Category: sports

All Hail Daniela, the Victorious

I’ve been running March Madness tournaments for a good long while. I usually keep three going: one for my blog, one for my extended family, and one for my church group. There’s some overlap between those different groups, as family and church friends participate on the blog bracket, and Denisa and the kids usually participate in all of them.

However, I don’t ever recall one person winning all three. There’s usually enough variety that someone might do well in one, but someone else inevitably aces them out with a better bracket.

That is, until this year, when Daniela managed to win all three brackets, though it was tight in some. She won the blog bracket by 490 points, the family bracket by 150, and the church bracket by a mere 30 points. Overall, she came in #153,410 out of about 17 million players on ESPN.

Of course, the funny thing is that when I sat with her to make her picks, I kept thinking to myself she didn’t have a shot of winning. She was picking a lot of upsets at the beginning, and then more mainstream choices toward the end, and I just didn’t think it was going to shake out like that. This proves what a nincompoop I am.

In any event, I’m committed to putting Daniela’s name in my acknowledgements, which would actually be a downgrade, since I dedicated my last book to her. But fair is fair. Also, I will note that she’s better than me, which kind of goes without saying. I’ll also see if I can’t give her some sort of an opportunity to name a character (or appear as one) in the book.

Well done, Daniela, and thanks to everyone who played!

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

March Madness 2022 Edition!

How could I stay away during March Madness? Actually, I’m hoping I’ll be able to post more regularly for the next while, as I’m through many of the time intensive things that were filling up my plate. But for today, I’m just going to ease into it with a simple invitation to come join my blog bracket challenge. Last year, the lucky winner got the chance to name one of the main characters in my book (Don’t Go to Sleep, coming out in August!) So when you meet Enzo, you can thank Rachel Cundick for choosing a name so much better than Jake. (Not that Jake’s a bad name, mind you.)

This year, the book I’m working on is much more historically based, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to name a character for you. I will, however, put your name in the acknowledgements, along with a note that you’re better than I am. How’s that for commitment?

To enter (by Thursday at noon!), go to this link. Group name and password are below.

Group: Bryce’s Ramblings
Password: vodnik

I hope to see some of you there!

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

A Superb Super Bowl

I realize the Super Bowl isn’t for everyone. And honestly, I am far from a raging NFL fan. Often, the Super Bowl is the only game I watch each year. (I’m a much bigger college football fan, although even then, I typically just watch BYU games and leave the rest alone–even the national championship and bowl games.) But I do watch the Super Bowl each year, mainly because of all the trappings around it. I enjoy seeing what commercials they come up with, I like critiquing the half time show, and I cross my fingers that the game is actually a good one.

Last night’s was fun from the beginning to the end, despite the fact that I literally didn’t care who won, so long as it was a close game. (That meant that I was largely rooting for Cincinnati the whole time, because underdog.) The game itself was really compelling, with the outcome in question all the way to the end of the fourth quarter. (Well, almost.) There were some great plays, some questionable calls, and more than enough to really keep me watching the whole time.

It helped that the halftime show was really well done. The last one I really remember is Lady Gaga’s performance in 2017, and if I can’t remember the halftime show, then in my book it pretty much failed. The Weeknd? Shakira? Maroon 5? Timberlake? They’re all generally a blur to me. Yes, this could be due to the fact that I’m not as squarely in the age demographic for those artists, but I’m also not a huge rap-o-phile. Yet I recognized most of the songs, and it was full of spectacle.

The ads were also entertaining. It’s interesting to me how many of them end of getting very different reactions from people. For example, I thought the Dolly Parton ad was disappointing. She so often speaks out for important causes, to have her instead participate in a spoof of those causes was a bad match for me. But the floating QR code was right up my alley. Memorable, and it even got me to immediately do something in response to it. (I don’t remember ever watching an ad and then suddenly going to buy some Pringles, for example.) $15 in free money? Sure, I’m game, even if it meant I had to sign up for a service.

Other ads I liked included the Disney+ goats, the Uber Eats “don’t eat diapers and other stuff” ad, the Toyota ad that featured the skiing brothers (though random that it was about Toyota), and the Alexa mindreader ad.

On the other hand, I didn’t care for the Google camera ad (the pictures they showed that were bad were mostly poorly lit, while the improved pictures all had wonderful lighting, so I felt it didn’t really show anything) and the Schwarzenegger Zeud ad (no.) But those were the only ones that really stood out to me as bad (other than the Dolly one).

So all-in-all, I was entertained for the whole time last night. What about you–what did you think?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Olympics: Yay or Neigh?

The Olympics are back. Again. It feels like we just had them, because we pretty much did. (Hard to believe this used to be the norm: having the summer and winter Olympics back to back. The new way is much better.)

My family and I are watching them quite a bit, but I’ve seen just about no chatter about them online anywhere. I have my own theories about why that’s happening, but I’m curious to see what other people think as well. I’ll run down the possibilities:

  • The fact that the Olympics are taking place in China is a big turn off for some. There are the political ramifications and the human rights issues, and people don’t want to support something they don’t think should be happening where it’s happening.
  • With COVID happening, people just don’t care about the Olympics. There are much more important things to focus on, like Russia possibly invading Ukraine and breaking the whole world.
  • People are burned out over the Olympics. It was too soon to bring them back, and so they just don’t care all that much.

Personally, I think the main reason Olympics coverage isn’t doing so hot in the US can be laid at the feet of NBC and they way they’ve continually handled them. I really (really) dislike the America-first message of their shows, and the huge amount of pressure and “importance” they seem to want to place on these athletes. They constantly seem to be more interested in an individual story than in covering the excitement of the games.

The Super Bowl’s on Sunday. Imagine if its coverage was like the Olympics. Instead of celebrating an awesome play, they tell us the back story of the wide receiver. Then they go on and on about the coach and cut away to people’s families huddled in front of the TV in their living rooms. They cut away from the action in the middle of the first quarter and jump over to tell us what’s happening in golf right then. We see a few highlights of that, and then someone in the studio shows us all what a “football” is and talks about its history. They come back to the game just in time for the halftime show, which they show in its entirety without any commentary at all.

And on and on it goes.

These days, I’d really like NBC to give up it’s insistence on trying to build a Big Audience, and instead just let us easily choose what sports we want to watch, when we want to watch them. Yes, it’s somewhat possible to do that now, but through my YouTubeTV account, it’s very hard to actually figure out what event I’m going to see. Perhaps it’s better on the NBC app, but what’s up with that? They’re holding the Olympics hostage so they can sell us their new whatever?

Ugh.

Going into the games, Mikaela Shiffrin was held up as this unstoppable force. “She will likely win 5 gold medals. Count ’em: five!” Coverage of the giant slalom was all focused on her, with some mention of Petra Vlhova (from Slovakia!) as the person who might foil our fair heroine. And then . . . Mikaela wiped out on like the fifth turn, and the coverage was forced to hem and haw their way, trying to justify what happened. Then last night, Mikaela fell down again in the slalom. It was so upsetting for NBC’s coverage, that they completely changed sports.

And Mikaela? She sat down on the course after she fell, and stayed there for 20 minutes. And then when she came down, NBC shoved a camera in her face and asked her to detail what went wrong and why. You can watch her reevaluate her life decisions LIVE! ON CAMERA!

You want to know what happened? She fell down. Twice. It happens. The fact that she fell down in the Olympics doesn’t invalidate her being an awesome skier. And she shouldn’t be made to feel like a failure, especially when she’s got 3 more events to race.

I might be biased (spoiler: I am), but I was really happy to see Petra win Slovakia’s first alpine medal, and have it be gold. It was just a great story that naturally arose from the way the event played out. She went into the second run back by .72 seconds, which is a big chunk of change in the slalom. She came from eighth place to win it all. Drama, without any need to tell us why it’s dramatic.

One of my current favorite events is the biathlon. I don’t know anything about the skiers. I don’t really have a dog in the fight in terms of me caring who wins. But to see all those Nordic skiers go out and race their hearts out, and then have the drama of watching them shoot for 20 different targets . . . it’s fantastic. And I don’t need NBC to tell me the back history of everyone’s grandmother and the time they got their first puppy.

But NBC does all of that every. single. Olympics. I keep tuning in, but the way I do it now is to generally avoid watching them live. I watch them delayed, so I can skip all the ads and skip all the sob stories. I watch the events I want, even though it takes some effort to find them. What would be super helpful for me would be if NBC were to provide a site where they said “Watch this event, it ended up really good.” Don’t spoil the outcome. Just tell me it’s particularly noteworthy.

Somehow, I doubt that’s going to happen.

Anyway. That’s my take on the Olympics. How about you: are you watching? Why or why not?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Daily Dose of Inspiration

With all the doom and gloom happening seemingly everywhere, I’ve been looking for instances of happiness and positivity whenever I can. One area that’s been encouraging to me recently are the 2020 Paralympic Games happening over in Tokyo right now.

I’d always known about the Paralympic Games, but I never actually watched any of the competitions. For one thing, I wasn’t sure how to see any of them. Watching the Olympic Games is something you’d have to hide under a rock to avoid, when the Olympics are on. They’re all over the news, all over television, and people talk about them all the time. But they last for a couple of weeks, and I think by the end of that, most people are ready to move on from the whole sports thing. Plus, who can remember when the Paralympics start? They’re just not talked about at all.

Lucky for me, YouTube TV makes watching the Paralympics wicked easy to watch. I can just go in and tell it to DVR anything having to do with the Paralympics, and it does it for me automatically. I don’t need to know what channel they’re on or what time the events are playing. (And there’s no need to worry about spoilers, because as I said, no one’s talking about these in my day to day life.) Then when I want to watch something, I bring up the DVR’d events and choose something to check out.

So far I’ve watched wheelchair basketball, a wheelchair 5k, various swimming events (some with participants who were blind, some who were missing limbs), goal ball (a court sport for the blind, where they roll a ball with bells inside it across the court, hoping to score on the other side), and sitting volleyball. I’ve found all of them inspirational, watching people do things so far beyond what I can do, even when facing difficulties unlike anything I’ve had to face.

Take swimming blind. It seems like it shouldn’t be that big of a deal when you first think of it. You don’t need your eyes to swim, after all, right? But how do you know when the wall’s coming? When you’re swimming as fast as you can, do you just remember how many strokes it takes to go 50m? In practice, it turns out the swimmers tuck themselves close to the cordons that rope off the different lanes, to ensure they’re going straight. Then they have assistants who stand on either end of the pool with long wands. When the swimmer gets close, they tap them on the back at a predetermined distance, letting them know the wall’s almost there.

I watched a swimmer from Turkey swimming with no arms. She used a dolphin kick to churn through the water, turning over to her side now and then to take a breath. Swimming like that for 200m? I couldn’t believe it.

When I was on my mission in Germany, I played wheelchair basketball once a week with members of the German national team. I don’t know which missionaries got us involved in that, but it was a great experience. The men were a lot of fun to be around, and they were all much much better athletes than I’ll ever be. Those wheelchairs crashed into each other all the time. People were falling out of them and getting back in on their own. Shooting a basketball when you can’t use your legs (and you’re about 2.5 feet farther away) is really difficult. It all gave me a very different view of disabilities and how people with them view themselves and others. (Not that I’m saying I understand even a fraction of what it’s like, but at least it was a start.)

Anyway. I just wanted to pass the recommendation on while the games are still going. If you have access to any of the coverage, I encourage you to check some of it out. The regular Olympics have a lot of trappings that go with them. People who succeed in them become superstars, though I still love watching the underdogs do things no one thought they’d be able to. The Paralympics feel like watching people who are competing just because they love competing.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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