Friday, December 12, 2008

Vegas, WInter Meetings and the 7th Level of Hell

24 hours earlier I had been two-stepping with an attractive IU co-ed on the floor of Las Vegas' Bellagio while sipping on a double Jack & Coke speaking Spanglish with White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.

But at the moment, I found myself in a familiar predicament- stuck in Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport. The deep South gets snow about once every 30 years and one of those times had to be while I was scheduled to fly through it. I tried to remember how in God's name I was in the 7th level of Hell again and it struck me:

"Hey John, I'm planning on going to the Baseball Winter Meetings with my sport management class for the job fair," my friend Josh said, "You should come since you're looking for a sports job too."

Hmmmm, wasn't sure what to say about that one. I did have a credit for a plane ticket and splitting a hotel four ways in Vegas is pretty darn cheap. Hesitantly, I made my reservations for the 2008 Baseball Winter Meetings.

Despite having a lot of fun, everything that could go wrong did. My original early Monday morning flight was cancelled and my late morning flight was delayed. By the time I finally arrived in Vegas, I missed the whole first day of the job fair. That night, I lost $50 going 0 for 5 on five straight hands of $10 a hand Blackjack. However, I did meet a lot of cute girls.

Ah yes ... young, attractive women ... let's just say hiring managers have a weakness for them. I witnessed an official from the Texas Rangers walked straight up to one of the girls in our group and offer her a job. She told him she was just a sophomore and he bashfully said: "Oh really ..."


By mid-morning Tuesday, I realized that most clubs with full-time jobs already had their interview schedules full and minds made up on those candidates. I interviewed for "marketing/promotions" internship with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox but when I discovered they were really looking for a video production and evening sales intern, I had to decline. I'm almost 24, I can't live on just $200 a month- even if housing is free!

However, I did have a positive conversations with the Sky Sox guys and they put this whole event into perspective. First, my resume was probably never even looked at because I preceded it with a cover letter. Every job I've even applied for required a cover letter. How was I suppose to know not to include one unless I was told? Second, the Winter Meetings are mostly a networking event.

For what its worth, I did enjoy some of the Vegas nightlife and about that ... well ... what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Lessons from Poker

This year's Thanksgiving seemed to be just the same as it always had the previous 20 or so times I remember participating in the festivities. Thursday early afternoon was the traditional Thanksgiving dinner with the maternal side of the family. Large bird, tons of mashed and sweet potatoes, trimmings and, of course, pies.

The meal always feels short-lived compared to the amount of time that went in to prepare it, but I guess that's just the way it is. Just as always, we retired to the basement afterwards to witness another pathetically hopeless Detroit Lions vs "X-Team" game only to slip into food comas. This year we jazzed things up a little by going to see the new Australia movie. A good flick for a date, but not something for a guys night out.

Friday morning the paternal side spiced it up and went paint-balling. Good times. We laughed, had fun, played games, told the same stories for bajillionth time. That evening we ate leftovers, played poker and watched football. For the most part every thing felt the same, but as I sat at the poker table with a King and 9 of Spades watching the flop come down, what had been bothering me all day finally came to fruition.

I missed my grandfather's last Thanksgiving. I was with a friend in Alabama because I couldn't afford the plane ticket.

I felt sick. I became nauseated and light headed. My uncle said: "Action to John" bringing back my focus. I looked at the board. Two spades hit the board on the flop. I now had four Spades- only one more for a flush.

A diamond came down on the turn. Nothing. My heart was pounding. I call the next bet. The river card comes down ... it's a Spade. I now have my flush. My cousin goes all-in and I call her bet. She has two pair- not quite good enough.

In the end, I was lucky. This was only a play money game. No real hard cash, but it shows the concentration and focus needed to be successful at the poker table. One stray thought can be the difference between a profitable night and a disastrous one.

I didn't sleep much that night feeling guilty about not being there for what turned out to be my grandpa's last Thanksgiving. You start playing the whole "if I had only done this instead of that game" game again. If I had stayed in that one night instead of going out to the bars with my friends. If I had not spent that $40 on a new dress shirt, maybe I could have afforded that plane ticket.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I don't know ... Am I crazy???

I don't know if it's just an uncharacteristic cold front, but I don't remember the weather being this cold in the Midwest this time of year. So there I was, all bundled up, watching the overcast grey clouds spit snow as I refereed youth soccer games right in the heart of metropolitan St. Louis, MO. At point I definitely asked myself: Am I crazy?

Anyone who knew what I was doing on Saturday could have easily made that argument. Overcast skies, no sunshine, a bitterly chilling wind from the northwest ... maybe South Texas wasn't so bad after all. However I kept myself motivated as parents shouted, criticized and even went so far as to call me an idiot. I promised myself a couple pints of Guiness Irish Lager afterwards at a nearby soccer pub.

As I thawed out at ye ol' New Amsterdam Tavern, the barkeep noticed my referee gear under my jacket. We talked about the beautiful game, our favorite clubs, our stories, etc. He used to work for the U.S. Soccer Federation. I used to work for the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer. He asked if I played and I told him I was looking for a team. He recruited me for his men's side Steinclub right there on the spot.

The downside was that the squad wore the green and white hooped jerseys of Glasgow's mostly Catholic supported Celtic FC. I happen to support Glasgow's traditionally Protestant club Rangers FC because native Fort Wayne-ian Damarcus Beasley plays for the side. So when I took the pitch for Steinclub's Sunday league match, I reluctantly put on the green and white shirt. However, the slightly older and injury stricken squad needed some younger, fresher legs. Again the temperature was in the 40's but at least the sun was shining to provide a morale boost.

I think I am crazy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hoosier Country

I was due for a visit to my alma mater since I returned to the Midwest. However a hectic and unpredictable schedule make the task next to impossible. However the stars and planets aligned in the galaxy and somehow I managed to have open the weekend of November 8- the date of the Indiana-Wisconsin football game.

I acquired the very last of my late grandfather's IU football season tickets and headed east on I-70 for Bloomington, IN. Like most respectable college town, getting there isn't easy because the town doesn't lie on a major U.S. highway. The weekend was about as unpredictable as my life as of late.

I arrived Friday evening and went to the Sigma Nu house to kill some time. Believe it or not, but I actually still do know some people there. I played catch-up before meeting up with my friend Miranda who invited me to a work party. Contrary to what this seems like, it was actually a professional moves versus an event with free food and beverage. Miranda works for a PR firm and is trying to help me get a job- SO THERE! All in all the evening ended rather early because we all wanted to get up early on Saturday for tailgating.

Saturday morning came soon enough. We bundled up, loaded my truck and set-up shop in the reserved parking section right outside the stadium. My friends both new and old were impressed with my "hook-up." The weather was less than favorable. Overcast skies, temperatures in the 30's and a heavy wind from the west. I think I picked the worst weekend of the fall to attend a football game, but after a few beers and/or mojitos everyone was in much better spirits. In a moment of weakness I bought a fleece IU jacket because I was so cold.

The first half of the game was incredible. The Hoosiers fought tooth and nail with the Badgers. In the third quarter, reality set in and the Cream & Crimson had a nuclear meltdown. I'll give the girls who came to the game with me major props. Despite the poor weather, not once did a single one of them complain. They were troopers. Sucked it up and had fun regardless. One of them was a former IU cheerleader who had never tailgated before. We left shortly after the third quarter.

We took power naps before venturing out for a night on Kirkwood Ave. For those who have been fortunate to socialize on this beloved street, then I need say no more, but since most of you haven't, well, that's too bad. We went to the favorites: Nick's, Upstairs Pub and even Kilroys was thrown out there as a possibility but we thought better of it.

After a slow Sunday that included breakfast at everyone's favorite hangover-cure hot-spot Village Deli, Miranda and I went to a concert at Bluebird. Monday morning I woke up and drove home.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

2008 Election Reflection

Barrack Obama will be the 44th president of the United States. Let's be honest, we all saw this coming. Even a staunch conservative like me saw this coming. The GOP's track record the past 4 years has been anything but stellar. Hopefully this will be the wake-up call the Republican Party needs.

Is Obama truly the better man for the job than McCain? Time will tell. Despite the many "good things" he has done in his career, he has never been truly in a political position with legitimate executive power. Since both the House of Representatives and the Senate will be controlled by the Democrats, will Obama be a pawn? Or will he stick to his campaign platform even when faced by stiff opposition from his own party. We will see. America will be watching. The World will be watching.

What I hope that society gets from this election is mostly this: I hope all the minorities are paying attention to this election and realize that no one is being held down by the evil white man anymore. The system is not holding anyone down. Everyone has the power to write their own story. Obama came from very humble beginnings. He was not a son of wealth and privilege. Everything he accomplished was because of his own hard work and drive. I respect that.

Obama talks a good game. All through his campaign he talked about change and doing "good things" like creating jobs and reforming business. I'm unemployed (mostly), so is he going to get me a job? Is Obama going to pass my resume out to his colleagues and say: "John Fischer needs a job and you should give him one because that would be a good thing to do." Yes, it would be a "nice" thing to do, but to the overall economic scheme. Why give a job to one person when another person, who is more qualified, could do the same job with twice the production rate.

Like I said, time will tell.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Halloween Shenanigans

I was really looking forward to Halloween this year. I mean I really- REALLY was looking forward to Halloween. All four years of college I never dressed up or anything, but this year I was ready to go all out.

Why, you ask?


I needed a distraction. I needed a distraction from everything- resumes, cover letters, follow-up phones calls and countless hours probing the World Wide Web searching for the next opportunity. I haven't been making much progress. Which is another topic for another day.

The Blues played the night before Halloween and we all got to dress up in costumes. A buddy and I went as Wayne and Garth from Wayne's World- it was awesome.

I had made arrangements to celebrate All Hallows Eve with a friend of mine that I work the St. Louis Blues games with. This girl is absolutely gorgeous in every way and a personality to match. I was confident the night would be a blast no matter what happened.

I was wrong.

This girl is a walking soap opera.

Every bar or venue we entered we had to leave because of some nut job from her past would show up. The went into every bar on Morgan Ford St. in downtown St. Louis. Talk about a buzz kill.

I still can't get over the fact at how many "slutty" costumes are out there. Slutty police office, slutty nurse, slutty school teacher, slutty firefigher- the list goes on and on. No element of wonder exists anymore. Everything is all out there in the open- and for most of the broads wearing those costumes should NOT have been wearing those types of costumes.


Because those chicks were fat and ugly. As my grandfather would say: "Two Bag Ugly." You know, a girl so ugly she needs two bags over her face?

My friends and I eventually ended up at Bar 101 in the Soulard area where we danced and carried on into the early morning hours.

All was made good again the next morning when my dad and I went kayaking on the Meremec River. We paddled 11 miles down the river. In some areas forgetting about you humble Midwest settings is easy. High rock bluffs, rapids and rolling hills on both sides add to the package. The kayak trip was the first real adventure that I had been on in quite some time. I hope to make it a higher priority from now on.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Lure of Smalltown America

i seem to recognize your face
haunting, familiar, yet i can't seem to place it
cannot find the candle of thought to light your name
lifetimes are catching up with me
all these changes taking place, i wish i'd seen the place
but no one's ever taken me
hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away...
hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away...
i swear i recognize your breath
memories like fingerprints are slowly raising
me, you wouldn't recall, for i'm not my father
it's hard when, you're stuck upon the shelf
i changed by not changing at all, small town predicts my fate
perhaps that's what no one wants to see
i just want to scream...hello...
my god its been to long, never dreamed you'd return
but now here you are, and here i am
hearts and thoughts they fade...away...
hearts and thoughts they fade...away...
hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away...
hearts and thoughts they fade...

"Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town," Pearl Jam

Earlier this week I went to New Albany, IN to help my mother clean out my late grandfather's house. New Albany is right across the Ohio River from Louisville, KY and is often overlooked by the home of Papa Johns and the Kentucky Derby. In the afternoon I met my uncle at a local watering hole called Richo's- home of the New Albany Brewing Company. Not many people occupied the bar, but every single one of them knew my uncle- a local attorney. One was a high school buddy and another asked if he was running for "office" again. Even the bar owner had a picture of my uncle on the wall (I'll leave out the description of the photo in case other family members have not seen it).

I was surrounded by complete strangers yet I felt a comfort and feeling of protection that I have not felt in some time. I cannot explain the phenomena. My whole life I planned to escape away to the exciting big city, but once I arrived there- I hated it. I now find myself in Eureka, MO just outside St. Louis and once again I yearn for those city limits. I still cannot explain it.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Hey everyone I just wanted to give you all an update on me because I haven't written anything in almost a month. Well I'm back in St. Louis now living with family seeking out some opportunities. I'm currently working part-time for the Blues, Rams and St. Louis University athletics department. They're all great opportunities that will definitely lead to something down the road, but unfortunately you can't make a living off of it. When I'm not doing those things, ever spare minute I'm out on the soccer fields refereeing. Really nothing exciting. Stand-by for more at a later date!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Houses, Yards, Dogs & Wives

There are few things pure in this world anymore,and home is one of the few.
We'd have a drink outside, maybe run and hide if we saw a couple men in blue.
To me it's so damn easy to see that true people are the people at home.
Well, I've been away but now I'm back today, and there ain't a place I'd rather go.
I feel home, when I see the faces that remember my own.
I feel home, when I'm chilling outside with the people I know.
I feel home, and that's just what I feel.
Home to me is reality, and all I need is something real.

"I Feel Home," Of A Revolution

If there was one good thing to come out of me losing my job in Houston, it was that it allowed me much more time at my friend Austin's wedding. I've learned over the years that I will develop different bonds with different groups of friends. The bond I had with my college friends will be unlike anything else and the bond I have with the guys I grew up will be unlike anything else. None of us could remember the last time we were all together but it had been definitely four years plus, so Austin's wedding was a highly anticipated event. You don't realize what kind of friendships you have until you don't have them anymore. It wasn't until I moved to Houston, TX and didn't know a single person when I discovered this. So now that I didn't have a job or a boss to report to, I decided to take some time and spend some time with the people I know and the people that make me feel at home.

My first stop on my way to Ft. Wayne, IN landed me in Indianapolis on Wednesday where I planned to have lunch with my college friend Dave. I hadn't seen this guy since his wedding last summer. In addition to his wife, he has a house, a yard and a dog. When you're still living the bachelor's life those objects are things you laugh at because it's what "old men" have. However, Dave does not match this stereotype at all. He is still the crazy, tall, goofy kid with glasses and a chest hair problem that I remember from college. Yet, he's so clever that he guilt-tripped me into staying over night so we could hang out longer. I now got to see another college friend, Matt, because of my extended stay. He's in dental school and wasn't free until later in the evening. We ate nasty, greasy Chinese food and acted like college-aged morons. They kept heckling me: "John, you got to move to Indy! We'd have so much fun!" Definitely a tempting offer and one I'll consider if the right opportunity comes along. Unfortunately the night came to an end and it was time to go.

Thursday morning the plan was to meet high school bud Greg at Huntington Reservoir to go mountain biking. Greg and I had always been into the outdoors and high adventure thing. We he started mountain biking a few years ago, we always talked about riding together but we were just now getting to it for the first time. We rode the 12 mile loop just once and once was enough because of how unfit we were. Besides, we still had to get ready for Austin's bachelor party. We picked up tuxedos still covered in sweat and grime from the mountain bike ride, we were on a mission and had a limited amount of time. After quick runs to the grocery, liquor and cigar stores we the essential gear for the bachelor party and one more thing ... we were going chucker hunting.

The rally point was the groom's dad's barn outside of Ossian, IN. The location was place where hillbillies go to get away from it all. Once everyone showed up the scene looked like Dukes of Hazzard on steroids. Trucks, gun, camo and a bunch of good ol' boys ready to hunt. This was my first hunt and I soon learned why hunters rave about hunting. Although I can't quite describe me emotions, bird hunting is addicting. I was just getting warmed up when the sun set behind the trees and ended our hunt. After that, it was back to the barn for a feast of food, light domestic cold beer and cheap cigars. As the beer flowed, so did the stories and dirty jokes. I heard jokes that were so disturbing that they made me want to go church the next day. We went back to Austin's house later that night and I met the bride to be for the first time inebriated off my ass.

When Friday morning rolled around, I couldn't help but notice that Austin also had a house, a yard, a dog and soon he would have a wife. Life really starts to get weird when your friends start getting married, especially when you yourself are no where even close to getting married. Anyways, on Friday morning the only things left to be done were the usual wedding stuff: decorating, rehearsal dinner, the wedding itself and the reception. The rehearsal dinner was a hog roast at a lodge on Oubache State Park. The groomsmen all received flasks and we played Nintendo Wii to kill time before the wedding ceremony. The reception was at this place called Camelot way out in the boonies. We danced, we drank, we laughed and had great times that I'm glad I share with my close friends for so many years.

To Austin and Alisha- good luck and I hope I will see you again soon.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Day from Satan Himself & How the Lord Fought Back

So there I was at a complete standstill like a sitting duck on I-45 northbound towards Dallas. Everyone on the Texas Gulf Coast had decided to get the hell out of dodge and avoid Hurricane Ike's rage. After three hours of stop and go traffic, I had decided to get out of dodge myself- that is, get off the interstate and get some food at a Whataburger. I pulled over, got on the off-ramp and looked for the Whataburger I saw advertised a few miles back. It was no where to be found so I turned around. When I got back to the highway, Texas state trooper had closed to interstate to any more hurricane evacuation traffic. But I wasn't evacuating- I was moving home. Hurricane Ike was a mere coincidence. Either way I would have lost my sanity sitting in that traffic- even with a full stomach. There was only one thing left to do:

Trek it cross country.

I whipped out my map and charted a course that would take me to Ft. Worth, TX where I would stay with a college friend for the night. After a series of state highways and farm roads, I made my way to Highway 6 just south of College Station where I witnessed wide open roads. The speed limit may have been only 55 mph, but I was making progress and putting miles between my and Houston (Hurricane Ike, too). Highway 6 would take me all the way to I-35 which would cruise into Ft. Worth like a warm, summer breeze. Driving through the heartland of America and Smalltown, USA is one of the most enjoyable experiences any traveler can have. People only hear about what happens in the big cities, but everyone dies famous in a small town.

I finally made it to I-35 and I was making good time. After about an hour I was in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metro area, when I felt the trailer I was pulling tug and pull more than normal. I quickly glanced in my rear view mirror and my trailer was flying left to right, back and forth. I thought I hit a pot hole and it would stop. But it keep moving uncontrollably. My adrenaline kicked in. I thought for sure this would end badly for me and the cars around me. I hit my emergency flashers and made my way to the inside should of the road. Sparks flew everywhere. I thought the trailer and everything in it would be totaled. When I examined the scene I discovered the bolt which holds the ball onto the hitch had come loose and ultimately fell off. Nothing held the trailer onto the hitch. One small part was completely crucial and vital to the whole operation. Go figure. I called U-Haul's roadside assistance- one hour for a mechanic plus $200+ for the service. Thankfully I was close enough to my friend's place.

That's when you find out who your friends are.

I sat there in my truck with my face buried in my hands. I lost my grandfather- my job- I had no money and over a thousand miles from home I was stranded on the highway with a banged up U-Haul trailer. I had hit an all time low. I lost all hope, but then my phone rang. It was my college friend asking me where I was because she was worried. I told her what happened and she asked if I was hurt or anything. She told her boyfriend what happened and he said he had a 2-inch ball hitch on his truck and that he drive out and help me. I can't say I know too many people who go help out a complete stranger on the highway.

When I finally arrived at my friend's apartment, she had a grilled cheese, popcorn and a beer waiting for me. She gave me a big hug just thrilled to know I was alive and well after everything that had happened that day. We talked, share stories and reflected on some fond memories of our college days at IU. I hadn't such a meaningful conversation like that in a long time. I felt that my friendship was needed and appreciated again. I was so overjoyed I could have broke down into tears right there in her living room if her boyfriend hadn't been right there.

I awoke the next morning to the ringing of my cell phone. I didn't recognize the number, but I answered anyway. One of my fraternity brothers called to see if was okay with all the hurricane stuff happening and if I had evacuating. Awkwardly, I told that yes I had evacuated Houston, but that it was a permanent evacuation because I lost my job. He was sympathetic to my job situation but took great comfort knowing I was out of harm's way. My friend heard my conversation and seeing I was awake before she had to leave for work, she insisted she buy me breakfast before I hit the road to Oklahoma City. I could have stayed in Ft. Worth for a week because it felt so great to be with such a great friend.

So if you're going through hell, keep on moving- don't slow down-face that fire, because you might be out before the Devil even knows you're there.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Flirting with Disaster

I'm in the midst of preparing my exodus from the prison that has been Houston, Texas for the past year of my life I had forgotten about one small detail.

Hurricane Ike brewing in the Gulf of Mexico.

He had always been there, but I forgot about him because, you know, I lost my job and had to figure out what my plan would be. My decision was to head for home and the Bayou City in my dust. Once my person frenzy concluded and I grew tired of Law and Order re-runs, I watched the local news to discover that Hurricane Ike was knocking on the Texas Coast's door step.

State government officials ordered the mandatory evacuation of Galveston Island this morning. Mandatory evacuation of Houston is expected later this afternoon. All the major highways are already a mess. I-45 N towards Dallas is bumper to bumper. I had to run some errands and fill up my gas tank. The lines at the gas station at 10:30 were 3-4 cars deep.

I can't go anywhere until I get the U-Haul trailer which I reserved for Friday. My friends are supposed to throw me a going-away party tonight but I know of a few of them who have already left town.

Shit is getting real. The next few days could be a true test of wills.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Well folks there is no point in denying it anymore. I lost my job with the Dynamo last week. In the cut throat world of corporate sales, you're expected to generate a certain number of dollars, and when you don't, well, you get the picture. Yes, I'm disappointed, but I look at it as a blessing in disguise. I didn't really enjoy ticket sales. I did simply to get my foot in the highly competitive door of professional sports. So here I am in Houston, TX with no job, no money and no family.

Where do I go from here.

Good question.

After spending the bulk of last weekend to think about and seek out any other opportunities I have decided it's time for me to come home. Houston was a great place to live for the time being, but I had no desire to stay there. The city is too big and too dirty. I'm sorry, but dealing with crack heads left over from Katrina on a regular basis gets old real quick.

So Friday morning I'm loading a U-Haul trailer and heading for Oklahoma City to spend the weekend with my best friend Cory and his wife (Yes, I said 'wife.' Trust me it trips me out too) before finishing the trek to STL Monday.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Blackberry and Bluetooth Nation

Last week I got on the parking garage elevator like I always do and I couldn't help but notice five of the other six passengers all had their eyes glued to their Blackberries. Trust me, I'm a big fan of no awkward conversation on elevators but the scene struck me as humorous. So with a grin on my face, I stepped into the elevator to the harmonious clicking chatter of thumbs on Blackberry buttons.

As someone who is not the beneficiary of a company issued Blackberry I never really noticed how popular and widely-used the device is until that moment on the elevatory. All I have to say is: those damn things are everywhere. I mean EVERY WHERE! Now that I noticed I see people on those things waiting in line, walking down the street, driving cars (yikes), sitting at bars (yikes), etc. C'mon people! Is that email or text message really THAT important?! It can't wait 15 minutes until you get to your desk from the car or lunch? Apparently not. I can see how the technology is useful for some professionals, but it's quickly becoming a fad. I really can't see why my school-teacher friends really need a Blackberry, but realize this is the guy that was the last to own an iPod or accept text-messaging as a suitable form of communication. Perhaps someday when I'm a department director instead of a lowly ticket sales peon on the very bottom of the sports franchise pyramid I'll possess a Blackberry, but until then I'll remain happily in the Stone Age.

I had another experience in the parking garage elevator, but this one involved a Bluetooth. You know, one of those hands-free cell phone talking devices you stick in your ear. When I stepped into the elevator dead silence filled the air. After a few quiet moments, the woman erupts in chatter scaring me half to death. The woman had long hair and I didn't notice the device in her ear. Again, the more I paid attention the more I see those things everywhere! Not that I'm a descendant of Abcrombie or Fitch, but Bluetooths are definitely the fashion blunders of 2008. Some people actually keep those things lodged into their eardrums while at ball games and bars as if it's a cool thing to do. That's one fashion statement they can have. But if it's endorsed by David Beckkham, maybe I should consider it.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Are you kidding me?!

Last week was a blur.

Tuesday night the Dynamo renewed their rivalry with Mexico's Pachuca after a 2-1 win that kicked off at 9pm. I can usually handle one game a week and not feel like I'm working overtime, but we had to host the Columbus Crew again on Saturday. Fortunately, the kickoff time was a normal 7:30.

I looked forward to the Crew game because it reunited with me former Kickin' Hoosiers Jed Zayner and Danny O'Rourke. Although I didn't get to talk with them much, they were glad to see me working for the league.

After the game, I made plans to meet up with some work buddies to grab a few beers at bar in Midtown that's a convert house. Literally. I get there first, I buy a beer and just stand their waiting for my friends minding my own business.

Out of no where, a young woman my age grabs my arm and asks me to sit down at a table with her friends. Being polite, I said of course. They immediately introduce me to their friend Alesha before going outside for a smoke. I begin asking her questions to dig myself out of the incredibly awkward situation. Stuff like this never happens to me. I wasn't wearing anything special: jeans, red polo, faded Chicago Bears hat, unshaven, no cologne- nothing special. I really didn't even feel like talking to any woman that night. I just wanted to chill with my boys. But here I was sitting across from this attractive, young working professional woman.

I look over my shoulder to see my friends standing right there. I had idea how long they had been there or what they may have seen or heard. Oh well. I invited them to sit down and before long both parties were mixed as part of a very random series of events. The group moved outside.

With all seat taken, Alesha decided to sit on my lap. Behind her back, my friend Neil shrugged his shoulders and made a suggestive facial expression. I couldn't help but grin. Afterall I was in shock. This girl sitting on my lap didn't seem drunk, but deep down I felt she had to be. She asked me to get a drink with her. I needed one too so I thought what the heck. Once inside, she pulled into the shadows and kissed me. Being polite, I kissed her back but I still suspected something. I waited for someone to jump out with a video camera and say: "GOT YA!" But it never happened.

The night died down. She gave me her number and told me to call her tomorrow. I called her out and asked if she would even remember me tomorrow. She promised she would.

Sunday afternoon rolled by. I still hadn't called, but I decided it was worth it. She was pretty cute. Sure enough, the call went straight to voicemail. Reality had sunk in, but I left a message anyway. A few hours went by and my phone rang. Alesha had remembered and told me she wanted to get together. Of course I couldn't say no to that.

So when random sh*t happens, sometimes it's just best to roll with it.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

2 to win on 4

Beer. Horses. Wagering. Live music.

Can it get any better?

If so, someone please tell me.

The Sam Houston Race Park has a summer concert series that is paired with live horse racing. I had been meaning to check out the horse race park anyway, but when I found that my new favorite band Southern rockers Cross Canadian Ragweed was coming to play a show I bought my tickets right away.

So Friday night my friends Tina, John and I met up at the race park for a summer's night of entertainment. Walking up to the horse paddock where the horses are saddled and the jockeys then saddle up brought back some childhood memories of Keenland and historic Churchhill Downs where I first learned the insanity of horse race wagering. I remember my mom's strategies which included live earnings and silks colors. Mom always insisted on betting on horses whose jockey wore purple silks. Real scientific.

My friends were horse race park rookies and needed to be educated. After I quickly refreshed my memory on how to wager by skimming through the program, I share with them my limited knowledge on how to pick a winning horse. The races were short, however, only lasting between 300 and 550 yards. These Texas-bred quarter horses were sprinters. This was a major disappointment. What makes horse racing addicting is the exhilaration of watching your horse battle it out down the straight-aways and around the corners to pull ahead down the final stretch to Win, Place or Show glory. It's the anticipation. The races I witnessed were over just as quickly as they started. It was better than nothing.

The concert stage is on the in-field where more of the partying takes place. Sound familiar? You get there by walking through a tunnel that goes under the track. Along its walls are banners advertising upcoming shows. Dierks Bently and Billy Ray Cyrus stuck out the most as I passed by. Once in the in-field I saw some of the most beautiful women I have ever seen in my life. True blue Texas cowgirls. Cut off jean shorts, cowboy boots, long hair blowing in the gentle summer evening air. I though I had died and gone to cowboy heaven. By this time I had a few beers in me and I had drowned my frustrations and sorrows from the previous work week. It was a Friday night and in the words of Alan Jackson I "was ready for a good time."

In my opinion, Cross Canadian Ragweed is the Lynyrd Skynyrd of my generation. Their sound is the perfect mix of outlaw country and rock. The band utilizes the electric guitar but doesn't over do it. Perfection. CCR rocked out their best jams, or at least the ones that I know. I have to admit I haven't been listening to them very long. My friends and I sat out on the lawn so the music wasn't as loud as I would have preferred but I guess you can't have it all even on a great night of fun. Maybe its my age, a hectic work week or the lack of a truly "fratty" lifestyle, but as the show came to a close I was exhausted.

When I got home at 1am I looked forward to sleeping in.

I woke up at 8am.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

We called him Papa

On Thursday I said my final goodbye to one of the greatest men I will ever know personally. He was not great in the sense of a doer of daring deeds or accomplisher of great feats. What made this man great was that he put his family and loved ones first up until the very last day of his life. He was a loyal husband, loving father, generous grandfather, everyone's friend and friend to everyone. He was the man my fellow grandchildren and I called Papa.

So many different things come to mind when remembering Herbert Albert Fischer, Jr but what I will remember the most was his generosity. As a child of the Great Depression, Papa saved his household poor forgoing luxuries many of us take for granted so he could provide when it mattered most. As a proud graduate of Indiana University, Papa made sure his four children received a college education. But Papa's kindness did not stop there. Many years later when I was a teenager, I remember one Christmas when Papa handed each of his own kids a simple white envelope. Many of the grandkids were preoccupied ripping open boxed presents but my eyes were fixed on my mother as she opened my dad's white envelope. Her voice cracked, her eyes filled with tears, and she raised her hand to cover her mouth. Although still to this day I do not know the sum of money that was given that day- I could only imagine.

Behind his family, golf and Indiana University were a close second for the two things Papa loved most. As far back as I can remember Papa had full season tickets for both Indiana Hoosier football and basketball. Although Indiana has never been known for its football program, some of my fondest memories growing up were my dad and I getting up early on a fall Saturday to meet Papa at the Wendy's in Columbus, Indiana before driving to Memorial Stadium in Bloomington. Papa never directly told me, but I knew he was proud that I attended Indiana University for my college education. I know this because he never hesitated to send me his football or basketball tickets for a game I wanted to attend. In four years, I never once paid to see an Indiana University athletic event. Thank you, Papa. I will never forget that.

Papa loved to eat and entertain. He is the only man I think in the history of mankind who installed a pool in his own backyard even though he could not swim. Even though his own children had left the next and moved on, he still wanted his house to be the epicenter of all family functions, and at these functions there were always plenty of cookies, cheese & crackers, and shrimp cocktail. My boy scout troop once took a trip to Southern Indiana and Papa did not even think twice about opening up his backyard, grill and pantry to a group of mostly strangers. Papa even picked up one of my friends from the Indianapolis Airport so he could surprise me for my Eagle Scout ceremony when I was 16.

Above all things, Papa was a loyal husband. My grandmother had her faults and her bad habits became catalysts for her poor health, but never once did I see him become angry or bitter. Shortly after my grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary, my grandmother's health turned for the worse. She was in and out of the nursing home, before a stroke and Alzheimer's kept her there permanently. Papa was by her side the whole time. He was there waiting when the nursing home opened in the morning and stayed until they closed their doors for the night.

Papa passed away exactly one week ago to date. His death happened so quickly and so suddenly that it still has not sunk in with many of us. He had routine gall bladder surgery that went smoothly, he came out just fine, was alert and talking, and the doctors thought about having him get up and start walking, but just a few short hours later he was on full life support because his whole intestinal system had shut down. You can't restart it like the heart, nor can you replace it like a kidney. The Lord had decided it was time for Papa to go home.

I will admit, I was angry. After all, it was not supposed to be like this. Papa was not supposed to go first. But he did and it is a reminder that we are not in control despite how much we think we are. The Lord has a plan and all things happen for a reason.

In memory of Herbert Albert Fischer, Jr. 1929-2008.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Lord there ain't no place like home ...

Anyone who believes America is an economic crisis definitely did not spend any time in Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport over Independence Day weekend. First off, the tickets prices are triple what they normally are and yet every flight was booked to every destination you could land a plane at. Even though I was trying to get there, I never thought of St. Louis as a top tourist destination, but I spent nearly 15 hours on stand-by. Never do it- trust me. In the meantime I read the entire book Into the Wild and ran into my high friend Rachel Esther who's a pilot for Continental.

This is where I come from. These are my people.

I eventually made to Saint Louis and the adventure I have been seeking I got a full dose of when my dad took me kayaking down the Meremec River Saturday morning.

Dad and I had a lot of fun and saw more of Missouri's finest than we cared to, but that wasn't the main reason for me coming home that weekend. It was the Cardinals vs. Cubs game.

Welcome to Baseball Heaven . . .

Sibling love.

"This life that I live has took me every where, but Lord there ain't no place like home ... 'Cause I can see the concrete slowly creepin'. Lord take me and mind before that comes!" ~ Lynyrd Skynyrd

Me and the two women in my life.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Company and Fish

Last weekend my parents and sisters flew down to Houston to visit yours truly. With the exception of my mom, I had not seen my dad and Thing Two since Febuary, and Thing One was my long lost sister since Christmas. Weird. Even though I was very glad to see them, my great-grand mother's wisdom rose from her grave echoing: "Company, like fish, starts to smell after three days." And an intense three days it was as I played tour-guide taking my household family from one end of the Houston metro area to the next.

They flew into Houston Hobby airport late Thursday morning. In a hurricane force downpour, I picked them up for lunch and showed them the light that is Freebirds- a burrito joint that puts all the others (Chipotle, Moe's,etc.) to shame. Lunch was brief because I had to get back to the office before heading to the stadium for the Houston Dynamo-FC Dallas Texas derby match-up. Family and my dad's old fraternity brothers experienced a great game with over 15,000 in attendance live on ESPN 2 television.

Friday, we were off to the west suburbs to have dinner my two of my dad's old fraternity brothers. After a few beers, the stories began to flow with the alcohol. The more things change, the more they stay the same. The late 70's University of Evansville Sig Eps did the same stuff the early 2000's Sigma Nu's of Indiana University. Fratty stuff. I could try to explain but you non-Greeks out there just wouldn't understand.

Saturday was NASA day. The Johnson Space Center was the only thing I could think of that was uniquely Houston, plus I hadn't been there yet. We arrived to an empty parking lot and no lines so immediately took one of the tours. The space center reminded me of an ugly college campus. The buildings looked beat-up and plain- definitely not the place that orchestrated putting a man on the Moon in the late 1960's. After the tour, my family and I were greeted by two of my least favorites things in the world: large quantities of little kids and Boston Red Sox fans. The Sox were in town to plays the 'Stros so the cult that is Red Sox nation followed. I will admit, I enjoyed walking alongside a Saturn 5 rocket that fulfilled the Apollo missions and other spacecraft. I was amazed at how small the capsuls are.

By the time the afternoon rolled around, I needed food and ibuprofen badly. Luckily I had the afternoon to unwhind. For dinner, I showed my fam. a true Bayou City delight: boiled crawfish- holding true to a Fischer tradition of eating foods with heads and torsos still attached. My dad and I struggled to learn the art of eating crawfish, but once we got the hang of it we were an unstoppable machine.

That night, I showed Thing One (who's 21) how we do things in Houston'd Midtown. We pregames at an interns kegger with a round of beer pong before rolling out to sports bar/club Pub Fiction which is kind of an upbeat place to see and be seen if you're a young working professional. I introduced her to some friends before I we walked around the corner to dueling piano bar Howl at the Moon to have her meet the work crew who's still young enough to go out and booze on a Saturday night.

Sunday was church at Houston's First Baptist, another afternoon at the poolside, before dropping the parents and sisters at the airport. The good-bye wasn't bad because I'm going up there for July 4th weekend. I have to admit, I let out a sigh of relief because things were a starting to smell.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Ultimate Wingman

When Cory asked me to be his best man, he immediately said there was no other person he could think of to fill this special role on his special day. That statement meant a lot to me considering the great obstacles we have had to overcome to maintain our friendship. Geography, time zone differences, etc. But yet we still made the effort and somehow it miraculously worked. So a little over a year later, the big show went down in the OKC and I had to play the role of the ultimate wingman- the groom's best man.

Adrenaline, caffeine and alcohol played a vital role in my survival of the weekend that was. After about four hours of sleep because of a Dynamo game I had to work the previous night, I left my apartment Friday morning for Hobby Airport to catch my flight to OKC. Thankfully the flight was short. Cory picked me up and immediately we were off for final wedding preparations. We dropped off my bags at his crib downtown, then it was off for tuxedos, his house, then the rehearsal dinner. We had a little downtime, but it was hardly relaxing that Friday. What made matters more awkward was the fact that I didn't know anyone in the wedding or anyone who was going to be there. For the past 365+ days, Cory and Jilian's families and friends had heard: "Cory's friend John is going to be the best man." I was known only in name.

When we arrived at the gardens for the rehearsal, I could the feel the eyes looking at me wondering who this guy was standing next to Cory. Thankfully, Jilian arrived just in time before I lost it and introduced me to her bridesmaids and family. This was my first wedding and I no clue what to do, especially as the best man. I'm thankful we ran through everything a couple times or it could have been ugly. I was paired with Jilian's cousin Jessica who definitely shared her cousin's sense of humor.

At the rehearsal dinner, I spent a good amount of my time answering the question: "So John, how do you know Cory?" Pause while I take a deep breath ... I enjoyed seeing their facial expressions when I told them I was friends with Cory since the fifth grade when he lived in Indiana. I don't think Jilian's family had any idea Cory ever lived in the Hoosier state. Once everyone was served I gave the speech I had been thinking about for nearly a year. I saw quite a few teary eyes, so you know it was a good one. The guys had plans of going out on the town to give Cory one last final hurrah before the main event tomorrow, but a wonderful Oklahoma thunderstorm had other ideas. So we had guys night out at Cory's apartment and let's just say we finished a bottle of Jameson's Whiskey three ways and invented the Bear Grylls drinking game. I'll end this part of the story with that.

Surprisingly enough, I felt great the next morning. The actual wedding day was quite relaxing. Everything was ready to go. We slept in, ate some food, and watched tv until it was time to leave for the gardens where the ceremony would take place. All of the groomsmen had to get dressed in a closet. Bodies were on top of each as we struggled to put on our monkey suites. Then there was another factor- the heat. The Lord blessed us with a sunny day and a nice breeze, but it was still in the 90's which made life pleasant in four layers of clothing. We took pictures first, but Cory and Jilian had a special, private first encounter. Before I knew it, we were lined up into formation and walking down the aisle. My hand were full too. I had Jilian's wedding band dangling on my finger and a special champagne glass in a cloth in the other. Luckily, I didn't screw anything up and the ceremony went smoothly.

Once it was over, I wanted to get my dance on and party. However, the food buffet, cake cutting and my second speech/toast cramped my style. I only knew about one speech ahead of time. Now I was told I had to give another when my best material had already been used. So I told a story in a similar style to the one told in the movie Old School. Yeah, you're feelin' me- you love it. So I gave another kick-ass speech that made everyone both laugh and cry. Maybe I should make a living by writing best man toasts and speeches. Could be fun? After much anticipation, it was time to dance, but there was not much room to begin with and all of the little kids occupied the remaining space. Oh well. I kept drinking the free Boulevard Wheat. Before long it was time for Cory and Jilian to go off to their hotel room and do their newlywed thing. I told Jilian to be gentle with Cory. She assertively shook her head no. I shrugged my shoulders replying: "Very well."

Meanwhile ... as all of these festivities took place, word had gotten out that the best man was a single, eligible bachelor. I became curious of this when several members of both families approached me telling me of a niece, daughter or female family friend they would like to introduce me to. I don't think I've ever had so many people trying to get me ass in my entire life. Too bad they don't live in H-town. I went back to Cory's parent's house for the after party, but once everyone sat down and relaxed, they began to drop like flies and call it a night. I felt I should probably do the same, so I went back to the hotel where my mom stayed only to find the bridesmaids having an after party. I tossed my bag in mom's room and went down to the lobby. Unfortunately, what happened at the Bivona residence soon repeated itself at the hotel. Darn.

Luckily, I got to see Cory and Jilian the next morning going to the airport. Me to Houston, them to Cancun. Darn. This weekend was great and I am glad I got to be a part of it. The more time I spend with the Cory and Jilian together, the more I can see that they are meant for each other and words cannot express how truly happy I am for them. Hopefully I'll find a love like that someday. And when I do, I know they'll be there.

To Cory and Jilian, I wish you only the best.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Guys night out

Last a bunch of guys from the office and some friends met up at a bar to watch the Celtic-Lakers NBA Finals game. We drank beer, talked sports, ate nasty bar food, carried on, told stupid stories and acted like we didn't have a care in the world for a few hours.

I haven't had like kind of fun in a while. No girls, no dress codes, no censorship, no nothing. Just hanging out with the boys is probably what I miss the most about post-college/fraternity life. Just bonding with men your own age and not worrying about careers or girlfriends.

I think guys in serious relationships don't make a solid effort to have a "Guys Night Out" nor do women in serious relationships encourage their significant other to have a "Guys Night Out."

Trust me ladies, if you want to keep your man happy- let him have one night a week.

He'll be more inclined to make it up to you later.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Tejas Triathlon

600 yard swim. 11 mile bike. 3 mile run.

It was an hour and seven minutes of pure hell.

For some reason I allowed my friends to convince me this was a good idea. All things considered- it was. In my post-Little 500 days, I have struggled to find a new athletic challenge and people to do it with. At IU, cycling is a cool thing. It's respected and admired. Connecting with people who share that desire to push their bodies to their physical limits is difficult.

But it took a couple of young women from my Sunday school class to literally shame me into signing up. What can I say- I have my pride. So sure enough I signed up and had basically a month to prepare. I was in good running shape from soccer. I still ride my bike on a regular basis. But I had not swam laps in a pool since high school. And I have never done all three consecutively in the same event.

I could tell from the get-go this first triathlon was going to be an interesting experience. So I started swimming in the morning at the downtown Houston YMCA. Let's just say there were quite a few muscles that had not been used for a while. I got on a running program as well and kept my cycling routine intact. But I never actually did a transition until the day of the race.

Sunday June 8 came quickly. I had bought special triathlon gear and all the little accessories that would shave minutes of my time. Even at 7am, it's hotter than hell in South Texas. The race official lined up the age divisions marked by their respective colored swim cap. The official fired the pistol and 35 men ages 20-25 hit the water.

The swim was by far the most difficult. Bodies are piled on top of each other and the water was so murky you couldn't see a thing in front of you. Breathing is even more challenging when water is constantly splashed into your mouth. Luckily I have four guys in front of me who slowed me down or I would used too much energy. When I left the water, ran up the beach and into the transition area, I realized how tire I really was. My arms and legs felt like lead weights. All I could was: "I have to get on the bike now?!"

However it was the bike that saved me. The bike was my domain. I got into a rhythm and kept my pace right around 20mph. I caught my breath and regained focus. I most difficult challenge for a cyclist in a triathlon is not drafting. Drafting in a triathon can mean major penalties. I was very careful to avoid this at all times. Even though I held back my pace and conserved energy, my legs once again felt like lead weights in the transition area.

For the run, I picked a pace that felt comfortable and hung on for the ride. The nice thing was that there were other racers all around you that you could pace off of and use to push yourself. Even better was all the spectators that cheered you along. Every mile there was water which I splashed down the back of my neck. Once I was in the last mile it was go time.

I was so tired and I thought I was going to die, but after some gatoraid, pizza, leg massage and a Budweiser, I was golden.

I can't remember enduring that kind of pain, but I definitely caught the multi-sport bug and I plan to sign up for another.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Sports Madness

I apologize to all my readers out there (Mom, Dad, Uncle Steve) for not posting any entries for a while. My life has been just so crazy and it's all revolved around sport.

As I mentioned many months ago I started refereeing youth soccer as a method of flexible secondary income. It is some of the easiest money I have ever made and the most difficult at the same time. Concrentration is key. Focus is essential. Taking you eye off play for just a moment could mean the difference between the right call and the wrong call. And when you make the wrong call, the whole world lets you know it. As an official sports official myself, I now have much more respect for the men in zebra suits (basketball, hockey, football), umpires, and highliter yellow (thank you MLS) who do this professionally at a much highler level than a U-14 girls game.

In my never ending quest for adventure, challenge, and self inflicted suffering- I signed up for a triathlon. For as old as he is, my dad can still talk a good game and back it up. He did his first tri at an age much older than mine so I felt obligated to do one of these things. Not to mention a girl from my church group called me out. I wasn't about to let that happen. Training has been interesting. I haven't swam laps in a pool since or on a running program since high school. Biking isn't an issue since I'm fit on the bike since my Little 5 days. Plenty of soreness has taken place in the place few weeks as muscles that haven't been used in a while are brought back to life.

Despite being hotter than hell in the summer (which it is right now), Texas has an incredible musis scene dating all the way back to Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson who rebelled from the pomp of Nashville and went home to Austin. Last weekend I went to a new Houston venue called the Merdian to see alt-country band Old 97. Their sound was a modern Johnny Cash. Rock music with a two-step beat. The show rocked and played a double encore. I've never seen that before.

Plenty of good soccer has been going on lately. The MLS season is in full swing. The Dynamo are finally starting to play better which makes selling their tickets much easier. The European Championships begin tomorrow which will make for some great television viewing on the ESPN family of networks. I'm glad ESPN is finally starting to see the value of soccer. In fact, the championship game will broadcast on ABC.

How awesome is it to have a Celtics-Lakers NBA Finals! Finally, there is a match-up people actually care about. I have to admit this is the first time I've cared about the NBA in a long time. I love watching the old footage of Magic Johnson and, of course, the Hick from French Lick/State Bird of Indiana himself Mr. Larry Bird.

We might also have our first Triple Crown winner this year which is something the sport of horse racing desperately needed.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Follow Follow

If you help people, people will help you.

I support a Scottish soccer club known as Glasgow Rangers FC. I have reasons to follow this team. Fort Wayne, IN native DeMarcus Beasley plays for the first team as well as Dave Weir who played three years of college soccer for the University of Evansville Purple Aces. Indiana connections.

Rangers FC is world famous and has fans all over the world. They make this public through a network of supporter club chapters across North America. Houston, Texas has a chapter known as the Texas True Blues RSC and they have followed their boys since 1999 at Big John's sports bar. I had never been before, but I wanted to watch the UEFA Cup semi-final against Fiorentina. I wanted to make a good first impression so I brought some Dynamo t-shirts to give away. Based on their reaction, you would have thought I had given them a check for a million dollars. These Rangers supporters deep in the heart of Texas now had a new best friend and what made it even better was that he worked for the local professional soccer club. They thanked me by making me a honorary member of their club and gave me a free club t-shirt.

I had another similar situation with a guy named Tony who owns a bar in Midtown. He has jerseys of all the teams in Houston- Astros, Rockets, Texas, Aggies, Longhorns, etc. He asked for a Dynamo jersey because he is from Croatia and a big soccer fan. I told him I couldn't make any promises but I'd do what I could. I got him a jersey replica t-shirt and gave him a pair of tickets to an upcoming game. I now have free drinks every time I go to this place.

These examples go to show that how a little kindness and generosity can go a long way in our self-centered world. It seems that no helps other people just to help other people. Everyone has a "what's in it for me" kind of attitude and that's really sad.

Now on the Dynamo ... The State of Orange is still win-less on the season. However, we are currently on pace to break the league record for most ties one season. George H.W. Bush was in attendance at the game last night on HDNET (thanks Mr. Cuban) and I actually got to shake his hand. Shaking hands with a former United States president was a first for me. However it would been better if all the Secret Service agents had not been there making me nervous as hell.

FOLLOW FOLLOW! We will follow Rangers! Every where- anywhere! There's not a team like the Glasgow Rangers! No not one and there never shall be one!

Monday, April 28, 2008

6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon

There is a game called 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon. The whole concept of the game is that actor Kevic Bacon is connected to every other actor through 6 different movies. Surprisingly enough, I have yet to find a situation where it does not work. Of course, this game is based on the mentality that every person in the world is connected somehow through six degrees of varying relationships. When I moved to Houston, I knew three people- the two gents with the Dynamo who hired me and the guy they hired at the same time as me. So it's safe to say I hardly knew anyone in America's fourth largest market. However, through this 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon reasoning, I have been amazed at how many people I really do know.

I frequent this Irish pub called Brien O'Neils. The place has great beers on tap and cheap appetizers- the perfect venue to unwind on a Friday evening. Little did I know that I was connected to one of the waitresses. After a little discussion, I find out she is the niece of my dad's fraternity brother. Strange? You bet.

I can go on. During the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament, another IU grad and I watched our dismal Hoosiers at the time lose to Arkansas. Just before tip-off, I noticed another Cream and Crimson clad young person sitting by himself alone. There aren't many of us in South Texas, so I was polite and invited him over to watch the game with us. He works for the Rockets, so we had a lot to talk about. Turns out, one of his co-workers is a roommate and good friend of my friend Hannah.

I could go one, but those are two that stick out the most. Most people have an attention span of five seconds, so I'm sure you readers out there are already wanting to read something else.

I would like to wrap things up and give a shout to my friend Jackie. I wish her the best as she takes an incredible opportunity with the Pacers Sports and Entertainment group. We went to high school together and she has been so helpful to me here in Houston and I wish her all the best. Good luck Jacks and God bless you.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Share the trail!

Memorial Park is an oasis within Houston's I-610 loop that makes up the bulk of the metro-area. The park has baseball diamonds, soccer fields, swimming pool, golf course, and most importantly mountain bike trails. My mountain bike has been getting much more love than normal because I'm afraid to ride on the roads after work. I've had way too many close calls in my truck which has left me petrified to ride on just two wheels. So after a hard day's work, I speed down Memorial Drive to vent off the day's frustrations. When I get there I'm excited. I can't wait to bunny hop over some logs, burn up some trail, and get a good sweat going. I unload my bike and spin off to the trail head. About two minutes go by and I see some riders coming my way. I say "heads up!" by they ignore my call and whiz right by forcing me into the brush losing my momentum before a steep climb. Since I no longer have physics on my side, I unclip and walk up the hill. I jump back on the bike and spin off again. I ride for about 5 minutes this time and the same thing happens with a different, larger group of riders. I call out again and they act as if I'm not even there. So much for getting away from it all. Yet, I keep riding wanting to get back in cycling shape after being inspired by last weekend's Little 500. This whole predicament happens a few more times, but the last time I had had enough. This time I lost my balance and ate the dirt. I dropped an f-bomb, and all the guy could say was: "Dude, it's crowded- what do you want me to do about it?" Well dude, I'm not saying you have to do anything about the crowded trails, but you could show some common courtesy and slow down when you see someone up ahead.

So to all you Houston urbanite mountain bikers- SHARE THE TRAIL!

-Upper Management

Monday, April 14, 2008

I go back

Jack and Diane painted a picture of a life in my dreams,
Suddenly this crazy world made more sense to me. . .

In his song "I Go Back," Country artist Kenny Chesney alluded to the lyrics of John Mellencamp's hit "Jack and Diane." The song sheds light on what its like to grow up and live in a small town in the heartland. In Chesney's song, he reflects on several stages of his life and how every time he hears Mellencamp's song, he "goes back" to that lifestyle of long ago.

Whenever I am homesick or just flat out fed up with the big city that is Houston, TX; I find myself listening to the tunes of the Indiana born and raised Mellencamp. This past weekend I took it a step further when I travelled back to Indiana University for the 58th Running of the Little 500 bicycle race.

Unless you have experience Little 500 for yourself, there is really no way to describe the event and truly do it justice. Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong tried when he said "I've been to Super Bowls, World Series, and the Monaco Grand Prix, but the coolest thing I have seen was the Little 500- every sports fan should see it live."

I went back for a few reasons, but the main reason was because I had unfinished business on the track. I led a team of mostly rookies to a respectable finish of 15th. Three of those riders would return with a freshman that made all of the veterans look like school boys I was told. They needed my help on race day. I also had not seen most of my friends since August before I left for Houston.

My flight Thursday was scheduled to depart at 7:45pm and get me in B-town just the night scene was picking up around 11pm local time, but my flight was delayed three hours because of the nasty weather that had plagued most of the country all day. I didn't arrive in Indy until 1:30am which posed another problem because the car rental places had all closed. A fraternity brother arranged for a pledge to pick me up from the airport, I did not learn this until as I was walking down the tunnel and onto the airplane. When I finally arrived almost everyone was already in bed from a long afternoon and evening of drinking. I was still wired. My friend John and I had a few beers then we called in a night.

The next day I went over to the Sigma Nu-Beta Eta house. Everyone was excited to me my return for the World's Greatest College Weekend. After checking in with the bike team riders, I was off to the women's race pre-party my pledge brother's apartment who have a patio on there rooftop which made for the perfect party venue. For the second straight year, the pair of the men of Sigma Nu had claimed victory in the women's Little 500. Congratulations to the women of Delta Gamma. After the women's race, I had dinner with the Sigma Nu bike team then I was off for more partying in one of the country's most beautiful college towns. I caught up with an old friend that night on Kirkwood Ave, but all the bars we liked we too crowded so we went to a place neither one of us had been as actual students.

Soon enough it was time for the big show- the men's race. The SNU's started of strong and led the race at one point, but soon enough their lack of actual bicycle race experience showed. The cold weather, wind, and snow flurries did not help much either- especially when one of the stronger riders began to cramp. Thank God I had hand warmers. I think the overall fitness of the team could have been better, but as I have learned this past 365 days is that 365 days from now it won't really matter. What is important is that you did do it and did take on the challenge because there are so many IU students who don't.

After the race, I crashed the big IUSF party at Nick's English Hut and that is where I ran into most of my old friends. The IUSF is a big family at IU and I met some great people through my involvement with the race. Going back to IU this weekend was good for me in several way. First, I enjoyed seeing my friends. Second, I realized that my time at IU has passed. For the longest time I felt like I was the only one who graduated and left, and for some reason I thought this weekend would be just like old times. Yes, in some ways it was, but in most ways it wasn't. When you go to your favorite hangouts and don't recognized anyone- it's a sign. I'm thankful for my time at IU but it made me realize that it is indeed time to move on. I just hate the fact that it is so hard for me to get back if I wanted to go to a football or basketball game.

But every time I hear that song (Jack and Diane) ... I go back.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Opening Day

I don't know what it is about the start of baseball season that gets my spirits up, but some reason it always does. I guess because I grew up in the Midwest it was the first real sign that spring was here and summer would soon follow. Even in South Texas where it rarely gets below 60 degrees it had the same effect. What better way to see real, live baseball than by watching my beloved St. Louis Cardinals. When I first told my sister I was moving to Houston, the first thing that left her mouth was "You better not become an Astros fan." Of course not. Since 1892, the Redbird have been a cornerstone in the National League. The Cardinals are the All-American baseball franchise. The location of St. Louis geographically allows the Cardinals brand to reach out to the vast expanses of the American heartland. Yes, the Yankees and Red Sox are popular, but their true fans remain in the frozen Northeast. The Cardinals Radio Network expands over nine state: Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana, Mississippi, Iowa, Tennesee, Illinois, Arkansas, and Oklahoma- that's a huge chunk of real estate. The Cardinals is the kind of team that everyone can become of a fan because of its players. They don't buy championships and not every man on the roster is a celebrity. The players come from all backgrounds and act just like everyday folks (Albert Pujols was seen at a Chuck E. Cheese with his family).

Although Astros fans in general need an education on what real baseball tradition is all about, Opening Day is special regardless of the teams playing and I am grateful to the Houston Astros fan who gave me her extra ticket. I had fun. I enjoyed myself. And even though my team lost that first game, I knew we would come back and win the next two games and capture the series.

Cardinals lead the Cards-Stros Challenge 2-1

Saturday, April 5, 2008

A big pile of shift work

So there I was ... on my Saturday morning, staring from 34th floor office building trying to sell some tickets for the Dynamo's regular season home opener against FC Dallas ... and all I could think was ...


And I don't think I have ever meant it more.

The corporate world has been kicking my ass lately. For nine hours a day, 5 days a week, my life is consumed by it. For another 7-8 hours, I'm sleeping. That remaining 8 hours just does not seem to exist. I feel like I have no time for pleasure and adventure- two things that Edward Abbey said were mandatory for a long, happy life.

I talked to my friends who live in Colorado the other week. They talk about going skiing on the weekends and stepping out their front door to those majestic Rocky Mountains. When I hear this it really makes me think about what I'm really living my life for. I love soccer and I love working for a professional soccer team helping to grow the sport, but is it really worth all the extra hours,nights, weekends etc that take away from the other things I enjoy? Some days I really wonder. Maybe I'm just still so green to this working fulltime thing that I just don't know any better. Flooding recently devastated the town my parents live close to- that put everything into perspective.

Well, when I finally do get out of here, I'm going to clear my head with a long bike ride through Houston, maybe go fishing, and then I'm going to watch some basketball. Big game against FC Dallas tomorrow.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Las Madres de Futbol (Soccer Moms)

For the longest time I could never really quite understand why there are so many soccer haters out there, but then I guess I starting looking at the sport from a different viewpoint. As a front office employee, I can't get emotional during the games. I have to remain professional. Now that I am refereeing soccer games, I realize how difficult officiating really is and how many whiners are out there. I realize- that there really is a lot to hate.

I blame the moms. (Not my mom, of course). Soccer moms are either too nurturing or too demanding. They yell, scream, carry on, and act like fools. In any case, they deserve a big super-sized serving of the Just Shut Up Award.

Soccer has a funny way of explaining the world, it is a sport that is a microcosm of the larger social issues in our everyday world. I refereed a game that put a rich, white club against a poorer,blue collar Hispanic club. Both teams possessed talented players and moved the ball down the pitch well, but the second the boys from whitey-tighty'ville went down a goal, the game might as well have been over. They hung their heads down, pointed fingers, and all in all gave up when the going got tough. One kids whined about every call that didn't going in his teams favor. Meanwhile, the Hispanic team kept scoring goals. They had faced and overcome adversity before- at home, in their lives off the soccer field.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I refereed a girls game later that day that was a make-up and had no influenced whatsoever on advancement to the state cup tournament. One of the moms acted in such a way that probably would have gotten her escorted out of Robertson Stadium. All of her ranting and raving was in Spanish, so that's probably what kept anyone from saying anything. Regardless, it was annoying.

I can go deeper though. That evening, there was a watch party at a soccer pub to watch the Dynamo's first regular season game against the NE Revolution. A mother was there with her two daughters. The mother appeared to be inebriated and was teaching her daughters soccer drinking songs. (YOU'LL NEVER BEAT PAT ONSTAD! YOU'LL NEVER BEAT PAT ONSTAD!) It's 7:30 pm, do you know where your daughters are?

So all you soccer moms out there, do your soccer playing kids a favor and keep your mouths shut. You're making the game look bad.

Friday, March 28, 2008

MLS 2008 Preview

It is the eve of Major League Soccer's 12th season and there are several questions out there that need to be addressed. The only way I see it appropriate is to look at them team by team. So here we go and I'll try to be as unbiased as possible.

Houston Dynamo: As MLS's second only back-to-back championship winner, the 2008 edition Dynamo are the team to beat this season. As last year's cup winners, the Dynamo have already been tested in the Pan Pacific Cup and the CONCACAF Champions Cup. So what you will about the PPC, but I give props to the league for trying something new and trying to extend its brand to areas of the globe that aren't targeted much by other leagues. The CONCACAF Cup continues to be of importance as the young club continues to gain credibility amongst the large Hispanic/Latino community in South Texas. The Dynamo also play in Super Liga against the best clubs from Mexico. The main question here is: can a squad with so many older players already stay healthy over the course of such a marathon season? Despite its depth every where else, the team still needs a true goal scorer with a knack for finding the back of the net.

DC United: The club of our nation's capital continues to be the class of MLS both on the field and in the front office. The signing of DP Marcelo Gallardo fits in well with DC's already South American heavy roster. DC is expected to do well in the CONCACAF Champions Cup and be in contention for the Supporter's Shield once again. I'm all about teams signing the best players they can afford, but does anyone else feel that DC has gone overboard on the Latino players? After all, part of the genesis of forming the league was to help develop American players. Maybe that's just me.

Chivas USA: Fantasy Chivas as I like to call them remains L.A.'s best team despite the fact I hate having two teams in one city. Their financial support from their parent club allows to not have to worry about issues facing other clubs. Chivas field another strong squad led by skipper Brad Guzan who always has an eye on the league's next young prospects.

NE Revolution: The Revolution has been to the MLS Cup 4 out of the last 6 seasons. Does MLS have it's own version of the Buffalo Bills? Scotsman Steve Nicol beefed up his team in the back, but the loss of Pat Noonan to Europe thinned out the attack. The clock is ticking for the Rev's to have a legitimate shot at the title.

Chicago Fire: A lot has changed on the Fire roster from the days of Pole Peter Nowak and the current days of Mexican Cuauhtemoc Blanco. Blanco continues to take MLS to new levels with the Hispanic fan base, but can he stay fit and healthy to endure a season where is expected to be a trivial part of the attack on a regular basis? He has to be if the Fire wants to be a contender instead of a pretender.

FC Dallas: The Hoops parted with Carlos Ruiz which despite criticism was a step in the right direction if you ask me. FCD definitely still has an identity crisis as it tries to market its brand to suburbanites with players none of them have ever heard of. Mom, can I get another orange slice please? Does anyone else think the location of Pizza Hut park is absurd? From a performance-on-the-pitch perspective (alliteration): FCD has no room for error.

New York Red Bulls: I'm all about commericalism in sports, because its how I make a living. I'm all about jersey sponsors and big time investors, but actually naming the club after an energy drink is right up with FCD building its stadium 35 miles from the city that bears its name and wonder why no one comes to your games. Some one tell RB that just because you know how to sell caffeine- that has no bearing whatsoever on your ability to operate a successful professional soccer club. Personally, I thought it was shady that Juan Carlos Osorio took the Chicago gig just to kill time until the NYRB job became available. Now he's in the hot seat to get results and prove he's every he says he is. Former natty team captain Claudio Reyna either needs to start playing or start looking at real estate in Fort Lauderdale.

Kansas City Wizards: God Bless the late Lamar Hunt for being such a big investor in MLS and keeping it alive during those first few tough seasons financially. However ... naming the team the Wizards, playing in the Chief's stadium, then going to a minor league baseball park! WTF! Thank God you guys have a great stadium and commercial development project on the horizon because for the longest time it seemed guys could do nothing right. Boss Curt Onalfo strengthened up the back line, but was veteran Nick Garcia worth a first-round draft pick? Will his other moves pay off? The Wizards franchise does have post season experience, but only time will tell.

L.A. Galaxy: Despite it's on-field performance and never ending drama between GM Alexi Lalas and head coach Ruud Gullit, the Galaxy are still considered to be the league's most important franchise for reason (or should I say player) and one reason only: Mr. David Beckham. Becks has generated more publicity for the league in the past 10 months than in its first 10 seasons combined. Sellout crowds where ever his team plays, endorsements, jerseys, etc. There has been an interest in our domestic league that had not existed until now. But despite all the PR and commercial benefits, at the end of the day- it's about results and winning championships. Becks will never silence his critics unless he helps LA bring home a trophy. This year, the Galaxy could be the most exciting to watch or the most horrific.

Columbus: The Crew used to be the pride of the MLS with its gem of a "soccer specific stadium" that was the first of its kind in American. But historically, this team is just flat out bad. The team is completely dependent on one player- Guillermo Barros Schletto- and coach Sigi Schmid continues refusing to play young players.

Colorado: Didn't the Rapids create some unique partnership with Arsenal a while back? If so, you'd think they might have a little bit better of a team- a team worthy of the great venue it plays in. Hopefully the Gomez combo of Christian and Herculez will provide a much needed spark on offense. If nothing else, play former Hoosier Jacob Petersen.

Real Salt Lake: RSL is my sleeper for the 2008 season. I think they will do far better than most believe. Former MLS standout Jason Kreis has hand-picked his squad and what better way to break in that new stadium than with a playoff run?

San Jose: The Earthquakes couldn't get a stadium deal done in round 1, why do they think they can pull it off during round 2. The defense for the resurrected Quakes is solid and will things close, but if you like watching games with a ton of goals- this isn't the team for you.

Toronto FC: TFC is without question the most financially successful club selling out season tickets entirely for 2008, but the fans deserve to see a winning club and in all honesty their roster looks exactly like it did a year ago.

Congratulations on Seattle getting a team for '09 and Philly for '10.

St. Louis- you're next!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

March Madness and Sport Adultery

Growing up in Indiana, the month of March was always a special time. The land began to thaw from the previous winter, the snow melted and the green grass tops popped through. Club soccer practice kicked off on slushy fields and you go outside without a heavy jacket. But the month of March meant one thing in the Hoosier state: basketball. Whether it was the IU Hoosiers, Butler Bulldogs or Purdue Boilermakers; or the local high school team, every resident had their eyes glued on the basketball team of their choice. The story of the '07/'08 Indiana Basketball team was one of peaks and valleys. Ranked in the top 25 for most of the season it seemed the Hoosiers were back in the national spotlight like in the days of Branch McCracken and Robert Montgomery Knight. After one too many phone calls, coach Kelvin Sampson was fired and the team began a gradual downward spiral. We were one and done losing to Arkansas in the first round. A talented team with a top in-state recruit Eric Gordon played a tough season for nothing in my opinion. Regardless of the loss, I still found myself glued to the TV set pulling for the other teams I like to see do well like Butler and Louisville. Basketball, like football in Texas, is a part of our culture. It's the farmer's son who practicing his jump-shot long after the sun has set on a beat up rim and backboard nailed to the side of a barn. It's the packed gymnasium on a cold January night and all the streets and shops are empty. Call it just a stupid game. Call it what you will.

On Friday night I watched the Arkansas-IU game with an IU buddy I met down here. At the BW3's in Midtown, I met another IU Class of 2007 grad who works for the Rockets. It's always good to meet a fellow Hoosier- especially one that works in the sports biz.

A friend of mine, frustrated with my diehard sport loyalty, asked (borderline screamed) at me: "John, can't you cheer for just ONE Houston sports team! You live here after all!" In my usual smart ass way I told I cheered for the Dynamo, but they pay me so it's different. I told her that I'm a one-team kind of guy- like the way a loyal husband should be with just one woman- his wife. My team may be a little down, but I cannot commit a term I fabricated called "Sport Adultery." I refuse to bail on my teams I've pulled for my entire life just because I live in another part of the country. So here's to you, Houston Texas. I will not cheer for your indoor football and baseball teams nor your lousy NBA team just because I live here.

My job been brutal lately working a lot of long hours and with nothing much in return. The Dynamo hosted its first meaningful game this past week- a CONCACAF Champions Cup game against Guatemala's CSD Muncipal. Thank goodness this game was not our official MLS season Home Opener that we're pushing so hard. We had horrible ticket operations and logistical issues. On top of all this, the sales team as a whole is struggling to make quotas and goals. Despite our utmost efforts, management threatened to take away people's jobs last week. This rubbed me the wrong way of course and put a lot of things into perspective. I know for a fact there is something in Major League Soccer that I am meant to do and be successful at. I just don't know what that specifically is. I was willing to give ticket sales a try- just so I could get started.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

22 Days of Rodeo

First off, I apologize to my dedicated readers for the lack of posts lately. In all honesty my life has been pretty boring and you haven't missed out on much until recently. I've been working my ass off to not only sell as many tickets I can for the Houston Dynamo, but mostly to keep my boss off my back.

Anyways, yesterday I made my debut at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and I have never before experienced anything like it. For almost the entire month of March, the city of Houston in engaged in daily rodeo, carnival, livestock show and the biggest names in country music. Since my arrival in September I heard rumors of how huge and extravagant the Houston Rodeo is. I couldn't wait. As much as I wanted to be there every single day of the event, I had to pick and choose for monetary reasons.

I picked March 15, the day Brad Paisley was scheduled to perform after the rodeo competition that day. So immediately after the Dynamo season ticket holder event took place that day, I changed into my wrangler jeans, put on my cowboy hat, and jumped on the metro rail to Reliant Park. I met up with some friends from my church class and right away upon my arrival I bought a Bud Light and a BBQ turkey leg. I was more excited to see some real cowboys compete. The fact that Brad Paisley was performing afterwards was an added bonus. I fell in love with rodeos when I was a ranger at the Philmont Ranch in Cimarron, NM and I hadn't had my fix for well over a year. I decided that could definitely compete in the calf-wrestling competition. Basically a cowboy chases down a calf on his horse,jumps off and rolls the calf onto his back for time. Bull riding is the most respected event, but a little too insane for my tastes. I played rugby, so I've brought down my fair share of large, dumb animals. The concert was incredible. Paisley played several of my favorite songs and there is nothing more fun than rocking out to country music.

Once we got out of the stadium, Lauren and I were on a mission to find some deep fried food. This effort forced us to enter the carnival area with all of the carnies out to get your money. We had to be cautious. I decided on deep fried Oreo cookies, which I didn't think was possible, but they pulled it off and were quite delicious with powdered sugar sprinkled on top.

Lauren and I met up with more friends before going into The Hideout. The rodeo turns the floor of the old Astrodome into the giant dance floor. I was a lone cowboy amongst several young women so I had my work cutout for me keeping them all entertained and guaranteeing they all got their fair share of two-stepping on the dance floor. I would dance with one for a few songs, get a drink, then dance with another for a few songs. Very tiring work. Things started to die around 10:30 pm but Lauren and I weren't done for the night so we went to country music club Whiskey Creek in Midtown for more beers and dancing. By 2 am, I was exhausted, dehydrated, and covered in thin layer of salt from all the sweating I had done.

All in all my first Houston Rodeo was awesome and I'm trying to make it out for the last weekend to see the championship series and Brooks & Dunn on March 22.

Monday, February 18, 2008

When World's Collide

This weekend I participated in two worlds that I had very little prior knowledge of, but threw myself into the mixer of them both and hope I would come out without too much self-inflicted damage.

The first of these unknown worlds was Texas A&M University in College Station. I had worked with Aggies at Philmont and I currently work with them at the Dynamo as well. I have known about their traditions, rituals, etc. for quite some time, but there's nothing quite like experiencing the real thing. Friday night my Philmont Ranger buddy Jameson had his ring dunking party. At TAMU, class rings are a big deal and everyone gets one because that is the tradition. When an Aggies gets their ring, they drop it into a pitcher of pitcher, chug it, and the time it takes you to drink to drink the pitcher is something you are supposed to remember your entire life. I don't quite get it either, I'm sure Aggies would find IU's traditions a little strange too. But it doesn't stop there, my friend Jameson is in the Corps of Cadets. TAMU was originally founded as a military academy and did not enroll women to the school until the 1970's. These days it is basically the "Purdue of Texas" but it still holds true to its military traditions by keeping the Corps of Cadets program. So at 0800 Saturday morning, Jameson joined his Fox Company "brothers" for PT on the quad. I was still hungover. That afternoon we went to a basketball game. TAMU does not have cheerleaders. They have Yell Leaders that are from the Corps and every yell is done hunched on your knees. During one of their songs, everyone interlocks legs and sways back and forth and all I could do was hang on for the ride. I like checking out other universities to get an idea of what other experiences were like. It also makes me appreciate my time at IU even more because it shows how unique and special my alma mater really it. Even though I had fun, I still like TAMU is a cult. Sorry Aggies. You can try to gig me later.

After a two hour drive through thunder storms, down pours, wind, and possible tornado conditions, I arrived in Dallas to see my sister compete in a cheerleading competition. But this wasn't just any cheerleading competition, it was the NCA National Championships- which still means nothing to me. Anyways, I enjoyed seeing my parents and sister. My good friend Cory was there in the exact same hotel for a pharmacy conference. We bought beer and cigars and I hung out with his school friends for the remainder of the night/early morning. But no amount of alcohol, nicotine, etc. could have prepared me for what I was about to witness the next day and I'm not talking about visiting Dealy Plaza and standing on the Grassy Knoll. I'm talking about the actual cheerleading competition itself. I had no idea how big this other kind of cult had become. I don't even know where to begin. Walking into the convention I saw a grown man wearing a bright purple tracksuit that had "Cheer Dad" embroidered on the chest. This same man wore a purple afro wig as well. Inside, I saw more skin in one place than ever before and none of it looked to be over the age of 16. Jailbait. Nothing but jailbait as far as the eye could see. The costumes were flamboyant and covered in rhine stones. These "girls" were caked in make-up and other "add-on" type features. Some things were so unbelievable they cannot be described because such words do not exist. The whole event was easily a multi-million dollar operation. I was impressed by the level of skill and athleticism required for the routines I saw, even though short- 2.5 minutes are allowed. T-shirts, giveaways, lights, fog machines, an emcee- I could go on and on. I was blown away.

I think it's great for girls to be involved in athletic competition, but the only thing that I really really had problem with was the number of guys I saw there. I'm not talking about innocent bystanders like myself, but guys that were on actually competing on these squads. Guys wearing varsity letter style jackets and trolling around wearing rhine stone covered outfits like it ain't a thing. My bitterness and anger only comes from the fact that there is a huge shortage of real men in America these days. No one knows how a real man is supposed to act and behave. In our world of material possession and pursuit of health, wealth, and happiness, the current generation men does not take the time nor effort to teach the generation below him. This neglect has been going on for years. Manhood is becoming a lost art and I don't how guys jumping around like a bunch of fruitcakes helps the situation. Maybe I'm just old fashioned and a homo-phobe. I guess this is what it's like when worlds collide.