'Am seeing sluggish drilling, by sluggards. Not meaning insults. This is the fact. Motions are gone through. Barely minimal efforts. Cold, yes? The cold hands and nose with mucus? Thoughts on getting through, going in, hot showers, water very hot. A meal. The thoughts are drifting toward the comfort of ending. Too cold to demand the total, yes? [Gwen], too cold for  the high level, yes?'
[Gwen]: ' It does seem pretty cold out.'
'Ah.' Pacing back and forth with about-faces at every tenth step, his hands behind his back, nodding to himself, clearly wishing he had a third hand so he could stroke his  chin, pretending to ruminate. Every [time]. Essentially the same. All the older [player]s' eyes are glazed with repetition. 
'Ah.' Turns crisply toward them, looking briefly skyward. 'And when is hot? Too pretty hot for the total self on the [pitch]? The other hand of the spectrum? Ach. Is always something that is too. Master [Big Weez] who cannot quickly get behind [disc]'s descent so weight can move forvart into [catch], please tell your thinking: it is always hot or cool, yes?'
A small smile. ''s been our general observation out there.' 'So then then so, Master [Gwen], from [Florida]'s temperance regions?'
[Gwen]: 'I guess we have to learn to adjust to conditions, I believe is what you're saying.'
A full half-turn to face the group. 'Is what I am not saying, young [Gwen], is why you seem to give total effort of self since you begin with the clipping pictures of great [players] for your adhesive tape and walls. No? Because, privileged gentleman and boys I am saying, is always something that is too. Cold. Hot. Wet and dry. Very bright sun and you see the purple dots. Very bright hot and you have too salt. Outside is wind, the insects which like the sweat. Inside is smell of heaters, echo, being jammed in together, tarp is overclose to line, not enough of room, [noises] loudly to distract, clunk of machines vomiting sweet cola for coins. Inside roof too low for the [hammer]. Bad lighting, so. Or outside: the bad surface. Oh no look no:  cracks along [goal]line. Who could give the total, with [cracks]. Look here is lo[ng pitch] [short pitch]. Opponents  heckle, opponent cheats, linesman in semifinal is impaired or cheats. You hurt. You have the injury. Bad knee and back. Hurt groin area from not stretching as asked. Aches of elbow. Eyelash is in eye. The throat is sore. A too pretty girl in audience, watching. Who could play like this? Big crowd overwhelming or too small to inspire. Always something.'
His turns as he paces are crisp and used to punctuate. 'Adjust. Adjust? Stay the same. No? Is not stay the same? It is cold? It is wind? Cold and wind is the world. Outside, yes? On the [pitch] the you the player: this is not where there is cold wind. I am saying. Different world inside. World built inside cold outside world of wind breaks the wind, shelters the player, you, if you stay the same, stay inside.' Pacing gradually faster, the turns becoming pirouettic. The older [player]s stare straight ahead; some of the younger follow every move of the [disc] with wide eyes. T[C] is bent at the waist and moving his head slightly, trying to get the sweat dripping off his face to spell something out on the surface.  is silent for two fast about-faces, standing before them, tapping his knee with the [disc]. 'Not ever I think this adjusting. To what, this adjusting? This world inside is the same, always, if you stay there. This is what we are making, no? New type citizen. Not of cold and wind outside. Citizens of this sheltering second world we are working to show you ever end, no? To make your introduction.' The [older players] translate  into accessible language for the [younger player]s, is a big part of their assignment.
'Borders of [pitch] Mr. [Finkbot] are what.'
'[70+25] by  sir,' sounding hoarse and thin.
'So. Second world without cold or purple dots of bright for you is .8 [yards], 40 I think .2 [yards]. Yes. In that world is joy because there is shelter of something else, of purpose past sluggardly self and complaints about uncomfort. I am speaking to not just [Gwen] of the temperance world. You have a chance to occur, playing. No? To make for you this second world that is always the same: there is in this world you, and in the had a tool, there is a [disc], there is opponent with his tool[s], and always only two, you and the other, inside the lines, with always a purpose to keep this world alive, yes?' The [disc]-motions through all this become too orchestral and intricate to describe. 'This second world inside the lines. Yes? Is this adjusting? This is not adjusting. This is not adjusting to ignore cold and wind and tired. Not ignoring “as if.” Is no cold. Is no wind. No cold wind where you occur. No? Not “adjust to conditions.” Make this second world inside the world: here there are no conditions.'
'So put a lid on it about the fucking cold,' says [Mankind], with his [disc] under his arm and his strangler-sized hands in his pockets, hopping a little in place.
 is looking around. Like most  outside popular entertainment, he gets quieter when he wants to impress or menace.  'If it is hard,' he says softly, hard to hear because of the rising wind, 'difficult, for you to move between the two worlds, from cold hot wind and sun to this inside place inside the lines where is always the same.' he says, seeming now to study the [disc] he holds down and out with both hands, 'it can be arranged for you gentlemen not to leave, ever here, this world inside the lines of course. You know. Can stay here until there is citizenship. Right here.' The [disc] is pointed at the spot they're standing at breathing and blotting their faces and blowing their noses. 'Can today put up Te[n]t, for the world's shelter. Sleep bags. Meals brought to you. Never across the lines. Never leave the [pitch]. Study here. A bucket for hygienic needs. At [home] where I am privileged boy who whining about cold wind, we live inside tents for months, to learn to live inside. Very lucky days when they bring us meals. Not possible to cross a line for months of living.'
Left-hander [Trash] picks a bad moment to break wind.
 shrugs, half-turning away from them to look off somewhere. 'Or else leave here into large external world where is cold and pain without purpose or tool, eyelash in eye and pretty girls-- not worry anymore about how to occur.' Looks around. No one is prisoner here. Who would like to expave into large world? Master [Pulse]?'
 Eyes down.
'Mr. [Gutter], with always too co-wold to give total?'
[Gutter] studies the vasculature of the inside of his elbow with deep interest as he shakes his head. [Val Kilmer] is joggling his head around like a Raggedy-Andy-head, stretching out the neck hardware. [Val Kilmer] is notoriously tight and can't touch anything below the knee with straight legs during stretches.
'Mr. P[hun C] with always the weeping to home on the telephone?'
The twe[enty-something]-year-old says Not Me Sir several times.
'Simple,'  shrugs, so that the upraised [disc] seems to stab at the sky. '[Cu]t,' he suggests, 'Move. Travel lightly. Occur. Be here. Not in bed or shower or over caconschteam, in the mind. Be here in total. Is nothing else. Learn. Try. Drink your green juice. Perform the [Heckman] exercises on all eight of these [pitches], please, to warm down. Mr. [Mankind], please to bring [discs]. [Throw] at your will. Use a head. You are not arms. Arm in the real [ultimate] is like wheels of vehicles. Not engine. Legs: not either. Where is where you apply for citizenship in second world Mr. Consciousness of ankle [Weez], our revenant?”
'The human head, sir, if I got your thrust. Where I'm going to occur as a player. The game's two heads' one world. One world, sir.'
 sweeps the [disc] in an ironic morrendo arc and laughs aloud:
Saturday, December 20
Wednesday, December 10
On the Road again.
This time on the way to NC. G'Vegas, as the kids say. A team of people from the Philadelphia area. College and after. Young and old. Pike and not.
The brother will be meeting us there, and the ride down promises to be a good one as the driver's new Volvo s60 2.5 rides smoothly at rates of speed that would make a majority of the cars of the passengers shake into scrap. It is still smell-level new.
Bojangles is the topic of conversation at mouth. We start with the degenerative level of freedom for the weekend here in the US. Exceed excess by enough until the very edge of reason.
To quote hst quoting Samuel Johnson:
"He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man."
Now chatter of dayjobs and what sort of team we have. Speculation and the associated aggravation. Talk of the lives in the doctor's hands, his speeding tickets and more. The ability to float above concerns for money is a boon in his life. Others slip below the considerations of money. Which is differently painful sort of freedom.
[The competition and the madness draw us together. We make this 6 hour trip (some folks fly in from locales in different directions as well) and the cast of characters changes, as it does with all ultimate tournaments. The core is similar at each, but there is still a relationship from one year to the next. A continuum to grasp and to help contextualize. Does it make more sense to think of my experience as a sequence of teams over 10 years? Or as a repetitive cycle of tournaments? First the 4-year cycle of college tournaments. Now the 6-year cycle of club tournaments. I've been playing with and against many of the same players over the last 10 years. I remember I remember. Ramblings of a semi-old-timer in this sport. I think the tournament-cycle model makes more sense. No matter what teams people move to at Nationals, for example, it is the same old show. Some people get better. Some people stay the same. Some people finally start to fall off...]
I've heard some of these stories before and the standard warnings concerning one of our teammates are given. All attendant stories are told to newcomers and affirmed by old hands.
Where will this road lead this year?
I'm here to win. Play Hard, Compete.
Have a Good Old Boy Time off the field.
The lobby of Le Cafe... Best Western and waiting for it to be time to get started. This part of the appeal of ultimate for me. Be up in the morning and have an explanation. A raison d'être. To get up and feel that for a morning is vital in some way. Life-affirming. Fear grows from days lacking forward momentum.
The culture of ultimate is largely grown out of youth athletics. Like weekend soccer tournaments, or basketball tournaments, or volleyball tournaments, or field hockey tournaments, or whatever crazy sport they played in your area. People get up in their homes and drive forever to play a large group of other folks. Some people squish into hotel rooms. There are hijinks at night. There are those looking for trouble, those looking for a good laugh, Those all-encompassingly (thanks Mitch!) consumed by the competition of the thing. High Rollers. Rumors. Regional Rivalries and the like. Rituals at different stops over the year. Bojangles being the relevant example at Ultimax. Of course, the upshot of this is that I often become the adult in the group. On many levels.
Ah, the first straggling teammate arrives. I've gotten through a bit by dfw this morning called "the Asset." That's a strange brain he's got there. His short fiction is good, but thus far he's left me cold, a bit. It seems too easy and like rote rehearsal for him. Like he's playing a game far below his capabilities and with no real interest to him.
Novel length shows seem to be what I like best about him. As well as the comfortable shyly authoritative tone taken in his essays. Authoritative from an obvious master of the language. Curious. I've started Infinite Jest now. Excited about this one.
Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Ultimax. We've gotten a lot shorter as a team over the night. We've lost a handful of players already, including a bit of The Hired Height.
This will change the complexion of our team. Not drastically, but losing one or two tall guys always puts you at matchup disadvantages over the weekend. We have great over-all skill, but we're playing midget-ball this weekend.
I'm told we're in a pool with the X-Rates and the Irates. This is good because those teams are Fun to play. And they do the night-time showdown game or whatever, so we'll have familiarity with them for heckling purposes. Also good.
We've gotten two new Clay-Z-Stories (the over/under was set at 7, and the qualification for being classified as such is the our leader verifying it with "Oh my god.") which is promising. I'm told he doesn't sleep at this tournament and we've already been warned to lock our doors at night.
Why do I play this game again?
Oh yeah, the game itself. And the strangeness of the players. One of my teammates claims this morning "I have a very slow metabolism..." in the process of explaining why he's eating at the moment instead of later in the morning. The team is comprised of Philadelphia-area folks from club teams and college teams. Ages from unable to drink, to "legally drinking longer than unable to drink guy has been alive." The most tireless guy on our team is a Masters player, and the fat-lazy handlers are club players U~24. What a world what a world. I've been told I'm playing on the D line, but I'm doubtful to the concept of rigid lines. This is BARFIGHT ULTIMATE.
The things about going 4-0 is that it doesn't make you win the tournament, just that you've won all you can win thus far. Just like wearing gloves doesn't help you catch, it just makes it hurt less. Our day was solid, despite possibly having one player over 6 feet tall. Our two tallest guys were asian. Somehow I made it onto the "Asian line" ("but she's only half asian"). I did throw a couple turns today, but nothing to write home about. Every once in a while, I still make misreads. If I'm playing with great players, some of those are made up for (some were today) and some are not (same).
Barfight is a good team.
Philthy is a good team.
Pike is a good team.
I wonder which would win?
College football is up to the computers.
Club Ultimate is up to the Talent.
Morning on Sunday, nearly 8.
NFL Matchup on TV, down in the lobby. The Cafe... Hotel Best Western is almost jumping with people. The military folks are already gone, leaving me two southern women for company. I can't imagine what they're doing in the area or why they're here. Their accents sound fake.
Let me be clear about The Cafe... Hotel Best Western: The best free coffee I've had.
NFL Matchup still needs to show more game film and talk less. It is the best show of its type... except that NFC/AFC Playbook are starting to catchup. They're on the NFL Network and rather solid. Just as NBA Gametime or Gamenight or whatever is starting to overtake Inside the NBA.
Sundays are always a strange trip for me. I still get up early in the morning, and at some point, the prudence of this can be questioned, but when given the choice of inhabiting the lobby with free coffee or laying awake in the hotel room, I choose the lobby. I'd prefer a diner, but this is free. And I have no car.
"I haven't eaten nothing but a continental breakfast
Thanks to Motel 6 for throwin' a dog a bone"
(Heiruspecs, Something for Nothing)
Game one on Sunday was a victory over Moneyshot. Pure upwind/downwind game. We scored the last 3 points of this game to win 11-10 or 10-9 or something. Nice. Barfight did a good job of taking what we had instead of forcing it. Realizing that we are all able to throw in the wind was a huge part of this. We dropped a bunch of crap, which haunted us in the next game against some team that beat us pretty well. No drops on the weekend for me. A handful of throwaways.
Good times all around. We went to Bojangles five times in two days, and twice on the way out of town. This is why folks get fat. Fried Chicken is Good. If you're at a tournament wondering what to eat for breakfast on gameday, go with the Cajun Fillet Biscuit. Maybe put some honey on there if you're into that. Get some coffee. If you like really sweet stuff, get a Bo'Berry Biscuit. If you're a man, have Buds with your chicken throughout the day. Say what you will about Ludacris's co-opting of it, but Chicken-n-Beer is the American Dream.
Tournament went well, on the whole. Lots of the guys found out where they rank in the "able to throw in the wind" continuum.
Mosh was a quarterfinals loss, Ultimax was a Semis loss.
What next in the offseason? Hope to make this a good one.
Or, right The Journey. Tim's title. Whattadork. That is where my workout-related stuff will go. This is where the other ultimate-related-stuff will go.
Thursday, October 9
cannot be taught at practice.
I have been unable to get Andrew Fleming's article on anticipation off of my mind since I first read it. There's no better analogy. You have a limited amount of time in which the disc is in the same place. Limited number of expected throws. Limited number of open spaces. Where will the disc go? How will you get there first? That's defense. That's offense. That's 13 of the 14 players on the field at any given time. That's ultimate.
Then there's game-time-throwing. A completely different sport. I love throwing. I want to play "Throwing" all of the time. I mean, I like ultimate... but throwing? Reading 12 players downfield? Adjusting the mark to get what you want (when do we want it?)? Knowing that it is all in your hands? I love that.
Manny just CRUSHED a ball in the first inning. I remember playing baseball. I hated baseball. But I didn't play much "baseball." I played "Pitching." I loved pitching. Reading The Whole Game. Remembering all of the at-bats. Adjusting the batter to get what you want. Having the Whole Game in your hands. I loved that.
I want the weight on my shoulders.
I want the success and the failure.
I want the pleasure and the pain.
My grip on the disc crushes
Fear's grip on me.
I just reread Hector Valdiva's piece on Kill Mode again. And again. You either know what he means or you don't. Your teammates know it about you. Your opponents only know too late.
Sometimes before you win the game, you have to lose the game.
Someone typed once. Or twice. Or was so proud of it that he repeated it over and over.
Sometimes I remember who and which.
There's a game that is played at Regionals and Regionals alone: The early backdoor game. Where the loser goes home and the winner lives on. In my time on Pike, we've played a few of these (06 v Los, Potomac, Burgh. Though the game v Los was the last round of pool play.) but not many (possibly no others). We never lost them. The only bracketlosses we had were Semis, Finals and Games-to-Go.
Last weekend we played the depressing final round on Saturday against the Medicine Men. No one watches this game. We rolled. No game of consequence here, just first round Sunday Losers tiring themselves out.
Then we woke up to another game of no consequence. Now Forge. Too long to get to kill mode. As I said to someone before the Los-Forge game: "Forge will lose. We didn't prepare them for this game with the way we played last round. Los will be out for Blood." Lo and Behold...
I love Pike08. I was challenged in new ways as a player/teammate/captain. I have been imperfect at each, but I've improved each with every step. So has the team. *NO* Pike has ever improved as much over one season as Pike08.
Barring a military coup (I got my eye on you, Jake the Jake) I'll be back as co-captain of Pike2009. I'm already excited for the coming season as captain. That said, I'm also excited to NOT CAPTAIN ANYTHING and JUSTPLAY for now. (Mosh, Ultimax, Lei-Out, Vegas, Kaimana: You're on notice.)
Season End Early?
Start Next Season Early.
Your Team Needs More.
Friday, October 3
it took me back
to other falls.
which memories shall
we etch and preserve
no answer before end
only knowing that no
matter the substance
no matter the result
we will remember the
path we have already
(have good qualifying!)
Tuesday, September 30
when it came back to me
in a rush.
in the fall.
suddenly i didn't dread lacing them up.
i wouldn't be sore the next day and there would be nothing left on the field.
i lead the league in plays left on the field.
i can recall them all of them better than the few plays i've made.
in every game there's a moment where you push through the wall.
in warmups, you can't quite ever hit the wall. (you can, however, recast the wall in paper.)
in every season there's a moment where the inhibitor clicks off.
in non-series tournaments, i can't quite ever fully turn it off. (i can, however, recall the memory.)
no more de/re-construction.
no more building or tearing down.
Monday, September 15
and i swear i've been here before.
Well, not these fields exactly. But here. This place.
All of the players are the same, they're just on different teams. Or have different faces. Some don't, of course. But I've been right here, in this game before. And this one too.
I've heard this speech before, only it wasn't coming out of my mouth and it had different words.
Only last time, my team didn't fight in either game.
Feeling really fresh, looking forward to practice this weekend.
Got a good strength workout in today.
Took some short, hard sprints.
Last time, I was scared.
Wednesday, September 10
Well, I wish.
Headphones regretfully forgotten for the train rides (trip paid by the balance of something paid for previously by a now former employer). So, sadly, the music was talking solely in my head.
Got to eat at Lou Mitchell's and see Nighthawks at the Diner, The Shiniest Giant Jellybean, Sunshine and Snuggles. Those last two are people. Not full names of course-- you'd have to ask them for full disclosure.
(I thought ultimate nicknames were dead. Now I count amongst my teammates Snuggles, Freight, The Big Weez, Spanish, Frenchy, Cuatro, Ocho and Gutter aka Jake the Jake.)
A night of sleep, and another early rise. Something about a hurricane and Los. Spots switched, and now I'm up before 6. Well, in truth, I would have been anyway. I think I have farmer genes. Er, overalls.
Breakfast note: St Elmo's Fire is hot and not that good. Santa Fe is better. Coffee at Holiday Inn Select is surprisingly offensive which pleases Snuggles.
There is something about this tournament. Not since I've been with Pike have we had a good return on investment on these fields. It all started with the hideous “Helmet Guy” jersey debacle of 03. We always seem to play bad ultimate, regardless of our W-L and hate ourselves by the end of the weekend. And then there is the transit hell that is “OR...D!”
This occurred to me Saturday morning as I walked to our first round warmup from the tourney tent. For some reason this thought stuck a they so often don't. Accordingly, I blame myself for the rest of Pike's weekend. Bad hoodoo, real or imagined, can go a long way.
There are many lessons to learn from opponents and teammates in ultimate(/life). This weekend reminded me of how many I have yet to learn while reminding me how far I've come. As a younger player, it was difficult for me to discern who had learned these lessons and who hadn't. Now I can spot those who have learned quickly and with precision. “There's Blood in the Water!!!”
The lessons aren't always skill, fitness or strategic... Emotional and mental lessons too.
(insert favored analogy about relationships here)
Little telltale signs betray everyone around the edges. We all have our weaknesses. Our foibles. Our pet throws. Our go-to cuts and fakes. Our scars.
Each style of play its own art.
From throwing style to marking technique.
From cutting angles to defensive footwork.
Team-level styles encompassing unique player styles.
And on up.
The understanding comes when you begin to fully understand your own style and what it means in relation to other styles. Those of your opponents and your teammates. Both team-level and game-level. Weekend and Season.
You must first understand your purpose before you can excel.
You must first walk before you can run.
A learned, critical eye will yet pick out the weakness and attack, so you must be ever evolving. Unlike the Death Star.
“And on and on and on and on”
Wednesday, August 27
is that you know what's coming.
not that it makes it any counter successful, of course.
but at least you know. just ask luke77 (very unlike luke 42).
(but you know, and it is always out there in the open. that's just the game. not cheating exactly. as much is allowed to be taken as is expected to be endured.
"it's all in the game, you know..." i told a guy last year. this was well after we were toe-to-toe on the field. i had done something aggressive in response to something reckless.
"i don't want to see this type of game either you know..." i explained this year. this was well after the professional foul administered. i had done nothing and wasn't in the play.
"if you go in there, i have to go in there..." i explained as the pseudo-fight broke out and gravity pulled us closer. we both knew nothing serious would happen, but that if it did... well... we'd not be conversing with words.
those moments unfolded so slowly in my mind, so quickly in reality
strange i don't relive the ones that seemed too fast to comprehend
"well, i cut upfield and i saw where he was, and i knew that if i put my hand on the ground and changed the angle of my hips that he would bite and then i knew that he'd recover hard so i had to take one more half-step to shake him and then accelerate. i then knew where he was, so i threw the low IO to whomever our guy was in that lane."
"i had made a dumb cut, on purpose, because i knew he would attack on my bad position in the lane aggressively. he took two steps and i attacked the space he left and made eye contact with the thrower who knew where to put the disc to that i'd get the OI huck i was watching develop with whomever on our team was cutting so quickly downfield to the big green space"
"i faked that throw with my eyes because i figured out what he thought he was seeing me watching. that girl was distracting me.")
dhu (not dho) once told me that "there is a velocity at which you can throw through any open space"
monkeyboy showed me (and bones told me) that "there is releasepoint+pathway from your current position to the receiver you want that is unblocked"
if you watch where the skinny kid with the visor or the old man with the sneakers jump from, you'll learn something. not that you'll be able to do it.
if you ask wtk9 or #5, the mordecai brown grip is the way to go. "the fastest man in ultimate" uses 2 fewer. not that you'll want to keep doing it.
if you watch the angles the degenerate non-mexico road-tripper takes on the field or the angles that jtf7 throws the disc at, you'll understand something new about the game. not that it'll make the game easier for you-- it might do the opposite.
if you ever got skied by either the hockey-fighting former soccer star or "the guy no one wants to play 500 with at fools fest" you'd know what the phrase "man ultimate" means.
from the people who brought you
"sliming mark, crouching t-rex"
"mamma lo and '"the fuck"' hate the world"
"club vegas 09: gfy, marvin."
or "the linden cogens and the field as seen through the eyes of a straw looking for sharks"
"Wow... Look at the size of that bird!"
"Wait... Where's Spojies?"
"Wait... Who's Spojies?"
"Well... A dead horse, mostly."
Friday, August 8
spurts, fits, starts. pushes through to the close, finish, end.
carries you on against the nothing when it comes to envelop the nothing your mind makes something. courses through your you, spills out to infect others. just another communicable disease.
this version, like some others i imagine, has both positive and negative attributes. a dedication to something gives life the feeling of purpose. simultaneously it narrows the focus from the wider view of beauty in life. consumed by something, we lose sight of other somethings made out of other nothings.
a lost no one in a battle against nothing but those who we cast as villains, cheaters, louts. hooligans. but who and how are we cast through their minds/eyes? different, better(hell...)worse?
passion pushes me through doubt in headheartmindsoul. each danger differs in intensity and inevitable invocation. each precipice provides panic at delta-ed depths.
i see my path my way in front of me, to the side of me all around me. my goals that if reached would satisfy my soul. but the path on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.
dramatic? de rigeur.
but our lives are all at once comedy, tragedy, morality play, drama and all else. that is the mark of art in some sense. the echo of grand reaction to the tiny reactions we have in our every last day. and so the epics of sport and war and their broken/faulty/whichever isomorphism echo in my head when i start, fight and finish my training and battles. i cast myself in the light of a hero of old. etched in stone, remembered in memories long after he passes.
a path to
sisyphusian as all goals of mortal flesh.
only arrived after end in death
and only then through luck
and a memory in the moment
mindful of the weight lifted
through the debt paid.
a hero needs nothing.
a nothing needs a hero.
hope, in a fashion.
stretched beyond belief
fruit beyond grasp
yet in the trying
lies the meaning.
give everything for nothing
all i ask is all you have
all you have is all you give
give everything for nothing
give nothing for everything
the meaning of each is yours
and yours alone.
it's your game the rules
are your own win or lose
Sunday, July 20
i can feel it starting.
even sitting here waiting for a plane to take me to the great midwest, i can feel it.
i can smell the august coming.
the long days of practice.
the interminable tournaments.
amp it up amp it up,
we're gonna be rolling now, boys.
one last trip through the fun in the sand,
case of pbr in hand (i'm told) before the grass is all i know.
the grass and the pavement and the track and the stairs.
(these are the spaces that make other spaces possible
(these are the moments i give to get the moments i take
(this is where i am and where i'll still be for a while i see)
changes gotta change
shooters gotta shoot
i can feel it coming
a rumble brewing
in the distance
more than it was last time
more like it was once upon
steel yourself for this
or let another grain of sand
slip slip slip
on on on
down down down
the moments come faster now
the thoughts and the visions
pushing through the morning workout
powering through the afternoon workout
throwing throwing throwing
throwing throwing throwing
i will never miss my moment
i can feel it coming
i know what happens next
the end is not the journey
the path taken shows you more.
Tuesday, June 17
"is to admit one can suffer."
From the Tao Te Ching.
Seems relevant to training for ultimate somehow to me.
Then again, that has always been the beauty of reading this particular book. Almost a way to gain insight by using a different lens to view the same things you've thought about every day. This time around, it is ultimate.
In other news, the pike season is starting to take shape. A lot of new faces and old faces in new places. I am really excited about the way it is shaping up, but it is not at all what i would have predicted even as recently as a week ago, let alone when accepted the role of "captain" with Tim (who has since injured his knee and is fully expected to miss the entirety of the 08 campaign).
We've got vets, we've got youth, we've got serious untapped potential in both. We've got parts that fit together already, and we've got parts that should fit together once they get together on the field often enough. We've got decisions yet to make, and the team is not yet completely defined, but we're on the right path.
I can't wait for practice this weekend and the Boston Invite next weekend.
Tuesday, June 3
i'm not against physical play in ultimate...
but the rules are pretty squarely against it.
From there, we make our choices, not the other way round.
I'm no angel on the field. Just ask the teams I've been on that have split up good versus evil at practice... or tournaments.
Also, fine but important line between physical and intentional fouling. This is where *most* sports lie *most* of the time. Just like ours.
Friday, May 30
More and less than you think,
comes the reply.
Everything and nothing all at once. Neither the end-all nor the be-all though at times it is either and both.
"If one chooses to look upon Go as valueless, then absolutely valueless it is; and if one chooses to look upon it as a thing of value, then a thing of absolute value it is."
But what kind of value?
Today it is the game, the practice, the preparation. The culture, the people, the self-expression.
The self-expression. There is something here. Must investigate further.
An urge to self-expression defines the way each of us plays the games and plays the games within the game as well as the game containing the games. Each decision we make has consequences in ultimate. On and off the field, we craft our "ultimate" selves. We create ourselves in this sport. We build on our workouts, our relationships, our experiences to become who we want to be as athletes, as teammates and as people.
Eventually, what we build grows into our daily lives. Often becoming more like the "ultimate" version of our selves in the regular part of our lives, sometimes the other way 'round. But for a short time in our lives, we push up to the spaces, the freedom of self-definition. Press toward a fuller knowledge of self before the door closes. Before the body gives in and the mind seeks new challenges.
We express ourselves through ultimate. Not just with throws and cuts and d and effort, but in the way we comport ourselves. The way we deal with our teammates and opponents and all others.
Ultimate is a paint by numbers challenge. Given 70x40+25x40 and an infinite number of options, what will you show us of yourself?
Tuesday, May 20
Thursday, May 8
The weekend had ups and downs in Austin. It was hot, we folded in some games, and yet fought through bad ultimate in other games to keep it close.
This early season has been quite the experience for me as a captain. I'm learning more about what I need to work on to be a great captain, but I'm not there yet. I'm learning more and more about my teammates, which is awesome, but now it is time to start putting some things together instead of just getting experiences together.
It will be quite the interesting season, and the reminders of seeing Goat, Bravo and Doublewide's varying styles of ultimate, it left me with a lot of thinking to do about what Pike's style will be this season and in the future. So many different paths to success to consider and reconsider. Once we figure out which blocks we have, we'll determine what kind of castle to build.
Nothing is set yet, but I'm starting to fill in the blanks with this team, and I'm loving what I'm seeing.
Wednesday, May 7
if the nba instituted a monetary fine
for every player over a number X of fouls over the regular season(based on a percentage of season played and increasing in size of fine as he number of fouls increases)/a post season series?
What would happen if the rate was variable based on the threshold established the year before? If you always tried to fine 50% of the players what would happen? If you always tried to fine 1%? 75%? 99%?
These are the strange sports questions that keep me up at night.
Pikes x and y when to the Beth Coltman Memorial. One of us got to the finals, the other didn't. Got to see lots of guys and how they've progressed since last year (both new players and players who were on Pike in the past).
It'll be a fun fun season, I think.
How are the Hawks doing this? Or rather the Celtics not doing it? OR both? Josh Smith scares me (as a small man). KG in a different way... KG shames your manhood. Josh shames your athleticism.
There is a way to play ultimate that while you don't create contact, you don't allow contact. You apply force, but not outside the balance of your body. If you play this way, you're always ready. Balanced. Aggressive. Reading the field.
KG does these things on a different level. He just dunked all over someone from about 11 feet up off of the ground with a guy banging into him. And now they're showing old clips of The Human Highlight Reel. Oh man. Just... I remember watching him when I was a little kid from time to time and he was just destroying everyone in his path. And I've watched tapes since then... He's *A Terrifying Athlete.*
I got skied the other day by Joe Smash. This is not a surprise. Nor has it been a surprise when the other various 6'3"-6'6" range guys who are just tall and fast have skied me.
Some guys like me still play ultimate at the top levels. Some of them are really good. If Josh Smith or Kevin Garnett wandered onto any ultimate field that I've ever seen, He would be "Sir" to every single player there. At least until one of the little guys like me stood up to him and got thrown ten feet away with a light shove at practice and everyone would understand that that guy's The Man here.
I mean they're not scary as people, or walking down the street because there's no reason for him to be. But competing with one of these guys for a basketball? For a disc that we're running around after?
Hell Luke Walton Really Scares Me as an opponent. He's got a Grateful Dead Tattoo and you could picture him hanging out all of his life either stoned or in an environment in which acting like you are stoned is normal behavior. He could have ended up playing ultimate if his dad wasn't Bill Walton. You know? He's 6'10" and Unbelievably Faster and Stronger than me.
Paul Shirley might scare me as an opponent. I haven't actually seen him play, but I can't imagine that he's doing so much that someone couldn't recruit him for an ultimate team. He could write about it. I think I may have sent him an email about this. I wonder if I did or just wrote a draft and deleted it?
How can I be aggressive and read the field? What can I see when I look at the field, what can I see develop before it happens? How can I get to where I'll need to be? How can I anticipate the fouls so that I'm balanced and strong enough to push through? That's How I try to Protect myself when I play. Know What Will Happen and make your decision first. Games at Regionals and Nationals are different games than Others. There Are Risks.
If I were on the field or court or athletic arena with any of the NBA players you think of when you think of Dominant NBA players who are not Iverson Freaks but the truly "Out of one of the classic NBA Molds" great players or athletes, I would longer be able to compete. Most in ultimate would no longer be able to compete. The only ones of us who would have a chance are the people who already make me irrelevant on the ultimate field. The guys where, if I cared about my image, I would run away from as soon as the disc was thrown (but they're always a chance something will happen... Like when I skied Steve O'Lare and Danny Clark at the same time!) to get out of the picture. In the care of those Dominant Professional Athletes, if I tried to jump in there, I would be Damaged. Because as soon as I really tried to push through and be aggressive, I would run into a True Athlete.
What a silly game.
Friday, May 2
from my colombian coworker who got it from some mexican tourists...
and my ultimate bag with sleeping bag/pad (so it is a little large).
I must be going to Live Logic.
Have plane tickets, rental car info and directions to relevant places.
Have a small team, but that's great for the guys looking for experience. Both in new roles and with new teammates and all of that. Opportunities to play against Nationals-levels teams are worth it for players trying to expand their club games or just learn what the club game really is. Everyone knows Bravo, Goat and DW bring it, and I think we may have had a tight one with Grit last year taboot. Should be a blast.
Hope we rise to our team and individual challenges this weekend!
Monday, April 21
Friday, April 18
pike has begun.
2hr Open practice last weekend. Worked on really basic stuff, tired everyone out with some intensity. Got some basics for the season down. That we'll repeat.
It was a good showing. got the legs moving, didn't suck it up entirely as captain. Oh, and the hairy team beat the non-hairy team in the scrimmage. YAY HAIR! Samson rules, apparently.
This weekend, Pikes X and Y will attend the Beth Coltman Memorial this weekend. Apparently, this is a coed tournament with some open and women's teams thrown in.
I'm already getting excited in a whole new way for the season. Moving from ideas to actions to reactions to (and on and on). There is so much to work on and do... I'm very happy with being in this position. I will work to do it well. This team deserves it.
In the larger picture, there is so much to do with captaining pike that this blog is getting lazy. Stupid blog. Anyway, the blog is slow for now. Captaining is ever-so-much-more important. Workouts are still going strong, but there is far less time to type about it all.
I think dunkin donuts coffee tastes like burning. Open in case of emergency.
Tuesday, March 25
Monday, March 24
Tabata Lunges (16/17/17/17/16/17/16/17)
Tabata Pushups (28/25/20/10/3+7/3+7/4+6/5+6)
Tabata Burpees (8/8/9/9/8/9/8/7)
Lots of stretching after a weekend without ultimate (shock!) save for a bit of light throwing.
Lunges were awesome work for balance, stability and flexibility. Really reach out on the lunges, focused on keeping my motion smooth and controlled while going quickly. I was surprised at how quickly I was doing them. Pushups (99 real ones in there plus 26 knee-pushups!) were interesting... did well on the first three, and powered the third on out. Then I was gassed for the next two, but on the last two, I felt stronger than I had on those two. Ten seconds of recovery seemed to really help. Like my body is adjusting to recover as much as possible in 10 seconds. Nice. I was nervous before I started the burpees... With my back and core feeling tired, (arms too, but I never worry about them as much as I do the center of my body) I decided to start it up, but do it smart if I felt any true weakness in my back. Got through the first two alright, but on the last burpee of the second one, I felt a different pain in the back, and I knew that the landing after the jump was causing it. So I took out the jump and just did slightly slower squat-thrusts or whatever you call a burpee if you replace the jump with just standing up. Did them carefully and viola! No more pain. So no worries on that front.
I think this one will make me sore on Wednesday.
Fruit Salad (orange, honeydew, cantaloupe, apple, kiwi, strawberry, grape)
Leftover ham with cheddar
Assorted mixed nuts
Today's Ultimate Thought:
What are you looking at as a thrower when your team calls a play?
Friday, March 21
I love throwing with people I know.
I can learn so much about the way they play the game, or the way that they think when they have the disc just by tossing that disc back and forth. I learn which throws people like to catch, and which throws people struggle to catch. Which throws move them from receiver to thrower quickly, and which slow them down. Which way do they pivot? What's the lazy go-to throw?
Different characteristics of people I throw with, one per person:
Perfect rhythm, OI flicks, balanced, nonchalant, throws like I'm a girl, catches strong, holy easy snap, infielder, drops bombs, perfect form?, drunken-master style, IO flicks, the big smooth, robotflair, craftylefty, etc etc.
Throwing with different people focuses on different throws. They like throwing at different distances and with different rhythms and doing different things. Yet... there's never really a need to talk it out. Just adjust and keep throwing. Keep learning. Keep working. Keep focusing.
I love throwing with people I don't know.
I can learn so much about the way they play the game, or the way that they think when they have the disc just by tossing that disc back and forth. I learn which throws people like to catch, and which throws people struggle to catch. Which throws move them from receiver to thrower quickly, and which slow them down. Which way do they pivot? What's the lazy go-to throw?
So many different characteristics to notice.
Throwing with different people focuses on different throws. They like throwing at different distances and with different rhythms and doing different things. Yet... there's never really a need to talk it out. Just adjust and keep throwing. Keep learning. Keep working. Keep focusing.
"Ibid, your honor."
Wednesday, March 19
So that was the Single Hardest Exercise I've Ever Tried
SHEIET, boy I'm telling you.
So there I was, I did a Tabata set of pushups with my feet on a foam roller to introduce some instability. That was good. Much more challenging/tiring. Took a little break, typed an email to a teammate and did a tabata set of squats with a band around my knees and focusing on sitting back on the squat and keeping my heels on the ground because it really made them hard. That was good...
And then I started stretching for a while, which is what i usually do in the evenings for a little bit at least. And I reached down to touch my toes and then, for some reason I decided that it would be interesting to just slide my hands from here on the ground out to like a down-ward dog thing and see how that worked. So I did, and then I kept sliding my hands forward across the ground until I was just about parallel with the ground with my arms all the way up over my head. The whole time, I worked to keep just my fingertips on the ground as I slid (not always succeeding). And pushed my fingers in the ground as hard as i could while still sliding forward while still traveling forward and resisted them by pushing with my legs (trying to keep my heels on the ground and not always succeeding). I then tried to work from that position back up to where i started by doing the reverse, but by pulling against my own resistance again provided by my fingertips on the ground. Which sort of stretched my back out while making those muscles work. Weird and so difficult. Eventually, I did get back up.
Wow. I'm now still exhausted and I started this post about 90 minutes ago with a break somewhere back there to send an email or two that popped into my head and grab a quick bite to eat.
I have no idea what exercise that was or how i ended up doing it, but every single muscle i can think of is exhausted. SHEIET.
Apologies for any gross errors in this one-- it was typed in a rush.
Tuesday, March 18
...last night after pickup.
It started from a thought I had before pickup. The idea that everyone should have to make eye contact when they make calls and explain themselves. No, it doesn't prevent lying, but at least then you're lying to my face, you cheater.
And then the thoughts that had been bubbling beneath the surface coalesced into something with words.
Resolving calls on the field without the need for some other 3rd party to resolve things is a sign of maturity. Calm, rational discussion about something you are passionate about is a sign of maturity. Playing by the rules that you agree to play by is a sign of maturity.
Extend that thought to how we, as ultimate players, tend to model our on-field behaviour. Our on-field heroes tend to be professional athletes. Professional. You know... with literally millions of dollars at stake. They are OUR models for a game in which NOTHING is at stake. Nothing. Not a life, not a job, not a slap, not anything... I love this game and I play hard. I play to win. But I know that each victory is nothing.
If you would cheat me for something as meaningless as one play in one game of a lifetime of ultimate, what would you do for $1? $10? $100? $1000? $10000? $100000? $1000000?
I don't want the ref to bail you out.
(I want you to call the foul.)
I don't want the ref to bail you out.
(I want you to lie to me.)
I don't want the ref to bail you out.
(I want you to hear me call the foul.)
We get no money... why are you cheating?
We get no scholarships... why are you cheating?
Take the disc away from me because you choose to cheat. I'll let you do it every time.
Take the disc back because you choose to cheat. I'll let you do it every time.
Try that throw again after a phantom foul because you choose to cheat. I'll let you do it every time.
Call the non-existent tra
vel into me and call the fo
ul me to stop flow.
because I give you nothing)
You cannot cheat me because you and I are not playing the same game.
I was not always this Way
Sunday, March 16
GRIP the disc.
No, not hold. GRIP. Tighter. Feel the plastic bend. Use both hands. Like a crabcatch. Bend the disc in your hands. Get familiar with it. Which parts are more malleable? GRIP. TIGHTER. Toss.
CATCH. ATTACK. Feel the plastic smack your hand. Close your hand. TIGHTER. Both hands. GRIP. Feel the disc stick to your hand. Pivot. Feel your cleats in the ground. Push off. Stay balanced. Draw, snap, release. Balance.
CATCH. HIT the disc with your hand. STINGS a little. Draw, snap, release.
Bound... Spring. SMACK. Balance, land, GRIP, pivot, draw, snap, release.
Step, step, SPRING. SMACK. Land. Grind into the earth. Slide. Cuts. Feel the experience. Get up, spring, bound, run. UP! Land.
Step, step, Draw... SNAAAAAP, rebalance. Float. Sprint. Angle. Me disc man. See it, see it. Anticipate, cut him off. Steps. Balance. Accelerate, change. Low!! Quick feet. Accelerate. You know what's next. GO!
Move. Move. Limit his vision. See the field like the thrower. Balance. Always balanced. Footwork. Set it up before you catch. Attack, recover, draw, snap, release. Cut. Balanced. Catch, grip, snap. Cut. Limit his vision. Destroy predictions, cause reactions. Open open open. Threaten. Reinforce fear. NOW!!! Power position. No hesitation. Balanced. BOMB.
Swivel. Turn. look. Adjust. Not through. Feet on the ground. Keep them quick. Outsides of the feet. Press. Hands. feet. See the pattern. anticipate. Release point. Twice? Almost. Won't see a third, I bet. Missed. No over-commit. See the disc if it can move. Disc, space, offenders. Hammer, recover, redirect. Sweeter bait next time. Trap that deep-cutting fuck! shit. I hate handlers. Moved moved moved moved. Diced. Done. Shoot. Missed the chance.
Let the water wash into the cuts. No, it's good for you. Feel the missing skin. Know where it isn't. Make sure you get the dirt out. Where did that bruise come from? Damn. I didn't think that part of me was bleeding. Looks like someone tried to break all of my fingers but couldn't.
Yup, stretch out a bit. Yipes, calves and hamstrings... you should have mentioned this pain earlier. Hang your arms low. Stretch it out. OW. Stupid shoulders. Get them stretched out too. Wash the injuries over one mo 'gin. Rinse. Deep breath. Dry.
Tuesday, March 11
What a trip.
Pickup makes 7.
Florida is better at 500 than we are at ultimate.
Stop throwing a full field out the back of the endzone please.
One Gibson D to prevent our upwind score changes the game.
Notre Dame is athletic and fiery.
I've never seen so many inveterate cheaters as I did in the FL and ND zones in my life. If double teams are illegal... don't quadruple team.
Paideia = boys lose to men.
Another loss for us after.
No PBR Mile or All-Star game. Must shower and be indoors.
ONE STAR RANCH
4 out of the 6 we brought were at the bar until 1am or so.
2 out of the 6 we brought were at the bar until they kicked us out at 2.
Nowhere to go but to the hotel.
SPRING AHEAD????? YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!
Wafflehouse again, wooo!
Fields just in time.
Few teammates made it on time.
We were assessed a point.
Two point loss to start the day.
Fun game though.
French Press Coffee. (Thanks, Pickle-People!)
Watch Amp lose.
Borrowed Ampers for the last game.
An exciting win.
Beautiful weather, finally.
Speed to the airport after lounging too long.
Sit in the airport after the flight is delayed.
Sit on the plane as we wait in line.
Sit on the plane.
Sit on the plane as we fly in a holding pattern.
Sit on the platform waiting for the train.
Sit on the train.
Sit on the platform waiting for the next train.
Sit on the train.
Everyone who came to Terminus with Pike left a better player. You could see it over the weekend. Lots of touches in lots of wind. Some true moments of joy and beauty found in the game. Especially on D. This team was *ferocious* on D.
Thanks to the other 5: Dono, Tous, Jeff Ho, Trash, Pallever.
Thanks to the Pickup: Dave Schmidt (whose hand had stitches removed 2 weeks prior)
Thanks to the Late Add: Nick Ongpauco
Thanks to the Last-Round Sunday Amp Cavalry: Furf, A-Peters, Butter. (And anyone else I'm missing accidentally through the imperfect machinations of my memory)
Had a blast, plan to go back and hope for good weather just once in Atlanta when I'm there.
Thursday, March 6
Hat Tournament over. Ultimate is over for the week. For both weeks. One more day in paradise.
I don't know what the plan is and I don't really care. I've loved being here like I have loved few trips in the past. Maybe a snowboarding trip. Maybe a skiing trip when I was younger. Maybe that trip to Utah with my grandparents and relatives when I was younger. That was a good time, but I'm not ever sure I enjoyed that fully.
I think I was too, well... young.
I'm not now.
Anyway, this entry is actually about ultimate.
The last two weekend have taught me a lot about how to be a thrower. The winds here are constantly variable, though not necessarily always strong. It is always there, and it lets good throwers make throws that they couldn't make otherwise. Use the wind. Rip the disc with that spin that makes it sit in a spot.
There is a difference between being pretty positive that you can make a throw and knowing that you can and will make the throw. There is no hesitation. All of us are like this for shorter passes, but to finally feel like the field is open for me as a thrower to paint as I choose is a great thing.
I'm not a perfect thrower, but man.... I'm better than I was yesterday. I'm better than I was last year. I'm better than I was 5 years ago when I started with Pike. I'll be better tomorrow.
The weekends, for me, were about playing winning ultimate. No matter the team or the environment or opposition or weather or anything, the goal was to play winning ultimate for that team. This meant filling different roles for different teams. With Philthy at Kaimana, this was all about getting a couple of our other throwers into good positions, and taking good shots (And some wild ones) when I had the chance. We had receivers who could make some plays, and all of our throwers could put the disc out to a place where the defender would need to make a spectacular play (and some did) to get to the disc.
Trusting your receiver to make the play when you make the throw is the implicit contract of playing ultimate. Afterall, you can't play the game on your own, you need to rely on your teammates. The better they are, the more you can rely on them. The more you can rely on them, the more throws (hammers, blades, lasers, etc) are open to you because they can catch/read everything. Having that trust, that connection, is the goal of a team on offense. (and even on defense, really)
It starts with strategy (we'll dump on this count and look for this throw over this throw...) but it needs to evolve past that. To the point where you each read the situation the same way and then react accordingly on trust, which is a split-second or so before you would have normally.
The difficulty comes when that trust is broken, for whatever reason. Perhaps the thrower is off. Perhaps a receiver is distracted. Perhaps someone is injured or sick or something. Perhaps a throw was just off, or a receiver completely gacked something. At that point, it is up to you as a teammate to keep the trust going. To continue to believe in your teammates and what you've worked on so hard. To continue to believe in yourself because you know that you're good enough and that you've worked hard to get to where you are. But most importantly, you can never lose faith in your teammates.
As a teammate, you must build up that trust. You must make your teammates believe in you. And Trust you. And know that they can rely on you.
That belief, that unshakable cornerstone of a great team can come from an individual or a group or the whole team, but that positive, radiant trust, based on the knowledge that everyone is working to improve, working toward the same goal, getting better every day is what you're after.
If you cannot get there, you cannot go far.
The Hilo Hat tournament was fun. We (Team Red) went 5-0 on Day One, beating many of the players from the East Coast who made it out. I was fortunate enough to have a team full of people that I didn't know, save for the TD, Dave, who I played against at Kaimana, as he was on He LoLo. He's a good thrower who loves the game and loves winning.
The theme for our team was carving the other teams up with give-go action to deep looks. Hmmm.... Just like Pike. I felt very comfortable once I realized what the team was trying to do. Once they realized that I tended (though... tended is chosen for a purpose) to have good judgment as a thrower, they were okay with my deep looks too, but at first, there was some dismay that some of those discs were turnovers.
This is the point at the hat tournament that you need to manage carefully. If you're a thrower and you know that you have throws (not just *think* that you have throws) you will have some early turnovers because your teammates didn't know that you had throws like that. You've got to not make a habit of it, and play the game that they want for a moment until you see another good deep cut. Put it up again for the encouragement, but know that you must not do this every time. Your teammates will hate you if you don't complete nearly all of them. Remember that the game is not about you, it is about your team.
I found that focusing on playing pretty strong D on good players is a way to motivate myself and keep myself up for a game. Trying to get D's on glory cuts or being that irritating guy to get open on is way to show your teammates that you're invested in the game. That you can play, and that you take it seriously. Mix in a part of joy with that, always smile, and always encourage your teammates, and you're set. You'll start laying the foundation for a winning team.
Or, more importantly, a team that loves playing together.
On Day Two, we didn't fare so well, but that's why we went 5-0 on Day 1! We lost our first game to the White team (the villains for this tournament as they had at least 5 guys from the same Kaimana team, Philthy: Doc, Eug, Trash, Jeff Ho and Kazan.) whose offense consisted of Doc throwing lefty hucks to Eug, Trash, Jeff and Kazan before the defenders knew what was coming. Their women were really good as well, though I don't know their names, and the men I haven't mentioned because I don't know them were very solid as well. And playing for keeps. Which is fun.
We lost to them to the tune of 11-3 or something (games to 11). I wasn't worried as I figured we'd see them again. And we actually didn't play as poorly as the score indicated. Just some uncharacteristic errors. And the White team never seemed to just turn it over like all of the other teams. They were too busy scoring on us.
We then played the Green team, home to some other NYU alums like Blake and Jimmy. They also had one of the 3 fastest ultimate players I've ever seen, Keoki(I may have spelled that wrong). Now, let me tell you how I meet Keoki:
We got to the campsite on Friday night pretty late because of all of the trail running and hiking and all to get to the green sand beach after we jumped off of the cliffs on the end of the island after we went to the black sand beach after waking up in Volcano National park. Yow. Anyway, we get there, and the place is winding down, with only a few stragglers (Kid amongst them, of course, as well as some Texas fellas) including Keoki. As he staggered up to me, this exchange occurred:
Keoki: What team are you on?
Me: I don't know, because I missed the registration and all.
K: I hope you're on the Green Team, because I'm on the Green Team and we're going to win.
M: Well, I hope you're on my team too, because my team is going to win.
K: I'm the fastest player here.
M: Shit! I know I'm not. I guess I won't be covering you.
K: I'm too fast to cover. That's why my team is going to win.
Then there was a boat race, North vs South... and while I'm not sayin the South will never rise again... it certainly didn't this night. It's tough to get to your award-winning anchor to close the race out if you don't get to him.
Anyway, I eventually fell asleep next to he fire that night, and then wandered over to my tent for a bit of real shut-eye before the tournament, and more importantly, before the sunrise. I love sunrises, and the one I saw that morning was no step down at all. Sun coming up over a little bay of black rocks with waves crashing over them. Some good sunrise company. Bigger and Bigger waves, escape from the damn ultimate world again before diving into it fully...
Back to the game against Green. Anyway, they have some players (Including some KILLER women who dominated as handlers) but this Keoki is a killing us. He's quite simply uncoverable. He can't really read the disc, I mean he can, but not perfectly) but that doesn't matter because he gets there before you no matter which route you take. Or which circuitous route he takes. Reminds me of one Danny Clark like that, except Keoki's shorter and able to stand up straight for more than one game without getting massively injured. Although Danny's left-handed. So... I don't know where that leaves us.
Anyway, Green wins and, as I remind my team, this is why we went 5-0 on Saturday. It lets you wake up slowly and sleep-walk your way to the semis on Sunday. Nice. We get to play against the White team in the semis. I think we'll be able to take them.
While there is some exciting play in our game, some great hucks and some sweet Ds, and all of that jazz, White pulls it out simply by outlasting us. They were deeper and their second to third tier players were playing better in this game than ours. We definitely had talent, just not as much. It was a good game though. We got to end it on the classic "Slow-non-running handler jog deep until the first throw goes to him" play. Which was sweet. We lost by 3 or 4, but yet again (for me) my team scored the last point and lost. I really think this rule ought to be changed. I mean, I was put off by it and I didn't even lose a bid to Nationals as a result.
Now worries, now I can finish the Maui Rum and heckle the finals... That's another entry though...
The last bit of the tournament (non heckling non-finals version) is that I was voted my team's spirit player. I got a SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET baby-blue disc and a big-ole beer cup. Maybe a yard or so of plastic beer-holding goodness. I tried to vote for everyone else on my team, because honestly, it was a great team to play with. Very positive, beautiful people who loved being out there and dealt with my ridiculous antics. And for that, I got to go home with a beautiful disc? Nice!
Anyway, that's all for this breakfast typing. My game is improving, my life is improving. I'm at a great place right now-- I just hope I can keep up with my goal of being better as a person and a player and everything every day. Make today better than yesterday. Make today's me better than yesterday's.
Wednesday, March 5
Due to pressure from Philthy the following Official Ultimatejournal Retractions are made:
1. JP plays for "Your Mother."
2. Thorpe is captain of "Dusty's blog can suck my balls."
3. Eric plays for "This is some Bullshit."
4. Doc is captain of "This is some Bullshit" and only moonlights on Amp.
Friday, February 29
In the Car from Spencer Beach Park to Akaka Falls 10:05 AM
The much-maligned (before we arrived) hike to the far fields, where many teams had games due to the mostly-switching fields between rounds format, was actually pretty awesome.
Wow. Great blue views on this drive. Unbelievable. Beach Boys Pet Sounds in the background. Political talk on tap for the drive. Talk of Clinton as Tracy Flick. No energy from Hillary is the end result while Obama is a source of positive vibes. no Fear, no Loathing. Damn HST again.
The first night was fun, but Kid and I agreed that it seemed more tame than what we remembered. No 4-5am mornings. But maybe that was just my sickness coming on and Kid not being so Kiddish?
First game on Day Two was against Skeletor. Many of my team was fantastically hungover. It had to do with a lot of "Ace to Face" and "touch people at the tournament." Both of which were better spectator sports than actual sports during the party. Ace to the Face was a hit. Very literally. Some outsiders got involved and it quickly turned into a motherfucking slapfest. As I told my team earlier, no way I'd be playing that foolsgame when you bastards have had some liquor in you. Especially you, Trash.
Skeletor seemed to be a little more awake than us. Their zone didn't always work the way they wanted it to, or perhaps it worked exactly as they wanted it to only I was completing the crossfield hammers and blades while Bhavin was scoobering. Our real problem was that we were not playing any semblance of defense. If they got a turn, they were assured of converting, and if they received the pull, they were assured of scoring. Whereas we were running pretty well on O, our D was just terrible. Oh well. 15-6? or 7 loss? This would eventually hold the same place as our Nada Mooger Quarters loss in 07.
We then played Big Daddy Kane, who we played in the "pre-Quarters" in an epic battle mentioned in the UPA magazine (Specifically Huge Yum of Amp) last year. Mondo and friends. They're a pretty good team, and we had a spirited game but we were the better team and won by 3 or 4.
Then we played a team from Alaska and surrounding parts and friends or something. I think they played a decent amount of zone. I got a couple of sweet backhand rips off against their tall deep to our short speedy receivers. Those were some funfun throws. I love playing in the wind.
Day two was less successful on D for me as I don't recall getting as many blocks, but in this one I got a pretty sweet skying D on a dump pass which lead to a quick score. That was fun. I like playing well in Hawaii just like I do everywhere else!
We then had a little break after which we thought (originally) that we would not have a game since our loss had come down to keep us company in the bottom pool. Now we were 2-1 in the bottom pool and the team that beat us yesterday by one (Blackfish) was 3-0 in the lower pool with their one point win carrying them to a prequarters game. We, by contrast, had the first round of the beer bracket. Yup, we don't even get to heckle the pre-Q. Or get distracted by it as we had to trek to the other fields. But again, the walk was very nice.
We would now play against He LoLo. Dave (Future Hat Tourney Teammate) explained the pun to me, but I forget it. They're from Hilo, aka the site off the Hat tournament next weekend that a lot of folks who like their frisbee a little too much (like most of my team... including my dumb ass) head over for.
He LoLo is pretty nice and there's a dude in jean shorts who is a little too good for those pants. It is a pretty strong wind at the far fields and that helps us, but doesn't seem to hurt them as much as it does many other teams. Some nice hucks all around, some frustration for the first time on our part. We make it through to the end with a late run of 4 points or so. Back to the pavilion through the nature walk (goats, horses, peacocks, vermin, cats, streams, views, mountains, crazy birds in the distance of indeterminate number, a barking dog!) and then to the ocean.
At some point, I tried to throw a disc to someone near the campsite and cut up my big toe pretty well. Bad times. Had to go back to the trainer and get it taken care of. She was nice, although she seemed like she'd rather be somewhere else. Not really surprising. I wouldn't want to be there either. Better than doing it here than in Minnesota in the winter, but still, I could come up with a better place job to be doing than dealing with idiots like me. She took care of me well though.
Back to the camps, back to the tents, eventually back to the tents that night feeling ill. Without drinking more than a beer an hour or so, that was odd. And then, the rest of the night coughing. Bad times. The next morning I felt completely terrible. That's what happens when you stay up coughing you know.
No stories to tell that day, just "I'm ill but not from alcohol. I was coughing all night." Lovely. I look like the town drunk, and I didn't even get to do the drinking. Ah well.
Wait, we're stopping for construction? They do construction in paradise? It isn't already paradise though? Interesting... Out for now. Maybe more to write later. Maybe this is it. Much camping to do. Nowhere to plug the laptop in. Tournament recapped, save for the last game against Lone Star that I didn't play in and couldn't really watch anyway. That should do it for now. Camping for a week is going to be great. Beaches. Hikes. Cliffs. Highways on the ocean. Black Sand, Green Sand. Stargazing. A Sand Castle Contest in the works. Wines. Jeff Ho's camping culinary expertise. Great music. Goofy games. Just another week lost in paradise.
Thursday, February 28
Front: Trash, JP, Bhavin, Brandolph, Jeff Ho, Butter, Jimmy
I think I just played in a tournament. Or, at least two days of a tournament. The third was spent lying in the shade as often a possible curled up in a ball with at least one teammate taking pictures of my ass. The rest of my teammates were plotting ways to either jump on me when I wasn't looking or give me a good old-fashioned Ace-to-the-Face.
I wish I could say that I missed the last day because I was up too late partying in Hawaii or drinking on the beach or something. But I'd be lying. Instead, I got a cold or flu or something and spent two nights (Saturday and Sunday) coughing up a storm and not sleeping more than a couple of hours. This didn't seem to hurt me too much on day two, but day three... no go. Too much for me to deal with at that point. Ah well.
The tournament was a success on and off the field, as it always is. But most importantly, I DIDN'T MISS MY FLIGHT!!! No worries, no delays, nothing. Now, that being said... some other folks did. Whoops!
On the balcony at the Park Beach Club or wherever we are. View of the beach, tiny room, reasonable, but not cheap, rate. That'll do pig, that'll do. Ragoo by the Kings of Leon is a phenomenal anthem-y song with surprising depth of sound.
The first game of the tournament was against Blackfish who are apparently a club team from Vancouver. We went up early with some sweet deep looks and capitalized on their late arrival to the game as we were all so pumped to get our jerseys that we we re there pretty early. And the jerseys were a hit.
Then Blackfish started working harder and running a bit more. They also started doing annoying shit like calling plays. With our team makeup (2007 Teams represented: Pike (Me, my brother), Amp (Furf, Eugene, Butter, Bhavin, Alex, Doc), Puppet Regime (Jimmy, Jeff) Philly Love (Brandolph, Trash), AC/DC? (Kazan) and "Not really playing" (TP, JP, Thorpe)) we were just learning how to play ultimate together and the like. Eventually they got up a bit (4-8?) We made a run of 1-4 or so (with us scoring the last point after the hard cap had blown) to lose 8-9. Shit. With the power-pool format, this could really fuck us. Well, our original plan of going 3-0 the first day and taking day two off for hangovers was shot. We'll have to try for 2-1 and luck.
Next game was against someone. I can't remember who. We beat them pretty well though, I think. 13-9 or so? Nhara Moku maybe? One of their guys was one of the people from our area who missed his flight. Then we had a bye. As usual, this is where the story changes character.
Our team hustles over to the tent to get some of the fantastic barbecue from the guys who come every year and sell barbecue for 4 and 5 dollars under the tent. It is great. The pig is the balls, the chicken is good and all, and so is the fish, but as Doc learned, chicken is for bitches. We all had a beer or two with lunch, because beer is good with lunch. Then we decided that we'd play a couple of hands of drinking hearts which was expected to add a drink or maybe two to everyone's bellies, but not too much. Then it was determined that if someone shot the moon, the three other players would have to down two beers. Seemed unlikely that this could occur in the 4 or 5 hands we were set to play.
After the first hand, there were three people downing two beers.
After the second hand, there were three new people downing two beers.
Damn. New game. I think kings was played with cards like Ace to the Face (Yes, it involves slapping and presages The Mallet Game which the team found much funnier than "the dumb counting game") and Chase Brandolph (Yes, it involves throwing chairs and presages "Touch Crazy Guy" which the team found much easier than "Touch blw"). At this point, it is time for the hike to play Phillbt (which is apparently some kind of sound).
It seemed that I knew guys on this team all over the place from Summer League and Club Open and Club Mixed all in my backyard. Crazy. Fly to Hawaii, play the same people you always play. I figured it would work that way for teams from California and the West Coast in general, but I thought that since we were from the East Coast, that would be less likely.
Ah well. We went up in this game. It was really windy, and Bhavin had some phenomenal throws. Just stunning flicks. On Double Game, a big flick huck of mine caught either a goal or almost goal was called back on a travel. Cool. We complete some throws, then we don't, they march it up to complete their comeback and win by one point. Oops. That'll teach me to travel in Paradise.
1-2 and all but assured of going down to the bottom pool with a loss after we face Skeletor in the morning because my team is planning to slap the hell outta some more faces tonight. I hold out hope that our drops and turfs will decrease on day two. I'm sure our aggressive choices will continue, and I hope that they will. It's more fun to play aggressively and take some well-percentaged chances to good receivers with good throwers. Especially at tournaments like this.
I'll get back to Day Two or possibly night one later. But After this game, we went back for dinner and enjoyed the wildlife walk from the far fields again.
Tuesday, February 26
high over the pacific.
I'm on my second flight. PHX->HNL.
Sweet. No madness getting to the plane, no endless driving between EWR and PHL. No Anger. No Rage. Just Ease On In. Kaimanastate of Mind. So different than 07.
Even with the sleeping bag and tent all and all, this coulda been a single-bagger. But I brought my team's sweet-ass 5ultimate jerseys. Gotta be worth it. Brought the new laptop too. Got a playlist to end all playlists. At least until the next long trip. An amalgamation, focusing on a soulful blend that ranges from classic rock to Texmexicali blues to paranoid dance music to flat-out dirty-south redneckrock to cut-with-a-knife-funk representing Philly, Jersey and NYC.
The glory of the mix isn't that the songs are good and that they all fit a singular purpose (we do that with every mix!) but that it is a mix that can be played in two specific ways: Straight ahead and on shuffle. That is, listen to it straight ahead if you want more of what you're listening to. If for some reason you hit a patch or a song you don't like, hit shuffle. The variety is there to support a complete and instant genre change without leaving the listener feeling that there has been a departure for the larger theme. Once you hit shuffle, keep with the shuffle until you find something that you want to listen to more of. Or at least listen to more that is tangentially or directly related either through artist, reference, sample, quote, album, sound or whatever struck me at the moment.
179 Songs, all killer, no filler:
Blu and Exile, Below the Heavens
Jay-Z, American Gangster
Kings of Leon
Mad Decent Worldwide Radio
Very Excited about this one. Got a couple of other back-up mixes as well, but I think this one will truly emerge victorious over the next 10 days. It's like... 17 albums of music that fit together into a cohesive whole in multiple directions! I spent time on this shit, and it is good.
Outside of that, I've got a couple of books Go and Go-Moku and The Inner Game of Tennis which are both re-reads and ostensibly related to ultimate, but at very least are well-thought out and reasoned skinny-though-intelligent books on different aspects of competition.
This weekend promises to be a great time again. The team is good on and off the field. We'll be at the damn beach and then playing ultimate in paradise. Should be some good games too!
The week after that is a trek over to the Big Island for a week of camping and a night of hotelery. Volcanos, Green Sand Beaches, Black Sand Beaches, Coffee, green, ocean, beach, surf, joy! When I retire, I will be on a beach. Preferably where the mountains rise straight up outta the damn ocean. DAMN!
So excited. Time to stop typing. Woohah.
waiting in phoenix for a flight. great trip. there was just an incredible amount of stuff that we did over the trip.
oh yeah, we played ultimate too.
did a ton of writing on the trip too. some for this very webspace. some for that other waste of space.
i'll get it up here eventually. maybe sooner if i'm stuck in phx for much longer.
(for the record, this is what i looked like all weekend with my vacation hair/grin)
Friday, February 15
Tuesday, February 12
I've got it now.
The paradigm for understanding ultimate. It took a while, but I've got it. I've bypassed things like "Laim-assed hippy shindig," "The Greatest Sport Invented By Man," and "The Kool Aid" for a much more accurate and informative moniker:
"The Open-Source Sport"
Because that's what ultimate is.
Created by people who didn't want to play the games everyone else was playing. The ruels are all variable based on what the people playing want. There's a base set of rules and a general sense of cohesiveness, but regional variations dominate, new wrinkles and adjustments to the rules always crop up and the only people involved in the discussion are the people involved in playing. With the exception of Mr. Seidler.
Unlike other sports where sponsors have their say, or advertisements rule, we're just the sport. No more, no less. In certain areas there are people trying to make it a business (And that's not Bad! If you can profit doing what you love, more power to you!) but even those people are involved directly in the sport as well. There is something pure about that. Maybe even ideal.
Then again, all can change in a matter of days. Or not. Either way, at this moment, we're still shaping what ultimate is. We're all in charge. Even Frank, if he'd stop being such a damn overbearing extremist, can make this game better from the inside.
It's like Linux. And just like Linux, we need to constantly tune it up to make it run efficiently. Let's keep up the good work!
Sunday, February 10
There I was... awake, but without a ride.
Something about Long Island, Hofstra and "Girls, Girls Girls." I hadn't made the trip with those idiots, but by the time I got back to my apartment, my ride was on his way to Long Island, and those were the words he and his traveling friend were shouting into the phone. I had been out until about 2 and realized that this phone conversation, at 5am, no matter what promises were made, would not result in me having a ride to pickup a mere 6 hours later.
I made my plan. I would get a couple further hours of sleep, cook breakfast, get ready and get on the path train by 11am. This way if the ride miraculously comes through, I can just get on the PATH train in the other direction, lose on 1.50 and get a ride. If the ride, as expected, falls through, then I'm well on my way to a normally timed arrival at pickup.
As I got up a couple of hours later, I was very pleased with my plan as I got to cooking a ham-n-cheddar omelet. Had an orange with it and then a great cup of french-pressed coffee. Yemen Mocha, if you must know. Excellent breakfast. now, as I watch sportscenter on mute with my tunes cranked to a rather high volume for 10:20am. At least I could imagine someone else would think of it as too high a volume.
Back to the coffee for a moment. My mom was nice enough to buy a little french press for me for christmas. It makes one cup at a time of the thickest, strongest coffee I could want. Well, at least thus far. It decreases the amount of actual coffee I drink and increases the quality of said coffee. Perfect.
Anyway, so I get on the train on time and all and get on the njtransit train and then walk to the fields. I then decide that I should sit down and have a lite second breakfast of another orange and some cashews. So I do. I then walk over to the usual meeting place and see that we've got low numbers. No worries, we can play mini. It is at his point that someone comments on thinking they saw me sitting on a bench earlier. Nope. Couldn't have been me having breakfast again.
So we set up for mini and play maybe 5 best out of 5 series. Maybe more. Lots of winning, some losing, some not losing. I love the way that players think in mini versus in ultimate. In mini, everyone is thinking "I'm open right now, all I have to do is catch the thrower's eye." In ultimate people lose track of that tremendous advantage throwers and receivers have and get bogged down into heavily structured offenses or the rote memorization of patterns without deviation. The patters provide the framework. The thing with mini is that it cuts down on the complexity of the pattern. From 14 players to track to 6 players to track. This helps you see the same situations over and over and over again from each of 6 different perspectives. Plus "sideline" as we were running hockey-style (or WWF style, as one player commented) subs on the fly.
Small sided games like mini and then boot* are so damn fun early in the season when you've got no actual weak links on the field. When you adhere to the first rule of mini, ie "No Chumps" you're inextricably bound for a good time. If, when I say "No Chumps" you think I might be talking to you... I am.
Yeah, the games can get goofy, but both mini and boot have self-limiting goofiness/chumpiness factors. In mini, you can lose at -2, so turnovers always count. In boot, you can be lazy but you can't be uncaring or unfocused, otherwise you get scored on immediately as the field changes direction. Even if you can't figure out the strategy, you can be effective by simply standing next to one set of cones playing only defense. Just don't do anything bad in boot, and you'll be good.
As we switched to boot later on, much to the delight of the primarily Jersey-based crowd, there were the classic opening blunders of people unsure of the strategy, but as we switched the teams up to get even rookies and vets to the game, it quickly became a quick-moving constantly evolving game. Including Walt's clinic on classic post-play in boot. You can't give him position or the game's over. My team tended to hoist early, bad shots near the goals, but we were running the spread O very nicely and crisply. We just needed to work for slightly better scoring opportunities on our man-advantage breaks, which are the whole point of the game.
Interestingly, I find mini and boot to mirror PoNY and Pike's strengths and weaknesses rather eerily. In mini, there is a premium placed on beating your man when it is your turn. When you're the guy in the open space, find a place to be open, and the thrower will deliver the pass. Hammer, blade, huck, under, break, whatever. Sure, keep it moving, but those higher skill-level throws are often the correct decision right away. Focus on snapping your throws, no matter the flight path, into a small space versus hard man D. Catching all of those throws confidently. Work on making eye contact and realizing that every 6 inches of advantage over a defender is a potential completion if the receiver can catch with both hands and consistently read the disc soon after the thrower releases it. The pressure to make higher skill-level throws and completions is always there. They aren't impossible throws by any stretch. The field's not huge, so you don't have to rip the disc. It isn't crowded, so there are few poach D's (though some opportunities present themselves). But you do have to beat your man and make good throws under pressure.
In boot, there is so much space and you can always change directions to get a better look or a different advantage. You don't have to beat your man so much as you have to out-think your man. Difficult throws aren't as important as accurate, basic throws with a high level of field awareness. If I can always attack in two directions, and the defender must chose one way or the other to defend me, then i always have an advantage in another direction than the one I'm attacking. If we've got a 3 on 3 here and they're all playing good d, if we sprint to the other set of cones we'll have a 3 or 4 on 1. If I position myself well, when I catch this bailout pass, I can start a 2 on 1 in the other direction. Just run the floor! That's been Pike's strength for a while. Yeah, we had some sick receivers and individual talents, but using their individual strengths as the key variations from our basic-level structured offense was what carried that team to a new level. Being aware enough as players on O to change the angle of a attack seemingly on a dime as a group of 7 players was the key to their success.
Yeah, the offense wasn't "Huck into coverage" but when certain players are only covered by one guy going deep, there is no coverage.
Just like with some throwers, the phrase "if he's even, he's leavin'" particularly applies. With a truly great thrower, the disc arrives on the side of your body in the place to which you were already running such that all you have to do is run where you were already going and catch the disc. No adjustment, no late defensive bid to worry about. You're open and the disc is where it needs to be so that that defender already knows he's beaten. When that great thrower makes a slight error, that's when the great receiver makes the great play under pressure. Or the great defender makes his great play and comes up big. That gray area is where games are won and lost. 4 plays like that can be the difference between 15-11 and 11-15.
Celebrate your gray area plays and players-- they're the game-changers. The rest of your team, and the rest of your offense are the blue-collared workers. You've got to acknowledge those plays every day. Encourage those plays at practice until they become the first option. Those are the plays and players that make the big plays that happen under pressure valuable. Without their work, big plays happen in meaningless games or in meaningless points.
I know I've gone on a crazy tangent here, but I've been thinking about what makes a winning team in ultimate or even other sports a lot recently. I think this is directly related to being a captain now and that I feel like that's the sort of question I should be able to answer, considering my goal is to be a member of a winning team. I love thinking this way. Anyway, I'll just return to the earlier point:
Pickup in NB was awesome today. No Chumps. Yes Wind. Yes Weather. Hours upon hours of high-level disc games. Keep pushing. Always more to learn. Always more to improve on. Better throws, better cuts. Quicker motion from catch to throw. More balanced on defense. More aggressive as a cutter. More. Better vision. Always something to work on. Always something to improve. Always a new throw to perfect. Always.
The burrito afterward were certainly no slouch either. I think I'll have to make a habit of that place.
On the train ride home all I could think of was "I can think of no day I'd rather have." There might be something wrong with me for thinking that, but I don't care any more.
*- New Brunswick Boot Variation: Stall starts at 6 (like mini) and cones are more like 4 feet apart than 4 yards such that one player can almost guard both of them. I think we also played to 5 instead of 3.