Long Live the King

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@ K. 2004 06 05

The King is Dead! : Long Live the King!

I just watched the French Open tennis final for women. Wow, look at the Russians this year. Tomorrow I look forward to the mens’ final: all Argentine! Ferraro beat Coria in the semis last year. I’ll root for Coria tomorrow: but I’ve never seen Gaudio. Who knows? That’s sports.

Later today I’ll watch Smarty Jones go for the Triple Crown at Belmont. Tomorrow somebody will get a golf crown at the Memorial: maybe Tiger.

Victoria ruled England (and much of the world) for close to seven decades. Elizabeth I had a long tenure, as had her father. Lizzie II is also ruling on and on. There seemed to be no end of Nixon in the White House, then Reagan. Kennedy got in my face for what seemed like forever. One day was too much of Bush. Thank goodness for sports.

Ah, but I suggest that the contrast between sports tenures and political tenures is no accident. I think sports are exploited by powers, imperial powers especially, to distract the public from how long they’re stuck with King Louis or with Stalin.

Once upon a time sports kings took themselves out at a reasonable clip. Strong guy knocks somebody down, strong guy goes on a bender, whores himself syphilitic, stays drunk till it’s time for the next fight, where, before he’s thirty, he gets knocked down. Never gets up again. King Kelly was as immortal as Achilles at twenty-three … spastic and hallucinating by twenty-nine. People didn’t think John L. would be able to get off the bar room floor to so much as train for his last fight. He did get up, and he won, but that was it: thirty-one, washed up.

King Kelly
King Kelly, robertedwardauctions

The kings had done the same. Alexander was on his way at eighteen, conquered the “world” by twenty-five, then learned that there was just as much more world further east, turned tail when he saw the elephants of India, acted like he won the fight he fled … But he’d been seeing pink elephants long before then: every victory, he’d fuck his buddies … they’d all stay blind drunk … till they thought of some other conquest to pursue.

The good old days: rulers killed you, then stayed blind drunk.

Still even that is recent history compared to the history that anthropologists like Sir James Frazer tied into (with his Golden Bowl). And the true age of the species was still vastly underestimated. The first expanders of time were talking in millions of years: inconceivable at the time: now we toss around billions of years: a couple of million just for Homo.

Frazer tells us of the King of the Wood: a tradition of unknown age, still carried on till recently. Who ever could kill the King of the Wood became the King of the Wood. No, there was no kick-off time declared, no promoter with pay-per-view, no arena, no tickets … just the woods. Sneak up behind the King, kill him. Now you’re King: and you had your last night’s sleep yesterday.

William pushed the Saxons around in 1066. Fine. But what are royal houses doing claiming descent from him almost one thousand years later? building their thrones higher and higher. The way things had been, William would have had his last night’s sleep in 1066: should have been dead: still within 1066.

See, he hired other people to watch his back: not like the poor King of the Woods.

Now TV crowns a king or two a week. And Bush goes right on throwing a lot of weight around.


Hannah Storm
thanx epicgrabs

Well, I rooted for Smarty Jones to win, but wound up wishing there was a way for NBC to lose. Birdstone, catching Smarty Jones near the wire and winning going away exposed the network as once again treating a sporting event as a sure thing. NBC deserves any punishment, any humiliation, for not continuing its NBA broadcasts, for letting Bob Costas out of the booth, for reducing our Hannah Storm feasts … But other networks are just as bad: we watch every stroke of Nicklaus or Tiger, Watson or Els … then who’s this guy who won the tournament? Off-camera for all but the last minute of four days of golf. Playing favorites, caught unprepared.

For forty-five minutes before the horses were off, coverage was of Smarty Jones: the trainer, the owners, the jockey. A cameo of one other competitor was squeezed in.

If only the same could be true in politics. Two clowns are shoved up our noses: where’s the dark horse?


Information-Controlled Environment

2004 06 07 Man, the whole weekend was for dark horses: Coria lost to Gaudio: cramping up, but recovering to give us an amazing fifth set. Tiger rallied but Els still cruised. Then the Pistons beat our Lakers. So it can’t all be fixed: not 100%. But civilization is such an information-controlled environment, who can be sure of anything?


2004 06 16 See? I rooted for the media-darling Lakers: no matter how far they were down. Simultaneously I saw that the Pistons were playing better basketball: in all ways.

Why wasn’t I, an easterner, for the “East” in the first place? Do I enjoy being dominated by the Pacific coast?

One reason I’m glad the Pistons won: I won’t follow basketball nearly so closely next year. What a relief. And if Kobe goes to jail, I won’t watch basketball at all. Understand: this has nothing whatever to do with whether or not he really did force that stupid girl.

Shaq is a monster: lovable and sold as a teddy bear. Ben Wallace? the afro? Good God! What will we do now?

I also have to add: David Stern can claim the White House permanently as far as I’m concerned. I have never seen a lawer be more executive. Makes even Nixon look pathetic.

Pebble Storm

2013 09 13 WTC Day!

Just putting up that image of Hannah Storm is a thrill, I love her so, have long been soo impressed, from the first time I ever heard her: a female Demosthenes. You just know that she spent her young life practicing articulation, accents, foreign names, in front of the mirror with a mouthful of pebbles!

Demosthenes
Demosthenes
thanx UC Press

You must know the story: Demosthenes was supposed to have practiced public oratory alone, with a mouthful of pebbles, projecting over the roar of the surf.

Think about it, lay out the pieces: a girl, not bad looking, ambitious, patient … insane.
Target: rapid articulate speech, non-English sounds, interwoven with English, with precision, at the speed of light.
Now realize, ask: anyone could do it? Anyone, after the fact, could easily have done it. Sure: like a caveman could have practiced throwing no hitters when there was no such thing as baseball!

I’m reminded of Teller, the geek in the magician team. I’m reminded of George Carlin, and of Lenny Bruce.
The other night I watched a Bruce DVD. Lenny said a string of dirty words, very fast, in a nightclub. All words that any of us know, that any of us can say, even though most of us don’t, not in public, especially not women. The sounds all form easily to anyone practiced in English: fuck, suck, cock, cunt, shit … But Lenny said them so fast! and in public! when the cops were there to arrest him for obscenity!!!
2016 07 29 and here I am Bowdlerizing K. as I try to salve an antagonism with the state of Florida.

Still, he sounded like a cow with her legs tangled by a bola compared to Carlin doing his shtick.
I can’t play the piano like Mozart. But then Mozart practiced daily from age three or so. I can’t juggle either, so what? I can’t spew obscenities like Bruce let alone like Carlin: though we both know Hannah could rip right through them: if anyone paid her to, promised not to arrest her.
And Teller could talk, if he wanted.

See, Teller explains: the trick part of a magic illusion is knowing that the audience will not believe that anyone, any human being, anyone with better things to do with their time, would practice the stupid skill needed for the stupid trick. The audience can not believe that anyone would rent the theater a year in advance to climb up into the rafters and hide the ace of spades, so that you, an audience plant, a year later, could climb up there and find it, show it to the audience: the very card you said you were thinking of!
No one would practice getting kicked in the balls so it didn’t hurt, so that the toe would miss, not connect. No one.

Except Demosthenes, except Hannah Storm: except Bruce, Carlin, Teller.

Teller
thanx nytimes

Timing, Acting Chops

2013 10 05 For a couple of weeks now I’ve been obsessed with the actress Saoirse Ronan. She does a sight gag in Hanna that dovetails with all this: Her Hanna is a teen girl being raised in the arctic as a fighter-hunter-assassin. Wild girl, cute as sin. Her trainer, the only other person in her Superman-castle-of-solitude has an egg. She says, Can I have it? He gives it to her: and, in one motion, in one split second, Hanna has cracked the egg, emptied it, raw, into her mouth, and swallowed it. Then she sits, straight faced. She’s just ripped through twelve bebop chord changes in one-sixteenth of a beat, and she sits there dead pan!

Maybe anyone could do it, with enough practice, but who would?

I’m reminded of Dudley Moore decades ago asking Dick Cavett to ask him what the secret is to comedy. Cavett, bites, asks, “What is the secret to comedy.” But with impossible speed-of-light precision, Moore has already answered him: “Timing.”
No, no, I could maybe play Dizzy’s lick, if I’d practiced twenty hours a day since infancy, I could maybe eat Hanna’s egg in one straight-faced blur, but I don’t see how anyone could nail that “timing” to the word “comedy” with no slack like Moore did. Not “… comedy? … Timing.” No: “… comedytiming!”

Gee, you know I phoned Dudley Moore when I was in Hollywood, 1974. I sure wish I’d told him that. But I may not yet have seen him do that gag in 1974.
Now I’m reminded of something else: Kurosawa’s Sanjuro, 1962.

Sanjuro
thanx pluckyoutoo

Mifune’s hero and Nakadai’s villain stand eyeball to eyeball: forever. Finally Nakadai starts to draw. And his heart erupts. Because Mifune has chopped him in two as he draws, not after he draws.

I heard Nakadai interviewed about that decades later. He said that Kurosawa had him do nothing for a whole week, practicing that draw, drawing high and fast, like he was in a vertical coffin. Over and over, draw, draw, draw. So: nobody could draw faster, except Mifune.
Mifune really did become a kendo master in order to play all those roles. Maybe John Wayne could really handle a gun after a while. But there’s Nakadai, draw, draw, draw. The kicker was, according to his interview: he didn’t know what the outcome was! Somehow they’d got him into costume without realizing that his kimono was rigged with a blood bomb. Mifune would carve into this balloon and he would explode.

In any case, we know it’s scripted, we know it’s planned, we know it rehearsed: still, no one could believe it’s as scripted and planned and rehearsed as it is.

Saoirse’s egg is almost as good. Like riding a bicycle: ask her if she wants an egg when she’s eighty, prepare to be amazed.

Sports, Games

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About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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