Not Like This

There’s a scene in the first Matrix where Cypher reveals himself to be a double agent, and in the process begins to unplug those who are in the Matrix… killing them. Switch knows it’s coming and can only mutter under her breath…

“Not like this. Not like this.”

***

I felt the same way watching the Super Bowl over the weekend. To see one of the teams you cheer for jump out to such a lead on the hated Patriots (come on, you’re tired of them unless you are from the New England area), and then to understand the avalanche is coming your way and there is very little that will deter it. Little by little the 28-3 lead slips away until I was left in stunned silence at the final outcome.

***

Being a fan of sports teams not named: New England or LA Lakers or NY Yankees, I don’t know what seeing the championships look like. I am an Atlanta fan and a Miami Dolphins fan for pretty much as long as I remember, which really means that in 30+ years I’ve only had the experience 1 time of one of “my teams”, the 1995 Atlanta Braves, winning the World Series…

And, if I’m honest, given that I had just finished my freshman year of college, I didn’t get to “enjoy” it. That year I probably watched or heard less than 5 games… just too many other distractions, I guess. I remember driving back from a non-sports watching buddy’s apartment and hearing on the radio that the Braves had closed the World Series out.

It was nice, but I didn’t get the buzz I assume everyone else gets from their team winning.

Last week, last week I was sure the Falcons would win. I’m never sure about anything in sports. I’m the guy who thinks a 30 point lead isn’t quite enough. I’m the one who calls for no shenanigans when there is a punt or kickoff in football because I just want a clean sequence. I never trash talk.

But I really felt good about the game going into it.

***

My wife apparently jumped past the Denial stage as she got up from the couch, walked around the side, slammed something to the ground, and had a few choice words for the universe.

***

Having one foot in the more nerdy endeavors my whole life causes some odd things when you mix being a fan of sports. So many times, regardless of what the “Big Game” might be, I get to hear (or read) people wondering if something is happening? Was there some kind of SportBall event going on? That they don’t understand it and don’t care (and I think some genuinely hate the fact that it exists, but I assume most are doing it in good old fun).

In the moments after the Super Bowl, I was suddenly envious of their lack of passion for sports. That they would never allow themselves to get so wrapped up in a “little game” to have it affect their emotional well-being. Was there a freedom to be had without such distractions?

Was that the better way to live?

***

Sunday night… I couldn’t sleep well. My brain trying to “Fix” the universe so that what I had just witnessed would have been the sports induced nightmare. I considered writing this blog at 3 in the morning. My wife and I ranted and raved laying there in the bed, still not sure how that ending even happened.

The bad guys won?

Why did you read me this thing for?

 

So silly. Silly to get caught up in something like this.

***

And yet… what’s the clichés?

Hope springs eternal.

There’s always next year.

I’ve got it…

Pitchers and Catchers report in 2 weeks.

Yeah, that’s the one.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Answer the Universe

This past weekend the NFL regular season came to a close, and for the first time since 2008, the Miami Dolphins have made the playoffs (apparently “next year” was this year). Aside from being happy to actually have someone to seriously cheer for this coming weekend, it got me a little reflective. I’ve watched nearly a decade worth of games where my team might have been in the mix only to fall short or, and this is more likely, they haven’t been in the mix at all.

Miami_Dolphins_2013

That’s a lot of football. Actually that’s a lot of mediocre football.

Strange then that I suddenly am thinking of all that “bad” time to be a fan when this is the time to enjoy the ride we’re currently on. I think back to J Edward Neill‘s post from last Fall where he swore off the NFL in order to regain the most precious of commodities: TIME.

(I know he slipped at least once…)

Every team comes into the season with a list of things they want to accomplish. It may start with:

Improve upon last year’s team.

Win the division.

Get a first round Bye.

Be the overall #1 seed in the playoffs.

Win your conference.

And at the top of the list is win the Superbowl.

That’s not to say that they actually are able to even compete for such an honor, but it is still there. Heck, there are a bunch of the above which are probably above and beyond a team’s LEGITIMATE goals. The key is that they still write them down. And it isn’t because they want to set themselves up for failure if things don’t go their way. No. They do it so that there is something to aspire to.

target-bullseye

Last week I put up my annual look back/look ahead blog post. Here’s the thing, that post is like 98% for me, 1% for my family (in case they might be wondering what it was I actually do during these late nights), and maybe 1% for anyone else reading the blog. I use it in order to get a grip on what the previous year might have had in store for me (or not). The look ahead is about setting goals for myself.

Maybe setting too many goals?

That’s fundamentally OK to do. If the NFL teams only set their goal on getting 1 more win next year, well that’s probably doable, but then what? You get that additional win and stop? Or do you shoot for the moon on the off-chance you can actually get there?

This is what I’m trying to get to. This is the type of work output, the type of word count I need to get to in order to have the level of success I want to have. So you get a list of things which either seem like they haven’t been accomplished or there are just too many things on the LIST to possibly get done.

There is some truth to that. Like so many other people I have various levels of responsibilities in work and life. Sometimes there just isn’t enough time. Then again, maybe I just didn’t use all that free time as wisely as I could/should.

Regardless, I want to say YES to things. Can I write the 1st draft to this novel? Yes! Can I edit this 2nd draft of a different novel? Yes! Can I write this comic script? Yes!

yes

I want to say YES to myself.

Think about the whole idea of Resolutions in conjunction with the birth of a new year. Right now if I were to do a search on New Year’s Resolutions I bet I’d get a ton of blog hits where it was describing potential goals or perhaps telling you how to accomplish your proposed goals. But also think you’d find some people who want to mock the very idea of the goals. They might consider it a waste of time to even bother. “Everyone puts all this nonsense out there and within a week or a month or 6 months it will all revert back to who you were before the pledge.” Yet, I’d say we’re all doing it on some level even if we don’t say it aloud or write it down. There is something you want to accomplish this year, right? You may not want to call it a Resolution, but it probably is.

And it’s OK.

The kicker to all of this is that sometimes you set the bar impossibly high and you get there. Sometimes the ball bounces your way. So put it out there. Put it into the universe! Have 50 projects. Have a plan.

There’s nothing wrong with striving for more.

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

My Mother: The Horse Diver

Another month, and a little more insight to my own family’s past. I only wish that I had an actual picture of my grandmother to show along with the following…

***

My Mother: The Horse Diver

By: Mickey McGuire

 

My mother was the best cook who ever lived. I also knew her to be the most critical person whom I have ever known, and, in her later years, one of the most fearful and paranoid. On her good days, she liked to laugh and joke. She loved to fish- both salt and fresh water; she was the first to drop her line and the last to leave. She wrote short stories, poetry, and a book about life in the Okefenokee Swamp.

She tried to be a good mother- nurturer to me she was not. In all fairness though, I saw her warm and fuzzy side as a grandmother to my children. Although our relationship was complicated at best, I never doubted her desire to see me succeed at a level which surpassed hers.

On the days her demons rose to the surface, she drank vodka- sometimes a weekend binge a month, other times many months would pass without any drinking. The realization of her drinking for the day assaulted my nose and sensibilities as soon as I opened the door in the afternoon after school- Momma asleep/passed out in the bed and the rest of the house a cold vacuum where sadness and pain lived.

I never saw her take a leisurely walk or do any form of formal exercise. Does pulling a wagon with fishing equipment count? She smoked two packs of Kent cigarettes a day, ate fried Southern food on a regular basis, drank off and on her whole life, and still lived to be 79.

That was the mother I knew. Married already for twenty years, my parents adopted me in their forties. I was the baby who would surely fill that void in my mother’s life.

***

But there was another person I never knew. Families have their share of stories and legends, and my mother had a crazy one- she was a horse diver in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in the summer of 1933 when she was seventeen. At that time, the diving show on the Atlantic City Steel Pier had been in existence since 1928. The horse diving show had been the creation of William “Doc” Carver in the 1880s. Originally a traveling diving show, it had become the primary attraction of many carnival acts on the Boardwalk.

 

horse-diving

 

This was a show not for the faint of heart or spirit. A pretty girl sat on the back of a huge horse and dove 40-60 feet into a 12 foot pool. That depth was just enough for the horse to reach the bottom of the tank and push-off to swim to the surface. Different horses dove four times a day, seven days a week for the price of a one dollar admission to see this remarkable feat- definitely meeting the criteria of an extreme sport by the standards of that time. Divers made $50- $125 per week, a fortune compared to the normal $15 per week in a department store.

How would a seventeen year old girl from Waycross, Georgia, ever be a horse diver in Atlantic City, New Jersey, you might ask? That summer my mother had gone to stay with her older brother and his wife in New Jersey, a place where my uncle had found better job opportunities as a welder in the shipyards. My mother’s cousin Marie was already a temporary diver for the show. The star diver Sonora Webster Carver- also a Waycross girl- had been blinded on one of the dives in 1931, and, according to her autobiography, had needed rehabilitation and time to learn Braille. So the summer of 1933 could have very well been a period of transition where many different divers were used in the shows. According to Sonora’s sister Arnette French in the autobiography A Girl and Five Brave Horses, “If you rounded all the riders up, we’d fill Convention Hall- we were the stars of the Boardwalk.”

circa 1955: A diving horse and her rider disappearing in to a swimming pool with a splash. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)

circa 1955: A diving horse and her rider disappearing in to a swimming pool with a splash. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)

According to Momma and Sonora Carver’s autobiography, you had “to keep your head tucked to one side, so that when the horse raised his head as he jumped up at the bottom of the pool, you wouldn’t get smacked in the face.” That would have been the least of my worries. How would you have the nerve to jump on the back of that gigantic animal and then jump off a stand 40-60 feet in the air into 12 feet of water? What about being thrown off or kicked in the head under water? There were documented bloody noses, black eyes, broken cheekbones, collarbones, and teeth. Amazingly, no diver fatalities ever occurred. Sonora Carver’s blindness was the worst of the injuries, and she continued to dive despite her blindness for many years.

***

How does one person meet adversity and thrive despite it while another is haunted by her/his demons?  How did my mother evolve from having this courageous spirit and complete recklessness of youth to being beaten down from the disappointments in her life? If she could be a horse diver, she could have accomplished anything. I do believe life is about choices and consequences. She could have taken that job with Western Union and had her own career. She could have moved to a big city. She could have divorced my father. She chose to stay in the marriage, to live in the small town, and be a housewife. The life she chose would eventually lead to her becoming my mother, all the good and the bad of it. She was the mother I was supposed to have. I am who I am because of it.

I wish we could have had a different relationship… but we did not.

Instead of thinking about what might have been, I love to think about my mother dressed in that sequined bathing suit, waiting for that nearly one ton animal to reach the top of the ramp- her red hair flying- fearless and carefree- her future ahead with so much promise.

 

Credits: Carver, Sonora. A Girl and Five Brave Horses. Amazon Digital Services LLC, 2016.

***

Mickey McGuire is the mother of published author John McGuire, a registered NICU nurse, retired high school teacher, an artist, and passionate student in this game of life.

Why I’m taking the year off from watching NFL Football

It’s kind of a thing.

You might’ve heard of it.

NFL football. The world’s most lucrative sport. Bone-crunching hits. Last-second touchdowns. An all-consuming war between twenty-two men on the gridiron.

Also…

Hugely addictive.

Also also…

A massive devourer of time.

Crunch

Not sure your helmet helped you much, buddy.

For the last 3,000 or so NFL seasons, I’ve had a little ritual. Ok…fine. It was a big ritual. It went a little something like this:

  • I reserved a nine-hour block of every Sunday to watch football
  • I reserved every Monday night, no matter which crappy teams were playing, to watch Monday Night Football
  • When Thursday night football started being a thing, I caught every game
  • On Saturdays, to get in the mood for Sundays, I watched college football for several hours
  • I watched every single minute of every single playoff game

If I do some conservative math, I calculate that over the last ten NFL seasons, I’ve committed to watching approx. 300 hours of football per season. That’s 3,000 hours over ten years. That’s one-hundred twenty-five days of nothing but football.

Holy crap.

Even though I watched pretty much no other television during that span, 125 days was still a huge chunk of my life. It’s especially huge if I consider all the wings eaten, alcohol consumed, and money spent on obnoxious NFL TV packages. Not to be forgotten is the fact that my team, the Chicago Bears, pretty much wallowed in mediocrity the entire time. It’s not like I sat down to greatness every game. Most of the time, my team lost. Badly.

43910-Cutler1-f4266d20

A metaphor for my every football Sunday since 1985.

So here we are. Another NFL season beckons. My friends are nipping at my heels to join a fantasy league (never gonna happen) and my television just sits there in the dark, waiting for football to explode.

Only this year, it won’t. Not for me.

I’m taking an oath this year. I’m not going to purposely sit down to watch a single regular season football game. Not NFL. Not college. I might allow myself to watch the playoffs, but then again I might not. How is this even possible, you ask? Will I really be able to resist flipping the TV on? The answer is a resounding YES. I don’t have cable or satellite this year. So unless I’m at someone else’s house with the sole purpose of watching the NFL, this part of the oath should be easy. Right?

Why? Why would a football-loving lunatic deny himself a beautiful season of pigskin?

It’s simple. I want my time back. I want my 300+ hours refunded, and I want to do other stuff in place of sitting on my backside for a large portion of my free time. Do I know exactly what I’ll do with the time? No. Not really. I might write books, paint huge canvasses, or go running in the rain. Then again, I might take my kid outside, spend all day BBQ’ing and sipping scotch, go jogging in the deep woods, or play a ton of fantastic video games.

I don’t know. And I guess I don’t really care. It’s an oath I’m making. No football. No fantasy football. No obsessing over statistics. And no, I’m not turning into one of these people. I don’t hate the game. I haven’t lost my love of competition. I’m just done for one year, maybe more, of planting my bottom in a chair to watch other people take the field.

If I think about it, and if I’m really honest with myself about the effects of having watched so many thousands of hours of sports in my life, I have to consider the things I’ve probably missed out on. Because football’s not the only game I’ve been obsessed with. There’s also baseball, basketball, and volleyball, which no doubt I’ve lost thousands more hours to. And if I add them all up, I start to think maybe…

  • I could’ve spent more time outdoors with my son
  • I could’ve written twice as many books
  • I could’ve mastered the guitar instead of just toying with it
  • I might’ve been wayyyyyyy better at relationships (nah, probably not 🙂 )
  • I’d have gotten even more exercise. And consumed less scotch
  • I’d have made more friends. And maybe had a few thousand more awesome conversations
  • And I’d have definitely spent more time out in the autumn air, which is something I’ve always loved

I’ve talked about this year’s non-football oath with my friends. They don’t really understand. They think I’m kidding, that I’m just playing a game of chicken with the football season. Nah. It’s not like that. And I’m definitely not judging people who still plan to watch a ton of games. If that’s still what they love, more power to ’em. Maybe I’ll hang with them next year.

But as for this year, I’ve got other things in mind.

No football. No TV. No texting, web-surfing, or couching the days away.

It’s time for a change.

Let’s do this.

J Edward Neill

Author of tons of stuff, such as:

WebImageFront DDP 1 The Little Book Front Cover

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes I Know… Sometimes I Don’t

Why do I even bother watching sports? That was the question I posed to myself this past Sunday. It is the question I think every person who has ever been a fan of some team activity has asked themselves. Why do I even bother?

Miami_Dolphins_2013

I mean, I’m a nerdy guy, into nerdy things. My Dad isn’t really a kick back and watch football type guy. Somehow I managed to claim that part of “being a guy” (whereas I don’t know anything about a car’s engine or how to build something with my hands or why you need a Phillips Head screwdriver). I gravitated towards it, and now…

Ugh…

It seems like every year MY TEAMS are the ones who cannot quite “get over the hump”. We (because it is always “we” even if “I” only sit on my couch yelling at the TV) scuffle and struggle to gain some small measure of mediocrity and then fall on our faces any way. And all the while those teams whom you hate… well, they are having the season of seasons.

This is where those of you reading it begin to go through the mental Rolodex of your own teams. You haven’t won anything in 20 years, 50 years… over 100 years. And I hear you.

But I’m lamenting me right now. 🙂

Braves

In Poker there is something players try to call on: “One Time”. It is their own personal plea to the “Poker gods” to either help better their own hand or keep their opponent from beating them. However, the key to this, so the superstition goes, is that you only get ONE “one time” during a tournament. So you better pick your spot, as you’ll be swiftly punished for not obeying the rules.

Well that thought colors my watching baseball, basketball, and football. And time and time again I’m considering calling for my team’s “one time” to dig deep and find a way to pull it out. But the small bit of magic you wished for your own team was wasted in week 2. Yet, those other guys (your rivals, i.e. the “bad guys”), they rely on their skills until the absolute last second. Never wasting the magic until ever other option has been extinguished.

So instead I suffer defeat after defeat while other fans continue to find ways to celebrate their team’s successes. I hold onto the one Championship I can claim (1995 Atlanta Braves), but also lament that may be the one season I watched the least amount of the team. The one year I did not live and die with every pitch. In my defense I was still figuring out this whole college/co-op thing, but a true fan would have made time. We won and I was happy, but didn’t get that… well, what I have to believe is an all-consuming, unrelenting joy from the victory. I’m pretty sure I still don’t know what feeling I should have gotten, but it doesn’t taste the same… of that I’m sure.

At the end of every season there is one fan base ecstatic and 31 others who think “well, maybe next year”. But as we’re fond of saying in my house:

When do I get to see the god-damn sailboat?

When Do I Get To See The Sailboat?

When Do I Get To See The Sailboat?

I complain and bitch and threaten to break things and wonder if someone is cheating and can’t understand how the ref missed another call and of course they want the other team to win and why is my team always being picked to lose in the big games and do we need a new coach and do we need a new quarterback (the answer to those is almost always YES unless you cheer for about one of 5 teams – across all sports).

When? Just let me know… when?

Maybe next year…

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

I’m Really Sorry you Hate Sports

Here we are.

In the heart of football season.

Ascending to the World Series.

Ready to pop the cork on the NBA and NHL.

Pretty much the best time of a sports-lover’s year.

And all you wanna do is hate.

It’s that time of year when the hate feels especially strong. The stupid memes start popping up. People who previously seemed cool, nice, and maybe even enlightened decide to publicize their disgust with other people’s love of athletic competition. Pictures of cats, dogs, and kids on Facebook are replaced with comments about ‘Sportsball’ and intentional ignorance regarding ‘Putting balls into holes.’

Here are just a few of the dumb images I’ve seen during the last two weeks:

Both Teams Lose

Cute cat, but I only feel this way when the Packers play the Vikings.

Hate sports because

Yep. It’s the first one.

What Color Rooting

I’m pretty sure I beat this guy up in high school.

Look. I get it. A lot of people don’t like sports. I’m fine with it. Everything‘s not for everyone. Some people hate football, baseball, and all the rest. Others don’t like art. Or books. Or kids. Or shopping for shoes. Or cosplay. Or whatever. All of this is ok. As for me…I like almost everything. And the shit I don’t like is typically stuff like terrorism, politicians, or whatever the fuck this is. You’re allowed to like your stuff. And I’m allowed to like mine.

But here’s the thing: When you cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war against fun, you look stupid.

And when you hate on other people’s likes and lifestyles, you open yourself up to getting your ass kicked in the parking lot getting the hate hurled right back at you.

Consider these:

Video Games

Because playing video games makes you a total fucking loser. Just like watching sports. NOT.

Fat Nerd

What everyone automatically assumes a sports-hater looks like.

Nerds

Nerds: the ‘other’ N word. It’s cool to call yourself one. But when Ogre does it, you’d better cry ‘Bully!’

Remember back in the 80’s – 90’s when nerds, geeks, dorks, and DragonCon attendees pretty much lived on the bottom of the social rung? When being smart wasn’t nearly as cool as being popular, well-dressed, or athletic? I do. I remember it. Kids at every school I went to were picked on if they came across as nerdy or shy. Hell, watching some of these unlucky kids get beaten up, shaken down, and tormented on a daily basis probably had a lot to do with my sudden love of hitting the gym, getting tougher, and learning to love the beautiful, brotherhood-inducing thing called sports. And now that we’ve evolved past the nerd-hate, everything should be cool, right? Sports fans living beside LARP’ers. Athletes dating librarians. Dogs and cats…living together.

And yet, here’s some recent shit I’ve seen online from otherwise decent people:

A lady who LOVES cosplay (dressing up as her favorite superhero) ranting about how “stupid” football fans looked when they wear costumes and paint their faces for the game.  Hypocrite much?

A proud declaration that “Most athletes get paid WAY too much! And that’s why I hate ALL sports!”  The vast majority of pro athletes don’t get paid as much as you’d think. Consider minor leaguers, practice squad members, assistant coaches, trainers, rookies, etc. Only the very best get the big bucks, just like in, oh…I don’t know…every other profession.

A lady who bluntly stated that “Everyone in the NBA and NFL is a thug.”  – Wow. Racist much?

And the single stupidest post I’ve seen in a long while: “Sportsball. Ugh.”

* * *

I don’t think most people feel this way. I mean…sure…a lot of folks don’t care about ‘Sportsball,’ but nor do they feel the need to attempt some BS, double-reverse bullying attempt on social media. I think most people realize that a love of sports is the same as a love of anything else. Like books. Or tv shows. Or movies. Or zombie Pokémon porn. Or whatever. I guess what I can’t reconcile in my brain is why some people feel the need to shout their hate out. As if it’s somehow idiotic for me to admire the supreme physical skills of other humans. Or foolish to enjoy watching two evenly-matched teams fight for victory. I mean…shit…it’s not like we’re watching Nascar. Relax. I’m joking. I’m sure Nascar is awesome. It’s just not for me.

So how about you sport-haters and I strike a truce? You don’t make fun of me watching the fastest, strongest humans on the planet beating the ever-loving crap out of each other, and I won’t make fun of you for liking World of Warcraft, thinking comic book movies are cool, or not being able to pound out more than three push-ups. You promise to never utter the word ‘Sportsball’ again, and I swear to overlook the next thirty-four times you roll your eyes when I mention I’m gonna go, ‘Watch the Bears lose again.’

Deal?

Deal.

This PSA brought to you by a barbaric, Neanderthalish, MMA-loving, baseball-crushing, football-slingin’ sports nut…who despite being a mouth-breathing Sportsball fanatic found time to write more and paint more in 2015 than almost everyone else on the planet.

I’m just playin’.

Enjoy the game.

J Edward Neill

Living in a Baseball Paradise

 

The Rizz

Anthony Rizzo, definitive NL MVP candidate.

 

I know how this story ends.

Me. An empty glass on the table. A giant foam finger wilting on the floor.

And another season referred to as ‘lost‘ by sports reporters worldwide.

In case you didn’t know, I’m the world’s biggest Chicago Cubs fan. I bleed Cubbie blue. I live and die with every pitch. I allow my hopes, however small, to flourish in April and rot off the vine always usually by mid-July.

And yet here we are. September. The Cubs are ahead of their rebuilding schedule, or so say most of the pundits. A few weeks ago, they crushed the hometown (I live in Atlanta) Braves in a four-game sweep, outscoring the hapless Bravos 30-14 over the series. They swept the New York Mets 7-0 this year. They’ve improved from mediocre in April/May/June to downright threatening in the NL Central. They have two legitimate NL Rookie of the year candidates (Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber) a serious CY Young threat (Jake Arrieta) and a potential NL MVP winner (Anthony Rizzo.)

It’s been fun.

Arrieta

Jake Arrieta, first to 15 Wins in the NL this year.

Bryant

Kris Bryant, a bigger success than the Cubs even hoped for.

With the Cubs’ young hitters raking, the starters dealing (mostly) and the bullpen steady-ish, the team feels like an honest challenger to the St. Louis Cardinals…aka: Satan’s Lackeys.

But I’m not gonna hold ’em to it.

Because, like I said, I know how this story ends.

Look. Let’s be honest. Football season is here. Yeah…ok…the Bears suck. And yeah…ok…I should still be riding high after the Chicago Blackhawks 3rd Stanley Cup win in the last decade. Plus I live in the south, where every bar streams football at every hour. So if I wanted to, I could close my eyes to the Cubs and direct my attention to thousands of other sports-related distractions. It’d be easy. I could just tell myself, ‘They’ve got no real shot,’ or ‘They’re gonna get stuck in a one-game Wild-Card playoff and lose 3-1 to the Pittsburgh Pirates.’

I could do those things. Nobody could blame me. The guys at ESPN will tally another season of broken dreams (never mind the other 28 teams that’ll fail this year.) Fans will get over it by muttering, ‘Next year they’ll be even better.’ Because that’s the mantra Cubs’ fans use. ‘Next year. Next year. Next year,’ even though no such thing is promised. I mean, just look at the Nationals. Everyone thought this would be the year. Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer, and crew were supposed to blow everyone away.  And let’s not even talk about the Dodgers, armed with $400-billion dollars and multiple superstars, still losing out to the humble SF Giants, who’ve won 3 of the last 5 World Series’, by the way.

But you know what? I’m not gonna bail. F it. I’m all in.

If the Cubs fall short this year, and they probably will, I’m not gonna worry about next year. I’m gonna trumpet how fun this year has been. I’m gonna fly a Cubs’ banner from my front porch through Thanksgiving. I’m gonna drink my Friday-night bourbon from a crystalline Cubs’ glass. Because let’s face it, every year in every sport, most fans die hard. And by die hard, I’m emphasizing the die. Only 1 of 30 baseball teams tastes glory. Only 1 of 32 in football. And let’s not even talk about basketball, whose champion is decided about 17 years after the playoffs begin, meaning if your team sucks, you get to watch everyone else play forever before the next season begins.

 It’s been a tough year to be a Cubs’ devotee. And for a change it’s not because of their record. No, the hard part is that I have no television on which to watch them. No cable, no satellite, no my-kid-accidentally-ordered-the-MLB-package-so-now-I’m-paying-$250-to-watch-every-fucking-game-on-my-iPad. Last year and every year before it, I consumed every game possible.  I used to race home to catch the 9th inning or stay in on weekends to watch my team lose (again.) But this year, with the Cubs smashing, I’ve watched maybe a dozen games. And naturally, the one game I saw live (Cubs at Braves) turned out to be the only game Chicago lost against Atlanta this year. (They went 6-1 vs the Braves in 2015.)

So it’s true. I haven’t even caught most of the season. Thank gawd for the internet.

So. Yeah. I know how this story ends. I’m sure of it. I’m 100% positive. There’s no doubt. This isn’t the year.

We’ll lose the one-game playoff against Pittsburg.

Or crash and burn against hated St. Louis.

Or find a way to F up against teams we already smashed this year (New York, San Francisco, L.A.)

But it’s ok. At least for this Cubs’ fan. At least for this year. Because knowing the math and the odds are against my team, I’m going to measure success in a new way: If my hometown heroes win more than they lose, I’m gonna pretend this year was a total success. Why not? I mean…seriously. And you’d better believe, after all the years we spent as the Atlanta Braves’ little bitch, I’m gonna soak up beating the crap out of them in 2015. Until April 1st next year, there will be shit-talking. And lots of it.

Hey Chicago, whaddya say? The Cubs are gonna WIN today!

And as a side-note, I’m trying to get my kid into Little League this year. Apparently he wants to play for the Atlanta Batmen. Whatever. At least he’s got his daddy’s arm. And at least he finally declared, Daddy, the Cubs are the GOOD guys!

GVP

Sigh. If only he were a lefty.

Ok. I promise; no more sports articles this year.

Unless the Bears are good, which they won’t be.

See ya,

J Edward Neill

Coffee Table Philosopher

Huey Lewis and the News Know All About This Subject

Yes, we’ve all seen it now. It’s 2015, the year that Miami will beat Chicago in the World Series. The year that we’ll have fax machines everywhere once again to randomly drop their messages on the floor… I mean, rather than using email or something crazy, right?

Oh, and it is the year that we’ll finally get a flying car… so that’s something to look forward to.

Back to the Future 2 sees our old pal Marty McFly use this:

Almanacfront

to try and get ahead of the game (literally). He figures it could turn into some walking cash if he knows all the outcomes to the games. And really, its not a horrible idea. I mean, it wasn’t his fault Old Biff stole the DeLoren and took the book back in time and created an alternate timeline.

But we’ve all had that thought about if only we knew the outcome of some game then maybe, just maybe we’d bet on it and clean up.

But I actually have a different use for my time machine. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go back and change it so your grandparents never meet and you cease to exist… that’s not on my agenda. Instead I want to use it for a more nefarious plan:

I want to change the outcomes of a couple of baseball games so that my team wins them instead of loses them.

A little aside. If you aren’t from Atlanta or live in Atlanta you may not be aware of the amount of crap that our city takes from people in other towns. Whether it is the amount of opposing fans in a stadium or not selling out playoff games or how they can’t understand why it is college football which reigns down here. From the various blogs and radio shows and just talking to people… they don’t get it.

Braves

However, one of the biggest knocks on the city from a sports stand point is that in the 1990s when the Atlanta Braves seemed to go to the World Series every year… well, they only won 1.

I aim to fix that. I want to go back to game 4 of the 1996 World Series and convince Bobby Cox not to put Mark Wohlers in the game (at least not to face Jim Leyritz). If he isn’t there, then maybe, just maybe the Braves hold off the late inning charge from the Yankees. Leyritz doesn’t hit that home run and suddenly the Braves have a 3 to 1 game lead (which I would assume would be enough to get a win in the next 3 games).

That would be enough, I think. Enough to ensure that when people speak of the Braves they’d say, “Hey they won 2 World Series in a row… that was a good enough outcome for their run.”

But somehow I think there would still be naysayers. Those who think that making the playoffs doesn’t mean much. Those that don’t understand that nothing is a given in those situations. They would never let it rest. It would be more of the “well, yeah, but they ONLY won 2.”

Sigh…

So I guess I have to find them 1 more. And I think the series in 1991 might be it. They lost in 7 games to the Twins, but maybe if I can find Ron Gant and let him know that he shouldn’t round first because on his way back to the base he’ll be LIFTED OFF THE BASE by Ken Hrbek! Or maybe I could go to Game 7 and tell Lonnie Smith to run as hard as he can and not pay attention to Chuck Knoblauch as he rounds second base. That would have been a game winner there.

I mentioned this to my wife at dinner this past weekend and she laughed at my use of the time machine. And then paused before asking if I would help any other teams? Those who had been seemingly cursed over the years? And I smiled at her and told her… NO.

Let those guys build their own time machine to fix their teams. I mean, I can’t go running around breaking John Elway’s leg so that he doesn’t have THE DRIVE against Cleveland. I can’t slap the Refs in the “Tuck Rule Game”, can I?

time-travel-evidence

I mean, I’m only one person with a time machine. And there is the thought that I’d mess up the time stream too much. No, I have to focus this power and use it for my own purposes instead of others. So I can’t help those other teams, I’m sorry.

Well, except for Steve Bartman. I might find a way to help that poor guy out from every reaching for that foul ball. That same poor guy who has a wiki page devoted to his moment (here). A guy who had to have police protection because of other crazy fans (that’s why they are called fanatics I guess). Whether the Cubs end up going to the World Series and breaking their own curse, I don’t know, but I think in that moment me and Steve are going to be grabbing a hotdog and something to drink.

It is the least I can do given that I have a time machine!

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. Each episode is only $0.99. But you can go ahead and purchase the full novel (all 6 episodes) right now for $4.99 with the above link!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

J Sporting News

SnapThis1

What does this image have to do with the post? Absolutely nothing.

 

It’s hard being a sports fan. Damn hard.

Sometimes I wish I could stop, turn off the TV, take a long walk, and ignore the plights of all my favorite teams.

No. That’s not even a little bit true. I never wish that.

 I’m a diehard Chicago fan (except for the Sox…hate those guys.) I bleed Cubbie Blue, live and die by the health of Derrick Rose’s knee, love and hate Jay Cutler, and boil with pride for the Blackhawks. But whatever team you like, whatever city you’re from, odds are you know how hard it is. To watch someone else’s team carve deep into the postseason, to endure your hated rivals hoisting a trophy, to be excited at kickoff…and completely gutted by the middle of the third quarter. It sucks something awful. We’ve all been there. 

Such is a sports fan’s life.

So let’s start by talking about football. My personal favorite, the NFL. Violent. Barbaric. Crueler on its players than any other game. Gloriously inglorious. Perfect and imperfect.

I love it.

Over the last few years, I’ve heard, read, and endured hundreds of reports and sound bites regarding the health of the NFL’s players. About concussions, CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy,) ragged knees, spinal injuries, and retirements ruined by pain. About how someday it’ll all come crashing down. I’ve followed Peter King’s columns, SI.com, and the metric ton of non-news news ESPN heaps upon us every day.

‘Wear better helmets,’ some cry out.

‘Too violent!‘ claim others.

‘They knew what they were getting into! Look at how much money they get paid!‘ many fans will declare. 

Ultimately, who really cares? Not me. And statistically speaking, not you either. NFL ratings are higher than ever in the history of the game. If any of us are really all that bothered by a game played by wife-beaters, drunk-drivers, and future invalids, it really doesn’t show up on Sunday (Or Saturday, Monday, and Thursday.) This being the case, we should all stand up and ask sports reporters around the USA to let it go. Let’s talk about the game and only the game. Let’s let the drama die. Scrutinize any cross-section of Americans and you’ll find out all sorts of awful details you didn’t want to know. The NFL is no different. If it dies one day due to its violent legacy, so be it. But until then, most of us have proven we still love it when someone gets de-cleated on the gridiron. Especially if it’s Aaron Rodgers

CutButt

“This game is hard. Especially when you turn the ball over four times in two quarters.”

 Ok baseball, you’re up next. I’m here to say that I love you. Your purity, your pace, your elegance.

But you’re really getting on my nerves.  

I want to talk about a number. The number is 162. The amount of games each team plays (not including Grapefruit/Cactus League games.) Used to be I loved that on any given day from April-September I could turn on the boob-tube and watch the Cubs get crushed. Used to be I craved the feeling that the season would never end.

Not any more. 162 is just too many damn games. By a long shot.

Would it be blasphemy to say that the average MLB game doesn’t mean a f’n thing? Is it weird that even the most spectacular win or heartbreaking loss only amounts to 0.61% of each season? What if I told you that if each team played two three-game home-and-away series’ with every other team in their half of the league, the season could be a brisk, snappy 84 games long? Does it really take 162 to decide which teams aren’t even the best, but simply worthy of entering a three-round tournament that could take up to 19 more games to find a winner? No. It doesn’t.

Why are NFL and College Football games so damn thrilling? Because each one can make or break a season. Lose one NFL game and that’s 6.25% of your season. Lose a college football game and that’s 8%. Gone. Done. Untouchable. My plea to the MLB is to chop the season in half. Please. Run two 82-game seasons every year if you have to. Have a World Series in July and another in October. But for the love of god, don’t make me watch Cubs baseball (games 108-162) in August and September. We’re already 17 games out. What’s the fucking point?

 End baseball rant. Truth is; I’m really enjoying the postseason. The one-game Wild Card playoffs are kinda sorta what inspired my shorter season hopes. And how about that Royals v A’s game?? Needed new underwear after that one.

 Ok. So lets talk about the upcoming NBA season. Anyone? Ugh. Never mind.

What about hockey? Are Patrick Kane and the boys gonna dig deep and make another Cup run? Or will it be the Kings? The Bruins? Hello? Anyone listening? Oh, that’s right. I live in Georgia, home of exactly seventeen NHL hockey fans.

Good sports things going on right now:
Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Alex Smith, Steve Smith Sr., Alshon Jeffrey, Antone Smith, Eric Hosmer, The f’n Orioles, Derrick Rose’s knee (for now,) the Yellow Jackets, Notre Dame, the Gators sucking, Jeter’s final at bat.

Bad sports things going on right now:

Wife/GF beaters (don’t even deserve mentions,) UGA Football, Oregon Football, everything happening in Jacksonville, FL, the Texas Rangers, the Chicago Bears defense, almost every NFL team’s defense, Geno Smith, sideline reporting, NFL halftime shows, beer commercials, car commercials, mutha f’n GEICO commercials, the Cardinals being in the NLCS, the Packers being in first place, and Lebron getting traded to another team in the same goddamn division as the Bulls.

That’s it for now. Go buy this and this.

Love, 

J Edward Neill

Put Me In Coach, I’m Ready to Play

The following is about baseball and me betraying my math inclined side of my brain.

But mostly it is about baseball.

Of all the sports, I believe that Baseball is the one most steeped in mysticism. There is a magic about it, sure, but more than that, I think there is something to all the superstitions and whatnot. More than any other sport, it is the one that focuses so much on numbers. As science has gotten better and better, they have managed to distill the game into an algorithm. And the math side of my brain loves this idea – solving baseball.

We have movies celebrating this idea.

field-of-dreams

But the other half of my brain wonders about sucking out the mystery of the game. Where a nobody can turn into a somebody, if only for one at bat. Where we value a player because he only fails 70% of the time. Where a pitcher can attempt to do something that only 23 other players have ever done: pitch a perfect game. Think about that. In over 100 years only 23 people have played the game perfectly. I look at the list and see names that are steeped in lore, but there are other names on there who I don’t immediately recognize.

How do you solve for that?

At some point tomorrow night (I’m writing this sometime on Monday) I’ll be settling in to watch the Baseball All-Star Game. I don’t always watch the All-Star game. As much as I love baseball, the game doesn’t mean the same to me it did years ago…

Wait – this isn’t one of those things where I say such and such was better back in the day. It wasn’t better. In fact, it was pretty much the same. The difference is that I’m not 10 anymore. The thrill of seeing an Atlanta Brave in the game is still cool, but there was something more to it when I was younger. The one thing I seemed to be able to count on was Dale Murphy being on the tv at some point during the All Star Game. As bad as the Braves were (and boy were they awful), I knew one of our team would be out there.

1986DaleMurphyDonrussCard1

I have this card upstairs.

Which is why I’m always amazed when I hear the sports talk machine complaining (bitching) about the fact that each team has to be represented. So that means 15 of your spots are automatically taken. They say that someone is going to be left off the team that deserves to be there… and maybe they are right. But considering the sheer amount of injuries that happen to players, it is not that uncommon for 3rd, 4th, or 5th alternates to get invited to play as well.

So that “loser” from the “loser” team, did they really take someone’s place? Not really.

Just like when the NCAA Basketball tournament has to decide on cutting the 67, 68, & 69th teams, there is always going to be someone annoyed at a choice.

Here’s my counter argument that throws stats and logic out the window. An argument that tries to look at the purpose of this mid-summer classic.

And no, it is not because “this time it counts”. That is the dumbest thing about the All-Star Game. Home field given to the league who wins… ugh.

I think back to a time when I was happy to see that at least Dale Murphy was going to be on the All Star team. There would be one player from MY TEAM who would make it worth while to watch.

In a time when baseball’s ratings get trounced by the new American pastime (football), why would you want to exclude ANY fan base from watching the game? It wouldn’t make any sense.

More than that, who is to say that the “loser”, that one guy who was the last one to make the team… what if it just happens to be a magical night for him? Don’t you think there will be some 10-year-old out there who sees that and forever falls in love with this silly game of hitting a ball with a stick?

left-brain-right-brain

Logic and stats and numbers be damned when it comes to baseball. Something else moves the ball through the grass. Some bit of wind carries a fly ball higher and farther than it was supposed to go. And the guy who wasn’t supposed to be there… well, maybe tonight is his night.

We shall see.

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and now the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program. He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

The Dark That Follows is now available in print here or on Amazon!

Summer is coming. Baseball is here.

MLB-Logo-90

You know Easter and Vesak and Samhain and Diwalli,
MLK, Purim and Christmas with holly.
But I would trade them all,
For my most favorite holiday of all…

Today is Opening Day.

The first day of the Major League Baseball season.

It is a day of tradition, ritual, excitement, and anxiety.

And, above all else, it is a day of hope.

Every team starts with a blank slate, no wins, no losses, with the World Series open to anyone other than the Mets or the Astros. It is the first day you get to see your team in its entirety, with your best pitcher on the mound and the strongest (healthy) position players in the field. It is the day your faith in your team is renewed, convinced that this is THE year. Every year is THE year.

Until it’s not.

Today is Game #1 of a 162 game season. The marathon begins.

I’m not here to espouse the merits of baseball. Some people don’t love it. That’s okay. I mean, they’re dirty communist ignorant shit-pigs, but it’s still okay. Most baseball fans, at least those of the hardcore variety, feel a deep-seeded love of the game that they themselves struggle to explain. I won’t go so far as to call it a religion, although others have. It certainly feels like it at times. And, if it is, then today is its High Holy Day.

How to I celebrate this most hallowed of days?

Well…

phillips-barehand-grab-tribe-2012-apjpg-6720abb402b918c5logovotto

You see, I have a team. I’m not a believer in rooting for multiple clubs. My family and friends are mostly Atlanta Braves fans and, while I find myself pulling for them for their sakes, I am definitely not a fan. At best I can be called a “Braves sympathizer”.

f893e41452d64ac28729de52e8d79ee0-d5d18510fcf146699a33ce7700ef561b-2My team has been so as long as I can remember. I grew up in eastern Ohio, on the opposite side of the state from the Queen City, but my father and maternal grandfather passed down to me (baseball team loyalty is usually either hereditary or geographical in its cause) an allegiance to the Cincinnati Reds that I will take with me to the grave.

Anyone who knows me in real life knows this. Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows this. During the season, it is the single biggest thing on my mind outside of work and family, although sometimes it does surpass those. It certainly does today.

Because today is Opening Day. I do not work on Opening Day. I do not venture outside of the house. I only leave the couch to get food or go to the bathroom. I don’t answer phone calls. I make no attempt to be productive. I am all-consumed by the return of my favorite sport.

Holy shit. It’s Opening Day.

GABP-117I’m am not what you would call a superstitious man. That implies believing in supernatural forces and I really don’t do that. But baseball players and fans are very superstitious and I am more than happy to play along. Therefore, I do have Opening Day traditions that I follow every year. Like hiding dyed eggs or lighting the menorah, my holiday isn’t complete without the following:

 hatlacesshirt

GEAR. Before the beginning of every season I buy a new Reds hat. I wear it for the first time on Opening Day. I usually go for a throwback cap, something from the Cooperstown Collection, a replica based on what teams wore in the past. I’ve worn caps originating anywhere from the 1860’s to the 1970’s. This year, though, I’ve gone with a 2014 On-Field Road Cap (size 7 3/8). It’s the same hat the players will be wearing when they travel. Some of my friends have their “lucky cap” that they wear every year, no matter what disgusting state it is in, but to me each year brings with it a new team and deserves a new cap. Until, of course, the Reds when the World Series, then that year’s cap will become my lucky cap for life. I try to ride out each hat for the full season but have been known to switch at the All-Star Break if I don’t like the way my team played the first half.

Also on Opening Day, I string up my best pair of Chucks with bright red laces from Journeys. I only wear them during the season, returning to boring old white after the Reds are no longer in contention.

The shirt above is not new; I got it last year. But it is of my all-time favorite Red, the great Eric Davis, who, if it weren’t for multiple injuries that sidetracked his career, would almost certainly be in the Hall of Fame. I love this shirt. And I refuse to think it brings bad luck.

Not pictured: my socks and boxer briefs. You can probably guess what color they are, too.

 franks bunsjacks

FOOD. I don’t really like hot dogs. They’re pretty gross. Deformed little imitators of their much grander cousin, the sausage. I avoid them at all costs, except for 5-6 days a year: The Fourth of July, the 3-4 Reds games I get to see live every season living out here on the West Coast, and Opening Day. Last night I went to Safeway and got a pack of hot dogs, a pack of buns, a white onion, a jar of relish, and made sure I was stocked up on ketchup and plain yellow mustard. Throughout the day, I will throw hotdogs on the Foreman, dress them up, and devour them. They will be my breakfast, lunch, and probably dinner. At the end of the day I will feel gross and bloated. But the smell of them in the air, the combination of mustard and onions and bread and relish and nitrates in my mouth, it all makes me feel very baseball-y.

Crackerjacks, despite being sung about during every Seventh Inning Stretch, aren’t as easy to find as you’d think. Which is okay because I’m not sure I like them either. If I can get hold of a box, I do. If not, I’m more than satisfied to rely on a big bag of whole peanuts to snack on between dogs.

figuresjunkcards

TOTEMS. Think of this as my nativity scene. I bring out my figures of Reds greats Joe Morgan and Johnny Bench as well as current-Red superstar Joey Votto, alongside a few other useless trinkets. My printed-autograph ball from the mid-eighties team. A Votto bobblehead. Pez dispenser. Mr. Potato Red. And a jar of home plate dirt from last year’s season opener that my cousin Phil sent me. I lay these things out on my entertainment center, my coffee table. Just for the day. Then they go back to where they belong, displayed in my office.

I also buy baseball cards. I’m not a collector of them, at least not anymore, but before and throughout the season I buy a pack here and there, hoping to find a Red or two in them. This year so far I’ve gotten really lucky with my haul: seven Reds before the season has even started. I’ll still grab a few more packs, though, before the year is done. I use the non-Reds cards as bookmarks and other sundry things, unless they are members of the St. Louis Cardinals. In that case, they must be destroyed.

burn

Did you think I was kidding?

(If anyone has a Topps 2014 Aroldis Chapman, Brandon Phillips, or Mat Latos, I’ll gladly take them off your hands.)

mlbatbatxfinity-mlb-network-large-5

INPUT. (JOHNNY-5 VOICE:) IN-PUUUUUT. This is not really an Opening Day thing but a Whole Season Thing. The ways I prefer to experience baseball are ranked as followed: 1) At the Ballpark 2) On the Radio 3) On TV 4) Digital Play-by-Play. The MLB At Bat app for iOS and Android is my best friend during the season. Twenty bucks for the whole season, both regular and post, it’s a one-stop location for everything MLB. News, scores, standing, stats, schedules, video highlights, a graphical pitch-by-pitch tracker that takes you through every play of the game in real-time. But far and away my favorite function of At Bat is the ability to listen to the radio broadcast of every game, every day, using either the home or away broadcasts.

This is huge for me. I live over 2000 miles away from my team’s home ballpark. I only get to see them in person when they come to California (I’ve seen them at San Diego, Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Francisco). I rarely get them on television and I obviously don’t get the local radio broadcasts. But with At Bat, I do. I can hear Cincinnati broadcasters Marty Brennaman and Jeff Brantley call all 162 games of the year; I listen to 120 of them at least. It makes me feel like I’m there. Part of the fan base. And, like I said above, I’d rather listen to a baseball game than watch it on TV. I’m not sure why that is but it just is. Maybe it’s the purist in me. Faux nostalgia for a time in which I never lived. I don’t know. But it really is the best.

Not to say I don’t want to see video. The MLB app provides video highlights as the game is being played and I do watch the Reds on the rare occasion they’re on national TV (although I usually mute the game and listen to Cincinnati radio instead). And then there’s the MLB Network. There are three channels in my cable package that I consciously pay more money to have: HBO, Showtime, and the MLB Network. I generally dislike sports media these days, “The Dan Patrick Show” excluded, and sometimes the MLB Network flirts dangerously close to the ‘men yelling at each other about useless shit’ model that has made ESPN unwatchable. But during “MLB Tonight”, their biggest show that runs in prime time nearly every evening, it’s pure baseball bliss. A combination of journalists and former ballplayers talk you through the day’s slate of games. Not entirely in retrospective highlights, but with live look-ins to all of the games currently being played. I may only have one team that I cheer for, but I am interested in all of them. I don’t just love Reds baseball; I love all baseball. I’m addicted to it. And “MLB Tonight” mainlines it into my veins every night to feed the monkey.

*****

I don’t think any of these things -the clothes, the food, the totems- actually help the Reds win games. Again, I’m only pretending to be superstitious. But it’s fun to pretend and imagine that I actually have a spiritual hand in the fate of my team. Either way, like the traditions and rituals of most holidays, I find comfort and peace in the familiarity. Buying a new cap means BASEBALL IS COMING. Downloading the MLB app onto my phone means BASEBALL IS COMING. Biting into a gross but full-loaded hotdog means BASEBALL IS BACK.

If you don’t share my love of baseball, I’m sure this all seems utterly ridiculous.

But I know a few friends of mine will understand completely.

bruceSo at the very moment this is posting, Monday March 31st, at 1:10 pm, PST, the first pitch of the Reds’ season is being thrown in their home, Great American Ballpark, against the evil, foul, disgusting, dirty baby-eaters known as the St. Louis Cardinals. Will the Redlegs make it to the Series this year? Just like with every team, the odds are against it. Will they run away with their division or will they be out of it by the All Star Break? Or are we in for a crazy last couple weeks where every game, every out, every pitch is a factor in their survival? Who will break out as a star? Whose skills will start to decline? Will the pitching staff stay healthy? Does our new manager have what it takes?

Outside of the Reds, what other drama will the season bring?  Will the Sox return strong after their World Series win? Will the Yankees rise to the challenge and send their Captain off with one last ring? Will teams like Washington, Anaheim and, yes, Cincinnati, bounce back after disappointing years and play like the contenders that so many think they should be? How many no-hitters will we see? Will there be a perfect game?

I have no damn idea.

Some things are about the journey. Some things are about the destination.

For me, the epic marathon that is the Major League Baseball season is equally both.

And I can’t believe it’s finally here.

Now. Let’s play some fucking ball.

Hasa Diga Eebowai

photo (1)

Ugh.

Ugh. Not you again.

photo (1)

I don’t feel like writing. Not this, not anything. Sometimes it happens. There isn’t one part of me that wants to be in front of this keyboard. My eyes hurt; I’m tired. I just got my daughter down for a nap: we’ll see how long that lasts. I’m just not feeling it right now and the monitor of my laptop is staring at me like an asshole I want to punch in its stupid face.

I am writing to fulfill my obligation to my friends/guildmates and nothing more.

As I type this sentence I have no idea what the next one is going to be. I started working on a post about the time I worked for Quentin Tarantino and about his recent controversy but it’s not done and it’s not going to be done today. I’ll do it next week. Man, I don’t want to be writing right now at the moment.

(I didn’t like the internal ‘write’/’right’ rhyme.)

So, because I don’t want to write, I will write.

Come on. Words words words. Mary had a little lamb. Little lamb. The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain. Soylent Green is people. Darkness. Imprisoning me. All that I see. Absolute horror. I cannot live. I cannot die. Trapped in myself. Body my holding cell. Yeah-uh!

(Editor’s Note from the future: There does end up being a point to this. So bear with me.)

Let’s see. Come on…

Peyton ManningThat Super Bowl sucked, didn’t it? I was about 50-50 on who was going to win and despite my hatred of the Broncos (any fellow Browns fan will understand) I sort of wanted Peyton Manning to get another ring. Apparently, he didn’t want to. Holy cow. Any sporting event is boring if one of the teams doesn’t bother to show up. I bet even some Seahawks fans were somewhat disappointed. That was plain awful.

The game being yesterday did stir up some frustration for me. Geeks have spent their whole life defending what they love, protesting that they shouldn’t be looked down up on and shit on for loving comic books or video games or science-fiction. And we’ve pretty much won that war. If the geeks have not inherited the Earth, we sure as hell, for better or worse, inherited popular entertainment.

But there’s a trend amongst geekdom that is such hypocritical nonsense. It’s okay to dislike sports. It’s okay to not watch sports. It’s okay to say “I don’t watch sports” when someone brings it up. But there are so many who cannot WAIT to tell you how much they hate sports and how stupid the people who like them are. They cannot WAIT to tell you what they’re doing instead of watching the Super Bowl. They cannot WAIT to make sure you know they are only watching it for the commercials. They cannot WAIT to Tweet about the fucking Puppy Bowl. They cannot WAIT to make their “Go Sports! Kick that ball through the hoop for a goal!” jokes that are hacky and lame.

So a group whose entire plight (and I use that term relatively. this is largely a group of privledged white boys and girls) was being derided for liking the things they like are now using any occasion to deride the things other people like. Part of me gets it. I was picked on by jocks in high school, too. But guess what? That jock who beat me up? I’m damn sure he went and saw The Avengers. Your teenage years are a fucked up time and I’m way too old to worry about how people acted towards me when we were kids. I was a dick as a kid. So were you. Ask the other three members of this site if I was a perfect person, a beacon of kindness and friendship and caring, when I was sixteen. They would laugh in your face. We were all fuckwads in high school. We were just all different types of fuckwads.

Like sports. Don’t like sports. Fine. But you are a damn hypocrite when the first thing you do on Super Bowl Sunday is run to your Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr and tell EVERYONE how dumb they are for liking sports. Bite me. You are traitors to the principles of geek culture, nerdy little Fidel Castros, overthrowing a dictator only to become dictators yourselves. (Okay that’s real dumb and hyperbolic but hypocrisy is something that infuriates me. Especially in myself. It’s part of me like it’s part of everybody.)

Inclusion works both ways. Other people can enjoy what they want to enjoy and it doesn’t affect you one iota. Let it be. Don’t watch the game, but don’t make fun of people who do. You are no longer geeks. You are hipsters. That’s what hipsters do. Do you really want to be a hipster? While you’re at it, stop watching shows you know you hate just so you can hate on them more accurately. I stopped watching “Heroes” midway through the second season and never looked back, not even ironically. Don’t like “Game of Thrones”? Just dandy. Don’t tune in every week just so you can tell me what you hate about it. That makes you a giant dick.

(The funny thing is so many of them absolutely love MMA and UFC and fill up my Twitter stream every Saturday with accounts of thugs beating the shit out of each other for their enjoyment. And then turn around and complain that everyone is talking about football on Sundays. MMA’s a sport, idiots. YOU LIKE SPORTS.)

I’ll end this dumb rant with a Tweet I sent out a few days ago that is my final word:

“I enjoy both the Super Bowl and the Oscars, but am neither a date rapist nor a homosexual.”

We’ve taken a rejection of ‘us and them’ and turned it into ‘them and us’.

I’m this close to turning in my geek card. Traitors.

What else?

So, speaking of Oscars, Phil Hoffman died. Fucking tragedy. Really. I was devastated. Had to leave the house and walk around the block to dry my tears (although it was raining and it didn’t do much good). He was easily one of the two or three best actors working in film today. He wasn’t even 50. Just a shame.

Quick note: several people yesterday claimed the opinion of  “He was using heroin. Fuck him. He should know better. I mean, he has kids!”. Chemical dependency is not a choice, not something people can be reasoned out of. I am lucky enough to have never gone through it, except for maybe caffeine, but have been touched by friends who have and I tell you it’s not something you can chalk up to a “bad life decision”. Addiction never leaves you and can come back to destroy you at any moment. It is a constant battle.

You never beat addiction; the best case scenario is that you play it to a draw.

Philip-SeymourMy favorite Phil Hoffman performance, and I think every one is worth watching, is as Phil the Nurse in Magnolia. In a film chock full of crazy, conflicted, selfish, distraught, sad characters, Phil is a beacon of good and love. He radiates caring in a way I’ve never seen on screen. His quest to find a dying man’s estranged son is pure selflessness and the way Hoffman portrays it is heartbreakingly genuine and beautiful. I know Tom Cruise got all the attention (and nominations) for that film but the true masterstroke in P.T. Anderson’s epic of anxiety and helplessness is Hoffman’s nurse, who Anderson named “Phil” because he knew exactly who he would be casting in the role.

If I were to hold a Phillip Seymour Hoffman memorial film festival, I would watch the following:

Magnolia
The Talented Mr. Ripley
Synecdoche, New York
Charlie Wilson’s War
Capote
and Almost Famous, where he plays the legendary Lester Bangs and steals every moment he is on screen.

And nearly every other film that he made. Although I thought that DeNiro one was pretty bad. And Savages was garbage.

Rest in Peace, Phil. A peace it seems you had a hard time finding in life. I didn’t know you, so I can’t mourn like your family and friends. I can only mourn the passing of a legend and bemoan the fact that there won’t be any more Phillip Seymour Hoffman performances (after the last Hunger Games comes out). A damn, damn shame.

So I didn’t want to write anything and here I am coming up on 1500 words.

Hey! Maybe I found a point.

A writer should write every day. If it’s ten words or three thousand, you should put something down. If it’s nonsense or if it’s gold. If it’s a useless blog post or the final touches on your masterpiece. I truly did not want to sit down and do this. I had nothing to say. I still don’t, really. But I did it anyway. I typed and typed and typed and typed.

I forced my brain to expel letters, form words, construct sentences, build paragraphs, express thoughts. It didn’t matter about what: I rambled about the Super Bowl and a dead movie star. But I got it down, got through it. Broke through that wall.

And you know what?

I think now I’m going to be able to get some work done on Chapter 6 of my book.

I wouldn’t have said that an hour ago. All I wanted to do today was sit my fat ass in front of the TV and see if that new “Black Sails” show is any good, catch up on “Brooklyn Nine Nine”, and maybe dive into the new Blu-ray of my favorite silent film, FW Murnau’s Sunrise: A Tale of Two Humans.

But now my fingers are limber. My brain is a little more awake. I realize I am capable of forming thoughts today. Maybe not great ones, but one doesn’t need greatness to work on a first draft. You only need the will and the time.

So I guess this post will go down under the category of ‘writing advice’, although in sort of a meta way. This has been a document of me writing myself out of my not-wanting-to-write mood. When the last thing you want to do in the world is write, get writing.

I promise I’ll be back next week with an actual post. Most likely that piece about Quentin Tarantino: the man, the filmmaker, and the lightning rod.

Now, onto Chapter Six.

Shit. The baby’s waking up.

Chapter Six will have to wait until the afternoon nap.

-chad

PS – If you don’t understand the title of this post, look it up. It was the first thought I had when I learned about the passing of Mr. Hoffman.

Atlanta will never be a baseball town

We are only a few weeks away from the worst time to be a sports fan. The Super Bowl will be over and with it another season of futility for my Miami Dolphins. We’ll have the better part of a month to wish it was March and therefore time to fill out our tournament brackets with any number of theories on why this team or that one will end up in the Final Four. You will try to convince yourself that just because you did not watch one minute of college basketball up to that point that your opinions should still be valid.

But really we’re all just biding time until Baseball and Opening Day.

I’ve spent most of my life in Georgia in one form or another (minus about a year or so in Florida when I was 4 and about 2 weeks in Virginia) so there is only one baseball team as far as I am concerned:

The Atlanta Braves.

Braves

Forgive the flash, though it landed right where the tomahawk hit…

This is my favorite picture hanging in my house. I’ve had it since 1991 when my mom got it framed for me. It’s gone with me through a handful of moves, but I always make sure to find a place for it.

While I know the exact point in time that I became a Miami Dolphins fan (January 23, 1983 The Miami Dolphins defeated the NY Jets in the AFC Championship game and that was all it took – I shudder to think what would have happened had the game gone the other way), I have no idea when I became a Braves fan. At some point it became a part of my conscious, surely helped by lots of readily available viewings on TBS.

But it was probably cemented by the trips to Atlanta I spent with my Dad. We would do a week there, and then a week in south Georgia with my relatives. During that Atlanta week we’d see the Braves at least twice (there might have been even one year where we saw them three times). Looking back I can’t say I remember any specific game that we went to, though I remember seeing them play the Padres at some point (possibly more than once). At one point I even knew their record in games I went to (for such a terrible team during most of the 80s, they tended to win more than they lost when I was there), though that knowledge is long since lost from the recesses of my mind.

I remember my Dad telling me stories about the Braves though. “Did you know that Dale Murphy used to play catcher?” “Did you know that Pascual Perez once got lost on I-285?” (It is the perimeter around the center and he never got off… just kept going in a circle).

And I knew I would get a chance to see Dale Murphy play. In person. Number 3. Your starting center fielder for the Atlanta Braves (maybe he’ll hit a home run!).

In Waycross, Georgia (the largest city, in the largest county, in the largest state… east of the Mississippi – look it up) (where I lived) you better believe that Braves cards were gotten at a premium. But a Dale Murphy? That was the end game. You opened pack after pack in hopes of seeing #3.

Dale Murphy Baseball Card

I’m pretty sure I have this one… sadly it is not worth what it once was.

Mercifully much of the 80s Braves, for me, is tied less to their record and more to their baseball cards. And it really remained that way until 1991.

But in 1991 it all changed. I remember how that season made every single person a Braves fan. I went to our High School Homecoming football game and people were doing the tomahawk chop (by the way, yes we stole it from Florida State… who cares, most of those people were Braves fans anyway). People would honk their horns and stick their arms out the window. And every night as the season progressed I’d look in the paper to see if the Dodgers had won the night before.

And when they won the division? And then when they won the NL? It was ridiculous. There is no other words to describe it. And had Ron Gant not been pulled off the bag by Hrbek, well… (no, I’m not still bitter about it 22 plus years later).

Still, they were not the losers anymore.

For the next decade plus we got treated to seeing one of the greatest rotations of all time. I don’t know that I even realized it until it was close to over at the end of the 90s. Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz under Bobby Cox’s managing brought wins to a town starved for them. It is a fine thing to accomplish winning, but when you win as much as they did and make it where people are slightly bored of the winning (not me, but some). That is a true accomplishment. They turned the Atlanta Braves into a model for how to win.

Last week two of those three were voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. And while I would join my voice in with the people who feel Maddux should have been a unanimous decision (if not for people gaming the system), I’m too excited about the prospect of this years ceremony being so Braves focused.  Though there is a bit of weird timing as this year will be the first without any true tie to those division winning teams (Brian McCann leaving to become a Yankee) is the same year where a huge reason for their being a streak will get their honor by all of the baseball world. I guess it really is the end of an era.

And yeah, maybe we only won the 1 World Series, but being it the thick of it every year, having a chance… I’ll take that all day long.

Braves Pitchers

Smoltz will be in there shortly with you guys.

So thanks Bobby, Greg, and Tom. Get the place ready because we’ve got two more of your teammates (John Smoltz and Chipper Jones) coming to really give the Hall a nice Braves feel

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

 

Dear _ _ _ ,

writing-letter

Dear _ _ _ ,

I hate writing you this letter. A decade ago, five years ago, it would have been unthinkable. I would have never thought I’d be writing these words. But the last few years have been hard for me, and I can no longer deny it:

I’m not in love with you anymore.

It happens. To everyone at some point. You fall in love. Hard. The object of your affection becomes the only thing you can think about. You can’t sleep. You can’t eat. You want to know absolutely everything about your love, inside and out. The time you spend together, well, it’s electrifying. Comforting. Glorious. You invest your emotions so wholly that if anything goes wrong, you feel it for a week.

Because for every cheer there is a rolling tear; for every pleasure, there is lingering pain.

But without the droughts, the showers wouldn’t be nearly as sweet.

You and I have been in this relationship for a very long time. To be honest, it’s been hard on me. You have not been kind. Sometimes you’ve been flat-out mean. There have of course been some amazing times, but more than anything you have been a cruel tease: every time I felt as if magic was going to happen, you yanked it away from me.

snoopy

But it’s not the pain that brings me to write this letter. As a wise and dashing dread pirate once told us: “Life is pain…anyone who says differently is selling something.”

No, the reason this long-overdue letter is being written now is simple.

We’ve changed.

It’s not you.

It’s not me.

It’s us.

I’m a guy that likes to arrange my thoughts in bullet points. I know that seems rather formal and cold given the delicate nature of this communication, but it’s the best way to explain how I feel. So the following is an itemized list of why we cannot be an…item…anymore.

1) You are both too violent and not violent enough.

ALeqM5jOgcX3DOZ256fvvETFrLkRIaY_eQap61395003898full16513a905058d51e3c0f6a7067002853

You are by your very nature a brute. A rampaging, violent freak that smells of blood and sweat. You thrive on carnage,  and whether it’s broken bones or crushing blows to the head, you know how to throw down. And every year you get stronger and you get faster and you get more intense and every time I watch you I’m afraid someone is going to get killed.

That shit used to turn me on.

But you’re starting to change your behavior. And I appreciate that. You’re doing things to curb this facet of your personality. You will never be a pacifist, but at least you are trying to be safe. More responsbile. You don’t want anyone to get seriously hurt.

It’s happened before. Remember Joe? You hurt him bad. Sterling, too. Poor Mike from Detroit was never the same. And what about Bo? Everybody knows about Bo. Especially Bo.

You are going to hurt people; that is unavoidable. But you are making great strides in stemming that tide. There’s only one problem…

It makes me less attracted to you.

I never thought I was into bad boys, but I guess I am. The less dangerous you get, the less interesting. Less fun. That edge was such a thrill and now you’re doing everything you can to blunt it.

And I hate myself for thinking that. You’re not doing anything wrong. You are being responsible. My brain knows that. But my heart…

My heart wants what it wants.

And, to my shame, it wants blood.

This one’s on me.

2) You’re kind of a thug.

michael-vick-piers-morgan-1-e1342634946901-520x436bigben062713-NFL-Patriots-Aaron-Hernandez-BR-G_20130627181852265_600_400

I’m no saint but I’ve never been arrested. A few traffic tickets but the only time I’ve ever been detained was in elementary school for talking in class.

But you, you’re trouble. Way badder of a boy even for the likes of me.

Theft. Drunk driving. Drugs. Domestic assault. Rape. Murder.

Remember that time you put a gun in your sweatpants and went to a club and accidently shot yourself? So, so, stupid. Who wears sweatpants to a club?

And the dogs? Really, man? Those poor dogs.

It’s hard to keep making excuses for you. To defend you to my friends. I have to accept it.

You’re a fucking thug. And I don’t think that’s going to change.

3) The Man upstairs.

Denver Broncos v Oakland Raiders121202_wk13strickly_inside

This may not seem fair, but your religious views bother me. Not the fact that you have them, but that you display them so ostentatiously. How you thank the Lord for everything that goes right but never curse His name when things go wrong.

If there is a God, do you really think He’s your personal good luck charm, your magic genie you can rub for wishes? Do you think He gives a He-damn about these trivial things you pray about?

You probably do. Humility has never been one of your strong suits.

4) You’re kind of a racist.

n00016478-b

5) You’re such a cheat I can’t believe Miranda Lambert hasn’t killed you in a song yet.

Posted by Mike Florio on May 1, 2013, 7:02 AM EDT

The NFL bans HGH use.  The NFL still has no test in place to determine whether players are complying with this rule.  Not surprisingly, players still ignore the rule.

Dan Patrick mentions from time to time that a starting NFL quarterback privately told Patrick within the past two or three years that 60 percent of the league uses HGH.  Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that HGH use is “rampant.”

 

Everybody knows it but no one wants to talk about it. We all look the other way, myself included.

Sure, other guys cheat. Barry, Alex, that dude Lance. But while we’ve condemned them, no one ever accuses you, even though, by all accounts, you’re the worst of the bunch.

You’ll do anything to get what you want. The law, honor, and your health be damned.

It’s become obvious that you can’t even function without cheating. And no one seems to care. It’s disgusting and I can’t just sit idly by and perpetuate the illusion.

As someone who loves you, it has hurt so much to learn about how chronic your cheating has been. I feel betrayed. It’s almost enough for me to take a Louisville Slugger to both of your headlights.

 

 

 

6) You’re stuck in a fantasy world.

league-banner-102909

I played Dungeons & Dragons in high school. I have logged over a 100 hours on my copy of Skyrim and have started over so I can log another 100. I know what an owlbear is.

I know fantasy.

But your entire life has been taken over by fantasy, like a guy who just discovered Game of Thrones and now runs around draped in furs calling himself ‘King of the North’ (I do kind of wish I had named my Siberian Husky ‘Ghost’). You’ve built this alternate self that may resemble you, but it’s not you. It’s a twisted, Bizzaro version where it doesn’t matter what you do but how you do it. In this world, the means are king and the ends don’t mean a thing.

I used to visit this fantasy universe with you and I have to admit I enjoyed it for a while. But it really started affecting the actual time we spent together. I couldn’t tell which one of you I was with at any given time and you became a lot less enjoyable to be around. When I was playing in this fantasy, I did things, said things, thought things, cheered for things that I never would have in real life. It changed me. And I didn’t like it.

Some people only like the fantasy you. Don’t you get that? They don’t care who you really are, not in your heart. They only care about your measurements, reducing you to a set of sexy numbers. Do you really like being objectified like that?

I guess you do, because you have so embraced it as part of your personality that every year the line between fantasy and reality blurs a little more. Who cares why they love you? You’ll take any attention you can get. It doesn’t matter to you how you get it, does it?

Whore.

7) You drive people crazy.

 Junior-Seau-2012-Cover-of-Sports-IllustratedDave Duerson

And I don’t mean in a Fine Young Cannibals sort of way.

I mean in a life-destroying, brain-swelling, personality-changing, driving people to suicide sort of way.

I don’t have any jokes about this.

You know what you’ve done.

8) THIS.

21st Century Fox, Inc And FOX Sports 1 Rings The NASDAQ Stock Market Opening Bell

I mean, what the fuck?

9) There’s someone else.

 votto-reds-swing-2012-horiz-apjpg-f6fa32e27d58bc67phillips-barehand-grab-tribe-2012-apjpg-6720abb402b918c5

I have a confession. This whole time I’ve been with you, I’ve also been in love with someone else. A friend of yours, actually. Well, more of a rival. And while my love for you has waned over the years, my passion for the other has grown and grown to the point of eclipsing you entirely.

Look, me and this other guy, we’re just a better fit. He’s more laid back. Takes his time. He brings me the same ups and downs as you, but, while every bad day with you seems like a catastrophe, with him you just brush it off and try to be better the next day. He is a marathon and not a sprint and you know, deep down, I’m not a sprinter.

I just love him more than you. When he’s around, I don’t pay one lick of attention to you.

I know that must hurt to hear, but it’s the truth.

I’m sorry. It’s not me. It’s not you.

It’s us.

————

reggie-bush-sad

Don’t be so sad. Look, we can still be friends. We can still hang out on Sundays, but I can’t promise you the whole day. Our Monday night date will stand, but I probably won’t wake up looking forward to it. I don’t want you out of my life. I’ll still come to your party in February, but I won’t be on your arm. I just don’t feel that way about you anymore.

And don’t worry. There are literally tens of millions of people out there who will love you more than I ever could or did. You will never be alone.

This is not good-bye, but I am sorry.

I just don’t love you anymore.

Best wishes,

Chad

P.S. If you’re worried I’m going to hook up with your little brother, don’t worry. He’s more screwed up than you. At least all of your bullshit is above-board. Who knows what’s going on with him behind closed doors? Well, we all know. We just don’t talk about it.

Why Can’t I Be Rod Tidwell?

In the movie Jerry Maguire, Rod Tidwell is an athlete who has confidence in himself (some might say too much), in his abilities, and in his skill. But he’s hit the wall. No one seems to know about him and no one seems to care about him (in the football world at least).

Until… finally, at the end of the movie he shows up and on a national stage does something to capture everyone’s attention.

That’s what I want.

No, not the money, I certainly don’t write to make tons of money. I just want the opportunity to show that I have some talent. To tell a story and to have others see it.

To have others enjoy it.

The most maddening thing about being a writer who is on the outside looking in is that moment when you read something “professional” and know, 1000%, that you could do it better. That your ability to string words together in a sentence was better than that particular writer. If only you had the chance.

If only someone with power knew you existed.

I’ve been at this writing thing for almost a decade now. I say a decade because the stuff before it doesn’t count for me. It was playtime in a notebook. I cringe to think about those stories I wrote back in school. The terrible poetry (maybe it is good – with that certain teenage angst running through it, but I cannot bring myself to look) sitting on my hard drive. The one problem with being a pack rat is that old stuff is still around. Everything is kept because to not keep it would be disastrous.

So, ten years ago I became involved in a writing group. We met in the back of a comic book shop. Artists flowed in and out of the place and someone had the idea “let’s make a comic book”. That first day I saw a page of something I’d written drawn was a moment akin to magic.

That was the first step.

But with every little step forward it was followed by at least two steps backward. A cliche, to be sure, but beyond true. Flaky people who promised one thing and then never delivered. They all seemed to fall right off the face of the Earth. And yet, stubbornly, I continued on. The first anthology comic came out. A year and some later another one came out. Then the first color book about a year after that.

When Do I Get To See The Sailboat?

When Do I Get To See The Sailboat?

And still the frustrations grew. Projects thought up and then abandoned for all sorts of reasons. And still I wondered what it was going to take.

“I should be further along…

If only the artists would stop being so slack and finish something…

If I had more free time…

If…”

Almost three years ago I got laid off from my day job.  For the first time since college, I was out of work for almost four months. That time might have been eaten up before I knew it, if not for my wife. She was the one who suggested that I just write a book.

“You have these stories, and you never have the time normally, but now…”

So I went home that night and started to write what would become The Dark That Follows. Every night after my wife went to bed I stayed up into the early hours writing on that draft. Stumbling over words, but doing the deed.  Butt in chair every night.

I finished the first draft the night before I started my new job.

Since then I’ve written another novel, worked on a bunch of comic projects (both of which I’ll be talking about as time goes on), and slowly feel like the tide is turning. The old 10-year success… maybe. I’m certainly hoping that someone notices.

That someone enjoys it.Rod Tidwell Touchdown

I’ve got my celebration dance ready for that day.

John McGuire

PS – You can find that very first comic here: http://www.terminusmedia.com/new-retro-the-god-that-failed/#more-1063