Becoming a Soccer Fan

I’m a new soccer fan. I’m 50 years old and I’m a new soccer fan. How have I missed the beautiful game all these years? I don’t know. Okay, yeah I do. Let me tell you the story.

 

I grew up in small town America. Many small towns is more accurate. Okay, 10 is probably even more accurate. Ten small towns of America and none of them were bastions of soccer fandom. I grew up in places where kids wore football helmets and Roger Staubach jerseys straight out of the womb.

 

I actually did play a little soccer when I was little. I lived in Gladewater, Texas — population 6,427 … Salute! — and when I was in fifth grade, the local sports group started the very first soccer team. This had to be 1976 or so. So, I signed up to play for the Twisters or Tornadoes or Cyclones or some such team name. We were clueless about soccer. We knew football and baseball and basketball but nothing about soccer. I actually thought you could touch the ball with your hands as long as your hands were closed, balled into little fists. It’s not true. But I digress.

 

Turns out we weren’t terrible. And let me tell you, little Rodney was pretty good at this game of soccer. Rodney was fast. Rodney was a goal scorer. Rodney was the MVP of the league. I’m talking about another kid named Rodney, not me. I played “fullback” which is what we called a defensive middle back in those days and was the equivalent of playing right field in baseball. I was not the worst soccer player ever but I never threatened to score a goal. Matter of fact soccer brought about one of THE most embarrassing moments of my young life. (I’ve had plenty more since then but this is one that wasn’t caused by alcohol).

 

In the last game, we were playing for a championship. We were up by one goal late in the game and the other team kicked a deep ball right at me. Instead of controlling the ball with my chest or for god’s sake with a balled up fist, I actually just caught the ball, like a punt returner about to take this thing to the house. I dropped it immediately, but the referee called it a hand ball anyway.

 

Jerk! Are you nuts!?!

 

Anyway, since my blunder was in the penalty box, the other team received a penalty kick, which even in 1970 East Texas was almost a guaranteed goal. It was. We tied. They won on penalty kicks at the end of regulation and I went home to shame and humiliation. It was so bad my teammates and coach put “For Sale” signs up in my yard and we lived in a rented duplex. My family actually had to move from Gladewater. It was three years later and it wasn’t because of that game, but we still moved.

 

Then over the next thirty years or so, I forgot about soccer. Both of my kids played a little bit in their youth and I enjoyed the games, but I never really got “into” soccer.

 

I always thought soccer was a dull sport, no action, too many ties. It was like kissing your sister. I didn’t appreciate anything about it.

 

Until …

 

It was 2010 and the World Cup was on TV. The U.S. Men’s National Team was in the tourney and actually looked like contenders to make a deep run. I worked from home so every day I had the TV tuned into whatever game was on.

 

You know what? I started liking soccer. I saw the nuance. The announcers and the fans and the teams brought the game alive for me. I still didn’t understand everything but suddenly the game looked like fun.

 

That one World Cup made me a rabid fan of the game.

 

Haha. Just kidding. It didn’t. I didn’t watch another game of soccer.

 

Until …

 

It was 2014 and the World Cup was back on TV. It was even better because it was in Brazil and the fans didn’t have any of those annoying vuvuzelas. (My god those things were annoying). Anyway, the games were even better than they were in 2010. I loved watching Ronaldo and Neymar and that one guy with the hair from the German team. It was awesome. Every game was exciting. The sport finally won me over.

 

Later that summer I bought tickets to a friendly match between Real Madrid and AS Roma at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. It was a blast. Even tough Ronaldo sat out of the game, it was fun to watch. I decided I needed to follow soccer a little closer. Since it was August and almost time for the English Premier League season to start, I picked a team to follow. I chose Chelsea for two reasons: 1) because they were pretty good, and 2) because my son and brother followed Chelsea. The games were early here in the states so I had to get up early on Saturday and watch the games. It was a fun season. And you know what? Chelsea won the Premiership that year. I’m not saying it was because I became a fan but I’m not saying it wasn’t because of that either.

 

I became a huge soccer fan. Then the next season came and I don’t think I watched a full game all year. I kinda gave up on soccer again.

 

Until …

 

The year was 2018 and I moved to a new neighborhood in Frisco. I met my new neighbors and lo and behold one of my new neighbors plays for FC Dallas. This is his first year and he seems to be really excited about what this team can accomplish. I admit that I had been a casual fan of FC Dallas since that first World cup by in 2010 (No, they weren’t in the World Cup but I was turned on to soccer and they were the local team). I went to a couple of games and kept up with the team casually through Twitter and whatnot. But now my neighbor plays for the team. I know him. I know one of the players. I might have to start following these guys a little bit more, I thought.

 

So now I’ve been to two home matches and I’ve watched all the away games on TV. I bought an FC Dallas shirt and then another. I’m saving up for a jersey. I scream at the TV when the referee makes a terrible call (Seven minutes of stoppage time? Are you nuts?) I scream when a player fouls our guy right in front of the referee. (Did you not see that? Is that not a foul? Are you nuts?).

 

I’m watching soccer all the time now and was legitimately sad when all the European leagues’ seasons ended. I’m looking forward to the World Cup in Russia and can’t wait to see who wins. I’m excited about socc … no check that … futbol.

 

And now FC Dallas is in first place in the Western Conference— well they were for almost 24 hours until Sporting KC beat Minnesota. But they are only two points out with a lot of soccer left to play. I think I agree with my neighbor: these guys have a chance. They might just be able to win it all this year. The MLS Cup could come home to Dallas.

 

And I’m not saying it would be because I became a huge fan this year, but I’m not saying it’s not because of that either.

 

Dallas Til I Die.

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Our cups should runneth over

Wallace Wattles says that for our world to move forward mankind must grow and expand.

“No society could advance if every man is smaller than his place.”

We must grow or die. Wattles points to the animal kingdom where “evolution is caused by excess of life”

We are made to grow, expand and thrive. It’s what we are here for, to more than fill our place. Our cups need to runneth over. There are examples in the animal kingdom as animals eat to get larger, mate to enlarge their tribe and conquer to expand their territory.

Our biggest advantage over the animals isn’t by being at the top of the food chain or our abilities to open Waffle Houses. Our advantage is our ability to create with our minds. Fortunately we don’t have to compete to expand and fill our cups. We can create things to overflow our cups. And then we can create bigger cups to overflow even more. The human mind is a remarkable tool, calling on what Wattle calls the “Formless Substance”to create in the animate world what is only now in the inanimate one.

We don’t have to compete to take and conquer. There is plenty for everybody in the Formless Substance. Our finest attribute is to create and grow.

May your cup runneth over this year and beyond.

This World is a Perfect Mess

The world is going to hell in a hand basket. Unless it isn’t.

Wallace Wattles in one of his books suggest that we get rid of labeling things as good or bad or corrupt or whatever. Things are things. I believe it was Shakespeare who also said, there is neither good or bad, man’s thinking makes it so. Wallace said everything is perfect but incomplete.

I like to think of it like a cake. If you were to stop and look at the batter before you put it in the oven and compare that gooey mess to your perception of delicious cake you’ve had before, you might think that the batter is “bad” somehow. But it’s not bad at all. It’s perfect just the way it is … it’s just incomplete. It hasn’t had 40-45 minutes at 350 to find perfection. We have to give all things time to come to completion. Honestly, we will probably never see completion. But we can see perfection even today.
I know it’s hard.

Sometimes I happen to look at the news and think, “what is the world coming to,” implying, of course, that the world is getting worse and heading for complete destruction or annihilation. But what if we aren’t. What if instead we are heading for completion. And we are perfect just the way we are.

There are times when I doubt, but that’s just my perception. I have been conditioned because of my past to see things in a certain way, it’s the “good ol day” syndrome at its finest. We all want things to stay the same. It’s called homeostasis. Things need to stay consistent for our survival. And while that may work for our bodies, it’s not good for our mindset all the time. We need to see change not as a bad thing but the rising of the batter into completion.

What if we forget about our conditioning — our pasts — for a minute or better yet, what if we replaced our conditioning for a new one, we might see that this world is indeed perfect and getting better — not was, but is — all the time. These are the good ol’ days. And tomorrow will be even better and the day after that … you get the picture.

When The Character Takes Over

She turned the lights down and lit a few candles. Carlos stepped behind her and grabbed her around the waist. He kissed her neck a few times and she succumbed to his caress. They both slipped out of their shirts and pants while the heavy petting continued. Eleanor pulled the covers back as Carlos slipped down her shockingly red panties.

“I want to kiss you all over and make sweet love to you,” Carlos said.

Eleanor cooed.

“You’re making me so hot right now,” he said. “I just want to … you know what I can’t do this.”

Uh … Carlos stopped and looked up into this sky … “Stop doing that.”

“Stop doing what?” Eleanor asked quietly.

“No,” he said, “I’m talking to you. I see what you are doing and I’m done.”

He was talking to nobody in particular when …

“No, I’m talking to you,” he said and pointed at the writer of the story. “That’s right. You.”

“Me,” I said.

“Oh sweet Jesus god! Can we just drop it,” he said. “Yes, you. I’m talking to you, Mr. Writer Man.”

“But you’re a character in my story,” I said. “I don’t think it’s proper to talk to me as I’m writing the story.”

Carlos pulled his shirt back on.

“Would you just stop with the story for a minute,” Carlos said. “I’m done with this porn stuff.”

“It’s not porn,” I said. “Technically it’s erotica.”

“Whatever you call it. I don’t want to do it anymore. Can’t you like put me in a western or a sci-fi out there exploring alien nations or something.”

“Sure”

“Great. Well do that then.”

Carlos slipped his shirt off and kissed the green scaly neck of Commander Grickox from the planet Nereb. She cooed and wrapped two of her six arms around …

“No,” Carlos said. “You’re doing it again. It’s still porn, just alien porn.”

“I don’t understand.”

“No shit,” Carlos said. “And by the way, my name is Wayne, not Carlos.”

“But Wayne isn’t exactly a sexy name,” I said.

“That’s okay. My name is Wayne. And has a Wayne I want to do something fun and adventurous and not just wrap my arms around waists and kiss slowly and rubbing my “throbbing member on OR in anything. Got it. ”

“My god, Wayne, when you say it like that,” I said.

“Look, Mr. Writer Man, can I call you that?”

“Sure,” I said.

“I know you’re new to this whole writing thing — ”

“Actually I’ve been writing for quite a while,” I interjected.

“Please don’t interrupt me,” he said.

“Sorry. Continue.”

“I’m tired of just being a piece of meat. I want to live. I want to discover. I want to expand my mind. Porn is just not doing it anymore. I don’t want to be Carlos. I want to be me: Wayne.”

“I’ll admit that this is my first time to write erotica. I’ve never even read it really. I don’t know what I’m doing. Maybe I could start with a scene at the restaurant first then you guys could do—“

“You are not listening, Mr. Writer Man. I don’t want porn or erotica or chick-lit or whatever the hell you want to call this.”

“Okay, I get it,” I said. “I’ll work on something else with a little less sex. Maybe we could make you a Baptist preacher or something.”

“Look I want adventure,” he said. “ I don’t want to be dead inside. Just write me in something fun. In the meantime, I’ll be in my trailer.”

“Sounds good,” I said. “I’ll get right on it. It’s just that you don’t have a trailer. You aren’t even really real … oh never mind.”

Somewhere on the planet Nereb, Wayne was paying his tab …

 

Who is He Talking to?

What is that freakin noise? Somebody is having a very loud conversation. Well not loud in a acceptable-level-on-public-transportation level, but this conversation is much too loud for a bookstore. I’m over here trying to read this book for free and … oh for god’s sake where is that coming from?

Is it that guy?

Over there. Slumped in a chair. My god who is he talking to?
I don’t see anyone else. Does he have a Bluetooth in? Is he making a phone call?
I’m trying to read here, can’t he see that I’m trying to read.

Oh my God.

Now he’s tapping on his ample gut too. Talking to himself and tapping his guy.
Which paragraph was I on? Now, I’m lost. What did I just read? Now I’m gonna have to start this whole chapter over.

“It’s like saying, ‘Yeah, it’s only 30 bucks,’” he said. At least I think that’s what he said. What is going on? “It’s like saying, ‘Yeah, it’s only 30 bucks.’”

He said it again. He keeps saying it over and over.

What? What is only 30 bucks? Who is saying that? What are you talking about?
I’m trying to read here.

“The world is full of people who look like rodents,” he said.

What? Is that what he said? I think that’s what he said. What? Who looks like rodents? Who thinks people look like rodents?

He keeps …

Where is he going? He’s gone. Thank god.

Now back to my book.

Ahhhh…

Now where was I? Oh yes …

What causes someone to talk to himself like that? In public. Is he off his meds? Is he suffering from Tourettes?What causes that?

It doesn’t matter, he’s gone. Thank you. Where was I?

Oh yes …

What in the Sam Hill? He’s back. Oh my god you have to be kidding me. Oh yeah, go ahead and slam down in that chair like that. Make even more noise.

(Mumbling).

Mumbling? He’s going to mumble now? Now he’s mumbling?
What’s he saying now? My god, I can’t hear him. What’s that?

Is he laughing now? He’s telling jokes to himself? And cracking himself up? He’s got jokes?

Who is this guy talking to? I don’t see anyone else. What a distraction.

Shut up.

Shut up.

Shut UP!

I can’t hear myself think. It’s almost as though I have as much going on in my head as he has falling out of his mouth.

My god what is wrong with me?

Am I off my meds?

Where was I …

Oh yeah …

The Future of Newspaper and the Search for Diabetic Socks

After working in the newspaper biz for almost two decades and loving them long before that, I marvel at the current state of affairs for the industry. I read today that CNN is now going to start charging for some of their content. Most of it will be free it sounds like, but some of it you will have to pony up a few bucks a month to read.

I get it. Newspapers need to make money. But what I don’t get is why they don’t seem to take advantage of all the technology that is available today.

Let’s look at the newspaper’s step-brother, Facebook. Facebook doesn’t produce anything really. They have a website and server rooms the size of small countries I’m sure. I realize that Facebook is a great place for old people and Russians to come together to talk about all kinds of things like how much Jesus loves the flag and Trump and deep philosophical issues like these recent Facebook posts:

“Another bad day … Sigh” from Facebook user PositiveKaren

“Karma is a bitch” from Facebook user SeymourButts

“To all my haterz” from Facebook user EmersonBiggins

Lots of deep stuff that we all need to see. So you can probably imagine how important Facebook is to the future of our country. The short answer is: Not much. But there they are. Raking in cash each month. If you need to keep up with a person that went to the same school you did, ten years after you graduated, and you don’t even remember their name or their older cousin who went to the same school and thinks he was in Vo-Ag classes with you, then Facebook has what you need. But ultimately, Facebook is a place for advertisers. They do a damn good job too. Their algorithms are perfect at pairing up ads for diabetic socks with people who are in need of diabetic socks.

Thank god.

But it seems like their used to be another medium that placed diabetic socks in the hands (or on the feet) of people in search of diabetic socks. Now what was the name of that medium (strokes long beard and rubs diabetic socks) … What was that name?

Oh yeah, it was the newspaper.

Why did the newspaper business get away from that model? They always had subscribers that paid for a paper and advertisers that paid for ad space. They brought those two groups together. Basically, they collected information on their communities and readers and sold that information to advertisers. Exactly what Facebook and Google and Amazon do now. The difference is Facebook, Google and Amazon are making boatloads of cash while newspapers are struggling. With the exception of Amazon, the other main social media companies aren’t really provided any product or even a service in the old sense. It’s just a website to connect.

That’s what newspapers do. Connecting readers with the news of the day in their community and world. Why can’t the newspaper industry get on board and provide that same service and sell a product: The f*^*%ing news?

People need the news. Citizens needs to know what’s going on in their communities. What’s new. What’s old. Who is corrupting what? Newspapers do it best.

Can’t newspaper organizations just make people sign up with all their information. Then put them together with news stories and other people who are reading those stories. Maybe it’s their cousins or friends or influencers or that person that graduated from the same high school ten years after you graduated. Then they could take all that information and sell it to someone. Let’s think who could they sell it to (strokes long beard again and takes another belt of whiskey and a Twinkie) … oh yeah, now I know: ADVERTISERS.

It seems weird I know. Maybe it won’t work. But if Facebook can make more money that the country of (Note to Editor: put in a country that makes less money that Facebook), then surely newspapers who have survived since the invention of the printing press, can find a way to make it work.

I’m just over here thinking and scratching my beard and looking for socks.

Overheard in a Cab

Man and woman enter cab. The cabbie smells alcohol but it’s not overwhelming.

Cabbie: good evening. Where you guys headed?

Man: we are headed to the Methodist church.

Both man and woman laugh.

Man: we are going to church on a Thursday.

They laugh again.Harder this time. Cabbie laughs too

Cabbie: hey, you gotta go sometime.

Cabbie laughs. Alone

Woman: we are going to hear a speaker talk about Leonardo da Vinci.

Cabbie: is it really spelled like that?

Haha. This is a conversation and he can’t see how it’s spelled.

Cabbie: is the speaker Walter Issacson?

Both: yeah. It is.

Man: how did you know that?

Cabbie: I knew he had a new book on da Vinci. I read a little bit of it the other day.

Woman: what does it say? Is it good?

Cabbie: I didn’t get very far but what I read was good. I’m also listening to Issacson’s book on Ben franklin.

Woman (to man): I love to listen to books.

Cabbie: the thing I like about both Franklin and da Vinci is that neither one had any formal education. They were both pretty much self-taught.

Man: oh really?

Cabbie: Yeah. Also Leonardo had some interesting quirks. Many people think that he used to write backwards so you had to use a mirror to read it. But he wrote backwards because he was left handed and didn’t want to get the ink on his hands. Left handers were very rare in those days.

Both: wow. Interesting.

Cabbie: also if Leonardo hadn’t been a bastard child he might have followed his father into the notary business. He would have hated it and been terrible at it. And we might not have the Mona Lisa or Vitruvian Man.

Man: that’s true.

Cabbie: many people probably don’t realize that vitruvian man was probably a self-portrait.

Woman: what?

Cabbie: yep. Anyway. I don’t want to ruin it for you. He’ll probably go over all of that tonight.

Silence for 15 seconds

Cabbie: here we are.

Woman: we are already here?

Cabbie: yeah the church is right there.

Man: thanks for the ride.

Cabbie: thank you. Enjoy the program tonight.

Both: thank you. Be safe tonight.

Cabbie: you too.

Overheard outside the cab.

Man: did we just have a conversation about Leonardo da Vinci with a cab driver?

Woman: we did.

Both: wow.

Overheard back in the cab

Cabbie: did I just get to discuss a book I’ve been reading with customers? I believe I did. Wow.

You’ll never know what will happen in a cab.Don’t assume anything. Also you can check out Walter Issacson’s book on Leonardo da Vinci here