A Town Called Happy: All a Board

April 14, 2014

Fotor0414121923Edna Mavis had been queen of The Board for more than a year and held on to her title with the fierceness of a mother lion. She was trusted and appreciated because of her position. She was not just some widow wiling away the hours until her death. She was someone of importance. She had something to say.

The Board had been Happerty’s attempt at some type of direct democracy. It had been a promise to the citizens that their voices would always be heard and heeded. It was, in theory, a beautiful thing. It was placed inside the entrance of City Hall, a giant chalkboard that took up the entire eastern wall. Citizens could leave any message they pleased, anywhere on the board (ladders were at the ready for those that liked to write their messages in the difficult-to-reach areas.)

Every day at 6 p.m., someone from the newspaper would come and take a picture of The Board (it actually required two pictures), which would then be published on the back page so everyone could read what their fellow citizens were thinking and how they wanted to improve the town. The Board was then cleaned and prepared for a new day of citizen commentary.

This as the plan, at least.

When The Board was presented, it was with much pomp and circumstance, with then-Mayor Mary DeWitt presiding over an opening celebration that featured a cake from Nelly’s Confections that was quite good and more proof that Nelly really had quit drinking. These developments pleased all. Following the expected diatribe by Ed Phelps (“Electrical pulses, people. Don’t look at me, look at them. They know what I’m talking about,” said Ed, who was always fairly cordial when he took over one of these functions. He’d rarely run more than five minutes.)

“Thanks, Ed,” said Mayor DeWitt.

“Ok,” said Ed.

With that the curtain was dropped and the board – a big custom-made green chalkboard – was presented to the people.

“Probably forgot the chalk,” murmured Ed.

“Ed, you had your time,” said Mayor DeWitt.

“Sorry,” said Ed, looking at his feet. There was, for the record, ample chalk available, of varying colors.

“The Board is Freedom” said a silver plaque placed majestically above The Board

“The Board is Freedumb” was the first comment, by Ed Phelps, who was really enjoying his starring role in this whole thing.

The assembled crowd – 40 or so people, half had meant to come, half had just been wandering by – laughed heartily. And it began. Ed had inadvertantly started a never-ending meme of “The Board is … ” comments. for example, the second message written on The Board was “The Board is Former Baseball Star Manny Ramirez.” And with that, irrelevancy and silliness became The Board’s main draw.

The Board became one of the great hang-outs of Happerty, as making a daily stop by City Hall became a part of every Happertarian’s existence. And The Board was the star attraction. What made The Board so interesting to the residents was how it evolved. How rules came into being organically. For instance, Ed Phelps and a few others would write long manifestos on the board in large writing, taking up a big chunk of the writing area. Using a complex system of shaming (“Could someone please date Ed Phelps??” read one anonymous message on The Board.) rules were formed. Before long, shorter messages became the rule, as did smaller handwriting or printing. The object became to get as many messages on The Board, every day.

Interestingly, there were always anonymous messages left on the board. No one was sure how this happened as there were always people around the board. Yet somehow, several messages a day would pop up and no one knew who wrote them. This did give some credence to those who complained that no one actually READ The Board, but instead were just trying to think of the next witty thing to write. Those who complained about such things were roundly mocked on The Board.

And Edna Mavis was Queen. Her comments were full of humor and vitriol and passion. When a main water main in town broke and flooded Andy’s Alchemy (Andy sold gold), Edna wrote “The Gold Standard has been washed away by incompetence.”

Such comments were met with wild approval. “You tell ‘em, Edna!” was a popular refrain among those looking to curry favor with the Queen of The Board. For Edna, the admiration was well deserved, at least in her mind. She had worked at the bank for 22 years and been a resident of Happerty since she was nine. At the age of 64, she was sharper and smarter than anyone in a 100-mile radius.

Don Mavis, Edna’s husband, had died five years earlier in a chainsaw accident. Edna had soldiered on, meeting with other widows (due to the harsh winters and a general, well, lack of concern for remaining alive, men had a terrible run of things in Happerty, with the average male living to the ripe old age of 61.) It was at these impromptu meetings with other widows that Edna found her voice. She had something to say and she said it well. Her new friends brought her to The Board (Don had never approved of The Board. “Time-wasting nonsense,” he said.)

Now, citizens of Happerty were generally a polite lot. Harsh words were rare. Feelings mattered. Kindness often reigned. On The Board, all of this was thrown out and an attack mentality set in. Even in a no-holds-barred type system like The Board, most attacks would revolve around a person’s intelligence. For instance “Bob Johnson is so dumb, he thinks The Board just needs more interesting activities.”

One day, 22-year-old Marlene Duncan went to City Hall to pay a parking ticket. She was four months pregnant and still hadn’t told anyone, least of all the father, Bobby Silver, who had just turned 19 and might have been the dumbest person in town. At least, the dumbest after Marlene, who for some reason thought sleeping with him would be a swell idea. He still hadn’t called her back after their night of amateurish passion. Stopping by The Board, she saw Edna’s latest witticism:

“Why do they call them ‘Baby Names,’” wrote Edna. “You’re not naming a baby, you’re naming an adult. If you just named babies, you’d name them all Cutie-Patootie.”

Pregnant, worried and irritated, Marlene quickly wrote “I’m tired of Edna Mavis. Who died and made her Queen?” and stormed off. It was, unfortunate, to say the least, and Edna – who had been feeling particularly lonely at the time, attacked in full force:

“Marlene Duncan is so fat her brain has diabetes,” Edna wrote in her privileged, top-of-the-board position.

Now, the folks of Happerty aren’t too troubled by political correctness, and tend to be guided by politeness. Also, about 85 percent of the town was overweight to some degree. So while everyone understood that Marlene had crossed a line by thoughtlessly invoking Edna’s dead husband, Edna’s comment was what drew everyone’s ire. The Board quickly filled up with attacks on Edna, asking what made her so special? She was a little fat herself. And they continued get more harsh.

“Edna Mavis’ diabetes has diabetes.”

“The Queen is dead. Long let Edna shut up.”

The attacks continued for three consecutive days, finally forcing Edna to leave The Board for good.

Things quickly returned to normal around City Hall. The visitors came and wrote their thoughts and chatted about the town. There had been some talk of making Marlene Duncan the new Queen, but it was decided that such things had to happen organically. Marlene had been depressed for a while but was feeling better as the incident strengthened her resolve to talk to Bobby and to maybe try to get the hell out of the stupid town.

For Edna, the fall from grace wasn’t as painful as she imagined. She still had her widow’s club and still had her friends. People may be mean on The Board, but the moment you step away, human kindness kicked back in. Her time of being famous due to The Board had come to an end, and she was ok with that. She didn’t hate The Board or anyone, for that matter. Edna knew real loss. Not being Queen of The Board didn’t really matter in the general scheme of things.

And The Board had helped people. Pets had been adopted. Money had been raised. Projects had been started, all due to something someone had written on The Board. That it could sometimes get out of hand was just the human condition. Because even though everyone would be loathe to admit it, The Board taught them lessons. Edna liked The Board because she liked Happy. She liked her little town and all it’s little weirdos.

In the end, perhaps, nothing said it better than an anonymous comment, posted a week after the Edna controversy: “The Board is a Ham and Cheese Sandwich with a Side of Potato Chips.”



A Town Called Happy: An Ostrich Story

April 9, 2014


Ostrich Farm Coming to Happerty

By Bob Haskins, Jr.,

HAPPERTY – Attempting to encourage healthy eating in town, Bob Haskins announced today he will be starting an ostrich farm on his three-acre plot of land behind the Save & Spend. The new farm promises to make ostrich meat and ostrich eggs a new staple on citizens’ menus.

“We’re pretty excited about this,” said Haskins, 67. “Ostrich meat is 100 times more healthy for people than beef or chicken and much less expensive. This farm will make us all healthier and happier.”

Haskins said he envisioned 100 new full-time jobs being created due to the farm, a number which would put Happerty – with a current population of 1,700 – at full employment.

Mayor Nick Benson said he believed the ostrich farm was a “blessing for our happy town,” and would help draw in curious visitors from out of town – visitors that would spend money in Happerty.

“I believe we shall become known for the noble ostrich,” said the Mayor. “This is a great moment for all our citizens.”

Haskins Ostrich farm will be the first new business in Happerty since 2003, when Edna Fairchild opened “Eclectic Edna Electronics,” which went out of business in 2004, following the Downtown fire.


Ostriches arrive in Happerty

By Bob Haskins, Jr.

HAPPERTY  – Bob Haskins’ dream of an ostrich farm came to fruition today, as 100 young ostriches arrived via truck. Haskins called this day “The most important day in Happerty since the Selma girl got a job as a back-up singer with The Go-Gos.”

Haskins Ostrich Farm officially opened for business at 12:38 p.m., as the first ostriches came to the farm. The farm is now the biggest ostrich farm in the state.

“We will dominate the ostrich market, you hear that Happerty?” said Haskins.

A few concerned citizens have pointed out that the lack of ostrich farms in the state is due to the extremely frigid and long winters. Haskins said the accusations were “balderdash from paranoids.”

“Listen, the ostrich is an amazing bird,” said Haskins. “I was told they grow an extra layer of feathers in the winter for warmth. They are, essentially, Huskies of the bird world.”

Haskins added that fresh ostrich eggs and meat should be available by the beginning of the year.


Ostrich Farm Owner Warns Rock-Throwing Kids

 By Bob Haskins Jr.

HAPPERTY – Following three seperate incidents of kids throwing rocks at his prized ostriches, Bob Haskins – owner of Haskins Ostrich Farm – came forward today with a warning for the youths.

“Listen, you kids don’t really know ostriches,” said Haskins. “They can be extremely dangerous if provoked.”

Haskins went on to say that unlike many birds, ostriches have razor-sharp teeth to go with claws and the strength of three men. When provoked, Haskins said, they can go into a blind rage.

“So, parents, warn your kids not to throw rocks at the ostriches. It’s for their own good,” added Haskins.

Haskins added that the farm was running smoothly and the first eggs should be on the market next week.

Ostrich Eggs Reach the Market

By Bob Haskins, Jr.

HAPPERTY - Calling it “A victory for capitalism and Happerty,” Bob Haskins personally delivered five dozen fresh ostrich eggs to the Save & Spend. The eggs quickly sold out to interested Happertyites.

“They look exactly like other eggs, but I hear they’re better,” said Mayor Nick Benson. “I really thought they would be bigger, tho. But, seriously, this is great.”

Haskins said the eggs were smaller due to the “trauma of relocation” for the ostriches and that rumors that he had just bought five dozens regular eggs in nearby Colson County were “slanderous half-truths.” Haskins said that unknown elements were trying to sabotage the farm by spreading false rumors.

“These are ostrich eggs, trust me” said Haskins. “They’ll be bigger next time.”

75 ostriches “Spread Their Wings and Go with God”

By Bob Haskins, Jr.

HAPPERTY – Seventy-five ostriches froze to death following the season’s first good cold snap, Haskins Ostrich Farm reported.

“Well, I didn’t see this coming,” said Bob Haskins, owner of Haskins Ostrich Farm. “I guess it was just time for these ostriches to spread their wings and go with God.”

Haskins added that he will keep his remaining 14 ostriches inside the barn for the remainder of the winter.

“Really, I was assured that ostriches could handle the cold,” said Haskins. “Well, fool me once …”

Haskins said the meat from the frozen ostriches will be available at the Save & Spend later this afternoon.


Crazed Townspeople Massacre Remaining Ostriches

 By Bob Haskins, Jr.

 HAPPERTY – An escaped ostrich from Haskins Ostrich Farm created a panic among townspeople, who stormed the farm, killed every ostrich and destroyed every ostrich egg.

“It was them or us,” said Joe Stephens, bartender at The Grill.

The incident began when one osrich found a hole in the fence at the farm. The ostrich then wandered into town, terrifying residents who had been warned that ostriches have razor-sharp teeth and quick tempers.

“Ignorance, that’s what caused this,” said a tearful Bob Haskins. “They’re gone, they’re all gone.”

A mob quickly gathered around the lone ostrich and people began attacking it with sticks, knives and guns. Not sated, the terrified and crazed mob stormed the Haskins farm and mutilated all remaining animals.

“Wow, that was ugly, huh?” said Mayor Nick Benson. “Like I said, we shall be known for the ostrich.”

As the stench of dead ostrich wafted through town, Haskins said he had learned some valuable lessons.

“This town just wasn’t ready for ostriches, that’s about it,” said Haskins. “And now, two good men and one woman have lost their part-time jobs at my farm. It’s just sad all around.”

Haskins said he will now devote more time to his primary job as publisher of this newspaper.


Breaking: Scientists busted for hour laundering; Daylight Savings Times canceled

March 10, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – More than 42,000 scientists across the globe – including such luminaries as Neil deGrasse Tyson and Stephen Hawking – have been arrested for hour laundering in a world-wide sting, sources say.

“They got them all, finally,” said the source. “Finally, this terror ends.”

The arrests take place following a six-hour investigation by House Republicans in the U.S. The results of the investigation unearthed a massive conspiracy that included thousands of scientists across the globe. Reports show that the scientists were arrested for hoarding hours left over after Daylight Savings Time in Spring. The scientists would then put those hours in a high-yield account. In the Fall, the hours would be paid back, however the interested accumulated was held on to by the scientists.

These extra hours were then laundered by the scientists, and used for such things as spreading global climate change disinformation and investing in making Bill Nye a big celebrity.

“I think we’ve all known scientists are the real enemies,” said a clearly pleased House GOP watchdog Darrell Issa. “Think of all those lost hours? Education truly is evil.”

The criminal enterprise of Daylight Savings Time has been cancelled, and all Americans will need to send a extra hour back to the government, or wait for a possible refund of an hour from the government. The return could take between six-to-eight weeks.

Sources say the Hour Laundering Scam began in 1897 under the watchful eye of scientist Percival Lowell, who believed extra hours could be funneled through canals on Mars. Despite being widely discredited, Lowell eventually used hours he had hoarded in order to get Arizona to name a really nice observatory after him.

The unspoken tradition of hour laundering among scientists has continued since then, with famed scientists such as Isaac Newton – who wasted all his hours on alchemy experiments – taking part (The extra hours could be used to go back in time to include scientists from prior generations).

“So, basically, all scientists from all of history are guilty,” said Issa. “Wow. Seriously, I never think these things will amount anything. This one, tho? Wow.”

Tyson – one of the most famous scientists on the planet – was unable to comment on the story, as it’s still not Daylight Savings Time in the zone he’s in, and the story has yet to break.


Jack’s still here

February 26, 2014

Jack's still here

Jack’s still here. More than 14 years since my wife picked him out, the shivering runt of the litter, in Evansville, Indiana. Since then Jack has lived in California and in Brazil. Jack is a dog well traveled.

I’m writing of Jack to stop the trend of feeling I need to write about my dogs when they die. I’ve done it before for Max and Duchess. I don’t want to do that any more. Especially for Jack. Because Jack is to be remembered for living.

I met Jack when he was two, and would joke with my wife that he would either lead a long life or die in some horrible way. Because Jack loves all people. But hates all other dogs. And isn’t all that fond of the limitations put on living things by physics. Jack – a Boston Terrier – has tried to attack two full-grown Great Danes. He fought Duchess – an Australian Shepherd twice his size – several times. Since he was about the age of five, Jack has been cut off from all other dogs.

Mind you, while Jack seeks to dominate all other dogs, his love of all humans and obedience is utterly pure. As my wife has said, Jack loves her, me, and then all other humans are tied for third. He has always been over-the-moon happy when around people and when receiving attention.

Jack was also blessed with unbelievable athleticism. In his prime he could jump over anything and run faster than the wind. His youth was spent in a jump with no clear plan of where he’d land.

Jack has always been our special dog. He’s not the sharpest of blades. This was even more noticeable when he was growing up with Max, who was an exceedingly intelligent little dog. Jack took years to house train. He destroyed three couches. He had energy enough to fuel six dogs. He was shockingly strong. And he was joyful in his madness.

And Jack’s still here, and acting like he wants to stick around awhile yet. Age has affected him as it must affect us all. Cataracts have taken most of his site, rendering his athleticism dormant. His hearing is shot. His sense of smell isn’t so great, either. He’s by no means decrepit, however. He still has a shocking amount of energy and will spend hours walking around the house, following whoever happens by him.

Jack’s life is one of shadows and routine now. He wakes up at the same time daily. He naps in the sun until he’s blazing hot, something he’s always loved. He enjoys his naps and comforts. He remains strong. Life has given him more savvy. He remains fearless. He is blissfully unaware that life has given him any disadvantages.

I’m petting Jack now. He’s happy and nappy and enjoying his life. And my wife and I are thrilled that Jack’s still here.


Revolutionary, Game-changing new App shot to death in Ukraine

February 25, 2014

KIEV – “Protest This!™” a revolutionary new App that promises to help users easily meet and assemble against unpopular regimes, was shot down like a dog today in the streets of Kiev.

“Wow. Never saw that coming,” said App creator Nick Johnson, 20, from his parents’ home in Cleveland. “That’s messed up.”

After being shot by Ukrainian authorities, ”Protest This!™” was then dragged through the streets, and eventually mutilated behind a meat-packing plant. No other information is available.

“Dude,” said Johnson.



Breaking: Man, 47, denies gravity; Debates, TV specials scheduled

February 25, 2014

CLEVELAND – UPS driver Tim Johnston woke up one day last week with a feeling of dread. A feeling that things just weren’t right. So often he felt this way but never spoke up about it. But this time, he wasn’t going to let it pass. This time, he was going to speak out.

“Gravity is BS,” said Johnston. “I’ve thought about this for awhile and it just doesn’t add up.”

Johnston said he based his anti-Law-of-Gravity theory on the simple fact that not all things are not constantly falling all the time.

“Kinda seems like that’s what would happen if gravity were real, right?” said Johnston, 47. “I mean, that’s how it feels to me.”

Johnston’s announcement caused a commotion in the entertainment/science industry. ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN & Fox News (“Gravity: Stop Being a Slave”) have all announced new news/science/entertainment specials that will address this building dissent over gravity’s effects.

CNN also announced it will feature a two-hour, primetime debate between renowned entertainer/activist/scientist/TV Personality Bill Nye and Johnston. Nye said this was an opportunity to educate the public.

“Science!” said Nye, who then pushed a button that made his bow tie spin.

Others have joined Johnston’s call.

“[Gravity] was filmed on a soundstage by the government!” said citizen Raul Pudd, pounding his fists and with spittle flying everywhere.

For Johnston, the attention has been worth it as he tries to bring attention to what some have called “The Greatest Hoax in American History.”

“It just feels wrong, right?” said Johnston, a Capricorn. “This is one of those things that liberals believe that’s just BS. I mean, it’s just a theory.”

CNN chief Jeff Zucker said he was glad to see his network begin to take shape in his image.

“This is what the people want,” said Zucker, who announced that one lucky debate viewer will win a free trip to Tucson, Arizona. “People are asking questions.

“Is gravity America’s greatest hoax, or not?” added Zucker. “That’s what we want to attempt to answer, if we can. We’re CNN.”


America must do something about the Ukraine now. And probably Venezuela, also

February 24, 2014

Speaking as an American, which is something I often do, let me just say that I am outraged by the complete lack of American military intervention in Ukraine right now. America and the Obama Administration are once again refusing to show true leadership.

You’ve seen the pictures coming from Ukraine. It’s a mess. Total chaos. This is why the time to act is now. And act with confidence and focus.

Now, from what I’ve seen, one side in Ukraine is led by one of the boxing Klitschko boxers, and the other side is led by other people who I don’t know. These are the only sides there can be, as two is the maximum number of sides that can be taken in politics, as we know.

So we got Klitschko, who I think is on the side Russia. Now, Mitt Romney said Russia is the enemy, but lately it seems like conservatives are really big fans of Russia and Vladimir Putin. So I’m not sure how that all works out, really. But those small issues are left for the bean counters. Now is the time for action.

My friends, now is the time for America to re-establish itself as the leading exporter of peace-making, geopolitical-shifting destruction. Who cares which side we’re on, the people of Ukraine need America. Or something. And, you know, it seems like it’s a mess in Venezuela right now, also. Let’s stick a boot in their ass for talking crap about us.

In conclusion, the world is falling into chaos. America needs to start bombing stuff.


Brave American Hero leaks Patriot Act information

January 24, 2014

BRAZIL – Brave American Hero Patriot William K. Wolfrum – best known for making fart jokes and laziness – shocked the world today by leaking information about the Patriot Act.

“Yeah, I think it’s correct to say I’m a Brave American Hero Patriot,” said Wolfrum.

The information leaked is the largest amount of Patriot Act information given to the public yet. Documents leaked include information on the the FISA Court as well as several unconstitutional aspects of the Patriot Act.

Wolfrum admitted that his work on the issue was now done.

“I did my part,” said Wolfrum, 16. “I’m not a hero, but I understand if you think I am.

Wolfrum added that he hoped American journalists would finally take notice of the Patriot Act.

“After 13 years of the Patriot Act, though, I’m just trying to get a conversation started,” said Wolfrum. “Yeah, I know. It’s heroic.”


Someone give Francois Hollande a hand

January 2, 2014

I just love that French President Francois Hollande falls for the same thing every time – the dignitary tries to look pleasant for the flashing cameras of the press, then Hollande meekly tries to shake hands.


Breaking: Edward Snowden leaks Naughty or Nice list

December 24, 2013

Rostov-on-Don, RUSSIA — Leaker extraordinaire Edward Snowden unleashed his biggest coup to date, leaking Santa Claus’ Naughty or Nice list on Christmas Eve.

“I just want us to have a discussion, is all,” said Snowden. “Let’s talk. I want to talk. We should talk.”

Claus, a shadowy figure known mostly by song, has long fought off civil liberties activists who say more transparency is needed in regard to the famed list.

“A debate, perhaps?” said Snowden. “A little tea time conversation, maybe?” I really wanna talk about this.”

The release of the Naughty or Nice documents – attained by Snowden who spent seven months dressed up as an elf to get his hands on the goods has already created controversy.

“This will undoubtedly cause turmoil for America,” said Director of National Intelligence  James Clapper. “When the terrorists get this information, the Naughties will be in grave peril.

The controversy has spread quickly. Bobby Jimson, a 9-year-old who discovered he was on the Naughty List for excessive sister-punching, expressed his feelings about the leaks.

‘THIS IS BULLSHIT!’ said Jimson.

More on this story as it develops.



Unemployed guy who doesn’t care about his social media reputation says anything he wants

December 20, 2013

God celebrates the DNC folding over a non-issue.

DES MOINES — “Gay people are made of orange peels and frog legs,” shouted William K. Wolfrum.

“Black people poop pumpkin pie!” Wolfrum added.

Wolfrum, who is unemployed, said he was practicing his First Amendment rights to say anything he likes.

“Mexicans have four nipples,” bleated Wolfrum.

Wolfrum, who said he doesn’t care about his social media reputation, said he felt free to say whatever he wished because the government would not charge him with a crime or detain him in anyway.

“I’m free,” said Wolfrum, 46. “Icelanders drink squirrel milk!!”

Wolfrum, however, admits that he understands his radical viewpoints mean that he will struggle to find future employment.

“Oh, yeah, I’m screwed,” said Wolfrum. “Maybe I can see if Obama will step in and force someone to hire me. If not, I don’t see anyone hiring me. Or even talking to me much.”

Wolfrum, however, said what really mattered was his freedom to say important things that truly mattered and drove social change.

“All Irish people have butterscotch in their hair,” blathered Wolfrum.


Get to know Bill: For the love of mangoes

December 10, 2013

I have three mango trees. I spend an inordinate amount of time speaking and thinking about mangoes.



American Football in Brazil: For the love of the game

December 3, 2013

“This is a game of emotion and violence. Even if you don’t fully understand, enjoy watching these warriors on the field.” — Announcer Fabio Dos Santos.


Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, BRAZIL — A warm summer Saturday in Brazil. The field is freshly lined. Fans of both teams take their places, wearing the shirts of their favorite teams. the players stretch and prepare for the match ahead. As anticipation builds to a fever pitch, the game begins.

The kickoff …

… is returned to the 25-yard line before the returner is tackled.

This is not your pai’s football.

To say Brazil is a soccer-crazed nation is as much an understatement as saying they enjoy dancing. “Who is your team?” is a required question when meeting someone (My Brazilian team is Cruzeiro. Which is my father-in-law’s team. Which meant it was an easy choice). The game is religion and a big part of Brazilian society.

Yet on a Saturday evening, here were a bunch of Brazilians aged from 18 to 45, putting on shoulder pads and helmets and preparing to grind it out for 40 minutes. It is, to say the least, a surreal vision.

The game featured the Uberlandia Lobos against the Lusa Rhynos, two of the more than 20 organized American football teams throughout Brazil playing in the “Touchdown Tournament,” the semi-official “commission” of American Football. Jeovanir Silva, the President of the Lobos, as well as an offensive lineman, has been the main cog in bringing American football to this city of 600,000 residents.

“We are pioneers of the game here in Brazil,” said Silva. “It is our job to promote an teach the game.”

But while Silva and other Brazilians deserve credit for promoting the game, pursuing sponsors, and raising the country’s awareness of the game, one entity can take credit for planting the seed – ESPN.

Prior to the game, there was an expectation that many of the players had either studied or spent a significant amount of time in the United States, where they were able to gain an appreciation of American football (such is the case with my wife.) Instead, nearly all players pointed to watching NFL games on ESPN (which is available via cable or satellite tv here).

Uberlandia’s diminutive strong safety Joaquim Garcia – the team’s defensive captain, who makes up for his lack of size with the highest football IQ on the field – is one such player. Having spent his life watching the game on ESPN, the 20-year-old is now one of the country’s top players.

“I remember I was very young and watched an NFL game and gave always loved it since,” said Garcia. “It is amazing to get to play.”

Garcia’s girlfriend, Kim, sits in the stands along with approximately 100 other surprisingly football-savvy fans. Looking through the crowd, one is never likely to see so many people in sporting jerseys that don’t have names like Neymar or Kakà on the back. Here, fans proudly wear jerseys of NFL players like Brady, Manning and Brees. And in the crowd sits Kim Garcia, looking for all the world like Brazil’s first football widow.

“I know the game pretty well,” said Kim Garcia. “We watch games all weekend. Every weekend.”

The game itself was both beautiful and heinous. Turnovers abound. Penalty flags are like a plague of yellow locusts. Both teams suffered from the same problem – having learned the game via watching the NFL, the players wanted to play NFL-styled offenses. The running game – the main staple of beginning football players – was utterly abandoned by both teams in place of passing games that led to a total of seven interceptions for the game.

Nonetheless, there were tremendous bright spots. Both teams played with passion, and as the game progressed, you could see true “football players” emerge. Big hits were met with thunderous applause from players and fans alike. Uberlandia running back Eduardo de Souza scored on a nifty 25-yard camper that ended with him somersaulting into the end zone.

In the end, an early safety was enough to give the Rhynos a hard-fought 8-7 victory. Despite the loss, Silva continues his work in making Uberlandia one of the top teams in the nation. The club has received a smattering of media attention, started a youth team and continues to invite any potential players that want to come out and give American football a try.

In the end, the game is about the players. And leaving the field, bloodied but unbowed, Joaquim Garcia lets you know his feelings for the game with one popular Portuguese word.
























Jameis Winston hides out on Google as Randall Cunningham

November 21, 2013

Currently the subject of a rape case investigation, Florida State QB Jameis Winston has apparently taken to hiding out on Twitter in his best Randall Cunningham mask.


Jameis Winston3


Oh well, you know what they say about Black quarterbacks.


For Tommy Morrison & others, a fading limelight leads to madness

September 3, 2013

Being a sports fan means never aging. It means that year after year, youth is recycled and everyone is again a 21-year-old looking to make his or her mark. The dream of sports is one of beauty and youth and endless possibilities.

The nightmare is so often what happens when those beautiful young athletes become a little older, a little slower and a little less beautiful. For even the most successful athlete, 40-years-old is about the limit. Then life begins. And life can often be unpleasant for these formerly beautiful young men.

Boxer Tommy Morrison is the latest tragedy to come from the sports world. Morrison died yesterday at the age of 44, most likely of AIDS-related illness, despite long denying he was HIV-positive or that the HIV virus even existed. From all reports, his final years were spent in hospitals and in a fugue of conspiracy theories.

I remember when Morrison arrived on the boxing scene. A more perfect example of Midwest American good lucks and personality will never be found. If you knew boxing, you knew Tommy was limited. But you also knew he could punch and that he came to fight. Morrison actually accomplished more than he should have, as he smartly out-boxed a slower George Foreman for some type of version of a heavyweight title. Morrison made some money in the ring and entertained fans, but a weak chin meant he’d never rise to greater heights, however, and a then a diagnosis of HIV changed everything.

And like so many before him, Morrison’s life outside of athletics was one of madness.

The stories of athletes – especially fighters and football players – falling apart after sporting retirement are everywhere. As but one example, for Mike Webster, life after football meant a brain-injured stumble through a life that would end early. Whether it is from brain injury, financial distress or personal demons, however, the life of a former athlete is often one of struggle, physically and emotionally.

Mind you, some athletes find success off the playing field. But for every Magic Johnson – who thrives off the court despite his famed battle with HIV – there are 25 Websters and Morrisons.

But regardless of the plight of the once-worshipped, for sports fans, every year is one of renewal. Did you see Jameis Winston yesterday? So young, so gifted. The world is his.

And so the new replaces the old in sports, as it must. For sports fans, it’s an eternity of watching young men excel. For the young athletes, however, it is but a blip of time that will eventually lead them to an uncertain future.


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