Monthly Archives: June 2010

Is NASCAR A Blood Sport?

By Kenton Lewis

If auto racing were crash proof, guaranteed absolutely no crashes, and no need for accident response crews – only about a hundred people would show up for race day. Let’s face it; the crash is the real deal. Other than the finish, it’s the only thing that makes the sport’s highlights for the day.

Some may claim they watch it for the performance of the engine, driver, and pit crew, but frankly that’s like picking up Playboy for the insightful articles and good writing.

Except for the price of admission and the roar of the engines it is just another redneck beer joint.

What NASCAR Fans Talk About

What is there to talk about after a race? ”They was a gonna around and around and around and around and around and around and around. I got sick and threw-up. There was a crash or two after the first and third ‘and round and around.’ Then suddenly this here feller waves a checker flag, and we all went home drunk.”

I’ve heard people talk about races they’ve been to and they never talk about the race. They always say, “I was sittin’ where I couldn’t see a thing.” “That big crash, the one ya’ll saw on TV. That happened right in front of me, but ya’ll saw it better than I did, but it got it TiVoed.” “Traffic was backed up for miles. It was twelve thirty ‘fore we got out of the parking lot. Had to take a leak in an empty bottle. Ole Clem drank it later by mistake ’cause he was thirsty. Said, ‘Hey them there Germans ain’t so bad drinkin’ their beer warm.'”

The story is the same every Monday morning back to work from ‘Billie Bob.’ “There I was minding my own business and just because this guy don’t like Jimmy Johnson or me pinching his wife, he gets all up in my face and things begin to happen. It’s a good thing he was drunk. Otherwise he’d a killed me. We ended up bein’ friends. I drove him home because I had only drank a half a case and he was startin’ on his second.”

NASCAR Needs The Opera

These are the people who think opera is boring. NASCAR could use opera and I don’t mean the ”Grand Ole Opry.”  

If opera were some how integrated with NASCAR the race fans might have some culture other than what is growing between their toes or back home in the fridge.

Perhaps the drivers could wear those Viking helmets with the horns instead of crash helmets. Maybe Wagner’s Flight Flight of the Valkyries might be played by the Philadelphia Philharmonic in the infield during the race. ‘Hey that there’s a great song, but what are the words to it?  That Wagner guy must have been inspired by a sale on motor oil at Auto-Zone or the beef jerky at Wal-Mart to be in that big of a hurry.’  

Who Are Typical NASCAR Fans 

If you want to know something about the typical fan, note the biggest advertisers for NASCAR on TV. Advertisers know who watch the races. It’s sort of like profiling a murder suspect.

In other words, the typical NASCAR fan drives down the road in a pick-up truck (Ford), with a Bud Light between his legs (Anheuser Busch), stops for gas (Shell Oil), grabs a sub sandwich (Subway), before going home picks up a two liter soda for the kids (Pepsi), and all this while talking on a cell phone (Sprint). I almost forgot, he’s sneezing (Claritin) and his insurance is about to expire or already has (Allstate).

He’s puzzled because of trouble at work, at home, and with relationships. He concludes his life is complicated. He needs simple melodies like country music and a simple sport that the only skill needed is to drive fast and keep turning left.

NASCAR Infields – A Redneck Babylon

What is it about being on the infield of a race? It’s like an internment camp. You’re crowded into a small area with all the misfits and dregs of society. You can’t escape without being run over by the Bud Light car.

You see people sitting in lawn chairs under the canopies of their motor homes watching the race on TV. That’s like staying at a motel near Niagara Falls and standing in a shower wearing a rain coat.

It’s like Mardi Gras except it’s not Tuesday. It’s like decadent Rome except no one speaks Latin. It’s like Babylon, but who stole the camels and belly dancers. 

It’s fair to say the infield is like a concentration camp – a concentration of idiots.

The Intimidator

NASCAR fans are passionate about their favorite drivers. They will fight if anyone disrespects them.

When Dale Earnhardt was killed many fans held extended funerals in their home towns. Bumper stickers, t-shirts, and velvet paintings have his famous number ‘3’ with angel wings or a halo.

During Earnhardt’s life he was called “The Intimidator.” His style of driving was to ‘intimidate’ other drivers with what? – Possible death. And for that he is reverenced to the point of worship? It may not be ‘officially’ a blood sport, but many see it that way.


Filed under Essays

Who Cares About FIFA World Cup?

Posted as a Daily Prompt.

Will FIFA Usher In The New World Socialist Order? 

Does anyone know anyone who really cares about the FIFA World Cup? Better yet, does anyone know what FIFA stands for? It looks like some French film actress’s name (of dubious nature, at that).

Is this something else crammed down our throats? It’s like Nazi Germany: “You vill like de fotball or else de firing squadt.” Or like some Germany Freudian hypnotist type with a swinging pocket watch saying, “Repeat afta me, Eet est not soccer, eet est fotball.”

ESPN is actually covering it. And I thought the strong man contest was a yawner. Soccer will make you pound your head against the wall and drool.

McDonald’s has an advertising poster for the World Cup. Where did that come from? Is that really going to sell more Happy Meals and cappuccinos? Cappuccino, that sounds so continental. Or is something more sinister afoot? Instead of promoting little fat kids watching Shrek and eating fries and hamburgers, now they want them to watch world cup soccer and eat French fries and boeuf de la gree-SAY.

Is soccer the vehicle to a one-world socialist government – first soccer fans and then socialists? Socialism and soccer the words almost look alike – it’s uncanny. It’s socialism in practice – a lot of running around with few goals, if any.

Football will be outlawed as being too rough and capitalistic (Extra points are bonuses – there are no bonuses in socialism, only capitalism has them).  Someday the only way to play a pick-up game of football will be in the middle of the forest away from the Stasi.

Will FIFA Bring World Peace?

Some say that soccer as well as all sports has become the replacement or at least the temporary stopgap to war. The intellectuals see it as a good thing. It keeps the masses occupied and content. That is why it has an international and intellectual appeal. It is an outlet for extreme feelings nationalism.  Man’s inate need for aggression is left on the field of competition. Citizens can proclaim and prove their superiority. Governments and their leaders use sports as a propaganda tool.

Sports, rather than an outlet for aggression, expose the fragile nature of man and nations. It does not make sense that an entire nation can enter a state of elation or depression based on a win or loss of its national team. Something else must be wrong. If we saw that trait in an individual, we would quickly conclude that such a person is lacking emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually.

Overall, it’s not such a bad thing, but this business of uniting the world through the World Cup, the Olympics, and so on is a bunch of rubbish. Since the modern Olympics two world wars have occurred.

Actually the only impediment to world peace at this time is soccer fans whining about how much better it is than football.

Are FIFA Fans Smarter?

A few years ago, I visited relatives not seen in a while. They lived in a posh neighborhood, had a posh car, many posh friends, took posh vacations, and their kids went to a posh school. They were posh and played the sport of the posh – soccer.

After a snort of wine, amusing stories of posh friends, and photos of posh regalia of various sorts we settled in to an intellectual debate of football verses soccer (or real football). Actually, they were debating alone. I had no dog in the fight. Therefore, it was more of a lecture with them presenting both points of view. Quickly I realized that only smart people understand soccer (so I guess it wasn’t so quickly). Football was for the mentally and culturally inept. Soccer was for the elete and enlightened.

“Where do the soccer hooligans come from I have read about?” I ask. There was stone cold silence. It was as if revealing they had a convict uncle or gay son.

Quickly the conversation was artfully directed to a high school sports banquet they attended for football and soccer players. They chortled as they recalled for me the portion of the banquet to hand out awards. They characterized the football coach as slow and dim-witted, whereas the soccer coach was bright and articulate. “What would explain that?” I asked. “The football players protect the contents of their cranial with a helmet. You would think without helmets those soccer players would be the ones that might have a problem sliding adverbs between nouns and verbs or forgetting definite and indefinite articles or mixing them.”

“Everybody on the soccer team is going to college,” was said with the explicit determination of an article of faith.  Well, I could hardly defend football now. Except, “Isn’t the soccer program at most colleges supported by funds generated by those dumb football revenues.” There was light laughter, followed by some yawns, and strong suggestions it was time for me to go.

Football Is Manly, Soccer Is Humanly

My theory is that soccer is for those who aren’t good enough to play football.

I know what many are thinking: football goes to soccer to get the really good kickers. You ever look at those guys! The kickers from a soccer background in a football uniform have the physique of a mall security guard. They tackle as if they’re trying to miss the runner or slap the guy to death.

You ever see those guys in a helmet? Is it the head or is the helmet malformed? They look like a Jewish siding salesman in a cowboy hat (no offense to Jewish siding salesmen or cowboys or their hats).

The football is called a pigskin. It is made from animal hide. It does not get any more manly or primal than that. What’s a soccer ball made from, some synthetic crap that will lie in a landfill for 10,000 years?

Pele was a soccer player, but Jim Brown was a man.

Is There A Need For World Champs?

When I was a kid there was a wrestler named Bobo Brazil. He was world heavyweight champion. I went to Oklahoma City and found some guy named Cowboy Bob Ellis was world heavyweight champion there. If in Los Angles, it would have been Surfer Bum Sammy Sandcastle. Come on, there was no Internet or Cable then. We were isolated and protected from the truth. It was a happier world. A world champion for every region – that was good enough for us.

Dictators Need World Championships

World champions or national champions meet the President, Prime Minister, King, Queen, or who ever happens to be the dictator that month.

Too much is made of countries competing for world championships. Does that make them a better country or a better breed? Does it get them free drinks at any bar in the world for the rest of their lives? Don’t you think this ‘world champion’ business is a bit rubbed into the ground.

Afterwards the world champ can say he met the President or head of state. It’ not like you are buddies. He probably doesn’t even know anyone’s names. It’s a photo-op and that’s all. The national leader, in some way, wants to take credit for the victory. “If you lose you will forever disgrace me and this great nation, but mainly me. Win or I will put a gun to your head.”

Championship teams at the White House remind me of the closing scene of the first Star Wars. The hero gets his medal. Everyone cheers and all seem to live happily ever after. Don’t they ever show the hero a month later walking through the crowds who once cheered him and now ignore him? “Hey look everybody, wanna see my medal.” “Get lost jerk-face. You had your day. I wouldn’t have been to that crummy awards ceremony unless I was forced to.”

Soccer (Football) Needs Americanization

Let’s face it most sports are stupid. It is a diversion for the masses (which I am a proud member), but soccer has buried the needle on the stupid meter.  It is the only game you allow a streaming ball hit you in the head and continue to run around the field like you lost your car keys.

Soccer, or what the rest of the world calls football, is where basketball was 90 years ago – boring and low scoring. People sat on wooden bleachers in dark dingy gymnasiums to watch Whatsamatta U. defeat Picklesworth College 10 to 8. Once the jump-shot replaced the two-hand set shot and the slam-dunk replaced the jump-ball after each score, you had real game.

Soccer needs the same boost. It’s guys running around in shorts for a couple of hours. Shorten the field, widen the goal, and make a goal count as ten points. The scores will be higher and generate more interest. It’s called inflation and redistribution of wealth. Everybody chances becoming a millionaire. Then the do-gooders of the world will take over soccer’s World Cup and play without keeping score. Socialism has at last  taken over. First, though, the United States must reinvent soccer by including TV timeouts, rap music, and mostly naked cheerleaders.


Filed under Essays

How To Become A Liberated Geezer?

Growing older is not all it’s cracked up to be, but it has its moments.

There comes a time in your life when you have paid your dues. That time varies. Some feel that way from the time they are old enough to scream and get what they want (we all know who they are). Some earn it in time. Nevertheless, we all have that pivotal moment when we had enough and life is never the same for us again nor for those we come in contact.

There is an apprenticeship before getting old. Suddenly one day a door opens, you enter, and you can tell people what you think with minimal repercussion. You are like an ole battleship that steams into port. You fought a lot of battles, seen a lot of action, and you expect the new cruisers to move aside so you can dock. You’re not quite ready for the scrap yard, but you only have one or two dry docks left in you before decommissioning.

A Flirty Waitress Does Not Mean Good Service To A Geezer

In the late 80’s a friend and I were driving north on Interstate 75. Just outside of Troy, Ohio, we got off the highway and pulled into a Bob Evans restaurant for a bite to eat.

Let me express from the outset I do not want an abiding friendship with any waiter or waitress. I don’t care where they worked before, what research grant they have applied for, or where they got those tattoos. I want them to take my order in a timely fashion, don’t let my food suffer from radiation burns from being under the heat lamp too long, keep my cup filled, and bring me my check before the uneaten portion of my order grows enough mold to make potholders. If served with the least amount of meaningless conversation they get 20% – even it the food is bad. The bad food is the cook’s problem.

We were seated at a booth and our waitress appears toothy and perky. She quickly sizes us up as two guys with a bit of disposable income that has not quite reached geezerhood and could stand a little flirtatiousness to improve our self-image and loosen up our wallets – wrong! She takes our order while constantly bending over to point out menu options. “I didn’t get that close to a girl when I slow danced with a girl as a freshman in high school,” I said when she left with our order. “It’s been a month sense I held my wife that close,” my friend said.

After a twenty-five minute wait, which we did not attribute to the waitress, our food arrived. As soon as the order was in front of us, we knew something was wrong. Not one thing on our plate was as we ordered. We had a quick discussion in which I decided to eat what was before me (it’s an old Army thing).

When Enough Is Enough

To back up a bit my friend is the type who would not say ‘crap’ if he stepped in it, fell in it, or had a mouth full of it. He would quietly say, “That’s a peculiar odor,” and move on.

I had a mouth full of food before I noticed him staring at his plate. He signaled for the waitress. She walked over as if she was crossing a dance floor to Peggy Lee’s “Fever.”
The only ‘fever’ was my friend’s temper.

“What can I do for you gentlemen?” she said sweetly.

“I ordered corn and you brought me green beans. I asked for a baked potato and you bring me mashed. I ordered fried chicken and this is baked.”

Her whole world came crashing down on her in a moment. There was the sudden realization that the rest of her life might go just as that moment – I may have to actually get good grades to graduate, I may have to perform on the job, and my husband may someday require me to get him a beer from the fridge.
“Take this back and get it right,” he said shoving his plate to the edge of the table.

She stood stunned.

Flirty Waitresses Get No Tips From Geezers

“Look here missy,” my friend said, “I started working construction soon as I could swing a hammer, I worked through high school, I worked my way through college, I spent a year in Viet Nam, got called ‘baby killer’ when I got back to the States, and have not ask for one veteran’s benefit. I’m forty-five years old and I’m not taking it anymore and while you’re at it I asked for regular Coke and not diet, and take my friend’s plate and get it right too.”

It was an incredibly enjoyable meal and we left no tip.

Today that young lady is about the age we were at the time of that encounter. No doubt, she is telling her teenage kids, “When I was your age I waited tables and you wouldn’t believe what I put up with and I didn’t expect tips either, so clean your room and I don’t want to catch you in my pill drawer again.”

A Window To Geezerhood Opens

The next week at work, I was at the break table calculating capability studies for various operations in my department. The buzzer sounded to go back to work. I remained and continued the studies. My supervisor approached me and told me to get back to my operation. I did.

A half hour later my supervisor and our engineer approached me at my operation wanting the results of the capability studies. I told them they were unable to be completed because you, the supervisor, told me to get back to work. The supervisor and engineer concluded that they would have to be completed on my own time.

I walked to my locker and retrieved two arms full of binders, charts, and papers. They were piled on the supervisor’s desk. “Have a pleasant evening,” I said. “I’m forty-five years old and I’m not taking this crap or anybody else’s anymore.”

How To Get A Tip From A Geezer

Full-blown geezerhood does not fully kick in until about fifty-five but that window opens somewhere around forty-five. There is about a ten years of experimentation, trial and error, but it will come. Be looking for it.
There is that rare window of opportunity. Some never see it. Some see it and never take it. It closes quickly. When you see it, take it. Once you pass through it, everybody knows it. They call you ‘sir’ or ‘mam’ and you do not flinch, look surprised, or try to correct anybody. You earned it. It is a magical time, like first walking into Disney Land.

When treated in that way the dignity and respect given is returned – and a tip.

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Filed under Essays