Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Fantasy I Land

Fantasy football is an obsession of mine this time of year.  The playoffs have arrived and even though nothing but pride is often on the line I am gripped by anxiety.  Did I insert the right guy into my lineup or should I have stuck with the status quo?  Maybe you don't get the concept of all this, and that's fine with me.  How can I explain why grown men would spend time compiling imaginary teams of people playing a sport and then live vicariously through their successes and failures?  I could recommend watching a few episodes of the fantasy football-centered TV program "The League", although I haven't seen any of the show myself.   Maybe a citation of the money won in these artificial contests would interest some folks.  I rarely play for wagers, however, and I haven't had many victories when I have, but still the game obsesses me.  Instead I choose to relate a tale which took place last night as an example of the highs and lows, the kind of excitement and pain that can be found from few other sources outside of heavy drug abuse.
The Setup: My team, Dick Buttkiss, had squeaked into the playoffs and faced a first round matchup with Fatter Monkey, who I had lost to in a tight match-up two weeks previously when his RB scored a very late touchdown.  The Thursday and Sunday games had set things up well for Phatter Monkey.  Although he trailed by 20 points, he had the high-scoring Green Bay QB and WR duo of Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb going for him, while I had no one but the lowly Packers kicker left to generate me points.
The situation looked bleak after one half.  Green Bay's offense ran over Atlanta's defense, the feeble linebackers corpses smashing like pumpkins under the tires of a Monster truck.  I led by only three points in the 3rd quarter as the Packers again neared the end zone.  Because 3's come in 3's it was third down when Rodgers looped a picture to his running back in the front of the end zone.  As he gripped down on the ball the right hand of a defender lurched out like a zombie emerging from the earth and knocked the pass away.  Instead of a touchdown for my opponent, I escaped with a field goal and expanded my lead to 6, giving me a glimmer of hope.
Reality came crashing down on me during the next Green Bay possession.  In a hurry to reach the end zone because of tight scheduling or just impatience on his part, Rodgers threw a 60 yard TD pass.  Combined with a ten yard catch from Cobb I now trailed by a little over 2 points.  Bad went to worse moments later when my kicker failed to execute the extra point, a one point penalty that increased the Funky Monkey's lead to 3 and some change.
I had pretty much conceded defeat when the untrustworthy bastard called hope snuck up and bit me on the ass, but in a pleasant way.  A short Packers drive stalled at the Atlanta 35.  At this point in the game the Green Bay coach could have easily gone conservative and punted or aggressively chosen to go for the first down.  Either choice was reasonable, but he picked the third option, kicking a field goal.  I had trouble looking at the screen, knowing a make would give me a fighting chance with only 4 minutes to play left in the game.  The ball floated in the air for what seemed an eternity, almost as long as watching an episode of "American Idol" while being water-boarded.  When it arrived at its destination the refs pulled their arms into an upright position and I sighed in relief.  But the drama was far from over.
I led by 1.5 pts when the Packers recovered a Falcons onside kick.  The Atlanta foosballers had made an amazing second half comeback, catching up to a 43-37 score mainly based on the efforts of Julio "Down by the Schoolyard" Jones.  With just over 2 minutes left Green Bay would be mainly running, in order to eviscerate all evidence of time from the clock.  I should be good as long as Rodgers stuck to handing off.  Fate had no interest in such a simple finish.  On 2nd down Rodgers dropped back to pass.  Seeing no one open he ran into space devoid of Falcon tacklers, hurtling forward for what seemed an eternity.  He finally stopped 16 yards later, a single yard more than what Felonious Monk needed to beat me.  That's right, I trailed by one tenth of a point.
The Falcons had a couple of time outs left so all was not yet lost.  A couple of scenarios could save me.  The first would be a Packers running Td.  The extra point would put me back ahead.  James Starks looked like he might do it on the next play, flying downfield to the Atlanta 10 before being stopped.  The Packers gave him another chance.  Stopped. Then a second.  Halted.  Then a third.  No dice.  Time had now all but expired.  The play clock and game clock read almost exactly the same number.  Would Green Bay have to run another play?  Both clocks expired and I lay my head low, embracing the hopeless state of irrevocable doom.  The refs had other ideas, however - pointing out to the hastily departing Packers that they could not leave quite yet.  There was still one more second.  Aaron Rodgers quickly dispensed with the formality, backing up a few yards and downing the ball as the game clock reached zero.  The Packers had won - and so had I - his loss of three yards had cost Fitter Mook his slim lead.  I stared at the screen of my TV and then my computer in disbelief.  113.52 to 113.25.            

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Karma Kicks and Does Other Things To My Ass

Here is a lesson on why you should not be an ass hole.  The gods pay attention and can be quick to tap you on the shoulder.  Their taps are like getting hit by a sledgehammer. 
I went on a vacation to Moab recently with several friends.  We planned to visit Arches and Canyonlands National Park, while camping and involving ourselves in other unsavory activities favored by the degenerates I hang about with.  Before leaving I could not help but point out to my snowbound colleagues at the Eternal Winter Ranch YMCA in Granby how awesome it would be to experience the heretofore-only-rumored warmth of the sun.  This cruelty turned out to be beyond the tolerance of the sexy and awesome man/woman/men/women in the sky that I have always had the most profound respect for.   
Vengeance came within the first day.  We drove down in the middle of the night, reaching Utah by early morning, where we gaped like drooling morons at the towering sandstone canyons dominating the horizon in every direction.  Turning onto Potash Road we searched for campsites and had little trouble finding one we thought to be perfect, tucked underneath a high wall and shaded by small berry trees.  This was a rare green spot in the midst of an arid and barren land.  We probably should have thought to ponder what might bring about this lushness or why no one had claimed such an ideal location on a busy weekend.  Alas, our keen deductive powers fail to equal those of Scooby Doo and the Gang.  Cue the evil and ominous music. 
 There was rain scheduled for the forecast, but I thought little of it.  Moab regularly receives 9 inches a year of precipitation, so I assumed any shower would be minor and of little concern.  The skies did indeed open in the evening for short periods of time but we were inconvenienced little, hidden as we were underneath a canopy of leaves.  The rainfall was intermittent and did not pick up seriously until I decided to go to bed. Crawling into my tent, I drifted off into sleep.
An uncomfortably cold wetness ripped me from slumber.  I groggily felt about my head and realized that my pillows were soaked.  I was using an old tent that had been in storage for awhile, so I just figured the waterproofing had faded out of existence.  I left my gear "safely" on top of the pillows and made for the truck to sleep out the rest of the night.  After a half an hour or so, as my brain slowly awakened, it dawned on me I had made a mistake leaving my clothes in the tent.  My T-shirt and sweatshirt were wetter than I had at first thought.  I was starting to get a serious case of the chills.  The rain had picked up further and I was loathe to make a run for what I had left in the tent.  I took off the wet clothing, which slightly improved my condition, but there was another, more immediate problem.    
Water clears out of the desert like an intestinal tract after the consumption of an entire bottle of ExLax.  My own digestive system seemed to enjoy the concept, for it had decided to follow suit.  Suddenly I needed to take a shit in the absolutely worst way.  With nothing but a dry pair of boxers and jeans on I did not like what that might entail.  I stayed inside, clenching my buttocks and wracking my brain for a solution.  After minutes of searching and pleading out loud in vain to various deities to make the need to poo go away, I came upon a possible solution.  A bag of napkins lay in a flimsy brown paper package - toilet paper and a toilet.  My odds of cleanly executing this feat of evacuation within the confines of the vehicle were low, but I felt I had no other choice.  I took off my pants and leaned onto my back,  raising my legs and buttocks off the reclined seat.  I held the small target underneath me with my left hand and prepared to let go.  But I could not.  The thought of fouling a friend's car was to much to deal with and I backed off.  Besides, the rain continued to fall hard and the way the campsite was filling with water, my friends would be joining me in the truck soon.  I didn't want them to escape the flood only to be stuck in my impromptu toilet. 
Even so, my butt still demanded prompt attention.  After a few more minutes of clenching and dithering I finally made the move.  I took off my clothes to preserve them and stepped naked into the night, dashing out, planting my legs and firing, shitting so rapidly that one might have thought my hair was on fire and crap was water.  I raced back inside and cleaned up, but I was still cold.  Luckily, a little more searching turned up the bag of one of my friends, which contained a T reading "Bach is My Homeboy."  This helped warm me a good deal and I managed to fall back to sleep. 
Round two did not last very long either.  I awoke to the screaming of my friends.  They were standing in the downpour and shouting my name repeatedly.  Jacob kicked forcefully at my tent.  At this moment I also noticed the fall of water sounded particularly powerful from that direction.  Squinting into the darkness I saw the source of all the commotion.  A waterfall had formed on the wall against which I had set my tent and was relentlessly pounding it into non-existence like a boxer repeatedly bashing an opponent in the face despite the fact the man has already given up and passed out. I yelled to my friends from the truck to let them know I was okay and they fled to join me there.  One might think I would have sat up all night lamenting the loss of so much gear (a lot of it did end up being salvageable) but I'm not a very good capitalist so I said fuck it.  We were together and everyone was safe and that was the important part.  I went back to sleep.        

Postscript: later the next day when I told this story to my friends Jacob started to visible turn white when I mentioned the napkin container.  Apparently he had picked up some similar looking trash the next morning.  Needless to say, he was relieved at how the story ended.