The self-loathing involved in loving the Patriots

by Lorin Michel Saturday, February 4, 2017 9:26 PM

1985. That was the year one of the worst teams in football (so sayeth The Bleacher Report’s Doug Baker), actually made it to the Super Bowl. It was my first year in California. I was living in San Diego, with my boyfriend, the one would eventually become my first husband, and we were invited to a Super Bowl party. We had made some friends, none of them close; none of them the kind that would prove to be lasting. It was the year of the Super Bowl Shuffle, William “the Refrigerator” Perry, and the 46 defense. The Chicago Bears went 15 and 1 that year. In the Super Bowl they met the New England Patriots who were aging and not very good. Steve Grogan was under center. He remains one of the few names some people still remember from the team. He threw one touchdown pass to the other somewhat memorable name, Irving Fryar. The rather lopsided score was 46 – 10.

I was a Patriots fan, having spent my high school and college years in the land of jumbled consonants and flattened vowels. The land of Kennedy, John Adams, and Jed Bartlet, the fictional president who would come much later. I remained a Pats fan through the many dark years that followed. When the oughts finally arrived, a new era seemed to arrive with them. It was as if having double zeros and the start of a new century gave my hapless team a chance at re-birth, and what emerged has been fairly successful. Starting especially with the 2001 season, when a then second-string quarterback took the team to the Super Bowl, it has been a ride we New Englanders enjoy to the point of distraction. 

I remember watching the Patriots take the field in 2002 in their silver, red and blue as a team rather than with traditional single player introductions. I was so proud. This was after the horror of September 11, 2001 and seeing a team named the Patriots take the field as one seemed symbolic. We were all patriots, Americans, one. New England went on to win 20-17. The dynasty was born. 

Tomorrow the Patriots will take the field again, their seventh with Tom Brady under center. And I have mixed feelings. 

Most people not living in or from New England hate the Patriots. They think they’re cheaters, they think they’re arrogant. They hate Brady and his super model wife. They hate coach hoodie. As Jack Hamilton, a writer for Slate magazine, wrote yesterday in his article How to Pull for the Patriots in the Age of Trump, “hating the Patriots is perhaps the last truly bipartisan pastime in America.”

Therein lie my mixed feelings. I have loved my team for a long time, through the very bad and through the exceptionally good, but this year, the fact that Tom Brady had a Make America Great Again hat in his locker bugs me. The fact that Belichick wrote a letter to the man who fancies himself king bugs me. The fact that Robert Kraft considers the toddler a friend bugs me – less than the Brady thing bugs me but it still bugs. Like most New Englanders, I am not a fan of the current occupant of the White House. Every state in New England voted for Hillary Clinton; Massachusetts, where the Patriots live and play, was the only state in the country where every single county was blue. It’s hard to support the team when they support the travesty that has overtaken our once great country. And actually, that’s not fair. Not all of the players support the toddler. Martellus Bennett, the star tight end in his first year with the Pats who has become a fan favorite, has already said that if the Pats win today he won’t be making the ceremonial trip to the White House. Brady didn’t go to the White House in 2015 when they beat the Seahawks. It bugged me but I managed to excuse it. It doesn’t look so good now. 

Hamilton wrote: “So not only is there a high probability that the typical Trump supporter hates the Patriots, there are an awful lot of Patriots supporters who hate Trump, too.” Count me as one, though I prefer the word “loathe.” It’s more guttural. 

So what’s a Pats fan to do when the men at the helm of the beloved team appear to support a man I loathe? A man so utterly contemptable and cruel? Honestly, I don’t know. I realize that this is only a game, but it’s such a symbol, so symptomatic of a bigger issue. Democracy versus authoritarianism. The Patriots, like all teams in football, have an authoritarian bent. Belichick is king. What he says is law, in the locker room and on the field. The players fall in line or they get kicked to Cleveland. It has worked for 17 years. 

But now, here I am. Today we’re going to a party. In Arizona, the Toddler in Chief isn’t as universally reviled as he is in Massachusetts and New England. But the Pats are reviled for all of the reasons stated above. Since I’ve lived here, I have proudly worn my Patriots attire in public and I’ve taken a lot of guff about it. Today I’ll pull my #12 NFL jersey over my head but I won’t have the same joy. I love my team and I hate myself for it. 

As Hamilton’s article said: “… rooting for the Patriots feels like rooting for the Joker in a Christopher Nolan Batman film—they’re psychotically single-minded, amoral, gallingly narcissistic, purveyors of opportunistic, meticulous chaos. 

To me it feels a little like this:

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live out loud

Health insurance and football

by Lorin Michel Monday, December 12, 2016 9:19 PM

So I know I said I was going to be cheery and all but sometimes it’s difficult to follow through on such promises. And besides, it wasn’t necessarily a promise. It was more like an “I’ll try,” as in “I’ll try to not be so cranky” which comes in handy on a celebratory blog. But today I’m having trouble. Maybe it’s because it’s Monday. Maybe it’s because I’m tired. Maybe it’s because as much as I love the holidays, sometimes they become just one more thing that I have to do.

Maybe it’s because health insurance is also one more thing that I – we – have to do. I’ve complained about this before. I’ll complain about it again, and probably now. I have always had health insurance. I don’t mind that I’m supposed to have health insurance. I make a lot of money. I don’t qualify for a subsidy, don’t want one and certainly don’t expect one. I just want to buy health insurance for Kevin and I and I want to pay for it. We have to do this by Thursday as that’s the deadline to start health insurance in January. We’re doing this because our current insurer is no longer offering plans in Arizona, so we are fucked. 

F-U-C-K-E-D.

And we are frustrated. We seem to be penalized for being entrepreneurs and for making decent money. If we didn’t make any money, we could qualify for different plans, and be happy. But we do and we don’t and we’re not. 

Kevin, who I’ve put in charge of this debacle after taking care of it for years, has been on the phone and internet all day. We know there are two horrific plans offered by Healthnet. They are the only two plans for individuals we’ve been able to find in Pima County. And none of our doctors nor our hospital of choice take either of these plans. 

F-ed! 

I honestly don’t understand how people who make good money and want – want want want – to pay for insurance – and can – can’t get it. It makes no sense to me. None. Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch. 

I am frustrated. Furious. Flabbergasted. Flummoxed. Fucked. 

And so I have poured myself a glass of wine and settled in with Tom Brady and company to watch my Patriots destroy the dreaded Ravens. Apologies to my peeps in Maryland but I need this. I need a crushing win. I need to hear helmets crashing and men much too big for tight pants slamming into each other, pads rustling and snapping. I need to lip read the bad language and watch the Hoodie snort and snarl. I need to see my Tommy  – mine – defy his age once again. Please, just this once, allow me to love my Pats without consequence.

Because I’m in health insurance hell. In fact, I’ve renamed it hellth – clever, don’t you think? And I need something good to happen today/tonight so that I can maintain my oath of celebration. As I try to live it out loud.

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live out loud

Are you ready for some football? Eh

by Lorin Michel Sunday, September 25, 2016 8:08 PM

When we signed up with DirecTV rather than cable, they naturally sweetened the package as these companies often do. They entice and tease and give you everything for a year, including NFL Sunday Ticket. It was the first time we’d had access to every game every week, and as football fans, we were jazzed. Neither of our teams are close so it gave us the opportunity to see them in action, every game every week. It was horrible. Sometimes it’s easier to not watch and just hear what’s happening. 

Kevin is from Chicago and as such, has always been a Bears’ fan, much to his chagrin. It’s a love/hate relationship. He loves them because they’re the Chicago Bears, home team and all that. He hates them because for the most part, they’re not very good and haven’t been for a number of years. Whenever they do anything good, like score, he just shakes his head and says something like: “Yeah, but give them time and they’ll F it up.” They usually do. 

I’m from all over the Northeast so I could probably have my pick of teams and get away with it. I could support the Giants or the Jets but don’t. I could cheer for Pittsburgh, but don’t. I could, technically, even support Baltimore but can’t. I do support the Patriots which is one of the most difficult things to do outside of New England. I get crap about it constantly. For some reason, people who don’t support New England feel that it’s perfectly permissible to give me a hard time because I do. I don’t get that. I would never do that to someone else. People are entitled to like who they like and not have to explain it. But I soldier on, wearing my Patriots gear even when I go out in public. Occasionally I find another New Englander and we become instant friends. Simpatico and all that.

Last year was the first time that I’ve ever been able to watch every Patriots game. I was miserable. I understand that the Pats are a good team and that they are perennially so. But having to watch every week and see stupid mistakes as well as great plays, was very stressful. It was also time consuming.

This year, because DirecTV was done wooing us and thus giving us a deal on anything, the price for Sunday Ticket was going to be something like $400. And while that is certainly much cheaper than buying tickets to games, we still opted to not do it. Mostly it was me who wasn’t crazy about doing it again. It wasn’t the money; it was the stress. 

So since the season started, we’ve been watching whatever the networks are showing. I follow along on nfl.com and I listen to the radio broadcast of the Patriots’ games. It’s much easier to listen than to watch. We’re doing the same with Chicago. 

I don’t know if that’s contributed to our general malaise about the season or not, but we’re definitely not amped up, not like usual. We love football. It’s the only sport we follow, and we wait for it every year. We know all the teams, the players, the coaches. We know the commentators, and like some more than others, much like the teams. But today, for example, a day when we usually have the television on all day, from the pre-game show with the Fox boys to the first game, the second game and then the Sunday Night crew, we turned it all off after the early game. We just didn’t care that much. 

I don’t know why we’re not as ready for some football as usual. Maybe it’s because this election is all consuming and terribly, intrusively frightening. Maybe it’s because we don’t have NFL Sunday Ticket. Maybe, we’re just tired of having our Sundays monopolized by men in tight pants. 

Or maybe it’s because we really don’t like the new Carrie Underwood song on Sunday Night Football. 

Whatever it is, we’re ready for football. We’re just a little eh about it. And we’re surprisingly OK with that.

A good day for democracy

by Lorin Michel Thursday, September 3, 2015 10:16 PM

There are days when I shake my head at some of the stupid things that go on in the name of democracy. I read the other day about a man who, in 1996, was sentenced to life in prison without possibility for the parole because he tried to sell marijuana to the cartel or something. Nothing violent, no children involved. He received a harsher sentence than some murderers and rapists. I was appalled.

The three strikes laws that swept through the country in the 1990s imposed mandatory jail sentences, like life in prison for third offenses. The offense could have been as ridiculous as stealing a pack of gum. Wanna chew? Go to prison for the life. Why not also pull all his teeth? Maybe chop off his hands so he can no longer steal? That’s something I call s-t-o-o-p-i-d.

Democracy is a messy process. It’s about fairness, about choosing, about having a say in the way the country is run. It’s about laws that aren’t arbitrarily imposed by government fiat, but rather by people who elect people to make the laws. It’s not a perfect process but it’s infinitely better than dictatorships. I am partial to it even when I find myself banging my head on the desk screaming at no one: What the hell is wrong with this country?

Today, I am proud to say that while a lot remains wrong – the state of policing, the Republican party, lack of outrage at lack of education, climate change, animal cruelty – and stupid – there are some things that are right.

Regular readers know of my general disgust with organized religion. I find it is used far to often to espouse hatred, bias and bigotry, going against everything I always thought religion was supposed to be about. Turn the other cheek, love thy neighbor and all that jazz. I find it particularly appalling when religion is used to justify same. Perhaps that’s why I read today’s news of the Kentucky county clerk receiving jail time and smiled. It’s not that I want people to go to jail, but this is out of hand.

The woman, Kim Davis, is an elected official. She has refused to issue marriage licenses, first to gay people and now to all people on the basis of her religious objections. Four gay couples filed suit. She went to court, and lost. She appealed and lost. She went to the Supreme Court and lost. Through it all, she continued to deny issuing licenses. Today she went to court again and the judge held her in contempt. He could have just issued a fine. In fact, the people who brought the law suit didn’t want her jailed. But the judge was disgusted and put her in jail, indefinitely. At least until she decides to do her job.

She should have been held in contempt. She should have been jailed. She is an elected official. She is in public office. As much as many people would like to change it, there is still the little matter of separation of church and state. Her issuing marriage licenses does not infringe on her religion. If she had to do it on Sunday, maybe. But not Monday thru Friday. She is not entitled to put what she deems “god’s authority” over the law of the land. She is free to believe what she wants; she is not free to only enforce the laws she deems religiously OK. If she doesn’t want to issue marriage licenses, she is also free to resign. Democracy worked in this case and I was pleased.

Then there is the case of Tom Brady. Oh, come on. You knew I had to go there; I’m a New England fan and have been since college. I supported them even in the infamous massacre of 1985 when the Super Bowl shuffle shuffled them right off the field. I supported them through Steve Grogan and Doug Flutie, through Drew Bledsoe. I know that most of the world hates the Patriots and thinks Tom Brady should have been tarred and feathered on the basis that “it was more probable than not that [he] was at least generally aware” of some footballs being a little underinflated. And there was only one or two that were a little underinflated, not the 11 that was initially reported but never corrected. And let’s be honest here. It was air. It is not in the same league as taking steroids, or killing someone. It is so insignificant that it warrants a $25,000 in the rulebook. Not four games, not a team fine or loss of draft picks. The whole thing was ridiculous.

I said to Kevin today that it’s been interesting to watch the internets go from total condemnation based on perception to realizing that maybe, just maybe, Roger Goodell overstepped. That maybe, just maybe this whole thing has been a major power play and ego trip for the commish. The definition of s-t-o-o-p-i-d.

The NFL filed the suit in New York thinking it would get a favorable outcome. It didn’t. Democracy won. Bill Belichick, the infamously sourpuss coach of the Patriots, started a meme last year: “do your job.”

Kim Davis: Do your job.
Roger Goodell: Do your job.
Don’t abuse your job.

All in all, it was a good day for democracy, though I guess it depends on who you ask.

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On today’s menu

by Lorin Michel Sunday, February 1, 2015 9:40 PM

On January 15, 1967, the Green Bay Packers played the Kansas City Chiefs and won. They also played in 1968, beating the Oakland Raiders. These games were the first between the best in the NFL, which had been around since 1920, and the fledgling AFL, which started in 1960. Eventually, the NFL became the governing body over the NFC and the AFC. Every year since 1967, which was the culmination of the 1966 season, two teams have met to play the rough, tough and mean game of football known as the Super Bowl.

We watch every year. Sometimes we watch alone, sometimes with just another couple. Sometimes we go to a party. One year we had a party. We had probably 20 people in the house to watch the New York Patriots lose by a field goal to the New York Giants. The house was rocking, the sound was up loud, pumped through all of the surround sound speakers. The next Sunday, the mirror that had been above the fireplace crashed down between Kevin and I as we were watching television. I don’t think it was because of the Super Bowl party, though I remember thanking dog that it hadn’t happened the week before when we had people sitting on the floor in what would have been the direct path of the mirror. Someone, literally, could have been killed. We haven’t had a Super Bowl party since.

I love the Super Bowl. I love football even though I know I probably shouldn’t since it perpetuates violence and injuries. Everybody loves football, including the players. We were watching Real Sports with Bryant Gumble on HBO the other night and he was profiling the 1985 Chicago Bears, the brash, wildly successful and popular team who also, coincidentally, beat my Pats. The Bears won the Super Bowl that year (played in January of 1986) but never got their White House welcome because just after, the space shuttle Challenger exploded on lift off. It was just a couple of months ago that members of that team, of Super Bowl Shuffle fame (which got to number 49 on the pop charts), got to go to the White House where they were celebrated by President Obama. It was fitting, since Obama is also a huge football fan, and from Chicago. Jim McMahon is in the early stages of dementia. William “the refrigerator” Perry can hardly walk anymore. Walter Payton is dead. It was a sad commentary on what happens after the greatness.

As much as I love football, and the Super Bowl in general, I think I almost love what’s on the menu for the game better. While Super Bowl Sunday parties are not official holidays, they have become de facto celebrations for everyone, even people who are not huge football fans. My mother, who never particularly cared about football but has come to love her Patriots (she, along with all of my family, live in New England), goes to a Super Bowl party every year. I think it’s great. They have pulled pork and potato salad and lots and lots of beer. My mother doesn’t drink beer, or much of anything for that matter. I assume she probably has her usual half of a half a glass of wine.

Interesting Super Bowl Sunday is the second largest day for eating in the country, clocking in right after Thanksgiving. Lots of booze is consumed as well. Places that deliver pizza see their numbers double. According to Wikipedia, roughly 60 percent of the take-out food ordered on Super Bowl Sunday is pizza. Also roughly 28 million pounds of chips are eaten, 90 million chicken wings are consumed and 8 million pounds of guacamole is scooped up.

We’re having chicken wings. I’m also making my world famous tuna dip, though I’ll be serving it with cucumber slices instead of chips. I’m trying to be a little healthy. We don’t drink beer but I suspect much wine will be consumed. And then the game will be over and someone will have won and I will either be elated or disappointed. Either way, I’ll have another glass of wine and move on, celebrating another season of cheering out loud.

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A culture of destruction

by Lorin Michel Sunday, January 25, 2015 9:53 PM

In the 21st century, because of the constant bombardment of 24-hour cable news and social media sites, of Internet news and more explicitly, Internet commentary, it has become perfectly acceptable to destroy first and ask questions later.

Something happens and our first instinct as a people is to find someone to blame. I can understand that. I believe it’s human nature. But there is also never any thought given to what is being done to people in the name of revenge.  We destroy and cast judgment. We convict people in the court of public opinion. There is no waiting on the facts. We are righteous. We have a keyboard and we’re not afraid to use it to ruin someone just because we can. It doesn’t matter if evidence comes in to eventually exonerate someone. By then, the damage has been done.

Last year, the US rescued soldier Bowe Bergdahl who had been held captive in Afghanistan for five years. People painted him as a traitor, saying he didn’t deserve to be rescued; saying he had deserted his post and had joined the Taliban. Never mind about leave-no-man-behind, the bedrock principle of the military since about the beginning of time. Someone said something at sometime and the media took it and ran with it. Turns out, he wasn’t a traitor. But the damage was done.

The several people originally implicated in the Boston marathon bombing, like Sunil Tripathi, and the “Saudi man,” a 20-year-old man injured in the explosion, were denounced as terrorists. Their names and faces appeared all over the news and social media. People threatened them. They were later proven to have never really been suspects. But the damage was done.

In our current culture, it is permissible to tar and feather someone or a bunch of someones based on absolutely no factual evidence whatsoever. Everyone gloms on and the damage is done.

Several days ago, I didn’t know how to feel about what is being called “Deflate-gate.” I know how to feel now. I’m pissed. This has reached a fever pitch and it seems like much ado about not very much.

The whole country has convicted the patriots and Tom Brady based on little to no evidence. The supposedly 11 deflated footballs, found to be 2 pounds – 2 pounds – under the approved pressure was proof that they had cheated. Never mind that 2 pounds of PSI weighs about the same as a single dollar bill and might be difficult to decipher. Belichick held a press conference, and because he said that his quarterback would know and say more later, the meme became that Coach Hoodie had thrown the Golden Boy under the bus. There was obviously something very rotten in the borough of the Fox.

When Brady held his own press conference later in the day, he was sufficiently contrite. But he didn’t admit wrong-doing. He didn’t look the right way. He didn’t say the right thing. He didn’t stand there and say “I did it.” So he was obviously and completely guilty. Guilty I tell you. String ‘im up.

This whole ridiculous scenario reached a fever pitch by Friday. Don’t get me wrong: If it is found that they intentionally deflated footballs, fine. Level punishment. A fine, a draft pick. Whatever. But these people who are calling for them to be thrown out of the Super Bowl, for them to be suspended, fired. For there to forever be a scarlet letter on their blue jerseys, well, it strikes me a bit as pearl clutching and bring me my smelling salts.

But. Rules!

Give me a break. There are plenty of rules that are broken on the field of play every time there is a game.

Holding. Rule 12, article 4, article 6.

Roughing the passer. Rule 12, article 9.

Roughing the kicker. Rule 12, article 10.

Illegal block to the back, face mask, pass interference, unsportsmanlike conduct. All in Rule 12, which is the set of NFL rules that governs conduct on the field.

They are rules. They are broken all the time. No one screams for anyone to be suspended or to forfeit the game. There are penalties, if someone is caught, and they are enforced.

Read them all here: http://static.nfl.com/static/content/public/image/rulebook/pdfs/15_2013_Player_Conduct.pdf 

Here is the entire book: http://www.nfl.com/rulebook

This is serious but Brady didn’t beat his wife, he didn’t beat his kids, he wasn’t cruel to his dog. So far there is no concrete evidence of anything other than footballs were found to be deflated. How that happened has not yet been ascertained, and according to Mike Florio on Pro Football Talk, there was only 1 ball that was 2 pounds of pressure under. The others were maybe a pound. And there is still no evidence that it was done deliberately. But let’s lynch them, let’s tar and feather them. Let’s ban them from the sport forever.

Why do we feel such a need to destroy? Why do we hate so much? It makes me sad; it makes me furious.

Last summer, Kevin and I were on the motorcycle and stopped at a light. I had on a Brady t-shirt. A car pulled up next to us. The window came down in the back. There was a little boy, maybe 2 or 3 at the most, in a car seat. He was saying something to us that I couldn’t quite hear. His dad rolled down his window and proceeded to tell me that the little boy hated Tom Brady. The little boy. I was so shocked I didn’t know what to say. Why do people feel they have the right to ridicule another person? Why would a parent teach a child that it’s OK to say something nasty to a perfect stranger because that stranger thinks differently?

I’m pissed.

What’s to celebrate? There are, here and there, the beginnings of sanity, those who are saying something similar. See Mike Florio on PFT, or Pete King on ESPN’s MMQB. Let’s see what happened and then let’s level an appropriate fine if wrong-doing is found to have taken place. Key words: Appropriate fine.

But can we all, please, collectively, chill the f$^% out?

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I don’t know how to feel

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:28 PM

Friends and family know what I big football fan I am, in general and of the Patriots in particular. There are other teams I like, of course. I like the Bears because of marriage. I never thought one way or another about them other than when I disliked them intensely in 1985. That was the year they demolished my Patriots in the Super Bowl. It was embarrassing.

I like the Green Bay Packers, the New Orleans Saints. I don’t usually mind the Seahawks. I used to love the 49ers but I haven’t for a long time. Most teams I don’t care particularly one way or the other about. I like to see good plays and to watch good games. There are teams I dislike intensely, but I have friends who like them so I usually refrain from dissing. I don’t find it necessary, and I think it would border on mean. People are entitled to who they like without others continually telling them how horrible that like is. That’s my philosophy, in sports and politics.

I realize there are many out there who would and do say bad things about the Pats. They’re arrogant; they’re thugs. Whatever, and I get tired of it. It’s football. It’s a turf war in every sense of the word. We take sides, just like in politics. We like and we dislike based on preference and history and geography.

So I don’t know how to feel today, finding out about the 2 pound deflation of the footballs used in the AFC championship game against the Colts on Sunday. Everyone, including the Colts, say that the underinflated footballs had nothing to do with the blowout win. The Colts simply didn’t play well. That’s not the point. The point is that rules were broken and as Viper so stoically informed Maverick and Goose in Top Gun “(Top Gun) rules exist for a reason. They are not flexible; nor am I.”

When I first read this, my first thought was give me a break. It didn’t make any sense at all. It seemed like haters just finding another way to hate. Yes, I know there’s history of the Pats cheating – I remember the spying scandal – but I’m not naïve enough, and I doubt most people are, to believe that other professional sports teams don’t stretch the boundaries. It’s sports. It’s about money. It’s about winning. Hopefully it’s done legally; if we push a bit, and don’t get caught, so be it.

But I don’t really believe that. I tend to be more on the side of Viper.

Part of me is still wondering what the big deal is. A slightly underinflated football is simply easier to grip. It doesn’t necessarily make it more on target to the receivers, or ensure that the receivers will catch the ball. It certainly doesn’t have any bearing on running the ball.

I saw an interview with Mark Brunell this morning who said that he, too, liked a slightly less inflated ball. Others have said the same. Brad Johnson used underinflated footballs when he and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won Super Bowl 37. Matt Leinart tweeted this morning that every team tampers with the footballs and that this is ridiculous!! (His exclamations, not mine) Aaron Rodgers has said that he likes his footballs over-inflated and that the refs have often let air out in order to be compliant. It’s not just the Patriots, in other words.

But that doesn’t matter, and it’s not my point. The old saying “if everybody else jumped off a bridge, would you?” comes to mind. There was a rule, for a reason, and the rule was broken.

I think it’s kind of a ridiculous rule. It really doesn’t have an outcome on the final points, or if it does, I haven’t seen how. There isn’t a single football expert disputing the fact that the Patriots won. The only ones disputing it are the haters. And boy, do they hate. It always amazes me, the vitriol people are capable of.

But the Pats broke the rules, and I don’t know how to feel. I’m disappointed and sad. I’m disgusted because I don’t know what the point was. I’m irritated because they’ve ruined the elation I felt at them making it to the Super Bowl. This whole situation has left me unable to cheer wildly. But they’re still my team. I have to want them to win, and I do.

If they win, people will say it’s because they cheated. If they don’t win, people will says it because they couldn’t cheat. It’s no win either way.

I don’t understand the need to cheat. They’re a great team, filled with amazing talent on both sides of the ball. They’re coached by good coaches. Why?

So I don’t know how to feel. I suppose it’s a good thing that I can’t be so blinded by team loyalty, that I can recognize that this isn’t a good thing. It’s not a huge thing, but it is a thing. But I’m sad when I should be cheering it out loud.

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It’s not the seein’, it’s the bein’

by Lorin Michel Monday, January 19, 2015 9:21 PM

I don’t have a bucket list. I have things I want to do but most of them don’t seem urgent. I rarely use the phrase “before I die” as in “I want to go to Nice, France before I die.” I wonder when it becomes necessary to have a bucket list? I wonder if it becomes necessary? All of this came up this morning as Kevin and I contemplated getting out of bed. We knew we had to eventually but getting out of bed meant going to work and neither of us were ready start the day and thus the week. Instead, we were talking about the Super Bowl.

On February 1, as everyone now knows, the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots will face off in Phoenix. I had mused months ago about how much fun it would be to go if the Pats made it to the show. It’s only an hour and a half up the road after all. And it’s the Pats, my favorite team ever since we moved to New England when I was just 16. I hadn’t ever looked into actual tickets which begs the question: was I really serious? Perhaps I was merely being superstitious. If I looked at tickets too early I would somehow jinx my team. Because I have that much power.

We looked last night after the blowout win over the Colts. The minimum price we saw, through reputable sites, was nearly $2700 each. For seats up in the clouds. $5400. In order to say that yes we were there. In order to be part of the melee and mayhem. In order to wait in line for the restroom. To pay outrageous amounts of money for a beer and a hotdog. To get a program. Maybe a t-shirt.

I don’t know how much money I’d spend to go to the Super Bowl to see my team. But it won’t be $5400. Or more. Maybe $2000. But probably not. It just seems like an awful lot of money to spend, even to see the Patriots. Money that could be better spent on things for the house, like new patio furniture that will last longer than the couple of hours of the game.

Plus the house has more comfortable seats, no wait-time in any of our three bathrooms, quick fridge access for more than beer. No hotdogs, but that’s OK because I’m not a big fan of hotdogs in general. It’s also much easier to watch it on the big screen in the living room. We can see more.

That’s not really completely the point said Kevin as he slung his legs over the side of the bed. Cooper got up on cue, stretched and then shook his fur into place, rattling his tags.

What is the point then? I asked, snuggling further under the covers. It was cold out there in the world and I wasn’t ready to face it.

It’s not the seein’, he said, pulling on a sweatshirt. It’s the bein.’

In other words, part of going to the Super Bowl isn’t necessarily seeing the game because if you’re in the altitude-sickness seats, you won’t see it very well anyway. It’s the experience. The cheering crowds. The loud music. The jumbo tron showing the latest replay. The stompin’ and shoutin’ and wonderin’ who’s going to win.

It’s not the seeing. It’s the being. Isn’t that the case with everything?

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live out loud

I have come to terms with the fact that I will never look like Gisele Bündchen

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, December 31, 2014 5:44 PM

It’s the last day of 2014 and you know what that means. Tomorrow is Lorin’s annual and official de-Christmasing. But as I have this last day to muse and mull, I thought I would share a little something that has gradually occurred to me. I am no longer 35. Yesterday was my birthday, and I haven’t been 35 in actually quite some time. But I use 35 as a metaphor. When I was 35, I was at my physical best. I was tall and thin, still running so I was in great shape. I could slip into my old 501 jeans and have them look spectacular.

I haven’t been able to wear those jeans in a while now though they still hang in my closet because I remain hopeful. I have aspirations.

But I will never be 35 again. I am now safely in my 50s and I am actually very OK with that. I am beginning what many have come to term the more ideal second phase of life. This isn’t to say or even imply that the first phase was un-ideal. In fact, quite the opposite. The first phase saw me get an education and embark on a career that I loved and miraculously still do. It allowed me to appreciate my family. It gave me the opportunity to make real, true, and lasting friends. It gave me my first husband to show me exactly what I didn’t want in a marriage, and thus gave me my favorite husband, Kevin who in turn gave me Justin. And Maguire. And now Cooper. The first phase was the time of my life where I began.

The second phase is the time when I enjoy. Justin is out of school and making his own living. We are now at the time in the parents-child relationship when he actually likes talking to us. When there is no agenda, just love, laughter and joy. It was a long time coming. I’m glad it’s here.

It’s a time when we have reinvented ourselves, picked up our lives and moved to a new city with a new culture, where we can spend time rediscovering things that we like. Art galleries. Restaurants. Sitting by outside fireplaces listening to nothing but music. Watching a house get built on a hill. Meeting new people. Engaging with those our own age. Being unapologetic for it and embracing this second phase as opportunity. Opportunity to live differently and possibility to change because we can. And did.

It’s a time to also realize that 50 is the new best age. We don’t look like we did at 35. We have more lines. Things sag that didn’t used to. Things don’t fit the way they once did. Hair is thinner, for both men and women. But it’s all OK. Because it’s real and true and honest and life.

I titled this post “I have come to terms with the fact that I will never look like Gisele Bündchen.” The fact is, I bet Gisele Bündchen, also known as Mrs. Tom Brady and the highest earning super model in the world, probably doesn’t always look like her magazine-self either. She’s pretty; makeup and hair and clothing and Photoshop make her stunningly gorgeous. But she’s 32. I wonder how she’ll look and feel at 53.

I was perusing the internet earlier, just bouncing around as I often do between projects. It’s how I cleanse my creative palette. I came across something entitled “GQs Sexiest Women of 2014.” Naturally I clicked. I’ll tell you about it so you don’t have to look yourself. It was filled with what men seem to think women actually look like. Most of them were women probably in their early 20s who had lithe, ridiculously hairless bodies that they showcased readily, squirming in the sand, writhing on satin sheets, all sex and foreplay. There were only a few whose names I even recognized, like Lizzy Caplan, Rashida Jones, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the latter of whom is also 53. She will never look like Gisele either and I suspect she, too, is just fine with that. It’s called acceptance, and reality. And being OK with who you are, without Photoshop.

As we wrap up 2014, I hope that some of you, too, have decided that this next phase of life will be one of wonder and fun, love and laughter, and yes, beauty. And that when you look in the mirror, you’re OK with the person looking back because that person is truly worth celebrating, this day, this night and always.

The clouds look like it’s gonna snow

by Lorin Michel Sunday, November 16, 2014 7:01 PM

It was 41º here this morning. Cold and cloudy. The sky was filled with thick clouds that were white on top, heavy on the bottom. They wouldn’t do anything other than keep the temperature down. It’s not ready to rain and it’s definitely not going to snow. This last didn’t stop my husband from proclaiming just that as we left the house to walk the dog.

And he was right. In other parts of the country, this kind of cloud formation often leads to snow. He’s from Chicago where 41º at this time of year can be downright balmy. When the clouds form and the temperature drops, the air cuts through you like a knife, slicing into your bones. I’ve been to Chicago in the winter, been to Soldier Field for a football game in white out blizzard conditions where the kick-off temp was minus 21º and the field was covered in snow. True football weather. Bear weather as the fans call it. Not that it often matters as the Bears, unfortunately, often lose regardless of the weather conditions. The myth of cold, snowy, truly horrific conditions benefiting their play is just that.

I’m reminded of the Christmas song that begins “Oh, the weather outside is frightful.” For Christmas song aficionados out there, you’ll recognize that as the opening riff for Let it snow.

Snow behind the house, in the foothills, last winter

It is snowing in Chicago today and the Bears are losing as I write this. The Patriots are in Indianapolis tonight, and it is supposed to snow there, too. Let it snow. Oak Park is blustery but still on its way to 70º. In the Old Pueblo, where it has been known to snow, it is on its way to maybe 63º.

The air is flowing through the open window. The sun is beating back the clouds but it’s still cool. Most of the clouds have settled over the foothills where they’re casting ominous shadows, flattening the rocks. I’m always fascinated by the way light plays with a landscape. I supposed it’s also what fascinated landscape painters. The way the light changes depth and perception. The way sunlight can be both warm and cold. The way clouds can both dampen and enhance a scene. The way the eyes adjust. The way the sky can recede and come forward at the same time.

It’s not going to snow here today. Occasionally a cloud will break away from the hills and blot out the sun. The temperature will seem to drop but it won’t really. Not until the gray of the late afternoon comes back, not until night falls.

“The clouds look like it’s gonna snow.” That’s what Kevin said to me this morning as he came in with a cup of coffee, as the dog snored in his bed, as the cool air flooded the bedroom

“I don’t think so,” I said, accepting my coffee with a thank you.

But we can always dream. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

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