Trophies

So this topic has dropped on my twitter a few times recently so I wanted to get some stuff off my chest while I procrastinate other, probably more important, work. Let me say this first – this is an opinion piece, one written with a bit of a bone to pick with no one in particular rather a sentiment that I’ve seen a lot and honestly don’t agree with.

Take it as you will. If you don’t think you fulfill the niche I’m bitching about, good on you. If you’re reading this and getting pissed perhaps I hit a nerve.

I’m fucking sick of hearing about “participation trophies”. Flat out, I’m just fucking sick of it.

I had a closet full of the fuckers, ribbons, trophies, some huge ones that were nearly legitimate. Trophies were completely overblown in that day and age and apparently still are. I remember my third place pinewood derby trophy being like a foot and a half tall. Just showing up got you a six inch tall one.

It was insane.

You’d sneeze and get trophies.

Growing up I remember once not getting some sort of reward for trying. When I was in karate, like all good 90s kids, I was turned down to attempt getting my yellow belt. I remember not being in karate for much longer after that. But that was it. That was the only “real life lesson” I’d get until, essentially, I was in real life during my twenties.

The thing is I was in elementary and middle school when this was happening. I wasn’t a whiny brat. I wasn’t crying or even really wanting any of these damn things. It was the institution. They were being thrust into our faces. Whole scam award/distinction industries like Who’s Who popped up in this time frame. People were literally PAYING to have their kids rewarded.

Meanwhile our schools just churned over and over, trying to make sure we all kept together now. Again – we were kids. We didn’t go to PTA meetings. We didn’t vote for school board. We didn’t have any fucking say in any of this. These were the institutions that already exists and we were forced to cope with.

So when Millennials began growing up and moving on, suddenly the tone changed.  Suddenly we were entitled little brats and those fucking trophies, those trophies that had been forced into our hands by the adults in our lives were exhibit “a” in a case closed before it was opened. I’m not sure any of us consented to the system, I mean we enjoyed it, but we were little kids, of course we loved getting stuff. But we were also smart enough to understand that we didn’t need them or even really deserved them.

When I wasn’t selected to move on to yellow belt I didn’t cry, I didn’t scream, I understood I hadn’t put the work in and didn’t deserve it. I felt like shit, because the instructor was publicly calling this shit out, but I got it. I understood. Kids are smarter than most adults give them credit for. Kids are hardier than most adults give them credit for.

They aren’t the participation trophy generation.

Their parents are.

Their parents were the one handing them out. Their parents were the ones yelling at the teachers and not the kids. Their parents were the ones who needed the gratification of raising winning kids without the effort to raise kids that win. And so it was passed on to us, unwitting and innocent, until we were old enough for the very same people handing us trophies to turn on us and complain that we were entitled, couldn’t handle ‘no’, couldn’t stand up to the challenges of real life, removed from reality.

And honestly, with facebook and the rise of parenting for likes and retweets it is only going to get worse.

But don’t blame the kids. Don’t blame the kids dragged across the stage at first grade graduation. Don’t blame the kids having trophies and awards and ribbons thrust into their little, grubby hands by the very adults who then turn around and bitch about how we’re the entitled generation.

I think I speak for a huge number of Millennials when I say “if sending you all my trophies back will shut you up; what’s the address?” I don’t want them (never did), I don’t need them (never will), and you won’t shut the fuck up about them.

And I hope Millennials did learn a lesson, on how not to treat the generation after us.

Anyway.

O. Wait. Before I go.

Piers Morgan?

Go fuck yourself with the wide end of a rake.

Cheers, motherfuckers.

Mid-Autumn Review

Got a bit of time before an afternoon appointment ends up sinking a good chunk of our afternoon so I thought I’d get a rambly life review post out of the way. This is going to shift topics pretty quick so try to keep up.

Wine

After a half-year hiatus due to the move, our wine bucket is full again this time with a straight pomegranate wine. Right now the smell is amazing and fermentation is roaring ahead. I’m looking forward to the finished product.

In a week or two, we’ll get a second batch going: this time of raspberry wine. That too should be amazing.

And once winter sinks in, we’ll look at upgrading our wine cellar with some stone work and some decent racks and perhaps even a wine cooler.  We’re probably looking at doing it ourselves so expect a full how I managed it post at some point.

The House

We’re settling into the house quickly. We’ve already done a lot of work and we’re looking at getting the roof fixed first thing is spring. We also looked into either doing siding or remodeling the bathroom, but those ended up falling out of our price range. Too bad, both of those things can seriously go with an overhaul.

We’ve almost entirely unpacked as well, notable exceptions are bags of stuffed animals in the bedroom as well as organizing our clothes. Plus there is a giant tupperware  container in our office plus a box that needs to find a home. The office is now fully equipped for coffee production, freeing up much needed space in the kitchen (an issue that came very much to light when depipping ten pounds of pomegranates.

Otherwise we’re settled and extremely comfortable. The benefits of living so much closer to work and friends has already paid off, plus the reduced cost from the mortgage every month is helping as well. Walking is way, way up thanks to the myriad of stores and restaurants near-by, and we’ve signed up for fencing classes, our first since uni, so hopefully I can burn this damn beer gut away.

Writing

Been getting a lot done on the writing front, even if I haven’t been talking about it.

I am not participating in NaNoWriMo, so don’t expect word counts. I do plan to get some editing done, but there may or may not be some huge overhauls in my plans for the coming year/year and a half.

Brigid and I have been talking timing and publish for my four novels, which will either fall under her pre-existing company or more likely my own that I will set up when the time comes. The current plan is a release schedule something like this:

Sun-King: Q2 2018
Book 2: Q4 2018
Night Queen: Q2 2019
Book 4: Q4 2019

None of that is cemented, in fact I think it is safe to say the release schedule will likely get pushed back even further.

Why?

Well I’m a slow writer, mostly. I wanted book 3 (Night Queen) to at least be written (first draft) before I pull the trigger on publishing Sun-King. But Brigid very honestly pointed out that at the rate I write, I might want book 4 (is it strange I have the most trouble coming up with titles for the even numbers?) in the first draft stage and book 3 essentially wrapped up from the writing perspective.

I might plot out and write books 3 and 4 here in the next year – one giant binge of writing. Then I’ll have a first reader or two go through all four books and realign the consistency of the tone and action. That way I don’t have to keep going back to Sun-King when I make adjustments in Night Queen’s plotting.

It’s a lot of work, and the encouragement I get from you guys is, and always has been, great.

So thank you very much.

Kit Nerd

I’ve still been kit-nerding it up lately, messing around with sponsors and even going as far as to look beyond my normal front sponsors, manufacturer, and experimenting with a bit of color.

puma_strohs

A clean-ish rouge kit sticking on the piping theme from the official kit nerd post. In this series I went with Stroh’s as the official sponsor, following the tradition of teams like Liverpool and Newcastle who proudly wore their favorite session beers on the front of the logo. With this particular kit the dark red above the black collar isn’t the back of the shirt – it’s actually an inset of the front, so the collar is a rather traditional cut while also giving the effect of wearing an undershirt even when you’re not.

puma_strohs_plain_w_gold puma_strohs_plain_w_gold_bired

A bit of a cleaner design, in my opinion. A minimal amount of gold breaks up an otherwise plain rouge kit (top) or divides the rouge from a darker shade (bottom). I like that the Puma and DCFC logos follow the swoop, gives it a more balanced effect then when used above. I like them both quite a lot, with perhaps a slight preference to the plain one on top. The Stroh’s logo ads a lot of colors but if done right (and DCFC has been doing their sponsors right – with transparencies instead of giant bounding boxes) it still looks good. In fact the red and gold in the logo are really great with the rest of the get up.

puma_strohs_plain_w_blue puma_strohs_plain_w_blue_bired

Now on twitter I mentioned these would probably be a bit controversial (though that has so-far proven untrue). Instead of gold accents, I went with the blue from the Stroh’s logo, something unheard of for DCFC. I want to go on record saying I prefer the gold more and that I don’t actually want to see blue added to our kits, but it was a fun little experiment which I think looks good. In this case, though, I think the Rouge – Blue – Dark Rouge works better (instead of the plain one as was the case above). Maybe the blue stands out better with the defined line between the reds and isn’t lost as much.

Anyway, that is a life update. Cheers everyone.

A Follow Up to Moderating

A brief follow up to my recent post on moderating.

After posting it I had a few people who read my site reached out and thanked me, which I always appreciate that.

But I also had a user just today reach out spontaneously by PM and thank me too, which not only doubles my count but is also a big part of why I do what I do.

You’re welcome Gary. And everyone. No plans on quitting anytime soon.

Thoughts on Moderating

Banned someone the other day.

I do it quite often, actually, and though it seems almost petty to think about, I often remove someone’s ability to see a whole website more often than most people. I talk about moderating on and off, mostly because I am behind an NDA and get too much into details like the system we use or who gets what.

The identity of the guilty is generally a private thing, known only to those involved.

That’s okay, I prefer it that way. I prefer that no one has to know. At least once I’ve infracted someone I knew IRL without knowing it at the time.

At least once someone used my website to reach out to me to protest a ban.

If you are reading this and contemplating the same, I’ll save you some time – don’t. Just… just don’t.

Moderating is an interesting profession, all things considered. It certainly gives you an insight to human psychology that I think would even make most retail people blush. Sometimes someone gets back to you with such pure, unadulterated hate that even after more than a decade of life on the internet I pause and read it a second time to see if I got it the first.

I am digging through 117 pages of 25 PM threads each right now for a gem I hold closely.

“No one cares you stupid faggot. Kill yourself.”

What did I do or say to get this? I reminded him that the rules require users to bring up issues with the staff privately.

Over the years I’ve been told to suck a lot of dicks. Been called the n-word more times than I am comfortable with. “Faggot” is a popular one. Often users will offer to rape my significant other or allude that they’ll rape me. Few guess that I am married so they usually refer to a “girl friend”.

Racism and homophobia play key roles in the insults thrown at me, though a large portion of our user base (and certainly the more… colorful segments) are from eastern Europe where it seems those two are go-tos for insulting the powers that be.

A lot of people, a lot, reach for the “freeze peach” card. To them free speech is some universally guaranteed commandment over all other rights. It supersedes property. It supersedes national boundaries. It supersedes human dignity. This is the internet and god dammit they can call whoever they want an n-word and tell them to kill themselves and there is nothing we can legally do.

Other than ban them.

Apparently I am a wanted man in Latvia, or so some freeze peach homophobe would lead me to believe.

Anyway. I’m getting side-tracked with belly-aching. I banned a man the other day. I’m sure that’s the story you all want to hear. It isn’t always easy. Sometimes you feel bad. Sometimes you need to tell yourself that their sob stories are lies. That they stole it because they’re cheap. Because they don’t value the work of others. Because the truly hate the idea of both supporting your company as much as going without a game.

A certain level of cynicism is necessary when dealing with people on the internet because there is no way to validate any claim they make. I had one user go as far as to offer to send me [nude] pictures proving they were trans after they were infracted for insulting trans people.

A) That doesn’t undo your insults.

B) I can google trans before and after pics too.

You eventually just stop believing people. Everything becomes a cover. Everyone is lying. Everyone has some terrible seed of vile hatred inside them waiting for anonymity.

Everyone is ready to make a false equivalent.

“How is ‘Kebab’ racist? I can call a Frenchman a ‘baguette’.”

I don’t know, maybe because one comes from a video demanding genocide? I mean, if we’re going to get technical it’s because the rules say so? Perhaps that you rely so heavily on racist monikers should be something you should do some soul searching on instead of bitching to me for calling you out on it.

No one ever trolls, either, I find. I know because nearly every, single, poster I’ve infracted for trolling replies back within a day to tell me that they weren’t actually trolling and in fact it was the other guy who was doing all the trolling. They didn’t mean to suggest that they were mentally deficient and that their opinions were akin to the holocaust.

Honest.

Protip, wrestle with pigs for too long and bystanders will have trouble telling the difference.

Anyway, banning. I banned a man the other day for pirating. Sometimes it is well earned. Some go out in a blaze of glory, admitting that the stole everything and saying that they’d do it again too because we’re evil/libtards/gay/white guilters/whatever fascist bullshit catchphrase is on everyone’s tongue that week.

Those ones are easy.

Cathartic even.

This was a kid from Lithuania. Said he couldn’t afford the game and that it was hard to come by. The error he was having made it extremely obvious he had pirated it and then he admitted as much to the other users. So I banned him and swept it all under the rug.

Gone.

Poof.

Isn’t much left to talk about. But it made me think. Made me think of what we do and why. With nearly 3000 PM threads in my inbox I can only remember one “thank you”. One. That’s it. Lots of people telling to kill myself, or hoping that I or someone I love is raped. One thank you.

Sometimes I wonder why I do what I do. Wonder what I get out of it all. I must get something out of it because I keep going back, keeping fighting our fight.

Maybe I just want to see a second “thank you”. Maybe I get a sick pleasure from the power and pain. Maybe it feeds a martyr complex. Maybe it fulfills my desire to feel like I’m doing a small part to combat the vile trolls that grow in the internet’s dark corners. It’s probably a combination of all that and some other little ticks that I can’t think of right now.

I have no desire to stop, really. In the end, in the end I enjoy the comradery with my fellow moderators. I enjoy thinking I am doing good. And yes, to a small extent, I enjoy the shrieking death throes of trolls, pirates, and fascists as they flail powerlessly at the keyboard. Calling me all number of horrible things. Threats and slurs are all they have in their arsenal.

 

It’s only weakness. An utter lack of agency to stop the inevitable. A refusal to lay in the bed one made.

In a sad, or perhaps glorious, way it makes me stronger. Makes me a better person.

Maybe that’s why I stick to it.

 

The 2016 Summer Wrap Up

No this isn’t a thing, nor do I plan to make it one, but there’s a lot going on and a lot on my mind and I’m planning on writing some of it down for the curious and so that it’s here and not floating around taking up space that could be used to memorize useless CAE method codes for work.

NGS Kilts

I sent the order in. We got a few orders, but that’s all. I’m hoping to hear back from our supplier in the next week or so. Technically this is the real deadline, but I’m guessing no one is actually going to take advantage of it.

That’s fine.

I’m amazed I sold as many as I did, to be perfectly honest. It is humbling and awesome that people chose to buy something I designed, so thank you to the handful of you who ordered or even expressed interest in ordering. It means a lot to me.

The question of whether or not we’ll try again is up in the air. My gut reaction is “no” but you never know. So maybe?

The Move

The biggest thing going on in my life right now is the move. That’s right, Brigid and I are moving clear across the city from Howell to Grosse Pointe Woods. The move should be wrapped up 23 September. We and everyone involved (three families total) are cleared for our individual closings so it is all about scheduling at this point.

Brigid and I are supremely excited for this, and I’ve talked about it elsewhere so I will spare the details here. The short of it, though, is Brigid can begin writing full time! That’s super exciting for both of us and it means that she will hopefully eclipse my income shortly and then make us a billion dollars so we can retire at 35.

Surgery

I’ll keep this brief – I am going under the knife Friday (2 September) morning for a regular, minor, elective surgery. No big deal (hopefully). If things go right it’ll be a speedy recovery.

Book Two

Let’s end on a high note! The first draft of the still untitled book two of my series is complete! Huzzahs! I have a lot of editing to do, so expect those updates as I quickly try to rebuild the whole thing from the ground up a fifth or sixth time. I really like where it ended, I like what the characters got done, but I also recognize that it needs a lot of work. Hopefully that can get done sooner than later.

I’m taking a bit of a break from writing directly and switching to replotting out books three and four with much more detail than I have in the past. Hopefully this will make writing the last two installments a much quicker affair with fewer total restarts.

On the publishing side of things I might poke a few more agents, but at this point I want books one and two totally done and book three mostly done before moving into indie publishing, this way I can maintain a semblance of a release schedule. The idea would be to publish one book roughly each year starting around summer of 2018. I think that is an extremely doable goal, so no putting on the breaks!

Thanks everyone for keeping up on this site and hopefully we’ll see you at Soktoberfest and the so-far unannounced (probable) house-warming party.

Sláinte!

The Kit Post – 2017

Welcome to the third annual Kit Nerd Day!

 

For the unaware I am a hack of a kit designer and every year I post ideas for next season’s kits. Generally I post a home, away, and alternate kit but this year we’re going big – that’s right, after the success of Minneapolis City SC’s throw-back kits I too am doing some throw-backs.

And as always we’re going to start with some disclaimers. First I am not a professional, I don’t work for Adidas, Flagstar, Detroit City, or anything of note. I’ve used all images blatantly without permission. Nothing here represents an official direction for DCFC so fans of Adidas hold strong but expect more disappointing Nike and for potential sponsors these are not endorsed by the front office in any way.

And one last thing, this year marks the end of a) posting full kits and b) using the Adidas kit builder! That’s right I’ve upgraded to photoshoped fake kits that are, for the most part, almost entirely actual designs the kit makers use, but I can edit things a bit more and use colors freely. Kit designs are, of course, subjective. I’m happy to hear your ideas on twitter or as comments below.


Some thoughts on last year and last season’s kits.

As for my kits the 2016 predictions included the fabled return of the hoops, which have not really stuck in my head. That particular design is not my favorite as the hoops are rather thin and there’s a lot of them. The white Flagstar brand across the chest likewise seems slightly small and out of position. The kits in general lack a unifying theme, but I generally liked the the away and alternate kits.  In the end, though, that home kit is extremely complicated.

The actual 2016 DCFC kits were, for the most part, good. The home kit returned to a plain rouge affair, reminiscent of our first season back in 2012. I snagged one of those at the kit unveiling, my first home kit purchase! The away kit was dreadfully dull and lacked any color at all. The alternates though?! Fuck yeah Nike Volt kits with black trim! I bagged one of those too, buying one of charity ones so it went to a good cause.

Some complaints – the number on my home kit is already flaking off, which is upsetting. The little Detroit flags were lost to add more ad space and that kind of sucked. And the alternates should’ve used black numbers instead of white.

A big change in the 2016 season was the introduction of actual player numbers! That’s right, players were assigned a number and though it might seem petty, it’s a pretty big step in having strong starting squads and hopefully is a step on the path to a professional squad.

So, without further ado, the 2017 Kit Day Post:


Brand – Adidas

I’m going to fight for Adidas to the end of time but it seems like the front office is pretty stuck on Nike, something which will probably be even more likely next season with a major Nike store open(ing) in downtown Detroit. Nike, though, is one of the laziest fucking kit designers on the planet. They used the same damn design (in different colors) for at least half their clients this season including several national teams that were fucking involved in a major tournament against one another.

It was disgraceful.

Meanwhile Adidas have simplified their designs here in the States (they are still the sole kit designer for the MLS) removing the signature stripes from the shoulders and moving them to the sides. It’s a weird choice, granted, but I can deal. Their designs for the MLS continue to be decent, though I find the Seattle ones to be very, very weird. The choice to go with the blue sleeves bothers me, especially with an all-blue third kit. The Sounders need green.

My favorite from the MLS has to be Portland’s black and red aways. Those things are sexy as fuck.

Kit Names – No

Last year I took a stand on this saying we should include names on the kits as a way to look “official”; to look like we’re not run by amateurs. But we are run by amateurs and we are not a big-name club. With each passing season we leave more and more of a trail, make more and more history, and define more and more of what makes Detroit City unique to our city.

One thing I’d like is perhaps never include names on the kits. Never. As in if we’re playing for the MLS leave only the number.

I think it serves as a reminder than names don’t make a club, the club will survive and will never be made or broken by a single star. Sure a hero will go down in history, but the players now understand that they aren’t playing for their own personal fame – but for the fans and for the crest. If we go pro, those pros will need to be brought into line too. They play for us. Not for themselves.

Sponsor – Flagstar

I’m going to get this to work eventually.

I still think Flagstar is a better sponsor than Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers and they still act the part, and I’m not just saying that as an employee of a certain company symbolized by a blue oval. My opinions from last year are still alive here so it is what it is.

Interesting additions this last season though: Stroh’s and Faygo. Really interesting to see both an adult beverage company and a family beverage company join the team. Welcome and I hope dollar Stroh’s is a thing that sticks around.

And as I promised to Mr. Wright, I will not post the kit with hatchetman on it.

Okay, so there are my preliminary notes. Only one thing left to do and that’s roll out my 2017 Kits!


The Home Kit – Rouge Ringer

2017_KD_Home

Here is my 2017 Detroit City FC home shirt. This would be matched with rouge shorts (with white stripes) and rouge socks (with white stripes at the top).

Something became very clear in the last few seasons – Detroit City might be the Rouge and Gold but their kits are Rouge and White. That isn’t a bad thing. I understand white kits are easier to come by and probably cheaper. I say run with it. Really buy into that rouge and white feel and make the kits consistent year to year.

It build a brand and will help make the club more recognizable in the long run especially to outsiders and potential fans. The use of pin-stripes gives a shout-out to the ever-popular hooped kits while not actually hooping our kits, which leaves the brand more recognizable and doesn’t begin to blur the line with another bunch of hooped semen… er… seamen…. I mean… fucking Lansing.

Like the last two years I wanted a unifying theme between all my kits (or at least the three main kits). First year it was the red socks. Last year was the lighter rouge details like the logo and stripes. This year it is the horizontal pin-stripes. Anyone who’s been to my wikipedia page has probably seen the preliminary designs up there.

I wanted to bring in the white here after a season with all-rouge kits, switching the cuff rings, collar, details and the striping to white rather than a second shade of rouge.

Inside the collar it says “Detroit City til I Die” under a banner of rouge and gold, bringing just a little hint of the Blood and Treasure to the Blood and Bones kits.


The Away Kit – Bloody Bones

2017_KD_Away_v2

Here is my 2017 Detroit City away kit. As I envision it these would be paired with white shorts with rouge stripes and the same rouge socks as the home kit (a little hearkening back to the 2015 post).

As I said above, the 2016 away kits were way, way too plain for my tastes. I usually buy the away kits, they tend to be the more varied of the designs or in the case of 2015 Brigid really liked the collars. I haven’t brought the collar back (partially due to a twitter poll on the matter but also out of free choice), but instead I’ve brought color color back to the aways.

This kit is very much an inversion of the home kit with the exception of the collar, which remains white. Partially this allows the rouge and gold banner on the inside of the collar to still pop and not just be a random gold bar above the DCTID motto. The pin-striping and Adidas stripes switch over to rouge to maintain their visibility.

I think that the rouge elements, especially the stripes and pin-stripes give the aways enough color and “feel” that they don’t seem like unfinished, blank, canvases. These are “finished” kits with a finished, consistent feel with the home kits.


The Alternate Kit – The Nightmare

2017_KD_Alt_v7

Here is my 2017 Alternate/Charity Kit! The way I’m seeing it is this shirt plus black shorts with white stripes and black socks with white stripes on the top.

There was a little bit of controversy with my original choice of collar (that is it had an actual collar, which proved to not exactly be the most popular choice). Here I’ve gone for a little bit of a non-standard choice for the collar – closer to the neck without the actual pop-up collar that we had in 2015.

I also went a bit more “crazy” with the colors. Cuffs are bi-colored instead of mono like the above, matching the collar. The crest returns to full rouge and gold glory, instead of the black and gold of the past. The pin-stripes are retained, back in white.

This is a fun, one-off kit that fits into the rest of the catalog a bit better than previous charity kits. In the previous seasons they were either: bizarre colors (Volt or urban camo), or strange two-tone pieces (the black tops and white shorts of previous years). This one would return to the edgier black while also maintaining the consistent top/shorts choice of black and white. Hopefully this keeps them a bit cheaper as well.

Black is a great look for DCFC and I hope the charity kits become true alternates in the few instances where neither the home or aways provide the necessary differentiation from our opponents. If I was in charge they’d be worn at least twice if not thrice.


The Throw-Back Kit

2017_KD_ThrowBack

These would be worn with plain rouge shorts and plain rouge socks.

Just a simple take on the MPLS City SC throw-backs they released this season. Plain kit for a simpler time. Plus I was able to get my collar on you spiteful, spiteful bastards.


Anyway, I hope everyone enjoyed this year’s Kit Day post. If I get a chance I will post some of the other designs and steps I took if they exist. The alternate kit especially got a lot of “love” and attention, especially in the neck area. There was also the mock-up that I posted that had red sleeves. If/when that goes up I’m not 100% certain, it’ll be a manual post (this one is scheduled).

If you have any comments/criticisms/ideas of your own, feel free to let me know in the comments below or on twitter/reddit.

And don’t forget, kilt orders are due in 11 days!

Thanks everyone!

Sláinte!

Moving

So, as you might’ve noticed there is very little activity going on here these days. Well, that’s because Brigid and I are moving! It’s actually pretty far when you consider all things, but we’re not “going anywhere” in the sense that friendships will be shattered or jobs will be changed.

Brigid and I, after some discussions over the spring and summer, decided to sell the house in Howell and move closer to Detroit proper. So we bought a house right on the Grosse Pointe Woods/Harper Woods line and will hopefully be closing/moving at the end of September.

We’re both really excited at the opportunities this presents us with.

So expect more news eventually. Also expect the third-annual “Kit Day” posts soon-ish.

Cheers, everyone.

The Rumbles of a Michigan Flag Discussion

For many reasons, Rick DeVos is probably not the kind of person you expect to be retweeted on this blog. I’m not going to go there tonight, or perhaps ever as a political mouth and not necessarily a political ear.

Say what you will about Rick (as a person) or the DeVos family (as a force in politics and business), Mr. DeVos has brought up an interesting point: Michigan’s flag is kinda… well… let’s just say it fits in well with most US states.

That is to say… bad.

It’s bad, okay?

There, I said it. Michigan’s flag sucks. It is yet another seal on a bedsheet with some Latin logos and deer thrown all over it. There might be an eagle too. All things you can hunt in Michigan.

Rick has asked for some flag designs, my guess is that it has to do with his “Art Prize” thingie. Get a bunch of art and flags related to Michigan, how Michigan stands out in people’s minds. For me it is a chance to stretch my inner designer again.

Before we go too far, I want to bring up the long-sacred  rules of flag design:

  1. Keep it simple – A child should be able to draw the flag from memory
  2. Use meaningful symbolism – Symbols on a flag should promote the ideals and beliefs of the people the flag represents
  3. Use 2 to 3 colors – This is an extension of rule #1 and also makes the flag easy to convert to greyscale if done correctly
  4. No lettering or seals – Letters and seals are for seals, not for flags which should be instantly recognizable at a distance
  5. Be distinctive or be related – Flags should show common heritage while also standing out in the crowd

Where does Michigan sit?

  1. Fail – Michigan’s flag is very complicated, with a seal and three animals plus a bunch of Latin.
  2. Sorta Pass – Michigan’s flag throws enough against the wall that some of it sticks. Elk and deer for our forests, Eagle for America, mottoes and stuff represent the people in the state. However, it is way too much and is starting to get out dated. Deer might’ve been majestic in 1840 but now? They’re mostly just roadkill. Michigan isn’t roadkill. Plus it can be exchanged for any forested state in the US.
  3. Fail – Clearly Michigan fails. It has a ton of colors, some for only small details.
  4. Fail – Michigan’s flag is a seal on a bedsheet.
  5. Sorta Pass – Michigan’s flag gets a sorta pass here. It is definitely related – it’s related to all the other seals on (almost always blue) bedsheets that dominate the flags of the United States. But on the flip side it doesn’t stand out in any way.

While I doubt that Rick has any major plans for pushing for a change of the Michigan flag, without a doubt we need a new flag; it just isn’t the most pressing thing facing the state right now. On the flip side a new flag might be the perfect way to get people united behind improving our beautiful, wonderful, and amazing state.

I’ve already posted an idea here and with Rick, but I’ll post it and some others for your viewing pleasure.

Two Lakes/One Michigan Flag:

Michigan

This 1:2 flag represents Lake Michihuron and Lake Superior with Michigan nestled in the middle. The two stars represent the Upper and Lower Peninsula united within a green forest. It is important to never forget that the Upper Peninsula is a part of Michigan, it isn’t just a vacation spot or where you can get a cheap piece of land for hunting. That’s why I want to show it as one with the Lower Peninsula instead of  always separate.

Also, I recognize that my opinion on Lake Michihuron being one lake, but trust me when I say geography agrees with me – they are one lake with one surface that rises and falls together. Say it with me: Michihuron (/ˈmɪʃəhjɚˌɹɒn/).

And like last time, it retains its distinctive look in greyscale.

Michigan_BW

Lake Above/Forest Below:

This one maintains the same two peninsulas, one Michigan theme as the one above. The Light blue is replaced with a more traditional navy. The navy maintains the start contrast difference between the blue and white so that in greyscale it still remains distinct. It also ties it back in with the rest of the US by including the stars and that traditional navy blue. This uses a more standard 3:5 ratio.

The Michigan Square:

I think we all know that a certain neighbor to the south uses a weirdly shaped flag, so why can’t we? I’ve switched to a 1:1 ratio while maintaining the colors from above. I’ve moved the green to the fly (the side not attached to the pole) so that when draped it will stand out from the other navy blue flags.

The Michigan Tri-color (Horizontal):

A simple white-green-blue tricolor in a normal 3:5 ratio. I’ve removed the stars and made a flag that is very easy to draw from memory but is completely distinct from other American flags as well as just about any flag in the entire world (it the flag of the Komi Republic in Russia flipped). White for snow. Green for forests. Blue for the lakes. It is meant to invoke a common scene in Michigan – snow-covered pines by a placid lake. Simple, but distinctly Michigan.

The Michigan Tri-color (Vertical):

The same three colors as before, the same order – only twisted and given the 1:2 ratio I’m so fond of. Draped in still air it creates the scene from above. Aloft it is a flag like no other. Unique among all the world’s flags as a vertical tricolor that doesn’t use white or yellow in the middle (shared presumably with only Cameroon).

 

So there are five designs, hope you’ve guys enjoyed and you found something you like. Hopefully this all goes over well and Michigan can try to unite behind a new, beautiful flag!

Slán!

For the Love of Low-Tier Soccer

Sláinte motherfuckers!

I wanted to take some time to talk more about low-tier soccer in America and also in þe olde Ængland.

For those outside of the loop, the soccer tiers in England go very deep. Beyond the 4 “top” flights (Premier League, Championship, League 1, and League 2) there are many, many regional leagues full of plucky amateurs, bar buddies, and small towns that scrape together to put a team on a pitch.

It’s honestly amazing how deep it goes and how passionate people can be about the sport. Soccer is, in a nutshell, fractal. No matter how deep you look or how far away you get the image and passion are always crystal clear. It doesn’t matter if it is Newcastle United playing in front of 55,000 people, Detroit City in front of 7,400, or Kendal Town in front of 200.

And until recently that sort of passion was unheard of in the United States except in baseball.

And that’s a good point of comparison. Americans love baseball. They’ll gladly root for a local, low-tier baseball team over the more distant professional teams. There is local, civic pride on the line and it is a place for locals to root for other locals. There is a strong sense of community that isn’t found elsewhere especially in the shallow attempts of the big teams to check off the “look, we care” checklist of Breast Cancer, Troops, and potentially one or two local-ish charities.

There is no doubt that this sense of community has lead to the explosive success of Detroit City. Detroit is a city that thrives on community and the “Detroit vs Everyone” mentality. It’s an intoxicating favor that is quick to take over the minds of Rust Belters everywhere.

More now than ever I think low-tier soccer in America will win. They will win  against the NCAA and they will win against the domination of bigger leagues like the MLS. As I see the rise of teams like MPLS City SC, Detroit, Chattanooga, and nebulous non-team in Mobile, is seem communities that will weather greater storms.

And in their wake more and more teams flourish. Is the age of the one and done NPSL team over? I think so. That isn’t to say they won’t crop up from time to time, but that the time frame when a sizeable chunk of teams would pop up and die the next off season is probably over for good.

People, not owners, see the success of teams like Detroit and Chattanooga and they will replicate those successes with their own local flavors.

And in time the lower-leagues will be saturated more and more until a system like Promotion and Relegation becomes not only possible, but desirable to all involved. I don’t think the issue with pro/rel is one of the chicken and the egg. It is one of needing to build a strong, stable set of low-tier teams worthy of the system. We don’t have that yet, but it is seeming more and more likely every day.

The idea that Americans won’t root for low-tier soccer teams is become more and more of a bad dream with each broken attendance record.

It doesn’t take the reward of promotion to build a community – it takes a nucleus that a community can thrive on and that is a team. If you want pro/rel you need to support the little guys. You need to grow communities that can support a team going up as well as coming back down.

On the flip side the NASL continues to look like it is in dire straits. Strikers attendance has fallen to the point that their worst can no longer be rounded to 1,100 and is now just 1,000 – not bad for an NPSL team. Only three teams have posted any sort of growth on their average attendance numbers with the over-all average per game down 13%. I am very interested in what Puerto Rico can do when they join in the fall. In the end though I think there are some teams in the NASL that are untenable from an economic standpoint. You cannot pay for a tier two team on a seventh of the attendance of a tier four team.

Anyway, I wanted to give some love to a low-tier team over in England that I am particularly fond of: Kendal Town FC. If you follow my twitter or facebook you might’ve caught a tweet or share of some of the action over at Kendal Town, a tier eight team based in Cumbria, one of two counties at the very north of England.

With a bit of time on my hands I decided to design a pair of kits for them in the way I usually do (on Adidas’ website because I’m generally artistically bunk).

Home Kit

Kendal Home Full

Kendal Home Shirt

With the new range of Adidas kits I wanted to extend the range of the red on the Kendal home kits. Usually it is reserved for just the socks but here it extends up into the stripes, sleeves, shorts, and the Adidas logo. The pin striping on the white is a nice touch as well, methinks.

Kendal Town sometimes alternates their shorts between white and black, here I stuck with the black. I have a preference for black over white in kits, I’ve spoken about this regarding Newcastle. With magpie kits I prefer black to dominate, I think the color is more imposing and makes the kit look more finished as compared to more empty.

Away Kit

Kendal Away Full

Kendal Away Shirt

As for seconds, I went for a combination of Kendal Town’s usual blue kits while maintaining the distinctive magpie colors. The all-blue kits are broken up with some white highlights and the centerpiece of the shirt – the black and white sash. This beat out some other designs, some that were a tad white-heavy

I have to admit that even if I could, I probably wouldn’t do completely custom kits. Probably because I can’t and I’m suffering from delusions, but also because I like the idea of “designing” something that can actually be made tomorrow. I also like that constrains the possible to a smaller set and means you have to focus on other elements like color and style branding.

Too many teams these days, looking at you USMNT, completely ignore color and style branding. Every kit is as removed from the previous as I am from Ganymede. New colors! Weird colors! Hoops! Stripes! Blank! Sash!

What’s so fucking wrong with building a brand? We’re going to buy your kit anyway and it is nice to be able to see a Celtic kit from a mile away. It is nice to recognize that’s Newcastle, that’s Man City, that’s Sunderland.

Modern kits, man, it’s what’s wrong with modern soccer.

If you’ve never been, check out Historical Football Kits, I can guarantee you’ll lose a few days there. But it is also, for designers, a great way to soak in those ideas of brands. English kits rarely change dramatically, especially not the first/home kits. The biggest change in the Newcastle kits in the last 100 years was a switch from blue to black shorts and the occasional white (instead of black) socks.

MLS teams often have trouble focusing on this. Hell, even Detroit City had some trouble with this (and I’m not helping of course) going from solid rouge, to rouge on rouge, to rouge and white, back to solid rouge.  Hopefully a pattern can catch on soon.

Anyway, I have some ideas for bigger overhauls of brands and stuff that I might do in the future. Who knows, maybe one day a team will trot out in something I’ve designed.

NGS Kilts – Order Form, Pricing, What Changed, and What’s Going On

tl;dr:

Prices for kilts made more accurate; 25% deposit now, rest later; prices will fluctuate so nothing is final; up the fucking city; you have until 31st August; order sheets.


Hey guys! The Detroit City season is underway and we’ve already packed Keyworth up to the brim with 7,410 supports, fans, and bewildered Hamtramck locals! We’ve crushed the Bucks, carried Louisville in PKs and have shown that we’ve weathered the off season, rumors, and came out stronger than ever before!

During the off season I began work on designing, registering, and producing an NGS/DCFC tartan that we can turn into kilts and other fun items for our burgeoning army of rapid supporters.

So where are we on all that?

The Design

Final - NGS Tartan

This was the final design that I came up with and got approved by Sarge and Ken. Anyone familiar with the NGS will recognize the colors motif pretty quick. We’re rouge and gold on a background of black and white, with a grey little train-track running through the middle as an homage to our new home in Keyworth.

There isn’t much “deep” history here. Not like every thread count means something. No long stories to tell. It is a tartan. It is ours.

Registered

After designing I got it registered with the Scottish Government. It is ours and always will be ours. They would not add the restriction that people from Ohio couldn’t wear it without coming to a game and shaking Sarge’s hand but I wasn’t going to press the issue with a bewildered and honestly rather tired Scottish bureaucrat.

Making it Real

This is where things get… complicated.

You’ve likely seen that I’ve posted links to order sheets before, tried to get people to send them in, pushed back dates, and eventually fell silent.

There’s a reason for that.

I found a supplier more than happy to make our dreams come true at an extremely reasonable price: SportKilt. I decided to do a test run with my personal tartan, going through all the steps and eventually including checking CAD and thread selections. I placed my order and was surprised at the protectionist taxes we levy on imported wool.

So I had to rethink how we were going to do this.

Here is the updated order sheet.

I had to bump all the prices in order to reflect the 25% tax on imported wool. It sucks. It hurt. But these prices are still significantly better than I expected when I first started this whole thing. Prices range from $245 for the smallest base kilt to $433 for the largest fancy kilt (excluding options). This is an increase from $210 and $380 respectively.

Sashes and capes are no longer priced for labor-only. They now include a yard of material at $45.

Children’s kilts were also increased, now ranging from $74 to $128 from the original $60 to $110.

Women’s skirts reflect the same price increases as the men’s kilts.

I’ve also extended the time-line to the last day of August. You have until the 31st of August to get me your order forms and your money.

Which brings me to the ordering part – When you give me your order sheet (in person or by mail) you MUST include a 25% deposit (rounded to the nearest dollar). Since we’re talking international importing/exporting prices fluctuate and so do conversion rates. The number of orders changes the price of fabric as well. Right now we’re assuming we get enough to get the best price, but too few orders will increase the price from $45/yard to $62/yard.

When I get a final price from the supplier/SportKilt I will update you and have you write a check for the remainder of the balance.