Interview with Allyson Latta

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Bull Fight

How many superstars does it take to score a goal? Apparently twelve because the eleven Barcelona put on the pitch in yesterday's 0-0 Champions League match against Rangers were useless. Barcelona has always been one of my favourite European sides, and now more than ever with a stellar line up including the likes of Thierry Henry, Ronaldinho, Gio Dos Santos, Eidur Gudjohnsen,Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi, plus the former Dutch international Frank Rijkhaard at the helm. No strangers to goal scoring, how is it none of the superstar strikers put a ball in the net? Ranger's defence was good but really. Ronaldinho had moments of brilliance and came closer than anyone to scoring. At least he appeared to be trying. Unlike his teammate and usually great goal scorer Thierry Henry who was for the most part invisible, so invisible I wondered if he was slipping over to the Arsenal vs Slavia game and scoring goals for his former team. Talk about going from the ridiculous to the sublime - Arsenal beat Slavia 7-nil. Of the 8 Champions League games played yesterday, two really stood out to me. One for what did happen and the other for what didn't. One of Barcelona's newest stars didn't light up the pitch, and his old team Arsenal proved the show must go on and pretty damn well without him. No doubt Henry made the right move going to Spain's often dazzling side, however is sharing the spotlight with so many other stars going to put a damper on his flare? Rangers put up a good fight warding off Barcelona's tempered weapons. It reached a point where I was praying they would score. Barry Ferguson had a few good chances; if only his legs had been a bit longer. I wanted them desperately to take the bull by the horns. It would have been a sweet victory. So how many superstars does it take to score a goal? Probably only one, as long as the rest stay in the wings.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Vigorish

In my next life I want to be a bookie. I want to get into the head of the mysterious dude on the other end of the line. I wrote about one once, a story called Galloway, it's as close as I'll get to peeking into the psyche of one or a group of people who make my life miserable every week creating 'the spreads'. What is it that they know, Vegas knows? Where the hell do they really come up with these numbers, and why do I get more nervous with a 3.5 spread in a game like Indy vs Jacksonville than I do with a 16.5 spread in the New England vs Miami game? What do the bookies know that I don't know, are they assuming that Indy isn't going to crush Jacksonville, like I presume they will? At the end of the day do they toss a coin, is it more random than we think? Do they really sit around debating the complexities and conundrums of what's going on in the league; that great, young quarterbacks are dropping like flies but Favre's stronger than ever, that "New York wideout Plaxico Burress is on a record-setting touchdown pace despite missing practice for the majority of the year with a sprained ankle", or that Buffalo are second in the AFC East despite, well, everything? Do the guys in Vegas really like the game - do they have a favourite team, player, loyalty? Nah, as my old friend Galloway explained, "we don't do it for the love of the sport, we do it for the vigorish"!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Brady Bunch

In so many words, Chris Collingsworth said last weekend that this New England team is possibly the best side in NFL history. John Madden said it was far too early to make such statements. Is it? I'm a diehard Colt's supporter. However, like in the other football, I've always had players and teams that I admire and respect. I suspect its comparable to many things in life, the heart, the intellect, the psyche, the gut, have their own opinions, favourites and I think it's healthy to be open minded and possess the ability to appreciate all things on many levels - which says nothing and everything. My gut told me that there was no way that Brady was going to repeat last season. He's far too competitive, stoic... There was no way Belichick was going to have a fair to middling season. He's far too competitive, stoic, creative, intelligent and plain old stubborn to let anyone prove him wrong. There is physical strength witnessed every game in football, part of the reason I enjoy it, the hitting, the running, the cunning. However in many sports the mental element takes over, intelligence sure, but the spiritualism, a Zen thing. In Brady's case, that's some mind driving his team forward. He's got all the weapons, sure, sure, the great coach, the bankroll of receivers, running backs, defense, special teams. But I think Brady, in all due respect to the artistry and genius of P. Manning, is the Trojan that's making and is pulling this side together,like Chris Collingsworth said, to be one of the best teams in NFL history. It kills me, it really kills me to say it, however...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Dog

Standing in the video store the other day I felt a little like I do before choosing my football picks - this could go either way. I've been more than disappointed lately in the state of new releases. It seems that movie makers in the last few years are obsessed with 'the twist' and overcompensate by adding too many. So when I think the film has reached its climax, when the first twist is introduced, I'm completely numbed when another appears and another and another. I grappled with my choice and opted finally for 23. At my video store if you rent an A flick you get a B flick for free. I grabbed a film I'd never heard of called Undertow, thinking that if I don't get around to watching it so be it, it was free. Now here's where picking videos is like picking football teams. The A film, the favourite, should be the better film and the B film, the dog, the loser. However, like every Sunday or Monday night during NFL season the dog could kill the favourite. Some weeks I take the dog, others the favourite and it's still a crap shoot. 23 was hammered by Undertow. The dog won hands down. 23 starring Jim Carrey and Virginia Madsen is just another one of those films attempting to do too much. It had too many plot twists, week dialogue, so much confusion and jumping around. Much like last week's Dallas vs Buffalo game - unbelievable. Undertow starring Dermot Mulroney and Josh Lucas, released in 2004, was remarkable. Great story, acting, intensity. The kids Jamie Bell and Devon Alun stole the show. And director David Gordon Green maintains all the things that Hollywood has long since forgotten. Undertow is like a really well-written short story. It had conflict, focus, was concise,not too many characters, smooth plot line and full of impact. I won't go into what the story is about but I'd recommend it based on how well it was executed. Keep it simple, go for the jugular. This week in my pool - I'm taking the dogs.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Urlacher in a Dark Alley

I awoke in a sweat last night. Look around, quivered. Shook my head and laughed a little. It was just a dream meeting Brian Urlacher in a dark alley - just a dream and one of my biggest nightmares. After watching football for practically twelve hours every Sunday, it's not unusual that I dream of the sport. Often I'm suited up in the Colt's uniform, helmet, pads and all jumping up and down, a pea in the end zone, begging for Manning to throw me the ball. But he never throws me the ball and I argue with him on the sidelines. He towers over me, pats my shoulders and shakes his head like I should just know that he's never, ever going to throw me the ball, but I'm a good decoy. I lurch around my bed as I rush around the field in the dream, wake exhausted and refrain from telling too many people that practically every Sunday night I play for the Indianapolis Colts when I sleep and the guys on the team, they like me, they are sweet but I still don't get the ball.

Last night after watching Urlacher pummel Green Bay. I couldn't get that mammoth shaved skull and dark, seething eyes out of my head and one of the last things I remember saying before going to bed was, man I wouldn't want to meet Urlacher in a dark alley and I wouldn't want to be playing for anyone's O-line when they're up against him after a few weeks of losing. I can almost hear his feet thundering and heart pounding, when he leaps out of nowhere onto the likes of Brett Favre, Bubba Franks or Charles Woodson. He's omnipotent when perturbed,when his team's not up to snuff. He can turn any game around, nostrils flaring, eyes bulging. That's when all his moves appear slow motion and the grounds must start shaking with every one of his lunging steps. I wouldn't want to meet him again in a dark alley,conscious or not, or on the line of scrimmage, but I sure as hell would have wanted to be on his side in last night's surprising game at Lambeau field.

Friday, October 5, 2007

A Bye Week

The guys at work come to me for a lock-in. Come on Alex, they say, I need a lock-in for this week. And for the past three weeks I have given them who I believe is a shoe-in to win. Last week it was New England to beat Cincinnati, which a couple of them nodded their heads to in that skeptical way, a slow nod, more like a rocking of the head, and took Cincinnati anyway. I don't know why they ask me because despite being correct on picking New England last week, and the Giants, Buffalo and Indy, I was completely crucified by every other one of my picks. I am sick of waking up on Tuesday mornings feeling like a complete and utter loser. I did not want to bet this year, play the pools, pro-line, for all the reasons that I am experiencing now. One of my work mates hands me this week's sheet for the pool he coerced me into joining, the one he won last week, and he says he needs my picks by the end of the night. I'm not doing it this week, I tell him. Shocked, he asks me why. So I explain to him that I have no clue who to pick, no feel for who the hell is going to win. I don't know, I say, I don't know. I'm at a loss. Statistically Arizona should not have beaten Pittsburgh last week, there's no way KC should have won and Cleveland...And another thing I tell him just because certain players are injured does not spell loss, the player that comes on for them could be the next best thing, look at Edwards for the Bills. So the injury list means nothing to me, an injury could unleash the unsung hero of a team. No, I tell him, I'm not doing the pool this week. I feel like a pebble under Shockey's cleats. I need a bye week, I tell him, to get back to purely enjoying the games, not being bummed because a team didn't cover the spread, not watching with a pro-line ticket in one hand and the other hand covering my eyes. I need to don my Colts hat, have a beer, enjoy myself, the banter, speculate, celebrate and grow back to my normal size.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Grevious Angel

I'm a late bloomer. I know. Discovering uTube and the music I can listen to and watch through it is like Christmas to me. The music I like to listen to though, I discovered a long time ago when I might have been too young to realize its significance. But what I realize watching utube is that the artists that effect me, that are still alive, I want them to know how much I love them. Emmylou Harris for one has been a huge influence on my work and Gram Parsons, who unfortunately is not around. So much so I wrote a story about them that was published in my first short story collection Pull Gently, Tear Here called Keeping It All In Tune and they were the impetus for me starting a band when I couldn't bear to do anymore poetry readings. The first song we learned was The Grevious Angel, and it was Steve Earle's music that I listened to the whole time I wrote my first and second books, along with Johnny Dowd's tunes, and the Verve.

On uTube tonight I watched endless videos of Emmylou, and Steve Earle, and Gram Parsons and Emmylou and ultimately what really hit me despite her uncanny beauty was the absolute genius Emmylou Harris is. She is by far the unsung hero of the music world. Sure, sure, she is recognized as great but she is unlike any of the other singers out there. Not only in her angelic vocals, her untouchable charm and un-selfconsciousness; she is as special and gifted as the other someone who recognized her talent from the get-go, the Grevious Angel himself.