Soccer. Futbol. Football. The World’s Game

I’m Kirbin and I’m from Houston. I have a great fiancé. Dog dad. Oil & Gas chap. Brunch partaker. Netflix frequenter. Terrible dancer. Excel connoisseur. Expert on the misspelling of connoisseur. Tottenham Hotspur supporter. I hope you like my stuff. If you don’t, that’s like your opinion…

Soccer: Stop Kicking It To The Curb…

Soccer. Futbol. Football. The World’s Game. The sport that your high school football team’s kicker played during the off season. The sport that thinks it’s acceptable to tie when, in reality, drawing is like “kissin’ yer sister!” It is the sport and frenzy you don’t understand. The sport that causes people from ages 0 to 90 and from all walks of life to stumble into a bar at 6:30AM on a Saturday to watch Watford take on Huddersfield Town with a dozen people who for just two hours on a weekend feel like lifelong friends and people who understand your plight and frustrations. You may think that you would never be this person. You may say that you don’t think soccer is for you, but I was once in your shoes. Now I find myself in the crowd of 6:30AM sleepy-eyed, pint sipping futbol faithful. I deck myself out in my team’s gear and proceed to be captivated by a game being played thousands of miles away from the bustling streets of Houston, Texas. In this article, I won’t bore you with every rule of the game, I will simply tell you my thoughts on it and perhaps how to go about trying to get into it. And with the (USA-less) World Cup approaching, there is no better time to get on the tidal wave that is the game of draws, the game of hairstyles, the game of mega contracts, and the game of glory.

Bright(on) and Early

My morning viewing attire usually goes as follows:

  • The scarf – It’s one of the first things you will notice about soccer fans. The scarf is one of the most common ways fans represent the club they support.
  • The socks, hat, & Nike sweat pants – While these don’t always make an appearance at the same time (for sake of me looking too over the top), it’s always nice to add some comfort for my viewing.
  • The beer – Okay, I would be lying if I told you that having a pint or stein of a unique beer at 7:00AM wasn’t surprisingly relaxing. From Denmark, America, Ireland, Germany, the United Kingdom, and many others, there is always a good pint to be shared with your new best friends. Drink responsibly though as soccer games tend to last a little less than two hours and no one wants to start their day a complete mess… well, depending on the final score…
  • The jersey – This was what held me accountable to really getting into the game and challenging myself to learn more about it. I spent ~$100 on a Tottenham Hotspur jersey and felt that at the least, I was on the hook to go watch a few games. I am normally against grown adults wearing jerseys with grown adults on their back, so I went with a jersey that had no name on the back. Wear it with pride!
  • To start you on this we need to establish some rules:
    1. To make this exercise worthwhile, you have to commit 100%. Not partial. Not almost. You must 100% yourself to this.
    2. Keep an open mind.
    3. Keep an open mind.
    4. Do your research. Learn about some of the clubs and players.
    5. Don’t be afraid to cheer like you have won the lottery and be disappointed as if you’ve been forced to never eat Whataburger again.
    6. In reference to number five, if you do numbers 1-4 you will find that number 5 comes natural.
    7. For the sake of this article, I will refer to American Football as “football” and World Football as “soccer” … Practice with me… Houston Texans: Football. Houston Dynamo: Soccer.
  • What is the World Cup? That’s like the *insert major sporting event*, right?Wrong. It’s bigger than any championship deciding event in all sports. Don’t believe me? Go look at the amount of money and viewership associated with a World Cup. The World Cup is an event that is held every 4 years for various segments of representation for a country’s national team. There are World Cups for men and women from a very young age all the way through being on the “senior” team. The senior team is the team that consists of all the mega stars that you will see on your television this summer in Russia and next year for the women in France. Quick note: While the US Men’s National Team (USMNT) is about as disappointing as the series finale of The Sopranos, the US Women’s National Team are taking no prisoners in their pursuit of what is hopefully their second consecutive World Cup win and fourth in history. The World Cup is more than just soccer. There are political, cultural, religious, and sporting differences that make each game so much more interesting. The World Cup will feature teams that have players who hate each other during their club season, but must now find a way to compete together on the world’s biggest sporting stage. The opposite occurs in which players who mesh so well for their clubs must now face off against each other knowing that four years of bragging rights are up for grabs. I could write a separate post about the implications of the USMNT wetting the bed in their pursuit of a World Cup berth, but I will focus on what I think is the most important about their colossal failing: national unity. When a nation has a team in a World Cup they no longer care that one player plays for a team they hate, those fans aren’t the same faith as one another, or the people at that table support a politician the other table despises… No, those people are cheering for the ________ National Team and for the next ~90 minutes, so is everyone The World Cup is a chance to get sucked into the drama, the emotion, the passion, and (my personal favorite) the gut-wrenching stakes with each penalty, tackle, goal, save, and shot on goal.
  • The World Cup consists of 32 teams from various soccer federations around the world. At a draw held months before, they are divided into 8 groups of 4 and play each other over 3 games to find the top 2 teams in each group. There are many levels of tiebreakers should the group need a determining rule, but that will overwhelm even a knowledgeable fan. Once the 16 teams are found they advance through the World Cup tournament in traditional bracket elimination style with an additional game for 3rd place at stake. The World Cup will start on June 14, 2018 and run through July 15, 2018.
  • Now before you exit out of this blog (if you haven’t already), just hang tight. Your cat videos, Facebook stalking, and passive aggressive sub-tweet bewilderment can wait for you to be enlightened. I want to explain a little bit of how a guy who loathed soccer growing up grew to love it as well as talking some sense into the common gripes by Americans about soccer.
  • Me (In relation to soccer)I didn’t grow up a fan. I never played soccer as a kid. I was/am the pudgy kiddo, so running around chasing a little checkered ball in the hopes of maybe scoring 1 goal was what I was convinced was hell on earth. I grew up in the steroid (ALLEGEDLY) era of baseball where big plays and large score tallies where the norm. I grew up a Rockets fan so I was accustomed to a fast-paced scoring frequency. I grew up in Big 12 territory so whether it was Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, or Baylor it was common to see a team score 7 or 8 times in a game. I am an alumnus of the University of Houston which has often had prolific offenses that set records with an arm tied behind their back and Case Keenum steering the ship like a man who couldn’t care less about the other team’s feelings. I used to cheer for the Texans… okay, not a lot to ramble on about in terms of visually appealing performance… moving on. The point is that I, like you, probably didn’t grow up giving two hoots about the Merseyside Derby or the political undertones of Real Madrid v Barcelona. In fact, less than a year ago I was quoted as saying “soccer is the dumbest sport ever” and my loving fiancé never lets me forget it. I had many grievances with the game and the soccer community, but alas, I folded and have never been happier. I won’t bore you with the details, but last year I just felt like I didn’t connect or care about the NFL game. This had nothing to do with the protesting or the hot button topics that surrounded the NFL, I just found that my caring about the team I supported was so artificial and hollow that I was tired of investing money and emotion into the game. This happened before the nation was captivated and enraged at seemingly anything and everything occurring before, during, and after the game that had nothing to do with football. I felt disconnected. In addition, I had a great Rockets team to cheer for, season tickets to the University of Houston football team, and a future World Champion Houston Astros team all within 15 minutes of my apartment… but I wanted more. I decided to do something that 8-year-old, 17-year-old, and 5 minutes ago old me thought was completely insane: I was going to become a Premier League fan. While I had no true attachment to a team or even region of England, I decided to try something different. I studied up on the clubs, tried to understand their style of play, the impact they had on their neighborhoods, and even the chants they sing after a few pints. I will write another article about that another time, but suffice to say… I am very glad I made the decision to fully invest in becoming a soccer/Tottenham Hotspur fan.
  • The reason I decided to tell you a lot about my sporting background is to let you know that even someone with the most unlikely of backgrounds can become a psychotic, early rising, rumor mill trolling, song parody chanting, mild-mannered hooligan.

kirby

Here you see me with Steve Nash, future Hall of Fame NBA point guard cheering for our beloved Tottenham Hotspur Football Club a few months back in Houston. The game is huge and wide reaching… you never know who you will run into!

“Well, you see, soccer is cool except the fact that…”

  • “They flop around and fake injuries! Man, there’s this video on YouTube where this guy didn’t even get touched…” – Sure, that is annoying. In fact, it is probably one of the biggest turnoffs for the average American fan trying to get into soccer. Any behavior that is seemingly unnecessary that detracts from play and could potentially have consequences are never fun. But if you look at the major sports in America you will find similar behavior.
    • Football – Special Teams players flailing on the ground in hopes of getting a personal foul. QBs milking being hurt in the hopes of getting a roughing the passer call. Wide receivers claiming pass interference when they know it wasn’t even close as well as defensive backs doing the same.
    • Baseball – The sport known for unwritten rules and senseless whining over actions as small as flipping a bat or looking the wrong way at a pitcher. Nothing like watching a grown man with an Oakleys tan named Randy fight a beer bellied late 30’s pitcher named Brett because of a mean look. These actions lead to suspensions and injuries as well look silly.
    • Basketball – Flopping. Watch any given NBA game. The end.

So, yes, it is annoying, but momentum shifts, play restarts, and the potential of riling up a player to force them to truly misbehave are all strategic advantages that are a part of the game. If that bothers you, then surely you would love to watch your favorite NBA players make court angels on the floor after being looked at the wrong way and dropping to the ground.

 

  • “THEY TIE?! HOW CAN YOU BE OKAY WITH A TIE?! THIS IS AMERICA AND WE LIKE TO WIN!” – Okay, okay, okay… I get it. Sports and anything that has a winner should be played with the intention of crushing the soul of your opponent and all the things related to it. BUT, in soccer you don’t always need to crush the soul out of your opponent to get a favorable outcome. This is because soccer standings don’t simply go off wins and losses. Before you say, “THIS IS AMERICA AND WE LIKE TO WIN!”, keep in mind that the most American sport of all, college football, has an unofficially similar viewpoint on this topic. If Alabama only beats a small school by 3 points, it is far less impressive than it is impressive for them to win by 49. Points matter. Luckily, in soccer, points have a quantitative and set impact. Points for an away team count more, you are awarded points by winning on the road, and if your league ends in a tie then goal differential can be used. Sometimes when a team ties it helps to preserve their spot or simply weather out a poor showing by the team above them. Every score has a strategic meaning, therefore every chance and score matter. All the US Men’s National Team needed to do was draw to Trinidad & Tobago to qualify for the World Cup, but instead they lost and were knocked out of qualification. The games are so dramatic that watching a 90-minute draw is still entertaining.

 

  • “They are such Divas! They have their hair done and look like they’re on a date rather than playing a game!” – Okay, if you really think about it how is this any different than athletes who make sure to the perfect jewelry, pair of cleats, or the abundance of sweatbands for a game? Any different than athletes putting statements on their eye tape or medical wraps? How is this different than NBA stars being looked at as athletes and fashion icons (Russell Westbrook…)? There is a multibillion dollar business dedicated to marketing and promoting the opportunity to look like athletes on the field of play… Soccer is no different. Just because a player has their hair done or a headband, this is no different than any other sport’s athlete making sure they look “good” on the field. Also, regarding players being overly dramatic… Wide Receivers. And as athletes will often say, “If you look good, you play good…”

 

  • “It is SO European… THIS IS AMERICA!” – If you are saying this (about anything), you are far more European than you want to believe. I have heard this said in bars and by people who would be horrified to see that European influence is prevalent in nearly every aspect of American society.

 

  • “THE DAMN OFFSIDES RULE IS SO STUPID! WHAT THE HELL IS THAT ABOUT?!” – This damn rule. I completely understand the outrage. This rule has joined the ranks of taxes, Florida-Georgia Line, Galleria traffic, and humidity as something I can’t control, but I loathe with the power of one million Owen Wilson “Wow”s. I can describe this to you like I am a rulebook or I can describe it in the way that it will make you irate so that you will hopefully be emotionally prepped to deal with it. Let’s set the stage… you are all in on World Cup and decide that you are going to cheer for a team. You go to your favorite place to watch this team and the mood is, as the kids would say, LIT. Your team is deadlocked 1-1 in a must win game to advance to the round of 16 and time is winding down. Your team’s opponent is already through to the next round so for them this game is a necessary evil on the road to the knockouts. Your team is in extra time and are almost to the Final Time whistle. Suddenly, a challenge for the ball occurs at midfield and your team emerges with possession. The bar you are at begins a slow roar as if it is mimicking a harrier jet about to propel into the skies. Time is running out. The midfielder pulls his leg back and launches a pass so tactical you would think NASA had planned its launch and trajectory. The bar is screaming and beer is already starting to erupt out of pint glasses. The striker is past the defender and fires a shot so hard the net has a hole burned in it. Your team did it. The bar is so loud and all you can think is how soccer is the next big thing in America, you witnessed a great sports moment, and your soccer pool at work is going to be so mad because you picked a 2-1 victory for your new-found love. But then… you hear groans, shouts of rage, sailor language, grown man tears, sadness… The striker was offsides and the goal is void. As if it never happened… like Brad and Jenn, only to be discussed with sadness and the thought of what could have been. Your team draws and is no longer advancing on the path of glory. But why? Well, that’s because of the offsides rule. It simply is in place to prevent goal tending. Football has it so that an offensive player can’t get an unfair advancement towards a score. Baseball has a similar belief by making players tag up before running. Basketball limits the time you can spend in the paint. The problem with soccer is that because the scores are so few and far between there is a great deal of frustration when a ruling that comes down to inches and is done purely by human eye is made it can affect so much.

 

The World Cup

As mentioned before, this tournament is truly amazing simply because for at least 90 minutes entire nations can put differences, religion, status, politics, and even preference of Van Halen front-men aside to cheer for one common outcome: winning. So, who are the teams in this tournament that separates the best from the rest? I’ll break them into the groups they will play in and compete against for advancement into the knockout rounds.

  • Group A
    • Russia (Host country automatically qualifies)
    • Saudi Arabia
    • Egypt
    • Uruguay
  • Group B
    • Portugal
    • Spain
    • Morocco
    • Iran
  • Group C
    • France
    • Australia
    • Peru
    • Denmark
  • Group D
    • Argentina
    • Iceland
    • Croatia
    • Nigeria
  • Group E
    • Brazil
    • Switzerland
    • Costa Rica
    • Serbia
  • Group F
    • Germany
    • Mexico
    • Sweden
    • South Korea
  • Group G
    • Belgium
    • Panama
    • Tunisia
    • England
  • Group H
    • Poland
    • Senegal
    • Colombia
    • Japan

Let’s smoothly ignore the glaring omission of soccer powerhouses Italy and the Netherlands. Let’s also pretend that the United States was already booked for a tournament and couldn’t make it this year… This is set to be an incredibly exciting World Cup.

“You know, I really think I am going to cheer for *insert nation not named USA* this year!”

GREAT! I am glad you have decided to dedicate a few hours to drinking happy hour priced drinks with all the local soccer vets and newbies in your town. You arrive in some shorts, a Comfort Colors frocket from that formal you got kicked out of 5 years ago, and your Astros cap. You are ready to sports. This is it. This is the moment you get to pretend as if this game determines your life outcome, as if you will remember this moment forever, and finally you can become one with the groups of longtime of soccer fans that suspiciously consist of a lot of folks who were high school libertarians before that was cool. But wait… who are you going to cheer for? As mentioned previously, the USMNT is far too busy being lackluster to attend this tournament so who will you cheer for? Russia? That could get you put in front of a special review board these days! England? Uhm, okay, taxation without representation. Senegal? Where is that? Iceland? They have a soccer team? Germany? You might end up at a German bar and gain 37 pounds worth of beer and bratwursts after one game… and do you have to wear lederhosen?  There are so many choices! But, this is where I can lead you to whis- water… but, I can’t make you drink. Because the USMNT failed to qualify this year you are left as a free agent. One of the few times it isn’t shameful to openly support another nation and not be viewed as Benedict Arnold. While there are many, here are some methods you can employ to find your team to support:

  • Where do most of your ancestors come from? For me it’s Great Britain and Norway. Norway didn’t qualify this year so that left me to lean towards England. My favorite team is based out of North London and I know about the players on England’s team. It was a natural choice with the USMNT on a soul/goal searching quest that will have them watching from their couch.
  • Who do you think will win? Let’s say you want to be a front-runner and ensure that you can be vested in watching all the way through the end. I mean, you did buy that $100 jersey so you might as well wear it as often as possible. Maybe you just really have a newfound passion for Brazil?! Good luck not sounding like an idiot saying things in Portuguese to impress the patrons.
  • Who has the best uniforms? I don’t really think is the move, but to each their own.
  • You want to seem globally savvy? I am clearly not taking this route as supporting England is like having a 200-tap bar and ordering a Coors, BUT what if you perhaps wanted to seem very cultured and hip? Maybe throw some love towards Iceland (they have a great World Cup story) or Serbia? You will automatically gain the respect of the neighborhood hooligans as they assume you can locate Serbia on a map.
  • How can I maximize my Cristiano Ronaldo viewing? Just support Portugal. I believe there are contractual minimums for how many times they must show his abs. But in all seriousness, perhaps there’s a player you have heard a ton about and you would like to see what all the hype is. The World Cup is star studded so whether its Messi, Ronaldo, Kane, Salah, Neymar, De Bruyne, or Pogba… there is never a better time to watch true greatness compete against each other.

Let’s face it, there are plenty of ways to get involved! But if you are new to all of this as I was, allow me to give you some resources to help make this new hobby much more rewarding.

  • Men In Blazers podcast – This is my favorite podcast. Hosted by Roger Bennett and Michael Davies, The pod focuses on the previous week in the English Premier League, MLS, and big global soccer stories. The show uses obscure references, early on-set balding, humor, a love of meat pies, and (in the case of Roger) self-loathing and shame that is linked directly to Everton’s performance on the pitch. It will take some episodes to fully grasp all of it, but I highly encourage you to give a try. And to answer a question for those of you that listen in… GFOP stands for Great Friend of the Pod.
  • The Total Soccer Showpodcast – Hosted by Daryl Grove and Taylor Rockwell, this show is home to a ton of user submitted questions about the nuances and aspects of the game that some people don’t know. These two experts have great chemistry and if you have a soccer question, the odds are that they have answered it.
  • FIFA – Get the game. It will consume your life, but it is so worth it. It is one of the best game series of all time. People who don’t like soccer still love FIFA. This will help you see the teams, understand some of the business, see the rules in action, and mindlessly play until you grind your thumbs down to stumps. Also, for the record, my fiancé does not endorse this suggestion.
  • Houston Dynamo – Look, it is cheaper than sin to go see an MLS game compared to most professional sporting events. Just go see the environment for yourself!
  • Breakfast/Brunch – I get it. It’s early and you are still half asleep, but find the local establishment that shows soccer games early in the AM and go check one out. In Houston, there are plenty of great ones (see my top choice below), but find a place that has a decent breakfast and a nice mimosa pitcher and watch the games with people who are screaming and cheering like maniacs. And look… if you hate it… at least you have started your day drinking incredibly early and hopefully had some eggs and bacon to establish a base.
  • The FIFA website – A great source for news and updates for the ongoing events throughout the soccer world. It can definitely help people new to the game get a better insight to the sheer magnitude of the game as well as how it all flows from a business, structure, and rules of play standpoint.

“ARE YOU DONE YET?!”

Almost… If you are in the Houston area I highly encourage you to visit The Phoenix on Westheimer (1915 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098). The food is great, the atmosphere is excellent, the staff is wonderful, and the owner truly cares about his employees. This is my favorite bar in Houston simply because it feels like my neighborhood pub. The owner is great about accommodating any fan’s desire to watch his/her team play. Whether it’s a packed house at 9PM or a quiet 7AM game, this local eatery treats its patrons like all food service businesses should. You will find me here for almost every Tottenham game and this is where I will be for the World Cup. Not paid to say it, but I feel very strongly about this place and think you will love it… assuming you enjoy smiling and fun.

jkhkjhkjhk

That’s that… if you have any questions at all, please feel free to reach out to me on Instagram @kirbinw! See you at the Phoenix and hope to see you for World Cup! If you wanna just meet up for a drink to watch a game, let me know! I’m down for anything except Arsenal!

Guest Writer: How to Fill your time when you’re a Single Adult

There is this thing that happens when you are an unmarried 26 year-old guy.  All your friends have paired off with their significant others. It’s not a bad thing, and you’re really happy for all your friends (at least the ones whose wives/husbands you like). But they call less and less. Though every once in a while your lost friends will call. (My response to this call is always, “Is your wife out of town?” Usually, the answer is “Yes” or “No, she just wanted a girl’s night.”) With their newfound night of freedom, your friends have gracefully decided to pull you down out of the attic and dust you off just to see what you’re up to. Now you feel obligated to break any plans you already have because you haven’t seen them in three months. This is being single in your later 20’s. If this sounds like you, please keep reading. If not, screw you and your happy marriage.

Mitch with dog

For those of you continuing to read, I’m with you. Every one of my college friends is either married or engaged (bastards). There is no more texting my buddies on a Friday to hang out. Everything must be planned out a week or more in advance. Usually, I send out a group text to my friends that says something along the lines of, “Poker night at my place on Saturday at 8p. Everyone bring a 6-pack of some good beer.”

Here are the average responses that I get:

  • “I’m down but can we start at like 6? I have to get to bed early to teach Sunday School tomorrow”
  • “Sorry, man, Ellen and I are going to ‘Paint your Art out’ next Saturday.”
  • “I can come, but can I bring Lauren?”
  • “Let’s do it! I can’t bring beer though, I’m on Whole30.”

Ideally, my responses would look like this respectively. “No” – “That’s dumb” – “Hell no” – “What the hell is wrong with you.” But instead, I text back, “Some other time” which we all know means that we will never again have a poker night. Gone are the days of staying up and drinking with my buddies. If we do get together, I’m home by 10. I have so much time on my hands that I don’t know what to do with. While everyone is off tackling their “Honey-do Lists,” I have nothing but an endless abyss of time that could drive me crazy if I stared in too long. I could just sit on the couch and watch Netflix, but I don’t want to waste away and do nothing. I want to be active. I have found solace in hobbies. I have become the hobby king, not by willing myself to be but due to necessity to escape boredom. So here I will discuss potential hobbies that can possibly appeal to guys in my particular place in life.

Crossfit

Pros

  • You will look great
  • You’ll feel great
  • Good team-oriented atmosphere

Cons

  • You will be required to refer to crossfit in every conversation you have ever
  • They charge like $150 a month
  • Back pain

Attractive to the opposite sex? I mean, the results are, but just don’t mention you do crossfit

Crossfit is one of those things that people either love or love to hate. I’ve tried it, and I’ve got to admit, it’s not my thing. But I will say that I am jealous of the results that I’ve seen in some people I know that do it. You show up, you stretch, you get the W.O.D. (workout of the day), pick up and put down heavy things, vomit, and repeat the next day. People there are typically nice and welcoming, and they are good encouragers. But I left my high school football mentality in high school (1st team all-district), and I really don’t want to revisit that exercise atmosphere. But the people who do crossfit swear by it, and I respect them for their commitment to their craft.

Picking up a Musical Instrument

Pros

  • Exhibiting creativity in a way you might not have before
  • Start-up costs are fairly low
  • Learning a music is great if you don’t know anything about it

Cons

  • It takes so long to be any good
  • Blisters early on

Attractive to the opposite sex? Only for piano and guitar

If you play an instrument other than a tambourine or a triangle, you have my respect. The time it takes to get good at playing an instrument is extensive. I used to think that music was all relative, but now I apologize for my ignorance. I picked up guitar in November of 2015 just to try it. I fell in love with it. I’m still terrible, but I’m good enough now to play Wonderwall (the song that requires least amount of guitar knowledge in order to get laid). Learning music was challenging because it was a whole different language that I had no prior experience in. I just looked on Facebook Marketplace for pianos and guitars. You can easily get a beginner instrument for under $50. Playing an instrument is pretty rewarding, and it’s one that will make the girls swoon if you can play some crappy country songs. On the other hand, you forfeit that benefit if you pick up an oboe, trombone, or any other orchestral instrument, but in consolation, you still have my respect.

Hiking

Pros

  • Nature is beautiful
  • Great exercise
  • Virtually free

Cons

  • You can only hike the same places for so long before you have to travel
  • The smell of deet
  • Dangerous animals

Attractive to the opposite sex?  Yes, if that person also likes hiking.

What isn’t there to love about getting out in the woods, smelling the fresh air, and connecting with nature? I’ll tell you what: bees, snakes, bears, poison ivy, etc. I’m joking. I will go for a hike every once in a while so that when I start dating a girl that loves the outdoors (super attractive, ladies), I can have something to talk about. While there isn’t much in the way of hiking here in Oklahoma, there are still great parks that offer fun and scenic trails all over. On a date, it’s a great place to learn a lot about the person you’re dating – Do they avoid the muddy trails? Are they afraid of bugs? Or are they even having fun? Going for a hike is great for the body, mind, and soul. Hiking is great to do by yourself too. As an extravert, it’s nice to get out and interact with nature without being distracted by another person. Just call someone to let them know where you are going before you do. You don’t want to lose an arm like that dude in 127 hours.

Gaming

Pros

  • Super fun
  • Great way to connect with friends
  • Growing marketplace

Cons

  • 12 year-olds insulting your mother
  • High start-up costs
  • Addicting

Attractive to the opposite sex?  Not at all

In the last 10 years online gaming has skyrocketed. Why not jump on the bandwagon? I have many friends (married and unmarried) that spend an extensive amount of time gaming. I even have a Discord account that lets me interact with my buddies as they play. I’m surprised that I really enjoy watching them play too. But, alas, the world still looks down on gamers as cellar-dwellars. That’s possibly because for some gamers, their online presence replaces their social lives. To get into gaming, you have to drop upwards of $400 – $500 easily. I’ve never really been a video game guy, heck the newest platform I have is a Nintendo 64, but I understand the appeal. Many of you are probably already deep in the gaming world. That’s great! Your hand-eye coordination is probably off the charts, and I bet you have had some cool conversations with other gamers around the world. But I think the benefits my stop there. I hold gaming in the same realm as Netflix. It’s almost pure entertainment.

Woodworking

Pros

  • Great life skill
  • Rewarding to build something with your hands
  • Creative outlet

Cons

  • High start-up costs
  • People always asking you to build things
  • Occasional trip to the ER
  • It’s actual work

Attractive to the opposite sex?  100%

Pardon me if I’m biased towards this one, but woodworking is my passion. I took woodshop in high school and loved it. When I got some disposable income after college, I began assembling my shop. You take some wood and make it into something else. It’s great. I will say, I have had to get stitches twice (in the same month, in the same finger), but that was due to sharp chisels plowing through my finger. Yes, to have a fully furnished shop will set you back more than other hobby, but I would start out small and grab a circular saw, a drill, and some screws to build some easy projects to ease yourself in. Watch out for your fingers and watch lots of YouTube videos to learn. The downside is that once you get good, people come out of the woodwork (one bad pun, sue me) to ask you to build them something. For me, the answer is almost always “no,” this is my hobby, not my job, and I will charge you more for a kitchen table than for you to get on to craigslist and buy a table from a kid selling one for drug money.

Volunteering

Pros

  • Great way to give back to the community
  • Rewarding to help others

Cons

  • Contingent on where you volunteer

Attractive to the opposite sex?  Who doesn’t love those who help others?

There is no nobler hobby than to give up your time for others. Go to a food bank, help out at the animal shelter, or work with high school kids. I can’t say enough in favor of volunteering. I have found my place with a non-profit ministry called Young Life. All I do is hang out with high school kids and be consistent in their lives. I have a group of junior boys that I’ve (for lack of better word) mentored since they were freshman. It’s great most of the time until I just want to pop their little heads off. But spending time with them and inviting them into my life has been my most rewarding experience. They make stupid sex jokes and actively try to get under my skin, but I love those little hooligans. Above all others, this hobby is the one I would recommend most. Volunteering can bring a deeper purpose to your life that wasn’t there previously. Go out and help someone.

Hiking

There you have it. That’s my breakdown of some hobbies to fill your free time. But don’t let my analysis sway you into something you don’t enjoy. That’s what hobbies are all about. You’re single and in your 20’s. Nobody loves you. Might as well do something you love.

About the author: 

Mitch is a 26 year-old guy living in Oklahoma City. He works for an electronics distribution company as a data analyst. He received he undergrad degree in Marketing and Management at Oklahoma State University and his MBA at Oklahoma City University. He is stunningly handsome and extremely charming. When he is not working, you can find him trying to deal with his commitment issues.

.

Guest Writer : My love life is a food network special: (We’re all one Neilson rating away from having our show cancelled)

As a guy who prides himself on building relationships on honesty, I feel it necessary to state that I don’t know the first thing about a healthy relationship. However, I do know a helluva lot about failing relationships. So much so, I have successfully determined that they come in twos.

07e6afa646ab7df7b86d01f652bcb39b.jpg

Much like a great dinner, some last 2 hours. Perhaps this fling is like a large pizza that will heat up for lunch tomorrow – 2 days. Say gurl, do you come with a money back guarantee?  Because after the 2-week trial I’m gonna cancel you like Blue Apron. And 2 months. The only refrigerated item I’ve found to last longer than my relationships is a fresh carton of Silk.

Sometimes you meet someone and you feel that famous Emeril Lagasse BAM! – you immediately know it’s just right.

img-media

Other times you wonder what in the hell you’re doing off I-10 riding shotgun in a droptop Camaro with Guy Fieri, but then you open your eyes and realize that madness was all worth it because you’ve never seen something as beautiful as what’s in front of you. Soft curves. Has substance, but won’t weigh you down. It’s all you want to see at that moment. The perfect omelet.

Food Network shows are a dime a dozen. Sometimes we want those cutthroat shows that make us root for the single-mom bakery chef with pink hair from San Fran, or leave us physically screaming at the television praying that d-bag from Brooklyn doesn’t win, or wonder what a Frenchillada is. That fire just has a way of reaching us when we least expect it. Sometimes we just want something comfortable. No countdown. No wildcard ingredient intended to throw us off. Just us listening to someone talk about how to make a perfect tomato basil soup. We know how to make tomato basil soup, that’s not why we’re there. We just enjoy their voice, the way they mince garlic, and the knowledge that when that lid comes off and the steam clears all we’ll see are smiles. There is show for any and every moment.

144455

What I’m trying to say is, perhaps, in another life things would have worked out between you and that bridesmaid from last summer, but it didn’t in this one. Or, just because y’all both like your Bloody Mary extra spicy doesn’t mean this is supposed to be your forever brunch date. Or, sure, you’re happy right now, but when she takes that promotion out in Seattle and want to move back to The Republic (see: The Great and Independent, Texas) then it’s going to have to end. There are so many reasons things don’t work out in relationships, but in my opinion the biggest of them is that we have too many options.

Do you realize Julia Child’s The French Chef ran for 10 years on PBS? Can you imagine a cooking show running for 10 years today given the option to watch literally anything else on 700 other channels? We have too many options.

We hold on to these options for false security. The option to not waste invest our time in a show and just bail to the next channel is so tempting. It’s much easier knowing a show is nearing the end of its season. We have time to mentally and emotionally prepare. When we’re down to the final four on Chopped, we know we’re almost done. We think about the laughs and remember the worries. We’re grateful for a good season and hope to see another in a few weeks, but if it doesn’t work out then no hard feelings. We prepare to move on.

What’s hard is when a show gets canceled mid-season. What?? Why?!? We had something great going. For the past two months we get back from the bar on a Saturday at 3AM, order $70 worth of Pappa John’s, kickoff the pants and shoes, and get ready for a good time on the couch. But wait, our show wasn’t recorded this week. What happened? Did I lose this channel? We drunkenly call the cable company at a strange hour to try and figure out what went wrong. There was no goodbye. There was no justification. We have to find out via Instagram that the host of our favorite show left on episode 5 to become a chocolatier in Colombia.

I’ll level with you, I’m not always the victim – ghosts know no gender. Deep in the science of a young mind I have left without saying goodbye to one person so that I could immediately turn to say hello to someone else. We’re all one Neilson rating away from being cut and replaced with a fresher, younger Giada De Laurentiis (uhh, not. I love you, Gi.).

gg

We have to realize that we’re not the only one with options, though. I’m a huge proponent of giving shows a second shot. It took me a month to watch the first three episodes of The Crown and only a day to finish the rest of season one and two, so if you really want to make it work you can.

Realizing that, we should be open to that second shot for everyone. Getting to know someone isn’t always comfortable. Guy Fieri is a lunatic. The first time I saw him I didn’t want anything to do with this bleach head from Flavortown; he was weird. Definitely not like a host I had ever watched before, but there was something there. He wasn’t like Gordan Ramsay – controlling the kitchen and using his personality to intimidate me into thinking I want to eat squid topped with a cranberry reduction. Guy had his own personality, but the things I thought were odd about him were the things I thought were odd about me. Did I say “See you later olive hater!”? and did he reply “After awhile vegephile!”? No, but I like to think he 1) doesn’t like many vegetables and 2) would make that joke with me.

It was a jerk move for that guy to bail on the date last minute and we all know that girl didn’t have the flu. Maybe they canceled because they were nervous about what you’d think of them. Maybe they canceled because they thought they had someone better than you lined up. I changed the channel on Guy Fieri the first time. It was something I needed to do – for me. But the fact is, I went back to make it work and they might try to do the same for you. So give that person that bailed on you a second shot if they come back around!

But don’t give them a third.

I sound more contradictory than sugar-free sweet tea, but let me put it this way: Have you ever been really into a lavish and overpriced dish that Ina Garten is making for Jeffrey? You honestly are interested in this meal. You’re trying as hard as you can to even consider a dinner where you might make this dish. You want to relate so bad. You got distracted by an ad early on and then a few commercial breaks later you open the channel guide and completely forget about that truffle garlic lamb in the oven. Steve Harvey has on Genuwine and he’s about to perform Pony for a live studio audience. No way you miss this. Ina will be on tomorrow and things will be just as usual. Except they won’t be. One day we’re gonna look for that Barefoot Contessa and she’ll have left us mid-season for a wine tasting show in Spain.

We’re not talking about a wondering eye. We’re talking about a blatant decision to change the channel. Yes, you could stick around. Yes, you are invested in over half the episode. Yes, the big reveal was only moments away. But you don’t feel bad about the fact you changed the channel or that you lost interest in Ina. You are going to finish that Genuwine performance and think, ‘wow, that was great.’ or, ‘I really wish I stayed to see what she cooked up for dessert’. We have to be okay with changing the channel when it’s no longer interesting. But more importantly, we have to be okay with having the channel changed on us.

Ina was happily in attendance after the first commercial. But she didn’t let the second and third commercial get her down. I’ll tell you how that episode ended. Ina knew from the very beginning where she wanted to end up. Ina pulled that lamb out of the oven. She plated that beautiful piece of meat and sided it with fresh green beans and walked it outside to the garden. She knew there was someone out there for her. It was Jeffrey. Jeffrey was patiently waiting with a glass of Spanish wine and she didn’t miss us at all.

CAKE

In 2018, we should strive to be more like Ina. Happy Valentine’s Day.

It’s Not a Resolution, It’s a Reality Check (Introducing our guest writer)

The Kramers had nothing to say about 2017 ending nor wanted to share a post dedicated to 2018 BUT lucky for us our shared mutual friend (once groomsman) Eddie or E-Money came forward with writing this post for us. So as once quoted “tie yourself down to whatever chair you’re sitting in, because this email post is going to be a rough ride.”

Team,

Great job ending Q4 and 2017. We had some ups and downs, but I’m proud of where we are now and look forward to a bullish Q1. That being said, I’m back in the Midwest from a three-week debaucherous holiday vacation (see: stories of well vodka and vape pulls). The first weekend in ’18 finds me cold, further in credit debt, and with hat hair. Despite these pitfalls, I write to you beside my couchmate, Natty Light, so things are looking up.

2017 welcomed me to quite a few cities, and I noticed a concerning pattern amongst persons under 30 while they day drank: Cringe-Worthy Song Selections. Much how I do not believe in new year resolutions, I do not believe certain songs should be played before, say, 10 pm. These songs include Bohemian Rhapsody, Friends in Low Places, What’s My Age Again, Pony, Ice Ice Baby, and Wasn’t Me. These songs were chart toppers during their time for a reason – they go. But give them the respect they deserve and don’t play them out. In my travels, I haven’t found a specific city that commits this offense more than another, but no matter the region each song attracts a particular type of person.

Bohemian Rhapsody

The guy who queues Bohemian Rhapsody midday will inevitably blackout far too early and fire off Friends in Low Places in the Uber. Congratulations, we still don’t know what (who?) a Scaramouche is, and you just lowered your buddy’s Uber rating because he didn’t have the “secret 3rd verse only found on the Garth Live album.”

What’s My Age Again

Excuse me, ma’am; we get it. Your dirty Chuck Taylors and vast knowledge of Blink 182 music clearly place you in the boy’s group, and we love having you around, but you’re not dating anyone here for a reason. It’s 7 pm, play something that matches our wardrobe. We’re pregaming with Bauer, and you’re making him nervous.

IMG_6455-1.jpeg

Pony

If the sun is out, leave Pony in the stable. Even today, a well-timed Ginuwine beat-drop is a valuable tool that can be used by guy or girl. You wouldn’t sell Boardwalk and Park Place early in the game, so time it right and let it ride.

Wasn’t Me and Ice Ice Baby are my only exception to this list, and they take high exception.

Ice Ice Baby is invaluable to the right sized group. Let’s say it’s 4 pm, you just came back from the pool, half the girls are asleep, and the other half are getting ready for tonight. You and the boys are on the patio ripping heaters, and the group turns to ol’ Kevo because he killed it at the Halloween party junior year. You open Spotify and hit… “Yo, VIP, let’s kick it!!” Ah, that crazy white guy still stunts. We all recorded that, Kevo.Shaggy could very well be at the party and should still not sing Wasn’t Me before 10 pm. Wasn’t Me is reserved for one type of person. When the snow is thicc, and the streets are iced up like a pop tart, no one wants to go out. However, the group has to do something. This is where Chloe comes in.

Here we go

Chloe is the mom of the group, and though she gets frustrated for the party always being at her place, she doesn’t want to see it lack luster just because of cold weather. Chloe’s ace in the pocket is Wasn’t Me, and she never fails to glow up. Save these songs for wedding receptions, delirious 7-hour road trips, and for when your uncle wants to show off his new Bluetooth speaker that ‘doesn’t need wires.’ Betray these social morays and expect to see fewer people the next time you want to host.

If I may suggest a few harmonies for easy listening that are just as powerful in the background as they are on the mainstage. ( listen up, take my advice)

  1. Michael Jackson – Will You be There. (The intro is so long the party will think your phone disconnected, but don’t mind them. Power stance and finger to the sky.)
  2. Brooks and Dunn – Brand New Man. I saw the light, I’ve been baptized.
  3. Hall and Oats – Rich Girl. (So help me…if you overplay this song I will find you and harm you.) *”Jacob Kramer needs to be harmed for overplaying this song”- Ekramer
  4. Nelly – Country Grammar. Play to your audience for the explicit version, but we all know the words.
  5. Tag Team – Whoop! (Wait for the D2 reference, you gotta earn every inch.)
  6. Bruno Mars – 24K Magic. (This song still has lyfe OR is that debatable?)
  7. Deana Carter – Strawberry Wine. Learn to slow down, she’ll appreciate it.
  8. Looking Glass – Brandy. Those who know, know.
  9. Chicago – Saturday in the Park. Equally pleasant to the guy napping and the couple having a moment
  10. Huey Lewis and the News – Power of Love. Hit the music, Micah. S/o Touch Nation.

For those who enjoyed this read, please drop Bauer a line and request Uncle E-Money be featured more often. Please comment on a topic you would like me to provide a wholly cynical and in no way qualified to take on.

Follow E-money on spotify (emoralezjr )