Everything I Ever Learned, I Learned from Billy Joel

There’s a storm front coming, if you will, as the Piano Man, celebrating his fiftieth year in the music biz, is back in the public eye with his residency at Madison Square Garden, his Kennedy Center Honor, his world tour, and his exclusive channel on Sirius XM radio.  But I, for one, never let my New York state of mind wane.  It may seem shameless to say, but everything I’ve learned, I learned from Billy Joel.

My father wasn’t around much to tell me the ways of the world.  (Well, he was, but he never sang his lessons, nor put them to music, so. . . y’know, in one ear, out the other.)  It was primarily from the extensive catalogue of Sir William Joel (he was knighted, wasn’t he?  I mean, if Elton John was, Billy should be, nationality be damned!) that I’ve picked up a thorough education on such diverse subjects as the entertainment business (if you get cold, you won’t get sold) to balancing work and play, succeeding in relationships, and money management all the way to the guy’s code and enjoying the moment — all the stuff that’s truly important in life.  (Yeah, I’m looking at you calculus, state capitals, chemistry, Shakespeare…  You’re all worthless!)

Hey, life isn’t easy.  Just surviving is a noble fight.  So in order to enlighten you as I have been enlightened, here are fifteen tried and true bits of wisdom from the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer that help as we all have to deal with pressure.

  1. Never buy a big waterbed with the bread you had saved for a couple of years.  Really?  That’s your luxury buy?  Savings accounts barely even reach one percent these days.  The money you took out could not have been worth the time you spent waiting for its value to appreciate.  Have you tried mutual funds?  The stock market is riding new highs this year.  You could do a lot worse.  As for your purchase, who needs a waterbed anyway?  You get sea sick in your sleep.  If you’re gonna save up, buy something a little more durable.  A memory foam mattress is much more comfortable and better for your back.  Plus, you can drink wine while bouncing up and down on it without spilling.
  2. Take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while.  This country is all about success.  If you’re not successful, then you’re nothing.  So we work 26 hours a day, eight days a week.  There’s always someone else who is working harder than you?  But is he happy?  Maybe he’s working so hard because he hates his wife and doesn’t want to go home?  How did he get his current position?  Who is he related to that got him the job?  The mind can literally explode if you work too hard.  I’ve seen it happen (in a reenactment on the Internet).  And still, things can never happen fast enough.  Why aren’t you successful yet?  You can’t be everything you wanted to before your time.  Cool it off before you burn it out.  Visit an amusement park, take in a jazz festival, go on a trip.  Vienna is nice this time of year.  Your mind will thank you by not exploding.
  3. You can linger too long in your dreams.  Dreams are nice.  Feel free to dream on, but don’t imagine they’ll all come true.  But you’ve got to know when to pull the rip cord and resort to your fallback plan (assuming you have one).  There’s a popular image on the Internet of two guys digging in adjacent tunnels.  One of them throws his shovel down and we see that it’s right before reaching the diamond mine.  The point is, you never know when your dream will become a reality and you don’t want to bail too soon, but you’ve got to use some common sense here.  Some dreams have clocks on them.  Once you hit ten or eleven, if you haven’t mastered a back handspring yet, you could probably forget about being an Olympic gymnast.  Still, some guys keep that picture of Kate Upton on their vision boards way too long.  It’s getting depressing.  Give it up.  It ain’t gonna happen.  She’s moved on, so should you.
  4. We can only go so far on caviar and cabernet.  Who are you, Jay Gatsby?  That kind of extravagance is gonna bore you after a time.  That is, if you’re not already bankrupt.  How much caviar can one eat anyway?  It’s so salty.  Your lips are gonna prune up and you’ll be in perpetual “duck face” leaving you looking looking like a sorority girl in Spring Fling photos.  Quit pretending to be some pompous boob and go have some wings and beer.  So enjoy yourself, but don’t overdo it.
  5. We will all go down together.  Look at Mike and Trent in the classic movie “Swingers” when they went back to the trailer with the waitress and “Dorothy” — Mike couldn’t get out of his own way, wallowing in sadness over his ex-girlfriend.  He didn’t score, and that meant Trent had to curtail his activities.  It is the number one tenet of the man’s code:  Leave no man behind!  Either we all get the girl or no one does.  This also works during wartime activities, but hopefully you will not find yourself in that situation.
  6. Let people speak their mind, but not on your time.  Whether it’s cold remedies or stock tips, or the way to dispatch a hornet’s nest, everyone’s a know-it-all.  You can be polite, the ol’ nod n’ smile technique, if you’d like, but really, you have better things to do than to listen to their cockamamie advice.  If you ask for their advice, fine, but you don’t need their advice.  The only guidance you need is from Billy on this one.  Let them ramble on, though.  No need for you to be hot about it.  And then bring it up later to rub their faces in their heaping pile of wrong, especially if they’re covered in hornet stings and you’re not.
  7. Get it right the first time.  This one is rather straight-forward.  You get one chance to make a first impression, whether it’s with a guy/girl, or during your “elevator pitch” to the CEO of the company, or in your tryout as wideout for the San Francisco 49ers, so don’t blow it!   No one is giving second chances anymore.  In this day and age, with 140 characters on Twitter and fifteen second Instagram video clips, even that first time is condensed.  You have no autocorrect in the real world.  Earn the nickname “One-Take Charlie.”
  8. Don’t be afraid to try again.  Yeah, you blew it the first time, everyone goes south every now and then.  Get back on that horse.  Just don’t make the same mistake.  That falls under the umbrella, “If at first, you don’t succeed. . .”  I mean, it might not work.  Don’t beat a dead horse.  But we do like a redemption story.  However, this is your last chance.  So what if you made a fool of yourself on “American Idol” with the whole country watching.  Somewhere, there’s the back room of a sawdust-infested bar that’ll have you.  We’re not saying you’re gonna be back on Redemption Week on the “Idol,” but to remember rule #3.
  9. Never argue with a crazy mi-mi-mi-mi-mind.  It’s the argument equivalent of trying to get a sugar-crazed kid off of the jungle gym.  There’s the old adage that when you argue with a fool, anyone watching from a distance won’t be able to tell which of you is the fool.  It’s why umpires initially walk away from a heated manager.  Another way to phrase this is just avoid fans of any sports team other than your own, or political party, or anyone wearing a bathrobe in public, Alec Baldwin, Beyonce’s sister, a dude roller blading with a snake around his neck, etc.
  10. Tell her about it.  Tell her all your crazy dreams.  Open and honest communication!  It’s the key to any relationship.  What’s on your mind, what are you thinking?  Let’s take a moment to gauge where we are.  Put it all out there on the table, so she’s not left guessing because that’s where the trouble begins.  I lay everything out there — sometimes as I walk to my car, I imagine that I’m a walrus; what it would be like to be a woman; if bears are migrating into cities, why isn’t Bigfoot?  And if he does, what job would he apply for? (I’m not gonna lie to you, I’ve gotten the “we need space” talk a LOT.)  It’s up to your discretion how much you tell.
  11. Leave a tender moment alone.  Okay, this one takes a bit of intuition and may seem to counter the previous rule.  Just because it’s on your mind doesn’t mean she needs to know.  Two people together, even soulmates, can annoy the hell out of each other at most times.  It’s natural.  But if you just keep quiet, it will make things a lot easier.  Recently, there was an Ohio couple married 70 years that died within fifteen hours of each other.  They held hands at breakfast every day.  They didn’t need to say anything.  In fact, the second one of them opened his or her mouth, it might have ruined everything.  No one wants to hear you free associate your feelings every minute of every day.  While you’re being all communicative, you must know when to SHUT. . . UP.
  12. In every heart, there is a room, a sanctuary safe and strong to heal the wounds of lovers past until a new one comes along.  Okay, so you told her too much and doomed the whole relationship, you’ll get over this heartbreak.  Suppressing your feelings is the best way to put the pain behind you, and nothing bad ever boils up again.  That’s what Billy means when he talks about the room in your heart.  Okay, so it’ll also help if you burn all his/her possessions and any of his/her favorite restaurants, just to keep yourself from being reminded of the monumental way you screwed things up with the one person in the world that understood you.
  13. Sinners are much more fun.  Stop being such a saint.  You’re always worried about doing the right thing and concerned about what other people think.  (Honestly, some of those Commandments are kinda overblown.)  “Only the good die young” isn’t completely true as there are so many other factors independent of your lifestyle that contribute to life expectancy, from genetics to environment to diet, etc.  So have some fun, fer cryin‘ out loud!  (I mean, we’re not talking about murder here.)  Claim someone else’s coffee off the counter at Starbucks, make a lefthand turn from the right lane, photobomb a family portrait.  It’ll be okay.
  14. Post-WWII history and pop culture.  All of it.  Him.  That’s where I got all my knowledge.  (Though, lately, I’ve been learning a thing or two from Wikipedia.)
  15. These are not the best of times, but they’re the only times I’ve ever known.  Quit whining!  Could things be better?  Probably, but you’re alive, so suck it up.  What are you looking for, unicorns and gumdrop forests with money trees?  The grass is always greener but you should just stay in the present and enjoy yourself.

There you have it.  It’s life.  Mistakes are to be expected.  But if you carry this list with you as a guide, the words of the Piano Man can take us all through the tough times.   And so it goes.

My New Year Recap of 2013

December 24, 2013 11:53 p.m.

Knock Knock.

Who’s th–

POW!  You’ve been punched out with holiday cheer and good will!

To all my dearest, old friends (both tenured and vintage) and new acquaintances including Carlos Danger, Pope Francis, George Louis Alexander, and of course, the NSA (who are not on my mailing list, but are reading this anyway),

I wish you a secular and nondenominational, inoffensive greeting during this most hallowed and joyous time of year (should you choose to find it hallowed and joyous).

As I sit here on this yuletide, stoking a yule log in my hearth and simultaneously noshing on the culinary yule log while nestled comfortably underneath my framed photo of Yul Brenner, it dawned upon me that this is my tenth annual holiday note to the masses.  The swift passage of time has left me at a loss for — what do you call that? — unit of language which functions as a principal carrier of meaning composed of one or more morphemes.  I took at it as an opportunity to partake of the quiche of nostalgia and, via my TARDIS (I rented one as an outright purchase seemed obtuse), I engaged in “Throwback Thursday” (though it is only Tuesday), reviewing the swath of memories a decade has provided.  It was like binge-watching my life.

I chortled at 2004, the year I had my name legally changed to Wa$if, bellowed at 2006, which was adapted into the movie “A Madea Holiday Note,” guffawed at 2009 which was actually penned by another scribe as I was embroiled in a contract dispute, and cackled at my 2010 appearance on the popular reality program “So You Think You Can Dance With the Stars” and my attempt to sidle up to Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn only to get leveled by her bodyguards.  (My neck still hurts when there are sharknado conditions which happen more often than any self-respecting film major would care for.)

As for the past 365, I can only imagine what synonym for “laugh” they will conjure.  It certainly has seemed quite the roller coaster what with the smaug desolation and constant candy crushing, though we did manage to avoid the widely-predicted zombie apocalypse, which was quite a relief for me particularly, as I have a history of undead in my family (though book sales for my travel tome “101 Places to See After You Die” were predictably lackluster.  Such is the price of writing for a specific demographic.)

June, in particular, was quite challenging for me due to an ill-advised twerking accident.   The pain came to me like a wrecking ball and I yelped. . . giving it only two stars as it should have a warning label listing potential physical harm and an attack on good taste.  (Unfortunately, I had to pay for therapy out-of-pocket due to a pre-existing condition from last year’s planking accident. Had I only waited a few months for Obamacare to kick in. . .)  Fully recovered now, I am ready to enter BEAST MODE!!!. . . or beauty mode, whichever is less strenuous.

Creatively, it was a banner year for writing as I came up with such pithy fare as “Everything Must Go” for outside of mattress stores and “Come to Happy Hour for Drink Specials,” tailing airplanes over beaches.

Alas, I was forced to shut down all business for a time.  Apparently, my inability to come up with a budget left me unable to reconcile my meager earnings with my exorbitant spendings.  Fortunately, my insolvency was not terribly noticeable as I borrowed enough to live on.  I’ll let my children and my children’s children deal with it as I have greater issues on my plate such as why are children allowed to have children of their own?!  The very notion of it sickens me, though that could be the recalled poultry I bought on sale for Thanksgivikkah as part of their Duck Dynasty promotion.

I still managed my annual sojourn abroad this year as the Living Social travel deal I came upon was simply too good to pass up (without reading the “terms and conditions” to which I readily agreed).  I spent 39 glorious days in the transit zone of Moscow’s airport where I immersed myself thoroughly in the culture indulging on their authentic cuisine of vodka lattes at the Starbucks and the mcgoulash patty from their McDonald’s.

Upon my return, October featured some very heavy emotional times as I learned somewhat auspiciously that I was not, in fact, Woody Allen’s son.  The bombshell came as somewhat of a shock to me, but not nearly as much as it did to my parents who have been telling me I was for years, in spite of their names on my birth certificate.

All in all, if I’ve taken anything away from 2013, it was the teachings of Rob Ford, the great Mayor of the great state of Toronto, who showed that no matter how unqualified you are, to remain steadfast in your beliefs, even in the face of fierce resistance and common sense.  And conversely, if things are going great, you should voluntarily and without reason change them up, just to mess with people, like Yahoo! mail.

May unmanned drones rain down upon you in targeted strikes of happiness and health, inflicting unspeakable prosperity.

Yours truly,

Andy Wa$if

My Application to Be an NFL Coach

Dear Coachless Football Teams,

I understand your frustration in hiring a new coach to run your on-field product.  The top college coaches aren’t interested and you have trepidation about some of those who have done it before, the Ken Whisenhunts, and the Lovie Smiths, and the Lovey Howells of the world.  Hence, I’d like to take this opportunity to throw my hat into the ring.

Hey, Norv Turner remained the head coach of the San Diego Chargers for six years!  You really have nothing to lose in calling me in.  Tell you what, I’ll even pay for the lunch we have together.  You like Thai food?

I know what you’re thinking:  I don’t have any experience.   True, but what I lack in experience, I make up for with snappy answers at my press conferences.

As for qualifications, where do I begin?  I am a former Monday morning quarterback, with over 30 years of experience chastising coaches for moves that, with the benefit of hindsight, seem incredibly stupid.  I have a very good record of pointing out what should have been done after the fact.

I am a badass, but a player’s coach.  To wit, I run my practices like a drill sergeant, but allow my players who display exceptional effort on the practice field to earn coupons for “one free back rub and tub soak.”

Each day, I am the first one to arrive and the last one to leave the facility.  (Though I do require an eight-hour lunch/siesta in the middle of the day.  Genius needs its rest.)

And I demand that my players will have the best endurance in the league.  I’m like Michael Douglas in ”Miracle.”  (Or was it Kurt Russell?  Y’know, I shouldn’t get them confused, but I do.)  I don’t run two-a-days, I run three-a-days.  And every practice is in pads.  In fact, I require my players to wear pads 24-7, even on off days.  They can only take them off when they shower.

From a strategy point-of-view, I can tell you that a prevent defense doesn’t prevent anything.  So I won’t use it.  A prevent offense, however, I use almost exclusively when in the red zone.  It helps to reduce turnovers close to the goal line which always sap a team of much needed momentum.

In this formation, when the ball is snapped and the offensive line drives the defense into the end zone, the quarterback hands the ball off to the running back who then scampers all the way down to the other end of the field wasting valuable time the defense would otherwise have to get the ball back and tie the game after we punched it into the end zone.  I got the idea from a recent rousing game of ”keep away.”

Defensively, I am just as adept at confusing the opposing team.  Cover-2?  Yeah, too weak.  I use the cover-11 and drop everyone into coverage.

I don’t carry a punter.  The game has four downs and I like to use them all.  Punters just take up a roster spot.  So I usually carry a fourth quarterback.  Tim Tebow will not be one of those four quarterbacks.  I see him more as a down lineman type in my scheme.

”Game management” is my middle name.  When the ball is in our quarterback’s hands with a minute thirty or less, that’s when we’re at our best.  We play the entire game as if that were the case.  The hurry up offense has never been as fast.  The second the center gets to the ball, he’s told to snap it backwards, whether the quarterback is ready or not.

Sometimes I put all four quarterbacks on the field at the same time and get the defense to try to guess who’s going to get the snap.

I’m versed in the pistol, shotgun, run-and-shoot, hit-and-run, pick-and-roll, the wildcat.  I also have perfected formations known as the musket, laser, Shangri la, and the Mississippi midnight mosey.  (The last one is a dance step, but I have a feeling I could integrate it into the offense seamlessly.)

I’m known for the sheer volume of times I employ the on-sides kickoff.  It softens the receiving team up until they don’t expect a long kickoff.

The types of players I am most fond of are tall and lanky wide receivers, that run a 9.0 80-yard dash or faster.  (I don’t believe that a 40-yard dash can adequately gauge a person’s speed and I believe that running them 100 yards is useless as there’s no purpose for that type of distance in American football.)  Someone like former NBA star, at a height of 7’6” Shawn Bradley would be ideal for my pass plays.

My cornerbacks need to have loose hips and tight necks.  So they can only stare at what’s directly in front of them but can constantly change that point of view.

Did I mention I am a tireless workaholic?  I watch film constantly.  For instance, I just finished “Argo.”  It was breathtaking.  I’m considering running a few plays like that.

I even write my own cheers for the cheerleaders.  ”One-two-three-four, we’re not gonna pass no more.” It’s actually my way to call the play to our quarterback.  (The one flaw is that if the other team realizes it’s not a real cheer, we’re in trouble.)

I grow my mustache like Andy Reid, spit when I talk like Bill Cowher, wear a fedora like Tom Landry, a sweater like Mike Ditka, and a hoodie like Bill Belichick, all at the same time.  My nickname is, in fact, ”Bum.”  According to ancestry.com, I am 1/128th Harbaugh.

On a side note, I am an amateur horticulturalist.  What do I grow?  I grow Bill Parcells Coaching Trees in my greenhouse.

”Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing,” was Coach Vince Lombardi, the man for whom football’s ultimate trophy is named.  ”Winning is something that isn’t nothing” is mine.  I live it, I breathe it, I want it etched on my tombstone.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m good with soundbytes too.  ”If we score more points than the other team, we will win the game.”  ”I can’t have a bunch of guys peeing themselves in the middle of a playoff game.”  ”Exhibitions are for museums!”  Those were all gems I’ve uttered at one time or another.

I mentioned the press conferences earlier.  They’ll become must-see television.  Great fodder for the media and we all know the fans love an engaging coach as much as they love a winning team.  Look at Jacksonville, there can’t be any other reason to continue watching them.

And not to step on the toes of the marketing department, but I have just four words to throw out to you — ”Fans Suit Up Day.”

So, in conclusion, when you’re trying to decide on a has-been using techniques that retired when Slingin’ Sammy Baugh did, consider that the game is changing.  It’s about staying one step ahead of the curve.  Getting the other head coach to lose focus for just one second as he drops his clipboard in stunned disbelief to say, ”What the –?!” as my offensive line goes into a choreographed riverdance as a new twist on the fumblerooski.

My hire will generate interest, much more than any one of a slew of standard-issue coordinators-cum-head coaches, and that’s what you need.  We may even win a game or two.  Well, as long as Cleveland is on the schedule.

If this opportunity should not pan out, I would also consider a job in concessions where I have several years of experience.  The hot dogs have to be kept at a minimum of 125 degrees, otherwise, they will turn green.  That doesn’t make them taste bad, per se, just different.

Recapping My 2012

December 24, 2012

@Dearest friends, hobbits, Big Bird, Honey Badger, homophobic chickens, and the 47% of you I know are going to read this no matter what,

#Whatayear!  I refuse to concede that it’s over.  It went by in an instagram, just a flickr.  So much transpired, much of it incredibly pinteresting, such as the *asterisk* replacing italics.  In fact, 140 characters cannot even begin to describe the meme that was 2012, an affair that I attended clothed magnificently in Gangnam style dress of just more than four dozen shades of grey.

And assuming you are reading this now — SPOILER ALERT! – we are still alive!  The Mayans proved their prognostications to be more skewed than those of a Romney pollster, a predicament that proved both bitter *and* sweet, for I chose to engage in carpe diem — a spicy Argentine fish dish I came upon through Epicurious — and hence chose to max out my credit cards.  Boy, is my face red. . . matching my bank account.

The new resolve did however spur me to attack my bucket list, first moving to curb my hoarderism by cleaning my apartment.  Oh, the things I came upon, including six of the ten buckets on said list, my binder of women, my bayonets, the decade-old prototype for a “Touch Me Elmo” doll, and a cache of mislabeled “Livestrong” bracelets.  (The “v” was missing so, as luck would have it, I will be able to use them after all.)

When I reminisce on the year, the visions dance about with tapouts, copouts, knockouts, brownouts, obnoxious louts, acrimonious shouts, and bailouts.  Bailouts especially in Europe, as for much of year, Greece was the word, the word that we heard.  From the blue moon into the summer nights all the way to one evening I spent stranded at the drive-in followed by tears on my pillow straight up until Sandy showed up much different than we expected, the Old World home of democracy kept me engrossed with their economic discord.  The whole ordeal felt so cinematic, and made me want to sing for some reason.

A defining moment of my activity came early summer when I fell prey to the proverbial June swoon, captivated by one lady’s bottomless charm and nonrefundable grace.  Yes, I finally redneckonized what was already gospel — Honey Boo Boo was, indeed, a national treasure.  So I became a redneckluse to devote my time to watching her on television until my friends intervened, getting me to redneckonsider my admiration.  It was then I redneckoned the entire display was nothing more than a pain in the rednecktum.  I came away from the experience a better person, if not more brain dead.

Shortly thereafter, I embarked upon a spiritual awakening, eschewing the hustle and esswallowing the bustle in favor of calmness and serenity, discovering the Zen buried deep inside me (during a routine outpatient surgical procedure).  I took to meditation, walks in nature, and soothing soaks, even utilizing bath salts to relieve my troubles. . .  until I was booked for assault on my neighbors which caused me more trouble.  Admittedly, I was negligent for not reading the label on the bath salts that warned against eating them.

As reparations to my reputation, I volunteered to join the neighborhood watch committee and was quite the vigilant provider of security. . . that is, until the incident.  I believed, erroneously, as it turns out, that all clothes dryers had a protection mechanism that would allow them to shut down in the case of a legitimate fire, but alas, I was wrong.  And on one of my bimonthly trips to the laundry, the act of leaving my clothes in the dryer (having lost track of time as I frolicked in the fields), needless to say, caused me to burn many britches.

Though I was removed forcibly from all future meetings, I was impressed to learn the committee head Mr. Eastwood kept addressing my empty chair which curiously managed to sway his opinion on several key proposals.

As autumn arrived, and I in need of a respite, I did manage to squeeze in my annual sojourn (how journ was it?!).  Though short in duration, I managed to visit such historic sites as the Fiscal Cliffs and the Petraeus Falls, even spending one day in Pennsylvania along the Jersey Shore, its waters lapping the banks of Philadelphia.

Of course, the election cycle played a major role in my focus as it drew more confrontational than a cross-country flight with Alec Baldwin.  Taking my naturalized voting rights seriously, I made a difficult choice after much rumination, eventually casting my ballot for the one candidate I felt best represented my equanimity and sagacious thought — Team Edward.  Though I know not all of you would agree with me, remember, it is our difference of opinions on such important matters that makes this country great.

And so as we go “All In” to the new year, with the passion that Paula Broadwell conducts a no-holds-barred biographical interview, I conclude my primly proper prose whilst enjoying the one-of-a-kind vocal stylings of Michael Buble emulating Harry Connick Jr. covering a Frank Sinatra yuletide classic by wishing each and every one of you a 2013 unlike any other 2013s.  May your Ding Dongs and Ho Hos be abundant leaving your Twinkie and Sno Balls full of happiness.

Sincerely yours,

Andy Wasif

 

Featured Image by: Stuart Miles

Fanism: Re-examining Stereotypes of Sports Fans

With the recent passing of Rodney King, it’s prompted us, as a nation, to revisit race relations in this country.  Without getting too much into that, I’d like to stride along a parallel path to point out that as civil rights have navigated peaks and valleys throughout history, there is an issue that has run consistently over time, under the radar, an unspoken ill, eschewing logic for gut feelings and emotion.

Fanism in this country (the generalized labeling of an entire group of fans with a single, specific characteristic) is still rampant.  So I say, as the late Rodney King said on that fateful day in 1991, “Ow.”  (He also said “Can’t we all just get along?”  And upon further consideration, I’d say that second quote probably resonates more with my article, so I’ll go with that one instead.)

Think of those fans you hate, or those fans that drive you nuts.  It’s not only them as individuals per se, but everyone like them.  What traits do they all have in common that bug you, that you’ve seen as a recurring theme among them?

We stereotype.  It’s human nature.  When you get down to it, aren’t we all a little bit fanist?

Stereotypes are a funny thing. They begin when there is a recurrent theme pertaining to a certain group, whether focusing on region, gender, Veganism, whatever.  Sometimes they are exaggerated, like, for instance, not all Jews have Chinese food on Sundays and not all Amish like to polka.  Sports fans are no different.

Are the stereotypes true?  There are things you think of rival fans that have become engrained in your mind as fact.  It may be an accurate description, or you may be manifesting something unfounded, but convenient.  What do we base them on?  Sociological studies?  A coin flip?  Some prankster with a popular blog?  There isn’t a think tank out there that holds a meeting and decides, “We’ll start saying that Milwaukee Bucks fans are bad tippers.”  (Although if there was some office to manipulate these kinds of made-up labels, outcomes, and so forth, I would imagine it would be overseen by David Stern.)

Fair or not, these characterizations are stuck with fans of these teams.  And sometimes, the actual portion of the fan base that resembles this may only be a very small percentage, if you will — the one-percenters.  (Except these outlier fans have a lot less money and a lot more free time to do stupid, mean things than the one-percent of guys who are too busy ruining the American financial system.)  Yet it sticks to them.

Let’s go around the country.  What do you think when you think of certain fan bases?

Let’s start in the Northeast and my ol’ stomping ground (Ironically, that’s where the term stomping ground began as well as there’s actually a stomping ground dating all the way back to revolutionary times when patriotic Colonials would come home, tired from a long day of rabble rousing just to stomp around for a while to let off steam.  It was a forebear to Zumba classes.)

When you think of Boston fans, you may immediately classify them as the racist city in the sports landscape.  This image has formed over decades, beginning with the fact the Red Sox were the last team to assimilate black ballplayers onto their major league squad, continuing through the 60s, even as Bill Russell won championship after championship on a predominantly white ballclub, to when former Celtics player Dee Brown was pulled over and charged with DWB (“driving while black,” to those not hip to the slang), up to the present.

Last month, Bostonian’s seemingly sunk to new lows with racist tweets after the Bruins loss to the Capitals.  A few weeks later, they were caught dumping beer on Lebron (technically on top of the screen that covers the tunnel back to the locker rooms) as Lebron passed underneath.  Now fans are calling Boston fans racist and classless.

But classless doesn’t stick as a label for Boston.  Every fan base has classless fans.  That’s an unfortunate fact.  (Sports are there to give the lives of such fans some worth by providing them a team of their chosen to put their energies in the hopes of that team succeeding where their lives have failed.)  But in terms of classless, I think fans would call out Detroit or Philadelphia before Boston.  Racist?  Well, yeah, Boston fans still can’t get out from the grinder on that one.

If you’ve been to Philadelphia, you know their fans to be among the least civil of all.  They have that reputation.  They’ve thrown ice balls at players, and Santa Claus.  They boo visiting players who get injured.  Philadelphia’s a tough town.  It comes from circumstance.  They’re not as big as New York and not as historic as Boston.  It’s cold there and everyone’s internal chemistry is messed up from eating scrapple and cheesesteaks.    They have an inferiority complex bigger than any other city.  In fact, they are superior to other cities when it comes to feeling inferior.

But we mustn’t forget New Yorkers.  They are brash and confident.  It comes from living in New York.  If they weren’t, they’d be eaten alive.  But to others, it comes off as being obnoxious.  Couple that with a sense of entitlement from decades of championship-winning, even before they were born, and it comes out to the world.

Oh, and before I leave this region of the country, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that New Yorkers also like to point out that Boston fans are whiney.  Not all of them, but an inordinate number of them.  It comes from having to deal with Yankees fans for decades.  Strange how the successful of the Celtics has not tempered this character flaw.

Proximity contributes to these depictions, but not always.  For instance, Dodgers fans are all the way on the other side of the country.  And they are very knowledgeable.

They enjoy the game and seem to have an East-Coast acumen toward it, seemingly from their Brooklyn lineage.  (Save for  a segment of the fans with anger management issues, but there are many fan bases who have that.  It could have been as a response to Frank McCourt’s horrible management of the team.)

Down the road, the (whatever city they are claiming to be a part of this week) Angels fans are nowhere near as knowledge as Dodgers fans.  They wait for the Rally Monkey to tell them what to do.  Truth be told, even he doesn’t know what’s going on.

Then there are Lakers fans who are, by and large, not knowledgeable at all.  They’re not really fans of the NBA, which is an odd thing to say.  They love the Lakers and have a knowledge of that team (except when trying to make the case that Kobe is a better player than either Magic or Jerry West, and even Kareem), but are woefully misinformed when it comes to reality.  Many continue to call their giant Spaniard Paul Gasol.

Conversations with their fans might find you listening to their claim that their team is a top-notch defensive unit in spite of statistics that would betray their argument quite uncompromisingly.  They might be 11th in the league, but what do numbers matter?

Interesting that Los Angeles is known, as a city, for its non-reality.  The weather is always nice, breasts are always perky, and time does not progress.  So it would stand to reason that they could attempt to make a case that a mediocre defensive team is, in fact, among the best in the league.

But they are certainly passionate toward their team.  Seattle is a different beast.  In football, the Seahawks possess one of the loudest fan bases and home field advantages, but once the game is over, they are surprisingly calm.  It’s a relaxed, laid-back region. It also rains a lot, which may do some to cool emotions.

Remember the Super Bowl that Seattle won, but the officiating team presented to Pittsburgh instead?  Egregious call after call went against the Seahawks until they could no longer regain momentum.  In 2010, four-and-a-half years later, referee Bill Leavy admitted to blowing the game.  But Seattle fans took it all in stride, with disappointment, but civility.  Could Philadelphia fans have done that?  Oakland fans?

How many times have you cringed when someone mentions the term “Raiders fan?”  They have the reputation of being criminals which isn’t fair… since they can’t defend that rap because they’re all in jail.

I kid! I kid!  Or do I?  Are you saying you place Raiders fans in high regard?  Chargers fans certainly do not.  When the two teams play each other in San Diego, Raiders fans draw very well because Chargers season ticket holders frequently give away that game because they don’t want to deal with Raiders fans.  Is that unfounded?  An urban myth?  No.  It’s what they’ve found out over the years.

St. Louis fans are nice, Chicago Cubs fans are resigned to failure, Cleveland fans make Cubs fans look like Yankees fans, Miami fans are Cuban, Texas Longhorn fans hook things, Duke fans are spoiled, Alabama fans are morons (if you’re an Auburn fan), Auburn fans are morons (if you’re an Alabama fan), the list goes on and on.

Remember, these are stereotypes.  You’ll be able to point to fans in each of these cities that don’t fit, but this is how a city is perceived.

I’m sure there are people reading this (or having it read to them due to the big words) who slam their fist down and scream, “Who the hell does this guy think he is?!  We’re not like that at all.”  Or the ones who equate my article as the lunatic rantings of a typical bitter, jealous, and whiny Boston fan who just enjoys watching his gums flap in the wind.

But that’s just blatant fanism and you should be ashamed of yourself.  Rodney King was right, we should just get along.  But then, in sports, where’s the fun in that?

 

[Featured Image by: David Castillo Dominici]

Checking Santa’s List for Sports

Ho! Ho! Ho!  No, it’s not Herman Cain addressing yet another accusation from a mistress, but the commercialized call representative of the birthday of that most famous religious figure, that leader of men, that otherworldly phenomenon, Tim Te—er, I mean, Jesus Christ.  (Sometimes I forget that Tim Tebow’s birthday is actually August 14th.  My new year’s resolution is to get a petition to Congress to make that day a national holiday, I don’t care how many doors I need to knock on and how many hours I need to stand outside of malls.)

It’s Christmas time, and it’s the time for giving, a time for all of <i>fankind</i> to come together as one and treat each other with hospitality and friendship.  For all the animosity you show to each other, this is a time to put bygones aside.  In fact, let bygones be bygones; help them to grow up and live fruitful bygone lives, raising little bygones of their own, and then let those bygones be bygones, perhaps settling an organic bygone commune out in the woods somewhere. 

Now is the time to allow for all our fellow fans, be he decked in silver and black, teal, or green and yellow with a hunk of cheese on his head; be his field green or blue; whether his horns be hooked or his tide rolled, he deserves something this holiday season and Santa (shhhh! It’s actually just a fat guy in a red suit and hat with a white beard) is here to give it to him. 

Now, without further ado, let us reach inside the satchel and distribute the presents to these most deserving sports entities:

To Tony LaRussa – a phone that works and a peaceful retirement.

To the NBA – a new commissioner, six fewer teams, and plenty of Barkley and Shaq commentary. 

To Dirk Nowitzki – singing lessons.

To Frank McCourt – a one-way ticket out of Los Angeles (it’s really for his own good as Dodgers fans can be quite aggressive.)

To Dodgers fans – a new owner, preferably one who is a step up.

To Jerry Sandusky – a trip from Penn State to the state pen.

To the Texas Rangers – a hearty “A” for effort.

To Nelson Cruz – a better jump on the ball.

To the 1986 Boston Red Sox – the long overdue opportunity to throw away the Buckner footage. 

To @d_rovell (Darren Rovell) – a singing career.

To Dan Patrick – more movie appearances.

To Tim Tebow – a watch with the correct time to start “Tebowtime” 45 minutes earlier.

To opponents of the Broncos – a fourth quarter to go along with the three they currently play.  

To Cleveland – something. . . ANYTHING.

To Lebron James – a book on magic to help with his disappearing act during the NBA Finals.

To Chicago Cubs fans – hope, if but for just an offseason.

To the “unnamed source” in sports reports – the courage to come forward with your name.

To the “player to be named later” – a name, preferably something cool, like Nnamdi Asomugha, or I hear “Ron Artest” is available.

To Chad Ochocinco – permission to tweet as much as you’d like.

To Ndamakoung Suh – an offseason job as the glass breaker at Jewish weddings.

Jim Schwartz – dinner with Jim Harbaugh.

Jim Harbaugh – the chance to stand Jim Schwartz up at dinner.

To Brett Favre – another chance. . . to throw an ill-advised game-losing interception.

To Vince Young – a different dream.

To the late, great Al Davis – a team in heaven.

To Peyton Manning – a new neck.

Andrew Luck – a good real estate agent in Indianapolis.

Eli Manning – finally a seat at the head of the table at family gatherings

To Brigham Young University – consensual relations during basketball season.

Mark Cuban – an MLB franchise.

CC Sabathia – opt out clauses every year.

Los Angeles – a football team. . . for a few years before it leaves for somewhere else.

Manny Pacquiao – a fight with Floyd Mayweather.

Rex Ryan – a Bill Belichick dart board for his game room.

Donovan McNabb – a cushy studio job.

Tony Romo – a big game win.

Big East – a new name.

To the Bowl Championship Series – a little love. . . similar to the love Lennie shows a puppy in “Of Mice and Men.”

To Chris Paul – a string of championships with the Clippers.

To the Los Angeles Clippers – a larger share of the market (something tells me if they start to win, Lakers fans will jump on board). 

To Albert Pujols – 254 million reasons why it’s not about the money.

And to Tito Francona – a more respectful, celebrated exit.

Finally, to all of you from all of me, I give to you another year of buzzer beaters, fantastic finishes, shocking upsets, gutsy performances, inspired efforts, and the thrill of victory without the agony of defeat. . . unless, of course, you’re playing Tim Tebow.  

Happy Holidays!

My 2011 in Review

12/18/2011

Dearest ninety-nine percent, GOP mistresses, remaining Mideast tyrants, and Demi Moore,

First off, I want to thank all those who texted me their well wishes after my freak shake weight accident.  Your expressions of concern warmed the cockles of my heart. . . save for those of Anthony Weiner whose cockles are not welcomed on my phone ever again.

I enjoy this time of year when we can put the baggage of the past 12 months in a box, letting bygones be bygones so they may raise other bygones and those bygones can, in turn, become bygones of their own, potentially forming an organic bygone community in the woods somewhere.  But in this moment of introspection, I cannot help but think of how this year was nothing short of a veritable feast of historical significance.

So much has changed – the world was all at once both topsy and turvy, seemingly rotating on a tilted axis like some sort of planetary body.  Antioxidants, once the darling of health food circles, were now being unceremoniously dispersed through questionable crowd control tactics; free radicals now cost money, and the melodious aria cough was downgraded to barely a whoop.  We experienced carmaggedon, witnessed solar flares (from which I was disappointed not to receive super powers), had the end of the world postponed another year, and for a brief time, I became a Leo, before realizing I wasn’t generous enough to qualify.

Where did the time go?  It seemed the Arab spring segued right into the Paterno fall as quickly as a Kardashian marriage.  I had no time to waste in grabbing life by its Florida peninsula.  As a change to my health regiment, I began drinking tiger blood.  That is, until developing a severe allergic reaction to it.  But for that hour and a half, I was WINNING!

By the early summer, I’d come upon a fairly rigid obstacle to my proactive aspirations in the form of a vast financial deficit due to my ill-fated foray into the baklava sector of the commodities exchange.  I was not to be deterred, however, thanks to the motivationals of Governor Rick Perry who said, “The three non-negotiable keys to achieving one’s happiness in life are hard work, perseverance, and I’ll get back to you on that third one.”  Words to live by!

Mastercard was loathe to raise my debt ceiling (downgrading my credit rating to a C- to boot) upon my request forcing me to find more thrifty uses of my FRI (Farmville-related income).  Together with my new iPhone, Siri, I took to streamlining my budget, but after a drawn out battle over whether or not to spend less or earn more, the artificial intelligence system locked me out, unable to use it anymore.  Thus, I tightened my belt, restricting myself to the bare essentials such as food, rent, and the electric milk frother that I simply had to have.  It was bad business not to buy it, lactose intolerance be damned!

One respite from the unequivocal economic exorbitance was a deal I found at Godfather’s pizza offering 9 toppings and 9 dipping sauces for just 9 bucks!  And I could defer payment to my grandkids.  The only downside was that they said it wasn’t my right to choose the toppings.

Despite such difficulties, I still managed to satiate my appetite for travel by working selflessly for causes such as helping the earthquake relief effort in New York City.   The trip also gave me a chance to attend the infamous Occupy Walmart rally which was a powerful event that will stick with me like the pepper spray in my clothes, and a stop at Wall Street’s Zuccotti Park, home to the popular gourmet luncheon spot of the traders – “Quiche My Ass.”  I had the Elitist Arugula Salad for just $59 with a Groupon.

Creatively, I found my Muse fervently aroused as I completed my first novel typed entirely using a banana to hit the keystrokes.  I think the title speaks for itself – “Kjfoewwi6f.”

And as the waxings and wanings of the moon progressed rapidly, I nevertheless found time to learn a new vocation, officially becoming a fruit ninja.  The test was not easy as you are required to hack honeydews, carve cantaloupes, gouge guavas, and joust juniper berries all with finite precision and dexterity to the reverence of bystanders at the Farmer’s Market.  I feel the lifetime ban from the popular locale was well worth the citrus belt I earned.

Moving forward, I do not wish to let future opportunity pass me by, refusing to take for granted that which is within my reach.  As such, I am excited to finally attend a taping of Oprah and Regis in 2012!  It is with the same such enthusiasm that I say to you all, may the unmanned drone of prosperity rain unspeakable happiness and joy down upon your home.

Yours comedically,

Andy Wasif

 

 

[Featured image by: digitalart]

A Moment of Sporting Thanks

Prior to the autumnal feast that shall soon be placed before us, we’ve already been given a lot to digest from this year in sports, including not one, but two labor strikes, improbable winners, ungracious losers, horrific tragedies, and a trip from Penn State to the state pen.  Let us now take a moment to focus, not on the negatives that are overthrown passes and blown coverages (as we all know there was pass interference somewhere that should have been called), but rather on all the positives we can take away from the field; to take pause and give thanks for this culture in which we have invested our time and sanity. 

Interestingly enough, the first Thanksgiving occurred when the Pilgrims went to the Wompanoag Tribe in 1621 for lessons in surviving the brutal winters of Massachusetts and how to deal with the annual collapse of the local wood-chipping team. 

That autumn formed the basis of what we now know as Thanksgiving and for many years, the colonists lived peacefully and synergistically with the neighboring Indian tribes.  That is, before shooing them off their land, claiming it for themselves, and then giving them casinos.  It was kind of like running up the score.  Nothing said they couldn’t, but it was generally frowned upon, especially by the Indians. 

But I digress. These days, the holiday stands for overeating, creating weird hybrid meals like turducken, watching football, and spending time with the family you seek to avoid all year long; a chance to call a timeout to the hustle and/or bustle of our lives. 

So with that tradition in mind, let me take a moment to present to you that which I am thankful from the past twelve months in sports.   I am most thankful for:

Norv Turner, for defying logic and remaining gainfully employed as a head coach in the NFL.  Seriously, does he have photos of A.J. Smith in a compromising position or something? 

The 2011 Boston Red Sox, for making us all forget that “All My Children” had ended.

Theo Epstein, for giving Cubs fans hope, as blind as it might be, for that’s where it begins.

Jim Harbaugh, for showing that going from the college to the pros is easier than everyone prior to him has shown it to be.

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, for keeping the economy growing with fines levied from hits.  C’mon, James, it’s been a while.  Your country needs you!

The NFL, for making it a safe game to play again, except to the myriad players foolish enough to get injured on a weekly basis. 

Tim Tebow, for being a great quarterback even though the numbers show he sucks at it.

Ndomakung Suh, for being a dirty player while remaining so damned likeable. 

Andrew Luck, for saving the Indianapolis Colts while still at Stanford.

Boise State, for losing a game this year so as not to confuse things in the BCS as they did in 2009.

The Big East, for keeping the words “big” and “east” in their title even though both are misnomers. 

Dirk Nowitzski, for winning that ring he deserved five years earlier.

The NBA players, for standing their ground and taking a charging foul.

The NBA owners, for arguing the call, saying it was a blocking foul.

David Stern, for continuing to ruin a league he once built to prominence.  The guy’s like a gambler at Vegas who doesn’t know when to leave once he’s accumulated a stack of chips.  It’s become quite comical to watch.

Novak Djokovic, for showing he should be on “Dancing with the Stars.”

Roger Federer, for finally allowing others the chance to win trophies.

Tim Tebow, for forcing us all to love him.

Bob Costas, for getting the interview with former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky so we could see the worst denial in the history of speaking, a 16-second denial on whether or not he is sexually attracted to young boys where the alleged child rapist repeated the question, qualified it, danced a little, then finally denied it once we had all switched over to “Dancing with the Stars” that we had TiVoed.   

NCAA football conferences, for making geography class irrelevant. 

Michael Vick, for regaining the respect of his fans, only to lose it again with his performance on the field.

St. Louis fans, for being so even-tempered. 

Albert Pujols, for doing something legendary just days before his contract expired.

The Texas Rangers, for allowing networks to replace footage of the 1986 Boston Red Sox with them.

Playoff beards, for making a world of difference in how you play. 

Cal Ripken Jr., as a reminder not to take his feat for granted.  He played in 2,632 consecutive games.  I, for one, took a week off between writing the beginning and end of this piece. 

Tim Tebow, for making us all believe in ourselves.

Sports karma.  That’ll teach you to take anything to South Beach.

Floyd Mayweather, for finally realizing he gets paid a ton of money to fight Manny Pacquiao. . . whether he wins or loses. 

Mike Tyson, for being viable again. . . in some funny acting bits.

Coach K, even though we all hate your team, we gotta admit, you’re pretty good

Shaq Fu, the Shaq Daddy, The Big 401K, and so on, for his fun-loving personality we hope continues into retirement. 

Chad Ochocinco, for his tweets before he got to “heaven.”

Major League Baseball, for stepping up to the plate and showing America it’s still a force to be reckoned with.

And finally, Tim Tebow, for making every day just a little brighter.

What a year it’s been.  Sports are as they always are – intriguing captivating, nauseating, emboldening, and demoralizing.  And that’s only on a Sunday.  Here’s to the other six days of the week.  Now, pass the turducken.  I’ve still got some eatin’ to do before I watch “Dancin’ with the Stars.”

[Featured image by: David Castillo Dominici]

God and Sports: What Effect Does HE Have?

Stevie Johnson won the game for the Buffalo Bills.  That’s what Geoff Hangartner thought when he turned his back the moment the ball landed perfectly in Johnson’s hands and he rushed to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to celebrate.  “Perhaps a little dance, perhaps I’ll throw the signal caller on my back and gallop around for a little bit; maybe just a simple helmet bump,” the Bills center thought. 

Fitzpatrick, by that time, had already gone from celebration to mourning, clutching his helmet in disbelief.  The Harvard-educated quarterback knew the degree of the ball’s trajectory, the force with which he threw it, and the speed of the wide receiver all came together to make the perfect throw.  He also knew the odds that such a perfect throw would be dropped were low, yet still feasible.  And he knew the likelihood that what he was seeing was real and not a philosophical manifestation or existential occurrence. 

Steve Johnson was not so cerebral about it.  He just knew that he had [bleeped] up.  He did catch the ball perfectly on the bounce though, so he had that going for him.  But that didn’t count and someone was to blame.  Who would have thought that it was the Lord?

After the game, the wide receiver tweeted, “I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!!” YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO”

Is God even on Twitter?  Not that HE couldn’t figure it out, but HE may have deemed it as a waste of time.  I mean, after all, if HE was spending time on the site, do you think HE would’ve finished the world in only six days?  HE’s very into time management.  

But that’s besides that point.  One thing we do know is that God has a sense of humor.  It’s why some men have hair on their backs, but not their heads.  It’s why we still need orthodonture work done throughout our adulthood after getting a half dozen teeth pulled and wearing braces for two years during adolescence. 

Have you ever lost your keys and looked in your coat pocket without finding them.  Then you’re back to your coat pocket later in the day and the object reappears?  That’s God.  You can thank him for replacing your keys.  Of course, you could also blame him for taking them in the first place.  

Though an omniscient being, do you think God gets the sarcasm at the end?  “Thx tho.”  Or was Johnson being sincere?  “Oh, yeah, thanks for those times you didn’t screw me.  I wouldn’t want to see ungrateful.  But for this particular time, you’re on my list, buddy.” 

Players frequently thank the Lord when they win the game or make a great play.  This would be the first time in recorded history where the “Big G” was publicly thrown under the Crosstown Heavenly Express Bus (the #8 for those with a heavenly bus schedule). 

But what hand does God actually have in the game?  There’s this old gem from a couple of years ago:

God was giving Yankees manager Joe Torre a tour of heaven. He showed him a little run-down 2-room house with a faded Yankees banner hanging from the front porch. God said, “This is your new home, Skip. Most people don’t get their own house up here.”

Joe looked at the house then turned to see the house on the top of the hill; a huge 2-story mansion with white marble columns and plush patios under each window. Boston Red Sox flags lined the sidewalks and windows and a huge Red Sox banner hung between the marble columns.

 “God, with all due respect, let me ask you a question: How come I get this little house with a torn Yankees banner that proclaims our 26 World Series titles while Terry Francona gets a huge mansion with Red Sox banners and flags flying all over the place?”

God smiles for a moment then replies, “That’s not Terry’s house, that’s mine.”

And you can replace the Yankees with the Patriots or Duke Blue Devils, whatever you want.  The truth is God doesn’t have a favorite.  HE just has a sense of humor.  HE loves that joke.  HE loves when you tell it to make your team feel like they are chosen.  HE also loves when your team screws up.  It’s funny.  Ever see those blooper reels on the lighter side of sports?  God’s got them all (on Blueray, of course).

He’s certainly not biased toward one team or another . . . (although there is significant evidence to indicate he’s not a fan of Cleveland).  But scholars spend so much time focusing on the existence of God and his effect on games that they neglect his most significant nemesis, the Devil. 

Remember, the Hades resident exists as much as he’d have you forgot about him.  “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”  That’s from “The Usual Suspects” and doesn’t give away the ending, though if you still haven’t seen it by now, I should ruin it for you just based on principle.  

I find it strange that El Diablo doesn’t get more due.  He’s behind lots of things.  But winners praise God, who is probably amused by the attention, while the Devil is ignored.  It would make just as much sense, if not more. 

Take the 1990 NY Giants after the kick by Buffalo’s Scott Norwood’s sailed wide right sealing his team’s fate – why don’t players get into the locker room after the game and say to the reporters, “Phew!  The Bills played tough out there tonight, but we had Lucifer on our side.  Thank the Devil.  Super Bowl Champs, Baby!!!”

God, quite frankly, is not a sports fan.  Do you know how trying that would be on HIM?  “Have you ever seen a World Series baseball game on tv?”  Of course, you haven’t, few people have.  Sorry.  Stupid question.  Any sport will do, really.

If you had, you’d see all these people sitting in the stands, hands clasped deep in prayer.  Most of them swear their butts off and are probably cheating on their spouses, so they’re not really very religious.  During these times, God gets deluged with requests much like a city’s septic system does during commercials of a Super Bowl broadcast. 

Philosophers have struggled over this for centuries, back when the first rock slipped through the first caveman’s hands or a sword fell out of a Gladiator’s hand just as the lion was about to pounce, or the sun got into a knight’s eyes enough to obscure the angle of the attacking knight’s lance. 

The issue has haunted the likes of such great minds as Kirkegaard, Newton, and Vegas bookmaker Joey “Muffintop” D’Angelo who theorized that God was a fan of Rollie Massimino’s animated coaching style and thus made a fortune on the 1985 CAA Finals. 

Nope, Lucifer just knew a good opportunity to screw a lot of bettors.  “#8 seeds never win.”  Heh heh.  Yeah, we’ll see about that. 

The Devil is the sports fan.  He loves messing with things.  God has better things to do.  If God cared, do you think the Yankees would really have 27 championships?  Would a team named the Blue Devils win so much?  How would that look?  (Actually, that’s exactly the kind of humor God goes for.  He’s an ironic dude.)  

Of course, there is the less-publicized theory that a couple of guys at Buffalo Wild Wings who weren’t ready to head home to their wives used their connections to the Rich Stadium grounds crew to keep the game going.  But like I said, it’s only a theory.

What do I know anyway?  Until now, I thought Newton spent all his time creating a delectable snack cookie made from figs.

 

 

[featured image by: Danilo Rizzuti]

Postcards From the Hedge

April 29th

Dearest Penelope,

We arrived today in Chesterfield and are staying at a delightful bed & breakfast.  Winston is so romantic.  He had my favorite flowers, lilacs and petunias, waiting for me in our room.  Though he realized he’s allergic to lilacs, he insisted that we keep them in the room while he sleep outside.  What a gentleman!  We have an early morning in front of us so I’m off to bed without any further delay.

Sincerely yours,

Annabelle
************************
April 30th

My dearest Penelope,

I must tell you our nature walk was extraordinary.  When we set out down the path this morning, I expected only to see ants, mosquitoes, and ladybugs, but was overwhelmed by a variety of creatures including a stag beetle and a red-spotted purple butterfly.  And the things I am learning from Winston.  He mistakenly captured a regal fritillary in his net thinking it was a checkerspots fritillary before realizing the latter is indigenous to northern Spain and Central Asia.  I have never been more attracted to him as I am now.  I’m extremely tired now so I’ll continue my correspondence with you tomorrow.

Yours,

Annabelle
************************
May 2nd

Dear Penelope,

I believe that I am in love with Winston.  Today, as we were seated on a rotting log alongside the trail, he put his arm around me.  (Oh, Penelope, I know what you’re thinking and you do have the wildest imagination.)  No, he was simply brushing a Japanese beetle off my shoulder.  The chivalry never ceases with him.  Then he went on to describe the larvae stage of the beetle.  Fascinating!  He is so smart.  We went back to our room expecting to have a romantic evening last night, but Winston had a sneezing attack as the lilacs are still in the room.  So I went to bed alone and awoke well-rested for another day on the trail.

Annabelle
************************
May 2nd (p.m.)

Penelope,

This has been the most incredible day.  Winston proposed!  It was so romantic, like something out of a novel.  Instead of a ring, he presented me with a firefly.  That original Dickens!  Without me suspecting anything, he captured it on the trail with the intention of jarring it until evening when it might illuminate for me.  Unfortunately, it turned out to be a striped blister beetle (the look quite similar to the firefly) that bit Winston on the hand.  My silly little Romeo has iced his hand and is now resting as he’s had his fill for one day.  I’m all flushed with excitement so I’ve ordered a hot toddy and it’s straight to bed.

Regards,

Annabelle
************************
May 3rd

Penny,

It seems my poor Winston had a slight reaction with that beetle yesterday.  He looks so cute puffed up like a float entered in the Rose Parade.  He hasn’t lost his nobility, though.  Not wanting to put a damper on my walk, he gave me his binoculars and sent me out by myself.  I missed him terribly, though I did encounter a pack of Monarch butterflies flying past me.  They must have been returning from their winter migration.  How lucky I was!  Absolutely breathtaking.

Anna
************************
May 4th

Dear Penelope,

Winston is dead.  The physician said the bite on his hand coupled with his allergy to lilacs weakened his immune system.  Given the news, I opted not to stray from my room today.  Perhaps I will write more later, but for now I am emotionally drained.

In deep sadness,

Annabelle
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May 7th

P,

As you can see by the front of the card, I’ve decided to finish my vacation in the Caribbean as I’ve never been.  It’s absolute paradise.  Plus, I’ve met the most wonderful man named Fernando who’s going to teach me how to “bodyboard.”  I look forward to telling you all about it when I return next week.

Hugs,

A

 

 

 

[featured image by: tharkul]