Let's catch up on the weekend. The Terps faced the Mountaineers yesterday at College Park. When Friedgen first started coaching at Maryland, he started off unexpectedly well. He won ten games and the Terps went to a bowl game for the first time in a long, long time. Usually, it doesn't take much more a winning season for a team from a big conference like the ACC to make it to a bowl game. There are tons of bowl games. People even kid that there should be a Toilet Bowl. But the Terps couldn't manage that before Friedgen.
In 2001, like the Terps, the Mountaineers also had a new coach, Rich Rodriguez. Like Friedgen, Rodriguez was an alum for the football team he coached. Rodriguez had little luck against Friedgen the first three years, with his teams losing four times. Each year, Maryland plays West Virginia even though Maryland is in the ACC and West Virginia is in the Big East. It's a tradition that goes back many years. For the most part, they played even, and if anything, WVU might have had a better record.
Last year, WVU won a close game against the Terps, the first time Rodriguez's team had ever beaten the Terps. Last year was a year Friedgen would soon forget. The Terps failed to make it to a bowl game for the first time since Friedgen's arrival. This year, Friedgen had won a tight game against Navy. In most years, a game against Navy would be a blowout for Maryland.
However, Navy's gotten a lot better. Not really enough to compete against the big boys, which is why they weakened their schedule, so they wouldn't have to play the likes of Notre Dame all time (they still play Navy, but the rest of the schedule is weaker). Unlike Maryland, Navy had a winning record, 10-2, and won a bowl game. Still, Navy gave fits for Maryland, before the Terps eked out a win.
The Terps lost last week to Clemson in a game I attended. They hoped to win against Clemson, a team the Terps had good luck against in the past. With a 24-14 lead into the fourth quarter, it looked like a 2-0 start. But no. The Terps allowed Clemson to score two touchdowns to take a 28-24 lead, and could not score another point.
This week, the Terps faced WVU. It was a pretty tight game in the first half. West Virginia was up only 7-3, as the defenses clamped down. It was 7-6 at the end of the third quarter. Then, the game just blew up. Two touchdowns, and WVU was up 21-6. Two more touchdowns, and the Terps caught up at 21-19 (they went for a two point conversion on the second touchdown, to tie, and failed to convert). The Terps were elated, only down less than a field goal. Then, another touchdown and a field goal, and the Mountaineers won 31-19. The Terps gave up 24 points in the fourth quarter, leading to another fourth quarter meltdown by the defense. In the first three years, Friedgen, noted for his offensive genius, had a decently good defense. Indeed, his first year, the defense really shone. Every year since then, he's had decently good defenses. This year, not the case.
It's going to be tough the rest of the season. The Terps face four more ranked teams, and will need to win 6 games. This means they must beat at least one of these ranked teams, with Virginia being the best chance. Playing Virginia Tech, Florida State, and Boston College will be quite daunting.
I followed this game the modern way. I watched it on the Internet. Which is to say, I read the scores every once in a while. They're not yet televising football games on the Internet, at least, not legally, not through ESPN. Broadband isn't quite here yet, at least, at TV qualities.
Today, I went to watch 2046. This film is typical Wong Kar-Wai. If you don't care for his films, this is not a film you're likely to enjoy. Here's why. Wong Kar-Wai is not so interested in telling a simple story that has a clear beginning, middle, and end. Real life doesn't resemble stories, even as we like stories. Real life, instead, is about a series of events, that happen over time.
Wong Kar-wai's characters inhabit a constrained universe. Tony Leung reprises the role of Chow Mo Wan, which he played in In The Mood For Love. That film told the story of a man and woman, whose respective spouses are cheating on them. They imagine what circumstances must have brought the unfaithful spouses together, reenacting meetings and words, trying to make sense of what's going on. The film spans a period of thirty years or more, as events unfold in their lives, yet, it never quite leads to a story unfolding, but instead, to their complex relationship.
In 2046, Chow, who was the reluctant lover in In The Mood, is now a lothario, seemingly able to bed any women he chooses. And what choices he has. The list of women--Maggie Cheung, Faye Wong, Zhang Ziyi, Gong Li, and even Carina Lau---read like a who's who of Chinese actresses. If he's somewhat noble in In The Mood, he's anything but in 2046.
Here, he plays a writer who writes fiction for a newspaper, about life in the future in the year 2046, which is actually more a location than a year. It is some kind of hotel or place where memories stay around. It's as intriguing a science fiction idea as has come along in a while, at least in film.
SF is about presenting a world that doesn't exist now. Films like Star Trek and Star Wars are really not true science fiction, since they don't deal with the philosophical issues that SF often deals with. Only the first of the Star Trek films, directed by the late Robert Wise, has some issues that resemble science fiction. There, the NASA probe V'ger (really Voyager) has gained super intelligence by acquiring civilizations on its journey back to Earth to see and join with the Creator. It deals with intelligence, the desire to know one's creator, science, and religion. It's certainly the most heady of the Star Trek films, trying to emulate 2001 more than the television series.
If 2046, the location, the hotel, is all about places where memories never die, then 2046, set in the 60s is about people who are trying to form relationships, but previous memories get in the way. Anytime Chow seems to connect with the women he meets, they make demands he's unwilling to fulfill. He pines for a woman that's long since gone from his past.
If the film's frustrating, it's because the future story is not entirely enlightening. It has the exotic look of a 2001 future, if not its emotional reserve (well, there is some of that, too). Yet, its relation to the present is murky. I had thought, an hour before the film would end, that it would end at a point where Chow tells a woman he's been with to call a boyfriend, and he realizes that it makes her happy, and I thought, well, that's a good point to end the film. He decides he's been shallow this entire time, and he decides to be good.
Oh, but, no. That would be a little too pat. Wong Kar-wai isn't that optimistic. And the film goes on what feels like another hour.
At the very least, with a Wong Kar-wai film, you're treated to a visual feast of colors, and adult relationships, which are in rare supply in other Hong Kong films (see anything with Jackie Chan, or even John Woo). Wong had at least three cinematographers for this film, including Christopher Doyle, who has given his film its distinctive look.
WKW is more about characters and situations and not really about plot. To that end, his films resembles New Wave films where from time to time, you absolutely have no idea what's going to happen next. For WKW, it's not about that, in any case. It's about the evolving relationships, of people moving from country to country, and the lack of fulfillment in these relationships, even as they try.
Tonight, I decided to come into work, but I wanted to get some exercise. We have a small exercise room in the basement of the building. I was planning to buy some kind of shorts for the exercise bike, since I felt work clothes weren't really adequate, but realized I had no idea what I should get. I also wanted to get something to read, so I bought a book by Brian Greene, who's a physicist. This one's title The Fabric Of The Universe.
I've only read a few pages of the book, and boy do I feel inadequate. I understand there's plenty of physicists--or people, period--who can't write their way out of a paper bag, but that Greene is not only far, far better at physics than I ever could be, but also a far better writer.
I know, I know. Blogging is not writing, at least the writing that gets you published. Writing is a laborious process, subject to many hours of thinking, editing, and searching for the mot juste. Blogging is writing as fast as you can, the speed chess of writing. Writing in such a frenetic manner is unlikely to produce the next great American novel, or even a solid, cool idea. Yet, it's depressing to see how far I'd have to go to present that kind of lexicographic mastery.
I blog as much to experiment with what I write, to try out new words, new turns of phrases, as to present a point of view, but it's a struggle to do both. My ideas are mundane at best, the result of not thinking about many things deeply, thus producing only the most banal of observations ("that rocks!"). It helps, from time to time, that I'll scan back a paragraph or two, and, y'know, read it, try to make it sound epsilon better than now.
I'm now listening to Sufjan Stevens. I found a performance of his from last year, which he held in Canada. His performances are almost high-school play-like in nature. He has a large cast of fellow musicians that sing along with him, as well as dress up in cheerleader outfits. Even if you've listened to his albums a lot--and I have--he comes up with variations to keep the live performances interesting.
There are elements of his music that speak of his closeness with religion. It's a topic he doesn't seem to discuss much in public. There are a few songs, though, say, Jason from A Sun Came and The Predatory Wasp of the Paliasades Is Out To Get Us! from his latest Come On Feel the Illinoise! which suggest something resembling a gay point of view.
This had me thinking that he had a more subversive agenda, that couched in all this religious trappings, he was feeding, at least partially, some hint of latent gayness. I suppose that's still a possibility. However, in the live performance I heard, he tells the story of his ex-girlfriend from high school, who was a few years older than him, who he met when he moved out to Romulus (I think), a small town of 300.
Upon further research, Sufjan says "Olanson" or some such, but this city does not, as far as I can tell, exist. I've seen a reference to "Pickerell Lake" which does exist in someone's entry.
He recalls being dragged out to the mall, at the age of 14, with his 18 year old girlfriend, while she picked out clothing. He talks about the top of her outfit being paisely, and her bottom being floral. It had shoulder pads and zippers and buttons. He described her clothing as being a big mix of wallpaper. She had asked him his opinion of her new outfit, expecting a positive response. He told her that it looked "confused". Not exactly what she had hoped for.
Sufjan wanted to be a writer, and studied in New York, but he's obviously been far more "successful" as a musician. He's successful in that anyone listening to the indie music scene in the last year or so should have heard his name. Again, it's depressing to realize how talented everyone is.
I don't know that I should be that unhappy. For example, my background is in computer science, and as such, I should be pretty good at programming, and yet, I can't claim I'm the best programmer, not even at my own company. Comparing programming skills is difficult, in any case. There's the amount of code you can produce, but the best measure is how many problems you can solve, and how good the solution is. For some reason, I don't seem to be bothered by the fact I'm not particularly great at programming. I don't know why I should be bothered that I'm not a particularly good writer either.
In reality, with over six billion people, being anywhere near the best at anything is a silly goal. Easily, there are plenty of people that are going to be better. It doesn't mean that one shouldn't try to improve relative to oneself, just that there are simply those that are talented. Why do we strive to be better? Is it really in our nature, or only in the nature of those who actually succeed in being better?
corrections - - Chick Corea (note the spelling) was a member of Miles Davis' band. - Graham Chapman, the only Graham in the group, is the only deceased mem...
1 month ago