Freeing Myself From Football

Bud Grant

That’s former Minnesota Vikings coach Bud Grant. Bud was quite a figure for those of us that grew up in the shadow of the Vikings. Vikings never spiked the ball or did end zone celebrations. Vikings never wore parkas or those big insulated capes even when playing in sub-zero temperatures. Vikings never panicked. It was beautiful to watch, even if we never won a Super Bowl. It shaped my expectation of what the game should be and maybe that’s part of the problem. Then again, maybe football should meet my expectations.

I am part of a football pool that picks the winners and point spreads of each game every week. A former coworker got me into this pool and I’ve been in it for at least a dozen years now. I’ve only met a few of the participants face to face but that doesn’t matter. The pool is an intriguing community. The players are strewn across the country. It’s all done by emails and spreadsheets. There’s no money involved, just bragging rights and the knowledge that one week the game loves you and the next it can turn on you. It keeps me interested and engaged in football even when my Vikings are sucking. The Vikings sucking is pretty much a constant so this pool is pretty much the only thing that has kept me interested in football the last several years. I’ve gotten good at picking too. The last few years I’ve finished in the top five and that’s damn hard to do in this group. This year though I’ve fallen in the standings and it is for one reason. The NFL has gone to hell and my heart just isn’t in it anymore.

A few months ago I posted here that I was boycotting football for that weekend ( After that, my viewing of football was infrequent. I’ve watched most of the playoff games but my heart wasn’t really in it. As I have said in a few emails to friends over the last week, this is likely the last Super Bowl for me. I can watch my NDSU Bison with a somewhat clear conscience but I cannot abide what the NFL stands for and what it has become.

It’s not just the violence of the game. Yes, the concussions and other injuries that plague these players long after their careers are over are ghastly. But just as bad is the NFL’s token settlement to the concussion class action suit; their paltry effort to sweep this under the rug. Then there’s the continual blackmail of city, county, and state governments for new stadiums. The fact that the league that generates BILLIONS of dollars in revenue is classified for tax purposes as a non-profit. Roger Goodell, the head of this clusterfuck, was paid 44 million dollars last year for being the owner’s lapdog. Then there’s the domestic abuse, child abuse, and drug abuse. I know athletes aren’t role models but good lord, the behavior we have seen is ridiculous. And no one can tell me that these guys are using some sort of PEDs. There’s the league’s ridiculous hypocrisy of ignoring and covering up these scandals while twisting their collective panties into knots if a player wears the wrong pair of cleats, is not wearing a NFL-approved hat, or doesn’t show up for meaningless press conference. Enough, enough, enough.

I told the kindly man that runs the football pool that this is my last year. He agreed with most of my concerns regarding the game but pointed out that the community created by the group has its own value. He has a point there. So I may reconsider and keep picking games. But I still won’t be spending any time watching them next season. Maybe I’ll come back to it some day but it’s about as likely as the Vikings winning the Super Bowl. If you know football, you’ll understand those odds.

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Playing it Safe in Hollyweird

Have you seen this trailer? My, it is so full of cliches and tired tropes I think it could collapse under its own weight. No doubt the studio thought the same thing, hence the February release date. And why is it no one can make a decent epic fantasy film? Oh sure, we have the Hobbit films but that’s the exception, not the rule. The rule is these tepid rehashes of genre cliches that were getting worn out in the 70s.

I think the last thing that showed a little spirit and potential was Snow White & the Huntsman. If anything, if suffered from overreach and ambition but that’s not a bad thing. Kristen Stewart appeared more engaged than she did in that Twilight series so there’s something as well. And there was an honest attempt to create a world.

Seventh Son however looks to be a SyFy channel movie with a bigger budget and a couple A-list actors who were slumming in order to buy a new cabin in the Montana Rockies. It still looks like fantasy-by-numbers, not an inspired take on an established genre. I suspect that the studios are scared of the genre. If you’re basing a movie or a franchise on a fantasy series you have to hit it just right with a fickle fanbase or you’re going to alienate your base right off the bat. It’s much easier to just stir in some themes the audience has seen a thousand times and hope that they don’t stay home watching LOTR agan and again. Hollywood has become so risk averse over the last couple decades, more dependent on franchises and sequels, films where the roll of the dice can be calculated down to the penny.

Lana and Andy Wachowski are not risk averse. They’re perfectly willing to double down on the crazy (the Matrix sequels prove that) and take a chance on something original. There’s every indication that this could be a mess as well. Release dates early in the year rarely lie. But at least it takes a chance and that’s worth something. So if I’m going to see anything in the month of February let it be something that goes for broke, not one that plays it safe.

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To Sleep, Perchance to Write

Neil Gaiman this is how you do it

Last night my wife fell asleep just after supper. My instinct was to goof around on the Internet, getting into debates on Progressive Ears or Metafilter. But instead I opened the document for my short story. I’ve been diddling with this thing for a couple months now and the progress has been slow but steady. I succeeded in switching the point of view but it was a bitch reconstructing the rest of it. I was stuck at around five thousand words with a couple major gaps in the tale. So I bent back to the task with the idea that maybe I could get something on the page.

It started to flow. And I mean a torrent of words. I probably wrote 2500 words in that two hour stretch and about 9:30 it was done. I was shocked and a little jubilant. I sent it off to my old writing group in hopes that one of them might critique it.  With Sansa dogging my heels, I walked around the dark house. It was done, finished in one night. I’ve had these surges before. The book was finished in a two week session that pretty much echoed this one but that had been over a year ago. I was done and a little bit flabbergasted.

Now it’s seven in the morning. I woke up around five thirty, stirred by a strange discordant dream I can now barely remember. I should try to fall back asleep but my ADHD is in full bloom, sending wave after wave of unrelated thoughts and tangents. It’s tough to concentrate but even harder to shut my mind back down. I’ll open a can of food for the cats and surf the net, waiting for sleep to return. Good morning and good night.

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Kitten Seeks Lucrative Modeling Career

P1010208 P1010209 P1010210

Don’t do it Amy, life in the big city will ruin you.

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Splendid Isolation

5 trillion mosquitoes

I got this image from a friend’s post on Facebook. I love the isolation of this place, the seclusion. But something tells me living in this place would result in playing host to five trillion mosquitoes.

Both my wife and I are fascinated by dwellings like this. Any time we see a comfortable home tucked away in the middle of nowhere on TV we sigh and say “I could live there.” I suppose it’s a result of living in a big metropolitan area for so long, often in apartments. We yearned for privacy, to live in quiet solitude with our pets. A remote mountain cabin or a lone country cottage is our ideal. We just want to be left alone, to live out the rest of our days in privacy and peace.

In a way this is the life we have right now. We live on a side street in a small town, surrounded by miles and miles of prairie and wheat fields. That should be our dream but now that seems to be a shadow of that. In this quiet town the oil field trash like to drive their white pickups about forty-five miles as hour down residential streets meant to be traveled at fifteen. The truck traffic from the highway is constant because the industry runs 24/7. We were supposed to see a slowdown in activity with the drop in the price of oil but it hasn’t happened. Driving back from Minot last Friday it was an endless parade of cars and trucks on US 2, a far cry from the way it was even five years ago. This once quiet countryside is suffering from a barrage of rude noise and it won’t improve for years. I guess one could still find the quiet life in the eastern part of the state. The last time I drove from Minot east to Grand Forks it was like I stumbled upon a North Dakota that existed several years ago.

The answer is of course moving but that won’t be feasible for several years. So we’ll stick it out, putting the bar in the sliding glass door every night and ignoring the din (and dust) from the truck parade. We make our own splendid isolation and most days, that’s enough for now.

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Caturday Bird Watching is for the Youngsters


The Chickadees are having some sort seminar in the pine tree outside. The two old men can hardly bother to care. Arya has other plans.

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The Internet is a Hive of Scum and Villainy


Preach it!  (via

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