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How I Make the Team Win

When people ask me if I’m superstitious, I answer assuredly, “Nope!”

I played NCAA Division I soccer, and a lot of competitive soccer to get there. (And no, I’m not going to get tired of bringing that up.) Throughout my career, if I didn’t have the right shirt, the right bra, stepped on the sideline or not, whatever, I was ok; I never thought about what order I put my gear on, which shoes I tied first.

And yet, as a fan? I get so idiotic following my temporary, impulsive, newly imagined superstitions. They’re not even legit, consistent game-to-game superstitions; they’re just what occurs to me during the course of a single game. I compulsively follow whatever idea suddenly pops into my had as good luck—and those impulses must be having an effect, otherwise I would’ve learned from logic and stopped trying right?

I think I’m going to call it Helpless Fan Syndrome: You can’t be on the field, so you invent ways to be proactive.

Is anyone else so…Mormon with their superstitions? Just top-of-the-head, “It came to mind, therefore it must be God’s law”? I make fun of it, and then my brain goes all, “For the Bolts to win, you have to wear the same underwear that you wore while eating that really great sandwich you had last Wednesday, and take out your left earring, ’cause it’s an away game,” and I’m like, “OH, SHIT, DUH.” […* dutifully changes underwear, removes earring.]

While it’s obvious that my techniques are still being developed (as of the Bolts/Rays results in the last 24 hours, and the Bucs…well, pretty much all the time), here are some things I did right to cause the Rays to win Wednesday: (And it’s not at all a coincidence, then, that I did none of these things today–hence the blowout.)

  1. Drank out of the same glass I used during Monday’s win. (Unwashed. Duh.)
  2. Refused to let that glass go empty.
  3. Did not wear any of my Rays gear. (One of my longer-standing superstitions deems that wearing team gear—or even using team-branded items like cozies and whatnot—is bad luck.)
  4. Nor did I wear anything blue or yellow or green.
  5. Answered only “yes yes” and “woo” to any IMs I got in support of the Rays during the final two innings.
  6. Kept my phone plugged in throughout the ninth inning, even though it was fully charged midway through.
  7. Knocked twice on my head, wooden TV tray and wooden coffee table (in a random order) with my right hand, then on my head and coffee table (random order) with my left hand every time an announcer said something jinxy.
  8. Made this list eight items long, ‘cause eight is a good number.

When in doubt and your team is down, you can always go to the time-tested and proven “rally shot.” In the best circumstances, this involves the cheapest tequila available at the bar (see: El Toro, Pepe Lopez)*. Among many success stories, this shot’s greatest achievement? The USWNT comeback win over Brazil, during which CCB, the Deelios and I, in an unparalleled moment of patriotism, took one (apiece) for the team. And then this happened:

 

 

In a pinch, you can use whatever somehow detestable shot you have on-hand that you can suffer through without ruining your experience for the rest of the game.

But lastly, a few words of warning for wielding the power of the rally shot:

  1. Never take a rally shot when your team is up or tied. (That means it’s rallying for the other team.)
  2. Be very, very careful taking a second rally shot—you never know if the first one is still working, and you may counteract it and/or die.
  3. And speaking of: Never take a rally shot after midnight. I dunno if it’s bad luck, but I’m pretty sure it’s just straight-up a bad idea.

 

*Holy god with those websites. Now I see where they get their power…

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Arguing with Assholes in My Head

Slightly more obscure source material for this “song”–here’s the original:

 

Aaaaaand my Monday-inspired madness:

 

Rage is here, rage is here.

Life is violence and life is beer.

I think the stuff that’s the hardest to cage

Is the rage—I do; don’t you? Bite me.

 

But there’s one thing that fuels my hostility,

That ruins my shaky civility…

 

All the world needs a punch—

Not just one, but a bunch—

When I’m arguing with assholes in my head.

 

Random moments you’ll see

Sudden outbursts from me

When I’m arguing with assholes in my head.

 

It starts with a moment to ponder my circumstance

And ends with Banana transformed to Ms. Grumpy Pants.

 

Oh you’ll soon find me in

Some secure loony bin

When I’m arguing with assholes in my head.

 

I’ve gained reputation

For threat’ning castration

Of each aberration

Whom I’ve met.

My imagination

Drifts toward mutilation

For every occasion

I dream I might get.

But it’s not based in any reality;

Just a spiritual abnormality.

 

So if one day you see

Something maddening me

I’m just arguing with assholes in my head.

 

And maybe I’ll dream

Of a nice peaceful stream—

Or I’ll argue with assholes in my head.

 

I’ll fight with them all amid building insanity.

It’s not just a few; it’s the whole of humanity.

 

My mind will be spinning

As phantoms are winning

The fights I’m creating—

It’s quite irritating—

When I’m arguing with assholes in my head.

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Me and the Mexican Drug War

“The tacit but unwavering tolerance that Mexican authorities have shown for the drug trade over the years has muddled the boundaries between outlaws and officials. When Miguel Angel Martínez was working for Chapo, he says, “everyone” in the organization had military and police identification. Daylight killings are sometimes carried out by men dressed in police uniforms, and it is not always clear, after the fact, whether the perpetrators were thugs masquerading as policemen or actual policemen providing paid assistance to the thugs. On those occasions when the government scores a big arrest, meanwhile, police and military officials pose for photos at the valedictory news conference brandishing assault weapons, their faces shrouded in ski masks, to shield their identities. In the trippy semiotics of the drug war, the cops dress like bandits, and the bandits dress like cops.”—New York Times, “How a Mexican Drug Cartel Makes its Billions”

My obsession with sociological wackiness continues: First (and still, really), it was Scientology with Inside Scientology. Then I was astounded at the revelations about Mormonism in Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven. (Honestly, up until that point, I’d thought Mormonism akin to, say, Presbyterianism.) Now, having read all the feature-length articles I could find online, I find myself plowing through the life of a Mexican cartel hitman in El Sicario.

It must’ve been in the last year or so when the topic of Mexican drug cartels caught my attention. Rolling Stone did an article about a (relatively) small-time but incredibly violent American-born cartel boss called “El Barbie” (for his Ken-like looks, heh). Then there was a story in Time about narcorridos, the folk/pop songs dedicated to praising various drug lords—and often commissioned by the drug lords themselves. (And in some cases, costing the musicians their lives for being associated with one group or another.) Our plowing through five seasons of Breaking Bad probably helped fan the flames. And woven all throughout, the news stories of bodies, mutilated and displayed in horrifically creative ways. Complete and utter chaos. A nightmare, but on the wrong side of consciousness.

I think about that scene in Apocalypse Now where, in the middle of the night, they come across an isolated Army outpost on the river. There’s a protracted firefight going on, a sort of steady plod of explosions and bursts of gunfire, but in between, you can hear a Viet Minh guy somewhere in the darkness of the surrounding forest, shouting taunts at the Americans over a loudspeaker. In a foxhole, Martin Sheen comes across this soldier who’s manic with firing grenades back at the voice. Sheen finally manages to ask, “Excuse me, I’m looking for your commanding officer?” And the guy stops his whole whirlwind and looks dead at Sheen: “Ain’t it you?!”

A fascinating, horrifying madness. I dunno, I guess this is how I get my thrills instead of roller coasters.

It’s timely too, I guess: Felipe Calderon, whose presidential term ends this winter, is largely faulted for the incredible uptick in violence—more than 50,000 cartel-related deaths in six years. His military-led crackdown on the cartel leaders, which began shortly after he came to power in 2006, is said to have created violent power-struggles where before, at least, the various factions had come to a sort of grudging balance.

Now, the cartels-in-flux use conspicuously displayed mutilated corpses to show their power and fearlessness, to try to scare the other guys away. And thousands more people are killed and buried, or dissolved in acid. It’s easier to kill someone than to let them go, and anyone can be killed and proclaimed an enemy later. And everyone is fair game.

Anyway, it’s Friday afternoon, and my brain is swirling with information about Sinaloa and La Familia, Zetas and Mata Zetas, cops on the kidnapping task force who are the ones doing the kidnapping, and 12-year-olds who pose for pictures with M-16s and corpses; shootings and beheadings and some seriously, seriously fucked up approaches to torture. I’m trying to reconstruct a mindset that would allow people to live amid all of that stuff, never mind participate in it.

Um, so…yeah. That’s where I’m at. Uh…have a happy weekend! Watch out for psychopaths!

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Weird Wordstuffs

Been an odd week, starting with the full moon/ring ‘round the sun combo on Monday. It seems to be affecting us in weird ways, here in the World of Words. Grown professionals keep trying to use phrases like “golden shower” and “canoodling” in totally incorrect contexts.

And yet today I still know the perfect syntax for ordering my iced triple-grande nonfat vanilla latte.

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Yesterday McD described a group of dolphins (perhaps not incorrectly) as “cheeky.”

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An ESPN writer wrote that Lebron James’ passes are “as soft and buttery as croissants.” And thus was born the weirdest French pastry craving trigger in the history of behavioral science.

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During an interview with me on Tuesday, a man who was trying to identify himself as a “Francophile” accidentally called himself a “pedophile” instead. Try coming up with a follow-up question for that one.

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In another phone conversation with an older woman regarding a link in an email, she asked me, “And how will the two computers know each other?” Never before has my brain short-circuited me into paralysis. They should use that question as a counterterrorism technique. Cops should yell it at fleeing criminals instead of “Stop!” “This is the police: AND HOW WILL THE TWO COMPUTERS KNOW EACH OTHER.” And the criminals just fall down.

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ME: How did you measure the rum for this mai tai?

CCB: I just guessed.

ME: Y’know, we have a jigger.

CCB: Those always make me feel so racist.

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Weird Week

I mentioned on Thursday that it had been a crazy week, and McD and Beaucha were both like, “Geez, yeah it has.” Funny, I thought: I know it’s been crazy for me individually, but apparently that was part of a larger, universal craziness. Like a crazy front moved in from the north and has been affecting everyone’s weather. Was it crazy for you, too?

I mean, it’s not like we’ve been running around dodging bullets and, like, corralling monkeys. It’s just that stuff has been a little out-of-the-ordinary, and even the ordinary stuff has been a little…off. Anyway, this was my six-day weather pattern:

Sunday: UFC 145 aftermath = lounging around the house all day. First hockey win in four months (in the final game of the season). Talked about religion and karaoke over a post-game Applebee’s steak. The Progeny cried, loudly and a lot. She knew it was going to be an off week.

(Right now, Lefty’s all, “Please. In that case, every week’s an off week.”)

Monday: First thing, the faucet hisses and goes silent. No water? Really? This is where we thank our lucky stars that I showered the night before. At work, a 350-word profile about biologic injections that target the specific inflammatory pathways affected by psoriasis. Uh…huh. Then boxing, a surprising second wind in time for a couple laps around the building, 30-rep sets of squats.

Tuesday: Headed east into the sun at 7:45, eerily quiet early morning LWR—which, frankly, looks like post-apocalyptic Stepford. The start of a five-hour pancake tour across Sarasota. FIVE HOURS, people. Like an alternate universe, stuck on a loop. Pancake after pancake after goddamn motherfucking pancake.

Station 400‘s blueberry and almond pancake with vanilla butter, lemon rind and berry syrup.

That evening, a marathon home inspection. No big reveals—salvageable roof, and we already knew the house is filled with little things that need to be replaced. No tip-of-the-iceberg problems like, “You think this light switch is bad, but actually the wall is about the fall over.” Or “That’s not actually water damage; you have hedgehogs.” By 8:30, still no dinner, brain filled with HVAC stats and sheet rock estimates. And beer. And pancakes.

Wednesday: Random interview with a speech pathologist regarding therapies for disphagia. Bite your tongue between your front teeth and swallow. Wayward, low-level anxiety. Five-man hockey clinic.

Oh, and in case you missed it, Boston lost.

Thursday: Still a wee bit of anxiety—free-floating, a phantom sense of doom, now mixed with residual glove stink. (Smells like…Monday?) Monotonous copy editing—in a cute outfit, I will say. (Also weird.)

Then some lady up and crosses two lanes of oncoming traffic to ram her E350 into Unconditional Surrender. Tell me that’s not the weirdest thing you’ve seen all week.

Thursday evening, kielbasa and 18 holes of Wii golf before meeting the Deelios at Evie’s for game 7. Ottowa lost. (This…is not weird.) Devils’ second-OT series-winner.

Overtime game sevens and Thursday nights with friends. Something magical. Something to remember.

And here we are on Friday:  The revelation that a former associate was arrested (in another state) for pulling a gun in a federal building.

OK, universe, I’m just going to go with your flow this week. (Actually, ladies, come to think of it, maybe the universe and I are synched up.)

Tonight, we head east to ride horses—CCB’s first ever equine adventure. Then Sammys and take-out barbecue around somebody else’s pool in the country, talking philosophy and TV with the ‘rents, looking up at the stars. Maybe we’ll ask the universe what’s up.

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