Monthly Archives: January 2012

Preparations

As I may have mentioned, I’m getting prepared to watch baseball from season’s beginning to season’s end. The only problem is, I’m not entirely sure what I should do to prepare for this. I’m trying to get caught up to speed on the subject, but I’m not sure where I should go, what I should watch and what I should read to do this.

I’m going to go to Fenway at some point and take a look-see and I’ve already started watching Ken Burns: Baseball (excellent documentary by the way). I just need some more ideas for things to do before the season starts so I’m not completely floundering when the ball starts rolling (Ha! Sports puns).

Ideas?

Dylan Charles

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Filed under Sporting: Baseball, Boxing and Sports Not Starting with a B

The Stories of Baseball

For me, the sport in and of itself is not the draw. The draw is the people. It’s why boxing always held more interest for me than any team sport. It was the individual who made the sport what it was. The fire and sheer ballsyness of Jack Johnson, the lightning style and class of Sugar Ray Robinson, the sturdy and unrelenting force of Rocky Marciano. They defined their sport and their sport defined who they were simultaneously.

With boxing (or any sport that’s solely about the individual), it’s easy and clear to see the story of that person, to see the thrills and the heartaches and the failures and successes of that one person. They win or lose on the basis of their own strengths and weaknesses and it’s plain for everyone to see.

But with baseball, that’s a far more murky prospect. It’s not about the one, but the many and all those singular stories are lost in the shuffle. At least, that’s what I thought. But as I learn more and more about the history of the sport, I’m starting to hear the same amazing and terrible stories that I heard when I read about boxing: The sad and terrible monster that was Ty Cobb, whose talent and downfall both came from the same rage and feelings of  inadequacy, the talented and uneducated Shoeless Joe Jackson who threw it all away for the promise of $20,000 and Christy Mathewson, who never went to war, but lost his way of life and then his life to poison gas anyway.

It’s the stories that make any sport go beyond the confines of being a simple game played by talented men and women. It’s their lives that make their victories more than just points on a scoreboard. It’s always about the stories.

Dylan Charles

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Filed under Sporting: Baseball, Boxing and Sports Not Starting with a B

A Sporting Attempt

Living in Boston means living with sports. In Durham, sports talk was mainly limited to people yelling about college basketball, because that was the biggest game in town. Sure, we had the Durham Bulls, but they don’t inspire the same level of fanaticism as, say, the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics or Bruins. There are four major sports franchises crammed into this one city and lord, does it show.

I’ve long resisted any attempt to become involved in the sports culture, but more and more, that seems like ignoring a large and integral part of Boston culture. People communicate in sports, it’s what they talk about, how they interact, a reason to go out for the night and watch a game in the bar.

So, in the interest of embedding myself in the culture, I’m going to “follow” a “team”. Since football season is almost over and basketball season has already started, I picked baseball. Plus, I’ll get the thrill of following the under-dog team, just like the Bad News Bears or Rocky. And I’ve always been interested in the mythology behind baseball.

First up, I need to read up on stats and line-ups and…other…stuff. Maybe I should watch Ken Burns’ Baseball in order to truly learn about the sport from the very beginning. The more I think about this whole process, the more I realize that I know next to nothing about baseball. I know it starts in the Spring. Maybe. Maybe that’s just when they start training.

The last time I even watched a baseball game was a Durham Bulls game almost five years ago. I know there are bats and balls and bases and n ine innings, but other than that, I’m as lost as a linebacker in a hockey rink.

Time to get started.

Dylan Charles

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Filed under Sporting: Baseball, Boxing and Sports Not Starting with a B

Angry and Lovin’ It

I’ve been noticing more and more lately that I’m getting more and more angry and aggressive and it’s the city that’s doing it.

It’s not Boston in particular, it’s just…living in a big city where people can be rude and thoughtless and exceedingly annoying. I don’t think cities especially attract awful people; the same percentage of awful people live in the city as they do in the country (20%). But 20% of 600,000 people is a metric shitton of people no matter how you look at it and you’re going to be bumping into those people on a regular basis, especially if you work in retail and especially if you take public transportation to get to your retail job.

As a result, I’ve been more surly with people and more liable to get ornery at real and imagined offenses. Some of this change in behavior is necessary. I’ve never been a very forward person and never been very liable to stand up for myself. I was always more likely to take the quiet, passive way out of a conflict. Now, I’m finding myself looking forward to a combative argument. I got to kick someone out of the store the other day and I was thrilled. I hope he comes back so I can do it again.

This is where it starts becoming more of a problematic thing and where I need to start reining myself in the tiniest bit. Still, I’m pleased that I can actually argue with someone as opposed to just grinning and bearing it.

Also, I’ll fight you.

Dylan Charles

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An Analysis of Fear

Over the years, I’ve made Horror my thing. I’ve watched countless horror movies. I’ve read countless horror stories. I’ve viewed the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch. I’ve worked out the formulas for the non-Euclidian shapes of Lovecraftian geometry. I’ve sampled the wares of multiple cultures; the giallo films of Dario Argento, the existentialist nightmares of French cinema, and even some Bollywood rip-offs of American slasher films.

And, in all of my research, in all of my attempts to feel fear through fiction, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is only one way to craft perfect Horror. There is no one platonic ideal for Horror, hovering in the Aether like some malignant spider, hell-bent on the destruction of your pleasant dreams. Instead, Horror is a swarm of nightmares.

Fear is a personal thing. Certain people find certain things scary. What is scary for one person, is funny to another person. The supernatural doesn’t scare me at all, but I have a friend who believes that there are ghosts in the world. Horror must strive to reach only one person at a time.

Fear is primal. Something that is inspired by rudimentary thought processes buried deep in your subconscious. It is affected by the myths and legends of your culture. It is shaped by your upbringing and defined by your personal experience.

Horror, to be truly effective, must be individually tailored. For someone to feel that dread within, for someone to lose control of their conscious reasoning, they must read or watch something that has been specifically crafted for them. You cannot write a single story and try and scare an entire audience.

You’ll give a few people the creeps. And some people may feel the knife’s edge of Fear, but it will be dulled and blunted by the attempt to reach a broader audience.

The next step in Horror is not to try and reach the broadest audience possible. The next step in Horror is to make the experience as personal as possible.

Horror, as a form of fiction, has one goal: to create fear in the audience. Now, more than ever, it possible to achieve this goal. The Internet allows the Audience to approach the Creator and demand to be scared. It allows for the Audience to achieve something that they wouldn’t have been able to achieve before: they are able to get a customized, personalized experience that allows them to feel Fear.

Now, if only there was someone with a stronger work ethic than I to take advantage of it.

Dylan Charles

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A Little of This, a Little of That

A lot of the books I read end up adding to what I write. Characters, words, worlds, even just that mix of tones (a little darkness, a dash of magic and a small smidge of humor); it all affects how I write.

There are authors who energize; who help me get off of my ass and start writing again. There are the writers who function like literary warning signs. Danger! Do Not Mix These Genres: Disastrous Results! There are the writers that show me that what I’m doing ahs been done over and over and over and over again and maybe I should head down a different path.

I steal styles and I lift characters. I shuffle off with piece of plot and I make off with ideas. Every book I read, every story I see, it’s a jolt of inspiration. Not to take the whole thing. That’s just intellectual thievery.

But every writer borrows. Every writer finds his or her ideas. They lay about waiting to be discovered time and again. They find them, they piece them together, they work them into something new that hasn’t been seen before. They take those old ideas and make them shine like new again. They find new truths buried in ideas that have been kicking around since Man was capable of intelligent thought.

It is the job of an artist, whether a writer or a painter or a sculptor, to take those old ideas and breathe themselves into it.

And that’s…not that hard, really. Art isn’t hard. It’s just the follow-through that some might find troublesome.

Dylan Charles

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