Saturday, July 1, 2017

CC 2017--Goodbyes and Championship Pick

Dearest Friends,

CC 2013Just as I did last Summer, I cordially invite fellow members of my age cohort to contemplate how many ephemeral acquaintances you’ve made over the past fifteen years. How many people with whom you once shared a memorable connection will you likely never see or speak to again? Obviously there’s no need to answer a blatantly rhetorical question. ; ) The transitory nature of friendships, even those of the most deep and thoughtful variety, doesn’t really constitute a great tragedy. New priorities accompany new jobs, new locales, new careers, and new families. Those with whom once associated play no real role in the challenges stemming from the personal life changes one makes in pursuit of growth and development. Nothing personal. It’s just life.

Your friendly bookie doesn’t take such situational realignment personally. Not in the slightest. Schlepping back and forth between the continents as a youth imbued in him a keen intuitive sense of when he’s unlikely to see someone ever again. When one learns to formulate a sincere goodbye at a very young age, one gets rather good at it. That’s the reason why these sections are so uncompromisingly sentimental. I genuinely love each and every one of you, including and especially those for whom the End of this Summer’s Sportsbook shall prove our “auf nie’mehr sehen”. Don’t forget to “live lionhearted or don’t bother living at all”. ; ) ; ) I conclude every Chapter with those words, lest anyone forget how crucial it is to pour as much of your heart into your present interactions as possible. Even those whom you’ll never meet again deserve your very best.  

As is often the case, some new readers aloud why I continue to write a time-consuming aesthetically-atrocious text-based blog with zero commercial potential. As is ALWAYS the case, I tend to get pissy and tell them where to stick it. Tend to do that quite a lot. ; ) Try to understand what an immensely amazing experience it is to reconnect with one’s old friends every Summer over a topic that gives us all great pleasure to argue about. Think for a sec what an enthralling exercise it is to write with THEM in mind. Consider what joy it brings a human being who’s reading habits often leave him feeling incurably misanthropic to hear of the uplifting stories from fellow humans he actually always enjoyed.

The improbable stories are legion. Some check in on an annual basis. Others take an extended hiatus only to come back when one least expects it. Your friendly bookie never knows who’s coming to the “Silly Season Party”. Everyone’s invited, but it’s more of a “make it if you can, no offense if you can’t sort” of of affair. After a full year of not communicating with 13-M, we exchanged precisely identical photographs of what may be kindly described as our respective “Liquor Cabinets”. 76-M checked in after years of silent static with a fine picture of his kid’s ass temporarily tattooed with some stickers I once sent him. 8-M, 29-M and 65-M—all of whom had forgotten their numerical designations—came out of the woodwork to send in their riffs.

After NINE long years, 17-M phoned me up at 2 a.m. to discuss insights about our youth he had gleaned from the Trainspotting Sequel. Luckily I was awake reviewing tape, so we plowed through a half a bottle of Woodford and discussed who Begbie was truly meant to represent until the birds began with their incessant chirping. Christ, you guys are insane! So am I. It’s our fate to grow old together talking frivolous nonsense. Your friendly bookie wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re all a bunch of incurable Intellectual Goofballs. ; )
Then there’s Syndicate Member 88-M; the only other “Shadow Scholar” amongst our ranks. I’d honestly love to refer to him as my “Doppelgänger”, but the man is far more talented, successful, and well-adjusted than me to be labelled a “Kindred Spirit” of any kind. An incredible man; a man who uses Shadow Scholarship to pay the mortgage and support the family. 88-M and I reconnect on a non-Syndicate-based schedule. When one attempts to contact the other, it means that one writer has reached the depths of suicidal despondency. One desperately needs a project of some sort to distract him from the utter meaningless of his failed life. Er…take a guess as to which way the percentage splits on that one.

Image result for Public Enemies: Dueling Writers Take On Each Other and the WorldWriters instinctively reach out to one another in times of dangerous despair. Sometimes what is needed is a collaboration. Other times it’s a joust. Whatever in the hell it was that brought Bernard-Henri Levy and Michel Houellebecq together….well…sometimes it’s “that”. Eminently entertaining stuff from two stuffy Frogs who opted to publish their correspondence! The desperate phone call of one writer to another ultimately settles around a “productive purpose”. 88-M would surely agree.

“Give me something to work on! Help me find something to divert my attention from my life! Give me ‘productive purpose!’”

When he first reached out to me with the story of his 11-year-old son’s professed desire to be a writer, my thoughts harkened back to the copy of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Anthology” gifted to me by my father when I was his age. By the time I turned twelve, I had read through those books so many times that all of the bindings came loose. The famous “Trilogy in Five parts” had been divided into at least 15 parts of loosely kept together dog-eared pages strewn about my room. Someone had given me a “Productive Purpose”. I literally tore apart the book in implicit obedience.

Together we resolved to compose something for the aspiring young writer. Namely, the combined fruits of our limited wisdom. As 88-M himself put it,

“He needs to hear from one of those ‘Hermit Writers’ too.”

Very well. Fair enough. Here are some of the highlights from…
Your “sneak peek” at “A Letter to a Young Writer”

III. Romance


“…..Your first Romantic Experience will end up weakening you. It might be the case that your second, third, and fourth end up doing the same, albeit in a proportionately diminished fashion. Losses of focus and concentration terrify writers. Any impediment to their craft sends them running for the hills. Your very livelihood is threatened when you’re unable to fixate on the task at hand. Many writers make the mistake of believing they should isolate themselves and chase off anyone who may ever love them. While it’s true that the insulated and protected individual lives a life free of distraction, such an individual also deprives themselves of an incalculable inspiration. Love may be painful, but it shouldn’t be avoided….”


VI. Time


“….Time Management: An indispensable life skill. Deadlines must be met. Calendars must be read. One should always think days or weeks in advance. It’s important to differentiate the skill of “Time Management” from the “Time Pressure” others will attempt to inflict upon you. In nine short years, when you are twenty years old, your parents and professors will begin to tell you that you are ‘running out of time’. They’ll continue to harangue you with this chorus all throughout your twenties. “You’re running out of time, young man!”. “We need to know who you are and what you’ll become!!”

Ignore such pressure. Proceed at your own pace. Know that you can only operate at the age that you are. Maturity and wisdom will come with age and experience. You may lose your looks in the process, but you’ll get there eventually. Every experience affords you the opportunity to learn, but there’s no substitute for experience. Your elders may pretend to be wise, but that’s only because they’ve lived longer and seen more than you. They’re not so wise, just older, more cynical, and wrinklier ; )

Proceed at YOUR OWN pace!!


IX. Trust


“…An odd paradox about people. Sociological Fact: Ninety-Five-percent of people are well-intentioned human beings who would never dream about robbing, raping, or murdering another person. Financial Fact: Sixty-five-percent of Americans are employed in the sales professions. They’re all selling something, looking for one of those “suckers” born every minute.

It’s a difficult paradox. How can we reconcile the honest nature of most humans with the dishonest nature of most of their positions? I don’t know the answer to that question, young man. All that I can say is that you’ll be able to recognize the level of honesty and sincerity apparent in the person with whom you speak if you train your mind to think tactically. Football managers read “Xs” and “Os” on the chalkboard. After an initial gauge of the talent on that board, they take into secondary consideration the “heart” that each player has to offer. That secondary consideration counts for a lot….”


XIII. Pursuance

The Real World can be horribly brutal. We can’t possibly imagine how hard it might be for a young man like yourself who grew up with his very own Social Media Profile. In the workplace you’ll confront others who have their own very unique phantasies about how the world should work.  If you don’t conform to them, you’ll be unceremoniously dismissed.

As harsh as it may be, there’s no time for tears. Finding your place in this world involves a certain amount of “Trial & Error”. Should you find yourself surrounded by co-workers who can’t accept something different, find a different group. Seek the group that you can be proud to call “family”. If the “family” you love doesn’t accept you, work harder to make it so.

Hope everyone enjoyed that. We’ve got a tradition to uphold before we get to the Lines.

Time for “Peace with the Metric System”. We do it every year.

“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 dying!!!

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?!?!?!?!”

Third Place Match—Mexico vs. Portugal


This is your last chance to bet.

Sorry to re-post this gag, but it happens to be a very good one.

“The Simpsons” actually previewed this match back in the late 90s:

Prescient Hilarity! I expect that we’ll actually get a good game here.

Cristiano Ronaldo will not be present.

Mexico wins by a least one goal.

THE LINE: Mexico +1 Goal

Supreme Champion of the (Dress Rehearsal) Football Universe-- Deutschland vs. Chile





Enjoy the match. Enjoy the match. Whether or not my beloved Fatherland wins is immaterial. I love catching up with old friends. Planning on making a few new ones during this match.

The Chileans will likely win…and that’s okay ; )

THE LINE: Chile +1 Goal

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. : ) Live lionhearted or don’t bother living at all

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.