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Friday, March 04, 2005

The CPF Interview!

I have been selected for the singular honor of being interviewed by The Catholic Packer Fan (TM)! While I recognize that this means I have hit the big time, I promise not to forget the little people that got me here, yada yada yada. OK, I asked if he would, and he was cool enough to oblige.

1. You are a fellow Notre Dame football fan. When did you become a ND football fan, and how?

I grew up in the Bronx. My local Division 1-A choices one. Rutgers? We didn't root for Jersey teams. Columbia? 1-AA, but had a nice string of 20-something losses in a row. Army? I wasn't even aware that they were only 50 miles away. Syracuse? They're in Canada, as far as we were concerned. No, if you were a New Yorker and Catholic, you were a Notre Dame fan. You could always get them on TV, and they were always competitive. That makes for a good formula to hook kids, and I stayed hooked even after my tenure at Army.

2. On your blog you have a picture of yourself in front of Notre Dame stadium on gameday. What is your favorite aspect or tradition on campus on gameday?

The tailgating - and not because of the beer, although that is nice! The fact that everyone there is a fan, and it is almost like a big family atmosphere. People just share their food and drinks with others that they don't even know. I enjoyed the campus and the mystique, but it is the fans that make it awesome, both at the tailgate and during the game.

3. You are a huge football fan, and I believe from some of your posts a sports video gamer. Tell us about this hobby and why you enjoy it.

My love for football started with the pros, as I went to some New York J-E-T-S, Jets Jets Jets! games as a youngster. I remember storming the field after a win over the Dolphins, with my cousin yelling, "I touched Mark Gastineau!" I tell you, living in NYC during the reign of the New York Sack Exchange was quite a thrill. Leonard Marshall, Joe Klecko, Lawrence Taylor, Gastineau, Pepper Johnson, Bill Parcells...Defense truly wins championships. Even though my Dad was a Jets fan, I decided to be contrary and root for the Giants. That worked out pretty well, as they won two titles before I went to college.

I was a stereotypical New York sports fan, alternating cheers of 'Lets Go Mets' with 'Ray Knight sucks!' as appropriate. I pulled for the Giants, Yanks, Rangers and Knicks, but although even though I had made it to a couple of hockey games, I stopped watching after the Rangers won the Cup. It just wasn't fun anymore. I wonder if Boston will have a fan exodus...anyway, as free agency and marketing began to play a bigger part in pro sports, my enthusiasm waned. I don't even watch any pro football except for some playoff games, and don't watch pro basketball at all. Pro baseball has no college substitute, really, and I have stuck with the underachieving Yanks.

I got into video games starting with Intellivision baseball, in which a pitcher could catch a home run hit! I stayed with mostly baseball (RBI Baseball!) and football (Tecmo!) until I really started following college hoops, where I pull for Notre Dame and (hiding head) St. John's. Hey, they used to be good! If you've ever seen "Swingers" and remember the Sega Hockey scene, that was me and my pals in college football and hoops games in and after college. Now I play with my son - they're the only games I can beat him at. I know some people have a beef with EA, but their engine is just the best out there - although my NCAA Hoops game is the 2003 edition, and the Baseball and College Football ones are 2004, so I suppose someone could have gotten better since then.

4. How did you get involved in starting a blog?

I've been trying to remember! I used to read a lot of National Review Online, and they would occasionally reference Ace of Spades, Powerline, and some other blogs. I checked them out and thought it was neat, but not for me. I actually established Team Hammer's Musings for my wife! Little did I know that she would refuse to write on it, and that it would become an outlet for me to talk about things that I don't get a chance to discuss with much of anywhere else.

One of the things I picked up from the blogs I checked out before I started was that I didn't like inflammatory speech, so I try really hard not to do it on mine. I think it attracts like-minded readers and commenters, honestly. Not necessarily like-minded in ideas, but like-minded in respect for others. I also make a habit of not reading blogs that are extreme to my side of the political spectrum. I tend to be conservative, but don't ever read Little Green Footballs or Free Republic. I made the mistake once on a road trip of listening to Hannity and Rush for two days, and I was angry! Angry at the Left! I realized that those guys, with their talent for selective fact usage and clever use of the English language, were directing my emotions. Blogs can do the same.

5. You are in the military. If you are able to do so, tell us where are you serving your duty (stateside I assume), and what is your principle job in the military? Why did you decide to enlist in the military? And as a note: thanks for serving your country in our military.

I am a captain, and have a pogue ROTC job now, in Kentucky. I used to be an Air Cavalry Troop commander on the DMZ in about being on the edge all the time! I was selected to serve as the commander of the air component of the air coverage for President Bush when he came over in 2002, which was pretty wild. I tell you, getting paid to fly helicopters and blow things up is pretty cool...but the best part of my job is leading soldiers.

Soldiers are awesome people. Sure, they've got their bad eggs like any group, but as a whole, the average soldier is simply better than the average person. It's not that they are more moral, although they do tend to be more dependable and disciplined. It's that they are willing to jump on a grenade or take a bullet to protect their buddies next to them. How many people do you know that won't even take a butt chewing from their boss for their co-workers?

I actually didn't enlist - I went to the United States Military Academy (West Point), because I wanted to be Duty, Honor, Country. I come from a family where more of us have criminal records than have graduated high school, and no one had a college degree. I saw becoming an Army Officer as a way to get myself out of the hole that my family members fell into (well, jumped into, usually), and as a way to live out an ideal - that of Duty, Honor, Country. It may sound cheesy, but it's 100% true, and I wouldn't change it for the world. Not everyone who goes there embraces the ideal, but I am evidence that it has the power to change lives. I visited my cousin a couple weeks ago, who is one year older than me and grew up with me. He is also in jail. Why aren't I? Two reasons - Divine Providence and West Point. I highly recommend looking into both.

John, thanks for taking the time to peruse my blog and come up with this. It was nifty! Now, in the spirit of the game, I ask my readers (all 5 of you) - would anyone like me to interview them?


  • Mr. Hammer:

    If this interview is the 'big time' for you, you need to get out more! ;)

    A West Point guy...I am jealous now, I always wanted to go there, but I screwed around the last two years of high school and let my grades slip. I definitely had the SAT scores at that point, just not the discipline then that I have now.

    Oh, and I remember Intellivision.

    Excellent answers, and any time you visit S. Bend, let me know, we will have a couple of beers, on The CPF tab (and that doesn't happen too often, just ask my friends!) :)

    By Blogger John B., at 3/04/2005 04:13:00 PM  

  • The CPF has a mysterious ability to persuade his readers to do things we least expect... he's even gotten me to pay a little bit of attention to football games, which is saying something.

    Great answers - you and 3B2B are setting the bar awfully high for the rest of us!

    By Blogger lemming, at 3/05/2005 04:04:00 PM  

  • Really great post. too tired to say more.

    Thanks for that incredibly insightful comment. Actually I wanted to answer your first but was waiting. For what I don't know, but something.

    You're giving me faith in more conserative people than me once again. And I can't thank you enough for that

    By Anonymous pia, at 3/05/2005 09:38:00 PM  

  • Mark,

    Actually, you know...I'll take you up on that offer if it isn't too much trouble. I'm working on something for NPR (don't know if it will pan out of course :), and this might be a good prep for me; Based on your blog quality, I imagine it would be an excellent one.
    I sure don't want to put you out, but it'd be best if it could happen by Wednesday...otherwise, I will probably come out sounding like a blathering Not that that might not be true, I'd just rather as few people as possible realized it.

    By Blogger David Hunley, at 3/06/2005 06:10:00 AM  

  • Jimney Hammer!!

    Sorry about that! I meant to address Hammer of course. Must have had Mark on my mind...I've been reading his blog too!

    By Anonymous dhunley, at 3/07/2005 07:19:00 AM  

  • Hey Hammer: I'm not much of sports person, but you visit my blog and so I read your stuff sometimes. My husband would love you--I'm trying to get him into bloggin, but he's busy with full-time sheriff's deputy, part-time seminary and fixer of everything broken. He's also an ex-marine (MP/Cannine). And now that there is no NHL you think that he would spent more time doing something else (like with me), or blogging would be good.

    By Blogger Teresa, at 3/07/2005 12:07:00 PM  

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