Monthly Archives: January 2017

ESPL Week 4: The Race Tightens

coveresplAfter the highest scoring week we’ve ever seen, things start to tighten up as the braggadocios clubs were somewhat quieted and the top of the table gets much more of a race early in this season. We’re only in week 4 and the defending champion Gothica is sitting high atop of the table. If they’re this consistent and this hard to keep from the top of the table at week 4, how hard will they be to keep out of the championship race as the season continues? Let’s see what happened and get to the action!

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“The most important part of any season is getting a good start,” said Martin Thomas, ESPL commentator. “If you get an early start, if you run into trouble later in the season, you can always recover. If you start off in a bad place, you’re chasing the whole season and very few clubs can ‘chase’ all the way to a championship. Historically speaking, I’d say that if you look at the table ‘as is’ in week 4, the clubs from Allen FC and down have no chance at being the ESPL champions this year.”

“We are really too early to call anyone winning at this point,” said David Archer, ESPL commentator. “I think that the field is still wide open but I have to agree with my colleague, historically speaking no one from Allen FC down is going to bring home the trophy. I look at the goal difference, which is why Gothica is currently on top, and if you have a negative number this early in the season, you’re not likely to be in the chase for the championship at the end.”

Wth every goal scorer of this week, we see that goals did not come easily. While some goals came early in matches, the goals were not easy to obtain and goalkeepers almost touched every single attempt, nearly derailing them. All the scorers for the week are James McDaniel (2 goals, Allen FC), Charles Alexander (1 goal, Allen FC), Jonathan Lucke (1 goal, Halo FC), Evander McDaniel (1 goal, Halo FC), Hogi Prince (1 goal, Halo FC), Scott Stennon (1 goal, Halo FC), Juan Hernandez (1 goal, Citrus LF), Edge Right (1 goal, Emerald United), Khan Galaxy (1 goal, Naval Armada), Norman Tavez (1 goal, Gothica), Simon Tarken (1 goal, Gothica), Guillermo Martinez (1 goal, Gothica), Bart Hathaway (1 goal, Queensdaisy), David Jansen (1 goal, Sporting Black Cats), Francisco Perez (1 goal, Real Olympia), David Lopez (1 goal, Tardis), Fuji Takei (1 goal, Tardis), Hadji Khan (1 goal, Shamrock Celtic), Shamus O’Mara (1 goal, Shamrock Celtic), Calvin Casey (1 goal, Wordsmiths), Carlos Marcos (1 goal, Shazam CM), Linke Rousseau (1 goal, Shazam CM), and Jared Son (1 goal, Shazam CM).

“We can talk about who scored, when they scored, and what the match looked like throughout,” said David Archer, ESPL commentator. “In the end, though, we’re looking at the same thing week after week, so we were asked to switch things up once in a while. Welcome to week 4.”

“The big winners of the week are obviously at the top of the table, Gothica,” said Martin Thomas. “They are really only the top club due to goal difference, but that is still enough to put them in the top. If the season ended today, they’d be the two time ESPL champions. The big losers of the week are Octagon, who have yet to do anything this season but lose.”

“Octagon have a leak that they need to fix because if they don’t, this isn’t going to be a good place for anyone playing or coaching there,” said Archer.

“The championship race last season was really about Gothica, Emerald United, Naval Armada, Shamrock Celtic, and Shazam CM reaching trying to one up each other,” said Thomas. “This season? Well, we’re quickly seeing a lot of the same clubs fighting for the top spot, but Halo is making a play for being in that mix, though I don’t think that we’ll see all five of last year’s clubs in the top five spots this year. Gothica, Emerald United, and Naval Armada are really the clubs to watch for the championship this year. Shazam CM and Shamrock Celtic have a lot to prove but I believe their efforts are going to fall short.”

“I think that Celtic doesn’t want to admit it, but losing Patrick Barnes makes Armada that much better and they really need someone to take his place,” said Archer.

“What about the new clubs, David?” asked Thomas.

“Well,” said Archer, “Tardis is sitting in seventh on the table right now and the other three new clubs are occupying three of the bottom four spots in the league. If we look at what they’re doing differently, Tardis really isn’t worrying about being scored on when they’re on the pitch, they’re looking to do their own thing and push forward. There are big names on each of the new clubs but only Tardis has seemed to figure out how to coalesce while the other three are metaphorically running into each other on the pitch.”

“This is turning out to be an exciting looking season and we’ll be more than happy to get back to our regular format, as well as trying other new formats in the future,” said Thomas. “Until next week, we’ll see you here on Emerald Specter.com.”

Emerald Specter 33: A Story In Everything

I’ve thought about making this particular column about a great many things, I’ve started and deleted several drafts… some that dealt with political climate things, some that dealt with “President” Trump, some that dealt with religious organizations, and I ended up deciding to look inward for a more solid topic. Don’t think this is necessarily all about writing, though that is definitely addressed.

Since starting my bullet journal, and getting that second session of writing my “fiction” in, I’ve been champing at the bit to get back to writing that particular story. The creative juices are flowing and they are building up… and need to be released. This is aided by the fact that I have done several personal “rules” to prevent my normal downfalls. Those rules are 1) no editing on the fly… that is for the END of the process, 2) there is no specified word count required, and 3) don’t start anything else until you’re done with that. Failing to follow those rules will get my ideas published on the Internet and there won’t be a point of writing them anymore.

My first session ran a whopping 200-500 words. I don’t remember the exact count but I do remember that when I was done I was slightly disappointed that I couldn’t seem to squeeze out any more than just that meager word count. My second session had me blasting out over 2,000 words and I wanted to write even more, but I stopped where I did so that I didn’t completely blow out all my energy in one sitting. Thankfully, that seems to have worked because sometime shortly after this column I’ll be sitting down for session three.

What’s my ultimate word count goal? Well, I don’t have one set up specifically, but I’m hoping to have a story longer than 50,000 words when I’m done. But enough about the fiction and progress, let’s get to the more general sense of this topic.

I’m an MMA fan. I follow the UFC (watching all of the PPVs, and a good chunk of the non-PPV events). I also follow ONE Championship (the Asian version of the UFC, they’re as big there as the UFC is here) as well as following Invicta FC (the only all female MMA organization). Something I’ve taken notice of in the past few months is that regardless of what the event is, they talk up storylines that aren’t necessarily there. The UFC is stellar at this, Invicta would be somewhat decent at it, and I can’t really say that ONE does anything like this but I don’t see a lot of the build up material with them, I really only get to see the event.

For example, Dominic Cruz was the UFC Bantamweight Champion defending against Cody Garbrandt. There was a lot of smack talk between the two of them and the UFC played that up, building a compelling narrative about the two of them fighting. Both of the fighters certainly played into that, something the UFC talent has been really good about doing, and we all got to see the “pay off” in the form of the fight… in which Cody Garbrandt won the Bantamweight Championship.

MMA has picked this type of thing up from professional wrestling, which is essentially modeled after their titan organization: WWE.

In the WWE, two wrestlers will be paired to square off against one another at a pay per view event finale. This may happen in a 30-day stretch, or be a much longer program (60-day, 6 month, 1 year, etc) but you’ll always get an ending and in more recent times that hasn’t always been satisfying… but WWE has been setting the standard for this type of promotion of “battles” since professional wrestling hit TV. While many people look at WWE as some sort of entertainment to be derided, you can’t fault them for creating stories.

If you take the same basic theory that the WWE, UFC, and so on create around fights, you can look at damn near anything and get a story out of that… some being more compelling than others. This type of wondering happens to me often enough that I’ve had to hold myself back from just randomly starting a writing project about something I think I can turn a super awesome story out of… get asked a random question at work about something? I can turn out a random life story item that makes me want to elaborate even further. See a car that looks like one I’ve owned, but in a little worse shape? What is the story of that car between when I owned it and when I next saw it (knowing full well it isn’t the same car)?

Something I’ve been tempted to do would be included in this column from sometime in the near future until I’m tired of writing about it. This will take a little setup to explain.

I’ve been involved in “creating a fictional backstory” at a couple of the jobs I’ve had. The choice to make them just believable enough to be true but totally not be true. My family, my actual blood relatives, haven’t always treated me with respect. This is so much so that I had to do some digging to find out if one of my grandparents recently died because I “had that feeling,” and I wouldn’t put them not telling me past any of them.

So, I’ve contemplated retelling my “origin story” to be something I’d be more proud of… something that ended where I’m currently at but have been more fun getting there. I’m toying with the idea of including a chunk of that story in each edition of the Emerald Specter column. It’s a writing exercise, first and foremost, but it would be fun to see what I can come up with that I would have rather done in life.

Wouldn’t that be a neat way to spend some time?

I already have writing this column on a schedule. I am going to reach high numbers and that means that I’ll continue to need topics. I may not always have a “1,000 word topic,” so having a little sub feature to help out would be a nice touch. In the cases where I can talk all day about something, that means the column would just be longer.

What do you think about that? Let me know.

Think on it.

ESPL Week 3: Scoring Extravaganza

coveresplIf you doubted that the ESPL is entering an era of unlimited potential, then you need to check out what just happened this past weekend. There was so much scoring, some wondered if this was American football. Let’s get to the action!

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The first thing that needs to be addressed is that last week, we erroneously posted a table with the header “Week 1” instead of “Week 2.” That was simply an oversight, we received plenty of feedback, and we have corrected the issue for Week 3.

The first match of the weekend was Gothica hosting Allen FC, and the reigning champions let everyone know immediately that they were looking to repeat as league champions by scoring six goals compared to only allowing Allen to score three. The visitors scorers were Patrick Tarken (13′), Shawn Rock (17′), and James McDaniel (77′). Gothica scored early and they scored often, including goals from Donovan Right (3′, 52′, & 56′), Simon Tarken (28′, 53′, & 54′), and Vaughn Terrell (85′). With two hat tricks, Gothica thought they would be the spotlight of the week, opening strong and finishing their opponents with definitive strikes.

“We weren’t messing around,” said Gothica team captain Simon Tarken. “Donovan and I both got hat tricks, we would have tried to get Vaughn one, too, but the clock just ran out of time. We are keeping this championship here and we are going to make sure that the road to being champions of the ESPL runs through Gothica.”

Then we saw the second match of the week.

Emerald United hosted Citrus LF and outscored the previous match by winning 8-3! Citrus scorers were Jean-Louis Pepon (26′), Nicolai Borloff (44′), and Kovali Anand (72′). The hosts kept up and really crushed Citrus towards the end of the match with goals from Dae Ho Park (4′ & 33′), Dzung Tran (8′ & 86′), Bill Lubiel (38′ & 42′), Edge Right (84′), and Trent Areonak (89′).

“We called the Citrus LF home office and asked if their club was going to show up for the match today,” said Trent Areonak, team captain of Emerald United. The media laughed. “In all honesty, though, they played well but our scoring really took their minds out of the game. We saw what Gothica did and decided we wanted to outdo them, so we did.”

Octagon hosted Halo FC in the third match of the week, with only Ghudra Nmamba (33′) scoring in this one. The home crowd was hostile towards the guests but that didn’t bother Halo as they worked towards their 1-0 final score.

One upsmanship didn’t stop with Emerald United, as Naval Armada hosted their 7-3 victory over Knightsquare set the high mark for the week at seven goals. Knightsquare scored via Freidrich Gunther (4′), Pedro Cruz (42′), and Claude Deveraux (46′) was their showing and wasn’t enough against the home side. Naval Armada had goals from Patrick Barnes (8′ & 91′), Yuri Petrikoff (40′), Alan Marquardt (54′), Matt Craven (66′), and Khan Galaxy (67′ & 87′).

“This squad is a championship squad and we are showing that every week,” said Horatio Antonelli, manager of Naval Armada. “We are undefeated, we have four of the best players in the league leading the way, and we are on top of the table at week 3. I think that we have a good chance to bring the championship to where it should have been last year, which is here at Armada.”

Did you think that was the best showing by a home side this week? You’d be wrong.

Shamrock Celtic, Patrick Barnes’s former club, outdid everyone this week by putting up a final score of 10-4 against newcomers Queensdaisy. The away side scored via Bart Hathaway (84′) and a hat trick from all star Shawn Alexander (29′, 41′, & 86′), who chose to come to a brand new club to be the anchor. Shamrock Celtic put in goals by Ron Terrell (2′), Marco Kaspazov (9′), Eric Stennon (40′), Keb Mogodai (47′), Arak Shemin (57′, 62′, 71′, 79′, & 91’… five goals from one player in one half), and Hadji Khan (74′). Team captain Arak Shemin scored five times in a single half, one shy of a double hat trick.

“Queensdaisy really put a focus on Shemin and Khan early in the match,” said Shamrock Celtic manager Ephraim Colton. “That opened up scoring opportunities for Terrell, Kaspazov, Stennon, and Mogodai that probably wouldn’t have been there. Arak was livid, though, and he wanted to drive home that he was not going to be denied and he almost scored a double hat trick on his own and dominated the second half of the match. Hadji mentioned that he was sorry to have stolen that one goal from Arak, who could have also put it in, but Arak said that no one should avoid the shot if they can take it. This is a team determined to show we were more than just one player who speaks loudly.”

Shazam CM hosted Real Olympia and ESPL fans were expected Shazam to up the stakes again with the scoring but were treated to more of a tactical battle as the clubs finished in a 2-2 draw. Real Olympia had scored via Francisco Perez (41′) and Louis Calipso (51′), while the home side scored via Taoufik Belbani (8′) and Carlos Marcos (28′).

“This was really a tough fought game,” said David Archer, ESPL commentator. “Shazam was expecting to be big talkers like the other clubs making waves this week but they came out and were really quiet in comparison. I don’t think this club can take the championship this year but they’ll not be rolled over, to be sure.”

Vulcan FC hosted Sporting Black Cats in another tactical masterpiece, with the hosts scoring the only goal (Jesse Davis at 12′).

“It’s nice to score the winning goal,” said Jesse Davis. “It’s unfortunate that I only had one goal, as it seems that scoring 3 to 8 times was the trend this week. Still, we got the win.”

The final match of the week was between Wordsmiths who hosted Tardis in the spotlight game of the week. The away side showed some weaknesses that Wordsmiths were all too happy to capitalize on. The home side were the only scorers as Wordsmiths scored via Russell Mantrell (12′), James Traceur (14′), Calvin Casey (22′), and Travis Trevors (32′ & 33′).

“There was a lot of talk about Tardis being the shining moment for expansion clubs,” said Jason White, team captain of Wordsmiths. “We shut them out, shut them down, and Travis even shored twice in two minutes. There is something to be said for established clubs.”

“I couldn’t have asked for more action than this,” said DJ Allen, owner and founder of the ESPL. “There was a lot of scoring, a lot of talk, and I’m interested in seeing where the league heads from here.”

Only time will tell.

Emerald Specter 32: Weather Sucks

Writing these words, I hear the howling of the wintery wind outside. I try to stay warm but there isn’t much that can be done as I hopelessly stare out at the white flakes being hurled through the sky. Some flakes impact on the neighboring condominium rooftop, other fly silently into the distance, never to be seen again by my eyes.

Trees without leaves are blown, side to side, by the impulsive and powerful wind. The force of the sky not common in this kind of way, normally knocking down trees and causing power lines to be broken with such ferocity that the sounds of explosions can be heard in the distance when transformers end their existence or lose their connections. There is a sadness that comes when this happens, but not during this time of year, as trees are frozen into place and the wind howls throughout the day.

An unspeakable horror, one that cannot be explained, has gripped the area in which I live. There is a blackness to the white, a blackness that is more evil and sinister because it cannot be seen as the white is. A gray, pale sky and the flying flakes or snow cause the whitewashed exterior of my home to lead me to believe I am in a prison.

I feel like I’m writing Lovecraft there.

So, for the second straight day, the weather is so bad that local authorities are requiring us to remain where we are, or at least stay off the roads unless you absolutely have to be out. If you are out on the Interstate or other highways, at this point, you are legally required to put chains on your vehicle or you could be fined. Let me write that again: legally required to have chains.

I’m from a place where what is happening right now, we really just call it “Tuesday.” This is, of course, not a Tuesday, but I’m seeing how terrible others are at preparing for winter weather. Portland isn’t the best prepared to battle the weather, as North Dakota is, but at least the accidents are mostly happening in the “transition weather,” when the wet turns into ice and people aren’t paying the closest attention.

There are literally vehicles upside down in ditches here, and I’m not even sure how to get a vehicle to do that unless you’re traveling at highly unsafe speeds, especially for the conditions.

Ideally, if I could, I would like in a bubble world. There wouldn’t be unruly wind, snow wouldn’t exist except exactly where we mean to put it (for, let’s say, skiing or snowboarding), and rain doesn’t pour down on you on your one day off a week that you’d like to spend outside doing something interesting.

We tend to forget the numerous days of good weather we enjoy when something like this snowy waste blows in. In North Dakota, the “doom and gloom” of winter is the better part of six months, and if you want to talk about being depressed, well… living in North Dakota, even with good weather, is depressing.

I am writing this, my second column in two days, because I’m sequestered in my home and unable to travel anywhere interesting that I’d planned to because the roads are not nice to be out on. I have looked ahead, because I am also working on this website’s schedule, and notice the numerous columns that I used to have that have long since been abandoned. I have wondered if I should resurrect them or not.

They were columns like Game Specter, where I discussed RPG style games… and I believe I could expand that to include board games as well, or even include the “once in a while” app games that I play (like Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes). I am contemplating putting that one back into rotation later in the year and we’ll see how I’m doing with all of my other things I’m doing as well as my bullet journalling.

Other columns were more self explanatory: UFC Specter (where I talked about the UFC events that were coming up… this one is difficult to do because in order to be timely, I’d have to write the column nearly real time, not write and set up for a future release), Ingress Intel (where I discussed the mobile game Ingress, long before Pokemon Go, that I haven’t really been playing much as of late), Chess Specter (where the topic was chess, and similarly to the UFC Specter, this one would have to be timely in the sense that chess also has events, but I could preload some stories that aren’t really related to the event circuit), Storytelling Specter (where the discussion was writing… but if I’m not writing, talking about writing seems a little silly), and of course you know I’m already bringing back SpecterFit (sans events). That was a lot and I was early writing what I could but I just couldn’t keep up with all of that.

What makes me think I can do it now?

Well, for one, weather sucks and when it does, I’m not going to go outside. That means I can write some columns. I also can write ahead of time (for those things that don’t need to be timely). For example, every day off I have has been designated as a writing day. Well, technically just Sundays, but because my bullet journal let me have a little more time to prepare and plan, that included a couple extra days to get ahead. If I can get far enough ahead on this one, and I can get a few columns written ahead enough to allow me time to “fumble through life,” then I can get the rotation back and in full swing again.

I keep referencing it, but I need to explain how useful the bullet journal has been. Yesterday, I had a long ass list of things to do and because I didn’t think they’d take too much time, I put them all on the same day. Well, having lived through yesterday and seeing how much I didn’t get done that didn’t require me to leave the house, I realize I overbooked the day. Lesson learned. I can work on that for future installments. That also means I can pre-plan things better and not overload myself with things so I can have some time to do other things… like record other bits of information that I am interested in keeping… like health stats, weather details, temperatures, and notes about what I did that specific day.

I should write my next column all about the bullet journal, I guess.

Until then, the weather sucks and I’m staying indoors.

Think on it.

ESPL Week 2: Movement

coveresplAs one would expect, there is plenty of movement on the table and we nearly had a draw free week. Let’s see what the week looked like and go in depth on the particulars.

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There was plenty of discussion over the past two weeks, that perhaps some of these epic matchups should be considered “derbys,” and those are under consideration. One that is a shoe in for being a derby is the Emerald United-Gothica matches, though some are arguing for others. The league will rule on them in time but pointed out that perhaps the fans should be the ones to decide the derby matches instead of the league.

Allen FC hosted Emerald United, with the visitors scoring at 47′ (Paco DeJesus) and 74′ (Edge Righte). There were a plethora of yellow cards handed out, mostly in the second half when things started to get moving for both clubs, but Emerald United won in the end with a 2-0 showing away.

“I don’t always have something to say,” said Trent Areonak, Emerald United team captain. “Sometimes I like to just sit back and let the feet do the talking. We did that today.”

Citrus LF hosted Gothica, with the visitors scoring at 53′ (Guillermo Martinez) and 79′ (Adam Stonewall) putting through the only two goals. Gothica’s 2-0 victory was never in doubt, even though there wasn’t a score in the first half at all.

“We didn’t really come on strong until the second half,” said Peter Stark, GM of Gothica. “I went into the locker room and rallied everyone up and told them that if they don’t start showing some effort, I’ll start selling players to second tiers of leagues they don’t want to play in. Two goals and I’m a happy camper.”

Halo FC hosted Naval Armada, with the visitors getting the only goal at 78′ (Yuri Petrikoff). This was a heated battle as three players were given double yellow cards, obvious each being booted for red cards. Halo suffered by the losses of Hogi Prince (54′) and Hector Cruz (69′), with Naval losing the services of Alan Marquardt (60′). Naval did win the day with the single goal of 1-0.

“All three of the cards were completely avoidable,” said Horatio Antonelli, GM of Naval Armada. “Prince and Cruz just kept pressing and pressing until they were booted and Marquardt is going to have some time to consider his overreaction at being scolded for that terrible tackle. He could have taken that poor boy out.” The reference was to Marquardt slide tackling Derric Stennon not once, but twice in the course of the full match.

Knightsquare hosted Octagon in the first home win of the week, with Knightsquare scoring at 38′ (Albert Styles) and 91′ (Freidrich Gunther), and Octagon only scoring once at 40′ (Josh Franklin). The quick answer to Knightsquare’s initial goal was to give everyone a reason to stand for the majority of this match. Chances were had by both sides and only in extra time did Knightsquare seal the win with the second goal for a 2-1 victory.

“Losing in week one wasn’t fun,” said Albert Styles, team captain for Knightsquare. “I wanted to make sure to put my best foot forward and step up for the club. We took the victory and we’re going to turn this thing around early so we don’t get anywhere near what happened last season.”

Queensdaisy hosted Shazam CM, with the visitors scoring the only goal at 48′ (Hoshi Tanaka). Most of the match was spent on the home side’s part of the field and Queensdaisy’s goal keeper, Cristiano Lopez, got quite the work out blocking all the chances.

“Lopez is a hell of a keeper,” said Taoufik Belbani, team captain of Shazam CM. “We kicked a lot of balls at him and he nearly blocked them all. That one that got through, though, that was all that really matters. We got one more than they did.”

Real Olympia hosted Shamrock Celtic, with the visitors scoring at 28′ (Keb Mogodai), 67′ (Arak Shemin), and 86′ (Simon Tavez) to definitively get a 3-0 win.

“Real wasn’t ready for this match,” said Ephraim Colton, GM for Shamrock Celtic. “We wanted to come in and make a statement but I thought they’d fight back a little harder than they did. We came in, punched the home side in the mouth, and simply took whatever we wanted to.”

Sporting Black Cats hosted Wordsmiths, with Sporting scoring at 2′ (Wade Wonder), 8′ (Avendale Borusa), and 79′ (Victor Khrushchev). Wordsmiths scored at 25′ & 29′, both from the foot of Jack Doyle.

“They gave us a run for our money,” said Avendale Borusa, Sporting team captain. “Wade and I scored, then Doyle scored twice. I couldn’t believe it. The second half and Victor stepping up really gave us the push we needed but this was a wake up call. I don’t want another close one like this at home against a club we aren’t supposed to have a problem with.”

Tardis hosted Vulcan FC to a 0-0 draw, with a few yellow cards handed out but otherwise not much in the way of excitement to report. Tardis, in only their second match, has now contended with two clubs they shouldn’t have had any business having a chance in.

“The league is growing and getting better,” said DJ Allen, ESPL owner and founder. “We’ve only have two weeks go by in the ESPL for our second season and I’m already evaluating the possibility of expanding again next year. Ideally, the league would be 16 to 18 clubs, and we’d have ourselves a second tier for promotion/relegation purposes, but this is a hell of a start. Tardis is already packing their stadium and this is the first year!”

Only time will tell, but there was a lot of movement in the table and things should start to stabilize for the rest of the season. Who will be contending for the title and who will be sitting at the bottom? Check next week for the next chapter in that saga!

Emerald Specter 31: Getting Your Act Together

I have gotten my bullet journal running for life in general and as I write these words, I’ve only been using it for the last seven days but I’m already seeing results. I’m not here to talk specifically about the bullet journal but I will be making reference to it throughout this column. This particular topic is about getting things together and what I’m working on (as I write this) today.

Part of my bullet journal, which I switched from a “website specific” journal to a “life in general” journal, is having a schedule of things that need to be done everyday. I utilize the ChronoDex that was invented at the linked website (mainly because I enjoy “coloring in accomplishments”), as well as a “this is what needs to be done today.” Something on the list today is “Outline Website Schedule.”

Yeah, I’m going to be working on a schedule.

I do not check my bullet journal’s schedule of what to get done every morning. I check it at night and when I set up the month of January, I prepopulated certain things for certain days. On days I work, for example, I have only the basics… because despite how much I want a super steady schedule, work likes to toss things into the fan from time to time. Then, on days off, I have other things that happen (for example, once a week or once every other week is a “go to Excalibur Comics,” which is where I have a pull list that has just enough on it to need to pick up multiple times a month). Basically, I know that if I have a day off (a rotating weekly day off plus Sundays), then I may want to check things to ensure I’m covering as much of what is on my list as possible. If I’m working, it’s basically the same couple of items because I can’t rely on having time for extra stuff… yet.

I say all that to say that because of this, I am getting things done. My house is getting kept cleaner because I’m involved in the helping of it (because I have added that to my lists). I also have a “habit tracker,” which means I get another reason to color in things and that encourages me to complete things more often. I’m a little geeky that way.

Now, shut up already about the bullet journal, right? Shoosh.

When I stated above that I’ll be outlining the website schedule, that will be for the entirety of 2017. I want to be able to schedule Greatest Show weeks off, schedule column releases, schedule project releases, and so on. You should be able to look at the schedule page and see that this week is a Greatest Show episode and maybe next week will be an off week. Will there be things that cause emergency scheduling changes? Perhaps, but those should be the except instead of the rule.

Speaking of the Greatest Show, my original hope was to have a weekly show that would produce 52 episodes a year, and with our added “Greatest Show Fight Series” episodes as well as other special episodes on the horizon, we’d get maybe 60-ish episodes out per year to catch up to where we should actually be right now. We should be around 195 or so instead of 109 (which is the next episode as I write this). When I came up with the concept of this schedule, and seeing how often we have to ditch the show, I see that we need to have weeks off for holidays, special events, and the like… in fact, unless there is something that gets dropped in our lap, we should be able to go to the schedule and see whether or not we planned this weekend off or not. It would also be nice for our viewers to see that, too.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Some holidays will be obvious “no show” weekends… July 4, Halloween, Christmas… others we may want to have off (birthdays, anniversaries, working that day, etc). If we can get a Greatest Show schedule going, I may even try adding tentative topics to that list so you can even plan to watch specific episodes!

There will be so much more on the website schedule, though. Like columns… not just this one, which I have been concentrating solely on until it is the highest numbered column I write, but columns in general. Those will also have weeks off, which won’t necessarily coincide with holidays and whatnot, but may be the result of taking a holiday or event day off and not writing. So, maybe I don’t write on July 4, but you won’t see the week skipped until August, for example. I want to be able to have shows and columns on this schedule, but not just those things…

The ESPL? Yep. Speaking of which, I may not be continuing this past 2018, but I’ve committed to doing a third season and I’m going to do that third season, which will take place in 2018. After that, I have to evaluate whether or not I want to continue this effort or make room for other things. If you’re reading this and you’re interested in jumping in on, or taking over, the ESPL, I’ll entertain anyone’s interest in the league. I’m even willing to continue making the logos and such, as that is really the reason I started the league in the first place.

Earlier in this column, I alluded to “other projects.” Well, part of my bullet journal was working in writing the fiction I’ve wanted to start writing for years. I’ve begun the writing, and I’ll be writing on that later today, too, so I can get through the first draft and get to writing a second draft (as well as editing) and figuring out a release schedule. If I can get that writing going on a regular basis, maybe I can get audio made of the novels and maybe even get multiple projects coming out a year… I can be the written fiction version of HBO! Let’s not get too ahead of myself, now.

Well, now I have filled out this column to my 1,000 word minimum, I’m going to go ahead and leave you with the knowledge that the very next thing I do is begin outlining the schedule. With luck, it’ll be up no later than February!

Think on it.

ESPL Week 1: Shocking and Solid

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There were some surprises in week 1, some clubs who fought hard but couldn’t reach their goals, and a minimal number of draws to open up Season 2 in a big way. Let’s get to the action!

Nate Havram opened the scoring up for Citrus LF in the 10′, showing that Citrus LF was not going to just roll over as the new club in town. Allen FC fought back with an equalizer by Patrick Tarken at 31′ to leave the half at 1-1. November Nstinga opened up the scoring for Allen FC with a goal at 55′, giving the home side an advantage. Kovali Anand equalized for Citrus at 83′, only to have the final goal of the match be put through at 87′ by Max Vice, securing the first win of the season for Allen FC.

“We wanted a bigger goal difference,” said Charles Alexander, Allen FC team captain. “We really wanted to make our mark in the first week, a statement, that would resonate throughout the league. We got the win but things were a lot closer than we’d hoped against a brand new club.”

“With a good showing from Citrus LF,” said David Archer, ESPL Commentator, “I think we can expect great things from all the new clubs in the league. This showed everyone that just because they’re new, it doesn’t mean they’ll be rolled over.”

The match of the week, by most people’s standards, was the first clash between Emerald United and Gothica in what would be a draw. Trent Areonak scored an early 7′ goal for the home side to give them an early advantage. When, at 40′, Bill Lubiel put through Emerald United’s second goal, some were quick to worry that Gothica would take a loss in their first game of the new season but Simon Tarken put through the response at 41′ to show the champions weren’t out of the game yet. In the second half, Simon Tarken scored again at 59′ to even the score and keep it even until the final whistle, giving us the first draw of the new ESPL season.

“That was a hum-dinger,” said Simon Tarken, Gothica team captain and only goal scorer of the day. The media laughed. “I can’t say that I’m disappointed, the referees let us really hammer each other. There were a couple of times both sides should have gotten cards but they just let us play on. If this is how strong we both are, I can’t wait to see the end of the season. I would have liked a hat trick to open up the season, too, but I’ll take what I can get.”

Halo FC hosted Knightsquare, opening up the scoring at 25′ with a goal from team captain Scott Stennon. They would add a second one to their list at 42′ when his brother, Derric Stennon, put one through the the defense for a solid goal. In the second half after Ghudra Nmamba scored the third one for Halo at 71′, energizing the away side to mount a comeback. Zane Faulken scored at 76′ and Pedro Cruz scored at 85′, bringing the total to 3-2. Their last goal was denied as Zane Faulken was called offsides at 90′, leaving the away club with a loss in the first week of the season.

“The amount of effort that Knightsquare pulled out at the end of the match was epic,” said Martin Thomas, ESPL Commentator. “We were used to seeing Knightsquare just sort of peter out at the end of a match but they actually poured on the effort at the end. It’s sad they have to start the season with a loss but I think they’ll do better than we’ve given them credit for if they can keep this up.”

When Naval Armada hosted Octagon, the home club wanted to make the statement that no other club could: and they proved they’re going to be a major player this year in the title race. Khan Galaxy scored the first goal for Naval at 12′, and Patrick Barnes (their new acquisition) scored the second goal at 24′ to give the home side a 2-0 lead. That lasted until Piotr Khrush scored at 34′ to give the new club one goal before the half ended. The second half scoring opened up with Naval’s Kenton Key at 55′ and Yuri Petrikoff at 56′ to give Naval an even wider lead. Patrick Barnes scored again at 74′, putting the game out of reach in most eyes but Octagon would not go quietly into the night. Boris Putin scored at 81′, Piotr Khrush scored again at 84′, and at 90′ Pierre Benoit scored the final goal of the game, leaving Octagon a goal short against a club that decidedly “gave up” towards the end but still pulled out the win.

“We could publish what Khan Galaxy or Patrick Barnes said,” said David Archer, ESPL Commentator. “They took a strong lead and could have held on to that for the full time but seemed to roll over in the second half, cruising instead of pushing. Octagon is a new club, Naval is one of the top four clubs in the league, if they can’t bury a new club then can we really believe they’ll be chasing the title this year?”

“Their second half was embarrassing,” said Martin Thomas, ESPL Commentator. “Khan Galaxy is considered the best player in the league, but he only got one goal. Patrick Barnes, the golden child, is only credited with two goals in this one. The pair of them on separate teams could mount unbelievable numbers but together I am underwhelmed by their performance today. There is so much they should be doing and scraping by with a single goal difference is embarrassing.”

Real Olympia visited Queensdaisy and wanted to make a statement of their own, that the logo controversy is nothing to pay attention to because the “original” is better. Tim Bailey scored in the 2′, quieting the home crowd immediately. Sam Wells scored again for Real at 9′, making the opportunity for Queensdaisy to rise up look bleak. The home club didn’t roll over, in the tradition of all new comers this first week, they fought back. Tom Johnson scored the last goal of the first half for Queensdaisy at 12′. The second half saw only a single goal from Shawn Alexander at 82′, to leave the score in a 2-2 draw.

“I’m not going to come to a new team and just let them fall over in the first week,” said Shawn Alexander, Queensdaisy team captain. “They punched first, hard, and we punched back. In the end, they held us to just two goals, meaning they’re good defensively. I think the idea that all the new clubs aren’t going to make a mark this season just because they’re all new is being dispelled real quick.”

Shamrock Celtic hosted Shazam CM and the visitors struck first by Carlos Marcos scoring a goal at 36′. Hadji Khan equalized at 41′ for Celtic, but Shazam had an answer for that as Linke Rousseau scored at 45′ to close out the first half. Linke Rousseau scored his second of the day at 78′ to open the second half, then scored the hat trick at 82′ just two minutes before Hadji Khan got his second of the day at 84′. The game ended at 4-2, giving Shazam CM their first win and a big statement that the away clubs won’t be rolled over, either.

“I’m happy to say we went on the road and pulled out a solid victory,” said Taoufik Belbani, Shazam CM team captain. “Linke got a hat trick and we’re pleased to be the league leaders right now. It’s early but there is no reason to lie down.”

Sporting Black Cats hosted Tardis in the second to last match of the week. Tardis opened up the scoring at 24′ by David Lopez, causing the home crowd to go nearly silent. At 27′, Wade Wonder scored an equalizer, giving the Sporting crowd some hope. That hope started to fade in the second half as at 49′ Juan Avilaperez put one into the net, followed by Jorge Jimenez at 72′, and Jorge Jimenez again at 89′ to give Tardis the 4-1 win.

“Everyone see the exclamation at the end of this sentence?” asked Juan Avilaperez, Tardis team captain. “Tardis is here. Top of the table.”

The final match of the week was between Vulcan FC and the visiting Wordsmiths, newly rebranded. Hector Rodriguez scored the first goal of the night, for Vulcan, at 35′, answered by Wordsmiths at 44′ by Calvin Casey. The second half saw two goals, both from Wordsmiths, at 55′ by Russell Mantrell and 87′ by Jack Doyle.

“We have a shiny new look,” said Jason White, Wordsmiths team captain. “Sometimes a shiny new look gives everyone a little energy to go out and win some games. We got three, they got one, and we believe that we should have gotten more but we’ll have plenty of time for that.”

There was plenty of action in this week and we’re looking forward to seeing more from the league as time moves forward. Looking forward to next week!

Emerald Specter 30: Tradition

The title of this one is simple, to the point, and something that bothers me. I’ll be talking about a few examples and I’ll be telling you why I think tradition is fairly ridiculous.

When you think of “tradition,” what pops into mind? The choosing of a homecoming king and queen? The rituals of an annual nature (like getting together for a specific Christmas time event)? Celebrating an annual event that doesn’t really affect a vast majority of people (like the passing of a local hero, celebrating a town historical event, or the end of some battle that happened)? Actually, all of these things could be considered tradition, but in most cases, the word “tradition” is tacked onto these things to prevent people from making changes to them.

We advance, evolve, and grow so we must also change the things we do in order to keep from becoming irrelevant.

Within the past year, a high school in Oregon eliminated the selection of a Homecoming King and Queen because the ritual excluded many of the new identities that people are choosing. While I do not necessarily agree with the 6.3 billion different identifiers that have popped up in the last few years, I do agree that their decision to remove the tradition of something in order to reflect what they currently believe is important.

When I personally hear someone tell me that something can’t be changed due to that thing being a tradition, I immediately believe that my thoughts and ideas are considered invalid by the person making that statement. Why do I need to be bound by something someone created 50, 100, or 500 years ago that can easily be “updated” to reflect a more modern sensibility? If we keep ourselves bound by the decisions of people you’ve probably never met, then we won’t ever get to create anything new. Progress stops in this scenario.

You might be thinking to yourself that you believe traditions should be upheld, brought forward, and observed for the rest of your natural life. You might be thinking you like your Christmas tradition that was passed down from your great great great great great great grandfather of eating a cookie right before bedtime to ensure you observed the wonderful efforts of Santa. You might think that your high school’s tradition of stringing up a pair of the principal’s underwear on the flagpole, which has happened every year for the past 75 years, is imperative for the future.

I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong… mostly.

I attended a high school that had the senior class haze the freshman class every year for a week leading into homecoming. This tradition was abolished right before I became a senior, and at the time, I was upset that I wouldn’t get to do the same thing to the freshman that was done to me. In hindsight, the practice is horribly barbaric and displays a lack of intelligence of the school for allowing it to progress for so long. This same school also had a “senior skip day” towards the end of the year, where teachers actually had nothing to do in classes that had only seniors attending the class. This is also a terrible “tradition” because it shows a lack of respect for those who have worked hard to get you to where you are at in your life, educationally speaking. Why not just cut the school year a day or two shorter for seniors?

Though I can’t hear you, I can certainly believe that you are ranting and raving about how tradition is important for reasons like, say, building character and observing history. Well, I’m a history lover, I have decided I’ve spent entirely too much time “looking backwards” and I’ve made the conscious decision to look forwards… progress instead of living in the past.

And now I’m going to point out an example of tradition that many of you believe should never be changed but hasn’t actually been the way you know it for very long.

Due to many reasons, the most watched sporting event in the world is the NFL’s Super Bowl. Every year, hundreds of millions of people gather around a TV or in a stadium to watch either the “big game” or the commercials that are put on during the event. The Super Bowl is traditionally on at about 6 or 7 in the evening on a Sunday. You’ve only ever known the game to be the way it currently is and you believe that should never change.

Well, the Super Bowl hasn’t always been this way and continues to adapt as we progress into the future. The first Super Bowl was on at 4 pm Eastern time, meaning the “prime time” game wasn’t even the barest part of the spectacle we know today. Super Bowls actually started earlier after that, a couple even beginning at 2 pm Eastern. Lunch, Super Bowl, the rest of your night. Still not the spectacle we know today. In fact, the starting time and spectacle we know really didn’t kick in until after 1989, when 6 pm Eastern and a little later became the standard and the commercial phenomenon really kicked into high gear.

So if you do the math, the Super Bowl “tradition” you experience today has only really been around for 27 years. The NFL is certainly not beholden to anything that came before and they change as the times change to remain relevant. Super Bowls used to be in January for the longest time (I was born on Super Bowl Sunday, right after the game ended as the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Dallas Cowboys for the second time), now they’re in February on a regular basis and if things keep moving in the direction they’re moving, we might see more things change over the course of just a few years.

A tradition shouldn’t be something you’re forced into, especially if that tradition was set up by someone more than three decades ago. Those people couldn’t have possible imagined what we would be going through now and those people no longer hold sway in the modern day, thus making a new tradition is a better option than just reusing the old one that has been around for decades and decades.

Think on it.