Roark Retires

Howard was old. One of the greatest architects of his generation, Howard was once a tireless worker, but at 71 years old, he had to admit he was slowing down. He was losing his drive to produce, the drive that used to keep him up nights and get him up in the morning.

Howard was frustrated with old age, as his body fell apart before his eyes. Spots and blemishes on his face made him nearly unrecognizable in the mirror each morning, but his bright blue eyes still held a powerful energy. If only his bad knees and arthritic fingers could keep up with the fire in his soul.

Was the fire in his soul still as strong as it once was? That was a question Howard wrestled with of late. He had designed more than 100 buildings, which included some of the most fabulous homes in the world, for some of the most fabulously wealthy. People didn’t seem to talk about architects the way they once did. Howard’s name was no longer household, but he didn’t care about that.

Fame was never a motivator for Howard. On the contrary, he hated it. If he had his way, he would just create his structures in solitude, accept his money for the job and go on his way without saying a word. Howard remembered being totally broke for a seemingly long time in his youth, but once the money started rolling in, it never stopped. It was like an avalanche of cash coming his way for more than 20 years. He even had to turn away million-dollar commissions, because he was so busy.

Howard had to admit, the fortune he had amassed made it easy to consider retirement, made it easy to consider giving up the fight. Mentally, it was hard to accept the idea of quitting, of surrendering his world over to the young, but physically the idea of sitting in a chair all day was sounding better and better.

Howard was dying, if he was being honest with himself. His body was preparing to shut down and leave behind all it had accomplished. Someday, the houses Howard built would crumble, his buildings topple. Eventually, it would be as though Howard didn’t even exist.

Dominique walked in the bathroom while Howard was contemplating all these philosophical ideas of life and death. She was still beautiful to Howard, even though she would be the first to tell anyone her beauty faded many years ago.

“What are you thinking, my dear?” she asked.

“About how beautiful you still are,” he said.

“No, you weren’t thinking that. You were thinking about death again.”

“That too.”

“Any regrets in this life?”

“Plenty, but I can’t do anything about those.”

She looked at Howard and felt as much admiration for the man he was as she ever did. He was like a living monument to what it means to hold true to one’s self and live a life of integrity. Howard endured the critics and outright enemies over the years, always living life on his terms and always winning in the end. For as long as his structures would remain standing, people would look at those buildings and homes and ask anyone who might know, “Who built that?” The answer would always be the same, possibly an answer that would come from Google.

“Howard Roark,” the answer would come. “Howard Roark.”

Driver is flat out unnecessary in golf

Justin Thomas eagled a 670-yard par-5 today on his final hole at the U.S. Open; he did so without the use of a driver, which essentially is bad news for drivers. I’ll never buy another driver in my life after watching Thomas hit two 3-woods to reach the green on that monstrous par-5.

To do a little math, Thomas averaged about 335 yards on those two 3-woods, and if a 3-wood is capable of such feats, driver is dead.

Drivers are hard to consistently hit on target. Even the the best golfers in the world can’t keep the ball in play half the time with a driver, so what can an amateur expect from one? Harvey Penick wrote in The Little Red Book that any amateur who only plays twice a week, should leave driver out of the bag. The only thing you will miss is that one big booming drive, Penick says, and that isn’t worth it.

Thomas hit some 3-wood shots that blew everyone’s minds today. If you haven’t seen them, do a search for Justin Thomas 2017 U.S. Open, then ask yourself why he or anyone else would ever need a driver.

JDP Invitational IV

The fourth annual JDP Invitational crowned its fourth new champion last week, with Laura Walsh claiming the green candle.

Her net 71 was the first score posted and sat there begging for a challenger that never materialized. The other four players all failed to break 80 with their net scores. Defending champion Debbie Peters made an early run in her round, canning two par putts longer than 40 feet, but followed with five straight disaster holes to shoot herself out of it.

“I was on tilt,” Debbie said.

As defending champ, Debbie chose the venue of the Palms, where Walsh started slow before stringing together several pars on her back nine. She shot a gross 91 with a 20 handicap.

“I’m pretty happy with my score; sets up a good challenge for everyone,” Laura wrote in a text message.

Sean Walsh and Jeremy Peters battled high winds and stomach issues and shot extremely high scores. John Peters was derailed by a triple-bogey on the par-5 opening hole and never found his stride.

Laura joins John, Jeremy and Debbie on the list of JDP Invitational champions. The tournament is unlikely to continue due to scheduling dilemmas, but we shall see what next year brings.

Harvey Penick

I picked up Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book this week. In reading a few passages for the first time in two decades, I find the wisdom as pertinent as ever in regards to my golf game, but also to my writing goals.

Penick is long gone, having left behind his lifetime of studying golf in a series of books. By the time I am dead and gone, I will have left behind a series of writings on the web. There is no need to use books. Reading on the web is exactly like reading e-books, with virtually all devices having a “book mode” available. Websites are way cooler than books, because of their fluid flexibility.

It’s so easy to bounce around from one website to another, save and bookmark pages for later reading, share what you are reading with friends, etc.

For now, books still have their place, I suppose, but the way of the future is websites. Writers and readers have no need for books anymore. Making money as a writer of websites is still proving a challenge, but the day will arrive.

Zombie Golf

We were all trapped on the 18th floor, 19 auditors with no way out past the zombies that ruled the city.

 

We were working round the clock on a big job when the virus started spreading six days prior. By the time we heard what was happening, the 17 floors below us were infected. Thanks to Mike checking his Twitter page, we were able to barricade the elevator doors before any zombies got in.

 

Nearly a week living on vending machine leftovers wasn’t my idea of healthy living, but at least it was keeping us all going. Vending machines only hold so much, however, and we were running out.

 

In my office I sat, meditating about our predicament when Janet came in.

 

“Mitch, I want you to know I always loved you.”

 

She was clearly cracking under the pressure of imminent death, so I locked my gaze onto her big brown eyes, soaking in the image of her shapely figure and raven-black hair in the process.

 

“Janet,” I began, pausing for effect. “Shut up.”

 

 

 

Part of me wanted to grab my Ping driver from my set of golf clubs in the corner and hit her over the head. Part of me wanted to take her in my arms one last time. My dilemma was interrupted by Jake, who was apparently also cracking.

 

“Hey guys,” said the skinny little bespectacled fellow who always reminded me of Rick Moranis in Ghostbusters. “I was thinking we should all write out a will and box up any valuables we have here in the office. At the very least, write a letter to tell our loved ones goodbye.”

 

“Nice thought,” I said. “But I haven’t heard from my wife at all. I am pretty sure they already got her. I don’t have any other loved ones.”

 

Jake just shrugged, looked at Janet in a strange way that made me think she had slept with him, and then left my office.

 

Janet was about to start talking when somebody screamed from another office. Janet and I both stepped out of my office to see a zombie had broken through the barricade and got a grip on Chuck.

 

Chuck’s scream sounded like a woman’s. It was odd to hear such a sound coming from such a portly man. The zombie sunk his teeth into Chuck’s ankle, so I didn’t hesitate. I went back to the golf bag in my office, retrieved a 7-iron and went right up to the barricade.

 

I was an avid golfer and loved the game more than life itself. All my hours spent working were just to fund my habit. I maintained a three handicap and finished second in the club championship the year before. People told me I had a pro swing and I thought about that as I buried the blade of the 7-iron into Chuck’s head.

 

His screaming stopped immediately as blood spattered all over my white, button-down shirt. I repeated the action on the zombie that broke the barricade and several other auditors came in behind me to start reinforcing the barrier to the outside world of death.

 

I went over to a vending machine and found one last Snickers. I thought of those video games in which you kill zombies and pick up random food items like apples and pizzas off the street as I bit into the chocolate candy bar. Killing zombies did work up an appetite.

 

Janet came over again, her hips gently swaying back and forth in her little gray business skirt that was too sexy for any office while somehow still managing to make her look professional.

 

“That must have been tough,” she said.

 

“Not really,” I said. “I never miss with a 7-iron.”

 

She rolled her eyes at me and let the sarcasm slide. Janet was a golfer too, though she didn’t take the game seriously. She could pound a big drive, but her short game stunk and she rarely broke 90.

 

She walked over to my office and came back with my driver in hand.

 

“You don’t mind, do you?” She asked.

 

“Not at all.”

 

Truth is, I was getting worried. I could usually solve any problem with a little meditation, but no solution presented itself to this current situation. I watched zombie movies and played the video games, but somehow felt horribly ill-prepared for the real thing.

 

Janet just stood there next to me, clutching her driver. I guess she must have felt safer than if she stood alone. I guess I felt a little better with her standing there, so I didn’t say anything.

 

I finished my Snickers and deliberately started back to my office to see if Janet would follow me. She did. I sat behind my desk again and she stood by the door in silence.

 

I pulled out a pen and paper, thinking maybe it was a good idea to leave a will. I pondered what to write, but was interrupted by horrible noises.

 

The first sound was like water running in a stream and the second sound was unmistakably a dry-heaving human. It turned out to be Jake transforming into a zombie. Who knew how he got infected, but we knew the Rick Moranis look-alike must be killed. Before I could do anything, Janet raced over and smashed Jake’s skull with a driver. Yep, she had slept with the bastard.

 

Just as she finished Jake, that same gruesome duo of sound came from a nearby cubicle. It was Sandy this time and it was my turn. Sandy had two kids and an insanely nice husband, but that didn’t keep me from delivering a perfect strike with my trusty seven.

 

Racking up three zombie kills to Janet’s one, I considered myself the leader in the clubhouse. There were 14 other auditors remaining and from the horrible audible indicators coming from around the office, more of them were becoming infected.

 

Mark burst out of his office, his newly formed zombie countenance making a slight improvement to his usual sleepy look. Mark chased down Cindy, who chased down Skip. Pretty soon, a small army of undead were marching toward Janet and me.

 

To my surprise, Janet took an aggressive approach. She became a veritable Babe Zeharious, winding up and unleashing my driver into zombies one after another. I joined in with my 7-iron and noted to myself how interesting it was that zombies weren’t faster moving. They were also extremely slow-witted and wouldn’t even laugh at my jokes before I smashed in their skulls.

 

I was still the leader by my count with six kills to Janet’s five when we both retreated back to my office. My 7-iron was bent, so I went to a pitching wedge, expecting the extra loft to be more effective at slicing through bone. Janet must have been thinking the same thing, because she traded the driver for a sand wedge.

 

“There are six left,” I said.

 

“They may not all be zombies,” Janet said.

 

“Odds are good they are and will come this way; and there is something I need to say.”

 

Before I could spill my guts, the gurgling noises ensued and came closer and closer. When Sam came staggering through the door of my office with a ravenous look in his eye, Janet took out his right leg with my sand wedge and finished him with a tomahawk chop to the head when he fell to the ground.

 

The zombies kept coming and we kept swinging until six dead colleagues were piled up at the doorway to my office.

 

“That should be everyone, a total of 17,” I said between gasps of air.

 

“I killed nine, one more than you.”

 

“No, I killed nine.”

 

“Let’s not quibble over details,” she said. “What was it you had to tell me?”

 

I caught my breath and we both sat in silence for what seemed like an eternity. I was about to tell her I loved her too, in my own suave, romantic way, but then I heard that gurgling noise coming from her stomach and she started dry heaving.

 

I readied my pitching wedge to take down number 18.

 

Terrance Mann

I am a big fan of the movie Field of Dreams and the little moment I am about to describe almost sounds like something out of that film.

Last night I watched a show called The Secret. To make a long story short, it convincingly describes how people can shape their lives into whatever they want by just using their thoughts.

Fast forward to this morning in which I woke up and vowed to make the day the best possible day I could. Being a day off, the task shouldn’t be that difficult. Mid-morning rolls around; I’ve had a great breakfast, a good read and hearty workout. I turn on the TV and there is a basketball game on. I almost turn it off, but decide not to.

As I was watching the game, my mind wandered and started thinking of the words of encouragement I heard on the video the night before. My thoughts rattled around until I reached a moment of clarity in which I realized much of what was said in the The Secret was the same as Kevin Costner’s character in Field of Dreams.

The famous line in the movie is, “If you build it, they will come.” That very line became a thought in my head and not two seconds later the commentator on the TV announced that a basketball player was called for a foul and his name was Terrance Mann. Then the commentator said, “Terrance Mann, that’s the name of the James Earl Jones character in Field of Dreams.”

“‘People will come, Ray,'” the commentator quoted from the movie character Terrance Mann.

The crazy thing is: The Secret claims that the whole universe will conspire to bend to your every whim if you only think properly. Not 12 hours after hearing that idea, it was as though the universe was linking to my thoughts and confirming that yes, people will come. My dreams will come true.

Too weird to believe? Ya, probably, but it did happen and it is kind of fun to think about.

On the future of my writing endeavors

In recent months I’ve done a lot of studying in regards to the methods in which a man can make money as a writer and have decided making money isn’t really my thing.

One can be a journalist or a novelist or perhaps a historian, all of which are professions I don’t wish to enter. I’ve been a journalist of the sports variety and I’ve enjoyed my attempts at writing fiction in the form of short stories. To publish traditionally, however, in any realm is to join the society I loosely refer to as Hollywood, and who wants to join Hollywood?

The great conundrum in publishing arising in this modern world lies within the power Hollywood wields. There was a time a writer needed a publisher just to allow his writing to see the light of day, but now any fool can open a Twitter page, start a blog or publish an e-book. Any writing I decided to post on this website is officially published, but is not publicized.

Hollywood’s great power is the power of publicity.

For someone already famous, such as Kim Kardashian, Twitter is a powerful tool. A random, regular person can tweet the same words as Kardashian and get no attention. This proves that modern publishing isn’t about what is said as much as who said it. I suppose publishing has always been that way, but today’s modern technology proves the point.

The reason I loosely call all publishing endeavors Hollywood is because essentially all forms of media – whether news, magazine, books or movies – are all owned by the same corporate giants. Books are published solely to promote movies and movies are used to sell books. TV personalities trumpet their own books to millions of viewers and those viewers obediently buy those books. Whether they actually read them is another argument.

I know very few people who read books. Nobody ever talks about books or asks whether I’ve read the latest such and such. Whenever I try to sit down and read a book, I usually find I can’t finish it, because it is quite simply lacking in intelligence. One might say that makes me sound arrogant, but it is what it is.

The one set of books I never get tired of reading is the set of classics. I can read Dickens or Shakespeare, Tolstoy or Austen. The list goes on and on when it comes to classics I enjoy, which makes me wonder if the craft of creating novels peaked around the 1800’s and slowly disintegrated as the moving picture came along in the 1900’s.

Prior to video becoming the primary form of entertainment and education, books were all we had to convey any kind of idea, fiction or non-fiction. We’ve progressed from movie theaters to home video players and video games to watching all sorts of video on phones that fit in our pockets. It’s no wonder nobody reads books anymore.

Though I don’t know any, J.K. Rowling’s bank account suggests that people are still buying books on occasion. The question is why. There is very little reason to read anymore, beyond the simple love of reading.

This leads me to believe there is very little reason to write anymore, beyond the love of writing, so that is my final conclusion. I love to write and I will write whenever I feel like it on this website that nobody will read. I will create a new modern form of book built for the internet age, a book that weaves and winds through many different topics, a book connected by hyperlinks and not necessarily intended to be read in any particular order.

I guess I will call it the book of JJ Petes for now and see where it takes me.

Ben Hogan won a fifth U.S. Open nobody knows about

The interesting thing about Ben Hogan’s mysterious U.S. Open victory isn’t that it was his fifth title that he never gets credit for. The interesting thing is how the tournament was hidden in plain sight in 1942.

Considering it disrespectful to hold a U.S. Open while World War II was going on, the powers that be decided to hold basically the same tournament under a different name and include war funding in the event’s mission. They held qualifying just like a U.S. Open and handed Hogan the same gold-medal trophy he would have won for a U.S. Open.

Hogan is only credited with winning four U.S. Opens, however, which doesn’t really matter.

I’ve always felt, or sensed, that Hogan was the best golfer ever to play. I never saw him play, but in reading about him and watching some videos, I think he was better than Nicklaus or Tiger. Whether he won four or five Opens wouldn’t change his place in golf lore.

The notion of a tournament committee holding the same event under a different name fascinates me, because a simple change in language – in this case a tournament title – changes history. It serves as further proof that what is written in the history books, the numbers and letters, don’t necessarily tell the whole story. We can’t use statistics and such to quantify a person’s greatness. If you have a gut feeling that someone is great, they probably are.

 

 

Passing Don’s wisdom on to writers

I continued my reading of Don Quixote this morning and stumbled across a passage that could easily apply to writers in today’s world.

In the passage, Sancho Panza asks Quixote why he continues to wander around doing great deeds that nobody will ever see or hear about. Why doesn’t Quixote go into the service of a great king somewhere, a king who can fund his journey with money and the best weapons and supplies?

This made me think of a modern-day writer who might think it isn’t worth writing anything that can’t get published by a big publishing house.

Here is Quixote’s answer:

“There is something in what you say, Sancho, but before one reaches that stage one must wander about the world on probation as it were, in search of adventures, so that, by bringing some of them to a happy conclusion, one gains such fame and renown that when one does go to some great monarch’s court one is known as a knight by one’s deeds; and as soon as all the boys in the street see one riding through the city gates, they follow one and come swarming around one and shouting: ‘This is the Knight of the Sun’ or of the Serpent or whatever device it is under which one has performed great exploits.”

So, a writer should write and write and write all over the internet and make a name for him or her self. If the writing is worth reading, people will read it and someday the big publishing houses will come chasing after the writer, instead of the other way around.

Write every day

One of the biggest lessons I learned in my journalistic days was that sometimes people like the dumbest stories. No, what I mean is, you never can tell what people are going to like. I would turn in stories I loved and hear nothing from anyone and I would turn in stories I hated and have compliments tossed my way. Point being, there were a bunch of stories I never would have written if it weren’t for a deadline and those stories brought a smile to somebody’s face, sometimes. So, that’s why I am rambling on late at night. I was about to go to bed with nothing on my mind to write about, but here I am.

If you have a crazy book idea, write it up and publish it. You never know, somebody might enjoy it. If nobody enjoys it, so what. Most of us are glad Charles Dickens wrote Great Expectations, but have you ever tried to wade through the Pickwick Papers? Then again, somebody out there probably loved the Pickwick Papers.