Tuesday, November 24, 2009

For The Love Of The Game

In my early 20's I played semi-pro football in Canada. At least they told me it was semi-pro but even Will Farrell's character in the movie by the same name was paid more than we were. Needless to say it was one of the greatest times of my life. You probably think that you're going to hear that my team had a great season record, or that maybe I was similar to that Rudy Cat in the 'Rudy' movie, or that the story ends with a last minute touchdown win for the good guys. Sorry to disappoint. Our record was as dismal as it was abysmal. In fact, it was both. Truth be told one should not even go into our stats let alone our 0 and 12 record. I can honestly count the number of season first downs we got in my first year, on one hand and have two fingers left over.

Football is absolutely, with the exception of rugby, perhaps, the toughest team sport to be a loser in. Doubles badminton? Ha! You can't get to the shuttlecock quick enough so you go home. Soccer? Ha! Maybe you're pooped a little bit. But in football you take a beating, a worse beating than the other team and your coach can't stand you; you're pissed at certain teammates for not holding up their ends and as a single lad; no gridiron groupies for you! But, once again, all though they weren't glory days they definitely verge on 'the good old days'.

A rainy, muddy Sunday afternoon. My favorite conditions. We played a team from the east side of town, on their turf. They were known to be tough and dirty play was not beneath them. But most importantly they were the one team in the league that we had a shot of beating. We were down by a substantial amount at the half. But, if anything, we were a 2nd half team. We had a great defense...o.k. a really good defense. I'm proud to say I was a defense back. I played Corner and then Safety, the latter half of the season. (This came as result of being lead tackler for the team at the Corner position; the Corner covers the receivers who go out for passes). Free Safety ah, I loved it. I was told that I was to seek and destroy and that I could roam anywhere I wanted because although I wasn't pro football material, I did seem to know what was coming before it happened.

Their star running back came around the left side on a sweep. Our Corner got blown out by their Receiver...sissy. That left me and beyond that he was looking at a touchdown. Pardon me, another touchdown. It was my favorite angle. I would bait the runner. Let him think that he could get outside me and sprint down the sideline to victory. Then like a panther I'd accelerate and drive the both of us out of bounds. I particularly liked this when you popped him into his own bench because I'd make my body as big as possible and take as many 'bystanders' down with me. Occasionally you took a few cleats and swear words from the other team but it was always worth it.

He shot for the sideline. The trap would work. Our eyes locked. In that moment it's almost as if a telepathic conversation happens. He sported a nasty confident grin. A grin that told me that he knew what I was doing but he was going for it anyway. I got pissed. The audacity! Didn't he know that I was lead tackler on a shitty team? I started bootin' it. We were 15 feet apart, neither man giving an inch. I knew I was going full tilt and he must have been as well. He didn't even fake that he might cut back inside. We both knew where this was going. We're now 3 feet from each other and the sideline. For a moment I saw brief panic in his eyes. I recognized it because I had the same look. Except mine said, "Are you nuts? break off dummy or pull up!" At this point its a race to get lower than the other guy. In football either tackler or ball handler can do the damage. We both dropped our helmets. KABOOM! A perfect head-on collision. I blinked on impact and then quickly opened my eyes. I see his helmet fly off his head. It seemed to hover like a spinning saucer 3 feet above his head. We took out a few of his teammates. I remember seeing stars for the first time in my life. They looked cool. I could have stayed there awhile and watched the show. I wanted to because my head was killing me. My teammates come over and pulled me up fast. Too fast, I wanted to puke. I saw my combatant. His team was patting him on the back as he trotted back to the field. Clearly, he recovered better than I did. One of my buddies congratulates me with a slap to the helmet. My left knee buckled but I held. Ego forbid me from taking the injury time out that I wanted. We huddled up. That's when I saw the same birds that used to float around the heads of Yosemite Sam and Sylvester of the Bugs Bunny cartoon when their bells got rung! If it weren't for the pain I'd have enjoyed conversing with them for a spell, but I had a game to play. It wasn't until we approached the line of scrimmage that the birds took flight. I still wanted to puke, however.

In the end we lost that game. As we shook hands with our opponents at least 3 of their players complemented me on the hit. Every body present that day thought I got the better of that Cat seeing as his helmet flew, almost back to their water cooler as it turned out. I never copped to the severity of the hit for me...until this blog entry. Technically I should write a paragraph on the upside of playing the game. But, nah, just ask somebody who's played; they'll tell it like it is. This story's moral is: if a guy's eyes tell you that he's unafraid to bang heads with you, believe em'. And when the collision is all said and done never let them see ya sweat...and definitely don't let them see the birds you're conversing with.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Change For The Better

The new regime of me. Sounds a tad blow-hardy doesn't it. On my blog profile I mention that I enjoy taking shots at politicians. I am officially done with all of that as I am done with politicians. I realize I may lose two of my three blog readers but it's time for me to get back to me, and more importantly, you! Politics has pushed me to the brink of mild insanity, anger and at times cynical laughter sprinkled with a hint of the diabolic. I wandered not unlike a clueless infant unaware that the world politic nearly possessed me. I devoured political hardcovers the moment they hit the shelves the way a heroin addict takes to his fixes. I told myself that I stayed current so that I'd never be hoodwinked, only to rant through this blog the way a bulimic purges after a huge guilty meal. I'd shoot my mouth off at parties on my imaginary soap box...and really, does anybody truly want to party with that guy? I was 'that guy'. I'm that guy, no more.

I'm through swimming in the ocean of 'the more things change the more they stay the same'. I looked at the big picture and couldn't help but hear the song by the Who with the lyric, "...the thing about the new boss, he's the same as the old boss." I don't want to hear about 'evil doers','coalitions of the willing','change we can believe in' or 'yes we can.' I'm done!

Until President Obama states (and delivers) that all of the troops in Iraq are coming home as well as all of the troops in Afghanistan, I'm not listening. I'm not playing. And I ain't buying! This journey has taught me two things. Actually, two things I already knew and already felt. One: we do not need to be in Iraq or Afghanistan. Two: if America, regardless of who is President, stopped resource mining (pillaging) and pursuing world hegemony/empire expansion, the list of enemies/terrorists and whatever other title constitutes a threat to national security, would plummet, recede and subside. We all know this but most of us haven't got the stones to admit it. Myself included until now, save occasional lip service...and I guess, blog service.

It's a new day for this humble blogger. The new message which I'd drifted away from: Love. How simple is that? If you're eye rolling, heavy sighing or puking, well then so be it. But, you'll come around baby, I know you will. I'd rather inspire than rant. I'm going to volunteer. I'm good to my neighbor but I can be better. I might even hug a tree. Would it make me a sissy if I did? If you think so then say it to my face, and see what happens to ya. [Oh, shit, three sentences and I forgot I'm supposed to be spreadin' love. Baby steps, I suppose.] The new blogs will still have the humor that some of my blogs had but I'll blog about inspirational Cats (people). I'll be bringin' the good news. And it will all come from a place of love. Don't worry, it won't be the fluffy nauseating kind...not that there's anything wrong with that, it just ain't me. I'm still the rough and tumble rocker who'll be the first through the thick door, shoulder rolling, and coming up fast for whatever ya got. I'll just have love in my heart as I put my 200 pounds of fast movin' business to the soon to be splintered door. Love, people! Spread it early and often...but do so carefully!

*N.B. This blogger is not on ecstasy or any other love enhancing drug. His last ride/trip may or may not have been pot brownies in 2000. Boy was that hilarious, and a topic for another blog...perhaps.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pirates...Made or Born?

Other than Halloween and perhaps the Disney movie franchise with Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean, most of us rarely hear much about modern day pirates. It wasn't until last April when Somali pirates off the coast of Somalia took a vessel and kidnapped sea Captain Richard Phillips. The captain was held on a small lifeboat by four hostage takers. A five day stand off ended with President Obama giving the navy seals the green light to "take 'em out" if I may paraphrase. The seal snipers waited until the cover of night, took aim at the kidnappers heads and shoulders and dropped three of the four bad guys. One of the pirates surrendered. He was 16 years old.

A familiar theme popped into my pea brain when I heard tell of the media's tale and that was; there has got to be more 'story', to this news story. What followed from the media was the usual: Separate the good guy from the evil guy, make the delineation lighthouse clear and write numerous stories that support the 'good and evil' findings. The latest attack came outside of Mogadishu. Pirates attacked a Panamanian flagged ship that left Dubai on October 24th. The kidnappers want $3 million.

My question is: Who are the pirates and why piracy in the year 2009? Somalia had a large fishing industry. Word spread of the abundant food source and rival/illegal trawlers and fishermen came to the area and took what they wanted. Somalia, having a powerless government was, you guessed it, powerless to do anything about it. To add insult to thievery, the trawlers and vessels dumped tons of waste into the waters which helped kill the remaining marine life that the sea poachers hadn't plundered. Then there are the big guns. The oil tankers who pass through the region. They not only dump their garbage but leaky tankers do what leaky tankers do. Then there is Somalia itself. In two words; poverty stricken. Lastly, it has even been reported that thanks to corporatism, nuclear waste has also been dumped into Somalia's waters. So who are the pirates? Well, the western media might go as far as saying that the brigands are disgruntled fisherman. However,it would be more accurate if they declared that these men began as fishermen and became HUNGRY AND DESPERATE!

The Somali fisherman cannot go to any police and report that his waters have been poisoned and pillaged. Nor can he go to his government and ask for a welfare check or food stamps. He is poor and on the brink of starvation. Before you jump up and call me a bleeding heart liberal, and label me as some kind of pirate/ terrorist sympathizer, I'm just searching for an answer...and now I feel that I have a better understanding of the Somali pirate. I don't condone the violence. But, what I do condone is a government that works for the people, which sadly, Somalia's government does not. I also condone a West that backs up the U.N. as well as aid organizations so that people in Somalia or any country are not pushed to starvation and lawlessness. But the U.N. is weakly backed and has their hands tied fighting an Islamic insurgency. And the latest contribution from the outside world is an international armada of war ships patrolling the area.

Please welcome the international armada players: The U.S., the E.U., Nato, Japan, South Korea and China topped off with U.S. drones launched from Seychelles. I'm not knocking a joint police force but once again in an effort to help, we are trying to treat the effect, not the cause. The shit, so to speak, is already out of the horse by the time you take out pirates in the open seas. If you deal with the poverty problem, (cause) and the pillaging problem (more cause) the shit stays in the horse and the fisherman never becomes a pirate (effect). Then we can all go back to dressing as pirates on Halloween and hoping and praying that Hollywood doesn't release Pirates of the Caribbean IV!