Thursday, December 04, 2008

Grape and Olive

I never ventured far away from the comfortable zones where I grow grapes and olives. Even the iron-shod, rugged sandals of my Legion cannot adapt to the cold; the soldiers need full boots. My borders surrounded all fields suitable to my particular agriculture.

Somewhere to the North-East, the Germans cut carrots. They slice off round sections, and serve them hot with butter. Even the crudest field kitchens here cut carrots into long, thin triangles served with oil. From the dryest lands of the Parthians to the wall I built in Britain, all people ate, slept, and bathed in the same fashion: Roman.

Alarmists in my comfort zones still fear invasion from the Germans, the recovering Parthians, even the Nubians from the South, across our lake. However, the best among us know that my most dire enemies don't come from without, but from within. In the sands of the arena, my blood lust and cowardice grew. It's a simple thing to see a man killed while tied to a post; it's something completely different to kill a German with a gladius while he fights back. I'm accustomed to pain and bloodshed; watching it just removes my sensitivity to the realities of pain elsewhere.

Many years ago, I defeated the evil genius that haunted my nightmares. We fought first against the knowledge of his father, created a fleet, and matched his best efforts with Roman precision and ferocity. We fought him in Italy, Spain, and even the native shores of his home: Carthage made him strong. I chased him too long, and made him a bitter old man before he voluntarily ended his life with a poison. Romans know poison better than anyone else. In time, we razed Carthage and sowed the fields with salt to prevent recurrence. The evil genius still haunts me, despite his death and hundreds of years without him at my throat.

When I stopped conquering new territory, it was the beginning of the end. Reason fell long before the Palatine Hill. Emporers provided no comfort, merely strength. The Flavian Ampitheater fed my decay as the Praetorian Guard slowly tucked away undue influence, but that is all academic. By the time I knew the end was near, I could not stop it. I can move my capital East; I can grab a hold of a new religion that venerates the cross I used for my enemies; I can even buy my freedom for a time.

Now, the last bastion of what I was takes shelter beneath the Cross. I'm largely forgotten, but I live where it's safe: my home is the stacks of memories kept secure by time and the records of others.

Somewhere to the North-East, the Germans slice carrots into round, orange medallions; now I slice them in the same fashion. They still drink beer, and they still serve food with butter. I continue to drink wine, and serve food with oil, as my legacy fulfills itself anywhere man can grow grapes and olives.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Take It or Leave It; I won't eat at McDonalds

I love sports, boxing in particular. I got this link from my brother. I think it's telling what McDonald's will do for a buck. The world hates us chanting "USA" at sporting events, and considers our country despicable. A little loyalty from McDonald's would be nice. This post isn't about politics, it's about fair weather johnsonism. I love professional boxing because I can cheer for whatever fighter I choose, and even change mid-match. I cheer professionals who know how to behave in a ring. Courage decides everything in my choices to cheer. The Olympics, as I see them, are supposed to be a collection of amateur sportsmen competing for personal and national glory. I watched the "Dream Team" in 1992 and loved it like every kid did at the time. However, I think it destroyed the Olympics in the long run. Now, the Olympics are blatantly about money, not courage. Even Olympic boxing is dead: bad fighters tend to get gold medals and good fighters tend to get bronze if they medal at all. Thanks, McDonalds: you put your money where your mouth is. You showed no integrity in sticking by our country that made your corporation successful. Go ahead and cheer for China, Ronald. I'll cheer for courage; you'll cheer for money. I hope America at large finds out where the Double Arches plan on making a buck this summer. They won't make one off me.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Beauty Behind Me

Puzzled by the beauty
Behind me on the train,
She doesn't know I'm writing
Of her, not dreams or pain

It's rare I write of someone
When I don't know her name.
I think I'll call her "Laura;"
Petrarch did the same.

He named her that for sound:
For puns, for words, for diction.
He lost her in the plague,
But that is not my fiction.

My Laura sits behind me
And doesn't even notice
My pencil on the paper,
Erasing why I wrote this.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Peter's Cross

I see the cross and struggle;
His faith, my faith, the same?
By day, I face his challenge;
By night, I hide my shame.

What chain of lies is this?
I only wanted love.
For love, I write my cantos;
For love, I look above.

But love was there, below me.
I thought she'd understand,
We're strangers, now I know.
Bad timing? No, I'm damned.

The venom in the poison
Already taints my veins;
The demon she let loose
Leaves ink and other stains.

I'll die alone, I fear;
My solitude won't save me.
It works for some, not others
I close my eyes to see

That every morning's sorrow
Is strangled in my hand.
I want to smile, I do!
I think you understand:

I can't, I won't, I shouldn't
Be loved, be wrote to cherish.
All madness loves itself.
And in my arms, I perish.

Peter inverted his cross.
Me? I mount my verses.
I'll live, but no one knows me,
In darkness, teeth and curses.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Poem for the Stage

I don't like most poetry delivered with a live voice that dies on the page. I wrote this poem a long time ago in loving admiration of the poets who can both write and speak. That's not me, but this is where the night takes me.


I try to write and


my words are like a grain of salt
thrown into an ocean

my brackish tears do nothing
but wrinkle my paper
smudge my glasses
and drain me of fluids

as I write and


with a staccato rhythm
flowing in my head
telling me it's all ok
if i just


and listen with the rest
to unending teenage love songs
that never spoke to me
while i struggled
and purged
and bruised
in pursuit of a spine


the pain that I feel
i made for myself
i made for everyone
around me
and in my head, I


to wonder about writing
as I grab the blade firmly
not too hard, not too soft
just enough to cut
just enough to


fooling around and listen
to the voices in my head
instead of those sincerely
looking at me writhe
in the dance of a drunkard
with nothing in my belly
but a pill
and a pill
and a pill

It just makes me want to


smell the roses
feel the sun (cloud) on my face
and feel the tears (dye) in my eyes
as I sit waiting (watching) on a train
to nowhere but suddenly


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Broken Victory

My wings spring forth to fly
Away with pretty verses,
But armless, I can't touch
And faceless, I can't see.

For now, I'm Roman marble,
Copied from Greek bronze.
Was I once a pillar?
A caryatid beauty?

I sold Rome's victory;
My armies conquered Gaul.
My peace made men of letters
To read what now is lost.

My strength once martyred men;
I shamed my own arenas.
Eventually, I changed
And stood against false prophets.

But they don't need me now,
I'm useless and forgotten
By those who would now sculpt me
As memory in stone.

My Victory is shattered.
Every line seems incomplete.
I represented triumph,
But now, I am the past.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Wrong Twice

Pavlik wins the decision. I thought he'd knock out Taylor for sure. I'll have to see the fight on replay next week; I hear it's a tough fight to score.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Wrong Once

Kimbo Slice by first round ko. This guy can hit with power. We'll need to see more of this guy.


Kelly Pavlik wins via tko in the 5th round

Tank Abbot wins via tko in the 1st round

Friday, February 15, 2008

I Lied

I'm not museless. I speak to the muses daily, but there is no response. I'll even forget their names tomorrow.

Calliope, I love you, but I can't be you. Your songs of deeds force my pen, but instead of Roland, I only grant you Old Gan. If I wrote a thousand cantos, they would be for you. I know you only through the tip of a fist that never belonged to me. Perhaps that's why I chose Gan: I couldn't bear the thought being him, so I tried to change him. It's been too long since I slapped someone in the face with a gauntlet for you; if I did, the only thing I'd notice would be my own pain. My fists never felt good on someone else, but the fists of others seemed to revel in mine.

Clio, if only I could make you, they might understand. I know you like I know myself, but that's not enough. I fantasize for a footnote that clings to my best words.

Erato, I don't know you. I know only how to seek your phantoms through words. You never spoke back to me with truth. I confuse you with Calliope because, in the end, my hundredth canto is in pursuit of you both. I find nothing.

Euterpe, I lost the bucket in which I can't carry a tune. It makes for awkward sentences, like these. My only trace of you lives in my precise line breaks I expect everyone else to find. People in general lost that bucket of mine first.

Melpomene, I exceed excess. Tragedies come out in literature through the excess of virtue. My virtue is endurance, my excess is this. Catharsis should happen with every one of my cantos, but they just seem to elude me: I don't have an imitation of an action. I only have the silence at the other end of my pen and voice.

Polyhymnia, I found you in my Grandmother's margins. Proverbs was a lie, now it isn't. The Song of Songs remains closed, but not of my choice. I read Solomon's words and came away with nothing but rejection when I applied them. When I ask to see my accuser that incurred the wrath of Proverbs, I'm always referred to Melpomene, but that's not in your books. If there is a template to bridging the gap between your words and mine, I would follow. What is a madman to do with scriptures besides seek a flock of pigs that only sing a goat song in tongues I'll never learn?

Terpsichore, I don't dance. Sometimes, I wish I did, but those moments are fleeting. I would end up with a crow's legs and mask to match: who dances with monsters?

Thalia, you're my mask. It's always funny until I say my peace. I make you into hamartia, too. Foul language and a cocky grin are great for laughs, some know that isn't me. They don't call anymore. Most of them never did to begin with.

Urania, my most vivid memories of stars never touch you. Every last point of light is an illusion: those warped perceptions never match the patterns of my peers. The stars that light my imagination haunt my nightmares. I'd point every last one out, but the patches of light to me are blankets of night to others.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Quintana over Williams

The fight went for Quintana. He got inside, and roughed up Paul Williams with right hooks and straight lefts. Once again, Harold Lederman's scored the fight incorrectly, but the old man's been fading for a while now. Quintana landed punches with ease: Williams' defense was terrible. A real puncher would take out Williams quickly. Sometimes I get a bit awestruck by fighters with a huge reach advantage and a gaudy record. The main lessons learned from this fight are that Antonio Margarito, Paul Williams' best opponent prior to tonight, isn't as good as advertised, and Miguel Cotto's the real deal. Cotto laid Quintana low: the fight was not competitive. Here's to me being wrong!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Ding A Ling Man

Darnell Wilson won that fight against BJ Flores on my card 115-113. It was a close fight. How any judge could see the fight going 118-109 the other way is beyond me. ESPN's compubox and Teddy Atlas agree with me. There were some tough rounds to score: I could see a draw if the judges like movement over aggression. What I saw was a scared fighter running away, landing a spare jab a couple times per round. One jab doesn't even come close to a hook and a half. You don't have to out-slug a power puncher to win a fight, but you're still expected to land more punches; BJ Flores didn't even come close.

A lot of bad decisions come about because judges look for remarkable moments in an unremarkable fight, particularly if those moments look like favorite moments of that judge from other fights. I'll give you a hypothetical example: I loved Pernell Whitaker's performance against Julio Caesar Chavez. Whitaker fought going backwards and landed some excellent shots; Chavez couldn't hit Whitaker at all. Most boxing fans and judges who weren't the official judges thought Whitaker was robbed of a victory; the official result was a dubious draw. The outcome forced the boxing public and a lot of judges to look at fights differently. At times, Flores-Wilson looked like Whitaker-Chavez: Wilson landed about ten shots per round, and spent most of the fight chasing down Flores; Chavez did about the same offensively against Whitaker. The fights looked very similar: the fast boxer runs away, causing the puncher to only hit air with reaching punches. However, Flores threw nothing back: he landed about seven punches per round. Whitaker won the fight in most fans' eyes by punching back effectively through Chavez' defense whenever the Mexican dropped his guard, which was a lot more than seven times per round. Still, most of the three minutes of every round was Chavez chasing Whitaker and missing. I can easily imagine a bored judge looking at Flores-Wilson, and thinking "Gee, Flores isn't being hit. This fight looks like Whitaker-Chavez," without actually counting punches Flores landed back at Wilson.

Picking the Punisher

I'm going to pick Paul Williams by decision. If Carlos Quintana gets on the inside, he must continue fighting and hurt Williams: if the Puerto Rican allows himself to be clinched, Williams will keep his huge, ten-inch reach advantage on the outside where it matters, and outpoint Quintana badly. Paul Williams is a very active fighter. He throws huge amounts of punches over all twelve rounds. I don't believe Quintana can outwork Paul Williams in a pure boxing match. Every second this fight turns into a brawl is a good second for Carlos Quintana. Both fighters are southpaws; sometimes lefties confuse other lefties, too. Paul Williams already beat a world-class, short southpaw in Sharmba MItchell. However, this is Quintana's first fight against a world-class left-handed opponent.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Saturday's boxing match between Paul "The Punisher" Williams against Carlos Quintana looks like a great match-up. I'll post my prognostication later; for now, I'll just speculate over something I found on YouTube.

Don Frye is a professional MMA fighter, and he's the one knocked out in this video. Throwing a punch takes a fraction of a second: one good shot, or in this case, two, can end a fight more quickly than any submission attempt. It's pretty clear that Frye wasn't sucker punched, but he looks drunk, and is obviously not ready to fight. That's the defensive value of surprise. This fight is over before anyone gets a chance to consider piling on, especially in the stupidity-enhancing environment of mass alcohol inebriation.

Grappling is great for challenges and duels, but if you're on the ground, you can't run away from anyone. In general, I wouldn't want to take a fight to the ground if the other guy's friends want to participate. There's no sense getting kicked in the head if retreat is a viable option.

Sunday, February 03, 2008


Not boxing, not MMA, but still pretty sweet.

Thank you Giants!

Half Right

Frank Mir won via submission in a minute and a half; it was a toe hold, not an armbar as I predicted. Noguiera won by a guillotine choke in the third round, but only after a prodigious beating at the hands of Tim Sylvia. I'm not surprised at all. I thought Sylvia would put enough damage into Noguiera to get the knockout, but Noguiera hung in there like he did versus CroCop, and got the submission. All in all, a contest of skills lost by Lesnar and a contest of wills won by Noguiera.

I got all the information on these fights from I don't see myself buying an MMA pay-per-view, but I'll be sure to catch the fights on replay.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

New Focus

I haven't written much, here or otherwise. I want to change that, but I still feel museless. For now, I'll write about boxing mostly, both to keep my polish and because I love to see courage in action. I just saw the main event on Showtime Friday night: Alfredo Angulo knocked out and totally outclassed a tall, rangy boxer-puncher named Ricardo Cortes. Angulo is a great finisher. He has legitimate power in both hands, great hand speed, and an all-action style. Questions remain about his defense, chin, and endurance. Sometime in his career, he will face a fighter who can take his best punch over multiple rounds: we'll know if Angulo can be a world champion sometime soon.

I watch MMA now, too. It requires a lot larger skill set than boxing for success on a championship level. No MMA fighter stands a snowball's chance in hell in a boxing match against a world champion boxer: boxers hit way too hard, way too fast. The reverse is also true: without extensive training for the pure boxer in wrestling, submission fighting, and defense below the waist, any MMA fighter would just take down the pure boxer and submit him in under two minutes.

I like to know a little about my subjects before I put pen to paper or open my big mouth: my last post on the topic was a little bit ignorant. My knowledge is now much broader on the subject. I'll compare MMA and boxing in more depth later. Before that happens, I'll give a prediction on who will win Saturday's big MMA matches: Brock Lesnar will take Frank Mir to the ground. Mir will pull guard, and armbar the former professional wrestler in under two minutes. Tim Sylvia will knock out Noguiera in the second round. Sylvia's punches (but not his kicks) are a lot harder than CroCop's, but less accurate. Unfortunately, Noguiera's striking defense isn't good: he's there to be hit. Despite an iron jaw, I see Noguiera taking loads of punishment at the end of Sylvia's jab and right hand because both punches are longer than Nogiuera's takedowns. Keep in mind, MMA is a lot harder to pick winners beforehand. Even the best fighters lose a lot: there are just too many ways to end an MMA match for handicappers to accurately assess competition. Only a fool wagers money on MMA. Lesnar could easily overpower Mir, and repeatedly punch Mir in the face inside the submission specialist's guard, and Noguiera, another submission specialist, could take the big man Sylvia down, and submit the awkward American with a wide array of arm locks, leg locks, and chokes.