Monday, November 28, 2011

More Thanks Than A Sensical Person Can Handle

Each November, those in our country pause to celebrate that for which they're thankful. While it's a bit disturbing that things like Kardashian-laden television programs or banana-free banana splits might populate such lists, it's still nice to see folks expressing appreciation for what they have, rather than complaining about what they don't.

It's become a mini-tradition for me to post many of the things I'm thankful for to The Writings when Thanksgiving rolls around. More accurately, it's become a mini-tradition for me to realize I've forgotten to post such a blog until days after the holiday, at which point I scramble to get it published... At least I'm consistent.

As always, I'm thankful for extraordinary family and great friends and their health and safety. Whether it's giving up a free Saturday to help paint my (then-future) home, or simply exchanging (what we deem) witty banter during a football game these people are always there, and it's always appreciated.

I'm thankful that said family and base of friends continues to grow. Through marriage and new life, the folks that mean the most in my life are bringing more people to the table. This means that more people have to tolerate me, simply by association. Jackpot.

I'm thankful that my three-year-old niece has some great ideas for what I should ask for this Christmas season. "Legos to build a robot" will be something to look forward to.

I'm thankful that at least one person who reads all this discussion about family will wonder when I'm going to pull my weight by bringing someone new into the fold. This means I'm not a lost cause... yet.

I'm also thankful for patience. (Translation: Sorry, keep waiting.)

I'm thankful for the opportunity and good fortune that allowed me to become a home-owner this year.

I'm also thankful that my home has yet to burn down, blow away, sink to the bottom of a previously undiscovered sinkhole, or be warped to another dimension. Every day that I arrive home to a still-standing house is a good one.

I'm thankful that I had the sense to stay away from any super-shopper, bargain-hunting-crazed, pepper-spray-toting women on Black Friday.

Check that, I'm thankful that I've had the sense to stay away from any super-shopper, bargain-hunting-crazed, pepper-spray-toting women in general.

I'm thankful for employment. In transitioning through a business merger, there were times where my work future seemed as certain as KU football success, but all has worked out to this point.

I'm thankful for the opportunities presented by part-time endeavors, as well. Sports writing can be a cynical business, and often I don't really grasp how great of a part-time gig I really have. Seats on the 50-yard-line in a climate-controlled environment? Check. Free admission to every game? Check. Free meals every game? Check. Parking pass? Check. the opportunity to be on the field at the end of the game? Check. The opportunity to speak to those involved following the game? Check. A paycheck, as long as I can detail said game in a manner that can be deemed semi-sensical? Check.

I'm thankful for the fact that, though you might hate me right now after reading that last paragraph, through the kindness of your heart, you will forgive me... Eventually. I think.

I'm thankful for many other things that I'm certain to have neglected mentioning. This list includes, but is not limited to: hope for the Royals, success for K-State, the fact that Tyler Palko will not start for the Chiefs next season, Twitter followers that find a comment of mine amusing enough to retweet it, the Angry Birds bomb-bird, all six seasons of Lost on DVD, rain, the fact that I have not encountered any more snakes in my basement, Netflix ditching the name Qwikster, triple-letter spots in WordFeud, the Vista Burger combo, the fact that no one noticed that my shirt was missing a button the other day, a working furnace, and my health.

And, finally, I'm once again thankful for the opportunity to commit my thoughts to writing without fear of reprisal, uprising, or scorn more severe than the rolling of eyes. I've always maintained that I mainly keep this rolling to entertain myself; should anyone else find it good for a chuckle, that's all the better. Thank you for reading.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

9 Angry Wins

Last night, Bill Snyder was the angriest nine-win coach in America. His Kansas State Wildcats - underdogs once again, continuing a trend that makes one wonder whether folks in Las Vegas think Manhattan, Kan., is actually a fictional town - topped the Texas Longhorns, pushing their season win total to nine... Not bad for a team whom many predicted would not earn the six wins necessary for bowl eligibility.

With the NCAA's broken postseason system*, the Wildcat win won't push them toward better postseason seeding, but it does give them a chance to share the Big 12 championship - this in the Big 12's first season of round-robin conference play. With scheduling quirks no longer affecting week-to-week action and the lack of divisional play eliminating the opportunity for a conference championship game ups (see: 2003), K-State was not supposed to be able to compete for conference championships anymore. This point was so clear, it may have even been printed in Dan Beebe's book of daily affirmations.

*Bowl System Logic: You had a borderline-good-to-great season, how about you go play in one more game, but this one will be in a random city. No, you won't ultimately have a chance at the NCAA Championship, but you can win a trophy that bears the name of a corporate sponsor that may very well be bankrupt in three years. Hooray!

The fact that the Wildcats are here - chasing a piece of a championship - surprises pretty much anyone who is not directly associated with the Kansas State football program. It's been the sort of season that many coaches might dream about. So, why was Bill Snyder so mad?

As Snyder put it, Texas "beat the tar out of us." The Longhorns out-gained the Wildcats 310-121. The Wildcats averaged a meager 1 yard per rush attempt - a total they might have matched if they had just lined up in a goal-line formation and run quarterback sneaks every single play. The passing game was not much better, with the Wildcats completing barely half of their attempts, gaining just 83 yards through the air, and getting sacked five times. Essentially, if you gave your dog a Playstation controller and turned on Madden Football, the mutt's team might have a chance of topping K-State's offensive output.

With a week off prior to their final game of the season, the Wildcats have a chance to rest - good news, since news came out that quarterback/walking-bruise Collin Klein had not really participated in practice over the last two weeks - and also a chance to shore up on any misgivings. Asked what the Wildcats need to focus on during the bye week, Snyder quipped something along the lines of "We need to learn to play offense." ... He's nothing if he's not subtle.

Once again, the Wildcats won. It was a fairly big win; one many coaches would accept with wide smiles on their faces. As the last Kansas State coach repeated after every single game (and as he exhibited during his time on the sidelines), "It's tough to win football games." The Wildcats have already exceeded expectations. They've won games they "shouldn't" have won. They've even surprised the most optimistic fans, yet Snyder isn't happy. He wants more... And that's probably why they're competing for a piece of a championship in the first place.

Stay angry, Bill.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Comeback

It seems as if social media has my blog in some sort of submission hold. Whether it's your standard sleeper hold, the Million Dollar Dream, or Ric Flair's figure-four, I'm not sure, but I fear that The Writings are in danger of tapping out. If this were a 1980s wrestling match, this would be about the time that the crowd started chanting "Wry-Tings, Wry-Tings!" as the persistent referee continually asked whether the face (wrestling speak for good guy) was ready to give up.* That cannot happen.


*Knowledge of professional wrestling submission holds and terminology brought to you by the Derek Really Needs a Life Foundation. The DRNLF, gathering pointless knowledge since 1982.


Though The Writings began simply as a way to cure boredom when I was living in central Kansas (originally I intended to only post - possibly illegally - things I had written for classes or my jobs, mainly as a way for me to keep track of my work. The blog evolved however, and I soon discovered that it served as a good place to compose thoughts, riff on random observations, practice writing fiction, and attempt to make jokes. Yes, I may be the only one who found any of it entertaining, but that did not matter. Many people view writing as the work of an underworldly demon, but I enjoy it. Blogging, it was fun.


Today, however, things have changed. I check Twitter more often than I check the time. Now that I have a phone that may be smarter than I am (I certainly can't predict the weather), Twitter's 140-character limit is never more than one tap of a touch screen away. With that, the humorous* observations that once called The Writings home are now Tweetized. It's quick. It's easy. And, frankly, a heck of a lot more people read it. Essentially, it all serves as a mini-blog. It's the "Wr-" without the "-itings."


*Term subject to interpretation.


The tweets are great, but the downside - again - comes in the fact that they are stealing blog material. Yesterday, I got news that my car has a fairly  costly issue with its engine. That evening, rather than having time to curl up in the fetal position, fretting the check that will be needed to cover the expense, I had to dig a small trench - in the midst of pelting, frigid rain - in attempt to end the little fountain of water that was making its way into my basement. It all was good blog material. Alas, it all found Twitter first, at which point I felt there was no reason to delve deeper into the subjects.


That, dear friends (or acquaintances, or impartial observers, if you prefer) is just wrong. I need to delve! Part of writing (and life, for that matter) that I enjoy the most is finding humor in hidden details. Making observations about observations. Picking up on one thing - any thing - that might be just a bit askew and bringing it to light. Delving is great, and it needs to return.


Twitter is not going away anytime soon, but that doesn't mean The Writings will, either. It's not time to tap out. It's just about time for a comeback.