Saturday, December 3, 2016

Opening Lines - Dispatches From a First Day as a Clinic Escort

"You'd better man up, buddy."

I stop. My eyes flick to my right, hidden behind the type of sunglasses usually found on guys driving in their mid-life crisis mobiles. They're comfortable, they wrap around, and I don't think anyone is mistaking my F150 for a Porsche Cayenne, so I'm fine with wearing them. The guy who addressed me might not be slovenly but he's well acquainted with the look, probably lives in an apartment right next door to it. He's holding some sort of protest sign - pictures, words, nothing I've paid any attention to. It didn't take long for me to start filtering things out.

There are a lot of ways I want to react to this advice offered to me during my first hour as an escort at a women's health clinic. It's not Planned Parenthood, but judging by the number of cars that pull up with out-of-state plates they're either efficient, reasonably priced, or conveniently located. In any case, the volume of patients also attracts a bevy of protesters, like my new friend here.

I could ask him what he meant by his comment, although I'm pretty sure I already know. I'm supposed to be home being waited on hand and foot by a female, not here doing Satan's work. Maybe I should yell back at him, use my size to let him be intimidated for once. Perhaps flicking his greasy ballcap off his head would serve as a warning that I'm not to be trifled with.

I do none of these things. All are verboten. As an escort the things I can't do are pretty clear-cut. Don't engage in discussion with the protesters. Don't make eye-contact. Don't initiate physical contact. And so I settle for tilting my head a bit as if to say, "Sorry, didn't catch that."

There's a moment or two of silence before I move on.

* * *

"Excuse me, you're in the buffer zone. You know you can't be here."

Our team leader today is Lexi. That's not her real name, but it'll do for now. If you tossed a green cap on her and gave her a sword she'd be able to pass as Link from Zelda for Halloween. Lexi works in a law office that specializes in immigration rights. Before that she was in Cairo working for human rights. She has about zero fucks to give about the protesters and they don't scare her a bit. It would be difficult not to be impressed by her, so why would I even try?

"I don't hear you. You don't exist to me." It's my friend from before, pushing boundaries. The buffer forms a semicircle of 8 feet by the front door of the clinic. The town thought it was a good idea after the protesters started using a huge wooden cross to physically block the door a while back. Parker, the selectively deaf protester, is pushing his luck because the new restaurant next door put in pavers and wouldn't allow the line to be repainted. He knows where the zone is and that he's in it, but he's trying to jam Lexi's buttons. 

I stand by, observing. Given rein I might make passive-aggressive remarks about how he should tie his shoelaces before he gets out of the buffer zone, but for once I'm smart enough to keep my mouth shut. Lexi politely asks him to move again and when he waves a hand at her, she steps back and takes his picture.

"Yeah, I want you to take my picture. Go ahead."

"Parker, I'm going to have to call the police if you don't respect the buffer."

"Yeah, I want you to call the police! Go ahead!"

Still operating with unflappable calm, Lexi reaches to the mic trigger on her earpiece. It provides her with a direct link to the security guard inside, a guy in a Blackwater polo sporting a large handgun. She tells him to call the cops - or does she? I can't be sure she's hit the trigger but it proves moot as Parker moves away, muttering under his breath. Later he and another large guy will walk on either side of Lexi, trying to intimidate her.

It doesn't work. Zero fucks to give.

* * *

I pause and take off my glasses. The woman sitting in the car is wide-eyed and confused, and I'm pretty sure she didn't get a word of what I'd said. She looks over my shoulder, across the street at the front of the clinic. One of the protesters is orating through a personal amplifier.

"I'm sorry. I'm with the clinic." I tap the words on my neon-green vest to hammer that point home. Would you like us to walk you through them to the door?" 

She gives me a blank look again and I'm afraid that I've somehow screwed up my first attempt at greeting arriving patients. Then her brow smooths out and she gives me an uncertain smile.  "Dios mio, yes." She nods to her companion - nobody is supposed to come alone - and as they exit the car my co-escorts and I fall into flanking position. 

The clinic is located on a one-way main street in Englewood, and there's no parking lot available. Given the modest exterior the place can be a bit difficult to spot, and I find myself leaning on the expertise of my co-escorts in spotting the likely patients. As the day goes on it gets a bit easier, but that initial look of mistrust is almost always present despite our vests. Given what these women are facing, it's hardly surprising.

"Please don't murder your baby." "You're going to burn in hell, sinner." "God will judge you." All these and more pelt them as we usher them through, and being able to offer only physical protection feels hideously inadequate. Most duck through the door quickly, eager to put a more solid barrier between themselves and those shouting at them.

Some pause and offer thanks. Each time it happens I get choked up. Luckily sunglasses are useful for more than just keeping light out.

* * *


Luis is yelling at me, as best as I can tell.

Short and stout, clad in a sweatshirt emblazoned with anti-abortion slogans, Luis has decided to focus his amplified attack at me. I'm about 20 feet away and despite his volume I can't understand much of what he's saying. My wife, who has been doing this for 2.5 years and is a team leader as well, had warned about the likelihood of me being targeted for being male. Indeed that seems to be the gist of Luis' assault, but I really can't make out any details. The overmodulation and feedback of his mini-amp have more or less rendered him unintelligible, and his increased spluttering isn't helping at all. Still, there's something familiar about it. Just can't figure it out  -

Wait. I have it. He sounds like Miss Othmar. The teacher from the Peanuts cartoons. MWAH MWAH MWAH.

I lose it and start cracking up, which turns out to get right under Luis' skin. He increases in volume and speed but not clarity. Shaking my head, I turn away. Sometimes we have weapons we're unaware of, it seems.

* * *

"I call them the Mushrooms."

I'm with Lexi at the front door, and my quizzical expression prompts a head jerk from her toward the far side of the street. Moments ago it had been empty sidewalk in front of the library, but now there's a half-dozen elderly Koreans nodding their bowed heads in unison.

"Where'd they come from?"

"Exactly!" Lexi flashes a smile. "They just pop up like mushrooms, quiet and unobtrusive. Stand there praying like that for about an hour or so, then they vanish again."

I watch them for a few moments. "That's all they do?"

"They never say anything or bother any of the patients," she says with a nod before pointing a little further down the street. "There's a group of white Catholics who sometimes gather there and do the same thing, but they never mingle. It's weird."

Parker chooses that moment to start braying again on his speaker, and I sigh. "I don't agree with their protest, but I respect the way they handle it. If God is infallible then they're trusting in their God to handle the situation Himself. Better than this lot of cherry-picking hypocrites." It's not likely I was overheard, but my comment would have fallen on deaf ears anyway.

Later I look for them but they're nowhere to be seen. 


* * *

"Why don't you let these people do what they need to do?"

The speaker is sitting in a Mustang convertible with the top down, a gutsy move considering the chill wind and sub-40 degree temperature. His healthy mane of silver hair fans out as he jabs a finger at Parker and The Preacher. 

"You're not doing God's will. You're just yelling at people making a tough decision. Does that make you feel important?"

The protesters don't like this at all, having to deal with someone who is permitted to speak to them. Luis rushes over and the three of them began to mount an attack of their own, but they're thwarted as their foe cranks his radio, drowning them out. It's the opening riff from 'Crazy Train' and for a moment I consider believing in a higher power.  

The protesters are nonplussed, uncertain what to do. He flips them off and peels out. They yell as they choke on his exhaust, then Parker turns his amp back toward the clinic, hoping his voice can be heard. I'm told that inside it sounds like more of Miss Othmar unless the door is open.

Mr. 'Stang reappears a few minutes later and the scene replays. He points at us and shoots us a thumbs-up before roaring off. Parker glares at me as I struggle to keep a smile off my face.

* * *

"My daughter is sixteen and she just took her SATs. If you go in that door you're never going to know the joy of seeing your child take her SATs in sixteen years!"

The Preacher is much clearer and more composed over his speaker than Parker and Luis, but his selling points are pretty scattershot. He holds a sign that says INNOCENT BLOOD SPILLED HERE when he's not speaking, but given the devotion of the others he's kind of a piker. After 90 minutes he's gone, one less amped zealot to deal with. At one point there were four, taking shifts like acts in the most unappealing play ever. When Parker finally shambles off with the final speaker the silence is stunning.

* * *

"Only a mother with serious mental problems would ever come here, but Jesus loves you and only though him can you be saved."

The Runner. Ye gods, The Runner.

My wife warned me about her, Lexi warned me about her, all the other escorts warned me about her. There was early elation when she appeared to be a no-show, but then one of the escorts growled and said, "Shit. There she is."

I look up to see a tiny white woman, about my age or perhaps a little older, climbing out of a late-model Mercedes. She's dressed sensibly and sporting a floppy sunhat, rolled down Uggs. A soccer mom late for her Bikram class, maybe.

She proves to be the most repulsive person I encounter all day. She's probably got a spot in the all-time top ten as well.

They call her The Runner because she has no qualms about rushing over to arriving cars and accosting patients as they park. Her calm, quiet voice can't mask her judgmental, shaming words. 

"There's something seriously wrong with you, Mom, but you can find salvation through Jesus." She says this the first time she darts in front of me and attempts to press a card into a patient's hand. I learn from that mistake and do my best to anticipate her movements. Easier said than done.

"It's not too late!" She says this to the women leaving the clinic, some of them woozy, bent over with discomfort, and not interested in her confusing claim. Requests that she leave them alone do nothing to interrupt her patter. She goes after their companions as well, doing her best to shame and humiliate them, following them all the way to their cars if we don't run interference.

"God loves all children, and he'll love yours." 

The woman she's speaking to is a graduate of Lexi's School of Zero Fucks, and she stops and glares at her. "Bitch, the egg is on the outside of my tube. Ain't gonna be no baby no matter what." 

Scientific truths hold no power in The Runner's world.. "God will love him or her anyway." 


"We have an alternate solution right across the street, we can give you a sonogram and you can see your baby." I could not make this up. There is a Sprinter-type van parked across the street, emblazoned with a dove and a lot of promises that are unlikely to be kept. She implores them to go over there instead of the clinic and get in the van.

The windowless van.

Not surprisingly, nobody takes her up on her offer. This doesn't deter her in the least.

"You're blocking me."

Indeed, I am. By the end of the shift I've gotten her movement pattern down and, since we're working in a trio, am able to get in front and set a pick. She stumbles to a halt and I see the tiniest bit of vexation on her face, just for a second. I would be lying if I say it doesn't make me smile.

* * *

"Have a good weekend!"

I start as a couple of the departing protesters say this to me without a trace of sarcasm. I shoot a look at my co-escort, who shrugs. 

"Remember the Looney Tunes with Wile E Coyote and the Sheepdog? They punched time cards together, spent the day trying to outwit one another, then were friends again when they punched out. That's kind of what it is here, I think."

I do remember Punching the Clock, starring Ralph E Wolf and Sam Sheepdog. And I understand exactly what she means.

I don't agree with her, though. I respect their 1st Amendment right to assemble, but I abhor their message. Maybe they're so consumed with righteous indignation that they have to use this as an outlet, but to me it seems like small, sad people trying to make themselves feel big and powerful. They've chosen targets who can't or won't fight back. They're shaming women at a horribly traumatic moment in their lives. Instead of doing something constructive - Habitat for Humanity, food pantries, etc. - they choose instead to make other people's lives miserable. I don't want to have a beer with them afterwards. I'm sure they don't like me either and never want to see me again.

Too bad. See you next month. I'll be the guy in the sunglasses. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Slow Motion is a Terrible Thing - Old Man Plays Hockey

It's probably irrational, but when I start a game in goal I am a nervous wreck until the first shot comes at me. It's a matter of Imposter's Syndrome, that I'm terrible and have no right to be dragging my teammates down like an anchor with my sub-par goaltending. Once I can turn that first shot away, though, the miasma of dread evaporates. I feel validated, even if only a smidge, and my confidence increases. The world is a better place, hockey is the bestest sport ever, and I could have played in the NHL if only I'd started 20 years ago. 30 years ago. Okay, 45 years ago.

Of course, all that empowerment feels false if you give up a crappy goal.

Like I did Sunday night.

The first period of the game was a rough one for the Scurvy Dogs. We didn't have our skating legs and it's safe to say we were out shot in the vicinity of 15-2 or so. Still, I was turning aside whatever the defense let get through. I was giving my team the opportunity to win.

Until, you know, I wasn't.

I suppose I could deflect some of the blame on it being a power play goal but no, that would be disingenuous. It was a clean shot from the point, a slapper that never got off the ice. I had a clear view of it, was in good position, and dropped into my 'butterfly' (calling it butterflying implies that I can do sort of a split. I can't, but saying 'dropping into a Vee' sounds dirty). The shot hit dead center on the blade of my stick.

And therein proved the problem. In a rookie mistake, I didn't have my elbow out toward the shooter. It doesn't have to be much, but it can't be back by my shoulder. Which it was.

Which brings us to the slow motion of the title, an accurate description of how the puck looked as it flipped, end over end, in an arc over my right shoulder. It could have hit the crossbar and stayed out but what would the fun have been in that? Ugh. 1-0 on an ugly, ugly goal.

I didn't self-destruct. I made a few saves, gave up one I never saw in the 2nd period and another late in the game when a puck didn't get cleared, and we lost 3-1. I was sad that I put my team in a hole they never got out of - although they did get close - but at the same time I have to think back to last year when I was playing for the Mustangs and it was a moral victory if I kept it under double digits. I know I'm not a great goalie, or even a good one. I know I'm old and my improvement curve is a steep one, to say the least.

But ye gods, I'm having fun. If I can do so without destroying my team's chances when I'm between the pipes, I'm alright with that. Even if I'll never get my hands on a Vezina Trophy.

(look a whole post with no political ranting!)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

So It Goes

A couple of days ago I picked up Slaughter-house Five and started reading it again. It has been way too long since I've allowed myself to get lost in Vonnegut's prose, and now, as I sit here at 5:30am after what will likely prove to be one of the most disastrous Presidential elections in US History, it seems an oddly prescient choice. Potentially horrible events loom before us. Be nice if the Tralfamadorians could show up right about now.

I'm not even sure what to say at this moment. Do I yell at the media, who are currently standing there looking at the smoking remains of our future with a burnt-out match and an empty can of gasoline in their hands and saying, "Uh, this might be our bad"? Do I rage at the people who value imposing the tenets of their religion over the rights of other people, even though their religion pretty much tells them not to do that? Do I snarl at those who made their 'protest votes' and ask them if their smug sense of superiority will endure when they're choking on the poisoned air of a renewed - I can't even believe this is going to be a thing - coal initiative?

There's no point in any of that, I suppose. But what I can do is this: worry and work.

Worries are going to be as easy to find as leaves in our yards right about now (well, in the Northeast, anyway). GOP POTUS, GOP Senate, GOP House. Last time that happened was the late 20's and it led to the Great Depression. I'm worried for my LGBTQ friends and their rights, which should be as guaranteed as anyone else's. The EPA has always been a thorn in my side with regard to my business, but a necessary one. I shudder to think of what will happen if they're gone. I have friends with pre-existing medical conditions who were essentially given a new lease on life with the ACA - what happens to them now? Hell, my parents both make use of Medicaid/Medicare. All 'entitlement' programs are in Paul Ryan's sights now. Speaking of which, Planned Parenthood - shit. Can you fathom that being gone? Maybe you're fortunate enough to never needed it. Others have and will continue to do so. Millions of others. Will it be gone in a whirlwind of religious righteousness and the need to build . . . battleships?

Frightening stuff, and only the tip of the iceberg. What to do? Right now, this morning as the dust settles? Despair, a little. Go in and hug my wife for a while. Take comfort in my friends and loved ones, who are often the same people.

And then work.

Not 'earn-a-living' work, although that's going to happen, but work at surviving the nightmare that's on the horizon. Help where I can. Be there with support for those who need it. Never, ever, EVER give up hope. Half the people who voted didn't want him. We're not going to go away, not going to go quietly. We survived eight years of W. and while it kills me to see the accomplishments of Obama likely to be eradicated in a matter of months, we can't give up. We cannot let the nation's future be dictated by racists and haters. They've made their voice heard, won this round. We are made of sterner stuff, of nobler intentions, of greater fortitude and stronger hearts. We will be there for one another, suffer the slings and arrows together, endure. Our children are depending on us.

And we will be worthy of their trust. We have to be.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Tick . . . Tick . . . Tick . . . Boom?

Tonight's schedule has me attending martial arts class at 7:30pm. I'll be training with the black belt candidates, who are all teenagers prepping for their test next month. It is not uncommon for a class like this to start with three or four hundred jumping jacks, broken into groups of one hundred by delves into hideous amounts of pushups and/or sit-ups. After that, I have a hockey game scheduled for 10:30pm.

What could possibly go wrong?

One of these days something in my body is going to say 'Enough of this shit' and just stop working. A knee, maybe, or an ankle. My left shoulder feels like it's made out of hamburger and broken glass most mornings, and after a class focused on wheel kicks (the ultimate nemesis to those lacking flexibility such as myself) last night my hips feel like someone was beating them with a rubber hose for a few hours. Between whatever buzzsaw I run into in class tonight and the strain of a game of hockey, tomorrow my groin muscles will likely lodge a loud complaint.

How much longer can this go on? Look, I don't paint myself as any real kind of athlete. I know there are people my age doing triathlons and all sorts of high-impact sports. I managed to wobble through a 5k with my son last weekend, no doubt aided by the few walks he needed to take. Hey, he's 8 and it was nothing but hills and valleys. If you'd told me the kid was going to run sub-12 minute miles in a 5k a few weeks ago I would have raised an eyebrow. Proud of the Boy. He may have found his sports-related Thing. I'm still looking for mine, maybe.

And yet I keep trying, keep pushing it. Why? Part of it could be that I'm in better shape at 48 than I was at 22, as my laughably puffy-faced passport photo would attest to if I were dumb enough to post it here. Could be the joy of playing hockey with two people I consider my brothers, or the abject amazement I feel every single time I somehow manage to keep a puck from going in behind me. Maybe it's just fun.

Question is, what happens when it stops? What do I do, whom do I become after that ACL snaps, after that L3 unaligns? How do I keep the weight off? Will I be able to keep my sanity with NHL '17 as opposed to skating myself? Can dusting off an old copy of Karateka substitute for actual sparring? (No.) Will I try to force my kids to play team sports so I can coach and live through them vicariously? (Also no.) Or will it all be something I'll take in stride (figuratively)?

I'll find out at some point, no doubt of that. Staying uninjured is a rigged game - sooner or later I'm going to lose. I'll keep my foot on the throttle until then, although my acceleration is more Prius than Porsche.

edit: it's Friday morning. I survived, although there is more of me aching than not.I'm pleased with myself until I try to do something crazy like move a muscle. Ow, quit it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

It's TOTALLY a Winning Streak - Old Man Plays Hockey

Strange things happening on the ice, my friends. After losing 18 games in a row over the Winter and Spring seasons the Scurvy Dogs face the possibility of - nay, they stand in mortal peril of - finishing at .500 for the Summer season. Last night's win, our second in a row (not a misprint), brought us to 3-4 with our final game looming tomorrow night. At the very least we'll match our previous best season of 3-5. The New York Rangers we're not, but it shows improvement. At the very least, we have heart.

To make this unlikely winning streak even more bizarre, we won last night with me in goal. Maybe that sounds a little harsh but I've been covering goal at my Monday night pickup hockey and the past two times I was, well, less than impressive. Much less. So much so that I actually have a unpublished draft of a blogpost in which I started lamenting how poorly I seemed to be playing and wondering, after a year of this, if I should maybe call an end to the experiment (I deemed it too whiny for humans to be exposed to). If I screw up while playing defense then I have Chaz, our regular and much superior goalie, to bail me out. If I screw up while I'm wearing the big pads? Nobody to bail me out then, my friends. And I've hung more pressure on my team to make up for my shortcomings. It's not a great feeling. I was figuring that in the month or so between seasons I'd hit clinic a few times, see if some reps could help me figure out what was going awry. I mean, my lifetime record is 1 and something - 20, maybe? I don't know.

Then last night happened. It's kinda spooky. Wanna know why? Of course you do.

 - both of my wins in goal have been by the score of 5-1 SPOOOOOOKY
 - both of my wins in goal have been on rink 1 at Ice House. I've lost on all 4 rinks there, of course. Still - SPOOOOOKY
 - both of my wins in goal have been as the visiting team SPOOOOOOKY
 - both of my wins have been against teams with seven letters in their names (Raiders/Goonies) SPOOOOOOKY
 - both of my wins have been when I somehow managed not to make dumb mistakes SPOOO - no, that's not spooky as much as it's just common sense.

Last night was just a case of me doing my job as I was not required to put the team on my shoulders and carry them by making ridiculous saves one after the other. My defense did a fantastic job of keeping the shooters wide, giving me clear looks at the shots, and sweeping away rebounds. I just had to do my One Job, and aside from a guy banking in a goal in OFF MY FACE I kept the puck out of the net. It helped that the other team had three or four guys who were the hockey version of Nuke LaLoosh - they could skate like their asses were on fire and my goal was a pond but would have been challenged to put a puck in the ocean while standing on a pier. I made a decent number of saves but watched more shots than I could count sail by wide, which to me is the most amazing thing about playing goal. Someone cranks a shot at you from the blue line, which is 64 feet away, at speeds approaching (in this league) maybe 60, 70mph. If that shot is going to go an inch wide of the post, most times I won't even flinch. It's amazing how our minds can be trained to understand angles and make those calculations before you even know that you needed calculations made. Of course, if you're not in the correct spot to start with then twine is gonna bulge. Last night I had the right combination of proper positioning and luck, like when I was screen during a power play and kicked a leg out just in time to stop a shot I never saw.

One other very nice aspect of our win was that our five goals came from five different scorers. In other words, we didn't just give the puck to our ringer Gary and say, "Here, go score a few times." Cliffie got us on the board with another laser wrist shot and then another Mike (we have three) scored the big goal a couple of minutes after the Goonies had tied it up. I can't speak for other goalies but I find it infinitely more relaxing to play with a lead. If I screw up, well, at worst we're back to tied. If we're already behind, though, now my whiff has put us in a deeper hole. That makes Goalie Kit sad.

I won't be in net tomorrow night, as we're short on numbers and I called in a replacement who happens to be much better than me. 4-4 won't, in all likelihood, get us into the playoffs, but after an 0-10 Spring it's still going to feel pretty good.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Wait, That's One of Our Moves - the Old Man Plays Hockey

It's such an infrequent occurrence - only twice to date during this calendar year - that I feel compelled to mention when the cosmic forces align enough for my hockey team to do the unfathomable and win a game. The other twenty-three games since January were losses: some close, some not-quite-so-close. You would not be remiss in asking if being the Bad News Bears of the Ice House 8W division (we even wear the same colors, although we are not sponsored by Chico's Bail Bonds) can become a little depressing. The answer? No. Yes. Maybe? Maybe. Not really. We have a lot of fun, win or lose. Winning is more fun, though.

The team we played last night usually specializes in chippy play and cheap shots, but for some reason a clean and exciting game of hockey broke out ('exciting' within the realm of lowest-level beer-league hockey. We know what we are). After a scoreless first we took the lead when Cliffie - who has gone from being barely able to stay upright on skates to having perhaps the deadliest wrist shot on the whole damn team - set himself in front of the Hoboken goal and put numerous rebounds back  on net until he slipped one past the goalie while the defense tried in vain to get him off the puck. It was like watching a rottweiler gnawing on a big bone while swatting away a couple of chihuahua puppies until he'd had his fill. Then, a few minutes later, I got to watch us score a goal of the type that I am usually guilty of giving up (for those looking for a tale drenched with more anguish and failure tune in next week, when I'll be in goal twice instead of playing defense with a brick wall of a goalie behind me).

We dumped the puck behind their net and their center picked it up, saw our center approaching, and panicked. They battled for a few seconds before he pushed the puck along the side of the net and told his goalie to cover it.

He, uhm, pushed it a little too hard. The goalie must not have had his foot against the post and the pass became a deflected shot on goal, which became an own goal, which became the winning goal (we added another and won 3-1, but that was the winner. Ouch). Now I can TOTALLY see myself giving up a goal like that, especially the way I've looked in net at open hockey the past few Mondays. Maybe I can give up an even more interesting one on Tuesday or Thursday.

Or. Or. Or maybe, just maybe, I can make a whole bunch of saves instead. Stranger things have happened (and I'm watching the last two episodes of that tonight so no spoilers!).

Saturday, August 6, 2016

How To Get Two Front Row Seats at Hamilton for $20 aka How Kit Won Life For a Day

For me to win seats for Hamilton I had to do a whole lot of things wrong.

Let me explain. And before I explain, let me make a few things clear. I'm going to keep this as spoiler-free as possible in order to keep the out-and-out magic of a live Hamilton performance as a surprise. I have dear friends due to see the show in two weeks and I want their jaws to hang just as much as mine did, for their laughter and their tears to come without warning, even though they're well-versed with the soundtrack. The soundtrack is wonderful. The soundtrack is amazing.

The soundtrack, compared to the live show, is flat and emotionless. Think about how listening to it has affected you and understand that the live performance will absolutely blow that away.

More on that later. Now, where was I? Right, me screwing up.

First off, I shouldn't even have been in town this weekend. A friend of mine made the incredibly generous offer of housing at GenCon. GenCon, for those who don't know, is the biggest gaming convention of the year. I have a pack of friends who gather there annually and man, it sounds wonderful. Getting housing, though, is spoken of through gritted teeth amid curses and growls, so to have it gift-wrapped for me - how could I refuse?

I refused.

Why? Well, my daughter was going to spend almost two weeks at sleep-away camp, with her return date the Friday of this weekend. Which meant I wouldn't be there to pick her up, or see her when she got back, or hear all her stories while they were fresh.

I love my friends. I love spending time with them and drinking with them and losing to them in various sorts of games. But for me, this wasn't even a choice. With regrets I passed on the invitation and, after being alerted to the fact that I'd failed to sign her up for the bus ride home, gave my daughter a few extra hours of camp time while she waited for me to drive up and get her. My first screw-up of the weekend.

Wouldn't be the last.

But don't worry, it all turns out well.

My wife has been battling both ear and sinus infections. Nyquil helps but knocks her out. This became important as she struggled to stay awake until midnight Friday night to make sure she could sign The Boy up for a limited-position program at school - only to discover the website was running on Pacific time. After sleeping for three hours she got up and got him enrolled - then found herself unable to get back to sleep. When I got up at 6am to write she staggered back to bed and, aided by Nyquil, crashed hard. Our plans were to head to the Meadowlands Flea Market at about 9 or so and she figured 3 hours would be plenty of rest.

I'm getting to the Hamilton part. Hang in there.

I entered the lottery like I do every day (sometimes twice) at this site. If you're in the NYC area I strongly recommend you give it a try - it's free, takes about 15 seconds, and hey, I've heard you can win front row seats to Hamilton. Usually I get my 'you're a loser, try again' emails at work on weekdays promptly at 4:01pm, but the weekends are a bit more nebulous as the showtimes vary and include a matinee on Saturdays. Anyway, while we waited for Lola to wake up time ticked by - 9am, 10am, 11am. Finally at 11:30am I rallied the kids and took them into town for smoothies and a visit to the awesome indie kids' bookstore in town (where several of Gareth Hinds' books are on prominent display). I did NOT take my phone with me because it was in the bedroom with the slumbering Lola and I didn't want to chance waking her up. I was also reading instead of screwing around on either my computer or my tablet, which meant I forgot to check at 11am to see my Hamilton  rejection email.

We got back from town around 12:15. Lola was up but our window of opportunity for the flea market had passed, so I headed upstairs to change into crappy clothes suitable for cutting the lawn. I saw my phone and grabbed it to see if I had any emails. I did. One looked like this:

Hamilton 400x116
Dear Christopher-
Congratulations! You have been selected as a winner of the Official Digital Lottery.
Here are the details:
August 6, 2016 2:00 pm
2 ticket(s) at $10 per ticket
Balance due: $20.00
Here’s what happens next:
You have 60 minutes to pay for your tickets online. Major credit cards are accepted. If you do not pay for your tickets within 60 minutes, they will be released.
Click below to pay for your tickets.

You might notice the part under 'Here's what happens next:". It says I had 60 minutes to pay or the tickets would be released. The email was sent at 11am.
It was 12:20 when I saw it.
Uhm. There was some yelling that might be described as anguished. My wife ran upstairs, alarmed, to listen to me curse myself mightily. My daughter, who has lived, breathed, and dreamed about Hamilton for the past six months understood how badly I had screwed up but, bless her, did her best to hide how devastated she was. I couldn't believe my idiocy. I spluttered uselessly for another minute or two and was about to go cut the goddamn lawn when I said to myself, 'You know, Kit, maybe you ought to check. Just to be sure.'
So I did. I checked on the site and confirmed that indeed I'd been selected (there's a cruel joke site that allows you to prank your friends with a fake winner email. Don't be that guy. Don't). Breathless, I clicked through and was taken to the site where one pays $10 (plus a 2 buck service fee) for tickets that have a current face value of $847. Each. Autofill did all the work and I bit my lip as I hit send.
Spinning arrow. Two, maybe three seconds, but each of those were an eternity. Then, a screen thanking me and telling me to enjoy the show.
Holy shit.
It was now 12:30pm and I needed to be at 46th Street in an hour (I was unsure if we had to be there right at 30 minutes before the show or just in that time window. I wasn't going to take any chances as I'd already screwed up quite enough, thank you). I walked downstairs and said, "Hey Becky, I thought of something we could do this afternoon. Wanna go see Hamilton?"
Oy, the joyous screeching.
If it had been a weeknight show we never would have made it. As it was there was enough traffic to make it pretty damn close and I earned my share of honks, dirty looks, and middle fingers as I wove through cars like a total jerkweed. Those people didn't understand. This was Hamilton. I stuck the car in a $45 garage on 49th and 10th and we hoofed it down to the theater. Now understand I still wasn't sure we were in at this point as I'd signed in after the 60 minute window and I made sure Becky was aware that Daddy might be setting her up for one crushing afternoon. She's a tough one, that kid. Inscrutable. I knew she was excited but if you didn't know her you'd figure by her countenance she was heading to a doctor's appointment or something.
There were huge lines stretching in either direction in front of the theater, penning in the ticket holders. I'm not quite sure why you'd get there early and stand outside if you already had ticket in hand but to each their own. We went to the entrance and were shepherded into the lottery winner line, where we earned an awful lot of sullen/jealous looks. The twenty of us there all wore slightly bemused expressions of the 'is this really happening?' variety. And I STILL didn't know if we were good or not. After an extremely long fifteen minutes we started to get ushered in. I handed my license to the box office dude and endured another endless three seconds before he handed me tickets with a smile.
We were good.
No doubt because I'd responded so late we got the 'worst' of the lottery seats - all the way stage left. Front row, with the stage no more than a foot from our faces. Look:

The orchestra was in front of/below us and we could feel the bass and drums vibrate our seats a bit all show, especially during 'Right Hand Man.' There were several scenes that were played out under a foot from our faces. I could have reached out and grabbed Christopher Jackson's leg during "Meet Me Inside."

I did not.

So, enough backstory, right? How was it, this hoity-toity show that everyone keeps blagging about like it's reinvented theater?

Well, as far as I can tell, it has pretty much reinvented theater. Before kids I saw my share of Broadway shows: The Producers; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; Phantom of the Opera (yeah, I know); Cats (not my idea either); Spamalot; How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying; Avenue Q; even the Flying Karamazov Brothers (who were amazing). Not a lot, but not a few, either.

Nothing like this. Nothing like Hamilton.

What to say without ruining it? How can I ruin it, you say, since most of us listen to the soundtrack, watched the Tonys, saw the stuff on Youtube?

It's just different: more visceral, more emotional, more funny. We may not have had many of the originals in our show - Laurens/Philip; Washington; Peggy/Maria Reynolds; and a good number of the incredible ensemble - but it didn't matter. They were all fucking fantastic. They guy taking over for Diggs might not have been able to hold the French accent when he speed-rapped as Lafayette but he killed as Jefferson and damn near stole the show. And back to Washington - holy crap, how did Christopher Jackson not get a Tony? He owned every scene he was in and while his inflections differed from the soundtrack each added a different take, a different intensity. He brought the place down with 'One Last Time.' Brought. It. Down.  The cheering afterward  - not just applause, but outright cheering - lasted for at least 30 seconds. He emoted like a champ. Anthony Ramos is perfectly cast as Laurens/Philip. Just perfect. And King George? I don't - I can't even. Completely changed the way I perceive 'You'll be Back' and no, I'm not going to tell you why. And the Cabinet Battle . . . genius. It plays better than you could imagine. So clever. So much fun.

Is that being spoilery? Maybe. If you want me to get spoilery drop me a private email. Otherwise I'm going to back off here.

As much as I personally wanted to see the show, it didn't hold a candle to how much I wanted for my daughter to get her chance. We came so close to getting tickets in the after-Tonys sale, with the system crashing on Lola while she had 4 tickets in her basket (While I am sad that she and The Boy haven't seen it yet I'm pleased at the money saved). I honestly never thought I'd win this, never be able to get this kid in to see this thing she's so crazy about. She watched most of the show with a huge smile on her face, occasionally whispering along as she has it completely memorized. Her eyes darted everywhere, taking in everything - the staging, the costumes, the unreal choreography (I want to see this again just so I can focus on the ensemble) - and soaking it all in. She's already interested in the theater and had requested taking classes with the local theater this fall but this - this was watching someone falling in love.

This is my daughter. This is my daughter on Hamilton. Any questions?

I could go on at length about how much it meant to me to be able to share this experience with her, but Joe Posnanski has already done a much better job of that than I would (go read that next. He's amazing). I know the tickets are expensive. I know the tickets are hard to find regardless of cost. But try. Do the lottery if it's feasible. See one of the touring productions. Catch a show in Chicago or Boston when they open. It's that good. It's that amazing. And then you too can bore your friends with your Story of Tonight.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Well, She Did Warn Me

 This is about hockey. Eventually.

Look, I'm old. I get it. I don't try to deny it or Grecian Formula my way around it. Part of my acceptance is due to my wife being satisfied with her comfortable old shoe of a husband, but there's an angle that stems from me trying to be, for want of a better phrase, 'young at heart.' For 48 years old I'm a pretty active dude. I work a job that involves a fair amount of physical activity. I coach two teams, and if that doesn't sound like a workout I suggest you try pitching 1.5 hours of batting practice and get back to me. Hockey is hockey, even with me only playing once a week for now (that'll change soon, as my 2 hours of pickup hockey starts up in early June). There's random spurts of running usually associated with being Becky's Run Buddy for Girls on the Run (including 5ks last and this weekend, plus a couple of midweek staggers to try to mitigate the damage done by the five pound bag of Haribo raspberries Lola got me for my birthday) as well.

The biggest change has been my return to a martial arts class. Zack decided he'd had enough after 2.5 years and since a) his contract has a couple of months left that are transferable, and b) I've been eating my heart out watching him and dying to get back out on the mat, I didn't hesitate jumping back in. It's been tough to get to class with softball/baseball (the timing is just off) but when I do - whew. I've played a lot of sports including rugby, which is 80 minutes straight of alternating between jogging, sprinting, and getting your lunch handed to you by a 285 pound prop. That being said, there's nothing like a martial arts workout to kick your ass and make you ache in different and exciting ways. The school I go to has a number of instructors and each brings a different approach to class. One is all about a hard-core workout. One likes grappling. This Wednesday night the instructor wanted to work on kicks - fine. We did a lot with wheel/round kicks, which are my absolute bane. I am not flexible at all, which is a source of constant amusement to my made-out-of-rubber-bands daughter.. To properly chamber a waist-high wheel kick your knee turns so that your kicking leg is parallel with the floor while your heel is near or against your butt. If you're doing it correctly you can put a stack of dishes on top of your thigh and they won't crash to the floor.

Mine would crash to the floor. I suck at wheel kicks, more so now than 15 years ago when I used to regularly use a stretching machine (aka torture device) each night to try to get more flexibility. Still, Miss Pitea (the instructor) told us that we needed to make the microtears in our muscles in order to improve our kicks in the long run. She then added that we'd all feel it tomorrow, especially those of us who are older. She didn't look at me while she said it. She didn't need to. The kid I was working with, an orange belt about my height, turned out to be 13. THIRTEEN. I'm almost 4 of him. Ye gods. That kid  probably got up the next morning and did cartwheels. Screw you, kid whose name I don't remember.

Anyway, I indeed ached in the hip and groin area Thursday morning. It eased as the day went on (as does my shoulder, which feels like it's stuffed with gravel and glass shards when I first wake up) and I felt good about skating at my game Thursday night.

Well, until I actually started skating. Remember back in the beginning I said this was about hockey? Now it's about hockey, sort of.

With Chaz back in goal the Scurvy Dogs have been scaring some teams. No, really! And not just because one of our defensemen is leading the league in penalty minutes ::cough cough Ken K cough cough::. We lost last week 2-1 after tying the game with a minute left and having the other team's superstar uncork a blast that caught top corner with 2 seconds left - TWO SECONDS. This week, missing a few key players, we still had our chances before falling 3-2. Good games, good fun.

My groin, however, felt like someone was beating on it with a rubber mallet which is not kinky or sexy in any manner. At one point in the 3rd period I went to swing my leg over the boards to get on the bench and just flat out rolled a 1 and failed. Took me two tries.My teammates had the good grace not to laugh at me (or just didn't notice). So it seems that I'm not ageless and that my body won't already respond the way I want it to.

That's okay. there's an over-40 league as well.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Feidlimid MacSwinith, Immortal Entertainer

Hijacking my own blog to post a quickly-devised character for the Katanas & Trenchcoats system, which is currently in the last few days of a successful Kickstarter campaign. What? You haven't backed it yet? Go check it out now! Both myself and Corey Reid are going to be writing for it, along with a host of others. 

Anyway, here's my verrrrrrry long intro story. Notes at the bottom if you don't have the time.

Even back here in her dressing room she could hear the crowd chanting her name, calling for her with a hunger they weren’t even aware of. Different monikers, different stages, different eras – it didn’t matter. Many sought the spotlight. Some were able to cast a brief shadow. A lucky few remained long enough to bask in the glow, to feel the kiss of adoration, even for just a moment in the grand scheme of things.

Feidlimid MacSwinith was the damn spotlight. She always had been and damn well planned to continue to be so, although that was becoming . . . tricky. Right now all was well, as evidenced by those screaming her name. Faith . . . Faith . . . Faith. Not as catchy as some of her previous identities, but far less likely to get her burned at the stake again. Sure, faking religious visions and leading the French against the English at Orleans may have seemed to be the role of a lifetime, but she’d only agreed to do it because (XX) had insisted. While she preferred to follow her own path one did not refuse a direct order from the head of House Orphis without fear of retribution. Being burned alive had hurt, though, and her relationship with her house - her former House – had become strained, to put it mildly. Nothing that having (XX)’s head on a platter wouldn’t mend, though. Not that she hadn’t tried. Staying in the public eye appealed to her for many reasons, not the least of which was that her continued existence was undoubtedly sticking in (XX)’s craw. Sooner or later it would be too much to ignore and scores would be settled, once and for all. In the meantime – spotlight.

Faith Eternal examined herself in the massive mirror before her, the harsh lights failing to uncover much in the way of flaws. She looked good for someone born in the ‘70s – 874 B.C., to be exact. Dabbing on rouge always reminded her of war paint instead. Blood, too. A brief chuckle surfaced at the thought of herself as a ‘Milesian,’ the ignorant fiction of those determined to insert their god into her narrative. Aye, but there’s a grain of or two of truth sprinkled in among the dung, is there not?

She bit her lip and took a deep breath, willing back the tears that threatened to make an appearance. She would not think about them. She would not dwell on her, on the lilt of her laugh, on the mischief in her eyes, on the ballad she closes every show with that’s an homage, an invitation. She will not brood on him, on his scent in the morning, on his grace and agility, on his betrayal, on his expression, the final one, the look of incredulity he bore as she separated his head from his neck. A twitch of her hand brought the weapon guilty of the deed to her hand. Not a pretty blade, in no way elegant, dinted and scarred yet bearing edges so sharp they could make the very air bleed. Hers since the day she woke up at the bottom of a cliff with a ringing headache and a hunger for vengeance. His first husband had thought the rough side of her tongue was the most cutting thing about her. Learned the hard way, that one did.

They always underestimated her. It was something she had learned to depend on, to use to her advantage. The banshee who didn’t think Faith could sing her down, couldn’t show her what real keening was? Her power still flowed through Faith’s veins, the prize from a combat Faith hadn’t really understood but had won anyway. A battle so epic it required a recuperative nap spanning the better part of a decade – but what was time to her? A construct that didn’t matter, an abstract without meaning. These brief mortals, so eager to sip from the glory of experiencing her. Had she not given some of the greatest performances in history? Trod the boards of the Globe – that fool who wrote Shakespeare in Love may have benefitted by stumbling over one of her lost journals but at least had the common sense – or raving ego – to claim the idea as one of his own creation. Those within her House were aware that another Orphite had been behind the whole Jesus Christ thing, but it would have been her role if there wasn’t going to be so many topless moments. Bloody Romans and their crucifixions. She’d been there as an apostle, though, her disguise solid to the end. 

She paused while drawing in laugh lines, the rare entertainer trying to add years, to take out a tattered remnant of a blanket, the fabric all but a ghost by now. The wool was coarse and crude, yet softened by time and memory. Made in a simpler time, part of a dowry for a bed that needed no extra warming in the beginning. After a moment she tucked it away again, making sure there was nobody else around to see it. All these damn cameras, at first a blessing and now a plague. The speed and accuracy with which information was gathered and shared these days was a major concern, especially since her test had confirmed what she feared – face-altering plastic surgery was ineffective, her body ‘healing’ the changes much as it would any other damage. How long would she be able to be in the world’s eye before someone noticed that Faith Eternal didn’t age? Even if she went away and managed to stay out of the public eye for ten years, twenty years, even a hundred, no matter how much she changed her look, dyed her hair, sang opera instead of pop – it wouldn’t matter. They’d know her and there would be questions. Besides, she could no sooner dampen her artistic flame than pull the very Sun from the sky. No, this was a problem, a serious problem . . .

Faith . . . Faith . . . Faith . . .

A problem for another day. Banishing her weapon, Feidlimid MacSwinith rose from her chair and headed off to meet her adoring masses. The spotlight was waiting for her, as is always had, as it always would.

Teel Deer version:
Rebirth: 870 BC
House: Orphis, currently estranged. It’s complicated. No, wait, it isn’t. She wants to kill the head of the House for what he did, but she can’t find him.
Personal Tragedy: A long, long history of Bad Relationships. Her first husband pushed her off a cliff. Her former best friend and her lover conspired to try to permakill her. She’s not quite self-aware enough yet to consider that maybe, just maybe, it’s her.

Badass Rep: She outsang/outwailed a banshee and stole its power for herself. She hacked the head off a lover who crossed her. Her sword looks like a fencepost pounded straight yet it cuts through steel like butter. Men and women crawl at her feet in hopes of having her gaze at them. She’s pure charisma in Immortal form.

Inner Deal: She needs to be in front of others, being admired, being worshipped. She craves the attention like a flower needs sunlight and without it she fears she’ll wither and fade. Also she’s not the easiest person to be involved with, you know?

Historical Influence: Adept at hiding in plain sight. Joan of Arc. A performer for Shakespeare in a time when women weren’t allowed to act. One of the apostles (she’s not saying which). Currently one of the biggest pop stars/actors in the world.

Throne of Comfort: The threadbare remains of her first marriage blanket, now just a handspan in size

Unyielding Yearning: To be immortal artistically as well, to pay back those who have wronged her, to find a lover that is the right one. And who doesn’t try to kill her, because that keeps happening

Friday, April 22, 2016

You Just Keep on Trying 'Til You Run Out of Cake

Whoa. Look at all the dust. Place looks like a haunted house. SPOOOOOOKY. Let's do some spring cleaning, shall we?

Writing/Editing: Staying busy here. Still dragging my feet on finding an agent for Boneyard Gods, but mainly because I'm busy elsewhere. I want to (I know, I know) tweak the opening chapter a bit to give it more teeth. In the meantime the goofy lark I was going to write a chapter of as a joke is now beyond 40k words with my goal being 50k, so that's uhm, almost done. What is it? Out of my comfort zone to be sure, but it seems not so horrible so who knows. I've been chosen to be one of the (many) writers for the Katanas and Trenchcoats RPG, although I don't yet know how large of small my role will be. In any case it felt good to pass the audition and get my foot in the gaming world, so to speak. I have a character coming out affiliated with TimeWatch but that was a patron perk as opposed to being hired to to something. Editing-wise I've been doing some work for an SAT prep company and will hopefully be able to finish up the book I'd been working on for two friends that hit a hiatus, albeit for a very good reason.
Short stories have been a little frustrating lately, although Stupefying Stories looks like they've started publishing again and so hopefully we'll see the story of mine they've been sitting on for a while soon. One of my other ones has been heartbreaking - first it was kept by a mag for 6 months before they told me more-or-less that it was the final story cut from the anthology, and now it was just rejected by MZB's Sword and Sorceress book with the personal note, "This is a perfectly good story, but it doesn't quite have the feel I want for Sword and Sorceress. Try this on another market." I mean, yay, I know it's good, but was hoping for a win in a major market. Semipros, here I come. I also have an idea for a different novel and something for a graphic novel howling to get out as well. Moar tyme pleeze.

Life in general: Is bonkers, really. My Google calendar looks like a rainbow barfed on it. The Boy gave up on karate and it didn't take much prodding from Lola for me to slip back into my gi. In addition to hockey and gaming I'm coaching both baseball and softball, and Zack's doing dance, Becky's skating and just finished her play . . . there's a lot going on. Too much, at times, and too many things I can't do because of demands. Basically my weekends are shot until . . . July, maybe? Plus I have another night of hockey starting up in June. BECAUSE I WASN'T BUSY ENOUGH YET. Plus I have to cook for an upcoming con, and prep a game for said con, and write some adventures for a friend's LARP, and do a million things around the house, and win Hamilton lottery tickets, and . . . busy times, my friends, busy times.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

What's With The Corner?

Updates of stuff. Let's start with hockey because why not? Specific efforts have been made to improve my goaltending. First, as an Xmas present from my long-suffering wife I took a semi-private lesson with a coach who wasn't a YouTube video. His name was Jim and the rink we were in was about twice the size of the room you're in - go ahead, look around and soak that in and if you're in a library just forget you read that - and to say it was helpful would win an award for understatement of the year.

Basically I, as can be expected, was doing pretty much everything wrong. He changed the way I moved, the way I stood, the way I dropped, the way I filled my water bottle . . . okay, not the last one.I was excited to take what I'd learned and try it out before my next game filling in at goalie for the Scurvy Dogs.

Didn't happen.

In addition, our regular goalie found a pad upgrade for me on some sort of goalie network while at the same time suggesting that the ancient, well-traveled pads I was using now might just be holding me back a bit. So for a ridiculously small amount of money a set of gently used pads/glove/blocker were shipped in from Canada THE HOME OF HOCKEY. They're huge, big puffy white slabs of goodness that make me feel like my previous pads had been railroad ties I'd been strapping to my legs. I looked forward to getting to try them before my next game filling in at goalie for the Scurvy Dogs.

Didn't happen.

No, via a combination of free tickets, kids things, and a blizzard I went into my game having never even had the pads on before, having not tested out my new bounty of knowledge. Which Kit was going to show up? The one who had those glorious two nights in the fall or the one who coughed up 13 during the Mustangs' slow slog as league whipping boys?

Meh. Somewhere in the middle. I did okay, I guess. We lost 3-1, which isn't too bad, and I didn't get beat by any dead-on shots. The first goal was a shot I didn't see that caught me wandering off the post when the shooter came out of the corner in traffic. The second was a rebound after the guy drove out of the corner and then dove or was knocked down. Either way he scored while on his stomach, flicking it in as I dove to cover it with 7.2 seconds left in the 2nd period. DAMMIT. That made it 2-1, and the goal they got in the 3rd was a pass from the corner (again! Ye gods, what the hell was going on with the corner?) that went to someone uncovered coming down the slot. Never had a chance on that one. I don't know how many saves I made, but it was a few. There was still a lot of scrambling and being out of position and not recovering quickly enough because I'm freaking old and lack flexibility but the combination of better equipment and actual training seemed to help. We gave a pretty good team a challenging game and it was fun. I get to be goalie against another top team this week, but at least they kicked their mini-Gretzky out of the league for being too good.

Staying busy otherwise. Still plodding along on my website, but as soon as I get it launched I'll announce availability as a freelance editor/writer. Not that I'm not available now, but it'll seem more professional to have a site to point to. Writing every morning on a possibly silly project that turning out to be both challenging and fun to create, and I can only hope it fits the bill of what they're looking for. The inclement weather has caused work to pick up, which is a good thing. Getting ready to sign the kids up for softball/baseball and will be coaching as well. Looking forward to Rabbitcon. Irked at numerous scheduling conflicts in the future. STILL waiting on an Xmas present for Lola, but sure it'll be worth it. Either a great idea or a total flop. Nursing along a sprained wrist after being slewfooted in the previous week's game. Chalked off all of Friday night for XCom 2 playing. Priorities, gang. Priorities.

Okay. Have to go move things to allow for the delivery of a new washing machine. TRY TO CONTAIN YOUR ENVY

Monday, January 11, 2016

It's In the Playbook. Really. Also the State of the Month

It all went according to plan.

Last night our intrepid Scurvy Dogs were locked in mortal battle against the Blue Devils. With about 3 minutes left we were down 1-0, having hit at least 3 posts and missing about a bazillion should-have-been goals. We were pressing, trying to get the equalizing goal, and suddenly I found myself scrambling back to defend against a two on one (did I mention I was playing defense instead of goalie? Probably not. I played defense last night. Rusty as a screen door at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, but whatchagonnado). I got to my blue line and spun, in good position to force the puck-carrier wide while cutting off his passing lane.

Then I caught an edge and wiped out.

How long, do you figure, does it take a body to go from upright to prone? A second or so, right? Pretty quick. Yet that tumble to the ice took an eternity for me, long enough for the following to flash through my head:
-Shit. This isn't good.
-Losing 2-0 is the same as losing 1-0 in the standings.
- Shit. I was even for the game.
-Are the people of Manitowoc all that blind and clueless? Really?
-Oh hey there's the ice ow

I had an advantage, though - I wasn't playing goalie. Instead it was our much, much better goalie Chaz, who stopped the guy who breezed past my sprawling form. I would like to take a moment to note that Chaz had played a game in goal about 3 hours earlier for one of his 346 other teams. Ah, to be young again. Anyway, one of our forwards picked the puck up on the backcheck, skated the length of the ice, and finally got one past their goalie to tie the game up.

JUST LIKE I PLANNED IT. Some Wile E. Coyote-level sooooopah genius stuff there, my friend. And did we win the ensuing shootout? Of course. Chaz doesn't lose shootouts. So now we find ourselves at 4-5, already with more wins than last year's 3-14 campaign. Is this a contract year for me?

(I better mention that Jeff G. played in the earlier game as well, otherwise he might invert my L6 lumbar or some other spinal thingie)
 In other news, goalies be goalie-ing. I've started my program of hitting clinic for reps and was rewarded by being pelted by eager skaters who hadn't had a puck sponge show up for a month. By the time we got to scrimmaging at the end of clinic I was so exhausted I could barely stand up.Old goalie is old. And because I'm not enough of a glutton for punishment I have a semi-private lesson with a goaltending coach on Saturday. Hopefully I'll be taught how to play, uhm, goal. Seriously. I'm just winging this thing right now.

Other things since I update on a lunar cycle:

The Boy got his blue belt Saturday, but I'm still waiting for the love of karate switch to flick on in his head. He likes it, he has fun, but he's not excited about practicing on his own or pumped up for sparring or whatever. I sat there DYING watching the kids spar for their tests, wanted to be out there SO MUCH. Well, not against the kids. The temptation is huge to start taking classes and thoroughly encouraged by my wife (SILENCE FOUL TEMPTRESS) but I just can't make that sort of time commitment right now. I have hockey 2 nights a week and gaming one night a week. Lola has derby at least one night, sometimes two a week. The kids still enjoy me reading to them, and if I started taking class two nights a week that would almost vanish. Plus if I'm serious about adding more clients on for editing/writing I need to have time to do the work (the websites and cajoling for work will come soon, I promise). So, I think for now I'll have to (regretfully) hold off. I need to take care of far too many things, PLUS I need start actively trying to find a gorram agent for the damn book I wrote, and get more stories out into the world, and keep working on this ridiculously silly writing thing I'm trying to do, and do construction for the play Becky's doing, and coach softball and baseball, and . . . I'm pretty busy.

Plus XCom2 comes out February 5th. I gotta keep my priorities STRAIGHT.