A sad state of affairs

I can’t say I’m entirely surprised by the news from this article. It’s a fact that reading actual books in the US is on the decline, and has been for a long time.

As a writer, struggling, hoping, dreaming of being published, of course, this is sad news to me. For every resounding success like the recent Harry Potter series, there are plenty like me, lying like rubble in the street, lost to the big machine that is today’s publishing industry.

My most recent and most disheartening rejection to date came last year. I wrote a book I’m really proud of, edited the hell out of it, made it right and submitted it to a well known local agent. To my utter joy, the agent asked for a copy of the entire manuscript. This was really something heady! The farthest I’d ever gotten with an agent! Only to be told that despite the fact that she loved the characters and enjoyed the story, she didn’t think there was a wide enough audience for my book.


I know that agents have to do this, right? They have to find something that one of the big conglomerates will love enough to put some dollars behind. Something that will have a mass appeal, and will sell. Preferably something written by an author who already has proven success. A simple fictional baseball book isn’t going to get ‘er done. (so I turned to the rocky road of self-publishing)

And why? Because people aren’t reading like they used to. I was taught how to read by my grandmother, an amazing woman by all accounts. A feminist before her time, and a teacher in heart, mind and by career. I was young, maybe three or four and she taught me to read, and I’ve not stopped my love of words and books since. And because I love books so much, it saddens me to read the article I mentioned above.

“One in four adults say they read no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday”

Ugh. None? No? Zero? It makes my eyes water a bit, like the sting of a strong, cold, bitter wind smacking me upside the face. Awakening, sharply to the reality that my chosen path of creativity, the way The Muse flows through me isn’t necessarily the most popularly consumed art form.

Nobody ever said being an artist was going to be easy. It’s the old saying, well-trod but apropos at this moment, a chiding reminder from my incredibly multi-talented cousin, “you don’t write because you want to, you write because you have to”.

I take solace in the fact that my goddaughter, all of seven, reads voraciously (and at a level much higher than her years). Her mother, a good English teacher, made sure both she and her sister learned to love books.

So there’s hope yet. Maybe for every kid who grows up not reading books there are a few like my precious girl who read plenty. And maybe Nina Karen can one day find a “real” publisher to take a chance on me.

Until then, I’ll write because I have to. Because it compels me. Because it’s who I am.

He went and did it…

Well Chronicled here is my love for the San Francisco Giants and last night the team, or one man on the team, made history.

I’ve watched Bonds for a lot of years and have seen him perform miracles at the plate. Stuff that left me wide eyed and astonished.

I’m sad to say that I wasn’t watching last night when he performed his latest. He broke Hank Aaron’s long held career record of 755 home runs.

756 for Bonds came in the fifth off of Washington Nationals pitcher Mike Bacsik and he slugged it to the deepest part of the yard. No small feat.

It’s been a long strange road but I’m proud of him, prouder still he wore a Giants uniform when he did it.

I understand the taped speech from Hank Aaron played on the Jumbotron was moving. The crowd was crazy. History was made.

Sadly, it doesn’t lift the last place Giants up from their 13.5 game cellar dwelling status, and they didn’t win the game last night. But it’s a bright spot in a dismal season.

Congratulations, Mr. Bonds.

Where have all the heros gone?

Was listening to local sports radio yesterday at lunch, and they were talking about how “the three major sports leagues are in trouble”.

Baseball, with the specter of steroids, and Bonds close to breaking a long held record.

Basketball, with allegations of gambling and fixing in the referee ranks.

And Football with the scandal of Michael Vick and his barbaric behavior (borrowed that adjective from Jim Belshaw in yesterday’s ABQjournal)

Then I read my friend Natalie’s blog, Petroglyph Paradox, and was heartsick. Her young son looks up to Michael Vick, holds him up as a hero, and Natalie and her partner had to explain to their animal loving child what his hero did. Hard to see that light of hero worship fade out in a child’s eyes.

Not that I’ve ever agreed that sports figures should be the heros of our children…but it has been going on for years (Roger Maris?). It’s a trend that is hard to stop, and in many cases, there are athletes who are worthy of emulation (Michael Jordan? maybe…). Then again, many who seemed so on the surface but turn out otherwise (Kobe?)

Who do our kids have to look up to these days?

How about our President? Yeah, don’t get me started down that road. I don’t think a politician of any stripe is worthy of hero worship.

Hollywood Actors? Please…not even a consideration.

Clergy? Uh…no.

Teachers? Well I’ve read several recent stories of scary teachers (grade fixing, anyone?)….though there are many good teachers too. It’s just hard to tell.

What about parents? Well…there are many really good parents out there and I am happy to hold them up as my personal heros. But there are plenty of parents who do more harm than good…..like this charming lady or this gentleman.

So who is left? Who do our kids have to look up to, to emulate, to take values from and make them their own?

I don’t guess I’m comfortable with a society so debauched that even I, a full stripe optimist, forgiver of many, seer of good in almost anyone can’t find someone (alive) I want to be like when I grow up.

For now, I’ll keep my long held hero in place, my sadly deceased grandmother. Wonder what my feminist-before-her-time granny would think of the state of things today?

A moment of silence

A lot of really great players have passed through the San Francisco Giants clubhouse. A lot of warriors and plenty of freaks and some a little bit of both.

I was saddened this weekend at the surprise and as-yet-unexplained untimely passing of Rod Beck, who wore the Giants uni from ’91-’97. He was just 38.

He was a steely-eyed closer, something the Giants have been sorely lacking since the retirement of Robb Nen. (Hell, I can have a moment of silence just for Nen’s arm post 2002 World Series).

Beck was a hell of a pitcher and by all accounts a hell of a good man, giving back to the community and all about his family. He looked crazy, that was part of his appeal, but his stuff was wicked and he’s both fondly remembered and sorely missed.

Sorry it had to go this way, Shooter.

Signs of the Apocalypse

(You must know going into to reading this post that I’m something of an obsessively fanatical baseball fan…..)

Yes. It is end of days. Here is proof.

1) I am about to quote from and *agree with* something printed in the Los Angeles Times. : shudder :

2) I am about to defend Yankees player Alex Rodriguez : shudder shudder shudder :

In reading ABQjournal columnist Jim Belshaw’s blog, he pointed to this article.

LA Times columnist Bill Plaschke opines about the state of “baseball etiquette” these days.

He points to a recent incident. I’ll quote this article from the New York times for the details.

“The Yankees were leading the Toronto Blue Jays by two runs in an eventual 10-5 victory when Jorge Posada lifted a lazy fly ball to third base with two outs in the top of the ninth inning. Third baseman Howie Clark camped under it, but he backed off just after Rodriguez ran slowly past him.

Rodriguez said he shouted “Ha” as he passed Clark, who was fooled into thinking that the shortstop, John McDonald, had called for the ball. When Clark backed away, the ball dropped safely onto the turf for a run-scoring single.”

The Blue Jays are ALL KINDS of fired up. Saying Alex is a poor sport (and worse). Saying what he did is “bush league”.

To quote the venerable Mike Krukow, well known announcer and former pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, “any pitch that makes it across the plate for a strike is a good pitch”. Which is sort of a variation on “it’s better to be lucky than to be good” which is what I think happened here with ARod. It was buffoonish, yes.

But it worked.

It was FAR FAR more acceptable and less against the rules than the “bitch slap heard ’round the world” from the 2004 ALCS when Alex tried to strip the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove.

Ok, so he employed a little leaguer tactic.

But it worked.

And worked well. Giambi came up next and got two more runs in. And the ailing Yankees won a game after a five game slide.

It worked. It’s not against the rules. So there.

Meanwhile the Blue Jays continue to cry like little girls. If I was a Blue Jays fan I would probably be freaking OUTRAGED and calling for ARod’s head and generally crying like a little girl.

But I have to agree with all of this quote from Bill Plaschke:

“I feel major league baseball has become a league of extraordinary babies.

It’s rude to pitch inside. It’s impolite to jog slowly around the bases after a home run. It’s unseemly to steal second with a four-run lead. Don’t you dare bunt in the eighth inning of a potential no-hitter.

And, apparently, never try to distract a player trying to catch a fly ball.”

Yep. There are a lot of unwritten rules in the game. But I agree that sometimes this stuff gets out of hand. Some of these “unwritten rules” are what make the game great. But some of them are also starting to tear it down.

Maybe it’s time to hearken back to little league games where you hear “heeeey batta batta” from the outfield. Maybe these guys making multi-kabillions of dollars need to lighten up and have a little fun again. I know it’s their jobs, but it’s also the national pastime.

Meanwhile, the Yanks are still 13.5 games out of first. The Blue Jays are ahead of them in the race and the Blue Jays took the series 2-1. So what do they have to carp about?

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying watching the fall of the mighty Yankee empire……if my team has to suck, they can too……

By the way, for the record, I agree with everything in Bill Plaschke’s column except for anything said by Tommy Lasorda….I can’t condone anything out of that piece of………..

Happy Friday, folks!

“But teacher! He was *mean*!”