Saturday, June 30, 2007

Point by point

Charlotte just cut loose former Cavs first round pick Brevin Knight, and Seattle, after the Ray Allen trade - good move, Danny Boy; enjoy winning 42-46 games for the next couple of years and watching Al Jefferson bolt Beantown after the grey sets in; how do these fuckers keep their job? - has three point guards on their roster: Luke Ridnour, Earl Watson and the recently acquired Delonte West. Ridnour has 3 years left on his contract at $19.5 million, Watson is at 3 years/$18.6 million and West is, unfortunately, still on his rookie contract. I'd imagine that the Sonics will want to trim one of the high-end guys. Knight made $4 million last season, so we theoretically wouldn't have to break the bank to nab him. He scored 9.1 ppg and dished out 6.6 apg in just over 28 mpg. Translation: big improvement over what we have. Sure he's a bit injury-prone, but that didn't stop us from throwing money at Larry fucking Hughes, now did it. Regardless of what we do, Boobie will probably start, but there are some decent options out there.

Friday, June 29, 2007

If I lived in Springfield, USA

Idea shamelessly stolen from Waveflux who shamelessly stole it from someone else. I rarely check out movie promo sites, but this killed some downtime at work, so it was worth it. Plus, it is The Simpsons.

The Do-Nothing party

Started with no picks, ended with no picks. Apparently, we were deeply infatuated with #24 which was held by Phoenix - but used to be ours, once upon a time, wistful sigh - who eventually chose Spanish (damn terrorist enablers!) guard Rudy Fernandez and promptly sent his rights to Portland in exchange for some of the Blazers' loot. I hate you, Jiri Welsch.

As for the teams that could conceivably challenge our shiny crown in 2008, Detroit added some depth, one offensive guy, one defensive. Still quite talented, it all comes down to psychology with this gang of lunatics. Don't stop that sweet, sweet sound of whining!

Chicago picked Mini-Wallace, which is fine for the long term once Ben takes his Amazing Afro into retirement, but they sure could use another scorer. So, thanks, Pax.

Miami is still Dwayne Wade, a creaky (but svelte!) Shaq and a bunch of aging and/or one-dimensional pieces-parts. How the fuck did they win the title in 2006? Fucking Dallas chokers.

Toronto had no picks. Status quo, for now.

New Jersey added a nice player in Sean Williams, but since he likes smokin' weed, doin' coke, drinkin' beers among other deeds that piss off John Law, I guess they'll need to keep an eye on him. Good thing they have Jason Kidd.

Washington picked Nick Young, which means if the Wizards remain healthy, they'll run even more and be fun as hell to watch. All praise to Beelzebub that they have a wafer-thin frontcourt and no center whatsoever. Though Etan Thomas seems to have a conscience, so, go Etan. Fun as hell. What a stupid phrase. One possible incarnation of said place would be getting reamed in the ass by Cheney as a continuous loop of Toby Keith was pumped in for ambience while strapped down in a dark, mouldy chamber in Guantanamo or some subterranean, Buglarian gulag so secret that only Dick knows its precise location because when he's finished doing the quaint work of the Lord, all the construction workers and guards are summarily butchered and turned into a soupy goo that he drowns his victims in, only to bring those poor souls back to life the next day to suffer anew an even more heinous torture which decorum prevents us from ever mentioning, now accompanied by the song stylings of John Ashcroft. That's not fun at all! Make it stop!

Anyway, everyone else is shit, but the Knicks are always interesting in a trainwreck sort of way, thanks to Isaiah, the Joe Morgan of the NBA. Please, Joe, be a manager someday. That would be so fucking hilarious. As for the Knicks, they traded one knucklehead for another; albeit, a younger and more productive one, offensively at least. Channing Frye is an intriguing rotation player for Portland and they'll probably dump Stevie Franchise (unintentionally comedic at first - I think - look at what this nickname has come to represent. Pure comedy gold!). Man, if they don't screw it up, Portland has a solid chance to be San Antonio, post-San Antonio. Talented character guys led by a damn good coach. And assuming some of the bench players and dudes stashed in Europe pan out, a really deep team, too.

The Mysterious, Otherworldly Realm of Perpetual Rumor, Aborted Trades and Shady Backroom Deals is just around the corner but, as of now, we remain one of the favorites in that most junior of conferences. Could be worse. Ted Stepien could be signing the checks.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The horror! The horror!

The great Joss Whedon talks about the Buffyverse living (dying? muahahaha!) on in comic form and also about his upcoming eBay charity auction for Equality Now. After failing miserably to come up with any elegant and witty prose to add to these newsy bites, I figured that paying homage to the great Buffy tradition was the way to go. And so I offer to you a presentation of such manifest horror, an unspeakable thing that goes far beyond the prosaic chilling of the blood, an evil that freezes the very soul itself, leaving you hapless and the easiest of prey for this avatar of cosmic terror, the Biggest Bad of them all.

I've always wondered if that characteristic scowl of his comes from the bone fragments of the children he devours alive sticking out from between his teeth and into his gums. That can't be too comfortable.

Sleeping with the enemy

Lo and behold, the possibility of trading a future first for San Antonio's this year. Trading these hasn't always been beneficial. The Jiri Welsch Experience, anyone? Though our apparent interest in the Spurs' third-string point guard, Beno Udrih, could be a cheap and potentially fruitful experiment. Udrih shot 44% and 45% his first two years in the league, with PER scores of 14.31 and 15.28 while showing some flair on the floor. He bottomed out in the 2005 Finals against Detroit and that carried over to this past campaign when he shot a measly 37% with a PER of 10.31, and though he isn't allergic to turning the ball over (yeah, he'd fit right in), he's only 25, has some skills and would be a nice upgrade over the negative offensive contributions of Eric Snow. Who's under contract for two more years. Fuck.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Cavalier attitude

They can't shoot.

For a Cavs fan, the enduring image of the 2007 NBA Finals is grim; think Goya's Saturn Devouring His Son. Shot after shot greedily eaten up by Tim Duncan and his International Men of Mystery. Unfortunately, the problem goes much deeper than simply having squared off against the most formidable defensive unit in the league. Throughout the entire playoff run, each Cavs game was a montage of basketballs clanging off the rim as often as a member of the Bush administration violates the law. Okay, not that often. We did shoot 39% against San Antonio. And 42% against Detroit. And 41% versus New Jersey. Death by a thousand cuts. There was an impressive 46% against Washington, but when the opposition's two best players are out with injuries, well. More disturbing than the relentless bricklaying was the consistently stagnant and vanilla offense. It would've been nice to see some chocolate and nuts and sprinkles (mmm...sprinkles) too.

We're already up to nearly $62 million in salary for players under contract next season, and after free agency will more than likely be above the luxury tax threshold. Good thing Gilbert doesn't seem to mind paying. And with no draft picks thanks to some previous moves better left unsaid, any improvement will have to come from within. Unless we can fleece someone (hey, the Knicks have only 63 swingmen. Think Isaiah will take Larry Hughes off our hands for a sandwich, a bag of Fritos and a six-pack of Schlitz? Yeah, yeah, I know there are trade restrictions; it's a REALLY big bag of Fritos) we're stuck. Or unless Mr. Hughes rediscovers his 2004-05 form. Or unless Shannon Brown finally gets some serious floor time, which is what the Akron Beacon Journal's Brian Windhorst expects. It'd be nice to see what a healthy Mr. Brown is capable of.

Trading into the second round is definitely an attractive option because They say it's a deep draft - and we've seen what a Boobie can do - and there's almost always a team overburdened with extra picks (Portland - who's already quite young) or one that has a history of gleefully getting rid of unnecessary spare parts (San Antonio - once, they even traded the rights to Leandro Barbosa). However, Chicago has the assets to make a serious move, thereby putting us in their rearview mirror regardless of what we do. Let's hope they keep getting cold feet. And even Toronto (you know it's a weak conference when you might have to worry about them) is quietly building up a deep, if unspectacular (save Chris Bosh - give that man more ink!) roster. Jose Calderon would look nice running our point, but there's nothing they'd want in return. I don't think Damon Jones being half of an All Hat, No Cattle backcourt is where they want to be in 2008.

Our defense is world-class, and it'll keep you in each game, but unless you can put the ball in the basket more than a few times a quarter, the trophy case is going to remain empty. And I certainly hope the great Terry Pluto is wrong about our infatuation with Steve Blake. A career 40% shooter? If we keep on adding players of that ilk, the Q is going to become a lovely shade of red.

Given the general mediocrity of the East, we should win around 50 again, but unless we can dig up some shooters, force an offensive guru on Mike Brown (hide your pride, Mike - you likely won't get to coach an all-timer like LeBron again) or, even better, invoke the Powers of Darkness to bestow upon our wing players a serious stroke, this'll be, worst case scenario, the last Finals appearance for awhile. Best case? Another ass-kicking at the hands of a Western colossus. One man can't do it alone. Ask Kevin Garnett.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The waiting is the hardest part

The first paragraph was written in mere seconds - and probably shows - but what follows has had its difficult moments from time to time, as did wrapping up individual chapters. I certainly didn't want the story existing only as a construct to please a collection of cliffhangers. "Tune in next week to find out if Jacques Everyman can save little Pierre's puppy from being run over by Snidely le Whiplash's wheat thresher!" On the flip side, delays have been surprisingly uncommon, and whether basing the story in a real place with some real, albeit extremely minor, people from history provided a crutch or a hindrance is a question for another time. I lean towards the former; a notion perhaps expected from someone with so little experience writing fiction. But now, I'm stuck. As in, trudging through molasses in the dead of winter, each footfall pulled by the skeletal grip of the interred further and further into the muck stuck.

With the ending? Of course not - how the hell did the beginning and the end prove to be so easy? Does that happen often? Never? That'll be the next story. Front, back, hollow in the middle, fill it in yourself. Anyway, despite having mutated with the occasional and judicious application of spirits, la fin was built quite early. Now, only connection to the body remains.

The final step was easy as pie, brown sugar, no molasses. The penultimate ones? I can't move, and am waiting for the thaw to free me.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

It's scandalous

One of the ways the wingnuts have maintained their corrosive grip on power is by funneling money to each other, creating thinktanks full of fellowships that produce nothing but unsubstantiated hot air and buying each others' shitty publications, thereby purchasing another round of unsubstantiated hot air. Global warming, indeed. Their brownshirts, the internet mouthbreathers unable to read all that well, provide evidence of the rightness (ha) of this collective cognitive dissonance by linking to each other, having spent their money on Cheetos and the annual fresh set of drawers while furiously typing the latest PNAC manifesto they saw on the SCLM in their parents' basement. Hit counts are boosted, the lizard brain id is soothed, and all is right with the world Saint Ronnie created.

In and of itself, it actually isn't a bad idea. If one uses their powers for good instead of evil. So, for the three readers I assume I'll have by the end of 2008, and further assuming we haven't been blown to smithereens in a Bush-fueled hellfire of Biblical proportions, I highly suggest we stay on message and support quality prose by checking out Yazoo Street Scandal. Mr. Cartouche can write a little bit and it's good, clean fun for the whole family.

Dying flowers

After years of writing tepid, derivative poetry - which I still do, if less frequently - once upon a time I decided to begin a piece of fiction. That turned into one half-hearted attempt many, many aeons ago, back in 2003 or 2004. I'm sure I have the fragment of the paragraph around here somewhere. Something about a graveyard, probably because I had just finished the appendices in the Broadview Press edition of Walpole's The Castle of Otranto. In February of this year, I decided to begin again. With gusto. I'm now approaching 44,000 words. But it certainly hasn't turned out how I planned. That cliché aside, I remain surprised, in both good and bad ways, by what I've written so far.

I originally set out to create something Lovecraftian. No, not the Derleth/Lumley-inspired garbage populated with 752 arcane works and googly-oogly-eyed spawn from the oceans' depths or fungoid travellers from beyond the stars, everything couched in the purplest of prose, but a story with the veneer of something unsettled. I was quite firm in my goal. Strip a few layers of skin off of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and graft them onto the soon-to-be reanimated body of a half-assed whodunnit based in 19th century France. Yes, there is indeed one of those rarest of tomes, and there is (I hope) a somewhat spooky atmosphere, but it's not nearly as oppressive in the-whole-cosmos-is-against-me kind of way. It's vaguely drug addled, as if I've read Ligeia one too many times and, without the personal experience of ingesting opium, have gone and subconsciously aped the airs of that masterpiece. And to top it all off, there's a sizable undercurrent of love and romance. Er, what the bloody hell?

I read an excellent post the other day at Literacity about how writers, as other groups of humans, need to classify the world, and this is reflected in their created worlds, flush with the conventions of the genre the writer is working in. There was a whole other sub-riff about how genre itself is marketed to the detriment of the art, (blame the corporates, but blame the consumers too, those lazy fucks. Stop buying shit. If you have time to consume and accumulate things, you have time to explore your literary interests - unless you have none, which proves that this country is dumber than I previously thought) but since I have no delusions of publishing Dead Flowers, that's really not applicable to yours truly. "Write your own story, and worry about classifying it later." It appears that I have indeed done that, but my problem, if it can be labeled as such, is how and why did my story end up (is ending up - ain't done yet) the way that it did?

Structural problems abound. A few chapters flow on well and actually advance the plot, others ruminate in a dream-like state, signifying nothing but my desire to write some interesting prose. Dreams. That's not an overused plot device, of course not. Originality isn't my strength, that's for sure. But whither the romance? I wonder what the line is between the personal desires of the author finding their way onto the page and those skilled enough to detach the character(s) from his/herself. You should never have your characters speak for you, they say, the mysterious They. And I believe there's some truth to that. Even Randolph Carter and the unnamed narrator of The Shadow Over Innsmouth, though flush with autobiographical details, are different from Lovecraft the man, especially the 1930s edition. As Gabriel is different from me, I suppose, yet I cannot help but feel that he is a version of me, floating through a collage of styles that I myself would enjoy reading. There are even some passages that I find quite well written, regardless of genre. Offset of course by the tepid majority of the work. And Madeleine herself has the personality of a certain someone. I have unquestionably crossed that biographical line with Dead Flowers, but, for a first attempt, I'm willing to forgive myself this overt abuse of said line, yet I fear that this is all I'll ever be able to write. It was, and is, that way with my poetry, and I'm afraid it will be with my fiction. They (again, They) say to write what you know. That's what I do. Whether it's good or not is an entirely different question.


The sense of smell may be the most immediate and reliable conduit to memory, but a combination of any of the other four runs a close second. Walking towards work this morning beneath the trees in the direction of the rising sun, the leafy branches shielding me from her heat, a strong breeze whipped itself into a frenzy and pushed some of the leftover moisture from the previous evening's rain onto my skin. A torrent of feeling came rushing back. Yet, though reawakened by a real physical event, one we've all experienced to some degree, those dormant feelings were the product of so many daytime reveries; even if populated with real places and real people, do they qualify as legitimate memory?

They're certainly false, they never occured in any dimensional sense, a measureable, quantifiable experience on this planet; they never happened. But I remember, nonetheless. Perhaps not the madeleine itself, soft on a spoonful of tea, but the hard crumbs that careened off the edge of the cup onto the hardwood table. I see them. They do indeed exist. I don't want to brush them away just yet, for they are more vital than what passes for real.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Le premier placard

Bonjour, fuckers. I give this thing six months, tops.