The problem with being a crusader for unwanted causes arises when nobody, in fact, shares the enthusiasm. It's like you're walking down the road to Damascus (though actually, Palestine, TX is a closer drive, and New Hope barely a stone's thrown away), and the light comes on, like one of those fluorescent aquarium hoods that makes gouramis look royal purple, and suddenly, like the girl in Hitchiker's Guide, you understand the meaning of "life, the universe and everything" and then you're plowed under for some Vogon highway. I am an expert on Vogons. I spent the better part of three weeks writing a book of chess poems which a newsgroup reader termed reminiscent of "the poetry of the Vogons". Some soul actually sent me payment for said book via a four dollar priority mail envelope from Houston, days after I had assured him that notwithstanding his tardiness, a thirty seven cent stamp was fine. I could not imagine giving anyone negative feedback for being slow to pay 2 dollars + s/h for chess poetry. How would the feedback read: "Dilatory in paying for the absurd with the negligible"? Instead, I'll leave very flattering feedback, because, notwithstanding the lack of necessity, people who pay debts of honor honourably honor me.
I despaired of our local Hilton Garden Inn, at which I hoped to hold my blitz chess tournament, but which declined to answer three telephone calls and an e mail. Then I remembered the local Plano Centre, the local large convention place. I went to its website, correctly guessing the URL on the first logical try. I filled out an extremely user-friendly form (the hilton.com form wanted detailed logistical data for simple room rental). Within half an hour, the Director of Sales for the whole shebang called me on the phone. She told me how excited they would be to host a blitz chess tournament. She helped me with room sizes and configurations. She quoted prices that were more than the sum that I had hoped to spend. Still, it was so nice being treated as if I were a prophet with honor in my own country. I began budgeting out whether I can make a tournament fly at Plano Centre.
I have run chess tournaments before. Mine are always extremely modest affairs, which 8 to 20 people attend.
I decided that I wish to offer kazoos for prizes. I believe I will title the tournament something like the Plano Kazoo Quads. I cannot get the entry fee as low as I would like, which I regret. I want to keep the entry fee low as possible.
I was driven to the closest I come to Chess Righteous Indignation when I got a postcard for an upcoming tournament I very much would ordinary want to play in. The entry fee for an individual entry was 85 dollars. For 85 dollars, with a more modest room, I could run an entire tournament. I adopted a gospel-like zeal in deciding to promote my own tournament, my own way.
I called my 11 year old nephew tonight, to see which Saturday in January works best for him. He had recently played in his second rated tournament. He scored 3 1/2 out of 5, a distinct improvement from his first try at rated play. He is available for the chosen Saturday. That is good news--even if my tournament completely flops, two people will be in attendance.
Friday before work I am to meet with the Sales Director for Plano Centre and, assuming I like the room, I will put a deposit down. I will risk my little bit for chess, and hope that chess repays me fourfold. I do not expect a material profit, but what profits a man to gain a dollar, but lose his soul? On a whim, I called the Hilton, which quoted me rates similarly high, but which seemed less enthused by my
event. I vote for enthusiasm, even if it's sales pitch. If you are trying to sell me something, and you can't even get excited about me, why should I buy?
Intoxicated by this progress on my "to do" list, I also sat down with an issue of "Aquarium Fish Magazine" and wrote out a classified ad. This ad promotes my yahoo discussion group, the Feeder Guppy Rescue League. This curious institution, which I founded as a satiric homage to those "cull" guppies sold 12 for a dollar to be fed to other fish, actually has 4 members these days. Two members just joined recently. I decided that the way to attract members was to advertise in a prominent trade magazine for tropical fish. Accordingly, in December, a strident call for members in the Feeder Guppy Rescue League (JOIN THE RESCUE!) will appear in the section called "Aquarium Societies". I faxed it off to California.
A sales rep called Zack called me, obviously as amused by my ad copy as I was while writing it. You can do a lot of satire in 20 words, if you hold your fins right. It's an extravagance, I suppose, spending any money on what is, after all, a yahoo lark, but sometimes life requires bold strokes, and I am shimmering my guppy colours as best as I can.
Meanwhile, the quest for the elusive tank hood may reach fruition. An eBayer in Plano is selling on a "must pick up" at a reasonable price. Assuming I win the auction (and I plan, more or less, to win the auction), I'll soon have the final bit of equipment for my new feeder guppy tank. Another item on the "to do" list done, if it pans out. If not, I've found a place to get one for just a little more money.
I also found internet places on aquarium fish which said I could promote my Feeder Guppy Rescue League for free, and
I realized that with more homework, I can find more places to run chess tournaments more cheaply. But right now I'm feeling excited that I can make things happen, and I can make things work, and nobody will care but me, but I will care. I will.
I suppose my loner tendency must be giving way to some form of reach-out to others. But in some ways, my goal is less to connect than to give my life a certain color. The first time I heard a symphony by Sibelius, the symphony program exhorted me to "see" the music as splashes of color threading the cold northern night. That's what I'm doing. I won't even ask for donations. When I turn on my shortwave, it seems as though Reverend Gene Scott is always running about 10 frequencies, so that I have to dodge about a bit to find Radio Havana, Radio Beijing or Radio New Zealand. But I want to evangelize for my causes without profit motive. I want a life where people play blitz chess and raise feeder guppies.
But in "Blazing Apostles", my favorite anti-religious-evangelists song (edging out "Thank God It's Not Christmas" by a nose),the song ends with a phone answering system repeating "good evening, blazing apostles, may I help you?".
I love writing in this journal, but I notice how repetitive I become. I need to explore worlds of livebearers, cacti and chess-playin' demons (or daemons) a bit, so that I can see the colors blaze across what I write. Heaven knows that my Free Internet Chess Server rating could use the practice.
Tonight I wondered about a quite elderly Englishwoman I met in college when I was in London for a Summer. Her name was Mrs. Hewison. We met at St. Martin's of the Fields Church, where we were both attending a service. She spent a couple of subsequent weekend afternoons touring me here and there. She made what was already a very colorful Summer into a truly delightful Summer. I didn't keep in touch afterward. She's no doubt gone by now. In the time before I went to London, I dreamed of meeting some cute Brit girl, who would paralyze me with her deep intelligence, deep conversation, incredible patience, and passionate kiss. Instead, I was entirely dateless, but visiting Southwark Cathedral with someone my grandmother's age who complained bitterly if people ran the "don't walk" signs and cautioned me that her neighbors were horrible gossips. But I've never forgotten Mrs. Hewison, who was, like Sibelius, a set of bright colors cannon-shot out into a time that otherwise might have gotten cold. So I've got my own fingerpaints out, and I'm aiming to paint a chessboard, a fish tank, and the open sky.