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.

Sports bars and such

by Lorin Michel Monday, August 4, 2014 9:50 PM

My dad was a sports fan. It was long a source of contention between he and my mom because he watched them all. Baseball season rolled into football season rolled into basketball season. In between there was hockey and golf and tennis and whatever else that involved athletic endeavors. He would lie on the couch or sit in his recliner and watch for hours. He never seemed to show a lot of emotion; never seemed to be overly invested in one team over another. He used to say that he just liked to watch a good game.

He wore out many a recliner. He also wore out the relationship between he and my mom.

My brother likes football and golf. Not sure he cares much about anything else. My mother has finally started watching football though she only watches it sometimes, and especially the playoffs. She goes to a Super Bowl party every year and for the most part dreads it. She usually brings cream puffs. My sister likes football and anything the kids are involved in. Shawn is currently playing lacrosse; Caden kicks around a soccer ball.

I love football. Occasionally I’ll watch a game in the World Series, and usually only the last one. I never watch basketball. I like a little bit of hockey, and some tennis. I like Indy car racing.

I love all football but naturally I’m particularly fond of my Patriots. If I had to pick a second team, I’d go with the Bears. I have no choice because I married a guy from Chicago. Never mind that the Bears wiped the Super Bowl field with my Patriots in 1985. I’ve gotten over it. Really I have. I’m not at all bitter.

Several years ago, we went to Chicago in December to see a game between the Bears and the Patriots. The commentariate predicted a blowout by the Bears because the weather was bad. Snowing and cold. Because there’s never weather like that in New England. The Patriots wiped the field with them.

We wanted to go to another game, give the Bears a chance to redeem themselves. We wanted to go to New England for this one. There’s a game on October 26 at Gillette in Foxborough. Tickets went on sale at the end of July. I forgot all about it until my mom said something to me yesterday. Naturally, the game is sold out. Tickets are only available on ebay. Four in the nosebleed section were going for $1500 yesterday. Gulp.

The plan was this: Fly to New England on Thursday. Visit with the family Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, drive to Boston with Khris and John, see the game inside Gillette Stadium, then stay in Boston on Sunday night and fly back home on Monday.

Now the plan is this: Fly to New England on Thursday. Visit with the family Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, drive to Boston with Khris and John, see the game inside CBS Scene, then stay in Boston on Sunday night and fly back home on Monday.

That’s right. We’re talking Sports Bar, baby. The next best thing to being there, and sometimes even better than being there. In the case of CBS Scene, the three-story sports bar is on Patriots Place at Gillette. There are 145 televisions. You can watch the game while the game is live and do so inside where there’s food and beer, and better weather.

In addition to being a sports fan, I’m now a sports bar fan. I think dad would approve.

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Never too early to start thinking about football

by Lorin Michel Thursday, April 24, 2014 9:08 PM

I am a football fan. I know that has become a bit controversial of late, especially with the brutal and continuing injuries not to mention the sustained damage those injuries cause for the rest of the players' lives. I remember reading somewhere and years ago about a player trying to get out of bed in the morning and walk across the room. It’s a painful and horrific experience, their bodies racked with arthritis from the time they’re in their early 40s, having already long retired. It has stayed with me. It's a brutal sport and I cringe when I see hits like the one the Browns’ TJ Ward threw at Rob Gronkowski took last season, the one that blew out his knees, tearing the ACL and the NCL on one.

Also Wes Welker, I'm looking at you for the hit on Aqib Talib. Wessie, Wessie, Wessie. I hardly knew ye.

But I remain a fan regardless. I scream and yell at the TV. I stand in the middle of the room and hold my breath during much of a Patriot's game.

Several years ago, Kevin and I went to Chicago in December specifically to see my Patriots battle his Bears at Soldier Field. It was the second time we had traveled to Chicago in December for a football game. Los Angeles doesn't have a football team. We don't like San Diego and we never thought too much about going up to San Francisco. We both like the 49ers, though less so now because we're not fans of Jim Harbaugh, the coach. We remain committed to the teams of our youth. His Bears and my Pats. Notice the ownership. They belong to us.

The first time we went I don't think we were even married yet and I surprised him with tickets for his birthday (which is December 8). It was Bears vs Bills. Chicago won.

In the game against the Patriots, the Pats wiped the field with da Bears. Whiteout conditions. Couldn't hardly see the field. -23º at kickoff. Final score 35 to 7. It was an amazing experience.

We have never been to Foxborough, otherwise know as Gillette Stadium, the home field for the Patriots. The 2014 schedule was announced today, or at least today was when I found it. On October 26th at 1 pm, Bears at Patriots. I immediately texted my sister: If we come, will you and John go to the game with us?

Her response: Hell, yes!

Tickets don't go on sale until July. I already have it in my calendar. If we can get tickets, we'll fly in Thursday, spend Friday and Saturday with my family in New Hampshire. On Sunday we'll go to the game, then head into Boston where we'll spend the night and fly out the next morning. That's the plan. If we can get tickets. Fingers crossed.

Because it's never too early to start thinking about football and celebrating the idea of seeing a rematch between my Pats and his Bears. We'll be screaming it out loud at Foxborough and enjoying every minute of it, regardless of the weather and regardless of who wins. We're already ready for some football. Are you?

A sucker for da Bears

by Lorin Michel Sunday, September 8, 2013 10:29 PM

As anyone who is not living on another planet knows, today was the first official Sunday of the football season. Naturally, my team was not on any of the national games and when that happens, I follow it on NFL.com, largely because I’m cheap and won’t pay the ridiculous amount of money to get the NFL network, or even to get the audio. I love my Patriots but not that much. I suppose some could argue that I’m not much of a fan, but I beg to differ. I follow it; I cheer. It’s just easier on my blood pressure to not always have to watch.

The other team we follow closely in Chez Michel is the Chicago Bears, affectionately known as da Bears. They were the early game on CBS today, against the Bengals, fulfilling two thirds of the famous Wizard of Oz intonation: lions and tigers and bears, oh my.

I always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with the Bears largely because of the way they decimated my Patriots back in the 1985 Super Bowl. That was, of course, the year of the Super Bowl Shuffle. It was arrogant and as it turns out, prescient. They destroyed my Pats 46 to 10. Sad, that.

I didn’t have Kevin at that point but the Bears had a thuggish style that you had to admire as a football fan even if I didn’t particularly cheer them on. That all changed when I met Kevin who hails from Chicago. As a Chicagoan, he exerts his dog-given right to bitch and moan and kvetch about his beloved team every time they’re on. I have come to understand that this is how all Chicago fans behave. It is how they roll in the Windy City. Bears are up by 21 with three minutes left in the game? They’ll find a way to screw it up. A good play is met with howls of yeah but what about the next pass. It’s like they set themselves up to be failures just in case.

I asked Kevin once why the Bears are so beloved and so reviled at once. He tried, valiantly, to explain:

“It’s because they almost always suck. But they’re our suck.”

I wasn’t sure how to take that. He explained further:

“The Halas family is cheap and won’t pay good money to hire marquee players. So we have to put up with it and we love our Bears but we don’t love the management style.”

The Halas family refers to the descendants of George who purchased the team in 1921 from the A. E. Staley starch company for $100, thus beginning the era of cheap. Halas was also their coach for a number of years. He retired in 1967 and when he died in 1983, he left controlling interest, or 80% of the team, to his eldest child Virginia Halas McCaskey. She’s 90 years old and according to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, the McCaskey family – the heirs to George Halas – intend to maintain ownership and control of the Bears franchise for the foreseeable future.

The Bears do occasionally luck onto a good player. They currently have a decent quarterback in Jay Cutler. They have the amazing Matt Forte, as long as he’s healthy. And they, along with their teammates, fill Soldier Field for every home game, regardless of the weather. To this I can attest since we were there several years ago for a game in early December when da Bears were hosting the Patriots. We watched the pre-game stuff from the hotel. The weather was horrific; white-out blizzard conditions and Soldier Field is an outdoor stadium. The announcers were all saying how the weather favored the Bears, as if there was no way the Patriots, from New England, could handle the snow. We went to the stadium, which was packed, and watched the Pats demolish the Bears, 35 – 7. Payback. I felt vindicated.

Today, the Bears, who still wear a GSH on their sleeves, for George S. Halas, beat the tigers. I was cheering them on every yard of the way. Because I’m a sucker for the constantly down on its luck team from my favorite city.

Celebrating da Bears win today. Of course, they’ll probably lose next week.

See? A true fan.

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