27 December 2010

my 21st birthday...or...i'm really not sure what happened...

Some blogs are hard to come up with, trying to figure out what to write about is by quantum leaps the hardest part about writing a blog. if there was a stipulation that said that, if i blogged every day for a year, the world would figure out the cure for AIDS and Cancer, and if I didn't, they'd cut off my penis, I'd like to believe I'd blog everyday, but I know myself pretty well, and I'd bet against myself (if for no other reason to have enough money to start over, because when a dude cuts off his junk, you can only imagine things go in a totally different direction) I imagine I'd not only want, but NEED, a new set of friends- I know I love my friends, but if they got Jim and the Twins cut off in this situation, I'd make fun of them mercilessly, which is why I would imagine they'd want to stop hanging out with a brother...but as usual, I digress...

This all takes place in Chico, CA, and this is the year between the years when it was the #1 party school in America (it lost out the University of Florida this year), so there is an inevitable backdrop of drinking in this story...just know the night before, at midnight exactly, I hit a couple of spots, and as entertaining as that was, it pales in comparison to what I was told happened this night (you'll notice some of this is being referred to as heresay, and that's because it was heresay- I have no clear idea what happened the last 8 hours of this story, but, in good journalistic integrity, I only speak of things verified by a member of my party, and at least one "innocent" bystander and/or person I infuriated, enraged, humored or just openly mocked that was not with us, but over the course of the next year was told about things I did to them or members of their party- for all of these things, I openly apologize, again)...but anyway...

...i wake up on the wonderful day...well, i woke up a little late. The bars in Chico, and apparently, everywhere, but I was particularly impressed with this rule the previous evening...i had a couple of adult beverages, and came back to the spot and went to sleep. I awake to a knock at the door, and I assume it's a floor mate to tell me it's time to eat some breakfast before the 9am class. It was that floor mate, but not to tell me to go to class- he had generously gone to class and taken notes for me, which allowed me to sleep in. When I asked why he was being so friendly, he gets a sly smile, which lets me know a couple of things 1) something shady was about to go down, and 2) it was probably going to fuck me over in some way or another. He tells me it's because I bought a party ball (in the early 90's Coors Light made a ball that had 5 gallons of beer in it, complete with a little tap and pump- it was called the Coors Light Party Ball, and I'm pretty sure the reason they stopped making them was nobody I know had ever even heard of them) last night and we were going to drink it BEFORE the evening festivities, so my under 21 cohorts could be involved in some form of the shadiness that would be rapidly approaching. Since my only class of the day had already been missed, I decided a shower, a bite to eat and the total destruction of this party ball (note, it's 9:23am at this point). So I shower, eat some pizza that, apparently, I bought the night before, but have no clear recollection of purchasing, and at 10:00am, we begin. At first, it's just Shambo and myself, 2 dudes, sitting in a room, playing video games (Nintendo, the original, you better recognize) and are listening to his favorite song at the time by some band we thought was solid, but nothing spectacular...



what's your man got to do with me? I'm not tryin to hear that, see...but back to the story. After just a couple of minutes, a couple of other guys come over, the Brians (two dudes on my hall, both named Brian, and as I write this, I couldn't distinguish between them, and I'm definite one was Latino, and one was white) came over, with a case of beer of their own to throw into the party, we had Rudy and Steve, some dudes come over from the other dorm, and they brought a little of that indonesia,



rolled up into these things they insisted we call blunts, and after a couple of tokes, it was obvious where they had obtained such an abrupt and straight forward nickname, as well as some beers of their own (those of you in college living in dorms, it is a lot easier to get away with a party when the day is in it's operational mode- less people are looking out for you partying, they're just trying to get their grind on so they can go home and masturbate to internet porn or play bingo or read Harlequin novels at home with a bunch of cats- they're wholly uninterested with what you're doing as long as it doesn't affect them). After awhile some of the ladies from downstairs came over as well, bringing with them the blender and some blue concoction that seemed like a Long Island Iced Tea, except it was blue (this would later be known as an "Adios Motherfucker" and if you don't know why, google Long Island Iced Tea and figure it out).




We drank and smoked and listened to music for what seemed to be an eternity, but when the second party ball (yes, second, never really sure when it showed up, just know at the end, there were two of them, both bone dry) dried up and a little AD popped on, we knew it was time to mobilize and get something to eat, as it was now close to 3pm and people were heading towards out of control drunk, which would have thrown a monkey wrench in our plans for the day, gotten a bunch of people in trouble and, quite honestly, based on the amount of pot that had been smoked as well, would have inevitably involved members of the Chico Police Department, which most of us had more run-ins with than we care to think about (which could have been one)...after a little time to sober up for the collective, I decided to, instead of going out to a fancy dinner (which I had done the Saturday previous with Ma Dukes) I decided to eat in the dining commons with my peoples, as I would be parting ways with the great majority of my floor mates when I hit the bars a little later in the evening. Someone (I imagine it was probably me, as I was the evil catalyst in this group of people) decided that, while we were at dinner, we should bring a water bottle filled with rum and play a game called 3 man with rum and coke, in the dining commons. It was as dumb as it sounded. But I also know that, as soon as dinner is over, I'm about to go out with some of my friends, and all they've told me about the evening is "you're not allowed to turn down any drinks," which seems like it' s a terrible idea. As I get dressed to start the evening, I was bumpin a little of what was, at the time, the new Pete Rock...



...we head downstairs and start playing 3 man at our table (3 man is a dice game where someone is essentially "it" (the 3 man) and any time anyone rolls anything that has a three, or equals three, they have to drink until they roll a 3 and can give the 3 man away, or until someone at the table rolls double 3's then they are the 3 (wo)man), which started as a small game, and when the Resident Assistants busted up the game, there were 23 people playing the game, with 3 sets of dice going- I left the game when the second set of dice came and figured it was getting out of control. The only irony is that I was the person that started the game and yet wasn't there when it got busted (and it made me look great when people blamed me and I wasn't there- an easy win for me). I left to go to a place that was the closest of all the bars near the campus, a bar called Madison Bear Gardens, which was built on the site of an old bank, and had some of the most diabolical drink specials in the world (for example, my favorite was the 2-10 Thursday special of 1.75 burger and fries and 1.75 pitchers of any beer in the house- Chico was famous for specials that seem to be even against good business sense, but seemed to work for them (how can you justify giving away .10 drinks, even if for only the first 10 minutes?!?). The special of the day at the Bear? $2.00 pitchers, of course. When you live in Colorado, the local tap is Coors. If you live in Missouri, it's Budweiser. But when you live in Chico, CA, it's Sierra Nevada- and you can get most types, on tap, in most bars in town (it can really spoil a brother who, would for the first year and a half after I moved, ask for Sierra Nevada Porter, on tap, from places that had never heard of Sierra Nevada, as a mountain range, much less a potent potable). We stop there, have a pitcher (each) and take the first two shots (someone got me a "blowjob"




i wiped the cream off with my fingers, drank the shot and wiped the cream on someones face, which i'm pretty sure was not part of our party (which, from what i understand, was a common, and very recurrent theme of the evening- me trying to either include people in our entourage, or me trying to keep/kick people out that same entourage...we go from bar to bar, where we take at least one shot per bar, but seemed more like 4-5 shots per bar. They told me to keep track of them at the beginning of the evening, but i'm sure I wrote the answer to a physics problem someone asked me on the back of the napkin at the second bar (some kind of sobriety test, which was the death of me, as i passed all of them and they ratcheted up the shots and the severity of the shots after every test- didn't help my friends asked pretty easy questions). The last bar I remember was a bar called Lasalle's, which. like most Chico bars, had no real specific type of clientele, just a ton of random people, which is the perfect storm for a birthday entourage with no real voice of reason. The bartender got everyone a round of shots (jagermeister- cold doubles for all), and gave me a special shot called a Barmat (which is exactly as it sounds, a bar mat (troth, rag, etc) placed in a shot glass, with a hint of grenadine to offset the atrocious taste combinations that can happen when you give someone the run-off of every overspilled drink- for the record, mine had the distinct tastes of some kind of wine and gin as the dominant taste, if my palate was more refined, i could have identified more of the repugnant flavors, but a combination of events was going to thwart even my best efforts: 1) i was, at this time, laughably drunk and in no state of mind to identify my own sister out of a police line up, much less try to distinguish between variant alcohol "flavors" and 2) they put grenadine in the drink to cover up the taste of death with a hint of cherry (or whatever in the hell grenadine taste like- haven't had any in any memorable capacity since I last had a Shirley Temple- and I'm not even sure I was a teenager then..anyway, after I drink my barmat, i have no really clear, consistent and cogent memory of the block of time...all I know is when I came to, in the afternoon the next day, I had an amazing headache, an unusually large sum of money in my wallet, based on what I remember leaving, I seemed to be entirely out of pot (which, in my college days, never really seemed to happen, oh, how I miss those days), and I, for some god-forsaken reason, had sawdust in my hair. I'll repeat that, sawdust in my hair. I immediately called one of the guys I went out with, and asked, in as calm a way as humanly possible, "What in the fuck did you all let me do last night?!? I have sawdust in my hair! What kind of barn did you take me out to?!?" To this, he tells me this abridged story of a small sub-section of what happened in the evening. I remember the conversation as if it was yesterday. I will preface this with, I DID NOT believe him when he told me, until I tried to go into the bar...well I'm getting ahead of myself...
..."Dude, you were Robert Downey Jr. fucked up last night! That shit was insane. So you don't remember going to Riley's last night? For dollar night? Dude, you were in rare form, even for you...don't worry, we made sure you didn't do anything arrestable...so anyway the bartender offered you anything you wanted, and you asked for a Long Island Iced Tea...you kept saying you didn't know where Long Island was but you loved their tea...at some time the bartender told you someone offered you a drink- it was a barmat- you seemed to almost embrace the idea...you knocked it back, jumped on top of the bar, and sang, along with the jukebox, the full first verse of Alive by Pearl Jam,



got the bar to sing the chorus with you and then you fell off the bar, onto the floor [aside: which, apparently is where all the sawdust came from]...we obviously were asked to leave the bar, went to like 5 other places and ended up at the fraternity house, where you proceeded to, while throwing up in a trash can next to you, beat all of us out of about $175 [aside: which is where all the money came from]...I walked out of the fraternity house, on my own power at around 5:30am and walked to my former home, and then to my home at the time, and apparently just passed out.


of course, i can't verify any of this...

15 December 2010

If you want purposeful musings, go to that website...

...but if you're looking for some hate-filled vitriol, then this is the place to be. I spent the greater part of the last few months trying to figure out exactly what the function of this blog was supposed to be. for some reason, I assumed that my blog, in direct and usually hostile competition with the rest of who I am and how I do things, had to have a specific purpose, a goal, if you will, of some things I needed to say. And when I put the shackles on myself like that, I felt constrained, like Michael Jordan in Dean Smith's offense at North Carolina or like Plaxico Burris in general.



But, after quite some time contemplating what the function of this was supposed to be (and when I say contemplate, what I really mean was sit around in my underwear, drink scotch out of the bottle and masturbate with the vigor of an old roommate), I decided that it should HAVE NO FUNCTION. it's purpose is to be whatever i need it to be in a given day. Some days, it will be a hate-filled spouting about something going on in the world that pisses/pissed me off, some days it's be wonderful insight on music or theater, some days it'll be a description of the day-to-day grind that is my life, and sometimes, I'll just post a bunch of jokes and stupid puns or video's or shit I just find totally entertaining....



I'm sorry, but this just kills me every time I see it. You think it would get old, but, no, this shit is still hilarious...but I digress...but as some of you know, i have been known to do that sometimes...

...it's near then end of the semester, and Daddy couldn't be happier. It's been a hectic semester on a variety of fronts, with highlighted successes being intermingled with epic failures...like Nestle (yeah, they make Crunch Bars) buying the weight loss company Jenny Craig. I'm not smart enough to make that one up as a joke...

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/business/chocolate-maker-buys-weight-loss-firm/story-e6frez7r-1225971043751

...but as I was saying, it was an up and down semester, but one thing that's been keeping me going has been my love for basketball, and getting back into playing fantasy hoops. I know it's not actually like being a general manager, much less like actually playing the game, but it does allow me to have something to engage that's not just my job (which is pretty much work and debate, all the time). It forces me to engage in something else, and I find, as I usually do when I actually do things, that it's not just fun for me, it's a tad theraputic (sp?). It allows my brain to just go to another place, where I don't have to worry about whether these essays will grade themselves, or whether or not I've gotten enough hotel rooms for the weekend, or whether those letters of rec are going to get finished on time, or even will I have time to wash these dishes before I leave for the weekend. Seems to serve a similar function to running or playing actual hoop, but it's most to me like playing video games...something you can envelop yourself in it's sensory overload cocoon and just forget the world exists for awhile (while the girl was out of town, I played Black Ops for like 11.5 hours, literally until the screen went blurry...
...will I write every day. Hell no, not even if I was paid to do so (actually, I'm clearly fronting, if I was paid to do so, I'd get it done, but not in that Cal Ripkin, come to work everyday with my best, I'd smooth dial it in on a couple of occasions- one of the reasons I like teaching is because you can't really dial it in, as your class will lose it's mind, because you have ceded control to them by not caring- that's when teaching feels a lot like that scene from Pulp Fiction where Ving Rhames takes it in the poop shooter. about the 1:30 mark...



...there will be more, just not now...

28 September 2010

I have become the dinosaur I used to hate...

or, in a nutshell, I have become an old man. It's not that surprising, for any of you all that have known me, I've somehow managed to be an old man while simultaneously being almost legendarily immature. But the realization of my age is something that has found itself permeating into my addiction- debate. I have become a dinosaur- one of those old dudes that just can't stand most of the things I see going on in the activity....
...i will preface this entire conversation with the relative increase in skill set among debaters. Most debaters are substantially better than they were in my day. The ability of the average, middle of the road debater to make and execute strategy has increased probably 5 fold from my last days as a high school debater, and good high school debaters today are able to walk into college rounds and win immediately, which was pretty much unheard of in the day (a freshman walking in and being in the quarters of a major tournament was pretty much unheard of, and it happens frequently enough now that it's not that big of a deal). But this skill set has a loophole in it- most of it is merely cosmetic. Debaters have gotten better at playing the board game that is debate, but they have, for the most part, fallen off on the "debate" part of it- the part where there is a free exchange of ideas, where there is a give and take, where people have to actually come up with things on the fly, that part of debate has died, along with the afro, capri pants (and good riddance- who in the hell told women THOSE would be a good idea- i'll make my legs look short and my ass look fat, dudes will LOVE THAT) and the preference for light-skinned blacks over us dark skinned brothers (sorry Tribble). What in the hell are you rambling about, black man? Well, let me clear my throat...preface- I will only give one of these at a time, as I really don't have the time to vent all of the vitriol I have for



1) Debate simultaneously over-relies on the line-by-line while it's debaters ignore the line-by-line. For those not familiar with debate, the concept is quite simple- when people say stuff, generally, it's a good idea to have something to say that provides a direct response to that claim- as you would in even a general conversation. However, the over-viewization (clearly, not even close to a word) of debate. Sometime awhile ago, somebody smarter than I am, but clearly lacking in foresight, decided it would be a good idea to make sure students were prepared in all instances with not just ideas of arguments students would need to make (as had been since the beginning of debate as an activity, and probably introduced by Dionysus Alexandrnus, who figured it would be a good idea to predict arguments his opponents would make, and then prepare answers to those claims). Good idea, as the hardest part of debate is when something unexpected happens, and you need to adapt and respond to those claims. But what you may read as the one of the most difficult aspects of debate, I read as one of the most valuable skills in debate. And it's a skill we're, for the most part, teaching out of our students. The easiest example of this is in theory debates- debates about debate, but also debates about debate, where, ironically, debate almost invariably goes to die. This is because, those of you that have watched these debates clearly knows, theory debates are ones most people feel are prepared for entirely off site- this implies that most of the answers are thought about and written at home, and then just read, usually at top-speed, with almost no regard to what your opponent actually says: you hear conditionality bad, you reach, immediately, and grab conditionality good, with no regard to what is actually being said in the debate. If they only said conditionality good, with no nuance or trickeration, then you have no problem. However, if they say, further down the flow, conditional PIC's are uniquely bad, you'll lose, and Dave Register will steal a win from you...
...but while all of this is going on, the community has a lot more of a focus on the importance of the line-by-line. flowing on a laptop has, in my mind, changed the way we evaluate debate. I think most kids type as well as they write, and so the days in which debaters just flat out miss arguments has decreased substantially. But the implication of this isn't necessarily better debates, as one of the scenarios that is unexpected is rounds where less mistakes are made earlier in the debate, the more rounds where the last rebuttal has to actually make the correct decision, which would be problematic if so many debates were not prepared through the last rebuttals. The last two speeches are where arguments are synthesized, where you have to make the crucial decisions in the debates, where the true debating happens. But instead, students read pre-prepared blocks, and just shove the square peg in the round hole, and hope nobody notices. All the more frustrating is it's all done on word processing, which facilitates a world where it's possible to craft each last rebuttal specifically, by attempting to craft the pre-made rebuttal into one that applies in a given debate- but they just don't....
...maybe I'm just salty as I'm seeing the smart debater choose to be the over-prepared debater, not recognizing the smart debater can resolve the achilles heel of the over-viewized debater- the situation when someone makes an argument you're not ready to answer...

08 August 2010

The Haitus Ends...or...I know why Tiger's game is terrible....

It's been quite some time since I've written, I've been kind of just enjoying my summer- kicking back, occasionally doing some minor gambling, but for the most part keeping myself just busy enough to not really relax like I want to/need to/should. Honestly, I hadn't even really considered writing all summer, as nothing really jumped out at me to make me want to write. And then it happened. Watching ESPN, some numbers popped on the TV that just made me want to write.

Those numbers: 74. 72. 75. 77. +18.

Anyone that happens to be a golf fan will recognize that those are some pretty dreadful golf scores. No legitimate professional should put up numbers like that, with those scores being reserved for household names like Michael Jonzen and Henrick Stenson (the 79th and 80th finishers respectively). Oh, forgot to throw Eldrick "Tiger" Woods in there, who finished 78th of 80. That's miserable. Usually, people stinking up the place like this would usually get to leave the course on Friday, after the cuts. Unfortunately, the World Golf Championships at Bridgestone don't have a cut, so Eldrick had to embarass himself, and well, really, Asians and Blacks as well, for his miserable performance. This is merely a continuance of a pattern of pathetic play that has been the standard since his late November tryst with bottles of Ambien and Vicodin, a driveway accident, and apparently a harem of willing, and remarkably quiet women all over the place (he took Ludacris's song to heart more than most).



there's been discussion in all kinds of formats about what's wrong with Tiger's game. Was watching the Golf Channel and homeboy that helps motherfuckers fix their swing seems to think that not having a swing coach is killing him. Some clowns from KC were talking on their radio show that he's not able to focus because Elin is trying to (my words) "break a nigga", asking for some outlandish number from Eldrick for getting his Morgan Freeman on...at this point, shouldn't what we've been calling "The DL" be changed to the Tiger Woods? I mean, come on, man. That dude was clearly banging out dirty sluts all over America (Shony's Restaurant parking lot, a Church Parking lot, various rental cars all over the great 50 states). And although we all know that when your mind starts wandering to issues where the amount of cake you've got is a concern, that your ability to concentrate on other shit just goes away- but we also know that niggas got to go to work, regardless of how stressful my shit is. Can't get FIRED because you can't not bring your problems to the job- then you've got more problems. Biggie said "Mo money, mo problems. But he also wrote a rap that never got released- it's called "Being broke sucks dick." I even heard a discussion about it in the airport, where these two women were throwing their .02 into "how Tiger needs to straighten his shit up." They both thought his not being able to see his kids was making it harder for him to concentrate, and an example of that would be when Eldrick went back to the US to be with his kids a week before the British Open, something he wouldn't have to do if he hadn't put his dick in the mashed potatoes- but he did, and now seeing his kids is something he has to schedule time to do, as they're not at the house. All of these ideas have some merit, but they all, to me, seem to be missing the point. Everyone else has stated an opinion, and now, so will I...

Tiger Woods has been a shitty golf player because pussy to Tiger Woods was like hair to Sampson. Tiger Woods has been a shitty golf player since he went to Mississippi (and really Eldrick, there has to have been a sex addiction camp somewhere, ANYWHERE else than in Mississippi). He signed himself up into sex addicts camp, got the taste of dirty whore out of his system, and BAM! He's a better man. And nobody is doubting that he's a better man. But this was a world class Junkyard Dog. The entire world thought "Tiger Woods is a machine. Always practicing. That's why he always wins". But after he got caught up in Pussygate 2009, he was exposed. But not just the cheating, which was surprising. But it also poked a hole in his vaneer- once it was obvious just how much dirty pussy this guy was getting, it became apparent to everyone that he wasn't practicing all the time, that he wasn't always at home watching video on them to figure out when they were changing their game physically, but that when he was off the course, he was an undisciplined pussy hound, like Birdogger, the guy from your fraternity that now has a shitty job because he knocked his girl up. In other words, it made Eldrick seem mortal. I will repeat, it made him seem mortal. In all games, it's obvious that if people think you're the best, they project an aura of invincibility- one Tiger just grabbed and ran with, coupled with his game, made people believe there was no stopping this man. But after girl number 8 came forward, an ugly one that said she got caught with him by the National Enquirer but bought out of the story...but I digress...think about it. I'm a particularly superstitious person, to the point where I bought 4 blue shirts for out-rounds at nationals, because it was 4 days and I didn't want to have to depend on finding a washer. All competitors have something they do to "get themselves up" for an event- Wade Boggs ate chicken before every game, all the time. I had a friend who debated who, to get himself up for a big debate would have to "rub one out". What if Tiger's been banging out the dirtiest sluts he could find before a tournament? Like rolls into town, grabs a wad of money and heads to the strip club, to find a nice, wholesome woman with good morals and values. He then rolls up, dirty, on the first 20 women he meets, and since he's Tiger MF Woods, it works out for him- usually ends up with sex somewhere dirty (in the pie hole, in an ear, nostril, ect) in some place dirty (bathroom at a Shonys, stairwell at the Motel 6 where they leave the light on because it's outside).

Golf needs Tiger Woods to be good. Ratings are up when he's good, and everyone makes more money- it's kind of like when the Yankees and the Cowboys are good- even though you may not like them, they have substantial fan bases, and when they win, people, nationally, watch. When he's not good, everyone just waits to find out what Ratief Guussun is wearing. So if you want Golf to be good again, it's this simple:

Give Tiger Woods some pussy.

24 May 2010

A letter to my seniors...

Hello all. It's been quite some time since I last wrote, not for a lack of topics to write about or even a desire to get it done. But mostly, I've been making sure the team is well situated for the end of the year, making sure kids are going to camp, as well as making sure all the things I need to do to make sure my job is being done most effectively. In the mad rush of stuff I've been trying to get done, I've had a lot of time to reflect and to think nostalgically about a variety of things, and somewhere in all of this, the idea of writing a parting letter to my seniors, to give me an avenue to voice my feelings, as well as some sort of public recognition for some kids that have literally changed the person I am. Well, here we go...

Dear Seniors,

When I was hired, I had no intention of being around long enough to even consider writing a parting shots letter. I assumed I would hold the job for a year, maybe two, before I decided on how much money i was willing to go in debt to get to law school which would inevitably guide my decision. I had the opportunity to be teach at the school the first year, and decided it was a better idea to live off my poker earnings, because I had no desire to lock in to a high school program. I had been coaching high school, but still had the itch to leave and do something, as my mother would say, "more academic." Wasn't really sure what it was, but I was pretty sure my BS degree would not be my last. In fact, I had not even intended on taking this job. I had another job offer from another school in the district, and only agreed to interview for the job as a favor to a friend. But sometime during my initial interview with Mr. Raines, I decided to not just summarily dismiss this chance without being open to the idea of what this program was capable of being. I opened up my mind, my heart and spoke abstractly with a few friends about the possibility of me working at a Catholic high school (ironically, one of my confidantes is now my co-worker, as the school just hired him). And when I took the job, the job was all about potential, as opposed to achievement. In a word, our program was lackluster at best, and not mentionable among even the top teams in our immediate area...

...and now, four years later, our program has flourished, has grown exponentially, and has become a place where a student, any student, can come and find a place where they can feel comfortable, and a place where anyone that wants to can carve out a niche, a place that, as a unit, tries very hard to operate like a family. That's a statement I always considered to be the core component in most of the successful programs in other formats of competition, but I had never really been part of a program that operated with family at the core of its operational successes and/or failures. People that knew me five years ago, and who see me now, must see a very different person. I call him un-fun Doug. every once in awhile, fun Doug will show up, just to make fun of the person un-fun Doug has become. Whereas fun Doug says things like "Let's go up to the bay and chill with your peeps!", un-fun Doug talks about gas prices, mileage, wear-and-tear on the vehicle, and the amount of time for the drive (which never seems to stop fun-Doug from kidnapping un-fun Doug for a couple of days a year, on long ass road trips across the desert to the promised land (or is it the Land of (unfulfilled) Promises)

...When I got hired, debate (and that's what it was to me for the first year definitely) was still fun and exciting, and that was the driving force behind why I was still involved. I felt my job was to make you all as good at debate as possible, and the rest of the other stuff would be dealt with by someone else. I felt my job was to cut a ton of evidence, come up with tight strategies, and be the driving force to our winning debates. I was pretty good at that. But if that was all I was willing/able to do, I definitely wouldn't still be here, possibly by my own choice, but more likely because the school would have felt under-served by my time-effort-pay ratio. Somewhere, in the middle of all the madness, it dawned on me that my job was much more extensive than I signed on for, but also that I was more than capable of doing these things. I speak to debate coaches all over the country that know more about their kids than I generally know about you all, but that's a lot by choice. I try my hardest to not let what happens to you all when you're not with Speech and Debate change my opinions of you, positively or negatively, and to only be influenced by my direct interactions with you all, and my indirect interactions with the team...

...but even as I attempt these things, it occurs to me that, in order to do my due diligence, I need to give you all more of myself, a part of myself most people don't see. And somewhere along the line, i decided to be more open, to give you all more of myself, but to, above all, make sure that this program is here, and in better shape, for other kids that may need the benefit of a place to go and be accepted, regardless of, well, anything, and to find their space. I hash on this stuff a lot, because, when it's all said and done, it's not something that is inherent in the way I operate, but something I learned from you all. I learned not how to be responsible from you all, but I learned why I needed to be responsible. You all made me want to be responsible for you...

...which i guess gets me around to my point. Thank you. Thank you for giving as much to the Speech and Debate program than anyone should ever have asked of you. Thank you for being patient with me, as I grew into the position of leadership I took on before I knew if I was ready. Thank you for being the backbone, the soul and the heart of the family our program has become. Thank you for being exceptional competitors, but better people. Thank you for giving me the passion and drive to serve you all in a way you deserve. Thank you for growing with me, because of me as much as in spite of me. Thank you for giving Speech and Debate a chance to change your lives. Thank you for dealing with my quirks and idiosyncratic demeanor, my short fuse and general impatience, and my gruff demeanor. Thank you for realizing that my goal is your success and for you to have no regrets at the end of your time in the activity.

Farewell, class of 2010. You will be missed, but your legacy will long outlive your time on the team. When I got here, we had some members on Speech and Debate, but not a lot of interaction. We had no family. We had no Culture of Success. We had no expectations. This class changed all of that, and for that, I will be forever in your debt. I am honored to know you all, and would be happy to call you my friends.

You stay strong, I'll stay black,

Mr. D

05 May 2010

December 6, 1986 or the day I thought I was going to be sent to military school...

It's approaching Mother's Day, and if you've followed this blog at all (which probably means you know me, and if not, please log off creepy stalker!!) you know a couple of things: 1) my mother meant the world to me, and was one of my best friends, and 2) she's deceased, and has been for quite some time. If you think, "hey, it's has to get easier," well, you'd be wrong about that as well. I've been waxing sentimental for a couple of posts, and I just needed to get some joy in this process...

Christmas season in my home was always the same. My mother would wake up on Saturday morning, do whatever housework she felt needed to be done, and then she would go shopping. Probably a more accurate description was she went looking, as I had gone on a variety of the excursions. They usually involved going into every store in every mall she could get to from whenever she left in the AM until some time around midnight, as the malls are trying to fleece you, and it's easier to do so if they can be open for longer periods of time. And it's like clockwork- every Saturday. It was will-crushing when I was younger, as it seemed she never, and I mean never came home with anything that even looked like it might be a gift for me...
...so when my mom announced she was going shopping, and to not expect her for awhile, I was fully aware that I had the entire house to myself for the day (as my sister was a bit younger, she always had to go with Ma Dukes). And when you're 15 years old, you can't spell debauchery, but you sure as hell can get into some. The first thing I did was call over a couple of my boys to enjoy the day, watch a little television, play some video games, and oh yeah...
...I offer this caveat: when I was young, I smoked some marijuana. Some would say I smoked a lot, and some would say I didn't. In my high school days, those that might indicate that I didn't smoke a lot would include names such as B. Real from Cypress Hill, Keith Richards, Cheech and Chong, George Bush, etc. Obviously, all stunning potheads. But I digress...
...so I invite my friends over, a couple of the guys come and one girl- we call this a sausage fest, generally, but since the chances of any of us having sex with her were around the chances of Stephen Hawking getting up and kicking me in the balls, we never really gave it much thought. The plan: smoke some of this fine pot I happened to have (how I got it is referred to in an earlier post- don't tell your mother!), eat some food, play some video games and be out of the house by 5pm. This gave the house plenty of time to air out, especially if I decided to cook something, which, based on the activity mentioned, usually meant I was going to be hungry, and thus, would almost always cook. My dad is out of town, but even if he was, he was never really around, choosing to spend most of his time in the den if Ma Dukes wasn't around, but because he was in Cleveland, or Milwaukee, or Orlando or wherever in the hell he was for that weekend, this was a non-starter...
...everyone shows up, and we decided to be a little bolder than normal. Usually, we would smoke out of items that released as little smoke as possible (dugout bats, home-made apple pipes). But since I knew, and I mean I knew my moms wasn't going to be home for hours, and I knew I was going to cook to cover up the smell, and because I'm sometimes, for lack of a better description, a little fucking stupid, I decide to let a friend roll a joint to smoke. This is clearly unnecessary, as the coffee table in my living room looks like a scene from Sir Smoke-A-Lot's spot in Half Baked. Apparently, he'd just watched Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke, so the al-jazzeri he rolled was fat like Kirstie Alley (so it was fat, yet simultaneously unattractive). We sparked it up, passed it around a couple of times, and before we knew what happened, we were all almost passed out on the couch, wanting to play video games, but not being sure I had enough energy to actually mobilize, get up, get a game in the machine, find the controller, well, you get the picture.I decide that, since it is my house, I should get up to put the game in. Mario Brothers. You. Better. Recognize...
...so there we are, sitting in the living room of my house, joint burning in an ashtray (my own, neither of my parents smoked cigarettes, which is the only reason one might have an ashtray in their home), absolutely train-wrecked. The parents are gone for some block of time, and so it's all about video games, pizza rolls and some chill time with my people...that is until I hear a set of keys rattling in the door...
"Did you hear that? Sounds like keys."
I go through the mental Rolodex, so I can figure out what this actually means. I'm not gonna lie, it was a bit disconcerting. Dad is out of town, actually out of the state. My sister doesn't have a key, as she's not even 8 years old yet. That pretty much exhausts the rest of the names in that Rolodex. This leaves only one person: my mother, Ma Dukes. And from all the knowledge going into the scenario, it seems like this going to have some fallout. My mother had almost no patience for what she called "stupid shit" and no matter how many times I ran this through my head, I couldn't come up with a reason that this wasn't going to shoot straight to the top of the "stupid shit" list. So as the keys, keep a rattling at the door, one of my friends looks over to me, and gives me a crisp salute. I ask him his reasoning, and his answer was a cold as it was cold-blooded like Rick James (as opposed to burn-a-kidnapped-bitch-with-a-crackpipe Rick James), "You're going to Military school." His sarcasm notwithstanding, there was a fair amount of concern of how this was going to be handled. I was pretty sure there would be a clearing of the house, and a hellified was-whipping, but the more I thought about it, there may well not be a clearing of the room before the beating, and so now I'm getting really worried....
...finally, after what seemed to be an eternity, the door opens, and as it does, smoke bellows out of our little hotbox like Spicoli's van on Fast Times at Ridgemont High. At this point, the secret is out, the whole house smells like Otto's Jacket, there's a 18" water pipe on the coffee table, as well as not a felonious amount of marijuana, at least an amount that will make you not want to get shit done, and there are five of us on the couch/love seat, and we look like an ad for DARE, because if you wanted to look like burned out stoners, we were getting it done, no doubt about it. Mom walks in the living room, and gives me what can only be described as a "death glare" as she walks through the house. I was assuming she was intending on picking up something to whip that ass, and then go shopping, after she sent me to that rehab farm school out in Utah, or to some place where pushups and running were legitimate responses for, well, really just about anything- all other issues can be resolved with a sock and a couple of Oranges. When she returns, she looks at me, looks at the bong, which has a bowl in it for the winner of the video game Mario Brothers. Mom looks back at me, at the bowl again and she fucking hits. You read that right. My mother hits the bowl. As I'm watching this, watching my mind get blown and world being rocked. My mouth fell to the floor, to the point of absolute shock. The next thing I notice, Ma Dukes is blowing smoke out of her lungs, and places the water pipe back in place. The only words she says before she departs is (we need to get Borders on) "we'll talk about this when I get home...
...there was a moment of stupified silence, as I at this time realized that mom did not clear the house, and that i had friends who were 1000x more stunned and surprised about the scenario. This was actually not spoken about again, and it pretty much ended the smoke session for the day...upon mom's return, her main complaint was my smoking in the living room (how would I explain this to the church pastor or the principal of your school?), and that I should "smoke in the den, like your dad." She then gives me a key to the den, and tells me not to tell dad, and to make sure not to go in the den when he's here. I placed the den key next to my other den key, and chuckled about the irony...

04 May 2010

Looking back for a moment...

Those that don't know me well might mistake general disdain for most things as a sign that I don't like people. And that would be a correct assumption, as, for the most part, people annoy the living shit out of me. I also don't like babies or most animals (I love my animals, but would run yours over if it meant I didn't hurt my car). It's the reason it's a little surprising to me that the graduation of my seniors is a little more depressing than I thought it would be...



...I make a pretty concerted effort to not be too involved with my students lives outside of speech and debate- makes it easier for me to not hold resentment against other parts of the campus based on taking time away from my kids, and thus hurting their possibilities of success. It also has a little to do with kids being inherently weird, and not wanting to let their who they are becoming influence my opinion of who they are. That being said, I do a fair amount of work to make sure my students learn all the things they need to learn, and although I wish it was all tied to speech and debate, much of what I find myself teaching my students has little to do with wins and losses...
...a couple of nights ago, a coach at another school called me, and we started talking, and the conversation evolved to a scenario that happened at the tournament, where a team was taking some clear academic liberties. That coach told her kids to make an argument about it- if the game of debate that we play is to have any academic legitimacy, any legs to stand on from an intellectual framework, there needs to be a standard that doesn't allow people to just lie about what is being said, and to misrepresent evidence (which has a very specific term- fabrication of evidence). They did the right thing, but as we all know, sometimes doing the right thing is largely irrelevant in the finer scheme of things- it doesn't always lead to the right result (i just flash back to the idea of the necessity of witness protection, and the thousand upon thousands of people in the program because they "we're just doing the right thing" and it literally turned their lives upside down). They lost the debate, and the coach felt personally responsible for their loss- maybe if she hadn't told them to do that, they would have won, and they deserved to win, and they shouldn't be punished for this, etc. I told them about a story of my own that was in a similar vein...
...the second year I was coaching at my current gig, and we were debating the topic of public health assistance to sub-saharan africa. over the course of the year, we'd lost on an argument that, at it's core, just seemed fundamentally racist. The argument- you can't get effective public health assistance in africa, because there ARE NO ROADS IN AFRICA. even as I type that phrase now, it still makes me a little sick inside- the assumptions this makes are outlandish. We'd lost on this argument a couple of times, and I told my kids, if someone makes this argument, to let it be known how racist and prejudicial this claim is, as well as how untrue it is. In the final round they make the argument, we make our claims, and we lose, on a 4-3 decision- because one judge thinks we're being mean when we make them justify that cities like Niarobi, Johannasburg, and Cairo don't have roads, despite the many of millions of people as well as the international airports serving these cities. This means the argument I told them cost them the State Championship- and I was devastated, until someone reminded me what my TRUE job is, and that's a TEACHER. my job is to make my students better people, more prepared for today's society. My administration likes that fact that we win, but in my heart of hearts, I know they really don't care that much about winning (I just know that before I arrived, they didn't win much, and nobody really seemed to mind much- i had to teach a culture of winning to the team upon my arrival, as nobody on the team knew how to win, much less had a mindset and an expectation of success), they care that I "positively affect the hearts and minds" of the students, incorporating the themes the school holds dear: integrity, family, hope, dignity. Teaching our students to have integrity is not just part of our job, it IS our job, and that means we need to do what's right, even if it costs our students a win, even if doing the right thing hurts us in the short term (hell, who am I kidding, even in the long term it's pretty crushing)...
...i was reminded of these words, not just to make a friend who was crushed by the outcome of the correct action, which is something I could see myself doing, saying the right words to make someone feel better. But as I found myself saying this, I could feel myself getting hostile and riled up about it, becoming more than annoyed with the idea that someone would do the right thing, and even think about second guessing their actions. I can remember a time in my life where I felt that my teams ability to win (and subsequently, not lose) debates was how I felt I should be evaluated, but now it's a little different. My team has had a fair amount of success, and I rather enjoy that. The most moving thing for me this year did come as we were winning a debate tournament, but not as I had envisioned...
...the winner of the Stanford University debate tournament receives an iPod from the school as a prize. This is a really big deal, as most awards you get may be cool, but almost none have a modicum of practicality- can't really DO anything with the average trophy. The iPod, obviously different, because you can actually listen to it. It's actually worth money, so if you have one, you could sell it for a profit (which I did with my 2005 Stanford iPod win: $350!!), or you could just keep it and look at it like people do most trophies. However, one of my students did something that surprised me- he gave his iPod, the one he just won and was really, really excited about winning, to our assistant coach, who did not have an iPod. After winning a tournament, he was much less concerned with anything but making sure he showed his gratitude for the work being done by our assistant. I was stunned by this action- until it occured to me that THIS was the kind of thing that makes me proudest of my kids- they're excellent competitors, but more than that, they are better people. And that makes me as proud as anything they do in competition...
...so i guess I shouldn't be as stunned as I am that I'm sad that these kids will be leaving. They have left an indelible mark on who I am. So to Jordan, Suhita and Subha, I say thank you. To Snehal, Zach, and Nidhi, I say thank you. And to Peter, Aakash, Chander and Katrina, I also say thank you. I hope I made you better debaters. You made me a better person.

29 April 2010

The TOC: My Own Private Idaho

I've actually never been to Hell (Hays, KS is a close second) but if I had to create my own hell (think about that sometime), it would involve something you love, at the core of who you are, and to make that thing you love something so unpleasant, so miserable, that it seems to be a very different experience, one you would avoid in a world of choices. Like the Candy Corn Experience many of us had as little kids, where you eat so much of it you can't stand that shit, the mere mention of it makes your stomach contract like you were pushing out a fuck trophy. Hell is all the fun you could imagine, just out of your reach. Hell is wanting your member touched and having someone you cant stand just twist the top off of the coke bottle she has mistaken for you Jimbrowski . All of these are pieces of a Hell, but not comparable to the true kick in the balls. Hell is the Tournament of Champions.



I have a friend, Steve, and when we used to live in Minnesota, I was a Gary Sheffield fan. He was always a great hitter, but it seemed he was never as welcome in the clubhouse as other players, even to the point of being not wanted in the locker room. So one day, I ask Steve why nobody wants to play with Sheff, and his answer was shockingly simple: "That dude is a cancer. And you don't invite cancer into your homes, to hang out with your family and friends." You radiate cancer, even going as far as poisoning the cancer patient, playing a game of biological chicken, hoping the chemotherapy helps more than it hurts (it is poison). The general premise was that when things were unpleasant, things that will be the mental version of being kicked in the testicles. As a society, and as reasonable individuals, we try to stay away from things we know will be unpleasant. However, I find myself flying to Kentucky now, on a flight with wifi (which is pretty phat, although totally expensive considering I have a wireless card which i already pay for), doing some writing, and trying to come to grips that I will have an experience that will weigh heavy on the heart. There's no way that this experience won't do that. I'm pretty sure Vince wouldn't have come to the TOC, but there's no way he won't be at the crux of many a discussion. I can speak for myself, and me only, when I say I will have a hard time with the weekend if i find myself too too mentally tied to it now. I can tell you that most of the crying I've done this year has been for fallen friend. First Ross. Then Coach Duke, who meant more to me than many of you know, and more than I ever gave him credit for. It was only in reflection after our first encounter that the full weight of his influence on me. Even though I made a decision to not debate for coach, he had nothing but kind words to me, and was the second and final person that talked to me about a career in coaching, and his kind words made me consider joining the coaching ranks. After I graduated from UM-Rolla, I applied for a variety of jobs and some graduate schools, and when it was said and done, debate seems to feel the most right, and I don't think I would have recognized if i hadn't been told what I was looking for. There are rarely instances I regret making the choice to be a debate coach, and over the career, this tournament brings a lot of them to a head, like the last text message from Tiger Woods Low Budget Harem.


One of the things I enjoy most about the community is that, for all of our quirks, idiosyncracies and borderline insanity that makes up the majority of us, we are, without question, a community. We laugh together, as well as mourn together, all the while enjoying the company old friends and new acquaintances. The Tournament of Champions replaces this theme of community that I'm sure is a good portion for why I'm here, in this activity that I love, but have to recognize takes time off my life (of course, it's the time at the end, when you have to go back to wearing a diaper) The community is what gives me strength, even in my lack of engagement with all facets of it. This being said, I draw strength in our collective wins, and I find personal failures within our collective losses. The TOC replaces that community, that theme of Love that seems hard to express in the eyes of a 16 year old kid (not the crush on the cheerleader s/he can't have). Kids always notice that the time they go, it all seems a little foreign and overwhelming.





I just want it to end, so I can go home.


21 April 2010

Coping with the ever present spector of death...

It's been a few days now, and this Vince thing is still gutting me at its core. Let's just dismiss the way it went down, it's more than that. At least for me, pretty much any death that I have to deal with forces thoughts to my mind that I spend all that I have trying not to think about. Death. For me, it's the overbearing issue that grinds at my soul in the same way that glaciers grind away their landscape, in the same way the mighty Colorado carved what we know as the Grand Canyon (before they built multiple dams, provided Las Vegas with power and water, but stifling the power of one of the world's most powerful rivers). Death. I try to get away from it, but it always seems to filter itself into my psyche...



...for me, death in general hits me differently, probably because I've had to deal with quite a bit of death in my time (some have said it's at the core of my generally less than pleasant disposition). I do not have any of the members of my immediate family that are still alive, having lost my older brother before I turned 12, my father and mother in the span of 6 years before I hit the age of 30, and my sister dying in 2002. Each death hit me differently, but they all hit me in a very similar fashion- like being hit with a sack of oranges- i was destroyed on the inside, but (as is my general MO) was not letting anyone on the outside see that anything was (or even could be) wrong. Usually, I would just find some shell to crawl into, usually with a bottle or some pills or some other vastly destructive tool, and would hope to some day crawl out of the other side, hoping to be a better person because of it (nothing remotely close to a "strategy" although when my mom died, I guess the strategy was to do Coke until i ran out of money or died- but that's not really a plan, as much it is a result for a lack of a plan). These methods, although in retrospect ended up being effective, were not the smartest means to resolve those problems. I had to tell myself that there had to be a better way to deal with the anxiety of thinking about death, instead of worrying about how to live...

..there is a second reason I have a different conceptualization of death and life than most. Every man in my family, on my dad's side of the family (with the exception of my dad's twin, who is an anomaly in every possible way) have had the unfortunate issue of heart disease, and, like a Whitley's grandma's priceless ear-rings, this heart disease is passed down from generation to generation, with my dad dying at the age of 47 (which is 8 years longer than his dad, who lived 6 years longer than his dad). I don't know if I will get this heart disease, and I know you can live with it for some time (dad was diagnosed on his 39th birthday and he lived with it for 8 years and through a heart attack and a double bypass and and angioplasty). My 39th is approaching like a Japanese Bullet Train, so the 800lb gorilla that is death was in the room anyway, but at least before Vince, he was being quiet...



...i guess i am being dishonest with myself when I say that the way this whole thing went down doesn't get to me more than normal. He was walking from a friends house to his house in his own town. I'm a person that enjoys walking, and I really do enjoy walking by myself, especially in new areas. I really enjoy people watching, and I think it's easiest to do when you're just a passive observer in a community- nobody is paying attention to you, which makes it easier for you to pay attention to your surroundings without affecting those surroundings (people are much more likely to act like themselves if they think there is nobody there that may judge them for doing so). I'm the kind of guy that would have no problem leaving his hotel room in a town I'm visiting at 2:30am to walk to the convenience store to get a Coke and some Gummi Bears. I've been told by numerous people in numerous places where I've just walked out on my own (Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami), sometimes in my younger days looking for a little shadiness (read: Indonesia). I've been told by hotel staffs, cabbies, bartenders, etc. that I was in situations I should be more concerned about, but when it was all said and done, I always pacified myself by saying "Who would want to harm me?" and the answer "Crazy motherfuckers, and for no logical reason" never popped in my head...
...and now there's a side of me that wants to be more cautious, wants to stay in my house, fearful of the crazy shit that's happening outside. It's the paranoid manic side of my personality that gets crushed like Reid Shannon's soul when he was dating The Funkiller- except in those dark moments, alone, when I start thinking about death. But, as a great philosopher and king, George W. Bush once said, that would let the terrorists win. I'm sick of how this is making me feel- I'm sick of being gutted by that actions of some douchebags that I really hope get what they deserve (we can debate about what that would be- but it's hard for me to be sympathetic about three guys that broke out of jail to kidnap someone- the fact that he was a friend of mine is important, but even if i had just come across the story, I'd still feel similarly). I just want to not have this Pulp Fiction-esque situation change me in the way that other deaths have changed me. I want things to be normal again.



But I also want to be 6'6" so I could play hoops, and independently wealthy, so I never had to work. I'm beginning to think the second is more realistic than returning to a world of normalcy.

19 April 2010

Tell them how you feel when they can hear you...

I've been, for the last week and a half generally, but for the last 48 hours specifically, been trying to get my head around the idea that a friend of mine may very well be dead. For lack of a better description, this alone has been a rough, bitter pill to swallow. But over the last few days, some things have come to the forefront of my mind, and sometimes, I just say whatever is running amock in this contraption I call a mind...a very brief synopsis for anyone that happens to not know.

Vince Binder, a graduate student at Florida State University, came up missing late on the night of April 1, 2010. Over the last few days, it has become a matter of record that he came in contact with 3 escaped convicts from Louisiana, and they were the last ones to see him, with one of the men indicating the men killed Binder. Vince was a friend of mine. For Vince:



As it became public knowledge that Vince was missing, his friends in the debate community had an outpouring of love and support any of us would be honored to be apart of, much less being the base of such an outpouring of emotion. It was this that really got me to thinking- how often do we really tell the people that matter to us their true worth? I can speak for myself, and the answer is not enough. Most of us are really into the now- what's happening at this very second, and how is this relevant to me right now. It seems like it may even be carved into our culture and psyche that we like to wait until the end before we tell people how we really feel about them. And, if we're really fortunate, we'll have the opportunity to do so. But sometimes, not so much...

...as a freshman in high school, I didn't have a ton of friends (not that different than now, but for very different reasons) but one of the true confidantes I had in high school was a friend, we'll just call him Chirs. Chris and I went to different high schools, but even through the things that pull 9th graders apart, I felt those things pulled us closer together. I didn't have a best friend, but he would have been the closest thing to a best friend. We would hang out after school, generally vent about how much we hated high school and eat peanut butter sandwiches and reflect on our (read: my) lack of game. One Wednesday, Chris met me at my school, as he got out of school an hour earlier than I did, and he wanted to chill. So we leave my school, and go to downtown Berkeley and go to Games of Berkeley (looked at a bunch of Dungeons and Dragons stuff) got a slice of pizza (Arnell's- best NY style pizza in Berkeley) and walked around the campus shooting the shit, having a great time. We get on the BART train, head back to El Cerrito, where I walk with Chris to his house (which is about 4 blocks from my house). We say our farewells, and right before I walk off, Chris comes to me and says, "Thanks." I'm not really sure, but I say "You're welcome, man. I'll see you tomorrow."

Fast forward 26 minutes, as that's about how much time it took me to walk home and make myself something to eat. That's when my mom walks in, and she looks like she's seen a ghost. I have no idea what's happening, but that's the same look she had on her face when she found out my brother died, and so I knew there was nothing remotely close to good news.

Apparently, my friend Chris, who I had just spent all afternoon with, and had literally just seen not a half hour ago, was discovered by his mother, in his room, hanging from his ceiling fan. He left two notes: one to his parents, and one to me. The only words on my note were: "Today was awesome. Best way to go out. Too much to explain. Just easier this way. Catch you on the other side."

To this day, I always wonder if the reason he came to my school that day was because he needed to talk to me, and he needed me to talk him out of it. I wonder if he was reaching out, and I was too stupid/arrogant/self-interested to really notice. I spent the greater part of my high school experience carrying the weight of unmanagable guilt, as I felt my friend was reaching out to me, and my arms weren't long enough to reach him. But more than any of these things I wonder about for my own selfish reasons, I really wonder if hearing what kind of person he was, and what kind of friend he was, and the role he played in (at the very least) my life, might this have made him reflect on himself differently, and maybe he...i did this to myself for years, and still do to this day. To Chris:



I don't know if my telling him how important in my life would have saved his, but I do know that not telling him fucking haunts me to this day. So I try to remind myself to tell the people that matter in my life that they matter, and I try to remind them how much. It seems small and insignificant, so much so that we almost never do it.

Tell the people you love that you love them. Tell the people that matter to you that they do. But don't forget to tell them WHY.

08 April 2010

moving experiences vol. 1

I am convinced that Las Vegas is my muse. There's really no other excuse for my prolific efforts of writing when I'm here (maybe, as Jamie Foxx would say, maybe it's the alcohol). And although there are a number of "The Hangover" quality of experiences here, and I've been involved in more than one of them, most of my time in this town is spent chillin' in oppulent hotel rooms, eating fine foods and playing poker, and occasionally blackjack.
I'm almost positive my oldness
forces me into a position where going out and, as I would describe as "put my dick in the mashed potatoes" which for me in my early Vegas days was not some quirky metaphor fo sexual relations, I was actually trying to find a buffet, and put my dick in some ACTUAL mashed potatoes (apparently, it's the sign of a good party)...

...that being said, watching people pretty much lose their minds in
Vegas flashes me back to my first (and, ironically, only) Mardi Gras experience...As I explain the story, I feel there is a need to provide a modicum of context to why I was there. Obviously, it was at a debate tournament. I was attending Missouri Southern State College (what do you mean you've never heard of it, it's the Southern Utah of the Ozarks, bitches!!), and the admin was losing their shit (they say it was because we missed mad classes, i say it's because we weren't clearing, but I digress). They said we needed to stop going to tournaments that ended on Mondays (which took us off the national circuit, and the only reason I went to that terrible institution- I was the only National Merit scholar on campus at all, which was totally fucking depressing- I also met that fucking suckubus Karina there- fortunately her insanity found another home, unfortunately, it was my boy (sorry Rob, would have "Saving Silvermaned you, but I assure you I was persona non grata, even if she didn't know what in the fuck that meant) that took it in the JT Shortz. But, as they say in the hood, "better you than me, nigga!!". But once again , I digress... ...so, after a day of "debates" (done entirely by 2pm, as to facilitate a true New Orleans experience), we pile into old Van No. 26 and head down to the Big Easy and start the Madri Gras experience. We're not staying in New Orleans, but are instead staying in Hammond, about 45 minutes on the other side of the lake, so we had plenty of time to get ourselves mentally ready for the experience. We arrive, and park near the Superdome (a large landmark, to help us find the car later), and start trying to find Bourbon Street. The first clear memory was having to use the facilities, and beginning the trek of futility. Anyone that has been to Madri Gras understands the harrowing experience that is trying to find a rest room (similar to highway 58 between Bakersfield and Barstow, where on the way in, I saw a guy dropping science (or, a duece) on the side of the road). Well, I walked into the bar that finally let me use the restroom, when i find myself pushing through what j could only have imagined was the line. Boy, was I wrong. I get to the center of the circle to find two dudes, on their knees sucking a woman's tits. Which. Was. Awesome. Even more telling was the comment a guy that I can only assume was the owner- he tells me I "can suck on them titties too, for no cover. Just a 15 minute wait."

This was going to be an insane experience.

After finding a restroom (no, I didn't suck on some titties, just seemed like a really bad idea, although when I left, a cop, let me repeat and emphasize, a cop in uniform, was on his knees, sucking on some titties on the way out, so the legal side I was initially worried about, clearly was no longer a concern), I decided to find my posse, who I had, for some reason, assumed I would spend the rest of my evening with. Because the parade had yet to conclude, we just hung out, drank these things called Hurricanes, which tasted remarkably like that low-budget Fruit Punch some of us frequented in my youth. I had no real frame of reference, so all I knew was people

were throwing beads, and I'm pretty fucking competitive, so I ended up with a shit-ton of these beads, including A LOT of really cool, intricate beads with a ton of faces and things written on them. I had no idea that these things could be utilized as a particular means of currency. So here I am, The Big Easy, drinking on the streets, in front of cops, grabbing all these beads. If they had told me at the end of the parade, "That's it, dawg, time to take your asses home," I'd still have felt I'd had a good time. But after the parade ended, the streets opened up, and someone said "Let's go to Bourbon Street." I was under the impression that we were on Bourbon Street, but by now, I'd gotten pretty drunk (the parade was unusually long and/or I drank these Punch flavored beverages like water, or more accurately, like Punch), and was just up for where the evening was going to take us. Little did I know what was in store...
...we walk what seemed to only be a couple of minutes, and make a turn and there it is. Debauchery. Sin. Insanity. This. Is. Madri Gras...The first thing I see (and, honestly, my last clear memory) comes when we turn onto Bourbon Street. We round the corner, and there's a guy, standing on the balcony of one of the apartments/hotels. He's standing on the railing, and shouting this phrase..."I'm gonna jump!!" The crowd, in typical Madri Gras mood, shouts at the guy "Jump! Jump! Jump!" Amazingly enough, this dumb motherfucker just stage-dives off the balcony. I will repeat this. This motherfucker jumps off the balcony, into the crowd. Even stranger than this, the crowd fucking caught him!! After the dude gets into the crowd, he walks up to the hottest woman he can find and says "I just did a stage dive! Let me see them titties!!" The woman immediately pulls her shirt up to show her lovely lady lumps, and the crowd goes wild...
...i would go into more depth about what actually happened the rest of the evening, but I honestly have no fucking idea what actually happened, all I can really say is the rest of the evening worked itself out into small snapshots, that I tried to piece together, but to no avail. The last full memory I have is that there were approximately 25 people in old Van No. 26, and I'm not sure how we all got home, nor do I really care (can't imagine who drove).

07 April 2010

funny how time flies or terrible hiding places

Some days, I just really have a hard time not flashing back to my high school days. Maybe not for the reasons many of you all do, as the greatest time of your life (my reason is even simpler- i work with high school kids, so...). When this happens, the one song that always seems to pop in my mind is a song by Janet Jackson- Funny How Time Flies...

As I sat around today, i realized the school year is almost over- and that I've been teaching at my current gig for almost 3 years now. Anyone that knows me at all would be surprised to know this, and upon reflection, it even surprises me a bit. I will be graduating my first class of kids that have been working with me for their entire high school experience. It seems like just yesterday I was at the James Logan tournament with a couple of freshman my first year, and after the tournament thinking to myself, "I'm really going to enjoy teaching these kids." I remember taking three freshmen to the Catholic National Tournament in Houston three years ago, and now all of those kids are telling me where they are going to college (and asking me if they can work for me in the future, which means IT WORKED). I'm insanely proud of all of my kids, and I can't do anything but want them to spread their wings and accomplish all of their goals and dreams. But as I reflect, I can still do nothing but wonder, "What happened to all that time? How did time move so fast?" I think I have a reason....
...I'm nowhere near smart enough to believe that I could come up with this myself. Know that going in. That being said, it seems to make sense, even at a very rudimentary level, and I wish for the life of me I could remember who I talked to about this...
...when you're young, everything you encounter is fresh and new, so the processing of things when you're younger seems slower- as things you're unfamiliar with happen, you have to process that information, and it takes longer because of that unfamiliarity. This makes sense to me, based on my knowledge of the way we see things- which involves more recollection and insertion of predictable responses than actually seeing shit, as 90%+ of what we call "vision" is a fragmented version of our own expectations (it's the reason we have a hard time recalling things we've just seen that were unexpected- the warrant behind eyewitnesses always , and i mean always having vastly differing recollections of the same event they watched happen). When we're young, everything seems fresh and new- think of the first time you saw a roller coaster, that really cool video game system, that Cabbage Patch Kid (which I am fully aware dates me, and makes me old) or whatever in the hell it was that intrigued you when you were young. For me, it was my dad's porn stack, which he so conveniently left in my bedroom, in a place he (assumed incorrectly) knew I'd never look- ironically, he hid the porn in the exact place I would have hidden stuff, for the same reason I would have hidden it there, assuming the other party was too unwilling to move the stuff to hide it. As an aside, I actually found them trying to hide some illegitimate bounty I had shadily attained, went to hide my newly acquired booty, and as I went to put it in the hiding space, there they were- newly acquired booty, but a very different and more enjoyable one. Apparently, dad had been collecting magazines for years, and didn't want mom to know. The next 7.5 years were awesome...


...On his deathbed, I told my dad I'd found them, and had been enjoying them for years. He said he knew. How did he know? Apparently, in the early days, before I'd figured out what leaving tracks were all about, I'd read (who am i kidding?!?) one of the finer issues of Playboy (Patty McGuire- November 1976- the photographic memory is good for something!). In the process of reading the magazine, I'd apparently forgotten to wash my hands, and left peanut butter fingerprints on the magazine. When I asked why he allowed it to continue, his answer was, in retrospect, very standard for my parents, with a twist- if we control bad influences, and they lose their intrigue, and you don't get yourself in trouble. His exact words were not as eloquent, but just as poignant, "Never bad to have a little material for the spank bank (yes, he said spank bank). You're much less likely to do any stupid shit outside with a ton of porn and herb at the house."

Touche, dad, touche.

05 April 2010

things i wish i'd known...

I teach high school, and I see the replication of mistakes I made as a young buck, and I truly wish I could have had someone tell me things I needed to know, those things nobody wants to tell you, but if you knew, would have changed your entire existence. As I though about this list, it was apparent it would be extensive, so I'll just write about a couple of these things...

1. Peer pressure is some bullshit, but a necessary evil. Choose your
concessions wisely- they can literally define how people perceive you.

I was pretty square in high school, and I thought most of the people around me were stupid. This is a sure fire short circuit for a great majority of group-think activities that you get into, because the driving mechanism behind peer pressure is the desire to model someone's behavior. That meant that most of the time I had no desire to get involved with whatever stupid shit was being suggested. Most people don't have that sort of discipline, so it's necessary to make prudent choices when you do succumb to peer pressure. For example, the most outlandish shit I did was something called ice blocking- where you buy a block of ice, go to the golf course, and slide down the hills at night, after the course is closed. It wasn't until much later when I found out what kind of damage that could do to a golf course (note: my knowledge isn't what stopped me from "blocking" but instead an unusual amount of laziness, and old age (desire to deal with cops for destruction of public/private property has been at an all time low for 20 years now). A couple of my friends picked up nasty cocaine habits from peer pressure, some still have a pack and a half smoking issue, some still hit the sauce like they were Ike Turner-and nobody saw that as being a decision that would stick with you. My decision is probably at the root of my love for destruction of private property, but I digress. Similarly, I remembered how much peer pressure played a role in how we dressed- and fashion was the bees knees in high school. I always had to make sure I had the newest Gordon Ga Trail shirt (anyone that catches that reference, answer in the comments- I'll find some way to reward you!) or Levi's 501 jeans. Had to make sure you had the right shoes (the new Jordans). My parents were cool with spending a littlemoney to make sure I was at least in the right area code fashion wise(moms actual quote: the kids really weird, at least let him dress not like a dork). She did, however, want me to make a fashion move I wouldn't give in to: the Jheri Curl...




...You were wise to not follow that trend- the Jheri Curl was a
terrible idea, and the fact that there are no pictures of you rocking the drip-drip means you win.

2. Funny is good, but for every mean thing you say about someone, you have to say mean shit about yourself, too.

I spent most of my high school experience being an arrogant douchebag. Sure, I had my advocates, friends that either didn't care or legitimaelty enjoyed the 4 year string of rants and insults I called high school. When you're "that guy" you burn a lot of bridges in high school (hey Michelle, sorry about that thing I said/did to make you hate me) but as a kid, you really don't learn the finer points of insult and ridicule. Over the course of time, I figured that most people are willing to laugh at the misfortune/complications of others. Schadenfreude is a word most people don't know and couldn't spell, but it's at the core of our voyeuristic, disaster pornography society (I ain't gonna lie, I like to watch) lie a bunch of people waiting for the car to crash. But this admission makes people feel like douchebags, so they don't openly ROOT for bad shit to happen, but are fine when it does. Similarly, people love seeing someone get insulted, enamored with sarcasm and ridicule- just not themselves- unless the jokester is self depricating- in which case the sky's the limit. Somewhere in the psyche is a release switch that indicates that if someone is willing to poke fun at themselves, then you should "lighten up" and deal with it- if they're going to make fun of themselves, then they don't take themselves very seriously, so stop taking yourself so seriously. It's also a pretty decent indicator that, if they make fun of themselves, you have no chance of getting away.