🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
Bruising Basketball 🏀
I grew up in the NBA era of the Bad Boys Detroit Pistons while loving a New York Knicks team that was, to put it mildly, quite physical. Guys like Steph Curry and LeBron James can makes basketball seem like artistry these days, but give me Bill Laimbeer or Charles Oakley any day.
I spent four years or so as Boy The Younger’s basketball coach. Never did my teams have tremendous talent. What we had was size … big, beefy size. When I looked at some of the kids at our first practice, I thought we’d be able to dump the ball into the post and score routinely, that we’d own the boards.
My big men might have been big, but they were passive. They’d sooner apologize for reaching over you to grab a rebound than use their size to slam their way into a position to snag the board.
That had to change.
So I changed it. I started with a kid named Caden who came to hoops practice from football practice, where he was on the offensive and defensive lines. Caden was a big boy. He also was naturally a sweet kid. One practice, I focused on encouraging him to use his size a little bit more. Caden took that as license to assault anyone who tried to drive the lane on him.
I dialed him back a little bit and then we were good. But if we needed a rebound or a defensive stop late in a game, I knew I could turn to Caden and say, “Kid, go do your thing.” He’d smile and cheerfully run back out on the court, where he’d then guard his section of our zone as if any entrance into it by a ball-wielding opponent was a personal affront to everything he considered holy.
By the time I stopped coaching, my team still wasn’t the most talented out there, but they were definitely the most physical. Opponents quickly learned that if they drove the lane, there was going to be contact and it wasn’t going to be a pleasant trip. My philosophy was that kids at that age couldn’t regularly hit the outside shot, so we packed the paint and dared them to start chucking. Sometimes we lost, but we never were out-toughed.
BTY has moved on to other, more experienced, better coaches now. The team he is on this year is a developmental team, which translates to “needs improvement.” They lost their first game by 50 when their opponent sprung a full-court press they couldn’t handle. The two games since then haven’t been quite as bad, but that haven’t been good either.
When I was coach, BTY was the scrappy defensive pest who did all the little things that don’t get the glory. He boxes out like someone much taller and stronger (BTY is a string bean). He sets vicious screens that have blindsided several players and left one in tears. (That’s my boy!) He’s Dennis Rodman without the sordid past, nose rings or multicolored hair.
Early in the season, it became apparent quite quickly there was an absence of on-court leadership on this team. So I challenged BTY to step up and be that leader. This isn’t something he does naturally, but it’s something I know he has in him.
Last night, I saw that on full display. BTY has evolved extremely quickly into a good leader. He was leading not only through his words to other people but by example in his own play. He played tough. He played aggressively. He hustled his butt off after turning the ball over and stopped an opponent from an easy layup with a Bad Boys-esque foul in which he blocked the shot but got a whole lotta body in the process. That kid then missed both free throws.
Yes, he played hard, and as the game went on, I noticed something — his team was following suit. He no longer was the only one boxing out with aggression. He no longer was the only one setting body-crunching screens. Every single kid was playing hard.
This team won’t win many games. They might not win any games. But they are becoming a true team. That they are starting to resemble the teams I most looked up to as a kid? That’s just a bonus.
And then there’s this thing that I love about BTY. I respect the fact he’s coached by someone else now. I do not interfere with that coach’s instructions, just as all of the parents of the players I coached stayed in their lane. That said, it’s extremely rewarding as a dad to see my boy do one of the things I taught him while I was his coach and then look over to me to see if his old man caught it.
I did, kid. I did.
Back about 15 years or so ago, I noticed this bump in the middle of my back along my spine. Nothing big. Maybe the size of a nickel. When it started to become a little painful to the touch, I eventually asked a doctor about it. Turns out it was a cyst. Nothing dangerous, but a doctor carved it out of me, put a stitch or two in and sent me home.
… Where, Wifey Poo promptly found the exact spot to poke me with a pen as we were joking around. She says it was accidental. I choose to believe her because the alternative is that she’s sadistic. Whatever it was, it most definitely was great aim on her part. As I said, that spot was maybe the size of a nickel, and I was wearing a shirt at the time. To hit the incision as precisely as she did is astounding.
Yesterday, Wifey Poo had a similar type of thing removed from her back. Her incision is much larger than mine, as the thing she grew on her left shoulder blade area was far more impressive. Kudos to you, honey, for a job well done. As for me? Resisting the urge for payback is crippling. Can I hold on until the wound is healed? Time will tell.
What follows is an excerpt of the sermon delivered by Pastor Q.F. Conseco of the No-Dick Church on July 3, 2022, from his home outside Escandido, California. Good morning and welcome to the first-ever meeting of the newly created No-Dick Church of Hellhole Canyon, California. Verily, I welcome you and hope you are enjoying our…Keep reading
We do realize that a 6-year-old brought a gun into a classroom and purposefully shot a teacher with it … and it’s barely a blip in the national consciousness, right? I mean, it’s not absent from the media, but it’s certainly not as big as it would have been five or 10 years ago. We’ve become so numb to in-school gun violence that we’re thinking, “Well, at least it was only one teacher and she didn’t die” without really pausing to reflect on “SIX!?!?”
What exactly do you do with a 6-year-old who shoots a teacher in school? What would you do had that 6-year-old killed her? Killed a student? Killed multiple students? Because, folks, it’s gonna happen. Maybe it won’t be a 6-year-old, but are the answers any more clear if that child is 8? How about 10?
What does it say about our supposedly great society that these are the questions we really need to be asking right now?
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Four day weekend for me coming up!
- Metallica, November 2023!
- Indy 500, May 2023!
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩More Stupid Human Stuff 📱KC Trip ⚾Miserable Missourah 😠 Quick: Take a look around you. If you’re in a room with five other people, one of them thinks you’re financially struggling if you don’t have the latest iPhone. That’s according to a new survey following the release of the iPhone 14.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Loser Species 👶Email Win 📧Dad Pride 👨👦👦 I’m pretty sure I’m not normal. Normal people respond to that statement with, “Oh, John, nobody’s normal,” which is just a sign for us non-normies that the person we’re talking to is normal. Yesterday, I was waiting for Wifey Poo to pick me up…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Concert Thoughts 🧠Marriage 💍Drunk Idiots 🧉 There’s this scene in the 2004 movie Garden State in which Sam (Natalie Portman) looks at Andrew (Zach Braff) and notices … … And yeah, that resonated with me then and resonates with me now. Ever since then, being “in it” has become a thing…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sadness 😥Beautiful Skies ⛅Two Terms For 2022 ✌️ Back in our early days at Pound Ridge Elementary School, Sarah was the fastest girl runner in the class, which bought her some serious playground cred. There were only a few of us boys who could hang with Sarah in the 50-meter dash…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ear Flushing👂Grunge God🎶Tech Guy📺 If you have to have a doctor tell you a body part or yours is small, I suppose one of the least offensive would be the ear canal. That’s what a doctor told me this morning, after I finally broke down and actually went to said doctor’s…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Toys in the Hall🪅Idiot Governors🗳️Flopping FedEx✈️ Last night in my hotel in Springfield, Missourah, I set out a glass of milk and a plate of cookies before going to bed. It’s not that I don’t know how to read a calendar or have any particular belief in a fat man in…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Which One?🗺️Leave Introverts Alone🤫Oxford Commas🤪 I’m on the road for work this week, in Springfield. Ahhh, but Springfield what? There currently are 35 populated places in the United States named Springfield, spread out over 25 states, including five in Wisconsin. In addition, there are 35 Springfield Townships, and Ohio owns 11…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Surrounded 😷Wood Splitter 🌲Morons 🤪 I’ve had COVID. Twice. The first time fucked up my life for a year. I’m still not back to the me I was before it came into my home, and I’m pretty sure that now, nearly two years later, that’s not going to change. The second…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sunday audible🤒Fantasy Failure 🏈Anal Chess♟️ Sunday was supposed to be a romantic day spent in a canoe with Wifey Poo, the two of us paddling leisurely down the Meramec River. Mother Nature was not in the mood to play wingman and decided to pick the one day in the midst of…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Finish Line Scene 🏃♂️Baseball’s Better ⚾M-I-Z! Z-O-UC-H! 🏈 I have never understood the modern-day purpose of running for the sake of running. Sure, I understand it’s a great form of cardiovascular exercise and it’s a convenient way to get from Point A to Point B, yet the desire to strap on…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Book Guy 📚Queen Stuff 👑Bernard Shaw 📺 I’ve decided I want to own a copy of every Stephen King book ever written. That’s about 75 books at the moment. I have a built-in bookcase in my mancave/home office. I don’t think it would hold all 75 in hardcover, but perhaps it…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beginnings 📚School Start 🚌Real Baseball ⚾ I was thinking this morning on my drive to work how we rarely know when the significant times in our lives begin. So frequently, the most important things that happen to us start with nothing noteworthy. Of course, there are exceptions, the “love-at-first-sight” moments or…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Fallin’ Thoughts 🤕Shinedown 🎸Sleepy 😴 The brain can be surprisingly efficient when the meatsack it’s attached to is in the middle of falling off a ladder while holding a revved-up chainsaw. This, I learned yesterday morning while attempting to saw a limb off a tree that was getting way too close…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Overview📅Fantasy Football🏈Elite Bonding🤼♂️ Days that start with chainsaws and lighter fluid and end with four hours of really good professional wrestling are bound to be added to the “good” column for review when the scales are weighed at the end of a life. Yesterday was such a day for me. In…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Funeral 😢Glimmers ☁️Meat 🥩 If you’re lucky, you’ve had a second mother. Whether your first mother was or is an amazing person who nurtured you and raised you among calm consistency or if she was lacking in certain maternal fundamentals, having a second mother is a blessing. Today, we were there…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩We’re Dumber 👎OnlyFans Thrives 🍑Shinedown 🎵 Official statistics put the COVID death toll in the United States at 1.04 million, with another 713 deaths yesterday. More than 4,000 people are in the ICU right now suffering from what the former Moron-in-Chief called that one person coming from China and a situation…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dethroned Queen 👑Gravy Wrestling 🤼♂️Dog Talk 🐕 Don’t fuck with the Bucyrus Bratwurst Festival board. That’s a message Abigail Brocwell is learning the hard way. Brocwell was expected to be inaugurated as the queen of the festival in the northern Ohio town earlier this month, but she was stripped of the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩3, Unassisted ⚾A Sad Day 📅Tracking Your Vagina 🌸 The last time Boy The Younger was on a baseball field, the “coach” of his team removed him from a game in the middle of an inning because I had privately messaged him to not attempt to steal home with my kid…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hydrogen Issue 🚀Karting 🏎️Lake Life 😌 I was all excited to watch the launch of the moon-bound Artemis 1 rocket this morning, only to see the clock stopped at T-minus 40 minutes because of a “hydrogen issue.” Don’t know about you, but I’m thinking having an issue with hydrogen is a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Karen in Control ⌚Karting 🏎️What podcast? 🎧 In the winter of 1993, I went to a comedy club with a friend and, in the spur of the moment, decided to be one of those who came forward to join the fun and be hypnotized. This was decidedly out of character for…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Little League Flap ⚾Grandpa Joe 🤦Psychedelics 🍄 Boys are interesting creatures who aren’t easily understood. One of the many, many weird things boys do is mercilessly make fun of their best friends. My closest friends in middle school and early in high school were affectionately nicknamed Goon, Tree Frog, Butt and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩 Death Cometh Sooner 💀Twitter Security 🔓Game Over 🌑 Average life expectancy in the United States dropped in 2020 by almost two years in 2020, the biggest decline since World War II. Every state and the District of Columbia saw a drop. Guess it was a little bit more than that…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Worm brain 🧠Chicken Big Mac 🐔Eye Twitch 👁️ Caenorhabditis elegans is probably too elegant of a name for something that is really just a disgusting little worm about a millimeter long and most easily found in rotting fruit. It is more commonly known as a lab roundworm and was the first…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Agliata Homeschool Academy 🚌Hypnosis 😳Sunburn 🌞🔥 When you tell people you homeschool your children, you typically receive one of three responses: An enthusiastic: “Oh, that’s so cool!”An I’d-rather-be-dipped-in-acid: “Oh wow! I could never do that!” A you’re-one-of-those-weirdos: “Oh… really… homeschooling, huh?” The percentage for each has changed in the wake…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Indycar 🏎️Best Friends 😎Baseball Irony ⚾ There are certain people who look at car racing as an endless series of left turns. These people are idiots on whom nuance is lost. Boy The Elder and I crossed the border yesterday late-morning to head just past the fine city of East St.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Swine Inflation 🐖Swamp Thing 🎥Phone Calls 📱 Life was different when I went to college in Iowa after growing up in suburban New York City. This isn’t to suggest I was a city kid. I wasn’t. The city was a place we went to a few times a year, and where…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Triple-Threat 🖥️🖥️🖥️Tasmanian Tiger 🐅Video Work 📹 Humans were not meant to stare at laptop screens. At least, humans of a certain age were not meant to stare at laptop screens. I say this after successfully lobbying for a second monitor at work, which effectively turned my laptop screen into a third…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Look Before Brewing ☕Hoop Construction 🏀Nuclear War ☢️ If you’d like an indication of how much of a Monday yesterday was for me, know that I ended up with an orange in my coffee. Well, to be fair, it wasn’t a full-blown orange. It was something called a Cutie, which is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Weird Date 🪦Nature Walk🌳Bulldog Bath 🐶 If you have a date walking around a cemetery, you’re either weird or goth, and neither Wifey Poo nor I were wearing black today, which I guess tells you all you need to know about us. Old cemeteries are something of a fascination for us,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩So Long, Kid 👨👦Steak Celebration🥩Chip & Joanna 🪚 Regular readers of my drivel know that I’m kind of an emotional guy, which is like saying that Jack kind of could have fit on the spacious floating door with Rose in Titanic. So it should come as no surprise when I say…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Cash 4 IRS 💰Cash 4 Workers 💸Sound of Silence 🤫 Be extra careful on your taxes this year. The IRS is expected to receive nearly $80 billion when The Inflation Reduction Act eventually becomes law, and its plan is to hire 87,000 full-time workers. More than half of the $80 billion…Keep reading