My Coaching Application – NY Jets

 

Portrait of the artist as a well paid football coach with furrowed brow
Portrait of the artist as a well paid football coach with furrowed brow

 

Attn: Director of Personnel  – NY Jets

 

Dear Sir,

I am Mr. One Point Perspective, part-time, award winning blogger extraordinaire and full time jack-ass.  I would like to take this opportunity to formally offer my name for consideration as Mr. Rex Ryan’s successor as the head coach of the New York Jets.

As you are undoubtedly aware, the world of professional football is going through some challenging times in recent years.  On the field, teams have taken to using formations of such complexity that many teams have resorted to hiring choreographers.  Celebratory dances alone have nearly been elevated to an art form.  From a play-calling standpoint, things have gotten so confusing that the referees are often the only ones on the field who aren’t either calling audibles or decoding the giant postcards held high on the sidelines by back-up quarterbacks and assistant-assistant coaches.

Off the field, things are stickier than ever.  Player behavior is making headlines for all the wrong reasons.  The public relations quicksand gets deeper by the day.  Who would have guessed that giving millions of dollars to idolized young men who make their living doing violent things could possibly be lead to problems?

These league-wide scandals, in addition to your abysmal record the past several seasons may have disastrous results.  At this rate, there is a distinct possibility that some fans may actually be upset enough to give up their season tickets, mandatory pre-season ticket packages and seat licensing fees.  Without taking action, there is a chance the Jets organization could end up losing a few doubloons over this, not to mention your share of lucrative parking revenues!

The time is now, gentlemen.  Your organization can be a pioneer in making the bold move into uncharted territory by hiring a middle-aged guy from suburbia to be your head coach.  A person with no practical experience in coaching can provide your team with the fresh, unpredictable direction which only a true neophyte can provide.  My attached resume will show that I’ve spent my adult years following several career paths, none of which involve professional football.

I did play football in high school.  Granted, the game was different back in those days, we didn’t wear gloves or Darth Vader visors.  I do recall a few guys on the JV team who tried to sneak gloves out onto the practice field when the weather got cold – they were subjected to some good natured ribbing, let me tell you.

I have participated in a fantasy football league for several years.  The experience has been one of rather limited success, likely due to my drinking too much at the draft parties.  The large amounts of beer and tequila may have been the root cause of my drafting players who were not actually available to play due to incarceration, retirement and in one case, death.  The parties were typically held at my home, so there was no driving under the influence or other scandalous behavior on my part.  I can’t speak for Hacksaw or Tommy Tilt, both of whom have  left the league.  You’d have to speak with their respective wives for full details as to why they withdrew.

Since I have none of the football coaching experience of Rex Ryan, I’ll compare myself to him in a general sense;

  • Rex Ryan has been rumored to have quite the foot fetish and his wife even allegedly appears in several videos, showing off her tootsies.  While I won’t deny being as much of a fan of pretty toes and dainty arches as the next guy, I have the common sense to keep the camcorder in its case except for family birthdays and holidays.
  • Rex has a brother, Rob Ryan, who is a defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints – at least he is at the moment.  I also have a brother, and like me, he has no experience coaching football.  He keeps his thinning hair much neater than Rob Ryan’s tangled mane.
  • Rex is known for being outspoken and a straight talker, much like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.  I’m also widely considered to be a loudmouth, especially when I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.  Predictably, Gov. Christie is a Cowboys fan and to the best of my knowledge is not interested in coaching your NFL team, as he has eyes on bigger game (or it could be he’s looking at the “sale” sign in the front of Tartaglione’s Cannoli Emporium).
  • I can’t beat the Patriots either, but I’ll damn sure dress better than Belichick on game day.

My noteworthy personal attributes include:

  • I haven’t managed a whole team of players, but I did have a hand in raising three children, none of whom have served any significant time in prison.
  • Mike Vick and I go way back – Oh the dog-fighting yarns we could tell!
  • I’m okay with sharing a stadium with another team as long as those Giants fans promise to pick up after themselves.
  • I appreciate the history of your great franchise – for example, I’m pretty sure that Weeb Ewbank did not host The Newlywed Game.
  • I look really good in green

In closing, I’d like to thank you for your consideration.  Again, I urge you to take the trailblazing step of handing the reigns over to a complete novice, before another team steps up and does it first.  To be completely fair, I intend to send similar applications to parties in Atlanta, San Francisco and Chicago.  Since I already live in Jersey, I’ve decided to give you first dibs.

 

Respectfully,

One Point Perspective

 

P.S.: I understand a position has also opened up in Buffalo.  I don’t want to be an NFL coach badly enough to apply for that gig.

 

Out of the Closet And Up Against A Jumbo Package

In a recent chapter of the gay-guy-playing-pro-football saga, an online article actually supplied me with so much material to write about, I barely knew where to start.

First, ex-football coach and Skeletor look-alike Tony Dungy said he would not have drafted Michael Sam, the NFL’s first openly gay player.  Dungy said that he would not have wanted to have to deal with the complexities which Sam’s impeccably stylish, matching personal baggage might contain.  I haven’t spoken with Mr. Dungy personally, but I think I understand his logic.  Also, he didn’t actually talk about Mr. Sam’s luggage, that was just me using a cute metaphor.

He doesn't look too much like Dungy in this pic and in an ironic twist, Skeletor looks kind of effeminate here.  (Image from Cracked dot com)
He doesn’t look too much like Dungy in this pic.  In an ironic twist, Skeletor looks kind of fem in his signature lavender tights…and girlfriend, those nails! (Image from Cracked dot com)

The NFL is a tough place to do business, and potential players are put under intense scrutiny.  Teams want to avoid drafting anyone whose off-field behavior might sully the league’s reputation or distract fellow players from remembering blocking assignments and locker combinations.  Sports psychology experts will tell you that all it takes is one accused murderer, wife beater, dog fighter or date-rapist to disrupt the delicate balance of locker room morale.  Drafting a guy who already “plays for the other team” is just asking for trouble.

It appeared during the draft that many of the NFL’s talent scouts may have agreed with Dungy’s assessment of Michael Sam.  After all, it’s one thing to have pink accessories to show support for breast cancer awareness (and then donate pennies to the actual cause), but damn it man, the NFL doesn’t need players to start pushing for rainbows too!  You let gay men into the league and the next thing you know they’ll be having “Say Yes To The Dress” marathons on the jumbo-tron!

Boobies – 7  Judy Garland worship – 3

Oh hell no girl!  It's gonna take more than some pink ribbons to fix that dress.  Get your ass back in the limo!  (Image from xoxobook dot com)
Oh hell no girl! It’s gonna take more than some pink ribbons and wrist bands to fix that look!  (Image from xoxobook dot com)

Dungy’s quote did not get past sports commentator and arbiter of all-things politically correct Keith Olbermann, who promptly labelled  him “The Worst Person in the World“.  I’m not a close follower of Mr. Olbermann.  I’m hoping that he names a new worst person in the world every week or two and this is not a one-time thing.  While Dungy’s comment could certainly be construed as prejudicial, it’s hard to imagine that he beats out Adolf Hitler, Charles Manson or Donald Rumsfeld, just for uttering a few words.  In Olbermann’s defense, if he just labelled Dungy a jerk, he wouldn’t have likely gotten much mileage out of it.

If you let zee homos into zee league, zoon zee schwartzas vill follow, und before vee know it, zee Juden vill own zee teams und have access to zee zuperboxes und bunkers" (Image from dot net)
“If you let zee homos into zee league, zoon zee schwartzas vill follow, und before vee know it, zee Juden vill own zee teams mit access to zee zuperboxes und bunkers” (Image from taringa dot net)

 

Next in line was Tim Wildmon, the CEO of the American Family Association.  Wildmon discussed the PC media’s fervor over Dungy’s remark.  In addition, Wildmon volunteered that having spent quite a bit of time in locker rooms as a sports reporter himself, he felt that surrounding Michael Sam with all that naked “beefcake” was unfair to the players (Insert cheap “illegal contact”, “holding” or “too many men on the field” penalty joke here).  I’m reserving my opinion on anything else Wildmon wrote, and just taking some perverse thrill in his use of the term “beefcake” in discussing naked manly men.

 

Brutus the Barber Beefcake.  Honey, those stripes are just not working...and those tights!?  You need a make-over!  First, let's put some shoulder pads on you.  (Image from cakechooser dot com)
Honey, those stripes are just not working…and those tights!? You need a make-over! First, let’s put a jock strap and some shoulder pads on you. We’ll finish the look with a snazzy visor! (Image of Brutus The Barber Beefcake from cakechooser dot com)

As the keeper of my own blog, I’m entitled to give my two cents on this whole issue.  The thought of a gay man being anywhere around the hallowed ground of America’s most prized gladiators is simply too much for many of us to wrap our narrow minds around.  Clearly doing elaborate celebratory dances while wearing tight, colorful pants and eye make-up is no place for some kind of Nancy-boy.  If openly homosexual men are able to infiltrate the league, it’s only a matter of time before the F in NFL will stand for “Flaming”.  Players will start patting one another on the backside, displaying fancy footwork, wearing knee socks and gathering in “huddles” to talk about their plans.

Tony Dungy didn’t really elaborate on the risks of hiring a gay guy to do a straight man’s job.  Had he done so, he might have pondered how on earth anyone could expect a homosexual to use a spin move on a tight end while trying to get his hands on the ball.  In any case, the deed is done, and Sam is here to stay, at least for now.  It’s only a matter of time before homosexual men start showing up in other sports like figure skating and drag racing.  At least purists of heterosexuality in professional athletics can take comfort in the lack of any lesbians in women’s sports.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Open Letter To A Former Oregon Football Player

The news was abuzz a little while ago with the story of a former University of Oregon Duck football player who went to the UCLA-Oregon game in Eugene and was disgusted by the things he heard fans say.  He wrote an open letter to Oregon football fans.  He didn’t specify that the letter was directed only to the people he encountered in the stands, or even just the ones in the stadium itself.  He finished his letter by telling the fans to go “F” themselves.  The letter was a big hit for news merchants and the internet since everyone loves a scandal.  On behalf of at least one Oregon football fan, I’d like to submit the following rebuttal:

There's a lot more to Oregon than just the U of O, and there's a lot more to the U of O than just football players and fans.  (Image from Wikimedia dot org)
For the record, there’s a lot more to the U of O than just football players and fans, and there’s a lot more to Oregon than just the U of O. (Image of Wizard Island in Crater Lake from Wikimedia dot org)

Dear Former Oregon Ducks Football Player,

As a University of Oregon alumnus and big fan of the team, I was sorry to read that your experience as a spectator in Autzen stadium was not as pleasant as you might have hoped.  You seemed genuinely surprised that some of the roughly 60,000 people sitting around you didn’t have a grasp of the nuances of the game.  As if that weren’t bad enough, some of them seemed to be far from supportive of your former teammates.  I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that as a former player, you’ve spent far more time on the field of play than in the stands.

You mentioned that you had a few beverages before the game.  You might not have noticed, but I’m willing to wager that some of the folks you encountered that day might have had quite a few more than a few.  As if adding alcohol to people wasn’t bad enough, there’s a good chance that some of those fans knew next to nothing about the game even before they started drinking.  You might not have noticed the buffoon factor in stadium crowds before, since you were likely busy playing and focusing on the action on the field.  News flash; lots of people go to football games but know little about the sport and lots of other people go to games to drink and have fun, and maybe watch some football.

As anyone from a major metropolitan area can tell you, if you put 55 or 60 thousand people in a small area, you'll quickly find a few assholes.  (Image from bleacherreport dot com)
As anyone from a major metropolitan area can tell you, if you pack 55 or 60 thousand people in a relatively small venue, you’ll quickly find a few assholes. Just to clarify, I am not insinuating that anyone in this photo is an asshole, except maybe that one guy right there.  (Image from bleacherreport dot com)

You also wrote that you felt like a foot soldier in Spartacus.  That like slaves, you and your team mates were fed, housed, trained and given nothing more.  Don’t slam Oregon fans for that, I’m pretty sure the NCAA is in charge of what you’re allowed to get reimbursement-wise.  For the record, a quick internet search estimated the cost for an out-of-state student to attend the University of Oregon for one academic year is a little bit over $44,000 (I saw only 26 players from Oregon on this year’s roster of 120 players).  That number includes tuition, books, meals and housing .  For four years, that adds up to $176,000 ($220,000 for five year red shirt players).  I realize that to NFL players, $176,000 is chump change, but to the average pair of parents sending their kid to college, it’s a lot of cabbage.  I’m sorry you would have liked more than that for your sacrifice and hard work, but I’m guessing your parents were pretty happy about avoiding having to get a second mortgage on their house to send you to school.

On the subject of NFL players, LeGarrette Blount is playing for the New England Patriots these days.  He is best remembered for sucker punching an admittedly mouthy Boise State player in the Oregon season opener a few years ago.  Chip Kelly benched him until the Rose Bowl if I remember correctly, but the damage was done.  Another NFL player, former Duck John Boyett, lost his spot a few months ago on the Colts roster after a public intoxication, disorderly conduct arrest – alcohol rears its ugly head again.  He reportedly told the police, “You can’t arrest me, I’m a Colts player”.  To the best of my knowledge, Jeremiah Masoli never made it to the NFL.  He was the Duck’s starting quarterback before being kicked off the team, after embarrassing us all by breaking into a frat house and stealing a laptop.  The biggest sports/non-sports story these days is the Miami Dolphins letting go of an offensive lineman named Incognito who sounds like a truly special brand of asshole.  Incognito actually managed to bully a guy who is damn near as big as he is.  We fans can take solace that he was technically an Oregon Duck for a week before the coaching staff wised up and dumped him.

Many Oregon fans are embarrassed when the team we root for is associated with knuckleheads – I know I am.  Yet despite my shame, I didn’t stop watching the games on TV, nor did I burn any of my Oregon sweatshirts with the Nike swooshes.  I remained a loyal fan to my team, because as anyone would admit, it’s not fair to sully the whole program because of the poor behavioral choices of a few dopes…

Just as it’s unfair to trash an entire population of fans because you ran into some jackasses in a stadium.

Please don’t write a rebuttal to this email.  There’s a big game coming up and I’d like to focus on the action on the field.

I'm an Oregon fan, whether they win or lose.  I won't let the foolish actions of a few players, former players or fans get in the way of my loyalty.  (Image from helmetgame dot com)
I’m an Oregon fan, whether they win or lose. I won’t let the foolish actions or words of a few players, former players or fans get in the way of my loyalty.  Now stop whining and let’s watch the game (Image from helmetgame dot com)

It’s The Big Game – Let’s Play Dress Up!

There's me with my little brother Chris.  If we got to the games early enough, we could get a spot near the fence.  It was easy to recognize our favorite players, since there were no facemasks on their leather helmets (Image from guardian dot co dot com)
There’s me with my little brother Chris. If we got to the games early enough, we could get a spot near the fence. It was easy to recognize our favorite players, since there were no facemasks on their leather helmets (Image from guardian dot co dot com)

When I was a kid, I used to go to high school football games with my brothers.  We’d watch the varsity and dream of one day wearing those uniforms ourselves.  As it happened, through hard work and the good fortune of some decent genes I eventually got to play on that very field wearing one of those sacred jerseys.  I still remember my number from that epic senior year.  I was also lucky enough to play lacrosse for an undefeated team for that same school though on a different field in a different jersey.  My lacrosse skills were sufficient for me to go on to play in college, on yet another field wearing yet another jersey.

Ahh, those college days!  So many new things to experience, so much partying.  Lord I wish I could remember a fraction of the good times.

I do have a few things which I can still recall.  One which recently popped into my mind was midnight movies.  These were usually stoner flicks for the party-set to stagger into when there weren’t enough good times to be had elsewhere.  Movies like Woodstock, Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels and The Harder They Come, starring a young Jimmie Cliff.  There was one midnight movie which seemed to play on every campus and always had a bigger crowd than the rest.  Its audience was not the usual group of wannabe rastas and Deadheads though.  Actually, they might have been, but it was hard to tell, since they were all dressed up.

I’m referring of course, to the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  For the record, I’ve never seen the movie.  Any one of my regular readers would understand why.  A movie where people talk back to the screen and throw crap is just not going to be on my calendar.  To this day, anybody in a theater, or anywhere else for that matter, who hits me in the back of the head with a slice of toasted rye is going to have a problem.  In any case, the people who went to see RHPS would dress up like characters in the movie, and enjoy what they considered to be some odd form of interactive theater with the celluloid images on the screen.

On second thought, let's just go ahead and dim the lights.  Seriously though, I get hit with one piece of toast and I'm gonna stick my high heeled fott where the sun don't shine! (Image from livefromskokie dot blogspot dot com)
On second thought, let’s just go ahead and dim the lights. Seriously though, I get hit with one piece of toast and I’m gonna stick my high heeled foot where the sun don’t shine! (Image from livefromskokie dot blogspot dot com)

Those of us who were not into Rocky Horror would wander past the theater wondering what the hell the allure was.  One time I took a fleeting interest in it, strictly because of the girl I saw standing on line in the fishnet stockings, heels and corset.  My interest quickly faded when I realized it was a guy named Doug from my art history class.  It provided an important life lesson – No matter how nice your legs are, a mustache is a deal-breaker.

My friends and I saw those people weekend after weekend.  We laughed at what geeks they were.  This was a time before geeks had any social standing.  Revenge of the Nerds was still years away and geeks were simply not cool.  Not even geeks wanted to be geeks.  Yet somehow, around 11:30 on those nights, they came out in droves, dressed like hunchbacks, bookworms, and mostly like transvestites.

For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why they did it.  They dressed up in costumes for a showing of a movie whose characters could neither see nor appreciate their allegiance.  Anyone who wasn’t into Rocky Horror would mock them.  I yearned to scream out, “Tim Curry doesn’t care!  Shave your legs or put on some pants!”

Fast forward three decades or so to yesterday.  My employer started enforcing a new dress code a couple of years ago.  Jeans and shorts were banned as were T-shirts with any print on them.  I’ve been known to physically exert myself at work.  I miss my shorts and T’s much more than I do my Levi’s, even in these frigid days.  For the spirit of the upcoming Super Bowl, the powers that be granted us a day of denim, provided we wear football jerseys.

On principle, I take offense at the whole thing.  Do we have a dress code or not?  Further, people who are not football fans or do no have jerseys are discriminated against.  As both my loyal readers will tell you, I live in the Philadelphia area, and as such there has been nothing to get excited about football-wise since Andy Reid waddled out of town and Chip Kelly rolled in – neither one of which has actually translated into a single notch in the win column.

Despite our football challenged locale, the halls were filled with people in jeans and jerseys.  Though largely Eagles colors, most of the NFL was represented.  Some of the more exotic and/or depressing locales were not in attendance (Seattle and Cleveland).  I walked among these people dressed in my standard khakis and polo shirt, wondering why I had no jersey.  My fundamental disagreement with administration’s suspending a rule they just instituted notwithstanding, there was some other reason for my attire.

My standard line has always been that as a former athlete, I have been conditioned to wearing my jersey for games and not wearing it otherwise.  It was a privilege to have a jersey, it was not for everyday wear.  My jersey was part of the uniform I wore for game day, for my job at the time.  I couldn’t imagine police officers dressing up as a cop for fun, or painters putting on their speckled overalls to go to church.

As an aside, women often look quite hot in athletic jerseys, just like they do in men's dress shirts.  Obviously I cannot complain about women looking fetching in any sort of attire.  They don't even have to be fans of the team, looking good is the point.  If the Bengals away-uniform really sets off that new hairstyle, let's get out that T.J.Houshmanzadeh jersey, girl! (Image from volnation dot com)
As an aside, women often look quite hot in athletic jerseys, just like they do in men’s dress shirts. Obviously I cannot complain about women looking fetching in any sort of attire. They don’t even have to be fans of the team, looking good is the point. If the Bengals away-uniform really sets off that new hairstyle, let’s get out that T.J.Houshmanzadeh jersey, girl! (Image from volnation dot com)

As the day rolled on, I started to wonder about the validity of my rationale.  I was an athlete before many of these people were even born.  Surely by this late date my “game day” logic had lost its luster.  Perhaps the only reason I had stuck with it was to give myself a chance to inform people who were thirty years younger than me that I used to play – good God, I’m pathetic!

Somewhere in my day, the Rocky Horror Picture Show crept into my brain.  Had the thought of playing dress up for people who didn’t care play a subliminal role in my decision process?  I’ve been to a few Eagles games.  People in the old 700 level wore their Bill Bergey jerseys and cheered loudly and booed nearly as often.  Technically, many of these people were sitting closer to the underside of the jets which were coming in for landings than they were to the players on the field.  Their screams of happiness or discontent would never reach the ears of the players over a quarter mile below, no matter how much they wished they would.

Maybe eagels fans would have a better reputation if they threw toast at a movie screen instead of snowballs at a drunken Santa.  (image from aolnews dot com)
Maybe Eagles fans would have a better reputation if they threw toast at a movie screen instead of snowballs at a drunken Santa. (image from aolnews dot com)

Maybe it’s time for me to take the plunge.  To go ahead and bite the bullet and admit that my playing days are in no way related to my status as a fan.  Maybe it’s time to accept the reality that even though none of the players will likely ever see me wearing it, a jersey would be a nice addition to my admittedly one-dimensional wardobe.  Maybe I need to consider getting a jersey before I’m too old to wear jeans.

And The Ribbon Goes To….

I thought I was smart investing in ribbon futures, when I should have put my money into magnets! (Image from zoolybag.com)

College football season has begun, and TV viewers may have noticed that blue ribbons are on display.  Like any loop of ribbon in America today, there’s a cause attached.

Apparently, the big business of college football is uniting against the molestation of little boys by defensive coordinators.  A noble cause to be sure, though I’m sure that as far as certain former little boys are concerned, it’s a case of far too little, way too late.  I’m pretty sure I was not molested as a child, but I’m no slouch at repressing memories.  If I was molested, I’m not convinced that seeing a bunch of blue ribbons would make me feel a whole lot better about it.

In my recollection of popular culture, the start of the whole ribbons-as-metaphors-for-giving-a-crap fad started with Tony Orlando and Dawn’s sappy hit “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree”.  It was about a guy who was away for three long years and wanted to know if his long-lost gal still wanted him back.  I can’t recall if he was away in prison, the military or backpacking across Europe.  It was a schmaltzy AM radio classic, as sickly-sweet as anything Bobby Goldsboro or Terry Jacks could have mustered.

Years later, during Operation Desert Storm or one of those other wars with the catchy names, people began tying yellow ribbons around oaks, hemlocks, elms, street lamps and fire hydrants to welcome home soldiers.  It was a sweet, nostalgic gesture. It caught on and people soon became fixated with out-ribboning one another, tying bigger yellow ribbons around larger and larger things to prove that they were even prouder and more loving than those people down the street.

They quickly discovered that yellow ribbons faded out in the elements and their glorious tributes to returning vets ended up looking kind of sad before too many weeks went past.   Marketing geniuses figured out that a picture of a single loop of ribbon held the color longer and saved people the pesky task of tying bows.  Further refinements involved putting the picture of the ribbon loop on a magnet thus allowing people to display the ribbons on their cars.  Even idiots know that we care much more about our cars than we do our old oak trees.

Somewhere along the way, people began using alternate colors of ribbons for other causes.

One thing is for sure; whether you’re far away in the military, a victim of abuse or afflicted with some disease, there’s a pretty good chance that there’s a special ribbon just for you.  There are periwinkle ribbons for eating disorders, pink ones for breast cancer, raw sienna ones for yeast infection awareness and one with special meaning to me; paisley ribbons in support of victims of Mongolian Brain Fever.*

It’s not surprising that colo-rectal cancer has an alternate ribbon color of blue instead of the original brown.  Though the choice of brown for cancer of that region has a certain logic to it, not all logical connections are equally positive.  Rectal cancer? Brown?  Great idea, we’ll take ten thousand magnets and five thousand lapel pins.  Can you make the lettering a nice corn yellow?

Correct labelling of the colors is critical.  There’s a huge difference between the meanings of light blue and plain old blue.  Blue ribbons have the biggest number of causes, including child abuse, anti-second hand smoke and “Save The Music”.  Seriously?!  Save The Music?  Do you guys really need a ribbon for that?  I would have kept those crate of LP’s in the basement without some silly ribbon.

Light blue, on the other hand, represents prostate cancer, among other causes.  It’s possible that a certain ex-football coach could sport a light blue ribbon pin on his orange jumpsuit.  He might find comfort about his fears of the enlarged prostate which men of his age know to be a risk factor for prostate cancer.  Imagine the potential for misinterpretation if a casual observer in a prison interview failed to distinguish that it was a light blue ribbon and not regular blue.  Better yet, imagine said ex-coach getting the prostate exam he truly deserves from Dr. Bubba.

In my fifteen minutes of research, I was disappointed to find that there is no ribbon color designated for bulging and herniated discs.  I somehow feel under-represented.  To add insult to injury, though there was a ribbon for alopecia, there was not one for male pattern baldness.  Where’s the justice?  I guess I should just be happy that the proponents of my various causes didn’t choose brown.

*Those of you interested in learning more about Mongolian Brain Fever will be disappointed if you read this linked blog

These Grapes Are Sour…Or Not

I didn’t draw this, it from Ayem @deviantart.com

In the realm of fantasy football, it’s a given that if you win, you can consider yourself a strategic genius, with a better understanding of the nuances of the game than those chuckleheads at the water cooler.  If you lose, it’s simply because the entire structure of fantasy football is based on nothing more than dumb luck.

I’m beginning to think that I’m going to feel the same way about Freshly Pressed.  For those readers who are not particularly familiar with it, Freshly Pressed is sort of the front page of WordPress.  Having a piece posted there will give a huge number of readers a good look at you.  After a day or so, there’s a new crop, but for one Warhol-esque moment, you’re a star.  Some folks get their pieces posted there regularly, and others never seem to.  Without sounding bitter, though I know I will, I’ll admit that I’ve never had a post Freshly Pressed.

Supposedly, the posts featured on FP (as the blog savvy like to call it), are hand-picked by mystical blog editors at WordPress.  I don’t know if this is true.  If it is, I think this group of critics may have a communal weakness for pretty pictures and food.  A recent inventory of the 19 blogs featured on the first page of FP showed that roughly a third of them were non-writing intensive subjects.  Three of them were straight-up recipes for various desserts and cocktails.  One was a craft project with step by step instructions, one was the photography of the contributor.  Finally, one was an assortment of paintings and prints by famous and less famous artists from hundreds of years ago, all of a similar subject matter.

While any self-professed writer would scoff at the idea of competing with pages from cook books and craft projects, the idea of the last one really goes beyond absurd.  This blogger cut and pasted a bunch of other people’s artwork about a specific subject and posted it, with no text other than the title.  It wasn’t the blogger’s fault – people post blogs of far more inane subject matter which require even less effort or content.  The finger of blame must be pointed directly at the FP editors, assuming they actually exist.

Let’s compare and contrast shall we?

A writer has been struck by a notion.  He starts putting thoughts down on virtual paper, eventually forming his ideas into sentences and his sentences into paragraphs.  He forms his paragraphs into a logical sequence.  He finds a photo from the internet, cuts, pastes and inserts it into his post, with some sort of credit to the photographer.  Once finished, he re-reads and edits the post repeatedly trying to weed out typos and awkward sentences.  When he has finally decided the post is ready, he hits the “publish” button and hopes for the best.  Maybe this time, the FP gods will smile upon him.

Another person sits at his PC.  He figures out a topic he likes, let’s say it’s brides and grooms.  He then scans the internet, looking for paintings, lithographs and drawings of brides and grooms from the last four or five hundred years.  He cuts and pastes 25 or 30 of them into a post, gives credit to the artists and/or museum the drawings came from and hits “Publish”.  Other than those footnotes of credit and the 5 or 6 words of the title, he has not typed a word.  Though to be fair, he probably did type “brides and grooms” into Google Images at some point.

The writer doesn’t get Freshly Pressed on a blog site with the word “Word” in its name, and the web searcher who has clipped photos of other people’s art, is right there on the front page, smack in the middle of FP royalty.

So, as I continue to write and occasionally illustrate my posts with hopes for being Freshly Pressed someday, I’ll cling to my fantasy football logic that it’s merely dumb luck when someone gets FP’ed.  In the event that I actually do end up with a Freshly Pressed post, I’ll surely consider it to be due to my incredible talent and work ethic.  I just hope and pray my beautiful work of writing doesn’t pale in comparison to the cookie recipe next to it.

The Permanent Quarterback of Stanford Place

Photo by the author

I recently learned of the unexpected passing of a childhood friend.  As a man in my 50’s, I suppose I’ve come to accept that this sort of thing is not exactly front-page news.  Still, there is a sense of loss and a lingering nostalgia which hovers nearby.

My friendship with him existed in its purest state when he and I were kids.  We both lived on Stanford Place, a few houses from one another from the time I entered 1st grade until we all went off to our respective colleges.  We’d drifted apart long before the college years, but up until high school, he was a prominent member of my social circle.  That circle in those carefree childhood days spanned no more than a block or two in any given direction beyond my house, but the epicenter was Stanford Place.

To say that we lived on that street is not entirely accurate, it was more like our world.

We undertook adventures in yards, sidewalks and in the street itself.  One particularly snowy winter, we built an igloo in the far reaches of his backyard.  It wasn’t an igloo in the technical sense of the word, but with the use of some borrowed wood-framed screens from behind an unsuspecting neighbor’s garage, at the very least it was a snow fort.  Our parents, who in those innocent times did not fear being charged with endangerment, actually let us have a sleep-over in the frozen fort in the dead of the North Jersey winter.  To the best of my recollection, no one lost any digits to frostbite.

He had brothers like we all did.  His parents were from another part of the world and were at once exotic and yet as familiar as any other families.  His mother remains the barometer against whom every other nice person I’ve ever met has been measured.

His family had a tree behind their garage.  I think it was an apple tree.  It had the misfortune of being low and climbable and was the site of many tree forts.  The tree forts all started with grand intentions and gradually turned into much more modest affairs.  The best fort of all wasn’t in a tree at all.  It was a large wooden crate which sat on its side on the ground beneath the tree.  I don’t know if it was the fruit of the tree or just bad luck, but there were always pincher bugs around.  As a sensitive child, I was petrified of most bugs and certainly of pincher bugs as they had those conspicuous pinchers hanging off their tail ends.  I’ve since discovered that the bugs are actually called “earwigs”; had I known that name as a child, I might have never left my house.  Say what you will about kids sleeping in a snow fort, but at least there weren’t any pincher bugs.

As we got older, the lure of tree forts and sleep-overs gave way to playing football.  Far and away the best lawn for football was in front of the home of one of the only girls in the neighborhood.  We’d play kill-the-guy-with-the-ball there whenever we suspected that she and her family were out.  Far more common were the games of touch football in the street.  The line-ups of which kids were on which teams varied widely, but never his position; he was always quarterback.  In the best of all possible scenarios for him, we’d have an odd number of players, and he’d get to play “permanent QB”, switching teams to always be on the offense.

We all had professional football players who we emulated.  Those were the days long before the marketing geniuses of the NFL made it possible for just anyone to have tons of pro jerseys and such.  The best way to show your loyalty to a player was to actually announce play-by-play as you scrambled around the street looking for an open receiver.  He was a big fan of the Los Angeles Rams quarterback named Roman Gabriel.  Gabriel was clearly well ahead of his time.  With a name like that, he should be playing now, not 40 years ago.  When I saw a Facebook photo of my childhood friend a few years back, he was dressed like a Rams fan.   I couldn’t help but smile.

The years ticked by, and, as I wrote earlier, we drifted apart.  It turned out that our town was much bigger than we had once realized.  We made friends in new circles.  We later found out that the world was even bigger than our town.  We moved on and never looked back.

Well, “never” may not quite be accurate.

I had occasion to visit my hometown a few weeks back.  No trip there is complete without a trip down Stanford Place.  Everything seemed out of scale, as if the whole long street of houses were replaced by smaller replicas on a shorter, narrower lane.  A house which had always been red was a different color now.  The people who lived in those homes seemed to be interlopers, despite the fact that they might have been there for decades.

If I had taken the time to stand in the street and close my eyes, I’m convinced that I could have heard the screams and breathless play-by-play narration of boys playing football and the melodic strains of their mothers calling them in for dinner on a warm spring night.  In my rush to visit the street and move on, I took no such pause.

In truth, there’s no reason to travel to the actual Stanford Place when I have it right here in my mind.  I could hear the voices as I typed those very words just now.  I could smell the fresh cut grass and find the laces on the ball to throw my best spiral.

My losing contact with him so many years ago was as inevitable as the changing of the seasons.  I just wanted to take a moment to savor the ability I still have to look back, no matter how much has changed, to recall how things were.

Rest in peace my old friend.

Tyler/Brittany/Grayson Scored The Winning Goal/Basket/Run!!

As an avid TV watcher and student of popular culture, I’ve noticed a few things about advertising over the years.  It really doesn’t matter what the product is, advertisers have any number of wily ways to coddle and woo the customer.

One proven method involves subliminally suggesting that if you buy a given product, you will magically inherit the traits of the people in the commercial.  Using the right shampoo will make your hair look luxurious and full of body, and if you read the subliminal messages, it will also take care of that crooked nose, unsightly warts and as an added bonus, you’ll shed those 35 extra pounds you’ve been carting around since the late 90’s.  For obvious legal reasons, no shampoo manufacturer is going to actually promise you much of anything beyond clean hair.  Still, the models in their ads never have crooked noses, warts or thunder thighs.  A coincidence? I think not.

For many advertisers, there is an implied promise which is even more alluring than that of physical beauty, and that is making your child into a sports superstar.  Take for example, the notion that if you buy a certain brand of minivan, your child will score the winning goal in the soccer game, and will be carried off the field on the shoulders of his or her comrades, to the waiting luxurious comfort of your shiny, stain-free mini-van.  It might be the winning run of the baseball game or the winning shot of the basketball game instead of soccer, but make no mistake about it, if you plunk down 30 large for this incredible mini-van, your son or daughter will win the game (As a point of clarification, scoring the winning touchdown in football games is usually reserved for laundry detergent ads).

Listen Brittany! We didn't buy that new mini-van so you could sit on the damn bench! Now smear a little dirt on your cheek and go win the game, and for God's sake, try to look enthused about it! (Image from pranamama.com)

Parents have no bounds when it comes to doing anything and everything they can to ensure the success and popularity of their children.  Trust me on this one, I have kids.  OK, you got me, I had kids.  They’re all young adults now, but I have my memories.  If some slick huckster on Madison Avenue implanted the germ of an idea in my head that buying the right mini-van would improve one of my kids chances of scoring a winning goal, you know damn well I would have bought it.  Crash rating?  We don’t need no stinking crash rating!

Now that my kids are older, I can look back with some degree of objectivity on all of this subliminal advertising insanity.  While I wrote that any number of sports could suffice, I’ll stick with soccer for this hypothetical discussion.

On any given weekend day, there are easily a hundred thousand little league soccer games being played all across America.  A standard soccer game will have 11 players on each team.  Only one team can win – there are no ties in mini-van commercials, so we’ll eliminate the 11 players on the losing team.  One of the players on the winning team is the goalie, and unless they make an incredible kick, the goalie is highly unlikely to score the winning goal.  The goalie, especially in little league soccer, would be much more likely to score the winning goal for the other team, however this would probably not result in his or her being carried off the field a hero.

Another factor is that, despite the best efforts of league organizers at spreading the talent evenly among the teams, there are often powerhouses and cellar dwellers in many soccer leagues.  The disparity of talent will result in lop-sided wins or losses.  It’s a simple fact that no one will carry you off the field for scoring the winning goal if it happens 3 minutes into the game in an eventual 10-2 blow out.  Therefore we can safely eliminate half the games being played because they’re blow outs.

Yet another issue is the incidence of overly involved parents.  In a few of these games, despite the outcome, some Dad will go berserk and charge onto the field to assault the referee.  This will result in the game being called on account of boorish behavior, and no one will be carried off the field with the possible exceptions of  Dad being carried off in hand-cuffs and/or the referee on a stretcher.  This may present an opportunity for police car or ambulance advertisers, but admittedly these are niche markets at best.

Of the remaining eligible kids who could possibly score the winning goal, still more must be ruled out.  In commercials, it will be the smallest, scrappiest, cutest little goomer.  He or she will have a small scuff of dirt on their little determined cheek, and they’ll make a face of utter surprise and delight after scoring.  Therefore, none of the bigger kids on the team can score the goal, because they would appear to be a bully or a ringer.  None of the clean faced kids can score it, that just wouldn’t look right.  Finally, none of the really incredibly talented kids can score it because they would never be able to fake the look of surprise and delight, because as an elite 3rd grader, they knew that shot was going in.

I know I’ve lost some of you by now, so allow me to lose the rest of you by introducing a summary in mathematical terms:

100,000 soccer games X 2 Teams of 11 players                                  =  2,200,000

2,200,000 players minus 1,100,000 losing players                                 = 1,100,000

1,100,000 players minus 100,000 goalies                                              = 1,000,000

1,000,000 players minus 500,000 players in blow outs                           = 500,000

500,000 players minus 50,000 players in games called due to Dads       = 450,000

450,000 players minus 400,000 players who are

too big, too talented, and/or too clean                                                        = 50,000

50,000 players minus 40,000 players who’s parents

missed the game due to work or other obligations                                     = 10,000

10,000 players minus 6000 players who were distracted by

planes overhead                                                                                           = 4000

4000 players minus 2000 players who fell down or burst into tears

for no apparent reason                                                                                 = 2000

2000 players minus 925 players who were called offside

by that idiot ref                                                                                              = 1075

1075 players minus 274 who stopped to tie their cleats                                   = 801

801 players minus 211 who missed the game due to dance recitals               = 590

590 players minus 562 who are in sportsmanship leagues which forbid

gloating or being carried off the field by teamates                                            = 28

So there you have it.  By my highly scientific calculations, 28 players out of 2.2 million will score the winning heroic goal as portrayed in mini-van commercials.  Not exactly Mega-Millions long shots, but far from a slam dunk.

Maybe those crash ratings are worth a second look after all.