Essay

I Don’t Know

Folly Docs 2

Hello, how are you? Don’t we all need someone to ask us that question? The answer is, “not great,” but it is still nice to know someone cares. I think that we are all like Hedley Lamarr at the end of Blazing Saddles when he asks the cab driver to, “drive me off this picture.” 

In my isolation, I have had lots of opportunity to think about what influences me and why; and are those things good for me or not? The answer is a resounding “NO!” I am resolved to stop ingesting things on social media and reading headlines and taking those things to heart like they are unquestionably true. Then, I am going to stop arguing things that I do not know anything about. Ideas flash in front of me and I take them and spread them around like a…virus.   

I heard Chris Rock say on a podcast that we used to value expertise and now all we value is gossip (by the way, I understand this is exactly the thing I said I would quit doing but I am also a hypocrite). What he said made sense to me. I thought back to late February when I was getting my last haircut pre-quarantine. I had all these opinions about the coronavirus and what was going to happen. Other people in the barbershop had similar ideas. As far as I know, none of these people were doctors. I honestly have no idea where I got these opinions, how I got them, and what they were based on. But somehow, I was sure they were true. 

When I finally heard a doctor’s opinion about the disease, I did not believe him. Instead, I proceeded to discredit the opinion of a man who has practiced medicine for longer than I have been alive (36 years) and is one of the most highly-regarded physicians in South Carolina. But I was afraid and used unqualified opinions about the virus as a defense mechanism because I did not want to believe what he was saying. That made me realize that I’m not interested in the truth if that truth is hard to hear. And, apparently I am willing to argue about opinions that I am unqualified to defend.

I’m not sure if I can stop spreading baloney around, but I am going to try.  

Black Lives Matter

I really don’t know how to solve these glaring inequalities in our justice system. And while I agree with the premise, I am also not going to blindly support organizations because their name sounds good. So what the hell do I do? 

I was born in a nice suburb and have never gone without the basic necessities. I have no way of knowing what that is like and how I would act in that situation. I do not think I am unqualified to say anything. Instead, I am going to treat this issue like a congressman and defer the remainder of my time to some people who know what they are talking about: Wu-Tang Clan and Comedian Ms. Pat. 

Wu-Tang emerged from terrible conditions in the slums of Shaolin in New York City to become one of the most important rap groups of all time. They used art to escape the inescapable. The RZA also taught me a valuable lesson about sampling. My uninformed opinion about sampling was that it was stealing until the RZA explained it. He said that when you are poor, you can’t afford instruments. Because of this, the radio becomes your instrument, which is where sampling comes from. Now I know. 

Comedian Ms. Pat is one of my favorite comedians. She is raw and hilarious and her

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Me and Ms. Pat

story is incredible. By the age of 16 she already had two children by a man twice her age, she sold crack to support the children, and she had been shot in the breast. She also ended up going to prison for drug dealing. She survived all of that, met a nice man, moved to Indiana, and is now a very popular comedian. But her show is uncomfortable for some people. So is life.  

I’m not going to blindly follow anyone when it comes to the issue of race, but I am going to defer to people more qualified to speak about the issues. They have expertise, I have gossip.   

Writing

If there is a silver lining to this pandemic, at least for me, it is that my career as a writer is going better than I could have imagined at this early stage. I know I have been telling people I’m a writer for a decade, but really I have been seriously pursuing it as a career for a year and a half. Because of some luck and a little determination, I have earned more money writing during the pandemic than I ever have in my life. 

Now, after that pat on the back, let me bring myself back down to earth. I am a writer, but I can barely explain writing. I have no idea what a dangling participle is and what I do know about it I learned from a James Gregory comedy bit. I cannot diagram sentences and I have never in my life spelled “guarantee” correctly, including right then. 

I live by the only rule of writing that I learned in creative writing at the College of Charleston from professor Bret Lott. He said that the only rule of writing is that there are no rules. Cow sings the blues. That sentence does not belong in this paragraph or this post, but I am the writer and I put it there. Deal with it. I also know that you think you know some rules of writing. I may have even broken some of those rules you think you know in this post. Unfortunately, you are wrong. Those things that you think you know to be “rules” are merely suggestions. My piece, my rules. Thank goodness. 

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So What Now?

John Lennon sings, “All I want is the truth, just gimme some truth.” That is all I want, even if it makes me uncomfortable or scared. But I don’t know if truth exists anymore. And I certainly do not know where to go to find it. That is a sad state of affairs and I hope that I am wrong. All I can do is try to stop saying things just because I heard them because that is doing no good. 

Anyway, I hope to see you all on the other side of this nightmare.

Humor

The Night I Bankrupted Half of Baltimore

 

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The beautiful scene of the crime

 

I have been watching UFC fights religiously since I saw Conor McGregor fight Nate Diaz in 2016. That fight was during UFC 196. The Pay-per-view event on January 18, 2020 was UFC 246. I may have missed a few events here or there, but I have watched most of the UFC fights in the three years since 196. This by no means makes me a MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) expert. Far too many corpulent MMA fans believe they know what they are talking about because they buy Pay-per-views. I am just a fan. That is it. I can’t explain how to perform a D’arce choke or a heel hook. I wouldn’t be able to pass guard or mount a successful ground defense. And the only part of a rear naked choke I could demonstrate is when the victim slumps haplessly to the ground after being strangled unconscious. 

Because of second hand knowledge gained from MMA podcasts and basic fight IQ, my overall fight picking record is pretty good. If I had a stronger appetite for sports gambling, I think I would do ok betting on fights. I’m not claiming that I could be a professional. As you will see in this post, I would be better off trying to make it as a fighter. But I do like to bet on fantasy MMA because it allows me to have a little action on the fights without causing too much damage. 

I have lots of friends who are degenerate sports bettors and I am comfortable saying that I  know more about MMA than they do. Many of them have won money based on my advice. I do, however, include the warning with my picks that if they chose to make bets based on what I say, they are doing so with the knowledge that I really don’t know what the hell I am talking about. I may know more than them, but that isn’t saying much. If they lose, it is their fault.

The UFC likes to make the first Pay-per-view event of the year a big one to generate lots of coverage and to get people excited for the coming year. UFC 246 saw the return of Conor McGregor; by far the most popular UFC fighter in the world.

I was torn picking the matchup because McGregor was fighting Cowboy Cerrone, my favorite fighter. Cowboy holds the UFC record for wins and finishes. While I thought McGregor would be able to out-point Cerrone and win by decision, I wouldn’t have bet on that outcome because McGregor was a -330 favorite. That means that you would have had to risk $330 to win $100 and I thought Cowboy had enough of a chance to win to make that risk too expensive. I did believe that Cowboy would be able to survive in the fight long enough to justify betting on the “over,” which was set at a round and a half. I told everyone to take that bet instead of betting on the outcome. Conor was able to finish Cowboy in the first minute of the first round, making that horrible advice.

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The best night I have ever had picking fights was during UFC 235, where I picked eleven out of twelve fights correctly; the one I got wrong was a split decision. If that was my top then UFC 246 was my bottom. I picked one fight correctly that night and it was a fight on the undercard that nobody asked me about. 

If life were fair, then your odds of winning would get better after you lose. If that were true, then Las Vegas would still be a dusty old truck stop. I should have known that I was doomed when, on the undercard, Maycee Barber, a -1000 favorite, tore her ACL and lost. Even though that was a pretty specific bad omen, I kept throwing out betting advice to anyone who asked like I was TC the Greek. 

The main card began with Anthony Pettis taking on Carlos Diego Ferreira. I knew that Diego Ferreira relied on this masterful Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to win his fights. He isn’t a strong striker but he doesn’t have to be because his submission game is so solid. Anthony Pettis is one of my favorite fighters. He recently moved up a weight class and found some extra strength by eliminating a brutal weight cut. He has looked unbeatable in his last few fights and I thought he would be able to avoid submission and beat Carlos with strikes by either knockout or a decision. I was correct and Pettis defended brilliantly until the middle of the second round where he got caught in something he couldn’t escape from. That happens in fighting sometimes. 0-1.

The next fight was Brian Kelleher versus Ode Osbourne. This fight mirrored the first fight in that a wrestler (Kelleher) was fighting a striker (Osbourne). I picked Osbourne because he has a seven-inch reach advantage over Kelleher. Reach is my favorite stat to exploit when picking fights, but I am not a professional. One way to neutralize a reach advantage is with wrestling. Kelleher submitted Osbourne in the first round. 0-2, but we have three more fights to go. There is still hope!

Maurice Greene is a heavyweight fighter with a devastating punch and a relentless pursuit. He is known as the “Crochet Boss” because that is what he does in his off time, crochets. How can you not pull for a guy like that? His opponent was this old Russian fossil, Aleksi Oleinik. I do not mean to be disrespectful; Aleksi is an MMA legend with 72 professional fights. His nickname is the “Boa Constrictor” because he gets hold of you and doesn’t let go. But I thought that Maurice’s youth and quickness could avoid the Constrictor’s death grip and win the fight with a knockout. I was proven incorrect when this Russian bear grabbed hold of my guy and proceeded to choke the life out of him for two rounds, causing him to tap out at the end of the second. 0-3 and now we are only hoping to owe the juice.

If my heart didn’t belong to the beautiful and deadly “Thug” Rose Namajunas, it would belong to Holly Holm. Nicknamed “The Preacher’s Daughter,” Holly was the first fighter to knockout Ronda Rousey, which shocked the world. Unfortunately Holly is 2-5 since beating Rousey and she really needed to win this fight. But because of her past performances, I couldn’t in good conscious advise people to bet on her. Too bad for them because she won a decision. 0-4, but Hawaii always kicks off at 10:30, so bet the house and save the day.  

Before the final fight of the night, McGregor v. Cowboy, my buddy from Baltimore called me. He’s a pretty good fight picker himself and we collaborate on fight night. He was watching the fight at his buddy’s house in Mount Pleasant with about a dozen other people from Baltimore, who, he informed me, wanted my head on a platter. Even though my buddy and I were agreeing on the picks, he was telling his buddies it was my advice that kept losing. I would have done the same if I was in a house surrounded by my friends who were currently thousands of dollars lighter, so I understood why he did it. 

“Tell them about my picking in UFC 235!,” I pleaded, but they did not want to hear it. 

I was certain my final pick of “over” for the McGregor fight would come in and my buddy agreed that there was no way I could get everything wrong. 0-5, and now I can’t visit to Baltimore. 

 

To give you a better idea of how bad I was at handicapping that night, here is the result of one of the Draft Kings contests I entered: Out of 3921 entries, my team finished in 3788th place. If it wasn’t for the one winner I picked on the undercard, I would have finished dead last. 

So let me apologize to those fine folks from Baltimore who lost money because of my advice. I am not a professional. I had a bad betting night that you only hope to ready about.