Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Siebert Sweeps!!!

That's right folks. Chris Siebert came away from the Phoenix Open with both the Singles and Doubles Title. Congratulations Chris! Tuan Vu came through as his doubles partner for his first ever open net title. Nice work!

It has been about ten years since I have played net in a tournament outside of Chicago. In fact, I believe my last tournament was the Texas State Footbag Championships in 1998. I picked the bag up again in the late summer of last year and couldn't be happier with that decision. Since that time I have reconnected with people I haven't seen in years, met new friends and increased my overall physical well being. If it hasn't been said before, I'll say it now: footbag (net) players are the salt of the earth. I want to thank Amy Westberg and Rob Adams for all their hard work and hospitality. I also want to thank everyone that participated for not only welcoming me on the court but for welcoming the newcomers as well. Where else can you step in to the game after only a few months of playing and receive advice from some of the best in the world? They are giving the advice because they truly want you to become a better player to help push this sport to the next level. Thank you!

Our week started a little early as Cory Current, Scot Hansen and I arrived in Phoenix Thursday night. The temperature in Chicago was a balmy 15 below zero and within a few hours we were in sunny Arizona where the temps would tickle the eighties. What a welcome change of environment. We decided that Friday would be a non-net day and tried our hand at golfing. I really don't think anyone of us can call ourselves a "golfer", but nonetheless, being outside chasing a ball around seemed appropriate considering we were staying in Sun City. I mean for God's sake how hard can it be... the ball isn't even moving!

Scot's Perfect Golf Swing

Now it was time to get down to business as Saturday was singles day. Let me tell you that after almost ten years without playing a game of singles, I have new-found respect for the game. That court is too effing big for one person to cover. Especially a fat-ass like myself. Kudos to all that performed well. I believe that in the end Rob and Jack Harris played for third and Jeremy Mirken and Chris dueled it out for first. In the end first went to Chris, second to Jeremy and third to Jack. The Chicago crew did not fair as well as any of us would have liked (only Cory made it out of his pool) but we WILL represent in Memphis.

Now for the real action to begin.... DOUBLES. Our boys from Chicago represented, making it out of their pool by defeating Rob & Amy. Unfortunately they would have to settle for fourth as they lost a well played semifinal to Jack & Jer.

Chris & Tuan defeated PT Lovern & Walt Houston in one of the best matches I have ever witnessed to move on to the final where they defeated Jack and Jer for the Phoenix Open Title.

All the official games were through and the pick up games begun. Once again I want to thank Amy for the hospitality and for hosting the tournament.

See you in Memphis!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

He's Gone! (But Not Forgotten)

Three-hundred and eighty seven days ago, I tore the first page of my George W. Bush countdown calendar off of the stack. I got the calendar as a gag gift from my brother-in-law for Christmas 2007. Every morning since then, I’ve gone through the ritual of reminding myself of just one more reason that I couldn’t wait for this guy to get the hell out of the White House. Quotes, statistics, and little-known fun facts filled each day of the calendar; each and every one a stark reminder of what happens when power goes unchecked for too long, when lies and propaganda are allowed to pass as the truth. I saved some of the more notorious of them throughout the last year. Here’s some examples…

“I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees,” said President Bush on September 1, 2005, during a live interview with Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America. His assertion was widely ridiculed even at the time, but on March 2, 2006, the Washington Post reported on a “smoking gun”: newly released video of a briefing attended by Bush the day before Hurricane Katrina made landfall, during which there were grave warnings about the levees.

Quote from Vice-President Dick Cheney, given during an August 2002 speech: “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass
destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, against us.”

Executive Orders, known as EOs, are legally binding directives issued by a president to federal agencies guiding implementation and execution of laws and policies. Much like his use of signing statements, Bush has used more EOs far more, and far more ideologically, than his predecessors. Previous presidents averaged about five EOs annually, but by 2005 Bush had issued four hundred. In Bush’s EOs, the term “unitary executive”; the radical doctrine that the president is legally superior to the legislative and judicial branches of government; was cited ninety-five times.

Quote from Porter Goss, Bush’s CIA director from 2004 – 2006, given to Congress in 2005: “At this time, there are no ‘techniques’, if I could say, that are being employed that are in any way against the law or would meet, would be considered torture or anything like that.”

There were two that stuck out from the rest, though. One of them showed a side of Bush that I never expected to see: I actually admired him for a half-second after reading it.

During his senior year at Andover, an elite New England prep school, George W. Bush formed a stickball league as a way of thumbing his nose at the athletic tradition of the school. He named his team the Nads.

The other one that stuck out, though, highlights the darkest side of the Bush Administration. It captures almost everything that was evil and wrong with the last eight years of our collective lives. It’s a quote from Kevin Tillman, whose brother Pat gave up a professional football career when the brothers joined the Army after 9/11. Pat was killed in 2004 in Afghanistan by “friendly fire”, in an incident that has been covered up by the Army and whose details seem to point to a possibility that his new-found dissent towards the War on Terror led someone from the inside to “silence” him.

“Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virture, and honor of its soldiers on the ground. Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started. Somehow torture is tolerated. Somehow lying is tolerated. Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense. Somehow nobody is accountable for this.”

This past Tuesday, I tore off the last of day of my countdown calendar. I looked up at the bulletin board behind my desk and stared at the eloquent words of Kevin Tillman. I watched the swearing in of President Obama, and I saw Bush board a plane and take off back to Texas.

I sincerely hope that we will have the “nads” to hold our former president and his ilk accountable for the hell that they have put the Tillmans and thousands of other American families through. Not only the Americans that sacrificed their lives, but also the Iraqis and Afghanis that died as a result of Bush’s misguided foreign policies. Obama has given all of us a hope for the future, but it’s a future that must begin with an acknowledgement and a satisfactory response to the problems of the past.

All quotes taken from “His Days Are Numbered: George W. Bush Countdown 2008 Calendar” by Alex Goulder. Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC, Kansas City, MO, 2007. Used without permission.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Memphicago 2.2 Rocks

Last Sunday, players from all over the Midwest came together for an epic day on the court. Ben Alston & Walt Houston travelled North from Memphis while Cory Current, Scot Hansen & Bryan Nelson came South from Chicago. The meeting place..... Salem, IL. We all welcomed former Chicagoan now turned Salem local Mike Bellman to round out the crew to an even six.

I find it amazing how much playing with people outside you local scene can improve your game. I would urge everyone to make this type of day happen. Just seeing different styles of play, defending against a lefty or returning a serve you haven't seen a thousand times over is like power kicking and drills on steroids.

We rotated players all day long. No two consecutive games consisted of the same players on a team or on the court. I'm not sure if anyone was counting but in my estimation there was no clear cut "King of the Court". Almost every game was competitive and for the most part well played.


We must have been the most exciting thing happening in town that day. A few hours in to playing a reporter from the local paper showed up (along with a stray dog) inquiring as to what we were doing. After a few questions and photos she moved on. The dog unfortunately would not, and had a habit of nipping at the ankles of whoever was preparing to serve. Word on the street is that Footbag Net made the front page of the local paper. No word on the dog.


Our goal was to get some quality playing time in before the Phoenix Open. I look forward to more opportunities to do this and thank everyone for making it happen.
See you in Arizona!