Dumbest Rules in Sports: The NFL Overtime System

This is another article from my time in the Houston sports media. It was meant to kick off a recurring feature with multiple authors, but it looks like it’s all on my shoulders now.

When you introduce a new feature called “The Dumbest Rules in Sports,” it makes sense to kick it off with a look at the NFL, whose rules committee comes from a magical realm of non-Euclidean maps. After only five decades of overtime games, the NFL noticed that it had a problem: an unbalanced overtime system that lets a coin toss directly influence the outcome of a game. Rejecting proven solutions, the rules committee thought and thought, until one of them shouted: “I’ve got it! Let’s replace it with an arbitrary, bureaucratic tangle that still lets a coin toss directly influence the outcome of a game!”

How did it come to this? Let’s take a look.

Continue reading “Dumbest Rules in Sports: The NFL Overtime System”

The dew can kiss my ass, and I can’t defend myself

The dew can kiss my ass, and I can’t defend myself

“The dew has fallen with a particularly sickening thud this morning.”
—Douglas Adams

Today’s science lesson is about dew. I never understood how dew forms; I didn’t really think about it. That is, not until recently, when I got a horrible personal lesson in it. This is the true story of how I acquired a lingering irrational fear of dew. Continue reading “The dew can kiss my ass, and I can’t defend myself”

Smudge

Smudge

Roger entered the lobby in his courier’s uniform, carrying a cardboard package. “I’ve got a parcel for Jacob Ellis. Can you sign?”

Tina the receptionist chirped, “Oh, you can hand it off to him yourself. He’s standing right there. Ivan?” She called out to a tall, pale, white-haired man in a dark suit who stood by the copier.

“Sorry, what? Him?” Roger stared confusedly at the pale man.

“Yes,” Tina confirmed impatiently. “Carlos!” she trilled out. “Come sign for your package.” 

George glided over softly, his shoes making no sound on the hard black tiles. He scribbled on the clipboard, took the package, and disappeared silently around the corner. 

Puzzled, Roger looked down at his itinerary, but couldn’t locate the tall man’s name. He stared after him, wondering how he had vanished so swiftly. Then he looked helplessly to Tina and caught her glaring at him. He opened his mouth to ask a question but found no words for it. Then he opened his mouth to ask what question he should be asking, failing again. He became aware that his hands were moving in awkward directions that he was not choosing.

Tina sighed in a way that expressed contempt of the most professional and courteous kind. The chirping quality was no longer in her voice. “I am aware,” she said, in a tone of deep tolerance being put to the test, “that some people have difficulty in the presence of an albino. Just because Mr. Chen has no skin pigment, it doesn’t mean you have to act like you’ve just arrived from Mars.” 

“But—but—” Roger fumbled for speech. “What was his name?” He looked down at the completely illegible, vaguely symmetrical signature on his clipboard and thought it resembled a butterfly, or possibly a bowl of flowers. “What was his name?” Roger repeated, uncertain whether his voice could be heard.

“Mr. Jackson?” Tina asked. “His name is Christopher Bartle. He’s worked here for years. You really should try to control your reactions. You look ignorant. Albinos are perfectly normal, and he’s probably a lot smarter than you, too. He certainly has better manners.” 

Roger realized his mouth was open again, his tongue and throat squirming but failing to produce words. He pushed his chin up with his hand, then exited as hastily as possible. 

Tina never told Mr. Suarez about the courier’s rude behavior. She took pride in protecting him from such distractions. If a visitor was so poorly raised that he couldn’t act normal in the presence of an albino, then that was his problem alone, and nothing to disturb Mr. Howard’s workday with.

Madden NFL: Geriatric Checkers Edition

I spent a while as a writer and editor at a sports media company down in Houston. Their history is now so complicated that I can’t even say the name, but I still got to have some fun there. Here’s an article that I published in their humor section. 


For the upcoming Texans at Redskins game on Nov. 18, our editors assigned us a challenge: use Madden NFL to simulate the game and attempt to correctly predict the outcome.

It’s a great idea; the game has an excellent record of predicting winners, with correct calls in ten of the last 15 Super Bowls. We leapt at the opportunity, but our XBox is currently having difficulty running Madden, thanks to a minor equipment malfunction.

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Reindeer Games

Dasher: All right, Blitzen, you do the antler thing with the mistletoe … Dasher, your turn to spin the bottle. Who has the blindfold? … Shit, here he comes. Hide everything.

Cupid: God, he gets so inappropriate.

Rudolph: Hey everybody! Who wants to play some reindeer games? If you know what I mean.

Vixen: Why are you winking like that?

The most famous reindeer of all
The most famous reindeer of all

Continue reading “Reindeer Games”

The Bad Decisions Club

Room 1 loudspeaker

Welcome to the Bad Decisions Club! Make yourself at home. You’re the latest of countless applicants. Our guided tour will make everything easy for you. Please leave your coat on the shelf beside you; our staff will take care of it. Once you’re unburdened, please proceed through the next door.

Room 2

In this room you’ll find a simple questionnaire. It will ask you to describe the worst and stupidest thing you’ve ever done. Here in the Bad Decisions Club, we accept you as you are. You won’t be rejected or judged. We keep our standards low for your benefit. Please give your completed questionnaire to the man at the desk who looks like a wise old priest. He will absolve you and assure you that you are a good person. You’ll believe him, because absolution feels good. We thank you for trusting us with the content of your conscience. Please proceed through the next door when done.

a_mysterious_door_by_damiengorson-d88j4zt1

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Larry the Substitute Oracle

“Everything is relative.”

Larry said this, hoping the woman in front of him wouldn’t know what he meant. It was something others did to Larry a lot, and it always worked. His smart friends could shut him up in a hurry by telling him something was relative; he never had an answer.

Now he sat in a dimly lit marble chamber facing Mrs. Lomax, who thought he was a much smarter man than he actually was. He saw that she expected wisdom from him. She wanted to know what the autumn harvest would bring. So he uttered the magic words that always reduced him to muteness, hoping it would do the same to her. It did not.

She stared back, directly into his shallow eyes. “The harvest is relative?” she asked.

“Um, yes,” Larry answered, knowing he would have to ride this train to its final station.

“Well?” she said from beneath a slanted eyebrow. “Relative to what?”

Continue reading “Larry the Substitute Oracle”