There has been too much to say and too little to say. Too much time to say it and not enough time get it all down. Too much sports and not enough beat writers…well, actually the real beat writers have been on it. And so have the columnists. And yes, even the journalists, rare though they might be (true, pure journalists, that is…assuming that quixotic notion even has relevance anymore, in this not so brave and exceeding terrible world of info-tainment). But each little article and story, each column and bloogpost… all each one really amounts to is one little facet of a large diamond we are all in the process of tearing into and stealing. And that’s just football and motorsports. It’s almost as if we all, professional and amateur alike, are living a life of crime. And I haven’t gotten to the political writers, bloogers, and the rest of THAT sorry lot. Those wankers ARE living a life of crime for real. They actually WORK for the criminals. Unlike us sports journalists (for the most part). So for the past three weeks let’s just say I’ve been (metaphorically) living a life of crime and leave it at that.
But before I get to all that…I found out something that saddens me a bit and….well I guess it just goes to show how out of touch I can be with things that are, well not near and dear to my heart, but a less precious metaphorical equivalent thereof. First off, I did not know that this weekend, here in Madison, at the MADCON Science Fiction Convention, Harlan Ellison, one of my favourite science fiction writers of all time, is the Guest of Honor. And secondly, the sad part of it is I did not know that Harlan Ellison is gravely ill, and this could very well be his last convention. In fact, he says it will be his last.
“Repent Harlequin, Said The Tick Tock Man”. “I Have No Mouth & I Must Scream” “The Beast That Shouted Love At The Heart Of The World“. Harlan Ellison wrote some of the best and most powerful, visceral and evocative Science Fiction of all time. And soon perhaps he will be gone. But there will always be “Deeper Than The Darkness”; “Shattered Like A Glass Goblin”; “Hitler Painted Roses” . I’m a little bit speechless about all this at the moment. But you know me….it won’t last long.
Manchester City 1 Chelsea 0
Of all the writers in the universe not named Charles Bukowski, Harlan Ellison counts as just about all of the top 12 writers who’ve influenced and inspired me. In high school, through college, and into the so-called young adult years and beyond, Ellison’s stories and words always had a ring of truth. In fact, Ellison was there in my pantheon and stirring my mind and soul well before Bukowski. For me, Ellison was catalyst that made me want to write back then, and truth be known, the catalyst keeps me writing now. Ellison, of course, was part of the New Wave of Science Fiction that swept through the genre in the 60’s and early 70’s and turned the genre on it’s ear. But for me, in a way, it’s my version of the Golden Age of Science Fiction….and it was not just Ellison, there was Michael Moorcock and host of others..though for me, it was Ellison that led the charge, or seemed to.
So lay the blame there if you wish. But that’s the truth of the matter. And now the days have sped on by. Writing never became my profession, unfortunately… or perhaps it was good fortune for the rest of y’all. But in my heart, it is what drives me…even in business…my business and the turmoil and triumphs and failures and recoveries…the advertising business and the sales profession…well I suppose there IS a parallel there. I think, somedays, when business does not go well, that I should have taken up writing as a career, or as I joke sometimes with my associates…perhaps I (we) should take up a life of crime. But it oftimes seems that the life of a businessman and salesman, and the life of a writer, really is naught much different than a life of crime. All three, to be good at it, take a passion and a focus that is unparalleled in any other sort of endeavor…except for sport, of course. Which is why I write these days about more about sport and the sporting life than I do about, say, a journey to Jupiter, or a socialist revolution on Mars. or surviving the world of the Contempo Machine.
This morning, I began the day with high hopes. Chelsea won the toss and elected to take the 2nd half kickoff, and the game was on. Chelsea on the road at The City of Manchester Stadium attempting to stay undefeated atop the Premier League table. Manchester City hoping to get a least a point from Chelsea…take away something to build on. Man City jas tons of talent, and they spent a quid or three on that talent ((300 million quid to be exact)). But they haven’t been able to pull it all together. Carlos Tevez has been brilliant, Joe Hart in goal has been brilliant…but in between those two, despite Milner and Barry and DeJong and Kompany and Silva and Adebayour, they haven’t come together as forceful and creative team. So today was crucial for them. Chelsea, wanted to gain a point, and preferably all of them. With Lampard and Kalou out for this match…Ramires, Alex and Mikel had to step up….and they need a crisp and power game from Anelka, Drogba and Malouda upfront. Essien needed to creative energy and stay atop of his game. Terry, Ashley Cole, and Ivanovich had to be wary of the City’s breakway speed. And for most of the match they were. BUT…
Ramires did not step up… Essien, Anelka, Drogba and Malouda were powerful up front but not as crisp and patient…and Essien…well, he needed to take a deep breath and ramp it down a notch on his goal attempts as they sailed either wide, or over the net. Chelsea created far more opportunities than Man City. The had a great opportuny of a corner kick by Drogba. Ivanovic, who was Chelsea’s man of the match, headed it of the crossbar, and then headed his rebound to the left post. But Hart smothered it at the last moment. Too often for Chelsea those opportunities were lost today. Now granted, Man City was playing a swarming defense…when a Chelsea player got a touch, there were two Man City defenders on him instantly…it was like a full court press…there should have been a man open, but those passing lanes were covered. Finally, at the 59th minute, Man City got a 3 on 3 breakaway with Yaya Toure feeding Tevez who raced up the right side marked by Ashley Cole with Silva, marked by John Terry to his left. Tevez drove to about 18 yards and fired. Terry had moved to backup Cole…but the shot slipped between Cole’s legs, and off the left post and in. Nothing Cech could do about that. Cole, who’d played a great game, was probably not playing Tevez tight enough….it’s like bump and run, man coverage in the NFL…with Tevez you gotta play tight man coverage on a breakaway. Terry has to cover Silva in case Tevez passed…and Cech needed to prepare for both. Still…it was the only real opportunity City had. And they cashed in. 1-0. Took all three points. instead of being 10 back of Chelsea, they are now 4 back. But at the end of the day, Chelsea remains at the top of the table. And with Arsenal getting upset at home as I type this by West Bromich Albion 2-3, well…Man U could get to within 1 on my Blues with a win tomorrow at Bolton…but Bolton will not be as easy as it looks. And gahhhhh!! Now my Green and Gold Norwich City Canaries are getting smacked at home 0-2 by Hull!! Maybe I SHOULD just take up a life of crime.
Clint Bowyer Wins At Loudon But Is Penalized 150 Points For Cheating (Allegedly)
I keep forgetting about NASCAR these days, and it’s probably all NASCAR’s fault. Let’s blame everything on NASCAR. Matt Kenseth’s inconsistency this season? NASCAR’s fault. Kevin Conway is Rookie of the Year despite losing his ride? NASCAR’s fault. Danica Patrick? NASCAR’s fault.
Now the deal with Bowyer aside….his car was off by the thickness of a quarter after the Loudon race and whether or not his crew was cheating, well…it’s a rule I suppose, although the car passed post-race inspection. It should be noted that this 60/10000th of an inch discrepancy from tolerance was not found until the car was taken to NASCAR’s R&D Center for a complete teardown. Hmmmm. I can imagine you could find just about anything you wanted to find then if you looked hard enough. Bowyer is good guy and it’s shame that his chance for winning the Chase is essentially ruined despite the win. RCR is appealing the ruling. But NASCAR being NASCAR, well…good luck with that. If it weren’t for the Chase, this little matter would have been noted with alacrity and then soon forgotten. But it’s the Chase, and this will loom over the the Chase for the rest of the Chase. Especially if Bowyer strings together another win or two…Kansas is coming up and he’s very good there. So the talk and natter about this will continue to simmer. Of course, you can blame THAT I suppose on us writers since WE’RE the ones who are living a life of crime. But truth to be told, it’s NASCAR’s fault.
Meanwhile, I like how Kevin Harvick took matters into his own hands. Since, in the aftermath of this, Denny Hamlin (who fanciest himself to be a Jeff Burton when it comes to speaking out on the NASCAR issues of the day, albeit in a more Kyle Bushesque manner), squawked about how RCR ws warned about this and that they had this coming and that they were a bunch of cheatin’ cacksuckers and so on…well….Harvick decided to send Hamlin a little message of his own. Short and sweet. At the first practice on Saturday, Harvick bumped Hamlin as they were exiting the pit road and then bashed him one on the track. Very nice, that. Something we can’t blame on NASCAR. And to their credit, NASCAR chose to look the other way.
Now here’s a prediction sure to go wrong: Matt Kenseth will win the AAA 400 today at the Monster Mile.
And if he doesn’t, well….I’ll simply blame it on NASCAR.
Chicago 20 Green Bay 17
I met Harlan Ellison once. He is the only literary idol I have ever met in person.
Yes, yes…I’ve met many of the greats of SF such as Philip Jose Farmer, Poul Anderson, Frederick Pohl, Gordon Dickson, Jack Vance, Robert Heinlein, Larry Niven, John Varley, and Clifford Simak. I had the honour of meeting and spending a pleasant evening conversing with Edmund Hamilton who wrote during the pulp era of the late 20’s, early 30’s, just before Asimov and the rest ushered in the Golden Age of Science Fiction. I treasure those moments I spent talking to Edmund Hamilton, at Minicon in XXX the year before he died. One the great ones from the earliest days of Science Fiction, and oddly, not many fans there at the Con seemed to know who he was and how important he was to the grand scheme of things. I was honored to have met him. My favourite story of his is “Thundering Worlds” which was published in Wierd Tales in 1934. A magic story that resonates in my mind to this very day.
I hope this past weekend in Madison, some young fan got a opportunity to meet one of the great ones from a far away Golden Age just as I had my moments with Edmund Hamilton. But somehow, I don;t think, with Harlan Ellison, it could ever be that way. Harlan is too famous…the media he has always railed against has seen to that. And more to the point, Harlan Ellison is, after all, Harlan Ellison. I met Harlan Ellison, and I ought to know ((now, he might have now, in old age and failing health calmed down, but…I honestly don’t think so, and I honestly hope not)). I can’t ever imagine Harlan Ellison being as gracious and patient with a young fan as Edmund Hamilton was with me. No. That’s not Harlan Ellison. I’ve met the man, and in person he can be right royal bastard. I will also say that upon meeting him, I was NOT disappointed. I was fully expecting him to be a pricktard. All the bad things people have said about him over the years are true. And all of the good things people have said about him over the years are also true. So it’s conundrum…here is the man who most influenced me in writing…the man who made me want to be a science fiction writer ((well…no one ever said Harlan Ellison was perfect)). And well…I decided in a small amusing way to be a pricktard back to him. I’d read about how he would buy art and fan art at Science Fiction conventions and then use them as an influence in writing a story. I thought that was a neat idea and decided to emulate that. There was an art auction at the convention, and when Harlan fancied a painting and bid on it…I jumped in and upped the bid…no one else but me and Harlan Ellison were bidding on these paintings with the same idea in mind. Now I knew that I would not win the bid…and I really coundlt afford to win a bid…but I soldiered on..bidding the price up just so Harlan couldn’t get the paintings on the cheap. I was doing it to piss him off…and it worked. When the bid got up to $60-75 I backed off and Harlan had to pay up. And I got a nice bit satisfaction out of doing that to him. I’m also quite certain if the roles were reversed, he would have done the same thing.
Now obviously I would have preferred to have hunkered down the con suite with a few beers and talked with Harlan Ellison about how living the life of a writer is very much akin to living a life of crime. But that was not going to happen. So pissing him off…doing unto him and he would routinely do to others…was the next best thing. I saved the pleasantries for the late Tom Reamy and the raising of the glass in toast for the late, great Wilson Tucker: “Smooooooth!!!” Fandom is a way of life and if I have to explain it, well, then….blah blah blah.
The wonderful thing about Harlan Ellison is that he wrote as though writing were a life of crime. He wrote like he stole something precious and valuable and irreplaceable….something he’d stolen, some secret knowledge that the man didn’t want us to know. He wrote like that. And he lived his life like that…a life of crime…a pure professional criminal. A master of his craft and his language. He stole what was of value, he perloined lost things, knowledge we were not supposed to know, and gave it all back to the world.
The Green Bay Packers did the very same thing on Monday. They lived a life of crime that was record setting in it’s epic criminality. The stole EVERYTHING, stole it over and over again, and the gave it back to the Chicago Bears. The problem with this was, well…they stole from the modestly wealthy and gave it right back to the modestly wealthy. Now in football, a life of crime is a bit different than writing, or actual crime. Writers are noble criminals….the most revered criminals are also noble criminals. But Green Bay, too be honest, stole more from themselves than what they stole from the Bears. And they handed all the loot over the Bears. The Packers need to learn a few things a bout crime. I would suggest they start by reading Harlan Ellison’s “The Beast That Shouted Love At The Heart Of The World” in lieu of watching film of how Devin Hester was handed a free touchdown on a punt return. Fuck how all that happened. Fuck the scoreboard. They need to cut the heart and soul of things. Play football like that and all will be well.
Chelsea 2 Olympique Marseilles 0
So much for crime. A life of beer and football ((the real kind, not the NFL kind)) is far preferable. I think, in some similar unknown, unaware, yet all-knowing way, Chelsea retired from their life of crime of last Saturday at Manchester, and found comfort at home in their Champions League defeat of Marseilles. They played w/o Didier Drogba (suspended), Salomon Kalou and Frank Lampard (both injured), and played well enough to win. And that’s a step back to where they need to go. Unlike the Green Bay Packers, a team similarly earmarked for greatness this season, the Chelsea Blues have not turned to crime. Not yet. But my feeling is that very soon, they might have to take a page from the Packers playbook…the Packers stole everything from the Chicago Bears except their soul (and had the Packers been more competent criminals, they would have made away with THAT as well)…but in the end, the Packers gave all the loot back. Chelsea must show greater competence at criminality…ie. be less noble…keep the loot fer yer bloody focking self! So does Green Bay. Both the Packers and the Blues are expected to lift the hardware at the end of their seasons. And they both should. But…only if they can live the PERFECT life of crime.
So now I’m pacing back and forth in my cell waiting for the bail to be posted. I didn’t really steal very much this time, honest Judge, but here I am locked in a focking cell of grammar, syntax, punctuation, semiotics, and other journalistic and/or literary notions. I pace back and forth and wonder which Harlan Ellison character I am…and while I’m riding that train of thought, I’m also thinking I might not want to be one. And while I’m thinking about THAT, the sirens go off and the searchlights come raging on like bright shiny beasts, and the ironic music begins to play.