Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Kyle Maynard

I have a feeling this video is just beginning its swine flu-like ascent up the WHO scale of viral transmission. (I guess this post could be considered my personal contribution to the pandemic--an infected specimen's small, uncovered cough into the sweat-scented communal air of the interwebs, as it were.)

Unlike some stranger cases, to which reasonable men should have been immune, the Maynard fight virus sports a bit of DNA custom built for internet incubation: the "holy shit, did you see that?" gene. (Incidentally, those individuals who carry two recessives of this characteristic--creatures many refer to handily as "mouthbreathers"--often wind up party to backyard incidents involving alcohol, video cameras, and modified firearms. For the Darwinians among you: a peek at an active petri dish. Essentially, if the House of Romanov had a frat hall, these would be the pledges.)

But back to Mr. Maynard. I will be neither the first nor the last to praise the man's spirit. Maynard suffers from congenital amputation of all four limbs, meaning he has no hands or forearms and no feet or shins. Considering that half of the game is striking and that submissions depend heavily on applied leverage, his stepping into an MMA cage fight is equivalent to an outlaw gruffly thumbing the edge of his Bowie knife before heading over to the O.K. Corral. We Americans, as the esteemed T. Pynchon elucidates, succinctly refer to this type of folk as a "badass."

That said, I'm guessing that I will be one of the few who viewed this particular parade and felt a sad duty to go piddle all over the giant balloons. Badass though it may be, when you scrub the manly patina off that outlaw metaphor, the poor guy is basically bringing a knife to a gunfight. Military strategists have a word for a person who knowingly enters an engagement at a severe disadvantage and, I hate to say, it's not a compliment. Maynard looks less like a man trying to prove himself and more like a man with something to prove.


(And a word to Brian Frye, the able-bodied gentleman scurrying la cucaracha-style around the purlieus: unless you're planning to market yourself as the Reggie Strickland of ultimate fighting, then punctuating your nervous circuits around the ring with the occasional half-hearted jab not only looks cowardly against an opponent who lacks both fists and feet with which to strike back, what's worse, it smells suspiciously of revulsion. Maynard was man enough to step into the ring in spite of a clear debility; respect him enough to knock his block off. For reals, don't be some kind of pussy. Kthxbye!)

The true feel-good story here, I do believe, belongs less to Maynard and more to mixed martial arts itself. MMA at the moment is smack dab in the hormone-addled center of its growth spurt into a legitimate sport. I think the message the Auburn Fight Night organizers sent to the rest of the world is exactly right: any person of sound mind and body (and yes, Maynard qualifies; he could probably crush a mouthbreather's can o' Bud between those shoulder muscles) can compete against any other person of similar basic adequacy, and do so safely. And notice that that sentence is gender neutral. Women's leagues are sprouting just as quickly as men's.

Whatever his motivations, Maynard honored the sport by stepping into the cage despite an astounding disability, and the event organizers honored the sport by ignoring the disability entirely. As camp counselors would say after a particularly spirited round of boot tossing, everyone's a winner!

The down side is that this includes Brian Frye. If they could scrounge up someone with a foot to finally kick that dude's ass we'd be all set.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Best Medicine

It takes sick humor to make a sick man smile. I found it on this list.

Cough, chuckle, wheeze, chortle...

Friday, April 24, 2009


I remember when I used to breathe air regularly, and found the process enjoyable.

That was before my sinuses decided they felt less like life- and mood-affirming airways and more like...watermelons.

And we all know what happens to watermelons.


Oh, Gallagher. Your career ended so long ago. Can't you leave my head alone?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Bends

"Sine." A derivative of the Latin word for a curve. Latin, hm.... Hey, didn't the people who spoke Latin and once ruled 1/4 of the known world just end up being Italian?

Yep! And, much like that, the curvy passages which I normally use for breathing--called, yes, sinuses--have become...diminished, let us say. So, what happens when curves go bad?

Etymology, meet solid rock.

See the curve in the road in the above image? My sinuses. The bus? My head. I'm sure the cameraman just missed snapping a shot of the fireball and the faith-destroying image of the plucky band of puppies and ice cream cones being consumed by the inferno.

He did happen to have some Kleenex in his camera case though, so I forgive him. (Sniffle.)

I'll be back once the wreckage is cleared.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Random Thought: Diabetics Beware

I know the odds have been rigged wildly in my favor for a year and a half now, but lucky am I to always take home the best lookin' gal in the joint?

(Quick: insulin for the impending sugar shock!)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Deep In Vein

174 Bedford Ave
Friday, April 17

The evening's in honor of 12 Eyes' last night together, a band who gave much love and support to DIV's earliest incarnations.

We're opening the gig but we're gonna play like we're the end of it. Come for the music, stay for the Charleston's $1.75 pizza. Or work it the other way around. We don't mind a'tall.

Cause if the pizza doesn't make your guts rumble, the music sure will.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009


A song that's good for the pores, courtesy this afternoon's DIV practice.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Thinking Outside The Penalty Box

Speaking of neat tricks, this is the kind of creative tactic one or two of my teammates could easily master. (I'm looking at you, Nathan. Well, you and your plateful of London broil and gravy...)

To be honest, ale, fish and chips, and meat pies probably give the English an unfair advantage in this kind of gutsy football.

God help us, though, if they ever played a friendly in Mexico...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Just A Trick Of The Hat

In a way, it's appropriate: "kinky" and "tricks" go together like your mom and the body of work she's inspired.


Which explains why it feels so right that, this past Friday night, I should score three goals in my first soccer game with Team Kinky, earning myself a hat trick and our team its first win of the season.

A consistently strong defense laid the hat out, and a few perfectly-placed passes to the outside post helped me turn the trick. As they say al sur de la frontera, "GOL!"

Also, like many tricks, I had trouble walking straight the day after...

My Hat Trick: something like this, only much
less nightmarish or...French-looking.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Freedom Marches On

Can't you smell the sweet, sweet bouquet of billions of dollars worth of Western-style freedom?

Sadly, I'm hardly being facetious.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Sing Thee To Thy Rest

Other than my brief goodbye, I haven't really had a chance to address the recent loss of Steven Bach, a screenwriting professor of mine from Bennington College.

He was probably the first teacher I'd had who made me feel like I'd stepped sideways in the world, slightly out of sync with my life as it had been lived previously. "Him?," I thought. "This man, former senior vice president in charge of worldwide production at United Artists and producer of such movies as Hair, Raging Bull, and Annie Hall, has come down from the heights of the profession I'm hoping to enter just to thumb through my inconsequential dramatic doodlings? How did it come to this? I'm just a kid from podunk Georgia...."

He wasn't the kind of teacher you were ever "close" with; Steven was much too dignified to indulge in anything like gossip. But this dignity meant that he treated the ideas of those around him with respect. And if you faced his honest scrutiny with a confidence that your ideas deserved his attention--in short, with your own dignity--then even fundamental disagreements were amicable and informative.

This is not to say that every single student was treated to a jovial how-de-do and a cup of warm cocoa. Like every diplomatic soul, he had little patience for people who seemed unaware of how they appeared to others, or for those whose default response to criticism was to dig in their heels and bare their teeth. To quote a stoic of whom Steven undoubtedly approved, "If evil be spoken of you and it be true, correct yourself; if it be a lie, laugh at it." He preferred that people take their slings and arrows straight on.

After hearing that he'd passed, I went digging around and found an old notebook from one of my screenwriting classes with him, just to relive for a moment my brief time under his tutelage. Below are a few of the advisorial bon mots I was sufficiently amused and/or enlightened by to record for posterity:

  • "Put a gun on the table--it's gonna go off. Hang a little girl from an orange tree--somebody's gonna notice, besides the Florida Orange Tree Council!"
  • "I don't play."
  • On the flaw in studio execs' stressing character likability over all else: "If I ask you to close your eyes for ten seconds and when you open them I have laid on the table a teddy bear and a rattlesnake, I know where your eyes will gravitate."
  • To a student whose screenplay featured a man who may or may not be a sexual predator: "You've gotta take him off the hook of our wandering, debauched minds."
  • "It's okay to be comical in a tragic situation, it's not okay to be trivial."
  • On inborn talent: "...And Sibyl Shepard, when she was 25, was Sibyl Shepard."
  • On our class time together: "This isn't the self-pity hour."
  • On negotiating for anything you can get away with: "PriceChopper doesn't give food away, even though you're cute and you've got a pencil."
  • On character development: "Nobody lives such a one note life except monks...and we're not so sure about monks even."

And finally, just to demonstrate his control of understatement:

  • "We're the most harmless people in the world, in Bennington, Vermont."

He will be missed.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How Bureaucracy Is Like The First Day Of Middle School

I walked into the Certificate of Fitness testing office for the FDNY the other day:

  • To discover the kind of plastic seating you find waiting for you at assembly, and a linoleum floor patterned to hide the stains from spilled sloppy joe sauce.

  • To find that no one else knew where they were supposed to go, and that each person was nervously searching every look and gesture of everyone else for a clue about how to behave.

  • To see cliques form around those few individuals who seemed to know what was actually going on.

  • To see a scattered few mumbling to themselves, earnestly repeating phrases from a packet of study materials.

  • To finally be led into the testing area, have a seat at the test computer and--first thing--have the man next to me lean over and ask me in a whisper what the answer to such-and-such is, immediately bringing us to the attention of the middle-aged biddy sitting not ten feet away (whom I then had the adolescent urge to placate by pointing at the man to indicate who started it).

  • And finally, to pass both CoF tests with high B's and feel inordinate satisfaction as I was issued ID cards with my picture on them.

I could practically feel my voice wanting to warble and crack the entire time, and not just because I still wear a backpack. One positive development, though, is that this time I wasn't wearing pants whose cuffs end above my ankles.

So I guess I've learned something...