Everything After Album #1 Sucks

I’ve been on a trend of reading biographies of famous musicians lately. And by trend, I mean I’ve read a whopping two. But I’m contemplating a third. And if “two with a potential third” doesn’t count as a literary movement unto itself, I don’t know what does.

I read “Petty,” by Warren Zanes, which is obviously a book about people who hold on to every slightest offense and fixate on trivial ways in which they’ve been wronged. No wait, I’m sorry. Different kind of Petty. This particular book was about a musician named Tom Petty. No, I didn’t read it as a result of him passing away. In fact, he died shortly after I finished the book. I hope I wasn’t responsible. I probably could’ve dragged out the last chapter had I known a life was on the line.

By the way, Tom Petty died on my birthday. Tom Clancy died on my birthday a few years earlier. I don’t know who thought “dead celebrities named Tom” was a good birthday present for me, but Messrs. Hanks and Cruise would like to stop that trend at “two with a potential third.”

More recently, I read “A Good Life all the Way.” by Ryan White, about a young pup named Jimmy Buffett. I hear the young kids love that guy. I wrote about him once before. A lot of his songs seem to have fun stories behind them. Either they’re autobiographical or he’s just a damn good poet. Turns out it’s a bit of both.

Next up might or might not be “Billy Joel: The Definitive Biography.” He’s a little bit Tom Petty, a little bit Jimmy Buffett. Not sure I’ll read it, though, because I’m starting to wane on the whole rock star biography thing. The first two were both a bit lackluster.

There are definitely things to like about both the Petty and Buffett biographies. The first half of each book did an excellent job of describing the musician’s upbringing and difficulties breaking into the music business. Both describe how the bands came together and struggled through adversity well. I doubt it’s much better now, but man, the music business sucked in the 1970s. They wouldn’t promote you unless you had multiple albums coming out each year. Tom Petty might’ve fit a little bit of a mold, in the vein of an Allman Brothers or Lynyrd Skynyrd, but Jimmy Buffett was really screwed. Too country for rock n’ roll, too gaudy for good ol’ boy country.

I knew Tom Petty for most of my upbringing. I was the MTV generation, and “Don’t Come Around Here No More” was one of the definitive videos of that decade. Jimmy Buffett, I discovered later in life, first in college, but not really catching on until well into my thirties. Evidently, I’m not the only one who caught him late. His career has really only taken off in the past decade or two.

Not that you would know that by reading his biography. But more on that later.

My first gripe about these books is minor and might only affect me. They each assume I know all of the members of Petty’s and Buffett’s band. Look, I bought these books because I like their music, they seem to live interesting lives, and I want to know a little more about how those lives and songs intertwine. I don’t really know who all of their band members on, and I know you devoted a full page to them fifty pages ago, but just dropping their last name here isn’t helping me distinguish who is who.

I spent half the Tom Petty book thinking, “Wait, is this the drummer that is going to stick around?” or “Tom Petty has a bass player?” I’m sure that’s on me and and a simple trip to Wikipedia could’ve told me who would matter in the end. But if I wanted to read the Wikipedia entry for Tom Petty, then I wouldn’t have bought your book? So maybe assume I don’t know the difference between a Stan Lynch and a Benmont Tench, and give me a little context when you’re throwing out five names in a row. They’re called “and the Heartbreakers” for a reason and they weren’t even present on Petty’s most-successful album.

Not that you’d know that by reading the biography. More on that later.

As an aside, did you know that Jimmy Buffett’s “Coral Reefers Band” pre-dated anyone actually being in said band? He was a solo act, but he would act like he was talking to band members on stage. He was leery of adding actual humans to the band because he had such a great rapport with the imaginary ones. That being said, I just finished the book and can’t tell you the names of any of the real Coral Reefers except for Mac McAnally, because he has his own career outside the Coral Reefers. I think there’s also Marvin Gardens and Kay Pasa. Wait no, those were the fictional characters.

But here’s where the two biographies fell apart. After the acts are discovered and start making a name for themselves. The Petty book used the phrase “album cycle,” where the band writes and records an album, then tours to promote said album, then is expected to go back into the studio and record another album. “Their A & R Man said I don’t hear a jingle…” Did I mention the music industry sucks?

That quote was from a 1991 Tom Petty song. Not that you’d know that from the biography. More on that… um, right here.

The Buffett book doesn’t explicitly mention the album cycle, but Buffett also didn’t have hits like “American Girl” and “Refugee” that he needed to follow up on. Buffett always had a smaller, but more loyal fanbase. His concerts were much more well-attended than his album sales or radio airplay would indicate. And with fans that knew all the lyrics! So the record companies didn’t really know what to do with him. That being said, they still expected one to two new albums per year, whether he had new ideas for songs or not.

Buffet’s an odd case. He became the granddad of laid-back, despite never really being the daddy of it. He’s in the top ten of wealthiest musicians despite never having a number one song. “Come Monday” barely made it up to number thirty, and “Margaritaville” topped out at number eight. “It Five O’Clock Somewhere” did make it to number one on the country charts, but that’s primarily listed as an Alan Jackson song. Not that you’d read much about it in the biography. His first, and only, album to reach number one was his twenty-fifth album, which came out just before his sixtieth birthday.

Not that you’d know that from the biography.

Because it’s at this point, with both artists running through a mundane repetition of forced creativity, that the biographies decide that the story’s not worth telling. I’m pretty sure the Buffett book put the entire 1980s and 1990s in one chapter. The Petty book muddles together the recordings of “Southern Accents,” “Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough),” “Full Moon Fever,” and “Into the Great Wide Open.” The video for “Don’t Come Around Here No More” gets a mention or two, and “Free Fallin'” gets a paragraph, despite it being the longest charting single of his career. I think there’s more mention of an attempted concept album for “Southern Accent,” in the vein of “Quadrophenia,” that didn’t happen, than there is about the actual album. There was supposed to be a song on it about southern racism. That didn’t make it on the album and was never recorded. “Make It Better (Forget About Me)” was actually recorded, and released as a single, with a video that was a failed sequel to “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” but it’s not mentioned at all. Why would the reader want to know bout an actual song that they remember, when there’s so much cool information about something Petty decided wasn’t a good idea to record?

You know Traveling Wilburys? The supergroup with Bob Dylan and a former Beatle or two? You can read between the lines and find it in there, but you have to really know what you’re looking for. But Mudcrutch, the first band Petty formed, that didn’t succeed, gets a chapter.

I understand part of the reason this happens. If you’re interviewing Petty or Buffett, or the people around them, they might not have much to say about a random 1983 album that they produced to fill a contract that peaked at number seventy. The first few albums had a lot more time and heart and soul invested. The problem with that logic is that most of the people reading the book probably discovered the musician through some of those throw-away songs and albums.

I read Stephen King’s “On Writing,” which is more or less an autobiography. He focuses on what it was like to sell that first manuscript but not most of the others. He finds it ironic when people say “The Stand” was his best book, because they’re saying he peaked in the first ten percent of his career. But then he proves their point by ignoring most of his other books.

That being said, Beatles books don’t gloss over everything after “Love Me Do.” But according to “A Good Life All the Way,” a song from “Coconut Telegraph,” written by a thirty-something Jimmy Buffett, is interchangeable with something from “Songs From St. Somewhere,” scribed by a seventy-year old.

Hey, speaking of which, Jimmy Buffett’s album names don’t always correlate with the songs that have that lyric. The line “I gotta fly to St. Somewhere” appears in “Boat Drinks,” released in 1979, but the album “Songs from St. Somewhere” came out in 2013. Even more impressive was when the album name came BEFORE the lyric. The song “Nautical Wheelers,” containing the line “Living and dying in three-quarter time, was on the album “A1A,” which came out ten months AFTER the album named “Living and Dying in 3/4 Time.” Pretty impressive for a guy to think “How should I end this song? How about with the name of my last album?”

It’s a good thing those songs and albums came early in Buffett’s career or else I might never have read about that in the biography.

With Tom Petty, I gave the author a pass on the last twenty years. It’s not like Petty did anything of note after “Wildflowers.” And even “Wildflowers” was a little lacking after “Full Moon Fever” and “Into the Great Wide Open.” I’m going to arrogantly speak for ninety percent of Petty fans and claim that “Last Dance with Mary Jane” was Tom Petty’s last dance with, um, memorable songs.

But Jimmy Buffett is a different story. He became more successful as time went on. His first number one album, “Licence to Chill,” came out in 2003. It gets a few paragraphs. He runs a nationwide chain of restaurants. They get a couple of pages. Satellite radio station? It’s mentioned briefly. Even that number one hit, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” gets less mention “The Christian?,” an unsuccessful song from an unsuccessful album from his unsuccessful attempt at an unsuccessful country-music career.

The book does (briefly) talk about the rest of the world finally catching up with where Jimmy Buffett had already been for thirty years. Garth Brooks and Toby Keith might have gotten the credit for making country music fun and mainstream, but Jimmy Buffett had paved the way for them. But the chapter (yes, one chapter) that covers the last twenty years gives almost as much ink to Kenny Chesney as it does to Jimmy Buffett.

I was really curious about “Bama Breeze,” a song about a bar he frequented in his teens. Did he really have his twenty-first birthday there? Don’t know. It was written in 2004. I don’t think it was mentioned once in the entire book. What about “Fruitcakes?” Did the term for his fans come from the song or did the song come from the name for his fans? Wouldn’t know. It came out in 1994 and is not explained. The book does talk about where Parrotheads came from and some of their annual meetings of Parrotheads, including the ones that Jimmy Buffett has nothing to do with, but nothing about Fruitcakes. He almost got shot out of the sky by the Jamaican authorities, and even wrote a song about it, but it only gets a brief mention, even though a story of boating through dangerous waters outside the island of Bemini gets many pages.

Jimmy Buffett fell off the stage in Australia and added a verse to “Margaritaville” about it. It’s not in the book, but some broken legs in 1981 are featured prominently.

“Delaney Talks to Statues”? “Semi-True Story?” “Nothin’ But a Breeze?” Nope, nope, and nope.

I know it’s a biography of the singer, not a book of song reviews. But for his first six albums, the book pretty much went song by song, explaining the significance of each. Even the obscure songs that get virtually no play on Radio Margaritaville. Then it switches to a “nobody really cares about the details” theme.

Did you know that the album “Take the Weather with You” has a number of tributes and homages to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina? Including the aforementioned “Bama Breeze”? Neither did I. I just found that out on Wikipedia. It wasn’t referenced in the book.

So next up might or might not be Billy Joel. I’m torn. Fool me once, shame on you. Is the third book going to follow the same pattern? Am I going to get twenty pages on “Piano Man” and a paragraph on “We Didn’t Start the Fire”? Will it treat “Uptown Girl” as an afterthought? Will I get a detailed menu of every breakfast he ate in 1972 but then have all four of his wives clumped into one sentence?

Only time will tell.

Hey, I think that’s the name of a Jimmy Buffett song. Not that you’d know that from the biography. It came out in 1996.

Camptathalon 2017

The Brain Trust is in the early stages of planning Camptathalon 2018, so there’s no better time to publish the shenanigans from 2017. I used to write these down as soon as we got home, but last year I flaked and didn’t transcribe until January. Then we decided that it was much more fun to remember the summer festivities in the miserable winter weather. So this is the new normal.

Of course, I live in California, so “miserable winter weather” means fifty degrees and occasional rain.

Then again, it’s been 70 this February, whereas last year’s Camptathalon was cold and rainy, so this might be serving the opposite purpose this year. In fact, we couldn’t go to the spot we had originally booked because it was snowed in. After five years of drought, we forgot about that whole “snow” thing. Probably for the best. The plan had been to go to the same campsite two years in a row, which is just wrong. Mother Nature intervened to maintain order in this chaotic world.

I should also note that, since it rained most of the day Friday, much more alcohol was consumed than usual.

You can read about the origins of Camptathalon here, but the tl;dr is that it is an, um, athletic? competitive? um, it’s a contest that takes place over a camping weekend betwixt four to six middle-aged men. We then timestamp everything that is said. Six months later I transcribe said script, with neither comment nor context, and we can all attempt to figure out why the fuck some drunks thought that was funny enough to write down six months ago.

Thursday Night (indeterminate time): Sparky and Tony show up.

Friday:
8:51 Sparky almost sets forest on fire, and he hasn’t even had a beer yet.
8:57 Early bird gets the worm. Dude, it’s almost, 9:00, lazy bird.
9:26 Rick shows up.
10:21 “Let’s do Home Run Derby over the creek.”
“That’s a horrible fucking idea.”100_5438.JPG
10:25 First Homo Moment: Rick and Sparky’s armrests brush up against each other.
10:52 “It’s starting to come. See? That’s a sizeable crack.”
10:58 Sparky reminisces about going to Butt Lake for the first time.
11:19 Chris arrives with Dick Butt. Tony photographs Dick Butt.100_5442.JPG
11:21 CHEESE BALLS!!!

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11:29 First “That’s what she said” of the weekend.
11:32 I paid 50 cents for a romance book by Christine Rimmer. Gonna be pissed if there are no rimjobs in it.
11:33 Hail
11:45 “There’s a flame!”
“Mother Nature blows better than I do.”
12:11 McGyver arrives with more tarps. Rain and hail ensue.100_5446.JPG
13:00 Everyone wants a Bangy Khan!
13:01 Sparky: “It’ll stop raining soon.” Bullshit.
13:03 Sun comes out. “You son of a bitch, Sparky.”
13:18 It would be a perfect day if it stopped raining. Kinda like it would be a perfect date if only she’d give me a blow job.
13:25 Re Donnie Moore: “Apparently he could locate a bullet better than a fastball.”
13:27 “At least we don’t need to worry about bears. They are fucking hibernating right now.”
13:34 Put Dick Butt in the bear locker. Bear might want to look at him before heading to class.
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13:58 Chris tells about something.
14:10 John arrives. Camptathalon may begin.100_5458.JPG
14:15 Hail, round three.
14:31 “What DOESN’T go with a 14-year old Thai whore?”
14:35 Entire kitchen blows over in wind.
14:49 First go thru of 1990 Topps Baseball Card set bought at thrift store.100_5450.JPG
14:59 Hail, Round Four
15:00 “I will see your Otis Nixon and raise you.”
15:12 “Chafing means ‘I Love You.'”
15:20 Where does Tony snore? See where the light touches.”
15:25 Hail, Round Five.
15:35 Official Camptathalon Opening Toast.20170609_152944.jpg
15:48 “I will share this with you because I’ve been drinking all day.”
16:20 First Camptathalon Event: Poker.
16:24 General discussion of point value for Camptathalon events. Reward winner (5 pts, 3, 2, 1, 0) or punish loser (5, 4, 3, 2, 0). Punish loser wins.
17:05 Re: weather. “Oh, it’s going to be fine.” “Fuck you.”
17:30 “I love balls. They’re so wrong, but they’re so good.”
17:37 Sparky “wins” loser libation by being first eliminated from poker. Loser libation is: Mickeys 40. “Don’t worry, I didn’t keep it cold.”100_5460.JPG
18:31 Loser Libation has been vanquished.
18:45 Rick out, John out. Losers start 1-4-24.
20:11 Rick is a cocksucker. 1-4-24, bitches.
20:50 Draft (Stolen from the Poscast): Best President: (Editor’s Note: Our drafts were snake style, so John picked Polk with pick #4 and JFK with Pick #5, Garfield was last pick of draft)
Tony                   Chris       Sparky      Rick           John
T.R.                    Lincoln   Truman   Jefferson   Polk
Wilson               FDR          Ike            Reagan       JFK
Washington    Obama   Madison   Nixon   McKinley
Garfield           Clinton    Taft         Adams   J.Q. Adams

Second draft: Beer
John                                 Rick                        Sparky                        Chris                 Tony
Negro Modelo        Sier Nev Pale        Innis & Gunn            Red Trolley         Fat Tire
Ballast Pt Sculpin   Shiner Bock   Sam Ad Winter Lag.    Boont Amber   Pliney Elder
Hamms Select       Arrogant Bastard       Smithwicks          Wookie Jack       805
Weinhardts     Miller High Life     Scrimshaw      Blackhawk Stout   Sam Ad Boston L

Third draft: Horror movies
Rick                                        John                    Tony              Sparky                  Chris
Friday the 13th                Halloween         Shining     Children of  Corn        Alien
Nightmare/Elm Street   Jaws             Poltergeist         Scream          Cabin in Woods
The Thing                      The Ring           The Grudge       Identity                 1408
Silence of Lambs   House 1,000 Corpses    The Others    Cujo             Donnie Darko

23:05 There’s a lot of 1990 Topps cards around the fire. I don’t think the bears care about 1990 Topps cards.

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Saturday:
7:00 Rick, Sparky awake.
7:09 “Where are my baseball cards?”
7:59 “I made a decision and it was probably a poor one.”
8:00 “On second thought, maybe I did yack last night.”
8:53 We have not seen John yet, but have heard rumors he is alive, so that’s good.
9:10 Breakfast complete. Trips to the shitter on the docket.
9:22 Someone left the lotion by the rimjob book.
9:54 John finally emerges
9:57 Official Motto of 2017 Camptathalon: Many decisions were made, and most were poor.
10:04 Event #2: Chipping
10:20 Standings: Rick – 8, Chris – 7, John – 6, Tony – 4, Sparky – 3
11:04 Mehkong comes out to play. Confidence is high (EDITOR’S NOTE: Chris brought some Thai rice whiskey. Much of it had been drunk Friday night, but not noted).
11:50 Event 3: Home Run Derby
12:05 Worst. Home Run Derby. Ever. First round: two with 0 HR, three with 1. Sparky beats Tony in the “Jack-Off” for last place, three jacks to one.

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12:36 Standings: John, Chris, and Rick – 11, Sparky- 5, Tony – 4
13:26 “It’s all gone downhill.”
13:37 Do we really have to do the fucking butter toss?
(Editor’s Note: Two hour time jump. Naps being taken.)
15:54 Oregon Trail card game: Non-sanctioned Camptathalon event. (Coop played earlier, forgot to timestamp)
16:15 Sparky dies of dysentery
16:20 Chris dies of snake bite.
16:31 Tony dies of snake bite.
16:34 Rick made it to Oregon.
16:35 Adventure Bocce
17:20 Sparky and John engage in a “Toss Off” to determine third place.
17:25 Standings: Rick – 18, Chris – 16, John – 13, Sparky – 12, Tony – 11
17:32 John’s first beer of the day. Don’t call it a comeback!
18:50 Final Event: Cards Against Humanity
19:00 John gets 7th card, finishes Camptathalon with 18.
19:10 Chris gets 7th card, finishes Camptathalon with 20 points. If Rick goes out next, he wins. If not, Chris wins. The tension is high.
19:17 Rick gets 7th card, finishes Camptathalon with 21 points and the victory.
19:18 Sparky finishes with 14 points, Tony with 11.
20:33 Tony yacks. That makes three of the five of us. 60% is passing.

Sunday
Put the wood in the bear locker. In case the bear has woodshop tomorrow.
Cheese Balls 2, Campers 0

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Olympic Curling Guide

It’s the Most! Wonderful! Time… of the year.

Christmas? Bah! Valentine’s Day? Nope. Live Punxsutawney updates? Umm, maybe, but that’s not what this specific post is about.

It’s Curling-on-TV season!

You might know this, incorrectly, as the “Winter Olympics.” But there’s really only one reason to watch the Winter Olympics.

Okay, maybe two. Matt Hamilton’s porn-stache and the Norwegian team’s pants. But both of those will only be seen during curling matches.

As many of you long-time readers (ie people who know me in real life) know, I took up curling four years ago this month. You can read about it here, but here’s the tl;dr: it had always fascinated me and while watching the last Olympics, I decided to google if there was any place I could curl within, say, a hundred miles. Turned out that, yes, they curled about five miles from my house. Who knew?

So I did my very first Learn-to-Curl in February of 2014. Since then, I’ve become a league coordinator and drawmaster (“schedule dude”) for a number of bonspiels (curling tournaments). I’ve curled six different places in California (again, who knew?) and have traveled to Seattle and Vegas to compete. I’ve won two different bonspiels (not the A-Bracket, but if I get my picture taken with a trophy, it’s a fucking win).

I’ve met and competed against former Olympians. I even beat one! Once. Out of six attempts. I’m now 1-5 against Edie Loudon (she lives nearby, so I see her often). And maybe 0-4 against all other professional curlers.

The trick to beating an Olympic curler? Beat the other people on their team. It also helps if you catch her on the last day of a double-bonspiel, meaning she’s curled about eight times over the last 48 hours. I know it doesn’t look like it on TV, but curling is tiring.

I even met Olympic gold-medalist Kaitlyn Lawes and she let me touch her gold medal. And no, that’s not a pervy euphemism. She literally let me touch her literal gold medal. Look:

Gold Medal.jpg

I think I was even more excited by that picture than if she had let me “touch her gold medal.”

Professional curlers are very nice. Kaitlyn even said I could take a picture with just the gold medal. I figured she should probably be in the picture, because a) she’s cute, and b) she earned it. But man, if that were my gold medal, I wouldn’t let somebody touch it, much less take a picture with it around their neck. You try to take that thing from me, you better be an Olympic biathlete.

And now it’s another Olympic year. The requisite “Hey, check out this quirky sport” stories are running in media outlets everywhere. We love it at our club. A year ago, we couldn’t beg enough to get a mention in local media. In the past six weeks, we’re getting contacts from newspapers, radio, and local TV (the NBC affiliate, naturally). Our Learn-to-Curl program, which often has only one or two customers, is booked solid. We’ve put 100 people through a LTC in the past two months, and the Olympics hadn’t even started yet. We even added a second class most weeks and people are willing to come out at 7:45 Sunday morning to try it.

So yay, curling on TV.

Of course, I can usually find it any time I want. ESPN3 shows most of the upper-tier Canadian curling. American curling is a little harder to find, but that’s okay, because it’s not as good. I know it’s ironic that Canadian curling is easier to find in the U.S. than American curling, but there’s a reason the Canadians dominate the sport. It makes it a little hard on my Olympic rooting interests, but the Americans usually make that easy by being in last place.

But there’s still something special about watching in the Olympics. It’s the one time NBC doesn’t fuck up the flow of the game with asinine editing. During their normal broadcasts, “Curling Night in America,” they jam a three-hour game into about ninety minutes. So they’ll finish one end (like an inning in baseball), take a commercial break, and when they come back, there’s already six stones in play in the next end. Or they skipped an entire end. Imagine watching the World Series and, after the first inning, they jumped ahead to the sixth and said “Oh, by the way, the score is now seven to five.” That’s how the average curling match goes on NBC. Also, since it’s edited to fit into two hours, a lot of the drama is gone. Are they going to tie it up and force an extra end? Oh, it’s 7:50, so I guess not.

I’m not saying NBC doesn’t fuck up coverage in the Olympics, but at least it’s fucked up in the normal way. They show two ends, then go away for twenty minutes of luge, then come back. That’s just Olympics 101. At least they have an app now.

This year, they’ve added a new round of curling called mixed doubles. In it, each team only has two players instead of the usual four. Each end only has five stones, instead of eight. So the games take about half as long.

I’m undecided on mixed doubles. It’s not real curling. It’s a made-for-TV sport. But maybe that’s not a bad thing.

I’ve tried mixed double before. Well, maybe not mixed doubles, because I was curling with another dude, but “open” doubles. It’s a weird beast. In normal curling, you have your skip making a target with his broom at the other end of the sheet. Then you have two other team members to sweep your rock. In mixed doubles, you only have one other teammate, so one of those vital pieces are gone. You’re either aiming at nothing or you have to sweep your own rock.

When it was first designed, the assumption was that people would still want a target, so they would sweep their own rock. It’s not that difficult. Most mediocre curlers can jump up and follow their rock. A lot of us jump up and follow our rock, anyway.

The first time I tried mixed doubles, the person holding the broom said I was coming out in the right direction, but something was happening to the rock when I released it. Turns out I was subconsciously clipping my release in order to jump up and sweep. Add to that the fact that I’m losing about fifty percent of my sweeping power because one of my shoes has a Teflon bottom, which isn’t great for leverage. I also have a tendency to start sliding faster than my rock, so pretty soon I’m sweeping backward.

I guess I wasn’t alone, because the next time I saw professionals playing it, their strategies had changed, too. Now many of them opt to have their teammate sweep their rock instead of providing the target. Depends on the curler and depends on the shot.

So that’s a little “inside curling” you can wow your friends with. Watch for when their teammate is right next to them and when they’re at the other end. If the former, they care more about weight than location. If it’s the latter, they’re probably trying to draw through a smaller port.

Mixed doubles works better for TV because there are more rocks in play. An end in team curling can last twenty minutes and resolve nothing. I’ve seen a number of matches where one team throws a guard, the other team hits that guard out, and the first team throws another guard, for six shots in a row. That can get tedious. Then with the final shot, there’s one rock in the house (bulls-eye), and the skip hits it out to score zero because that’s a sound strategy. In mixed doubles, you almost never see a blank end (no score). Usually there’s six or eight rocks in the house.

In addition to those “This Crazy Sport” articles we see this part of the quadrennial, I’ve seen a fair number this year that lead with “It’s not as easy as it looks.” Um, yes and no. Is it a difficult sport to learn? No. You can do it in an hour or so. But at the Olympic level? Yeah, that’s tough. They’re good. Again, compare it to baseball. Is swinging a bat and making contact with a ball difficult? No. Most five-year olds can do it. But I wouldn’t like my chances standing in against Justin Verlander.

Curling’s the same way. The professionals play at an entirely different level. They see angles that don’t exist at the amateur level. Sometimes I’ll wonder why they are calling a certain shot. Then they’ll ricochet off three stones, just as they planned it, and I realize “Oh, they called that shot because they can hit that shot. I would’ve knocked my opponent’s stones in if I tried that.”

That whole “knowing what they’re throwing,” is one of the great reasons to watch curling on TV – you can hear them discuss their strategy and sometimes the two of them will debate what to throw, giving the viewer insight we don’t get in other sports. The catcher and pitcher use secret signs to debate their strategy. We don’t get to listen in on an NFL huddle. But in curling, they’ll say where they want to hit a certain rock and what they think it’ll do if they hit it there.

So check it out. Listen to the skips.

And trust me, it’s just as easy as it looks. Come on out to your local club and we’ll show you just how “easy” it is 😉