Friday, February 29, 2008

Things I don't understand #19...

...My mysterious stomach ailment or...why my stomach decided Thursday night would be a good time to turn against itself and the rest of my body. (Yes this is a post about how I got sick last night, but I think we both know you're a bit of a sadist when in comes to me and you secretly enjoy my suffering...or at least find humor in it. Maybe a little too much?)

Depending on how well you know me, you might already be aware of this little "feature" of me. If not, I'll try to lay it out for you. Despite that fact that I rarely get sick ( I worked at my former employer over 7 years before I missed my first day because of illness) and despite my claims that "I have the immune system of a horse", I have also been "blessed" with certain issues which tend to bring me back down to earth. The one of which I'm speaking is mainly composed of random bouts of nausea and random pains in my stomach and lower abdomen area. At it's peak level of performance, I am inundated with nausea with a chaser of stomach cramps. It's a lot of fun. The culmination of this particular level came about 5 years ago when I ended up in the emergency room on Christmas Day. On the way to said ER, I had prayed, not that I wouldn't die--that was already a forgone conclusion in my mind-- but just that I would have a peace about it. So after they ran all their tests, including a x-ray of my abdomen, they told me I was...dehydrated. You think? Might that have something to do with the fact that all solids and liquids that where once in my body have left long ago? And the only thing I've had in the last 24 hours is a couple of sips of Sprite (BTW, when and how did the clear soft drinks become some form of elixir? They never seem to work. Especially on someone who drinks sugar water about 4-5 times a year.) They gave me an I.V. and an hour later I went home. You might be saying, "This guy should go see a doctor." You're so cute, really, let me pat you on the head...such a cutie. Since the first pain in my stomach about 9 or 10 years ago that had me convinced I had appendicitis, I have been to various and sundry doctors. They do their blood work. Nothing. I've had multiple ultrasounds. Nothing. I had a doctor finally diagnose me with something. Unfortunately, it had nothing to do with all the nausea and abdomen pain, but he tried, dangit. So with that as our backdrop, we return to last night.

Oddly enough, I can usually feel these little episodes coming on and have found that immediately over-hydrating and trying to eat something benign will usually quell any massive attacks. On this day, though, the two glasses of water and the banana at 4:00 had no effect. By 5, I had moved all operations to the bed. By 6 I was freezing, despite the fact that I was fully clothed, under the covers and the temperature flirted with 70. By 6:30 I was fully entrenched in the seemingly endless campaign of "Jason's Stomach Wants to be Empty '08" which included both the nausea and the cramps. But I was fighting the good fight. Later the point of attack was modified, and let's just say I got out flanked. By 8 last night, I was sure that my stomach was pretty much empty. And it's not like there was all that much to begin with. Along with the banana, all I had had was a cup of cereal and a PB&J. So it's not like my body was retaliating for me pulling a Kobayashi or something. At any rate, the nausea and cramps continued to build in intensity. At 10:30, "We're Down with Up Chuck '08" campaign had all the votes it needed. As I knelt at the porcelain throne, I was surprised by two things. One, there was actually stuff in there. I really thought all previous consumptions had already been evacuated. And Two(*warning* this might be too graphic those of you with a weak stomach), pieces of banana were still present. Banana should not be able to survive in the human body for almost 7 hours. Essential, my digestive system flipped me the bird and went on strike. Bastard. Oh, this might be a good time to mention that for the last 6 months I've been imbibing one of these yogurt drinks that are supposed to help strengthen your immune system and assist your digestive track. I did have one yesterday morning. And I'm not saying it was completely useless, but you remember at the end of Saving Private Ryan when Tom Hanks' character pulls out his service revolver and starts firing shots at the German tank as he realizes that he'll never see his wife again?(Too much?) The effectiveness levels might have been similar.

So after orally extricating myself from any connection to food in either a solid or liquid form, I immediately felt better. I wondered why I had delayed this for so long. Within a few minutes, the thought of sleep seemed possible. I started to drift off. At that same point I also started to dream, even though I don't believe I was completely asleep. Here's where it might even got a little weirder. During my non-dream dream, part of me or maybe my conscious (or sub-conscious?) decided to object to a moral or ethical decision I had made in such dream. More or less that I was allowing the dream to continue along this path. But get this, in the sub-dream to my non-dream my alternate self (or split-conscious) was represented visually by Academy Award nominated, and Golden Globe award winning English actor Clive Owen. Huh? What's he doing here? (He was actually dressed very similarly to the picture you see at right.) At this point I realized (somewhat consciously) that I'm having a debate about my non-dream with myself as Clive Owen acts as my own agent in the dissenting opinion. This causes me to wake, and I agree with Clive (myself) that I will assent to his viewpoint if he (Clive) goes away. He does, and I fall back to blissful sleep. For ONE WHOLE HOUR! Why it's so hard for a tired, sick person to fall asleep completely evades me, but at 3:30 I was still lying there wondering what else I could do. I eventually was overcome, but before that I found out a couple of things when I resorted to flipping around on the TV hoping something or someone would knock me out. (1) There's a reality show (on Bravo I think) that features a dating service strictly for millionaire men. Some chick takes their money then scours L.A. for suitable mates. Shockingly, women want to be set up with rich guys. Most the time, it starts where 2 of the clients (men), are dropped in a room of 20-30 models/actresses/younger, attractive women and they always (shockingly) seem to like the men. Then the matchmaker does all the leg work in setting up individual dates with the hot chick of the guy's choosing. What a country. (2) I was actually quite shocked by this and keep in mind at 2:45 am I'm just flipping from channel to channel to see if anything can hold my interest for 2 minutes. Well, if you happen to flip by the Oxygen network at about that time, you might see what I saw. Which was two women selling...wait for toys. Yeah, I'm serious. In the 90 seconds I saw, I discovered things I didn't even know existed...and then there were the products (Ha, see what I did there...I led you in one direction and then WHAM, funny time.) But really, is this appropriate? Can't a sick guy just be sick without having to see that?

Well, I did sleep. I then woke up and had a nice piece of dry toast for breakfast. Of course, I followed that up with a #1 at Chic-fil-a for lunch. So yeah, I'm one of those guys who likes to get right back on the horse...and then write an incredibly long and inane post about the falling off part.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Things I don't understand #17 and #18...

...How often I'm supposed to change the sheets on my bed.
I think the time table I've heard most often is once a week. Is it just the bachelor in me that thinks this seems awfully quick? It seems to take 3 or 4 days just to get them broken in, and them I'm supposed to up and change them? I usually go about 10 days and then start to think,"It might be a good time to change the sheets." And then it takes me another couple of days to actually do the changing. It's such an ordeal. Ripping everything off the bed...bedspread, sheet, fitted sheet, all the pillowcases. Ugh. And then you have to go put a new set on. Getting the pillows back in their cases always seems to really put me over the edge. And where did this once a week number come from? Are we sure it's just not another arbitrary number that busybody chicks came up with like the number of place settings you should always have on hand for an impromptu dinner party (16) or the number of times you're allowed to burp at the table (0)? Anyway, I changed my sheets on Sunday. I later washed and dried said previously removed sheets which brings us to #18...

...How the heck to you fold a fitted sheet?
It's got no corners. Its got elastic everywhere. That seems to cause these pockets which create air bubbles and therefore makes it impossible to fold in any organized manner. I used to spend lots of time on multiple attempts to get it right. Now I've given up any notion that there's actually a right way and usually end up just sort of rolling it up into a suedo-compressed ball. I'm sure my mother's proud. But by the time I figure it out it will probably be time to change the sheets again anyway.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Things I don't understand #16...

...Award shows.
This may be one of those things where I'm surprised to be in the minority, but I'm pretty sure I am. My friend dedicated not one, but two posts to it. I was even fortunate enough to be invited by some other friends to watch the Oscars. I declined mainly out of shock. The thought of spending multiple hours watching a bunch of preening "artists" congratulate each other and make speeches and slip in the occasional untimely half-wit political statement just doesn't do it for me anymore. Honestly, I don't really even like the good speeches (I think there's been a couple). For some reason, even these masters of the stage and screen seem more like four-year-olds on ice skates when they don't have a script to read from and 12 takes to get it right. The tension of all those tense moments just wears me out. I don't watch the Oscars, or the Grammy's, or the Emmy's, or even the Tony's (I bet that last one's just blowing your mind). I guess I now know how a lot of chicks feel during the Superbowl*. But at least that has good commercials.

I think it may just go back to the fact that I'm too arrogant to have someone else (especially actors) tell me what the best was in a completely subjective field. I will admit, up until now, I've only seen one of the best picture nominees. But if that's one of the five best movies of the year, well...maybe they should have gone ahead and canceled the show. Besides, how can we support a system that doesn't even give The Bourne Ultimatum a chance to win? (As an aside; I may be prepared to name the Bourne series the best trilogy of all time. Yes, even Star Wars.) So despite the fact that I'm sure there were lots of funny one-liners and lots of beautiful women filling the screen, I didn't bother.

Even so, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I didn't care. I'm sorry I didn't come watch. I'm sorry I didn't read your posts. I'm sorry I don't understand.

* used without the approval of the National Football League

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Things I don't understand #15...

...How some dudes dig other dudes.
Now I want to be clear, this is not a post trying to make any sort of moral, ethical, religious, political, or fashion statement. Honestly, I'm somewhat surprised any human, male or female, ever finds the average(or even above average) man attractive (file away for another post). Essentially, this stems from a conversation I had several years ago at a bible study (Yes, I know when best to steer clear of controversy). Actually, it was after the bible study had ended.

It was the typical stand-around-and-talk-about-meaningless-stuff portion of the evening. Somehow the conversation found it's way to thoughts on sexuality. More to the point, I think someone had mentioned that guys in general seemed to react more negatively to the thought of male homosexuality than to lesbianism. I somewhat hesitantly concurred. It was at that moment I realized I was standing in a group that included 7 to 10 females and me. And apparently, they took my reply as some sort of confession of my sexual deviance. I felt the spotlight. I realized had there been futures trading on Farky (yes, I just referred to myself by my nickname in the third person...welcome to the wonderful world of blogs) at that moment, they could have been had for pennies on the dollar. I finally said, "That's because guys understand lesbians." (One of the things I DO underdstand. Does this mean I have to start a whole new blog?) I'm pretty sure this didn't improve the situation. All the sudden, the handful of other guys in the room took evasive action. One backed away slowly. One was able to morph from human form to ghost. Another somehow broke the sound barrier and was out the door in under .18 seconds.
Spokeswoman for the group: Oh really? Why?
Idiot guy who should just shut up: Yeah.
SWftG: How?
(Chuckles emanate from the group, knowing that I was doomed)

At this point, I will admit that I had nothing. Even though I really did believe what I said and that I had never intended any sexual connotations, I was having a hard time coming up with a way to mollify the group and not prove to be the example of much of what was wrong with my gender. All the sudden, there was a light. I don't know if it was my own bumbling brain or divine inspiration (Honestly, I bet God was getting a bigger kick out of this than anyone) or blind luck. But at that moment it occurred to me what I could say that might get me at least half-way out of the hot water.
Idiot guy who no longer has the option of shutting up: That's because...uh...because women are pretty and soft and smell good; and guys...guys are ugly and gross and stink.
Women : (Demeanors soften and a slight "Ahhh" is heard as if a cute puppy had just entered the scene)
Me : (Looks behind himself to ensure that a puppy hadn't actually entered the scene. No puppy.)

Despite it's simplicity and somewhat juvenile nature, I still think it might be one of the truest things I've ever said. Obviously, I spoke in generalities, but I think it's generally true. The average girl is much better to look at the than average guy. And I'm not saying girls never stink, but it seems to take alot more effort to get there. Guys, on the other hand, are in a perpetual battle against the malodorous emission. And the success rate is troubling. Plus, have you ever been in a place where multiple guys live? God forbid you ever have to walk into a male dorm. And do I really even to defend the gross part? It seems to start with our actual persons and extend to the environment which we inhabit. Which leads us back to my original point...I think.
Idiot guy who now feels like he just pulled a rabbit out of his hat: You see, two girls just means twice as much pretty. Two guys, on the other hand, is just double the gross. And nobody wants that.

Yet, some seem to. And I just don't understand.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Things I don't understand #14...

...why one of my favorite bands is giving away free music.
(Yes, I know this a cheapy.) By pure accident I was roaming the web looking at the websites of some of my favorite bands. Lo and behold, I find myself on the front page of the Counting Crows website, and I notice a link that says "Download Counting Crows digital 45". I click it and a zip file immediately begins to download. This momentarily concerned me, but I trusted that the site was reputable enough not to try to park a virus on my machine. After unzipping the file I find that, indeed, I have two songs from the Crows upcoming release, "Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings." Yea me! And yea you, for good measure.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Things I don't understand #13...

...Why no one bothered to tell me that I had blood on my lip all day yesterday!

For those of you not keeping track of my daily schedule (yes, I know that's 100% of you), I made a trip to the dentist yesterday. Well, I guess more specifically it was to the dental hygienist, although the dentist made an appearance as well. It was just a scheduled teeth cleaning, and who doesn't love that? All in all, it was without incident. Maybe the least painful of my experiences in quite awhile. Unfortunately, anytime two hands, my mouth, and pointy metal cleaning implements come together, there will be blood. And that's what we got. Not very much blood, but blood nonetheless. My appointment ended at about 1:15. I then proceeded to go on with my day, errands and the like. I got home around 4. It wasn't until about 8 last night that after using the restroom, I looked in the mirror as I was washing my hands and thought, "What the crap is that on my face?!" "Why does my lower lip look like it has a big, bloody line dissecting it?" That's because it did.

I actually thought at first I might have cut myself, but me being the absolute genius that I am, was able to slowly piece together the theory that the more likely culprit was the two hands and the metal instruments. It was at that point that I begin to reenact my day and realize all the good people of Dallas I had imposed my bloody lip on throughout that time. The lady at the bookstore who was positive I needed help finding a book, the guy who took my lunch order, the cute girl on aisle 5 of the grocery that I smiled at, the old lady that I moved out of the way of, the cute girl (same one) I smiled at on aisle 7, the checkout lady...and I'm sure there were others. But the question remains, why didn't the hygienist maybe give me a heads up that I had blood lip? Or the dentist himself who I had to sit and wait on for 20 minutes after I was done so he could just take a look at things? (Did you look at my lip!? Did you see the blood!?) A little help would have been nice, is all I'm saying. I'm going to take this as a sign of maturity that I took the news in stride after figuring out I had been walking around looking like idiot for the last 7 hours. I also think it shows that I'm not all that vain since I probably used the bathroom between 3-5 times in those 7 hours and not once did I inspect my face before that. Why couldn't I be more vain!? I guess God just made me that way.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Things I don't understand #12...

...Valentines Day.
Fine, I sort of get it. Love and love and celebrate the one you love and blah, blah, blah. But doesn't this made up holiday (and make no bones about it, it's so made up it hurts) create more problems and heartache that it ever resolves? I'm sure some of you (all right, most) will attribute my seemingly poor attitude about V-day to the fact that I am, indeed, single and haven't yet found my one true love (looks misty-eyed up to the heavens and sighs deeply). That could be true. But I have actually done a couple of these when I was in relationship, and all it really seemed to be was another chance for me not to meet the expectations of certain females ("That's just because you haven't found the right one!"). And I do not need any bonus attempts in that area. Sometimes (ok, once at least), I actually did succeed. But even then, I'm left with the feeling that I'm the sucker who got fooled by the evil-genius-inventor-of-made-up-holiday. And like I said, there are those that take being alone on this day extremely hard. I'm too much of a pompous, arrogant, loner to let it really bother me, but there are some. This might be especially true for the fairer of the sexes. I've seen girls cry, pout, and be just plain venomous on this day for seemingly no good reason. But, back to me.

There are two things in particular that I don't understand about this day. One is that people are starting to get a little fuzzy on the fact it's just one day. We are not in the Valentine season. I still can't find my copy of "The 12 Days of Valentines." It is a day. I hear people saying, "Oh, we decided to do it (Valentines Day, not "it", geez get your mind out of the gutter) early," or, "We're just going to celebrate one day this weekend", or (even worse), "Well, the actual day were doing whatever and then this weekend we're going to where ever." Thus turning a made up holiDAY into a full four-day weekend. And I think all this proves it that this day has been turned into just another excuse to buy people gifts, and (Problem #2) giving them to people who really shouldn't be trading "Valentines". My first recollection of this phenomenon was probably in about the fourth grade. When I got a Valentines gift from my parents and grandparents. I'm guessing I wore an expression somewhere between confusion and incredulous. I might have asked my parents if we were "going together" (what a punk kid). I believe at that point I informed them that if it was o.k., that they please not bother getting me anything for Valentines...ever. I think my grandparents got the memo but probably immediately discarded it (I'm kinda scared to go get the mail today). I've heard reports that friends and extended family and all sorts of random relationships are now exchanging Valentine gifts. I just don't get it (thus the title). I guess I just feel that if the person you're giving a "Valentine" to doesn't generate any sort of sexual tension (you know, that there be some chance that "it" might happen at some point, and yes, this time I mean "it"), then don't bother. You might be straying from the script.

And now I'll go pray that next year I have to worry about it...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Things I don't understand #11...

...Why I still have freckles.
Yes, for anyone who hasn't had the honor of meeting me face to face, I have freckles. On my face. On my arms and on my legs and on my hands and on my fingers and on my ears. Very few body parts have been spared. My toes appear to be freckle free at the moment. I've always had freckles. As a small child I think it may be safe to say they were my defining characteristic. For the most part, I've forgot about them. I've heard you can get rid of them, but that's not really what I'm angling for here. Basically, I was reminded recently of a conversation I had with my dad when I was probably 3 or 4 years old.

Since, as I alluded to above, my freckles were quite predominant as a child, the other kids my age decided to pick from the low hanging tree and hurl the crippling insult of "freckle face" at me. At the time, I'm sure this was one the worst things I could ever be called (life allowed me to discover much differently, but that's another post). And it seemed I could never get away from it, because, after all, you didn't need any special knowledge of me to use it. You just had to have the sense of sight. Well, my 4-year-old frustration had reached it's boiling point one day when I cornered my dad and asked him if my freckles were ever going to go away. I remember him looking at me with concern and a slight smile (I should have picked up on that, no matter what age) and assured me that, "Yes, some day your freckles will go away." A breathed a deep sigh of relief and said, "Good," I then resumed playing with my Stretch Armstrong Spiderman.

I was probably about age 14 when that bulb of enlightenment went off, and I realized I might have to steel myself to the likelihood I would have to deal with this "malady" long term. Please trust me when I say that I have no anger or ill-will towards my father for this particular exchange. Besides, I guessing there are quite a few kids who lose their freckles. He was just playing the percentages and trying to get his only son to quit freaking out over the possibility of a lifetime of freckles. In that sense, it worked. I had bigger things to worry about, like if the General Lee was actually going to clear that ravine so the Duke boys would be able to save Daisy (They did). Also, I've heard there are a lot of fathers out there that recognize that there are conversations that just aren't worth having with a pre-kindergarten lad. And I'm o.k. with that. Just lay off the "freckle face".

Friday, February 08, 2008

Addendum to #10

Well, the people have spoken, and I've never been one to disappoint my fans. Honestly, I'm kinda embarrassed I forgot about this. Although, my soccer insanity is not the feature of this particular episode, it's that of someone else. Let me paint the picture.

The backdrop is once again a game against the hated Houston Dynamo, except this time the stakes had been raised. It was the playoffs. So you are aware, in MLS that means that two games are played, one at each team's home field and the the aggregate score is used to determine the winner. This encounter occurred during the first leg which was hosted by F.C. Dallas. Because Houston is so close, they brought their fair share of fans, but luckily for us(I thought) we(Dallas) won, 1-0. Because of various factors, I and my traveling companions (Bryan and Lisa) had decided check out the gift shop before leaving. So keep in mind at the time of this encounter, the game had been over for about 30 minutes and Houston had lost(LOST!). As we exited the shop, both my friends decided they needed to use the facilities. I did not, so Bryan handed me his jacket--quite stylish, I might add-- to hold as I waited. I picked a spot sort of off to the side and stood there just watching the people pass. About 30 seconds after this, I noted that the Hispanic Dynamo supporters group (yes, there are two; one for the gringos and one for the Latinos) would be passing right in front of me. From the amount of noise they were making, I had to remind myself that their team was currently trailing in the series. What was about to happen would haunt me for days.

The first thing that caught my eyes as the orange clad throng approached was a chubby little Hispanic kid of about 10 who was chanting and singing and whipping his jacket in a circular motion at a high rate of speed. Not to be mean, but it was just plain funny looking. I realized someone might catch me laughing at a kid, and there were like 40 of them(Dynamo supporters), so a re-affixed my gaze and it was met by a dude who was probably college age. He saw me, saw my F.C. Dallas jersey, and started his approach. I think I just smiled. The whole time he was yelling stuff in Spanish (I don't speak Spanish), but by the time he was 6 inches from me, I knew enough of the language to get the gist. Essentially, my team sucked and the final outcome would be different(Sadly, this would later turn out to be true). Even so, at this time, I was still able to point at the pitch, hold up one finger on my left hand and say, "Un", and make an "O" with my right and say, "cero", and then point at my antagonist's Dynamo shirt. I then resumed smiling. This is where the altercation took a surreal turn.

With my attention distracted by my Spanish interrogator and the chubby kid who had taken up residence 2 feet in front of me and wore a slightly confused/concerned expression, a fourth party joined the fray. With the kid in front of me and the dude to my right, that meant my left was exposed. That space was filled by a Hispanic woman who I pegged in the 32-38 age range. She was moderately attractive and I can only assume moderately crazy. Her opening line was something to the effect of, "Ooo la la," followed by a lot of Spanish and accompanied by her running her hand through my hair. My personal space had been officially violated, but this chica was just getting started. I continued to smile, sort of. There were more "Ooo la la's" punctuated with kissing sounds. She might have made an attempt in English to tell me I was sexy. Please note though, that every word and sound was delivered in a mocking and taunting tone. My comfort level began to decrease somewhat. She then noticed Bryan's jacket and grabbed it. I informed her that she could not have it and gripped tightly. I think she then tried to barter for the jacket with the promise of beer. I declined. She decided to switch up here strategy by taking her hand and squeezing my left buttock repeatedly. The "Ooo la la's" returned. So I've got a dude yelling at me on one side, a woman groping me from the other with dumbfounded fat kid taking it all in...and all in Spanish. My mind begins to approach the point of total confusion and the only thought I have is, "WHERE THE HELL IS BRYAN!!!!" At this point, the man decided to give my left ear a go, and the woman obliged and moved her attention to my right buttock. I have no idea what to do. Nothing in my 30-plus years of walking this earth as a somewhat easy-going, appeasing human had prepared me to deal with open hostility and overt sexual temerity...simultaneously. I'm pretty sure my smile was gone. I was just trying to manage one of the most bizarre experiences of my life. Luckily, Bryan reappeared. It hadn't been more than 3-4 minutes but I would have sworn it was 20. With his arrival, the spell was broken. They began to move on and so did we. Although, I think the woman did take one more stab it getting the jacket from Bryan.

So, are you more...or less confused by soccer fans now? Yeah, me too.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Things I don't understand #10... fans.
"But, Jason," you're saying, "Aren't you a soccer fan? Didn't you go on a cross country road trip just to watch a US v. Mexico World Cup qualifier? Didn't you go to a World Cup? Don't you have season tickets to F.C. Dallas? Aren't you a soccer fan?" Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. But I don't understand why they get so nuts. I don't understand why sometimes I get so nuts. Not as nuts as others, but sorta nuts, yes. In case you didn't know, the U.S. men's national team played Mexico last night in a what is commonly referred to as an international friendly. The final was 2-2. Oddly, enough, this is one of the headlines that the "international friendly" produced: Two shot in Houston post-game soccer brawl. Yea soccer! We still need to work on that friendly part. I guess it's lucky that this was the first US/Mexico game within traveling distance in the last few years that I didn't attend.

The question is,"Why is this so prevalent in soccer?" Maybe it is because it's one the few sports where opposing fans always seem to be pressed together. Or should the question be,"Does soccer attract the hooligan or does soccer produce the hooligan." As one example we can use me. If you were to scour the archives of this blog you would find more than one instance where I somewhat uncharacteristically got my hooligan on. I think this is noteworthy because I would expect most people who know me to use the term easygoing to describe me. Yet, get me near a soccer game and these things seem to occur.

Me going all hooligan on you arse #1(My first U.S. v. Mexico game):
(From post on 7/26/05) The last time I was at the Cotton Bowl... Shockingly, 4/5 of the fans were not rooting for the home team. It was almost scary. I learned that day, that unlike the normal American fan, international soccer fans show up early and begin cheering and chanting even before they get to their seat. It was already deafening 20 minutes before kickoff. Though the U.S. dominated throughout, the first (and only) goal was not scored until very late in the game. Luckily, it was by the red, white and blue. There’s something very satisfying about watching your team disappoint over 30,000 people.

Another difference I learned that day is that Mexicans don’t quit cheering when the final whistle blows even if their team lost. Dancing, chanting, drums and horns. None of it abated. This was reason one that my hooliganism began to brew. As we attempted to exit—me and my ten gringo friends and 35,000 Mexicans—it became apparent that there was a problem. For reasons I can’t fully explain, the main thoroughfare from the south end of the Cotton Bowl to the main parking area was blocked. Thus smashing us all together and forcing us to actually re-enter the stadium to cut across to the other side. This was reason two.

The main reason (#3 for those scoring at home) was the Mexican fan about five feet from me who whistled repeatedly for the entire time (about 20-30 minutes). This grated seriously on my nerves. This was no normal whistle. It was loud. It was piercing. I was literally getting a headache. I gave the guy dirty looks, which he definitely saw, but no effect. Then my friends and I tried vocally encouraging him to stop. Nothing vulgar, no profanity, just "DUDE, STOP IT." When finally I had had enough, I resorted to "scoreboard" tactics. In between each of his whistle blasts I would chant, "Un a cero." That’s "one to zero" in Spanish (yes, I know my linguistic skills are impressive, try to focus) and also the score of the game we had all just witnessed. This, unfortunately, had little effect. Well, actually the whistles might have picked up a bit. So, I was forced to go to the nuclear option.

I feared somewhat that the other Mexican fans might turn on me if I tried it, but I was now in a fight and I’m a man dammit. I had to win. So a slight modification to my previous chant was made and the result was "Dos a cero." Yes, that’s right "two to nothing." I hoped my friends had my back, but since they didn’t join in on my previous chant, I wasn’t so sure. For those with the question marks forming above their heads, 2-0 was the score of U.S. defeat of Mexico in the 2002 world cup. "But," you might be saying, "That was in 2002 and the game you were at took place last year, 2004, what does that matter?" Well, I not completely sure, but as best I can tell, this was a particularly painful loss for them. Your most hated rival on the world stage in the world’s most important tournament that only occurs once every four years. Ok, maybe I do sorta understand. I guess it would be like some sorry San Francisco fan bringing up "The Catch". Bastards.

So anyway. I said it. "Dos a Cero". Actually, I kinda sung it. Well, at the first sound of this the whistling Mexican switched up his MO a bit, too. His response was to flip me the bird, and better yet, to punctuate the breaks in my chant with "F*** YOU!". After a couple a more rounds, I stopped and so did he. But more importantly, no whistling. The way I see it, the U.S. had two victories that day.

My Hooligan ways #2 (US v. Italy, World Cup '06):
(From post on October 3, 2006)As I said before, there is nothing like cheering for your native land, especially when you're in a different country on the world's biggest stage. I was a lunatic. Jumping up and down like a fool. The chanting and singing by US supporters never stopped. News reports claimed that it was a pro-American crowd in attendance that night, but I can tell you first hand we were outnumbered 2 or 3-to-1 by Italians. Even when Italy scored, it seemed we stopped long enough to take a breath and started right up again. It was just odd that the atmosphere was controlled by Americans while the Italians could do nothing but sit on their hands and try to figure out what was wrong.

When the US scored to tie the game, I'm not sure I've ever been happier, ever. It's odd how emotionally involved one can get at a game. But I was in, baby, all in. And when that ball hit the back of the net (right in front of me, by the way) I went nuts. Jumping, high-fiving strangers from 5 rows away (one of the odd advantages of being tall) ,waving my flag in the I just didn't care...good stuff. I should also mention at this point that the seats we were in were on a aisle. And by aisle I mean a 18 inch-wide space between the seats for some steps. On the other side of this "aisle" is where the US section ended and the Italian section began. Lucky me. This arrangement of fan juxtaposition provided some interesting opportunities. For instance, around the 60 minute, when the US had been playing a man down for the half and yet were still controlling play and taking most of the offensive chances, it gave me occasion to witness some 50 year-oldish Italian who no doubt knew more about soccer 30 years ago than I ever would curse his team and hang his head in defeat. From this vantage I was also able to see if Italian chicks are really that hot. I could have done that, but I didn't. Finally, it allowed me one-on-one interfacing with my Italian counterparts. (Possible Hooliganism Warning here) The interface in question came after yet another Italian player hit the ground in an attempt to draw a card from the referee, commonly referred to in the sport as diving. This resulted in a ,shall we say, a negative reaction from US supporters and possibly even some of the players. I rose to voice my displeasure. At the same moment, a fan from the country that looks like a boot rose and turned around to debate us, I guess. Our eyes met, he frowned and shook his head to let us know we had no idea what we were talking about. Usually I would try to avoid confrontation. I thought about that fact that his fellow countrymen greatly out numbered me and my countrymen and that they were much more familiar with fascism. But I did not go quietly into that good night, I never broke the stare. I rose my hands above my head and placed them on top of each other, like a Olympian on the high dive. I then jump and simulated such a dive, not once, not twice, but three times. He then gave me the look of man who just figured out who had shot his beloved hound and nodded and smiled as if to say," I see you, and you will pay for your iniquity." I nodded and smiled in reply as if to say," I wanted to be seen and relish the opportunity to altercate with you on this or any other subject." And that was that.

Soccer and me #3 - This I have never posted about before. I should have, but well, I know...suck. But everything's better now, right? Anyway, this event occurred during a FC Dallas game against our heated rival, the Houston Dynamo. On September 30th as I sat in my usual seat on row #1 very near the visiting team's bench, I witnessed one of the worst things I ever seen on a soccer pitch. After the whistle blew following a free kick where Dallas narrowly missed scoring, I saw Houston player, Ricardo Clark, kick (yes, kick) Dallas player, Carlos Ruiz, in the ribs as he lay on the ground, face down. Did I mention I could also hear the contact above the crowd. Needless to say, I was inflamed. But more confused than anything. Ricardo Clark while known as a bit of a hack was not thought of as a hot head. Even so, I turned my attention to the Houston bench where one Brian Ching just happened to have just seated himself after coming off minutes earlier and notified him, politely of course, that I didn't appreciate his teammate's choice of actions. He informed me (Yes, that's right I'm now having a conversation with a member of both the US national team and the opposition) that Ruiz must have done something to warrant such a heinous attack. We then paused to watch the replay on the jumbotron. Replays show that the normal soccer stuff happened pre-ribkick, just bumping, tugging, grabbing and the like. Even so, and despite the fact that short of being punched right-square in the nether regions would a full-out kick to a defenseless player on the ground ever be justified, Ching turns back to me and says, "See, he deserved it." To say I exploded might approach accuracy. I was livid. My voice reached new and exciting levels. My blood boiled. After about 5 minutes of back-and-forth, I finally got him to admit that kicking another player might not have been the best move. Yet even now, as I sit here typing this, the anger returns. Does this mean I need to give up soccer?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Things I don't understand #9...

...What all those settings on the dryer mean.
As you can see from the picture on the right, I don't have one of the snazzy all digital clothes dryers that can identify each article of clothing and manage the temperature needed appropriately. I have a simple model. Even so, I have no idea what those settings are supposed to mean for me. I know how I choose to interpret them, but their literal meaning escapes me.

I have 4 choices at my disposal:
1. Timed Dry (High Heat) - I'm pretty sure this one means that whatever is in there will be dried at high heat for the time I set it.
2. Air Dry - Uh... I'm assuming this means no heat will be involved? How would anything ever get dry?
3. Automatic Dry (Low Heat) - Here's where I start getting really confused. It seems I have the choice as to where on the scale I want my clothes to be dried, from very dry to less dry. But what does less dry mean? Less dry than what? Isn't the purpose of this blasted machine to get my clothes dry? And by dry I mean not wet, not damp, no evidence of residual moisture, dry. So what do I do with clothes that are less dry? Take a hair dryer to them? What I end up doing setting it by how wet my clothes are. If they aren't saturated, I set it to less dry. If they make their own puddles, more dry. It seems to work, but I'm still not sure.
4. Automatic Dry (High Heat) - Same as above, except it gets a lot hotter in there. Don't touch any metal buttons when using this setting.

I would like to note that I've been doing my own laundry since I was like six. It's not like I'm new to this; but even so, I would appreciate any help you can offer me here. If that help would include you showing up at my place and washing and drying my clothes, I would not complain. And well...if you choose to also fold those clothes after they come out of the dryer, there could be a marriage proposal waiting on you...presuming you can pass a battery of tests and, you know, not a dude.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Things I don't understand #8...

...How Emmitt Smith gets paid to talk for a living.
Don't get me wrong. I love a running back. He brought me countless moments of joy that included 3 Super Bowl wins by my beloved Cowboys. But even before his second career began, I was pretty sure he wasn't the most eloquent of orators. My favorite quote of his from his playing days was the clincher for me. There's a saying, that I sometimes use in my crasser moments, that goes something like this, "Excuses are like butts, everybody's got one and they all stink." I'm sorry. So, I think at some point Mr. Smith was asked to address why his team wasn't winning, and I'm pretty sure he had heard this phrase previously, but when he opened his mouth, this is what came out, "Excuses are like butts, everybody who got one." Yes, that is the complete quote...everybody who got one. The Prosecution rests, your honor. But despite all the anecdotal evidence, he was hired to talk about football. Here's the worst of it. Most people think this is his first year in his broadcasting career because he just started with ESPN. But no! He actually spent all last year talking (nonsensically, I might add) on the NFL network. So I guess they could at least be given some sort of pass, but what's ESPN's excuse? Yeah, me neither. But apparently I'm not the only one who noticed how bad he is, even people who work for the same company decided to take a run at him. Enjoy.