Tag Archives: San Francisco 49ers

Not the post I wanted to write

I slept poorly last night; from about one in the morning, both my husband and I tossed and turned.  He had an aching shoulder, I had the post-Super Bowl blues.

He’s sleeping now, but I had to get up, couldn’t lie there any longer.  A major consolation is that an entire team feels far worse than I do, but this gutted blankness lingers.  I’m sad they didn’t keep their undefeated streak intact, I’m sorry they came within just yards of getting the go-ahead touchdown (Oh Frank Gore, my heart goes out to you!), I’m bewildered by the lights going out, but ultimately that saved my team’s collective keister from getting blown all across the Superdome.

And last, but certainly not least, I’m trying to grasp a new sensation; losing the last game of the season.

It’s heartbreaking and soul-crushing in a manner I will equate with characters in my next book.  Life is always novel fodder, otherwise why feel so distressed and confused, as if I’ve dived into an abyss.  Maybe that’s overstating it now, a few hours past the numbing astonishment after they clawed their way back from an absolutely HOLE.  If they hadn’t done that, just gotten their clocks cleaned, okay.  That happens (it did in Seattle less than two months ago).  But they didn’t.  They pulled their heads out, played with all they had, and still…

Still they’ll fly home today without joy.  Life goes on, no one died, only some dreams.  Many dreams, left in tatters under Ravens’ feet in New Orleans.

In the next book I’m hoping to write, a young man has to tell the love of his life a shattering truth.  Not that he’s dying, nor is he ill.  But he’s not who she thought he was, and he knows, he KNOWS odds are she won’t stay with him.  Evan is praying to God that Callie will figure out a way to comprehend this truth, but he’s known her since they were fifteen and what he has to tell her is so far outside the box…  I’ve not personally known that sort of brokenness; my eldest daughter was struck by a migraine with aura in 2009, but for a time we weren’t sure if she had suffered a stroke.  That was life-threatening, and until the MRI gave her the all-clear, dread was mixed with something so bleak, I couldn’t truly ponder what came next.  This with my team is not that at all.  But it is debilitating, it’s unpleasant  it’s, it’s, it… sucks.  It really does.  For my characters, what will happen when Evan tells Callie his deepest secret is on par with last night’s loss.  Neither will die, life will continue, but, but, but…

But their hearts will be twisted beyond what feels right.  They’ll be wondering what the hell happens now, which isn’t how I feel, but perhaps it’s how San Francisco’s players and coaches feel.  The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat; Jim McKay spoke those words every weekend on ABC’s Wide World of Sports.  I don’t recall the winner’s clip, but the loser still flashes in my head; a skier flies down a ramp, wiping out as he reaches the end.  He only suffered a mild concussion, but I can still picture tangled skis as he smashed into the ground.  It’s been years since I’ve seen that clip, but let me say, he really biffed it.

Until the Superdome’s lights went out, my team biffed it big-time, yet somehow almost won.  Does that make it worse?  No, well (long sigh), yes, in that if they had just gotten creamed, okay.  But they actually nearly won!  I haven’t, nor am I going to read anything about it, too painful.  But as this feeling fades, I will incorporate it into a novel, for everything happens for a reason.  I’d like to think that the 49ers will use this game to stoke next year’s run, but even that’s precarious.  There’s no guarantee they will get back to the Super Bowl next year; for some of those players, last night was it for a ring.  One never knows what will happen, but if nothing else, my heart plumbed an unwelcome but necessary emotion, is still reeling from the effects.  Like all writers, after due time I will fold up these memories, then slot them into this story, that narrative.  Having to write this particular post bites the big one, but life isn’t all chocolates and roses.

Well, in another ten days.  By then I should be feeling much better…

Blossom Dearie, Dave Grohl, and a nice review

This morning I woke with “Figure 8” in my head, a Schoolhouse Rock ditty sung by the late Blossom Dearie, jazz pianist and vocalist extraordinaire.  For those 1970s education snippets she also sung about adjectives, but “Figure 8”, written by the exceptional Bob Dorough, isn’t just about numbers, but achieving dreams.  Mastering one’s 8 times tables might be one of those goals, but skating that perfect figure eight is certainly another.  It wasn’t one of mine; I grew up in the Sacramento Valley where no frozen lakes existed.  But I wanted to sing, and Blossom’s voice is like the Kristi Yamaguchi or Midori Ito of singers.  When young, I sang along to all the Schoolhouse Rock tunes, not only learning some maths, grammar, and history, but finding incredible joy, and some inspiration, in voices that weren’t AM radio staples.

I was going to write about football today, ahem, but Blossom Dearie just wouldn’t leave me alone.  As I pottered about the kitchen, making tea, pouring Grape Nuts, I kept going over the 8 times tables, albeit in Blossom’s captivating tone: One times eight is two times four, four times four is two times eight.  If you skate upon thin ice, you’d be wise if you thought twice, before you made another single move.  Then I sat down with the Grape Nuts, careful not to spill the bowl all over my desk.  Poking through various sites, I encountered yet another piece of this morning’s blog puzzle, a quote from Foo Fighter’s Dave Grohl, all about the benefits of singing in garages as opposed to standing in front of judges.  Dave swears, so I only linked to it, but it’s quite fantastic.  And what’s even better is what’s written afterwards about how this quote applies to writing, added by my lovely friend Julie K. Rose.  Julie, well done!!

So, I was pondering those nuggets with Blossom’s voice still in my head: One times eight is eight.  Two times eight is sixteen.  Three times eight is twenty-four, four times eight is thirty-two, and five times eight is forty, you know.  Every Friday I check the various online sites where my books are available, in part to make sure book covers are still visible (a while back Kobo lost some covers, that was a drag).  Also to check if books have arrived at sites (I’m still waiting for the last two Alvin novels to reach Sony, and Timeless Nature has yet to appear at Apple).  Also… yes, to see if any new reviews are present.  Okay, I’m guilty as charged; it’s really nice to read reviews, even the bad ones (someone left one star on Alvin’s Farm because of the blue language).  Long ago I reached the point where reviews were just a barometer of people’s tastes.  But I won’t lie; five stars makes me smile, and recently The Timeless Nature of Patience made someone’s day.  Five stars waited under that book’s cover on Barnes & Noble this morning, plus a nice write-up.  Talk about a great way to begin one’s Friday!

Blossom was still running through my mind: Six times eight is forty-eight, seven times eight is fifty-six, eight times eight is sixty-four, nine times eight is seventy-two, and ten times eight is eighty, that’s true.  I was also pondering how cool is this gig, books and tunes and inspirational quotes from rock stars and writers.  That beats a football post hands down!  (Yes, football has been on my mind all week, but really, just say no to the hype, and go Niners!)

It also serves as the reason to continue this path, even when indie publishing seems more like tracking loose ends than actually writing books.  The above hassles with Smashwords have been piling, making me wonder if I’m on the right road with that company.  All I want is to write, then edit, then publish books; why does it have to be so gall-darn complicated?  I’ve been feeling that way about the approaching Super Bowl, more hoopla than you can shake a stick at.  I stopped reading articles about it a few days back, disgusted by Chris Culliver’s homophobic comments and plain sick and tired of media-in-general BS.  Sort of how Dave Grohl feels about TV talent contests and Julie Rose’s view, mine too, on the publishing culture.  Yet so unlike Blossom Dearie’s take on math.

One times eight is eight.  Two times eight is sixteen.  Three times eight is twenty-four, four times eight is thirty-two, and five times eight is forty, you know.

Simplicity is my mantra.  Maybe that’s a dying art in this smartphone day and age (more about dying arts next week, but hopefully I won’t be discussing my San Francisco 49ers slip from their undefeated reign at the Super Bowl).  I am so blessed to have the opportunity to publish, and small headaches are just par for the course.  Nothing worthwhile is easy, the manifesto of The Timeless Nature of Patience.  One of these days that novel will hit Apple, and its predecessor will see the light of day at Sony, hopefully before Timeless gets there.  But those things are out of my control.  What I can do is sing along with Blossom, consider Dave Grohl and Julie K. Rose’s wisdom, and be pleased someone enjoyed the last Alvin’s Farm novel.  Then I’ll drink some more tea, maybe listen to another of Ms. Dearie’s wonderful tunes (check out her self-titled release from 1956 if you really want to be wrapped in stunning vocals), and pick up where I left off yesterday, editing yet another manuscript.  Just one day after the next, blessings hidden in the most unexpected places.

Figure eight is double four, figure four is half of eight.  If you skate, you would be great, if you could make a figure eight.  That’s a circle that turns round upon itself.

Place it on its side and it’s a symbol meaning infinity.

Several thousand highlights later…

Well, several hundred.  Okay, many.  After many 49ers clips and more than a few of the Ravens and Patriots, I am up to the gills with football.  It’s a pleasant, still dazed sensation, in that it’s been nearly two decades since my team has lasted this far into the season, years since the golden age of San Francisco pigskin.  From 1981 to 1995, my team was an amalgamation of talent, brains, heart, and money.  The years before the salary cap were kind to Niners fans, Eddie DeBartolo an owner who loved his team, and spent the cash to keep it together.

For all my high-minded sport hoo-haa, let’s not forget what makes the trains run on time.

When Eddie had to relinquish ownership of the team to his sister, due to getting involved with a shady southern politician, the team went south.  Denise DeBartolo York didn’t know how to run a team, except into the ground.  She and her husband John became hated figures in the Bay Area.  Fans were accustomed to winning squads, five Super Bowls captured from 1981-1995.  San Francisco has never lost, which is quite a feat, but it feels like eons since those sorts of heady thrills hovered.  The Yorks weren’t able to harness the right coach, Eddie’s ghost weaving as seasons were frittered away, past players recalled for their mythic glories.  Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott, Steve Young, Roger Craig, Fred Dean…  How many men could I list, but those names were from another era, which felt as impossible to regain as the days upon which they gave their bodies and souls.

Then Denise and John set the reins within the hands of their son Jed.  By then I was back in the Bay Area, too close to a team that still had its head in the sand.  It was easier being a 49ers fan in England, far away from the tumult.  My husband’s Packers had risen from their grave and I cheered for them and felt no guilt, as my team, ahem, sucked.  They bit the big one, and it was hard to reconcile.  When Jed York took over, I felt little hope.  He wasn’t his Uncle Eddie, there was no Carmen Policy at his side.  The downswing would continue.

Then came Jim Harbaugh.  Jim Harbaugh was coaching Stanford University to incredible wins just south in Palo Alto, my neck of the proverbial Bay Area woods.  At the end of the 2010 season, Harbaugh was ready to move from the college game to the pros, where his older brother John had found success with the Baltimore Ravens.  Jim was wooed by the hapless Miami Dolphins, as well as Jed York.  Who knows what exactly turned Jim’s head, maybe just that San Francisco was a quick trip up the peninsula from Stanford.  Whatever it was, Miami lost, San Francisco won.  Even with a lockout, Jim Harbaugh took the 49ers to the NFC Championship game, coming within one victory of reaching the Super Bowl in his first NFL season as coach.

The good times had returned.

History needs to be recalled to truly enjoy this moment.  As Joe Bonanno noted, art renews people.  Sport does too.  Yes, I’ve been having trouble swallowing the increased violence in football, and last night was no different.  Baltimore’s Bernard Pollard leveled Stevan Ridley in the Patriots-Ravens game, a hit I wish I hadn’t seen, or viewed again in the morass of highlights in which I indulged.  Ridley left the game concussed; my husband noted it as soon as he saw Ridley’s arms waving through the air.  The hit was legal, but so hard; not sure how many more of those I can take.  But the game is the sum, which includes a vast array of superior catches and runs, a ball sailing through the air in temperate domes and frigid stadiums.  Football remains within my blood, even if occasionally I’m chilled.

For years my heart was frozen.  Those blissful days of yore had faded, then were suddenly resuscitated by a new coach, a resurrected quarterback.  Alex Smith had not lived up to his number one draft position, but in 2011 under Harbaugh’s tutelage, Smith led a previously downcast team to a 13-3 season.  In November 2012, the team was 6-2, feeling strong.  Then Smith was concussed, and as the Chicago Bears came to town for a Monday Night game, suddenly the second year backup QB was called into play.  Drafting Colin Kaepernick had been Harbaugh’s choice, but with Smith firmly in control, the young man out of Nevada hadn’t had his shot.  Under the national spotlight, Kaepernick would face a trial by fire.  I remember that game like it was just last night; Chicago only had one loss coming into San Francisco, were riding high.  An untested youngster would step onto the field; anything could happen.

We won 32-7, not only blowing the Bears right back to the Windy City, but many minds in SF; who was Colin Kaepernick, from where did this kid emerge?  Then more pressing; was Alex Smith well enough to play in the next game, against the Saints.  Harbaugh made the decision to start Kaepernick as San Francisco traveled to New Orleans, winning 31-21.  From then onwards the 49ers were led by a second year QB who could run like…  Well, like no one San Francisco had seen since Steve Young.  Kaepernick wasn’t perfect, but he was exciting, sharp, and learning as he went.  When the team got blown out in Seattle in December, a 42-13 drubbing at the hands of Pete Carroll’s Seahawks, doubters had a field day.  But a game later, the Niners secured their division, clobbering the somewhat hapless Arizona Cardinals 27-13.  That same week my husband’s Packers lost to Minnesota, giving the 49ers the second seed, but more importantly, a week to recover.  Injuries had been mounting, and maybe Kaepernick could use a week to consider the events.  Mid-way through the season, he was anointed the starting quarterback; just what was going on?

Redemption for Harbaugh’s choice was proven when the Niners met the Packers just last week; apologies to my beloved, but the 49ers shoved the ball down Green Bay’s throat, 45-31.  Kaepernick ran and threw, acting the role of a season-starting QB, not a replacement.  Yesterday he was calm on his feet, but made throws that pundits said weren’t possible.  He had the touch, also the sense to let Frank Gore do the scrambling.  Vernon Davis returned as if from exile, catching five passes, scoring one of the team’s four touchdowns.  The defense woke up in the second half, not allowing the Atlanta Falcons a single point.  And now, the Super Bowl (or the Harbowl) awaits.  We’re taking another trip to the big dance, which still feels unreal, years and losses and sorrows and confusion since we were last there.  Jed York has learned from his Uncle Eddie, securing the right coach and general manager, then letting those men acquire the correct players and assistants.  It nearly feels like the old days, when a winning air permeated the San Francisco Bay Area, when pride for a winning team was thick and heady.  It hasn’t been like that for a while.

A team doesn’t win every week, Super Bowls are chances of a lifetime.  Yes I know one Baltimore Raven will call this game his last.  But on the West Coast are fifty-three men who have earned the right to that victory, suffering through losing seasons, an array of coaches and schemes.  And of course, I’m biased; I want my team to kick Baltimore’s butt.  I rooted for the Ravens yesterday, but yesterday is gone.  In thirteen days, a contest will be decided, one city celebrating intense ecstasy.  I really hope it’s mine, or here within my proverbial back yard.

Hoo Mama!!

I’m still shaking, but my 49ers are going to the Super Bowl.  It was close, our defense got taken to the wall on a number of plays, but they came up big when it mattered.  I am so pleased, and am now going to watch the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots, hoping for the Ravens; a Harbaugh brothers rematch after last year’s game back east.

Whoa baby, I am over the moon!!  Been ages since my team’s gone to the big dance.  Two weeks from today, man oh man!  Bring on the pigskin.

An unexpected Monday

Don’t get me wrong; I knew today was the first day of the week.  That’s not the issue.

The issue is that since the beginning of the month, this day on the calendar has been marked with my dad’s oncology appointment.  Between the lines is Road Trip; since my father’s prostate cancer was diagnosed in 2009, I’ve tried to attend as many of his doctor’s visits as has been feasible.  And when bone cancer was detected over a year ago, every three months I trek to my hometown, making a day of it; I get some breakfast at my favourite bakery-coffee shop, then head to the oncologist’s office, which is close to where my best friend works.  Sometimes I chat with her before I see my folks, sometimes she and I have lunch together, or just a frozen yogurt.  I stop at a local bagel shop for their day-old wares, hit another store for more bagels (I eat them every day for lunch, and my son appreciates it when I bring home poppy bagels), then drive home, singing to all my favourite tunes.

But the focus is my parents, my dad.  So far, just a few cancerous specks mark his left hip, and his PSA levels remain steady, in the upper teens.  He’s on Zytiga, but these quarterly visits are about how he’s feeling, getting another Lupron injection.  We joke that he’s suffering hot flashes on my behalf, and has been doing so for coming on four years.  Bone cancer adds a niggle to the whole situation, but so far, Dad’s a trooper, and what’s a road trip every few months?  I used to live eleven hours away by plane.  Long distances aren’t a problem.

But that I might have been exposed to the flu isn’t something to be ignored.  For a week, my daughter’s best friend was staying with us, and on Saturday, she wasn’t feeling so well.  Yesterday, she left, but took a bad cold with her, and just to be on the safe side, I’m not driving this morning.  I will visit my folks in a couple of weeks once I either get the flu and recover, or am certain it has passed us by.  Sort of odd thinking a nasty bug could be hovering.  Until it hits, I’ll continue with the work.

Sometimes life takes detours, but they’re not always bad.  Today I’ll edit, but the new idea has been pestering me, so I’ll probably spend a good chunk of time at the kitchen table, paper strewn about as notes are made, an outline prepared.  There’s no Monday Night Football, but my 49ers were very good to me on Saturday, not so kind to my husband’s Green Bay Packers.  By the time I see my parents, the NFC Championship game will have come and gone; either San Francisco will be going to the Super Bowl, or licking their wounds.  I received my love of pigskin right from my father and we’ll have plenty to jaw over.

If you’ve read Alvin’s Farm, my dad is a lot like Tommie Smith.  He’s had his sorrows, and his joys.  He was a young grandfather too; my dad isn’t quite seventy, but participated in his granddaughter’s wedding last summer, reading the first half of I Corinthians 13.  He finds my writing intriguing, not that he would read any of my books, but he loves telling his buddies about my exploits, sharing all his kids’ triumphs.  And the grandchildren’s too; he has seven total, my three twenty-somethings, then four little ones who have offered him a lovely glimpse of innocent days.

Life, like the tides, is cyclical.  What comes around, goes around, but hopefully not the flu.  Maybe just a date on a calendar will be rearranged, sans the trip to a doctor’s office.  I’ll get up to see my folks, do all the usual activities, just not today.  Today is meant for this post, some revisions, plotting a new novel.  The road trip is just waiting for Super Bowl contenders to be decided.

My dad

My dad

The integrity of a novel

So, after some rather intense posts, I would like to move to something more, ahem, connected to writing.

Also some things rather silly, one of which has to do with NaNoWriMo.  Along with many others, I received a note today from Grant Faulkner about the Project For Awesome grant which NaNo is in the running for, via a video by Debs and Errol.  It’s a hilarious clip, for a very good cause, so if you have just a few minutes, go check it out, then vote, then come back here and finish reading my post.

Or you can finish reading my post first, but please vote before the end of today, Monday, 17 December, just one week away from Christmas Eve, and just one day after my beloved 49ers beat the New England Patriots at Foxborough.  In the freezing rain.  After, ahem, we were ahead 31-3, then the Pats tied the score, then we got ten more points, then they got three, then we stopped them on fourth down and won the game!

Yeah!

Okay, so recently I was faced with the integrity of a novel; not one of my novels per se, but a novel, any novel, of which mine then do qualify.  So last Thursday, while watching football, I was bored to my eyeteeth due to teams that 1) aren’t my San Francisco 49ers.  2) Aren’t in our division (NFC West). 3) Were playing poor football overall.  I picked up Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry, a fabulous novel about a cattle drive from Texas to Montana in the old west.  Not the NFC West, but sometime after the Civil War American West, no football anywhere within the story.  Within the story are fights, gun-play, violence (sigh), also love, friendship, honor, humor (cool!).  And, because I’ve seen the TV miniseries, faces of famous actors that are those characters, even though I haven’t seen Lonesome Dove the miniseries in probably two decades.

I was getting caught up in the later chapters as the Hat Creek Outfit reaches Nebraska, where Gus McCrea’s past flame Clara lives.  I like Clara, one of the few women in the book, but every time I read about her, I cannot help but picture the actress who played her.  I won’t note that here; if you want to read Lonesome Dove, do so without the specter of famous faces sullying the novel.  (If enor-mo sagas about the Wild West aren’t your thing, well, you can Google it.)  But the gist was that no longer could I read about Clara without being inundated by someone who did a great job in the miniseries, but really altered how I view that character.

As my husband muted the commercials (we always mute the commercials), I said to him, ‘Now every time I read this book, I think of Blah Blah as Clara.  You know what?  Unless we are absolutely destitute, if someone ever wants to buy the film/miniseries rights to any of my books, I am going to say no.  I don’t want anyone to ever think of my characters as Hollywood actors.’

My husband smiled, nodded, then unmuted the TV.

Now, there is a snowball’s chance in Hades that ANYONE is going to ever desire the film/TV rights to any of my stories.  But I had never before felt a novel had been compromised in such a manner.  I started thinking about it as football blared; when I read To Kill A Mockingbird or The Stand or The World According To Garp or The Shining or__________ (fill in the blank with a multitude of novels), I cannot help but equate those characters with the well-known faces who portrayed them on the big or small screen.  Mostly it’s all right, although I’m not overly fond of Fran Goldsmith in The Stand anymore, nor do I appreciate Wendy Torrance in Stanley Kubrick’s version of The Shining.  My husband muted the TV again, and I set down my book, as I had never felt my reading experience so intruded upon.  I reiterated my point  but decided to add a qualifier.  ‘Well, if the French ever wanted to buy the rights, that would be okay.’  I know very few French actors; Catherine Deneuve, Gerard Depardieu, just off the top of my head.  That made my husband smile (he really likes French films).  ‘I’d love to see a French version of For God and Country,’ I continued, as he shook his head and unmuted the game.  I returned to my book, trying to read Clara as McMurtry wrote her, not as that actress, as talented as she is.

I didn’t do so well.  But I did finish the book; it’s a GREAT book!  The end, oh my goodness, just fantastic.  I really recommend it, but whatever you do, please let Gus and Call and Newt and Clara and Lorie and Deets and Jake and the rest be exactly as McMurtry wrote them and who they become in your mind.  Sometimes I take a lot of time to flesh out a character, sometimes it’s not as important.  But what is very meaningful is who those folks are to a reader.  I’m an author. I also love a good yarn.  Lonesome Dove, and the rest mentioned above, are superb.

So are the movies and miniseries made from them.  But I will always carry those visuals, I can’t shake it.  Maybe this is just my small, certainly not morose, rant.  It’s actually very silly, on many levels.

Just like Debs and Errol’s video!  Please watch it today, Monday, 17 December, and vote for it!  And if you find this post after Monday, 17 December, watch it anyways.  There’s always time for a smile.

Updated on 18 December: Debs and Errol’s video has moved into the last round of voting!  So even though it’s past 17 December, you can still vote!  The Office of Letters and Light could earn $70,000 from this grant, so if you have a moment, please, it’s a really funny video.  And of course, a terrific cause!