I Am Big. It's the Pictures That Got Small

for those wonderful people out there in the dark

27 December 2005

Day Before MPC Computers Bowl

Boise State finished the regular season 9-3, and indeed, they lost Dan Hawkins (and most of his staff) to Colorado, although he'll be coaching for the bowl game against Boston College.

Boston College will likely run a conservative offense, a vanilla-flavored ball-control game: short slants, screens, and corner patterns in the passing game, and a tough, between-the-tackles running game, all to take advantage of their offensive line strength and to minimize the opportunities for turn-overs. The one open-ended question for their offense will be how frequently will they try to go for a deep pass against the vulnerable BSU secondary. The plan will be to keep the BSU offense off the field and to wear down the Boise defense.

So much will depend on first downs defensively for Boise State. I imagine the secondary will be told to be especially agressive, as they were in the Bowling Green State game. Boston College has one really great wide receiver, but otherwise a not-so-intimidating corps of receivers and tight ends. Boston College also has a good, but not great, quarterback in Matt Ryan. If the Broncos can break up the occasional first-down pass, or stuff that first-down run, it'll force Boston's hand. The Broncos did face an even more daunting offensive line against Georgia, and aside from D.J. Shockley getting big runs on scrambles, the defense did hold back the Georgia running game.

Offensively for the Broncos, it mostly hinges on what kind of game Zabransky plays. Boston's rush defense is notoriously sound, and BC has a reputation for giving up precious few touchdowns, period. I am thinking Z will play the game loose, be encouraged to run, with the passing game to be controlled. Very likely that BC will adopt a Georgia strategy of laying off the blitzes, holding back the linebackers, and inviting Z to throw. Z doesn't have to throw deep, but some nice 20 yard passes will be necessary to spread out the defense so that the running game can kick into gear.

The one little trick is that Tharp, the second string quarterback for BSU, will get the first drive of the second quarter; this is what Louisville did all last year with Brian Brohm. Tharp presents a deep ball threat, and just this one public adjustment may be an attempt to give BC just one more headache in their game preparations.

The home field advantage will be huge: I really didn't appreciate how Bronco stadium can rock until I went to the Wyoming game a couple of years back and at last year's MPC Computers bowl. In the end, I see Boston College's offense stalling, and BSU will get enough offense going to win by 10.

National Book Award Winners

I've been a little remiss in noting the National Book Award winners: As I called it, W.S. Merwin won for Migration and Joan Didion for The Year of Magical Thinking.

For Merwin, the judges noted:
The poems in Migration speak from a life-long belief in the power of words to awaken our drowsy souls and see the world with compassionate interconnection. In moments of self-awakening that might be roused by ambulance sirens from St. Vincent’s Hospital, or the rustle of a weasel in the wall of a French farmhouse, these poems offer us a place in the world where the ordinary becomes extraordinary, where “the pain of learning what is lost/is transformed into light at last.”

They got it right.

For Didion, the judges noted:
The Year of Magical Thinking is a masterpiece in two genres: memoir and investigative journalism. The subject of the memoir is the year after the sudden death of the writer's husband. The target of the investigation, though, is the nature of folly and time. The writer attends to details, assembles a chronology, and asks hard questions of the witnesses, most notably herself. But she imagines that the story she tells can be revised, the world righted, her husband returned, alive. What she offers is an unflinching journey into intimacy and grief.

This assessment is only about half-right. Investigative journalism? Unfortunately, Didion has long been called a "New Journalist," which might have been applicable in just a few of her essays. Really bad critics describe what she brought into journalism was the opportunity to include the self as an occasional reference point: this is most frequently tied to her essays in The White Album, specifically when she mentions that she is contemplating a divorce while in Hawai'i, or that she she is in vertigo-stricken moment of anxiety. Thus, critics go on about the autobiographical nature of her own writing.

What astonishes me about her work is how little she does write about herself. Yes, we do get the surpising asides, but in a work like Where I Was From, Didion reveals little about her own life. She may note some of its artifacts, but the impulse is to provide a critical example, not confession. The Year of Magical Thinking is Didion's most conventionally autobiographical work, as she reveals much about the intimate moments of her life with John Gregory Dunne, but also so much of it is a condemnation against the idea and possibility of confession. The point of investigative journalism is to get at the core, to expose it, to say, "there it is," a process of sheer and often illuminating reduction. Didion's work, if nothing else (and to be ultimately reductive here), points to how fragile any foothold may seem to us, that the shale of certainty is always breaking away, crumbling.

14 December 2005

Hawkins Leaving?

Looks like Boise State's football coach, Dan Hawkins, may be leaving Boise State to take over the reigns of a corrupt program at Colorado University. The Buffaloes, while having a good team on which to build (winning the WAC-equivalent North Division of the Big 12), their program has been rocked with scandal, shady dealings, and unethical behavior. Hawkins would likely set the program right, ethically. He would also be a great recruiter for them. The real question is whether the Colorado boosters and fan base are ready for someone like Hawkins. This easily could be a regrettable decision for him, not necessarily leaving Boise State, where he is genuinely beloved, but going to a place that might ultimately chew him up and spit him out for not producing a winning program.

As for Boise State, it appears that their offensive coordinator, Coach Chris Petersen, will likely take over, unless he decides to accompany Hawk to Boulder, which could very well be the case. Coach Pete has let it be known that he's not really interested in being a head coach, but he might think differently with this new opportunity. I think most Bronco fans are hoping, as I do, that Petersen takes over--would make a huge difference in recruitment and continuity.

01 December 2005

From the Readings

From the Luna Star Reading of November 10, 2005:

That's me reading.

And the ever-present Denise and Nick, with interesting bearded guy in background. A very good crowd in all at the Luna Star. Many thanks to Laura, again, as ever.

Now from the Bookfair:

First were these two thugs:

Tom and Jesse

Michael Hettich reading,

and that's me reading, too.

And then after our reading, the three of us, Campbell, Michael, and myself, fielded questions from the audience. No doubt we were the handsomest session for the entire bookfair. Now why haven't we been invited to pose for the new sensual male poets calendar? It's rigged, I say, rigged!