For some reason, Happy-town™ is heavy on the sports news this week. Funny, we don't recall any sodden New Year's Eve resolutions to be more active …
We begin with jai alai, the sport of kings. Nothing changes on New Year's Day; this is certainly true of that class of people to be found last Saturday at Orlando Jai-Alai (actually in Fern Park). Though the pretzels may (or may not) be freshly baked, and new Budweiser flows through decades-old tubes, the patrons of the sport of kings looked a lot like the ones from last year. Or 10 years before that.
As reported in these pages last September, the 43-year-old fronton was expected to open the season in December. But the targets of hurricanes aren't always the swanky, looter-friendly neighborhoods. The giant gusts of wind that left Winter Park golf courses littered with trees also tugged back the roof of Orlando Jai-Alai, flooding the playing court. Walls and mats were just barely replaced in time for a pushed-back opening day on Jan. 1.
And so, while Orlando's little hipsters were still nestled snug in their beds, old men wearing shorts and floppy hats enjoyed perhaps one last season without the whippersnappers. Jai alai is set to stage a comeback. Our delegation found every evidence of the Next Big Thing.
Audience members bet on the outcomes of the competitors, just like at the greyhound track, only with humans who can hear you taunt them. One bespectacled, portly player named Beltran dominated the late-afternoon games. Tinny Spanish music was piped in over an ancient PA system before each match, the sad remnant of a more celebratory cultural experience. The scene was rich with potential for ironic cruelty, the hallmark of any burgeoning trend. All that's missing is vegan cheese for the nachos and "midnite jai alai" for the scenesters.
But for all its vanguard potential, the fronton employees welcomed the return of their sport with sincere affection. According to Orlando Jai-Alai's Tracy Cowart, the days without jai alai were lonely and long.
"The players were here practicing the other day," she told us. "It's so nice to hear the pelota hitting that wall again."
And now, over to kickball. Back when Happytown™ was just a sprouting little burg, no more than a wide spot in the road really, there was this kid named Maury Creeger in our fourth-grade class. Maury was always the first one chosen for kickball at recess because no matter how you pitched to him fast and smooth, slow and bouncy, spin or no spin he'd boot the ball so hard it would invariably sail over the outfielder's head. Hence his nickname: Metal-foot Maury.
Why do we bring up this ancient, apocryphal tale? Because it serves to illustrate the profound, lasting impact that kickball has made on our lives. Every single day we employ some lesson learned on the kickball field: sportsmanship, strategy, compassion, how important it is to get Creeger on your team, etc. But adults these days don't want to play anymore; they're too busy working, or drinking, or driving around in their SUVs. Buncha poops.
So you can imagine our excitement when we learned that the World Adult Kickball Association (www.worldkickball.com/flcentral) is setting up an Orlando division! A quote from the press release: "There is great demand for kickball in our area and we're doing all we can to make sure everyone can play," says Andrea Calabrese, a WAKA board member. Amen.
The first pickup game of the season is 6:15 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 6, at the Dr. James R. Smith Neighborhood Center, 1723 Bruton Blvd. The official season kicks off in February, with games scheduled every Thursday night. Dude, there's even a world championship. Make sure you sign up before Jan. 10. You have to be 21 or over to play, and there's a happy hour afterward. Just like grade school, only drunker. Creeger?
And finally, news from the wrestling arena. Now that Happytown™ has relocated to a bar backlot, it makes sense that a number of us are adopting a slightly more aggro, Vince McMahon, vein-in-neck posture to get our points across. In fact, Black Tuesdays typically inspire any number of off-the-ropes head-kicks in the name of deadline adherence.
On Jan. 14, NNW (No Name Wrestling) brings its shiny onesie to the Orlando Armory for a benefit match for Pet Rescue by Judy (she of the cuddly cats-and-dogs segments on Central Florida News 13), hosting skirmishes by people with names like Sedrick Strong and Barney Rumble. Nothing, and we mean NOTHING, screams pet rescue like a good knee to the face from somebody with an absurd stage name. You abandon your pet? We'll kick your ass. Count on it.
To end the week on an encouraging note, Happytown™ has newly minted evidence that progressives don't have to spend the next four years listening to obnoxious conservatives prattle on about the rectitude of their reign. We learned this over the Christmas holiday, when a gift-buying excursion to an innocent-looking Melbourne comics shop brought us into contact with a tubby, longhaired store owner who was disturbingly ready to shill for the Dubya regime.
First, he encouraged a young customer to seek out the film Michael Moore Hates America; soon, the tragically misguided entrepreneur was blathering that all "intelligent" youths grow up to be conservatives, and that the Bush economy is far superior to the one over which Clinton presided. (The current prexy, one can only assume, has placed a high priority on protecting the competitive freedoms of small-businessmen who look just like The Simpsons' Comic-Book Guy.)
We were close to writing off our intended purchase as morally indefensible and walking out. But instead, we elected to have a little fun."Hey, you're this close to losing a sale," we hollered from across the room, holding a $15 statuette of the Riddler above our head.
"Sorry," the register-bound weasel whined. "I try not to talk politics in the store."
We spent the next 20 minutes of shopping in blissful silence, adding a $12 Sid Vicious figurine to our cart and pondering how much fat-boy contrition THAT would buy us.
"Sorry if I offended you before," our overfed pigeon simpered. We muttered something vaguely conciliatory, all the while thinking that what REALLY offends (and amuses) us is how quickly the prospect of earning a measly $27 can make one of these greedy bastards swallow his deepest convictions like a Gordita.
ON YOUR KNEES, WORM!
Dominatrix Vendela Zane answers your stupid questions
Q: I heard a rumor that people who claim to be "conservatives" are actually very kinky in the bedroom. All disgusting mental pictures of George W. Bush in leather aside, is this rumor true?
And personally, I think George Bush would look just fine in a leather thong. It's all about attitude!