Author Archives: Jack

Call It Maybe, “Whats His Number” And All The Other Boys,,,,,,,NFLrefs

Here is a great pardoy about the NFL replacement refs.  For the record, the replacement refs are in an impossible situation, so this debacle is on Roger Goodell and the owners.  However, the only good thing to come from this hilarity of atrocities with the refs, is the side comedy we are seeing.  This video is one of those using the summer hit “Call Me Maybe” as a way to mock the situation.

 

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Why The Debacle With The NFL Refs Is More Important Than A Football Game

By Jack Kelly

By now, you should be acutely aware of the horrendous, game ending call by the replacement refs, which was witnessed by millions of fans through out America on Monday Night Football.  If you are not, here is a quick recap; a terribly called game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks, capped an offensively officiated weekend of football games by the replacement refs.  It was an awful whistle and maybe not the most egregious since the season started.  However, it will be the one everyone will remember.  For those of you who, like myself  waste countless hours of time on social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook, there was a bipartisan eruption of condemnation directed at or ranging from the refs themselves, to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and then some directed at specific owners.  Twitter and the internet was set ablaze in an irrational display of misplaced priorities.  Every joke pertaining to be funny, but isn’t, was hailed into the stratosphere of nothingness masking as tweets and it was related to the refs and the NFL.

And of course within minutes, politics was at times subtly injected into the circus, while others it was overtly used as propaganda to prove over arching political points.  Nobody was off limits for the jokes, however sinister or unfunny.  Even Vince McMahon was trending at one point.  President Obama was even given campaign advice from tweeters.  For example, several tweeters opined that the President should use his ‘Presidential’ powers to end the lockout; while some, like the Sports Guy from Grantland.com suggested Governor Romney use his vast wealth and give 50 million to the refs for them to come back.  Regardless of how funny that tweet from the Sports Guy was, it may be the Governors only chance to win this thing.

But a far more interesting thought provoked me to consider the ramifications of such a meaningless, yet for whatever psychological reason, very important American event.  After all, isn’t it just a dumb football game?  Of course it is!?  I will wake up tomorrow and Aaron Rodgers, Roger Goodell and the Replacement Refs will not even think one second about my well being.  They will not offer to pay my mortgage, nor will they comfort me in a personal time of need.  The outcome of that game will not improve the economy and it will certainly not change the dysfunction in the Middle East.

Only if it were that simple.

I know better.  As an avid sports fan who has been heart broken and elated by all four of my favorite local Boston sports teams, I understand the irrational nature of being an American sports fan.  In many ways, we are just like the Romans who came to the Coliseum to see Gladiators fight to the death.  Sure it is less gruesome, but the collective animalistic urge we all inhabit becomes virtual, in a more modern socially acceptable way.  We are provided with a temporary relief from the daily grind and allowed to escape into a ‘game.’  For whatever reason, it means something, even though it shouldn’t.

Last night, I saw a tweet that stated this:  “What does it say about our country that if President Obama ended the lockout, he would win reelection in a landslide?”  Initially, the tweet sort of amused me in a way that a stray cat would at midnight walking down the street.  Until you ask yourself, “WTF is that cat doing and how did it get here?”

As I consider the deeper meaning of the tweet, it became somewhat disturbing.  We are six weeks away from electing a President and yet, it is quite possible if the President were to end this replacement ref thing, it would somewhat improve his chances for reelection.  Not questions about the middle east, the economy or any other significant event in the country or the world has or could alter the election, but a stupid sports labor dispute?

But then, I thought deeper (which by this article you can infer is an asinine thing for me to do) and realized, it should matter how the President and Governor Romney feel about this labor dispute.  However, forget the more obvious reasons of democracy and the calculated political considerations such a decision to side with the refs would garner and contemplate what this dispute symbolizes.  At its core, the Real Refs are part of an industry worth billions and although part time and well paid, have a belief they should share in the growth of the NFL.  Essentially, from media reports, the Real Refs are disputing the NFL’s position of implementing a more owner favorable 401k system, as opposed to the more lucrative and worker friendly pension system they currently enjoy.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has stated he believes the Real Refs should have the same crappy retirement system the rest of the country has in the dreaded 401k package. Without debating the specifics of retirement plans, 401k’s put more risk on workers and have been proven to be less reliable than a traditional pension.  Sure, 401k’s have more potential for growth, but without the combination of a stable pension, they are far more favorable to shareholders of companies than the long term individual economic health of workers.

But as the commissioner stated, as Americans, we have totally succumbed to this completely crappy system, so why shouldn’t the Real Refs?  What Goodell is trying to employ is a good old divide and conquer strategy that reads like this:  Why should you favor a pension for your neighbor when you have a crappy 401k?  It’s a brilliant tactic, and for most of us living in reality, we shrug our shoulders and accept it as we seek a way to somehow earn more wealth for a retirement that seems less secure.

But with Football, which has become America’s new religion, we  are incensed with anger over such atrocities concerning suspect officiating.  Not because we care about the Real Refs, but because the game is unwatchable and we demand our escape from our own reality.

What this referee debacle should teach not only the NFL, but the rest of us in America, is not everything can be or should be, outsourced simply because it looks cute on a spreadsheet and gives stockholders a tingly sensation through out their bodies.  Sometimes, we must realize that workers’ are a vital part of our economy and provide integrity to our industries; not just football.  Not everyone can own a Football team or be the next Steve Jobs or Marc Cuban.  Not everyone even aspires to do that.  Some want a simple  life revolving around hard work and the option to retire with dignity and to help provide for their current or future families.

Some of us may even garner an education or develop a trade and head to work for a quick 40 hours a week and then retreat to our families and TV sets to bask in the glory that never was.  However we choose our time is pointless to me and others, but it is important to you.

But what is important to all of us, is the direction of our personal lives in conjunction with the direction of our country.  The NFL  labor dispute with the refs is similar to our lives and decisions we are forced to make with others, only on a larger and more transparent scale.   It is a reflection of greed and a corporate thought process fixated on smaller spreadsheets without considering the collapse and destruction of such industries they pretend are simply evolving to become more “efficient.”

So on second thought, maybe we should demand to know where the President and Governor Romney stand on this labor dispute.  Perhaps, this disputed game between the Seahawks and Packers is much more exigent than I thought.

 

 

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A Time Honored Tradition Banned: Father/Daughter Dances

By, Amy M. Voltero

Dictionary.com defines time honored traditions as respected or valued because it has existed for a long time. How many times have you been to a baseball game and witnessed the first pitch being thrown?  Tailgating is every die hard football fan’s pleasure. There’s nothing better than setting up a tent and the barbecue grill, and psyching yourself up for three hours of sacks, touchdowns and first downs.

The country’s singing of the national anthem is also a time honored tradition prior to a sporting event.  I can remember being a kid waiting to see which famous celebrity was honored to belt out our country’s theme song.  Another childhood memory was saying the, “Pledge of Allegiance,” in homeroom when the teacher was taking attendance. My most fond memory of time honored tradition is preparing for the Father/Daughter dance at my elementary school. I loved getting dressed up, and looked forward to having the best dance partner, my Dad. We would do the dough see dough, the jitterbug and dance to slow songs.

In Cranston Rhode Island, Father/Daughter dances, and Mother/Son baseball games are now obsolete. Thanks to the ACLU, American Civil Liberties Union and a complaint fueled by a single mother in the community. The issue at hand was her daughter was denied entrance to the dance due to her father not being in her life. That means persons in charge of admittance to the event, discriminated against this young girl for something out of her control.

These events violate Rhode Island’s gender discrimination law. Superintendent Judith Lundsten informed school organizations gender-specific events would no longer be allowed after school district attorneys found that, while federal gender discrimination laws exempt such events, Rhode Island law does not.(Fox news)

According to the Associated Press, “I acknowledge that many of these events have long traditions and for many parents, these types of gender-based events are not an issue,” Lundsten wrote. “However, this is a public school system and under no circumstances should we be isolating any child from full participation in school activities and events based on gender. Please be all-inclusive when planning your events.” (Fox news)

Some families in Rhode Island are outraged. Despite the differences in family structures, there are some families who want to practice traditional family values, and that includes, partaking in events such as the above. Parents who struggle balancing their time between work and parenting, look forward to these dances, and in creating memories that will last a lifetime.

I am in agreement with Superintendent Lundsten’s statement.  Family structures in the 40’s and 50’s, families consisted primarily of two parents, siblings and sometimes grandparents.  The norm of family structure in the year 2012 consists of one mother or father, two mothers or fathers, or a sibling or alternate family member could be acting as the primary caregiver. Children should not pay the price for the hand they were dealt. I believe such events, should not be excluded from a child’s life. Just change the name, why completely ban this time honored tradition?

As most of you know, I wear the hat of mother and father. Balancing work, recovery and parenting can leave an overwhelming feeling of guilt at times, for not spending as much time with her as I want to. The rush of daycare and work preparation, dinner, bath, playtime and bed feels as if I am on auto pilot some days. When all is said and done, I work from home, listening to her seaside lullaby cd, and reflect on my day and shortcomings. I always come to the same conclusion, I wish there was more time in the day. As she gets older, I realize I will be wearing more hats; coach, tutor, cab driver, etc. My hope is to be able to find an even balance between life on life’s terms and parenting. By the time my daughter reaches the age of dances, hopefully the ACLU will have come to an agreement with communities in bringing back these traditions, only under a new title, so single parents such as myself will be given the same opportunity, as generations before, to cherish these Kodak moments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Every story starts with Chapter One

By Mary C. Long

Growing up in Charlestown, I never knew I was poor – because I wasn’t really. No, this isn’t a sappy “I didn’t know because we were rich with love” explanation. Please. My parents were fantastic, don’t get me wrong – and I was a happy kid, but my paycheck is still a few zeros short of me spouting that sort of nonsense.

 

I didn’t know I was poor because compared to other families I had it pretty good. My father worked for the T and my mother was a foster parent, and combined they brought home a decent living. I don’t remember ever wanting for anything.

 

But years later, when I went to college, I was truly shocked to learn that I was solidly in what is called the “lower class.” Call it naïve, but I really thought that distinction applied to people completely down and out and begging on the street. Weren’t they that entitled, uneducated, perpetually lazy group of people I’d heard about?

 

Yeah, they were. And “they” were talking about me. And I was pissed. And I’ve been pretty pissed about it ever since. Even writing about it right now pisses me off. I really need to get over it, I know. Yet, I can’t.

 

Why? Because I now find myself in a very awkward position, where I’m pretty constantly surrounded by people who grew up learning the same class distinctions, but were in an entirely different class – and they assume I’m one of them. And I guess I am now, in part. But a larger part, the part that makes me who I am, is very separate from them and unable to relate because I feel like although I can see them, they can’t see me.

 

They don’t see that where I grew up (to Townies, Newtowne – to outsiders, generalized as the projects) there was a network of tough, loving adults who watched after their neighbors’ kids just as fiercely as their own. They don’t see parents working two jobs and still up at 6 am on the weekends to coach Pop Warner. And they can’t imagine groups of adults sitting out late on a summer night and having a few drinks, while 30+ neighborhood kids play kick the can, as anything other than loud and scandalous. But it was the most fantastic, safest environment a kid could ever hope for – and brings to mind some of the best memories I have.

 

The Charlestown I grew up in was something to write stories about. Not fairy tales, but real stories that acknowledge the hardships while showing the strength, the humor and the heart.

 

And that’s what I’ve set out to do, in this in-your-face series of interconnected short stories based in Charlestown, called Chapter One.

 

The first one is out already and the next is coming on October 1, with each story following every two months – eleven total. Each story is connected to the others in some way and each represents the featured character’s “chapter one” – meaning, some defining moment in that character’s life.

 

In this first chapter, originally titled “Tough Chick,” we meet Janey, a strong-willed young woman at odds with the world around her, and herself. Thrust into a role she was never prepared for, we witness her battling back against circumstances that are beyond her control while creating a whole new set of circumstances that aren’t, with destructive consequences.

 

Want to check it out? It’s a quick read and costs .99 cents on Amazon. And FYI, you do NOT need a Kindle to read it, Amazon offers free reader apps available for download here.

 

But if you can’t download it for some reason (or just don’t want to pay .99 cents for a 15 page story), email me at marycatherine8078@gmail.com and I’ll send it to you for free. The clicks/downloads help me move up in Amazon’s rankings, so if you can figure it out, great – but if you can’t (for whatever reason), then reach out. www.bit.ly/Ch1Janey

 

Also, there’s a corresponding Tumblr blog where writers (or anyone really) can share their Chapter One (the first chapter of their books or a defining moment – expressed through words, pictures, videos or whatever medium they choose). All submissions are promoted on social networks, including Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Authors also get an Author Bio page on the Mary8078 website. This service is free!

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A Conversation With Keith Yandle of The Phoenix Coyotes

By Jack Kelly

(Full Disclosure:  I have known Keith my whole life.  Our fathers have been friends since they were kids and I actually remember when Keith was being groomed as a goalie.  So, needless to say, I am biased as a life long friend and  very proud of his success.  Recently, Keith stopped by my house and we talked about the NHL lockout, the rumors of becoming a Bruin and a fun discussion about some old school high school hockey stars from Mass we both admired and played with)

 

Thoughts on the lockout:


Me- Will there be lockout?

Keith- Well, I don’t think we are starting on time and I don’t think that is breaking news.  There is still hope and there are always ongoing discussions, but it doesn’t look good for getting the year started on time.

Me- Who is to blame?

Keith- Well, I wouldn’t say anyone is to blame per se.  All we are looking for (the players) is a fair deal.  We don’t begrudge the owners for wanting a profitable business model, but it can’t simply be put solely on the burden of the players.  It would be a stupid assumption for anyone to believe that we as players, do not have a collective interest in the health of the game.  Nobody wants the sport of hockey to succeed more than the players.  After all, we are the one’s who grew up loving and playing this sport.  So we want the NHL to succeed as almost as much as anyone.

Me- What are you doing right now to prepare for a possible lockout?

Keith- Well, just working out and training as if the season will start on time.  All I can do is worry about myself in reference to my own training.  I just have to stay disciplined and train as hard as I can and act as if there a season about to start.  I need to always maintain an edge and the way to do that is to just get up everyday and work hard and hopefully, the labor situation will work  itself out.  I will control what I can.

Me- Any plans to play anywhere else?

Keith- None yet.  Just staying local and continuing to train and work.  I’ll cross that bridge, (if) or when I need to.

On The Rumors About Playing For The Bruins:

Me- So, a lot of people are saying you might be coming home to play for the Bruins.  Any truth to this?

Keith- First off, I would like to say that I love playing for the Coyotes.  Although we came up short last year, we had a good run and I was so proud of how hard our team competed.  Also, the fans could not have been anymore supportive of us.  I love the community in the greater Phoenix area and I have nothing but amazing things to say about the fans and the people who live there.  I could not be happier playing for the Coyotes.

Me- So no truth to the rumors?

Keith-  Look, one of the first things older players will tell you when you enter the league is this is a business.  Sure it’s a fun business, but it is still a business.  As far as my name being involved with trades or anything else involving the franchise as a whole, like moving or whatever, it is simply beyond my control.   As far as the Bruins rumor, it is simply that, a rumor and again, beyond my personal control.

Me- But if the rumors were true, how would you feel about them if they came true?

Keith- Jack, just like any kid who has played hockey in Boston, who wouldn’t wanna play for the Bruins?  If you played Basketball here, it would probably be the same if you got to play for the Celtics.  So, ya playing for the Bruins would fulfill a childhood dream and if I ever played for Boston, it would be a nice story.  But again, it is not something I desire or anything like that.  I am truly happy playing for the Coyotes.  I love the fans and the organization has always been very good to me.

Me- So you are happy in Phoenix?

Keith- Yes, very much so.

Me- So the rumors aren’t coming from you?

(both laughing)

Keith- No, no no!  It most likely comes from people speculating because I am from Boston so people just start talking.  But it is all noise.  Just a rumor and beyond my control.

Growing Up Playing Hockey In Boston:

Me- So, growing up playing hockey in Boston and becoming an NHL hockey player is and was a dream so many kids have had, including myself.  What is it like to fulfill that dream?

Keith-  Ya, it is pretty crazy isn’t it?  I guess for me it is my reality, so I just wake up everyday and stay in the moment and continue to work hard.  I am still the same person I have always been, but I know how lucky I am.  I have a great life and I know it.  I have a great family and now I have my own growing family.  My wife keeps me grounded and as you know, having the type of family that me and you come from, it almost seems like that is all you need, even outside of hockey.  So, I am lucky in more ways than just hockey, but ya, sometimes I have to pinch myself knowing I play in the NHL.

Me- Who were some of the high school players you always heard of growing up?

Keith- Well, you played with one at Matignon.

Me- T.C. Harris?

Keith- Ya, that kid was like a rockstar.  Everybody heard about T.C. Harris.  Even now, I run across people who play in the NHL who will ask about him.  I am not sure what the full story is with him, but that kid was great.  I was a lot younger than you guys (the time period we played) but that kid was a legend.  Also, Nikko (Dimitrakosplayed for you guys and he made it too.

Me- What about your brother Brian?

Keith-  Well, my brother played at CM (Catholic Memorial) for a few years and going to those games had a big impact on me.  And then when he played at UNH, I remember being so impressed that I had an older brother who was playing Division one hockey.  I still am.

Me- Isn’t it crazy the history of great school hockey players from Mass?

Keith- Ya it is! People like Robbie Ftorek, who our father’s generation say was the greatest high school hockey player ever in Mass and Bobby Carpenter had the same type of reputation.  There is just so many players to draw inspiration from Mass.  The list is almost to long to mention all of the guys, but we could go on and on.

Me- Speaking of playing high school hockey and local guys, you are good friends with Chris Bourque, who just signed with the Bruins.  Should Bruins fans be excited?

Keith- Yes!  Chris will work out very well for Boston and Bruins fans will love him.  He has grown as a person and a hockey player in the last few years and I think this was a great signing for Boston.  As you said about high school, I have never seen someone so naturaly gifted as Chris, in terms of raw hockey talent.  He was literally far and above anyone we played with in high school.

Me- What about the three local kids from Charlestown who just got drafted?  (Matt Grzelcyk, Jimmy Vesey and Brendan Collier)

Keith- Ya, I have heard nothing but good things about them.  It is such a great story and I have a lot of pride for them, because Charlestown is where my roots are.

Me- Any advice for them?

Keith- Just work hard, stay focused, avoid pitfalls and enjoy the ride.

After we wrapped our conversation I am left with some thoughts of my own.  Keith is humble and is a great example of someone who has climbed the highest mountain in his profession and has maintained his humble nature.  From a presonal standpoint, I would love nothing more than to see Keith wearing the black and gold.  But however Keith’s career unfolds, I am proud of his accomplishments and his dedication to the Boston area, his friends and most importantly, his family.

 

 

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