Twenty-five years ago today, my wife and I had our combined bachelor-bachelorette party – yes, on April Fools Day. Most of my friends indeed thought I was kidding…and are still awaiting the punchline.
I published this essay about how Rugby led me to my wife (or her to me?) in the book Voices In My Head, written for my mother and father on their 70th and 75th birthdays, respectively. I offer it now to mark the date 25 years ago when Audrey could have said “April Fools!” and walked away…I’m infinitely better off that she wasn’t fooling.
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Young men play sports. Young men in Texas MUST play sports. I believe it is part of the state constitution, under the Articles of Testosterone, right after the one about “Men must hunt deer” and right before “Texas has the right to secede from the Union whenever we damn well please.”
Go to the State Capitol; look it up.
The first sports team I can remember was the baseball team Terry and I were on in Spring Branch called the Bears. These weren’t the “Bad News” Bears, these were the “We just plain Suck Rocks” Bears. We played at a field that was dusty and rough, with very little grass, and our skill level wasn’t even worthy of that. Terry was our only good player (a lefty first baseman, and the oldest) and I’m not sure why he stuck around; probably because of me, or maybe cause mom told him to. I clearly remember pitching (I only got to pitch when we were way behind), with a kid from the other team taunting me to throw it over the plate. I walked a couple of batters to catcalls from the opposing dugouts.
Then I started aiming for the batters.
It made me throw a lot harder. But I still missed. That is when I first learned to trash talk. Words sometimes hit harder than a baseball (and I was more accurate in throwing them).
I learned two very valuable lessons at that young age: channeling your anger can be good in sports if you can control it; and I absolutely abhor baseball. The sport is adequately described as two guys playing catch with lots of others standing around watching. It is no wonder that when little kids play t-ball they inevitably end up picking grass or putting their glove on their heads; face it folks, America’s pastime is boring unless it is the ninth inning with a runner in scoring position…and even then only because most of the crowd got their third beer at the seventh inning stretch. (more…)
Though lighter on the Rugby (disappointing for this former and now occasional rugby player) than on the subject of Mandela, Invictus is an entertaining movie covering Nelson Mandela’s backing and support of the 1995 South Africa Springboks rugby team, and their efforts in that years Rugby World Cup (the third most watched event in world sports, for my uneducated American friends). Up to that point, the blacks hated the Springboks as a symbol of white supremacy, and Mandela threw his weight behind the team as a symbol of unification.
Invictus (see the poem at the end of this post) is directed by Clint Eastwood (which is reason enough to go see it), and stars Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. Morgan Freeman plays Mandela, and his performance ranks right behind The Shawshank Redemption (IMHO) in a long line of excellent work. Damon plays Francois Pineaar, captain of the South African Rugby team. (more…)
SF Signal asked me to review Kevin J. Anderson’s forthcoming novel Enemies & Allies, The Dark Night meets the Man of Steel. My son Josh and I have been into Justice League and the rest of the DC and Marvel universes since he was born. So we turned this into a “joint dialog review”, with only a few age jokes and jabs (but no throwing of food).
You can see the review on the SF Signal Web Site.