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USA - Russia: Quick observations

It's not common for me to wake up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday. Then again, it's not common for the best players in the best sport to clash at such a time, either. The United States downed Russia, 3-2 in a shootout (also known as the hockey fans' eyeroll) over in Sochi as part of the Olympic tournament's preliminary round. The game had just about everything you could want, and since I'm awake - very awake - at this hour on a Saturday, here are a few notes.
Wake up and smell the vulcanized rubberCollapse )

A riff on the Super Bowl

Started writing this Friday. Didn't have a chance to really dig into it, but I scratched out a few thoughts before Super Bowl Sunday kicks into the proverbial high gear.

If you want a good taste of the Super Bowl, to capture the essence of The Big Game, you don't have to go to East Rutherford -  where the game will be played Sunday - or New York City - where it will be claimed for the rest of history. Because the Super Bowl, no matter how much your telivision or radio or computer screen or smartphone wants to tell you, is not something built for comments on YouTube or favorites on Twitter or even a two-minute highlight package on SportsCenter after countless hours of pre-game talk manufactured by the insatiable engine of the sports media hype machine.

Because the Super Bowl - with its 48th installment set for Sunday - predates ESPN and the Internet and high-definition television, and as much as the relationship between those things feels symbiotic, it isn't.

If you want a good taste of the Super Bowl...Collapse )
For the first time in 26 years, I was alone when 2014 arrived at midnight.

I had been at a friend's party. I usually spend New Year's Eve at an aunt's house with the rest of my family, but this year, the only chance all my friends had of getting together was New Year's Eve.

After one beer, about a metric ton of boneless buffalo wings and a few rounds of playing games on the Nintendo Wii, I noticed something shooting across he Twitterverse.

Bill O'Brien, the now-former Penn State football coach, had accepted a job with the Houston Texans.

Crap.Collapse )

So long, 2013 (a reflection)

I haven't been on here in a long time. I haven't written personally, but as a few of my college professors loved to say about writing, "It's in me, and it gots to get out."

I'm getting back into the blogging scene in 2014 (here or maybe on a different platform), and I figured a good way to kick in a renewed habit is to kick out 2013 with a few words. Since lists are ALL THE RAGE at the local paper, this post will be presented in list form.

This year was kind of a transitional one for me. It was better than 2012 and, hopefully, not as good as the year ahead.

2013 in lists and categoriesCollapse )


With a waggle of its stubby tail and a few hops, the four-week-old kitten skidded its way along the large windows in the living room, absorbing the sunlight and warmth and atmosphere of its new family in its new home.

She shook with fear for about 10 minutes, reacting to every heavy footstep of the five of us gathered to watch her first venture into cohabitation. The Orioles game blared from the large television at the other end of the room, and every crack of the bat sent her tiny, 13.8-ounce body into new sets of frightened shakes.

I rescued Storm, literally, from a storm drain outside the McDonald's in my town. One of the managers and I pulled the grate off, and I grabbed her, right there, from the hole in the middle of the busy intersection. After a visit to the vet, a small dose of flea/lice medicine, a few days of rest and recovery in my room and a few bouts of unsuccessful protests on my part against my parents, Storm skipped and scooted with nervous energy across the living room on her maiden voyage through our house.

Aside from my mom, my dad, and my two younger brothers, another pair of eyes watched from the shadows behind a chair parked in the corner of the room.The eyes belonged to Ruby...Collapse )



It's a sharp pop at first, and then it's a dull thud as it works its way through plastic and cushions and fabric. It's a muffled jolt that shakes the body's core and shoots out to all its extremities.

It's a transfer of energy, a meeting between two bodies in motion, a collision in an ongoing battle for space to win an ongoing war for dominance.

It's the body checkCollapse )


Love From Tim

Her marble eyes beamed out through a heavy pair of thick, round glasses, and a wry smile sprouted between her paunchy cheeks as she asked the question. It's a question she'd asked thousands of times before, but everything about her suggested she still enjoyed it as it dispersed through the humid mid-afternoon air from the check-out counter to all the corners of the flower shop.
"And what would you like to put on the card with your name?"
I hesitated, and I stammered quite a bit, blasting through all the files in my brain in an attempt to retrieve an answer more cooperative than the one lodged somewhere between my heart an my free-falling stomach.
"Uhhhhhhhhhhh," I exhaled, staring at the counter in front of me. I dragged my glance upward, matching the marble eyes of the older women, the one who asked the question thousands of times before, who attaches floral-friendly greetings to the lives of complete strangers.
"Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, frrrrrrroooooommmmmmm," There. I started. That wasn't so bad, I thought.
"Frommmmm Tim." I nodded with approval. "I guess."
The smile sprouting between her paunchy cheeks grew wider.
"Oh, no," she said in objection. "I'm not putting, 'From, Tim.' It's going to be love. 'Love from Tim.'"
I swallowed hard, sending spittle down toward that free-falling stomach of mine, toward all the mixed feelings that led me to the flower show in the first place.
"Love from Tim" sounded stupid. "From Tim" works in a casual, generic way, but it doesn't quite match the gesture of sending flowers in the first place. "Love Tim" could work, I guess, in a direct, non-subtle kind of way. "Love from Tim," though? Well, that sounds way too weird. "Hey," it says. "Here's love. It's a half-dozen violets in a white ceramic cup wrapped in a pink bow-tie ribbon. It costs $17.99. This is love. This is love from Tim."
But, stupid or not, "Love from Tim" was something concrete, and it fit on a greeting card attached to a half-dozen violets.
"Okay," I said.

To Be Continued/extended ... maybe ...

Notes from Thursday's Flyers game

My brother ordered tickets to Thursday's Flyers game. We each brought a friend. A few observations:

I found out Thursday...Collapse )


I wore an eye patch once

I wore an eye patch once.

I wore an eye patch, per doctor's orders. At one point, when I was 3 or 4, I went through eye surgery. My one eye, you see, is weaker than the other eye, and that required corrective eye-muscle surgery.

And that corrective-eye surgery required an eye patch.

Maybe I wore it a few hours, or a couple days. I don't remember. I'm not sure if I wore it to cover the good eye to strengthen the other, or the corrected eye to aid its healing. The whole time -- or one point, at least -- my 3-or-4-year-old mind imagined me a pirate with a fastened peg leg, and a parrot perched over my right shoulder.

I don't remember that, though, either.

But I wore an eye patch for a few hours or a couple days, and that is what I remember.

At age 3 or 4, I remember my mom talking about my eyes with a friend, or the mother of a friend I had in pre-school. While they talked, my friend and I moved cars across a laminated mat, a sprawling labyrinth of miniature roads in the middle of my living room. I spent hours on hands and knees, managing the traffic of Matchboxes and Hot Wheels and fire engines -- whoa boy, did I ever love fire engines. I'd roll them around, pretending each second was the final leg of the greatest race in the history of civilization.

My parents talk about the time I ripped the whole IV out of my arm. That episode probably happened during the corrective-eye-surgery ordeal. I don't remember ripping out the IV, feeling its sting, or screaming and crying because I felt so scared and uncomfortable. My parents also talk about the tantrums I threw as a child. I'd get myself so worked up, they say, to a point where I threw up.

I don't remember that, either.

I do remember the toy fire engines I used to play with, the plastic fireman's hats I used to wear. The books I collected, and the VHS tapes I watched over and over and over. I loved fire fighting and fire engines. It all used to fascinate me. The big red trucks. Their lights and their whistles. I loved it so much that, to this day, I'll hear the distant squeal of a siren or a big, honking horn, and I'll feel the goosebumps racing up my arms.

I liked the progression. I enjoyed the idea of voracious flames succumbing to these behemoth machines and brave men wearing cool hats. At the end of the day, after I'd wheeled all the emergency vehicles around the sprawling sea of miniature roads and rolled up the mat and threw an ungodly temper tantrum over something irrelevant, the fires would all be extinguished.

I don't remember the first time the fire of reality melted those false notions away. I don't remember the last time I parked all of the Matchboxes and Hot Wheels and folded up the mat and all its roads. I don't recall the first time I thought to tell someone about wearing an eye patch because it's out of the ordinary and makes a good story.

It's a full two decades after I wore the eye patch, and now I wear glasses -- old glasses -- with scratched lenses and flimsy frames, and through those glasses, I see the world unfold around me.

I remember growing up, past 3 or 4, and looking forward to this point in my life. I looked forward to shedding the shackles of school and parental control, to picking a career and a wife and ending up with a few children (however that happens). Now I'm here, looking around through glasses that are scratched and flimsy, and longing for a few hours to spend with Matchboxes and Hot Wheels, to put out imaginary fires and to forget things like IVs and demonic tantrums.

Because now those IVs hurt, those fires are real, and all that time I spent playing with cars and toys, well, it isn't mine any more.

And I remember that, all of it, a lot better than I remember ever wearing an eye patch.



The breeze -- still armed with a February bite -- dragged itself across the open fields, swirled around the man-made pond adjacent to a small garden, and wrapped itself around me, a solitary figure hunched over on a bench at the outdoor roller hockey rink.

I settled in against the cold steel of the bench, watching two boys -- maybe 12 years old at most -- swing and shoot and pass at the far end of the rink. Under the blustery afternoon's grip, in a knit cap, a gray hoodie, a Jeremy Roenick replica jersey and a pair of sweatpants, I shivered and held my breath.

It had been many months since I skated on a rink, and my first few strides felt flawed in my brother's skates, a pair of Bauers with three wheels -- or what used to be wheels -- on each. Both boots sported duct tape, and the front of the left one sported a healthy gash across the toes. Kicking off rust and fighting the friction of worn-out wheels, I stumbled from the bench into the zone. A few laps around the face-off circles and a couple pivots later, I found my edges, made my way back to the cold steel of the bench, and waited.

Read more...Collapse )

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