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baseball in heaven?
 
 
Two buddies Bob and Earl were two of the biggest baseball fans in America.

Their entire adult lives, Bob and Earl discussed baseball history in the winter, and they pored over every box score during the season. They went to 60 games a year. They even agreed that whoever died first would try to come back and tell the other if there was baseball in heaven.

One summer night, Bob passed away in his sleep after watching the Yankee victory earlier in the evening. He died happy. A few nights later, his buddy Earl awoke to the sound of Bob's voice from beyond.

"Bob, Is that you?" Earl asked.

"Of course it me," Bob replied.

"This is unbelievable!" Earl exclaimed. "So tell me, is there baseball in heaven?"

"Well, I have some good news and some bad news for you. Which do you want to hear first?"

"Tell me the good news first."

"Well, the good news is that yes there is baseball in heaven, Earl."

"Oh, that is wonderful! So what could possibly be the bad news?"

"You're pitching tomorrow night."

snowboarding lesson
 
 
Snowboarding Lessons

When you're 47 years old, you sometimes hear a small voice inside you that says: "Just because you've reached middle age, that doesn't mean you shouldn't take on new challenges and seek new adventures. You get only one ride on this crazy carousel we call life, and by golly you should make the most of it."

This is the voice of Satan.

I know this because recently, on a mountain in Idaho, I listened to this voice, and as a result my body feels as though it has been used as a trampoline by the Budweiser Clydesdales.

I am currently on an all-painkiller diet. "I'll have a black coffee and 250 Advil tablets" is a typical breakfast order for me these days.

This is because I went snowboarding.

For those of you who, for whatever reason, such as a will to live, do not participate in downhill winter sports, I should explain that snowboarding is an activity that is popular with people who do not feel that regular skiing is lethal enough.

These are of course young people, fearless people, people with 100 percent synthetic bodies who can hurtle down a mountainside at 50 miles per hour and knock down mature trees with their faces and then spring to their feet and go, "Cool."

People like my son. He wanted to try snowboarding, and I thought it would be good to learn with him, because we can no longer ski together.

We have a fundamental difference in technique: He skis via the Downhill Method, in which you ski down the hill; whereas I ski via the Breath-Catching Method, in which you stand sideways on the hill, looking as athletic as possible without actually moving muscles (this could cause you to start sliding down the hill).

If anybody asks if you're OK, you say, "I'm just catching my breath!" in a tone of voice that suggests that at any moment you're going to swoop rapidly down the slope; whereas in fact you're planning to stay right where you are, rigid as a statue, until the spring thaw.

At night, when the Downhillers have all gone home, we Breath-Catchers will still be up there, clinging to the mountainside, chewing on our parkas for sustenance.

So I thought I'd take a stab at snowboarding, which is quite different from skiing.

In skiing, you wear a total of two skis, or approximately one per foot, so you can sort of maintain your balance by moving your feet, plus you have poles that you can stab people with if they make fun of you at close range.

Whereas with snowboarding, all you get is one board, which is shaped like a giant tongue depressor and manufactured by the Institute of Extremely Slippery Things. Both of your feet are strapped firmly to this board, so that if you start to fall, you can't stick a foot out and catch yourself. You crash to the ground like a tree and lie there while skiers swoop past and deliberately spray snow on you.

Skiers hate snowboarders. It's a generational thing. Skiers are (and here I am generalizing) middle-aged Republicans wearing designer space suits; snowboarders are defiant young rebels wearing deliberately drab clothing that is baggy enough to cover the snowboarder plus a major appliance. Skiers like to glide down the slopes in a series of graceful arcs; snowboarders like to attack the mountain, slashing, spinning, tumbling, going backward, blasting through snowdrifts, leaping off cliffs, getting their noses pierced in midair, etc.

Skiers view snowboarders as a menace; snowboarders view skiers as Elmer Fudd.

I took my snowboarding lesson in a small group led by a friend of mine named Brad Pearson, who also once talked me into jumping from a tall tree while attached only to a thin rope.

Brad took us up on a slope that offered ideal snow conditions for the novice who's going to fall a lot: Approximately seven flakes of powder on top of an 18-foot-thick base of reinforced concrete.

You could not dent this snow with a jackhammer. (I later learned, however, that you COULD dent it with the back of your head.)

We learned snowboarding via a two step method:

Step One: Watching Brad do something.

Step Two: Trying to do it ourselves.

I was pretty good at Step One. The problem with Step Two was that you had to stand up on your snowboard, which turns out to be a violation of at least five important laws of physics.

I'd struggle to my feet, and I'd be wavering there and then the Physics Police would drop a huge chunk of gravity on me, and WHAM my body would hit the concrete snow, sometimes bouncing as much as a foot.

"Keep your knees bent!" Brad would yell, helpfully.

Have you noticed that whatever sport you're trying to learn, some earnest person is always telling you to keep your knees bent? As if that would solve anything. I wanted to shout back, "Forget my Knees! Do Something About these Gravity Chunks!"

Needless to say my son had no trouble at all. None. In minutes he was cruising happily down the mountain; you could actually see his clothing getting baggier. I, on the other hand, spent most of my time lying on my back, groaning, while space-suited Republicans swooped past and sprayed snow on me.

If I hadn't gotten out of there, they'd have completely covered me; I now realize that the small hills you see on ski slopes are formed around the bodies of 47-year-olds who tried to learn snowboarding.

So I think, when my body heals, I'll go back to skiing. Maybe sometime you'll see me out on the slopes, catching my breath. Please throw me some food.

new rules for bowling
 
 
Supplemental Rules for Bowling

If you holler "overs!" before the ball passes the arrows, you get to throw the ball over, unless of course, you get a strike. In which case, you can renege on the "overs".

When your team is about 10 marks down in the 8th or 9th frame, you can invoke the rule "First Team Through Bowling Wins the Game", and your team still has a chance.

After a member of the opposing team bowls 4 strikes in a row, he/she must bowl the next 4 frames blindfolded. If he/she continues to strike, his/her shoelaces will be tied together for 2 frames.

When you leave the 10-pin and you know you can't make the spare, but another member of your team can, invoke the "Designated Bowler" rule.

After you have 4 splits in one game, you may say "Kings X" and take those 4 frames over. However, if you split on the 2nd time around, you accept it. After all, "Fair is Fair".

If your ball goes in the gutter and jumps back onto the lane, knocking dow pins, by golly, you get them! That's much harder than to knock them down the conventional way. Good bowling should be recognized.

A ball should be declared dead when you bowl 3 games without a strike. It shall be the owners privilege to decide on the disposition of said dead ball - Burial at Sea, Dropped from an airplane over a live volcano, or a simple burial in the city dump. For a small fee, a league officer can be bribed to deliver a short eulogy.

skiing season training
 
 
Ski season is almost here! Hence, the following list of Exercises to get you prepared:

16. Visit your local butcher and pay $30 to sit in the walk-in freezer for a half an hour. Afterwards, burn two $50 dollar bills to warm up.

15. Soak your gloves and store them in the freezer after every use.

14. Fasten a small, wide rubber band around the top half of your head before you go to bed each night.

13. If you wear glasses, begin wearing them with glue smeared on the lenses.

12. Throw away a hundred dollar bill-now.

11. Find the nearest ice rink and walk across the ice 20 times in your ski boots carrying two pairs of skis, accessory bag and poles. Pretend you are looking for your car. Sporadically drop things.

10. Place a small but angular pebble in your shoes, line them with crushed ice, and then tighten a C-clamp around your toes.

9. Buy a new pair of gloves and immediately throw one away.

8. Secure one of your ankles to a bed post and ask a friend to run into you at high speed.

7. Go to McDonald's and insist on paying $8.50 for a hamburger. Be sure you are in the longest line.

6. Clip a lift ticket to the zipper of your jacket and ride a motorcycle fast enough to make the ticket lacerate your face.

5. Drive slowly for five hours - anywhere - as long as it's in a snowstorm and you're following an 18 wheeler.

4. Fill a blender with ice, hit the pulse button and let the spray blast your face. Leave the ice on your face until it melts. Let it drip into your clothes.

3. Dress up in as many clothes as you can and then proceed to take them off because you have to go to the bathroom.

2. Slam your thumb in a car door. Don't go see a doctor.

1. Repeat all of the above every Saturday and Sunday until it's time for the real thing!


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