THE STING-RAY BIKE

stingray

The Schwinn Sting-Ray was a cool bike. Period. If you had one in the 60’s it made you cool also. The bike was first introduced in 1963 and was known as “the bike with the sports car look”. By 1964 it had won the praise and captured the imagination of kids across the USA. The cost of a new Sting-Ray was $49.95. The bike featured a short frame, high rise handlebars ( butterfly), and a long bucket shaped saddle, also known as a banana seat. The Schwinn Sting-Ray became Schwinn’s best selling bike almost overnight. It’s dramatically different design was new and modeled after the way kids were refiting and customizing their own bikes in Southern California. Bikes were just a way to get to your friends house before the Stingray, then with the Stingray a bike was meant to cruise on with no particular destination in mind. Before many of us stepped up and owned an official Schwinn we would  create the Sting-Ray look with any small framed bike that was in the garage. Just add the butterfly handle bars and a banana seat and you had the Sting-Ray look, which was just fine with us. It became cool to ride your bike to school again. Almost every kid that I grew up with had one, they were that popular.  Then on one magical Christmas there would be your own official Schwinn Sting-Ray under the tree , now you were super cool. We would treat our bikes like parents did their new cars, the first scratch always hurt. But many scratches were to follow as kids started mastering the “wheelie” by lifting up on the handlebars and riding on the back wheel for as long as you could. It was really hard to master but once you had it down you could ride for blocks or until a car came across your path. Then some genius invented a device called a wheelie-bar that was attached to the rear wheel making it possible to pull a wheelie and fall back on the wheelie-bar for balance. It was cheating, but a good way to ride forever on one wheel. You could ride the bikes over jumps, in the dirt, off curbs, anywhere. It was a renaissance of bike riding. The original Sting-Ray had only one gear and foot brakes. The foot brakes made it easy to get a lot of speed going and then slam on your brakes and leave skid marks, which was also cool to a 12-year old. It did make the tires wear down fast though. The bikes were so simple that even a kid could change the seat and handlebars, or make the butterfly bars go straight up or lean back. In 1965 the black slik rear tire was added. I don’t know if it made it ride any different but it sure looked good. We all tried to save up and add the slik to our own bikes. The banana seat made it easy to ride double, but peddling for two people really sucked . It became a little easier when Schwinn introduced the 3-speed Stik-Shift mounted on the frame. It looked really fine but in reality when you added the gears it just wasn’t the same old Sting-Ray any more, too complicated with gears, kids couldn’t fix their own bikes anymore. We stuck with the simpler 1-speed version. We would spend from sun up to sun down riding the Sting-Ray often in groups of 4-6. It became popular to takes off the wheels and chain and custom spray paint your bike. It sounded good but in reality a 12-year old isn’t really prepared to take the time to do a nice paint job. If it didn’t look good we would just let it dry and try again, which made for a bigger mess. It also painted over all the Schwinn markings which took down it’s resale value but that didn’t matter as none of us were planning on selling our bikes. Fancier Sting-Ray models began appearing like the Apple-Crate, Pea-Picker, Orange-Crate and more, all involving multiple gears and hand brakes, but those never really caught on. They are nice to look at now and I actually have a vintage Pea-Picker in the garage. The Sting-ray provided some great memories but two things could bring an end to riding your Sting-Ray. One was theft which really wasn’t the problem it was today and you knew most of the kids in your town so it would be tough to get away with it. But the second one was permanent: High School, just not cool at all to ride a bike to school. You either walked or were lucky enough to have an older sibling with a car. The Sting-Ray took it’s place in the back of the garage and started to collect dust never to rise to it’s glory days again…bummer.

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GO WEST UNTIL IT’S WET

Ocean pier

I just returned from a weekend at Oceanside, CA where I stayed at a good friend’s beach house and man, I miss the beach. I had almost forgotten what the smell of ocean air and the sound of pounding waves can do to replenish one’s soul. While the water was a bit too frigid to go swimming in February, that was fine with me. I just sat on the ocean wall and watched the surfers in wetsuits take turns getting waves and everything was alright with the world. It had been over a year since I had visited the ocean…far too long for an ex beach bum. In my earlier days a week would be a long time to stay away from the beach. The beach became an integral part of my life the day I got my drivers license. My parents had taken us on day trips as kids, but with a license I could go whenever and stay as long as I wanted to. In high school I lived an hour from the ocean but that distance was easily covered with music and friends while cruising in my Corvair van. We would go almost every weekend in the summer and spend the night in the van constantly trying to avoid the police for overnight parking. We would usually get woken up at least once per night and told to move on until we finally found a safe zone. At that age we would head to Newport Beach where body surfing was king. The waves at Newport had tremendous power and in certain conditions could reach 8-10 feet providing a great thrill and a good thrashing if caught inside where the waves broke. Lifeguards were in constant motion pulling out novice swimmers who got caught in the riptide. Another group that always seemed to need rescuing was packs of New Yorkers who would head to the beach in groups searching for California Girls. They would show up in Levi jeans, tank-tops and Yankee hats with the macho attitude of kids from the Bronx. You can’t underestimate the ocean’s power and as they entered the water their Levi’s would get wet and heavy and they didn’t wear fins to help them swim. Once they got to the point where they couldn’t touch bottom anymore they were in a world of trouble…HELP. The lifeguards would bring them in to the laughter of their friends on the beach and inevitably they would say they didn’t really need the lifeguards help, right. The proper attire at that time was swim trunks and fins to help you catch the big waves. Mistiming a big set could put you in a washing machine of turbulence, a scary thought considering you didn’t know which way was up or how long you could hold your breath. We became very good at riding the big waves and it was thrilling and scary at the same time. I never did go to the infamous ” Newport Wedge ” on a big day which I still regret as I don’t see myself doing it anytime now. The “Wedge” was a place of folklore where the bravest of the brave would go out and ride huge and powerful waves and legends were created. There was always the story of the guy that broke his spine after getting slammed to the ocean floor…maybe that is one of the reasons I never went out there.

After college I went to San Diego State and got introduced to surfing. The waves in San Diego were perfect for surfing and I quickly became hooked. I bought a new board and started going on a daily basis and became proficient enough to hang with the pack. I enjoyed winter surfing because the crowds were smaller and the waves were crisper and larger. It was also a great way to start a day. I moved to the beach my junior year and could get out of bed at 6am and go straight in the water. The first dive under the water would wake you up quickly…winter surfing is also very cold until your wetsuit kicks in. But your head and feet are still exposed and it only took a few seconds underwater to get brain freeze. It was worth it when you caught your first wave and kicked out. It was now 6:10am and I was feeling alive and at peace. The nice thing about surfing is that when you are waiting for a wave you have your back to the land and all you can see is the never ending ocean…good for tranquil thoughts. My brother opened a Surf Shop in San Diego as he was a great surfer and decide to make it it his livelihood as well. He went to work in a t-shirt and shorts and always was in great shape while I put on a corporate tie after graduation and was never in great shape again. Sitting at a desk for 35-years can do that. When our kids were small we went as a group to the beach every chance we could and it was wonderful. Watching a child put their feet in the sand, or walking in the ocean’s water for the first time is absolutely priceless. The look on their face as they feel the water come over their feet and then go out again is astonishing. Carol and I even bought a beach house in South Mission, San Diego for a time and would spend our weekends there. The kids grew, Puff sailed away, but the memories remain. I still appreciate looking at the ocean with my back to all manmade structures and enjoying the tranquility of the sun setting over the ocean…nothing like it.

THE SMELL OF SPORTING GOODS

sporting goods store

I have followed my wife and children in to about every type of store imaginable. Whether it be furniture stores, clothing stores, toy stores, boutiques, malls, or outlets, I’ve been there more than once. Generally I do it out of courtesy to whomever I’m with because if it was up to me I would just as soon stay home. I am not a shopper and the invent of online shopping was a dream come true for me. Imagine just sitting at home and finding the product you want and ordering it by pushing some keys and the product is delivered to your home…wonderful. My wife enjoys the “shopping experience” of going to a mall and shopping by seeing and touching the product especially shoes and purses. I can understand shopping for shoes in person for the correct fit but I don’t understand taking a half day to “just look” without a specific purchase in mind. As a husband you are required to be a good companion and pretend to enjoy it when you would just rather be at home watching a re-run of Caddyshack for the 20th time. The mother of all shopping trips is the outlet stores. Blocks and blocks of individual stores lined up for miles, this is where I have to draw some type of line. Sure I’ll go but we usually split up and meet at a designated time, while she shops I’ll find a nice bench and just watch people walk by with their arms loaded with bags, or yelling at their kids to keep up. There are some men who are better shoppers than others, or just more patient than others. I’m not one. The only store that I truly enjoy walking in to is a sporting goods store. As I enter the store I can immediately smell the wonderful scent of leather baseball gloves, the rubber coming from bicycle tires, and the smell of new basketball shoes. I truly believe I have never entered and left a sporting good store without making a purchase of some type, whether I needed it or not. My heyday of sporting good shopping is when the three kids were growing up and participating in sports year round. Whether it be soccer, baseball, softball, football, basketball, roller-hockey it gave me a reason to go to my favorite store. Each year they would grow out of the previous year’s shoes so that was always a reason to buy another pair and something for myself while I was there. I am a complete sucker for whatever is new in the sporting world. If it’s the newest baseball bat, shin guards, catcher’s mask, soccer cleats, or even ping pong paddle…I’ve got to have it. I don’t usually throw my money around but in a sporting goods store the money just gets sucked out of my wallet by an unknown source. If I find myself ready to leave without making a purchase there is always the clothing department where I can pick up a new Laker or Dodger t-shirt to keep my streak alive. Baseball bats & gloves became a whole world of it’s own. Each year a new model of bat would come out that I just needed my kid to have, when it was really me who wanted to test out each bat. The kids were happy with what they already had. Putting on a new baseball glove was always a rush as the smell of rawhide leather was like a cologne to me. That is one item that didn’t need a yearly renewal because even I understood a well broken in glove is a prized possession that you don’t mess with. But that didn’t stop me from getting my son a glove for the infield and one for the outfield, there is a difference, the outfield glove being longer. My kids all grew up during the composite bat era where bats could run between $200 – $350 a piece as each bat was make out of some futuristic alloy that would make the ball go 20-feet farther than last year’s model. I was an addict, there was no stopping me. When Michael Jordan and Nike came out with Air Jordans that started another fixation on basketball shoes. Each year a new model was introduced and I was first in line. Fortunately for my wallet none of my kids got past YMCA basketball, it basically was narrowed down to baseball, softball, soccer, and football. As they each entered high school my addiction grew to at least one shopping trip per week and they began to know me by name at the local Sport Chalet. I tried to find a support group but no one had heard of such a addiction. The only way I could be stopped was my kid’s graduation from high school and off to college. My trips are much less frequent now but I still drop by for a new racquetball racquet, ankle brace, or even a softball bat. Each time I enter the store I am carried away by the aroma of new sporting goods and wish the kids hadn’t grown up so fast. Buying things for myself doesn’t give me the same rush. I actually left a store once without a purchase. It was a Big-5 which really doesn’t count as their merchandise is subpar to others. I have joined a senior softball team which gives me a reason to keep going in although I find it is now for some type of brace rather than new equipment. But the good new is that our  first grandchild is on the way so I’ll have a whole new generation of children to take to the sporting goods store.

IF YOU COULD CHOOSE ONLY ONE

baby ruth

Have you ever wondered if your favorite candy bar is America’s favorite also? Better yet, let’s say you have only $1.00 on you and your sweet tooth is screaming for a fix. Your desperate, desperate enough to pull in to a 7/11 and spend that last dollar on something sweet. Your standing in front of the candy section just staring at the choices, back and forth your eyes wonder. You pick up one but put it back, just isn’t perfect. Your eyes continue to take ever candy in, the choice must be just right. So you finally decide to go with a candy bar that has never let you down in the past. It is your favorite and you can’t wait to take a bite. Chances are it’s one of the following 10 candy bars which are also America’s favorites in order of popularity. #10, Hershey Bar – Could be one of America’s oldest favorites introduced by Milton Hershey in 1894. A easy choice but in my opinion the chocolate just isn’t that good and have you ever bought a Hershey Bar that has been on the rack to long? It turns a grey-whitesh color which is disgusting. I prefer the one with almonds. Let just say it’s an American standard but not my number one. #9, Oh Henry – I really don’t think I’ve ever bought an Oh Henry, but I’ve had a few by way of Halloween or at social gatherings. Full of caramel, peanuts, and covered in chocolate I had been told it was named after baseball great, Hammerin’ Hank Aaron, but that just isn’t true. The bar was introduced in 1921, before Aaron was born. #8, M&Ms – Even though this is not really a candy bar, they are good and fun to eat or throw in somebody else’s wide open mouth. M&M’s stands for Mars and Murrie who were the founders of the company. Melts in your mouth, not in your hand – just ask Tommy Boy. Richard: ” Oh, That sounds good. Melted chocolate inside the dash, that really ups the resale value.” #7, Baby Ruth – a classic which I have purchased numerous times and was also featured in the pool scene of the movie, Caddyshack. Again I had always thought it was named after legendary baseball player Babe Ruth and it was, sort of. It was originally called Kandy Kake but the name was changed in 1921 to Baby Ruth to cash in on the popularity of “The Babe” without having to pay him. #6, 3 Musketeers – Has a great chocolate outside but that creamy inside really sucks in my opinion. Best eaten after put in the ‘fridge. Was originally made in three flavors…vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate. #5, Milky Way – Another candy bar with a great chocolate outside and mushy inside, but the caramel makes it better than 3 Muskateers. The newer dark chocolate one is the best. The original idea was to make a chocolate malt drink in the form of a candy bar. #4, Butterfinger – Bart Simpson’s favorite candy bar. This is a change from the others in that the inside is a crunchy blend of butter and peanut butter. I enjoy these but getting it off your teeth and gums after your done can be a hassle. #3, Kit Kat – Great candy and easy to eat. I love separating the segments and eating one at a time. Nice wafer inside with chocolate covering. This should be #2 in my opinion. Also has a great jingle,”Gimme a break….”. #2, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – I’ll never understand why these are so popular. They would not make my Top 50, but others love them. Chocolate and peanut butter, two of my favorite food groups, but the peanut butter in these taste grainy and it seems whenever I buy one it’s half melted. Another refrigerator candy loved by everyone other than me. Now for America’s favorite candy bar, none other than #1, Snickers. I have to agree with this. I have bought this more than any other candy bar in my lifetime and there is no way to go wrong with nougat, caramel, roasted peanuts, and milk chocolate. I have also been sucked in by the advertising, Hungry? Grab a Snickers. I feel as though I might be eating something semi-healthy as a snack, but I’m sure it’s no more healthy than the other nine. Every one of the top 10 candy bars are covered in chocolate, which is fine with me, but it leaves out one important candy bar in my life, Payday. Sometime I just crave the taste of salt and peanuts and Payday has been the choice on several occassions…but obviously I am in the minority.

ONCE EVERY FOUR YEARS

julia skate       downhill

Every four years I suddenly become enamored with sports I have never played, seen in person, or know enough about to tell you what goes on the three years in between. The Winter Olympics are here again and I am hooked. If I sit down to watch TV and the Olympics are on , I’m going to watch it. Sports like luge, figure skating, ski jumping, and alpine skiing which I could care less about in non-olympic years become the center of my interest. The scary thing is that I am terribly addicted to womens figure skating. The only ice show I have ever been to in my life is Disney On Ice when the kids were young and I found that to be terribly boring. My only memory of it is spending close to $100.00 on cotton candy and those flashlights with sparkly extensions coming out because all the other kids had one. They would break before even getting home. But every four years I am glued to see who will take home the gold in ladies singles figure skating. The girl from Russia, Julia Lipnitskaia, is only 15-years old. What were you doing at 15?  What amazes me is the pressure of representing your country, being a solo figure on the ice, and the need to be perfect…that’s pressure. I’m sure they have rehearsed countless hours for this one grand moment. I think the majority of us would crack under the pressure, but not the top skaters. Even if they trip or fall during their routine they get right back up like it never happened and continue on. If I was on a world stage like that and I fell in the opening moments, that would be it for me. Thanks for coming but I can’t continue. They have to be nervous, I know that I would have pit stains down to my waist if I were in that position. I can do without Ice Dancing…who enjoys that, the same people who watch synchronized swimming in the Summer Olympics? I love watching the luge and bobsled tems. Maybe it’s from my youth when the bobsledders would occasionally fly off the track into horrible crashes as tracks were not as finely engineered as they are today. You would even get bobsleds turning over upside down and you were left wondering what shape the riders were in after traveling down the track with their helmets scraping the ice the whole way. There is also something calming about watching sleds going that fast over a smooth curved surface. I would just once like to be the 2nd or 3rd guy on a bobsled run to see what it feels like. Luge also looks cool. Maybe I relate to that because it takes a heavier person to make the sled go fast, although I’m sure their extra weight is of the muscle variety. Speed skating is another sport that I know I’ll never see but once in four years, yet I watch it in the Olympics. It’s important to me to know if the Swedes beat out Finland in the 5,000 meters. I’ll never forget Dan Jansen from the U.S. who was the favorite to win both the 500 and 1,000 meter races in the 1988 Olympics. He was a heavy favorite but fell in both races to everyone’s dismay. He then readied himself for the 1992 Olympics where he again didn’t medal in either event. There was sympathy and a lot of Dan Jansen jokes by that time. Yet he qualified again for the 1994 Games and got a gold in the 1,000. Lesson learned about never giving up. Short Track Speed skating is more fun to watch as they race against one another instead of against the clock. Yoko’s brother, Apollo, carried that sport to popularity on his own shoulders.

The real turn in winter Olympic history was allowing the snowboarders in. Things got a whole lot better with these daredevils doing insane tricks. They brought in a whole new style and looseness to the Olympics. Shaun White led the pack and terms like stoked, knarly, dude, goofy-footed became part of Olympic slang. Each year they push themselves to do harder tricks and it has turned in to crowd favorite. This sport I have actually seen more than once in four years due to the X-Games. Ski Jumping is another favorite, but I’ve noticed it can become very repetitious after watching 20 fliers go off and do the exact same motion. I guess my absolute favorite would be Mens Downhill…that takes serious balls to compete in. They look as if they are on the edge of disaster at any moment. There must be a very fine line between pushing yourself to the limits and going overboard. I’ll be rooting for Bode Miller of the U.S. who at age 36 is still the one to beat…news update, Bode finished 8th. I like to imagine myself competing at the Olympics and each year the sport is different. While I was young I would have wanted to be a downhill skier, but now I would be happy to be a Curling Sweeper. I’ve had practice with a broom and all you have to do is walk and sweep…seriously is that a real sport?

CATCH PHRASES THAT HAVE STUCK

hoffman          wife beater

When Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away last week most of were sorry that we had lost a great talent at such a young age. We were later to learn he overdosed on heroin which you still feel bad about, but heroin…really? He did leave us with one of my favorite movie quotes of all-time in the movie Along Came Polly with Ben Stiller and Jennifer Anniston. He was Stiller’s best friend and together they went to an art gallery opening to try to find available women. All of a sudden Hoffman grabbed Stiller and demanded that they must leave immediately. Why?, Stiller asks. Hoffman replies because I sharted. Stiller had no idea what he was talking about so Hoffman explained that he had tried to fart but a little shit came out, hence sharted. The quote has stuck and in one word explains a complete bowel movement causing great anxiety…classic. Snoop Dogg also has a catch phrase that has stuck to this day, Fo shizzle, which is simply for sure with an izzle…it works. It doesn’t have to be made-up words. It can also be regular words said in such a way that you will never forget them and always associate them with a certain celebrity. The brash and cocky Muhammed Ali once declared, I am the greatest. He backed it up and is still known today as the greatest, it works for me. Who do you think of when you hear the phrase, I get no respect. Rodney Dangerfield of course…it was a classic line. There are some celebrities that aren’t so famous but came up with unforgettable catch phrases when they were enjoying their 15-minutes of fame. Mr.T had, I pity the fool, and Flavor Flav’s was just Yeaaaaaah boooooyy!. Going back in history is one of my favorites, There’s a sucker born every minute, quoted by P.T. Barnum of The Barnum & Bailey Circus. What if someone was to come up to you and say in a low baritone, Thank you. Thank you very much, would you think of Elvis Presley? Probably not if you are under 40, but those of us on the plus side would know immediately. Animated characters also have their share of catch phrases that stuck such as Bart Simpson’s, Eat my shorts, or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’s, Cowabunga.  Oh my God! They killed Kenny! is a phrase that most under 40’s would be familiar with while not so much with the plus side of 40, which is from South Park. Among others are Did I do that? (Steve Urkel), Live long and prosper (Mr. Spock), Eh, what’s up,doc? (Bugs Bunny), What you talkin’ ’bout, Willis? (Arnold/Different Strokes), Dy-no-myte (J.J.Evans/Good Times), You eediot (Ren & Stimpy) and I‘ll be back (Terminator).

Which brings me to an unknown fact that I can’t even get my best friends and family to believe, that I, Craig Kinney, unknowingly at the time came up with a catch phrase that actually stuck. We were in downtown San Diego in the mid-70’s when downtown was basically a red light district with bars, tatoo parlors and sailors. This was the pre revitalized Gas Lamp district. We saw a man in a white tank-top t-shirt that was really underwear swearing and yelling at his girl friend. He raised his hand to her but didn’t strike and I said ” that guy sure is an asshole, why do those type of guys always wear those wife-beater t-shirts? Wife-beater t-shirts has become a common catch phrase and that is how undershirts like those are commonly referred to. I didn’t say it was a great catch phrase, just one that stuck. I had never in my life heard that expression before, it just came out of my mouth. I didn’t think about it until it became a common phrase 25-years later and now some t-shirts are advertised that way. It took that long to be retold over and over again until it became a standard. I wish I had said something prolific like I have a Dream (MLK), but that was the best I had. Well, I really don’t care anymore who believes it…that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

MY LIFETIME FRIENDS, PING & PONG

ping pong        beer pong

“When I find myself in times of of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom – Play Ping-Pong”. There is one game that I have had a life long affection for and that is ping-pong, or table tennis which it officially goes by. Growing up as a young child in Port Chester, NY, the winters could be long and cold so indoor sports were popular for obvious reasons. Since I was 7-years old and couldn’t drive bowling was out of the question. I also find it terribly boring and after two games I am ready to turn my cool shoes in to the front desk and call it a day. Most homes on the East Coast have basements and that is where I played my first game of ping-pong. My dad actually built a table out of wood and assembled it in the basement. It wasn’t that he was too cheap to go buy a table, it was built to fit over our Lionel  Train set, so you could lift off the ping-pong table and have the train set underneath. It also made the ping-pong table about a foot too high which didn’t help when you were small to begin with. It was my first experience at playing and I fell in love with the game…I was going to be the next Forrest Gump. My basement became the winter social center for neighborhood kids. Our rallies didn’t last to long back then, we basically just liked to smash the ball with about 3 out of 10 hits actually landing on the table. My father’s games against some of the neighborhood dads would get intense and I believe that’s where I learned the forbidden 4-letter words. I just enjoyed watching and hearing the rhythmic sound of the ball going back and forth. We moved to the west coast and ping-pong became a year round sport. There was a table on our patio and available to play anytime, only rain could stop the action. By Jr. High and High School the games became more competitive, but the nice part about it was that it was just fun. We could play for hours and invent new games like seeing how hard we could smash the ball, or playing left-handed, or smashing each other. One thing I learned quickly was that you need large supply of balls when playing the smash game. The whole game changed when I went to college and beer was added as a required piece of equipment. My freshman year at the dorm was the only exception, no alchohol allowed, unless nobody was looking. We would play for hours often after midnight. I also soon realized that others enjoyed ping-pong as much as I and some of the players could kick my ass. This took me by surprise as I thought I had mastered the game. After we moved out of the dorms beer came back full-time as an integral part of the game and ping-pong became beer pong. I didn’t improve much during these years, but I did learn how to bounce a ping-pong ball into a red cup. We also got in some serious matches and even entered some sponsored tournaments as a double teams. That all ended when we were matched up to play Zhang Jike and Li Xiaoxia in doubles, two Chinese students…game, set, and match over. They played with their racquets upside down from what I was familiar with and they were beyond good. Say what you want about stereotyping, but Chinese players are on a whole ‘nother level. Competitive table tennis is popular in Asia and many believe that is where the game originated. The game was actually originated in England during the 1880’s, where it was played among the upper-class. Man when it came to America, it sure dropped in class and found popularity among all classes. The back and forth sound of the ball gave the game it’s more familiar name of ping-pong.

It was now my turn to be a parent, own a home, raise 3-kids and pass on my ping-pong skills. I could easily beat each of them while they were young, but as they got better and I stayed the same, my skills weren’t enough. I tried to distract them by blaring 70’s rock ‘n roll music as we played, or verbally teasing them as they were about to hit, but the day soon came when the next generation of pongers were passing up the old man. The kids are now gone and I guess I could go to the Senior Center to play, but that sounds too depressing. I hope to get a new table and maybe invite strangers off the street to play me. ” I love Ping and Pong, put another dime in the juke box baby”.

SUPER STINKER XLVIII

peyton        Bruno

Everything was going perfect on Sunday prior to 3:30pm. My wife and I had arrived an hour earlier to a Super Bowl party hosted by good friends, Dean and Nancy Darr. The ample amount of food was laid out beautifully, the cooler was full of chilled beer, betting boxes were made and posted for us to fill up, and two big screen TV’s had the pre-game on. I was rooting for the Broncos and Vegas had them as the favorite. It was a perfect scenario for a great Super Bowl…then the game started. Denver receives the kick-off and on the first play from scrimmage they snap the ball over Peyton Manning’s head. It appeared that Peyton was walking up to the line of scrimmage when the snap came, total confusion, and 12-seconds in to the game the score was 2-0 and Denver had to punt the ball away. OK, bad break for the Broncos, but the game had just started and Peyton, who was announced the league’s MVP for the 5th time only a day earlier, was sure to get back on track, wrong. Things just got worse, the #1 offense in the NFL ended the 1st qtr. with no first downs and a total of 11-yards on offense. I still believed, the score was only 8-0 with three quarters to play. The second qtr. continued down the road of pure ugliness with Peyton and the Broncos looked confused and totally out of rythym. Finally halftime came and the record breaking Bronco offense still had 0-points, two interceptions and a safety. Score 22-0 and still a confused Denver team. Time for half-time adjustments and a breakthrough in the second half…wrong again. When Seattle’s Percy Harvin returned the second half kick-off 87-yards for a TD I had a terrible sinking feeling in my stomach and it was a precursor of things to come, more ugliness and at the end of three, 36-8. It would now take a miracle to pull this game out and the Broncos had no miracles left. They tried an onside kick to change the momentum and that failed also. The Seahawks scored another touchdown and it was at this point I thought it would be fair to bring in the mercy rule like in little league. If a team was getting it’s ass kicked this bad and looking ugly doing it, just call the game and give it to Seattle or play the fourth quarter with the clock running continuosly. Not in the NFL, that would be less time for $4 million commercials which I thought stunk this year. Advertisers were trying so hard to be different that the more traditional ads seemed to stand out. What was Danika Patrick doing all buffed out with huge muscles? Even Budweiser missed the boat with their zany and confusing first half commercials. The more traditional ad with the puppy and clydesdales was the best of the lot.

I would give the Super Bowl MVP to Bruno Mars. He did a fantastic job of entertaining the viewers at halftime. Even though he is only 28 and not your typical Super Bowl legendary performer he brought life to a dead football game. Locked Out of Heaven was energetic and his back-up group was great and got involved with the whole act. Tickets for Bruno Mars went on sale this morning at 10am for two nights at the Hollywood Bowl and I tried to buy four as Carol loves Bruno Mars also but it sold out in minutes. Throwing in the Red Hot Chili Peppers was a mistake to me…fortunately they were a quick in and out. I did win $100 in the box pool for having  8 & 0 in the 1st quarter. The food at the party was excellent and plentiful. The company was friendly and football knowledgable. The halftime show was fantastic. I have to admit Seattle’s defense was also awesome. Everything was great except for the game itself…it really stunk. I would have never guessed that Denver could look so lost. The Manning myth is going to take a hit and deservingly so based on his Super Bowl performance, but you can’t take away his record setting regular season. On Sunday he looked more like 57-years old, than the actual 37, which is old enough for a NFL QB. Seattle’s Russell Wilson at 5-11 gave inspiration to smaller players and was actually only the second black quarterback to win a Super Bowl. Washington’s Doug Williams was the first. Bottom line is that I couldn’t have been more wrong about the game, I really thought it would be a close one with Denver winning. My only correct call was to bet the over at 47-points…I just didn’t think that Seattle would score 43 of them.