Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Team Abides

abide: To remain stable or fixed in some state or condition; to continue; to remain.

It's August 2010. You're facing a string of indefinite Sunday nights. You drive past the Lanes marquee: Fall Leagues Now Forming. New IronMan Pinball.

It all swirls in your mind: memories of bygone crashing pins and foamy beers. Keno at the bar in 1997. The fact that a friend sent you "Let's Go Bowling" as a "song of the day". Your amusement at The Big Lebowski. You decide to BOWL.

You find yourself calling to ask how to form a team. How many members do you need? How many subs can you have. (You know you won't be able...willing? bowl EVERY Sunday from now to May 2011). You poll all able-bodies associates. Who likes to bowl? Who maybe likes to bowl? Who doesn't give a shit about bowling but is willing to leave the known behind and enter League Land for 3 hours once a week? Far-reaching pleas are issued on Facebook and at casual coffee shop encounters to RECRUIT.

You find yourself with an unlikely cohort of filmmakers, homemakers, thinkers, drinkers, smokers, jokers, and midnight tokers willing to roll the big balls. 

You realize you have no idea what this all really means: voting in a league-wide ratification of rules you don't understand; a weeks long hunt for bowling shoes (maroon with green and gold accents and white rubber soles--DON'T WEAR ON THE STREET!); Internet searches for bowling techniques and ball-selection tips; familiarization with phrases such as "That lane bites" and "Pick that shit up"; a membership to the U.S. Bowling Congress (membership card now residing in wallet);  a bank account-draining, cash-only $21/week pony for the "pleasure ?" of barely breaking 100 and solidifying your spot as the team's "anchor woman"; an existential crisis around whether you should have committed to such a long, long season; a muscle strain that screams how pathetically weak you really are and puts you off the team for a relieving but at the same time frustrating 2 months; a compelling desire to show up on league night anyway and drink copious amounts of beer (warning sign, anyone?); STRATEGY.

Weeks go by, and you find yourself heckling your teammates into bowling better because you NEED to be in the top 2 teams in the league.'s $1500 championship money on the line, OK!!??!! Emails fly with thoughts on who should bowl, when, why, who should sub, why and why not. Team members find themselves psyching themselves up in the men's room between frames. You feign shock and laugh about it, but secretly you hope it fucking works to increase the score.

Oh my god, WTF?!? You find yourself wondering...Am I competitive? ABOUT BOWLING?!?

You can't believe it's true. This was just for fun! Forget the bowling. Let's Party. You issue an invitation to your house to just be with your bowling team and celebrate the League half-season with a potluck dinner and a nice chill evening.

You're ready: Bowling bevie naps. Third Rail lightning bolt cake. 

Friends arriving with booze and good cheer. You start playing records. A new team theme song is established. 

White Russians are flowing. You put on the Big Lebowski. Suddenly, you don't just love the IDENTIFY with it! Walter won't miss league night, even if there's a toe on the line. Jesus is resplendent in his purple pantsuit with matching socks and shoes (you WANT to be able to pull that off next Sunday).

The Dude is your hero.

You wake up the next morning with a hammer in your head and a pounding in your heart, and despite the nausea and the vertigo (or maybe because of it), you know: Yes, I am a League Bowler. 

Second half of the season starts Jan 2. Forget the top 2, there's only one winner. LET'S GO THIRD RAIL BOWLING CLUB!!!!!!!! WOOOOHOOOO!!!!!!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Weeks 12, 13, 14: Rumdog Reminisces!

My dear friend Al has a bum shoulder. Horrible for her, fortuitous for me as her stand-in on the Third Rail Bowling Team. Al eased my reservations about being a shitty bowler (no doubt she desperate to ease the shooting pains in her right arm):

“You don’t need to be good, you just need to improve”

“You’ll love these guys, they are hilarious”

“There’s beer drinking even!”

So I was sold, but still nervous. I had no idea how freaking cool this was going to be.

Here’s what’s been going on at the lanes for the last 3 weeks.

The Third Rail has won some major awards for high scores over averages: Flo won an 18lb turkey and The Hoff a Pinot duo.

The team has been employing a bunch of self help tactics to get them through some tough rounds:

Varsity has been talking to himself in the men’s room mirror. Edge, rejected the suggestion that he do the same after returning from a week hiatus.

Flo and Hoff tried imagining themselves the protégés of a handsome, fictional, foreign bowling coach named Ricardo.

I’ve been working to improve enough to be invited back by taking in all the great advice everyone from the shoe rental guy to our opposing teams has been offering up. While the advice is all valid, I must admit that most of it beyond, “stop thinking, keep drinking” and “pick that shit up” has been lost on me. I’m trying to stay positive.

This past Sunday Varsity made a huge breakthrough due to the help of G the super-sub. See, the third rail is lacking “stuff”, troll dolls, resin hand drying bags, etc. This week we were down one bowler and enlisted G’s help. Varsity enjoyed a high score the first round and was quickly disappointed in his performance in the second. We thought we would lose him to the men’s room for the rest of the evening until something clicked, and he asked G to use his towel. This may be Varsity’s new secret weapon.

...but still, the Third Rail needs some “stuff”.

I can’t let this post pass without mentioning the Edge’s bowling road show. Please see the video two posts down and be amazed. I was humbled. Bowling etiquette be damned, this is something to see.

Thanks for enduring this post. I promise to be better next time. This is my mantra, for bowling and blogging.

The Scores:
Week 12 The Thanksgiving Bowl!

E: 55/74/104
Hoff: 102/134/136
Varsity: 166/125/122
Flo: 104/136/90 ** winner of an 18lb turkey!

Week 13
Edge: 95/148/144
Hoff: 164/136/135
Varsity: 165/110/120
Flo: 96/135/93

Week 14 Bowling for Wine!
E: 99/95/118
Hoff: 142/162/163 ** winner of TWO bottles of wine!
Varsity: 165/124/130
G-Sub: 181/176/206

Sunday night's the last bowl for 2010! Come on down to Lanes and Games to cheer us on. Third Rail is currently in 5th place and hoping to move up the ranks to earn a CASH prize. We realize this is a long shot; but here's hoping our handicaps help us out. The Hoff promises to bring her wine & dixie cups for all to share ... we may even have a cheese ball.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Week 14: Behind the Scenes

The Edge hinted last week that the blog is getting stale. We need new posts. Not only do we need to up our bowling game; we need to keep the blog up to date! Readers haven’t heard that Flo won an 18 lb turkey at the Thanksgiving bowl or that Varsity heads to the men’s room to give himself pep talks when he’s off his game. I will leave these stories for the real blog update. I’m here to assure you that, while there hasn’t been a new blog post online, there has been plenty of writing behind the scenes!

As you know, Al abdicated her captain position TEMPORARILY; however, she is still very much involved managing the new captains who haven’t figured out team strategy and the importance of pre-game motivational emails. Here’s just a hint of how fun it is to be on the Third Rail EMAIL list ....

As I put my kids to bed Saturday night, I happened to check email …

From: Al
To: Flo
Subject: Weird dream

Hey Flo,
I had a bizarre dream, that you sent out a message today about who's bowling tomorrow night. Anyway, do you know who's attending? Do I need to pay for a sub?

I fired off a quick email to Al and then another one to the team …

From: Flo
To: Al
Subject: RE: Weird dream

A weird thing to dream about for sure! I can send out an email to all ... It's going to be The Hoff, E and Varsity tomorrow night. Our subs couldn't bowl so I think it's just three.

From: Flo
To: Third Rail Bowling
Subject: Sunday’s line-up

Tomorrow's line-up:
The Hoff
Varsity / Twinkletoes
E "needs a nickname"

I will miss you tomorrow! I hope there's lots of action tomorrow, we have two more Sundays to move up in the standings ... show me the money!

I finished putting my kids to bed and was satisfied I had fulfilled my duties as co-captain. Around noon on Sunday, I logged on to email to find that my teammates had been busy …

From: Al
Subject: RE: Sunday’s line-up

I've been thinking about the sub vs bowling with three. If G is there, you're probably better off getting him to bowl as the 4th-he's unlikely to bowl 10 under his average, which is what we will automatically get for our missing bowler. I will pay for the 4th bowler, regardless of what you do.

May stop by for a beer, Al

ps-How bout the Rumdog for E?

From: Al
Alternate spelling: Rumdawg (tougher?)

From: Varsity
Dawg is always tougher- and much cooler.

From: The Hoff
The question is, can we afford to sacrifice Varsity's score for G's...?

From: Varsity
As in he will psych me out? I'm already playing crappy.

From: The Hoff
Yeah, that's what I was thinking, V -- we all know G messes with your head.

From: Varsity
I'll be fine. Only one person messes with my head... Me.

This is when I realized I failed in writing an appropriate pre-game email!

From: Flo
OMG! When Al sent me a friendly email reminder last night asking me to confirm Sunday's line-up, I thought she meant ... remind everyone to come on down to Lanes and Games at 6:30pm Sunday for some bowling and beers. Silly me! In hindsight, I realize I did not read between the lines to see that I was supposed to send out an email outlining our strategy going into week 15 and ensuring a spot in the top 3. I am clearly not cut out for the captain position!

Here is my last ditch effort ....

Third Rail is in 4th place going into tonight's competition. We have two more tries to break into the top three! I believe we have a chance. E has her handicap and, if she bowls above average, has the best chance to move us up. I do not remember whether the Capitalists or Socialists won the vote for cash distribution, i.e. whether winner takes all or the money is split three ways. Regardless we need to up our game, I'd love to see some cash!

My vote is E should henceforth be know as "Rumdog". Once her average is over 100, she evolves to "Rumdawg" and when she breaks 130 she's "DAWG!" ... hey, everyone needs a goal! Obviously, I have been watching too much Pokemon. For myself, I hope to evolve from "Fat Ass" to "Bad Ass" by spring!

Rumor has it Al is stopping by for beers ... you know she's really coming to make sure you aren't slacking and costing us much needed points!

Drink a beer for me!

p.s. Hoff, as co-captain, please arrive at Lanes and Games early in order to place inspirational post-it notes on the men's bathroom mirror.

From: E
Heading to the lanes this afternoon to practice ;)

From: E
PS...I will deny, if asked in public, ever going to a bowling alley by myself ;)

From: The Hoff
Oh, man, I love my bowling team! So Flo, in terms of WINNING!!, do
you think we should have G sub, or go with The Edge's average?

Taking suggestions for post-it notes?
"They're just jealous"?
"You're a better dancer"?
"Your balls are your friends"?

From: Flo
I leave the decision of G or no G to you co-Captain ... boy, am I glad tonight is the night I'm missing. Too much pressure!

I like the Stuart Smalley approach to self help ...
"I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and, doggonit, people like me! "
"I deserve good things. I am entitled to my share of happiness.
I refuse to beat myself up. I am attractive person.
I am fun to be with. "

"Pick that shit up"
"Let's see some pin action"

The post game wrap up …

From: Varsity
The Hoff and Rumdog bowled AWESOMELY tonight. Rumdog had a killer last game and Hoff won two bottles of wine during the second game for highest over average.

From: The Hoff
Not sure how it will all pan out in the standings, but Rumdog and I were both pretty well over.

A good night!

From: The Edge
Great job... Now who is blogging!?!