Thursday, December 24, 2015

"Concussion" Hits Home

Although, it may be a holiday spoiler for many people, the Hollywood film "Concussion" is proving to be a box officer winner in the U.S. this season.  It is the sad story of football hero Mike Webster, and the doctor who was thwarted by the National Football League as he tried to expose truths about the dangers of head injuries in the sport that has become our national pastime.

Mike Webster was born near my hometown of Tomahawk, Wisconsin, in 1957. He starred as a center on the football team in nearby Rhinelander, Wisconsin, and later at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Webster as a Pittsburgh Steeler.
and with the professional Pittsburgh Steelers. Webster is considered by many to have been the finest center ever to play football. The high school field in Rhinelander is named for him. He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame years ago.

Despite earning great fame and fortune, Webster died at age 50, after years as a demented drug addict who often lived out of the back of his pickup truck. His family provided his brain to a medical center that became a leader in documenting the causes and effects of concussions. Lately, pressure from those aware of the center's findings has forced the NFL to take a few safety measures that may spare current players the fate Webster suffered.

The film has been getting good reviews. Yet, despite the hometown connection, I'm not sure I'll go to see it. And knowing what I now know about concussions and football, I'm far from sure I would advise a son or grandson to try the sport.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

May the Holidays Treat You Well

We'll have a few surprise packages to open, but one thing never changes at our place this time of year. Assorted treats will be provided at all times for all comers between full-scale banquet meals.

We alternate holiday events between our home and Lee's house, which is only a healthy walk away from us. Last year, Lee and his fiancée Karen hosted Christmas dinner. This year, we'll be taking on that responsibility. Due to a marked lack of culinary skills on my part, that means most of the work will fall to beautiful wife Sandy. I, however, am a fair hand in the drink pouring department.

Karen and Lee's dog, Pearl, is a major treat recipient no matter where we hold the main meal events. You can be sure she won't miss a chance to successfully beg for a tidbit of ham, sweet potato, or other delicacy.

We wish you health, happiness, and some special treats this holiday season.

Pearl on full alert for a treat during a  holiday cooking session.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Sagging Will Happen Soon Enough

As I prepared to sit down for lunch, a clean-cut young man at the next table noticed my Packers cap and struck up a conversation. He was a well-informed fan, and we had a pleasant exchange about the recent "Miracle in Motown" in which our favorites pulled off an unlikely victory over the Detroit Lions after time had expired.
Not a Pleasant Sight

When my new acquaintance departed with a "nice to talk to you" comment, I couldn't help but notice his low-slung jeans. They weren't quite as extreme as some (his were similar to the photo at the left), however another inch or two and the obnoxious "butt crack" display would have ruined his appearance. His display wasn't ruinous, but it certainly detracted considerably from the good impression he initially made on me.

As I got up and hitched up my trousers for the tenth or eleventh time that day, I wanted to stop the youngster and provide some senior advice. I didn't, knowing advice from elders rarely is appreciated, much less accepted.

Had I chosen to offer my wisdom, it would have been something like this: Back in the day I had a 32-inch waist, rounded hips, and a pretty solid butt. Any old belt easily held my pants up to the level of my navel or nearly so, and nobody ever accused me of being a slob.

Now, my hips and butt are disappearing rapidly and a lot of what was once youthful muscle seems to have migrated from various places to a protruding belly. When that happens, and it happens to many fully mature men, no matter how tightly a belt is cinched, trousers will slip and sag. It is not a pleasant place to be. When you are older, you perhaps will have enough trouble walking briskly without your pants hanging around your thighs or knees. Near-constant attention, or suspenders, becomes a necessity.

Young men should realize pants problems probably are in their futures. They don't need to practice the sagging jeans bit that offends some casual viewers and might cause them to blow an important job interview or other contact where neatness still counts. Wise up guys, and keep 'em up while you can.