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Jan. 5, 2019 — A thought experiment inspired by a celebrity’s passing

I grew up watching Penny Marshall’s tour-de-force take on working-class life in 1950s-era Milwaukee in the situation comedy Laverne & Shirley.

And like many of my peers, I noticed that the sitcom has not aged well. Some of the subject matter involving working women, race, and the portrayal of Italian-Americans is a bit grating when you recognize it.

But when Penny Marshall died last month, I found myself drawn to perhaps the single most memorable feature of the show: the prominent cursive “L” that was on just about every item of clothing the character of Laverne DeFazio wore.

Having been around a lot of vintage clothing enthusiasts in my life, I’ve been interested to see how much this kind of oversized monogramming was prominent in the 1950s, when the show started.

Apparently, it wasn’t.

I also came to the conclusion that even the average unionized female worker of the time (she and best friend Shirley Feeney were bottlers at a Milwaukee brewery) likely could not have afforded identical monograms on every blouse, dress, and sweater in her closet.

I know, I know, this is me, overthinking a fictional television show.

But I do wonder if the appliques had a basis in fact — aside from the kitschy poodle skirts of the era.

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Jan. 4, 2019 — A Sky Blue crisis

Last year, Sky Blue FC, the New York/New Jersey team in the National Women’s Soccer League, finished with a record of one win, six draws, and 17 defeats. It’s one of the worst seasons in the nascent history of USSF women’s Division I pro socccer, rivaled only by the Atlanta Beat’s one-win season in the final season of WPS in 2011.

Since the end of the season, there has been a saga playing out between the team’s front office, players, and supporters. It’s way too complicated to spell out in this space, but a lot of the complaints about mismanagement of the club can be found here as well as here.

But there is an unprecedented dimension to this crisis: one of the board members and part-owners of Sky Blue FC is the Phil Murphy, the Governor of the State of New Jersey.

Yep, the chief executor of the laws of the state is part owner of a business which is accused of giving substandard working conditions to the athletes it employs.

Adding to the poor optics is the fact that, in the weeks after the 2018 season ended, a handful of players have left the team.

Next week’s NWSL Draft is going to be doubly interesting. Pundits have hinted that any blockbuster move to try to improve Sky Blue’s roster would likely take place in the next few days.

The team does have the second and third overall picks. But can the resulting players, an aging Carli Lloyd, and what could be a roster of castoffs be able to right the ship?

Jan. 3, 2019 — The rabbit hole

A few months ago, I was in the market for what is called in the industry a “pico projector,” or a small box with a bright light inside of it that could be connected to a tablet or smartphone in order to do visual presentations.

As part of my professional development as a public speaker, I was an early adopter of PowerPoint, having done a slide deck two decades ago in order to sell potential advertisers and sponsors on the benefits of a women’s sports website.

Nowadays, with video and presentation apps, I was in the market for an inexpensive projector that I could carry with me to meetings so that I could simply point and start if there was a blank wall somewhere in the room.

The projector came, and I immediately noticed a problem. The projector had ports which would have worked well with computers from about five or 10 years ago, but did not have a digital input capability that I could discern.

I looked at a couple of solutions involving a lightning cable and a UV cable, as well as a cable which looked like it had the requisite ports. I asked an expert about it.

“That won’t work,” he said. “You need a digital adapter because there’s no way for the phone to talk to the projector with these inputs.”

Hmmf, I thought. Would have been nice to know before buying the projector.

Technology, these days, is an enormous rabbit hole, one which gives particular problems to people who have bought a number of older devices.

It took three days for my brother to figure out how to get full use out of a smart speaker because it required him to not only connect via the Wi-Fi connection in his home, but through Bluetooth on a phone which is older than the one I have.

Eventually, having that speaker is going to require him to subscribe to a music streaming service different from the one to which he is accustomed.

Me? I don’t need a smart speaker. I have enough trouble trying to get Siri to understand me …

Jan. 2, 2019 — Additions to the sidelines?

There’s been a surfeit of game-changing players who have cantered through the NCAA Division I ranks the last few years. And yet, I haven’t seen a resulting flood of players joining coaching staffs at major U.S. colleges.

There have been a few top players joining Division I programs as assistants such as Gussie Johns (Georgetown), Megan Whittle (Dartmouth), and Kara Mupo (Stanford).

Where’s everybody else? A lot of the graduating seniors have signed with lacrosse companies and are coaching travel teams. That’s how three-time Tewaaraton Trophy winner Taylor Cummings trained up in order to be able to take over the dominant girls’ scholastic program of the 2010s, Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.).

But because a lot of the talent in Division I last year was in the junior class, it will be a while before you see Selena Lasota, Sam Apuzzo, and (maybe) Kenzie Kent coaching somewhere.

Then again, Kent’s likely to be somewhere on a rink once her playing days are done at Boston College. The choices are going to be dizzying for this elite two-sport player.

 

Jan. 1, 2019 — New look, old look

Hi, all. As we look back on a record-setting field hockey season, we also look forward to the U.S. domestic lacrosse season, which is less than six weeks away.

The unprecedented growth in the Deep South is a major story, with teams like Delray American Heritage (Fla.) and Walton (Ga.) taking on the nation’s best, and Tennessee sanctioning the sport just last week.

Also a major story is Boston College, which is the punditry’s prohibitive favorite to win the NCAA Division I title, thanks to the return of fifth-year senior Kenzie Kent.

But let’s not hand the plaque to B.C. just yet. A gaggle of teams will contend for the gold, including Florida, Maryland, Syracuse, Stony Brook, and our dark horse, Towson.

You will notice the right columns are altered a bit. Our Chasing History numbers are girls’ lacrosse records. As such, they are a bit thinned out because of graduation.

Only the stellar junior Caitlyn Wurzburger is ready to ascend the rostrum of all-time greats. She is already the nation’s all-time assist leader, and is currently at 307 career goals, so she is at the edge of our goals list.

You’ll also notice that Moorestown Head Coach Deanna Knobloch’s name is listed in black instead of orange, because she will not be an active scholastic head coach in 2019.

We’ll be spending time making a good, robust lacrosse desktop. Hopefully that will round into shape soon.

So, Happy New Year to you in the lacrosse community. Should be an interesting run-in until the first draws are taken in earnest.

 

 

 

Dec. 31, 2018 — 228 right, 88 wrong

Today, I finished my Trivial Pursuit Master’s Edition Year-In-A-Box calendar, a calendar full of questions about everything from Google to grapes to Aretha Franklin’s hat.

My percentage of correct answers this year was 72.1 percent, about the same as a year ago

Yep, I keep score.

Dec. 30, 2018 — Wishes for the new year

There’s been a lot going on in this space over the last year, and, while people are making resolutions for 2019, here are a few things we hope will happen:

I am hoping for the best for a very young U.S. women’s national field hockey side as they begin training for the 2019 FIH Pro League. I hope that the young players, especially Erin Matson and Mackenzie Allessie, show that they belong at this level.

I’m also hoping that the U.S. team finds a good holding midfielder as well as a drag-flick specialist (yep, it’s the age-old problem, but it’s still a going concern).

I hope that U.S. field hockey watchers remember a decade ago when goalkeeper Belen Succi had exactly two international caps when she joined Argentina at the 2008 Olympics, and is now seen as one the Albecelestes’ all-time greats.

I hope that girls’ lacrosse watchers, especially in Florida, are able to appreciate the freight train that is Caitlyn Wurzburger as she is threatening the all-time numbers for goals; she already had the assist mark as a sophomore, no less.

I hope that the Boston College women’s lacrosse team is able to handle all of the scrutiny that will follow silver-medal efforts  the last two years, choosing instead to focus on the next possession.

I hope that the NCAA doesn’t decide to make the women’s lacrosse draw identical to the men’s, making it a more physical endeavor than what it is now.

I hope that the NCAA women’s lacrosse and field hockey tournament committees make it a point to reward mid-major teams for how they do during the season and not create multi-year monopolies which are difficult to compete against.

I hope that Carli Lloyd will have a glimpse at final glory at this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.

I hope that a soccer player nobody heard of four years ago, such as an Abby Dahlkemper or Lynn Williams, makes an enormous impact in the U.S. team’s performance this summer.

I hope the tournament also become a great platform to show how good a player Tobin Heath is.

I hope both the WNBA and NWSL establish — and enforce — minimum standards for their teams so that you don’t have the greatest players in the world in their craft having to play in an building one step up from the local high school.

And I wish you, my readers, all the best in health and happiness for the New Year.