Sep 18

Thursday Pickin’ Season VII, Week 4

Quote of the Week:

I make a motion of minus 5 pts for MDs unfamily-friendly and not classy “homage” to Jack.”     –Sweet

TB has been waiting for this week for nine months. MSU vs LSU. A battle of undefeated SEC West, um, heavyweights. Yeah, heavyweights! The Bullies led by our (trademarked) “Dark-horse Heisman” contending quarterback Dak Prescott and the Tigers by a true freshman-Heisman-poseur named Leonard. Six years in the making, this is MSU Coach Dan Mullen’s finest team, talented, deep and ready to grab the spotlight. Nine months I’ve been counting down to this game and it’s finally here…….

……annnnnnnnd I’m starting to think maybe the anticipation for once might be more enjoyable than the payoff. I’m not sure I want this game played after all.

Because as many of you know, State NEVER beats LSU. NEVER, as in twice in the last twenty-some years. Our best teams lose to their worst and our worst teams get annihilated by their best. But it wasn’t always thus….

…..In fact I WAS THERE back in Jackie Sherrill’s first year when we smacked the Tigers around down in Death Valley. I was even there the year before when Rockey Felker almost saved his job by beating them in Jackson.

Even better than those notable years was a glorious stretch from 1980-1983 when State beat the Tigers four years in a row, all four victories led by the Great Tigah-Killah John Bond, the only quarterback ever to beat LSU four times.

Well, since this game is gonna happen anyway, I might as well gird up for it. So I’m channeling 1980 today as you will see below.

As for TP, TB lost my first POTW last week to fall to 2-1 on the season. I went 3-2 on bonus picks, now 10-5 for the year. The MTGU went 14-12-1 on POTW’s and 29-27 on bonus selections and now rest at 46-30-2 and 86-64.

Mac won the week by going all in on them Bullies and winning Song of the Week. List of the week went to Tiny D. RJ and Pitalo won the biggest Dog o’the Week honors by picking East Carolina’s upset of Virginia Tech. Big Ed was the biggest loser with a 3-0 mark on bonus picks and he busted the curve to the benefit of RJ. Shout out to Smily and SDog for smaller DOTW’s.

And btw. If any’o’ya’ll see Larry, tell him I said duh-huh. He’ll know what you mean.

Here are last week’s results, the top 14 won their POTW, bonus picks only in parentheses. As always.

  1. Mac (SOTW)     67
  2. RSR                   62
  3. SmilyJ                62
  4. Irv                       62
  5. Kitchen P            62
  6. JLou                   62
  7. TKH (2-0)           62
  8. TDW (2-0)           62
  9. Nelson (3-1)        62
  10. Folly J (3-2)        56
  11. Sweet (3-2)         56
  12. SDog (1-2)          44
  13. Fish (1-3)            40
  14. RJ (0-4, dotw)     40
  15. Tiny D (1-1)         39
  16. Big Ed (3-0)        38
  17. TB  (3-2)              26
  18. Krebs (2-1)           26
  19. Flyin’ J (2-2-1)     20
  20. BW Buzz (2-3)     14
  21. MD (0-1)               14
  22. Harmony               10
  23. Fig E                     10
  24. Face                      10
  25. BR                          10
  26. TeaJay                    10
  27. Pitalo (1-4, dotw)     7

Season Standings:

  1. RSR                      196
  2. Mac                       191
  3. Kitchen P               186
  4. SDog                     162
  5. Tiny D                    151
  6. TB                          150
  7. Folly Jon                150
  8. BW Buzz                144
  9. Nelson                    144
  10. RJ                           140
  11. Face                       134
  12. Smily J                    134
  13. Irv                            124
  14. Tea Jay                   121
  15. Sweet                      118
  16. Fish                         110
  17. Flyin’ J                     108
  18. Krebs                       102
  19. Big Ed                     99
  20. MD                           96
  21. Pitalo                        94
  22. TDW                        88
  23. Fig E                        82
  24. JLou                        82
  25. Harmony                  77
  26. TKH                          72
  27. BR                            30

Here are my Picks of the Week and Here’s your HandyDandy Link to the Odds:

  • Missouri     -13.5
  • Alabama   -14
  • Texas A&M  -33.5
  • Rutgers       +6
  • Oklahoma  -7

POTW  S. Carolina  -21.5

And now, I invite you to sit back, close your eyes and travel with TB back to the Golden Era of MSU-LSU football:

  • All Night Long –Joe Walsh (where y’at Larry?)
  • The Long Run – Eagles (looking at you, Dak)
  • Cool Change – Little River Band (it’s time for one)
  • Another One Bites the Dust – Queen (a 1980 football anthem)

SOTW:

Back in Black – AC/DC (because, AC/DC)

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.missingtheground.com/2014/09/thursday-pickin-season-vii-week-4/

Sep 11

Thursday Pickin’ Season VII, Week 3 (the Jack Cristil edition)

Quotes of the Day:

“…..18 yards away from the land of milk and honey….”

“…..two receivers on the left, one on the right, the ball is equidistant from the sidelines……”

“…..the maroon jerseyed, white trousered, maroon head geared Bulldogs are moving left to right across your radio dial……”

“…..he CANNOT go!”

“……BULLDOGS RECOVER! BULLDOGS RECOVER! BULLDOGS RECOVER!”

“……the six-tall180 pound wide receiver from Pontotoc….”

“……get YOUR maroon blazer at Iupe’s, on the square, in Canton.”

“……3 seconds, 2 seconds, 1, and you can WRAP IT, in Maroon and White!”

–Jack Cristil

We lost the great Jack Cristil this week, the Voice of the Bulldogs, last and best of the old line college football radio men. TB started listening to Jack in 1980. I was ten years old and State was good. Jack was already a legend by then, transmitting all the action in his unmatchable staccato-stoic style. Jack was never a cheerleader for the ‘Dogs, as everyone has said this week, but you never doubted where his allegiance lay. You knew it when he announced a touchdown, almost surprised it happened in his excitement, immediately scouring the field for flags and reporting their presence, or sometimes the lack thereof. You knew it too when he was frustrated, though he rarely criticized teams until the very last years, by the way he would intone “Pile Drives into the line once aGain for two yards, maybe three.” And of course you knew it when he announced at the end of games, not quite half of the time, “Wrap it in Maroon and White!”, capturing perfectly in voice the exultant relief we listeners felt in our hearts.

It is hard to believe Jack Cristil is gone. Sure he’d lived a long life and like everyone must at some point, he’d taken sick. But to so many of us, whether Bulldog fan or not, Jack embodied permanence, certainty, and excellence. Coaches came and went, and players, even entire eras passed and yet Jack was there every fall. Scrolling through the FM radio searching for his voice–you’d know it in an instant; driving through the October Delta night with no other car in sight; soothing a hangover floating in the cabin of a 25 foot Wellcraft in the Gulf of Mexico; an oasis of civilization blasting from the radios of dozens of tailgates in the Grove; Jack meant college football and vice versa; and his passing is among the strongest evidence of the inescapable mortality I have encountered.
—————————–

TB won my Pick of the Week again last Thursday and went a sterling 4-1 on bonus selections. I am 2-0 and 7-3 on the young season. The MTGU is also off to a great start. As a Universe, we went an astronomical 19-4-1 last week. Nineteen. Four. and One. So after two weeks we are collectively 32-18-1. On bonus picks we went a stellar 30-14 last week, now 57-37 on the year. RJ, BW Buzz and TB tied for the weekly win by winning our POTW’s and going 4-1, which is the UCbMoLFSS standard for outpacing all-in players in the event of a loss. Tiny D’s 3-0 matched that and her unblemished mark merits her the top position on the board. RSR picked up her second straight List of the Week title and Coach TeaJay gets Song of the Week honors and his video featured on the MTG Facebook feed. Shout out to Big Ed for jumping back in last week and nailing Virginia Tech as the biggest Dog of the Week.

Here are last week’s standings, the top 19 won their POTW, bonus picks in parentheses.

  1. Tiny D  (3-0)           68
  2. RJ       (4-1)            68
  3. Buzz  (4-1)             68
  4. TB  (4-1)                 68
  5. RSR (LOTW)         67
  6. Flyin’ J (3-1)           62
  7. Mac                        62
  8. Face                       62
  9. MD                         62
  10. SmilyJ                    62
  11. Kitchen P               62
  12. Fig E                      62
  13. Big Ed (2-1, dotw) 61
  14. SDog (2-1)             56
  15. Pitalo (3-2)             56
  16. Folly Jon (2-1)        56
  17. Krebs (1-1)            50
  18. Fish (1-1)               50
  19. Coach tj (1-3,stow) 49
  20. Sweet (4-1)             48
  21. Nelson (3-1)           32
  22. TDW (2-1)              26
  23. JLou                       10
  24. BR                          10
  25. TKH                       DNP
  26. Rennie                   OUT
  27. IRV                        MIA
  28. Harmony                CAL

Season Standings:

  1. RSR                          134
  2. BW Buzz                   130
  3. Face                          124
  4. Mac                            124
  5. TB                              124
  6. Kitchen P                   124
  7. SDog                         118
  8. Tiny D                        112
  9. CTJ                            111
  10. RJ                              100
  11. Folly J                         94
  12. Flyin’ J                        88
  13. Pitalo                          87
  14. Nelson                        82
  15. Krebs                         76
  16. MD                             72
  17. Fig E                          72
  18. Smily J                       72
  19. Fish                            70
  20. Harmony                     67
  21. Irv                               62
  22. Sweet                         62
  23. Big Ed                        61
  24. TDW                           26
  25. BR                              20
  26. JLou                           20
  27. TKH                           10
  28. Rennie                       10

Here are my Picks of the Week and here’s your HandyDandy Link to the odds:

  • UMass  +16.5
  • Texas Tech  -1
  • Oklahoma St  -14
  • Florida  -18
  • Oklahoma  -21

POTW  Georgia  -6.5

My Tunes this weekend:

  • The Jack — AC/DC
  • Jumpin’ Jack Flash – Stones
  • Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts – Bob Dylan
  • Jack and Diane – John Cougar Mellencamp

SOTW – Radio, Radio  – Elvis Costello

Permanent link to this article: http://www.missingtheground.com/2014/09/thursday-pickin-season-vii-week-3-the-jack-cristal-edition/

Sep 04

Thursday Pickin’ Season VII, Week 2

Quote of the Week:Luscious didn’t pull such nonsense at Beach Elementary School.”     –Madd Dawg

So we’re off and running on another season of Thursday Pickin’ and other than the Florida-Idaho game droppin’ a no-show on us, not unlike Luscious Larry, things went rather well.

TB won my Pick of the Week and went 3-2 on bonus picks to start the year. Overall, the MTGU went 13-14 on Picks of the Week and 27-23 on bonus selections. Pitalo got the Dog of the Week with Penn State. And a big welcome to an actual former fighter pilot who flew in to the game last week. Along with Larry, Big Ed and The Daily Wit were MIA, sadly. On the flip side, Fig was back. Back again.

List of the Week honors go to RSR for pulling out 5 songs to honor the Temple of Doom theme for year VII of TP. Song of the Week, as chosen by RSR goes to Harmony. The extra points pushed them out to shared weekly honors. Remember to shout out what tunes you like TP’ers and you can have a say next week.

On an even more important note, if that’s possible, TB’s Bullies whipped up on Southern Miss last weekend 49-0 and Dak Prescott and the boys showed every reason to keep the preseason expectations alive for just a bit longer. But. But there is this thing about Mississippi State and State fans that perhaps all of you are not hip to. It’s not just a Murphy’s Law type thing though to be sure we’re conditioned to the fact that whatever can go wrong will go wrong. No, it’s much more. It’s Dead Indians. Yep. Legend has it that Scott Field, Home of the Bullies, is built upon an ancient Indian burial ground and the natives ain’t happy about it. Thus, not only can anything you can imagine possibly go wrong, but a multitude of misfortune you never saw coming is also to be expected. So it was with practiced chagrin last night that I read the message boards and saw the rumor that several playmakers, including potentially legendary QB Dak Prescott were suffering various injuries.

Now, I don’t know if the rumor is true, and if it is true if the situation is serious. What I do know is, I’m paying homage to the American Indian today for all I’m worth.

First though, the standings after last week–remember, POTW’s are the top 14 and ONLY bonus picks are in parentheses:

 

  1. Harmony (all-in + SOTW)   67
  2. RockStarRambler (LOTW) 67
  3. SDog (3-1)                         62
  4. BW Buzz  (3-1)                  62
  5. Irv                                      62
  6. Face                                  62
  7. Coach TeaJay                   62
  8. Kitchen Princess               62
  9. Mac                                   62
  10. TB (3-2)                            56
  11. Nelson (1-1)                      50
  12. Tiny D (1-2)                       44
  13. Folly J (1-3)                       38
  14. RJ (3-1)                             32
  15. Pitalo (3-2, DOTW)           31
  16. Flyin’ J (3-2)                      26
  17. Krebs (1-0)                       26
  18. Fish (2-2)                          20
  19. Sweet (2-3)                       14
  20. TKH                                  10
  21. Fig                                     10
  22. MD                                    10
  23. Rennie                              10
  24. JLou                                  10
  25. BR                                     10
  26. SmilyJ                                10
  27. F15 Beeper (0-4)               1

Here are TB’s picks for this week and here’s your HandyDandy Link to the Odds which is much easier, MD, for people who are not degenerates to read:

  • Georgia Tech  -10
  • Penn St  -14.5
  • E. Carolina  +16.5
  • UCLA  -24
  • Oregon  -12

POTW–Missouri  -3.5 My Tunes for your weekend enjoyment:

  • Cherokee Nation–Paul Revere and the Raiders
  • Seminole Wind–John Anderson
  • Kaw-Liga–Hank Williams
  • Choctaw Bingo–Ray Wylie Hubbard

SOTW–Apache–Sugar Hill Gang

Permanent link to this article: http://www.missingtheground.com/2014/09/thursday-pickin-season-vii-week-2/

Sep 03

Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Missing Towels

As I went to get my morning shower today (yes, I bathe), I couldn’t locate a towel. Long ago I stopped looking in the cabinet where towels are supposed to be stored. These storage devices are perpetually empty and should honestly be reassigned to make use of the space. I went to the ol’ faithful fallback, the couch. This is the holding area for all of our clean laundry where parcels of clothing circle the airport waiting on landing instructions. To be honest, many of them are never allowed to land and end up in use before finding their way home.

The couch was towel free as well. I started getting ‘dad aggravated’. We literally own enough towels to supply the Olympic swim team for the entire games. I personally can use one towel for a week. I mean, you are just drying off your freshly washed body. Unless you are doing a piss poor job of cleaning your crevices, you should be fine. But I think like a dude and live with three women (four if you count PIMA).

I don’t know what these people (yes I am profiling) do with these towels. Are they eating them? Apparently, for the female of the species, reusing a towel is sacrilege. This is one of the main problems. Ladies, I know with the 50 some odd bottles of smell good y’all have lined up on the bathtub, there is NO WAY you come out anything but squeaky clean. Momma makes me separate crap for the recyclable bin. I think it’s time to institute such a policy for towels.

I finally located a towel in the dryer. This was my last resort. If victory was not to be had here, I would have had to dig one out of the dirty clothes. Of course, I have done this before but that’s only because I am a survivor.

I will be glad when the kids are old enough (my eldest has already started) to help with the laundry. It is downright staggering how much laundry my wife does a week. I am not allowed to help because, as we have discussed on many occasions, I am an idiot. I am allowed to put up my own clothes, when they are clean, under minimal supervision. I am considering finding myself a hiding spot for a couple of strategically placed towels.

Maybe next to the whiskey.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.missingtheground.com/2014/09/encyclopedia-brown-and-the-case-of-the-missing-towels/

Aug 28

Thursday Pickin’ Season VII: “TP and the Temple of Doom”

Quote of the Day:

Willie:  You know how to fly, don’t you?

Indiana Jones: Um, no. Do you?     –Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Quote of the Week:

I’m back.     –Pitalo

For those of you keeping score at home–and how could you what with the Unnecessarily Complicated but More or Less Fair Scoring System (the UCbMoLFSS) to contend with–this is the VII’th season of Thursday Pickin’ (TP). You know what that means? No matter how old you are now, you were quite young back when this thing started, and many of you have been here since that first sparsely telecast day back in aught-seven.

If there are any newcomers, or potential newcomers reading this, you may be asking yourself, “Why am I here?” or “What’s the meaning of life?” or perhaps “If you take cranberries and stew them like like applesauce will they taste more like prunes than rhubarb?” I can help you with all of that, surely, however that is not what we are doing here today at all. We are here, as anyone can tell you but I guess I’ll be the one, to play the Best Damn Pickin’ Game in the Whole Dang So-Called Mainstream Universe (the BDPGitWDS-CMU).

What does that mean exactly?

WHAT DOES IT NOT MEAN! you might more productively inquire!

Here’s the deal. Every week I make five predictions against the spread on college football games and then I pick my Game of the Week (the GOTW). After that, to get us all ready for the weekend, I drop a choice play list of the baddest-ass tunes this side of Shanghai on you.

In the comments, you pick your Game of the Week and if you choose you can pick anywhere from 1-5 additional bonus picks. I score them according to the UCbMoLFSS and publish the results each Thursday. Hint: if you want to win this game just pick a GOTW and a playlist and hope for the best. However, if you are the sort who, if not for the limitations put upon you in the so-called mainstream universe would live much more like Indiana Jones than you currently do, you should add the bonus bets.

Now, not everyone is really that good at picking the results of football games against the spread. Hmm. That’s not quite right. NO ONE is really that good at picking the results of football games against the spread. So if you are nervous about your lack of knowledge, stuff it in a sack. Just make a pick every week. You will undoubtedly finish ahead of Larry and BR.

Simple as that.

If you wanna play the advanced game, which is optional, you can designate a Song of the Week (SOTW) and a Dog of the Week (DOTW). The DOTW is not scored but you get bonus points if your underdog pick wins and is the biggest longshot of the week.

One last thing-congrats to Coach TeaJay for winning last year’s regular season crown. Also, I think Face won the playoff. So, him too.

One other last thing-Congrats to Mac and Nelson for coming in first and last on the pay pool. Kudos and Karma to them for dumping their winnings into this year’s Be Excellent to a Stranger Fund. If anyone wants to do the pool again at $20 a head, let me know in the comments. We need at least 10 if we are to do it again. For newbs, this is strictly optional and only started because several folks expressed interest a few seasons ago. Thursday Pickin’ is free–what-a-bargain!

Ok, here are my picks of the week and here’s your (trademarked) handy dandy link to the odds :

  • South Carolina     -9.5
  • Ole Miss  -10
  • Oklahoma St  +17.5
  • Clemson  +7.5
  • W. Virginia  +25.5

DOTW  Boise +11

POTW  Ohio State  -16′

My tunes this week in honor of Willie, from Temple of Doom:

  • What Would Willie Do – Bruce Robison
  • Willie Nelson – The Wagons
  • I Think She Only Likes Me For My Willie – Danny Griego
  • Shotgun Willie – Willie Nelson
  • Don’t Touch My Willie – Kevin Fowler

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.missingtheground.com/2014/08/thursday-pickin-season-vii-tp-and-the-temple-of-doom/

Aug 27

Football Fever: This is “Next Year” Edition

Quote of the Day:

Wait til next year.”     –mantra of thousands of Mississippi State fans for the last 70 years.

This has been the absolutely longest, most agonizing off season ever. But finally, tomorrow, college football is back! Thursday Pickin’ is back! Baby got Back! Ok, that one doesn’t EXACTLY fit, but I like to work in threes.

As many of you know TB enters every season with optimism. I always think Mississippi State is going to be better than last year, that they have a good chance to pull some upsets, that with a break here, a break there……well, you never know……

Only this year…….let me just say……you never know. I cannot recall a season with more justified optimism in my four decades as a fan.

Most of that optimism is based on the potential for greatness in our starting Quarterback, Dak Prescott. Not only does he have the size to take hits, the arm to make tough throws and the feet to turn potential disaster into crowd bending touchdown madness, but he’s got the charisma and the back story to make him the face of MSU football for many years to come. They are already calling him The Dak Knight and if/when he takes down LSU in Death Valley, you’re going to be seeing our version of the Caped Crusader featured in the bright lights of Gotham. I can’t hold it back any longer. Prescott is going to lead State to a 10-2 regular season and the biggest bowl game in our history. You heard it here first.

But it’s not just Dak. The Bullies are three deep at tailback–good’uns. We’ve got at least two future first round draft picks on defense and a slew of future pros. Nineteen of our top twenty-two are back on that side. The receiving corps is the best we’ve seen in Starkville. Our punter is good, our stadium is legit and….um….have you ever had MSU cheese?

Disclaimer number 1.  We might drop a few games due to abysmal placekicking. I’m really worried about this.

Disclaimer number 2.  If we lose an offensive lineman or two, things get dicey.

Disclaimer number 3.  If Dak gets hurt, we drop back to form–possibly as low as 5-7 or 6-6.

All of these things, if history is any indication, are more than mere irrational fears, if not quite expectations.

However,

Counter Disclaimer number 1. I really think we have a chance to go 11-1 in my head, I just don’t have the guts to predict it.

Counter Disclaimer number 2. I don’t count us out of any game on the schedule, even against mighty Alabama.

Counter Disclaimer number 3. This is the fewest number of disclaimers I’ve ever been able to come up with regarding the jalopy that is Mississippi State football.

Yep, I’ve got preseason exuberance. Premature jocularity. Um…errrr….excitedness.  Stop it. Sometimes that third in a sequence is really hard to think of.

If MSU is home to the SEC’s Batman, somewhere there’s gotta be a Bane, and Bane is Ole Miss. Rebel fans are every bit as giddy as we Bullies, except when they laugh it sounds evil. The Rebs return Dr. Bo, a pretty good quarterback in his own right, purportedly healthier this year and with a decently villainous moniker. They’ve got studs on the D-Line, in the defensive backfield and several offensive playmakers. I look for Ole Miss to win nine games, possibly ten. As confident as I am in State this year, I have to admit I see us as no more than a slight favorite to keep the Egg for the fifth time in Dan Mullen’s six seasons as head coach. It is indoctrinated in Ole Miss mythology to such an extent I think many Reb fans actually believe it, that State is not their main rival. Save your patronizing, Johnnies. I lived in Oxford for three years. I visit regularly. I know how batshit crazy you are about losing to us. Your team will be ready for that game and you fans will be frothing at your treacherous mouths. The one thing Ole Miss has to worry about is the offensive line. It’s thin and untested. Like State, a key injury there, or to Bo, or to Robert Nkemdiche could easily torpedo the Land Sharks out of the water. Wait, what? Whatever.

Southern is bound to get better. They can’t get any worse. My prediction for the Buzzards is SMTTM. Southern Miss to the Middle. Of CUSA, or whatever they are calling it these days. Monken has a good rep, Southern has a proud history and….um….for some undisclosed third reason you will get five wins this year.

Alabama and LSU lose three games this season. Auburn does too.

Wait, did I just raise the stakes on my prediction?

Why yes, I think I did.

Why not?

Why the hell not?

After all, this is Next Year.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.missingtheground.com/2014/08/football-fever-this-is-next-year-edition/

Aug 21

Rebecca and Billy

Quote of the Day:

Everything has positive and negative consequences.”     –Farrah Fawcett

There was a funeral to attend and, hey, Rebecca didn’t wish harm on anyone, but on the other hand it was going to be nice getting out of the house without having to put up with any of her Husband’s shit. That’s just how she told it to me so address your objections elsewhere.

Now, I promised myself that I would not describe her as being dressed to kill. So I won’t. Let’s just say she was going to see a lot of old friends, maybe even a few boys she knew from high school and she wanted to impress. I wasn’t there, mind you, but as she told it to me: “high heeled black boots, boobs out, hair down.” She was pleased with herself and rightly so.

Driving across the county–Rebecca lived out in the sticks nowadays–she decided on a whim to call Billy. She’d known Billy since tenth grade and they were Facebook friends. He seemed like “one of my own”, that is, not quite right. In a good way, you know? Billy said, “Come by the house. I’ll ride with you.” So she did.

They went to the funeral and then went back to Billy’s place and started talking. They talked about Billy’s dog. Like I had been when I heard about it, Rebecca was impressed and amused that the dog had come with the house. That is, when Billy bought the place, the prior owners packed up everything down to the cabinet knobs and the damned light bulbs, but they left the dog. The dog saw nothing untoward about all this turnover. After all, to his mind this was his place. He wasn’t going anywhere. But he was more than willing to take in Billy. It had been many years since Rebecca had laughed so.

One thing led to another and Rebecca eventually confided to Billy that in high school she’d had a major crush on one of Billy’s friends, Jay. Billy suggested they call him up and see how he was, so they did. He was good. Glad to hear from Rebecca and Billy. It had been awhile. The best part was, Jay’s life was possibly even further out beyond the left field fence than Rebecca’s.

Rebecca didn’t have to be home until later because her asshole husband didn’t know much about how funerals and visitations worked. So Billy suggested they go get some beer. Rebecca didn’t drink beer but didn’t mind if Billy had a few and they drove down the road to some shady Vietnamese place that still had a working pay phone out front and faded graffiti on its cinder block walls. On the ride, Billy learned that Rebecca had never bought beer before. He also learned that Rebecca was in an abusive marriage.

They parked and Billy handed Rebecca a hundred dollar bill and sent her in to the place with orders to buy a twelve pack of Natural Light. Rebecca felt nervous and excited, she was leery of the shop, but she knew she looked good in her deep cut dress, with those high heeled boots, and her hair down because Billy reminded her as she approached the door. “Damn, girl, you lookin’ GOOD in that dress.” There were two other men in the store besides the shopkeeper and they all stared at her from get to go. She rather enjoyed it. They seemed harmless and weren’t obvious about it or anything. As she paid for the beer, she wondered if she’d get carded. No such luck. She lugged the twelve pack back out to Billy’s car, walking faster than she really needed to for some reason.

The next day Rebecca called and told me this story. Had me in stitches. But mainly, she needed a recommendation for a divorce lawyer.

True story.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.missingtheground.com/2014/08/rebecca-and-billy/

Aug 18

A Thug’s Life

Quote of the Day:

You gotta love livin’ baby, ’cause dyin’ is a pain in the ass.”     –Frank Sinatra

“I thought you was DEAD!”

“Hell, I’m too mean to die. I’m at least gone-out-live you. We done buried errybody else.”

Thus began a short conversation I was privileged to witness between a couple of old friends last weekend. Old, as in north of 80.

The one I didn’t know looked and sounded harmless enough. I happened to notice him as he gingerly exited his car, then carelessly shoved the door closed with his hip. As he walked in the restaurant my friend caught sight of him and called him over–that’s when they had the exchange I described. The dude couldn’t speak right–he kind of wheezed his words and I paid extra close attention in case I needed to translate for my hard of hearing companion. But somehow, it wasn’t necessary.

They exchanged pleasantries–talked about how hard it’s been to get a-hold of one another–Wheezer advised that he’d gotten rid of his landline so you can’t find him in the book no more. After a few minutes the gentlemen exchanged promises and email addresses so they could meet for coffee soon, then Wheezer went off to his own table. My friend grinned broadly and slapped me on the back–seeing the old geezer, Wheezer, had clearly made his day.

“You see that old man right there?”, he asked.

“Yep.”

“I went golfing with him one time and he told me he’d just bought the Mayor of Memphis a new TV.”

“The current Mayor?”, I asked.

That earned me a “Don’t-be-ridiculous” look, but my friend simply replied, “No this was years ago. We went golfing two weeks later and he told me he’d just bought the Mayor a car.” My friend looked at me to see if I was as dense as I looked. I was. “He owned him then, you see.”

“Oh.” I thought I could see but I wasn’t sure. “You mean he was some sort of gangster?”

“Well, I don’t think he wanted to own the Mayor for nothing.”

Makes sense.

“What’s his story?” I asked, curious now about old Wheezer.

“Well. He’s 87 years old. He was born in a brothel on the waterfront in St. Louis. Doesn’t have any family–brothers, sisters, Moma, Daddy–nothing. Served in the Pacific in World War II. He and his buddies started stealing beer and burying it on some island. After the war they went and got the beer, brought it back here and sold it and made a killing.”

“Damn. It would take a lot of buried beer treasure to make that kind of operation worthwhile.” I flashed back to the Seinfeld episode where Kramer and Newman try to make the Michigan recycling run work out financially. “They must’ve had a plane or something.”

“More like a ship,” answered my friend.

He let that sink in for a few moments.

“Anyway, he set up in Memphis after the war. He took me to Miami one time on a golf trip. We went to a club he said a friend of his ran. In the back room there was one of those one-way windows. I saw what must have been 10,000 polos on the other side. He said they were his. I asked him what he was gonna do with all those shirts. “Sell’em,” he told me. “Well, where’d you get ‘em I asked. “Stole’em,” he said. I didn’t ask anything else.”

“Damn.”

“He had five safes full of cash buried under the floor of his living room. One night his wife caught him out somewhere with his girlfriend. She got home first and emptied three of them. He told me he felt lucky to have kept the two.”

Then our sandwiches arrived and we set about the business of eating. I caught my friend laughing to himself every few bites or so, but he never did offer up any more stories.

As we settled up with the server my friend remarked that “People think they know what goes on in the world. But they really don’t have a clue.”

“No,” I agreed, “People don’t have a clue. God knows I don’t.”

Permanent link to this article: http://www.missingtheground.com/2014/08/a-thugs-life/

Aug 16

When You Need it the Most, Vegas.

There was this sound, screeching maybe, but not so much of a squeal, only because a squeal is nearly impossible to ignore, but the nagging effect of a squeal was definitely present. It might be more like the sound of ceiling fans revolving relentlessly, pushing the same air around the room changing nothing, but the perception of feeling cooler. There was a haunting; the buzzing sound of life taking place around me, a constant background to the mundane life my path had taken me.

*sound of a record screeching to a halt*

What it all boils down to is that I needed a shake up, so when my friend Audra invited me to go to Vegas with her and a group of friends…I was (to state the absolute very least) in!

As the weeks leading up to the trip passed by, friends and family members were intrigued at what I might be doing in Vegas. I joked that I would be drunk the entire time, a part of me wanted that to be true, but for the most part I never made any real plans to accomplish anything, except to squeeze in a hike at Red Rock Canyon (ß this did not happen). Before I knew it, it was the morning of the trip and I couldn’t be happier to spend 10 hours in the car with Audra and (as luck would have it) my sister, Jessica. Go ahead and let that sink in, 10 hours!! I was happy to do it; I mean, clearly, Vegas needed to happen.

Now, believe me when I say this, I don’t drink often (it’s pretty rare) but when I do, I’m all in, frat party style in. With that said, my sister and I decided to get a jug of Crown (“jug” that’s my terminology for it; if it’s got a handle it’s a jug) to do some room drinking, while Audra decided to stick to patron and ummm..cookies. Once we got there we took a little nap, as the last hour of the car ride did us in. We got up had a drink (Audra ate her uh..cookie) and once we were all ready to roll Audra had determined that she couldn’t move…she was positively wrecked from her, ya know…cookie, where she spent the remainder of her night in bed tasting her words and playing giggle talk with her friend Karen. So Jess and I hit the strip together. I remember making it to several different hotels/casinos stopping in at random lounges and doing shots of Jack with different people, even setting up a prompt 11 a.m. shot date with a lovely couple from Boston. (Jess, lovingly telling our new friends: “You keep saying “bah” whenever they said “bar”). We came back to the room (I’d love to know how we managed that) making a huge scene, Jess threw her shoes at our roommates and then we slept.

Wake up. Rinse. Repeat. 2nd night started with room drinking, cookies, and a plan to make it to Fremont Street. On our way out we decided to stop in for a shot at Dick’s Last Resort. Audra had been dying for us to go to the place where she lamented the fabulousness of eating out while the staff relentlessly acts like dicks to you and makes you embarrassing hats. Sober me felt like she didn’t love the idea, room drinking Harmony was all “hells to the yeah” about it. As we approached the bar at Dick’s we were told, “have a seat, whores” and “let’s see some ID bitches.” I don’t know, challenge accepted, I guess. Because at some point the bartender told me “whoa, you don’t work here settle down.” No worries, I didn’t totally offend him. We chatted a bit, he made me a hat and we were on our way.

On our way out some of the knights from the tournament stopped us asking if we wanted necklaces (ie cheap plastic Mardi-gras style beads), the girls seeing right through their scam said “no,” but I was pretty wasted and felt like “pfffftt, shit yeah I want a necklace.” So, they dragged us over to do some pictures. Jess became fixated on wanting a necklace of every color; so bordering on the edge of relentless she kept reminding the guy that she wanted a purple one, which caused him to question:

Guy: “Do you say anything else?”
Jess: “I am Groot.”
(I will NEVER stop laughing at this, never!)

Walking through those hotel doors to the Vegas Strip immediately put me into a black zone, from there on out, I have flashes of memories. Like everything being super hilarious, trying to start some form of card / drinking game with strangers using the ever available prostitute cards on the strip, and being on a bus at some point feeling sick. I’m told that I laughed for 2 hours straight, talked to a wall for 10 minutes and that I went on a spree of profanity yelling as I bumped into people in crowded areas. At some point we made it back to the room and sleep was to be had.

Wake up. Rinse. Repeat. 3rd night started off with some room drinking and plans to make it to Fremont Street (take 2). Because we had so much fun at Dick’s the night before we were definitely stopping there first for some shots on the way out. Of all the people that worked in our hotel that stopped us and talked to us at least 15 times a day, yet showed no signs of the slightest hint of our being familiar to them whatsoever, I was absolutely floored that the bartenders remembered us when we walked in. And while I pressed my memory for anything that could make us memorable, or more precisely: ashamed, I bordered along the line of momentary spazzery. But you know what? Vegas. Pffft. I ordered a double shot of Jack and let the night proceed without further thought. Jess switched her game up to Jager, while Audra kept cool with her Patron.

Dick’s on Saturday night was totally different than Friday. Lots of music and the DJ required that the entire bar interact. We all had to sing along, clap our hands and try our best to get it right. If you fouled up, he called you out on it and threatened to punish the entire bar with horrible music if you didn’t get your shit together. Audra fell victim to this while failing to clap along correctly to Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” Don’t worry though, she pushed through her drunken haze and managed to spare us all from the sounds of the Backstreet Boys. Jess became a social butterfly, fluttering all around the bar making new friends, reading everyone’s hats and hugging every single person she spoke to…it was beautiful. She introduced Audra and I to a couple that was getting married the very next day to which we both immediately and simultaneously responded with “don’t do it!” Luckily, we all had a good laugh at that. **side eyes* We did some shots with the husband and wife to be and wished them our best. Shortly there after, Jess got cut-off, thus ending our time at Dick’s (thanks for all the laughs fellas!). And through those magic doors to the strip that makes everything a hazy dream we went.

We never did grace Fremont Street with our presence. 3rd night ended with Jess rolling out of the elevator, she did Vegas right that night. I don’t know even know how we got her to the room. I don’t know how they got me to the room the night before, or how Jess and I made it back to the room the night before that. 4th night started off with some room drinking…but we played it cool that night, as we had a 10-hour car ride home the next morning. 8 of which was spent in a deep fog where we randomly grunted at one another just to show that we were still breathing. Coming home felt just as good as leaving did. Every hour that passed on the way home my heart ached to get to the kids. I couldn’t wait to get home, feel their hugs and hear their cheers of “mom!” as I walked in the door.

Ryder (once I got his attention): “That was the best 5 days of my life!”

Everybody needed a little Vegas, I suppose.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.missingtheground.com/2014/08/when-you-need-it-the-most-vegas/

Aug 12

Pillow Talk

Quote of the Day:

When I woke this morning my girlfriend asked me “Did you sleep good?” I said “No, I made a few mistakes.”     –Stephen Wright

She’s kind of short and to be honest, just a little bit plump. Both soft and hard, depending on how you look at her but whether you like that sort of shape or not, by golly she’s kept it the same. Getting older, there’s no denying. But age doesn’t matter to me. I still love sleeping with her.

Why my wife can’t accept that was beyond my understanding. Her griping started a couple of years ago and only got worse this summer. “When are you going to get rid of “your girlfriend”? My gosh, it weighs a ton! There must be a billion dust mites living in it!”

I don’t know why she has to use the “it” word.

My Mom bought that pillow for me to take off to college in 1988. Not counting travel days, I’ve lain my head upon it every night since then. It is the perfect pillow.

My pillow and I have grown up, and old, together. At the close of each of the best days of my life, it was there, encircling and embracing my sleepless-excited mental replays of college graduation, landing my first job, getting engaged, bringing home my baby from the hospital.

It’s been my reassurance in the hard times too, like the day I rashly changed majors at State, when I quit my best job and decided to move away from home, through numerous heartbreaks of various cause, intensity and duration.

No matter what has happened in life over the last 26 years, the comforting certainty of my pillow has always been there, doing it’s part to give me perspective, to help me make it through the night, to prepare me for a better day tomorrow.

And then Rock Star began insisting that I dump her. Even my Mother, who brought us together in the first place, agreed.

So I went reluctantly to Bed Bath and Beyond last week armed with a 20% coupon, determined to upgrade to a hot young version of my old companion. I’m a side sleeper with a shoulder problem that requires me to turn over at least four or five times each night. Not just any pillow can handle that kind of action, so I had to choose carefully.

Eventually I settled on the Brookstone X-2000 microbiologically designed, hypoallergenically bred, with a thousand comfort spikes and advanced skull snuggling technology. The most expensive, hottest looking model in town.

On our first night together I lay down in hopeful anticipation of getting to know my new companion. She wore me out. Whew! What a lady! But man, I’m too old for that sort of action. After midnight I just wanted to rest for Pete’s sake.

The next day my neck felt a little sore. After the excitement of that first night, I couldn’t help but to compare her to her predecessor. She propped my head up at a little steeper angle. When I shifted in the night, the pillow refused to move in tandem. Sure, she looked firm and pretty, but something was off–there was no sensation of welcoming, no shared memory, dare I say no soul.

I decided around 3 a.m. to go back to the old girl but when morning came, she was nowhere to be found. Tossed already, as if RSR knew I could not get over the loss on my own.

So I’ve been trying to make things work.

I’m breaking in the new girl or maybe it’s the other way around.

She’s not keeping me up all night, like at first.

But we’re years away from making magic together.

I hope RSR is happy now.

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.missingtheground.com/2014/08/pillow-talk/

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