Neil Hester

All poems © Neil Hester unless otherwritten

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Location: North Carolina, United States

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Leach is Gone

Texas Tech fired Mike Leach, the best head football coach Tech has ever had. I know that the subject matter at hand is completely unrelated to the focus of this blog, but being a Tech student and a Tech football fan, I'm extremely aggravated at the short-sightedness of Tech administration.

Disclaimer: I had a positive experience at Tech my first semester, and found my teachers, advisors, and peers, for the most part, to be wonderful people. I think Tech is a fine school academically and musically; however, the athletic department just made an enormous error, and I consider it my right to speak out.

For anyone who doesn't understand the situation:

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Mike Leach Fired

Mike Leach Fired II

Mike Leach Fired III

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Watch the videos in the first link. Also, a few notes:

The kid with the mild concussion, Adam James, claimed to have been confined to a "shed" and an "electrical closet" after complaining about the sun (and showing up to football practice in sunglasses). This "shed" is a facility with good ventilation, water, etc. The "electrical closet" is also well-ventilated and certainly not a "sadistic" place to put someone. Oh, and supposedly there were trainers standing by, and the doctor signed a note saying that Leach's confinement of James did not affect him physically in any way, and was probably better for him than being outside (dark and quiet places happen to be good for people with concussions). Fact is, coaches all over the place subject players to worse punishments than a little time-out session (even in junior highs) and receive no punishment for it (and rightly so, unless the kid receives significant physical or mental abuse).

The kid's father, Craig James, is an ESPN football analyst and former NFL star. He has a history of complaining to Leach about his treatment/utilization of Adam James (read: James doesn't get much playing time). Do you honestly think this story would have ever made it to the surface if, say, a black single mother of one of these kids working a low-end job had complained? Of course not.

Gerald Myers, the head athletic director at Texas Tech, has made it publicly known that he dislikes Leach. He withheld his contract and made negotiations incredibly difficult last February. It's no surprise that he took the opportunity to get Leach fired, even at the cost of the Tech athletic department's reputation and success (things which obviously do not concern the head athletic director's job in the least).

Speaking of Leach getting fired: they fired him before the scheduled court hearing. If they had any faith in their argument, they could have at least let due process take place, instead of firing him immediately with no substantial proof (yet, they fired him "with cause", or at least are trying to). However, the cause they may try to cite is Leach's "insubordination", which basically boils down to Leach not willing to be a PC sycophant to his superiors. For example, they wanted Leach to write an apology to James' family. Leach felt no need to apologize, having done nothing wrong. That was the appropriate and self-respecting response; apologizing for something that wasn't wrong is equivalent to admitting you did something wrong.

A quick point about the reception of Lubbockites and Red Raiders: they are up in arms. I wouldn't be surprised if Myers is forced to resign because of the influence of outraged alumni in high positions. Also, despite the fact that Leach himself is not the football team, expect for fans to opt for their TV sets instead of the stands next year. Tech is going to lose recruiting power and revenue from this decision.

Last point: Leach graduated in the top third of his class at Pepperdine Law School. I expect him to sue Tech for millions.

I enjoyed having an eccentric, intelligent coach at the head of my school's football team. Since he's gone for good (barring some miracle that gets Myers fired and Leach reinstated), I hope he gets his chance to clear his name and find a job elsewhere. I'm still a Tech football fan (since this isn't the team's fault), but my respect for Tech's administration is severely damaged. Yes, I still appreciate the opportunities that they have given to students such as myself (I owe them for an exceptionally good scholarship); however, that does nothing to curb my frustration at an utterly senseless decision made without proper consideration of the long-term effects Leach's firing will have on the well-being of the university.

Tech: You messed up. Leach: I'll be rooting for whatever team you end up coaching at in the future.

~Neil

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Slam Sonnetry

Recently, I entered an on-campus poetry contest. The exact nature of the contest was unclear to me, so I went ahead and submitted a sonnet. Then I realized that the host of the contest was Alvin Lau, a slam poet, and the entire contest was centered around slam poetry.

Maybe I should have stayed away because of the theme, which was "Put a Smile on Your Face". From the top of my head, I can't think of any great poetry that blatantly fits a silly theme like that. But I decided to do it anyway, and entered "Sonnet for the Sky", which isn't exactly happy, but it's one of the happiest things I have.

So I entered, found out it was a slam poetry contest (after already submitting a sonnet [in a classical form, no less]), and decided to stick with it anyhow. I ended up reading a sonnet in front of a majority-slam poet crowd. I also ended up listening to a bunch of slam poetry, which was interesting, but not something I'd do again.

Here's my take on slam poetry: good slam poems have merit for the sake of entertainment, but they're not poetry, at least not in the literary sense. I prefer to think of them as performance pieces instead. Why? Because literature is defined as:

"writings in which expression and form, in connection with ideas of permanent and universal interest, are characteristic or essential features, as poetry, novels, history, biography, and essays"

Key word here is "writings". Writing is, first and foremost, meant to be read, not performed. If writing doesn't have artistic merit to a reader, without any need for a great performance to give it merit, then it's not literature.

For example, one of the funniest pieces at the slam poetry contest was a piece about "whale love". The guy performing talked about different aspects of whales loving each other, focusing on the "songs" whales use to call mates. He actually made whale sounds inbetween verses. It was pretty funny material, but try reading that on paper, and it falls flat. How would that read? "Mmmmoooooaaaaaaammmmmmhhhh?" Ah, great art!

On the other hand, the more serious or romantic pieces I heard were more annoying than anything else. Extremely cliched- on paper, they would look horrible, with bad music, and even performed, I got annoyed with the strings of dead phrases.

Here are a couple of video examples of Alvin Lau (the guy I listened to), for those of you who are unfamiliar with this sort of thing:

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Full Moon
- Good performances qualities- he's good at performing. I agree with the political message, too, but some of stuff he says makes me cringe, and not in the good way.


For The Breakdancers
- Again, the guy can perform. But really, half the words don't make any real sense and are just filler to keep music going and choreograph with the breakdancing. So, kind of entertaining at first, but it gets old fast.

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A term I think is fine for these kinds of performances is "spoken word". That's an apt description, I suppose. Something inbetween a rap and a monologue. Anyhow, I don't particularly enjoy the stuff, but I'm okay with it; I just think that "slam poetry" is a mislabel, since the stuff isn't poetry (or at least, it's really bad poetry). Call me elitist, call me close-minded, but that's my take on it and I'm sticking by it.

On a side note, it's November... er, December. Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving ^^

Take Care,
~Neil