Jul 30

Thursday Pickin’ Profiles: The Three Phrases of Larry

Quote of the Day 1:

IMMA–Mac-a-RO-ni!”     –7 year old Larry

With Thursday Pickin’ on the horizon, finally, TB’s been thinkin’ about my old ARBs and looking forward to seeing those old familiar names back in the MTGU. I thought I’d dish a little dirt on some of the boys (and maybe the girls) for your enjoyment.

I first met Larry through my first best friend, BR. They were cousins. BR and I played together almost everyday through our elementary years, starting when I was in first grade and BR was in Kindergarten. After a year or so of endless front yard one-on-one football followed by a daily-bountiful crawdad/golfball hunt in the Ingall’s Avenue ditch, suddenly Larry began to show up and expect some of BR’s attention. Larry and I, a year older than BR, were immediate and evenly matched rivals. I suppose he was my frenemy at the time though of course I’d never heard such a nonsensical word. A word I did hear in those days, however, was “IMMA-Mac-a-RO-ni!”

I thought it was stupid, even if I laughed along with BR when Larry said it. He’d do this gay little dance when he said it too. It WAS funny, I must admit. And to this day, when I think of Larry, I think of him doing his little jig in BR’s kitchen. It’s about seven p.m. on a random midsummer Tuesday. We’re eating those new Nacho Cheese flavored Doritos and drinking Barq’s Root Beer out of Dixie Cups. Larry is standing against the wall, next to the back door. BR’s Mom Brenda laughs, not surprisingly,  and even his old man Russ betrays me by crackin’ a little smile. “Imma-Mac-a-RO-ni!!!” I asked a million times what it meant and where it came from and I don’t think I ever got a straight answer.

Quote of the Day 2:  “You can do that alllllll night long…..”     22 year old Larry

Some years later Larry and I were roommates in Oxford, Mississippi. It was the night of the Egg Bowl and we were having a little late night party with a bunch of folks from home–Smily, Murray, Holly, Greekson, Big John and several others were there. It was about 2 am and our keg was as close to dry as it would go. We were all sitting around tellin’ old lies, Larry lying in front of our 3rd-hand love seat, which was occupied by Smily and Murray. Murray is a girl by the way. For maybe ten or fifteen minutes Smily had been stroking Larry’s already thinning mop of hair. Nobody had commented on it because (a) we were all between one and three sheets to the wind and (b) because it was Smily and (c) because I don’t know.

At some point my brain processed the unseemly scene and sent a message down that I should say something.

“What in the hell are y’all doin’ over there?!”

Smily just smiled and kept right on.

Larry looked up at me with the most self satisfied look you can imagine, revelin’ in the love he was getting now (and perhaps later?). He slowly shook his head and gently cooed, “You can do that alllllllll night long…..”

Well, that set the place on fire and as he slowly gauged our unexpectedly horrified reaction, a look of terror spread across Larry’s face. He looked up and realized his fondler for the evening was not Murray, but Smily. Smily smiled down upon him. Everybody else howled. Somehow Larry managed to crawl under the love seat in shame, never mind that it only featured a two inch clearance.

Quote of the Day 3:     “If the Cowboys win 3 Super Bowls in the 90′s I’ll get a blue star tattooed on my ass.”     –19 year old Larry

In 1989, the Dallas Cowboys were a terrible football team. Sweet was a fan and he just knew they were in for great things in the coming decade. He predicted at least 3 Super Bowl wins in the next ten years. Larry thought that was BS and he put his money where his mouth was. No, he put his ass where his mouth was–that’s much worse. “If the Cowboys win 3 Super Bowls in the 90′s I’ll get a blue star tattooed on my ass.”

Well, they did win 3 Super Bowls and so one week before Larry’s wedding, somewhere around 2000, when he would no longer have any say-so over the contents of his ass, Larry–to his everlasting credit–allowed himself to be driven over to Biloxi to get that blue star. As we rode over there was some controversy. Larry interpreted the oral contract quite literally and noting that size had not been discussed was determined to get a dime-sized star. Sweet, looking to the spirit of the agreement countered that it should be no less than a half-dollar. They bargained for awhile, Sweet offering to compromise at a quarter and Larry countering with a penny. Finally it was settled that a nickel-sized blue star tattoo would satisfy the debt.

And now we all know him alternately as Luscious Larry, Loser Larry, Leapin’ Larry or some such. He’s a mainstay in the lower division of TP. And, these days, he passes himself off in the so-called mainstream universe as respectable.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.missingtheground.com/2014/07/thursday-pickin-profiles-the-three-phrases-of-larry/

Jul 27

Unfriend Me. Please.

I have only “unfriended” exactly 3 people on Facebook for differences in opinion. All 3 were the same exact type of person. The hard line Republican that makes ridiculous arguments and is immune to any amount of common sense. I know I am a very opinionated cat. I also am not shy about sharing my views. I am currently trying to dial down the confrontational approach though. I have realized that nothing good ever comes of it.

Here is the point of this writing. Why in the world would you still be friends with me? I know I didn’t send you a friend request because I don’t ever send friend requests for this very reason. If you don’t like what you see, never forget that you asked to be here. Why torture yourself being subjected to my nonsense? It’s one simple click that takes about a millisecond.

I am going to post the conversation so you can see for yourself the type of unreasonable person I am describing. I will redact his name of course because I am civilized. The conversation that follows was posted on another friends post about Sharia law in the US.

Justin McMillian- All I see is Republican mouthpieces railing against it. Who is calling for Sharia law in the US? I am just curious.

Unreasonable Person- Then go be curious with all the tolerant people who make excuses for them.

Justin McMillian- I’m no fan of Islam. If you can’t tell me who is actually pushing for this, you are kinda making my point. I keep seeing people rail against it but no actual examples of it happening. But you just be angry for no reason.

Unreasonable Person- Im not angry for no reason ass hat. Ive been to their countries ive been shot at by them ive seen what they reduce humanity hopes and dreams and indoviduality to…i would NEVER even think about letting it get even close to the country i call home or the family i have (or even yours you ungrateful punk). Oh and by the way…if you think their life is so great…BYE…wont miss you.

Justin McMillian Oh I see. You are one of those unreasonable people that relies on emotion and not fact. Have a nice day.

Unreasonable Person- No im one of those people who put my money where my mouth was. Youre welcome.

End of conversation.

As you can see, he never answered the question and resorted to misdirection and name calling. I honestly can’t deal with folks like this. If you are on FB reading this and I piss you off as bad as I obviously piss this guy off, please do us both a favor. Just unfriend me now. Life is too short for either of us to be unhappy about some social media BS that is easily rectified. You can actually “block” me and I will cease to exist for you on there. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Permanent link to this article: http://www.missingtheground.com/2014/07/unfriend-me-please/

Jul 25

Silver Linings

I often wake up in the middle of the night, my mind buzzing. All the distractions that I had given it that day backfire when 1:00 a.m. rolls in and my mind is ready to sort out issues that I have been avoiding. Most times I roll to my side and paint pictures on the closet door, watch the ceiling fan revolve in an attempt to hypnotize myself, or flip on the tv to something boring in hopes that it knocks me out. Some nights, I find myself looking out the window, or out on the porch staring out into the darkness beyond..avoiding looking up and taken in the stars. You can got lost in the stars, for a every star a new thought occurs, the depth…the expanse of it all it can be overwhelming.

Lately this feeling of an ever-haunting presence of, I don’t know, life has made its appearance on my daily walk/jogs. The all day efforts of keeping myself busy and staying alert catches up to me around the same time, just before I hit 2 miles. In the amount of time it takes to get from my house to the 2 mile mark I have had enough alone time with myself and my thoughts that I end up breaking down in tears (no wonder Ant never asks me what’s on my mind). Not just tears, full fledge lump in the throat bawling. Crying! Who would have ever thought I even had the capability to produce tears? The crying doesn’t last long, which sounds just as ridiculous as admitting to crying while working in some daily exercise (or the fact that crying even happens in the first place) but, suddenly, my little 5 mile breaks of freedom carried a nuisance with it.

At the beginning of the month Ant found me a road bike on Craigslist, I made an offer on it and eventually the guy accepted it. It’s a silver 2013 Specialized Secteur, I don’t know what that means, but I’m told that it’s a decent bike and that I got a pretty good deal on it. My first couple of rides were with Ant, the entire reason I got the bike (to spend some time with him), then he got too busy and I started doing my rides solo and that’s when I noticed how much I enjoy cycling. Suddenly my friends’ and families’ fanaticism with cycling made sense. Everywhere we go I want to bring my bike with me, it in the short amount of time that I have had it, has caused me to have to explain why I love it so much. It starts with escaping, running away, the feeling of literally leaving behind everything. Which probably sounds sick, but I always turn around and go back (at some point). But then there’s also those thoughts that haunt me all day long, that beg for attention. My mind races through them at the beginning of the ride, fast forwarding as I pedal harder, until there’s nothing. Absolutely nothing, except my bike…which is something, but on a level of something’s that I am willing to deal with.

Total escape, total freedom. Everyone should own a road bike.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.missingtheground.com/2014/07/silver-linings/

Jul 24

Fathers Knows Best (and other childish ideas)

Quote of the Day:

“Raising children is an incredibly hard and risky business in which no cumulative wisdom is gained: each generation repeats the mistakes the previous one made.”      –Bill Cosby

From time to time, as a loving, engaged parent, TB is called upon to answer important, deep and difficult queries from my offspring. I take this duty seriously, attempting to answer honestly, informatively, but also in an age appropriate fashion.

For example, the classic: “Dad where do babies come from?” Of course there are many others, such as: “What makes it snow?” “Was this nugget a real chicken that they had to kill?” And of course the ever popular, “Why are some of your hairs brown and some others are white?”

It’s tough. I do my best: “God, love, marriage, magic.” And, “That’s a great question. Ask your science teacher.”; “No.”; and “Shut up.”

Today was a day for one of those discussions. Scamp had something on her mind, I could tell. She couldn’t figure out the answer on her own and she wasn’t even sure with her fledgling seven-year old vocabulary exactly how to phrase it. But finally,

“Dad?”

“Yes, Scamp?”

“You know those cars that are bigger than mini-vans?”

I thought for a few seconds, running the odd question through my mental Scamp-translator-3000. “Oh! You mean a limousine?”

“Yeah.”

“What about ‘em?”

Scamp narrowed her eyes as the poser turned over and over in her mind, defying the clarity she knew would come if she gave up trying to figuring it out, and instead relied upon the trusty, all encompassing knowledge of her old man. “Where do they park them?”

“What?” I replied, the ST3000 failing to find any relevance in the question and struggling to identify some hidden pitfall in addressing the topic.

“Where do they park them? I mean, they’re too big to fit in a garage.”

“Yes,” I agreed. “Too big.” The ST3000 satisfied me that I’d be relatively safe on this one and I thus attempted to answer the question candidly, notwithstanding my ignorance on the topic. “I think they park them in a big building. Maybe where they work.”

“But how do they get them through the doors of the building?,” she persisted. “They are really big cars.”

My frustration now beginning to build, I quickly countered, “Maybe they have giant doors! You’ve been in giant buildings before haven’t you? They have giant doors sometimes. Okay?”

That quieted her down.

I patted my own back mentally and continued driving, considering what an intellectually imposing and knowledgeable presence I must be for the Li’l Scamp.

Several minutes later she piped back up. “Well…..how do they get home from the giant building after they park the car? Do they have to walk?”

I took a deep breath and thought about it. I could see this was really bothering her on the cerebral level.

“God. Magic. Ask your science teacher,” I said.

I think based upon her silence she correctly interpreted all that as “shut up.”

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.missingtheground.com/2014/07/fathers-knows-best-and-other-childish-ideas/

Jul 22

Mon-sissy-Monsissy

Quote of the Day:

Old age ain’t no place for sissies.”     –HL Mencken

There was a commercial that used to be aired constantly on WTBS back in the 80′s during reruns of The Flintstones, Spectraman and Leave it to Beaver. It was for some sort of “pet” called a mon-chi-chi.

Anyhow, it was awful. One of those commercial jingles you can’t get out of your head short of slitting your wrists. If I can find it on YouTube, I’ll post it. Pray for my soul.

Anyhow, it came to mind yesterday as I was walking home from the swimming pool barefooted. I had my shirt on, which to my way of thinking should’ve made RSR proud of me instead of embarrassed that I would prance about with unshod feet. But I digress because the point is I realized as I walked that I have become a real tenderfoot. For Pete’s sake it was only about 85 degrees and our pavement is pretty slick, but the signal transferring from soles to brain were along the lines of “GET OFF THE DAMN ROAD THIS IS KILLING US!”

Anyhow (again), TB and Smily used to walk “down the street” all summer to play in the woods or the adjoining neighborhood. We went barefooted, naturally. Usually didn’t wear a shirt either but that was before I got civilized.

We’d play this stupid game–it was one of those games that never officially started or stopped, but rather was ongoing–where whoever stepped off the scalding pavement first to quiet their barkin’ dogs was a sissy. A Mon-sissy to be precise. Never mind that the jagged Woodhaven Street pavement was always hot enough to fry an egg on–Smily did that once just to be sure I’ll have you know. You knew you lost when your feet touched grass and Smily started singing “Mon-sissy, Monsissy!” You had to jump back out on the street before the singing could, by rule, cease. The loser never let more than one chorus go by before moving back to pavement. Neither of us lost very often because we were tough and because you lose the sense of pain when you suffer third degree burns I’m told.

Anyhow (there’s not really much of a point here), after some thirty blissful years of burying that jingle deep in the repressed-horror recesses of the brain, it came back to me yesterday in my weakness.

At the precise instant when I stepped off the street and onto cool grass.

I stayed where I was though.

Hell, I may not be as tough as I was back then, but I’m a damn sight smarter.

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.missingtheground.com/2014/07/mon-sissy-monsissy/

Jul 19

Mac Has a Baby

I am surprised that I haven’t told this story before now. It’s not much, in the way of things. Maybe I have told it. I repeat a lot of things now that I am an old fart. But this story happened before I had kids. Wow. That phrase seems as foreign as Chinese philosophy. It seems like my whole life has been lived since my kids were born. Those of you that know you don’t want kids, congrats. I feel no ill will toward you. It’s the best thing to happen in my life. Bar none. But to each his own.

Before we were “the parents”, we were normal people. We were busy living our lives, as people do. If memory serves, we made a lot more of the sex in those days. (Kidding Paw in law, we have only done it twice, to have the children) Then, one day, we decided we should pro-create. Make little us’es. It will be cute, we said.

Life is a funny journey. Funny in the way that things aren’t funny anymore or if you enjoy taking kicks to the nuts. We couldn’t have children. The bullshit plan laid in front of us was a bald faced lie. So we put our faith in doctors. I don’t remember many of the details but I do remember it was $10,000 a pop. (Dad’s remember this shit)For 10 g’s, I was thinking you could start calling out specifics. Like blue eyes and blond hair. Good at basketball. Possess a penis. Have a sweet three point shot. It didn’t work like that at all. You were basically paying $10k for a shot in the dark. They would fertilize the egg and then put it in the vicinity of the uterine wall with what I called a turkey baster. The fertilized egg would then need to implant on its own. It was a complete crap shoot.

I should add at this point that I had my first and only anal probing. I thought I was just going in for a normal, run of the mill, no rape physical. Silly young me. The doc had me come in and everything was going smoothly until he told me to bend over. The entire time I was thinking “It’s not me you moron!!!” This was an emergency thought not based in logic because it was kinda part me. My sperm count was on the lower side of average. I left the office an emotional mess. The doc was smiling. I doubt most doctors that have to probe mens anuses really enjoy it.I like to think they at least become immune to it. Like gynocologists. I don’t care how hot a chick is. When you have seen 1 million vaginas, I imagine it loses much of its luster. I digress.

The first time didn’t take. $10k out the window. The second time didn’t look promising. I had serious conversations with my wife that we couldn’t try anymore. There were tears, mostly on her part. I was just watching my future get flushed down the drain half the price of a new car at a time. Then the good news came. My beautiful wife was pregnant. I was hoping, as only a dad can, that it wasn’t twins or some other octo mom moment. They put in 4 eggs that had started multiplying. I have a picture somewhere of Makayla when she was only like 32 cells big. It’s actually a picture of all 4 fertilized eggs but it’s still pretty damn cool.

The first labor was torture. For me. It lasted like 24 hours. Christi had drove herself to the hospital as she would do for the birth of my second child because I was at the fire station. Firemen work only 33% percent of the time but you can bet your sweet ass when something important happens, they will be working that 1/3. Christi was very uncomfortable for the majority of that 24 hour labor. I had to get up like every 10 minutes to help her roll from one side to the other. (I used to be a lot more selfish )

When my daughter was born, I cried. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. The baby, not where it had just came from. You ladies get all my respect because I have never stopped being amazed at the beating that thing can take and still be able to recover. I still get shivers. But the baby had 10 fingers and 10 toes and all my heart.

Now that we had checked off the box in the game of life and procreated, we wondered about having another child. The fertility specialist told us that there was basically no chance of us making another child on our own so we just kinda forgot about the idea. Approximately three years later my wife gave me the absolute biggest surprise in my life. We were going out to eat at Marguerites Italian Village in Pascagoula. It was one of my all time favorite places to have supper. I would normally order a bottle of wine here. It was pretty much the only place where I have ever drank wine. And I drank it all, my friend. They also had a She Crab Soup that would make you smack your grandmother across the mouth. For real, I still dream about that soup. Anyway, we had just pulled up at the restaurant and Christi handed me a card. It was my birthday so I thought nothing about it. In the card, she told me that she was pregnant again. I was floored. This was not even supposed to be possible. But it was and that little spitfire turned out to be our second daughter. I shed a tear at this announcement and again when she graced this world with her presence. There is no shame in crying over your daughters gentlemen. I definitely suggest getting yourself acquainted with the procedure before you hand off your credit cards to her when she jets off to college.

I wrote this to provide y’all with some humor but to also give hope to all of those that struggle with infertility. We have been down that road and understand how emotionally taxing it is. Keep up your spirits and try to hang onto hope as long as possible. The doctors know their stuff but they don’t know everything.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.missingtheground.com/2014/07/mac-has-a-baby/

Jul 17

Get a Haircut and Get a Real Job

I guess it all started as a small child. My Mother gave TB haircuts until I was about seven. Bowl cuts. She mastered the technique without ever once even employing an actual bowl. I didn’t care how I looked in those days of early childhood, but I hated my freshly-bowl cut coiffure.

One night Moma cut my brother’s ear lobe causing him to hemorrhage for hours. Odd perhaps that I should remember that incident except that it led to my first visit to Jimmy’s Golden Shears across Ingall’s Avenue from our house, next to the liquor store that got robbed every month.

Jimmy was cool. He cut my hair until I was about 32, once every six weeks or so, and always the same. I never had to say anything about such nonsense as “styling” or “length” to Jimmy. I just sat down and he cut while talking to me about some bar he’d played music at last weekend or asking me if I knew a welder whose hair he cut yesterday or if I liked school because he never could stand the place. I don’t remember ever responding to Jimmy. I just got in the chair and he talked me through the horror of the cut. I liked Jimmy a lot.

But I never liked how I looked after a haircut and by God I still don’t.

I go to Kez now. She was trained in London and tells me all about it every time I see her. I get to hear about how much money she made last quarter and about how hard it is to get good help and says I ought to stop eating gluten. She asks questions and forces me to reply. She makes me get my hair washed by some different and strange, but well-dressed overweight chick with abnormally soothing fingers every time I come in there. Kez runs a “salon” you see and I’m expected to participate and appreciate the salon lifestyle. I hate that place. I like Kez though and she gives me a great haircut, though good old Jimmy could buzz me three times for what I pay her once.

It’s not so much that I love long hair, because I don’t and it’s never really been all that long. It’s not that I think I’m particularly attractive before the hair comes off any more than after. My haircut antipathy comes from someplace deeper, from some wayward DNA I suspect that lay dormant for generations perhaps before leaping to prominence in the physical manifestation of me.

I think it has to do with Freedom. Conformity. Pigeonholing.

There’s something about unruly, semi-kempt hair that makes me feel more like me. And I resent my own weakness in succumbing to the social contract 3.77 times per year, whether I need it or not, to get clean-cut.

Quote of the Day:

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.missingtheground.com/2014/07/get-a-haircut-and-get-a-real-job/

Jul 10

Thoughts from the Road for a Texas Wedding

If you don’t travel there often, there’s a feeling that comes on you, about thirty miles west of the Louisiana border, just past Beaumont, that this place called Texas never really ends, or the end is so far off that it might as well not, even for someone who has driven/ridden from one border to the other. Maybe it’s the 800 miles to El Paso sign or the knowledge that the 800 miles is more than that total mileage of the trip you happen to be on that day. Perhaps this vastness is just a fabrication created by men who long ago drew imaginary lines creating imaginary walls that make this sky the Mississippi sky, that sky Louisiana’s sky, and all this sky over here, the sky that goes forever, Texas sky. One wonders how immense the land and sky of Alaska must feel, especially if you’re a poor Southern boy saddled with the Mississippi sky, a sky just as blue and gorgeous, yet somehow darker and muddier and more filled with secrets than anything idling about Texas. Hell, maybe it’s the sky that gave Texans that trademarked attitude they’ve been shilling since before their entry into the Union. Maybe that’s why they’ve got gas stations tucked off in the middle of nothing and nowhere along HWY 290 that are bigger than the grocery store I frequented growing up, gas stations that rival the size of a Wal-Mart; high school football stadiums bigger than that old lump of concrete they got up in Jackson where the Egg Bowl used to be played.

When you drive in, it’s hard to tell if Austin made the hills, or the hills made Austin. The Colorado River zigs and zags through that town like it seems to do the rest of state, like a drunk stumbling and swaying to wherever they damn well please. There are kitted out cyclists humping up the hills and over bridges flanked on one side by a dam and a deathly fall into the river on the other with cars and trucks speeding by at 65 or 70 miles per hour. There are tattooed hipsters sipping coffee at vegan cafes, good old boys with their big trucks and NRA stickers, and W. Ben White Boulevard, which hints at a past TB has never shared.

We rode a bus out into the hill country outskirts of the Texas capitol, an area with ample spaces cleared for a soon to exist subdivision and roads winding enough to make you sick, yet several hours later in the darkness of early morning and the shroud of a good gin drunk, you’d swear it was a straight line back to town.   Off the bus and by the shores of a lake, we witnessed two good souls get married and we ate and we drank and we had a good laugh and generally loved one another and the outward versions of the adults we’ve become.

The next morning we headed back east. Out of the hills, beyond the reach of the Colorado, away from those monolith gas stations, all the while under that vast Texas sky. And then suddenly that sky did end as we rolled on East headed for home and away from all that never ending space, back to a place whose boundaries are just as fictional yet ever more finite.

Long live the Losers!

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.missingtheground.com/2014/07/thoughts-from-the-road-for-a-texas-wedding/

Jul 02

Hope, Trolls, the Future: Irv’s World Cup reaction

Well that was a tough one. It’s strange how brutal is hope. Even more strange how harsh the outcome of doing everything to convince yourself that your hope is misguided, it is false, it is not real, only to have that hope come inches away from becoming something all together different from hope: truth.

The adrenaline wore off after a few hours, and the numbness was all that was left. What must it have been like for the men on the field in Salvador? How does Tim Howard really feel deep down when he wakes up this morning? Did he even sleep?

These are more deep philosophical questions that no one has time for round here. But we do have time for some quick thoughts after the end of this World Cup for the USA.

The conversation about soccer in this country needs to change

Seemingly every media outlet, not just in the US, but in countries around the world, ran stories about whether or not soccer has finally caught on in the States. Soccer’s popularity in this country is much like the evolution of our national team itself; a slow, but strong and steady one. Soccer is here, it’s not going anywhere, and will only grow in popularity. The TV ratings, the crowds at watch parties around the country, and the monumental number of fans that made the trek to Brazil are proof.

Trolls, Trolls, and More Trolls

This is only partially about that crazy bitch Ann Coulter. She picked low hanging fruit, no shock there. I said to Mac on Twitter: Trolling soccer fans is just such a novel idea. No one ever does that.

US soccer fans very well may be the most trolled group of fans in the world. Seriously. Few groups of people get shit on as regularly as soccer fans do, and almost every time it is a bag of garbage similar to Coulter. It’s not just Coulter or in comment sections, it’s other less certifiably crazy people participating as well. Why this happens is a mystery to me. Soccer fans, like homosexuals, are not trying to convert you. Sure we’d love you to understand and accept us, but it’s not a necessity for our survival.   Yes we are very passionate about our sport, but that’s partially the trolls fault. How many other fans of mainstream sports have to hear people essentially say their sport is not a sport and that those who obsess over it are somehow less than? Baseball fans ridicule soccer for it’s boringness. Baseball. A sport that on the professional level is 74% spitting and crotch scratching, 17% staring, and 9% actual activity. I may feel that way, but that doesn’t mean that every year during the World Series I feel the need to go on every article and tell baseball fans they are awful for liking a sport where nothing happens for several minutes at a time. American football fans are even worse, since they seem to view this through some sort of battle for masculinity, which they are really only fighting with themselves.   Soccer fans for years in this country have been practically forced to defend the sport we love in the face of just insane idiocy.   Can’t we all just get along?

The actual team

Okay, so we have now gone out in the round of 16 at the last two tournaments.   Guess what?

That’s a good thing.

Why?

Because it has never happened before. We are progressing.

We are getting better at this game that the rest of the world would rather us not embrace. Think about it: soccer is the one major sport that the United States does not dominate. Basketball? Forget about it rest of the world. You don’t have a prayer. American Football? Nope, they don’t even really play it, though like the US with soccer, it is a sport of interest. Baseball? Well the Latin Americans and Japanese are obviously very good at the game, but it is still ours. What about the Olympics? Yeah we own those too, but especially the Summer Games. Faced with that level of domination, the rest of the world has clung to soccer as the beacon of light in an American dominated sports universe.   And sadly for the rest of the world, the United States showed during this tournament that, though still not technically up to par with the world powers, we are on our way to being more than just the most physically fit, lung busting, never give up, side in the world. We gave glimpses of an American style in this tournament, a style that is no longer kick it as far away from our goal as we can and hope.

Part of Klinnsman’s brief as head coach and technical director is to implement this style and weld it with technical and tactical acumen. This takes time. It takes implementing a universal plan for how players learn and apply lessons to the game from the first time they attend a practice through to the last.   In the aftermath of previous World Cups, the question was always can the Americans figure this out? This time it’s do we have the patience give the changes time to take?

This was the last World Cup for Jermaine Jones, Kyle Beckerman, DeMarcus Beasley, and Clint Dempsey. It may well be the end of the international road for Tim Howard as well, though it should be remembered that goalkeepers get better with age and Howard may still be the starter in 2018.   Those are some very important names for this team. But look at the rest of the squad: Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, John Brooks, Julian Green, DeAndre Yedlin, Fabian Johnson, Aron Johannsson, Jozy Altidore, Mix Diskerud will all still be in the mix come 2018. Yedlin, Green, and Brooks are young enough to still have at least two World Cup cycles left in their careers. Players like Bradley and Cameron likely only have one World Cup left in the legs, but that still means four years before really worrying about their replacements to a larger degree. Those are just the players already occupying spaces in the set up. Who knows what heroes lie unknown in some underappreciated section of America? What kid is currently dreaming along the path trodden by Dempsey, the unnoticed path, through the wastelands of Texas? In a country so vast, there are unpolished jewels to be found in the unlikeliest of places.

On top of that, the generation that is coming up the development ladder have an advantage that those before them did not: exposure to the game at it’s highest levels at an early age. These players will have spent their lives being able to watch the best players in the world on a weekly basis, something that I didn’t have growing up and I’m only 30.   They have Messi, Neymar, Ronaldo, Aguero, and the version of Suarez that doesn’t bite people at random like a lunatic, to watch and emulate. That is a luxury the previous generations did not have. The ability to regularly watch and emulate the highest level of talent is underappreciated. They have grown up watching the evolution of the best teams in the world from being tiki-taka Barcelona to high flying Bayern and to current World Cup wonders Columbia and Chile who seem to attack with reckless, joyful, abandon. They get to watch the best tactical creations performed by the best players. And as long as we keep our distaste for diving, then that will be nothing but beneficial.

The future is bright for US Soccer. If you aren’t interested, that’s fine by us, you can move along to the next tent. But, if, like has happened after every World Cup since 1990, you are one of the new members of the congregation, hold your head high and allow that strange feeling of hopefulness and pride to enter your heart. If anything the future will definitely be fun.

Oh, and, if you are a new convert, and would like to join those of us who support club teams in Europe this fall, I suggest you support the team from the blue half of Liverpool, Everton FC. We have Tim Howard if that helps with your decision making process.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.missingtheground.com/2014/07/hope-trolls-the-future-irvs-world-cup-reaction/

Jul 02

TB Rides Again

Quote of the Day:

Do u ever work or are u on a constant vacation?”     –TB’s friend, J.J. commenting on a photo of the author at Death Valley recently

Yeah, I work. Death Valley was a work trip. So was Zion. When I’m on the road for the man I always look to see the sights on my down time and I’m thankful for the opportunities.

But tomorrow is a trip for me. Well, Scamp, RockStar and me to be more precise. We are fortunate be able to use our officially-miserly-Americorporate-sanctioned two weeks off per year to take two big trips–one in the summer and one in the winter.

And so we are off to barnstorm Lake Michigan, driving first to Chicago, then up to the Wisconsin Dells, to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, then down through Mackinac Island and Traverse City before finishing up in Chicago and then home.

I am beside myself to get on the road.

This morning I began to wonder whether on this trip I am looking forward more to seeing all the new things that await us or whether the balance of anticipatory pleasure tilts this time more toward just getting away.

It’s a close call.

I am excited for my first foray into Wisconsin.

I relish spending 11 days with my family, with no distractions of work or school or television.

I can’t wait to eat some Wisconsin cheese, a U.P. pasty, or some of that famous Mackinac fudge. Sampling the local brews should be nice too.

Enjoying the wilderness and on the opposite end of the spectrum, the wilds of the water park. Launching a canoe on the Platte River. Sand dunes, cherry pie, lighthouses and perhaps a waterfall or two.

On the other hand, I ache to detach from the negativity that comes with the real world and get my batteries recharged.

Some nutty Chris McDaniel tea party blogger comes out with new allegations against the Cochran campaign? I don’t care. Ignorant Facebook posts? Won’t see ‘em. A new war crankin’ up? It’ll be there when I get back.

I look forward to giving Scamp some latitude to unleash her own caged wildness, to be free of math and reading comprehension for a bit. And to RSR’s freedom from the phone and 16 daily emails asking her questions she’s already answered.

The windows still need fixin’? I’ve gained a few pounds? I’m neglecting the MTGU? Global warming? All forgotten for a blissful week and two bookends free from tension headaches.

When I get back, sure, it’ll all be here waiting for me, but I’ll be fortified and restored, ready to take it all on again. Plus we’ll be that much closer to college football season when serious concerns can rise to the fore.

Oh and one more thing, and this is for you J.J…….I’m heading to Oregon at the end of the month–one of my favorite places!

For work.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.missingtheground.com/2014/07/tb-rides-again/

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