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.
Friday, February 29
In the Car from Spencer Beach Park to Akaka Falls 10:05 AM
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.
Friday, February 8
Seems simple, but bears repeating.
I meant to do the four tabatas (pullups, lunges, pushups and squats) last night, but I ended up doing three:
squats (with a band around my knees-- 20/17/19/19/19/20/19/22),
The pushups started as fingertip pushups, then regular, and then the +x at the end are pushups from the knees. I figure I can do more work that way than just holding myself there. I think I can add to those numbers in the future as I slow down in regular pushups which will help me totally tax myself during each set. I think I can set a goal of hitting 20 each time (with the +x telling me how much further I've got to push for that set to reach 20 real pushups).
If I'm gonna reach the stars, I must first admit that I'm not yet there.
Anyway, I was then so wiped that the prospect of doing a fourth was pure death. The addition of the band around my knees for the squats and the weak-man pushups really took it to me after the pushups were very obviously hard. So I stretched/foam rolled for like 25 minutes. That's 40 minutes of hard, honest work.
"I'ma blu-cola worker."
(We'll pretend that "cola" reads like "colla" and not like a fizzy sugary beverage.)
Thursday, February 7
...nail on the head:
Most do not realize what can be accomplished in 20 or 30 minutes. You don’t need a marathon session to improve physical fitness. Less can be more if you put forth an honest effort.
Make time for fitness, as you will never find time. Wake up earlier, or find a break within the day.
Sunday, February 3
Heckled to put it in the blog, he refused.
Pickup was pretty good today. A full compliment of ex-Pikes plus a whole bunch of the younger Jersey set made the day really competitive, if still turnover-laden. The reappearance of Jaegro seemed to pull folks out of the woodwork to gawk at the slimy freak. All kidding aside, it was a treat to see that guy again. One of the old Pike guys that, for some unknown reason, saw fit to keep me on the team that first key year.
Then he left to play for some chumps out in Seattle... I wonder how that's going for him. I hope well.
I'm starting to feel like I'm in solid early early early season shape in that I can actually keep running for a full point or two without taking a sub or feeling like I'm going to die. The throws are returning while I'm trying to expand my game-ready repertoire to include some fabulous new defense-punishers, but they're not really 100% yet. Cutting is still awkward, but that's still due to not remembering how to from the seasons prior to last year back when I was actually a cutter.
Very strange to me that in one season as a handler, I seem to have forgotten all 8 years of being a cutter. And now I "cut like a handler" as at least one defender told me. Time to relearn real cutting with the new insight into handling from 07. Can't be content to be one-dimensional.
I'm just so happy to be playing these days. With all of the peripheral things going on in life, from happy to sad to inbetween, ultimate is always there, waiting to welcome me back into the fold. I love it for that. Every time I step into that 70x40 box, there is solace to be found. Sure, there is artifice to it, but at the same time there is truth underneath.
Waxing semi-poetically until I can get back on that field again...