Dad Memories: 35 Fake Boot Right Option

35 Fake Boot Right Option

I’d like to thank everyone for their comments and “likes” and even just reading the posts about my dad this week. As an adolescent who thought it was cool to blare Pac-Man Fever from my 8-D batteries boom box, I know that his coolness was a lot of the reason I had friends. He was a youth football coach, baseball umpire and all around nice guy to the Bridgeport community. I assume that most of my friends at that time were either using me to hang out with him (or Char) or they saw potential in me because of what he had become and once this whole pink hat phase ended, I’d be at least comparably cool. For the record, sorry to disappoint all those who believed the latter. You win some, you lose some.

As I mentioned before, my father was a football coach. MY football coach in fact, and during some of my most formative years. If you know anything about me, well you probably know about my respect for Wilson Phillips. But if you know two things, you know I’m a big football fan, as 35-year-old men probably wouldn’t voluntarily bang bodies with 23-year-olds 80 pounds their senior every weekend for a cause they don’t feel strongly about. But before I even had the opportunity to be coached by my father, I was almost scared away from the sport by Coach Yorgey. Picture Hulk Hogan from the 80s and don’t change anything and that was Coach Yorgey.

The first hour of our two-hour practice consisted entirely of Bull in the Ring, which is a “game” where everyone stands around in a circle with one person waiting anxiously in the middle scared to death and questioning why his sadistic father signed him up for this. Once the Hulk chooses your fate by calling out a name from the circle, that person and the person in the middle will just hit each other to the Hulk’s content. The man was nothing if not passionate about boys hitting each other. No lie – my first practice in pads for football ever, I was thrown into the ring against a guy who turned out to be our fullback, Craig Jones, and he hit me so hard I fell backwards and started rolling down the hill. I just used the momentum I had recently been given by Craig and kept going and did not return to practice. I can in fact still hear the Hulk laughing when I look down that hill back home. But this is not a story about him. That would take too long and I legally need my therapist present while rehashing those memories.

I shot the gauntlet and made it through relatively unscathed to a point where I was actually a fairly well-respected quarterback of an underdog team that overachieved. My father was now my coach. He thankfully did not share the same passion for such deathmatch games. He also unfortunately did not share the same knowledge of the game. I remember one time during his first year when he finally came to the realization as a coach that “we don’t have to try to score on every play.” Even at 9, I understood the concept of down and distance at a level that was apparently way over my dad’s head. That’s when I realized that we were in trouble.

But we had the advantage of being a father/son coach/quarterback combo. We had so many extra hours to talk and scheme in addition to the 10 hours a week we had on the field. And that’s when we came up with our signal system. As pee-wee football teams, we were not allowed to have coaches on the field anymore. Most teams would sub in and out a running back or an offensive lineman every play to communicate to the quarterback what play to call in the huddle. Well, our team only had 12 guys. And in the time it took to run the 30 yards from the sideline to the huddle, Georgey would forget the play at least half the time. So my dad and I came up with a system of signs where one half of his body were odd number and the other half were even, and the higher you went, the higher the number was. It was really a fairly simple way to communicate “26 power” into the huddle. My father, however, was not a master of this system which he created. Without getting into too much detail, he would call plays that didn’t exist and couldn’t exist. And more often than not, I’d look over at him trying to figure out what body part to hit – and he’d start and then stare into the air in thought and shake his head and start over – like he was on Password. Every play call looked like a man pantomiming “I just lost my keys.” So I was the only 9-year-old with complete play-calling control in the entire world. Suck that, Peyton.

One of my greatest moments in my life came when we were playing the King of Prussia upper-middle-class Indians. Our rivals. And this was for some sort of championship or at least that’s what I remember being led to believe. They showed up with about 32 people in 4 lines doing jumping jacks before the game. We had 12 scrubs farting on each other. And Georgey couldn’t find his cleats. Dad was better this game than he had been in the past with his signal calling. I remember being impressed that a disproportionate number of the plays he called actually existed in our playbook, whether they were the ones he meant to call or not. But toward the end of the game, we had one drive where we needed to score and it was currently 3rd and goal on the 5 yard line. 35 fake boot right option. I fake the ball to the 3 back through the 5 hole (left side of the line) and I bootleg right (nobody blocking for me) and have the end on the right side run an out pattern. I have the option to either run it or pass it to that one guy, who in this case was Mike McVoy. I’m not sure how he’s matured as a player since, but that would be the equivalent of calling a play for Todd Pinkston to win the game. Well, on this play, I decided to tuck it and run. Mike’s defender came off him and tackled me at the line of scrimmage.

4th and goal from the 5. My dad starts to send in the play. But I had seen something. Something to exploit in their coverage. And I was unfortunately going to have to rely on Todd Pinkston to help me. I started to call the play. I could now hear my dad yelling. I ignored him. He sent Georgey in with the play. I waved him back off. He tried to call a time out. We didn’t have any. He was left with no other options but to hope this worked. Nor was I because an insolent act like that will be tough to be forgotten when it’s time for him to just play the father role of his father/coach combo. Hike! The ball was snapped and we ran the fake and I booted around to the right. Same play, same situation. I had the ball in my right hand to throw it, but Pinkston was covered. So I tucked it and started to run forward. Todd’s corner came off him to make the same tackle he made at the line of scrimmage last play. But I never took my hand off the laces. I pulled up and floated the ball like it was an egg I didn’t want broken. Touchdown. And Todd’s moment of glory. And behind the scenes, it was my moment of glory. For my father, through his own incompetence, had turned me into one of the only play-calling 9-year-olds of all time and I still remain one of the best back-up flag football quarterbacks in the Anne Arundel County full contact football league today. And the 35 fake boot right option does not work nearly as well as it does against 9-year-olds. Thanks for the skill set, pops.

Parts of this post may be exaggerated or completely fabricated due to the fallability of human memory and the need for me to brag about myself.

Dad Memories: The Lyrical Prankster

The Lyrical Prankster

My father enjoyed to mess with me as a child. And as an adolescent. And as a young adult. And he was good, because I wasn’t all that stupid. Every time I grew wise to his ways, he’d reach a new level of straight-faced Kool-Aid that I would once again drink. He got a lot of practice at Markley Billiards, where he and his buddies would mess with the unsuspecting newbies. Whenever a new guy would come in and start eyeing up a stick with his left hand, my dad would tell him that the left-handed sticks had a red dot on the bottom. He would then watch as this poor kid would roam the room looking for a red dot that didn’t exist. I’m not exactly sure how that bit ended.

Well, here’s one that he probably didn’t realize would have the staying power that it did and I really hope it comes across in print like it does when I tell it. I was in the passenger seat of the car on my way down to UMBC for freshman orientation, excited and nervous. This would be the longest time I would be away from my dad ever. We talked all the way down. He gave me advice, we said our goodbyes and we laughed a lot. We noticed a sign that said “No Hazmats in tunnel” on the way down. He asked if I had packed any Hazmats. I don’t know. We had no idea what a Hazmat was. We half expected to be stopped at the tunnel and to have some security officer to pull his gun on us and ask us to take the Hazmat out of the car. I now know what they are and how stupid we both were.

But about halfway down, we saw a sign and he just shouted out “Havre De Grace!” But he pronounced Hav-re as if it rhymed with Ben Stiller’s pronunciation of Fav-re from Something about Mary. And Grace rhymed with Bocce. De was pronounced like day. Now say it altogether to yourself. Havre de Grace (Lava Day Bocce). He just shouted it out loud and when I looked at him like he was full of shit again, he just told me it was Italian. Well, dad was half Italian and a lot more knowledgeable than I about such things. Besides, he had upped his straight man game something fierce. And since this was the first time I had seen it and it seldom came up about an hour south of there, I lived with that pronunciation of it long into my junior year.

Finally, the day came when this happened. I believe I saw a news reporter say something about Harve de Grace and pronounced it so unprofessionally lazy. The way he said it rhymed with the actual pronunciation of Favre with the words Duh Grace after them. Harve de Grace. I was floored at how sloppy this reporter was. Only three syllables, no roll of the tongue, I couldn’t smell marinara sauce in the background when he said it or anything. I brought this up to Barnes, who was in the room with me and about 6 other people. He laughed. No, I’m serious! How can he call himself a journalist?! His laugh reached a different level, likely from pitied approval to an actual real gut laugh. He told me that’s how it was actually pronounced. All this time, they thought I was just being funny when I said it my way and I thought they were just all being lazy when they said it the apparently correct way. I was the inadvertent victim of my father’s long con and in a way, I was voicing his joke to my friends without my knowledge or consent like a puppet unaware he’s a puppet for over two years.

I called my father with a little bit of sarcastic disapproval and told him that it wasn’t pronounced Lava Day Bocce. What? Oh yeah. I had no idea. This is his reconciliation for the lie that made me the fool for two years. What other lies have you been spinning all these years? I still haven’t forgotten about that Santa Claus thing. Still love you though.

Dad Memories: You Snooze You Lose

I’ve created my own Father’s Day routine since my dad has passed away back in 2005. I listen to The Living Years, watch Big Fish and reread The Heartbreak of Breathing, a short story I wrote about his passing. Yes, I cry. It’s OK. And it’s actually not that uncommon. Lots of things make me cry, including – but not limited to – most Monk episodes, Ron Artest’s psychiatrist-thanking speech, and watching Last Comic Standing episodes. But I consciously make an effort to remember my dad and try to recall things about him that I haven’t thought about in a while. As you may know, I credit him for my sense of humor. Thankfully, I credit mom for my looks [bazinga]. Anyway, I’ve already chronicled in this website many of the things I remember very vividly about my father (note the Father’s Day section on the top right). Well each day this week, I’ll chronicle another memory of him that I haven’t shared with the greater public (Tom – and apparently Nichol. Hi and thanks for reading) on this website yet.

You Snooze You Lose

I believe I can link the fall of the American dollar and the economic depression of the 80s to the invention of the snooze alarm. Instantly, the entire country stopped getting the rest they needed AND no longer showed up to work or the school bus stop on time. It was a downward spiral of unproductivity we knew we were in and yet could not escape, like a spider being flushed down a low to middle class toilet. I was one such victim of the fad. And as our house was quite small, so was my family. The ear-splitting siren would sound and I’d usually be able to get to it before the third deafening beep. Whether I would stay awake or fall back asleep was dictated by a randomly generated Schrodinger-type experiment in my head.

My mother would come in to make sure I was getting ready for school because she was not only a good mother, but also because she didn’t want me to have to ride my bike to school, thus making her feel guilty. But she was too sweet to get me up permanently. And I was a good sleeper. She would come in after about 2 or 3 snoozes. If I ever made it to round 4, that’s when dad would show up. Not as sweet and always a lot angry that he was awoken 4 or 5 times in a row in the morning at seemingly random 9 minute increments. Like Tony Montana-type anger. So I rarely let it get that far.

But one such morning, I was apparently incredibly tired. As stated before, this alarm was so terrifyingly loud, I have nightmares about it still. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! Well on this particular morning, I made it to the 4th snooze. It was Scarface time. But this time, I was completely asleep. My head was inches from this Three Mile Island alarm and people in neighboring counties were putting pillows over their heads. My father came storming in, as the alarm was likely going off for possibly 50 mind-melting beeps in a row. You wanna fuck with me? Okay. You wanna play rough? Okay. Say hello to my little friend!

I was awoken with mixed feelings of confusion, guilt and a terror I wouldn’t feel again until I went skydiving, which hasn’t even happened yet. Realizing the alarm was going off and I had miraculously slept through it, I saw a look of frustrated confusion on Tony’s face. I couldn’t tell you if I thought he expected me to be awake and jamming to the beeps or downstairs and unaware of the alarm. I prefer to think the latter, since he seemed perplexed that I was asleep in the room, which means that his tirade was meant specifically for that alarm clock. It would be a while before I would sleep passed the alarm again, mostly because I couldn’t fall asleep in that house for three months. To this day, when I hear that beep from an alarm clock, part of me expects Tony to come bursting through whatever hotel or guest room door I’m in. I never fucked anybody over in my life didn’t have it coming to them. You got that? All I have in this world is my balls and my word and I don’t break them for no one. Do you understand? Miss you, dad.

Review of “Caddyshack”

Review of “Caddyshack”

You guys remember Caddyshack? Of course you do. Or do you? It’s been like 30 years since it came out. I just watched a documentary on the classic sports comedy and was inspired to watch it again. Here’s what I remembered about it before tonight in approximate order of most vivid memory:

  1. Animatronic gopher dancing to I’m Alright by Kenny Loggins.
  2. The golf course exploding to the 1812 Overture at the end.
  3. Bill Murray’s over-the-top character, specifically the self-narrated cabbage-mutilation scene.
  4. The old man’s best round of golf in the hurricane, culminating in a lightning strike.
  5. Rodney Dangerfield’s awkward, ridiculous golf swing and his awkward, ridiculous eyes.

Having loved this as a child and having just watched it mere days ago, I am now questioning just what else I’ve been able to trick myself into believing over the years. This is not a good movie. I question whether or not I ever really liked it now. It’s possible because I haven’t seen it in about 25 years that I just bought into all the cult hype that has strangely grown over time and merely assumed I liked it. Or more likely, just said I did to fit in (he was even more insecure back in high school). Sure, Murray and Dangerfield are still funny if you enjoy cartoons and/or fart jokes. But I don’t.

This movie was made in an obviously different time period of feature length film. One in which sound mixing was just not important enough to the editors. I’m not a proponent of the MTV quick cut version of film, but the pacing in this was ridiculous. What the hell was with the boat scene between Dangerfield and Ted Knight? It was 5-7 minutes of wasted time and probably not much money. In 1993, Universal Studios had the guts to cut a multi-million dollar scene of the island blowing up at the end of Jurassic Park. I don’t see why they couldn’t have thrown away a glorified dinghy for the sake of continuity. And the pool scene was so overhyped in this documentary. Another wasted 5-7 minutes. No laughs, no plot development, no reason for it to be in there. What a let-down.

Speaking of plot, there apparently originally was one. Because of the need to get all these stars more screen time, the producers kinda threw it away. This is the reason, but still doesn’t grant them a pardon. Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase and Ted Knight are all in this movie and none of them are the main character. When watching this again, I really could care less about Michael O’Keefe. So much of the plot was trimmed out in favor of Dangerfield’s eye bulge and Murray’s mumbles that I couldn’t root for his character’s ambitions or desires. And what the hell was the point of the broad? She banged both Chase’s character and O’Keefe’s character and that was it. No development, no explanation. I’m all for gratuitous slutiness, but there wasn’t even an attempt to make it make sense. And that theme followed the film throughout.

I still enjoyed the parts that I remembered. I especially enjoyed the documentary glancing a little too casually over the part where they took the golf club owners out to dinner and blew up their golf course. And like Harold Ramis – first-time director – said, having an animatronic gopher dancing in the first scene kinda let them off the hook for having a plot or following any kind of rules whatsoever. I do not want to rid the world of all copies of this movie, I just want to get it out of the #2 spot on ESPN’s best sports movies of all time (below Hoosiers) and the #2 spot in Bravo’s Funniest Movies of All Time (below Animal House. Of course, any list with Arthur in the top 10 can probably be completely discounted). 4 bugs (out of 10).

Still Standing Right Here…

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Video – Death By Kitten (Speakeasy)

Dustin Fisher tells a true story at SpeakeasyDC’s open mic. from SpeakeasyDC on Vimeo.

Holy Quick Turnaround, Batman! I have to thank the incredibly talented and apparently extremely fast-video-editing Nick Newlin for getting this video out less than a week after it was shot. This is the video from all that nonsense I posted over the weekend about going Inside the Head of a Performer. Now you can see the fruits of my efforts. There’s about a second or two when the video skips, possibly by accident, possibly because I said the F word one too many times. It’s not perfect, but neither am I.

Still Standing Right Here…