Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Just read this post about the oil spill in the Gulf on a meteorologist's blog. It steamed my glasses, and that's not a political commentary at all:

Monday, June 28, 2010

"Hurry up, Dad!!!!"

I had a flashback to childhood Sunday morning.

I bumped into the Purcell family after Mass at St. Joseph's and said hello to the patriarch, sharing with him my taste of celebrity experience from the night before. I told him because I knew his son, who had become a minor celebrity after miraculously surviving being shot in the femoral artery while on duty as a police officer, would be able to relate to what happened to me.

Our conversation kept going...and going...and going.....and soon enough his wife joined in and our conversation somehow shifted to the Summer of Mercy abortion protests in 1991.

Before we knew it, no one else was left standing in front of the church - well, except for their young children. Who had the same tortured look my siblings and I so often did as we waited....and waited....and waited......for Dad to stop talking to folks after church at Holy Rosary in Burdett.

Dad talked forever after church. At least, it seemed like that to us little ones, who were more than eager to get home and get out of our "church clothes." It didn't dawn on me for years that the reason Dad liked to talk after church was because life on the farm can be very isolating, with limited opportunities for conversation outside the family.

I used to joke that Dad could talk to a tree for three hours....but after a few weeks on the farm with no one to, I couldn't blame him if he did want to talk to a tree for three hours. 

If I ever take the step of becoming a freelance writer/novelist working from home, I'll face similar challenges. Though, presuming I'm in a city, it won't be quite as difficult to find conversation.

Still, I had to chuckle when I heard the audible sighs of the Purcell kids on Sunday. I know that sound well.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

There must be some mistake

I went to a wine bar in downtown Wichita last night for a birthday celebration of a couple of fairly recent acquaintances.

It was a good time - and the first time I danced since the whiplash collision in March. That's another story, though.....

This post is about something else that happened, which I totally didn't expect. I knew Jennifer and Elizabeth and no one else from their birthday crowd...but I had a sneaking suspicion I'd chatted with someone there via Twitter. So I went over to introduce myself - and she screamed my name in delight. Then she turned to her friends and said, "It's Stan Finger!"

They began shouting with joy, too - as if they'd just met a celebrity.

It felt surreal.  I found myself wondering what I'd done to prompt such a reaction.

Then the woman I initially approached explained: she and her sister and friends had been reading my stories for years, taking particular pleasure from the weird crime stories I have done that have gained national and international attention. It had become a family tradition to call each other to discuss "Stan Finger stories."

"I'm going to have to tell her I met you!" she said, as if that were a noteworthy event.

Intellectually, I realize that my job has a higher profile than many...but it can still be startling to experience it first-hand sometimes. Perhaps the most bizarre example came a year or so ago when I arrived at the scene of a murder - the poor victim was still lying in the middle of the street in broad daylight - and a passerby asked my name. When I told him, he was thunderstruck and immediately went in search of a camera so he could have his picture taken with me.

Turns out he was a regular listener of a radio program that relishes reading my offbeat stories on the air.

I must have had my photo taken with party-goers a handful of times last night. It made me wish I'd worn a nicer shirt. ;-)

Monday, June 14, 2010


If "Seinfeld" was a show about nothing, the World Cup is a show about nothing-nothing.

Obligatory soccer jab aside, I have to admit that I will be paying attention to what goes on in South Africa over the next month.

Not that I'll be able to hear much of it pleasantly, not with those vuvuzelas blaring. Americans hate soccer because there's little scoring, build-up play can have a glacial pace, and 90 minutes can feel like 90 hours.

But, like with any sport, when it's played well it's a beautiful thing to watch. My interest in soccer blossomed after I met a few Englishmen who came to the Midwest for a tornado chasing tour, and it was a frequent topic of conversation via email once they returned to the UK. Fox Soccer Channel became part of my cable package, and I started watching matches more out of a curiosity to see how the sportscasters described the game than anything else.

It's been background noise for many a Saturday morning since then. Along the way, I began picking up the nuances of the game and learned to appreciate well-played soccer. Or football, as it's more properly called. And I've learned enough about it that my commentary is welcomed by English soccer correspondents. I rather enjoy that.

My picks for this World Cup? Spain, England, Brazil.....perhaps Holland in the semifinals as well. Germany could surprise, with its bevy of young talent and history of always doing well. Italy, the defending champions, strike me as being too old.

The U.S.? It will need to play well to get out of the group stages, but if the Americans meet Germany in the first round of the knock-out phase, I don't like their chances. The defense has been too wobbly, and I'm not seeing enough threat from their strikers - though Altidore does show the occasional flash of brilliance that has tempted European clubs for a while now.

With the World Cup, however, the pagentry and spectacle are every bit as much of the show as the match itself - not unlike the Super Bowl.

And I was looking forward to it enough to finally break down and get a DVR. No more "taping" shows for me.

In one way, at least, I guess it took the world's game to drag me kicking and screaming into the 21st Century.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Will Tebow be a big T-bust?

Sobering words to read for this Broncos fan, as a scout discusses 1st-round draft pick Tim Tebow:

What did you see from Tim Tebow on tape and were you surprised the Broncos made the bold move to get back into the first round to snag him?

"On film, there is very little in Tebow's game that projects well at this point to the NFL. I could never draft a quarterback in the first round who does not show on tape the skill set and physical attributes that are demanded in the NFL.

"Number one, he has questionable and limited arm strength with a slow and ponderous delivery. Number two, in college he did not throw with timing or anticipation because the offense that he was in did not require it. In the NFL, there are certain throws in certain situations that necessitate that the ball is delivered before his receiver makes his break. He wasn't asked to do that at Florida. Thirdly, pocket movement in the NFL is far more important than running. Pocket movement is the ability to move within the confines of an area about the size of a boxing ring while at the same time maintaining your downfield focus so you can deliver the football. Tebow did not exhibit that trait in college, probably because he was a runner. Nobody is a great NFL quarterback because of the way that they run."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Longest Day

I'm sure it's because my father fought in World War II, but June 6 has first and foremost meant one thing to me: D-Day, the date Allied forces landed on the beaches of northern France, creating a second front that ultimately spelled the end for Nazi Germany.

Its importance can never be overstated. The courage shown by the soldiers of every nation that took part in the invasion force can only be fathomed by those who have faced the same kind of danger.

Of all the movies produced about war, my father said only one - "Saving Private Ryan" - captured the essence of combat, with its opening sequence about the beach landings at Normandy. Dad did not go ashore on D-Day; he landed at Marseille in January of '45.

But he saw enough combat in 3 months to have no illusions of grandeur about what it was like.

As he told me more than once over the years, once you've served your nation in battle, you never look at the Stars and Stripes the same way again.

You never listen to "The Star-Spangled Banner" in the same way again.

And you never sing "God Bless America" with anything but heart-felt conviction again.

To all those who stormed ashore on June 6 - especially those who never came home - I salute you.