OK

I’m going to try and type this. I’m still flying incredibly high right now.

As a sports fan, I’ve been blessed. Some of my teams, notably the Texas Rangers, have never done particularly well. However, I have had four Super Bowl wins by the Dallas Cowboys, a championship for the Philadelphia 76ers back when I cared about the NBA, and Wichita State baseball in 1989.

In 1986 I graduated from Wichita East and went to KU. I wasn’t really anxious to go to KU at the time, but a big part of that was that I really wasn’t ready for college. I had a great year, though I flunked out :).

I do, however, recall sleeping on concrete for student tickets for the basketball games. I also recall playing pickup basketball in Robinson Gymnasium a lot. On one occasion the game included Cedric Hunter, Ron Vaughn (who played football but was an incredible basketball player), Mark Turgeon, and, oh yeah, a pretty decent player named Danny Manning.

That was a really really good KU Basketball team that year, and Allen Field House is an amazing place to watch a game. I was absolutely hooked. That particular team couldn’t quite win it all and had several seniors.

The 1987-88 season was expected to be a good, but not necessarily great team. And then the magic happened. I recall watching that game upstairs in the house I grew up in. I recall seeing a guy a year ahead of me both at Wichita East and Robinson Jr. High have the game of his life, hitting a clutch 3 pointer when it counted.

Wow.

And now I’m blessed again.

I went into this game thinking that Memphis would probably win, but it was going to be a tight game. I knew that KU would have some runs, and I knew Memphis would have some runs, and I figured it would be a tight game at the end.

I was right.

KU dominated on the inside. I told a friend of mine today that I hoped KU’s inside game would offset the amazing Memphis backcourt.

I was right here too.

But how it all happened is amazing. KU was down by 9 points late in the game. John Calipari said that everything had to go right in those last few minutes for KU to tie the game up.

It did.

Mario Chalmers’ 3 point shot with a hand in his face with 2.1 seconds left to tie the game is quite possibly the single most amazing action by a person on any team I have ever rooted for. Danny played an incredible game, but there’s no one moment of the game in 1988 that was so, so, so, well, hell, I hate the word, but so clutch.

About the only other single play was the third to short to first putout that saved my softball perfect game.

Few of the championships I’ve rooted for have come down to one play.

This did.

They’re already suggesting it is the single most important shot in Kansas basketball history. I’m not sure there’s another shot in the discussion.

Once he made that shot, the game was essentially over.

KU was flying high, and once KU scored first in the overtime, it was an avalanche.

So now I’m quivering and weeping and bursting with energy and and and…

Well…

Roooooooooock
Chaallllllllk
Jayhaaawwwwwk

KU

Gulf Wars

So I have to say that the administration of Gulf Wars is making me not so anxious to want to go next year.

If you’ve been to Gulf, then you know the parking lot is a long way away, with no real good way to walk to and from, and no busses. The Pennsic parking is supremely better, and would be even if there were no busses. It’s a lighted walk back along a road at Pennsic. It is a completely unlit walk back until you get to something civilized, and that could be a while, on terrain that has holes and other issues. But hey, that we knew about.

You may or may not have heard about the waterbearing kerfluffle. The end result was that it was a ton of extra work and even more acceptance of crap for the Calontir waterbearers. They did an amazing job. Even so, it was harder to get water because while they tried to be everywhere, they had to be somewhere at a single point. I guess that’s the Schrodinger’s cat aspect of waterbearing or something.

Yet, at the same time, the ones who were sooooo worried about germ transfer that they felt the need to make it more likely that fighters would get dehydrated and overheated, neglected to ensure the most basic of sanitation issues. There was no hand sanitizer in the porta-potties. None when I got there, and then only the real small bottles taped to the door and finally a medium-sized bottle set next to the row. I suspect those were contributed by people in the area because I didn’t see them on other porta-potties.

Then there was the fighting schedule. I don’t mind tournaments, I even like to fight in them. I do mind having a tournament go so long that it delays a battle for over three hours. We do have better things to do than sit on the battlefield and wait for that long. I’m in the SCA, I get that things don’t always start on time, but this was ridiculous.

With all that bad stuff, and there was other bad stuff, there is one salient fact. I have great friends. And no matter how stupidly an event is run, my friends make it worth my while.

The knighting of Duncan Faramach was an amazing experience for me. It was such a joy to ride on the coattails (or would this be cloaktails?) of his day. He’s been an inspiration to me for years, and seeing him receive the accolade was a something I cannot really describe. I will say I’m so glad I didn’t kill anything with the spear I was using to hold his banner during the ceremony 😉

I only fought on Friday. I tried to on Thursday and Saturday, but… On Thursday I suppose I technically fought, but I only went out for the bridge battle, and I got stuck in the wrong place for 7.5ft polearm, blocked the 4 spearmen aiming at me for a little while, but died about 2 minutes in. I didn’t get to swing at all. And that was the end of the day for me. Saturday I tried to put my fighting pants/leg armor on and those hints that they have been giving me that their days were numbered became a death rattle. The good news is that I had already started working on that but, but the bad news is that it will take a couple of weeks probably. Still, on Friday during the field battle I got to kill a lot. Richard the Rampant was my scutum guy and he’s a monster. He created a ton of angles and lanes for my polearm.

I had a great time with my friends. I even got an Ealdormere fix, getting to see Jocelyn, Nigel, Adrielle, Berend and Mahault. Hirsch and I had a great time playing chess on the veranda overlooking the rapier ravine battle and drinking (his) beer. Of course, I let him win since he was supplying the beverage 😉 There was lots of other singing and silliness and it was a grand time.

Halidor told me something very nice, that even though he had known me several years before I joined the SCA, he said that I became a part of Calontir so quickly that he forgets knowing me beforehand. I say that because it is true that the one structure on earth that I feel most comfortable in is the Royal Pavilion at a war.

When Siridean and Sile were on the throne, I helped set up the Pavilion at Pennsic, and they had just laid down the mats and the pillows. I saw the pillows on the ground and starting running from 15 yards away and launched myself onto the pillows and rolled clutching one through the pavilion. Sile looked at me, and I said “I’m home.”

So, I guess, Gulf Wars is lucky that even though they mismanaged the event horribly, I was still “home.”

Ultimate Highlight

OK, Eliskimo, here’s a real post. Only, what, 3 months later 🙂

So ESPN just went through a long process to determine the most notable sports highlight.

The one highlight that still gives me chills won. It wasn’t any of the Super Bowl victories of the Dallas Cowboys. It wasn’t Joe Carter ending a World Series. It wasn’t Kellen Winslow in Miami in the best NFL game I have ever watched. It wasn’t Danny Manning and KU in 1988. None of the great highlights of history like Carlton Fisk, or Bobby Thomsen, or “down goes Frazier!” have that much impact on me.

Nope, it’s the one highlight that my eyes tear up every time. Even 28 years later.

I remember this event clearly. I was only 12 at the time. I remember watching it on a black and white TV at a house my parents rented when we moved to Wichita. It was an odd house that reflected the 1970s, and had a slightly raised alcove where we’d put the TV. There were no chairs, I had to sit on the ugly orange-brown shag carpet popular then.

But that’s where I saw Mike Eruzione score the goal that put the US up 4-3. And that’s where I watched Jim Craig and the rest somehow, someway, incredibly survive the frantic attempts by the Russians to tie the game.

Yes, Al Michaels, I do believe in miracles.

Why?

Do some people feel obligated to prevent others from making their own decisions?

Especially when there’s a perfectly acceptable compromise available.

PS I was going to set my mood as “infuriated,” but, sadly, “thirsty” is soon to be more applicable.

Catching Up

Greetings all. I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been able to post.

On Thursday the 12th, Hereward and I went out and watched a soccer game at a bar, and stayed out wayyy late, so on Friday both he and I decided to stay in and relax.

Saturday was a big day. First was USA-Austria in the U20 World Cup. This was a very good game, but with a poor result. US scored a lovely goal early on, and kept putting pressure on the Austrians but couldn’t get that second goal in. Late in the first half, the Austrians put in a scrappy goal. They duplicated this feat in extra time, and ended up taking the game 2-1. The US played very well though, and unlike the Uruguay game, there was no silliness from either team though the referee was horrid. The refereeing overall at the World Cup was rubbish, and is something FIFA needs to fix if it ever wants to see soccer really big in the US.

During the game, however, it rained and was kind of icky. We went and ate and Hereward and Jocelyn got spiked coffees. I had a beer. You warm up your way, I’ll warm up mine 🙂 After that was the new Harry Potter movie, which I liked a lot. In fact, this may be my favorite of the movies thus far. Jocelyn went home then, but Hereward and I went to a really good bar called the Hideout. They happened to have the Mahones, an Irish punk band, so we jammed to that for the rest of the evening. The Mahones rocked.

The bad news was that at fighter practice the next day my knees were very tired from the dancing all night. Still, it was a very good practice, something like 12 of us in armor, and several good melees.

This was the day that Eoforwic threw a party for my birthday. After practice, we went over to Marchmount House and had a very good time. I made gin and tonics, much to the enjoyment and chagrin of Hans. After the gin ran out, we had vodka tonics; after the tonic ran out, we had vodka lemonades. It was a really good party, especially since I’m not used to having birthday parties in my honor.

Monday night, my actual birthday, Drew and Donna invited Hereward and I to dinner. It was a nice relaxing dinner. They hadn’t realized it was my birthday when they made the invite, and they apparently scrambled to get a cake at the last moment. It was a very tasty cake and a good time with great people and a cute baby.

OK, there is lots more to chat about, but right now, I’m going to get ready and head to Pennsic. More later.

…And Justice For All

Rarely have I seen a more just result to a sporting event than in the USA v. Uruguay game yesterday.

Hereward warned me that Uruguay was a chippy team, relying on gamesmanship and shady play more than their skill. Unfortunately, he was very correct. Uruguay had a goodly amount of skill, and when they used it, they were impressive, but….

At least four times, they hit or kicked a US player during dead ball situations while the ref wasn’t looking. They obviously aimed at hurting Josie Altidore, the best scorer on the US team, and they did so. One particular trick they have down is leading with a knee on a high ball while opponents are going after it with their head. After the collision, they try to get a yellow card because their knee is in pain after colliding with the other guy’s head. Essentially they play like Ty Cobb at his meanest.

But they don’t even have the honor that Cobb had. They whined about every call, even some of the ones that went their way. They flopped dozens of times. They would make an obvious foul in a relatively unimportant place, and it would be a huge deal. After they got up a goal, they started stalling, obviously stalling, ridiculously obviously stalling. Then, when the US went up a goal late, they whined and complained about the US playing deliberately, except all the US was doing was playing at average speed, not stalling. Hereward says this kind of chippiness and gamesmanship is the standard from South American soccer, which is too bad, because they’re such good players.

The Uruguayans had a ton of skill last night, but they spent their time being chippy. For those who run the game who want to see it become more popular in the US, stopping the whining, stopping the acting, stopping the sleazy gamesmanship, and stopping the dirty play would be the place to start.

But this post is about justice. The US team handled all of the crap very well. They didn’t retaliate, they just plugged on. They didn’t really get into their game until late, because Uruguay did a good job of taking the US strategy away from them, but they never got discouraged.

Uruguay got a goal fairly late in the match, and it seemed like they would knock the States out. This is when the Uruguayans started stalling and wasting time blatantly. However, with about 5 minutes left, the US put a goal in more with luck and pluckiness than skill.

The game went to extra time and with about 10 minutes left, the US put in another goal from hard work. At this point, the game changed quite a bit. The Uruguayans started attacking, but the US had some great counter-attacks. Justice was served when the ref blew the final whistle.

The excitement, unfortunately, was not over. Apparently, the Uruguayans were so incensed at losing to the US that one of them spit into an American’s face and one launched a karate kick at a US player. A brawl ensued, not surprisingly, if these initial reports are true.

The US faces some tough challenges ahead. What’s the injury status of Altidore and Zizzo from this game? The ref gave the US 5 yellow cards (ridiculous actually, he gave out like 7 yellows in a 10 minute stretch) and with the brawl after the game, will the US have a full squad against Austria on Saturday?

But it was a great result. I was really impressed with the US team’s poise and courage and grit. They deserve a ton of praise and respect.

An American Idiot in the Great White North

Well, it’s been a few great days so it’s time to pass on what’s happened.

Let’s see, last time we heard from our fearless hero he had just gotten back from the war. Well, I had a fantastic and moderately productive week.

Tuesday I was a slug. I was just totally beat after all of the traveling. Hereward and I went to lunch and hung out for a couple of pints, but that was all I had in me. Wednesday was significantly more productive. I went to the Dictionary of Old English project and chatted with them. I got a copy of the Old English Corpus and have really enjoyed prowling around through it. We also chatted about their resources and plans. Dr. Antoinette diPaulo Healey is in charge of the project and she is wonderfully enthusiastic and charming. I was fortunate to get there on cake day, the day that they have cake for all of the birthdays during the month with their tea. It was very informative and also very charming. Grandma would have enjoyed it too.

Wednesday night Hereward and I went to the Eoforwic meeting. The meeting was supposed to be over the ins and outs of Pennsic for new people, but there was only one person there who had never been to Pennsic, so we went to the bar. We hung out at O’Grady’s having a fabulous time. Eventually Hereward had to go to another pub to watch Toronto FC play Real Salt Lake with the Toronto FC supporters. After everyone had left O’Grady’s I went and joined him and we got pretty drunk together. Tomorrow, I would be joining Eoforwic again but I’ll be doing something else. More later on that.

Thursday I spent with Medb. It was really good to reconnect some with her. We haven’t chatted as much over the past few years as much as I would have liked, but we’re both so busy and I’m so bad about keeping contact. We ate at a really good Chinese buffet and watched Labyrinth. I hadn’t seen that in a looooong time. It has aged some, but still a fun movie and Jim Henson was a magician.

Friday night was pretty laid back, but Jocelyn and I had a good time on Saturday. She is breaking up with her husband for many of the same reasons I broke up with Holly. We talked a lot at Trillies about our respective experiences, and the similarities are striking. She’s going to counseling, which helped both Holly and I quite a bit, and we are enjoying comparing notes. Saturday, we went to the ROM and walked around for four hours, then went to see Ocean’s 13, then had dinner at a Korean table grill place. A nice relaxing evening between friends.

Sunday was more relaxation amongst friends. I went out to Adrielle and Nigel’s place in Lindsay. Berend, Mahault, Colyne, and Thorfinna were also there. We didn’t do much of anything but sit around, chat, grill out, and pet Gilchrist the dog. The big highlight has to be the ice cream truck. I have to say that Berend does mentally handicapped wayyyyy too well.

Monday was kind of an odd night, much of which was spent in Lakeside Park enjoying the sights. On the one hand was Lake Ontario, and I have always felt the call of large bodies of water. Other people might see a nothingness of gray or blue, but I see a shifting kaleidescope of energy and soul. I also was able to do some anthropological research as I watched the people at the part.

Then we get to tonight. Hereward and I just got back from the Weird Al concert. It was amazing. First of all, the concert was at Massey Hall. Massey Hall was built in 1894 and it is a fantastic place to watch a concert. We were 16 rows back, essentially in the center, and could see pretty much every detail. Al puts on an incredibly detailed show. The music is the music, but the band changes costumes a lot, and during those breaks he has mock interviews with various people on the screen behind him. These are absolutely hilarious, and give him time to put on the Amish costume or the Jedi costume or the Fat costume or the Nirvana costume or the…, well you get the picture. His bandmates are also constantly changing as well. One great highlight was the harmonica guy. This guy was one of the roadies who during Al’s parody of Billy Joel’s Piano Man came out and held the harmonica. He was very funny, shaking out the spit, combing his hair, looking bored waiting for his moment. Later, he came out in drag for another song. The concert was a little over 2 hours long and it flew by. It was, as I say, amazing. Perhaps the most ironic moment was hearing Weird Al do Canadian Idiot in a century old Toronto venue. Awesome.

One of the things that Hereward and I have been doing is watching lots of soccer. He’s a rabid fan, and I really enjoy the game, so we’ve seen lots of games. It is especially enjoyable since the US has done really well so far in the FIFA U-20 Cup. Tomorrow, instead of going to Eoforwic’s meeting, he and I will be going to see the US play Uruguay in the round of 16. I’m pumped.

Thursday, we’re going to the Dora Keogh, an Irish pub that is supposed to have fantastic Irish music. I don’t know what’s happening on Friday or Saturday, but I am definitely looking forward to Eoforwic fighter practice on Sunday. More later, eh?

Trillium War

I am such a geek about SCA wars. They are truly my natural habitat.

So, I get to Trillium War and Berend and Mahault and Adrielle welcome me wonderfully. They help with the tent and I get set up quickly and smoothly. Mahault and Adrielle were the autocrats of the event and they did a fine job, but I have to say that Berend was amazing. He never seemed to stop working. He cooked all of our meals, helped everyone out around the camp, was in charge of the restrooms for the event, and did even more. He even made a knife out of a file during the event.

I got there on Wednesday so what that really meant was that I had two full days of lounging, which I think I needed. I sang a few songs, drank a few beers, and generally just laid around. It was great. By Friday night, Eoforwic had started to appear and suddenly I had almost too many people to hang out with. It’s terrible having friends ;).

The fighting on Saturday went really well. I think I had one of my best days in a while and had a great time. I felt much slower on Sunday and got my head handed to me (almost literally), but I still had a great time. I think some of my slowness on Sunday was due to facing off (and losing) to Ed the Red quite a few times during the day.

I, of course, did quite a bit of singing at the war. Ealdormere does have a very nice bardic community and the make me feel very welcome to perform.

I have to say, actually, that I was made to feel very welcome for the whole event. Many people went out of their way here, but I have to mention Her Grace Genevieve, who seemed to make it her mission to ensure I had beer. I’d be somewhere randomly on the site and she’d just come get my mug and fill it. Her beer-dar is amazing.

I also had a great time reconnecting with Eoforwic. Pennsic is a wonderful thing, and I enjoy my time with Ealdormere and Eoforwic there, but the problem is that we’re all so busy we can hardly sit down and talk. I was able to do some of that, and I’m really looking forward to going to meetings and practices over the next month.

Now I am firmly entrenched at Hereward’s and we’ve watched quite a lot of soccer. I suspect we’ll watch more through the month. It’s been fun to get back into Toronto rhythms and I’m really looking forward to this month.

Opinions and fiction of person misplaced in time.