No Horse

Soccer is terrific if you love it.  Football is great if you can take it.  Basketball is wonderful if you can endure it.  Baseball is magnificent if you can believe it.  Other than baseball, I can’t say I love or even like all of the major sports.  However, I embrace them.

Watching the Major League Baseball Playoffs tonight, I didn’t have a horse in the race.  I didn’t care who won and I only knew of a select few of these elite players participating.  In the 8th inning, I may have been alone in our house, but there was seating room only during that 8th inning when The Washington Nationals were in pursuit of defeating the Milwaukee Brewers.  The city of D.C. blew up with joy rather than uncertainty.  You don’t have to have a horse in the race to enjoy life…..and sports, can provide that joy.

Culinary Brackets

A good friend texted me the other day regarding our College Basketball brackets.  Because he is an educated man, or just wildly lucky, he maintains three out of the four teams in the Final Four.  Quite impressive.  He also questioned my Final Four, and even though my bracket was busted, I am using unorthodox analytics to complete my bracket, just for fun.

My Final Four picks are mostly based on food I had eaten in some of their Regions.  I would root for South Carolina because of the She Crab Soup, but they are playing Gonzaga, home of the best Stromboli I’ve ever eaten.  Not a fan of Oregon, I’ve ordered duck several times, and the best was served in Washington. North Carolina provided the most delicious Fried Green Tomatoes I’ve ever discovered, outside of Louisville.

Go Stromboli.



As with every morning, I awake to feed our dogs, cats, squirrels, and my wife.  Today, I didn’t have time to feed myself because of gambling and the month of March.  It’s that time of year when some may succumb to the evils I once left resting, snoring, or throwing up on a blackjack table.

I may lose twenty bucks during this March Madness, but I will forget the twenty dollars and relish in the fact I can feed the dogs, cats, squirrels, and, once in a while, my wife.




It’s time for  March Madness, and more importantly, gambling.

My wife wants my advice regarding the NCAA tournament brackets.  She believes I know more about gambling than the professionals in Las Vegas making a living off of people like me.  I am currently paying off some of their mortgages.

It should be simple, but it is also fun and unpredictable.  The weather in Seattle or the East Coast is far more predictable.

Dancing with the Pirates

Convincing my wife to watch “Dancing with the Stars” with me the other evening caused her to look at me as though I’d finally started taking hallucinogenic drugs.  Of course, I don’t use drugs.  That still remains years and blocks down the path of my bumpy life. She was surprised, because I’d never made such a suggestion.  Late at night, it’s usually Seinfeld or Jaws putting us to sleep.

For years, my mother and one of my brothers have watched this dazzling show and find it entertaining, so I thought we’d give it a shot.  It was entertaining.  You put a pair of dancing boots on Geraldo Riviera, and it guarantees entertainment, in the most sinister of ways.   Not that I can dance, but if Geraldo’s partner just brought a carry on cardboard cutout through customs of him on stage, you wouldn’t have known the difference.  I don’t mind making fun of Geraldo.  I felt he owed me after making me suffer through three hours of mindless television regarding an Al Capone vault not providing any substance or resolution as to why we paid for television.

Years ago, when this delightful program began to air, my mother immediately took interest.  So, living in another city and speaking to her only once a week, I always wished to take interest in her leisurely activities.  Watching “Dancing with the Stars” and “Little House on the Prairie” was one of her activities.

Not giving a Yankee dime about the outcome of the dancers’ demise, I loved my mother’s commentary.  Similar to rooting for a baseball, football or basketball team you don’t give a crap about, you wish to support the ones you love, even if it involves dancing or soccer.  I wanted to root for her horse in this race.

“Who are you pulling for, mom?”

“I’m rooting for the girl with the wooden leg.”

With my sister laughing in the background, I replied with some distraction and incredulousness. “What?  Is this dancing with the stars, or dancing with the pirates?  Does she dance with an eye patch, and is the parrot on her shoulder taking lessons as well?”

Turns out, Paul McCartney’s ex wife was participating in the event, and I had no clue she had a wooden leg, or “prosthetic” now used in times following ancient Greece.  Loving my mother, unconditionally, I had to root for the lady with the wooden leg.

The Ben Commandment

On the way to church, I stopped by a casino.

This is the worst story ever told.  At the conclusion of Lent, Easter and gambling can be lurking around every corner of the religious universe, much like a sneaky bunny or Jesus,  unifying as one when it comes to sinning.  Gambling should be the 11th commandment of sin and redemption.  Thou shalt not gamble, unless it is on Easter, or the night before, or whatever.   Several days ago, with March Madness diving deep into gamblers’ britches, I preached about how gambling and betting on others is not wrong, but stupid.  It is stupid,  yet, when you can somehow make something positive out of gambling, it can be righted and somewhat shrewd……piously speaking.

One year ago today, alone on Easter Eve, I thought I’d attend church for the first time in years.  Thirty years of my Easters were spent standing behind those who flew in from Hell three times a year just to feel good about themselves.  That aways intrigued me, since I spent every weekend going to church for thirty years, only to feel bad about myself.  Perhaps, this is why this story may be immoral to some, yet redeeming to other scofflaws.

While my wife was away for that Easter weekend, I decided to play………some black jack.  It was right on the way to the Easter Vigil service.  I had fifty bucks in my wallet, and I was, with the good Lord willing, going to turn that fifty dollars into one hundred.  Water into Wine, cash into chips, chips back into cash.  (With the exception of water into wine, that’s gambling lingo.)  I don’t know if God happily intervened on that day, but my card playing certainly became Holy.  It took me ten minutes to turn that fifty dollars into two hundred.  Not that I know much about this stuff, but when a gambler is on a hot streak, it’s not in his or her best interest to leave the table….or so I have read.  This is where God or Jesus stepped between the dealer and me and asked what time it was.  6:45.  Fifteen minutes before mass.  In all my years of attending mass, I don’t remember being late.  Disinterested? Yes.  Tardy.  Negative.  Immediately, I cashed in my bones, (chips) and headed to church.

Waiting one full hour, listening to the same speech, lecture, reading, and ultimately, beautiful story I’d heard annually, I waited impatiently for the basket to sheepishly roam around the congregation awaiting my tithing.  With the exception of the ten dollars I saved for some fish, chowder, chips and a beer for my own dinner, I happily dumped my gambling wins in the basket.  Some say I was playing with “House” money.  That day, I was playing with God’s money, and it made me feel terrific to know someone else would be eating as well as me that evening.  That’s one hell of an Easter.

Seasonal Changes

A gal I currently live with delivered an astute observation while in my presence the other day.  She realized, after spending the last seven years of her life with me, that she doesn’t recognize the traditional seasons quite the same.  Before I took her in as a boarder, it was simply Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer.  These seasons only determined what she needed to wear on any given rainy day in Seattle.  Influenced by her meatball roommate, she began not only thinking, but living outside the seasonal box.  The seasons should not be merely associated with the weather and holidays, but something deeper, something fun, something that can be clean and dirty at the same time, yet, with the right attitude, quite intriguing: Sports.

Sports replaced the seasons for me the day my brothers informed me Santa and the Easter Bunny were a couple of phonies.  Fall was replaced with football, Winter was replaced with basketball, and Spring and Summer with baseball.  With the 2016 NFL season closing, my  roommate had a question for me.  “What do we do until March Madness?”  Neither of us giving a crap about the National Basketball Association, since their regular season games are meaningless, it took me a moment to respond.  “I don’t know.  Maybe read a book?”  Working long hours at the landfill leaves her only enough time each night to eat a hearty meal before her eyes begin to droop.  On weekends, she devotes her time to our animals and others in our neighborhood.  Years ago, she was a voracious reader, but lately, books have taken a backseat to pets and balls.

After college basketball’s March Madness, she will begin planning her next season around baseball’s Spring Training in Arizona.  And, of course, following Spring Training, she will book tickets to Opening Day.  The rest of the summer will be plastered with backyard bbq and Mariner baseball taking us clear through to the World Series and the beginning of college and professional football.  I have found the perfect roommate.


There is no “WE” in Team

We, Us, I, and then some.  Pronouns, mixed with their arch enemy, Proper Nouns, can be a sinister and delicate bunch of instigators separating the realists from the loyalists.  They create unnecessary tension between the closest of friends, especially when it comes to sports.

I belong to an elite group of A-holes.  Rather than “elite”, perhaps I should use the word, “select”, or even go as far as to say, “pretentious”.  As a lifelong advocate for rooting athletic teams to victory, I refuse, when pulling for a team in our region, to say, “Gosh, WE really kicked the stalactites out of the those guys yesterday, didn’t we?”  Since I didn’t suit up for the team that day, or physically participate, I don’t recognize myself as being part of said team.  With due respect, I speak of the wins and losses equally.

The Pacific Northwest losses:

Me: “The Mariners are on an eighteen game losing streak.  These ten dollar beers aren’t worth showing up to watch them lose.  I’m staying home until they decide to win a game.”

Fan: “We just lost eighteen straight games. I can’t believe we don’t have a closer.  I could pitch better than these guys.”

Me: “Well, the Cougars blew another twenty point lead, only to lose again in the fourth quarter. This cheap beer was almost worth watching three hours of suspended anguish.”

Fan and Cougar Graduate:  “I can’t believe we blew another lead.  Our beer is even flat.”

Me: “If the Seahawks are winning, this city is much happier, but why do these fans insist on spilling ten dollar beers on my wife and me?”

Fan:  “Did we lose!!!???  Oh, crap!  I should have been paying closer attention.  Sorry about spilling a beer on your wife, dude.”

Some wins:

Me: “The Cougs and Huskies both won on the same weekend.  That’s unusual.   It would be nice to see them both ranked in the top twenty.  Let’s celebrate by drinking two beers manufactured and brewed by other people in the Pacific Northwest.  They sure do make quality beverages.  We had nothing to do with this hoppy flavor, but let’s  raise a glass to them as well.”

Husky Fan:  “I can’t believe we pulled out that win this weekend.  The Cougars also won.  They suck.  What’s up with that?”

Cougar Fan:  “We kicked butt this weekend.  The Huskies won as well?  Screw the Huskies.”

I have followed the Cougars, Huskies, Mariners, Seahawks, and former Seattle Super Sonics for almost forty years.  During those years, I’ve never purchased a jersey representing those teams, but I have invested in a mother load of hats, game tickets, beer, and time  justifying my stance as a true supporter.  I just don’t choose to use the term “We” when referring to the teams, and I feel somewhat vilified for not doing so.  You could argue, as a Washington State University Graduate, I choose not to use “We”, because I’m not particularly proud of their athletic history.  I’d rather maintain I just have some silly principals, or petty pet peeves, only few understand.

It is my opinion that a good friend of mine abuses his right to say “We” when referring to every college or professional team in the Pacific Northwest.  He did attend the University of Washington for a year, transfer to play tennis at Eastern Washington University, and remains a Cougar, and Gonzaga faithful, because he still has a valid Washington Green card.  I wish I had that passion and positive grassroots attitude.

The same friend, we’ll refer to him as Craig, called me the other day to apologize.  Myself being a professional apologizer, sincerely dealing them out like blackjack cards on a monthly basis, I was surprised, and somewhat nefariously excited to hear his act of contrition.  It was similar to a gift you don’t expect or lobby for during the gifting season.

Craig has been teaching Science for twenty years, and is well respected by his peers and, most importantly, his students.  Devoting years to establish impeccable credentials, he, additionally, is willing to adapt to the culture of the modern smart ass phone pupil.  Respectfully, he is not willing to accept the blame for his forefathers, and be part of their team.

Clearly frustrated, he called me with regard to a mandatory class he attended introducing a new topic required to be integrated into his class and others’ throughout the State of Washington.  Native American Culture was the topic, and they discussed how they could properly infuse Native American culture with the current Science curriculum.  With an open mind and heart, my friend embraced it, with one exception.  He took exception to the instructor, a whitey, using the pronoun, “We” each time she spoke of the atrocities the whites bestowed upon the Native Americans.  Each time she would use, “We”, he was offended, thinking, “Hey, lady, what occurred then was despicable, but I wasn’t playing for that team.”  On a much deeper level, he finally understood my stance.






Marching Out of Madness (Without Grace)


Years ago, I loved to gamble, and I did quite a bit of it.  And, I can honestly say I was pretty crummy at it.  It never became an addiction, just a hobby.  You know, one of those hobbies where you take c-notes (one hundred dollar bills) wad them up into little balls and toss them into a dumpster, hoping one lucky bum will find them.  Since I wasn’t married, had no children, and it was my money, I figured it was okie dokie.

I don’t know why, but I lost interest after a while.  It’s been years since I’ve even had the urge to place a wager on a pony (unless it’s the Kentucky Derby) or a professional team.  However, if you call filling out a college basketball bracket and handing someone twenty dollars “gambling”, well, then I’m still a pretty lousy gambler.

This year, as millions of others did, my wife and I participated in a pool of drowning bettors wishing to win a small sum of money and a dash of pride during college basketball’s March Madness.  The name is appropriate.  Although this month of sporting excitement can be loads of fun, it can also be wildly maddening.

People all over the country brag about their tournament picks before tipoff, and shortly after tipoff, those same people are ripping the piece of paper displaying their senseless decisions into millions of embarrassing shreds and then burning them out of recycling spite.  This is the dark path gambling can take you.  (It’s a felony in the states of Oregon and Washington, amongst others, to burn paper.) No, I’m not referring to myself.  I’m far more environmentally conscience than that.  Not wanting to waste a piece of paper, I keep all my picks on my computer.

Wishing to explain the process in not too much detail, I will merely say that in our group of imbeciles, one must attempt to choose all of the winners in a sixty four team college basketball bracket, including the champion before the madness begins.  Points are gathered along the road, and you want to have the most wins, especially the champion.  This is not an easy task, but most semi-intelligent gamblers can have fun throughout most of the three week tournament, hoping to be victorious.

Whatever the grade below semi-intelligent gamblers is, I’m a member even below that one.  Even though my wife and I picked the teams collectively, she wanted me to pick the champion.  As the man who wears the cargo shorts in the family, I should have demanded she choose the winner.  But, I deferred to her suggestion and chose with every ounce of knowledge I didn’t possess.  As a result, I did not choose wisely.  The team I chose to win the national championship was out the first day of the tournament, thus leaving us a 2 and 1/3 million to one chance of winning the pot of greens at the end of the tournament.  Since my wife and I were in this together, we were watching our team go down like a barn in a cyclone.  Ironically, our team was the Iowa State Cyclones.

During the game, even though it was close, I could sense the Cyclones were destined for failure, and as much as I tried to summon the gambling Gods and ask for advice on how I could possibly place the blame on my wife for this devastating loss, the prayers were answered by the Gods telling me to shut my pig headed mouth, and keep the remote in her hands.  Because gamblers are remote controls’ worst nightmares for fear of being smashed or tossed into a far away land, I followed part of their advice.  I handed the remote control to her, but I couldn’t keep my mouth shut.  Before officially marching out of madness, I released an “F-Bomb”. It was a bomb men, women, children and animals could hear all across our zip code.  Usually, I reserve these for the golf course, or any place where my wife can’t hear them.  Following the obscenity, I then marched right outside the house, because I knew that’s where the woman wearing the cargo pants in our house would send me.  Just because you’re old enough to gamble, it doesn’t mean you aren’t a child.

March Madness is officially over for us, and so are the “F bombs” from me.  But, baseball is right around the corner, and believe me, if you hear an “F bomb” floating around the Pacific Northwest, just check the Seattle Mariner box score for a loss, and know these ones are not resonating from me, but from my lovely counterpart.  During baseball season, these are tossed around our house like salad, and it gives me a little ammunition for the next time I gamble on anything.

March Madness and Shame

March-Madness-2014-480x360There are billions of people who were wishing to win Warren Buffet’s Billion Dollar Buffet he offered to anyone who could  fill out a perfect March Madness college basketball bracket.  There were also billions of people entering their office pools for a mere five dollars to win a whopping twenty dollars. Sadly, the tournament is over and billions didn’t win their billion, and office gamblers lost their five bucks.  Either way, win or lose, it’s fun even if you have to carry around a six pack of remote controls like an old white haired lady carrying her bingo blotters in her holster.  Men carry six remotes because five of them may vanish or appear shattered on their hardwood floor when the inevitable upsets begin to destroy your bracket.  Usually, this happens when your wife is gone shopping during one of the 32 games being played in the 64 team tournament.  Upon your wife’s arrival, when she tries to watch Real Housewives of NYC, she witnesses the rubble of one remote but is amazed we can’t find the other five.  In a large house, things do commonly vanish and you are both perplexed and mystified when you can’t find them.  These items could include a cell phone, car keys, a hat or a painting created by your lovely wife.  I guess you could also refer to them as misplaced.

The five missing remotes are a different conundrum because it makes the husband feel shame.  The husband must watch his wife look under every couch cushion, pillow and throw pillow (equalling close to 100) and can’t help but assist in this futile hunt for the almighty remote.  She then checks the refrigerator, the pantry and silverware drawer just to make certain said husband hasn’t made some silly mistake while carrying the remote to those places 13 feet from the T.V. room.  The husband apologizes and the compassionate wife excuses him by saying these things happen.  The shattered remote on the floor does not appear to have merely been dropped but rather spiked with such tremendous force, even an airplane’s black box couldn’t survive.  The wife shakes her head, but she knows the husband is embarrassed, which appears to be enough for her since the husband acknowledges what an idiot he is.  Fortunately, the couple keep an emergency remote in a lock box to which she is the key master to said box.  Still, the questions remain regarding the ones mysteriously vanishing into thin air, which ironically is true.  Let’s just hope the wife doesn’t go looking around in our neighbors’ back yards where the remotes may have fallen from the sky.

brokenremoteMoney lost in office bracket pool:  $5

Amount of Warren Buffet’s money won from perfect bracket:  $0

Cost of destroyed remotes:   $115