Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Striking A Nerve

Striking A Nerve
by Rob Cottignies

I find baseball dreadful. Though they're not as prominent in my life, I find the Ku Klux Klan even more dreadful.

Check this out:

At professional baseball games, it's a common practice to hang a banner with a K on it for every strikeout the home pitcher and/or team gets. Back in the 1800s, some limey Brit developed a system for scoring baseball games. He is responsible for the scores by inning as well as the Runs Hits Errors part after it. My guess is he devised this structure over the course of a few games because he was so fucking bored. He abbreviated a sacrifice play with an S and, because apparently those used to be more common than strikeouts, abbreviated those with a K because that's another letter in the word.

So something like this happens: After strikeout #1, whoever's in charge of the banners displays a big K. After #2, another K is added next to it. But after #3 is where things get dicey. If the same pattern repeats, it would read KKK, which is the usual initialism for the Ku Klux Klan- a group of unsavory white folks with a particular distaste for anyone who is not white and whatever other criteria. They suck. They've murdered people, burned things, and caused general unpleasantry. People surely don’t want to promote that group, especially in public and if they don't believe in their cause. So the third strikeout's K is frequently reversed. This has often been credited to the direction of the K indicating whether the strikeout was completed by a missed swing or the batter just looking or some other boring shit. I call immediate shenanigans. Was the third strikeout which followed two of the forward-K direction the opposite every single time in the entirely-too-long history of baseball?

No. I know this not as a fact but confident that statistics are on my side.

Offended Guy: 'Hey, that means Ku Klux Klan.'
Banner Guy: 'No, it means the pitcher threw three strikeouts.'
Offended Guy: 'Oh, alright.'

And that would be it! Nothing at any baseball park I've seen even comes close to hinting at white supremacy. The league and stands are filled with people of all sorts of colors from all sorts of places. The banner guy is not wearing a white robe with a stupid pointy white hood.

Unless he is. Then the whole thing is racist.

I saw haircut store (a what?) in Tennessee which was named Kim's Klassy Kuts. Again, in Tennessee. Not far from Lynchburg. That was quite likely racism disguised as something cutely vomit-inducing.

To end with an interesting bit of history, there was once a baseball game between an all-black team and the Klan. It happened in Kansas in 1925 because the Monrovians announced an open invitation for anyone who wanted to play them. Guess who accepted. You don't have to guess because I already told you. Apparently the game was a peaceful money-making success which ended with the Monrovians winning 10-8. Check out the entire article.

It would be quite fascinating to know which direction the strikeout Ks faced during that game.

Friday, July 21, 2017

In The End, Blow Up The Outside World

In The End, Blow Up The Outside World
by Rob Cottignies

I hate hypothetical situations, but here's one anyway:

Suppose I find out that I'm going to die tomorrow. This source is 100% positive and is able to convince me of that.

It's 5:00pm. I make some phone calls, tie up loose ends, check Facebook, etc. Then I decide that I will not let Death take me but I will go to him. So at 10:00pm, after eating an entire pizza, I drink some beers that have been in my fridge for years waiting for the perfect time. I wouldn't exactly call this perfect, but I drink (in a fairly particular order) 2016 Multifarious by Jester King, 2014 Westvleteren 12, 2014 Blasphemy by Weyerbacher, then finish with 2013 Black Ops by Brooklyn.

I'm drunk. Really drunk. And full. Really full.

It's 11:30pm and I run out my front door screaming. I'm wearing a Viking helmet and no pants. I'm chugging one last beer (Habanero Sculpin by Ballast Point- gotta go out with a bang) when my neighbors come over. They're so nosy. Like a drunk pantless Viking screaming obscenities near midnight warrants attention.

I pass out. Somewhere in my mind, I know I'll never wake up.

An ambulance comes and takes me to a hospital. I don't know which one. Like it matters. The doctors do all they can but at 2:00am I'm declared dead from alcohol poisoning. I did it. I beat Death to the punch.


The prophecy was correct. I died tomorrow. But what killed me started today and wouldn't have begun if I hadn't heard the prophecy. So was it really correct? If I didn't drink myself to death, would another doom have been waiting for me?

It all comes down to fate:

For those who believe in fate, I was supposed to hear this prediction then get really drunk off of really awesome beer. For those who don't believe, something else was definitely going to happen at some point tomorrow.

What's the point of all this? I don't know. But I say you should have fun while you can because having fun is great and not having fun is stupid.

Before anyone gets all nervous or whatever, there's nothing to worry about. I'm fine and shall continue to be so until something decides I shouldn't be anymore.

Some of you might say, 'I know those excellent beers are strong, but would they be enough to kill you?' Maybe, but the shots of Evan Williams bourbon during the whole escapade probably sealed the deal. And why didn't I throw up? Because I'm tough, that's why.

(This piece is oddly dedicated to my memories of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington.)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

But Is It Irony?

But Is It Irony?
by Rob Cottignies

The concept of irony is a complex and often-debated topic. Many people mistake coincidence for irony, such as you and a friend both wanting pizza for lunch. Alanis Morissette has mistaken rotten luck for irony, such as every instance in her song 'Ironic'. Cool video, catchy tune, horrible semantics.

A few years ago, one brave person wrote a humorous yet extremely poignant and excellent article which included irony and its unfortunate misuses. Our hero described irony as an event where the outcome is the opposite of the initially-intended result. For example, silent film actor Charlie Chaplin once secretly entered a contest to see who could best impersonate his famous [walk]. Because he was actually Charlie Chaplin and invented that walk, he assumed he'd win. He did not. Boom- irony.

So the other day I faced a conundrum- I wanted to run in the park and it was raining out. I generally can't stand wearing a wet shirt so I wore a zipped-up raincoat to prevent it from getting soaked. After the run, I took off the coat and my shirt was soaked. As you probably know, raincoats raise body heat because they are non-porous. The extra sweat my body produced caused my shirt to become soaked in gross moisture.

I wondered if this was ironic. The coat did its job in keeping out rain but my shirt got wet anyway because of the coat. However, if I hadn't worn the coat, my shirt would've still gotten wet.

This can only be explained by inserting or removing the phrase with rain. 'I wore this coat so my shirt didn't get wet. The coat caused my shirt to get wet.' Irony. 'I wore this coat so my shirt didn't get wet with rain. The coat caused my shirt to get wet, but not with rain.' Not irony. But then there's the inevitability that the shirt would've gotten wet regardless. A person could go crazy thinking about this stuff, which I do constantly. Yep, that explains it.

The next time I'm feeling a rain run, I'll just go nude. That'll show the ironic overlords who's boss. Also, check out this video spoofing Alanis's dopey song.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Sharing ≠ Caring

Sharing ≠ Caring
by Rob Cottignies

It baffles me how people are so quick to give personal yet ultimately useless information to strangers. Here are three examples:


My friend Dennis was working behind a bar one Sunday. Aside from me, the other people present were a couple (Guy and a girl. I know there are other types of couples. Blah blah.) and some girl who was with them. Dennis knew the couple so he introduced himself to the girl. Like a child under ten years of age, she shrieked, 'My name is Rosie and it's my birthday!!!!' Unnecessary information shared strictly for attention. My friend did the "correct" thing and gave her a free beer. Then I started texting him hateful things about Rosie. 'I hope this is Rosie's last birthday.' 'Pour her a pint of poison.' 'If Rosie chokes on her birthday cake, I won't perform CPR.' Ya know, cheerful stuff.

What I didn't know was that Dennis's phone was not in his pocket but on the bar in front of the guy. Nosy, as people tend to be, he looked when it vibrated and lit up. With a shocked face, he looked right at me and motioned, asking if I had sent the messages. Playing dumb, I said, 'No, that's not my phone.' He rudely picked it up and showed it to the girl and Rosie. Someone else's phone. Unreal. Perhaps because I was the only other person at the bar, all three looked at me in disgust. Or so Dennis told me. I didn't acknowledge them. Apparently they were so  furious that they did the only thing furious people would do- finished their beers and left. No screaming, no defending, no fighting. Nothing. I felt badly because I had accidentally lost Dennis some business and because this story didn't have an interesting ending. The point is that if someone says your friend should drink poison, cause a scene. Don't run away. Freakin' hipsters…

Paige's Dad

Speaking of hipsters, I was sitting at a bar when a hipster and an older guy came in. Of course they sat near me and of course they spoke loudly because no one else was there. Due to their inconsiderate volume level, I found out the older guy wasn't the hipster's father but the hipster's girlfriend's father. Her name was Paige. I hated Paige. To make things worse (for me), the hipster was asking Paige's dad for "permission" to propose marriage to her. I lost my appetite and feared what I had eaten would erupt at any moment. Also, I knew they would somehow rope me into this garbage pile of a conversation.

And I was correct. In a "clever" plot to tell the "good news" to the bartender, Paige's father introduced the hipster to him as his son-in-law. In a pure Aw shucks golly gee whiz moment, the hipster said it was too early to be saying that. Not to be outdone, Paige's dad said that no one would blab because only the three of them knew. "And this guy." Me. I guess they knew how close they sat to me and how loudly they were speaking. I looked up to see the three of them staring at me, so I said that I wouldn't tell anyone because I didn't care.

Do you think that was mean? Do you also think honesty is the best policy? Hypocrite.

Dale & Belinda

I met my friend Julia at a concert and she was with a friend. Some guy. Dale? I don't know. She introduced us then someone suggested getting beer, which is always a great idea. Julia offered to buy the first round, so that left Dale and me to stand there awkwardly. I hate small talk but sometimes it can't be avoided. So I asked a reasonable question- 'How do you know Julia?' He replied, 'She was friends with my wife who died last month.' I JUST met this guy and he told me the worst news of his life. What was I to do? Now, my mind doesn't work like those of most people, who probably would've expressed condolences and maybe even asked how he was doing. Not me. I asked him how it happened, not to be a jerk but I was mildly curious and he opened the door. He shouted, 'THAT'S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.' I was ready to say, 'You made it my business' but Julia came back with the beers and obviously that was more important.

I never found out what happened to Dale's wife, so here's my theory based on exactly zero information: Dale and his wife, Belinda, were walking along a city street. They'd both tried to quit smoking many times to no avail. Dale took his last drag and flicked the cigarette butt into the street. Ever the environmentalist, Belinda reached down to pick it up and place it in a proper waste receptacle. At that exact moment, a truck swerved from its lane to avoid hitting an old woman named Sue who was standing in the middle of the street for no reason. This truck hit Belinda and knocked her head clean off her body. It flew into the nearest waste receptacle with the cigarette in her mouth, exactly how Belinda would've wanted it. However, the butt ignited the contents of the receptacle and the two children playing near it. Also, the decapitated body gave Sue an awful fright and she died on the spot from a heart attack so it was all for nothing.

See what you made me do, Dale? You were inconsiderate and years later a guy you've probably forgotten made up a horrible (though likely accurate) story about your wife dying. This is the pain you have caused. You're a monster.

Why do people share this stuff with strangers!?!? For attention, that's why. These are the same people who "send" thoughts and prayers to victims on social media. Attention makes them feel good so I give them none. But I guess this article counts as giving them attention so figure that out for yourselves. Whatever. Leave me alone.

Friday, February 03, 2017

The Greaving Mother

The Greaving Mother
by Rob Cottignies

            This is a bizarre story. Many of my friends don't even know about it but I assure you it's real. I wish I was clever enough to make something like this up. Also, I did not change names to protect anyone.

            My friend and I were destroying robots, running from dinosaurs, and battling each other. It was the coolest gaming system around.
            My father interrupted the fantasy worlds by calling and telling me to "Come home NOW". Then he hung up. He was clearly angry but what could a good 12-year-old have done to make that so?
            My friend obviously asked why I was leaving.
            "I don't know."
            I really didn't.
            As soon as I got home, I desperately asked what was going on but was told it would wait until my mother got there. So I sat, confused, in the living room with my furious dad. Seconds, minutes, hours. The whole time I was wondering what I'd done. No alcohol, no drugs, no girls, no bad grades. I just sat there, without the faintest of clues but frightened to ask why again.
            My mom arrived and they stood above me as I sat on the couch. Intimidating. One of them firmly said, "Is there anything you'd like to tell us?" I could think of nothing so I remained speechless.
            "Mrs. Greaves stopped by a little while ago. Why do you think she would do that?"
            Mrs. Greaves was the mother of twins my age- Brian and Paul. They were notorious in town for consistently acting fragile during elementary school sports. In soccer, the slightest touch would send either one of them flying and crying, which prompted the mom to run onto the field screaming at the ref, the coaches, the kids, anyone. After a while of this (and not realizing the kids were certainly not to blame), everyone started viciously hitting the boys. If chaos and a penalty would ensue regardless, why not earn it?
            Back at my house, I had no idea why Mrs. Greaves would stop by. I wasn't friends with the boys and our parents had never met before.
            Once more, "Is there anything you'd like to tell us?"
            I still had nothing to express but confused rage so I demanded to know what was going on.
            Mrs. Greaves had brought Paul with her and there were finger marks on his neck. He had clearly been choked. And I was accused of doing it. I did not and told my parents as much. To my frustration, they didn't believe me. Why would they? Sure, I was their son but an upset mother had more clout than an adolescent.
            So I was grounded indefinitely and sent to my room while they sorted out the details. I was so scared that I wondered how I could have strangled someone then forgotten about it. It was the only thing that made sense. Obviously I did it. His mother was crying, there were marks on his neck, and they both accused me. But I didn't remember doing it! And it would've just happened!!!
            After another indeterminate amount of time, my parents came in. They gave me one last chance: I was in trouble regardless but if I confessed instead of them finding out later, my punishment would be less-severe. I'd taken that road a few times in my youth but not this time; there was no way I choked this kid. I said as much and probably because I'd been so honest in the past, I could tell they believed me, at least a little bit. Plus I likely seemed shaken and nervous instead of defiant.
            The night went on and I was asked a few more times, though more-casually. They were angry, I felt helpless, and everybody was confused.
            The next day, my parents took me to school to meet with the principal. They explained what happened and I explained what didn't happen. Surprisingly, she did not seem alarmed. Situations like this had happened before with the twins and their mother. The principal had a thick folder of accusations and investigations. Most of them went nowhere or were deemed false.
            There was no proof but we all determined that Mrs. Greaves herself had choked Paul then blamed it on me, who had no issues with Paul but instead some opposition with Brian, which was known. Her fatal flaw was picking the wrong kid. Regardless, a grown woman strangled her own son then blamed it on a 6th-grader without any apparent motive.
            The whole thing made no sense but it was the only theory that did make sense.
            My parents profusely apologized to me but I understood their predicament. Though a stranger, Mrs. Greaves had a strong case and I was twelve- naturally wired to cause mischief and deny it to save myself.
            Two more years went by without incident until the twins went for schooling elsewhere. I've heard they're doing alright now so I guess the crazy old witch didn't affect them as negatively as predicted. I wonder if Paul remembers this story or if it just got archived along with other unimaginable lunacy.

            My point here is that you should trust yourself in every situation like I did but weigh the facts like my parents did because you just never know what people will do. Oh yeah, and don't strangle your kids. Unless they deserve it.