Why I’m Rooting for the Cleveland Indians to Win It All (Then Immediately Change Their Identity)

I suppose I should start this by saying this will be a “political” post. It has nothing to do with politics, but basically anything nowadays that deals with serious matters (such as racism or feminism) is labelled as political because that’s the climate we now live in. Being a decent human has become a polarizing topic. Anyway, I digress. On to baseball.

I can’t quite say I’m a lifelong Indians fan. I was raised in the suburbs of NYC as a Mets fan and a Yankee hater (the latter being how all true baseball fans should be).

Image result for yankee hater

It would be in my later elementary school years that I started rooting for the Tribe as well. It coincided with the movie Major League, but not because of it. After all, it was rated R, and my mother made sure I would never see anything that had a possible exposed boob in it. I wouldn’t even see the un-edited version of that movie until probably the last decade.

Anyway, I latched onto the Indians for the same reason as the fans of Major League did – the team was terrible. I mean, staggeringly so. I was still predominantly a Mets fan, but I was a close second Indians fan because I guess in the 1990 I was glutton for punishment. That only grew and grew as they crept out of their misery and started playing like a true ball club. By their run in ’97, I was a full fledged Indians fan.

I watched the 1997 ALDS in my college dorm room surrounded by Yankers fans, and when the last out was made, I cheered as loud as I could then ran as hard as I could so I didn’t have to face any repercussions. I was full-blown fan.

By their surprising and somewhat miraculous run in 2007, I was more than an Indians fan first and a secondary Mets fan. I was a Tribe enthusiast. I was sick a few days after they blew a 3 game lead against the Red Sox (and even predicted at the time if they didn’t win game 5, they were going to lose the series). I was a true fan.

I remember my wife asking me a few years later how I could like a team that exploited an entire people for financial gain. How I could like THE INDIANS.

Image result for indians logo

My stance was I didn’t necessarily like the culture, the history, and certainly not the racism. I answered I liked the players. She asked this of me when Asdrubal Cabrera was a fresh-faced rookie that spurred on all sorts of romanticized dreams about a glorious future of multiple World Series rings. And that sentiment is still true today.

You got the infection smile of Lindor – Image result for francisco lindor smile

the charm and grit of Kipnis Image result for jason kipnis silly

the stoic badassery of Klubot – Image result for corey kluber

the future-is-bright-ness of Zimmer –  Image result for bradley zimmer

the Pucket-ness of Jose Ramirez – Image result for jose ramirez helmet

 

the outsider power of Encarnacion – Image result for encarnacion with parrot

My son’s favorites of Chiz and Santana, the REAL bullpen mafia (even Shaw… sometimes). Yeah, these are the players I am pulling for to end the longest drought in the Major Leagues – a 69 year span without a World Championship.

But I can longer ignore that the entire identity of the team is founded on ridiculous notion that Native Americans are in any way “Indians”. Chief Wahoo is a disgrace and needs to go, but he’s only the tip of the iceberg.

I was fortunate enough to go to Game 1 of the World Series last year. And you know what I saw? A whole lot of white people. I mean, I thought I was at a Trump fundraiser it was so white. And sure, it can’t all be attributed to the Indians fan base; the Cubs had a strong presence too. And it could easily be more indicative of the socioeconomic culture rather than a true cross-section of Cleveland baseball fandom. But it was damn near pure white. The owners of the Indians are white. The past ones were white. Most of the upper-brass of the Indians are white.

THESE PEOPLE ARE NOT THE PEOPLE WHO SHOULD GET TO DECIDE WHICH BLATANTLY ETHNIC IDENTITY IS “OKAY” TO USE.

I get it, the Indians as a franchise has been around since the late 19th century, predating many many franchises. Back then, it was not considered racist to name a team the Indians (at least by white men, who were the only voices heard then, as opposed to now, when they’re only the vast majority of voices heard). Somehow it wasn’t racist even when “The Indians” were named that after a Native American player who played for the Spiders in 1899. After all, there’s “history” there. Or at least so say ‘the fans’.

When I went to purchase some schwag for my kids at the World Series, I asked if they had anything without Chief Wahoo or the word Indians on the gear. The guy looked at me and said, “C’mon, it’s history, man!” And I said, “It’s a pretty horrible history, don’t you think?” He did not. Then again, he was paid to sell merchandise with a bright-red-faced Native American sporting feathers that somehow represented a blue-collar American city’s baseball franchise.

Chief Wahoo is bad enough, and this article does a pretty good job of breaking it down, so I won’t rehash that. But seriously, look at him.

Image result for chief wahoo

It’s 2017.

Speaking of which, the Indians are the toast of the town in 2017, having just won an AL-record 21 games in a row. The name “Indians” has probably been said more this year than even last year, when they took it to extra innings in game seven of the World Series in one of the greatest games of all time. I can’t help but think that time the name “Indians” is mentioned is somehow NOT causing a systemic cringing reaction, and that’s a problem.

Which is why I want them to win it all this year. Well, I want that because I’m a fan. But here’s my dream scenario. They win it all this year as the Cleveland Indians, as a team that bases its profit on the backs of Native American exploitation. Because they’re not going to change it now, with 20 games left in the season. So let them win it. For “the old timers”. For “history”. For “fans across the world” (although in reality it’s predominantly white people from Ohio).

Then before the 2018 season, they can work out a deal with Major League Baseball (there have already been discussions between the owners and MLB) and to have them totally re-branded as the Cleveland Spiders, a name they used up until 1899.

Fun fact: the Cleveland Spiders hold a record that will never be broken – most road losses (101!).

Hell change it to the franchise name as it was just before it was changed to the Indians, the Naps (after Hall of Famer Nap Lajoie). I am all for a team that promotes healthy daytime sleeping. Don’t want to name it after a player from a century ago? Change the name to the Cleveland Pronks. Still want more recent? The Cleveland Loopstoks. (He’ll make it to the majors one day, I just know it.)

If management is going to be so obstinate as to stay the course (after all, it would be a huge financial hit because blowhard WHITE fans would likely boycott a change away from the Indians moniker), then at least follow the lead of the Chicago Blackhawks. Their mascot isn’t racist, it’s a hawk. They intentionally work WITH native tribes in terms of philanthropic outreach and even branding. They don’t seek to profit off the backs of a misnamed people, they try to grow with them. It’s an imperfect model, and ideally I’d like to see it get away from all of that, but it’s certainly better than where we’re at today.

Let’s move more to this:

Image result for cleveland block c

It celebrates a town that has not had much to celebrate before Lebron came back. It celebrates a team that has been built the proper way and is firing on all cylinders. It celebrates a team of diversity (their 40 man roster represents 7 countries, and while they’re all the US or Latin American countries, it’s a start). It does not predominantly feature white people making beaucoup bucks off a racist misnomer. Wait until after the year is done, especially (but not necessarily only if) they win the World Series. They can pump all their extra revenue into a re-branding campaign.

Go Tribe in 2017! And go Spiders in 2018!

The ‘Dash Dictionary

Okay, I know this is already available on my website, but I recently re-read it and it had me laughing out loud a few times. Enjoy.

 

abbozzo: any pasta made entirely from abstract materials such as anecdotes or victory (Corey)

abigus: not quite French (Will)

able-whackets: to be so skilled at cricket that you can almost explain the rules to someone else (Jay Lawton)

acouchy: that feeling you get when you pet your cat so much that you bore through to its muscle layer (Bryan)

acronyx: a numbering system that used letters, but in 1728, the year spelled out “dickhead” so it was never used again (Derek)

agama: from the Latin word meaning “truth”, it’s a sandwich (Derek)

anatta: a South African American bald eagle found only in Iceland native to Australia (Mitch)

annicut: to cheat on your taxes by copying off the guy next to you (Derek)

antiambulo: fuzzy lap flounder (Bryan)

apodixis: a pack of Bruce Willis (Will)

bafalo: to follow your shadow as far as the forest, where he totally loses you (Derek)

baldachin: a yiddle itty bitty cute ‘n’ fuzzy widdle omnipotent being (Stephanie)

baleen: to purposely spell a wrong word in a spelling bee so that it spells a dirty word (e.g. “country … D-I-C-K … country”) (Corey)

banxring: to freeze your toes just in case you stub your toe. That way, the toe breaks clean off instead of that annoying 2 seconds of uncomfortableness (Mitch)

barbone: to throw one’s penis so the woman doesn’t know where that orgasm is coming from (Derek)
barmbrak : super-sleuth Don Knotts and his dancing troupe the Frayed Knotts (Scott)

barney: the unthinkable type of sock that has no place for the foot to enter (Caroline)

baroxyton: when bears ravage your car by siphoning your gas for their RV (Jay Lawton)

bathycolpian: the term given to people rather than borrowed or stolen (Kevin)

bechic : to attract attention to one’s stoma by installing a full-size ceiling fan in it (Bryan)

beek: what James VanDerBeek’s agent made him change the last syllable of his name to. His real name is James Vandercutlet (Bryan)

begigged: compared to peas (Will)

bezoar : the T.V. made with glare built in so there is no annoying glare from the lights (Caroline)

bildad: the reverse effect of an amoeba but with humans where all people fuse together into one (Chris)

billycock: the medieval phrase, “too much plague, not enough dancing” (Corey)

bingy: a tiny maneuverable vessel used in war and found in the birth canal (Kevin)

bobabza (1): a mine rich in ore, similar to Bonanza, a show rich in horses (Aaron)

bobabza (2): a pole commonly used to fake children into thinking they are being rescued from the well.  You wave the stick, kids gets optimistic, we all have a good laugh (Eric R)

bollard: an ancient Egyptian game where the man holding stick tries to squiggly lines (Derek)

bonamano: the annoying canyon between me and the other canyon (Bryan)

boodin: the insistence on using chopsticks to play Chopsticks, arguing that ‘that’s how he would have wanted it.’ Hey, it’s not as bad as when you insisted on eating kung-pow chicken in the piano (Bryan)

boondoggle: an assassin that kills his victims so slowly that his methods are often confused with natural causes (Will)

breastweed: a lizard’s tail, used to cure inflammation of the breast: “Hi, have we met? I’m a lizard” (Paul)

buccula: the non-working title of Scott Bakula’s best selling book on how to kill deer. It is now called, “Quantum Heap…of Deer” (Bryan)

bufagin: parallel lines in love…so tragic (Corey)

bummalo (1): the spot on your skin where your body tries to escape (Caroline)

bummalo (2): someone who has made it their life-long goal to be the universal “THAT guy” (Alisha)

capernoited: slightly tipsy, not drunk, but tipsy enough to get your head stuck in a Trapper Keeper (Stacey)

carwitchet: the French word for “croissant” (Corey)

cenobite : to knock over a volcano (Derek)

clarigate: that one spelunker who insists on having a strobe light on his helmet because, “Hey, life’s a party” (Corey)

cleek: Milton Bradley’s classic board game “Cleek” where the objective is to hurt people with the pieces. Roll for bruises! (Jay Lawton)

coire: one who courts a young lady by licking her shoulder to the rhythm of any Beastie Boys tune (Jaime)

conspectable: an adjective that comes before a noun, only to leave a slick trail of oil behind it, so that the noun slips and hurtles headlong into the already nervous preposition, ruining the whole predicate dance (Bryan)

crannog: being 10 paces or less from a colander (Will)

craquelure: a store in which to buy new bags of rusty nails for the playpen (Aaron)

crottels: funeral game where the family of the deceased has three chances to place the body in the grave using a cannon (Corey)

dandypratt: the flamboyant wrestler that, for some reason, everybody wants to wrestle (Ron)

deambulacrum: the ability to suck God through a straw (Mitch)

degrugger (1): is when sunlight becomes semi-hard and everyone ends up spending the day getting hit in the head and staggering around (Cyrus)

degrugger (2): a large bi-pedal arachnid completely laughing in the face of Mother Nature (Aaron)

deipnophobia: the fear of nocturnal emissions becoming as strong as solar emissions (Derek)

dithyramb: rock hard nips used to dial old rotary phones (Scott)

doddard: an elusive word that hides in small puddles though “regal”, who is It right now, is searching through the dictionary (Kevin)

drapetomania: the scientific term for “the scientific term for” (Mitch)

dronkship: to attend a funeral dressed only in cub scouts (Derek)

drupe (1): a person whose stomach does not work, but luckily has epilepsy and can use a strobe light to digest (Corey)

drupe (2): that sinking feeling you get when your boat goes down (Aaron)

dudolo : someone so bad at digging that they cause injury to others (Will)

duffing: while passing a car with a ski rack, testing the water resistance of your watch (Aaron)

dupion: the feeling of dread you get just before the Dating Game comes on…and usually after…and during (Will)

elflock: the popular never released ending for (Kevin)

ennead: to legally change your name to the entire contents of the Bible just so you can give people Bibles instead of having to sign autographs (Derek)

eroteme: the European A-Team with Prime Minister Strom Thurmon as B.A. Baracus. “I pity the foo who don’t eat tea and crumpets!!” (Jay Lawton)

euneirophrenia: to sit quietly with reckless abandon (Cyrus)

facula: to throw your arms into the air in celebration then run before they fall on you (Aaron)

faulx (1): a cross between a single use copier and an earthquake fault line (Cyrus)

faulx (2): the confused look you give when you discover you can put your hand into your stomach so far it pops out your back without drawing blood (Mitch)

feaze: the small metal object placed in 5% of all children at birth so they set off airport metal detectors for apparently no reason (Scott)

fenugreek: salad greens grown to taunt the starving kids (Jason Wahler)

fewterer: the misguided pistol prototype that had no barrel (Matt S)

fewterer: really fewter (Lynly)

fitzhugh: the lowest octane gasoline at the Lukoil station.  So low that it can only be used for Hot Wheels (Aaron)

fleam: the world’s largest steam-powered monk (Bryan and Mitch)

fleer: it’s one of those new slang words like “dope”, “phat”, and “fly”, but in reality, it means “rabies”. Example: “Yo man, I gots fleer” (Jay Lawton)

flews: the tears in the neck caused by eating shards of glass (Kevin)

flicer: a special breed of goldfish that likes to be skipped across lakes just like those flat pebbles (Eric B)

foiter : (said in a French accent) “when stupid Americans pronounce fotiay wrong” (Aaron)

footle: a Canadian sport that closely resembles the murder mystery episode of The Facts of Life (Will)

fossick: monetary unit used by the dinosaurs…economy collapsed due to lack of pockets (Scott)

foulcher: the best part of waking up is a foulcher in your bed.  The worst part is explaining this to the foulcher’s parents (Stephanie)

frantling: the capital of the eyebrow (Dan)

furbam: the noise an exploding bunny makes (Susan)

furbelows: the first level of Boy Scout, which you graduate from after nabbing your first Brownie (Aaron)

gallinipper: the most homeless person (Caroline)

ganosis: a small species of beaver that invades homes and pretends to be an ottoman. If you put your feet on it, you will find it to be quite comfy (Cyrus)

gavelock: when you crush a Quaker with your mind (Dierdre)

geropigia: a convicted outdoor-fountain thief (Derek)

glair: the 5th Golden Girl, who’s gimmick was being offensive and getting looks; removed from the show after the pilot episode for her famous comments, “Hitler was a brilliant man who never did anything wrong in his lifetime.” (Aaron)

goolos: the reject Cherrios cereal. “These Goolos taste just like Grandpa!” (Jason Waller)

gradine : the single exact difference between TV show character George Kastanza and the Easter Bunny (Kevin)

gremial: a collection of knife wounds.  Trade conventions are rather rare (Kevin)

gulgul : the time of day best suited for a crusade (Derek)

gunkhole: the elementary school teacher’s vocabulary word for children who bring in crap for show & tell (Erika)

hackmatach: the love-making technique of Gene Hackman (Rachel)

hectocotylus: the inevitable evolution of stethoscopes into barley (Mitch)

hector: a plant eating man native to Earth (Mitch)

hidrotic: a dance technique in a ninja strip club that involves turning off all the lights and leaving quietly (Cyrus)

hippogriff : the Hieroglyphic on a pyramid that means ‘pull in case of fire’ (Kevin)

hirple: the one thing science has proven that actually does amount to a hill of beans (Aaron)

hodiernal: the slide at the waterpark where one out of six people lose their soul (Mitch)

hoker: to ridicule someone to the point of eczema (Will)

homobrant: not-so-common garden tool used for nothing of importance (Aaron)

hypoprosexia: a testicular disorder found in women of the opposite sex (Dierdre)

janker : pirate talk for tea-time (Kevin)

jeofail: a mistake made by a lawyer – the mistake was that he’s actually not a lawyer at all, he’s a dentist (Mitch)

jequirity: the staunch belief that priests are sweaters (Bryan)

ka-ka (1): a piece of pound cake that travels over to the other side because it really wants to be a wedding cake (Rachel)

ka-ka (2): the sheepish grin you give the judge after he finds out that Exhibit B is a pile of bloody babies (Derek)

kalanchoe (1): the new elephant recruited by the Knicks under the philosophy that all good basketball players are from Africa (Corey)

kalanchoe (2): a chandelier made with little suns with tiny universes orbiting them (Mitch)

kantharos: the unpopular Greek guy who always got stuck taking pictures of everyone else (Derek)

keddah: a roller coaster where the people in the first car are responsible for keeping it on the track (Corey)

kennebunker: in World War I, a fort made out of the wounded soldiers named Earl who were supposed to be sent home (Aaron)

kerpucket: to ignore someone politely (note: the actual word for the round was ‘murginger’) (Kevin)

kickshaw: brand of fish that swims downstream, eats bugs, lays eggs-hell, it’s just a regular fish but it’s got a damn good marketing department (Stephanie)

kilhig: to blog in Russian even if you don’t know Russian (example: Ravolshnik ptolmelk en varshnik Christopher Lloyd!  Ha ha!  Vodka!) (Bryan)

killick: the very very slow sound made by a very very slow revolver as it is very very slowly cocked. k i l l i c … k (Stephanie)

kinnikinnik: an old Cherokee tribal game. The rules are simple: a bunch of Cherokee sit in a circle, and close their eyes. The first one to develop a sense of ownership wins. Everyone else gets their land taken away, their children sold and their pride destroyed (Bryan)

kipsey: an envelope filled with “the shakes” (Caroline)

kloof: cliff extensions (Kevin)

knurlin (1): a priest collar that slaps on like one of those early 90’s slap bracelets (Bryan)

knurlin (2): little tiny throat deer (Mitch)

kokopolo: a tropical disease so common that you’re not allowed into South America without it (Derek)

kolacky: to raise your hand in class, and when your teacher calls on you, making sure their attention is on your hand, slowly and methodically lower it (Bryan)

lanugo: the calculated unit of time between the beginning of a Bill Cosby impersonation and the point where the impersonator makes a Jello Pudding reference (Will)

latrobe: the last effort of an ailing country to stay underwater for just a few more seconds (Bryan)

liebig (1): nationality-changing paintballs. “Haha, you’re Croatian!” (Mitch)

liebig (2): the “Devil Went Down to Georgia” action figure set (Corey)

logie: the first word to mean ‘logic’, but it didn’t make sense, so they changed it (Mark)

loppet: to stumble, while walking or running, into a vat of ill-tempered wolverines with ADD, so they forget to hurt you and you can just swim through (Bryan)

lusk : a Mormon fish tickler (Derek)

macadoub: a prosthetic soul (Mitch)

madefy: to replace your head with a mirror just so you are infinite when you look into a mirror (Derek)

maffle: the term for when you begin to sneeze, some random person comes up and covers your mouth and without wiping his hand, runs away (Cyrus)

makebate: what bait-makers do when they’re not denouncing ballet and promoting tap (Bryan)

manit: a pause in hand-to-hand combat because one of the combatants has an itch “down there” (Jay Marshall)

manypleise: the disease that causes cows to have blotches instead of stripes. It is very common (Greg)

marlish: to continuously give blood in order to have more room for chili (Corey)

mawworm: an evasive wall (Derek)

mehari (1): a giant stone used to sort through large pieces of baby (Aaron)

mehari (2): spite filled balloons that, when popped, erase your entire family and family history right off the planet (Mitch)

menseful (1): a jail term . . . just a jail term (Ron)

menseful (2): a topographic error. ex: to have a mountain range in your rectum (Derek)

mercaptan (1): bringing a cadaver to take-your-daughter-to-work day (Will)

mercaptan (2): Underwater Breathing Self Apparatus Contained. UBSAC never caught on (Scott)

mizzy: the tabloid section of the stock report (Kevin)

musnud (1): a failed wrestler whose gimmick was that he did laundry. Musnud the Launderer (Aaron)

musnud (2): having the same characteristics as a flea market (Derek)

mustelid: when Bryan walks into a party and says “Wow, I musteleid ’em all by now” and leaves (Mitch)

natatorium: a museum that houses imaginary musical instruments, such as the euphorium, the chum drum, and the kickinthenutsaphone (Derek)

navicert: not a piece of toast; the whole toast (Derek)

nullanulla: kinda like a much much larger version of the Molotov Cocktail – using a crane, you take an already flaming building and drop it on the building you want to set on fire (Corey)

nurdle (1): smells like ovaries (Corey)

nurdle (2): a well-hung participle (Aaron)

ollapod: to velcro a bunny to your forehead because you like the way the fur makes your eyes water (Mitch)

omphaloskepsis: when you see a girl and it looks like her mascara is running and you ask, “Excuse me, have you been crying?” and she says “IT’S VOLCANIC ASH, YOU FUCKING JERK!” (Mitch)

oologist: one who looks for ways to make irony more apparent, for instance, turning smoke detectors into fire hazards by piling them in front of all exits (Corey)

orison: giving birth to a baby. . .(pause). . .orally (Jason Waller)

ouscutate: to suck on the Pope (I never said it was legal) (Will)

pannychous: to become a carpenter solely because you can vomit caulk (Mitch)

pawleekarpick: the slut of all fruit trees it bears fruit many times every night for a different farmer and has no self-respect for itself because of a daddy complex (Domo)

pesade : to carry around your baby like a football, occasionally passing it off to strangers to see if they’ll run with it or not (Derek)

petasus: a remote-control bush (Will)

philater: a device used to loosen up the clump of dead people in my cave…my cave of Dead People (Bryan)

pintle: the raised bumps in an infant’s forehead that complement the indentations on the golf ball that left them (Eric R)

pizzle: a trap that’s nearly impossible to get caught in because it involves being 6000 degrees at the time of capture (Derek)

pleach: a person who latches onto barnacles “to return the favor” (Aimee)

plimsoll: a fruit with radioactive pit and paralyzing spikes. It’s very difficult to eat, but as they say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you radioactive and paralyzed” (Eric R)

plumbago: a medical deficiency in bones; i.e. less than three (Derek)

plumbum (1): an alarm clock that only tells you when it’s not time to wake up (Corey)

plumbum (2): to find inner peace in your wife – no wait, that’s another dude (Derek)

ponzi (1): a reverse kamakazi pilot; he crashes his plane in such a way that it induces labor (Derek)

ponzi (2): to successfully shower before the porcupine gets REALLY jealous (Mitch)

poonac: a clever reversal of the failed McDonald’s promotion “Happy Can O’ Poop” to disguise the true contents of the meal (Dr. Fenkart)

poppism: p.o. – you smell; p.p. – tinkle; ism – in the fashion.  Ergo, poppism = you smell like trendy piss (Paul)

powsowdy: to reap the benefits of fascism in a monkey suit (Bryan)

princox: a succession of events that beings with an avalanche and ends with strawberry fritters (Derek)

prushun: what my Grandma used to call me after her untimely demise. Of course, I had to move her mouth and do the voice, but whatever, it’s her (Bryan)

punty: a rodent very similar to a doric column (Kevin)

ramfeezled: a word that when written in a circle brings about the rebirth of the League of Nations (Kevin)

rataplan: the side of your mother she doesn’t often show (Derek)

recto : the spot on the stomach of a baby that invariably makes them laugh when touched. Be careful! It’s one millimeter away from the spot that makes them crack in half (Derek)

rosmarine: an ancient berry used to calm deer who are trying to come to terms with his or her homosexuality (Jaime)

sapit: it was a dark and stormy night…the pants were eating their dinner and I was enjoying the Jets game. Now you know this isn’t real…no one enjoys a Jets game (Aaron)

sardoodledum: stepping on a pair of glasses while your sister is still wearing them (Dierdre)

scandaroon: to pull a fast one on Richard Nixon (Alisha)

scarpology: humping for points (Bryan)

scarrow (1): when, for the sake of variation, the priest stops breaking bread and starts breaking bones (Derek)

scarrow (2): a short stroll along a timeline (Alisha)

schnecke (1): exhibitionist snakes who actually track down those Discovery Channel people in order to have sex on cable TV (Borch)

schnecke (2): a pet name you give to one you think you love, but in actuality, you’re just using them for their burning tire-yard (Eric R)

sclaff: the part of the body (Derek)

scotoma: a skateboard move resulting in change of gender, cross-dressing, or the desire to drink milk with businessmen (Jaime)

scrobiculate (1): to fill a coffin with a dead body instead of honey (Corey)

scrobiculate (2): the term referring to the first time testicular cancer was misdiagnosed as ‘testicular dancer’ (Bryan)

scroot: a raft made for stealing (Kevin)

scumble: a technical term for pole-vaulting when the pole vaulter runs in the wrong direction and leaps into the stands (Cyrus)

scuppernong: a time of day in Switzerland where everyone goes home to use the toaster (Aaron)

scurfer : association based on negatives as in: if everything then [end universe here] (Kevin)

seckel : anyone who thinks they are involved in the Battle of Hastings whenever they attend parties (Will)

sermunckle: the situation in a baseball game wherein a baserunner gets a line drive lodged in his face, then in his agony runs into the outfield and over the wall, resulting in a homerun (Bryan)

shebo: the use of feng shui as a form of combat (Corey)

shilpit: an adopted child just after they found out their real dad was hung in the Nuremberg Trial (Kevin)

shoon (1): a small clay tool used to push bits of anti-matter under the carpet (Stephanie)

shoon (2): when shadows fall in love (Caroline)

sinopis: when explaining a story, to make it much longer and more boring than the original. See Will Hickey (Derek)

sirretch: to contend that the only one who can eat a Reese’s the wrong way is Catherine Hepburn (Bryan)

skeg: the diseased portion of Romper Room (Bryan)

skerfer: to have a wonderful name but mysteriously lack initials (Bryan)

skimmington: a talking stuffed bear that never made it on the market due to the fact that young British children couldn’t give two shits about yard work (Corey)

sklodowskite: the active ingredient in sin (Bryan)

slobgollion: to remove a tooth using a pea with the gravitational pull of a black hole (Mitch)

sloom: a Egyptian carpet which jealously lusts after the Oriental carpet’s husband, Charles (Kevin)

slumboes: a daring acrobatic move that creates a rift in time, sending 10,000 angry Norsemen right into the fray of some poor little girl’s dismount (Derek)

smeddum: the pasty substance left on the treads of the monster truck after it makes it all the way through the day-care center (Derek)

sniggle: to catch eels by throwing bait into their hiding place and watching as they jump into your bucket to express their thanks (Corey)

snollygoster: a mythological beast who served a brief stint as the secretary of state until they stopped telling stories about him (Aaron)

snook: a new take on an old children’s game, also called “Duck Duck Rape” (Mitch)

sord : to compete biologically (Dierdre)

spanghew: to be religiously excommunicated for thinking that Mount St. Helens is not a volcano, but an order from God (Bryan)

spatang: the sound oranges would make when simulating a shoot-out, if oranges were allowed to own guns (Corey)

spatilomancy: a form of modern dance no longer used because of the great percentage who caught fire (Derek)

sphairistike: a roller coaster with no restraints, no seats, no remorse. It stops at the peak of a loop, allowing all passengers to spill to the ground, then seconds later, the train comes crashing down upon them to finally silence their terrified screams (Bryan)

splacknuck: Polish cousin of the renowned satellite, Splacknuck successfully orbited the Harrington Park traffic circle three times before plummeting into the Hudson River, where it dissolved (Stephanie)

spoffler: a woman who could suck the chrome off a doorknob, and often does; from the German spoeffel, one who dislikes shiny objects (Stephanie)

squatinid (1): unusually small receptacle used to hold N’Sync’s talent (Stephanie)

squatinid (2): a frustration specific only to finding out you have no ankles although you clearly remember them being there yesterday (Jeff)

squitters: an intern that never does anything right (i.e. – “Squitters, when I say donuts, I mean DONUTS!”) (Will)

stanhope: when the day of reckoning becomes so commonplace that it comes after the sports in the newscast (Derek)

stickamstam: when the doctor accidentally removes your skull but not the head so your face kinda flops about. Then he says, “Oooooh, Shrinkidinks!” (Mitch)

tankle (1): to have all the blood flow to your extremities cut off by militant white blood cells (Aaron)

tankle (2): to sanctify victims of crib deaths by racing the cribs down the street and over the bodies (Jay M)

tapetum: where nuns go to knit new priests. Also, a type of kelp useful in training said nuns to knit (Mike F.)

taphophilia: a strong affinity for funerals that involve the throwing of a bouquet to determine who gets to die next (Corey)

taplash (1): a moat filled not with water but with castles (Aaron and Derek)

taplash (2): a portrait created with perishable materials so you can watch the person rot away over the years (Corey)

tappen: dance-based accounting system where a soft-shoe scuff represents ones, a left-right ball change represents tens, and so on (Stephanie)

tappoon: like a harpoon, but used to gain one’s attention, not so much kill them (Keith)

tektite: an infant holster (Bryan)

teledu: a moon of Saturn which, in a bold act of rebellion, gave up glowing and became a voice-over artist (Derek)

teleran: when your shadow complains because you’re always in the way of it getting a tan (Bryan)

tench (1): the tree grown from “Roots” the miniseries (Paul)

tench (2): the plural of ten (Caroline)

thenar: the 17th second before an explosion. Every second before an explosion has its own individual word; drives physicists crazy (Eric R)

thesicle: a replacement testicle full of angry, angry sperm without remorse, and they attack the egg with reckless abandon, those sperm, leaving only wanton destruction in their wake (Bryan)

thob: to pattern one’s pants like the Israeli flag and make pilgrimages to yourself (Bryan)

tiffing: a verb meaning to car (Kevin)

tilbury: the ghetto name for Pillsbury products. The Tilbury dough boy carries a gun and a crack pipe (Stacey)

topepo: a eucalyptus tree with retracting ten inch spikes which it uses to play nasty pranks on unsuspecting koalas (Corey)

tragomasehalia: the farthest a skydiver can fall before changing his mind and getting back on the plane (Derek)

tragopan: the addition of the mythical Satyr to the Power Rangers team. “Tragopan: flute attack!” (Jason Waller)

trork: to re-enact famous and decisive naval battles in your bathtub using actual sea-craft (Derek)

tucket: the long part of a wheel (Aaron)

tweeny: a really small yarmulke for a really small Jew (Susan)

vaccary : I still believe in the Easter Bunny (Borch)

verbigeration: recycling ugly people into productive members of our night shifts (Erika)

vinegaroon: started as a joke between a priest and Tattoo from Fantasy Island, it was a short Mexican citrus Jesus (Bryan)

vuggs: a venereal disease that is quite pleasant, actually (Derek)

wanion: the realization that menstruation is actually bad luck due to the waning of the moon (Cyrus)

weedmonkey: def: not applicable (Keith)

witzelsucht: alternate lyrics to the George Thorogood classic, “One bourbon, one scotch, one witzelsucht.” (Will)

woopnacker: a phenomenally moving and emotional eulogy (just approach a priest at the end of a funeral, hold out your hand, and tell him, “Nice woopnacker, Father”) (Will)

wungee (1): the man who holds the world record for stuffing Indians down his pants (Derek)

wungee (2): when your bungee cord snaps and you are no longer pulling wungee, it’s more like 6-7 G’s (Mitch)

xerotic (1): the really bad porn that nobody ever rents and they wind up putting it in the kids section (Ron)

xerotic (2): the feeling that you owe it all to maple syrup (Will)

xystus: the new Sega video game system so real, you just pay $600 at the counter, then walk around the real world remarking how good and realistic the graphics are (Bryan)

zaffer: tiny people that pan your hair for gold (Dierdre)
zobo: the little boy on the pogo stick jumping to keep his fingers (Aaron)

zoster : to excrete nuns (Stephanie)

March 22, 1903: the River Styx first opens its ferry service to the damned (Kevin)

November 4, 1914: this date used to be an important date in history until it was discovered that it wrote its own Wikipedia entry (Corey)

November 4, 1914: the opening of the first movie with sound.  Oddly, people weren’t surprised by the talking, but by the fact that the movie was Pootie Tang (Jay Lawton)

May 7, 1914: in an attempt to gain momentum in his candidacy for ‘Most Hated German of the 20th Century’, Kaiser Wilhelm buys a full-page ad in the newspaper to put a picture of him molesting a child wrapped in the German flag (Aaron)

September 1, 1914: the passenger pigeon became extinct in a tragic rush hour 6 million bird pile-up (Aimee)

March 7, 1917: day 9 of the Welsh protest against glee (Eric R)

January 26, 1925: Erwin Phipps announces that he’s invented the female orgasm.  Under further scrutiny, he admitted it was just an upside-down pie tin and a bit of string (Stephanie)

January 26, 1925: an alchemist discovers a cure for cancer, but then remembers he’s an asshole (Sara)

April 9, 1928: after a terrible and bloody feud with February 21 1928, April 9th was dubbed Sir April 9th, 1928 (Kevin)

October 28, 1929: the day the Great Anticipation gave way to Feelings of Inadequacy (Paul)

August 1, 1932: the “short bus” is born, thus ending the tradition of dragging retarded kids through the streets, attached by fishing line to a VW Bug to get them to school (Will)

August 1, 1932: the parachute was improved on by attaching strings to the chute (Corey)

July 28, 1933: Nintendo launches their popular depression-series card battle game.  Featuring Scruffy Hobo the Stockbroker and Jiggly-Child Molester Puff Man (Jeff D)

March 3, 1939: “Sprite” was invented, although due to an error in production, it was called “Spite” and it was filled with kerosene (Derek)

January 19, 1946: failing to admit to losing the war, Germany decides to invade themselves, to make them feel better (Aaron)

July 31, 1948: Pontius Pilate realizes the irony of the whole situation (Derek)

July 13, 1954: the day the Earth stopped rotating for 12 seconds, causing the single largest immigration (Aaron)

June 18, 1958: Darwinian evolution comes to a halt and starts to go funky when creatures start adapting features that will kill them off quicker: eagles evolve lead-weight talons, spiders lose all eight legs and their torso…etc (Derek)

November 3, 1957: the day some uppity chick got smacked around too much and thought, ‘Hey, feminism would be good about now’ (Susan)

November 3, 1957: the day the music was diagnosed with cervical cancer (Derek)

June 18, 1958: Darwinian evolution comes to a halt and starts to go funky when creatures start adapting features that will kill them off quicker: eagles evolve lead-weight talons, spiders lose all eight legs and their torso… etc (Derek)

August 16. 1958: the first date in history whose numeric date is an oxymoron (Eric R)

August 16, 1958: the day the goldfish was implemented (Caroline)

August 16, 1962: the date of the failed attempt at the Kennedy Assassination…the CIA greatly overestimated the toxicity of Marilyn Monroe (Joe Time)

February 22, 1963: the day the phrase “to be continued…” (Aimee)

March 29, 1971: we all decided to get totally drunk. We drunk punch which was spiked with mouthwash…which was spiked with rum…which was spiked with TERROR! (Eric R)

March 25, 1975: Hans von Munchen Bussler, 32nd in line to be King of Saudi Arabia, is killed by his nephew.  Oddly, this actually knocks Bussler up to No. 5 in succession (Angela)

February 10, 1987: the last date to be conquered by February 5th in forming the President’s Day empire (Corey)

April 23, 1988: the day that refuses to bare its midriff of 5’s, 6’s and 7’s (Emily)

June 28, 1988: on this date, an unholy alliance was formed between Gerber Foods and Smith and Wesson. “Look Sweetie, here comes the airplane…BANG!” (Bryan)

July 31, 1988: Egypt thought they entered the space race by successfully launching a bottle rocket in the air. They were told mid-August they were wrong (Aaron)

Anton Van Leeuwenhoek: inventor of the microscope and centrifuge. Sometimes he gets really drunk and tries to find out how dizzy he can make an organism get (Mitch)

Arnold Fornichou: the first person to put an ailing pet to sleep, though his method of unceremoniously lobbing them into a pork shanker was quickly replaced (Bryan)

Betty and Richard James: the infamous lovebirds that in 1956 stole all the ink from every pen between Florida and Rhode Island in order to create the Indian Ocean (Kevin)

Carmelina Fedele: kickstarted the 80’s – in 80 A.D. she sported legwarmers and anti-Semitism (Derek)

Arnold Fornichou: failed entrepreneur – established Forna-Caterers food service (Paul)

Debbie Horn: the woman who swallowed a genie lamp so her stomach could have three wishes (Mitch)

Edward Teach: got thrown out of 6th grade for calling Ms. Stonehouse a “half-baked loaf of bitch” (Bryan)

Erasmus Bond: also known as secret double agent James Bond, had to change his name when he joined the union. There was already an Erasmus (Paul)

Frieda Carter: the first woman not to play jazz-bass (Eric R)

Frieda Carter: the person people are really talking to when they think they’re talking to themselves (Kate K)

George Blaisdell: invented the Zippo lighter that, once lit, never goes out until a forest disappears (Caroline)

George Dawes: the first man to replace his large intestine with a “Biggie Size” intestine (Corey)

Harold Fulp: the first man to donate his toes for the sake of goodness: “For goodness sake take my toes” (Caroline)

Hippolyte M. Mouries: the Greek God of Rome (Paul)

Jesse Reno: the first person to screw up a filibuster when she ran out of synonyms for “fuckbucket” (Derek)

Joel Cheek: ate his wife just to shut her up (Derek)

Joseph Montegu: born in the Medieval Ages, Mr. Montegu was the first worker who went “postal.” Back then, they call it “going parchment beating” (Cyrus)

Joseph Montegu: invented the steam powered kettle (Corey)

Professor Leo Kongee: devised a maze for mice where every dead end had a hunk of cheese, and the exit brings you back to the start. The study was to see how fat you could get a mouse (Bryan)

Professor Leo Kongee: a Nintendo classic where, instead of jumping over barrels, you teach physics to kids in Poughkeepsie (Will)

Ralph Wedgewood: his pickup line was: What’s the difference between Wedgewood and peanut butter?  I can’t peanut butter my dick up your ass (Sara)

Rant Mullens: fused a shoehorn to his inner ear canal to measure just how long he thought in shoe (Mitch)

Robert B. Thomas: taste-tester extrordinaire – he had the power to tell when you will die by licking your earlobe… inserting the poison (Aaron)

Robert B. Thomas: accidentally stoned in 1975 when a bunch of stone-skipping kids mistook him for a lake (Corey)

Sarah Winchester: New England housewife who created a delicious new cookie made of the flesh of a prowler she’d caught breaking into her home.  The intruder was later substituted by chocolate pieces and the Tollhouse cookie was born (Stephanie)

Sarah Winchester: lived near Niagara Falls and pretended to be a barrel so she could feel a man inside her eventually (Derek)

Tannakin Skinker: the guy who hated the inventor of the crock pot a really really lot (Jess W)

3 Nuts In Search of a Bolt: a small boy named Phillip gets trapped up to his waist in cement at age 7. The neighborhood kids all line up and kick him in the head in this 2 hour documentary (Mitch)

A Lady Takes a Chance : a young woman’s love for her boyfriend is tested as he is put under a large cup and is shuffled around with other large cups – she can only marry him if she selects him (Derek)

Assignment Terror: an openly black man scares the bejesus out of a closet KKK member (Derek)

Do You Like Women?: a man in a suit behind a desk appears and asks, “Do you like women?” He then stares at you unnervingly, impatiently waiting for an answer for two hours. For the last five minutes of the film, he is clearing his throat (Bryan)

How Sweet It Is: a chocolateur makes a fortune by replacing the chocolate Easter bunny with the chocolate Easter Judas (Corey)

I Hate Blondes: it wasn’t actually a movie as it was a plan concocted by a man who loved blondes.  He figured the movie title would lure brunettes to the theatre where he’d proceed to gas them (Corey)

I’m Dangerous Tonight: in a world without multi-celled organisms, only one paramecium has the guts to take it to the man.  Rated R for violence, mitotic division, and unlanguage (Kevin)

Incredible Melting Man: a poignant look at a man who can only exist at absolute zero. Running time: .06 seconds (Derek)

Kansas City Bomber: “In a world without hope, one man had the courage to stand tall. One man who had a dream to fight for freedom through the perils of war. One man to save us all. That makes three men. All doing the same friggin’ thing. For our country.” (Bryan)

Little Cigars: 50 minutes of romantic-comedy set in a pickling plant; single mother finds love with nosey janitor. Concluding 55 minutes of Asian-American women screaming (Eric R)

New Pastures: two childhood friends meet up again to fight over the ashes of the kid they accidentally killed in second grade (Aaron)

Only One Night: you’ve always heard the New York Times rave about movies…now a film that raves about the New York Times (Will)

Operation Bullshine: Hey kids!  Let’s learn alternative ways to cuss!  Spoiler alert: they fuckin’ fail the mission (Sara)

Seed People: the period film of the harvesters who planted seeds in the dirt. Problem is, they grew dirt, so they were often overlooked (Bryan)

Shack Out on 101: the story of a bum who convinced everybody the toll booth he took over was an actual residence (Susan)

Someone Behind the Door: a rich billionaire who watched his parents die as a child chooses to fight evil by hiding behind doors and opening them into people (Cyrus) Sssssss: World War II drama about the least creative, rug-tug German Naval ship, the fabled S.S.S.S.S.S.S. (Eric R)

That Sinking Feeling: confessions of a developer who built nursing homes on swamps and felt bad when he realized people do miss old people after all (Erika)

The Fabulous Joe: Stalin goes on ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’ (Max)

The Girl Less Likely: 64,000 rapid shots of foliage culminating in the credits (Derek)

The Outing: frustrated girlfriend invents the opposite of baseball (Stephanie)

The Secret Life of Archie’s Wife: Edith Bunker’s true identity is revealed as a KGB mole, whose assignment was to steal government secrets from Archie, only to discover she was the butt of a cruel office joke (Susan)

The Tuttles of Tahiti: the first film where the subtitles are screamed by a hyperactive 2nd grader (Bryan)

 

The World Series (in picture form)

WORLD SERIES 2016

Game 1: Cleveland, OH

(Time to cue the intro from… well, I’ll just do it…)

If any of you bothered to watch that, you’d be as amused as me that the newspaper headlines are overdubbed in German.

I’m not going to go into great details, I already did that in THIS POST HERE. I will, however, share the pictures that accompanied my once-in-a-lifetime trip. (Full disclosure: I hope this isn’t once in a lifetime, but it’s certainly not gonna happen again next year, even if they make the series again. I’m broke as our electoral system.)

img_1646
On our way to Dennys before the game. Jay got a salad. I ordered the seasonal Thanksgiving dinner. This is the first proof that, in any picture we are both in, one of us is not capable of looking good.
img_1656
The one and only Jaymar posing before the field. The sign may say Progressive, but it’ll always be The Jake to me.
img_1657
Entering the stadium from center field. I agree with Jay, that does seem weird.
img_1664
A view from our seats. That is: a fish-eye view from our seats before I realized that my camera inexplicably has a fish-eye setting.
20161025_200307
A better view from our seats. And further proof that, like Highlander, there can be only one (that looks good in a picture of us both).
img_1663
We were close enough to see John Adams banging away on his drum. Well, to be more precise, my camera has a good enough zoom lens that… you get the point.
img_1674
The unfurling of the obligatory huge flag. “Gets me every time,” says Jaymar.
img_1686
Pre-game fireworks. SPOILER ALERT: more of that to come.
img_1669
The retiring of 455, the number of consecutive sellout games. In 3926, Sicnarf Loopstok the 95th will be very upset that he can’t pick his high school number of 455.
img_1691
First pitch. Like this was ACTUALLY the first pitch of the World Series.
img_1695
Frankie Lindor doing what he does best. Smiling. And stealing 2nd base. But mostly smiling. Why? Probably because he knew he was going to win a Gold Glove in his first full season in the majors! Booyah!
img_1725
I can’t believe I actually got this on film. It was the massive 30′ dinker that Ramirez hit that opened the scoring of the World series. Given that we were probably at least 250′ away, that makes this shot even luckier.
img_1729
I like Nap and love what he did for this team. The Party at Napoli shirts are awesome. That being said, this is what he did an awful lot of in his last two months at the plate. Steeeee-rike.
img_1744
Okay, I know this isn’t the at-bat where I famously called Brandon Guyer getting a HBP RBI on an 0-2 count. But screw that, on the very next pitch I PREDICTED HE WOULD GET HIT BY A PITCH TO SCORE A RUN!
img_1765
Remember what I said about our inability to both look good in the same picture?
img_1781
Napoli proving me wrong with some solid contact. Still an out, but solid contact. I do genuinely hope we can resign him next year. Just not at $17m.
img_1752
Mid-game fireworks, these coming after Roberto Perez’ first of TWO homers of the night. It was a career game.
img_1756
Proof that Perez can trot.
img_1784
The score after Perez’ dinger.
img_1666
Slider hugging Santa. Because baseball, that’s why. The Indians scored 3 more times this game, and I somehow attribute it to this action.
img_1811
Cody Allen throwing a white cylinder at the Cubs. He fared well this day. As did the Indians.
img_1815
Post-game fireworks: the trifecta.
img_1825
Post-game glee. Jay’s thumbs up was for the game, his grimace was for my photo-while-walking skills.
img_1828
Our glee evaporated when we waited on line for about an hour to go up the only escalator.

All in all, this was a day to remember. Major thanks again to Jaymar and to Ashley who made this happen! We didn’t win it all (came within one run) but it was an epic game and one of the all-time great World Series.

The Indians did steal one thing from the Cubs. We’re now the team who gets to say “There’s always next year.”

Post WS wrap-up

This blog will have no pictures because I have to get home, defrag, and upload some pictures, so that blog will hopefully roll out in the next few days. But until then, some notes on the WORLD SERIES:

  • Our seats were pretty amazing. Front row of the upper deck, halfway between 3rd base and the foul pole. Perfect view of the entire stadium and we got a firsthand look at Perez’ TWO home runs. Plus, with my extra-zoomy camera, I was able to snap pictures of individual players batting. I couldn’t have asked for better seats.
  • The weather – I was truly worried about 50 degrees with wind, but up until about the 8th inning it was downright pleasant. Somehow, even tho the temperature only dropped 2 degrees, it did get chilly at the end. But considering as I was walking into the airport today I saw SNOWFLAKES, I can’t really complain one iota about the weather. It was a perfect night for baseball.
  • Jaymar and I had a sort of contest to predict what the most random jersey we’d see would be. I thought maybe a Paul Byrd or Russell Branyan. I forget Jay’s prediction (it wasn’t Hershiser but it was someone like that). We saw someone rockin’ a Jensen Lewis jersey. That took the cake. Although I realize now we also saw a Joe Smith jersey, which is oddly apropros because he was part of the Bullpen Mafia in the Indians and is currently a member of the Cubs. Oh, and you should definitely click that link and watch that video from the so-bad-its-good vault.
  • The game itself was fantastic and was about as good a start as you could hope for. A dominant start by Kluber (6+ scoreless ball, breaking a record for most strikeouts in the first three innings – 8), scoreless relief from Miller, shutdown by Allen, and 10 hits (8 of which were by Lindor, Ramirez, and the newly crowned stud Perez). It was the sort of declarative statement I think we needed.
  • Speaking of which, the Indians were the definitive underdog in the Red Sox series, which we swept. We were the clear underdogs in Toronto before advancing after winning 4 and only losing one. Now we’re probably the biggest underdogs yet we shut down the  best offense in the majors and chipped away at their great staff. You really don’t hear about overdogs enough, but I like flying under the radar. I think it’s making teams too complacent. We’re sneaky good.
  • I put in more steps than I had in the previous week combined, and most of that was looking for a single place to get booze that wasn’t beer. I eventually found a place that served watered down screwdrivers (she was going to make it with GIN! ughhh) but it was just too much work to keep going back. Plus, it was fun being sober for the game – lots of screaming to be had.
  • I made a prediction that possibly rivals the Babe famously calling his home run. With the bases loaded and two outs, hit-by-pitch magnet Brandon Guyer steps up and gets himself into an 0-2. I turn to Jay and said “Okay, Guyer’s gonna get hit by a pitch here to score a run.” That’s an absurd prediction to make, given that a pitcher won’t throw anywhere near him on an 0-2 count. But Lester did on the next pitch, hitting him on the back of the leg. I can’t say anyone else made that prediction. Also, this exists. 😀

  • This really was a bucket list item. Will I go back to the Series if they make it next year, or in ten years, or fifty? I don’t know, probably not. It was something I wanted to make sure I could do once. If I do save up some money, I’d love to go back some day with the whole family to watch a WS game, but I made sure to grab the opportunity this year while it presented itself.
  • I don’t think I can adequately thank Jay & Ashley enough for making this trip happen. It’ll be something I remember forever, and I think I’m going to owe a few dozen footrubs in the coming weeks. And, I guess… more dinners at Dennys for Jaymar.
  • 3 MORE WINS TO GO!
  • Also, Jay and I are going to hopefully churn out a Dirty Dozen list out of this – Top 12 Things That Will Cause the Cubs to Lose Again This Year

Why Do I Write?

frustratedwriterAsh posed this question to me last night after we spent quite a while discussing my first chapter of my detective novel that I’d finally put to paper. Before yesterday, I’d been mulling over the story for three years but never doing more than writing a few outlines and jotting down a few pages of ideas I’d want to incorporate. When the question was posed to me, I did a little reflecting. In the past, I’d always answered that I write for myself – I write things that I would enjoy reading. That’s also what I said about my music, my stand-up comedy, and various other things. But how true was I to myself?

The fact is I have MB and MB of files on my computer that I enjoy (and probably equally as much that I don’t care for very much). Plays, novels, parts of novels, poetry, sonnets, lists, and all the stuff for my website. But if I only wanted to make myself happy, I’d never share it with anyone. And I do. To anyone who would want to read it. And I get disappointed when a friend asks me excitedly for something and then never reads it to give me feedback. Nor would I have a website. Which I do. And hope to actually update this week.

So then the answer is I write for other people?

Well, no, not exactly. I’d say that I did the Short Story Project (in 2012, resurrected briefly last year) for other people – mostly Aaron and some other friends. Sure, in the back of my mind there was the hope that I’d put together a few good stories that I could submit for publication, but it was definitely more an exercise in getting me to actually WRITE (something I have done little of since 2012).

And more than who I think of when I write a story, I don’t change my style enough to be generally acceptable by others. Ash pointed out that I write things that I find funny, but based on the general reaction of my comedy stories, people VASTLY prefer my dramatic stuff. To that end, it’s a shame I enjoy writing comedy much yamsmore than drama. Maybe I’ll some day be the Brendan Fraser of writers – doing “mainstream” stuff that I don’t care about (although his Dudley Do-Right would be my play about isolation, Time Travel is Lonely) so that I could do movies that are important to me (my sack-of-yams story to his Gods and Monsters). In the meantime, it’s a balancing act of enjoying what I’m doing vs. doing something I know others will respond favorably to. And lately, especially after the short story project, I’ve been turning my attention to “what would be marketable”.

So do I write to get published? I’m often asked if I could do anything for a living, what would it be? I unilaterally answer “write”, usually followed up by “comedy”. But to be honest, right now I’m NOT writing stories to be purchased, at least not consciously. When composing my three ‘best’ stories in 2012, I didn’t once think would a publisher like this or should I do that instead? I simply wrote what I thought was the best story. By 2015, I did have an eye in the back of my mind on “mainstream” writing when composing Breaking the Silence, which is one of my favorite pieces ever. But to say it was a driving force is wrong.

Besides, there is no formula to write something that most people, or even just a slight majority of people, will like. How many times did J.K. Rowling get turned down before selling Harry Potter? In that case, millions of people didn’t like it, only one did – one publisher willing to take a chance. It TURNS OUT that millions like it, but at the time, it only took one.

Which puts me back to why I write – is it for me, my friends, or to try to make a living (or realistically a little side-cash) doing it? If you look at the current content of my writing, it’s all of them, and that’s the problem. Nobody will pay money for the sack of yams story, but I don’t have the drive to spend months or years on a ‘serious’ story.

So that leaves me in needing to find middle ground. When Ash read the first chapter, she was so distracted by the humor, which she felt was hitting her over the head. So we went through a few examples, and this one became something of the poster boy for the conversation:

It clung to her slender frame as she sashayed through the doorway, an overpowering scent of mulberry trailing behind her

While she didn’t consider “mulberry” a joke (though it certainly is a total inside joke between me and my friend Stephanie), it was abstract and distracting. I asked if I simply changed it to “lilac”, what would it do? She immediately said “see, THAT paints a picture for me.” Is this then a matter of taste? Did she just not like the word I chose?

No, I think I’m realizing that this is the middle ground I need to find. Mulberry is an esoteric choice that people can’t relate to. Also, it isn’t a big laugh line. It’s just out place in the novel. I suppose what I’m learning is – in writing comedy, EVERY LINE doesn’t need to be funny. Hell, if I make the story itself based on a few absurd premises (which it is) and add some witty dialogue (which is my goal), the rest of the narration needs – NEEDS – to be telling the story. I’ll let the humor come through, I don’t need to force it.

I remember hearing that, in sitcom writing, you shouldn’t be going more than 2-3027_24A lines without some type of laugh line. I tried to carry that over in my plays (most clearly illustrated in The Unusual Suspects), the result of which WAS non-stop laugh lines that were more often than not non-sequitur. Sure enough, the reviews I received pointed to that very fact as why they LOVED the show (and why the HATED the show).

(By the way, that’s Broadway-bound Bryan Fenkart in this picture. You saw him here first. Soon, he’ll be appearing in Nerds: The Musical on Broadway!)

It’s going to be a trial for me to tone back my style that I’ve developed over the years. After all, it’s not like I haven’t written dramatic stuff before (which, incidentally, just crossed the 300-view mark – thanks guys!). I almost think I have to write like it’s a spoof. Something that IS comedy that SOUNDS serious. Or a comedy that takes itself very seriously. Or maybe it’s a drama that doesn’t take itself seriously at all.

See what I mean? This is going to be tough. But at least I’m dusting off an idea I’m passionate about and giving it a go. Worst comes to worst, does anyone want a copy when I’m done to give me some feedback? 😉

Did a Celebrity Blantantly Rip Me Off?

So apparently Neil Patrick Harris’ autobiography, written in 2014, is a choose-your-own-adventure. I can’t help but wonder why that premise seems so familiar.

I’m not saying millionaire and America’s sweetheart is clearly ripping me off. What I *am* saying is that I’m 100% certain that he’s one of the 4 people who looks at my actual website (and not just the blog part). What’s next, NPH, you going to start a Bad Advice Column? (I hope the homestarrunner guys don’t look at this, because then they’ll definitely have beef with NPH too when he rips off their idea too!)

Speaking of which, there may just be another Dirty Dozen list coming your way as soon as the Superbowl blitz dies down and Jaymar can again resurface.

But yeah, screw you NPH.

Day 37: Random Musings

The anti-Myspace shot
  • With how wide I can now open my mouth, I’m going to say I’m on a regular diet of foods that require little more than gumming. I *can* chew to some degree, but with my splint still in, if it’s crunchy, chewy, or stringy, I won’t try it. Good thing I like pastas. Now to make some of them.
  • It is incredibly annoying to have one part of your body be routinely itchy. I think most people will vouch for me here. It’s much worse for that part of your body to be the part that’s very numb still (the left side of my chin). Scratching it does nothing!
  • I’m pretty proud of my post about feminism from a few weeks ago for a few reasons. 1) Obviously, the content. It was definitely meant to be a my-story kind of thing, but it’s struck chords with many people. 2) It’s actually prompted some healthy conversation, albeit very little. Mostly agreement, which of course is always nice 3) The views. It’s more than doubled the next-most viewed post I’ve ever done, and I’m closing in on the 300-view mark. Gotta push it over! Share it if you like it on the social medias!
  • At the start of the year, it was hard to plan anything because I had no idea when my body would be ready for certain things. One thing we’d discussed was moving, but we put no sort of timeline on it because we never knew where I’d be. Well, we’re meeting with a realtor, less to find a new home but more to find what projects I’ll have to tackle in THIS home to make it attractive to buyers. It looks pretty favorable for 2016 to be my (hopefully) last move for quite some time. Then again, the 6+ years we’ve been here has been my longest by a long shot since my first house.
  • I’m following politics closely this year. I’d love a conversation between 2002 me and 2016 me. It’d be a pretty strange conversation.
  • Since my medical leave ended, I haven’t played a single minute of any console games, only playing my handheld Final Fantasy Record Keeper game. I guess Oblivion didn’t have quite the hold on me that I thought.
  • Splint comes out on Tuesday! Splint comes out on Tuesday! I was told I sound “damn good” considering what I’ve been through, but I can’t wait to not salivate inordinate amounts just when trying to read a book aloud to my kids.
  • Is it spring yet?

PAIN: 1

INCONVENIENCE: 3

REGRET FACTOR: 0 (back to neutral!)

My Arduous Path to Feminism

I’ll get back to my blogging about my surgery recovery probably tomorrow, for those here for that. Also, I will give a disclaimer that, like my post coming out about being an atheist, this one’s gonna be long.

For years on the internet, there’s been the trope of the “nice guy”, and I even came upon this wonderful definition of Nice Guy Syndrome on Urban Dictionary:

NiceGuy

Clearly, this was good fodder to make fun of other guys, you know, those guys who clearly are Nice Guys (capital letter), totally and in all ways unlike me. And like all great revisionist history, it lives on the very mantra that ‘if you repeat it enough, it must be true.’

I have, by my own admission, always been nice to women. Always. I’ve prided myself on writing strong female characters (back in my playwriting days). I was “a catch” in the dating pool. I stood up against sexism when I could. But never was *I* a Nice Guy.

And, like all great revisionist history, it lives on the very mantra that ‘if you repeat it enough, it must be true.’

Recently, I’ve been doing a strange thing and delving into my past – not into my memory banks, but into actual evidence of my past. Specifically I had watched an awful lot of my old stand-up routines that I had laying around, and I started rereading blogs from 2006-2007, the era just before meeting Ashley. And I was pretty startled by what I saw.

  • “I really like brunettes. As in REALLY like them. I noticed this when I combed through my MySpace, and changed my top 12 people to girl friends I thought had hot pics. They were ALL brunettes, and one redhead just got knocked off the list. Blondes, prove me wrong!” – 9/24/06
  • “I’ve found that if you tell people you collect something, people will buy it for you.  I have bought exactly zero of my monkeys, and only one of my spatulas.  And now that I write a fake wine column, I have been getting wine as a gift more frequently.  This is interesting. I would like to publicly announce that I starting a big-boobed, fun, undiscriminating woman collection.  So there ya go.” 1/2/07
  • “They’re insidious, they’re perfidious, outside cute but inside hideous. Inconsistent, often distant, persistently sense-resistant.” – lyrics to my song “Women Are Insane” (written 2005)
  • “I’m still single. And I don’t know why, I try pick-up lines. I mean, I try the standard ones. I’ll say, ‘Did it hurt?’ And she’ll ask, ‘Did what hurt?’ And I’ll say ‘THIS’ (mimes hitting her)” – joke from my stand-upDishwasher3
  • And most abhorrently, this blog post about my Halloween costume in 2006.
    A costume which, I should add, received not one word of condemnation from anyone at the time, male or female.

I could, if this was a blog post defending myself, get into the whole “is it okay for comedians to cross taboo lines for the sake of a joke” argument. I could argue that I was just appealing to the lowest common denominator (at least in terms of my stand-up) and trying to appeal to others who could relate, regardless of whether I truly believed these things or not. But this is (hopefully) not one of those blogs.

I remember distinctly getting into a conversation in around 2010 with a brilliant friend of Ashley’s and mine, Susie, after playing for her “Women are Insane”. She wasn’t appalled, but made no bones that she thought the song, while featuring clever wordplay, was a) not funny and b) she didn’t care for it. I argued HARD and reiterated how I don’t “actually believe these things”, but I was just doing it for the sake of a funny song.

Looking back over my body of work, however, I was pretty bitter towards women. That’s an understatement. I was angry at women. I was, without any qualifying language, a Nice Guy. Sure, I wasn’t a Nice Guy who, when I didn’t receive a response from a woman I messaged on OkCupid, would message her back calling her a slut or a bitch. I never did that. But that made me no less a Nice Guy, as much as I managed to convince myself otherwise.

Really, as I look back on it today, it was all deflection. In high school, and certainly more so in college, you only had to look as far as how I dressed to see 20100305that I wanted to deflect the reasons why I was “always single”. Sure I never actually approached a girl I fancied and even instigated the most basic of conversation with her. Sure I would avoid going into situations where I might meet females with like interests as me, and would instead go to a loud bar, drink quietly, and leave disappointed. Sure I would drink at social events (at least after 2000), thus presenting possibly the worst image of me that I could to anyone knew who might be there. But it wasn’t those things (and others) that kept me single, it was CLEARLY that women couldn’t handle a man who chose to dress in a unique way! That MUST be it! Man, I remember defending myself over and over again in college that I dressed that way because “it’s comfortable” and “it shows off my individuality” and all sorts of other horseshit lines.

No, it was so that, in my Nice Guy brain, girls had a REASON to reject me out of hand, so I never had to feel the sharp sting of rejection naturally.

I would heavily lace my stand-up sets with jokes about being single, about it must having to do with my “European teeth” and my “Middle-Earth complexion”. Self-deprecation was simply another deflective tool that allowed me to put the onus of my singledom back on women (it’s THEIR fault they couldn’t look past my physical shortcomings, NOT MINE!)

There’s been 3 different moments of change that have molded me to where I am today – which I want to stress is probably still not as far along as I need to be. I call myself a ‘feminist’ but I’m probably at best only an aide to the cause.


#1. The realization that sexism isn’t always overt.

WorkplaceThis began at my old company. I had landed one of my best friends, an extremely qualified and capable woman, a job with my company within two weeks of me working there. She was clearly given tasks of importance, and paid commensurately (probably even more than me, though there were other factors at play). So most MRAs (the so-called “Men’s Rights Activists”) would probably say that she was all good and there were no problems based ONLY on those two facts.

That’s when I started seeing the everyday sexism and misogyny at play. On emails that related to policy and things that all the longtime employees should have had say in (she and I were both considered upper middle management, I suppose), it was addressed only to men, myself included. She would be left out, even if it was something that applied to her department(s) more so than mine. I started replying to them and CCing her “You forgot to add [co-worker’s name]”, trying to bring it to their attention that maybe it was an oversight. Once is as oversight; repeatedly is deliberate sexual exclusion.

It wasn’t just policy emails. She would often make very sensible, cost-cutting, or time-saving suggestions to the company that would be either ignored or outright rejected. Then, with only a little time having passed, I would suggest the same thing – unaltered – and it would be, at worst, listened to, and at best, adopted. Again, this happened with regularity.

She would be interrupted mid-sentence at times when she was making a point, and people would often tell her that she needs to “speak up and be heard” more. Dress codes seemed to apply more to her than to me. I was given infinitely more flexibility with times it was okay to work from home; when she worked from home it was often met with sarcastic side-of-the-mouth comments or begrudging acceptance.

Any one of these things on their own can be dismissed as someone having a bad day or an oversensitive imagination, but when you start to add them up, it paints a very clear picture. This was eye-opening for me. I had been pretty adamant that I was never sexist, but that was, looking back, using one very particular and not-at-all complete definition of the term sexism. Sure I never hit a woman, or Humordemanded I get paid more than someone comparable, or told her to “get in the kitchen and make me some waffles” or – wait, no I did the latter, because “it was funny, right?” The point is, sexism isn’t just in-your-face sexual harassment/rape, or outright telling a woman she shouldn’t make as much money because women can’t do the things men can do. It’s not like you need to be an 80’s movie bad guy to be sexist – it can be and is far more subtle than that.


2. Meeting Ash.

She’s always had a strong and closely-held belief system, but I think we’d both IMG_0101admit that when we first started dating, she probably would not have defined herself as a feminist, at least not to the extent she is now. However, as she has grown as a person and made choices that have impacted both our lives, it’s given me the opportunity to grow with her.

For years, I would tell her that I preferred her hair long, because that’s what I always liked. And she acquiesced despite the fact that she would probably shave it off completely if it were socially acceptable at her place of work. But there came a time when she realized “this is MY body that I keep for myself.” It’s not that she actively wanted to do something I disliked, but I see/touch her hair far less than she does.

So she cut it short a few times. At first, I had to “grow to like it”. Then later she decided she would stop shaving her legs. Again, I had my preferences, and as much as I probably imagined I was fully supportive at the time and said nothing, I’m sure I made under my breath criticisms. Because I was still growing.

Then she stopped shaving her armpits. And that’s when it finally occurred to me – it’s her body. I can have any preference I want, and I can even voice my preferences (when prompted), but that’s where it ends. She is in NO way obligated to live her life by anyone’s standards, preferences, or beliefs but her own, as long as those choices don’t negatively impact others. By this time (a few years ago), I no longer found myself having to “come to accept” these decisions, I fully supported her making any choices with her body.

We both started gaining weight, and at first I started saying “we should really go to the gym” which sadly turned into “you should do sit-ups”, said, of course, in the MOST supportive tone I could muster. And for most of the time, specifically with her, she was happy with her body, extra pounds and all. And that realization again hit me. If she’s happy, still healthy, still athletic, then more power to her. Only recently has she started to become unhappy with parts of her body, and only at those times do I offer ACTUAL constructive things (“why don’t we set specific days where we can do yoga?” or “okay, Thursdays and Sundays will be your days to go to the gym, I’ll watch the boys”). In my revisionist history, I always did that. In actuality, it’s been far more recent than I’d like to admit.

Further, in knowing her, it’s given me access to various groups and online communities that I never would have thought to join before, namely a couple different feminist FB groups and the like. It’s given me firsthand looks at thread after thread after thread of women sharing personal stories that back up what I’d been discovering – that despite all the talk of “equality” that men seem to tout, we’re not even close to where we need to be.


3. “Not every man sexually harasses. Every woman has been sexually harassed by a man.”

 

MRAThis is the big one. I wish I could remember where I first heard this, but I first heard it probably around when the first catcalling video became a viral sensation. Around this time also appeared the “Not all men!” counterargument, which is the “All lives matter” equivalent to gender inequality. It’s also, going back to the beginning, the Nice Guy argument. ‘Since *I* don’t do those things, they must not be happening.’ This oddly sounds like the Snowball-in-Congress argument for why Climate Change isn’t real. I’m straying.

Men (MRAs in particular) want to dismiss women’s claims of harassment, misogyny, even rape, as anecdotal evidence. And when statistics and scientific research are introduced that back up that research, men will go out of their way to grasp at straws to counter these, often times with their own ‘research’ that fails to actually use citations to any studies and/or without any scientific basis. It becomes more important to them to attempt to disprove what is being said rather than listen to the overall message and emotions being relayed.

And that’s the heart of the matter, isn’t it? Women aren’t being heard. When a man responds to “women want to be treated equally as men in all facets of life” and he responds with “does that mean it’s okay if I hit them?” they’re not listening for one minute to what’s being said. They are merely deflecting the entire conversation with a strawman argument instead of actually hearing that the woman is expressing how they have been mistreated in some fashion. And that particular example I gave is pretty overt, but there are much more subtle ones as well.

I recently was engaged in a long conversation on Facebook based on a post my wife put on my wall. It was about a cool garage-door screen door insert that can come down when the main door is up, allowing a kind of lanai-garage deal. It was a cool idea. Two of the first three comments were unsolicited messages by  friends of mine – both men – who said why it wouldn’t work, either in general or for Ashley specifically. The next comment was by a woman calling out these guys for mansplaining all over the thread because Ash is a woman.

A year ago or more, I would have bristled at the tone that the women eventually took on in this conversation, because it was clear to EVERYONE involved that the two men were not deliberately telling Ashley what she could and couldn’t do BECAUSE she was a woman. Nobody accused them of that. But the men still could not understand why the women seemed to take issue with this.

Convo1

As the conversation progressed, the men clearly became more dismissive of the women’s complaints, claiming that they were hypersensitive. And let me be clear, I don’t consider EITHER of these men to be misogynists, per se. Again, at least not in the most overt definitions. So I eventually chimed in, hoping to play the outside-observer and be a man’s voice to help relate the issue to the other men. The following are what what I typed and one friend’s response.

Convo2

Convo3

It got more heated and, ultimately, it appears both men unsubscribed to the conversation because they felt attacked. I mentioned before that in the past I’d seen my wife in conversations with friends of mine (and others) where I felt she and other women were overly harsh to men who were, by all tokens, pretty good guys. I’d not ONCE seen them take this aggressive tactic to MRAs who actually deserve it, but they were very vehement to the on-the-fencers. That used to bother me, but it no longer does, and here’s why:

There is an amazing video I saw recently (dealing with race) about the difference between non-racists and anti-racists. I think that applies very directly to sexism. My two male friends are certainly non-sexists – they’re both married to strong women and treat them as equals as far as I have seen. But that isn’t to say these men are anti-sexists. In dismissing the women’s opinions and feelings as being hypersensitive and taking it personally, they became non-misogynists. It’s the very reason that Black Lives Matter hasn’t targeted Trump or Cruz in their demonstrations, instead going after Bernie Sanders, someone who aligned with their beliefs probably better than anyone. It made me mad at first, until I saw that he immediately took what they said to heart – he LISTENED – and immediately reacted appropriately. The Civil Rights movement of the 60s saw no traction when they went toe-to-toe with those that villified them most; they saw drastic improvement when they went after the impartial white majority, even the sympathetic white majority (who weren’t actively doing anything to further the cause). THAT’S why my “good guy” friends – the ones who probably agreed on a basic level with much of what true feminists have to say – were targeted as harshly as they were. True change doesn’t seem to happen when you sit around quietly hoping it will.

Because my two friends left the above conversation early, I wasn’t able to type my response, which would have been:

“Yes, [person], you DO need to consider their gender when you choose your words, and not because you need to treat them a hand-holdey way due to their gender. There needs to be an acknowledgment that, as women, they’ve spent their entire lives being shown near-constant oppression, both in the blatant manner of which you’re washing your hands, and in far more subtle manners like what you’ve demonstrated in this conversation so far (initially giving unsolicited opinions about how their desires won’t work or are wrong for them, and later dismissing their opinions about this).

You say that you’d speak the same way to a man, and I believe you 100%, but if you go to that man’s FB page and look at his feed, you might see one or two sentences in the imperative tense (do this, don’t do that). On a woman’s page, you’ll see men all over it giving orders, and many of them in a pejorative fashion. While that is something you should consider as a personality trait you might want to work on in general – in your words, being “a condescending jerk” to both genders – you should definitely give extra thought when acting towards/speaking to women.”

It extends further. In a recent IRL conversation with one of my most progressive

A quick google search of "sexist memes" brings up pages and pages of images.
A quick google search of “sexist memes” brings up pages and pages of images.

friends, he seemed shocked about Gamergate – not that it exists or the severity with which it exists, but that something like that COULD even exist. I don’t even necessarily fault him for it – he (like me) is the beneficiary of great [white] male privilege. If you don’t actively look for these things, it’s easy to assume they just aren’t there. When me, a cis white guy friend of mine, and our wives all chimed in with specific examples illustrating the abomination that is Gamergate, he was aghast but to his credit he just listened (after a few initial dismissals and meager Devil’s-advocate explanations).

I’ve seen it firsthand: I’ve seen an anonymous stranger (responding to a not-particularly incendiary comment made by Ash) hope that her children drown. I’ve seen threats made online to stalk/hurt/rape/skullfuck/kill women more than I should have (which is zero – zero is the number of times I should ever have seen something like that). I’ve yet to read one comment of a woman threatening to do any of these to a man. And even if someone wants to show me an isolated piece of anecdotal evidence of a woman threatening a man in such a fashion, or a man threatening another man in such a fashion, it wouldn’t matter – it doesn’t negate the abundance and severity of the the threats women receive on a daily basis.

In doing some soul-searching, I answered my own question that I posed in that 2007 OkCupid journal entry where I asked, “Are women not responding to my messages because they are on high alert – there are plenty of crazies on the internet – or am I just goofy-looking?”

The answer is that they don’t owe me a damn thing if they don’t want to. I put my lure out there and didn’t get any hits. Boo for me. We weren’t compatible, or I wasn’t interesting enough, or my message got lost in the mire of messages from other Nice Guys who were calling their targets useless cunts for ignoring their self-aggrandizing message. It doesn’t matter. The women didn’t respond. And that’s fine.

It’s taken me probably 15 years or more to stop blaming women and start looking internally at what I was doing, how I was behaving, and how I *actually* treated and thought of women, not just how I framed that I did. I could perhaps contend that I was never a sexist/misogynist, but I was, at best, a non-sexist/misogynist. I certainly fed on and spewed out the same lame stereotypes that have been hampering women’s grown for years decades basically ever. I’ve only recently become an anti-sexist/misogynist. I would like to think I’m a feminist, but really, that title is earned after not just a few months/years of recognizing one’s past failures.

I don’t actively have friends who are outright sexist/misogynist, but jeebus knows I know very few men who are actively anti-sexist/misogynist. And really, that’s what this is all about – that’s why my feminist friends pounce on the non-sexists instead of the MRAs. And that’s why I (and others), as cis white men who experience just about every privilege out there, need to start being more than voyeurs and start becoming actively engaged. It’s more than not being a Nice Guy. It’s more than “don’t harass women, don’t catcall women, don’t rape women”. Those are important, but they only address the obvious parts of sexism.

  • LISTEN to women. You may have 100 reasons why their complaint is, in your mind, invalid. But just listen to what they’re saying, to the emotion behind the circumstance. Save your negation for when you’re specifically asked for your opinion. In a workplace environment, the best ideas come from ALL sources, not just the people in positions of power.
  • Get rid of tired stereotypes that you’re using just for laughs. If you’re a Humorprofessional comedian who makes a living that way, let’s have that discussion. But if you’re going to defer to “women are insane” or “a woman’s place is in the kitchen”, or “barefoot and pregnant” in the sake of humor, rest assured that the jokes aren’t funny and that you’re doing an entire gender no service by perpetuating antiquated tropes.
  • Call out bullshit. This goes for both genders. I’ve seen some inexplicable slandering of women and their experiences by other women. And by call out bullshit, I don’t mean “trust every woman implicitly no matter what she says/alleges strictly because she’s a woman”, but when you see a woman make a point and she is countered with total strawmen arguments and diversionary tactics, call. it. out. I don’t care if those men setting up the strawman arguments are close friends of yours – silence keeps the status quo, and the status quo is NOT equality.
  • Do your research. Make sure your articles about any topic (gender pay inequality, sexual assault, Gamergate) offer links to actual studies and surveys. That way, when the counterargument meme gets sent to you, and it is clearly Abortionfrom a Republican think-tank that has no actual links to back up its points (or, as in this graph, no actual Y axis), you are able to accurately refute your research. Don’t think this is just a right wing slag – I’ve seen more than my fare share of Dems linking articles that are baseless in fact. And if you do choose to argue a feminist about woman’s issues, do enough research to know that your points are not from an admitted MRA source, but from independent sources.

I hadn’t meant this to be a rallying cry – it was supposed to just be about my journey from someone who thought he was a feminist to someone who’s now much closer to actually being one. I wish it didn’t take me this long to get where I am today, but I encourage anyone else who describes themselves as feminists but asks why he should be allowed to hit women “if all things are equal” to stop using the word ‘feminist’ to describe yourself. You’re lying to us, and you’re lying to yourself. In the words of that video I linked earlier:

We need to stop being “non-” and start being “anti-”.

Robo-Derek

I just discovered a free place online where I can have text-to-speech. Sure, the technology has been around for ages (I remember being awed in high school when Jay showed me how to do it), but now after surgery I can totally be like Stephen Hawking. EXACTLY like Stephen Hawking. Except everything I say will be moronic, whiny, and I’ll have some bizarre propensity for talking almost exclusively about smoothies and facial swelling.

But yeah, otherwise, Stephen M’Fing Hawking.

Disc Golf Goals – 2015

I held off writing this one because I wasn’t sure how much disc golf I would actually be playing because of my surgery. Now knowing that it’s LIKELY to happen at the end of the year, I’m going to make the assumption that I’ll have a full year ahead of me. In an idea world, I’d actually prefer the surgery in July, which would cleave my disc golf year in half, but that won’t be my call. Anyway, after last year’s abomination, I’m making some new goals. Hopefully they’ll be accessible.

It may be utter coincidence but the working out I’ve been doing seems to be positively affecting my golf. Not only am I not trashed after playing a pretty grueling round or two, my game itself seems to be doing well so far. The weather helps – when it’s in the 60s during winter you won’t hear me complain (at least as far as disc golf is concerned – as far as our part of the country really wanting a normal winter, that’s another matter). So let’s go 2015.

1) Play in the entire Sierra Series, the GCC, and maybe one tourney at a course I’ve never played. This is ambitious and even if I have the late surgery probably one I won’t fulfill. But hey, it’s my wish list.

2) Cash at either of the A tiers I’m playing (GCC and King of the Lake). The last time I played both I cashed, but those were pretty special tournaments.

3) Cash in at least 1/2 the Series tournaments I play. Another lofty goal.

4) Top 25% or better of a B Tier. With hopefully playing a little more golf this year, hopefully this one will be attainable.

5) Top 3 at the Sun Valley tournament. This one might be very difficult depending on the caliber of players who travel for the tourney. If it’s mostly Reno folk, I’d have a good shot. If Sacramento/Grass Valley pours in, I’ll have to bring my very best game.

6) Cash for the first time in the Sierra Series. I was first non-cash two years in a row and last year didn’t play enough to qualify.

7) Beat Jere Eshelman in a single PDGA round. Still hasn’t happened.

8) Keep my lifetime streak of never DNFing a tournament alive.

9) At least 3 1000-rated roundsI had zero last year, yet I think this is possible.

10) At least 1 round over 1010. The same as last year.

11) No rounds below 940. The same as last year.

12) End up with a rating over 975. I would be nice to officially be rated a pro.

13) Hit a dubs ace or a tourney ace. I already got to split an ace pot with my partner in 2015, but it was him hitting the ace, not me. I’m less concerned with sheer numbers as I am with keeping up tradition, as I’ve hit at least one for the last three years after very long droughts.

14) Play at least 3 new courses this year.

15) Continue playing dubs/tags during tournament season. I tend to play a bit in the winter, then ease up in the spring, then stop altogether around July, only to maybe play one or two times in the fall. If only for exercise purposes alone, I want to keep getting out and playing.

16) Stop talking about myself so much during the tournaments. This is probably more about myself as a person and not so much a disc golf goal, but it bothers me that I tend to be self-centered when playing, talking about stories of my heartbreak or glory, or just constantly informing my group of my status in the round. It can’t be doing my groupmates any good, and it doesn’t help me. That might mean bringing around my iPod more or just learning to enjoy the round and care less about my results.

2500 Words On Not Being the Best – Reflections of the SFIF

I still vividly remember the words that Richard Digby Day said to me as I trained at the London Academy of Theatre in 2000. He said, “Derek, you are good at very many things. My fear is that you won’t be very good at anything”. It has stuck with me, both in times when I prove him wrong (when my musical got picked to be at the Fringe festival, when I won a professional disc golf tournament), and in the dishearteningly more common instances when he was right.

I feel like most of my life I was a big fish in a small pond. My silly comedy poems would get picked for our high school writing newsletter despite them being not “high art”. I would be cast in every play and musical – never as the lead, but always as a sizeable supporting character. I was a four-year varsity athlete and even made all-county my senior year (in bowling – don’t judge). I got scholarships for singing and education. In short, I think my achievements, which seemed to take place almost solely in high school, sort of set me up for this belief that I could do everything exceptionally well when really I was just edging out my competition pool that was based solely on a close proximity to my high school. But then getting accepted to Mason Gross school of the Arts (a conservatory) meant beating odds of 27 in 700+. Clearly I had to be something great.

However, when I joined the best-of-the-best, I was mediocre. Perhaps even below average. Surely being a shorter-than-average giant is a nice laurel to flaunt, but it wasn’t exactly what I’d anticipated. I branched off with friends and created Prometheus Productions, where I was a writer,  actor, singer, director, fight choreographer, improv-artist, and musician. Another thing to hang my hat on? Well, perhaps. I was not the best writer (Kevin was), the best actor (Bryan, Paul, Dierdre…), the best singer (Dierdre, Bryan), the best director (Kevin), the best improv-er (Will, Jaime), the best musician (god, most of the group). I maybe was the best fight choreographer. If during that time you’d asked me what my best talent of that group was, I’d say improv. I felt most at home there and, next to other people who (like me) had never received a lick of improv training, I felt strong.

7 years later, having moved to Reno, I found myself again as a performer in an area that wasn’t exactly teeming with Broadway-ready talent, or so I thought. I did a couple of open-mic comedy nights and slayed, I would play an open-mic music nights and quickly became one of the favorites of the organizer. More to the point, I joined an improv troupe where I was quickly promoted to head actor and even head of the creative (despite the fact that the organizer herself TAUGHT improv). Clearly, I was right about my skills, no?

Fast forward a few years. That group had disbanded and in a very offhanded conversation with a man with whom I’d been improvising with (as a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity of all things) he mentioned I should contact The Utility Players about auditions since “I had chops”. I did and was greeted very professionally that they didn’t need more actors. When I mentioned I was a musician too (never hurts to list all the talents, huh?), I got myself into the group as their musician. This is not what I wanted. After all I was one of the best improvisational actors among my friends who were, undoubtedly, extremely talented people.

The mama-bear of The Utility Players, to her credit, never led me on. I was not going to be an actor (except in one-liner games, which were admittedly my strength anyway). But I wanted to prove her wrong. At rehearsals when we were all playing together I would volunteer to get up and, in my own way, I was out to prove that I could flex my NYC-based improv knowledge and prove I not only belonged, but I was better than these Reno-based yokels. I must’ve showed them, right?

No. For two reasons.

One, they’re good. I mean, they’re really really good. Reno or not (and most of them aren’t from here), they’re talented both at being funny and at mastering the actual craft of improv, which don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Two, and this was surprising, I would do shitty shitty improv. There are any number of reasons why this happened (I was used to driving a scene with players who weren’t as seasoned, I just had a big ego, I couldn’t artistically trust this group of strangers who definitely seemed like their own little clique, or, and let’s not discredit this, I wasn’t as good as I thought I was), and that’s largely irrelevant. The point is, I was not up to their level.

So I became their full-time musician. There was a lengthy period of time where I struggled to come to grips with that. It seemed like a demotion particularly because I don’t consider piano playing to be even in my top 5 talents. Composition perhaps. But playing? I’m not great. It’s a hobby of mine, and not one of my primary hobbies. However, very limited playing acumen can be hidden with enough knowledge of the improv craft itself. So my years of improv background were still useful. It’s been a weird road, but I’m okay saying that I’m the musician. Not “just” the musician, but I am the musician for this group.

And with that – and here I hope I’m not overreaching my influence – The Utility Players were strengthened as a unit with me at the keys.

Now what in the hell does this entire backstory have to do with the San Francisco Improv Festival? After several years of failed audition tapes, The Players were finally selected to be a part of the festival, a tremendous achievement as only 27 groups were invited, most of whom were local to the area. There would be classes taught in and amongst the myriad performances scattered through a few weeks of improvisational bliss. Even though I was unable to attend most of the pre-show stuff due to family obligations, I did manage to take in a few things.

The 4-hour class sampler had people from all walks attending – those who’d never done improv to those who were performing later that night. The skills which were drilled ranged from exceptionally useful to maybe-not-for-me-personally to I’m-pretty-sure-this-is-only-applicable-to-the-woman-teaching-it. Due to an awesome anonymous donor, I (along with the entire troupe) was able to check it out and learn from it. I gotta be honest, it felt good to be up and in the thick of things once again – I hesitate to say ‘performing’ because that wasn’t the purpose. This time I felt like I belonged.

But where I was hit with the largest metaphorical ton of bricks was during our show itself. We were splitting the bill with a group that was purporting to do a 35-minute improv musical. I’d been assured that the other musicians our troupe had seen were pretty lousy. Not that I needed to be the best, but as an untrained musician specializing in another artform that I’d also never really received proper training, it’s nice to know I wasn’t against a musician with a BFA from a music conservatory. I’m a perfectionist, inasmuch as any person who refuses to just concentrate on one skill for more than 5 minutes at a time can be a perfectionist.

When the lights went down for our show, so too did our piano. For a few fleeting moments, I was on stage as the musician with my ONLY tool, the piano, no longer making any noise. It did prompt a funny moment where I was supposed to play the ESPN Sportscenter music, and when the cue came, I just shouted it out. I’m pretty sure that’s what they do on ESPN.

Our set was very free, very easy, and solid. I’m not sure what my expectations were – I mean, there’s a part of me that wanted there to be a TV executive in the audience who was just coming for a few laughs but spent her entire intermission scribbling out contracts for all of us. What did transpire was 35 minutes of successful improv that earned the laughter of a discerning audience who had seen more than their fair share of improv over the years (hell, over the prior week).

It was topsy-turvy. A Day in the Dream Life is a game I warned that has been missing as often as it was hitting, but it was our clear best of the night (and it allowed me to play my token Asian music). Mediocre Olympics, a game that had been killing, was the weakest of the lot. But as much as this was about us and putting our best foot forward, it was more about the audience enjoying themselves. And they did. Even without our A+ material (I’d have put the show in a solid B, B+ range) we proved without pause that we belonged with the others at the improv festival.

Then, as I watched our “sister-group” do their musical, a few things occurred to me. The Utility Players are not a niche group, we perform all different types of short form improv. It’s not like we concentrate solely on 2-person scene games or anything like that. The group that followed us was a group that does entire long-form musicals based on a suggestion from the audience. Having already been informed that some of the other musicians at the festival couldn’t hold a candle to me (who, in all truth, can’t hold a candle to most true musicians) are lousy, I cringed at the thought of watching 35 minutes of actors bumbling through misrhymed lyrics as a musician attempted vainly to play the outtakes from Frozen.

In this I was very, very wrong.

Their musician started with this jaunty riff right out of a Randy Newman score that featured the whole cast performing a song about kissing. With harmony. And multiple people singing the same words at the same time. And appropriate incidental background singing. And a cohesive story. Following this was a short scene, a new song, one that I daresay WOULD come second in a musical, setting up the protagonist of the story. The third song was completely different, a touching number of exposition that created the subplot between two secondary characters.

There was a time with Prometheus Productions that we had wanted to do an “improv play”, a full play with characters and subplots where there was a “director” offstage who crafted the story around what the actors on stage were doing. We ended up shelving the idea as too difficult. And here, 15 years later, in San Francisco, was a group doing this with song. It was an eye-opener.

And my point here isn’t that they were “better” than us. They were a nuanced group who had a specialty that they practiced. And practiced. And practiced. And practiced. And consequently nailed. If you were keeping track of laughs garnered, we’d have won handily, but that wasn’t what the evening was about. It was about bringing a variety of improv to the audience. If anything, short-form (Whose Line is It Anyway type stuff) seems to be a dying art, with troupes wanting to tackle the more complex longform. So getting paired with something of an opposite of us was nice. I guess we weren’t totally opposite or else the other group would have just read eulogies for 35 minutes.

Immediately I had to make the assumption that my director, in telling me that the other musicians were nothing to write home about, was off her rocker (it turns out she hadn’t seen him in particular). He was phenomenal. I mean, during that second half, I went from feeling like I’d performed a great improv set to realizing I had my moments but I was just the biggest kid at the kids table at Thanksgiving. Hell, he seemed like he was the kind of guy who graduated with a degree from a conservatory in music. Also, not to take a thing away from our exceptionally talented group, but their singers GOT it. They knew when to give over to another person to sing, then knew when it was time to take the reins, and they knew when it was time duet.

In all, I relate the entire experience to sports. It would be like being a top-tier baseball team who had the opportunity to play another team from another country in an exhibition game. And all they did was pitching, not hitting or fielding. It’s impossible to play a game like that and see who would win, but damn, I felt like we couldn’t touch their pitches. Our team is major leaguers, no doubt, but there’s always new things to learn.

Now, there’s a crossroads that happens at times like this. I can buckle down like I did my freshman year of acting when I was on the verge of being asked to leave the class for artistic progress difficulties, or I could fold like I did with my acting after 9/11 when no agents were banging on my door to hire me. And here’s what the purpose is for the SFIF from an artist’s perspective: I left inspired. Inspired to make our group better. Inspired to play better and more diversely. Inspired to create new games, or touch up the ones we have that aren’t hitting on all cylinders. Inspired to make sure that our upcoming 3-month run at The Sands turns into many 3, 6, 9, 12, 24 month contracts at bigger and better venues. Touring companies. TV execs with handwritten contracts on cocktail napkins because they couldn’t wait to get home and draft one properly.

“And I stood there like a businessman waiting for a train. And I got ready for the future to arrive.” -J. Darnielle

As something of a post-script, I did some research on that other pianist, and he did indeed earn a degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Music. This isn’t discouraging. Sure, next to me, he shined, but he didn’t leave me in the dust. We share the intellectual concepts and the impulses of improvisational music. He just has me on technical skill. Looks like I got some work to do. Playing piano and watching a group do a musical and, in fact, the idea that we want to expand our musical presence is having one “unfortunate” side-effect: as much as I am okay not being an actor, it’s tough to not want to sing in the musical games, as that was one of my two strengths as an actor (the other being one-liner games like World’s Worst). Looks like I also got some work to do.

As something of a post-post-script, don’t miss out on The Utility Players Season 8: Live at the Sands, every Saturday at 8pm. Tickets are $15 and you’re gonna laugh.

More Nerdy Disc Golf Stats

I’ll get a surgery/braces report up soon, hopefully one with pictures. For now, though, some disc golf minutiae.

  • I have more and more trouble picking my top 5 courses, but I know three of them are: Warwick (NY), Paw Paw (WV), and Tyler (PA). I happened to look at how I do at those courses and I think I know why they’re among my favorites. I’ve played 6 PDGA-rated rounds as a pro at Paw Paw, and all of them have been above my rating for an average of 31 points above my rating, or at least 3 strokes a round. I’ve played 8 rounds at Tyler, all but 1 above my rating for an average of 26.6 points above my rating. I have 20 rounds logged in at Warwick (12 above, 8 below) for a modest net gain of 3.7 points a round.
  • It can’t all be good. What about FDR (NY), a course I genuinely like but one I recall having trouble with? I was right. 6 rounds (all one-day tournaments), only one above my rating. The grand total is 27.7 points below my rating a round. And Truckee, a course I rather despite but shoot well at (11 rounds, 8 of which are above, for a net gain of 15.5 points a round). Go figure.
  • Where does Turtle Rock fall, the course I play this weekend. Before even looking at the #s, I consider Turtle Rock my favorite park on the west coast, followed closely by Sierra College. I have 8 rounds at Turtle Rock, 6 above, a net gain of almost 16 points a round.
  • I have no idea why I play one-day tournaments, as it tends to take me a while to warm up. Over my career as a pro, I’ve played a # of tournaments. In the first round of a tournament, I average throwing 4.4 ratings points worse than my rating over 83 rounds. It gets a little better in the 2nd round of a tournament: -2.3 ratings points (83 rounds). However, in the third round, it jumps to a net of 9.6 ratings points above my rating (about a stroke over 47), and in the 4th round, should it get that far (which it usually doesn’t, I’ve only played 20 4th rounds as a pro), I am +13 ratings points above my rating. I guess it takes me a while to warm up.
  • Not a stat really, but I played like utter pootie yesterday when I practiced (at a different course). I mean, couldn’t drive, couldn’t up, couldn’t putt. I ended up -3 on a course layout where I should easily be 6-9 down. More than the score, though, was the fact that on moderately difficult birdie holes, I was putting myself 75′ out. No good. I couldn’t get my release points down at all. Let’s hope what they say about bad dress rehearsals comes true.

Gender Roles

_1060026

My son “Smacky” is at a strange place in his four-year-old life. In many ways, he is like your typically developing boy – loves trucks, trains, wrestling and, somewhat unfortunately, video games (I am simultaneously proud and ashamed of how good he’s become on the Wii). But in other ways, he isn’t. He loves getting his finger and toenails painted. His favorite colors are pink and purple. He loves doing his mom’s hair, at which he’s becoming pretty good using those deft-fingered hair-ties. In short, he likes a whole lot of “girl” things.

And he is constantly processing things about gender. At the skate park the other day, he asked my wife a few times, “Why does she speak like a boy if she has girl hair?” “That’s a boy with long hair,” she replied. Silence. He recently asked that we stop buzzing his hair because he wanted to grow it out. Not sure if it’s because his younger brother “Peanut” has longer hair or because he wants to see how it feels to have long hair, which he innately believes to be “girl hair”.

What’s crazy is that he has the acumen and presence of mind, even at his young age, to know that some of this behavior isn’t socially accepted by everyone. So he continues to try to hide it. If left to his own devices, he will usually pick out a pink or purple plate/bowl, but when he’s in a group of people, or if those ones are dirty, he’ll take a green one apathetically and say, with little emotion, “I’ll take green, it’s my favorite color.” He’s told me in the past that boys can’t like pink and purple. I asked why and he tells me that they’re “girl colors.” I try to reaffirm that anyone can like any color they want – hell, my favorite color is orange. I’m probably not the best person to ask that question. I digress. Smacky has requested that my wife paint his fingernails and toenails, only to immediately say “But we can take this off before I go to school, right?” And why is that?

He’s getting insulted at school. And unlike the very heart-warming and charming story that a blogger famously wrote about, it’s not adults who are making it tough for him, at least none that I have heard of. Despite the school having some conservative teachers, they all support him no matter what he chooses (the owner has spoken a bit about it at times with us). That is a large part of the reason we love his daycare. But as for the teasing, it comes from kids themselves. My guess is it’s probably mostly his best friend “Marcus” – apart, the two of them are great kids. However, once they get together, their bad behavior is amplified all the way up to 11. From what I’ve seen of Marcus, he’s a boy’s boy so I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the teasing comes from him. However, Smacky has told me that it’s some of the girls in his class too that call him a ‘girl’. It clearly bothers him.

Friday is a theme-day at daycare: Teddy Bear Picnic. They’re encouraging everyone to dress up in “tutus and tails” and bring their favorite teddy bear. It was immediately clear that Smacky wanted to wear a dress, and my wife even started talking about using some gift certificate money we had to buy him one. But Smacky retracted immediately solely because of what everyone at school would think. He’s subsequently put aside the dress-conundrum and concentrated on the teddy bear one. (He doesn’t have teddy bears, he has monkeys – go figure. After searching around the house, he finally did find a teddy bear, a purple Care Bear. He grabbed it and put it aside but continued to look for a different one. Maybe he genuinely didn’t like that Care Bear, but my guess he opted against it because it was purple and certainly ‘girly’.)

Finally, after a few days of processing this (and of course the remote-control truck he has had his eye on that we just purchased and have to wait for delivery), he comes in to say goodbye today and tells me that he figured out what he was going to wear to the party on Friday.

“My dinosaur suit. With a tail.”

It does have a tail. I’m pretty impressed with how brilliant the kid is. (I later found out that I had had the gist of the theme day a little off – they supplied the girls with tutus and made paper dragon “tails” to give anyone who wanted one – mostly the boys.) But the point remains that he was choosing to wear a dinosaur suit more than the tutu because what he really wanted was something he wasn’t “supposed” to do.

It crushes me as a parent, and as a father, it’s downright weird. In Reno vs. the suburbs of NY where I grew up, there’s definitely more of a sense of needing to be a “man’s man”. While I’ve never had that pressure in my life (other than having parents who I am certain were relieved that I was straight), I can see how it could be overwhelming in a place where they have stuffed dead animals in their sporting goods stores and in their airport. When I moved here, I was shocked at how there is still some pretty strong homophobia in these parts. (I will say that Reno has a tremendous underground movement of tolerance that is growing exponentially, and that’s fantastic to see.)

Despite growing up in white-bread middle class suburbia, I also found a niche early on in the theatre – our school had only two black kids, and I was friends with one and used to carpool the other one home. Very few kids were out as gay at that point, but those that were were my performing peers and friends. If there’s anyone who would be sympathetic to what Smacky’s going through, it’s me. And as far as someone born and raised in the Reno area, Smacky is fortunate in so many ways to have his mother. He’d be hard pressed to find more supportive parents.

Since he was two, my wife and I noticed these effeminate tendencies were extremely strong and they seemed to be more than him just following in his older (female) cousin’s footsteps. It seemed like, whenever he was outside of the World of Sodor (Thomas the Train), he was happiest in the World of Girl. His parents support him 100%, no matter what he chooses. And who’s to say what that will be? He’s four. Right now he’s enamored with a live-action show about mermaids. But he’s also gone through spells where he watches the Spiderman cartoon from the 60’s and goes around “pewing” (shooting) everything until it’s dead. If it’s just him trying out different things (for the record: he REALLY wants to go fishing) that’s fine. If one day he sits us down to have a coming-out-of-the-closet talk, that’s fine as well. We support whole-heartedly. I just wish everyone else would get on board and, further, to stop spreading the toxic beliefs of gender stereotypes ad nauseum to their kids. Or, worse yet, to other people’s kids.

Or next time maybe we can get him a dinosaur tutu for his suit.

Best of 2012 – Books

At last, I’m finally finishing my four-part series. As I said before, I read a whole lot of books (though a handful were rereads and not eligible for this list. I will also state here that I’m sorta of cheating – a few of my stories will actually be lumped together because they were part of a series and I didn’t prefer one over another.

I do have to get into a pet peeve of mine. This list actually has more non-fiction on it than fiction, which is pretty surprising, including several memoirs/biographies. But what I really really really really really can’t stand is everyone’s insistence when writing their own memoir (or even a biography) is for the first chapter to be some pivotal moment in that person’s life, then chapter two starts at the beginning and the rest of the story is getting to that moment and its aftermath. Is there a handbook for memoir writing that mandates that you must write like that? I mean, seriously. It’s so tired.

That out of the way, let’s get it on, I’m sure I have much to say about these books.

7. 127 Hours (Between a Rock and a Hard Place) – Aron Ralston: The basis for the movie 127 Hours (which I’ve still not seen), this is a very good retelling of a horrifying and unbelievable story. It is said without too much pomp and, without knowing the author at all, I felt like he was being level about everything. He told the story in a even-keeled way (not putting blame on other things when it didn’t belong, not having a no-fear attitude more than he would have in that situation). A good read, almost a nail-biter (though the problem with auto-biographies about near-death experiences is you know that they don’t actually die or they wouldn’t have been able to write about it).

6. Heart of the Game: Life, Death & Mercy in Minor League America – S.L. Price: See, this is a biography about death. It had very good reviews and I found it very cheap at the bookstore, so I picked it up. I think there’s a pre-requisite that you need to be a baseball fan to truly enjoy this book, but if you are (even casually), this is a great underdog story, and ultimately a very touching retelling of the life of Mike Coolbaugh. Not much else to say, just a great read which tugs at just the right heartstrings.

5. Lucky Man/Always Looking Up – Michael J. Fox: These are two books, one basically leading up to his Parkinson’s diagnosis (and just a bit of aftermath) and the second book was almost entirely about his PD efforts. Most reviewers tend to talk about Fox’s amiable tone and his golly-gee ability to make you fall in love with him, but more than that I was taken aback by how good a writer he was. These were not ghost-written and I’m glad for that. He speaks about his life with optimism that I wish people in “everyday” life would have, myself included.

4. A Game of Thrones/A Clash of Kings – George R. R. Martin: Here, I’m totally cheating. I read both and they were equally as enjoyable, but it does seem like cheating to have almost 2000 pages in one entry. A few of my friends are die-hard fans who basically swore that my life would change by reading them. Well, sadly it didn’t. In fact, I’ve had these read for over 8 months and I haven’t started on the third book (which is universally considered the best) because I am not DYING to. That being said, they are thoroughly enjoyable epic novels with some fantastic characters and plot twists that you don’t really see coming. Death in these books is for plot, but no one seemingly is immune. My only real beef with the books is the needless description in them. I swear, if he simply did not describe what people were wearing and eating, he’d shave 200 pages off these books combined. Definitely worth a read if you have PLENTY of time.

3. Physics of the Impossible – Michio Kaku: I like physics. I like space. I like learning things. What’s more, I like reading about things that haven’t happened yet, but PROBABLY WILL. This was a very enlightening (and almost entirely accessible to most people) read that tells about various scientific breakthroughs and not IF, but WHEN these crazy things will happen. It struck me as amazing that things I thought were totally impossible (teleportation, invisibility, and even time travel) are not only possible, but could happen in the next few centuries (not time travel, that is WAY down the line). Some of the writeups got a bit heavy-handed in the science jargon for me, but in general, it was a good read to have around as both entertainment and a reference.

2. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal – Christopher Moore: I had heard that this was a very very funny book (as all of Christopher Moore’s books are), but not having read anything by him, I didn’t know what to expect. Many of the “funny” authors I’ve been referred to in the past end up being quite juvenile or, worse, not good writers. He surprised me on both counts. His writing had depth, the humor not in your face or egregious or slapstick (the subtlety of a young Jesus putting dead frogs into his mouth to heal them was awesome). His writing was also much better than I’d thought, partially because many times the authorship craft gets buried beneath the attempts at humor. With Moore, he always treads a fine line between storyteller and joketeller. In fact, I was almost shocked when I got the ending and it got all heavy. I mean, I guess I should have expected it (spoiler alert: it doesn’t end well for Joshua), but the emotion he brought out there didn’t seem to contradict the earlier lighthearted style (though I’d argue he worked himself into a hole from the onset by trying to write a funny book that ended with the most famous death in history).

1. A Fire Upon the Deep – Verner Vinge: I gave this book up after the first 100 pages. It’s not that I didn’t like it, per se, but that I didn’t understand it. He puts you in a reality with different types of creatures and in fact a different understanding of technology, and he doesn’t hand-hold you along the way. Things are givens and poorly-described, either to let your imagination work, or to describe them with limited exposition at a more appropriate time. See, here’s a secret about me: I’m a smart cookie, but I have notably terrible critical reading skills. (In elementary school, I’d consistently be in the top 95% in math, top 80% in writing/language/vocab, but in the 50-60% in critical reading.) When I later picked up the book again (after Ash had read it and I could bounce ideas off her), I got to where I left off, and the VERY NEXT CHAPTER explained something very important that would have helped. What this book ended up becoming was a phenomenal science fiction book that deals with technology, alien species, betrayal, and of course a “ticking bomb”. It’s a fantastic book. It’s a three book series, and the 2nd book (a prequel – A Deepness in the Sky) is also good and worth a read. It probably would have made #8 on this list. The third book (a sequel to this one) is in my queue to read soon. As much as I like Ender’s Game, this is really the bar against which true science fiction should be judged. It challenges the mind and the imagination as you read (I believe Ash described it a couple times as a brain f**k).

Worst of 2012 – Books

I read an eye-popping 32 books this year, with only six of them being rereads (5 of those were so I could read the 6th in a series I hadn’t read in a while). That is the most I’ve ever read in a year, particularly when you consider that 5 of the books alone were a combined ~4000 pages and I have two kids. It was a very divided year literarily with some very good books and a few clunkers. So let’s start with the bad. And some of these were pretty bad. Bear in mind, these are books that I have FINISHED. So let’s start with #0, a book I disliked so much I finally gave up and gave it back to the bookstore.

0) Red Prophet – Orson Scott Card: I had tried twice to slog through this book and only got a few chapters in each time. It’s the second in a series, and the first, The Seventh Son, wasn’t amazing but decent enough to warrant moving on in the series. The problems I had in this book were only two, but they were big. 1) It’s racist. Racism is part of the story, in fact, but the descriptions of Indians are downright upsetting. It’s like he couldn’t go a single passage without mentioning they were lazy or drunk. Now, I can get by racism, particularly if it’s integral to the story (which I’m inclined to think here it wasn’t), but 2) the book was skull-crushingly boring. I got maybe 50 pages in and I was waiting for anything to happen. Sequels shouldn’t be boring as much of the exposition is already established. Anyway, good riddance to this one. Now onto the list proper.

6. First Meetings in Ender’s World – Orson Scott Card: Ouch, the 2nd OSC to appear on my bad list. This one isn’t truly that bad, and really I only got it to have the original short story version of Ender’s Game. It was pretty cool to see how that had evolved (and more surprisingly how little changed). But the other three stories were pretty meh. In fact, one thing that bothered me about it was how hard OSC tried to make every single decision have significance. The story about Ender’s parents meeting was WAY too prophetic for me to swallow it for even a second.

5. Why We Suck – Denis Leary: If the entire book were written like the first chapter I’d probably like it more (random snippets of thought about various topics, something at which Leary excels). But then the rest of the book takes a meandering look at various things, lodging itself somewhere between an autobiography, a comedy book, and a vanity piece. It certainly had its chuckle moments, but not enough to support it.

4. Airframe – Michael Chrichton: One of my all-time favorite Dash definitions was Corey’s definition for “skimmington”: a talking stuffed bear that never made it on the market due to the fact that young British children couldn’t give two shits about yard work. It’s a great concept. Unfortunately, I feel the same way about this “thriller” Airframe. It’s not a bad story, per se, and there’s a charming whodunnit appeal to it, but really, I just find myself not giving a shit about airplane building and maintenance. It’s like he wrote this for a convention of plane mechanics or something.

3. The Motley Fool Investment Guide – David & Tom Gardner: I will start by saying that I bought this right as I was starting to do research about retirement and stocks. It was very cheap (it was an old edition, maybe from the mid-90s?). After finishing it, I was all revved up to follow their suggestions – it was a good sales pitch. However, I did something smart – I went online to see how their recommendations did historically. Well, lousy – worse than market average. What’s more, their “genius secret plan” was debunked shortly after writing this and they quickly stopped preaching what was written in these pages. So this is factually a bust, but I only ranked it 3rd because I found out quite early that it was all bollocks.

2. And Another Thing – Eoin Colfer: I wanted to like this story. I really really did. Hell, I wanted to go against the mainstream opinion that this book was borderline blasphemous. I didn’t care that he was a ‘young adult’ author – if you read HHGTTG again with a critical eye, you’d find out that it isn’t at a much higher level than young adult. But man, it just isn’t a good book. The best parallel I could say is this – let’s say The Simpsons hired a guest writer to write a season. And that guy was Seth McFarlane (Family Guy). Family Guy took a few ELEMENTS of The Simpsons and catered the show around that. That’s what Colfer did. He took things Adams did (the random guide entries that were only tangentially related) and the silly names and expanded just them – what resulted was so non-sequitur and disjointed as to be unenjoyable reading (the 260 pages took me longer than several of the 500+ pages). There were other negatives: a) it was no longer Arthur’s story, b) he totally copped out in terms of plot just SO he could get “the old gang” back together, c) the Guide entries were distracting and often unfunny, and WAY too frequent and d) some of the characters behaved/spoke in ways that I thought were completely uncharacteristic of them. Highly disappointing.

1. Killing Yourself to Live – Chuck Klosterman: I’ll say it now, I don’t like Chuck Klosterman, and I wish I had realized that after the 1st book I read of his. He’s pretentious, he’s not at all charming, and I want to just smack him in the face. He loves putting words like “paradigm” in each chapter when it really doesn’t belong (even if it is *technically* the correct word). He begins with an interesting idea – touring famous hotspots for rock stars’ deaths and trying to find tying elements between death and music – and turns it into this bitchy, self-centered diatribe about himself and the couple of girls he hasn’t manage to repel with his conceited personality. This book did have one fortunate bonus – it taught me not to buy any more Chuck Klosterman.

 

Worst of 2012 – Music

So it’s that time of year again, for my Best-of and Worst-of entertainment (books and music).  To see last year’s entries, click here:

Worst of 2011 – Music

Best of 2011 – Music

Worst of 2011 – Books

Best of 2011 – Books

Like last year, I’m stretching this into a four-part series.  I’ll start with the Worst CDs.  In all, I’ve obtained around new 50 CDs last year, not counting random online downloads from Amazon (free!).  For this list, a few notes: these CDs didn’t all come out in 2012, they were just obtained this year.  I’ve included release date years.  Also, I’m not including gifts on here, which I usually rip before giving away. Let us begin.

Runners Up: Paul & Storm: Gumbo Pants (more disappointing than bad); The Black Keys: El Camino (nothing stands out except the radio track, which I hadn’t even heard until I won this CD)

7. Wilco – A Ghost is Born (2004): This album made me coin a term. To “Wilco” a song is to take a perfectly good song and then let a tone-deaf one-armed chimpanzee have a guitar solo in the middle of it. Half the songs on this album would be perfectly fine if they didn’t have annoying guitar noise interrupt them halfway through. But alas, almost all of them do. Not as good as Yankee Foxtrot Hotel, which isn’t as good as many of the other albums I own.

6. The Corrs – In Blue (2000): This was a random whim. I had a song of them playing with the Chieftains and that song rocks. So I picked this one up for $.29. Well, it’s bland pop from start to finish. One of the songs is even famous (who knew? I certainly didn’t when I purchased the album). If it weren’t for the surprisingly good instrumental track at the end (which sounds more like what I HOPED this album would sound like), this album would not have fared so well.

5. Rockapella – Don’t Tell Me You Do (1999): Rockapella with Sean Altman fronting the band? Pretty awesome. Rockapella without Sean Altman? Not so much. Another CD with only one decent track.

4. Various Artists – People Make the World Go Round (1996): So far each of these CDs was bought at Grassroots for $1 or less, so that explains why I didn’t properly vet them. In fact, all the worst-of CDs this year were from Grassroots. However, I’ve typically done well with world/jazz/atypical music. So this “Jazz” CD seemed pretty cool, especially with some of artists on there (Herb Alpert, Lionel Hampton, Herbie Hancock…) Turns out this CD is just lame R&B, one of my two least favorite styles of music.

3. From Autumn to Ashes – Too Bad You’re Beautiful (2005): To be fair, this CD isn’t bad for what it is. They aren’t an untalented band. The problem is the style of music is one I absolutely abhor (and clearly didn’t glean based on the liner notes when I blindly purchased it). It’s thrash metal – not particularly good, but not particularly bad – but the style is just so not me that I couldn’t bring myself to find a single track I liked.

2. Ben Harper – Fight For Your Mind (1995): I remember a time where a few of my friends were going to see Ben Harper and Keller Williams in concert together and they were oohing and aahing over it. I had never heard much by either artist. But when I saw this Harper album for $.29, I figured, why not? I’ll tell you why not. This CD bores the ever-loving stuffing out of me. This whole album is just monotony incarnate. Don’t purchase this unless you are having trouble sleeping or if you want to study how to make your songwriting less interesting.

1. Ophelia’s Sweet Demise – Dark Ensemble (1998): You’d think with a harsh review like #2 that it couldn’t be beat. Well, it did, and in spades. Unlike #3, which had some talent if just not at all my style, or #2 which had at least okay musicianship, this CD has nothing. I bought it because it seemed like goth metal that I like (Nightwish, Epica…etc). Turns out it’s just three people (maybe more?) with little idea how to play their instruments, sing, or write music. I can overlook bad singing if I like the music (Ben Folds Five, Mountain Goats). I can overlook bad composition if it’s well-played or orchestrated (Vanessa Carlton), but this is neither. The composition is bland at best, the musicians aren’t particularly good. Hell, the instruments themselves are out of key in a couple of the tracks. I haven’t yet deleted it because I keep hoping one day, while coming up on random, a single track will leap out and at least let me see a glimmer as to why I should enjoy this music. So far, I’ve had no luck. This is in the running for one of the worst CDs I’ve ever bought for myself (it’s a tight race between this and 2010’s winner).

A Bunch of Disc Golf Stats

The title says it all, so if you’re not into disc golf, you can probably mosey along or look at older posts with adorable pictures of my kids.

 

Anyway, I’ve signed up for the Memorial, the first time I’ve ever played in this National Tour event. The actual layout of the tournament is both going to be a benefit and a detriment. 1) It’s open and probably windy. A few years ago, this would have been my bane, but that’s exactly what our Reno course is on a daily basis, so I’ve grown accustomed to it. The wind in particular could give me an advantage if it’s strong (and if I don’t have to make a crosswind up shot) because I’ve learned to play pretty consistently in heavy winds. However: 2) It’s long and at sea level. Half a year ago, length would have been something that didn’t bother me. I’m certainly no big-arm, but not a weenie either. However, in the last few months of playing, my distance inexplicably dropped off by about 50′ on my long drives. I’ve thought of a few possible reasons why, but debunked most of them. Cold? Well, a few of the tourneys were decently warm weather. My change in diet? I started that in June and didn’t start losing distance until September. Not practicing enough? I’ve NEVER practiced enough. Other stuff on my mind? Possibly, but I like to think I can shut that stuff out.

The tournament is doing something new this year (of which I am NOT a fan) – they are having a cut. So I am paying $200 for this tournament in entry fee alone and only guaranteeing myself 3 rounds of golf. That’s pretty lame, but what can you do? I’ll tell you what I can do, get in the top half. What would that take, you ask?

There are currently 84 pros signed up. So I have to come in at 42nd or better. How hard can that be? Turns out quite hard. If I go based on rating alone (I’m currently rated 963), I am sitting in T65 out of those 84. That’s bottom quarter, not top half. Now, my 963 rating is pretty low – it fell off drastically at the end of last year. So what happens if I use my strongest rating from last year (978)? That pulls my projected finish to a  top 60%. Good, but still not good enough, and that’s the highest my rating has ever been. So is it a lost cause? Will I be driving home the Saturday of the tourney?

Not quite. After all, I don’t have to have a full YEAR of that rating, just one single tourney. Looking at last year’s statistics for the Memorial, the person  at the cutline (my buddy John DeBizzle being the first one to miss this cut) averaged a rating of 987 per round. So fine, how many times have I ever averaged that for a tournament.

Once. In 2006.

Uh oh. However, in the last 14 months alone, I did come very close several times. I averaged 983 at a sea-level course I’d never played before, two rounds, 985 (3 round tourney) and 985.5 (at my home course, the open windy one, two rounds). One more good putt a round and all of those tournaments would be ‘qualifying’ ones. And in that 2006 tourney (which was my first ever pro cash), I averaged 990 in a 3-round tourney. So I certainly have it in me.

I’ve decided to break all this down now because as it gets closer to the tournament, I don’t want to be putting myself in that “I need this score” mindset – I want to just play my shots. But as it’s still 2 months away, I can do all the speculation I want. In short, I need to have the best single tournament of my life. Which means getting some of my distance back, keeping my good putting up (for the most part, putting was a plus for me this year), and getting the hell out of my head during the round. Also, getting good rest and not partying it up will be good tips.

But why stop at making the cut, why not go for the cashline? What would THAT take? Last year, 2 people with ratings lower than mine (3 if you use my 978 rating) cashed. That’s not great, but it’s certainly DOable. The average rating of last-cash? 996. Why, I’ve hit that score or better 15 times in my career (just never twice in the same tournament), and I’ve hit 990-995 an additional 9 times. Alls I’m saying is I have it in me if I can play my game and not let 100 things get in the way.

I’m sure I’ll have more of these analytical disc-golf stat type columns in the next months. After all, I’m a stat nerd.

So where do you all think I’ll end up? Will I make the cut? Think I’ll cash? Think I’ll DFL? Let’s get some hype going.