Thursday, October 27, 2005

No football, no problem

2nd grade teacher recently left a comment on one of my posts saying they don’t play football in her neck of the woods. Instead they play soccer and lacrosse. That’s a little hard to swallow for a West Texas boy. Around here, if you don’t play football, you don’t play anything.

Things are different in our neighbor states. Soccer is big in New Mexico and in rural Oklahoma (eastern Oklahoma) baseball is the big thing. They play fall and spring baseball.

Of course, I work at a university that doesn’t have a football team. We used to … the fighting Jackrabbits. But that was a long time ago. We recently tried soccer. We fielded a women’s soccer team for three years before giving it the boot – or should I say giving it the cleat.

Oh well, basketball (scrimmage) starts tonight, so I’m happy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Behold, the power of ...

Like gossamer wings floating gently on the breeze, their indelible image dots the distant horizon. A calling card, crying out to the perpetually young, drawing children of all shapes and sizes in mythical proportions. It’s something we as adults cannot comprehend, but never should we underestimate the power of the Golden Arches.

My 5-year-old teenager lay bleary eyed amid the covers on her bed. It was time to arise and prepare for another taxing day of Kindergarten. This week the youngsters are studying the color gray, the letter “P” and the number 7.

“Dada, close the door,” she grumbles as she pulls her Dora comforter over her head. “It is too bright.”

Quietly I pick my way to her bedside, dodging a wasteland that once was lorded over by the diminutive Polly Pockets. I lean down beside her bed.

“If you get up,” I gently whisper, “we will get McDonald’s for breakfast.”

My words did not go unheeded for I invoked the name of the almighty. My daughter generally falls under the category of “high-maintenance” as she prepares for her day, demanding assistance in choosing her clothes and shoes while being forced to brush her hair and teeth.

But today was different. Today was McDonald’s. For obvious reasons, my daughter chose to be in Mrs. McDonald’s kindergarten class at her school. A wise choice which my wife, who also teaches at the school, agreed with. But the power of the arches far exceeds the question of finding qualified educators.

I had only left my child’s room when she zipped past me holding a pair of jeans and a shirt. As I, still clad in my bath robe, walked into my room in order to prepare for my work day, I glanced over to see that my child was already wearing her shirt and was in the midst of pulling on her favorite pair of jeans.

Before I had the chance to pull my clothes from the closet, she had her socks and shoes in hand and was asking for assistance in brushing her hair. I had no choice. After all, my child was answering to a higher calling.

This story tends to lose its luster as my child finished getting ready then waited patiently for her father to complete his morning routine. But the brilliant shine of the arches was written all over her face. We were going to McDonald’s.

I’m not sure what it is about the joint that intrigues kids so. The food is barely tolerable, the bathrooms are dirty and the playground is eerily reminiscent to feed lot in mid-summer temperatures. But somehow … some way … the marketing genius that is McDonald’s has tapped into the psyche of the American offspring.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Friday night curse

It’s me again … suffering from the doldrums that are a Monday in the early fall. The afternoon consisted of menial tasks at the office while trying to battle the evil forces that are also known laziness and lack of focus.

The reality of my situation was that I had press releases to write and bills to requisition, but I’d rather be taking a nap or playing golf … or playing basketball. Once basketball season rolls around, you will probably tire of reading about the exploits of our teams, but the fact remains that I love basketball season.

Of course, that doesn’t quite fit with the status quo in West Texas where football is god. Last Friday was a big football day around here. The local team, holding onto an undefeated record, was scheduled to play their chief rival which was also undefeated and ranked higher in the state. The two teams are split by roughly 60 miles of highway, not nearly enough to keep rabid fans from flocking to enemy turf when the mighty pigskin is in action.

My brother-in-law went to the game. I thought about going, but decided I didn’t want to mess with the overcrowded high school stadium. The stadium was built to accommodate 7,500 fans. According to reports, there were more than 12,000 people at the game.

I spent nearly 10 years working as a sports reporter for a few small, daily newspapers in the area. I have seen my fare share of Friday night football games. I have dealt with dense coaches and brain dead fans. I have written glowing stories about egotistical athletes whose antics would make me want to puke. I have been there when riots broke out in the stadiums, fights broke out on the field and the rules of sportsmanship and fair play have been scoffed at like a bologna sandwich at a $100 a plate Junior Service League fund raiser.

I have seen and dealt with the basest of human behavior. I have dealt with athletes who needlessly showboat to draw attention to themselves. I have listened to armchair quarterbacks gripe and complain about the ignorance of the current coaching staff, all the while basing their arguments on game situation in which they have no concept of the actual rules. I have listened to parents who complain about coaches not playing their kids. I have taken phone calls early on Sunday morning from parents who gripe because the local sports reporter didn’t herald their baby as the basketball superstar that he so obviously was. (The following week said “superstar” scored only four points and was non-existent in a big game. Guess whose baby was mentioned early in the story for his lack of participation. The little punk and one of his buddies generally took the court either high or drunk, maybe both, so he wasn't very high on my list of favorite people to begin with.)

And according to my brother-in-law, Friday’s big game was no different. Fans and parents booing the opposition as the young men took the field. Dirty players making dirty plays through the contest. Trash talking … cheap shots … and at least one coach who has been known to run up the score whenever he gets a chance.

I’m glad I didn’t go to that game. I’ve seen so much of that garbage that it makes my stomach turn. There have been times in the past that I have actually hoped the local team that I was covering at the time would actually get beat bad just because the kids and coaches were getting too cocky, and forgetting about sportsmanship.

After hearing my brother-in-law tell his story I quickly pointed out to those listening … “that’s why I have become such a big fan of women’s basketball.” Not that women can’t suffer from these same issues, but there are fewer of them who harbor such delusions of grandeur and complete self idolization. Especially locally.

Our women’s basketball team held a gathering at the coach’s house several weeks ago at which time the players could get to know each other and the coaches could hand out team rules for the season. The following day, I asked the assistant coach how the meeting went. She said that of the 15 young women on the team, eight of them gave a brief testimony of how God and their faith played a part in choosing to attend this school. That’s pretty amazing.

They may not be perfect, but that is definitely a step in the right direction.

As my daughter would say, “Go Queens!”

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

What advanced degree is right for me

You Should Get a MFA (Masters of Fine Arts)

You're a blooming artistic talent, even if you aren't quite convinced.
You'd make an incredible artist, photographer, or film maker.

Interesting, huh. I guess I am sort of on the right track.

Friday, October 07, 2005

What Peanuts Character am I

You are Schroeder!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Sissa and the Band

It’s somewhat of a ritual.

On the days I take Rae to kindergarten we always have to listen carefully as we leave the house. You see, the high school band practices just a few blocks away from our house and when more than 300 horn blowers are doing their thing, the sound easily travels the short distance.

As the melodic sounds of the warm-up scale drift our way Rae quickly points out that we have to drive by the band on our way to school.

This particular morning was a chilly one, but we still lower the windows and listen as we drive that way.

“Are they wearing coats?” Rae asks.

“I bet some of them are,” I respond.

“Do you think T--- is wearing her coat?”

“I don’t know. But I bet she is.”

T--- is the younger sister of E---- (see previous posts). Rae adores both of them and I can’t say that I blame her because they are both good kids.

As we slowly drive by the band's practice lot, Rae listens intently. Just before we lose sight of the band Rae sticks are hand out the window and waves.

“What are you doing,” I ask.

Rae grins. “Waving and T---.”

For Whom the Megaphone Cheers

Rae and I were heading to McDonalds to pick up a Happy Meal. She has spent a few hours with me at work and we knew we were on our own for supper.

As we drove, my child, who is 5-years old, continued her cheering, “Go, Queens! Go, E----!” (see previous post)

She suddenly stopped and looked at me.

“Da-Da,” she said, because that’s what she calls me. “When I get older and when E---- is playing baksetball (that’s how she says basketball), and I’m a cheerleader, can I be a big cheerleader for E----?”

It was then that I had to explain to her that E----, who is a junior in college, only has a few years left to play basketball. Rae pondered this for a moment as a sad, thoughtful look crossed her face.

“But,” I said. “E---- might be a coach. Maybe you could be a cheerleader for the team she is coaching.”

“No,” Rae replied. “I want her to be a baksetball player and I will be her cheerleader..."

The Rubber Bracelet

Rae, my child, had a traumatic experience at school a few days ago.

I was in charge of taking the pup to school that fateful day. It was Friday. Not just any Friday, but homecoming Friday for the local school district. The buzz of excitement spread throughout the school system all the way down to the kindergarteners. As students entered their elementary school, they were met by a cornucopia of temptations spread out across a table. The astronomically priced knick-knacks were selling like proverbial hot cakes and children as young as my daughter snatched up pom-poms, buttons, rubber bracelets and temporary tattoos.

My child, with her silken blonde pony tail and big blue eyes looked at me.

“Da-Da,” she said, because that is what she calls me. “I want a bracelet and pom-poms.”

Knowing that all this promotional junk is a cash cow for whoever is selling it, I generally try to stay away from such things. However, it is difficult to say no to the offspring so I walk up to the table and pull out my wallet. I was fortunate, however, in that the ladies working at the table knew my wife, who teaches at the school, and said she had already come by to get some things.

I put my wallet back in my pocket and my child and I headed off down the fourth-grade hall to find mama. Sure enough, Rae was met by a set of pom-poms and a few tattoos. It wasn’t until later that I found out she was supposed to have a rubber bracelet and button as well.

Rae came home that afternoon with a sad look in her eye. I listened as she and my wife told me that my wife had also purchased the other items and had left them at Rae’s spot in her kindergarten class. However, by the time Rae reached her seat, the items were gone. Some sticky fingered kindergartener had absconded with my daughter’s stuff.

As tears welled up in Rae’s eyes I was hit with an idea.

“Rae,” I said, because that is not really what I call her. “What if I get you another bracelet?”

She looked hopeful.

“Only this one,” I continued, “will be a better one because it will be for the Queens, not the Bulldogs.”

One of Rae’s favorite activities is to go to basketball games with her dad, wearing her cheerleader outfit and cheering at the top of her voice … “Go, Queens! Go, E----!” E----, of course, being the young lady who babysits Rae on occasion.

A few days later I called the coach and explained the situation to him. He and his assistant gladly agreed to give my child another bracelet. Rae was so proud of it. I kept her at my office one afternoon and she proudly showed her knew bracelet to everyone in the building. “It’s a Queen one,” she said.

As we left work that day, Rae sat in the Jeep and expressed her gratitude for the new bracelet.

“And Da-Da,” she said. “I will give you one that you can wear. … but you will have to get it for me.”

Oh well, I guess it’s the thought that counts.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Birthdays and Bible Characters

Have you ever had one of those days? You know, the kind of day where you find it difficult or downright impossible to get motivated about much of anything. I showed up at work about half and hour early today and so far haven’t done anything other than write this post. In another 10 minutes I will technically be “on the clock,” and I suppose I will have to accomplish something.

The most interesting thing I have done so far is to flip through a magazine and try to get ideas for a good Halloween costume. I’ve always kind of liked Halloween, it comes along just a few days after my birthday – that’s October 25 for all you family members who have trouble remembering. Growing up, my grandfather and I would always celebrate our birthdays together because his was on October 24. My parents could never remember whose birthday was on which particular day, but it didn’t really matter because we always celebrated them at the same time.

However, since my grandfather died, people have had a little difficulty remembering my birthday. In fact, a few years ago, the only person other than my wife who remembered my birthday was my mother-in-law. Granted, I don’t always remember birthdays, but there is usually someone around to remind me. Someone who will pick up the phone and remind me to call my grandmother or send mom a card. But nooooooo ……. Nobody remembered my birthday. Needless to say, I hold that over the family members.

Anyway, back to Halloween. Our Sunday school class is planning a Halloween party on Oct. 29. The catch is you have to dress up as a Biblical character. Perhaps the thinking behind this is to stay away from costumes depicting something scary or demonic or trashy whores who sell themselves into servitude. I’m thinking, “Yeah! Right. Have you read your Bible lately?” Dementors and Wraiths have nothing on the horsemen of the apocalypse.

Of course, coming up with ideas and being able to pull off the costumes are two totally different things. My best idea yet is to show up dressed as John the Baptist – after he was beheaded. Other than that, I’m thinking of dressing as Captain Jack Sparrow and telling everybody that I’m Noah. I don’t know if that will work, but it would be fun.