January 14th, 2008

Ice Ice Baby

Despite what it looks like, I am not following up Beatles Week with Vanilla Ice Week (regardless of Brent’s suggestion).

On Saturday, a bunch of Careerians went to an Indiana Ice hockey game (weirdly, their webpage has an ad before you get to any content.) It was only the second hockey game I’ve ever been to, and while it certainly was fun, nothing occurred during the game that would elicit a reaction anywhere near this:

From L. to R: Jen, some of Melissa’s hair (I think maybe she’s glad she didn’t show up in a picture where I look like a raving loonie), me, Jodi, and Melissa (a different Melissa!)

That picture actually shows up on on the Indiana Ice website, in the photo gallery for this game, along with a few other pictures of our group (thanks, Jonell, for finding them!). I think we can all be glad there is no video of me trying to get a free T-shirt by whooping and hollering. What’s a little loss of dignity in the face of getting a free T-shirt? Sadly, it didn’t pan out, so lost some dignity for nothing. That probably would have happened without the prospect of a free T-shirt anyway, so I’m okay with it.

As I’ve mentioned, the game was fun. Hockey’s kind of like a fast moving, more violent soccer. While no actual fights broke out (much to Lee‘s disappointment), there were plenty of solid hits. It was relatively high-scoring for a hockey game (4-3) and even went into overtime and ended in a shootout, so it’s hard to complain about the lack of a fight.

What was more interesting to me was the immediate sense of community bestowed by the game. I’d never been to an Ice game before and was only barely aware there even was a hockey team in the state, but there I was rooting for the Ice like I’d gone to school with each of them. Collective pronouns were par for the course – “We need a goal!” “Our guy just smacked into that other guy!” and that kind of thing. It wasn’t just me, either. We were all rooting for “our” team, made “ours” because it says “Indiana” right on their jerseys and we, being Hoosiers, had to root for them. If it had been two Indiana teams, we would have had to choose between them using a complex algorithm using geographic proximity, experiences in the respective towns, and location of family and friends.

I was again reminded of the Jerry Seinfeld bit where he talks about sports (paraphrased): “You got a guy on your team and you love him. He’s the greatest guy there is. During the offseason, he gets traded to a different team, and when that team plays against your team, you hate the guy. He’s the worst guy ever. What’s different? The guy hasn’t changed. All that’s changed are the clothes he’s wearing. We’re rooting for laundry, basically.”

I’m not a full-on Sports Guy by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t memorize stats, I barely know the players on my favorite teams, and I don’t plan my day around watching games. Even so, I find it’s easy to get excited in the sports atmosphere. There’s a sense of camaraderie with the other fans, even if you’re rooting for different teams – rivalry is its own specific sort of camaraderie – and it’s a good feeling to have that connection with other members of the human race, even if it’s for something as unimportant as a minor league hockey game.

It was a good time, and I really only have two quibbles:

  1. Our team lost.
  2. They never once played “Ice Ice Baby” in the arena, a song that you would just assume would be their theme song, wouldn’t you?
November 20th, 2007

I Wasn’t Ready

A couple of weeks ago the Career Class met for a Bible study and the “introduce yourself” thing this time was “tell something about yourself” and the rest of the class would guess whether or not it was true. Most everybody said something that was true and the few who said something false were guessed as false right away. When it got to me, my statement was, “I lettered in four sports in high school.” Everybody thought that was pretty funny, and when I listed them (football, basketball, wrestling, and baseball), they came to the (correct) conclusion fairly quickly that I went to a small high school. I even mentioned this a long time ago, and those who remember that will also remember that the letter in basketball was for keeping stats.

While I didn’t end up playing all four years of football in high school, I do have some fond memories of it. When I made the switch to tight end my Junior year, I felt a lot better about things – catching the ball made more sense to me than blocking people, and I never had the size back then to block well anyway. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned elsewhere, we got a new quarterback my Junior year and ended up having primarily a running game that year, but I did catch 100% of the passes that were thrown my way (a grand total of ONE).

So when it was announced in the Career Class a couple of weeks ago that we’d been challenged to a flag football match by the Young Marrieds class, it sounded fun to me. I wasn’t getting all Uncle Rico or anything, but I thought it might be fun.

The game was this past Saturday and our class won by default – they had two guys show up. Since we were all there, though, we went ahead and split up into two teams and played. Luckily for me, my team had one more guy on it, which gave me the opportunity to sit out every other series… which quickly turned into sitting out more plays until someone needed a break… which turned into me sitting out all the plays and just keeping track of the line of scrimmage.

I knew I was out of shape, but, man. My lungs were hurting, I got dizzy, and toward the end of it, my legs weren’t cooperating. Sheesh. This is why everyone laughed when I said I played sports in high school, by the way – this is the exact reason. I had remembered the catching passes part, but had forgotten the running up and down the field part.

So yesterday I was pretty sore. Plus I’ve been kind of low-level sick for a while, and coughing was really painful. My legs and my back hurt so much that it was painful to step on the accelerator in my car. Today my back felt a bit better, but my legs were worse. The media specialist at work asked me what was wrong because I was walking funny.

So I’m hopeful I won’t be as sore tomorrow, but time will tell. I’m older and out of shape, and I guess there’s something I can do about one of those things.

And that is: never play football again.

July 26th, 2007


It was a little over a year ago that I saw Settlers of Catan for the first time. Brian had been telling me about it (and a bunch of other card/tile-based games) for a while, but when a bunch of us Internetians met last year, he brought Settlers with him.

I didn’t play, but I observed some play, and it confused and frightened me. “No, thanks!” I said.

Settlers of Catan was introduced in 1995 by a German games company, and it won “Game of the Year” that year in the German market. From there it’s gone on to sell over 11 million copies worldwide and gain several expansion packs. (source) In a nutshell, the game is about getting resources and using those resources to build roads, settlements, and cities in an effort to earn Victory Points. The first person to get ten Victory Points wins the game. It’s about strategy and trading, but it’s more about sitting around a table talking to friends.

About two months ago, Settlers came to Xbox Live Arcade, Microsoft’s “download games to your console’s hard drive” system (which, as a side note, is completely awesome). It was a departure from their usual offerings, like Pac-Man, Gyruss, Castlevania, and Street Fighter II, along with several made-for-XBLA games. I decided to download the demo and give it a try – partly because Brian was hassling me to do so, but partly because I was interested, despite my claims otherwise. I’d been hearing about the game from other people here and there as well, and a demo I could play against the computer seemed a good way to get my feet wet.

The demo had a Tutorial that led me through the whole process of the game, step by step. About two seconds after I played the tutorial, I bought the full game. Shortly thereafter, I played an online game with Brian and a friend of his. I was hooked.

A few weeks ago, we took a trip down to Louisville, Kentucky, to see Josh and Gretchen. Before we hit the road, I stopped at our local game shop and picked up an actual copy of the game to take with us. If I’m remembering correctly, two games were played that weekend. Since then, a week hasn’t gone by that a game hasn’t been played. I introduced it to some people in the Career Class, and we’ve since learned there were already some fans in the class. Most Career Class gatherings now tend to have a Catan outbreak. A few weeks ago, a fellow classmember bought the 5-6 Player expansion pack (thanks, Jeremiah!) and gave it to me, so now even more people can play at the same time. There was one gathering over at Lee‘s house that saw two games going on at once, with a total of ten people playing.

While the game is fun, for me the better part is playing with friends and talking. Sure, there are bouts of bitterness here and there (“Why won’t you trade with me?” “You’re 8 points ahead of me!”) and the occasional… let’s say “non-standard, non-legal” moves made (read: “cheating,” whether intentional or not!), but it’s good to sit down with friends and play a game and talk, whether it’s around a table or on Xboxes in different parts of the country.

Two other effects the game has had:

  1. Brian gets to say “I told you so!” to me (And he does. Often.)
  2. Now I’m considering buying a copy of Carcassonne.