Friday, November 17, 2017

Life is a Spectator Sport (sometimes)

My son (far right) and his soccer all-star team.

I'm not used to just watching.

For the past five years, my son has played soccer, and for each of those five years, I've volunteered to be his coach. The first two seasons I didn't really give him a choice about it. After all, I'd played organized soccer for about 14 years, all through high school and on travel teams so I figure it's one of the few actual skills I possess so I need to volunteer my time to teach kids how to play.

After he turned six, I asked him before each season if he wanted me to coach and each year, he said yes. this past season, he moved up to the eight and nine-year old kids, which meant for the first time they officially kept score and had a league champion. Through my expert coaching (and a little luck with the draft to start the season), we were able to go 6-0-2 and win the league.

I had a blast coaching and seeing the kids on my team around town and having them say "hi Coach Luke" is still really cool. 

That's where our story begins.

Because about two-thirds of the way through the season, they had tryouts for the all-star team that would compete in the district tournament. I'm obviously biased, but my son is pretty good and he ended up making the team. Awesome, right?

Well, yes, awesome.

But for the first time, I wasn't the one running practice. I didn't get to be out on the field running around and teaching the kids what I know about the game. I wasn't the one hearing about their day or giving high fives after good plays or encouraging and correcting them after they made mistakes.

Instead I was forced, for the first time, to watch from the sidelines with the other parents. And forced is probably the right word there.

I'm not good soccer parent. I'm not bad mind you, but I do far more coaching from the parents' sideline than I should. I wanted to position the players, move them up or back and basically do all the things I'd been doing since my son started playing.

For the first time in my son's soccer-playing life, that wasn't my role. My role was to cheer and be encouraging and be supportive of the coach. And his coach was really good. I could see noticeable improvement from the players on the team over the three weeks they played together.

And standing on the sidelines during practice was actually a lot of fun as I got to hang out with the other parents.

But the games.

The games are a different story. It's a whole different level of stress. One of their scrimmage games ended in a tie and the teams went to penalty kicks. Fortunately for me, my son didn't take one of the kicks, but I was standing next to the parent of a son who did and he was, by far, much more anxious and nervous than his son, who had his shot blocked.

After their three weeks of practice and five scrimmage games, the team finally played the first-round of the district tournament last night. The game was about 80 miles away, so I got off work early, got my son (my wife was out of town at a conference) and we drove up to the game. I was anxious and getting frustrated with the traffic as I wanted to make sure we were on time and he was able to warm up.

He was in the back seat playing Minecraft and basically as calm as something that's really calm. (I'm not good with similes.)

We get there and warm up and the game begins and to start out, I'm sitting in my chair next to one of the other parents (who was also a coach) and we both have a lot nervous energy. Eventually we stand up and start pacing and cheering while, perhaps, doing a bit more coaching than we should.

At one point I turned around to one of the moms behind me and told her to whack me across the shoulders if I started coaching too much. She laughed and said I wasn't as bad ad her husband yet so I had nothing to worry about. I laughed and, jokingly, said that was the point. I don't want to get as bad as her husband.

Ultimately our team lost 3-0. While the kids were disappointed, I think some of the parents took the loss harder. I know I did. Not because I think I could have done a better job coaching (far from it), but because despite my struggles of being a cheering parent rather than an involved coach I really enjoyed just watching and cheering. I wasn't trying to juggle playing time or to figure out the best alignment to help us win. I could cheer and watch and enjoy (as best I could) the game.

I'll miss it and I'll miss soccer season. But we're going to play disc golf on Saturday and on Tuesday we find out what basketball team he's on and we move on to the next sport. One that I know far less about and I don't have the impulse to try to coach. I can be a cheering parent and I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Ignoring Austin Powers' advice

You know that scene in Austin Powers where he's concerned about going back in time while he's still frozen back in time.

You know how they say don't worry about it and just enjoy yourself? Yeah, I did the opposite of that in this post. No, not about Austin Powers (maybe someday) but I made the mistake of thinking about something and worrying about it.  

Keeping a blog like this is, inherently, a narcissist act.

It's not like other writers who actually get paid. Journalist, authors and the like have a market for their work and people pay them for their writing, whether it be reporting for a magazine or newspaper or a book or an opinion piece or a work of fiction.

But I do this for fun. And there's nothing wrong with doing things just for fun.  I have a modest but growing collection of board games that my family and friends get together and play fairly regularly. It's enjoyable to get with a group of friends and play games.

I also enjoy sitting on the couch after my family's gone to bed and watching a baseball game. Being by myself, the solitude (well, solitude + my internet friends) having fun watching a ball game.

But writing is different. As much as I enjoy it, there's something incredibly self-centered in thinking that anyone cares what I have to say (which, most often, is nothing of consequence.) There's literally no reason for me this stuff down.

That's not to say writing, in general, is a self-centered act. If behavioral economist (and recent Nobel Prize winner) Richard Thaler writes a book about behavioral economics, then that's probably worth reading if you're interested in that field. If Ta-nehisi Coates writes about racism in America, it's going to be well researched and while you may disagree with the conclusions, you'll know it was founded on facts and the historical record. Experts in their field writing about their field are inherently worth reading.

That's not what I do. The closest thing I have to anything well researched on this blog is my treatise on the Barenaked Ladies song "If I had $1000000" which is not likely to win any prizes in the foreseeable future.

I guess this is a long, rambling way to say I don't know why you read my little blog here, but thank you for finding it worth your time to do so.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Llama or an Emu?

This post was inspired by sitting in church earlier this week. The song was played during a video segment in which kids in the church discussed what they would do if they had $100. Part of me feels bad that what I got from church on Sunday was the inspiration to write this. Part of me is ok with being inspired to write this because church should be a place you go to get inspired. 

What follows is an "Expecting the Spanish Inquisition Special Investigative Report" looking at the most pressing issue of our time. 

 In 1992, the Barenaked Ladies scored a hit with "If I had $1000000" in which they discussed all the things they'd do with a million dollars. It's a fun song that wikipedia tells me was never considered a true single as it didn't even have an official music video to go along with it. Nevertheless, it remains popular, especially in Canada where it was second in the most essential Canadian tracks of all time. 

Take four minutes and listen.

 Fun, right?

But that seems like a lot of things to buy for only a million dollars. So I decided to investigate how things would work today if you tried to purchase those things listed in the song.

But before we can even get to that, we have some other things we need to figure out. First of all, the song was written in 1992. One million dollars then isn't worth the same as it is now. 

We also have to convert the $1,000,000 from Canadian dollars to American dollars. After all, the Barenaked Ladies were a Canadian band, writing, presumably for a Canadian audience. A quick Google search tells us that the exchange rate in 1992 was 0.828136, meaning our million dollars, Canadian, is actually $828,136, American.

However, that's in 1992 dollars. We need to adjust for inflation, right? Again, going with the chart I found on Google, that $828,126 would be worth $1,449,202.58 today. So, we need to figure out if all the things listed in the song can be purchased for that amount.

Ready? Let's go.

[Verse 1]
If I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
Well, I’d buy you a house
(I would buy you a house)

Ok, so we're not told how big of a house or where this house is located. According to, the median house price in the United States is  $201,900. Now depending on where you live, that could get you anything from a five-bedroom house with a yard and a picket fence to something much smaller. We've got nothing to go with, so for the sake of simplicity, we're going with a 3-bedroom, two bath house with a large yard and a fence. (Later in the song they reference the need for a yard, so we're going with this. We also need this to be in middle America for reasons that will become apparent later.)

Starting total: $1,449,202.58
Let's say we got this house.

House total: $201,900
Remaining:  $1,247,302.58.

But we didn't include property taxes. The average property tax bill in the United States is $2,149. Presumably once you bought the house and gave it to the person, you'd pay the taxes, at least for the first year, so we'll do that.

Taxes: $2,149
Remaining: $1,245,153.58

And if I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
I’d buy you furniture for your house
(Maybe a nice chesterfield or an ottoman)

According to United Kingdom home furnishing specialists Terrys Fabrics, it cost £15,215 to furnish a 3-bedroom house from scratch. Among the most expensive items purchased were a sofa and a television. Converting that figure to American dollars, it's $20,384.78, meaning we're down to $1,224,768.80. But that is for an average sofa. A Chesterfield is a high quality sofa, with it's design dating back to the Victorian age and becoming synonymous with British craftsmanship. The modern Chesterfield can be traced back to the turn of last century and popular in gentlemans clubs and military offices. Let's add in $300 to to be safe on our cost.

Furniture for the house (including a nice Chesterfield but no ottoman): $20,684.78
Remaining: $1,224,468.80

And if I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
Well, I’d buy you a K-Car
(A nice reliant automobile)

Presumably, the K-Car refers to the Chrysler K platform that ran from 1981-1995. It is credited with saving the Chrysler Corperation from certain death and, in 1984, University of Michigan business professor and auto industry historian David Lewis said no platform "in the history of the automobile industry has so dramatically allowed a company to survibe in such a substantial way. No company has been down so low, in such difficult straits, and then depended on practically a single product to bring it back."

But how are we going to get a K-Car now?  A quick check of shows 57 cars for sale with the most expensive being a 1983 Dodge Convertible for $1,900. It's only got 43,000 miles on it, so this seems like a good deal. The car is in California, so we're presumably going to need to transport it somewhere. Let's add in $500 for that, bringing the total to $2,400 for the car.

K-Car (with delivery): $2,400
Remaining:  $1,222,368.80

And if I had a million dollars, I’d buy your love
If I had a million dollars
(I’d build a tree-fort in our yard)
If I had a million dollars
(You could help it wouldn’t be that hard)
If I had a million dollars
(Maybe we could put a little tiny fridge
In there somewhere)

I'm not sure how we can calculate buying someone's love, assuming it was for sale. I'm also not sure how you would sell love. I mean, escort services provide companionship, but that's not love. Prostitution is a thing, but again, they aren't selling love. For the sake of simplicity, we're going to go with love not actually being for sale.

We could just go up there and hang out
(Like open the fridge and stuff
And there’d all be foods laid out for us
I have always wanted
a treehouse.

Like little pre-wrapped sausages and things
They have pre-wrapped sausages
But they don’t have pre-wrapped bacon)
Well, can you blame them?

But what we can do is buy a tree fort. (See, I told you we needed a house with a yard.) We're assuming this is for an adult. out of West Chester, Pennsylvania, has a handy estimator for the cost of a tree house. Because we're trying to impress the object of our affection, we want this to be a fairly nice treehouse, so we went with a "a few upgrades" on the quality of materials and a complex tree house with "bay windows, multiple rooflines." (No boring tree fort for the person we love.)  We also need this to be fairly spacious as we are going to hang out up there, so we went with 450-800 square feet and a 50-90 square foot deck. This would cost us $305,368.

We then need to add a mini-fridge and some food. Wal-Mart has a 2.6 cubic foot mini-fridge for $90 and stocking it with food, let's say is another $90. Who knew tree houses were so expensive? Moving on.

Treefort: $305,368
Refrigerator: $90
Pre-Wrapped sausages and other food: $90
Remaining: $916,820.80

[Verse 2]
If I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
Well, I’d buy you a fur a coat
(But not a real fur coat, that’s cruel)

Good for them for not buying a real fur coat. Not only is that the humane thing to do, it's cost efficient as a  real fur coat, according to Google, is anywhere from $995 for a short fur coat (which looks awful) to $22,425 for a Louis Vuitton fur coat. But a faux fur coat on can be had for $555. Not bad at all and we're down to $916,265.80.

Not a real fur coat: $555
Remaining: $916,265.80

And if I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
Well, I’d buy you an exotic pet
(Yep, like a llama or an emu)

Next we have to decide if we want a llama or an emu. says that nice quality llamas are in the $2,000 to $5,000 range. Emus, meanwhile, could be had for as little as $85 if we get it as a one-week old bird.
We don't need no stinking emus.

However, there's much more to consider. Emus require about as much space as horse, though if we're being cost effective, a narrow pen about 120 feet long is recommended so we can have a much smaller yard. Llamas, meanwhile need to have a llama companion as they are herd animals so we're looking at at least two llamas. They would also require shelter from the elements and fencing. Presumably our house that we bought way back in the first verse has a large yard. But for either a llama or an emu, we're going to need a fenced in back yard.

Fencing in an acre can be done for as little as $225 if we do it ourselves, but it may not be tall enough for an emu. With that being our deciding factor, we're going to get a llama. (well, two llamas.)

So $7,000 for two llamas, another $300 for fencing, and we need a shelter for them that can be found online for $300. Add in $300 for food for two llamas for a year (that's surprisingly cheap) and our exotic pet budget is $7,900.

Llama (2): $7,000
Fencing: $300
Shelter: $300
Food: $300
 Remaining: $908,365.80

And if I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
Well, I’d buy you John Merrick’s remains
(Ooh all them crazy elephant bones)

But for some reason, we're also buying John Merrick's remains.

Merrick's actual name was Joseph Carey Merrick and was first exhibited as the Elephant Man in 1884 in Europe after he contacted a showman about the possibility. He was robbed and abandoned by his road manager in Belgium and by the time he returned to London, he was unable to speak. He spent the remainder of his life in Royal London Hospital and his remains are on display in Royal London Hospital.

In 1987, Michael Jackson offered $1 million for Merrick's bones, but the hospital refused to sell out of respect for Merrick. As recently as last year there were calls for Merrick to be given a Christian burial, but the Royal London Hospital has, thus far, refused.

So the bad news is it appears we're not going to be able to get the bones of the Elephant Man. The good news is no one should want those anyway as it's creepy and weird. Just no.
John Merrick's Remains: Not For Sale 
Remaining:  $908,365.80

[Chorus 2]
And if I had a million dollars I’d buy your love
If I had a million dollars
(We wouldn’t have to walk to the store)
If I had a million dollars
(We’d take a Limousine ’cause it costs more)

We just got a K-Car. Why do we need a limousine now? Why did we get the car if we're just going to take the limo to the store? This seems to be a bad use of our resources.

There are many kinds of limousines, but we all know this is referring to the stretch limo. Searching for brand new limos on led me to a 2017 Lincoln Continental for sale for $94,995. My quick search didn't turn up what kind of fuel efficiency we would get with this and since this will appear to be our "getting around town" car for trips to the store and whatnot, we'll need to estimate the first year gasoline bill. The average American spent $1,400 on gasoline in 2016. Let's triple that to $4,200 for our limousine. So our total for that comes to $99,195.

Limousine Total: $99,195
Remaining: $809,170.80

 If I had a million dollars
(We wouldn’t have to eat Kraft dinner)

But we would eat Kraft dinner
(Of course we would, we’d just eat more)
And buy really expensive ketchups with it
(That’s right, all the fanciest - Dijon ketchups)

What we in the United States know as Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Canadians call Kraft dinner. They're delicious, though I'm not sure you want to subsist on them as your main diet. Nevertheless, the singers say we're going to eat more, so let's say they eat 18 Kraft Dinners a month. On, you can get an 18-pack for $28.97. We'd need 12 of those for the year, which would total $347.64.

Now the bad news. There is no commercially available dijon ketchup. I know, right?  In fact, such a product does not exist. I don't know how to bridge this gap. We can find fancy ketchup, which is an actual designation by the United States Department of Agriculture that "producers are allowed to use for marketing if their product meets the standards of US Grade A/US Fancy tomato ketchup, which possesses a better color, consistency and flavor, and has fewer specks and particles and less separation of the liquid/solid contents than US Grade B/US Extra Standard Ketchup and US Grade C/US Standard Ketchup."

Wait, grading ketchup? What goes in to that, you ask? Well, testers look for lack of tomato skin and seeds in the product, a smooth texture and other things. You can find a complete explanation of what goes into to ketchup grading here.

So no dijon ketchup, but we can get expensive ketchup. You can get two-pack of Whatburger fancy ketchup for $15.85 from Better get four, total, just to be safe.

Kraft Dinners: $347.64
Expensive Ketchup: 31.70
Amazon Prime Membership (to save on shipping): $99
Remaining: $808,692.46

[Verse 3]
If I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
Well, I’d buy you a green dress
(But not a real green dress, that’s cruel)

We need a green dress, but not a real green dress because that's cruel. I'm going to assume that means we're buying a dress, but not a green one. What kind? We don't know. For what occasion? Again, no idea. What season? It could be anything.

My research lead me to discover that there is a Fancy Dress Party in England. This party was formed  in 1979 as a "frivolous alternative to mainstream electoral parties," according to Wikipedia, and as of 2010, the party was on the official register of political parties.

But we're not here for British political parties, we're here for a not green dress. Nordstrom has what seems to be a nice dress for $158 and since I don't know what we're looking for, I think we'll go with this.

A green dress (but not a real green dress): $158
Remaining: $808,534.46

 And if I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
Well, I’d buy you some art
(A Picasso or a Garfunkel)

Next we need some art, either a Picasso or a Garfunkel. I actually enjoy the Art Garfunkel joke there, but we need to get a Picasso. Our Amazon Prime membership comes with Amazon music, so we can stream all the Art Garfunkel songs we want.

 In 2015, Picasso's Women of Algiers sold for $179 Million at Chrstie's Auction House in New York. That exceeds our budget by approximately $178 million, so we're going to have to pass on that one. But that doesn't mean we're out of luck.

The website appears to have several Picasso sketches for sale. Rather than going for a painting, there appears to be two small sculptures that would make great bookends and good conversation pieces for $6,000.

I should mention that I am in no way an art historian and would have no way to know if these are forgeries or not. So we're going to with them  and hope we weren't ripped off.

A Picasso or a Garfunkel: $6,000
Remaining:  $802,534.46
If I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
Well, I’d buy you a monkey
(Haven’t you always wanted a monkey?)

And finally, a monkey. I choose to believe this verse was the inspiration for the creators of Friends to give Ross a monkey as a way to make him the least bit interesting. Be honest with yourselves, if Ross wasn't on Friends, the show would have been so much better. Sure, we miss the whole "Ross and Rachel" thing, but that was always the least interesting part of the show. When they reboot Friends in 10 years, I hope they kill off that character in the first episode.

 Nineteen states have banned pet monkeys, so hopefully we didn't buy our house in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersy, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming. I told you we needed a house in middle America. I'm assuming we're living in one of the other 31 state that doesn't prohibit monkey ownership.

Next, we have to decide what would be the best monkey to get. The most common are Capuchins, Guenons, Macaques, Marmosets, Squirrels, Spider Monkeys and Tamarins.  All of them live 25-40 years and will require you to change their diaper if they're living inside. said "(Monkeys) are expensive, dangerous, live a long time, require a huge amount of your daily time, need a lot of space, and are not cuddly." Other than that, they make great pets, I'm sure.

But we're getting a monkey (to go along with our llamas. I think I know where the people behind "We Bought a Zoo" got their idea.). I'm going with Spider Monkey because the name seems cool.

According to, Monkeys cost between $4,000 and $8,000. As we've done in the past, we'll go right in the middle and get a $6,000 monkey. We're going to need a cage (let's do outdoor cage, we didn't get the big yard for nothing) so that's $3,500 (we're going top of the line on this, safety first.) We'll need a nesting box with branches, blankets and toys, for $200.

Fruit and vegetables for a monkey is about $100 a month, so we can add $1,200 to our total. Add in another $60 for a year's supply of monkey chow. Apparently most primate owners choose to diaper their pets, so that's $260, plus the indignity of changing a monkey diaper for 30 years and who can put a price on that?

 We'll also need to include veterinarian care, though to be honest, I have no idea how to figure out how much it costs to take a monkey to the vet or even how you would go about finding a vet who can treat a monkey. I'm just going to say $1,000.

Monkey: $6,000
Cage: $3,500
Food: $1,260
Diapers: $260
Veterinarian: $1,000
Total Monkey Costs: $12,020
Remaining:  $790,514.46

[Chorus 3]
If I had a million dollars, I’d buy your love
If I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
If I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
If I had a million dollars
I'd be rich

So at the end of all that,  we've still got nearly $800,000 remaining. Between maintenance on the limousine, the Dodge convertible, annual taxes and upkeep on the house, what I assume to be high homeowner's insurance since we have a monkey and llamas and other costs, I'm not sure our remaining cash will be there long.

But my biggest question in all this is would it actually work. I mean, buying a house and a car and a limousine seems like it's coming on a bit strong. Maybe start with some flowers and dinner at a jazz club or something a little less "I'm ready to make a lifetime commitment and to prove it, here's a house that comes with two llamas and a monkey."

Anyway, good luck dude. and if it doesn't work out with this girl, you still have enough left over to try one more time. 

If you've read all this, you might as well follow me on Twitter as you've shown you have no regard for using your time wisely. Also, thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Keep Sports Out of Politics

Craig Wilson is tired or sports ruining his politics.

NEWPORT NEWS (Va) - At the end of a long day of writing beleaguered sports blogger Craig Wilson just wants to turn on the news and forget about sports for a day. But increasingly, that become more and more difficult as sports has intruded in politics.

"I spend all day writing about sports," Wilson said. "Whether it's an injury for the Cubs or the latest NFL rumor or the start of the NHL season, it's my job. I just want to turn on the news and see what Congress or the President has done without sports intruding on that."

Whether it's the President tweeting about the NBA or some candidate trying to sell his "everyman" persona by talking about the local sports team, Wilson said it's exhausting.

"Politics is my respite from my work. It's where I go to forget about home runs or slam dunks. I get that all day at the office. I don't need it in my leisure time too," he said.

Wilson said he's talked to other sports bloggers who feel similarly.

"I hate seeing politicians making things sportical," Wilson said, attempting to coin a phrase "If they'd just stick to politics and keep sports out of it, everything would be better."

Follow me on Twitter. Or don't. It's really your choice. but if you want to, that'd be cool. But it's also cool if you don't want to. You know, you do you.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Summer Fun

The Chicago Cubs are in the playoffs for the third consecutive year. This is the first time it has happened since those halcyon days of 1906-1908 back when, well, you know what, I am not up on my history from that time period. I'm sure something big was going on. 1908 was a presidential election year, so that was probably big. Apparently Hitler's mom died in 1907. Google tells me that Upton Sinclair's 'The Jungle' was published. (See, we're learning and it's fun.)

The odds are the Cubs aren't going to win the World Series again this year. This isn't a comment on the quality of the team, but just basic math. By the time the Cubs' playoffs, there will be 8 teams remaining. They'll have to win three multiple-game series to win back-to-back titles for the first time since 1907-1908.

Take a minute and flip a coin, calling it in the air. No, seriously, go ahead. I can wait. If you got it right, do it again. If you got it right a second time, do it one more time. If you got it right the third time, congratulations, you just won the World Series. While not exact, that's the basic math the Cubs would need to win again.

So the odds aren't great that it'll happen. And that's ok, because looking at World Series titles as the only measure of baseball success is a terrible way to enjoy the game and a great way to miss out on some truly amazing things.

In 2001, the Seattle Mariners won 116 games in the regular season. Only the 1906 Cubs won as many games in one season. It was a magical season (the Mariners, I don't remember that Cubs team). But Seattle lost in the playoffs. Calling that season a disappointment would take away the six months of amazing play the Mariners put together. Coincidentally, the Cubs didn't win the World Series in 1906 either. It's a small sample size, but I'm confident in saying winning 116 games in the regular season is not a good way to win the World Series.

From 1991 to 2005, the Atlanta Braves put together one of the most dominant stretches in sports, winning the division title 14 years in a row. But for all that success, the won the World Series only once. Measuring success only by championships means that both the Toronto Blue Jays and Florida Marlins were more successful during that time than the Braves despite the fact that both Toronto and Florida only made the playoffs twice during the Braves' run of dominance.

Because baseball plays 162 games over the course of six months, the best teams tend to rise to the top over the course of a season. There's enough time for the randomness of any individual game to become statistical noise. But when there's a best-of-five playoff series, suddenly that randomness of one game can have a huge impact on whether a team advances or not. The best teams don't always win. It may not be the fairest way to determine a champion, but it's the one we've got.

That's not to say I won't be incredibly disappointed if the Cubs lose in the playoffs. I will be. But I know the odds are long.

Having said that, this summer has been so much fun. I got to to a game at Wrigley Field in July and another Cubs game in Tampa earlier this month. (They went 1-1 when I attended if you're keeping track at home. Which, if you're keeping track at home, can we talk later? That is weird and you shouldn't be doing that.) I've spent countless hours watching games and highlights. For better or worse, the Cubs announcers are my summer soundtrack, filling the air with the sounds and sights of my baseball season.

And so a week from tomorrow the playoffs start. I'm nervous and anxious and excited all at once. There's a chance for all my time invested, the season could be over by the following Monday for the Cubs. That would be disappointing, but not enough to overwhelm the awesome summer I had.

Now is the time in the blog post where we dance.


Follow me on Twitter. Or don't. It's really your choice. but if you want to, that'd be cool. But it's also cool if you don't want to. You know, you do you.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Nacho Man

Celebrity is a weird thing.

Take a few seconds to watch this video from last night.

It's an amusing video. The poor guy in the front row gets his nachos knocked out of his hands by Addison Russell flying in trying to catch a foul ball. In his attempt, Russell inadvertently kicks the dude's nachos and spills them on the field (and gets some on his arm.) A few innings later, he brings the guy some replacement nachos and poses for a picture.

It's a cool story to tell your friends today at work and to reminisce about with your girlfriend (who, coincidentally, is the person Russell landed on in his attempt to make the catch.)

But that's not the world we live in now. Nacho Man became a minor sensation on what was otherwise a fairly boring 10-2 game. He was first interviewed by the newspaper the Chicago Tribune. Then, an inning or so later, he was on television giving an interview about what it was like to have a player wind up in his girlfriend's lap and spilling his nachos. Hard hitting journalism this was not.

He tweeted the photo with Russell which obviously made the rounds among baseball fans.

Later, he got a foul ball and gave it to a kid (the correct thing to do, by the way, even if you have a kid at home) for which he drew praise. The game basically became a distraction from Nacho Man. Foul balls hit in the vicinity of Nacho Man were mentioned.

And you know what? It was fun. The guy was having the time of his life. People were walking down to his seat between innings for pictures with him. Someone even asked for his autograph.

 For a guy who just hoped to get a foul ball, he ended up having the story he'll tell when he's out for drinks with his friends or (hopefully) at the reception of their wedding. If this happened to me, I'd turn it in to a 7-part blog series and my wife would have to prohibit me from talking about it ever again or face imminent death.

I hope this guy enjoys his 15 minutes of fame.

Also, I really want to know what the person who got the autograph is going to do with it.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Has it really been 20 years?

A group of smart, intelligent people who graduated 20 years ago. And me, I'm in there too.

Of all the people who have ever lived, I'm fortunate to be a member of a select club. There are only roughly 230 people who are can claim membership and we had a meeting of sorts last night. We don't meet often and we're not all always able to go, but it's always special to get together.

Ok, that is vastly overselling my 20-year high school reunion, but in a sense, it's true. There's only a little more than 200 people who can say they graduated in 1997 from the high school I went to. Some of us grew up here, going from kindergarten through high school here. Others moved here at some point during elementary, middle or even high school. We all had different hobbies, interests, cliques and clubs we were a part of. But at the end of the day, we all share the fact that for whatever else we've had in life, we all had she shared experience of finishing high school together.

The ubiquity of Facebook makes reunions a lot less mysterious than they used to be. Not only did I have a general idea of who all was coming, but I knew, more or less, what was going on with almost everyone there.

But social media is no substitute for actually getting together. Being able to hear the voices of the guy you played soccer with or finding out the pretty girl who sat behind you used to cheat off of your paper when she could. (I hope I got those answers right for both of us, Brandy. And I'm glad I could help.)

Then there's finding out what, exactly people are doing, not just where the live or where they work.

It's finding out the girl who you were on the Math Team with in elementary school now works in analytics for Delta. Or that one of the sweetest girls in school is a kindergarten teacher where she seems like a perfect fit.

It's being able to solve the mystery of what happened to that quiet, but really funny guy I sat next to in Biology my senior year and who seemed to have left no trace of himself online.  (He didn't make it, but someone at the reunion says he now lives in New York and works for Google. The fact that he works for Google and can't be found online makes me wonder if he knows something we don't.)

But it's also hanging out with the guy who lives three doors down and the guy who has a kid in my kid's class. It's doing more than just a polite hello to that classmate you see at the athletic fields as you're going to your kid's game and she's leaving her kid's game.

It's finding out one of your former classmates lives in the same town as your in-laws and hitting it off with her husband (though we both had a lot to drink at that point so it's quite possible he doesn't actually like me that much.)

And then there's running in to that girl who, every time she sees me she tells me how much she enjoys my blog and that I should write more. And she is just so sweet that I can't help but try to write more.

It's the random coincidence of talking to a guy whose mom was your wife's Pre-Cal teacher in college (and your wife confessing that she failed the class and him feeling bad about it.)

But more than anything, reunions are about nostalgia. Yeah, high school wasn't the greatest. I think even the people who really enjoyed it wouldn't necessarily go through it again.

But we all lived that experience together. We all freaked out about the tests and dealt with the stupid drama that comes with being 14 to 18 years old. We went to football games and parties and did whatever extracurricular activities we did that seemed important at the time. Whatever cliques existed 20 years ago have long since disappeared. It was just fun to talk, catch up, share stories and enjoy each other's company.

But then we all had to go our separate ways. For some of us it was just across town. Other's had flights to catch including one girl who had to get a flight back to Dallas before leaving tomorrow for London. I have no problem saying she's a better person than I am. Still others had to drive a few hours home where we'll go about our lives.

I realized as I was writing this that I kept writing "guys and girls" instead of  "men and women." That's the power of nostalgia. For everything that's happened in the 20 years since we graduated, my strongest memories of just about everyone there is from when we were kids. We were guys and girls, and in my mind's eye, we still are.

Now if I can just run in to the girl who always wants me to write, maybe I can actually write more regularly. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

This blog post available for a limited time

So I was watching tv the other day and this commercial came on.

Now normally I pay no attention to commercials. In fact, the overwhelming majority of my television viewing is online, either with Netflix, Amazon or, or watching PBSKids with my son, so commercials are rarely seen in my house. (Good for most of the year, bad when asking my son what he wants for his birthday and/or Christmas and I get an "I don't know.")

But for some reason I watched this one and my first thought was "I must be hungry because that looks pretty good" and I'm generally opposed to eating at Subway not so much on principle, but because I don't find their food all that good.

My second thought, however, was less inspiring. The end of the ad said the sandwich was there for only a limited time. As I usually do, I had twitter open when I was watching and tweeted the following:

So yeah, a Subway commercial both made me want their product and also consider the brief existence we spend on earth. I not only wasted 30 of those seconds watching an advertisement for a restaurant whose food I don't even like, but now I'm contemplating my own mortality.

I'm only disappointed it wasn't an Arby's commercial as I generally enjoy the Nihilist Arby's parody twitter account.

Friday, August 25, 2017

A Modest Proposal for Bringing Everyone Together Over Confederate Monuments

My friend and former newspaper colleague Jake Hallman wrote a piece recently regarding the Confederate Monument in our hometown. In his article, he suggests that such a monument has no place sitting on the courthouse square due to the inability to place such a statue in context while sitting in such a place of prominence in the city.

While I'm certainly sympathetic to his argument, I would like to present my own modest proposal that will no doubt leave both sides of the debate pleased with the outcome.

The primary argument for keeping a moment to the Confederate solders who rebelled against the United States and fought to create their own, separate country, is that in keeping it, the monument teaches us our history.  Removing it would erase the history of this area, the argument goes. Clearly this is a powerful case as all the books written in the world have never touched on the war that nearly ununited the United States of America.

Our statues are truly the only way to preserve this history. Until such a time that books can be written and distributed widely to children and adults, perhaps in schools or some sort of public repository that would allow people to borrow a book on the topic of their choosing, free of charge, and return it after a designated period of time, the statues will remain our only source of learning about our history. So therefore, the statue should stay.

But as I mentioned, the war the Confederate solders fought in was not a scrimmage against themselves. They were fighting another army. In their minds, they were fighting another nation. Yet, oddly, that side of the story remains untold on our courthouse lawn. Our children are only learning half of the story and, as I mentioned, books are unavailable to present the other side.

We have seen that statues teach us our nation's history and as such, I would like to present my modest proposal to the citizens of Bulloch County and the Board of Commissioners. Standing next to the Confederate Solder on the courthouse lawn should be a statue of William Tecumseh Sherman, the General from the United States who marched his solders from Atlanta to Savannah, through Bulloch County, in a devastating military campaign. Sherman burned down the courthouse, a log building that doubled as a barn when court was not in session, before proceeding on to Savannah.

Erecting a statue to this United States General directly alongside that of the Confederate monument could not possibly draw objections from anyone. After all, what better place for such a statue than on our courthouse lawn, the epicenter of learning in our community, far ahead of Georgia Southern University. Those who want the Confederate monument to stay would be pleased and those who feel it's inappropriate to have it there would have their own monument they could take pride in.  And rather than being a nondescript union soldier, or even Abraham Lincoln or Ulysses S. Grant, it would be of a Union general who was actually in Statesboro. Imagine the learning possibilities for young and old alike.

Those arguing that the Confederate monument teaches history will no doubt be thrilled that additional educational materials will be available right on our courthouse lawn. My fellow citizens, I urge you to show up to the next County Commission meeting and demand that the Confederate monument issue be addressed. Some among us may say to you, "WTF?" when presented with this humble idea. To them, I say, "No. W.T.S." He is the statue, the monument, that we need at this time to heal this divided country.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Steal my sunshine

That was cool.

Like, legit, a top-5 life experience.

I don't really have anything profound or insightful about today's eclipse. My son is eight and like a lot of kids, he's interested in outer space. He knew the moons of Mars and was able to tell the planetarium director their names when he as five (until then, I didn't know Mars had moons*)

So when I heard several months ago about today's eclipse, I pretty much knew I was going to go. I could have planned to stay in town where the moon was going to eclipse 96% of the sun, but.... but if I drove 100 miles, I could get in the path of totality and experience a total eclipse.

So we decided to go. Unfortunately, last week my wife learned she wasn't going to be able to go with us. Se's usually the planner of our events. All I knew was I wanted to see a total eclipse, but beyond that, I didn't know what places were holding events or anything. She'd mentioned South Carolina State University was hosting an event and I figured what better place to go see this than an institution of higher learning.

I picked up my son from school about 11:15 and we set out on the roughly two-hour trip. My son wasn't all that talkative at the beginning, but as we got closer and closer, he started talking more and more. The eclipse began at 1:08 local time and we pulled in the parking lot about 1:15. We got out and immediately put on our glasses and saw the first traces of the moon moving across the sun.

We walked over to the football stadium where all the festivities were happening. Along the way we saw people grilling out, others in lawn chairs and blankets. There were also lots of amateur astronomers with telescopes set up along the short walk. Once inside the stadium, we saw a balloon being lifted off to get above the clouds to collect data for scientists a lot smarter than I am.

After that, the SCSU marching band started playing and there was also a DJ there playing songs. It was a festive atmosphere with college kids, community members and people from all over the globe there. In addition to people from South Carolina and Georgia, there were people from Maryland, Washington, Jamaica and Germany all in little old Orangeburg, South Carolina for the eclipse.

So for about an hour my son and I sat there, looking up every now and again with our glasses to see the moon slowly move across the sun while we laughed at the college kids around us, enjoyed the music and waited. For the longest time, if you didn't know an eclipse was happening, you wouldn't have noticed anything different.

Finally, at around 2:20 you could tell something was starting to happen. It started to cool off a little and the sky started to get darker. There was someone (I assume an SCSU science professor) explaining things. The sky in the west started to get darker and through our glasses we could see the moon nearly completely in front of the sun.

As it inched its way across, we both left our glasses on, watching and anxiously waiting for what we were all there for. There was yelling and cheering and a palpable excitement as the moment neared.

Finally, at 2:43 p.m., the moon moved entirely across the sun and for two minutes. The cheering and screaming (of which I fully admit I was one) of excitement echoed throughout the stadium. We could take our protective glasses off and were able to see Venus and Jupiter as well as the corona around the sun. With 20 seconds remaining, we were told (ok, encouraged) to put our glasses back on so we didn't look in to the sun when the moon stopped totally blocking the sun.

And just like that, the sun's light started to come back. As soon as it did, the crowd cheered some more. Being there with so many other people made it a better experience. We stuck around for another 15 minutes or so, but my son was ready to go home and I couldn't blame him. We made it back in a little more than two hours.

I'd do a disservice if I didn't mention that SCSU did an outstanding job with the event. From the music to the information to providing eclipse glasses to those who needed them, it was a first-rate 

*The moons are Phobos and Demos.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Jesus Recycles

"Come on Jesus, get up. The crowd will be here soon."

"Bartholomew, it can't be time to get up yet. We had such a long night last night. I knew staying up by the fire telling stories was going to come back to bite us, but noooooo, you wanted to tell that stupid story about the goats again. No one finds that funny. When they write a book about us one day, you're going to get mentioned once or twice and never again."

"Hey now, everyone likes my goat story. But whatever, we have to get up. Have you even prepared a talk for the crowd today?"

"A new talk? Come on, you've got to be kidding me. Where are we today?"

"Come on, dude, how much did you drink last night? We're in Capernum. It's been a few months since we were here last, but rumor has it the crowd is going to be a big one. You're getting quite popular. And if they do write a book, do you think they'll include my awesome sense of humor?"

"Fine, fine. Ugggh. Give me a minute. Ok, what did I talk about when I was here last time? I don't want to repeat myself, even if there is that one guy always in the back wanting me to play the hits."

"You did the Bread of Life part last time you were here, so don't do that."

"Can I just use what I talked about in Tiberias last week? No one would notice, would they? I just really don't want to have to come up with something new today."

"Are you really going to recycle a sermon, Jesus?"

"No one will ever know. Come on Bart. Don't be that guy. I'm just not feeling it today."

"Jesus, dude. Come on. You're better than that."

"What if I'm not, Bart. What if I'm just tired and not in the mood to come up with something new and insightful today and I just tell them the same thing I told the crowds last week. No one would know."

"Come on Jesus. You're not seriously considering this. I thought you were better than this."

"Bart, you try coming up with something new and meaningful every day. It's exhausting. Maybe just this once, we let it slide and recycle. If they haven't heard it before, it's new to them."

"Fine, Jesus, you're in charge. I just hope they don't mention this in whatever book they write."

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Horrible bosses?

My boss is awesome, which is not only true, but a good way to garner bonus points for my annual evaluation.  (Unfortunately for me, was just completed. Someone remind me to repost this next year.)

I'm giving the flexibility to do my job the best way I see fit and as long as I get my work done and do it well, she's cool giving me the freedom to spend too much time on Twitter or write blog posts when things are slower than usual. She's even ok with me watching baseball at work, which isn't the actual reason I asked for dual monitors for my office but it doesn't hurt.

So now that I've said all that, it's nice to know this is an option should things ever get really bad.

Court says it's OK to call boss 'nasty mother******' during union battle

Just remember, you actually have to be trying to form a union before you try this.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


In college, ESPN seemed ubiquitous. I would watch SportsCenter for hours, even though it was the same episdoe rerun all morning. It didn't matter. That was the only way to get highlights and if I wanted to see a play again, I had to wait until that highlight came up in the next hour. ESPN was essentially the only way to see highlights, so I watched it all the time.

But times change. I get highlights on my phone mere minutes after they happen now. If Kris Bryant hits a home run or Addison Russel makes a great defensive play, I can be at my son's baseball game and still see the play and even show it to him on the way home. And it's not just official league sites. I can spend the evening watching a baseball game and see highlights of the hockey and basketball playoffs show up on twitter timeline. The idea of waiting for highlights is something my son will never understand.

ESPN has tried to change with the times. It still shows SportsCenter, but it's become more focused on personalities and analysis and less on highlights, which makes sense. But apparently it's not enough.

Today anywhere between 70 and 100 people are losing their job at the Worldwide Leader in Sports. From early indications, it looks like a lot of reporters are being let go. This is disheartening, not only for the people losing their jobs, but for people who appreciate sports news. While it's fun to mock a company that gave itself such a title, but the truth is ESPN does a lot of great reporting on a number of issues. Cutting those reporters means there's fewer people digging in to the issues affecting sports (and make no mistake, sports issues affect you even if you don't like sports.)

It really sucks for the people who lost their jobs. Hopefully they're able to find something else. I can't take joy in people, even people I don't like, losing their livelihoods. It also sucks for those who want to know what's going on.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

It's only a game

My son had a baseball game last night. He and his teammates are all seven and eight years old and from what I can tell, just want to be out there having fun and playing the game. Sure, they want to win the game, but they all seem to realize it's not the end of the world if they don't.

Some of the parents, on the other hand, seem to think this one game on a Monday night is the key to future success and need everything to be perfect. So when, late in the game, the umpire missed a call, these sports parents went a little crazy.

Here's the scene. The umpire (incorrectly) called a ball foul that should have been a fair ball. The call resulted in the kid having to try to hit again and the runners moving back to where they started. This blown call apparently merited scorn and loud, extended complaining from a few fans.

One dad (maybe a granddad, I wasn't paying close attention) took this affront to the rules of the game especially hard. After yelling at the umpire for blowing the call, he told the kid batting to "hit it hard back up the middle" where the umpire was standing since he had to put the balls in to the pitching machine. This adult wanted a kid to injure an umpire because he missed a call in an eight and under baseball game.

I didn't say anything to him or even talk to my son after the game about it. Maybe I should have. It's just interesting to me that adults not playing the game take it far more seriously than the kids actually playing it.

Monday, April 24, 2017

On Death and Friendship

My wife had a good friend pass away recently.

I realize that's a terrible way to start a story,but in this case, this is where the story begins.

Her friend had cancer for years and in February, things took a turn for the worse. My wife became one of her primary caretakers, spending days and nights in the hospital. When weather forced our camping trip to end a day early, it turned out to be a blessing as it enabled my wife to be by her friend's side as she passed away.

But that's the beginning of our story.

About a week later I was getting the mail as I usually do and there was what looked like a card addressed to my wife from a friend of ours from church. It wasn't addressed to me and I didn't really think much of it.

When my wife got home I mentioned she'd gotten something in the mail and went back to doing whatever it was I was doing. A few seconds later, I hear "Awww, Kathy is so sweet."

Intrigued, I got up to see what it was.

It turned out that my wife had received a sympathy card for the loss of her friend.

I spoke with Kathy a few days later after church, telling her how much it meant to my wife and to me that she took the time to send a sympathy card. And that's when she told me something that I'm ashamed to admit I'd never thought of before.

Whenever someone dies, the family gets all the concern and the cards and everything, she said, but it can be really difficult for friends too and they don't get the same kind of love and support. She went on to say she didn't know my wife's friend, but understood how hard it was for her and wanted to let her know she was thinking about her.

Of course the family needs love and care when one of their family members dies. And I've always tried to be supportive and sympathetic whenever anyone I know loses a family member. But I've overlooked the friends that are grieving in their own, often intense way.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Game Time

The question was meant as a compliment, even though I wasn't quite sure at first.

"Where do you FIND these games?" my friend asked midway through our second game of the night.

She'd been enjoying them, but for a second I thought maybe I'd been visiting some deep, dark corner of the internet (which is the short answer to where I found those games) that I wasn't supposed to be frequenting. I certainly won't claim to have an extensive collection of board games, but over the past four years I've gotten more and more into the "German-style" board games. For those unfamiliar, these games typically don't have dice and you're not moving around a board in some kind of journey like in Monopoly or Life, or as one game reviewer wrote, "roll the dice, move the mice."

Instead, the games require a little more thinking and planning, and frankly, they're a lot more fun than the board games from my childhood. (Sorry mom, I know you did the best you could.)

Oddly, my newfound fascination with board games didn't start sitting around a table being introduced to a game by friends. Instead, it came about do to two things that 10-year old me couldn't conceive of - twitter and apps.

The short story (and I'll keep it short since I do want to give brief reviews of some of the games I enjoy) is that one of the baseball writers I follow on Twitter is really big in to board games. Big in that he has a ranking of his top 100 board games. It also helps that his daughter is one year older than my son, so I have a pretty good idea about my son's ability to play the game if she can play it. Anyway, he tweeted about 4 years ago about a game called "Ticket to Ride" and the app for that game being given away for free. Well, I figured, if it's free, why not give it a try?

So I downloaded it and stated playing and it became addictive. If I had a spare 10 minutes, I'd play a quick game. Soon my son, who was four at the time, would curl up in my lap to watch me play. I didn't know how much of the game he got, but after a few months, he asked if he could play. So he'd sit in my lap and I'd watch him play and while he may not have had the strategy completely down, he had the concept down.

So we got the game for Christmas and after teaching my wife, she loved it. And from there, we've started using that baseball writer's board game list as our guide to which games to get. After Christmas (when we got a few more games) we wrote the names down on slips of paper and every night after dinner, our son draws out the name of the game we're playing that night.

Below is not a ranking of the games we have and they're in no particular order, but in case you were wondering what games we play at the house, here's a brief synopsis of our favorites.

Ticket to Ride: The game that started it all for us. The basic concept is that you are a railroad baron claiming train routes from city to city in the United States and Canada. You draw destination cards in which you get points for connecting the two cities on the card, but lose those points if you fail to connect them. Each route is different and requires a certain number of matching colored cards (I believe there are six colors) to connect the cities. It's really a wonderful game in its simplicity. The only drawback to this game (and it's been corrected in later versions) is that it's possible to get fortunate in drawing some really long destinations (17 points or more) while your opponent may keep drawing seven, eight or nine point destination cards. But that's just a minor quibble.

For 2-5 players. 45 minutes to an hour to play.

Ticket to Ride: Europe (and India and Asia and Switzerland as well as expansions for the United States and Europe maps): Same basic concept as the original, only with different maps and slight rules variations that make a familiar game feel different enough that you're not playing the same game. Ticket to Ride Europe is a standalone game, but if you get any of the other editions you will need to have either Europe or the original to be able to play (as those two come with the plastic trains you need to play the game as well as the deck of colored cards.) Of these, I enjoy Europe the most just for it's geography and different strategies that seem equally likely to result in a win. The two expansions are just more destination cards to add variety, but they add to the complexity and fun of the game.

For 2-5 players (Switzerland is 2-3 players) 45 minutes to an hour to play.

Splendor: A game with a simple concept but multiple ways to try to win, the basic premise is you are a jewel merchant in 14th century Russia, and you use your wealth to buy mines, and then craftsmen and finally take your jewels to the cities all while earning prestige points. The premise of the game actually has very little to do with the game play, but it's fun nonetheless. You have to balance buying the lower (or sometimes no) value cards versus going for the big point cards. There's several strategies and there is an element of luck as to which cards are available to buy when your turn comes around. It's easy enough to learn. We played it at work the week before Thanksgiving and halfway through her first game, a coworker pulled out her phone to order it for her husband for Christmas.

For 2-4 players, 20-30 minutes to play once you know what you're doing.

Dominion: Like most games, the object here is to get the most points. Only in Dominion, a deck-building game in which you constantly reshuffle your cards, you make the decision as to when to buy the limited number of point cards or to acquire other cards that may give you more money to buy higher point cards. You start with seven coins and three victory cards and then can buy cards each turn that do things from allow you play additional cards, have more money to spend that turn and so forth. the game comes with 25 different sets of cards, but you only play with 10 at a time, meaning there's a multitude of combinations for a seemingly endless array of options. There are also roughly 2,392,271 expansions available. I've yet to play any (we actually got the first version because that's the one my son played and liked, but we're hoping to get others as the year goes on).

For 2-4 players, 30-45 minutes to play.

Carcassonne: My favorite game, even though I lose to my wife regularly. I love the concept of the game, which is that you draw tiles and then play on tiles that have already been played to create the board as you go. Carcassonne, for those who don't know, (and really, I feel dumb even typing this like you don't know) is a fortified French town linking trade routes from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. It's been inhabited since the Neolithic Period and was a key location for the Romans and later the Visigoths. For our purposes, you are trying to strategically place your tiles to either complete roads, cities or Cloister and playing your people-shaped tokens, called Meeples, as you play in the roles of Knight, Thief, Monk or Farmer. The random draw of the tiles makes every game different and, like Dominion, there are a multitude of expansions available. The version we own (and that I've seen for sale in places like Books-A-Million) comes with the River expansion, which is helpful for getting people comfortable with playing the tiles.

For 2-5 players, 30ish minutes to play. 

Forbidden Island: A cooperative game in which all players either win or lose as you try to capture sacred relics left behind by an ancient civilization. The only problem is the island was designed to sink into the ocean if anyone ever landed on it. (It's right there in the title of the game, the island is forbidden.) You and your team have to collect treasure cards, shore up the sinking island and locate the treasures. Then you all have to get off the island before it sinks. Each character has different special abilities that help you (though some are more useful than others) and the island is arranged differently every time, so much like the other games I've mentioned, no two games are alike, which adds to their re-playability. In case you're thinking this one is a little complicated, my eight-year old played and taught it to his friends with no help from his parents.

For 2-4 players, 30 minutes to win, less time if the Island wins.