Friday, February 28, 2014

She said she was just thinking about it...

Rambling Post #255
Life shouldn't be stagnant. We should all sally forth and attack this experience with wonder and excitement, drinking in every drop of life not through a straw but in hefty quaffs that leave us out of breath for the next surprise. Or something like that. But they did just open up a Krispy Kreme store like just up the street, so maybe I'll get to quaffing life like next week. Week after for sure.

Art by Adam Hughes
A few years ago, my girl Spanky up and went to Scotland for a job. She did just over twelve months in a town small enough to fit into a high school baseball stadium, then came back with pockets fat enough to deck out her house, then under renovations, in one quick swoop through the furniture district.  I toured it via Google Maps (they go everywhere) and it looked absolutely charming. I was a wee bit envious.

So she hits me up last Wednesday with this message she's gotten via email from some company. She was looking for a new gig (we're all looking for new gigs) and so when they "found" her resume on the internet and contacted her, she was quick to send them back a fresh copy. Cool beans I thought. Then she said she was gonna have to leave the country again, but the money was great. Knowing the less than romantic situation from which she has been inexplicably unable to extricate herself, I thought maybe this wouldn't be the worst idea. Overseas, see the world, etc. From Scotland she'd visited London, Paris, and other places that broaden the mind. Bully! So I asked her where was going. Cabal, she says. I ask her again, because I've never heard of it and got ready to look it up. She says it again and I catch on.

Kabul. As in Kabul, Afghanistan.

If were possible to look at somebody like they were crazy over the phone, I think I pulled it off. But, my mind kicked in, probably happy for the diversion, and said to check it out before passing judgement, it might be a huge base with movie theaters and one of them golf course setups. So I checked out her given destination. Looked at a couple of blogs, checked out a few videos, read a few articles. Let's see, 3,000 people, housed, with offices and all other base facilities in a space 1000 x 650 feet, in downtown Kabul. No off-base for security reasons. Rooms in shipping containers. They just had a suicide bomber in January. Hmmmm, how much money again? The term "shitload" popped into my head. I sent all this to Spanky, suggesting she consider it all before making up her mind.

So last Sunday when Spanky, Serve and [nickname forthcoming] and I went to West Egg for a late brunch, I was a little suprised when she announced that she'd made up her mind that she was going, and that she'd already sent them the paperwork. She said she'd spoken with her family, had looked at all the pictures and was prepared for whatever came. Wow.

By the way, they serve brunch all day at West Egg on Sundays, and they ain't even playing.

Now, Spanky can be impulsive. And since when she makes a decision, then sticks with it and if you're not with her 100% then you're her sworn enemy, it gets a little awkward at times. With that in mind, I raised my objections, but the opportunity was flashing before her eyes and she didn't even notice. Yes, she says she's prepared to be trapped on a teeny tiny base in a country that now might not even have Americans after next year. Her contract was supposed to be for three years, which now seems less cute when before it just an ugh feeling. I suggested she start learning some foreign languages.

Later after Spanky and Serve had split,  me and [nickname forthcoming] had a long conversation about the whole thing. My concept was, in a nutshell, that three years in Kabul would fundamentally change Spanky. Which [nickname forthcoming] on the whole thought wouldn't be the worst thing. But in think what the girl needs at best is a little tinkering, and this expedition would be more of a complete overhaul. Spanky can get "testy" at times and one of the descriptions I read described the place as a minimum security prison like atmosphere. That kind of living I understand has a tendency to bring either the best or worst in a person, so I'm not sure how that's gonna play out. Plus it's dangerous.

A few years ago Slim broke out for the Middle East - Qatar - because it was technically safer than her house in Atlanta (that's not a joke). Last year she said that she and the new hubby might be moving to Bermuda and invited me for a visit, the new hubby being another American she met while out there. And Spanky has been desperate to get married. What are the odds another one of my crew would run into the same luck? 

Barkeep. I need a box, figured I'd help my girl Spanky out by taking care of her alcohol while she was away. Big box. Um, bigger than that.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Ghostbuster goes to the other side

Harold Ramis as Egon
I saw Ghostbusters at summer camp, with a group of guys whose names I can't remember but who left me with a feeling of camaraderie I guess I'm still trying to find all over again. That film was brilliant, funny and just speaks to me because of when I saw it. And as funny as Bill Murray is, even a comedy icon needs a straight man to throw him setups. That guy was Harold Ramis, who passed on Monday.

I met him once. It was in college, where instead of the normally stuffy business executives I had to work to find interest in (No, I've always dreamed of managing medical device sales in the regional Midwest, really!) an actual Ghostbuster showed up. He was physically bigger than I thought he would be, long past his Egon Spengler prime, but still a bright spot on the closeup schedule. I also remember as the crowd started to thin out as people headed back to class, asking him seriously about writing professionally. Instead of brushing me off, me a young black kid he'd just met, he listened to my concept and gave me a few names of companies where I should submit my work. Now that I go over that moment in my mind I still can't believe he was so gracious.

Thank you Mr. Ramis. For listening. And for Ghostbusters. Stripes. Animal House. Caddyshack. Groundhog Day. But mostly for listening.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

So, Micheal Sam...

Ramblings Post #253
I questioned whether I would post this, as it's a fairly sensitive subject. But it's one that's not supposed to be. His orientation shouldn't matter if he can play the game - it's that simple. But despite how simple things should be, we as people have this odd thing where we makes stuff harder than it has to be because ...reasons?

Let's be clear up front:  My expectation of Micheal Sam's NFL career is that after a good showing at the Combine where he proves he more than just a pass rusher, he gets drafted right around the place Kiper figured he would go before his announcement last weekend. That he goes on to a good career, is a pro bowl regular and if the stars line up right and luck falls his way, he ends up on a team that wins the Superbowl. Then after retirement he gets an analyst seat somewhere - ESPN, NFL Network, etc - and twenty five years from now he's either telling us why the corner was wrong to bite on the fake and just got burnt or offering his take on why the Lions still haven't got to the big game. Apologies to Lions fans.

But then there is now.

I've read the Slate article about how he's an "opportunity" for a team to make a statement and gain a new following. Because as we all know, your average fan who happens to be gay will just up and change teams in support. Um, no. Sorry, but the thousands of football fans who happen to be gay are still just football fans, and I doubt that a die-hard Steeler, Raider, Raven or Dolphin fan will change in affiliation if Sam is say, drafted by the Cardinals. They'll cheer, check his stats and watch his highlights, but that's about it.

Further, although his openly gay status is a viewed as a distraction, as one veteran has pointed out teams deal with unexpected distractions all the time so this should be no different. And he's right. But, this viewpoint overlooks the real question, the consideration that the team knowing it will inevitably have distractions it did not see coming, would it be prudent to bring one in intentionally? Could be good to get in front of it. Could be bad if it gets out of control. It's a toss up really. 

But all that aside, GM's are wary because as the selecting team you place yourself in a situation where the already murky "Football Decisions" are all second guessed or maybe even shaped by his presence. Let me explain. Now I'm going to assume that the NFL is like most of America and the reality is that in all likelihood he isn't going to be the only gay player on the team, just the first out one. He's not new new, just new. And I'm going to assume that whatever team drafts him that he will be accepted into the locker room. I'm guessing overwhelmingly, but... not absolutely. On a team of 51 players, there is a chance that 3 or 4 players will be uncomfortable with his out status. Their reservations will be irrational, but nevertheless real reservations with the potential to upset team chemistry. 

Now, the reality is that unless Sam is a obvious total bust, he cannot be cut or traded. This would be a PR nightmare for the team. A Football Decision made for reasons other than football, right at the front end of his career. And the question Is Micheal Sam worth three players finds itself answered before its even asked. The second string LB who is suddenly uncomfortable or that fourth wide receiver who has a problem actually are important pieces to a teams success. Now they have to go. And in an era of football where a injuries are a frequent fact of life, those 3 or 4 players, who already know the systems, could be the difference starting the off-season early and holding together a playoff run. Or what if the uncomfortable player is a starter?

A lot of people talking about opportunities for societal shifts in perception have to remember the NFL is about football (and money), not any one group's agenda or an individual player's personal ideals.  This is a league has previously found players who want to continue their education lacking in commitment and dinged them accordingly. But, if this young man's commitment is to social change and not wholly unto that which is football, can he be also dinged? Not without accusations of homophobia. As a GM, why would you voluntarily subject your team to that?

Even the man who normally cuts through the dross, Jon Stewart kinda missed the point. Mr. Stewart seemed to think the question was opportunity, wondering how racists, dog killers and the like were NFL material and somehow Sam was not. But this is a sport where men run into each at top speed so it understands violence, and criminal problems ain't even brand new to the league. As a GM you're the good person giving a guy a second chance, and if you cut a guy convicted of sexual assault, nobody cares. But you try cutting the "gay Jackie Robinson." Apples and seahorses, mate. It's not about opportunity - bottom line, Micheal Sam should get a chance in the NFL - it's really about the situation after he gets the opportunity, and how it will affect the team's Football Decisions trying to meet a not football agenda.

That said, my Cowboys could draft him. Think about it, Jerry Jones just does not give a damn what you think about his Football Decisions. You see Garrett's still the coach, right?

Barkeep, some brown. We all gonna pray the NFL does right by that fella...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Let Me Catch Up Right Quick...

Ramblings Post #252
I been busy, trying to get done what I shoulda had oughta been finished. But that's not important right now. Or rather it is MOST important, because it has pretty much consumed me for the past few days. But I'm not made of stone, so let's do a quick update...


I'm getting a little long in the tooth to be going out. I know this because I went to a friend's birthday party on Friday night at this little spot in Buckhead and got the odd looks from the doorman. Maybe it's the grey hair. For some reason our party sat under the speaker, so conversation was dicey. And the service was less than stellar, as at one point I opined that the waitress must have had to go to Lenox Mall to get our drinks. And although attractive, at times, the crowd was a little 'young.' And once the bottle hit our table people just started showing up...but since I didn't buy the bottle I was just curious as to random folks dropping by and helping themselves. And the spot didn't start jumping until around 12:30pm...half an hour before I left.


Although at the house party I had the pleasure to attend my icebreaker was "Have you accepted Peyton Manning as your football savior?", I happen to actually own a very old Seattle Seahawks T-shirt, so I guess that was my team. That and the very vocal Seahawks fan I was sitting next to kept breaking down every play for me, so I was kinda sucked in. Although I didn't see most of the second half because after the kickoff return I decided it was time to just socialize. It was nice little outing if I must say so. And since it will be my last one until the end of the month I need to savor it.


No, I haven't got the PS4 yet, and wouldn't matter because I don't have the time to play. Okay, I don't have the money right now either, but that's not the point. I turned the PS3 off the other day because I just realized it's been on for almost a month now and I haven't used it. I did check to see what the PS+ crew had up for grabs this month and got a game before they started charging for it again. As far as it bang for your buck you can't beat that PlayStation Plus. But it really doesn't help me now because I already have three games from before I had only barely started before my "project" took over, and we're not starting anything new until this is ova. So, maybe next month little PS. Next month I swear.

My Eating...

Once I was a dedicated follower, indulging sparingly in the sweets. An age passed, and I veered back and forth between what I knew as good and the fried tasty. Then I became a homebody and so eating out became my reason to leave the house...which leads us to today and that sweater that was way too tight. I baked the chicken, cut back the red meat and caught the shrimp on sale. Wheat bread, skim milk.  I have grapes, oranges and watermelon, and just two snacks in the house. And them frozen pizzas. And the bacon in the freezer. I want some ice cream, is that wrong?


My shows are back! House of Lies, Episodes, and Shameless. And Archer has moved to Mondays so I don't forget it. And I just realized I don't watch a whole lot of television after that. Wow.  

And now, back to the salt mines. And just you know, If it don't stop messing with me, I'm gonna take this reality by the reins and impose my order it. So if everything suddenly starts coming with a side of bacon, you'll know why.

Barkeep. A tall coffee. Extra black. I'm not supposed to enjoy it.