Tuesday, August 01, 2006

My Barbaric Yawp

I've spent a lot of time considering whether or not to start a blog...what to call it, what I'd put in it to draw readers in, and whether or not I'd have the discipline to stick with it and put up some posts on a consistent basis. (that one we won't know the answer to until a few months from now. but so far I've got one in a row! I'm on a roll.)

I stumbled upon what I thought was a great blog title several weeks ago, but found myself deflated when I did a little research and learned that a couple others in the blogosphere had already tripped over the same idea.

The great American poet Walt Whitman wrote perhaps his most widely recognized work, "Song of Myself," a 50-page autobiographical introspective that covered topics ranging from social to political to personal.

Probably the most famous reference to Whitman's poem was in the movie, "Dead Poet's Society," when Robin Williams' character, John Keating, used a quote from "Song of Myself" to motivate students in his English class, telling them they needed to follow in the footsteps of Whitman, who wrote, "...I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world."

That crept into my brain a while back, and I thought, "That's it! Now I can start my blog...and I'll call it 'My Barbaric Yawp'." Guess what? Other people read Whitman, too. And other people have seen "Dead Poet's Society." Who knew?

Unoriginality — 1
Gregg — 0

I didn't want to be like everybody else. In fact, I didn't even want to be like two or three or five somebody elses. (yeah, like having a blog is the most original idea in the world to begin with, isn't it? how many are out there? 30 million??) So I reached again for my thinking cap.

I've always been a bit of a Zen enthusiast, and Buddhist ideas intrigue me. The brief tale of the Zen archer who learns mindfulness and becomes present in every moment, effortlessly sending arrow after arrow to the center of the bullseye, is one that I've read several times, several different ways. And I'm a dart shooter (English darts...gives me something to do between the time I put my beer down and the time I reach to pick it back up again), so I understand the part about shooting for a bullseye.

In the dart game of 301, the object is to shoot at numbers on the board and score exactly 301 points before your opponent does. Sounds simple enough, right? And it is. But a perfect game of 301 is five bullseyes and a triple-17, shot in two rounds of three darts each...called a six-dart-out. And that's not quite as easy. I've been in the position to feel the "effortlessness" of hitting the bullseye, as on some occasions the circle in the middle looks and feels about as big as a pancake.

I've also been in the position with five bulls behind me, and that last dart in my hand, staring down the triple-17. And it's surprising how much less "Zen" the feeling becomes when you're aiming for the triple ring and a chance at perfection, than when you were willing the darts into the center circle to get to this critical juncture in the game.

I've run the gamut of results with that final dart: sticking it in the triple about 20-ish times in my dart "career"; missing by a hole more than 20 times and getting a pat on the back for a good effort; and forgetting completely about dart release and follow-through, and dropping it three or four inches below the triple on the board, and wanting only to erase the memory of that effort with perhaps a shot of Southern Comfort. (It's a good thing darts is a game played in a bar, and not among church groups.)

What all of this blabbering leads me to is the title of my blog. In darts a round of 100 or more points is called a ton. A hat trick is three bullseyes, or 150 points. A ton-fifty, if you will. What I'm searching for is the key to unlocking the secret of consistently mastering the 151-point round that follows it...the ton-fifty-ONE.

The bullseyes I've got down, but...can I get a little help with the trip-17, please?

(Whew! Aren't you glad you read this far, so you're not staring up at the top of the page and asking yourself, "What the heck does that mean?" Let me guess...you stopped reading 42 paragraphs ago, didn't you? Sorry.)

So in tribute to Whitman, I'll still fill these entries with my share of yawps, and as he wrote "Song of Myself" at 37 years of age (coincidentally, guess how old I am?), I'll do my best to give this "Blog of Myself" a good go-round, and see what I come up with.

Ton-Fifty-ONE. Open for business.

Expect more tasty goodness blathering idiocy to follow.

Or not.

I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise,
Regardless of others, ever regardful of others,
Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man,
Stuff'd with the stuff that is coarse
and stuff'd with the stuff that is fine.
—Walt Whitman, Song of Myself


  1. GGG,

    This is kick ass.


  2. Interesting ... and I learned something about darts along the way. I've always wondered... Cool.