Back-to-Back Bad Luck Days · 28 February 2015

Two back-to-back days of bad luck. That is what Friday the thirteenth followed by Valentine’s Day are. At least if you are superstitious. Or single.

I was at the store on Friday the thirteenth and noticed the phenomenon of the greeting card holiday. There seem to be more and more of them as time goes on. Greeting cards for Christmas and Easter are pretty normal. As are birthday cards. But cards for Halloween and the Fourth of July? Maybe we need president’s day cards or Thanksgiving cards or even better, TGIF cards.

Anyway, I suppose there is some legitimacy to Valentine’s Day cards. After all, it is a celebration of love. Or it has been turned into one. (According to Wikipedia, it “began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus.” It has since given way to cupid’s influence.) Still, it was interesting seeing people in the candy and greeting card section of the store.

If you have never been to a grocery store at the eleventh hour of a candy or greeting card holiday, you ought to go. Just for amusement. The aisles with the greeting cards are packed with people. Some popular cards are gone (I always wonder what they said). And there are always those cards without any envelopes (I always wonder why that happens). But people are not giggling at the funny cards or crying at the touching cards. They are frantic. They are just there to make sure they get something, anything for their sweethearts. They are desperate.

Other people are desperate too. Usually, the ones looking for candy.

Candy is one of those Valentine presents that is safe. You can feel pretty safe giving candy to your special Valentine. She will probably coo and give you a kiss (maybe even a chocolate one). The difficult thing is that the candy might be gone if you wait too long.

Like I said, I was at the store on Friday the thirteenth looking for candy. Actually, I was there with my wife, The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi. She was the one looking for candy. Not for me, for our kids.

Fortunately for me, my wife and I have gotten to a place where Valentine’s Day is just another day. Like our anniversary. We just say, “Happy Valentine’s Day,” or “Happy anniversary,” to each other on those special days and consider them celebrated. I am not sure how we got there, but it is nice not having all the stress that many people feel.

Regardless of how The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi and I celebrate Valentine’s Day, she still feels the need to give the kids special treats on the day. So we were buying candy for them.

Maybe part of the reason we do not do much for Valentine’s Day is that it would be my inclination to just pick something and go. No muss, no fuss. Just get something nice that says, I was thinking about you. But The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi is deeper than that. She wants to make sure that she gets just the right eatables for the kids. That means that each of the three boys needs to be happy with the choices she makes.

And the price needs to be right.

The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi picked up some Dark Roca right away. It used to be that she would have chosen Almond Roca, but after she converted me to dark chocolate, I have never looked back. Unfortunately, our youngest, Thing 3, has not completed his own conversion. He still prefers milk chocolate. Which means that the choice of Valentine’s candy is not just a simple grab and go.

I watched people while I was patiently waiting for my wife to make her choices for the boys. (Yes, the Roca was mostly for me, but we all share all the candy.) As I watched, I noticed there were those who chose items quickly. There were those who looked at every item before deciding. And there were those who chose and unchose and chose again. There was even a guy who stood there looking like a deer in the headlights. I felt sorry for him. He had a box of chocolates and a stuffed animal and he looked like he was in a daze. I wondered if it was his first date or if he was trying to make sure what he had was enough after a previous fiasco. I sympathized with him because I probably looked like that before. It is only after years of underwhelming performances, that I have made it to where I am.

At any rate, I watched the people do their thing and then, I got a not so rare treat from my wife. She started her own stand-up routine right there in the candy aisle.

As most people who do any candy shopping know, the best time to get candy is the day after a candy holiday. The prices are as low as they go on the days after Halloween, Easter, and of course, Valentine’s Day. But there were sales on the eve of Valentine’s Day too. My wife thought the best one was the two for one box of chocolates.

There she was kneeling down looking at those two for one box of chocolates. I was oblivious of course. After all, I was just standing there holding the bag so to speak (actually, just the chosen items). The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi chuckled and said, “These are two for one.” I was not sure she was talking to me, but I listened up. She continued with a deadpan, “Is that so men can get one for their wives and one for their girlfriends?” She laughed at her own joke. It was rather humorous. The lady who had walked around the candy aisle a couple times with the man I assumed was her husband smiled at the thought. Another gentleman looked to be horrified as he decided not to get the two-fer. I just shook my head and was glad that my wife and girlfriend are the same person. (Actually, I just made the part up about the guy looking horrified. He kept a straight face and walked on by, but it would have been funnier if he looked horrified.)

I know. It is not much of a story. But it has already gotten a lot of traction.

We were at church on Valentine’s Day for a couple’s comedy show dessert function and The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi told the story to friends at our table. Thankfully, everybody laughed and nobody looked horrified. Since then, she has told the story a couple other times to chuckles and smiles. And I am sure she will tell it again.

Personally, I am happy to hear the story over and over and over. It is cute. It is funny. And like any good fish story, eventually, there will be several customers who look horrified and turn away from the two for one candy box deal. Which, by the way, was what we ended up getting for the boys. At least for the two boys still at home. But not one for each. They had to share with everybody.

I am glad that my wife and I do not have high expectations for Valentine’s Day. I am glad that it is just another day in our lives. And I am glad I am not superstitious. For if I was, there would be far too many years with Saturday Valentine’s Days. Far too many years with back-to-back days of bad luck.

© 2015 Michael T. Miyoshi

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So They Won’t Get Fined · 21 February 2015

A few weeks ago during the hype leading up to the Super Bowl, a friend of mine asked if I was going to write about Marshawn Lynch’s media day where he answered every question with some form of “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.” Five minutes of the same answer to every question. I read about it, but still have not watched it in any of its forms on YouTube. But I bet my son can sympathize with the amazing Seahawk running back.

Looking at the newspaper and YouTube, it appears that instead of turning people away because of his disdain for the media, Marshawn Lynch is gathering more and more fans. People love that he does not love the media. It is an endearing quality because many people do not like the media. For whatever reasons.

Cynics might think that Mr. Lynch is using the media to garner more fame and fortune. He is using reverse psychology in a way. Telling people to go away when he really wants them to come.

Somehow, I do not think that is all he wants. I am no media expert or psychologist, but I think Marshawn Lynch is like everybody else. He is just waiting for people to ask the right questions before he gives any real answers.

One of the reasons I have come to this conclusion about Mr. Lynch is because of an ESPN interview I saw. He was articulate about growing up. He gushed praise for his mother. It was fun to watch somebody just talk to the dynamic but quiet running back and hear his honest answers.

The other reason is because of my wife’s and my youngest son.

Our youngest son, Thing 3, is usually pretty quiet. He is a teenager in all his glory. He likes to read and play video games. And sometimes he likes to brood.

I have been frustrated at times talking with him because he likes to give one word answers to questions (like Mr. Lynch). Or sometimes he just grunts. We sit down to dinner almost every night and I try to draw him out. “What did you do at school today? How are your friends? What was the most exciting part of your day?” Normal parent questions. I never really realized how annoying I might be to Thing 3 until I read about Marshawn Lynch at media day.

I am glad that Thing 3 has not seen the interview. Not because I do not agree with Mr. Lynch or because I have no respect for him. Quite the contrary. I think that Marshawn Lynch is doing his job and doing it well. And he gets to show the world that he does not like all the parts of his job. I respect Marshawn Lynch and his attitude toward the media. (Even if as a blogger, I am technically part of that media.)

The reason I do not necessarily want Thing 3 to see the interview is because I do not want our dinner conversation to become the Marshawn Lynch show.

“How was your day son?”
“I’m just here so I won’t get fined.”
“How are your friends?”
“I’m just sitting here with you so I won’t get fined.”
“What was the most exciting part of your day so far?”
“Just eating my dinner so I won’t get fined.”

As much as I love the thought of a storied football player not playing to the media, I am not sure I want my son to emulate him in that respect. After all, Thing 3 already gives us short answers to every question we ask. And I am sure fining him is not the answer. But whether we fined him or not, Thing 3 could certainly carry his part of the conversation with the same aplomb of a certain running back. All the way through dinner. Just like Marshawn Lynch did for his required five minutes on a certain media day.

They’re both just there so they won’t get fined.

© 2015 Michael T. Miyoshi

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The Big Play · 14 February 2015

On Any Given Sunday by John Morgan
licensed under CC BY 2.0

Armchair quarterbacks will debate the play long after the Seahawks lost Super Bowl XLIX to the New England Patriots. And so might conspiracy theorists.

Everybody in the universe thought that the Seattle Seahawks were going to give the ball to Marshawn Lynch on the one yard line with 26 seconds left in the Super Bowl. It would have been the go ahead touchdown and put the team in position to win its second championship. Armchair quarterbacks and coaches will even dismiss the thought that the ill-fated pass was “a throw away play” to eat up time as Coach Pete Carroll suggested.

“Give the ball to Lynch and let Tom Brady try to beat the Legion of Boom with less than twenty seconds left,” is what everybody was thinking. He is good, but maybe only good enough to get them into field goal range with that time and that defense. Maybe. And if he does get them three points, you take your chances in overtime. So why waste a play. Feed the beast and let trust the defense to secure the win.

People will debate this for years to come, but I applaud Coach Carroll on his Truman-esque “The Buck Stops Here” mentality. That sense of responsibility rather than blame will keep the Seahawks on top for a long time. It sort of deflates any thought that there might have been some conspiracy behind it all. But somebody will come up with some anyway, so why not think it through.

Some people might wonder if the quarterback was trying to garner the glory. Russell Wilson had a great day up to that point, so why not give him one last chance to be the hero with his arm? An MVP award would look good on his resume. But given the coaches and players, that theory holds no water at all. They are a team in every sense of the word. They have shown over and over again that they believe they are brothers on one team fighting for one cause. That unity plus the quarterback’s willingness to take the blame for the loss quashes a Russell Wilson glory day conspiracy.

Other people might think that the front office called the play. “Don’t give the ball to Marshawn Lynch or we might need to pay him more money. He might even win the MVP award.” Other organizations might do that to their coaches, but Paul Allen and company let their coaches coach. After all, they pay them big bucks to make those kinds of decisions. Let them make them. Besides, they reward performance. News sources are saying that the Seahawks want to reward Lynch for his past performance. They want to give him the money he has earned. They also appear to be behind him in the way he does not dance for the media. Coach Carroll has Lynch’s back and gives him support and encouragement. In short, the front office and coaching staff could not have been part of some anti-Lynch conspiracy.

In this humble writer’s opinion, there was no conspiracy. There was certainly a missed opportunity. There was certainly a flaw. Great football minds have said over and over, “There are only three possible outcomes to a pass; two of them are bad.” The Play was the worst outcome ever.

That Coach Carroll and his staff taking the blame for the loss is certainly refreshing in this age of no accountability. But what I believe was the key to making that decision is what went wrong.

Coach Carroll has said all season that he prepares his team like each game is a championship game. He treats every game the same. He prepares his team for the intricacies of each opponent and he prepares them well. The problem with Super Bowl LXIX was that Coach Carroll did not remember his own philosophy. He forgot that it was just another game.

All of the Seattle fans and indeed the entire universe thought that it was just another game. Nobody thought that twenty seconds was too much for the Seahawk defense to keep Tom Brady and Company out of the end zone. The fans all thought that the Beast would be released. They all figured that Pete Carroll would do what he has always done – let Wilson and Lynch do their thing. If not a read option, a power play. Everybody in the stands, on the field, and in the viewing audience figured that the touchdown was inevitable. And it would have been if Coach Carroll had treated it like any other game. He would have scored the touchdown and let his defense do their job. For some reason, he remembered it was the Super Bowl and treated it differently than other games. He forgot his own lesson. Or at least it seems so to me.

I admire the Seahawks and their organization. They show the world that people can love what they do. They show us that passion can be contagious. And they show us that people really can take responsibility for their actions. These are life lessons that games like football are suppose to teach us. Sure, the game is entertaining, but the lessons are still real.

As much as I like the thought of intrigue and conspiracy whether it is showing up in sport or other aspects of life, I cannot believe there was any in the last twenty seconds of Super Bowl LXIX. It was a terrible play call, but it was a lesson in life. You live with it, learn from it, and move on. A dynasty is being built in Seattle. It just took a misstep. On one big stage. On one big play.

© 2015 Michael T. Miyoshi

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