Saturday, July 12, 2014

WM 2014--Goodbyes and Championship Pick

Obrigado Syndicate Members!

WM 2014
Thanks to each and every last one of you. Thank you for sharing your time, your wit, and your wagers with me. Thank you for the privilege of hearing your news. Thank you for graciously filling me in on where the last year took you. Thank you for having the courage to still remain a part of this heartfelt project. Twelve years in and 19 Chapters complete, we still have each other. That means everything. Your friendly bookie once more takes a blushing bow and exits the stage bursting with pride at what we’ve accomplished together…and it’s all thanks to you.

Goodbyes Sections always pose a serious challenge, particularly now that the digital age now enables us to exchange every last prosaic detail of our pedestrian lives with one another virtually anywhere our smart phones can catch a WIFI connection. Why must we only congregate at specified intervals Vicey? Don’t you realize that I can send you photos of that concert I’m at instead of actually listening to the music?

Anyone catch the seething sarcasm in that last rhetorical aspersion? Listen to the music, dammit! We all need to take the time to listen to the music as it pulsates in tandem with the stage lights, appreciate the many intricate layers of that book we’re reading, share some intimate laughter with good friends during a night out on the town, and make some seriously passionate love morning, noon, and night. There’s a time to share with the world and a time to simply enjoy living in it.

I find the majesty of the World’s Beautiful Game the perfect excuse to reconnect with all of the brilliant minds I may have lost contact with over the course of life’s sometimes tedious slog. That’s the beating heart of the Syndicate: It’s you. All of you are the reason I take a full month off every year and spend my so-called “vacation time” working the keys so hard. The month-long journey affords everyone enough time to check in at least once. We now find ourselves at the end of that journey once again. I am fulfilled by your participation, touched by your words, and reinvigorated by yet another adventure that we’ve all undertaken together.

Now it’s time to get back to work. For those Syndicate Members who have found their place in this world (and that’s literally more of you every year) work serves as joy and a restorative. Many continue to seek. Others, unable to do what they truly love, have learned to love what they do. Some struggle to ward off old demons while others simply stopped feeding the beasts.

A most amazing aspect of these past twelve years has been watching such a diverse group of members grow, mature, and get out of their own way. So many of you have slain every last one of your adolescent dragons and gone on to find careers, start families, and divine your specific contribution to the communities and societies in which you live. Your friendly bookie stands tall and proud behind the dear friends he once described as “the world’s misfits; the international journeymen of Generation Y”. It’s been a most soaring spiritual experience…and that’s coming from an adamant atheist. ; )


For those for whom life continues to adversely accost, there remains an inexhaustible well of hope. To begin with, there’s an industrious, diligent, and assiduous Shadow Scholar out there who absolutely won’t allow you to fail. Whatever doubts assail you or self-inflicted wounds plague you, I will not allow you to fail. If need be I can pick you up and carry you on my broad shoulders for a time.

Hope will also always abound for Syndicate Members, specially selected for their depth and potential. When one seriously assesses the challenges life throws at you, a majority of them are concoctions of the weak and petty. We all deal with misery at times and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with seeking out company in times of distress. Nevertheless, never let anyone drag you down into some sort of gloomy and tragic fantasy world of pain and sorrow. Stand tall, members.

There’s the matter of our traditional motivational address. This dates back to 2010. The Syndicate bids farewell to Summer in a very specific fashion. Ahem.

“Peace with the Metric System”
“I don’t know what to say really. Three minutes to the biggest battle of our professional lives. All comes down to today. Either we heal as a team, or we’re going to crumble. 2.54 centimeters by 2.54 centimeters…set piece by set piece….til we’re finished. We’re in hell right now gentlemen. Believe me. And…….we can stay here, get the shit kicked out of us, or………..we can fight our way back…….into the light…….we can climb our way out of hell. 2.54 Centimeters at a time.

Now I can’t do it for you. I’m too old. I look around, I see all of these young faces and think……..I mean……..I’ve made every wrong choice a middle-aged man can make. I…ah…. pissed away all my money, believe it or not. I chased off anyone who’s ever loved me. And lately, I can’t even stand the face I see in the mirror. You know, when you get old in life, things get taken from you…. I mean that’s…that’s…...that’s part of life. But, you only learn that when you start losing stuff. You find out life’s this game of 2.54 centimeters. So is football. Because in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small…..I mean…one half a step too late or too early, you don’t quite make it. One half second too slow, too fast, you don’t quite kick it. The centimeters we need are everywhere around us! They’re in every break of the game, every minute, every second.

On this team, we fight for those 2.54 centimeters. On this team, we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for those 2.54 centimeters. We claw with our fingernails for those 2.54 centimeters! Because, we know when we add up all those centimeters, that’s gonna make the FUCKIN difference between winnin and losin!!!!!!!! Between living and dieing!!!

I’ll tell you this: In any fight, it’s the guy who’s willin to die, who’s gonna win that 2.54 centimeters. And I know, if I’m gonna have any life anymore, it’s because I’m still willing to fight and die for those 2.54 centimeters!!! Because….that’s what livin is!!! The 15.24 centimeters in front of your face!!

Now I can’t make you do it! You’ve gotta look at the guy next to you. LOOK INTO HIS EYES!! Now I think you’re gonna see a guy who will go those 2.54 centimeters with you. I think you’re gonna see a guy who will sacrifice himself for this team because he knows, when it comes down to it, you’re gonna do the same for him. That’s a team, gentlemen. And, either we heal, NOW, as a team……..or we will die…as individuals. That’s football guys. That’s all it is. Now………..WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?!?!?!?!”

Photo: ONE HOUR REMAINING...quite a bit can change over the course of twelve years. One can call three separate continents home. As if that isn't enough, one can live in every region of the U.S.A (Northeast, Deep South, West Coast, and Midwest). One can work what seems like the most menial, perfunctory job on the planet....and then find one that's even more rote :( Time passes. One's hair gets shorter. One's body grows frailer. One's worldly illusions dissipate with each scholarly article one writes. If, by chance, you've had the good fortune to pass the time riffing on football with treasured friends..then you're the luckiest guy in the world :) That's me. :) Have a fantastic World Cup, everyone. LET THE GAMES BEGIN!!
<>If that doesn’t get you hyped up, your friendly bookie will gladly put his soul on the table for you. : ) ; )  People can change drastically, and I am living proof of such transformations.

Prior to the foundation of the Syndicate in the Summer of 2002, Vicey was every bit the antithesis of the man you’ve come to know today. Our human species is unique in that it takes our offspring a full 18 to 20 years to fully develop into cognitively capable adults. We can breed much sooner than that, but we’ll distance ourselves from that discussion.

Your friendly bookie barely made it through American High School as the undisputed worst student in his class. Growing up had simply been to confusing for him. Born in Germany. Shipped to America. Back to Europe. Back to America. So it went. Somehow he was always speaking with the wrong accent. German was his first language, but that made him a ruthlessly mocked oddball in the USA. He threw away his mother tongue just in time to return to German School, and be the ruthlessly mocked oddball there as an American.

Thus his “Sociopath Period” turned out to be quite the prolonged one. Virtually all kids go through a phase characterized by pathological lying. Using the examples below, you can decide how long yours lasted. You finally became honest after one of five stages.

Stage One—Parents: “Who broke the lamp?” (ages 3 to 6)

“Not me! It was my younger brother. If not him, ALIENS. It was aliens, I tell you. ALIENS!”  

Stage Two—Parents: “Why aren’t you doing well in school?” (ages 6 to 8) 

“Because my teacher hates me. She also beats me. Yesterday she flogged me for hours with a horsewhip. It’s all her fault. I’m being abused.”

Stage Three—School Friends: “What’s your home like?” (ages 8 to 10)

“Oh we’ve got six pools, three Porsches, a live Bengal Tiger, and bricks of solid gold. We live in a mansion.”

Stage Three—School Friends: “Have you done something adult yet” (ages 10 to 14)

“Yep. I’ve already smoked marijuana, drank beer, and gotten a blowjob.”

Stage Four—School Friends: “Had sex yet?” (ages 14 to 16)

“Of course! The girls line up for a fourteen-year-old heartthrob like me. They can’t get enough of a kid with a squeaky voice, a bunch of prominent zits, and a rudimentary understanding of the world. My current tally is between 50 and 500. I lost count really.”

Stage Five—First Girlfriend: “What was it like for you growing up?” (ages 16 to 19)

“Well…emerging from the womb with a twelve inch penis and a halo over my head was certainly trying. Quite the burden to carry; being the hope of a new generation. Luckily I was able to complete my first novel, deal with the demands my 35-year-old girlfriend, and shake off my cocaine habit in time to be the marvelous man that I am today.”

Mercifully….it comes to an end. Some are later bloomers than others, but it comes to an end for all of us. The trouble with lying is that it uses up too much of one’s finite supply of energy. To remember each and every individual “little white one” that one told to each and every individual person leaves one feeling depleted. The blessings of honesty enable us to focus on who we truly are, and to expend our energy on the most important task of all: building deep and long-lasting friendships.

That was your nineteen-year-old friendly bookie’s epiphany a little over twelve years ago today. His first semester attending U.S. University had proven little more than an extension of his frustrating primary education failures. In a small unassuming corner of the LSU Computer Lab, a new man was born. From that point forward he executed a complete 180-Degree-Shift.

Halcyon days of endless hard work followed and never ceased. The student who scraped the bottom of his High School class graduated at the top of his College one. The selfish and self-centered liar who sought only to demean and belittle others made his first steps toward a life devoted to helping others across the finish line. The seeds of a Shadow Scholar were planted.

I do not purport to have always been altruistic over the past twelve years. Peruse previous “Goodbyes and Championship Pick” Sections and you’ll find plenty of examples of bitterness, spite, and misdirected hatred for the World in general. All I wish to convey to any one of my members currently battling doubt and quandary is that radical change is always possible. A dramatic shift in perception may take you twelve years to realize, but that just means it might have already happened ; )

Have I thanked you for sharing this anniversary with me? Have I told you what a privilege it is to have such a disparate group of brilliant international friends? There’s hope for all of us yet. Listen to the music at the concert. Immerse yourself in that book you finally got around to reading. Make the most passionate of love that you’re body is capable of. Find a way to enjoy your job. 

One last look at the e-mail that changed it all:

WM 2002—“Goodbyes and Championship Pick”

WM 2002To my dearest friends old and new,

Editor’s retroactive notes:

Sob. How sweet. Time for a swift walk around the block.

I can scarcely believe that within a few hours we shall have no excuse to talk to one another. What a tragedy! L A short month ago I found myself friendless and clinically depressed. Loneliness cuts deeper than any other adverse emotion, particularly when it descends upon an eccentric character such as myself. Contact buoys one’s perspective in so many subtle metaphysical ways. Hearing from every last one of you has kept me afloat…even those e-mails that respectfully indicated that the sender had no fucking clue what I was talking about. The World’s Game has brought us all together, and reminded a soul wandering astray of the undeniable importance of scope. Such a wide-open realm of possibilities we live in…wide as the perfectly manicured football pitches I’ve spent the better part of this summer staring at. The money is appreciated, but all of you have given me something that is impossible to quantify…you’ve once again revived my understanding of how incredibly large and complex this earth on which we all live is. Such a beautiful intricacy! Such a magnificent snafu! It’s filled with amazing people, all of whom I have privilege to know.

Editor’s retroactive notes:

Waaaaaahhh! Can’t take it. Need another walk around the block. Why are we all so distracted? Why is our instinctual reaction to all the inner-torment to spread more misery around? What fucking good does it do to drag others down to the level of your insecurity via some petty protectionisms? Why all the gossip, games, lies, exaggerations, and chest pounding? What precludes us from reaching out to one another in the spirit of good will and harmony? Sigh Since none of the questions posed fit the answer of “forty-two”, I confess to be thoroughly un-enlightened with respect to the deeper quandaries of the human race. Incidentally, should anyone be interested (which they’re likely not), these old “Goodbye” sections are excruciatingly painful to re-read.

The cheers echo all across this continent, through the heart of Europe, to the Southernmost tips of Africa and South America, all the way through Eurasia to the cradled islands of the Pacific Ocean. Great show, Lads. Bravo, boys. Gratitude to all footballers and football fans.

Editor’s retroactive notes:

Anyone ever have the feeling that the theme from “Nobody’s Fool” runs on a constant uninterrupted loop in their head?

The issue of who takes the ultimate prize almost seems immaterial. Nevertheless we shall press on with the Picks. The final match will be nothing more than a Pick. All bets are off for a game I wish solely to enjoy for its own sake. For those of you a little lighter in the billfold, I present to you the final chance to salvage some scratch:




Supreme Champion of the Football Universe—Germany vs. Brazil

 Germany vs. Brazil

Allow me to reiterate: ALL BETS ARE OFF. A bet against the Fatherland corresponds to self-mutilation, and not of the chic emo-teenager kind! We haven’t a chance without Ballack L L With any luck the earth will be destroyed to make way for a Vogon Hyperspace bypass and we’ll all cease to be anything but a whiff of hydrogen, absent the memory of how big a letdown this match was. My heart wilts at the thought of millions of Krauts getting hysterically drunk, their hopes and enthusiasm rising in tandem with their Blood-Alcohol content, only to realize that their team cannot match the spontaneous flair of the Samba Kings and instead settling on some really unsatisfying sex with a overzealous vamp they had previously been capable of avoiding. Ugh. Not good times!

None of this precludes us from viewing the Grand Finale with dreams, aspiration, and the very special sensation that emanates from a belly full of “liquid courage”. For this reason I obstinately refuse to put my money where my mouth is. I’d much rather wrap my mouth around a nice, cold tall one and refrain from thinking about anything so serious as spreads, exchange rates, and malicious attempts to play mind games with my mates. Let’s all give the world’s game the fond farewell it deserves. Grab some friends and some brewskis. Kick the rock around a bit afterward. Mannschaft über Alles!

THE LINE: Deutschland +1 Goal

….and now we’ll get to the match.

Supreme Champion of the Football Universe—Deutschland vs. Argentina

 Germany vs. Argentina

Have you heard? There’s a football match tomorrow. Not that us Krauts are in any danger of over-stating our excitement or anything.



















Mascherano and his torn anus stand little chance of denying us our fourth star. Your friendly bookie predicts that Klose will get the start and Schürrle will grab the second half brace.

Okay….at this point I encourage friends of a separate nationality to prepare for all of the celebratory buffoonery. This time I’m looking at you….me. What am I doing still awake? I’ve got the time of my life waiting for me tomorrow!! Here’s your pick.


THE PICK: Deutschland +2 Goals

Enjoy living your life. Enjoy it for it's own sake. Dance to the music. Appreciate the painting. Delve deeper into that novel. Make laughter and love as often as you can. : )

We’ll meet again. The Syndicate will return. For the time being……

“Go kick a ball with a stranger”

Seriously…go kick a ball with a stranger.

--S.S. P.J.W.   

WM 2014--Day Twenty-Four Recap

Your “Syndicate Hangover” is proudly presented by “Pißwasser Pils”


Day 24: Recap

Spread: 21-42
Straight up: 31-23-9

Hot Girl Standings

Games Played
7 (finished)
7 (finished)
5 (finished)
Costa Rica
5 (finished)
5 (finished)
4 (finished)
4 (finished)
5 (finished)
4 (finished)
4 (finished)
4 (finished)
3 (finished)
South Korea
3 (finished)
3 (finished)
Bosnia & H
3 (finished)
3 (finished)
4 (finished)
3 (finished)
3 (finished)
Cote d’Ivoire
3 (finished)
3 (finished)
3 (finished)
3 (finished)
4 (finished)
4 (finished)
3 (finished)
3 (finished)
3 (finished)
3 (finished)
3 (finished)

The Germans have little chance of capturing the “Hot Girls Title”. Argentina still has a chance for those looking for suspense.

Looks like Scolari was a perfectly shitty coach after all. He may have won the 2002 World Cup, but that was against a really shitty German team that had to do without the suspended Ballack. Since then he’s failed as the Portuguese head coach and the Chelsea head coach. He’s even failed in Uzbekistan. That takes some talent.

The penultimate chapter of our time together commences. I can think of no better way to begin wrapping things up than with some of your finest riffs:

“Riffs of the Day”—Day Twenty-Four


Reader: What happened to the guy who loved Ice Hockey?

Vicey: Well…sometime after Eric Lindros’s 3,415th concussion and Bobby Clarke’s insistence that he shouldn’t be woozily whining about the Training Staff failing to diagnosis it….he had to give up on his Philadelphia Flyers. It’s a brutal sport, rendered even more savage by a meaningless 82-Game regular season during which bigger, stronger, and faster players beat the everlasting shit out of each other for a meaningless seed in the ridiculously generous playoffs.

It’s common knowledge that this bookie’s first Sportsbook was an NFL one. My interest in American Football slowly waned for the same reasons. It took a little longer, but I came to the same conclusion. Punch-drunk former players like Wayne Chrebet of the NY Jets break your heart. Bigger, stronger, and faster players hit harder. It all ends in chronic encephalopathy. For what?

All of this isn’t to say that footballers don’t have their own problems. George Best was a drunk that made Mickey Mantle look like Shirley Temple. I just can’t watch the spectacle anymore. Sorry, American friends. It’s bad enough that there are too many commercials, too many ditzy sideline reporters, too many myopic commentators, and Joe Buck to boot. The game sucks. An average of Seventeen minutes of action in game that has sixty minutes on the clock? Fuck it. I’ll stick with “the beautiful game” for now, even if I have to be a constant apologist.

By the way, Syndicate Member 9-M just provided the inspiration for our final post. Well done.


I also still love Baseball. Interest in that never waned ; )

Reader: Is the biter really going to Barcelona?

Vicey: He is and that’s some nice alliteration, 23-M.

Reader: [on Germany vs. Argentina] Grab them by the balls boys and kick ass!

Vicey: Hahahaha. That’s a female Syndicate Member 14-F.  Beware of the “Dragon Ladies”, friends. They spit hot fire!

Reader: Booooooooooooooo!!

Vicey: The perfect disaster for Brazil. The goddamned plane has crashed into the mountain!

Reader: Now that Javier Mascherano has a torn anus, will Argentina be able to keep it tight at the back?

Vicey: Bwahahahahahahah!

I love the Syndicate. Thank you, 89-M!


Only the final reckoning awaits. Give me about ten minutes, Syndicate Members. Our journey is nearly over. Just have to dot the “ü”s : ) : )