"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."

Monday, June 27, 2011

Border War!

Tim Howard is mad, the goalkeeper for the U.S. National Soccer squad was livid following their loss to Mexico in the Gold Cup final (4-2 after jumping out to a 2-0 advantage) He wasn't angry over his poor play in goal, nor was he angry at how his mates plodded up and down the pitch after Mexico tied the match at 2-2. Howard was angry because the post-game ceremonies were conducted in Spanish.
It may seem that Tim Howard's best days are behind him (as was the ball...four times) Howard is not prone to show tact or class in these situations, he has a long legacy of baiting opponents and their fans. Which is why Mexican fans, who know him well, greeted him with a loud chorus of "Culo" (Asshole) every time he touched the ball.
Whenever Mexico plays in Los Angeles or anywhere in the Southwest (even Chicago is considered home turf for the Mexican squad) it turns into a home game for them. For this reason games of importance like World Cup qualifiers are held at eastern venues.  The Gold Cup finals are not that important, filling the stadium and making some cash, means giving up the home field advantage.

I think I know where Tim is coming from. Everybody remembers Radio Raheem from Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing" and his crude admonishment to the poor Korean shopkeeper: "Speak English Motherfucker" Who hasn't repeated that line or heard someone repeat it? It has become a rally cry for proving how American you are, it affects everyone, African Americans, Whites and Hispanics. Does Tim Howard feel a need to prove that he is 100% American? Or is he an English First devotee, out to fight the good fight in the name of Shakespeare. 

For a long time soccer in this country was the sport of rich europhiles, over the years it has changed, but those elitist roots are still evident. The U.S. soccer squad turns into the Ugly Americans whenever things go against them, and in international soccer, the Americans have long been the whipping boy. When asked why he was rooting against the U.S. squad, a Mexican fan, born in the U.S.A. replied: "We're not booing the country, we're booing the team" to which he added "There is a difference"  Which is to say that the American team is not very likeable, historically the U.S. squad has never been one that Hispanic Americans can warm up to.

Some of it goes back to the Bruce Arena era, who instilled in his squads an anti-Latino bias that still seems to linger. Bruce Arena reminded American players that Mexico always stands in line behind America. The players bought into it and went out and dominated the Mexican team for the duration of Arena's stay. This resulted in a shell shocked generation of Mexican players who were ridiculed for being afraid of "Los Gringos" The low point of that era was Mexico's 2-0 loss to the U.S. in the 2002 World Cup quarter finals.
The new generation of Mexican players is not afraid of the USA nor are Canada, Panama, Jamaica etc. Once that tide has turned, as the Mexicans found out, it's hard to reverse it. Eventually, you can turn it around, I would say bring back Bruce Arena, but he burned his bridges on the way out. Arena was the best coach the U.S. ever had, the one person who could've taken them to the next level. Bruce however proved to be boorish, racist and vulgar (when he wasn't acting totally bored, he would pick his teeth on camera and spit gigantic loogies onto the pitch) 

Arena's biggest mistake was sticking the U.S. team with a boring style that mimicked the Euros. He refused to incorporate any elements of the Latin game, even though that style was dominating the world scene. Bob Bradley has stuck to the same formula with mixed results. Is it his fault that the U.S. Men's team still seems to be spinning its wheels?. No! he's made lemonade out of lemons, albeit without having much sugar to work with. This is a very ordinary group of players that Bradley has built his squad with, but the pool to draw from is stocked with less than stellar futbolistas.

Don't believe the hype, most Mexican-Americans are staunchly pro-American, some just prefer to root for a different team. And that's what it's all about in America, freedom of choice. Dodger-Giants, Raiders-Chargers, you pick your side and you don't have to explain your choice to anyone.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Proofing Tools

Writing just like pimping, ain't easy, what with all the grammar rules, punctuation and proper sentence structure.  I try and make up for what I don't know about writing by being an astute reader and observer.  The rule of thumb in this country has always been, that the average adult reads at a 7th. grade level. Most newspapers and magazines format their content along this assumption. If you're thinking "damn are we that dumb!"  Just remember that 7th graders are not as dumb as we once were, and in other countries the average is probably much lower.

I bought some software online that's supposed to help, Right Writer 6.0 is a grammar analysis tool, it checks your writing for basic errors: grammar, punctuation and spelling. You copy and paste whatever you've written onto the analysis page, you then get a summary page and suggestions on how to correct your errors. There is a scale that tells you how comprehensive your work is and at what grade level it will best be understood.

The goal is  a 7th. grade level, so if you come in high, for lack of a better phrase, you have to dumb it down. Often, what happens is you wind up gutting what you've written until it falls into the desired level. This paragraph, according to Right Writer 6.0 could be read by anyone with a 6th grade reading level or higher. The descriptive index is normal, which means the use of adjectives and adverbs is normal. The jargon index is 0.0 meaning that it's not overly wordy. 

Just for fun I started to copy and paste paragraphs from various popular authors and writers. The software found something wrong with everything I fed it, this included Pynchon, Vonnegut, Hunter Thompson, Hemingway and even Lester Bangs, who didn't do as poorly as you might imagine.. I haven't used the software in a while, It broke when I entered several paragraphs from Rudolfo Carillo's Infinity Report. Now it just flashes "analyzing" over and over. I say it's broken but it could be gaining artificial intelligence, if it does I'll have to kill it.

What I failed to see when I started my blog is that nobody likes to read anymore! I formatted my blog like a newspaper, text with pictures wrapped in text. Then as I followed other blogs I noticed that the style is to write short paragraphs with space between each one. Less text, fewer pictures, it does make for a fast, easy read and that counts with today's attention deficient masses (myself included!)  I'll try it,  new ways are often better ways.

It's a brave new world out there and those that don't change get left behind and I'm too far back as it is. I need to mosey down to the local community college and enroll in that Rhetoric and Composition class that I failed to take last year. I need professional help, I'm working on a short story and so far all I have is one run-on sentence that takes up 4 pages. Keep you pencils sharp, it's getting mighty dull around here!

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."
Benjamin Franklin