A blog that used to be about things

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