Thursday, May 28, 2009

Could you use it in a sentence, please?

It's a big night in Washington D.C. Eleven kids who are, most likely, too smart for their own good, are competing for the title of National Spelling Bee Champion. It's a night that combines the socially awkward, those that read the dictionary for fun, and one 13 year old who can grow a better mustache than I can. In other words, it's great TV.

On this night, one question you'll often hear is, "Can you use it in a sentence, please?" Because the words volleyed at these youngsters are used in everyday speech about as often as the lyrics to "Rico Swuave," I'll attempt to place some of these spell-tastic mind-benders into sentences that would help any potential champ. After all, here at The Writings, we're all about learning.

Pogonip - a dense winter fog containing ice particles.
When the author talks to those of the female persuasion, it's not rare for him to receive glares as cold as a pogonip.

Ophelimity - economic satisfaction.
According to advertisements, the ABC show "Un-broke" is supposed to lead to ophelimity, but my guess is that it's a bunch of mularkey.

Geusioleptic - having or characterized by pleasant flavor.
The geusioleptic BK meal I just consumed would have been even better if those in the kitchen would have taken a break from trying to figure out how the ketchup gets in those tiny packets, and actually had it ready in under 15 minutes.

Wipeout - ABC's ripoff of a Japanese show that isn't near as entertaining as the original.
Yeah, that was was actually just an ad, but the definition is still accurate.

Goombay - form of Bahamian music and a drum used to create it.
Goombay may sound fun at first, but then you realize it's not a little mushroom-looking foe from Super Mario Bros.

Becquerel - a unit of radioactivity, equal to one nuclear decay per second.
After listening to spelling words all evening, my mind felt as if it were suffering from the results of becquerel.

Schizaffin - characterized by slender build and slight muscular development
I didn't think any of the words used tonight would describe the meager results of my years of avoiding weightlifting... Then they tossed out schizaffin.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Opening a New Pack of Absurdity

An innocent comment from a friend on Sunday pushed my mind into a dangerous realm. Granted, it's one I've visited on several prior occasions, and it has even served as the basis for a previous Writing. Nevertheless, it's not a place many would venture. It's a place where one develops a great desire to scour through boxes upon boxes of 2.5 in. x 3.5 in. cardboard rectangles, each featuring a different professional athlete. As I've discussed in the past, it's intriguing to read the tidbits included on the back of certain cards. Some contain trivia that is actually relevant and interesting... Others make one wonder whether the card author was disgruntled when it press deadline came around.

Naturally, we're more concerned with facts written by those that may not have been employed once the packs of cards were on the shelves.

Mike Morgan - Score Select 1994
"When he is healthy, he throws heavy, downward moving fastballs and a sinking slider."

That's fine, but now I'm kind of curious as to what Mike throws when he is unhealthy. Hopefully the answer is not "beanballs at his nurses," or "sharp objects at autograph seekers."

Roger McDowell - Sportflics 1987
When it comes to composing incredibly long sentences, The Writings certainly makes a contribution to society. Alas, I cannot compete with the literary marathon printed on the back of this card. Read on...

"Throwing a wicked natural sinker, the nastiest in the N.L., with impeccable control, he ran off seven successive victories at the beginning of the season - a Met record - and ended up with the most wins in the N.L. by a relief pitcher and second in the league in appearances."

I feel like there should have been a table of contents before that sentence.

Darren Lewis - Donruss Triple Play 1992

I hate to get technical when it comes to baseball cards, especially when we're talking about Triple Play - a brand specifically focused on putting the "rad" in "trading card," but I have to point something out. The back of Mr. Lewis' card features a trivia question. It reads, "From 1988-1990 three different Giants won RBI titles. How many can you name?" Below the question, the "answer" is printed in reverse-type, with instructions for the card-holder to read it in a mirror. Searching for a reflection (even if it's on the back of a spoon) seems like an unnecessary assignment when simply looking to find a trivia question answer, but that's not even the biggest mistake Triple Play made. They answered it wrong. The card lists Will Clark, Kevin Mitchell and Matt Williams as the answer. Unfortunately, the question is a quantitative one. It does not ask the reader "who" the RBI leaders were. It asks, "How many can you name?" As a result, acceptable answers would have been, "1," "2," "3," or, "How the heck should I know? I'm just a freaking baseball card."

Leeland McElroy - Score Select 1996
The author of this card had high hopes for Leeland, even writing that he would "make a lot of teams rue the day they let him slide into the second round..."

I don't have much experience when it comes to day-rueage, but I'm not sure McElroy's 729 career rushing yards, are enough to have an NFL franchise taking up the practice. His six career fumbles compared to three career rushing touchdowns also don't do much to provide rueing material.

John Burkett - Upper Deck 1996
Burkett's card points out that he's "a better pitcher in day-light." You know what that means, right? Yup, reverse vampirism. I think it was brave of Upper Deck to approach such an issue.

Duane Ward - Score 1991
It seems the Score folks wrote their cards with the sole purpose of one day making a former collector skim over their cards and giggle incessantly. It's rare that the author is one to giggle, but what else can one do when a card says the feature player and a teammate "give the team a brace of hefty relievers."

Life is rough when your baseball card calls you fat.

Joe Vitiello - Upper Deck 1992
"The Royals, short on power, think Joe Vitiello could be the answer."

Vitiello, the seventh pick of the 1991 draft, hit 21 home runs over five seasons in Kansas City. Manny Ramirez, Cliff Floyd, and Shawn Green were picked six, seven, and nine picks later, respectively. They have combined for 1,094 career home runs.

"The Royals, short on power, think Vitiello could be the answer."

In 1996, Vitiello finished tied with Kevin Young, a back up first baseman, for fifth on the team in home runs with eight. Young played in just 55 games that season.

"The Royals, short on power, think Vitiello could be the answer."


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

10 Legitimate reasons for... (The 'Where's Your Money Going?' Edition)

10 Legitimate reasons for signing a contract to pay your university's then-current-but-on-thin-ice/now-former football coach $3.2 million in deferred payments via a "secret" contract through a company that no one has ever heard of before (and may not even exist)...

1. You have a vivid imagination and like to give all imaginary companies a chance to go Pinocchio and "become a real boy"... err, company.

2. His family is poor and starving and loaves of bread have escalated to astronomical prices.

3. You are out to prove that secrets, secrets are, in fact, fun.

4. You thought the contract you signed to agree to the payment was actually an ACME Joke Contract, which would explode in comic fashion within a matter of minutes.

5. The head coach is Benjamin Linus, the leader of a group on mystical island, who needs the money to bribe a guy who speaks to dead folks. After receiving the cash, the guy who received the bribe will report that Linus isn't on the island to the folks on his offshore freighter.*

*Odds are, few of you understood that, but those that watch Lost hopefully appreciate it.

6. The head coach is also a baseball card dealer and your athletic department desperately needs 3.2 million packs of 1994 Collector's Choice baseball cards.

7. The money will be paid in the form of cursed pirate booty.

8. The money will be paid in the form of Monopoly money.

9. The money will be paid in the form of Schrute Bucks and Stanley Nickels.

10. Your luck has run out... Wait, that one doesn't happen until the "secret" is uncovered.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

DLDP... It's the next big thing

Watch your back, Weight Watchers. Look out, Jenny Craig. The Derek Larson Diet Plan is coming for you.

It's true, those that know Derek Larson might argue that he's already thinner than most arguments for making the hunting of people lawful, and Derek would probably agree. That's the beautiful part of this diet plan - it's involuntary. Have you ever felt like you should go on a diet, but then struggled when it came time to commit? The DLDP will have you on board from the start. In fact, it's so effective that the simple thought of eating will make you quiver in terror.

The key to the DLDP, you see, is what those in the medical field might refer to as the "influenza virus." Quick and effective, once the DLDP works its way into your system, the sight of food will have you pulling the cool washcloth on your forehead down over your eyes. While you may have once dined on burgers and fries, you'll soon consume nothing but water and ice chips. Much like the energy you once had, the pounds will melt away.

Our patented diet plan involves no special meals that you have to order. There's no silly menu guide for you to print off the Internet. There's no book to read. Once we have your check, we simply send a "diet plan specialist" (e.g., someone that currently has the flu) to hang around with your for a day or two. Don't be concerned if they seem to be invading your personal space, or coughing on your television remote and all the doorknobs in your home. It's all part of the plan, and results will follow.

While the DLDP will have you looking slimmer in no time, we are required to mention possible side effects that some might deem "negative." They include: fever, headaches, body aches, shakes, quakes, fear of steaks, nausea, a general "horrible" feeling, curiosity of how horrible death could actually be, lack of energy, lack of sleep, lack of ability to think clearly, baggy eyes, continual queries concerning whether your flu is of the H1N1 variety, the fact that people will be afraid to be anywhere near you, the continual reminder that The Price is Right isn't the same without Bob Barker, the fact that you have to put up with daytime television, and the fact that you will become much, much closer to your trash can.

Sure, there are some negative parts about the DLDP, but you want to lose weight, don't you? No pain, no gain... uhh, loss. Give us a call and try it today!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A lesson for those graduating

"... and so the second penguin said, 'I thought YOU were bringing the compass.'"

Tom had nailed it. His timing, his enunciation, his syllabic emphasis, they were all perfect. All that remained was the ensuing waves of laughter.

He waited for what seemed like 15 seconds, although it was no more than three. No laughs. Not even a chuckle. "Tough crowd," he thought.

Just two weeks earlier, Tom had graduated from Hatfield University with a degree in accounting. While job interviews were on the horizon and he'd soon be a professional in the field, he really had no interest in it. He had compromised. When asked what he was interested in majoring in prior to his freshman year, he chose accounting not because he liked the idea of keeping track of numbers, but because it was as far as he had read on the alphabetic list of major programs. He was a smart kid. He had graduated from high school as an honors student, despite refusing to study for any exam for more than 30 minutes. He could have been successful in any major he had selected. He chose accounting, but crunching numbers was certainly not his dream.

Tom wanted to be a comedian. He always had. As a kid, Tom absorbed all the stand-up comedy he could, from old tapes of Bill Cosby to rising comedians on Comedy Central. He memorized their routines and mimicked their actions. He grew up craving a chance to be just like them; to be in front of a crowd and have them rolling with laughter. Today, he had his audience.

His penguin material had failed miserably, but he wasn't going to fret. That wasn't his "A" stuff, after all. It was time to dig deeper into his repertoire. He transitioned into a story about two blind politicians - a democrat and a republican. Politics were always comedy gold. He knew the key to a good joke was proper build up, so he spared few details. He delved into their political backgrounds. He articulated their facial expressions as they debated. He even mentioned the shine in their shoes. He glanced at the clock as he spoke of their political views on immigration. He knew his time on stage was winding down, but this would be worth it. It was all building up to his punchline, and he could not wait to be engulfed in laughter of those in the audience. As he spoke he recognized friends and family in the crowd, even old relatives he hadn't seen in years. This was his chance to shine.

"The democrat folded his arms and said, 'Well, I don't see it that way.'"

Yahtzee. Tom could not have told the joke any better. With his eyes on the crowd he saw a few small smiles and heard a couple faint laughs. It wasn't the wall-rumbling response he had hoped for, but he said a quick thanks anyway, and left the stage with a smile and a wave.

Minutes later, as Tom sat in the parking lot on the hood of his 1984 Caprice Classic, Tom's father approached. Tom had been running his routine back through his head, trying to figure out why the crowd's response had been so timid.

"Dad, what did I do wrong?"

"Nothing, son," Tom's father said. "As you go on, you'll learn that material goes over better in some places than others and that some audiences just aren't in the mood. Nevertheless, you got a few laughs. I saw a couple youngsters that were nearly cracking up."

"Yeah," Tom replied. "I guess I connected with a few folks, anyway. Maybe the problem was the acoustics, I'm not sure they were all that great in there."

"I think you're right," Tom's father said. "Now we just have to find another opportunity for you to do your routine... This time, maybe one that isn't the open mic at your great aunt's funeral."

- - - - -

The lesson, dear readers, is no matter what your diploma says, you should never abandon your dreams.

... But you can probably leave those dreams in the car while you're at a wake. They'll be fine as long as you leave the window open a crack.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Writings' Night In

Is there a problem in our country of women being stuck indoors? I ask because tonight's Royals game is featuring a promotion called "Girls' Night Out*," and I just saw a commercial for something called "Women's Day Out." Are hordes of females imprisoning themselves indoors, refusing to come out unless it's for some sort of public event? It seems the focus should be on getting people outside who otherwise would rarely be. As a result, I'm expecting to see some sort of "Derek's Day Out" promotion in the future. After all, I have seen kitchen appliances that spend more time outside than I do. You know the phrase, "I don't get out much"? I believe the International Cliche Committee is going to retire it in my honor.

*Your eyes do not deceive you. The Royals, the Major League Baseball franchise for whom I have dedicated countless hours of my life following, have a promotion designed to get females, many of whom might be near my age and single, out to the ballpark. On the same night as this promotion - which, again, involves young, single, female Royals fans - I sit on my couch eating a bowl of cereal... Nice work, Derek.
- - - - -
A lunch conversation today spurred a thought in my head. (Which is a good place for thoughts to be.) Am I one of only seven Americans that has not read a single book (or seen a single movie) of the Harry Potter series? It seems all at the lunch table today were well-versed in the Hogwarts hubbub. Members of my family speak good things of the bespectacled wizard. I sometimes wonder if even my niece, whose favorite hobbies are crawling up the stairs and sneezing, has at least polished off Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. What does this all mean? If the cure for the H1N1 virus is knowledge of fictional wizardry, I am doomed.
- - - - -
I recently heard tell of a man playing a trumpet as he drove along an interstate highway. That's right. A man was devoting the thought and energy needed to play a tune on a brass horn as he careened down a highway in a 1.5-ton vehicle traveling 70-miles per hour. Smart guy. I realize this is beginning to sound like a question on an eighth grade math test, so rest assured that I'm not going to ask you how far he'll be from a tuba playing train conductor chugging the opposite direction at 60 m.p.h. The question I do have is: What musical instrument would be the most entertaining to watch someone play as they drove down the road? A full trap set? A double guitar? Perhaps a harp? All are good options, but the only real choice is Bert's one man band set from Mary Poppins.* I will accept no substitutes until I witness this.

*Congratulations to those that picked May 14, 2009 as the date The Writings would have a Mary Poppins reference. Think of me when you're counting the winnings from your office pool.
- - - - -
Another show to add to the big list of television programs that should not have ever been created... Style By Jury. Congratulations, CW.

Monday, May 11, 2009


There is a day, oh friends, that is a truly grand one, but it is one that receives little glory. When it comes to days worthy of marking one's calendar in anticipation, the hubbub usually surrounds holidays, birthdays and weddings, despite the fact that this day consistently accomplishes a feat that these other celebratory periods rarely do. It brings folks of all backgrounds together. This day knows no race, no religion, no age, and no social standing. It knows no discrimination; no bias whatsoever. It only knows the sound of fingers combing through a handful of change to find an extra nickel.

This day, this marvelous day, is Garage Sale Day.

Originally established by Nordic settlers looking to pawn off their foul-smelling lutefisk on unsuspecting folks of different origin, Garage Sale Day (or GSD, as it's most commonly referred) has come a long way. Back then, GSD was called "Give Me Something of Value for This or I Will Shove it in Your Ear Day." While GMSVFTOIWSIIYED (as it was more commonly referred) involved more bloodshed than the GSDs of today, the general spirit was the same: getting rid of junk you don't want and receiving something you can use in return.*

*If you find an ounce** of truth in that paragraph, please contact the author immediately.

**No, I'm really not sure how one goes about weighing truth accurately enough to know when there's an ounce of it present. I'd check The Sharper Image.

What is it that makes GSD so blog-inspiringly wonderful? It encompasses parts of all holidays that you enjoy. It brings together family. (Who else is going to help you lug your aging living room furniture out to the front lawn?) It promotes the spirit of giving. (How else are you getting rid of those old sneakers that can't even get someone to part with a nickel?) For those who find their televisions continually stuck on HGTV, it even involves festive decorations. (They're next to the used kitchen items, in that box marked "50 cents.")

I was lucky enough to actively participate in GSD over the weekend, as I offered two hands, a couple of feet, and a coin-counting mind to family in effort to help them with their sale. The bargains were fleeting, but the memories will last a lifetime.

On GSD, there's no dress code
Thick and thin, deep and wide, these garage sale goers sported their wardrobes with pride. While the clothes we had on sale were mainly limited to the jeans/t-shirts/polos variety, the potential customers were a bit more diverse with their fashions. While Customer A might have been wearing sweats so worn that you wondered if they had just recently completed a three-month stay on their sofa, Customer B appeared ready to saddle up a horse of a different color, donning a western shirt, Wranglers, and a pair of boots featuring more colors than a box of Pop Ice. Another customer was fully prepared for a heat wave, and for any snuff cravings that might occur, sporting a shirt with cutoff sleeves and a can of chaw in the breast pocket. Unfortunately, he was not carrying around a spit cup, spittoon, or a button that said "I'm enjoying my gums while they're not bleeding."

Smoking ban? Not here
Ah, the great outdoors. On a breezy Saturday morning it can be invigorating to inhale that fresh Spring air. On this breezy Saturday morning, we had the great pleasure of having that fresh air combined with some fresh second-hand smoke. Refreshing. The smoke-and-shop freedom is one rarely granted anymore, thus GSD presents a great opportunity for those who choose to spend appalling chunks of their income on cigarettes. On Saturday, an older woman sifted through some shirts with one hand while loosely grasping her cigarette in the other. With each puff, smoke left her lungs and found its way to the threaded items below, all while a tail of ash nearly half an inch long wagged at the end of her coffin nail,* like a tired child nearing an inevitable fall from the monkey bars.

*Have you ever tried to find a synonym for cigarette that doesn't come off sounding inappropriate? It's not easy.

Everything is negotiable
Run to your nearest fast food establishment, order the most expensive value meal on the menu, and then when the monetary transactions coordinator (sounds better than cashier, right?) tells you the total you need to pay, say, "Let's call it $2." If that works, let me know, because I haven't eaten dinner yet. Odds are, it won't. While the roots of our economy may have seen more focus on bargaining, there just isn't much room for it today. Garage sales are a different story. Need a slightly used nose trimmer, but you aren't willing to pay the $4 it's marked for? Make a different offer. They just might take it.

On Saturday, a woman walked up to me with a Pyrex baking dish, still in the box. It wouldn't have known a casserole if it had spent weeks watching Rachel Ray. This brand new dish was priced at $2. This woman, who certainly didn't appear to be struggling to find cash, asked me if I would take $1.50 for it. Granted, her very question spit in the face of one essential rule of life: if you are buying a baking dish, you have an oven. If you have an oven, you don't haggle over a matter of 50 cents. I was taken aback by her determination to get this dish for two quarters less than the asking price. What did she need the extra 50 cents for? Buying 2.5 chicken nuggets at Wendy's? Did she have a half-off coupon for Everything's a Dollar? Was she going to travel back in time to a period when you could actually get something for 50 cents? Once I quit trying to imagine what this woman could possibly need that extra half-dollar for, I accepted her offer. After all, I thought, maybe she only has $1.50 on her before she has to break a large bill. I don't like counting out a ton of change anyway, so this could have been making my life easier... Then she paid with two crisp $1 bills.

GSD is open to window shoppers
Granted, this isn't your typical window shopping. The windows in play are actually those of the cars that slowly idle by as those inside squint and crane their necks, attempting to see what goods might be available. If something looks interesting, they'll find a good parking spot like in front of a mailbox or a neighbor's driveway. If not, they creep on to the next sale.

It's worth mentioning that window shoppers are typically not interested in pleasantries. As they take inventory of your items from their vehicle, they will ignore any attempts you might make to be friendly. Waves will receive bewildered looks in return, attempts to invite them to check things out from a closer perspective seem to come off as offensive. The only instance in which you might hear from a window shopper is when they shout questions about your merchandise from inside their vehicle. "Yo, you got any baby clothes?"

Curious? Better test it out
Garage sales are perfect for folks who prefer to get a feel for things before making a purchase. You can test out toys, try on shoes, and even take furniture for a test sit. Granted, I'm not sure that repeatedly bouncing on a couch is necessary in testing it, but I'm also not the one considering ignoring the pet hair on it and buying it... Please, please just buy the couch.

You bought what?
What this says about me, I'll never know, but watching folks to see what items they were interested in was an interesting exercise. Who could have guessed that a 70-year-old man would be thrilled to find a box full of Beanie Babies? Or that the only others who would ask about Beanie Babies the rest of the day would be two young boys? It also seems that the consolation prizes for those that miss out on Beanie Babies are old, crafty Halloween decorations. That's right, this pair of brothers asked no questions about footballs or video games, their allowances were devoted to stuffed animals and Hobby Lobby pumpkins.

Open to all, still ignored by some
Unfortunately, although GSD is open to all, it seems that some folks still refuse to recognize it. They ignore the swarms of people digging through boxes of old ball caps. They look past the humidifier ready to bring moist air to a new home. They fail to recognize the thrill of rummaging through a stranger's belongings in effort to discover something they might have a use for. In essence, they're tossing rubbish on the entire celebration.

Saturday, this happened quite literally as the landlord of this housing development took a wild ride atop his grass devouring, children cowering, driver empowering lawn tractor. Whether he was oblivious to the fact that an inordinate number of folks in the neighborhood had contents of their homes arranged in their driveways, or he was attempting to be deemed the Grinch of GSD, no one knew for sure. While his intentions were unclear as he tore through each and every yard (literally grinding away a chunk of sidewalk just feet from where we were set up), he certainly left his mark. The grass clippings that this grass master had strewn about like confetti on New Year's was now masking the merchandise. The couch, donning a "sold" sign by this point, wore a bit of the outdoors when the new owner's arrived to pick it up. Shirts stacked symmetrically on a card table now featured a texture of natural camouflage. Elsewhere, clumps of grass clippings tossed into 25-cent boxes confused customers, who probably figured we had a lot of nerve to ask for them to pay for yard clippings. Luckily, Old Man Mower struck as the sale was winding to a close. It seems that even he could not destroy the spirit of GSD.

While it may have its detractors, GSD remains a fixture in American culture. Don't forget to mark your calendar.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

So a history buff, an engineer, and a wannabe writer start a sports blog...

Yes, dear readers, it seems that one blog was simply not enough to contain the waves of thought that cascade in my mind. In a joint venture with two of the greatest minds of this generation (or two former co-workers/current fantasy league opponents... Who can keep track of such details?), I'll be contributing to Butchwaglar's Sports Emporium. (Rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it?) It's intended to be an outlet for random thought focused (however loosely) on sports.

Those that are concerned that taking on more writing might remove focus from The Writings, don't fret. With other writers contributing at BSE (perhaps just the BS should be capitalized...), I'm confident I will be able to update here at The Writings in the same manner that I always have - sporadically and with little sense of direction.

Anyway, if you enjoy The Writings, and you enjoy sports, check out BSe.

If you enjoy The Writings, and you despise sports, I apologize for wasting so much of your time throughout the life of this blog... but check out BSe anyway. In the epic words of Rocky Balboa addressing the Russian crowd after defeating Ivan Drago, "If I can change*, and you can change, everybody can change."

*Note: I haven't changed.

If you don't enjoy The Writings, and you only visit this site in order to research ways in which you might someday initiate a multifaceted revenge plan that will humiliate me in front of friends, family and the cast of Growing Pains, all because I inadvertantly wronged you somehow, I really wish you'd reconsider. Maybe BSe can change your mind.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Things I Don't Understand - Spring Football Edition

I went to the K-State spring football game on Saturday.

I apologize if the opening sentence of this Writing seems a little bland, but it seems to fit the subject pretty well. While American football as a spectator sport is often about big hits, exciting plays, roaring crowds, and fierce competition, spring football falls a bit short in most of those aspects. While the contest contained a couple pretty decent hits dispersed and a few plays that could have been deemed exciting, such cases were certainly not the norm, and were not the goal of the game. Football games are played to determine a winner... Spring football games are played to wrap up spring practices and remind people to buy season tickets.

Even Bill Snyder, the legendary former/returning coach of K-State, admitted that the spring game was boring after it was finished. Entertainment is simply not the purpose. It's a glorified practice where the team involved can continue their work on the same basic plays they have focused on all spring. As I see it, there are seven different reasons to go to a spring football game.

1. You are playing in the game.
2. You are coaching in the game.
3. You are a member of the media writing about/broadcasting the game.
4. You are a family member of a player/coach.
5. You are a loyal fan that wants to get an early look at new players/coaching schemes for the upcoming season. (Or you pretend to be doing that, but end up making an endless amount of absurd comments in the process.)
6. You got confused and thought it was a regular season game. (Therefore, you were pretty confused when you got to your seat and realized there was not another team present.)
7. You need an excuse to enjoy the taste of alcohol.  (This one could actually be paired with No. 6, as a drunken stupor could probably lead to such confusion.)

While I have had No. 3 as an excuse for attending a couple times in the past, this year I was firmly in camp No. 5. While this seemed to be a fairly popular reason for attending in 2009, judging from the amount tailgating in the parking lot (accompanied, of course, by a continual chorus of the refrain of the buzzed... You know, "Wooooooo"...(the call echoes in the distance, soon a reply follows...) "Yeaaaaaaaaaah"... (repeat)) choice No. 7 was the clear-cut winner. Unbelievably, I encountered something that falls in the TIDU* chapter of the nonsensical novel that is my life.

*Things I Don't Understand... The Writings: Where pointless acronyms that no one understands are hip.

It's not wise to choose sides in an argument with yourself.
I attended the spring football game by myself. This is either because most of the folks I normally tend to attend such functions with (my cronies, if you will) were unavailable, or because all the folks who I consider to be friends are actually being paid to act as such and their most recent checks bounced.* Nonetheless, upon arriving at the game, I embraced my naturally introverted nature and found a seat in a corner section of the stadium, where few were sitting. I wanted to be able to watch the game on my own and not be distracted by the mind-numbing conversations of those around me.

*This scenario brought to you by the World Paranoia Association... What did you say about us? Nothing? We could have sworn we heard something. 

Despite my best efforts to claim a stake of seating territory that would not have anyone sitting within 10 feet of me, I soon had a family of three seated directly behind me.

Directly. Behind. Me.

They were sitting so close that, at one point, the father's knee was in direct contact with my spine. At a regular football game, this would not be an issue. It's normal to be crowded and uncomfortable. This was not a normal game in the fall. This was spring football. In the very section I (along with this man's knee) was sitting, there was an abundance of open seats. Seats with cushions. Seats without. Seats with numbers even and odd. Seats where once could sit without giving the guy sitting in front of you a kneeatsu* massage. Nevertheless, the family stayed camped right behind me.

*Yes, that was lame... I apologize.

Unfortunately, the contact wasn't the worst part of the situation. Their commentary was. You know how, on TV and in film, it's not unusual to see a little devil pop up on ones shoulder offering mean-spirited advice, and then a little angel pop up on the other offering good-natured advice? Mr. Kneebone and his wife were situated in such a manner that their comments sounded like just that. I'd get one voice in my right ear, the other in my left. I believe, in a Saturday Night Live sketch, that Adam Sandler once referred to such a situation as "stupid in stereo." Alas, I won't be judging whether or not anyone is devoid of intelligence. After all, I may or may not have once gotten my fingers caught underneath an office door when attempting to deliver an envelope. I must, however, address one comment that did boggle my mind.

Those unfamiliar with Bill Snyder-coached spring football games should be told that the format is not one that favors parity. The teams are squads are split up to have starters on one side, backups on the other. Keep in mind, starters normally start because they are better players. As a result, one might expect the starters to win the game, often in sound fashion. The important thing to remember is that, in the end, all of the players are actually on the same team. Mr. Kneebone struggled with this concept. On the Purple squad's (read: first team/starters/better players') first offensive drive, running back Keithen Valentine scored on a nine-yard touchdown run. At this point, most fans in attendance were excited. Points had been scored. It was reason for celebration. Amidst all the hoorays* and yippees*, the voice on my right shoulder grunted, "C'mon defense!"

*Disclaimer: Such words are simply used to express the muffled excitement of the crowd. The author heard no actual shouts of "hooray" or "yippee."

Upon hearing this, I sat perplexed. It seemed this man had chosen sides in an intrasquad scrimmage. I struggled to make sense of the situation, but found no solace in reasoning. He was rooting for K-State, against K-State. It was like he was arm-wrestling himself and cheering for "Lefty." Surely this man recognized that the end result of this game had slightly less bearing on the upcoming football season that the date of the punter's next haircut. Surely this man realized that the starting squad scoring against the backups would not be an uncommon event; that it was a foregone conclusion that the offensive starters could find the end zone against defensive reserves. Surely he knew that any progress shown by Valentine - who began last season as the starting running back, but fell out of favor and rarely saw the field by the end of the season - was progress that the Wildcats' running game will depend on this fall.

He didn't. Throughout the game the "C'mon defense," refrain remained, uttered again and again as the Purple squad scored 45 points to the White squad's zero. I began to wonder if this man just loathed the color purple (the color, not the novel), or if he had seen "Rocky" years ago and now rooted for underdogs with the fervor of a gambling addict down to his last dollar, but I never worked up the courage to ask him.

Hopefully he felt better when he read the paper this morning and realized that K-State won.