The Holidays & American Football?

If any of you did not know, I am a former collegiate, pro and semi-pro athlete. I played abroad in W. Africa, Europe, and South America as a futeboller, or footballer as they call it in many foreign countries, or a soccer player here. I come from athletic sports families on both sides, American sports to be precise. You might say that it is in our blood, in our American blood. I was and still am the only one in both families that ever played soccer collegiately and professionally here and abroad. Maybe your family is different over the holidays. Perhaps your family has a strong matriarch who doesn’t allow non-stop American football on TV’s during these special holiday times. I can’t say I would blame her.

Thanksgiving Football Pigskin Instead of Turkey DinnerThese two seasons of the year—autumn and winter—along with the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays (at least in Texas), in my two huge parental families of south Houston (near Galveston) and various small towns outside of Austin, were typically filled with large spreads of traditional holiday foods, that took massive amounts of time, effort, joking, laughter, and crews in the kitchens. Our holidays would also include friends who were in town and not travelling. Our enormous get-togethers also included games of dominoes, or cards, kids games outside, and most definitely any important football games on all the TV’s. American football games to clarify for my international readers and followers. In Texas, as in many parts of the U.S., football games have become a long-standing, enthusiastic (male?) tradition during the holidays. I dare say it is a must with many of the men and boys, and perhaps with certain female personality-types in the families. Would my American readers agree?

Over the last 10, 15, or 20-years this American family past-time has changed. It has evolved into a very different sort of “game” now, particularly on the TV. Have you noticed how much the NFL or NCAA D1 games have changed? For that matter, have you noticed how the NBA, MLB, along with the NFL—the three major sports in the U.S.—have changed the last 2-3 decades?

Over many, many holidays I have often found myself in a discussion or debate with cousins, uncles (mostly), and a gazillion friends—American friends—as to what sport is the “best” sport, the “most popular” sport, the “most enjoyable” sport, and/or the “richest” sport in the world. Richest often seemed to be a leading criteria for “best” or “most popular.” That always puzzled me. I am sad to say to my international readers and Followers that many/most Americans, definitely with my own family members, are infatuated with the misconception, the misnomer that the American NFL, NCAA D1, basketball, and baseball are not only the best, most popular sports in the entire world, they also believe America’s three major sports (NFL, NBA, and MLB) are the richest sports leagues in the entire world… and in their vivid imaginations, for good reasons.

Depending how one analyzes these “accolades,” in some ways they are correct. But in at least two ways they are misguided. Attempting to demonstrate and explain why they are sometimes grossly astray with their American sporting fantasy can be similar to teaching a grizzly bear to stay away from the hive of honey. 🙄 (face-palm, que Winnie the Pooh’s “Oh bother!”)

Time out! Throw the red challenge-flag onto the turf! Who is right and who is wrong? Let’s examine today’s evidence.

According to Howmuch.net, who measures financial information across various economic sectors, the American NFL generated $13-billion in revenues in the 2015-2016 season. The MLB, with a more international appeal, drew $9.5-billion in the same year.

sports-leagues-by-revenue-July2016Yes, four of the top five sports are in North America, a fact American sports fans proudly boast to foreign sports fans. But is it a monetary fact to freely boast about? From the standpoint of  entertainment-value is American football really worthy of endless boasting?

I am surrounded, no… I am smothered by guys (and a handful of women) who explicitly and implicitly talk, watch, cheer, cry, angrily scream, then talk twice as long post-game about their team and how American football, both collegiate and in the NFL, are the greatest games played on planet Earth. I challenge them with questions and facts about other highly popular sports around the world, but when a national past-time is so deeply and emotionally ingrained into a person’s heart and mind—exactly like religious fervor, ironically—no matter the facts and evidence, it cannot sway or change the person’s electrified conviction!

There is a big, yet not-so-blatant reason why the NFL runs away with any revenue-profit comparisons. The highly lucrative business of American football’s top spot rests on its gullible spending fan-base. Case and point:

Anyone who has ever tuned into an NFL broadcast knows that plenty of air time is spent showing players huddling, coaches yelling, and fans cheering. That’s because while the on-field action can be exciting, it’s usually short-lived. In fact, according to a 2010 Wall Street Journal study of four football broadcasts, the ball was only in play for an average of 10 minutes and 43 seconds — approximately 4 seconds per play — even though an NFL telecast lasts about three hours.
11 Minutes of Action, Curiosity.com, accessed Dec. 2, 2018

What is it that fanatical American football supporters are ACTUALLY watching? With an excessive amount of game interruptions, from video-reviews to player injuries to intentional league stoppages for TV sponsors, there are countless game stoppages and commercials!

[Commercials] demand about an hour of airtime. Replays take about 17 minutes, footage of cheerleaders command about 3 seconds, and shots of players standing around make up an average of 67 minutes, according to WSJ. Despite this minimal action, football viewership is in the millions. According to Fortune, more than 111 million people tuned in to the 2017 Super Bowl.
11 Minutes of Action, Curiosity.com, accessed Dec. 2, 2018

NFL_1It begs the question, is watching over an hour of corporate sales and marketing strategies, team fans acting bonkers getting in front of cameras, and players standing around with very little game-action happening, really something to boast about? Isn’t that what those corporate sponsors and the NFL want you to do for them? One way or another all they want from you is to open up your pocket-book repeatedly, directly or indirectly, every single season. It’s what makes the league and owners richer and richer while corporate businesses get in front of your face. Is it any shocking mystery why the NFL and other N. American sports leagues are so filthy rich? And what sort of return-on-investment do the fans get? Granted, there are many charities the leagues donate to and support like the “My Cause, My Cleats,” a three-week campaign. Those are outstanding causes and always needed; no argument there. But these sorts of charities are done every season by the majority of all sports leagues around the world. It’s nothing new. Consider this, from a playing-time standpoint have American football fans really analyzed how much time and energy they are spending in front of those live televised games watching very little football-action?

Here’s another highly sensitive question about “supporting” the NFL:  How many times has the NFL allowed domestic abusers or civil law-breakers to continue playing in the league? Reuben Foster and Kareem Hunt are only the most recent in a long, long, long list of players given “special privileges” to keep playing. Fans of American football probably do not want to hear/read all the actual statistics. Excessive money talks, excessive money is often above laws and civil human rights. Team owners and the NFL Commissioner certainly don’t want those facts overly publicized! It hurts their personal bank accounts. Yes, domestic abuse, drug abuse, etc, are not strictly a sports problem, it is a societal problem. However, sports is a huge revenue-generating part of most all civilized societies as any other business or public sector. Therefore, it should be firmly and fairly addressed ANYWHERE it rears its ugly head and correct precedents actualized.

Nonetheless, in the end I can honestly think of several, much better ways to spend my cherished holiday time with friends and family than glued to a TV-set of American Corporate football. Amazingly though, I am in the minority. Wow, riddle me that! (scratch head)

Do you have similar experiences with your family and friends during the holiday season? Do you agree, disagree with this post? What should the holiday season be about?

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always — Watch Less NFL!

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Of Best Laid Plans

To a popular Mouse…

That small heap of leaves and stubble,
Has cost you many a weary nibble!
Now you are turned out, for all your trouble,
Without house or holding,
To endure the winter’s sleety dribble,
And hoar-frost cold.

But Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid plans of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

In less than ten days I will be moved out of our family’s rural 10-acre, 2,850 sq. ft. Ranchita home (FINALLY!), and soon be returning to my life and particular unconventional lifestyle in the enormous thriving DFW Metroplex I had over 3-years ago, of which does not and cannot exist in a tiny rural central Texas town. HAH!

Oh how I have missed my life up there, my appetites quenched up there, and my tribe up there. It has been far too long. But my strong duties to family, their well-being, and of familial values we hold from multiple generations back to 17th century Europe and nine generations here in Texas, refused to let me be so self-centered. I answered the desperate need that in the end took three long, exhausting years and every summer break the last five. It is coming to an end and very soon will be the start of the next phase of life in one of several of my cherished homes: Dallas-Fort Worth.

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As the 5th largest metropolitan area in North America, Dallas (the bigger half shown above) has two major airports (DFW International & Love Field) that boost an eclectic world flavor, many recreational parks with 11 large lakes, arboretums, museums, sports complexes/stadiums, including a pro soccer club, and a very good, extensive public transit system for eco-friendly Green-lifers, festivals galore throughout the year, a very large Steampunk community, and an exceptionally diverse nightlife with, yes you guessed it… a gigantic alternative-lifestyles communities, events, and network found nowhere else in the state in size or participation, bar none.

Am I beyond excited? Does the tin-man have a sheet-metal cock!? Okay, back on topic.

I had planned in vain foresight to post my Excursion to Perversions — II post well before now, however, “The best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew.” Interruptions have plagued my well-intended superior blogging time and skills — ‘cept a few various comments on other blogs — at the expense of leaving all of you in but grief and pain for promised blog-joys undelivered! Ghastly I know. Thus, my apology here, now, and likely beyond the New Year’s Day and week. In many ways I will be starting a new phase, a new life in a renewed but familiar place among very familiar friends and new ones yet discovered. WordPress and personal blogging must take a temporary back seat until then.

Meanwhile, I’ll pop-in every so often, see what’s about and what trouble I can find. 😈 😉

Everyone have a safe, sensational holiday season with friends and family, and a marvelous, safe New Year’s Eve and Day! Cheers!

Live Well Love Much Laugh Often Learn Always

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Is The Swingers’ Lifestyle Male-Driven?

As part of the Alternative Lifestyles blog-posts migration over to the new blog The Professor’s Lifestyles Memoirs, this post has been moved there. To read this post please click the link to the blog.

Your patience is appreciated. Thank you!

Crowds, People, and Strangers?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve often been told and have heard this self-perceived proud gloating about remote, rural country-living:  Living out in the country away from huge crowds, rude impolite strangers, horrible traffic and congestion, and high crime-rates are the best reasons not to live in the big city. Where I am currently living, in the central Hill Country of Texas, I am often offered this sort of bragging. I find it a very odd mindset and perception by “sweet ole” country folks. Almost naïve, if I must admit.

I was born and raised in one of Texas’ largest cities, Dallas. From only 682,000 people inside the official city-limits, Dallas has grown now to 1,300,092 in 2016. That number is strictly within the narrow city-limits. Today, the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex has a 2016 population nearing 7.2-million! Though not as large as say New York or Los Angeles, DFW is not moderately sized by any means. And with that size and diversity comes a plethora of wonderful benefits, like the Fine Arts, endless huge libraries scattered about, auditoriums, theaters, museums and sports stadiums, a very wide job-market, and in particular the means and resources to be environmentally responsibly Green! Huge perk there! Nonetheless, yes… Dallas-Ft. Worth does have its drawbacks like crime and traffic just like any major city in the U.S. and around the world.

Dallas Skyline before Sunset 612 3

But are those drawbacks due to a location or region, or are they results of crowds, people, individuals and strangers in a strange or familiar home or place? Is it related to a number of people squeezed together or is it a fluctuating degree of people-skills, education, collaboration? Here’s the million-dollar question:  What is really implied by gloating about one’s geographical home/house or culture? I’d like to honestly understand.

As some/many of you know, I am currently displaced from my big city home and culture of Dallas, Texas. Due to family (mis)givings I am in that heaven-like(?) rural, remote small country town getting my elderly widowed Mom’s house emptied and her moved out of this large 10-acre ranchita home. We are a minimum of 66-miles from the nearest city. With that privacy and peace-of-mind, as many “round these parts” would boast, there are also some significant DISadvantages to this lifestyle. First and foremost, fast emergency attention from EMT’s! When Mom’s late husband had a critical heart-attack in 2006, it took the ambulance and EMT’s nearly 30-minutes to arrive out here, partly because there were only two ambulance services here serving about a 25-mile or more radius.

Second, and as we discovered last year needing to dispose of an old cathode ray tube (CRT) 24″ television, not only did the local garbage pickup company not accept these TV’s for the landfill, but all local businesses or recycling centers would not either. It took near two weeks to finally find an off-the-beaten-path junkyard business to reluctantly take ours, for free!

One year later we are back here again. Now it is her 44″ CRT television that weighs about as much as a small elephant! I would know, because I am the one who strained my legs, arms, and back just to get it out of the entertainment cabinet and onto the tow-dolly in front of the cabinet — only to move it 50-yards to the back patio out the wide sliding-glass doors; the only exit it would fit through. Getting out of bed the next morning I’m sure I looked like a drunk turtle on its back, legs barely swaying in the air looking for something to grab! Hell, if I had needed fast emergency care for paralysis, I’d be waiting for at least 30-minutes, which in that painfully forsaken time I could have hot tea and toast… country-style!

log cabin livingWithout delay I get on the internet and search for some business, some Green recycling establishments nearby to come and pickup this dead goliath-of-entertainment and dispose of it properly. Snap! I find no less than three! I continue reading all the various junk-items that they happily come and pickup — just type in your zip code it says and they’ll arrange for pickup. Wow, I am totally stoked about this solution! Three minutes later, I’m sorry sir. We do not service that area. It is simply too far, too remote. Talk about total deflation. We ask if they have any recommendations. “Go onto the internet and Google TV removal/disposal.” As I already discovered, all the other recycling establishments were in the same large city… yes, 66-miles away.

It begs the question: What is it again you remote country folks love about being so secluded out here away from the crowds, people, traffic, strangers and individuals — and their oft needed help and businesses — that makes this sort of living heavenish!? Where do all of you take or place your trash that landfills won’t accept? What exactly is being burned — once the burn-ban is lifted locally — around town and its outskirts? Because I always see white, blue-ish, or black smoke billowing up into our atmosphere? Oh! Another question:  When the poor or homeless or lower-middle class here cannot afford (by law) automobile* liability insurance, or driver’s license fees, or even gasoline to put IN the automobile,* is there any (very affordable) public transportation available? Which by the way, greatly cuts down on carbon emissions if utilized by more and more caring citizens! And one nationally growing medical healthcare concern is rising dementia and Alzheimer’s disease among our retired and aging. Medical research has shown that if a brain remains actively stimulated and challenged, especially during the last half of life, dementia and Alzheimer’s are noticeably reduced! Ahh, large cities and the hustle-n-bustle of many diverse people certainly offer healthy brain-game exercises! So again…

What is so grand about living far away from crowds, people, and (temporary?) strangers of whom you might one day require their kind assistance or ideal business? Tell me again?

Should we rethink this mentality? Should we better define what “community” means… fairly and accurately on several scales?

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*Sidenote — when on the streets of this small country town, it becomes glaringly obvious that 75% – 80% of vehicles on the roads here are big trucks or SUV’s.

Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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Steampunkery Marvels

 

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jfringmaster-it-intro has been described as a park of magical zoological encounters from the imaginations of Jules Verne mixed with the mechanized creations of Leonardo da Vinci animated on the grounds and shipyards of Nantes’ 19th century maritime industry. I have to agree. The Machines of the Isle of Nantes, in western France are marvels to behold and will certainly be part of my next European visit.

The theme park has six separate sites and spectacles born from creators François Delarozière and Pierre Orefice. Stepping into the park returns you to a capsule of time where dreams and fantasies abound and “impossible” meant only Vernesque opportunity. As we begin our tour of Les Machines de l’île, enjoy the musical accompaniment below of Balayeurs Du Désert. Simply click the play button. They frequently provide the music for La Machine Productions, Delarozière’s theatrical company.

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The Grand Éléphant

victorian-t-introhis four-story mechanical mammoth ushers visitors to and from the craftsmen’s warehouse and the park’s Carousel. Getting onto the great Elephant’s decked back under the ivory-colored elliptic umbrella, it is impossible to overlook the ornate hand-carved woodwork which make its skin. Descend into the Elephant’s torso and belly and you are surrounded by pneumatic switches clattering to-and-fro across a network of cables and tubes (the heart) setting the beast in motion. During every journey the trunk blows water over entranced spectators and laughing children followed by trumpets calling and warning — with the help of dials, pipes, horns, and clever hands of its operator — who and what is coming.

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The Galerie des Machines

victorian-u-intronderneath the large hangers lies a tropical garden called La Galerie des Machines. Here with a handtouch or move of levers various large reptiles, sea creatures, and insects come alive. There is a giant ant, sea turtle, caterpillar, crab, a ferocious anglerfish, enormous spider, serpent, and up above a wall-to-wall giant heron flying visitors in wicker-baskets from one end of the hanger to the other. Pay close attention to all the botanical plants because little distinguishes the organic from the mechanical until they catch you by surprise!

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The Arbre aux Hérons

victorian-p-introrojected to be complete in 2021 is the budding Arbre aux Hérons, or Heron Tree. This magnificent tree will extend a full 35-meters in height, 50-meters in diameter, with branches 20-meters long providing a canopy over the Gift Shop and Café below. When complete, visitors will be able to take circular flights underneath the two heron’s wings above the tree branches. Already the tree carries a variety of real plants on each finished limbs and visitors can walk atop branches reaching the bar and shop in multiple ways that would make even the Swiss Family Robinson green with envy.

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Carrousel des Mondes Marins

victorian-f-introurther outside on the grounds is the three-leveled carnival-like carousel for children under 12-years of age. The Carrousel des mondes Marins (Marine Worlds Carousel) exhibits an enchanting fauna of every oceanic creature imaginable. Rather than the traditional da-vinci-quotehorses, carriages, or teacups, children may choose rides inside or atop a mechanical aquarium of bizarre crabs, shrimp, an octopus, fish such as a puffer fish, strange serpents and sea turtles. All the moving parts are enough to entrance and captivate your kids for minutes on end. On the very top of the Carousel are ornate pediments and 16 fishermen guarding the world’s precious oceans. The seabed, the abyss, and the ocean surface makeup the three-tiered marine life. A giant crab, reverse propulsion squid, a Nautilus-like diving Machine exploring the depths, the Bathyscaphe which climbs up and down the central mast, and the newest arrival the Boxy Fish comprise part of The Seabed’s 14 moving elements. Along The Abyss (middle level) one will discover the Manta Ray, Pirate-fish, and Deep-sea Lanternfish among three other creatures. Up on the Ocean Surface are the swaying boats, harnessed Flying fish, a storm boat, Nutshells and Jellyfish all swimming within a whirlpool of 24 mechanical waves.

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Workshop of the Company La Machine

victorian-c-introlimbing to the top floor of the varied hangers, visitors can gaze down upon the work areas and laboratories of Company La Machine, glimpsing the park’s future spectacles. Watching these fantastic craftsmen ply their trade you see the unbelievable care and detail that goes into every new and upcoming creature. From François Delarozière’s mind, to these worker’s hands and tools, come the mechanical inventions of Da Vinci and Verne reincarnated. New wacky unusual machines and rides are designed and fabricated every year keeping the theme park virtually newfangled.

“At the heart of the artistic process of the company La Machine, motion is interpreted as a language, as a source of emotion. Through each of its living architectures, it is about dreaming tomorrow’s cities and transforming the look we take at our cities.”
— François Delarozière

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The Café de la Branche

victorian-o-introne of the delights of the park is the total freedom to explore every site and nook at your own pace. The Café de la Branche offers different beverages, snacks, sandwiches, and tasty pastries to enjoy underneath The Heron Tree’s foliage. Your appetite can be appeased with the chef’s Back From the Market menu which includes a choice of fish, a traditional dish or grilled meat, as well as homemade pies. Over weekends, depending on the season, patrons can enjoy: homemade quiche, fresh vegetable soup, meal-sized salads, as well as homemade sandwiches. Hot dogs and panini sandwiches are available in the summer. For a four o’clock coffee break, muffins, brownies, shortbread, or donuts are on the menu. Regional and locally crafted specialities of beer, wines, and ciders can be purchased too.

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The Gift-shop is as thoughtfully laid out for visitors as the park. There are various specialized spaces for the passionate reader to get lost in their pages. In the bookshop, a variety of book themes covering oceanic and nature conservation, animal-life, architecture and development ideas for sustainable protective energy, the art of gardening orchids and flowers, historical machines used in theatre and film, and choices of travel adventures and novels. There is also a children’s section inspiring their taste for art, drawing books, many of them exclusively original Les Machines de l’ile creations. You and or your family could easily lose 2-3 hours in this magnificent theme park. If traveling western France, do not miss this Steampunk gem.

For further information about event dates, times, hours of operation, prices, group-rates and contact info, visit the Les Machines de l’ile website.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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