A blog that used to be about things

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Flamingo Bowl Fall 2022 League Week 9 12/20/2022


 "Do we in our time have an answer to the question of what we really mean by the word 'being'? Not at all." - Martin Heidegger, "Being And Time"


The Winter Solstice as a time for rebirth and renewal - a recognition that night is not eternal and it's defined by its phase into dawn - is the basis for cultural and religious ceremonies from all over the world. Although the details differ, reflections on and gratitudes for night's temporary nature are practiced in variety of cultures. Even the in christian ritual of Christmas, practitioners are celebrating their now-present capacity for salvation, which was unavailable to humanity before Jesus's birth. A day following a long night of a different sort. But praising the cyclical nature of our lives is a clinging - a renunciation of the true nature of things by extolling samsara, the reality that we need to escape from to find true happiness. 

We'll bowl again and win again and bowl again and lose again. This the all the universe knows.

We've bowled before and won before and bowled before and lost before. This is all the universe knows.

And someday, we'll attain enlightenment and escape this cycle of suffering. Or maybe bowl 300.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Flamingo Bowl Fall 2022 Bowling League Week 8 - 12/13/22



In "Killing Commendatore" Haruki Murakami takes his standard storytelling world full of oddities and abstractions that his characters accept with limited protest, and this time uses it to explore the act of artistic creation. Much like the way characters in Murakami's novels have vastly different experiences with these oddities, though, different people seem to get very different results from this work. 

The protagonist of "Killing Commendatore" (unnamed, in typical Murakami fashion) is a recently divorced portrait painter. Murakami is in his comfort zone here, writing yet another male protagonist recently severed from the woman that seemed to keep his life grounded and now drifting through an increasingly dream-like world. These criticisms of Murakami (that he writes flat, male protagonists and the women in his stories are little more than plot devices to either spur the male character along or serve as a temporary object of desire) contain degrees of truth, but they tend to inject a goal into his writing that Murakami is never aiming for. He does write flat male characters, namely because he is writing for a flat, male audience from his flat, male perspective. Murakami's worlds have hidden undersides and fantastic, transformative abilities, but the point is that these are still somewhat mundane revelations. It's somewhat fantastic to find out that your backyard has been a mystical prison for an Idea that can become corporeal, but you still have to get up and work in the morning, you know?


So, in "Killing Commendatore" not only does Murakami tackle the criticism of the depth of his characters by leaning into that criticism even more so, he attacks the very idea of novels needing to be About Things in a hilariously literal way. The protagonist is dealing with his life being disrupted in a decently healthy way, only to have his life further upended by an Idea that has become physical and can visit him. What exactly causes this to happen is left deliberately vague - a choice that works well in a story where every details is meticulously documented - but it has some connection with the protagonist discovering a new piece of art and becoming entranced with it. Murakami's deadly serious tone telling us the dangers of looking for too much meaning in art, in a somewhat silly and playful way. This Idea isn't the only oddity the protagonist encounters, as he later has a hilarious conversation with a Metaphor, leading to the climax where he must avoid the deadly Double Metaphor(s). All of this is presented matter-of-factly, of course, and to the protagonist is an odd experience but perhaps no odder than other, "realistic" life events.

At about 700 pages, Murakami has plenty of space to muse on ideas (lower-case) about time, legacy, secrets and how these define our life and relationships. Oh, and also about a 13-year old girl concerned about her breast size, in another example of Murakami seemingly considering the criticisms of his work and leaning further in to them. In that regard, parts of "Killing Commendatore" are very combative. Murakami staking out an identity agreed upon by himself and his critics, and saying "your move." In another way, this is a quiet masterpiece by Murakami. 700 pages that drift by without the messiness of Idea or Metaphor to constrain it - to grab hold of the narrative and twist it into a direction it does not naturally want to follow. Ultimately, this is a very touching novel about how secrets and oddities define a life, and is worth reading to think about what we all leave unsaid.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Flamingo League Fall 2022 Bowling League Week 6 - 11/29/22





When you are bowling and the pins won't fall,

Do you think about the times they did, or

Curse any and all gods and then your ball?

Or, wait, maybe it is time to explore

An alternate universe where bowling

Is unknown. Is their really bliss in such

Ignorance? No spares, the only rolling

Is E, and never from a bowler's touch.

A world missing emotions and colors.

I'll stick with our world of strikes and gutters.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Flamingo Bowl Fall 2022 Bowling League Week 5 11/22/22




Game 1:

On January 5th, 2003, Ken Jones was caught in two avalanches, which broke his legs and pelvis, and was able to climb free and drag himself for 4 days to the nearest town.

On July 27th, 2006, Tom Boyle saw a driver hit a bicyclist, pinning the cyclist underneath the Camaro. Boyle was able to lift the car up so another person could pull the cyclist free.

Tsutomu Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima, Japan on August 6th 1945, when the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city, killing between 70,000 and 80,000 civilians and destroying 70% of the city. Yamaguchi survived and returned to his hometown of Nagasaki, where on August 9th, 1945 the United States dropped an atomic bomb, killing 50,000 civilians. Yamaguchi lived until 2010.

On November 22, 2022, the Flamingo Bowl bowling league offered a bottle of tequila to whomever first bowled a turkey. Jonathon Hunt rolled a turkey in his first 3 frames, and was presented with a bottle of Hornito's.

Game 2: Free will is a myth, but not in the sense the deists think. Anaximander may have been the first to write down his ideas about "multiple worlds," which would contain every conceivable outcome of every decision, but the idea surely predates him. And survives him. And is contemporaneous with him, as time does not exist as we experience it but instead exists all at once. There is no "now" there is only now. So, given that everything and every time exists at once, our specific experience of any one event is the result of a multitude of chances and occurrences, selected from an assortment of possible occurrences so numerous as to be basically infinite. And we don't get to do the selecting. It's still tight to bowl 200, though.

Game 3: Daily samsara. We have bowled this game before and will bowl it again and are bowling it now.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Flamingo Bowl Fall 2022 Bowling League Week 4 11/15/22


we lost all 3 games


And when our final hour comes, we shall meet it humbly, and there beyond the grave, we shall say that we have known suffering and tears, that our life was bitter.

- Sonya's monologue from Uncle Vanya

    Sonya is, of course, able to bear her suffering with the grace that unequivocal faith in a Christian god and heaven brings. But when that Christian salvation is exposed as a dream or a lie, where can we look for the strength to get through this suffering? The league will end and our record will be all we have. The record is our life and afterlife - what we know and how we are known.

    Should we then revel in this misery? Unable to attain the eternal bliss of the Christian heaven we instead praise our miseries and sufferings as divine manifestations of a universal truth? The Noble Truth of dukkha teaches that birth is suffering, death is suffering, bowling 180+ and losing is suffering and bowling 180+ and winning is also suffering, as suffering is a fundamental aspect of our universe. Joyous moments, such as bowling 180+ and winning the game, are impermanent and their absence, then, can cause suffering, so this suffering is part of their totality. So, as beautiful and improbable creations of this universe who are capable of exploring its truths and singing its glories, should we not celebrate suffering as the ubiquitous component of the only universe we know, which has directed itself to allowing us to be in this moment? No. Of course not. Attachment is attachment, no matter how unorthodox the object of attachment, and the Noble Truths teach us that this attachment is itself the mindset to be overcome to escape samsara. Suffering is there but we must not revel in it nor give in to desire and luxury and avoid all suffering but instead follow the Noble Eightfold Path and recognize the impermanence of even suffering as we will bowl the next game and if there is no next game we will bowl the next week and if there is no next week we will bowl the next league.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Flaming Bowl Bowling League Fall 2022 Week 2 - 10/25/22




Game 1: She came from the depths, like he said. Like he knew. Timeless rage purified by the ocean, free from the Sun's luminous knowledge. Righteous anger, harnessed and twisted to base aims. How did he know so much about those depths, and why did she respond?

Game 2: One day, Edshu was walking among the fields, noticing each farmer at work in their own field, when he decided that he would play a trick on them. He made himself a hat that was white on the front, red on the left side, green on the right and black on the back. When he walked between the fields different farmers only saw one side of the hat, depending on where they were working. That evening, after the work was done, the farmers were together eating and drinking when one asked "did you see the odd fellow walk by with the white hat today?" Another farmer responded "I saw an odd man, but his hat was definitely red." Another responded that the hat was clearly green. They began to argue over the hat and ultimately broke down to fighting and brought out knives. They were arrested and brought to trial, but the judge could not decide who was at fault. Edshu was in the crowd at the trial, and eventually revealed himself and his hat, saying "spreading strife is my greatest joy." - adapted from Joseph Campbell's telling in "The Hero With A Thousand Faces

Game 3: . . .

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Bowling Notes - 4/12/22

 Week 8? Linear time has no meaning anymore, but we have not yet escaped the dogged grip of relational time. So we wait for a "finals" that has already occurred, is presently occurring. The pins know this truth, and will make sure they get to the destination they were always at.

In "Object-Oriented Ontology: A New Theory of Everything," Graham Harman says "there are just two ways of telling somebody what a thing is: . . . what it is made of or what it does."

Two ways. What does it leave behind? What is it's favorite record? Does it know how to keep a scorecard at a baseball game?

Two ways. Did it remember your birthday? Bring flowers? Look in to your eyes and recognize the emptiness not as a loss but as a path?

Two ways. Will it break a toe or scatter to the wind when errantly left on the floor and later kicked? Will it leave behind a jisei that helps you reflect on your pained attachments? Does it believe any of this matters?

Friday, March 11, 2022

Bowling Notes 3/8/22



 Bushido, I have found out, lies in dying. When confronted with two alternatives, life and death, one is to choose death without hesitation. There is nothing particularly difficult; one has only to be resolved and push forward.

While some say, "Death without gaining one's end is but a futile death," such a calculating way of thinking comes from conceited, citified bushido. Pressed between two alternatives, once can hardly be sure of choosing the righteous of the two. To be sure, everybody prefers life to death; he tends to reason himself into staying alive somehow. But if he comes out alive without gaining his righteous end, he is a coward. Therein lies the crucial point to consider.

Conversely, as long as one's choice is death, even if he dies without accomplishing his just aim, his death is free of disgrace, although others may term it as a vain or insane one. This is the essence of bushido. If one, through being prepared for death every morning and evening, expects death at any moment, bushido will become his own, whereby he shall be able to serve the lord all his life through and through with not a blunder.

- from Hagakure, by Yamamoto Tsunetomo 


Thursday, February 24, 2022

Bowling Notes 2/22/22

 After a brief delay . . .

Under new direction, the lanes are excitedly oiled and the league is eager to resume. We've all changed and been changed over the past 2 years. Is this even the same league? Are some things so constant as to deny time's dogged progression?

Game 1

Stallings. Hauntings. During practice, the pinsetter unexpectedly lowered right after I released a ball, and these hauntings continued in to the game itself. Where does tradition turn into haunting, and is there even a good distinction between the two? The accumulation of unique  disturbances is all we have to distinguish us from one another, and so we give thanks and/or memories to those disturbances for allowing us to fall into a delusion of self. Therefore, "we" can't even exist without these pains and traumas. But who asked for that in the first place?

Game 2

At some point, if you're going to be constrained by linear time, you should make a decision to leave "the past" in "the past." Experiences make you and may even better inform your present choices, but they are the past and if you're going to make any attempt to enjoy or learn in a present or future moment, then you must make a conscious and deliberate break with past events. Easier said than done, though. The past isn't gone, it's just past, and since it still exists it can still affect us and therefore render itself new again. And what better way to do that than to intentionally draw attention to the "past-ness" of it's present actions? And thus, the pinsetters break and break again. Splits and splits again. Frustrations lived before and lived again and lived.

Game 3

As with any endeavor involving time, endurance becomes an issue. Rhythms that had been turned into sick parodies of themselves were now allowed to regrow, as if one can recreate a "moment." Ample opportunity to "return to form," as if doing so were not a mockery of linear time itself. We have chosen this path "forward" because of the unknown and constant changes it brings. We'll return in death.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Bowling Notes 9/17/2019

Game 1

Everybody except for me is commenting on how slick the lanes are. I cannot dismiss their observations, but why can't I share them? Descartes famously examined this question and came up with his "solution:" I exist but any and all other beings/things in the world may be illusions. Descartes's solution is logically sound on a fundamental level but practically useless. Why, if I alone exist and everything around me is either a creation of my own thoughts or an illusion cast by some malignant force, continue living? When no experience are "real," what is the point of experience? This is where Descartes's reductionism falls apart. Either we have to accept the "reality" of our senses or life has no meaning. Even if we start with just our thoughts, we can build analogies from there and recognize that other 'beings' appear to act and respond to external forces the same way we do, and therefore are also likely to be experiencing the same stimulus that we experience. There is life, in other words. Still, just because there is life outside of our own mind does not mean we all have the same experience or interpretation of experience. What is bitter to one person tastes fine to another, or what are acceptable bowling scores for one team may not be acceptable for another team. And in our shared reality, these were not acceptable scores.

Game 2

Brandon had a pin tilt roughly 30 and then stand back up, and was genuinely hurt by this - this, of course, being nature's indifference to his bowling score. We have all experienced this pain before, and we all process it in our own manner. Is this shared experience what makes us work as a team? Is shared trauma a solid foundation on which a relationship can grow? Will the relationship have anything to bind it together once the trauma is processed and left in the past?

Game 3

The jukebox has come on and exclusively playing Kanye West. Kanye's very emotional yet very egotistical (i.e. cocaine-fueled) songs providing a suitable backdrop for this game. 'Flashing Lights' plays as our game comes together, but what have we lost to get here? We can win this game, we can win this whole league, but what do we lose to get here? What, and who, have we left behind to taste this success? And not even to taste it! To glimpse it, yes, but this is only week 3! We can beat these top teams tonight; we can beat these top teams next week, even, but to think that this immediate moment has to last forever is misinformed.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Bowling Notes 9/10/2019

Flamingo Bowl Craft Beer League Week 2

Game 1

Hexagram 32

HĂNG: Duration

The Trigrams

Upper Trigram Chinese characterChên, the Arousing- Thunder
Lower Trigram Chinese characterSun, the Gentle- Wind/Wood

The Judgement

The Image

Game 2

There is a phrase you will here among the broken bowlers, shells of men left damaged by spinning pins and lillies: "pins ain't fallin'." Men that are no longer allowed in more respectable alleys, having been banned for openly weeping far too often, throwing a ball in spite, cursing a god or gods too loudly or just generally having an aura that is not wanted, an aura of fear and defeat. These broken souls know every way to not pick up a spare, and the KNOW it is going to happen to them again. "Pins ain't fallin'" - presented as a truth and accepted as truth among those that refuse to take command of their life. "Pins ain't fallin'" - a diagnosis that stops at identifying the symptoms instead of finding a cause. "Pins ain't fallin'" - a prayer for better days to come, but no sacrifice to persuade an indifferent god. "Pins ain't fallin'" - an excuse, but sometimes, the pins just don't fall.

Game 3

Pins still ain't fallin'.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Bowling Notes - 9/3/2019

Flamingo Bowl is trying to start this league at 6:30 PM. I am writing this at 6:28 PM and there are 2 people here from 3 of the 6 teams. Some may sense mutiny in the air, but to us it is freedom. Freedom to wallow in the arbitrary nature of time. Freedom to immerse ourselves in the timeless expanse that is a game of bowling. The practice timer on our lane is now frozen at 18:11 remaining. Through bowling we have escaped the clock's maniacal grip. Through bowling we have escaped time's inexorable march towards death. Through bowling, we are free.

Game 1

Our bowling order has changed this league. The passivity of "has changed" is the most accurate way to describe this, as nobody on our team asked for a change in order, nor even knew one would occur. This new order is momentarily disorienting, which itself is enough reason to move beyond it. It is just one moment in an infinite sea of moments. The rolling ball will shatter this moment, just as it has done to other moments since the dawn of time ('dawn of time' here = 'dawn of bowling'). In order to succeed we must focus on the moment, yes, but not get dragged down by the moment. Enjoy the moment for what it is - a fleeting message received by our various synapses which will fade away into a memory, at best. Be the stream, not the pebble.

This was a game of spares. Second chances. Opportunities to right the wrongs of our past and move forward not with the complete happiness of what should have been, but something close enough. Or is it close enough? Using second chances is important, but in life if we rely on them too much we may come up just a bit short.

Game 2

The sense of timelessness has become overwhelming, almost suffocating. A life of constant "nows" with no past to reflect on and no future to hope for. Just us and the lanes for infinity. This immediate "now" itself encompassing the billions of billions of possible realities. Would you like to see a pin swerve around other pins only to reflect back of the wall and knock them down? Would you like to see a 7-5-10 "split?" Would you like to see a pin slowly tilt 40° and then return, even slower, to its upright position? A thousand lifetimes in each individual moment. "I don't like this" - Richard, to me, as we individually navigate these expanding moments.

When I was a child I would frequently have dreams of events that would then happen in my waking life. None of them were particularly noteworthy (one that stands out is walking down the street and opening a bottle of RC Cola to discover that I had won a free soda -  one in six bottles were a winner, as the cap informed) but they did train me to accept situations as they are and not as how I think they should be; to be ready for a discrepancy from the dream. I mention this only because as I watched the pin tilt 40° on its side and then slowly return to its upright position, I realized that I had experienced this very same event in a dream a few weeks ago. I was already prepared to accept this loss and move along. Quantum physics will explain how the moment contained a multitude of possible outcomes, but the dreamstate had already selected.

Game 3

In Asako I & II (Netemo Sametomo in Japanese), Ryusuke Hamaguchi lets moments linger. Nothing is rushed, almost to the point of inertia. When the plot grudgingly moves along, it asks us to consider very difficult questions: Do people deserve second chances when they have hurt somebody they loved? If making mistakes is okay, then why can't we forgive mistakes in a romantic relationship? If we are hurt, why should we have to forgive? There are no answers in his movie, just choices. Whether they are the right choice or not is not important. The choice was made and now life moves along that path.

Hamaguchi's talent is in not even hinting at an answer to any of these questions. Just as the plot moves like a leaf sitting on a pond - sometimes moving this direction, sometimes moving another direction, but mainly just sitting still - trying to decipher "right" or "wrong" among the decisions made in this movie is not going to get you anywhere. They are decisions made by people, and that is all. Which is not to say that they cannot be judged, as we can see a million things that could have been done differently. The point is, they were not, and why should we dwell on that? On what could have been?

Is the third game of bowling a chance for renewal? Or is it better suited for regrouping? Focusing your efforts on improving techniques for next week's game? How far out of winning do you have to be to make this decision? 

The third game of bowling is not a place for questions. We have spent the night attuning our bodies and minds to the immediacy of the lanes. Faltering now because of a dependence on spares, on second chances, is akin to throwing the entire evening in the trash. We made choices (made spares), and now we must live with them. A missed pin or a misstated phrase will hurt, but we must move ahead with this reality we have made. If we are given a second chance to strike the pin or say kind words, then we must take that chance. But we must be diligent to spot such chances, and this diligence requires a focusing on the "now." These are not replays of the past, but different moments, and must be treated as such.

"Do not pursue the past.
Do not lose yourself in the future.
The past no longer is.
The future has not yet come.
Looking deeply at life as it is
in the very here and now,
the practitioner dwells
in stability and freedom.
We must be diligent today.
To wait until tomorrow is too late.
Death comes unexpectedly.
How can we bargain with it?
The sage calls a person who knows
how to dwell in mindfulness
night and day
'One Who Knows
The Better Way To Live Alone.'"

- from the Bhaddekaratta Sutta. translated by Thich Nhat Hanh 

Monday, April 22, 2019

Bowling Notes - 4/16/2019 Week ????+1 of Flamigo Bowl Craft Beer League

Before practice, Noah made up his missed games from last week. He became worried about fatigue, which is a legitimate concern but not at all what I saw as I watched. I saw a lust for the lanes that flourishes in a competition like this. I saw Spring personified: a whole team's rebirth and fiery passion for victory. We can all feel the change in the weather; the change in the atmosphere. Is that all that is changing? What if everything we knew about our world was changing with it? What if all concepts of normalcy, all concepts of what life is to be about, were also changing?

On April 16, 1943, Albert Hoffman picked up his research on an analeptic he had been working on 5 years prior. He got a bit of the chemical compound on his fingertips. He went home where he:

"lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After about two hours this condition faded away."
And so, after two hours of gazing directly in to the chaotic disorder of reality, Albert Hoffman returned to his "normal" life. If only we were all so lucky.

Game 1

Iced by the other team's refusal to appear. This could backfire on them, though, as it gives Noah time to rest his arm. Eventually the opposing team decided to go forward with only two players. We're used to these sorts of games, though. Any delay of pace we can adjust to, and drink to. If Flim Flam thinks they will beat us through a simple delay they have obviously not been paying attention to our attendance in the league. And of course, they do know this. They know that we aren't going to let a 20 minute delay beat us. Travis is smart - he and I went to a Magnet school.No, Flim Flam is going to get us off our game somehow, by coming up with a reality altering concept like BRINGING A DAMN DOG TO THE BOWLING ALLEY?!?!? The appearance of this small toy poodle (??? unsure of the breed) brings a very French Bohemian quality to the bowling alley. 

The game is an hallucinatory mish-mash of stimulus and introspection. Equipment breaks routinely. Teenagers show up in the next lane to judge us. This absolutely unpredictable blur of incongruous events is was life is all about. This is what bowling is all about.

Game 2

The first game took its toll. We started this game either stunned by the tumultuous atmosphere or enthralled with the vivaciousness of life in the bowling alley. Either way - pins weren't dropping. It was not a total loss, though, as there were glimpses of success. Fleeting images of a successful game of bowling. Or, were they just hallucinations? Had we fully descended into a lane of madness? The boundary between real and unreal had quickly unraveled during Game 1, leaving us rudderless and full of doubt. The only truth was in the pins.

Game 3

As the games march on we learn to adjust. Adjust to the lane conditions and to the poor conditions reality was in. We just have to bowl. Universal forces were at play, though, and were determined to continue their assault. As the game began, the equipment malfunctioned and continued to malfunction about every other bowler. If a rhythm was our only way of making sense out of this fantastic scene then the bowling forces were determined to keep us senseless. Savage Garden is playing on the jukebox. Irreality continues. THE DOG FUCKING PUKED! We have fully stepped over from normal night of bowling to a George Herriman-esque parody of a seedy bowling alley. Any attempts to reign the night in are beyond futile now. As futile as an attempt to keep a dog in a bag.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Bowling Notes - 4/9/2019 Week ???? of Flamingo Bowl Craft Beer League

We are bowling in the Palm Room this week. The floors are slicker and there is a distinct aroma of cleaning supplies along with whatever they were used to cover. The atmosphere is very different from the main room. Separated from the larger crowds, the Palm Room brings out a much more cerebral game. There are not as many people milling around, taking in the sights and sounds of this glorious sport. There is no crowd to show off for. No feedback outside of the pins. In the main room, the crowd can buzz appreciatively about an almost picked up 8-10 split. In the Palm Room, only the lanes do the talking. Your more introspective bowlers appreciate this lack of attention. They relish in it, as there are no distractions. Just lanes and pins. But even the most experienced on these meditative bowlers knows there is danger to this seclusion. The lack of distractions can allow for better focus but can also lead to over-analyzing your mistakes. No outside stimulus to blame a poor roll on. No unexpected sights or sounds to explain a poor release. Without these distractions a bowler is left with no choice but to doubt their approach or their technique. And with this doubt comes The Fear.

Once The Fear gets in to you it can quickly spread through an entire team. Maybe we don't belong in the Palm Room, where the game's every movement is exposed? Maybe we are not the artists we hold ourselves out to be and are instead no different than a dog batting around its favorite toy?

In bowling, every week is a test, but some tests you never get a chance to prepare for.

Game 1

Brandon and Rich were both thrown off by the slicker floors. Noah was absent completely. All of these disruptions to the routine create a perfect opening for The Fear to take root.

Brandon was able to salvage something in the last few frames, but The Fear had definitely gotten hold of Rich. He felt rushed. Pressured. The Fear was with him, whispering to him that his mortality mattered more than the lane ahead of him, providing him a glimpse of an exit from The Fear's grasp, but only if he could get there in time. His game could not recover.

Game 2

Once The Fear is in you, nothing comes easy. The heat that was once a mild annoyance turns in to a sweltering blast, like the hot breath of a gytrash that has marked you as its next victim. The heat begins to penetrate every pore in your body, clearing way for The Fear to root through your memories. Now armed, The Fear knows best how to exploit you, best how to feed. The Fear knows what hopes still linger in your tortured soul and can now present them just out of reach. If only you weren't bowling right now, this could be yours. Rush through this frame, ignore Don Carter's advice for a proper approach. Ignore the hours you have spent perfecting your art. The Fear is now all you know.

Game 3


Monday, July 2, 2018

Jonathan Gresham vs. Martin Stone 1/28/2018

If you are at all familiar with Jonathan Gresham and Martin Stone/Danny Burch, you probably have a good idea of what style of match these two are going to wrestle. And if you don't watch a lot of these two, like me, you should know that you are underestimating just how good they are at this style. Gresham and Stone both wrestle a style that translates well to any situation. They make every move matter and there is always a follow-up move unless it ends in a pin or submission. It's a style that appreciates the basics - headlocks, roll-ups, wrist control, etc. - and because the wrestlers take these "simple" moves seriously it gets them over with the crowd. From what I have seen of Stone and Gresham, Stone tends to use more strikes and Gresham more submissions & pin attempts, which are sort of the two ends of the spectrum of this style of wrestling. So, again, going in to this match I had an idea of what style of match they would have, but they are given the time to let their match build and develop into a classic.

I have not seen any of Jonathan Gresham's matches in Beyond Wrestling. I did not even know he was champ nor that he was aligned with Stokley Hathaway. Hell, I put those two facts in that order by choice but I really don't even know which came first or which was a bigger surprise to the fans. All of this is just a long way of saying that I don't watch Beyond and don't know what Gresham's character is going in to this match, but Gresham is able to explain that character to me within minutes of the match starting. Having Hathaway with him helps, but Gresham is great a playing a sort of Ric Flair champ - the great wrestler that knows how and when to take a cheap shot. The exact mix of skill and cockiness that gets me riled enough to yell at both.

Stone's character is pretty consistent from federation to federation ("bald") but it fits well in to both heel and face roles, and he knows how to work to whatever role he is playing. In this match he is more of a face. He comes in as a threat to Gresham's ability to outwork opponents on the mat, as they show during the first 3rd of the match. Once Stone's ability to keep up with Gresham forces Gresham to use a trick, Stone breaks out of the back-and-forth wrestling work of the beginning of the match and gets mad, hurting Gresham and making the match much more personal. While he is beating Gresham around, this really gets over how serious a threat Gresham's wrestling is as Stone has to use some brutal moves to stay on the advantage. He was not trying to out-wrestle Gresham any more, as he knew that was not going to work, and instead he was trying to hurt Gresham.

The match continues with bigger and bigger moves, the impact getting over by Gresham and Stone selling the struggle of hitting them and the exhaustion after doing so, whether real or staged. The finish is very creative and works excellently with Gresham's character work throughout the match. It's the type of finish that could come across as VERY unsatisfying in a lot of situations but, because Gresham and Stone have been so good at conveying how much every move matters, they are able to come across as desperate and struggling for any little advantage over each other. This style of match does not seem real because it looks like a shoot fight but it seems real because the performers treat it as such.

Postcript: Cagematch.de says this is not a Beyond Wrestling match but is instead a WWR match and is for the Powerbomb.tv title, so adjust the sentences above as needed, making sure to amplify the parts about how I do not watch [appropriate promotion].