took place watching the Falcons play in Anderson Arena. That's where I was when BGSU stopped being "the school I go to" and became my alma mater. That's where I became a Falcon.
To even contemplate taking a year off from watching the basketball program...I can't fathom how it got this bad, or how it can be allowed to continue. If Coach Orr's brand of basketball has come this close to driving me away, I can't imagine what it's doing to more casual fans. (Actually, I can: tickets for Monday's game were only $1, and still only 1,700 people showed up. Casual fans have already moved on.)
Monday, December 31, 2012
It's rather fitting that my first post of 2012 was dedicated to freelance editing and its demands on my time. Let me tell you, had I been through then what I've been through now, I may have just quit while I was ahead. The project I just finished was a doozy. It was given to me in June, and there was absolutely no way I could even fathom it taking me, almost literally, until the end of the year.
Sure, I got a slow start on it. As I got into it and realized how much work it needed, I started to give it more attention. My first serious goal was to have it done by the middle of October. Then by the end of October. Then by Thanksgiving. I tried to think of some serious consequences for myself if it wasn't done by the New Year; fortunately it didn't come down to that. Even with the holidays and all the demands they added to my time, I was able to sit down for some marathon sessions and get the thing done. Over the course of the 6+ months I worked on it, I put in over--well. I don't really want to say how many hours I put in, because my wife will be livid over how comparatively little I was paid for my time and stress. Suffice it to say, it was a significant number.
So as I come full circle and end 2012 the way I started it, I'm not completely sure of my freelance editing future. Not in its entirety, but some aspects of it have to change.
Here are a couple of other recent goings-on:
• Because of said editing project, I totally crapped out early on my goal of participating in NaNoWriMo. I did, however, at least finish the short story I had been working on for a couple of months (at least), and which had been banging around in my brain, in one form or another, for years. I'm currently in the "let it settle" mode for a while before taking another look at it for the second draft.
• On December 22, I was finally eligible to upgrade my phone at a discount. I was toting around a Droid 2 that I was in hate with.* One thing I did like about it, though, was that it had a physical keyboard instead of just the touchscreen. Being someone who cares about precision in his text, I wasn't thrilled about the possibility of giving that up. Of course, the only real upgrade option that still had a physical keyboard was the Droid 4, and given my distaste for its predecessor, I wasn't excited about going that route either. So I took the plunge and got myself a Samsung Galaxy SIII.
It's awesome. The screen is huge and crisp, and it's blazingly fast. I dig it. Yes, inputting text is a bit more of a chore than it was with a physical keyboard, but not as much as I expected. As long as I take care to read over what I'm sending before I do so, I don't expect any problems.
* I actually really liked the Droid 2 for a long time. Then, earlier this year, Verizon sent out a system update that hung halfway through, sending my phone into a loop and bricking it. To replace it, they sent me a "refurbished" phone, which sucked. It was slow and glitchy, it would reboot occasionally for no apparent reason when I was in the middle of using it...just a pain in the ass. It totally soured the experience. I absolutely would have ordered the Droid 4 otherwise.
• Also in the tech department, I took another plunge and placed an order today for a 50" LED HDTV. It should be here late this week or early next. I'm super stoked about it. I've thought for a while that our current TV was too small for our living room; it just so happens that our bedroom TV (a 12-year-old CRT behemoth that's gotten a TON of use) is dying. So the living room TV will go in the bedroom, and two problems will be solved. If it shows up in time for the Alabama-Notre Dame game, that would be awesome, but mostly I'm looking forward to playing PlayStation on it until baseball season starts.
Thursday, November 01, 2012
I've decided to participate, not quite but almost on the spur of the moment, with a slight caveat. I have no particular intention of actually completing a novel. I don't feel like I have a novel-worthy idea at the moment. I do have several small ideas, though; whether or not they could be spun together into a novel is a possibility (however remote), but that's not how I'm approaching it. I'm thinking of it, for myself, as NaStoWriMo, as I'll be attempting mostly just to churn out a few stories and snippets.
I'm hanging onto the numerical goal, though: 50,000 words of fiction. I won't be counting blog posts, emails, or copy created for work, tempting as it may be. That may be too ambitious--I have no idea--but that's what I'm shooting for. Watch this space for updates.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Word came down this afternoon that Disney was purchasing Lucasfilm, and that a new series of Star Wars films is on the way, beginning with Episode VII in 2015. I'm a big Star Wars fan, but I'm not plugged into the grapevine on stuff like this; I have no idea if there were rumors of this swirling in the wind or not. So I was taken aback when I read the news.
My first reaction, to be honest, was dismay. The Disney name immediately calls to mind the (decent to good, granted, but often overwrought) children's fare they're generally known for. Not exactly the direction I'd like to see Star Wars go. I also don't want to see it turn into a cheesefest like John Carter (which, ironically enough, after seeing the trailer, I referred to as Tim Riggins and the Battle of Geonosis) appeared to be.
Upon further reflection, however, I've upgraded my outlook to "cautiously optimistic," having been reminded that Disney runs some ventures that do pretty cool work, like Pixar and Marvel. I think they probably run out too much Marvel product (and I don't pretend I've seen it all), but they have made some pretty cool movies. So long as they get the right people involved, it's certainly possible that future Star Wars movies won't completely suck.
And really, it's not like the prequel trilogy set a standard that will be hard to live up to. The original trilogy was great because Lucas came up with the story and then involved some other talented folks to help out with writing and directing. His insistence on doing it all himself for the prequels really dragged them down. I appreciate his involvement, because he takes seriously things like mythology and continuity, but he just isn't a good director or writer of dialogue.
Honestly, I probably would have reacted better initially to the announcement if they had said the first project would be a remake of the prequels from scratch, complete with a new story. But since they're moving ahead with a new trilogy, it raises the question of exactly what the new movies will be about. Since they refer to it as Episode VII, I assume the story will take place after the events of Return of the Jedi, but really, there's no way to know at this point. If that's the case, I wouldn't mind seeing them adapt Timothy Zahn's Thrawn trilogy of novels. If they don't, I'm not sure what stories they could tell involving familiar characters that wouldn't completely destroy the expanded universe created in the books and other non-movie media. I have no idea if that's a consideration, though, and I'm not necessarily saying it would be a bad thing if it happened.
And that raises further questions of exactly how this acquisition affects the non-movie media and properties. I don't know if the deal involves just Lucasfilm, or includes the whole Lucasarts umbrella. What will happen with the Clone Wars series currently airing on Cartoon Network (a Time Warner property)? Are there still plans for a live-action TV series? How will this affect future books, video games, etc.? No idea, but I suppose we'll all find out eventually.
One thing is for sure, though: Star Wars is an extremely valuable property, and Disney's investment pretty much ensures that we're going to be seeing a lot of it--in theaters, TV, everything. Until I'm convinced otherwise (and I'll take some convincing; I'm pretty die-hard), I'll just tell myself that's a good thing.
Friday, October 26, 2012
The main story of tonight's game was the weather. It was cold and windy, and it rained all day. While the field looked to be in pretty good shape, there was water standing on the track surrounding it, and plenty in the stands as well. I sat up against the press box on the visitors' side, in an effort to shield myself from the rain at least a bit. With the conditions being what they were, and both teams coming in at 4-6 to boot, this was the smallest crowd I've ever seen for a Troy-Piqua game. Still, it was a better crowd than it would have been for any other game, and I have to give props especially to the Troy students for a strong showing.
I thought this would probably end up being a low-scoring game, and that's exactly how it played out. It was essentially a replay of the Vandalia game: stout defensive effort, wasted due to weak offensive output, penalties, and, especially, turnovers. Both of Piqua's touchdowns came after Troy turnovers (a fumble just before halftime, an interception later in the game) gave them a short field. Troy's defense played really well for the most part, but when the offense put them in bad spots, they didn't have much of a chance.
Offensively, this had to be the worst performance I've seen by the Trojans in over twenty years of attending their games. They had just two first downs in the entire game, both in the second half. Piqua's defense deserves a lot of credit for that, but it was also just a continuation of the way Troy has struggled to move the ball and score points all year long. This may be the first time I've seen Troy get shut out twice in one season, and both shutouts took place during downpours (the other being at Vandalia).
It's worth noting that Troy did at least try to add a little wrinkle to their offensive game, starting the game in the wildcat formation with receiver Nick Zimmer taking snaps out of the shotgun formation. After three straight plays lost yards, leading to a punt, the Trojans played the rest of the night with quarterback Matt Barr taking the snaps.
Of course, the Trojans also hurt themselves quite a bit with penalties at crucial times: holding, personal fouls (?), roughing the punter. It was just an ugly game for the Trojans all the way around.
Piqua committed quite a few penalties, too...and some of them were even called. It was a night of, um, interesting officiating, to say the least. One example: Piqua's offense lines up for a play, their right guard flinches, nothing happens until all the Trojan defenders start jumping up and down and pointing, the officials finally blow the whistle, they have a little meeting, after a few moments the referee signals a false start, and only AFTER THAT HAPPENS does one of the other officials finally drop a flag on the turf. There was also one instance of blatant holding by a Piqua blocker that resulted instead in Troy being flagged for a facemask (by an official on the far side of the field, no less). And, my personal favorite, a Piqua player hitting a Troy player in the face well after the whistle, in full view of the line judge, with no flag at all. I can kind of chuckle about it because, given their offensive performance, the Trojans weren't going to win anyway, but it would have been nice if they would have had their act together.
Anyway, the Trojans took the loss, and finish the season at 4-6. Now begins the long cold winter of discontent: 42 weeks until next season rolls around. I'll probably have a postseason wrap-up post after I have a couple of days to mull over the first season under new coach Scot Brewer.
Thursday, October 25, 2012
The first Troy-Piqua game I attended was in 1992, as a sophomore in high school. Troy Memorial Stadium was jammed well beyond its 10,000-seat capacity that night, as spectators filled the bleachers and also stood several rows deep around the fences surrounding the field (I've seen numbers estimated the crowd that night as 14,000 to 17,000). Both teams came into that game undefeated and state-ranked in Division I. The Trojans got the win that night, 22-7. That was, however, the only time Troy beat Piqua while I was in high school.
I've been to every Troy-Piqua game since then. I've seen 21 of 'em; Troy is 12-9 in those games, and has outscored Piqua 453-331. Troy's riding a five-game winning streak that began in 2007. I turned 30 in 2007, and I've made it halfway through my 30s without seeing a Trojan loss to the Indians. Not too shabby.
Troy and Piqua actually played twice in 1992. After the regular season matchup, they ended up meeting again several weeks later in the state playoffs. Another big crowd came to see them play again, this time at Dayton's Welcome Stadium. My dad took me and my friends Patrick and Jason down for the game. Unfortunately, the Trojans came up short in that one, losing 20-6.
I got my driver's license in the summer of 1993, so that fall I made my first trip to Piqua for the game, along with my friend Patrick. At the time, Piqua played at Wertz Stadium downtown (Alexander Stadium, next to the high school, opened in 2001; Troy played there for the first time in 2002, a 9-6 loss), which didn't have a parking lot. Luckily, my parents had some friends who lived just a couple of blocks from the stadium, so I parked in their driveway and we walked over. I think we got there around 4:30, which wasn't early enough for us to get a seat in the small bleachers offered as the stadium's visitors' side. Patrick and I ended up standing along the fence on the south side of the field. Piqua won that game on the last play, 16-15, the infamous "phantom facemask" game, and I was furious. I'm still a little mad about it.
In 1996, I was a sophomore at Wright State University. I brought my roommate Matt along to the game. He was a graduate of Canton McKinley, a participant in another prominent Ohio high school football rivalry. I think he was impressed with the crowd and the atmosphere, but not so much with the game. Troy had a dominant team that year, including a sophomore halfback named Ryan Brewer who would go on to become a Troy legend, and they destroyed the Indians 48-0.
The 2003 game was suspended in the first quarter due to lightning and picked up again on Saturday evening. That made for a crazy weekend for me. I was living in Bowling Green, and my girlfriend (now wife) Brandi lived in Stow, Ohio, near Akron. I drove from Bowling Green to Troy on Friday, then, after the game was suspended, drove to Stow. Brandi and I went to Columbus the next morning to attend the Ohio State-Northwestern (coached at the time by THS alumnus Randy Walker) at noon, then back to Troy for the rest of the Troy-Piqua game that night. On Sunday we drove back to Stow, and early on Monday morning I drove to Toledo, where I worked. Oh, and Troy lost that game, 10-3.
2007 brought one of the most incredible games in the series, one of the best games I've seen, and one of the most amazing performances by a Trojan not named Brewer. Halfback Corey Brown rushed for 317 yards and 4 touchdowns that night, and Troy scored in the final minute and went for the two-point conversion (and almost didn't make it--Tyler Wright was almost sacked before delivering the pass to Ben McGillvary) to win 36-35. Piqua would make the playoffs that year and finish 8-4; Troy, on the other hand, ended their season at 4-6.
That was the game that started Troy's current five-game winning streak, and really, it was the last time the game was close. The Trojans have won each game since by at least two touchdowns, and shut the Indians out in 2009. The 2007 season was also, I think, the last time that Piqua made the playoffs. Troy has been in the playoffs each of the last two seasons, a streak that will come to an end this year.
I was at the 2010 game at Alexander Stadium in Piqua, but in a rare occurrence, I wasn't completely focused on the action on the field. The Reds were playing in Game 2 of the National League Division Series at the same time, and I was trying to keep up with that game as well. Whenever there was a break in the game, I was checking my phone for the score of the Reds game. The Trojans won that night 27-14; unfortunately, the Reds went down 7-4 to the Phillies on their way to being swept out of the playoffs.
Both teams enter this game at 4-5 on the season (and 2-2 in the GWOC North), so it's hard to know what to expect. Both have struggled on offense, with Piqua being shut out three times already (compared to Troy's once). I know the Trojans boast a stout defense; I'm not sure about Piqua's--they've given up some pretty large point totals, albeit to some pretty good teams--but they're generally solid defensively. I'd imagine this will be a low-scoring affair, but really, you just never know about this one. Whatever happens, hopefully the Trojans will come out on top. I'm taking the day off work, so you can rest assured that, by the time the 7:30 kickoff rolls around, I'll have my game face on.