Wednesday, October 31, 2007

High School Hoops: A Return

Well, it's time for some basketball...old school. After little deliberation I've decided to fill a coaching void and step in as the girls' 9th grade basketball coach. There was a vacancy so I thought I would revisit days of old and throw the whistle back around my neck. The circumstances are strangely, yet comfortably, different this time.
I'll be coaching in Dan Welch's program. Welch, the long-time basketball guru, defeated my Mustang team when I was coaching the boys' team ages ago. I'm not sure if this is coming full circle but it's odd how the Lord works everything out.
I will also be sharing court time with Kevin Murawski, check out his blog - a link to it is found on the right side of this page. I was fortunate enough to be coaching when Kevin decided to leave the agrarian fields of Armada and attend Lutheran North. Now we both share the gym as coaches of basketball at the same school. In fact, if he reads this blog and I know he does, he will recognize some familiar plays.
Yes, we will break out X, Mo and even Philly.

I'm excited about the new opportunity and the blog fodder it will present.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Green-Eyed Monster

This week’s Caption Contest winner is Gladiator. The judges reminisced about their own agrarian background and instantly connected. They also favored the innate competitive vibe Gladiator referenced in his caption. We all looked with envy on the likes of Gladiator and his ilk. They would roll up the driveway on a wheeled contraption none of us could ever hope to possess. Outwardly, we were angry. Under the epidermal layer, however, we were thankful to see what we wanted and what we wanted to become. Here’s to you and your elitist kin, Gladiator. Thanks for helping us keep the dream alive!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dog-Eat-Dog Mall?

I’m not anti-dog…really. IF I lived in the country or an expansive palatial estate nestled amidst the beauty of Traverse City, the second purchase I would make is a golden retriever. I love its boxed nose and golden coat.However, I live in The Clem and I would never shackle a dog to the cloistered life of 1,000 square-foot existence. It’s not right.
With that foundation firmly in place, I can freely blog about the idiocy of the dog-friendly Mall at Partridge Creek.Classic.The mall seems intriguingly unique: bocce ball courts and outdoor fireplace. Interesting. I kind of like the idea of putting up my dogs…err…feet while my wife shops or while I watch a bit of lawn bowling. But why do I have to dodge partially-digested doggie remnants from an owner too careless to pick up after poochie? Can’t people do anything without their beasts chained to their wrists? It’s bad enough that I have to hear Gladys yapping on her cell phone about her botched varicose vein surgery. I don’t want to have to sidestep released intestinal matter or wonder if the five-second rule still applies on the carpeted areas of the Dogville at Partride Creek. Again, I’m not against dogs. I’m against the stupidity of feeling the need to take your dog shopping. Can’t it simply stay at home in its cage, kennel, prison or whatever fabricated shelter it lives in?
Why does it matter to me?

Because I’m the one who has to sidestep the rabid beast that escaped from its owner. I’m the one who has to walk around the leash or trip head first into the fire pit. I’m the one who has to wait even longer in the checkout line because after 17-year-old Suzy, who’s allegedly working the register, is done texting her bff; she’ll be fawning over some shaggy shiatsu that also just happens to be sporting a sweater that just happens to match the owner.

The irony of the dog-friendly park is that all dogs must be leashed to their owners. Logic reveals that a leash allows the owner to control the dog. Unfortunately, reality indicates the reverse is more accurate.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Reflections in the Pool Cover

Spring-cleaning rarely occurs in the fall, but last week I was rummaging around in the basement and came across ye ol’ cross-country shoes. Ahhh, the memories. I remember traveling to a mall in Flint, quite a hike from a boy growing up on the rugged streets of the Nasty, for the uninformed that’s Saginaw’s guttural moniker, because Fashion Square Mall didn’t carry the newest Brooks running shoe. It was early summer and I talked John Cammin into going along for the ride…and paying for gas. I didn’t know anything about running shoes, I simply saw an ad in a magazine and noted the little heal-cup eyelet and knew they needed to be on my feet for the coming CC season. For some strange reason I never threw these well-worn foot soldiers out. Hanging on the hook with my shoes was the past. Finally a tangible way to connect! I slipped them on and noted the discomfort. What use to be a synthetic plush now felt stiff and abrasive. Immediately, I was transported to a literary understanding of Nick Carroway’s disbelief when Jay Gatsby uttered, “Can’t repeat the past? Why, of course, you can.”With apologies to Yoda, “Repeat the past, can you not.” However, you can fondly remember it.

This week’s caption contest transcends mere captions and asks you to craft fond but brief memories of your first wheeled items: bike, Big Wheel, skateboard or tricycle. Feel free to include the go-cart you hammered together with Darrel Lubben and raced it down the grassy hill on the side of the highway.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Jackpot! This Week's Winner

The C3 (Caption Contest Committee) almost didn’t convene over the weekend. The C3 was impressed with The Commish’s ability to connect the visual to the contemporary. Thinkers thrive on connections and The Commish, a Mustang graduate from the ‘80s, scored points early. However, let’s remember the disgruntled hare at the close of the epic battle. Exhausted, adversarial and harried, the hare wrapped up second place. The spoils never go to those who lead early; only to those who win late.
With the Lions exhibiting football prowess, reminiscent of the cherished ’53 season, the C3 could not honor The Commish’s misguided, albeit worthy, entry. After hours of deliberation, the C3 connected downfield with another former Mustang, Road Dog. The C3 always enjoys a sarcastic arrow, figurative or literal, directed at any of Ryan Wesley’s pets. Too many of us have images of Melvin’s fat self reclining in the cat hammock, reclining on the floor, reclining in the food bowl, reclining in front of the door. The only joy Melvin ever brought anyone was the lady behind Wesley’s house who undoubtedly smiled after learning of the cat’s one-way ticket to the human society. Kudos to you Road Dog for winning last week’s Caption Contest.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Spencer Park Reflections

I just returned from my last Metro Conference cross country race. Oh, sure there will be other races I will attend but not as a proud parent of a great son who also happens to be a runner. In my twenty-three years of teaching I never understood why parents returned to events after their children graduated.

Now I know.

Freshman year: underclassmen, anxiety, fun, quiz bowl...


Senior year: Homecoming, ACT tests, college visits, applications, graduation pictures

This Metro Conference race was especially unique. Aaron started circling the pond at Spencer Park eight years ago. Eight years ago. I don't even like the sound of that. It jangles the nerves. I want to be Aaron's dad cheering him on at every cross country race, every year...without end. That's not going to happen but the memories are cherished forever:

  • Horizontal rain and impeccable grass that was more like a giant water sponge than a golf course - Regional race 2006
  • Missing the state championships by three points - Regional 2004
  • Placing second at the Regional race - 2005
  • Almost convincing the coach that one of his runners tipped over the vending machine while spending the night at the hotel before the state championship race - 2005
  • Second Team All Conference - 2004
  • Shin splints, ice, shin splints, ice, repeat
  • Early morning runs during summer vacation when it would have been easier to sleep in
  • Second Team All Conference 2005
  • Piles of discarded foot soldiers
  • PRs & PBs
  • Macomb County Champions 2007
  • Goals achieved
  • Spaghetti the night before every race
  • Second Team All Conference 2006
  • Metro Conference All Academic Team
  • Second Team All Conference 2007
  • First Team All World-All Life- All-Everything in the All Parent Conference
  • NO pink hoodie purchase!
  • Photos, captions and name misprints in The Macomb Daily
  • ...and yet without an ending there is no time for reflection. Reflection offers points in time to gauge growth. It also assures me the future will be just as rewarding as the past has been.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

-Hebrews 12:1-2

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Caption Contest

I've searched the archives for just the right photo. Deer season isn't that far off, so you hunters can prove your literary mettle and jump in. Write now, right away!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Caption Contest Winner: with Apologies to Seabiscuit

Coming out of the gates, "Football for Dummies" took a commanding lead. In fact, in War Admiral fashion, FfD was the odds on favorite. The intellectual pedigree was obvious but just after the fourth turn, the judges detected a hint of mockery. Could it be that the FfD caption was vitriol in the guise of flattery? To put that in laymen and college football coaches' vernacular...I mean...language, a wolf in sheep's clothing? Once again, the judges sense something was rotten in the state of FfD.The conundrum was what to do about it. At the wire, in a photo-finish conclusion, Andrew Fluegge penned the caption that vaulted him to the winner's circle: Spandex, cycling: Mr. Rohde before he discovered the weight room.

There was initial skepticism because of the indirect criticism of cycling. The spandex clad cyclists don't appreciate jabs from non-cyclists. However, as soon as Mr. Rohde's name was included in the caption, all was well with the judges. Congrats, Andrew.

If you would like more of Andrew's literary stylings check out his blog.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Seabiscuit: The Cougar and The Cougar Clone

Making connections outside the text is a vital strategy. It helps the reader make concrete applications to the text. During our recent discussion of Seabiscuit I couldn't help but notice this photgraphic connection to Red Pollard. The resemblance is uncanny.

I won't be using this picture for next week's caption contest, so don't add comments in hopes of winning literary treasures.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Write it, Win it!

Here is this week's image for the Caption Contest. After talking with many graduates at Homecoming this weekend, I know you are reading the blog. You might as well come out of hiding and enter the contest. Oh, some of you still resist but you will leave the darkness of obscurity for a chance at public kudos.
This week I opted for a classic still shot from the cultish, Breaking Away. Great movie, great photo. Now it simply needs a great caption.

Homecoming was quite a spirited affair. The seniors, as per norm, won the spirit jug. If ever you thought this contest was rigged, last week may have proved it. There was not counting spirit week points, no points for events at the pep rally. The deciding, single event was the singing of the school's fight song. The loudest class would reap the rewards of the spirit jug. The freshmen were clueless. Oh, they had spirit and all but I'm not sure they knew anything after, "We're the Mighty Mustangs!" The sophomores were so shocked with the freshmen failure that they weren't much better. The juniors found themselves outvoiced by the senior class, not because they didn't have spirit, they were simply 50 some voices behind the seniors. So the seniors were happy.

PowderPuffapalooza 2007. I must admit there are times when I have to wear many hats: teacher, department chair, compassionate colleague, sensitive son, proud father. Friday was one of those proud dad days. There I was, video camera in hand filming my daughter's Powderpuff game. As a freshmen she, and her frosh friends, were in a David and Goliath-esque battle against the talented and experienced juniors. Well, we know how David was able to best Goliath. He used one sling, one stone and faith in the one, true Lord. With one fling of the arm, Goliath came crashing down. With two freshmen touchdowns, the juniors crashed as well...only harder, with more tears and bitter effusive emotion. I would also be remiss not to mention that my daughter scored the game-winning touchdown. It was a weekend I won't forgot and as soon as I figure out how to upload video to this blog, the world will also never forget.

With Rendezvous in Paris over, it's back to academic normalcy...that is if the junior girls can ever recover from being ousted, trampled, defeated, crushed and pulverized by a group of inexperienced and questionably coached 14-year-olds.

Caption Contest Winner!

This week's Caption Contest winner used his sarcasm to assault the global warming crowd. The judges favored this approach because it proved the pen is mightier than the sword. David used a stone to conquer Goliath. God breathed life into dust and created man in His own imgage. Paltry Northwestern bested the Spartans this past weekend. :) Subtle syntactic force is always more effective than brutish muscle. Congratulations to Aaron Goetsch for his linguistic wizardry and appealing to the judge's cycling affinity. English teachers and those who refuse to blindly embrace the media's bias on global warming, embrace you.

"An Inconvenient Truth"- Cycling, the cheapest medium of transit.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Caption Contest

Sorry about the contest delay. It's Homecoming week and I'm still trying to relax after a rousing Cozy Day.
Now dazzle the judges with your scintillating mastery of the English langage and your creative wit.
Lurker Alert: For those of you who only read and are too timid to post a caption: get over it. We know who you are. We know what school you attend. We also know that if you are reading the blog you have nothing else better to do so you might as well enter the contest, instead of admiring the wit of others. Jump in; the blog-water is warm.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Powder Puff 2007: Up in Smoke

First things first: The winner of the Caption Contest is...

Brendan Knorp's submission: "Yet another sighting of Nessie" The judges liked the caustic quip and the willingness to challenge, while at the same time mock, conspiracy theories. Using the obvious with an offbeat application impressed the judging panel. Now don't think any conspiracy theory allusion will take the prize. That thinking is why you will never win and forever remain in Clichéville, population 1. Picture number 2 goes up Tuesday.

So the weekend had an auspicious start. Yes, you've seen those feet before but never in such a state of ennui. These little pigs weren't at the market, the store or home. They were supervising Powder Puff practice. Ahhhhh, nothing like watching several boys struggle to explain the intricacies of football to girls who can't or won't catch while the rest of the boys attempt to dazzle the girls with one-hand catches, tackling each other, throwing the perfect spiral, going long and even kicking it through a makeshift field goal.

I was there to push four buttons on my phone...if needed. 9-1-1 and SEND. Fortunately, I didn't have to enact such supervisory power.

"This just in..." For you LHN Powder Puff game fans, the announcing team of Hardy & Brandt will be taking their show outside the booth. Both announcers will carefully amble up to the tower roof and announce the game from there. That way both teams will be victimized by the vitriol presented as game commentary. We will string the mic up to the roof and run The Show from there.
Homecoming weekend promises great blog fodder.