Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Things you should know - Late October Sports Edition

A fair chunk of the regular readers of The Writings have little more than a passing interest in sports. This is a fact I'm aware of, but one I seem to regularly ignore. Instead of giving readers what they're really hoping for (embarrassing tales from my life), I'll post rambling entries about sports teams and athletes in whom my readers have as much interest as they do in the current whereabouts of the cast of "Perfect Strangers." With the World Series upon us, football season in mid-play, and basketball season tipping off, the sports-oriented writing probably will not end anytime soon. I will, however, at least make an effort to present helpful knowledge that the reader could use in everyday conversation. I do occasionally pretend to be a "professional" sports journalist, after all. Consider the following things you should know...


This World Series will end a drought
The San Francisco Giants have not won a World Series since 1954 and the franchise was located in New York back then. The Texas Rangers, on the other hand, have never appeared in a World Series; not even in their previous life as the Washington Senators. Thus, whoever wins the seven-game series will making history, quenching the thirst for a championship in either San Francisco or Arlington. Why should you care? Mainly because this proves to you that two teams have longer championship droughts than the Kansas City Royals, whose Writings you tolerate with such patience.

The beard-fearing trend has caught on
Last basketball season, the simple notion of fearing one whose face featured whiskers went mainstream* thanks to a Kansas State guard with a silky shot and a hairy chin. This fall, the phrase "Fear the Beard" has made another splash, earning the approval of all in San Francisco thanks to relief pitcher Brian Wilson. Wilson (the non-Beach Boy version) led the majors with 48 saves in 2010 and sports a beard that resembles, in uncanny manner, the fake one actor Matthew Fox wore in Lost.

*Should Pullen really receive all the credit for beard fearing trends? After all, haven't mall Santa's been terrifying children for decades? There's probably credence to the idea of giving Saint Nick some credit, but Santa won't be shooting 3-pointers in Bramlage Coliseum this season. Excellent work, Jake.

This World Series will feature some excellent pitching
It all starts tonight. By the time you read this, one team will probably lead the series 1-0. Most likely, the winner will have received a strong pitching performance from its Game 1 starter. The game features the Rangers' Cliff Lee - the 32-year-old who was demoted to the minors for poor performance as recently as 2007, but followed by winning the Cy Young Award for the league's best pitcher in 2008 - and the Giants' Tim Lincecum - a 26-year-old who won the National League Cy Young Award in 2008 and 2009 and also wears his hair like a teenage girl. Odds are strong that pitching will be as vital to this series as cultural differences were to the scripts of every "Perfect Strangers" episode.*

*I've posted a great number of Writings and never once referred to the show that gave the world the gift of Balki Bartokomous. You didn't think I could only take one bite once I opened the "Perfect Strangers" wrapper, did you?


The rushing attack of the Kansas City Chiefs is the best in football
The Chiefs currently lead the NFL in rushing, averaging 176.5 rushing yards per game. Running backs Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones rank 13th and 16th, respectively, in individual rushing. Is this really a big deal just six games into the season? Perhaps it is. Perhaps it will prove to be as relevant to the season as the fact that one day in high school I ate an entire box of powdered donuts in one sitting. (There's your embarrassing tale of the author's life. Happy?) Because I've never shown much prowess in the area of seeing the future, I really have no idea how things will end for the Chiefs. I just know it's nice to be back to the point where there is some sort of reason for optimism.

Brett Favre will never go away
For years now, there's been great "drama" (translation: 24-hour coverage by major sports networks because pitchmen for Wranglers are apparently more important than actual sporting events) surrounding the "will he retire?" storyline with Mr. Favre. The story is blown up like a Macy's balloon every year, despite the fact that Favre has never actually missed a game due to a "retirement." Now that the season is midway through and we can't focus on possible retirement (and poor play keeps the media from having the opportunity to declare him the savior for all humanity), the Favre filler has revolved around another subject. I believe this is what one might call a lose-lose-lose situation. First off, it involves Favre. (Loss.) Next, it means journalists everywhere are having to write stories on the subject of Mr. Favre's bikini area. (Loss.) The fact that so many outlets are covering it also seems to convey the fact that the general public is interested in the story. (Loss for all of humanity.)


Everything you hear about LeBron James and the Miami Heat is wrong
Ever since LeBron James announced he would sign with the Miami Heat this summer, the NBA squad has been more popular in South Beach than Don Johnson and the musical stylings of Will Smith combined.* There are folks that think the Heat - with James plus all-stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh - will set new record for victories in an NBA season. They won't. There are folks that claim that James is some sort of demonic spawn of underworldly origin because of the way he deserted Cleveland. He's not. Personally, I didn't agree with the way James gave the Ohio city a figurative middle-finger by announcing he was signing with a different team on a national television special, but I also don't feel the decision should have him treated as if he's Satan's step-brother. The Heat will be a strong team this year, and they'll be a fun one for many to root against. Just know that they won't dominate in the same fashion that Teen Wolf's team did and be aware that James will not, at any point in the season, grow horns or cloven hooves.

*Is it clear that I've never been to Miami and can only base knowledge of the city on events from pop culture?

The K-State basketball season starts on Nov. 2
Sure, it's a preseason game against a school seemingly named after a "Seinfeld" character, but such details should not hinder enthusiasm. The Wildcats enter the season with national expectations higher than I might have ever imagined. Season tickets are sold out, Jacob Pullen is widely viewed as one of the best guards in the nation, and there's a potential matchup with Duke - the nation's top team - looming less than one month away. No funny business here; this season should be a lot of fun.

Be ready.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Putting the Pro in Procrastination

Nearly a year ago, a grizzled old man backed his Suburban right into the rear-quarter panel of my sweet, innocent Chevy Impala. My car has never done a thing to deserve such treatment, and truthfully, it has had a somewhat traumatic life. Upon researching the vehicle before I purchased it, I discovered through a VIN report that it had been repossessed from it's original owner. I've never had the nerve to ask my car what happened with the whole situation, but my guess is that there was some major neglect and possibly some name-calling. (That, or drugs anyway.)

Since the car has been under my control, life has been mostly good, however there have been some hiccups along the way. There was the hailstorm that cracked the windshield. There were the occasions that I went more than 3,000 miles before having the oil changed. (On a COMPLETELY UNRELATED note, please don't check my odometer right now.) There was even the time that - as the result of some sort of weird prank, gang initiation, or pagan sacrifice - I awoke to discover that my car was coated in sunflower seeds. (I still have no idea what sort of sign that was supposed to be.)

Through all those trials, my car kept its figurative head up and kept moving forward (or backward, depending on the gear). Then, the old guy - who had seemingly been at Hastings to search for "Hee Haw, The Complete Series" on DVD - struck. Upon hearing the crunch of his mammoth vehicle bullying my car, he exited his, checked out the result, and then finally spoke. His words of wisdom? "Damn. It's been a long time since I've hit anybody." I've consulted the Big List of Intelligent Things You Can Say After Backing Into Someone in the Parking Lot of a Book/Entertainment Store and this response comes in at No. 2,939,082,618. (Right after "Jellybeans are my favorite.")

Through the majesty of insurance, I was assured that all damages would be taken care of. I'd even be set up with a rental. All I had to do was get the car into a body shop for an estimate. Easy, right? Eleven months later, that has finally happened. My car goes in for body work tomorrow, and by Friday it should be looking as good as new(-used).

The question is, "Why did it take 11 months to get to the point?" Unfortunately, the answer to said question is a highly-convoluted one full of hearsay, happenstance, and conspiracy theories. ... That, or it comes down to the fact that the dent really is not THAT noticeable, and eating a Vistaburger and reading (or eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and watching television, or eating something off the Wendy's 99-cent menu and writing, or eating a bowl of cereal and reciting the lyrics to Journey's greatest hits, or eating Saltines and whittling the entire roster of the 1994 Kansas City Royals out of maple) always seemed like a better way to spend lunch.

Actually, I'm not really sure at all why it took so long to get my car into the shop, but I'm glad that it is finally happening. (Nice work, self.) Though my reminder of the serial parking lot prowler will be forever gone, My car will no longer have to be self-conscious about the dent in the rear-quarter panel.

Now if it could just do something about the fool driving it around.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Pumpkin Patch

Today is October 20. I have consulted several calendars to confirm this seemingly simple fact. My Windows desktop, a day-planner, and also provide evidence that supports this claim.

Why go to such lengths just to confirm today's date? Mainly because it blows my mind... We're two-thirds of the way through 2010's tenth month, yet I'm fairly confident that it was just three days ago that I was telling my landlord that I could not believe how quickly August went by. The fact that time is flying by with such velocity seems to be a sure sign that I'm getting old. (The noises my back makes when I get up in the morning and the way I get drawn in to Wheel of Fortune whenever it's on a nearby television seem to support this notion.)  Nonetheless, it's time to cast aside such worries. Even though I may be just days from arthritis and cataracts, and - with the seemingly accelerated nature of this calendar year - tomorrow may be Christmas, it's time to pause and take a look a locale that truly fits the season: the pumpkin patch.

*Warning: Reading about events in the author's life may cause drowsiness. Please do not read The Writings while operating heavy machinery. The Writings have been known to cause severe befuddlement, mild aggression, and feelings of deep pity. Don't drink alcohol when reading The Writings. If you are, or may soon be pregnant, take precaution when reading The Writings. Please do not attempt to recreate The Writings at home. This blog is written by a trained professional.

As surprising as it may be, Saturday marked my first trip to such a location. I'm sure it sounds odd, but traveling alone to a family-oriented place to look awkward because I was the only single person there with no kids never really appealed to me. Saturday proved different, as my sister invited me to go with her family and a couple friends. Thus, when we arrived at the pumpkin patch, it was my sister, brother-in-law, and my niece, plus their two friends and their baby boy... and me, looking awkward because I was the only single person there with no kids. Oh well.

Anyway, the patch proved to be an interesting place. Admission for all seven of us to get in? $4. That's right, the owner's of the pumpkin patch took the approach that only those that would get the most enjoyment of the patch's activities (kids 2+) should be charged admission. The idea is a novel one and is something that more places should consider. Score one for the patch.

Inside, we first took a trip through the bale maze. As an astute reader might guess, this was simply a maze crafted out of bales of hay. Unfortunately, with a limited amount of space, there are only so many different routes one could make in a bale maze. Only the first fork of the maze seemed to make one pause for a moment wondering which way they should go. Naturally, I chose the wrong way. Luckily, two minutes later our entire crew escaped the maze with no severe injuries or mental trauma to report.

We moved on from the maze to a giant tree house and then the petting zoo. My niece, a master of animal noises at the age of two, was excited to check out the animals, but ultimately terrified of two pigs. Rather than petting one of the pigs as it ate, she decided she would hide behind her mom and shout that the pig was "naughty." I'm not sure what the pig did, but ultimately - when the battle is between my relation and pork - I have to side with my niece... That damn pig. Along with the dastardly swine, the petting zoo featured a calf that was in a coma-like trance at the rear of its cage, a goat that had also determined that people were evil, a cage of pigeons, and a pen full of chickens and a couple ducks. Disney's Animal Adventure it was not, but - again - it cost $4 to get in.

In my niece's eyes, the highlight of the patch was surely the giant pile of hay that existed only for children to jump into. After she climbed to a spot on a hay bale a few feet above the pile of hay, I expected a bit of hesitation on her part before taking the leap. I was wrong. The little girl jumped like a seasoned paratrooper. She laughed as she sank into the hay and then it was time to jump again. And again. And a few more times for good measure. After more jumps than the average game of Super Mario Bros. the young one was finally corralled and it was time to go pick pumpkins. (Unsurprisingly, we made it back to the hay pit later on.)

Unfortunately for those looking for quality, wholesome, pumpkin-picking fun (my sister) we had to walk back by the petting zoo to get to the patch of pumpkins. The niece can be a motivated individual, and at this point she was motivated to visit her animal friends again. She was told that they had to find some pumpkins first. It was at this point that my niece picked up the small pumpkin nearest her feet and handed it to her uncle. Technically, she had completed her mother's task; she had picked a pumpkin. After all, her mom had never specified that the pumpkin should not be half green. Alas, the niece's attempt to beat the system were ineffective and the pumpkin hunt continued. It was at this point that my brother-in-law received a text message with news of my brother's engagement. At this, there was much rejoicing.

The day at the patch wrapped with pumpkins picked, some s'mores cooked, and another visit to the chickens and ducks, this time with some quality animal impersonations tossed out. (Not by me... Okay, a few by me, but most by my niece. I swear.)

What's the point of this tale of the pumpkin patch visit? Honestly, I don't have a clue... I hear people start to tell rambling stories with no direction when they get old.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Family Matters

I don't regularly break from poor attempts at sports analysis and lame jokes to write about family, but I don't regularly find out that my family will be adding a new member. With that in mind, The Writings offer their official congratulations* to my brother and his fiancee on their recent engagement. (Names omitted so that they never have to admit association with this blog.)

*Does a blog need to offer "official congratulations" when the author has already congratulated said couple in person? Probably not, but I've heard several times lately that "nothing is official until it's on Facebook." I want to cover my bases, just in case those who uttered this phrase were thinking of the wrong incredibly popular website. I'm fairly confident that, just as with Facebook, there's a major motion picture coming out about the creation of The Writings... The Writings: Delusion is a way of life.

It's been fairly obvious from the start that the relationship between this couple was a meaningful one, so - even though I'm destined to receive a barrage of "So, when's it your turn?" inquisitions and "You're the only one left" remarks* through the eight months leading to the wedding - I'm definitely looking forward to the big day. Again, congratulations.

*Judging by the number of such comments I've received in just the two days since the engagement became public knowledge, I'm likely to set some sort of record.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Things you should know - K-State October Edition

If the numbers 59-7 and the phrase “Madness in Manhattan” mean absolutely nothing to you and you have no desire to read of anything related to them, it is probably best to move along. (In fact, I hear that both Good Housekeeping and Guns & Ammo have some real think-pieces online.) If, however, you enjoy reading K-State analysis from a website in no way affiliated with or endorsed by the university or any sort of actual respected media outlet, you’ve come to the right place. The K-State football team is just one win away from being bowl eligible for the first time since 2006 and the men’s basketball team has officially begun practicing, entering the season as the favorite to win the Big 12. Here’s what you should know…

Carson Coffman can hit water if he falls out of a boat.
The Wildcat quarterback has taken much flak this season from the media, fans, and even authors of little-read blogs. It’s true that he’s not perfect. It’s true that he’s seen struggles on the field. It’s true that he’s responded to blitzes in the same manner that one is taught to react to being attacked by a grizzly bear. Nonetheless, it’s also true that he’s led K-State to a 5-1 record, with the only loss coming to a Nebraska team that is ranked in the Top 10. Coffman played frighteningly effectively against the KU drama department’s cast of “Little Giants: The Musical”*, showing that the Wildcats might have more up their offensive sleeves than off-tackle runs.

*Wait, that was actually KU’s football team? Yowza.

Jacob Pullen is good at basketball
Three years ago, Jacob Pullen was a backup point guard and the third-best freshman on the Kansas State roster. He may have been best known for being Michael Beasley’s teammate and for being verbally berated by coach Frank Martin nearly every game. It’s a safe bet that, at that time, few imagined that Pullen would develop into the type of player he is today. Sure, he showed flashed of great skill, scoring 20 points in the first-ever ever victory over Kansas at Bramlage Coliseum, but few took much notice of No. 0 with Beasley and fellow-frosh Bill Walker in the lineup.

Now? Pullen spent last season teaching folks around the nation to respect (and, yes, even fear) players that neglect razors during the course of a basketball season. First-team all conference honors and a stellar performance in the NCAA Tournament led to the senior guard being voted the Big 12’s preseason Player of the Year for 2010-2011. Pullen won the 3-point contest at K-State’s “Madness” event and has been mentioned as a potential first-team All American.

Daniel Thomas is good at football, but he’s not invincible
When a talented (sorry, KU) opposing defense focuses on stopping the senior running back, the task can be achieved, as exhibited by the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Honestly, this is probably for the best. The last thing we need is Lex Luthor dressing as a line judge in attempt to sneak onto the K-State sideline and spike DT’s Gatorade with kryptonite. 

The Kansas State front court has the potential to be one of the best in the nation
Big 12 coaches voted senior forward Curtis Kelly to the conference’s preseason first-team. Junior forward Jamar Samuels earned preseason honorable mention honors. Transfer Freddy Asprilla is a load at 6-10, 280 lbs., and he earned Freshman of the Year honors in the Sun Belt Conference two years ago. That’s not a bad trio. Add in sophomore Wally Judge, a former McDonald’s All-American who has the potential to be better than the first three we mentioned, and you have a front court that should compete with any in college basketball. 

This fan-base is well-versed in overreaction
One blowout loss to a top-ten team and suddenly many K-State fans weren’t sure whether the team would even compete with the University of Kansas, despite the fact that KU had also just been on the wrong side of a blow-out, but against a team with football history about as storied as that of Hogwarts. Fighting the trend of viewing the Gatorade cup as half empty, I predicted that K-State would win by at least two touchdowns… If only I would have said “at least seven touchdowns.” Oh well.

Good things come to those who wait
Well, predictions of good things do, anyway. In the late 90s and early this decade, the only doom to speak of around K-State’s octagonal basketball facility was the type that surrounded the anticipated result of having the ball in the hands of Joe Leonard, or Pero Vasiljevic, or Chris Griffin, or Tyler Hughes, or Travis Canby, or (in the interest of time and keeping the one person that has read this far interested, I'll stop). There was a lot of bad basketball on display in Bramlage Coliseum, and my friends, my brother, and I kept going back for more. It’s not easy to be one of 250 students at an exhibition game that your team is losing to a squad of washed-up players with the name of a video game company on their jerseys. It’s exponentially more difficult when one of the players, who has torched your team for about 307 points* begins to have in-depth, trash-talking conversations with the student section. Been there, done that. I’ve seen another exhibition loss where a student that won a VIDEO GAME tournament suited up for the opposing squad and actually scored, even though he looked to possess about as much athleticism as Jabba the Hutt.

*Number is approximate.

Throughout the years with Tom Asbury and Jim Wooldridge at the helm, I witnessed blowouts and heartbreakers, with a few encouraging victories mixed in. I remember the anger and frustration that came with year after year of being completely ignored by the tournament selection committee – of the NIT.  Then, with the hiring of a guy named Huggins, things took a turn.

Sure, Bob is seen as a public enemy by many in Manhattan, but the fact remains that K-State basketball would not be in the position it is currently in if he had never made a stop in the former Huggieville. Now, K-State is the favorite to win the Big 12. They’re viewed by many as a potential top-five team this season. Head coach Frank Martin – whose hiring many viewed as a Hail Mary effort to keep Michael Beasley’s commitment – is seen as one of the top coaches in the conference and has become a broadcast media favorite for his sideline reactions. Five years ago televised K-State basketball was a rarity; this season every single regular season game will shown on TV.

The expectations are high with the Wildcats predicted by conference coaches to win the Big 12. There is a chance that things turn sour and the team falls flat on its collective face (see: K-State football, 2004), but that’s certainly not going to occupy my thoughts. I lived through the days where the team’s recruiting coups came from Junction City and it's been rather enjoyable seeing basketball actually become relevant again. This life? It’s good.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Honk if... uhh, nevermind

While idling in a fast-food drive-thru lane today, I noticed that the vehicle to my fore wore a 30-day tag. Good for the driver, I thought. He’s not letting economic struggles hinder his life and he has a new/used vehicle to show for it. Further examination of the dark Jeep Grand Cherokee, however, left me slightly concerned. You see, a window on the driver’s side wore a sticker bearing the phrase, “Honk if U Horny.”

I’m not one to judge folks for the messages promoted by their vehicles. After all, the sticker could have been part of scientific research, with the driver attempting to determine which areas of town respond in most positive fashion to such a window-borne stimulus. (Please note that there were no honks heard while at Burger King.) The concern I have is with the fact that, again, this vehicle wore a 30-day tag, dated Oct. 11, 2010. The leads a thinking person* (which I am nearly 38-percent of the time) to one of
three conclusions (aside from the fact that Mr. Driver really needs to get his vehicle legally registered):


1. The call for action put forth on the aforementioned sticker is so important to the driver that he adhered it to the window prior to even ensuring that the vehicle was legally registered.

2. The vehicle wore the sticker prior to being purchased by the new driver, meaning a previous driving approved of said message and the new driver found it thought-provoking enough that he purchased the vehicle without consideration of having the adhesive directive removed prior to transfer of ownership.

3. The car dealership placed the sticker on the vehicle as further incentive to purchase the mode of conveyance. (Car salesman: You see that sticker? You'll be the life of the party.; Car shopper: What party? I'd be driving...; Car salesman:... Uhh... Hey, look. It has heated seats.)   

Whether the reasoning behind said sticker is No. 1, 2, or 3, my concern for the driver (and society in general) remains the same. After all, if folks are busy following the “Honk if U Horny” motto, how is one supposed to be sure if someone is actually honking because you just cut them off, or your light turned green, or you’re about to back into them in the Hastings’ parking lot? Frankly, though the message communicated is an intelligent and highly sophisticated request, I’m not sure this whole “Honk if U Horny” idea will lead to anything but problems.

Beyond that, the sentence is one out of a writer's nightmare.* If kids are going to be reading this, can we at least have it appear in grammatically correct fashion?

*Yes, a writer (which I pretend to be nearly 38-percent of the time) has pretty lame nightmares.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ad research

According to the ads that display when checking my Yahoo!* email account, I am apparently a stressed, greedy octogenarian who is
losing his hair, has a flabby stomach, has bad skin, has horrendously achy joints, needs new deodorant, may be interested in going back to school, enjoys fantasy role-playing video games, is a fan of the Phoenix Suns, and loves the movie Shutter Island with a passion that cannot be rivaled.


It's like these folks are sitting right here in my living room with me. You'll excuse me if I spend the rest of the evening shopping online for stress-relieving pain meds, gut-busting Rogaine, pleasantly scented Ben Gay + Clearasil combo packs, and educational video games featuring the Phoenix Suns' Gorilla, and that may or may not be set on a fictional island, right?

*Please note: I'm never excited enough to actually pronounce "Yahoo!" with the proper emphasis indicated by the exclamation mark. I apologize for this. I'm going to make a concentrated effort to get more excited about emails telling me that I can get 10% off at

Friday, October 08, 2010

Gut feeling

I have never been literally punched in the gut. For this, I'm thankful. You see, I have a feeling that my gut is probably the fragile sort and would not respond well to any sort of physical abuse. After taking one hit, said gut would probably curl up in the fetal position, praying silent prayers for its safety.

Unfortunately, I have taken figurative blows to the gut on several occasions, the most recent of which came last night when the Nebraska Cornhuskers ran past the Kansas State Wildcats on their way a 35-point victory. Through the years I've learned that the fetal position does little to help in said situations.

I have often (probably far too often) used this space to detail certain aspects of collegiate or professional teams that I root for. There have been optimistic looks at hopes for struggling baseball teams (which typically prove fruitless) and running logs of my thoughts during football games (which typically prove uninteresting to anyone that is not a future version of myself). There have been countless hours devoted to attempting to keep up with everything these teams do, even if the team is just inviting a high school recruit to come watch a game. One fact remains: these are games.

Sure, Thursday night's K-State-Nebraska came was a battle of unbeatens. It was a match-up that involved the Cornhuskers attempting to show the nation that they are certainly a Top-10 team, while the Wildcats wanted to show that they deserve a spot in the Top 25. It even served as an historic occasion, as - thanks to Nebraska's decision to ditch their Big 12 brethren for annual trips to Pennsylvania Dutch Country - it marked possibly the final time that the two programs would ever meet on a football field.

The result was one that pained those for whom purple is a permanent wardrobe fixture. Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez found more open field than a traveler who takes a wrong turn in Western Kansas and the K-State defenders pursuing him seemed to be reenacting every slow-motion sequence that has ever taken place in film. Nebraska scored and scored. Fans clad in red (far too many of them) cheered endlessly in the stadium named for the Wildcats' head coach, and K-State fans held their guts in disgust. (Or as the result of disgust-fueled drinking.)

The loss hurt. Most do. Thanks to the stoicism from my dad credits to our Swedish heritage, I typically maintain a pretty even keel; never excited to the point of mindless screaming (whew), but never mad to the point of turning green and yelling self-narrations like "Hulk smash!" Yet, some of the most frustrating moments of my life have come as the result of numbers on a scoreboard. My brother-in-law still insists that the angriest he has seen me was after K-State's loss to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl in early 2004. I was mad about the loss. I was mad about obnoxious Buckeye fans sitting next to me. I was even angry about the ignorant folks sitting behind me who apparently had never seen football before. I was peeved, miffed, fed up, steamed, et cetera. I was this worked up, all about a game.

Why can sports seem so important? There have been plenty of events in my life that have certainly been more important than anything that takes place on a field or a court, and several happenings that have served far more severe (figurative) kidney punches. Such punches are the type that can make you truthfully fear what could be ahead. They can make you wonder how life could be so cruel. They are also the moments in life that can lead one to truly being thankful and appreciative for all they have been blessed with. Such moments trump anything sports can offer. For this, I will accept no debates.

We've determined that, in the grand scheme of all that comprises life, sports don't really matter. (Yes, it apparently took seven paragraphs to reach that mind-blowing conclusion... I'm a little slow.) Why bother with sports when they can leave you curse-mutteringly mad (the author's angry state) but ultimately hold the same importance as your decision to buy one or two Crunchwrap Supremes at Taco Bell? I think I've answered my own question.

We're a society that lives for living vicariously. Through movies, television, books and video games we're largely wrapped up in the successes (Way to save the brake plant, Tommy Boy!) and failures (Stomped by Bowser again? C'mon Mario!) of others. Sports serve as a way feel like a part of that success. You can read so much about an athlete that you feel like you know him or her. You can purchase apparel to match that of your team. You can memorize stats and schedules. If you're loaded with cash, you can even purchase tickets so close to the action that an athlete might steal your popcorn. Essentially, you can get so wrapped up in a team that it honestly feels like its performance affects yours, (I know there have been days that I've gone to work with a smile solely because of the numbers on a scoreboard the night before) and yet, it really doesn't matter.

A sports fan* can be exuberant with victories and devastated with losses, but (as long as said fan is mentally stable) their lot in life is unaffected. When your favorite baseball team loses 100 games in a season, your job is still safe. When your favorite football team wins as often as a Keno player who can't count higher than five, your family still accepts you. When your favorite basketball team drops a game thanks to shooting free throws as accurately as a cross-eyed goat, life moves on. Sure, the punches hurt, but they can be forgotten.

*Please note, this refers to loyal sports fans only. Fair-weather fans cannot be invested in this sort of manner... They also don't have souls.

Do I take sports too seriously at times? Absolutely. Could I imagine things any other way? No chance. Sure, I've been reminded far too many times throughout my 20+ years as a competent* sports fan that the figurative shots to the gut hurt, but there's always hope for tomorrow (even if your head coach regularly uses phrases like very confirmed )... Plus, figuratively, I can take a beating.

*Usage of this adjective is up for debate.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Grizzly Adams did have a beard

I'm facing quite a predicament. Well, that's not entirely true. The predicament is still about a month away, but the time to seek solutions is now. You see, my employer has declared that our company should observe the rules of "no-shave November" this fall. This means that all males employed by the company are encouraged to ignore razors for the month. The thought behind it is that it's a small way to be environmentally friendly, as it would cut back on the water and/or electricity on might typically use when shaving. I suppose it also encourages all involved to embrace their inner Santa as the holiday season nears. No-shave November proves to be an issue in my world because I don't feature a face rich in follicles of the whiskular* nature.

*Whiskular: Of or relating to whiskers... Obviously.

I feel like I've been blessed with plenty in my life. I'm blessed with the sort of impeccable timing that allows me to blink approximately 49.7-percent of the time when my photo is taken. I'm blessed with the uncanny combination of optimism and poor short-term memory that makes it possible to continually root for the Kansas City Royals year after year. I'm even blessed with the opportunity to commit so many poor attempts at being entertaining to the highly sophisticated world of the Internet. Alas, I'm not blessed with the ability to grow a decent beard.

I've put much thought into the situation, and I've decided I basically have five different options of how to approach the 11th month of 2010. Please, dear reader, review the summaries below and then vote in the poll at the side of the page to help determine what November will bring for the author's mug.

1. Nothing
I know the title is a complicated one, but the premise of the "Nothing" option is that I do nothing. I'd approach November like any other month, which basically means shaving on a sporadic schedule.

Pro - Life is good. Why change?

Con - I risk being taunted by so many coworkers sporting full November beards. Noogies, wedgies, and stolen lunch money would inevitably follow.

2. The poor man's hobo
This is what I'll look like if I fully embrace the "no shave" rule. There would be a good whisker patch on my chin, but my cheeks would resemble something like barren desert with the occasional cactus.

Pro - Shaving can be a pain in both the literal and figurative sorts. This option eliminates that problem for a month, plus adds five extra minutes to my morning a few times each week. Exciting.

Con - I don't appreciate the thought of people being repulsed by my grotesque appearance.

3. Magnum P.I.
Leave the upper lip unshaven and embrace the power of the mustache.

Pro - It has, by far, the coolest name of any option.

Con - I have no intention of pursing a career in law enforcement.

4. Seriously Going Green
Step one: Buy Chia Pet.
Step two: Ditch the pet portion.
Step three: Coat cheeks/chin with water and Chia seeds.
Step four: Bathe daily.
End result: A beard that will be the envy of any greenhouse owner.

Pro - I'd be a hit in the gardening community.

Con - I'd have the "Ch-ch-chi-CHIA" jingle stuck in my head all day, everyday for a month.

5. Fear the Beard
Maintain the regular shaving routine, but wear a fake beard of the Abe Lincoln costume variety to work each day.

Pro - The shaving schedule maintains status quo, but I put forth a VERY CONVINCING facade.

Con - Applying adhesive to my face each day is about as appealing as riding to work belly-down on a skateboard.

You've read the options, now it's time to choose. Vote in the poll at the side of the page, or feel free to add a write-in as a comment below. There's a good chance it would be added to the poll, as well.