Go Ask Daddy About Woodwinds, Airships and Gridiron Boots


I should have been a baritone saxophone player in a studio band. Not a sports writer turned blogger.

I loved jazz. I could hold down the bass line and also rip it a solo. I had a colossal, bad-ass baritone sax named Maddie. I named her after Cybill Shepherd’s character in “Moonlighting.” That’s how cool I was.

My music dreams died when we moved to Carolina from Colorado.

My high school here didn’t have a jazz band. I chose another elective: Astronomy. No one else did, though. Garinger High canceled the class, and made my elective choice for me: Intro to Journalism. I became a staff writer on the student paper, The Rambler.

I didn’t realize it at the time. The universe had just pulled a bait-and-switch for my stars.

It didn’t have the excitement of this one by Indiana Jones.

1. How much does a reed cost?


I played in the concert band for two years at Garinger. It just wasn’t the same, though.

Dr. Maddox, our band instructor, sold reeds out of a manila envelope on the honor system. Pick the one you need, and leave the cash. It worked until the money grew past $10. It always disappeared at that point. We canceled a band trip after the money got ganked.

You can get a box of 10 Rico alto saxophone reeds for $21.49 online. That’s a 3 strength reed, my reed of choice. We paid Doc a buck a shot. Turns out we paid a stealth student a buck a shot.

2. Do you need to get one of each foot in bounds for a catch to count in football?

photo credit: U11/U13 Turnering @ Sjökrigsskolan Våren 2012 via photopin (license)
photo credit: U11/U13 Turnering @ Sjökrigsskolan Våren 2012 via photopin (license)

In high school and college, you need just one foot in bounds for a catch to count. In the pros, you need both feet in bounds.

Hopping twice on your right foot doesn’t count. If you’re named Santonio Holmes, in the waning moments of Super Bowl XLIII, one foot in will do. I guess I’ve brought this up a time or two.

The Arizona Cardinals, Marie’s Arizona Cardinals, were ahead in a Super Bowl. What if they’d held on? Talk about a day to change your stars.

3. Are they in the blimp for aerial shots?

photo credit: Minion Airship via photopin (license)
photo credit: Minion Airship via photopin (license)

Yes, and the blimp didn’t get a shot of Holmes play.

Blimps beat the hell out of jets for aerial shots of NFL stadiums. *zip* That’s Heinz Field!

A helicopter would be all choppy. That’s great for tracking white Broncos on California highways. That’s lousy if you hope to capture the feel for Lucas Oil Stadium and the surrounding neighborhood.

[check out this collection of NFL stadium satellite photos]

MetLife named its blimps Snoopy One and Snoopy Two.

Remember Gabe? He played on Grace’s U8 soccer team. The blimp flew over our match one day on its way to the Wachovia Championships on the PGA Tour. Gabe blurted out an astonished “holy shit!” when it hovered overhead. Hey, it’s a big deal, the blimp.

It’s holy-shit big.

4. How many people have died of Ebola?

photo credit: NHS medics prepare to join the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone via photopin (license)
photo credit: NHS medics prepare to join the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone via photopin (license)

It depends on who you ask.

The death toll ranges from 4,800 to 15,000. The World Health Organization can’t be sure of exact numbers. The deadly Ebola virus reached outbreak status in West Africa in 2014. It reached the U.S. and Europe with high-profile infections of medical personnel.

Scores might have died without medical care. Or who couldn’t get a bed in all the overcrowded facilities.

If 42 days pass from the last patient becoming negative, a nation becomes officially Ebola-free. That’s according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

It struck me today, the lonely nature of Ebola. When you treat an Ebola patient, you must do so without touch. When you’re an Ebola patient, you’re on your own in the battle. You’re alone, or with others who are sick. It’s Heartbreak Hill in real life. What a horrible ordeal.

5. Do football players wear cleats?

photo credit: NHS medics prepare to join the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone via photopin (license)
photo credit: NHS medics prepare to join the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone via photopin (license)

Yes, and they’re not like your soccer boots.

Football spikes screw into the shoe. Teams switch to longer or shorter spikes according to field conditions. Molded-bottom soccer cleats have spike cleats beat for comfort.

Certain fields, like Lambeau Field in Green Bay, play soft. I’d guess you’ll switch to a longer spike in a soft surface.

I could be wrong. Maybe you could land both feet in bounds, even, with the right cleats.

Maybe Santonio Holmes had them on one cleat.

Can we check the blimp footage on that one? cleats quote


  1. I took music for a nano second in high school in my freshman year and absolutely hated it. So as thankful I was allowed to drop it, but because of that I never could become a band member for all intents and purposes. So there went and musical aspirations I may have entertained, as well!! 😉

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      it isn’t for everyone, music. Elise and Marie have both given up band, and Grace is about to give it a shot. Two of them used my saxophone, which was old when I got it 30 years ago! (It’s in that top photo, in fact.)

  2. laurie27wsmith says:

    I tried to post a comment and it vanished Mate, so here I go again.
    A sax player eh? Now that’s cool! Soccer boot cleats? Had a prisoner escape from his cell one night using two cleat spanners that came with his boots. He’d smuggled an expander made out of a big nut and two bolts into his cell and forced open the fixed, back window of his cell open enough to crawl out.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Sometimes the comments get hung up in limbo, mate.

      I could swing the ax, all right. It was beyond cool. It was the first thing I ever worked hard for in my life.

      Did they catch that wanker? Kind of ingenious. Maybe the government should put him on the payroll.

      1. laurie27wsmith says:

        As they do.
        You obviously loved the saxophone Mate, do you still play?
        Yeah they caught him six months later half way across the country.

  3. firebailey says:

    I’m kind of afraid to ask this, but how did they sneak an Ebola question in with all the sports questions? Secondly are you sure or just hoping it was “reed” and not “weed” for the first question?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Never be afraid to ask, Kerri. Every time the girls ask a question, I add it to a list. As of now, it’s 354 questions long!

      So, every week, I use random.org to choose five questions. I never know what I’ll get. If they’re outdated, I’ll pick a replacement, but for the most part, I go with the random lot.

      Let’s hope it wasn’t weed they were asking about! 1) it was the baby asking. and b) at Elise’s school, she ought to know what a bag is selling for these days.

  4. Kim says:

    Interesting to think about how different things might have been if you had pursued your music career:)
    My oldest son is in Jazz band this semester and loves it – he plans to stay in it the rest of high school!! (he plays trumpet)

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Exactly. I mean, your life changes even for little things like running a yellow light or choosing one grocery store over another. Jazz is so much fun, especially in contrast to concert band. Hope your son stays in as long as he can, and never stops playing. I still have my alto sax!

  5. You had me at Indiana Jones 🙂

    From Sax Player to (averted) Astronomer to Sports Journalist – and now you’re Coach Daddy, I think you did great!

    February is an excellent month for ice hockey!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Indy always seems to find a way into a blog around here, Tamara.

      It’s been a long and winding road. I’m glad it’s lead to here, now.

      I think Americans don’t watch hockey until the playoffs.

  6. Kim says:

    This one time, at band camp…

    Okay, I never went to band camp. I never even joined band… I was already forced into taking piano lessons. I wanted nothing to do with band. Plus, it would’ve gotten in the way of swimming practice. Huh.. maybe I should’ve joined band. Then that mirror, and my tooth, would still be intact.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I was sure you’d have a band-camp story, Kim. You could have made one up.

      I think in band you’d have found a way to find the mirror. Fate’s like that.

  7. Kathy G says:

    I gotta disagree with Hunter S.Thompson….here in St. Louis the TOP TWO stories in the Sports section were about baseball.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      That’s because in St. Louis, you’re always in contention. For the Rockies, there are headlines for about six weeks. Then the dog days of summer hit. Sometimes, before May’s over!

  8. One of my favorite features in home basketball games was when the jazz band played during half-time. I almost didn’t want the game to resume.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Our pep band, I’m convinced, gave us a home-court advantage. I loved being in it!

  9. ksbeth says:

    gosh, i loved the band story.

  10. Rorybore says:

    Excuse me Mr Hunter, but I got a hockey jersey I can pull over your head to prove you wrong. 😉

    So, completely off topic sorta ish: but what do we think of a possible Indy reboot with Chris Pratt as the adventurous arch doc? Just in case you needed a question for next week. ha

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      My Canadian friends take exception to Mr. Hunter’s remarks.

      Interesting proposition, Chris Pratt and Indy. I’m not sure how i feel about that. Not immediately awesome. But I’m also opposed to Disney’s mitts on Star Wars. And non-traditional pizza toppings. And “meat” substitutes.

      Sometimes, it’s better to bid a legend farewell than to resurrect it again and risk its luster.

      1. Rorybore says:

        I think I agree. I don’t mind another Indy movie…. but I think Pratt should be Indy JR. Oh wait… technically Indy was already a Junior…. well, you know what I mean. He shouldn’t play Harrison Ford – you can’t beat that – so his son or something and put him in the modern world. that might prove interesting and just same but different enough.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        I could deal with that.

  11. tamaralikecamera says:

    It still doesn’t explain how my photography class in high school was canceled because of… inappropriate teacher behavior in the darkroom.. but I still became a photographer!
    I guess it all makes sense, somehow.

    Ebola is a very sad and very lonely and very horrific disease.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      The darkroom begets inappropriate behavior. I suspect our photo editor at the student paper in college doubled our darkroom as the Love Shack.

      Ebola is awful. I couldn’t bring myself to say anything but somber stuff about it.

  12. stephrufa says:

    The “holy shit” cracked me up. Two days ago my youngest son, who is adamantly opposed to swearing, repeated “shit eating grin” (I said it) (he said, “Mom, what’s a shit eating grin?”) not realizing he forgot to bleep the swear until after he’d said it. Oh my goodness, he hung his head in shame, buried his face in the couch and cried while I hugged him. He felt terrible. I, my husband and his siblings could not stop laughing. We tried to be discreet but it was so funny, first, to hear it come out of his mouth and second, his crazy, over the top reaction. Hilarious moment.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Kids cursing is funnier than grownups falling down. At least you know your son is listening, Stephanie. That’s gold right there.

      Plus, when it’s used i a phrase, that’s bonus points. It’s practically an A on an English test.

      10 years from now, the ‘shit-eating grin’ day will be recounted. It might become legend.

  13. kismaslife says:

    It is because of you that I know anything about sports, thank you!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Stick with me Tiffany – we’ll cover other topics, too, such as Spanish bad words, space physics and more about my love affair with a GPS named Shelley.

  14. Married my Husband because he’s a sax player. OK, not really. It’s because he’s a good, kind, and gentle soul who can talk about literature and is a great father. Of course it’s all of that.

    Nope. It’s the sax. 😀

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      He must be really good. Playing the sax never gave me even the slightest edge with girls. I think there were always too many minuses about me and they canceled out.

      Sounds like you got a catch, though.

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