Sunday, October 30, 2011

Serious Ponderings From a Child of the 90s

I feel there are so many unanswered questions circulating in the universe that deserve to finally be put to rest.  I for one stay up at night pondering such topics unable to sleep sometimes.  Some are not mysteries, but debates that will never definitively be settled  either. But I feel talking about them may someday lead to answers.

Mystery #1: Where did Judy go?
Yes, you are correct...I am speaking of the younger sister on Family Matters who suddenly disappeared.  We all remember Eddie, we all remember Laura, but what happened to younger sister, Judy?  We all remember the hard hitting serious episodes of Laura getting hooked on 'pep pills' to fit in with the cheerleaders and when Eddie was beat up by the Dragons gang.  But where was Judy's after school special episode?  That's right, we never got to see one before she up and vanished.  The only theory I can come up with on this one is that there is some sort of vault where forgotten characters go to never be seen again.  Let's all just hope Judy, Minkus from Boy Meets World and each one of the Becky's from Roseanne (every other week) are all safe and happy together in the Forgotten Characters Vault.

Debate #1: JTT or Zachary Ty Bryan?
A question as old as time...who was cuter?  Johnathan Taylor Thomas or Zachary Ty Bryan?  They played brothers on Home Improvement which made it all the more juicy.  Brother vs brother.  Who would win? The cute little shaggy haired one with a funny personality or the older, blonde athletic one with a mullet that made girls near and far quiver.  As they got older on the show it just kept getting harder and harder to decide.  As they got hotter, the younger one got more and more odd looking, emphasizing the beautiful features these two had to offer.  I myself was torn for quite awhile before officially going "Team Zachary".  I realize putting this bold statement out there could affect me in the public eye, but I have to be honest.  But I do believe there will never be a clear cut verdict in this debate amongst the masses.

Mystery #2: What in the hell is 'Mmmbop' about?
From the chorus which is nothing but noises and sounds, to the verses which are not only confusing but also slightly depressing to the ending where they just keep asking questions...none of it seems to make sense.  The first verse basically says you will see a lot of people but only one or two will stick around and then you're going to have lots of pain, lose all your hair and they are unsure who will still care about you at that point.  Then they make melodic gibberish for a little while and then they become metaphorical with a flower reference before more harmonious gibberish.  As a child listening to Casey Kasem's Top 40 on a Saturday morning I would sit with fingers crossed praying for this song to be #1.  It had brainwashed me with its happy go lucky feel but it has also left me wondering for over a decade...what is the secret they speak of in the song?  What is the true meaning of the song and the secret?  The line goes, "It's a secret no one knows." And I believe it remains true to this day.  Well done Hanson, well done.

Debate #2: Britney or Christina?
I'm sorry Christina, I don't even really consider this one a debate.  Even though Britney went bat shit crazy after awhile, she wins this one for me.  I can still do 93% of the dance moves to classic jams such as Baby One More Time, Oops I Did It Again, Crazy, and Sometimes. I even scouted a location to do a re-creation of the Sometimes dance sequence on a pier somewhere.  Christina, as much as I loved Genie in a Bottle and those bright orange pants you wore in that video, I'm sorry, but Britney comes first. I feel this one needs no further discussion.  If you disagree then I guess that means I will not be sharing my Capri Sun with you at lunch tomorrow and you can forget about being in my Sometimes redo music video.  So talk to the hand.

There are so many more unanswered questions out there that I don't have the time to go into right now. But briefly I'll leave you with a few more to ponder: Where was that music coming from every time Sam climbed in Clarissa's window? How exactly did Urkel's port-a-potty machine turn him into a guy WITHOUT glasses? Jessie Spano: The drug moments, where did it all go wrong? Who was responsible for the creepy idea of Uncle Jesse singing the Beach Boys classic "Forever" to his naked twin babies in a music video? In Sister Act 2 was it Frank K because his last name began with a K or was it Frankay? How does Homeward Bound get every single solitary person who watches it, to cry?  Who was appointed to research Lori Beth Denburg’s Vital Information, and how were they so stinking smart? Some of these may never be answered and we will have to live with that. So for now, I put these topics to rest although I do intend to continue my research. I will file this research into my Lisa Frank trapper keeper and ponder these mysteries while sipping on a blue kool aid and feeling the cool, calming snap of a snap bracelet against my wrist.  Until next time, thanks for reading; you’re all that and a bag of chips.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lauren Cheney - 007 Spy Mode

Is she a forward?  Is she a central midfielder?  Is she an outside midfielder?  Is she just an exotic breed of athlete unusually good at everything she is tasked with?  Yes, yes, yes, and most definitely yes.  Lauren Cheney is the exotic animal I am speaking of.  This World Cup was the first of her career and her performance blew all expectations of her out of the water.

Over the past couple of years I have become enthralled with Lauren Cheney’s play.  She plays with a sense of knowledge, composure and talent.  She’s one of the youngsters on the team, but you wouldn’t know it by how she composes herself.  If the team finds themselves behind in a game Cheney never seems to lose her cool.  Some young players put into those situations (for that matter, veteran players as well) will lose it a bit and just start making bad decisions.  But Cheney seems to play at her best in these situations.  She keeps her head in the game and continues making solid choices.  Somehow she makes you feel excited and calm at the same time.  She is an engaging exciting player to watch, but when you watch her circulating around the pitch you have an overall sense of calmness knowing she is controlling her game.  I don’t know how she does it but it kind of freaks me out; It’s the only time I ever want to jump around cheering and also just kick my feet up and maybe sip on a cup of Trader Joe’s chamomile tea at the same time.  Her voice is actually very calming as well now that I think about it.  She should do relaxation tapes.  (Yes, I just said relaxation tapes. I am only 24 but feel much older now that I am promoting an idea involving cassette tapes) Lauren, if you’re out there we need to talk.  You + me + my 90’s cassette tape recorder = GOLD.

Next I need to talk about her shot.  In my piece on Heather O’Reilly I mention Lauren Cheney when I speak of their “cringe-worthy shot”.  They both have a shot that no one can rival as far as I am concerned.  Cheney has an ability to release a shot so quickly that if you blink you will miss it.  You don’t even have to blink to miss it.  It’s that fast.  If she has the ball at her feet and is within 40 yards of the goal, no goalkeeper is safe.  If I were a goalkeeper and saw Cheney 35 yards out with hunger in her eyes I would just run for the locker room.  Because there are only two options at that point; she is either going to score on you embarrassingly easy or take your head off if you get in the way of the ball.  One of the best examples I can give is in an international friendly they played against Mexico earlier this year.  It was in stoppage time in the 92nd minute, the game still tied 0-0 and after a series of passes from Heather O’Reilly to Abby Wambach, Wambach laid it off for Cheney.  She took a couple touches around a defender and then from around 30 yards out cracked a shot that makes me sick when I watch it.  As the ball hit the inside of the net on the far post the crowd erupted and Cheney had scored the game winner.  That shot to this day gives me chills and forces me to make a ridiculously embarrassing face because I cannot contain myself.  The way she took control, stepped over the ball, took aim and just released that ferocious strike is something she can do on the drop of a dime and when she does it, it’s one of the most beautiful things in all of sports.  Some people weep over the site of a beautiful sunset or a gorgeous landscape.  They can’t control their emotion seeing such beauty.  Normally I would point and laugh at those people, but Lauren Cheney has showed me the light.  I understand now what that feels like and what a true thing of beauty is; it is Lauren Cheney’s perfect shot.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still probably laugh at those who cry at sunsets, but I can understand where they’re coming from now. 

Aside from her breathtaking shots Cheney has a lot to offer all over the pitch.  And I do mean all over.  In the World Cup this summer she was not a regular starter for the US yet.  But head coach, Pia Sundhage, in her infinite wisdom and vision saw something in Cheney and decided last minute to start her in the left midfield position.  Cheney, being a forward or sometimes an attacking central midfielder was about to show the world what a sensational and versatile player she is.  From the first moment she stepped on the field to the last moment on the field she was nothing but consistent, fierce, composed and skilled.  The thing that impressed me most was her involvement in everything.  It was like she was in some sort of 007 / Charlie’s Angels spy mode.  Every time you thought you knew where she was or what she was doing she would pop up somewhere else.  With her athleticism, endurance, and knowledge of the game she was able to be everywhere she needed to be and then some.  I think at one point I even heard some 007 Bond music playing in the background as she snuck up on defenders and darted around the field like a top secret spy.  I was waiting for her to start doing some spy moves somersaulting behind other players and popping up at the opportune moment to release fire on goal.  Point is; when she is in the midfield position whether it is out wide or in the middle she is everywhere.  At this World Cup if we needed her help defensively, we had it.  If we needed her help offensively, we had it.  If we needed her connecting the defense to the offense, we had it.  I think at one point she was even up in the booth commentating in the middle of a play before jumping back on the field to finish a play just to rub it in that she is in fact supernatural and can do it all.  I wrote a piece about my favorite Women’s Professional Soccer team, the Boston Breakers, which she is a member of.  In it I mention her amazing versatility joking that if Pia Sundhage had asked her during the World Cup to play left midfield while covering right back and also making some saves in goal from time to time - all while juggling rubber chickens on a unicycle for comedic affect she could have done it.  I stand by this statement.  There is no doubt in my mind that whatever she is tasked with she can do with poise, composure and beauty. 

When I look to the future of women’s soccer in our country I look mainly at four names: Alex Morgan, Kelley O’Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Lauren Cheney.  We have numerous young players who are all going to lead us including Tobin Heath, Amy Rodriguez and Ali Krieger amongst others.  We also have a stacked list of players with more experience who still have long careers left of the beautiful game as well.  But out of the newer players I see Morgan leading us in the scoreboard.  I see O’Hara leading us in the midfield connecting plays and being the work horse that never gives up.  I see Becky Sauerbrunn taking over for the remarkable Christie Rampone when she retires as our steady central voice of reason in the defense.  And I see Lauren Cheney leading us in controlling the pace of a game; knowing when to sit back and connect plays and when to step up and take the game into her hands and make magic happen.  And also to put immense fear in goalkeepers everywhere, of course. 

Lauren Cheney is not only a phenomenal player but she has a phenomenal story behind her as well.  I joke a lot, but in all seriousness Cheney is an inspiration and an undisputable great success story.  On and off the field she is a wonderful human being.  On top of that she underwent open heart surgery at 3 years old.  Now at 24 she is an Olympic Gold Medalist and vital part to our National Team.  Her heart has been through a lot but as you can see every time she steps on the field she puts every ounce of that heart into how she plays and leaves it on the field.  Inspirational is not a powerful enough word for Ms Cheney.

There is no doubt in my mind that Lauren Cheney is going to lead us to ample victories in years to come and be a main asset to our US Women’s National Team in every major competition.  There is no doubt in my mind that Lauren Cheney will also someday put a hole through a net from her blistering shot.  Her composure, her shot, her versatility and her skill on the ball are all things of beauty and cannot be replicated.  If they could be, I would advise looking into cloning.

Thank you, Lauren for being a true hero, a role model on and off the field and a brilliantly skilled athlete for us all to marvel at.  All this talk has gotten me pumped up so I am going to watch some YouTube videos of her highlights.  Anyone who wants to go weep at a sunset be my guest…but I’ll be here weeping at the beauty that is Lauren Cheney’s play.  And will most likely do so curled up in the fetal position unable to move from the severe cringe-worthiness.  If no one hears from me for a few days please send help.  Thank you.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Can't Believe I Am Ranting About DWTS...

Ok, it’s time for a bit of a rant.  I am not a fan of reality competition shows normally.  Believe it or not, I like those crazy old fashion scripted shows that require actors and writers and all of those silly things.  The only reality competition shows I can tolerate are dancing ones usually because I just love watching good dancers.  And also because I love dancing in my living room acting like I am one of them.  But this normally just ends in me being upset by show politics and some pulled muscles and angry neighbors from me thumping around my apartment.  I watch So You Think You Can Dance sometimes because they are actually good dancers.  I normally stay away from Dancing With The Stars because only half the people there are good dancers.  I understand the draw to it though and why so many people watch it.  And the professional dancers on the show really are amazing to watch.  This season I of course had to tune in though to see the amazing Hope Solo, being the US Women's Soccer nut that I am.  And since I started watching I was reminded of why I don’t watch.

The judges score and critique everyone just about as consistently as Charlie Sheen makes good decisions.  They are so erratic and bias it makes me want to just turn the TV off and have Len deported back to England.  The people on this show are not trying to become professional ballroom dancers.  They are there to entertain people, learn something new, and make a nice extra paycheck.  So in my opinion the judges need to ease up a bit.  Sure, give them constructive criticism so they can improve but there is no need to knock them down as much as they do in some cases.  They’re not going to go on from this show and audition for Broadway so chill out.  I'm not saying they have to hold their hand and give them a puppy to hold while they get their results to make them feel better, but just remember they are not professionals.  You can also see how quickly the judges choose favorites.  I'll be honest, if it weren't for the show politics I would watch a show like this much, much more often.  But its unfortunately nothing but politics, spray tans, and hot foreign dancers.  I’ll welcome the spray tans and hot foreign dancers with open arms but the politics get so frustrating.  Hope looks amazing every week and is always very obviously trying her best and looking great while doing it but the judges don't seem to find it necessary to ever give her any positive notes. 

Hope Solo came on the show while in the middle of training for upcoming friendly matches for the US Women’s National Team.  That’s right judges…she is a current, working athlete in the height of her career.  So when you tell her she is not committing enough time then maybe you should  have just cast another TMZ headline who has nothing better to do other than beg E! for a reality show.  She’s an athlete who could eat you for breakfast and she lives for competition.  Saying she doesn’t work hard enough is like saying Len doesn’t need to get laid.  It’s just not true.  On top of those comments it was always the same story that she was too strong and not feminine enough.  Again, not sure if you were aware of this before she came on the show but she is a professional athlete.  Say it with me judges, professional athlete.  They tend to have muscles – weird, I know.  And if you are going to tell her she is not feminine enough maybe you could have let Carson Kressley know he is not masculine enough.  If it’s ok to tell Hope to act more girly and sexy it should be ok to tell Carson to act like a man.  I can guarantee you if they had comments like that towards Carson there would have been a riot and an angry mob of people protesting.  But it’s perfectly acceptable to say it to Hope.  Chaz Bono brought up the excellent point about a double standard towards him being an overweight man on the show and the judges always praising the overweight women for what they are accomplishing, but just taking jabs at him.  If they try to cram anymore double standards stuffed into 3 hours of weekly programming my TV might explode from it.  Give the remarks you need to in order to help them get better, let them know what they are doing right and to keep doing it and then do your little shtick you think is funny and then be done, judges.

Hope's partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy brought up an excellent point this week also.  He was sick of seeing the judges judge some people purely on entertainment value and giving an “A for effort” while others such as Hope were getting judged like she was auditioning to get into an esteemed ballroom dance school.  Every little meticulous detail was being brought out against her while other get comments like, "It looked so fun!"  or "I loved the energy!"  It's like they are either hard ass ballroom critics judging pros who have been in the business for 20 years or they turn into 5 year old children clapping and giggling at a number with shiny costumes and super cool jazz handsI was happy to see Maksim stand up for her and for everyone really, who has been getting judged unfairly, although Hope definitely has taken the worst of it.  Chaz is the other one who has taken some rough verbal beatings.  I love his partner, Lacey Schwimmer, I think she is an amazing dancer and she has really brought him a long way.  I was a fan of hers from So You Think You Can Dance and like seeing her continuing a strong career.  She seems like kind of a ham which I like too.  She can also totally pull off the spray tan and look great.  (No oompa loompa for her)  But the judges definitely took the same judging approach with Chaz as they have with Hope.  Someone needs to give the judges some happy Paula Abdul pills before a show so they can relax, slur through some encouraging comments and then promptly pass out as soon as the show is over.

Ok, now that I have spent 10 minutes ranting about a show I never even watch other than this season I think I’ll call it quits.  So in closing: I’m sad to see Lacey and Chaz go because Lacey makes me laugh and is an amazing dancer, I’m sad the boy Kardashian is still there, (but makes sense because I’m sure Kris Jenner has an army of illegal aliens working for $3.75 an hour submitting votes every week in some sort of dungeon that Kim designed) I’m happy the hot Irish guy is still there, and I am extremely happy that Hope once again prevailed and will be there for at least another week to hopefully shut the judges up.  We’re all behind you Hope, keep doing you and I’ll try to find a way to get someone to slip some of those Paula Abdul drugs to the judges next week.

New Hampshire or Bust

Chelsea Handler is one of my favorite comedians.  Not only because she makes fun of Angelina Jolie and drinks more vodka than any human ever should, but also because she makes fun of Tori Spelling and drinks more vodka than any human ever should.  I have gotten to see her perform her stand up live 4 times now and each time she killed it on stage as always while I killed it in my seat as always.  (When I say she killed it I mean she was really funny and when I say I killed it I mean I killed lots of cocktails, just to clear up any confusion) 

I heard Chelsea would be performing in New Hampshire and decided it was a must that I be in attendance.  I asked a few of my friends if they wanted to go by telling them they were going.  So we bought the tickets, booked the hotel and hit the road.  It was me and my friend Rhac (Yes, pronounced like ‘rock’ and yes, his real name) and our friends the super couple, Shaun and Evangeline.  They were one of those couples that were either super fun or super lame.  So Rhac was there as my safety in case the lame couple showed up I had Rhac to have fun with.  I mean, his name is Rhac, you know he is a good time.  We were planning on getting into town the night before the show, spending the following day exploring New Hampshire, go to the show that night and then drive back the next day.  The plan took a detour when we found a fun moose statue and Santa Claus though.  Let me explain.

We were driving through Vermont, right on schedule to get to our hotel in New Hampshire around 7pm when Rhac noticed a moose statue he wanted to get a picture with of course.  Rhac and I had been drinking for most of the trip already at this point while Shaun drove.  So we were basically like drunk children wanting to take every detour possible that seemed fun.  We turned around, took some pictures with the moose and then tried to get back on track.  But since we are all directionally impaired and in backwoods Vermont where there is no service for our GPS we did not.  Instead we asked some guy for directions and while walking back to the car Santa spotted us.  There was a tavern across the street and a man who looked like Santa Claus if Santa was from the sticks and it was the off season so he trimmed his beard a bit.  He was wearing jeans, a white tee, and American Flag suspenders.  He called out, “What are you doing?  I’m drinking!  You should come do the same!”  I’m not one to disobey Santa, so we adhered.  It was a stereotypical small Vermont town.  Everyone in the bar knew each other and accepted us like we were all old friends.  Right down to Kathy the bartender and all of the beer vendors there who got drunk with us giving us tons of free swag.  We barely spent a penny with all the free drinks we were getting and also walked away with shirts, beads, beer buckets, and lots of stories from Santa Claus.  We came to find out Santa’s name was Bob.  We also came to find out Bob was a bit of a creeper which still to this day taints Christmas for me a little bit.  I’ve never had so much fun with a bunch of strangers in my life.  Evangeline was the responsible one to step up and say she would stay sober to get us to New Hampshire.  I think we had all forgotten we still had to get to New Hampshire that night until around 11 o’clock. 

So after a night of drinks, taking 100’s of pictures with the locals, singing to classic 80’s jams on the jukebox, free swag, and creepy looks from Bob, we headed to New Hampshire.  When we got there Rhac and I went to check in.  Rhac was wearing every shirt we got at the bar, his sunglasses, and a Bud Light bucket on his head.  I was sophisticatedly dressed with about 3 pounds of beads around my neck, Land Shark sunglasses and Hawaiian leis around my head.  We got checked in, Rhac got the keys and I hit on the bell boy.  Successful check in for sure.

The following day we took it easy and just drove around the town finding some little diners and shops to go to.  We also found a nice little river to just relax at and prepare for the night ahead.  We got back to the room with some time to pregame and get ready for the show and when we got to the show we all had an appropriate buzz on and were ready for some comedy.  Chelsea was hilarious as always and put on an amazing show.  Heather McDonald opened for her and was funny as always too.  I had gotten to see Heather open for her when I saw Chelsea in New Jersey too where after the show I asked for her autograph by brilliantly saying, “I have a book and you should sign it right now because you’re funny and I like your face.”  I shouldn’t be allowed to meet famous people.  They were doing a book signing after that Jersey show and I was convinced if I met Chelsea she would see what a talent I was and hire me for her show.  I decided I would wing it and say something fabulous off the top of my head when I meet her.  I had brought her book to get signed but they were only allowing people to get signatures who bought the book at the store she was signing at.  Mine no longer had the book cover on it and was obviously not bought there.  So I forced my boyfriend to buy one so we could get in line.  Then we find out they are giving post-its with the correct spelling of your name so Chelsea can just look at that and you needed that post-it to get the autograph. So they only gave Jarrid one since he bought the book.  I kept asking for one but that miserable woman was not budging and kept saying I couldn’t get the autograph since I didn’t buy the book there.  So we moved up in line a bit and then I noticed my nemesis, the angry lady, was gone.  So I grabbed Jarrid’s book that was bought there, went back to them and told them that the lady that was there before didn’t give me a post-it after I bought my book and that she should probably be fired due to a bad attitude and a slight lisp.  It was a success.  I got my post-it.  When we finally got to Chelsea the fabulous thing I came up with was a drunken slur of, “I lied to get in this line.  Here is a post it with my name on it - It’s for you!  I didn’t buy this here.”  Then I spilled all the ice out of my empty rum and coke that I forgot I was holding and told the security guy to take a picture for me as I threw my camera at him.  This is why I can’t have nice things.

But back to New Hampshire – we watched the show and were on a funny high and also an alcoholic high.  Afterwards we walked around looking for a fun spot to spend the night at and came across a group outside of a place that sounded like they had some live music.  It was a super chill bar with a really sick live jam band playing.  Rhac and Shaun are both huge jam band fans and I can tell you with 100% confidence if one of the band members asked them to go home with them they would have.  I have never seen two grown ass men turn into groupies so quickly.  Those “Beliebers” have nothing on Rhac and Shaun.  While they threw their unmentionables on stage obsessing over the band I had my eyes set on Purple Shirt.  This is still what we call him because none of us remember his name.  He looked like a hot modern day Greaser minus the literal greasy hair and cigarette pack wrapped up in his sleeve.  He was playing pool and kept looking over so I decided I would give him the privilege to buy the rest of my drinks that night.  Purple Shirt hung out with us the rest of the night while we danced and partied with the band who Rhac and Shaun had of course become friends with.  After the bar closed we headed back to the hotel where we kept the party going with some more drinks, pizza, and a giant kickball that had appeared at some point.  Somehow we didn’t break anything in the hotel room from our drunken kickball / soccer game we were playing until around 5 am.  When I woke the next morning I was lying with my head off the foot of the bed, Rhac was sleeping in the desk chair, and the room looked like a tornado hit it.  A giant, drunk, tornado.  This is the effect Chelsea Handler has on people.

It had been a great trip but it was time to go home.  The ride home was a bit tamer than the ride there of course.  We each had to take turns driving due to the lack of sleep and liver function.  People always ask me what bars we went to and if we ever went back and the answers are - no idea and no.  I would love to know the names of those bars so we could revisit them but sadly I do not.  Hell, I can’t even tell you the name of the town we were in, in Vermont.  But I can tell you that road trips and Chelsea Handler put together are always going to be a really, really great time for you and your friends and a really, really bad time for your liver.

Cheers Chelsea.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

We Didn't Start The Fire

If any of the following topics intrigue you, I suggest you continue reading: a massive fire, Christmas trees, drinking games, pickles and something about a Mexican.  If these topics do not interest you, this may not be the story for you.  I kind of have your interest now though anyways, don't I?  You'll just have to trust me.

After a night out at the bars my friend Mollie and I were heading back to her house with her boyfriend. I don't remember his name so we'll just call him DD, because that's the purpose he served for me on this particular evening.  On the way back Mollie's roommate called her saying she wanted to build a fire in their fire pit and have some drinks.  We had a task at hand: get wood for fire.  And wouldn't you know, as we were driving we noticed a dead, old Christmas tree on the side of the road with some people's trash.  Our target was in site. "DD, pull over!" If you have never witnessed two drunk girls wrestling a Christmas tree into the back of an SUV at 2am I highly recommend it.  After various failed and somewhat painful attempts we finally prevailed.  I can proudly say we beat the tree.  Suck it, inanimate object.  You were ousted by two drunkies and now we're going to light you on fire.  We drove the rest of the way back, got the tree out, and got ready to enjoy the rest of the night.

There were three people back at the house and if I could remember their names I would. But since I have the memory of a goldfish we'll call them Lady, Lady's Boyfriend and Alfred.  We had music, beer, food, and their shed in the back yard with a table inside ready and waiting for some drinking games to be played on it.  So we threw the entire tree in the fire pit and lit that bitch up.  The tree definitely did not fit in the fire pit and I'm sure if anyone else was watching they would have been 100% positive bad things were going to happen.  We headed into the shed and Alfred had a drinking game he wanted us to play.  The only thing I remember about it was that there was always a ‘Mexican’.  I really don't know the significance of the Mexican or what it means in the game and to be honest I didn't know that night either.  You know how with some drinking games the first time you learn them you pick it up right away?  And then other times, no matter how long you play it and how many times it is explained to you, you just keep missing the boat?  Well I don't know if the boat ever even came for me that night because I just lied my way through that game acting like I knew what I was doing.  Needless to say it didn't fare well for me and my liver.  It was a cool little shed for hanging out too.  There were lights strung all around it and they had some speakers in there pumping some music, it was good times.  I also remember an enormous jar of pickles.  And that they were some amazing pickles.  The only other time I've had better pickles in my life is a whole other story for another time.  That one involves my friend's haunted house, fighting, card games, lots of Bud Light, and creating our own sound and dialogue to an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.

After a few hours we all decided it was time to head to bed.  It was around 5 or 6 am at this point and we definitely looked the part.  We must have all looked like drunk zombies staggering into the house.  Alfred left at some point and I crashed out on the couch.  Lady and Lady's boyfriend - ah wait!  Her name is Katie.  Look at me remembering things.  One gold star for me!  So Katie and her boyfriend and Mollie and DD and I were all sound asleep when I was woken up around 7am.  The couch is right near the front door which is mostly glass so you can see through.  I woke up to see someone pounding on the door yelling at me.  It was some girl who looked like Katie.  I had barely been asleep for an hour and was still definitely drunk.  I was really confused as to why Katie was pounding on her own front door yelling at me.  This confusion and also seeing all of that obnoxious day light was bumming me out so I hid under the covers hoping she would go away.  This technique did not work.  She kept pounding and I decided I should try and figure out what she was yelling.  So like a confused, drunk little gopher I popped my head up from under the blankets and listened.  She was yelling, "Your shed is on fire!" This still took a moment to process before I could respond.  In my head I pictured a little fire and just thought, wow this lady is freaking out.  She needs to chill and let me go back to sleep.  I also was still unsure if it was Katie or not.  The thought process was not exactly going smoothly or quickly at this point.  So I just responded, "So put it out." And then hid under the covers again.  She kept pounding so I realized what I needed to do.  She obviously wasn't smart enough to figure out how to put the fire out so I yelled to her, "There's a hose and bucket on the side of the house." Finally I decided maybe I'll check it out because I obviously was not going to get any sleep until this little spark was put out.  So I walked through the kitchen to the deck and looked up to see the entire shed engulfed in flames which must have been 20 feet high.  Oops.

At this point the dogs were barking, the lady was still yelling and I was trying to find my phone to call 911 while attempting to wake the others.  The woman was screaming at me to save the animals in the craziest shrillest voice I’ve ever heard.  Both dogs were safely standing right next to me a little scared of the crazy yelling maniac while I tried to tell her she should have tried my hose and bucket solution a long time ago.  Katie and her boyfriend were basically in a coma.  They were not budging when I tried waking them. I went into Mollie's room to find she was just noticing through her window what was going on.  "Dude, your shed's on fire." Were my ever so eloquently spoken words to her.  Her response, "Yeah, no shit."  Mollie then took on the task of waking up her roommate and roommate's boyfriend who I had already slapped various times to no avail.  She started yelling at her, "Your shed is on fire!" Katie finally heard her and began laughing.  This went on for another few minutes before Katie finally got up.  We found out later Katie thought she was saying "Your shit is on fire." I see where the confusion was there.

We got out of the house with the dogs and the fire department finally showed up and put the fire out.  We came to find out the screaming lady was a jogger running past the house and noticed the enormous fire from the backyard.  She disappeared at some point after the firemen showed up.  As we stood in the street waiting to see what was going on we all asked ourselves the same question at the same time.  I know this, because all at once we all looked at each other with a face that said "Uh, oh.  Are we all drunken, accidental arsonists?" We discussed for about 5 minutes trying to remember if we put the camp fire out.  None of us could give a definitive answer so I went into survival mode and just started shaking my head, muttering, "Deny, deny, deny" like a crazy person still slightly staggering around.  At one point a fireman came up to me and started asking questions.  Due to a mix of confusion, paranoia and sleep deprivation I just stared at him refusing to speak until he became uncomfortable and walked away to talk to the others.

After it was safe to go back there we walked into the back yard to see a skeleton of a shed left, a half burned picnic table, an empty cooler, empty beer cans everywhere, and a fire pit with a giant skeleton of a Christmas tree laying across it.  It wasn't looking good for us.  The firemen asked us if we had been drinking last night and if we had built a fire.  Technically we were drinking that morning, if we're going by hours on the clock.  We didn't want to say anything incriminating that would make us sound like the irresponsible lushes that we were.  Luckily though, they came to find out it was caused by the extension cord that they used to hook up the speakers.  It was just an electrical fire that had nothing to do with the poorly constructed Christmas tree fire and our drunkenness.  See, extension cords are what are dangerous...not drunken disorderly conduct mixed with open flames.

So after everything was all taken care of the firemen left and we were all left just in complete awe about what had just happened.  This is the part in the story where everyone just let's out that deep breath, takes a step back and looks at what just happened and can do nothing but laugh.  Mollie got on the phone with her mom telling her what happened and all of a sudden we just hear her from the other room yell in a voice dripping with sarcasm and exhaustion, "Yea, Mom. I'll just call up 1 800 come pick up my shit!" I don't think Mollie was ready to start taking advice on how to clean up the mess quite yet. 

All in all, it was a good night.  Fun times, fun people, a giant jar of delicious pickles.  No one was hurt in the fire, none of us were arsonists, and their insurance covered everything since it was an electrical problem.  And as a bonus, the guy who lived next door who was always complaining about them being too loud...half of his shed burned down too because it was right next to their shed.  Bonus!  That's karma my friend.  People make noise, live with it or get your shed burned down, bro.  That's just how it works.

I suppose if someone were to ask me if there was a moral to the story that people can learn from I would say yes.  The moral is if someone is yelling to you that your shed is on fire, you should assume they actually mean your shed is on fire and you should most likely take some sort of action.  Either that, or, that a Christmas tree makes one terrific piece of kindling.  Yeah, I think that's it.

Happy camp fires everyone!  Cheers.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Abby Wambach - The Storm of the Century

As a soccer player how would you like the comfort of knowing your teammate is someone who has incredible knowledge of the game, leadership abilities the President wishes he possessed, a beautiful strike on the ball, a never die attitude, and a header with more pace on it than most people can get off of their feet?  Well, congratulations to anyone who has ever played with Abby Wambach because you have had that person as a teammate.  She is called one of the best in the world for great reason.  I don’t care if you are a soccer fanatic or if you are confused as to why no one is using their hands; when you watch Abby play you feel excitement, energy, passion, and amazement. 

I have been raving about a handful of other players on the US Women’s National Team all for different and very great reason in past blogs.  The team is filled with well rounded athletes who all go out and impress time and time again.  I am going to be honest; Abby is not my favorite player.  Don’t get me wrong I absolutely love her and she is definitely top 5 for me, it just comes down to personal preference for what you look for in your favorite players and for me that person is almost always a midfielder.  But what I will say is that Abby Wambach overall is I believe the best in the world.  She is a force that no one (no matter what position they play) in the world can match as far as I am concerned.  If there was a storm that combined winds from a tornado, flooding from a tsunami, ground shaking from an earthquake, and white out snow storms from a blizzard you would have an Abby Wambach caliber storm.  She is a force in every extreme aspect and will own you.  I would advise all meteorologists to beware next summer and get ready for some intense reporting.  Because the Abby Wambach Storm Of The Century will be in full force in London for the 2012 Olympics.  When that storm comes through town I would not want to be anywhere near it.  So for all of the teams unlucky enough to have to play them next summer: I will pray for your safe return to your homes after Wambach’s storm of fury and the USWNT send you packing.

There is something about Abby’s leadership skills that just leaves me speechless.  Well, almost speechless.  Who am I kidding?  I don’t get speechless.  Even from thousands of miles away, watching her on your TV screen, not being able to hear what she is saying, or be living in the moment with her; she still manages to energize you and give you belief that she is about to make magic happen.  There is no better example than in the semi final of the World Cup this year when the USA played Brazil.  Every one of our girls played with 300% heart, aggression, determination and skill.  I would say Wambach was somewhere in the 7000% range though.  At one point when they showed her close up I literally thought my TV was going to explode from the pressure and intense determination on her face.  Not going to lie…Abby Wambach’s ‘game face’ on my 42 inch HDTV terrified me.  HD should not be allowed when Wambach is on the hunt for a win.  After a game that filled us fans with every emotion ranging from excitement to frustration to anger to anxiousness, she left us with every emotion ranging from euphoria  to pride to extreme satisfaction to relief.  For every other goal that was scored during this World Cup by the USA, my typical celebration was a lap around my apartment screaming, jumping up and down, and throwing anything within reaching distance exerting pure joy.  (This resulted in some unhappy neighbors and a dire need for some new pint glasses needless to say)  But after Abby’s goal she scored in the 122nd minute of that game there was no screaming, no running, no broken glass.  I just dropped down to my knees, let out a breath I had been holding in for 122 minutes and put my arms up in the air like I was about to yell out “Stellaaaaaaa!”  This happened for a second time when Ali Krieger put away the final PK winning the match for us.  I am an honest writer so I cannot deny there were some tears shed as well.  Not to get all Lifetime Movie Network on you, but I definitely had a special moment.  I’ll just say I used more tissues after Abby's goal than your sappy best friend did watching The Notebook for the first time.  The powerful forces of the Abby Wambach Storm at work at their finest.  While we all sat on the edge of our seats throughout this game, Abby had a gut feeling, a drive within her pushing her, knowing that they were going to overcome and win.  Her leadership throughout her career has gotten her and her teams to where they are now and her leadership in that game got us to the quarter finals…and also made all of America go absolutely fricken insane.

Aside from her leadership everyone knows her for her epic headers that personally, give me a head / neck ache just watching them.  I for one believe Abby needs to get separate insurance for her head, her forehead, and each individual strand of hair on her head.  If anything were to happen to any of these crucial resources America would be devastated.  If I ever get the privilege of meeting Abby I will most likely awkwardly approach her and shove a helmet on her head encouraging her to never ever take it off other than for games.  That head is an American asset and we need to protect it.  It should never be hurt, injured in any way or touched by mere mortals.  We cannot let the magical powers embodied by Abby’s head escape.  Side note:  Abby, if you are reading I am more than willing to become your head’s body guard.  Or rather, head guard.  I vow I will never allow you to bump it on a low ceiling.  I vow I will never allow it to be touched by someone in a large crowd.  I vow that no bird will ever release itself while flying over your head putting it in direct danger of bird droppings.  Your head would be safe in my hands.  The only compensation I would ask for is that you promise to me you will win the gold in the 2012 Olympics and when you score your goals you do a dance choreographed by yours truly.  It will be a mix of 90’s pop, Broadway pizzazz, and 80’s break dancing, in case you were wondering.  If you don’t agree to the dance, then I will settle for the big shiny bright gold medal around your neck next summer while you and your team listen to our National Anthem atop the podium.  (And then maybe you could toss a ‘running man’ with some jazz hands in there for me)

She is just as lethal with the ball at her feet though as well which she deserves credit for.  When she is not scoring whether it be by header or a strike she is most likely running around creating all sorts of havoc for the defense.  When Abby is not scoring she is creating scoring opportunities for her teammates.  If Alex Morgan is open it’s because she is capable of running at speeds over 100 mph - but also because Abby is creating space for her and drawing in defenses to herself.  Abby is a master at opening up her other teammates whether it be another forward or a midfielder, she is always looking to open them up for chances on goal.  When she’s not doing one of those two things she is drawing fouls and throwing her body on the line for the good of the team.  She is not afraid to take a hit and draw a foul to, once again, create a scoring opportunity.  When she is not doing one of those three things, she is sleeping.  You know what though, now that I say it I bet you she is somehow creating goals even when she is sleeping.  Like she has some sort of powerful dreams that create goals the following day on the pitch.  She’s like a lady soccer wizard!  I’m on to you Wambach…I’m on to you.

Abby is an athletic, empowering, intelligent, brilliantly skilled player.  She is the best in the world for many more reasons than I can list in this and she has done so much for the growth of the sport in our country.  But years from now the day of disparity will inevitably come and she will retire.  Everyone is worried about 2012 and the apocalypse?  Please…the apocalypse will come the day Abby Wambach retires.  But I hope she continues as a coach for us in some capacity as she would be a phenomenal coach.  And now that we all know about her lady soccer wizardry powers that will definitely come in handy as well.  There will never be a day where we do not need to see Abby Wambach contributing to the sport in some way.  Yes I basically just said, “Abby, you need to live forever and ever and forever be a part of US women’s soccer.”  No pressure…

I need to stop writing now though.  I need to get down to business and get back to what really matters.  I need to start choreographing Abby’s goal celebration.  Get ready to pop it and lock it Abby.  Pop…and…lock.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Super Duper Alex Morgan

She has lightning speed, razor sharp skill on the ball, intelligence for the game that surpasses her years, glorious fist pumps that bring tears to your eyes and the brightest most brilliant pink headbands money can buy.  That’s right; I’m talking about none other than Alex freaking Morgan. 

I have written (very serious) medical pieces on Hope Solo, Carli Lloyd, Ali Krieger and a (very serious) educational piece on Heather O’Reilly and now I want to tackle Alex Morgan.  Well, not literally tackle her.  Even if I wanted to tackle her I would never be able to catch her.  I want to take a look at the athlete herself, and also the effects she is having on American society.  The Alex Morgan name has been growing at a mind blowing pace and I cannot decide definitively what is causing it to spread so quickly.  Is it her speed, which could undoubtedly break the sound barrier?  Is it from the overwhelming joy she causes us late in games putting on dazzling displays of talent resulting in unimaginable goals?  Is it just simply watching her as she smiles, jumps in the air, and releases the most tremendous fist pump you could ever imagine?  I just have to assume it is a combination of them all.  I first started taking notice of Alex in mid 2010 telling everyone she is going to be a major difference maker for us.  November came around and sure enough, she scored the game winner in the first of two games against Italy for World Cup qualifying.  I’m normally a sucker for a good midfielder, and they usually occupy my top three current favorite players but Morgan, a forward, has snuck her way in there and I absolutely love watching her play.  Since those qualifying games she has kept growing, learning, scoring… and getting marriage proposals.  All for good reason too.

Her speed has been one of the most talked about topics for obvious reason.  She’s a like a coked up cheetah attacking her prey on the pitch.  As you all know, I have an extensive imaginary medical background and would like to take a look at the effect her speed is having on us, medically speaking.  It has caused some severe vision issues amongst fans watching her play.  It causes extreme strain on the eye and it is near impossible to keep up.  The focus it takes to do so can be overwhelming to the human eye.  Her speed has also caused whiplash for the fans watching her gallop past who are sitting too close to the field.  She isn’t called Baby Horse for nothing.  So please, before attending a game consult your optometrist to make sure your eyes can handle such circumstances and be sure to stretch.  She has a speed very different from the likes of Amy Rodriguez and Heather O’Reilly who are both blazers themselves.  Morgan has a speed that is so fluid it almost looks like she’s not even trying.  It’s like some weird mind trick she’s playing on us.  If you combined a cheetah, an Olympic hurdler, a gazelle, a ballerina, a race horse, a yoga expert, an African sprinter, and a greyhound (the dog, not the bus) you get Alex Morgan: Blazing speed, long strides, with immense amounts of grace and beauty.

Now let’s approach the effect she is having on American society in a certain trend.  We have seen a huge lift in pink pre wrap sales all over the country.  The pink pre wrap factories cannot keep up with orders. (Yes, in my mind, there are in fact pink pre wrap factories)  Girls, boys, women, men, dogs, cats, babies, hamsters…baby hamsters; everyone is wearing pink pre wrap.  There have even been rumors of creating a large enough piece of pink pre wrap that could go around the Statue of Liberty’s head, just underneath the crown.  Admittedly, I may have been the one to start that rumor, but the point being; with Morgan’s quickly rising shining star, everything about her is rising with her including this new trend. 

Chances are, if you hear that the US Women’s National Team is playing and a goal is scored in the 89th minute; it was Alex Morgan.  She’s been called our ‘super sub’, which I agree with.  Only I would change it to ‘super duper sub’.  Don’t leave out the ‘duper’, that’s just insulting.  She gives us a spark late in a game and causes an immediate threat on goal.  Literally, the goal feels threatened.  As soon as she stands up at the midfield line about to come in the opposing team’s goal literally starts quivering as if an earthquake was happening  Although I agree she is one monster of a sub for us, I believe she is far more than that also.  For those of you though, who think she is only a super duper sub and not a 90 minute player; well I have some choice words for you which I will refrain from using right now because I’m a lady, damn it.  Let’s look at some of her many attributes that make me say she is a 90 minute player.  Her fitness is obviously not an issue; she could outrun a Kenyan marathon runner on steroids.  She has strong skill over the ball, a killer left foot (literally, I truly believe she could cause death with her strike) but also a right foot she is not hesitant to use either, and fluidity to her play that can’t be taught.  When she runs at full speed she knocks defenders down just from the wind gust she causes running past them.  She works best under pressure and has a strong work ethic where she never gives up on a play. If you somehow manage to strip her of the ball you better be ready for her to attack back as if she was a mom and you just stole her baby…or even worse, her soccer ball.  You will have approximately .003 of a second to gloat before she swoops in, takes the ball right back and then burns past you.  All you will see is a bright pink blur and then you will turn around to see #13 charging towards your goalkeeper who now has a look of immeasurable fear on her face.  She’s 22 years old and plays with a strong knowledge of the game, making smart decisions.  At the ESPN-W Summit she joked about how she is always harassing Abby Wambach after a game with questions on what she’s doing right and what she’s doing wrong. Already highly skilled and smart but is eager to learn more every chance she gets.  Also, as if everything I just listed wasn't enough...her hair always looks really good no matter what.  Impressive, I know.  What more can you ask for from a young player? If you look at all of these factors you don’t have a super duper sub, you have a super duper player.  Of course she admits she still has more to learn and areas to improve in because, hey, she’s human.  Well at least they say she is.  I am still not convinced.

It doesn’t get any better than this ladies and gentlemen.  We have a beautiful, talented, strong, smart, young player who has an extremely bright future of leading us to many, many victories.  In my honest opinion I am saying here and now she is going to be one of the best our country has ever seen.  I look forward to watching her career flourish and grow and cannot wait to see what this young superstar has in store for us in years to come.  In my piece ‘Haven’t You Heard? Female Athletes Can’t Be Talented AND Pretty’ which features Morgan and fellow National Team member, Hope Solo, I talk more about her skill and also her charisma, both of which I could go on and on about.  She has a magnetic quality which not only attracts the ball to her feet resulting in goals on the score board, but also a magnetic quality that attracts America to her resulting in a rising star across the globe.  She has captivated the whole nation and after each game she plays in we are all left waiting for the next Alex Morgan show to begin.  And I’ll be honest; I am getting a little antsy for the next production.  Curtains go up November 19th in Phoenix against Sweden which I cannot wait for.  In the mean time I will get my eyes prepped and ready to watch her scorch the field and I will also do some more research regarding Lady Liberty’s pink pre wrap of course.

Alex- Thank you for representing our nation so well and for being such a powerful force on the field and also off the field doing your part to help women’s soccer succeed in America.  Whether you actually are human or immortal sent to us from the Soccer Gods, you are in fact super duper.  (For what it’s worth, my money is on ‘immortal’)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hope Solo in The Chicago Marathon - I Got Your Back, Hope

Let me walk you through my morning.  I made some coffee, drank some coffee, opened up my laptop, hopped on Twitter, saw a funny joke about old people, saw a cute picture of a puppy, and then read one of the dumbest articles I have ever read in my 24 years of life.  It was by a writer in Chicago about how Hope Solo, Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach (but heavily targeting Solo) only did the Chicago Marathon for PR and not to support a good cause.  I hate to promote this article but in case you haven't read it or are interested in reading it before reading this here is the link.

I understand everyone has their own opinion and I will always look at both sides to a story and truly listen to what anyone has to say.  But this has me all fired up so let's jump right in.

I have to assume the first part of the article about how she didn’t have the time for an interview with him is just about jealousy.  I will just continue this speaking directly to you, the genius who wrote this piece.  We understand, you’re a sad boy because Hope Solo wouldn’t come play with you.  But you have to understand that she is a busy lady, ok little buddy?  I know it’s tough playing in the sand pit by yourself, but that’s no reason to say mean things about Hope.  I’m not sure if you’re aware, but she is still working through shoulder problems, partaking in ‘Dancing With The Stars’, doing interviews more than Ryan Seacrest gives them, all while still maintaining her duties with the US Women’s National Team.  With all of that going on, she also decided to take on an invitation to run in this marathon to help raise money for a good cause and have the chance to run with some of her biggest fans.  You’re right, she sounds like a monster. 

Your little mention of how her last two Facebook posts have been about Access Hollywood and ESPN Body Magazine are true.  At that moment that you looked at her Facebook those were the last two posts, sure.  Well, the last two things on my Facebook are about watching the US Men’s National Team soccer game and how I owe the NYS DMV obscene amounts of money.  Are you going to assume I never post about anything else?  Have I never mentioned anything else on Facebook other than those last two posts?  Hope Solo, along with Alex Mogan and Abby Wambach have been talking about this Chicago Marathon almost nonstop since they signed on to do it.  I have seen at least 4 or 5 posts from Solo talking about the marathon and how excited they all were to do it.  Do some research past two Facebook posts; it makes you look like a 12 year old reporter for your school paper.

As far as it being a slap in the face to anyone, I’m kind of hoping that slap in the face is coming your way.  The “working mom who gets up at 5am every morning to train for this” you mention is doing this because she truly wants to.  People with that dedication do these marathons because they love to do it and also get to support a good cause.  I applaud them for that dedication and so do the three ladies you’re speaking so poorly of.  I highly doubt they will find it a slap in the face because three superstar athletes are taking time out of their busy schedules to help raise awareness of the event and help it succeed.  If they are, then so be it, but it should not be viewed that way.  There are plenty of ways these athletes can get PR that are much easier than going through all this work to be at the marathon and run a leg in it.  If they didn’t care to support the cause they wouldn’t have done it. 

Also, by the way, your attempt at humor with the Johnny Knoxville bit doesn’t quite work.  Let me explain analogies to you.  It has to relate directly to the scenario you are speaking of, inferring it to be similar.  If Johnny Knoxville came onto the US Women’s National Team for charity that would be all well and good, except this is an actual profession.  These athletes are working professionals playing for this team, it is their job.  This marathon is filled with volunteer runners who want to accomplish something great, stay fit, and help a good cause.  There is a pretty big difference there.  I’m sure if it helped a good cause, Pia Sundhage (the head coach - she doesn’t have a Facebook page so I wasn’t sure if you would know who she is) would actually welcome the ‘Jackass’ star out to some practices or to do something with the team on the side if it were for charity.  That team is filled with role models and truly good people.  But I think hiring him for a reality show to play women’s soccer would be a little out of question.  See, the key to a good analogy is to keep it realistic; you just stretched that one a little too far.  It’s ok though, next time I’m sure you’ll nail it.

I also find it interesting you target Solo so heavily here.  I’m guessing it’s because she is the only one you could think to write about because she is on ‘DWTS’ so you could have fun little quips about spray tan and the jitterbug. (I suppose I can’t blame you there.  Spray tan and jitterbug will always sound funny together) All three athletes have been talking up this event since the day they signed on for it.  They have talked about what a great event it is, they have talked about how inspiring it is to see thousands of dedicated runners, and they have encouraged people to get involved.  All three of them are the exact role models we need right now and they have done an amazing job of showing it through events like this.

I applaud them for their efforts and for taking the time to run in this marathon, even if it was only a portion of it.  They gave that marathon a lot of exposure, helped raise money, and gave their fans an opportunity to meet them and run with them. 

You asked, “Is this a PR stunt wrapped in the face of charity?”  I ask, “Is your article a bunch of words wrapped in the face of nonsense?”

In case you’re dying to know the answers, they are NO and YES, respectively.