Idle Time Games V: Winter, 2009

It occurred to me when I sat down today to (finally) write the recap of Idle
Time Games V that at some point it might be prudent to detail the genesis of these frivolity-filled festivals of faux-athleticism.  I could talk about the idea for a Swedish Party that somehow got all mixed up in a fervent argument over favorite Starburst flavors.  And how a game of volleyball might settle the debate.  Or recount the discussion over pizza (so much happens with pizza… so much… think about it… how many key decisions, explorations, and discoveries occurred in the presence of pizza?  Yeah. Scary, right?) as to who was faster, Rex or Nelson’s dog.  Throw in Nelson’s adamant determination that these games — sorry, “this nonsense” — “will never happen.”  Some might say this can all be credited to Big Phun’s ingenious psychological ploy.  And where the hell did Black Hole Society come from?  Is Clarksburg really a place?

Like a good chronicler of Idle Time history, I might go about writing some of this down… in a logical sequence.  Set the story straight, as it were. Emphasize actual facts; downplay the superfluous shit I make up.  But do we really want that?  Are we willing to sacrifice an origin story veiled in the mists of legend?  Where half-truths and idle boasts take precedence over photographic evidence and eyewitness testimony?  Wait long enough, and you will believe that in 2006 Kevin wore a magical cashmere sweater vest and some kid named Russell sobbed uncontrollably after Sergio told him his “services were no longer needed.”  I’m not giving that up.  Not yet, anyway… We’ll see what I recollect come summer…

Of course, when it comes to stats, records, and medals, I’m all business. Fer Crissakes, yer talking to a guy who collected baseball cards as a kid (and, uh, young adult).  Some things are sacred.  Let’s set some shit in stone.

Idle Time Games V
Winter, 2009
Sacramento, CA

No longer “The Natomas Games” or even “Idle Time Games at Natomas”. Remember our first winter when we played wiffleball in a thunderstorm?  Or the second one with the two-foot deep puddle right in front of the volleyball net?  Adorable.  And… we’re over it.  In what was a last-minute venue change to avoid swampland and lack of adequate shelter (not to mention the glacier-style annual shrinkage of the local disc golf course), the Idle Time Games may have found a new home.  Camped out at Idle Time HQ in the Pocket area of Sacramento, five valiant teams squared off for an epic day of competition.  Despite losing the Poppyseed Bunch mere days before opening ceremonies due to an unforeseen rattlesnake infestation, we welcomed a brand new bunch of boisterous bandicoots to the fold, the Ghosty Orbs!  This gave us the largest field of Idle Time competitors *ever*!  Twenty-nine athletes in all!  Some might say we’ve gone too far… grown too large far too quickly.  We run the risk of forgetting our humble beginnings, or failing to relish the reckless chicanery upon which these games was founded.  To that I simply shake my head, motion silently to the court… and point out Matt Isenhower playing volleyball in a pair of mittens.  Nothing lost my friends… there is only gain.


Gold – Team Sweden: Will, Matt, Rex, Danny, Sherice, & Mike (4-0, +38)
Silver – Pocket Protectors: Jill, Brian, Kevin, Amanda, & Joey (3-1, +28)
Bronze – Fountain Pens formerly known as The Banditos and temporarily known as Slimer and the Real Pocket Protectors: Sergio, Tim, Jimmy, Dan, Annie, & Monica (2-2, -2)

Pocket had never failed to bring home volleyball gold, but they knew going into the ’09 proceedings that staying perfect wasn’t going to be easy.  Last year’s top three teams all finished with a 3-1 record in the round robin tournament, with Pocket’s +40 point differential granting them the first-place medal.  As expected, it all came down to a fourth-round faceoff between the favorites and perennial silvers, Team Sweden.  The Blue & Yellow’s frustrating search to replace Ted “I’m actually Swedish” Monson is over: Danny Coonan earned his crowns this year, and Team Sweden won a nailbiter, 26-24, to finally vanquish the Pocket Powerhouse and take home the gold.

The bronze medal was similarly contested.  During that same fourth round, the Fountain Pens faced off against the rookies, Team Ghosty Orbs, each clutching one win apiece.  A win for the EctoVballPals (EVPs, yeah?) assured them of at least a bronze.  The Pens must have felt lucky that this game happened in round four: after three games, Erik Hanson’s Tasmanian Devil antics (including a ridiculous one-motion flip over the six-foot fence to fetch a stray ball) seemed to have exhausted his stock of breakfast carbs. It was a close game nonetheless, the lithe hands of Skip and Jeannie keeping it close, but in the end Sergio had ample ink in the nib, serving the final point for a Pens 25-19 win and bronze medal.

Gold – Team Sweden (6-4, 6-3)
Silver – Fountain Pens (6-2, 3-6)
Bronze – Pocket Protectors (2-3, 6-5)

Like Pocket in volleyball, Sweden had a stranglehold on wiffleball honors going into ’09.  But to get to the Gold Medal Game they would have to get through a surprisingly scrappy Black Hole Bunch.

Donno, Will U, Seth, Brendan, and the two Ians, fresh off their first ever medal in Idle Time Games III (winter ’08; the BHS missed out on Games IV… clearly they spent the year in training), were bound and determined to make a statement on the diamond.  In the play-in game against Ghosty Orbs, the Singularity Squad, behind the wicked wizardry of Ian Powell’s wifflepitching, took an 8-3 lead into the bottom of the second.  Then the rejuvenated Ghosty Orbs, with a clutch five-run explosion against a smattering of relief pitchers, forced the first ever summer games extra inning!  After going up 9-8, Ian returned to the mound and debunked the hell out of the paranormal pack with a shut-out performance.  Bring on Sweden!

Sweden had their own ace on the mound: Will Howell painted the Bonzi in the first inning and then, in the home half,  Danny How-Do-I-Hold-A-Bat Coonan belted not one but two homeruns over the left field chain to account for all six of Sweden’s allotted runs.  That’s all the Crowns needed, coasting into the GMG with a 6-4 victory.

On the other side of the bracket, Dan and Tim were making life miserable for the Pocket Protectors, who came into the ’09 tourney looking to erase an ’08 that saw them come up scoreless in both games.  The Fountain Pens grabbed their six in the first and held Pocket to two runs en route to the big showdown against Sweden.

Will took the mound again and dazzled the Pens in the first, striking out the side.  Sweden took a 6-0 lead into the bottom of the second, and despite four straight walks from Matt and three straight from yours truly, Sweden hung onto a Benitez-style nailbiter to win their third consecutive Wiffleball Gold.  In a rematch of the ’06 Bronze Medal Game, Pocket faced off against the new & improved BHS.  Pocket took a 4-0 lead into the top of the second, and then the scrappy Clarksburghians erupted for five runs and the lead.  Bottom of the second: two-run BOMB from Joey Elftmann seals the deal, and the Bronze.  Wiffleball, my friends.  Best Idle Time Game ever.

Disc Golf
Gold – Pocket Protectors (17)

Silver – Team Sweden (15)
Bronze – Fountain Pens (11)

The big news was the major venue change: Elk Grove Regional Park Disc Golf Course.  Nine real baskets (none were stolen or missing) spread out over a real park.  And a real big mound of manure that an Ushanka-clad Dan Figoni rose up and over like a dusk-risen dookie deity.  We should all be required to pack cameras from now on.

Led by Joey Elftmann’s course-best 30, as well as group victories by Jill (35! and Danny was in her group!) and Amanda (37), Pocket claimed its third consecutive disc golf Gold Medal.  Matt’s Group One victory, combined with second-place efforts by Danny (Jill beat him), and Sherice & Rex, gave Sweden a Silver.  The Pens, despite incessant bitching by Group 3 shlub Tim Hanks (“Come ooooon Group Two!  What’s taking sooooo long?”) and a silly little slapfight between Dan and Sergio on a sidebet hole, locked up the Bronze.  Bonus points to Gillie for keeping her disc out of every single puddle, lake, and submerged patch of grass in the park.  Even more bonus points to Rex for fishing out every drunk disc in his group (“I like to play in puddles!”)

Back to the lit courts of MPS for our final shenanigame!  With two Golds and a Silver, Sweden just needed a second-place finish in the final event to lock up the overall Gold.

Ultimate Monster Disc
Gold – Pocket Protectors & Fountain Pens (3-1, 7-1)
Silver – Black Hole Society (1-7, 4-3)
Bronze – Team Sweden & Ghosty Orbs: Jeannie, Erik, Gillie, Skip, Joy, & Isey (1-3, 3-4)

With a moderate degree of monsterism from several competitors, and a lot of spooky spirit from the Ghosties, the basketball courts were transformed into the first ever Ultimate Monster Disc venue.  A crowd-pleaser and athlete-exhauster, this ranks right up there with Superhero Dodgeball for fourth game fun and frenzy.  We may have found our permanent winter shenanigame folks.

Forced into an unholy alliance, the Pocket Protectors (ranked #2) teamed up with their arch-nemeses the Fountain Pens (ranked #3) and birthed a vicious, raging (and sometimes frightening) flurry of flying disc fanaticism. All-star Kevin Hayes torched the SWEGO backfield for two scores in the first round, and then the entire team went apeshit on BHS for a 7-1 victory in the second, sewing up a Gold in the event for both Pocket and Pens.

But remember me remarking on the newfound Black Hole veracity?  With five minutes still left to play against the PocketPen juggernaut, floor leader Will Updegraff was overhead saying, “Save your energy… we win game two…”

If Sweden (ranked #1), partnered with their Ghostly Buds (ranked #4), could just beat the Black Hole Society in the final Ultimate match, they would win overall Gold, an honor they achieved in the very first Idle Time Games, way back in winter of ’06, but an honor that has been the sole dominion of Pocket ever since.

What happened under the lights that night in January was the stuff of legend. Like something out of a Disney movie, the Bad News Black Hole Ducks poured every iota of themselves into a mad dash of toss, run, and catch. Like a perfectly-choreographed music video, BHS scored two TDs with less than two minutes to play, the last coming as Brendan ripped a disc from the hands of two defenders… final score: BHS 4, SWEGO 3.

Overall points
1. Team Sweden – 9 points
1. Pocket Protectors – 9 points
3. Fountain Pens – 7 points
4. Black Hole Society – 2 points
5. Ghosty Orbs – 1 point

So now what?
Sweden and Pocket, with two Golds, a Silver, and a Bronze each… were tied atop the leader board with nine points!  So, both teams get the overall acknowledgement… but I only had one set of Gold Medals…

Time for Trivia

This evening wrap-up tradition has become as intrinsic a part of Idle Time as anything we do.  And this year, with five categories contributed by five different quizmasters, it turned out to be the biggest, baddest test of bullshit minutiae ever.  And it would determine which of those #1 teams left with the last six Gold medals.
Sweden won my comic book round, and Rex about wet himself when awarded the sexy action figures.
Sweden and Pocket tied Jimmy’s sports round; Pocket won the tiebreaker and the lunchboxes full of stress-reducing treats.
Sweden won Sergio’s video game round.  But let it be known that Brian woke up in time to answer the Leisure Suit Larry question.
Sweden and Ghosty Orbs tied Erik’s movies round; the Orbs won the tiebreaker (as well as the instant Superman marathon, complete with a peace quest).
Sweden won Isey’s music round.
Final Standings:
Team Sweden: 50 points
Ghosty Orbs: 35 points
Pocket Protectors: 34 points
Black Hole Society: 31 points
Fountain Pens: 30 points
Really, everybody won, because we all got the brand new issue of Idle Times as well as the much-anticipated and completely-amazing three-disc set of Idle Time’s Best of 2008.  But Sweden got those sexy gold medals…

Hustle Award: Erik “3DChain” Hanson
Without a doubt, the hustle-iest, craziest, most energetic motherfucker on the court that day.  You know the expression, “I got tired just looking at him”?  Isey almost slipped into a coma.  Erik joins Carina, Nate, Nelson, and Sherice as Hustle Hall of Famers.

Spirit Award: Jeannie Howell
Jeannie was instrumental in bringing Team Ghosty Orbs together, as well as the chief architect in the only consistently-spooky costume rollout for the evening shenanigame.  True to her chosen mascot, the Spirit-in-Chief was full of ethereal energy.  Matt awarded Jeannie the medal, moving into the other-worldly company of past winners Dylan, Kim, Isey, and Shelley.

Who’s The Shit? Award: Sherice Wu
All the day’s festivities seemed to be prelude to a showdown between the last two WtS? winners: Dan “Man of the Year” Figoni and Joey “Lazarus” Elftmann.  Joey’s midnight departure seemed to leave it all in Dan’s hands… and he worked hard to keep it there, dominating the shufflebeer table with Sergio much of the night, including an amazing streak of five dice in a row (and seven of ten!)  Of course, those splooshes came at the expense of Sherice and Kalaine, transforming my Shweetheart into a singing, dancing, middle-finger waving dynamo and dark horse champion of the one award that everybody secretly wants to win.  Sherice proudly displays her wrestling medal in the company of Joey, Dan, Matt Frye, and award founder, Jill Pellerin.

Special Thanks…
Paige, for helping all of us non-suspicious looking folk in and out of MPS on Saturday.  You are a gatekeeper of extraordinary merit… Rob Obedoza for taking a million pics during wiffleball (all of which we’ll see posted soon)… all the quizmasters for contributing to an incredible sixty-question parade of geekdom… George for photographing our Pacific-parodying cover… Donno, Rex, Sherice, and Matt for hanging out Friday for a flurry of folding and stapling… and everybody — I mean everybody — for coming out and making this mess the biggest, yummiest Idle Times Games ever…

Please tack on comments, clarifications, and links to pictures.
My work is done.

– Mike

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