Posted by: arjaylee | May 25, 2009

The Old Firm

Rivalries are a part of competitive sports. Here in the U.S. we look at Yankees-Red Sox, Lakers-Celtics, or Giants-Dodgers as classic rivalries. There are rivalry weeks in College football between colleges who usually are in the same state, region, or city. The intensity of these games is generally higher than that found in the rest of the season. The players are psyched. The fans go crazy, and quite often there are alcohol fueled acts of lunacy.
Spots rivalries in this country pale in comparison with The Old Firm. The Old Firm is the name given to the meetings every year between Glasgow’s two Premier League Soccer clubs, Celtic and Rangers.

Feel the Love

Feel the Love

One big difference between the Old Firm and our rivalries is the sectarian component. For reasons best left to your own research, Ranger fans tend to be Protestant, while Celtic are supported by Catholics. This is such a foreign concept to Americans that it is hard to believe. Believe it. It stretches from Glasgow, Scotland across to Northern Ireland, the last bastion of centuries old, and (thankfully) mostly abandoned, violence between Catholics and Protestants.
Let me just state that this rarely has anything to do with how one chooses to worship. Again, do your own research.
Ten years ago, on this weekend, I arrived in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The friends I stayed with live in a community called Andersonstown. 110 miles away in Glasgow, Scotland , The Old Firm was being played. We watched the match on TV. As Andersonstown, is a Republican (or Catholic) Community, my friend is a staunch Celtic supporter. Unfortunately, Rangers won on this day. Oh well, we’ll get em next time, right? Yeah right.

Empty Seats and two rows of police seperate Celtic from Rangers fans

Empty Seats and two rows of police seperate Celtic from Rangers fans

While my friend was disappointed in the result, it didn’t ruin his weekend. He has a life, and had other things to occupy his time with. An hour or so after the match, I walked with him to a friends house in the nearby neighborhood of Lenadoon. We were going to pick up some tools for a home project. A couple blocks from our destination we heard a commotion. As we rounded a corner we saw some cars blocking the street as barricades. We had just come upon the fringes of a small riot going on. Young men, wearing Celtic gear, were dragging bicycle racks across the street, while others were shouting epithets at a line of riot police about 20 yards away up a small hill. My friend told me that most likely, out of our view on the other side of the police line, were Rangers fans who had come to taunt the Celtic fans. Without the police in full riot gear there would have been a drunken bloodbath.
This is in another country across the water from where the game was played.

Side Note: We walked past the Lenadoon riot site an hour or so later. The streets were deserted. No cops, no rioters no barricades. We did receive some scrutiny from three rough looking fellows as we entered the neighborhood. As we got out of earshot, my friend said “Didja see those lads? That was the Ra”
“The who?”
“The IRA. They cleared the street. They don’t wanna give the police an excuse to search any houses around here”

Today I was reminded of what I saw ten years ago. I saw this on BBC Northern Ireland News:
Father killed by ‘sectarian mob’
I was heartsick when I read this. In a small town in a different country a group of drunken thugs used a game as an excuse to carry out a hate crime. I don’t have time tonight to examine the socio-politico-economic causes for the “religious” strife that happens over there. It’s a shame that there were no riot police in Coleraine this weekend.

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Posted by: arjaylee | April 27, 2009

Those #@%^%** Cuss Words! Part 2

Body parts as “dirty” words puzzle me. Mores change in most cultures. Certain terminology that had been avoided in polite company is now heard in normal conversation. Some see this as moral decline while others see it as linguistic evolution. I probably fall somewhere in the middle.
Certain parts of our body have at least one euphemism that we tend not to use in mixed company. Some have more. Some of these words have other meanings when used in a different context.
Every square centimeter of our bodies is named and illustrated in anatomy books all over the world; even the “dirty” parts.
Generally speaking, the parts of the body that were given vulgar nicknames are the ones that have to do with sex, or waste elimination. There is one part that isn’t directly related to sex or elimination, but has an association with each. Which one do I mean? You’re probably sitting on it.
Nothing elicited more giggling than Judges 15:15, where Samson slew a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. Us kids thought that was great. We even started reading the Bible to look for more dirty words.
We could always get away with calling someone an ass.
“I meant the donkey one!” we’d shout.
I don’t know why using that word to describe one’s Gluteal region was deemed vulgar. Today we’ve softened on our stand against that word. We can talk about kicking ones ass (not the donkey) and not be viewed as too uncouth. On the other hand, if we add the word that, combined with ass, is another word for anus, we are considered to be swearing. We can say ass, but a**h*** is still kinda frowned upon in most of our society. “Butthead” doesn’t even get a second glance anymore. Although most of us instruct our children not to say that. I dare you to call someone an “anal orifice” at the top of your lungs and see what kind of looks you get.
Genitalia probably have more nicknames than you could shake a stick at. The penis for some reason was called the nickname of our 37th president. I don’t know why. Another name for it is another name for a rooster. Again, the Bible made us laugh. (Matthew 26:34 King James)
Now, some people get squirmy hearing even the official, anatomical name for the female counterpart. It’s my opinion that the “Big V” has the honor of having the most vulgar word assigned to it. (I never said I was immune from these cultural biases, just that I don’t understand them)
Testicles never seemed to reach swear word status, but we’ve still assigned them lots of nicknames.
The breast (female variety) has a lot of rude nicknames. For some reason, today the term “boobs” is acceptable, while when I was a kid it seemed to be on the same list as the “T Word”. A tit is a bird found in the Northern Hemisphere and Africa. We weren’t allowed to say it. I didn’t get that farmers always talked about teats, which were found on the corresponding location of their cows.

When I was a kid my mom never used the anatomical terms for our naughty  parts. We didn’t have penises or gluteus maximi, we had peepees, tushies, or hineys. Go ahead shout at the guy who cut you off on the onramp “You peepeehead!”  There, didn’t that feel good. “You tushface!”  I’m feeling better already.

I’m not trying to make a case for more swearing on TV, or for letting our children test out George Carlin’s “Seven Words” on their teachers. I just want to know how and why we chose which were the magic, wash-your-mouth-out-with-soap, bad words

Posted by: arjaylee | April 27, 2009

Those #@%^%** Cuss Words!

I like to write. That being so, I have a fascination with words. I like playing with them. I like learning of their origins. I like putting words together to paint a mental picture. We see things in our minds when we hear or read words.
I don’t understand how societies decide which words are acceptable and which ones are not. There are certain standards I don’t question. Using the Lord’s name as a swear word is a taboo that I have no problem with. I understand that a society sets it’s own standards in many areas. I just don’t understand how we arrived at the decision that certain words became marked as swear words, curse words, or cuss words.
I’m not suggesting that as a society, we don’t have a right to set commonly recognized standards regarding acceptable vs unacceptable words. It’s just that I wasn’t around for the vote, and never got to hear the debate.

Why do we call it “Blue” humor? What about having a mouth like a sailor? Do sailors use more vulgar language than marines?

Most of the words that were branded as “dirty” when I was a child had to do with bodily function, bodily activity, body parts, or where we might go when our spirits left our bodies.
When I was young, the word “Hell” was used as a swear word on it’s own. “Oh Hell” you’d hear grownups exclaim. I wasn’t allowed to say it. It was one of the lesser words as was “Damn”. These words are cousins, as damnation refers to one being assigned to Hell.
Rhett Butler began the slow change in damns status in the hierarchy of our cultures array of foul language. “Frankly Scarlett I don’t give a damn” is credited as the first time that “damn” was heard on the big screen. Now if I’d get in trouble for saying damn, I’d be dead meat for G** d***! It’s sort of dumb to nod and wink at damn by itself since God is implied. Only God can damn, right? So even though our society has mostly removed the stigma of damn, I believe it’s worse than other words on our list of baddies.
Darn and dang were the acceptable replacement words. Gosh darn and goldang being the extensions. It’s really kind of stupid that those words were ok, when we meant the other.
When we were kids and got scolded for saying Hell, we’d respond with “Well it’s in the Bible.” That never held water with my parents. Heck was the replacement and we could say it with as much anger as we felt without fear of reprisal.
Though Hell was never really that prominent in the expletive hall of shame, telling someone to go there was. I suppose that since what it meant was to invite one to eternal damnation it counted as two cuss words in one.
Today we have sportscasters talking about a helluva hit on television. I thought Hell was bad. That’s part of what makes the whole good word bad word so confusing to me.
There is a show called “The Best Damn Sports show” It bugs me a little, but that’s my own cultural bias.

Next Up: Body Parts

Posted by: arjaylee | April 1, 2009

NASL Memories

(Originally posted in the Sounders FC  Fan Blog)

I had the privilege of working in the NASL for part of the 1976 season while in college, and then for three years as the head athletic trainer for the San Diego Sockers. (1980-1983) In 76, the San Diego Jaws played in the open air toilet known as the Aztec Bowl. It was an ancient stadium, built in 1936, that held in the neighborhood of 12,000. It was narrow, bumpy, and only half covered with grass. It was located on the campus of San Diego State University.

The average attendance for the league that year was 7,642. Pele was in the league,

Pele and George Best in the mid Seventies

Pele and George Best in the mid Seventies

so we can only imagine what the average was, not counting the games he played. Speaking of Pele, the Jaws moved their game with the Cosmos to the larger Balboa Stadium, downtown. What a circus it was. The kick-off was delayed 30 minutes or so as we waited for the helicopter that was carrying the game ball to arrive. At the end of each game, Pele would honor a player from the opposing team by swapping jerseys with him. That night the Pele MOTM was goalkeeper Alan Mayer following a nil nil draw.

By the outdoor season of 81, the league average attendance was 14,084.Fourteen thou for an average! Consider that the Cosmos drew 34,835, Tampa Bay Rowdies drew 22,532, and up the road, the Whitecaps averaged 23236.
The Los Angeles Aztecs Drew 5,814 a game while playing in the Coliseum. One Sunday afternoon we were at the coliseum. You could hear Ron Newman’s voice echoing off the approximately 84,000 empty seats. The announced attendance was 6,000. I think they counted the Vendors, ushers, and players.

Television coverage was a fantasy back then. There was scattered local coverage for some franchises, but no national identity. For that matter, we had to watch the spanish language station to catch a World Cup match. Guys had to call overseas to get scores. Whenever a match was shown for novelty value, they ran commercials as if it were NFL or MLB.

While I don’t want to come across like some old geezer talking about how bad we had it back in our day…okay so that’s exactly what I’m doing. Just consider how special this franchise in Seattle is, even by today’s standards. The league is healthier than what existed back then. We’ve got local TV coverage for Every game. The league is covered by FSN, as well as ESPN2. So there isn’t the support that there is in Europe. Probably never will be. So What? Let’s enjoy what we’ve got. Can it get better? Of Course. Let’s enjoy the ride.

Posted by: arjaylee | March 17, 2009

Sounders!

ssfclogoIn 1974, the San Jose Earthquakes began playing at Spartan Stadium. A family friend worked for the club, and got us tickets whenever we wanted. It was a small field, but a fantastic atmosphere. It was San Jose’s first professional franchise outside of minor league baseball. There was a buzz all over the South peninsula. The crowds were rowdy and passionate. This was soccer at it’s highest level in the U. S., and the fans were an example to the league of how to support their club.  The place held 18,000, and it was rare to find an empty seat. I was hooked, and looked forward to the games.

Years later (80-83), I was the head athletic trainer for the San Diego Sockers. Some of my favorite trips were to Seattle to play the Sounders. I loved the facilities at the Kingdome. The crowds were great. Even though the cavernous state of the place prohibited the intimate feel that Spartan Stadium had, The passion of the fans was palpable.

It was a grand disapointment when the Sounders folded amidst a crumbling league. For the rest of the decade, the american brand of professional soccer was mostly played in sports arenas with Astroturf  laid down over hockey ice.

After we moved to The Puget Sound Area, We were happy when the Sounders were resurrected in the 90’s. When the MLS announced the new frnchise in Seattle, we decided to spring for season tickets. We’re counting down til Thursday’s kickoff. I’m flashing back to the summer of 74 when I saw my first professional soccer game. With the lower bowl mostly filled with season ticket members I’m anticipating the type of atmosphere we had in San Jose. There is a buzz around the area. The crowd will be rowdy and passionate. This is the game at it’s highest level in the U. S. Let’s show the rest of the league how to support it’s club.

Posted by: arjaylee | March 15, 2009

Season Tickets

scarfOn Thursday, Jean and I will be at the Seattle Sounders FC Inaugural Season Opener VS the New York Red Bulls. We’re both pretty fired up about it. It’s great to see the highest level league come to the city. It’s the first time I’ve ever had season tickets for any team. Fortunately, we got the tickets before the layoff. They’re paid for, and we can low budget most of the games.

This has some sentimental value as we met on a blind date at an indoor soccer game in April of  87.  We’ve  been looking forward to this since the city was awarded the franchise. I’ll report back on Friday.

Posted by: arjaylee | February 24, 2009

More Parochial Memories

OK, now I’m tripping down memory lane. I was remembering more Catholic School stuff. It was a small school, something like 120-130 kids in eight grades. We had two grades per room with one nun who would bounce back and forth between the two. This wasn’t a particularly healthy way to learn for this ADD addled brain. There were kids from a neighboring town that would bus in every day.

On the first Friday of each month there would be mass said at the school. On that Thursday, there would be confessions. The two priests from the two towns served by the school would come in to hear confession.

The home priest was Father McGuinness. Not sure exactly where in Ireland he was from, somewhere in the south. He had the stereotypical “Lucky Leprechaun” brogue. He’d been to our house for dinner a few times. Nice fellow, but was a drag for High Mass. That’s when the priest sings the mass. No slam on him as a person, but Father Brendan McGuinness could not carry a tune if you gave him a bucket. It was painful.

The priest from Atascadero was Father Murphy. I didn’t know him as well. He was also harder to understand. He spoke more rapidly and sounded a bit more harsh. He might have come from the North of Ireland, but I wouldn’t bet my life on it.

What sticks out in my memory though are the Thursday confession days. I can remember the Atascadero boys trying to bribe us to let them get in the Father McGuinness line. It seems Father Murphy recognized all their voices and gave out exceedingly harsh penance. At least that’s what they said.

When I was around 4th or 5th grade the taining began for altar boys. The classes were on Saturday. Father McGuinness was always bugging me to join the classes and become an altar boy. I knew guys that did it, and they thought it was cool that they got to handle the Sacramental Wine. My dad was the athletic trainer at Cal Poly back then, and during football season, I got to be the water boy for the team. That was pretty cool stuff. I was certainly not going to miss that for altar boy class. Now at that time, my mom’s cousin Luis, in Puerto Rico, was a Monsignor, on his way to eventually becoming a Cardinal. Father McGuinness used this to try and guilt me into being an Altar Boy. “Ah sure and if your cousin the Monsignor wouldn’t be disapointed in ya” . Finally, my dad intervened and told him to back off; that I wasn’t going to do it. So I never made it behind the altar to handle the wine.

Posted by: arjaylee | February 24, 2009

Significant or not… Parochial Memories

Ok, I’ve neglected this space for just about a month. I didn’t intend to. It’s just that I always think I need to wait until I have something significant to write before I use the prescious  time and blogspace. That’s sort of dumb since the purpose, in my mind is just to get the thoughts out there.

Anyway, I’ve recently stumbled across an old grade school aquaintence from St Rose of Lima Catholic School in Paso Robles Ca. I knew who he was, but he most likely wasn’t aware of me. He was three years older, and us younger kids were generally prety insignificant to the older ones in grade school. Actually, when I contacted him through Facebook, I’d gotten him confused with another guy with the same first name. Give me some grace here, that was a looong time ago.

So he told me about a song that he recorded called, “Sister Charles Ann” Now that was a mind blower for me! Not just that a nun would name herself that, but that I knew her. She was my teacher in 2nd grade, my first year in Catholic school. She was also the deliverer of my only two school spankings.  Big time trauma. She obviously had quite an impact on lives. I mean a grown man wrote a catchy bluesy rock song about her. It’s not a particularly flattering song, to understate matters, but all these years later (I won’t say how many) he had to purge himself with a song. In his dedication of the song he listed her as the woman who gave him more beatings than both his parents combined.nuns Now that’s a tribute to school discipline.

Sister Charles Ann. That’s a rather odd name for the collective psyche of a bunch of 1st and 2nd graders. I mean did her parents want a boy? The other nuns in the school had names like Sister Theresa Frances, Sister Lorraine, Sister Bernadette. How in the world did my Catholic school career start off with Charles Ann? I recently heard that she has since passed on. My intention is not to speak ill of the departed. We might have been able to relate, in a civil, cordial manner once I was an adult. Perhaps that would have removed the intimidating monster-like image of her that I’ve harbored all these years. If I ever got to talk to her grownup to grownup, I may have worked up the nerve to ask her where on earth the name came from.

Posted by: arjaylee | January 25, 2009

Traveling Ashes

Last week I was in Phoenix to celebrate my step mothers 90th birthday. All in all, an enjoyable trip. While I was there she told me that she wanted me to take my dad’s ashes with me. (He’s been gone 5 years) She’s had the ashes on a shelf in her bedroom in the plastic box they came from the crematorium in. “He wanted his ashes buried with your mom” she said.

Now my mom was buried, 25 years ago in a Catholic cemetery in Cupertino CA. It’s a double decker with the expectation that my dad would one day be buried there.  I called my sister to tell her this. She said The last thing Dad ever said to her about this was when he handed her the paperwork for the burial Plot. “Here” he said “you or Robert use this. I won’t need it, I’m getting cremated”.

So he either changed his mind over the following 4 years, or this is just what Alice wants, or what she thinks we want. I don’t really care. It’s just his ashes. He’s with the Lord. I’m not sure what the rules are regarding ashes at the cemetery. My sister has the paperwork somewhere. The plot is paid for. I don’t know if we have to pay to have them dig a big hole to put the box in, or do we show up with shovels, or do we just scatter the ashes in the grave?

So, she wanted them out of her apartment. Now that she’s 90 she wants to start clearing the place out so there won’t be so much for people to go through when it’s her time. That’s considerate, but I told her she’s got at least 10 years to worry about it.

My concern was whether or not I could bring the ashes on the plane in my carry-on. I had Jean check up on that for me, and she found out it was ok as long as the container is x-rayable. No problem, it’s plastic. ade sure to double bag the container. the last thing I wanted was for the box to open somehow, andspill the contents all over my clothes. That would be some kind of mess.

My suitcase with the ashes was stopped inside the scanner. “Whose bag is this”?  the TSA guy asked “Mine”

“I can’t tell what this is”

“It’s my dad’s ashes”

“I’m sorry” he said sympathetically. “I’ll have to rescan it”

“No problem”

Made it home with the cargo safe and sound. No spills, and no incidents. It’s kind of weird having these ashes here after five years.  Now we’ll have to make arrangements to get them into the ground at the cemetery in California.

Posted by: arjaylee | January 23, 2009

President BHO and Graceland Part 2

I wasn’t kidding was I?

chia1

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