Ake's Pains debuted in the University of Akron Buchtelite in September of 1977. The school's reputation as an institute of higher learning has still not recovered. Ake's Pains returns after a brief 32 year hiatus. It's back, baby!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Things You Should Not Do At A Wedding (The Wedding Chronicles – Part 4)

We Are Family?

In the receiving line I met some of the groom’s family who were visiting from the Ukraine.  They were all smiling and happy until I enthusiastically proclaimed to them that my wife’s family is of Russian descent. Suddenly they all quit smiling and started scowling. I don’t think they were picking up what I was putin’ down, or maybe they were.

Was that wrong? Should I not have done that?
I am certainly glad that we sat the Russians and the Ukrainians at opposite ends of the reception hall or we may have witnessed some world tensions close up.  On a totally unrelated note, the bartender told me that this was the earliest they had ever run out of Vodka! (Ba Ching, Father of the Bride, Ba Ching!).  Was that wrong? Should I not have done that?  

The Coin Toss

During rehearsal I had an idea to toss some coins in the lake as I walked my daughter across the bridge during the ceremony. This of course would be for good luck in the marriage.  The problem is this would constitute a severe breach of wedding etiquette since all attention is supposed to be totally focused on the bride during the walk.

But I found a technicality; I reasoned that since this was such a long walk (started at the side and involved 4 turns) that the bridge was in fact a “neutral zone” and tossing the coins would not be a “neutral zone violation”.  So I made a plan to do this, but kept it a secret.

Of course at the very second I decided to toss the coins high in the air over the lake, my daughter sticks her shoe heal right between the slats in the bridge. (My timing has always been impeccable) When she desperately needed my help, instead
Seconds before the coin toss!
of doing my job I am distracted by doing something goofy. For some unknown reason, she was not very pleased by this “surprise”. Perhaps I should have told her of my plan beforehand.  Was that wrong? Should I not have done that?

Nothing Goofy To See Here

Near the end of the evening my family was sitting together at a table when my mother-in-law proclaimed, “Donald Ake, I am so proud of you. I thought you were going to do something goofy during the ceremony, but you didn’t!” She had obviously missed the coin toss incident.  After the laughter stopped, I had to describe the uncouth act in great detail as she stared at me in disbelief.  This was way more uncomfortable than if she had actually witnessed it.  Was that wrong? Should I not have done that?

I Have A Big Butt And I Cannot Lie

During the after-dinner festivities I had a plan to very discretely slither over to deejay Colin and request the signature song of this blog “Baby Got Back”, the song that has made this blog famous worldwide.  I told my friend Freddie about my plan and he thought it was a swell idea, which should have been my first clue not to do it. Most of the time I got in trouble as a youth, Freddie was somehow involved.

So I snuck around the back of the dance floor and asked deejay Colin, “You got Baby Got Back on that thing?” He nodded. I said “I signed your check.” He said, “You got it”.  With that I quickly retreated back to the table where Freddie and I engaged in a Beavis and Butthead type laugh.

After the song ended, deejay Colin announced: “We have a request from Don Ake, father of the bride (whoops there went my anonymity, he knew my name from introducing me earlier) he wants to hear “Baby Got Back” (a little more embarrassment please). And I have one rule: if you request a song, you have to get out on the floor and dance to it.” And with that, he pushed the button. 

I have none of these moves!
Baby Got Backfire!  I looked incredulous at Freddie.  He laughed hysterically and pointed to the dance floor.  So I headed out to use my moves like Jaeger and hoped no video cameras were running.  Really, because I didn’t know what to do on the chorus so I bent over and slapped my butt cheeks. I am a big ass and I cannot lie. When I returned to the table my friends were red-faced and gasping for air.  Was that wrong? Should I not have done that?

Dirty Dancing

Playing “Baby Got Back” had the surprising effect of “loosening” up the young ladies on the dance floor and the “dirty dancing” part of the evening began.  My friends (who were seated next to the dance floor) took great interest in this occurrence. Freddie exclaimed, “If we danced like that when we were in school, I would have gotten pregnant!”  One young woman in a clingy, strapless, top danced very vigorously and my friend Al kept waiting for her top to fall as one might wait for the ball to drop on New Year’s Eve.  But alas, the spandex of today is much stronger than the elastic of yesteryear and the top held firm, very firm.  I just hope that no one actually ended up getting pregnant as a result of my song request. Was that wrong? Should I not have done that?

(This mercifully concludes the Wedding Chronicles)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Who'll Stop The Rain? (The Wedding Chronicles - Part 3)

My daughter chose a beautiful facility to have the wedding (which of course I paid for).  The ceremony was to take place on a gazebo in the center of a man-made lake with the guests seated on shore.

Did not sing at the wedding!
Of course the risk of holding an outdoor wedding is the chance of rain and the consequences are worse than listening to Alanis Morissette wail about it.  So you check the weather beginning with the 5-day forecast.  The 5-day forecast in Northeast Ohio is akin to the horoscope, it means nothing but it gets printed, so you look.

The forecast for the wedding day:

Tuesday: Sunny and beautiful
Wednesday: Sunny and beautiful
Thursday: Slight chance of showers
Friday: Monsoons followed by typhoons followed by downpours. 

While the rainfall in June had been the second highest in recorded history, July had been slightly below normal.  It would not stay below normal for long.

The evening before at the rehearsal dinner, the facilities manager bragged that they had only had 4 rainouts in 15 years.  I wanted to tell her that if she had wanted to keep that record alive, she should have never accepted a large check with my name on it.

As predicted, I awoke Saturday to a steady rain. I checked the radar and it was an incredible green mess. 

This raised my stress level and causes me to think irrationally. The song on my internal playlist changed from Alanis to Creedence Clearwater Revival. Who’ll stop the rain? I’m the Father of the Bride so I should be able to do something, right? But how can I stop the rain? I post this on Facebook:

Of course one my Facebook friends strongly suggested that I pray.  Yes I knew this was an option, but I really didn’t want to go “Pat Robertson” on this. Robertson is a famous televangelist. In 1985 Hurricane Gloria was headed right for Robertson’s vast ministry in Virginia Beach. He claims he prayed and the hurricane spun back out to sea.  Robertson drew much ridicule over this statement, especially from people in Massachusetts where Gloria slammed ashore a short time later.

I really didn’t know what to pray to stop the rain. Excuse me God, just wondering if you could turn off your sprinkler system and maybe just kick it back tomorrow, please.  I felt really stupid, but that’s nothing unusual.

So the prayers started and the rains continued and the radar stayed green. As I travelled to the wedding location, the rains became heavier. I spent the next two hours staring at the sky and continuing to periodically utter a prayer.   It was a Cantonese (closest city to the place) water torture. It would rain hard then diminish to a light mist. Just when you thought it might stop, it would suddenly rain harder than it had before.

If the ceremony could not be held outdoors, it would be moved into the reception hall.  Yes a wedding would take place, but it was a much less desirable option. The facility manager said the night before that if it rained it was the bride’s decision where to hold the ceremony.

The guest started to arrive and huddled under canopies off the hall.  I hung out with the groomsmen and counted down the minutes to decision time. T-minus 20, T-minus 10, T-minus 5, time.  It was 4 o’clock, the music was supposed to start, and it was still raining.  I started the long walk up the hill to the bridal quarters to discuss the situation with my daughter.

I anticipated she would be very sad that the ceremony had to be moved inside.  There would be tears. I would need to hug her and give that fatherly speech: There are disappointments in life……. but you have to forget those and think about all the good things.  This had to be a command fatherly performance.  I needed to  get her focused on the moment, not the circumstances.

“We have to decide”, I said softly.

“She looked straight at me and said, “I’m getting married outside and that’s it. Everyone will just have to deal with it.”

I recognized the tone, delivery, and the seriousness of her statement, because of course she learned how to communicate from me. What that means is: This decision is final.  You can attempt to change my mind, but you will fail and you will regret that action.

I pulled back the next word I had planned to say. I nodded and said, “All right, we will make it happen” and headed back down the hill.

As the rain hit my shaved-head, I contemplated just how I was going to tell everyone the news.  This is one of those rare instances in life where you disagree with a decision yet you still support it 100%.  This has to be done either out of blind loyalty or unconditional love, in this case both applied.

I first told the groomsmen I had been waiting with and their jaws literally dropped.  I moved along the edge of the crowd signaling to the rest of the groomsmen what was happening.  Then I informed the groom, he was surprised but supportive.  Next, I informed the minister. He’s one the coolest people under pressure I know.  His jaw remained firm, but the eyebrows did instinctively raise. “Okay, we will do that”, he replied. It really helped that he is the uncle of the bride; I needed all the support I could find.  Finally, I informed the facility manager.  I could tell she totally disagreed with this decision.  But the customer is always right and it was my signature on that big check. And besides the decision was communicated is such a way that implied finality.  She could have tried to change my mind, but she would have failed and regretted that decision.

By that time the news had spread through the crowd.  I found this Facebook post from a guest (used by permission):

And then we dried the chairs, got everything else ready, and the ceremony took place, - OUTSIDE.  I didn’t even think again about the rain again until I was standing in the receiving line, not five minutes after the end of the ceremony, when it started raining again.  That’s right is STARTED RAINING AGAIN. At some point, just before the ceremony started, it had in fact stopped raining for the first time that day and it didn’t rain during ceremony except for a very brief sprinkle (so I was told).  You see, I was so focused on
Should have sang at the wedding!
making the ceremony happen despite the bad circumstances, I had failed to notice the rain had stopped.  I think that often happens in life. We keep fighting the dragons long after they have gone away.

And what did this feel like? It felt like raaaaaain – stopping - on the wedding day. It was the good advice, that I decided to take.  It’s like God showing up at the wedding, right when he needed to be there. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Dysfunctional Dancing Machine (The Wedding Chronicles - Part 2)

The Father of the Bride (FOB) has more responsibilities than just paying for the wedding. For me, the most daunting of these responsibilities was the father-daughter wedding dance. I have never been considered “light” on my size-13 feet. 

My history of slow-dancing is not impressive.  My performance at my senior homecoming was so terrible that my date (who was very cute) never spoke to me again.  The dancing at my senior prom was such that my date soon moved out of the country.  The last time I slow danced was at my friend John’s wedding.  I was a groomsman and had to dance one song with a bridesmaid.  Of course they paired me up with a woman with enormous hooters which were protruding ominously out of her dress.  So I am trying to maneuver this woman around the dance floor without making contact with her trophies, as my wife carefully watches.  I also am aware that if this chick decides to unexpectedly give me a neck-nuzzle, my life is going to be hell for an indefinite time.  No one can be expected to perform well under those circumstances.

My daughter knew the dance could be a problem so she selected a song that was easy to “shuffle” to. Her expectations may have been low; however the standard for this dance had been set by my brother-in-law Mike a year before.  Mike had actually taken lessons to prepare to dance with his daughter Hannah at her wedding.  After Mike danced admirably and knowing my turn was coming up, the women folk in my family all asked: “Oh Don, are you going to take dance lessons before Cassie’s wedding?

I considered this an outrageous question.  Of course I am not going to have any dance lessons.  In my opinion, I consider this behavior a violation of the “man code”.  However, I will grant Mike an exemption because this dance was very important to his daughter.  Still, I hold Mike completely responsible for everything that ended up happening.

Mike had indeed raised the bar, so I needed a plan and the plan was this: I would watch instructional YouTube videos to learn how to dance and then surprise everyone at the wedding with my outstanding moves on the dance floor.

“This is a swell plan. I’ve got this!” I thought.

I found several how-to videos and studied how the men smoothly glided their partners around.  This looks pretty easy.  I’ve really got this.

The videos emphasized the importance of footwork.  Even though I am not a dancer, I am an athlete so I fully understand the concept of proper footwork.  I played basketball in high school and Coach Wendmore taught me the proper footwork for playing low post defense and I reasoned those same principles would be useful in slow dancing.  It’s like guiding your partner away from the hoop so you can grab the rebound. Yeah, that’s it. I’ve got this.

I practiced the steps on the YouTube video to the selected song. I couldn’t practice with a real partner since this was going to be a total surprise so I practiced dancing with a broom. Dancing with a broom is like dancing with an anorexic chick and anorexic chicks make horrible dance partners.  But finally I felt like I was prepared and ready for the big game. I’ve got this.

Then the big moment came.  My daughter thought we would going to “shuffle”, but then I assumed the proper dancing position.  She said, “Oh, are we going to waltz!” and then the music began.

We literally got off on the wrong foot. My daughter was surprised alright but she was not adapting well to this situation.  My niece Hannah, who of course knows how to dance, quickly determined the problem and shouted out, “Cassie, let him lead! Let him lead!!!!!!!!!!!!”

But it is not Cassandra’s nature to be led, something her new husband will find out about soon enough.  So we ventured on in an ugly manner, one side pushing and the other side pulling, but at no time was there any coordination or progress. It was an interpretative dance which represented how the U.S. government functions today.

I hoped the dance did not look as dreadful as it felt, but those hopes were crushed when the heckling started from the crowd.  And those hecklers were my friends, who someone in a moment of horrendous wedding planning had seated at a table right next to the dance floor.  When you get heckled by your enemies you know you are performing poorly, but when you get heckled by your friends, you know it is horrendous.

It turned out to be one of the worst father-daughter dances ever.  Thankfully the photos make it appear that we actually are dancing well.  Fortunately there is no video of this
debacle.  There was, but destroying a couple smart phones is nothing compared to having a YouTube video go viral.

This was an utter personal failure.  It was one of the worst ideas I have ever had. No, I did not have this. I never had this.  This was embarrassing. In the middle of this joyous occasion, I felt horrible.

And then something totally unexpected happened.  It’s one of those special moments that you remember forever.  Later that evening my daughter sought me out and took me aside.  I thought something was wrong at the reception that needed attention.  Then she said:

“Dad, you danced really great. I didn’t know you could dance like that, thank you.”

In the world’s eyes, I am a terrible dancer.

In my daughter’s eyes, I am a wonderful dancer.

While these views are diametrically opposed, only one of them matters at all.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Father of the Bride (The Wedding Chronicles – Part 1)

From the moment you first hold your infant daughter, you take on a set of very important responsibilities of which you are totally unprepared for.  Raising daughters is often like driving an old truck full of highly combustible materials down a very bumpy road.  You can drive masterfully and still end up smoldering, holding what’s left of the steering wheel.

The responsibilities get easier and less taxing once the teen years are over, but one major responsibility remains. It lurks out in the shadows, waiting to pounce when you least expect it.

Then one day something called a “proposal” is made and if accepted, this transforms you into an almost mystical being which our society labels “Father of the Bride” (FOB).

But this FOB thing is a really odd responsibility. And whenever you are given a title that you did not seek, you can be sure you are being set up in some way.  “Here’s a nice, new, title.  My aren’t you special!” (Stupid sap you are!)  I was told to “save your money” but I was not told how much money to save or what it would be used for.  In reality, nothing can prepare you for the financial beating you are about to receive.
One part that did not cost
any money!

As far as I can tell the primary function of the FOB is to write frequent and sometimes enormous checks for everything and anything wedding related, checks that have many zeroes and commas.   You are playing the role of the superhero “Father of the Bride” and bills and invoices come flying at you from all directions at warp speed.  You must suppress these evil forces by all means necessary, using the super powers at your disposal; checks, credit cards, loans, whatever it takes!

The difficult part is that you are paying large amounts of money for things which under normal circumstance you would never, ever, buy.  Weddings would be so much different if men planned them, which is of course is the reason men do not plan them.  If they did, it would be a disaster.

However, weddings provide the opportunity for the women folk to go slightly insane doing extreme woman-type activities.  The wedding planning is a series of estrogenically driven actions without any limits.  It is estrogen unchained, it is estrogen unencumbered, it is estrogen overflowing!  This results in things such as discussion and planning of every inch of the wedding dress. Women break down the details of the wedding dress similar to the way guys break down the details of a football game.  The dress’s train is discussed with the same enthusiasm and preciseness as a “Cover 2 Defense”.

And this obsession with precise detail is repeated over and over again with the cake, the flowers, the attendants’ clothing, the music, the table settings, the napkins, etc.  The intensity of this effort reaches a crescendo the week of the wedding as the estrogen reaches dangerously high levels.  It was so strong in my house I had trouble breathing. Now in some circumstances high estrogen levels are a good thing (right guys?), but elevated amounts of estrogen always result in men paying some price. And this time the price was enormous.

In the case of wedding planning, each attention to detail results in added expense which the FOB is naturally expected to pay for.  Fresh banana cake! Ba Ching!, Top Deejay! Ba Ching! Special Flowers! Ba Ching. Etc., etc., etc, Ba Ching, Ba Ching, Ba Ching!  That giant sucking sound was the money flowing out of my savings account.

And you have to pay it because it’s your daughter’s wedding, for heaven sake!  It’s like a female version of Mafia demanding extortion.   It’s a chance for payback against the male species and oh you are going to pay up big time.

I used to laugh when reading about FOBs who had to take out home equity loans to pay for a daughter’s wedding.  I thought the poor saps got suckered into paying for a very extravagant affair.  I am no longer laughing.  The average wedding today costs $30,000. Ours was a modest event and the cost of living here is low, so the total was much below that.

Yet, I am not laughing, I am crying. And it had nothing to do with the blessedness of the ceremony. I thought we were being prudent by serving chicken at the reception, but it was Chicken Cordon Bleu.  I figure they had it flown in from France because the Chicken Cordon blew a hole in my bank account! 

And just when I thought it was over, my wife asked me for a blank check on the day of the wedding to cover “extras”. Extras? What could possibly exist that I hadn’t paid for already?  She said maybe this was in case someone drinks too much. Drinks too much? I was raised a Baptist, in my view everyone is going to drink too much! 

As I walked my daughter over the bridge to the gazebo where the vows were exchanged, I tossed 10 pennies out into the lake.  The official story is that I did this to bring the couple good luck.  In reality it was the last 10 cents I had
Where I deposited my last 10 cents!
left, so I figured they may as well have that too.

But I made it through, I did fulfill my obligation and most importantly, none of the checks bounced! And I will be able to quit my new second job at the telemarketing firm as soon as I get my sales volume up.  So if anyone needs some new aluminum siding for their house, please let me know.

Monday, July 14, 2014

My Team Is Red, But Not Very Hot

I have been a life-long fan of the Cleveland Indians. From the time I was old enough to understand baseball, I have cheered for The Tribe.  Much of the summers of my youth were spent following their games either in front of the television (beginning with a black-and-white variety) or staring into a transistor radio.  Part of learning to read involved following the exploits of my favorite team every day in the newspaper.

Unfortunately the Indians usually lost.  I don’t know when I came to the realization that my team didn’t play very well. They weren’t just bad, they were awful.  During my “youth”, the team usually ended up near last place and never finished closer than 14 games behind the league leader. One year we finished in third place in our division (still14 games behind) and this was considered “a great year”.

Over these really bad seasons, Indian fans had to deal with the following:

-        For several seasons our best pitcher was an alcoholic and missed a few games due to hangovers (pitching for a team this bad probably drove him to strong drink)

-        Another year our best pitcher was famous for throwing illegal “spitballs” (and we loved it because it was the only way we could get anyone out)

-        We paid a gazillion dollars for a free agent pitcher who lost 20 more games than he won before blowing out his arm.

-        We traded players that didn’t stink (or who later played great) for players that really stunk.  Year after horrible year the roster was full of awful players who really didn’t belong in the majors but found their way onto our team. (If a player was mediocre, then we considered him a star!)

-        The owner thought about moving the team to Tampa, but Tampa didn’t want us, better to have no team then a team this inept.

-        We had players who swapped wives

-        We had a wife who swapped players

-        The most significant game of the era was on “ten-cent” beer night when a drunken riot occurred in the ninth inning causing the Indians to forfeit.  (Even Cleveland rednecks could figure out ten cent beer was a good deal).

     Because the Indians were so bad, my boyhood friends and I each chose an “alternate” team to root for.  A team that didn’t suck, a team that actually won games, a team that would sometimes play games all the way into October, called “playoff” games.  Russell’s team was the Pirates, Freddie took the Reds, and my choice was the Dodgers.  All these teams were National League clubs because it would be blasphemous to cheer for any team that competed against our Indians.   If you don’t believe this, here is visual
evidence.  If you think it is pathetic for a middle-aged guy to dress like a 10-year old kid, you are correct, but that is the wonderment of baseball.

     Even as an adult I have faithfully followed The Tribe, sometimes maybe too faithfully.  The Indians by some incredible fluke actually made the playoffs in 1995 for the first time in 41 years. The first playoff game went into extra innings.  It was getting late and I had an important meeting at church very early the next morning.  I had never witnessed the Cleveland Indians win a playoff game in the 30 years I had cheered for the team, but if I stayed up to watch the end of the game I would have to miss the church meeting. What should I do?
     I still remember praying: “Dear Jesus, please forgive me for what I am about to do and while you are at it, please help the Indians score the winning run, amen.”  And Jesus stepped up big time by blessing the bat of Tony Pena.  I was ecstatic, my pastor much less so.  But even though the Indians were better, they still sucked when it counted.  The Atlanta Braves played horrible in many World Series but they managed to play well enough to beat Cleveland that year. Two years later the Indians made it to the World Series again and lost to an expansion team that had existed for only 4 years.  We are pathetic, we are horrible.  We suck, we suck so incredibly bad.
     However we have one thing that is the best in baseball.  It is our logo.  It is that grinning "Cleveland Indian” who cheers his team on to victory. Okay, so he just cheers.   The Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, Braves, etc. may be much better teams but no team has a logo as impressive as the Cleveland Indians.

     And now, and now… some people want to ban this logo because they say it’s offensive and somehow disparages them.  Do you understand why Indians fans might take exception to this? Our logo is our only source of baseball pride, spirit and hope we have left.

    Let’s clear up some misconceptions. It is a logo, not a mascot.  People can laugh at a mascot as he entertains, but people do not laugh at a logo. They call it Chief Wahoo, but he’s not a chief because he only has one feather.  He doesn’t represent the Indian race nor is he a caricature that makes fun of Indians. However, he does represent the Cleveland fans who passionate love their pitiful baseball team.

     Please examine the logo in detail. His skin is bright red. The only people with skin that color have spent too much time at the beach.  His eyes are triangular; no one has eyes anything like this.  His grin is huge. I don’t think having a large, toothy, smile is characteristic of any particular race.  His hair style is similar to Moe of The Three Stooges.  His nose is “hooked”, but it is not out of proportion compared to his eyes and mouth. So the only distinctive feature is the feather.  Imagine the logo without the feather and he looks like my Italian Uncle Lenny, with a sunburn of course.

     And I don’t understand how people can be offended by a single feather when some Indians dress up in full headdress today.  Note: Other people in America also dress up like their ancestors; usually this happens at the end of October.  If this cartoonish logo truly upsets and disparages you, then you are not the brave, strong, people you purport to be.  I think the “Cleveland Indian” represents enormous inner strength.  The poor guy’s team loses repeatedly yet he’s still smiling after 60 years! 
     If you want to argue that the team plays so bad that you don’t want the name “Indians” associated with it, then you have a legitimate beef.  But in this case, you just look more pathetic than this team and that is difficult to do.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Bad Team Names That Will Turn Your Skin Red

People seem to be getting all upset about the names of some professional sports teams. Now remember what sports really are: A group of people (called a team), throw, kick, strike or carry, an object (ball or puck) to a designated location (goal, zone, base) in a restricted space (field, court, rink).  Another team tries to prevent the first team from placing the object there.  If the team is successful in placing the object in the desired location, it is awarded points.  These  points, which cannot even be used for free gasoline, have magically been transformed into something that is now deemed worthy of billions of dollars by our culture.

This is not a criticism as much as it is an observation.  Please, I have season tickets for two college sports at my alma mater. However, regardless of how you view the sports world, you do have to admit some teams have terrible, really terrible names.  Here is my list of the worst team names in the professional sports:

MLB Baseball

3rd Runner Up – (Tie) Chicago White Sox, Boston Red Sox.  It is not very manly when your team is identified by their attire.

2nd Runner Up – San Diego Padres. Padres spend all their time studying scriptures and performing religious duties.  They have no time for recreation and thus make lousy baseball players.  Plus they are always tripping over their robes.

Trying hard to avoid being hit by the ball!
Winner – Los Angeles Dodgers. This is great name for a dodgeball team. But a baseball player is supposed to catch the ball, not run away from it.  I picture some “girly-man” running across the field, arm flailing, screaming “Please don’t hit me with the ball, please don’t hit me!” 

NHL Hockey

Dishonorable Mention – New Jersey Devils. Sure, name your team after Satan.  If God does really care about who wins, your team is toast in the close games.

3rd Runner Up – (Tie) Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche. Let’s name our team after something bad that kills people.  You wouldn’t name your team the Denver Diabetes now, would you?

The new Columbus mascot?
2nd Runner Up – Columbus Blue Jackets.  Who names there team after formal dinner attire? Why isn’t the mascot a preppy wearing a blazer?

Winner – Nashville Predators.  The use of this word is now almost exclusively to describe sexual criminals.  I don’t even want to think about what an appropriate mascot would look like, but I sure as hell am not taking my kids to any games!

NBA Basketball

3rd Runner Up (Tie) Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs. You name your team after a car part or a boot part?  At least spurs is slang for the whole boots.

2nd Runner Up – (Tie) Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder. Let’s name our team after something negative associated with our city!

Winner – Cleveland Cavaliers. Don’t name your team after an attitude, especially a bad, irritating, attitude.  This is the equivalent of naming a women’s sports team the Boston Bitches.

NFL Football

3rd Runner Up – New Orleans Saints. The team is named after a song.  But there are extremely few saints in the NFL and any news report that starts out: “The Saint was arrested for possession of” is just plain wrong.

2nd Runner Up – Cleveland Browns. The team was named after an old coach.  Good thing the guy’s name wasn’t Rebinowitz! But now you are associated with the color of something that describes how the team has played for the last 50 years.

Winner – Well you know where this is going. Yes, the worst team name in the NFL is Redskins.

But I don’t think the name is racist, I think that it is just plain stupid, really stupid.  You named the team after a skin color. Would anyone name a team the Blackskins? Try the Yellowskins, the Whiteskins or the Brownskins. No you wouldn’t, that would be stupid, just as stupid as Redskins.  It was a dumb name at the beginning and it is still a dumb name.

However, the team has had the name for 81 years.  It is part of team history and is ingrained in the team’s culture and tradition. Because sports are so esteemed in our culture, the earnest sports fans treat it like a religion.  Changing the name of the team would be akin to telling Christians that the name of the savior will be now changing to “Frank”.

A few Indians say they find the name Redskins “disparaging” which means to belittle or bring reproach on.  But I can think of no better way to bring reproach on yourself than to bitch and moan about something this trivial.  If you have survived this “atrocity” for 81 years, guess what, it ain’t going to kill you!  You are belittling yourself, Chief Whinyass.

But I’m a uniter, not a divider. So I propose a 25 cent “stupidity” tax be placed on every Redskin ticket sold and every piece of Redskin merchandise.  The money would go to provide counseling services for people who need guidance about how not to be “disparaged” by this dreadful team name.

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Phoenix (not Arizona) Experience

Note: This is a very rare “serious” Ake’s Pains.  Occasionally I use this blog to share personal experiences that I hope will help others in their life journey)

A year ago, I was so bewildered. I had a job I hated, in a company that was a terrible match for my experience, temperament, and skills.  I had no job prospects and a decreasing motivation to even find any.

Four years after I had been ingloriously dismissed due to the Great Recession, I could feel my “useful” career dying a very slow death.  Yes the pain was abating, but at the same time hope was fading that anyone anywhere would ever again want the skills that had lain dormant all this time.  I felt numb and tired. At this point, I was willing just to wander aimlessly and accept the results.

When I was downsized, I was at the top of my field.  Now it was a small field, and you didn’t get rich being at the top.  But I had mastered it; I was an “industry expert”. Getting downsized meant that I went from the top to the bottom, and the human psyche is not designed to fall that far, that fast.  Worse yet, I did not start a slow climb back to the top. Due to the continued weak job market, I could find decent jobs that I “could do” but opportunities to fully utilize my skill set were very few and hard to get. I couldn’t get “back in the game”.

I had tried long and hard to recover, but I had failed.  I was sick of swinging and missing.  By this time, I had come to expect getting rejected.  After four unsuccessful years, I was ready to concede defeat.

Then a colleague sent me an e-mail saying he wanted me to talk to me that weekend.  I was expecting it to be another disappointment, so I put the call off to late Sunday evening.  Why ruin the weekend with bad news? However, he said his company had seen an increase in business and he needed someone to do a list of tasks that sounded as if he was reading them off my resume.  And then he asked me if I would be interested in the job.  I was stunned. I wanted to just blurt out a “Yes”, but fortunately there was no air in the lungs. I swallowed hard, sucked in a breath, and answered as calmly as I could.  “Yes, I might be interested is something like that”.

This was unbelievable.  By nature of the company and the position, I wasn’t just back in the game. I was back at the top of the game.  This time I was in the elevator going up and it was going to the top floor.  This was restoration and usually the only time it happens after a four- year gap is when some dictator seizes power in a
military junta after being exiled.  I know how the Phoenix feels, because I have risen from the ashes.  

I did have to wait over four months before actually starting the new position, which was a good thing.  The human psyche is also not designed to rise this far, this fast.  I needed time to mentally prepare.  I had been out of the industry for over four years.  How long would it take me to get back?  And then there was that horrible question that is so stupid and is the epitome of self-doubt: Can I ever get back? 

It turned out it took seven weeks of hard work to get “back”, however I am still striving to reach my previous high level of competency.  But after eight months, I love this job and this has been one of the best, most exciting, years of my life.