Tuesday, May 30, 2006
I'm not sure if you're a soccer fan, but I pretty damn confident that you like breaks. Go ahead and take five.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Earlier today, I was planning a putting together a little something on last night's fastbreak-until-you-puke Game 1 between the Suns and Mavs. More specifically, the odd phenomenon that somehow makes it next to impossible to bury Phoenix, regardless of time, score and any other number of factors that traditionally determine the way in which we perceive the flow of a playoff basketball game. You see, Phoenix had no business winning last night's game. Not after Raja Bell went down like he had been shot by one of Mark Cuban's blow dart snipers (Do you really believe he doesn't have them posted all over American Airlines Arena?). Certainly not when they were down 9 with four minutes left on the road and Shawn Marion hobbling all over the place like some three legged mutt. It's to the point now that you can't ever feel safe in turning off a Suns game if there are more than 5 minutes left in the fourth quarter and Mike D'antoni's mustache still has a couple of timeouts at it's disposal. For Pete's sake, I can't remember a team so capable of quickly erasing a lead since the salad days of Rock n' Jock Basketball when the Bricklayers and Violators were tossing up 25 point shots like they were about to be outlawed. Which, coincidentally, they were.
I was planning on doing all of these things. Unfortunately, as is par for the course around these parts, there's been some significant delays in the that have been brought on by those in postitons of power above me. These delays have left me sitting here in front of my monitor in a hostage like state, eagelry awaiting the arrival of some (surely) groundbreaking material in my Inbox. Will this issue be resolved before I leave the office this afternoon? I've been promised as such but you'll have to forgive me if my mood is significantly closer to "guarded skepticism" than, say "unwavering belief". Regardless of the result of this afternoon's project, rest assured that my mood will remain unaffected. And that's a good thing. It's kind of tough to work up a suitable amount of vitriol for any person or thing when you're sitting on the edge of a four day weekend. A four day weekend that's kicking off with a concert featuring one of your favorite musical acts at one of your favorite venues.
Tonight, I'll be traveling to Orlando with my old roomate Vitas to meet up with another of my former roomates, Berto, in order to take in People Under the Stairs. This evening's show will mark the first time that PUTS has ever played a show in the Sunshine State and, more importantly (to me at least), the first time that I've had the privilege of watching these guys hone their craft live on stage. To say that I'm excited about tonight's agenda would be a massive understatement. In fact, I'm not sure if it's possible for me to overstate just how psyched I am for this show. Not only are these guys some of the best around in the "underground hip hop" scene, but their relatively low profile and west coast home base make trips to the east side more than a little rare. The fact that this show happens to fall on the beginning a holiday weekend makes it all that much sweeter.
I'll be back Friday with some thoughts on tonight's game and a report from tonight's show. Have a good time at work.
Friday, May 19, 2006
All of this works out quite well for the rest of my weekend plans. You see, I am probably going to drop a little more scratch than normal on Saturday night. Tonight’s round of games ends up being just the excuse that I need to convince my alcohol addicted brain that not going out on a Friday night isn’t a sin on par with baby snoodling. What could be better than tonight’s slate of games and further influence my decision to stay on the couch tonight? I’ll tell you what, tomorrow’s concert at the House of Blues featuring The Roots and Common. I’m taking my girlfriend who has never been to a Roots show before. To say that I’m guessing her mind will be blown is a vast understatement. Besides being some of the more consistent, and innovative musicians in hip-hop today, The Roots also happen to put on one the more amazing live shows (regardless of genre) in all the world. The fact that Common is going to be involved as well should be the proverbial “icing on the cake”. Saturday night’s concert will be the seventh time I’ve seen The Roots live and not a single show has been anything less than spectacular. I’m not expecting #7 to be any different.
The Roots, however, are tomorrow’s big news. Today’s news is the NBA Playoffs. Because virtually every sportswriter and/or sports blogger around has already weighed in with their opinion I’m going to keep my comments on each series short (relatively speaking, of course).
Heat- Nets: Umm, so the Heat are pretty good, huh? We all knew that, I just don’t think any of us knew that they would be playing this well at this point in the playoffs. I’m still not a believer in them long term (not enough defensive stoppers, Shaq is on the decline, too dependent on Wade) but they finally seem to have all accepted their roles for the time being which can only be a positive on a team with so many alpha males (or former alphas).
One last thing: Everybody needs to settle down on Antoine Walker. The guy was an All-Star, after all. It’s not like this was Brian Scalabrine coming alive against the Nets. If you give him a favorable matchup (thanks Cliff) and open looks, he’s extremely capable of burning you. With that said, I get the feeling that his new found “acceptance” of his role will look a whole lot less impressive when he’s matching up against a bigger more athletic player like Rasheed Wallace, or Dirk Nowitzki. The fact is that Walker played well b/c the matchups worked for him. Once he’s up against a bigger, more athletic player who can challenge his drives he’ll revert to launching ill-advised threes and bogging down the Miami offense. This is Antoine and he’s not going to change.
Clippers-Suns: This is, by far, my favorite series to watch. On paper, the Clippers should be dominating this series. I’m not talking about their players (though you could make that case as well) but rather the raw numbers that each team has recorded so far in this series. However, every time that it looks as if the Suns are ready to fold they end up making some 9-0 run to cut the lead and make a game of it. In fact, the Suns do this enough that they’ve ended up tied in this series. Even in last night’s win there were plenty of positives to take away for Phoenix. Sure, the Clippers beat them handily but they needed a career playoff high from Quinton Ross (in the first half no less) in order to do that. I don’t know what I’d do if I was a Suns fan. Just knowing that you could probably win the whole damn thing this year if it wasn’t for both of your stud big men being stapled to the bench for the entirety of the last few months would be enough to drive me insane. Though, to be truthful, it’s really not that far of a trip for me at this point.
I’m tempted to go with the Suns in Game 7 but my head is telling me that Cassell and Brand will be too much for D’antoni and crew too overcome. By the way, is their a more ridiculous coaching name than Dan D’antoni? How may glasses of vino had his parents knocked back when they decided on that?
Spurs-Mavs: Normally, watching the Spurs makes me want to shoot myself in the face. It’s a confluence of things really. Their grind-it-out pace, dirty ass Bruce Bowen, Ginobilli’s non-stop flops (and the fact that he seems to have some sort of mind control on NBA refs. Seriously, how do they still by his act?), close-ups of Poppovich’s face, etc. Yet, this series has been downright exciting. Avery Johnson is already a better coach than about 75% of the guys roaming NBA sidelines these days as evidenced by his brilliant move with Devin Harris earlier in the series. It doesn’t seem that complicated to make a team adjust to your style of play and personnel. However, the fact remains that it takes guts to pull the trigger on such a move, especially in the playoffs. To me, all of this is just further confirmation of the amazing job that Splinter did raising Avery and the other orphans in that NYC sewer. One thing that I haven’t heard mentioned in regards to this move is the lack of athleticism that currently resides on this Spurs roster. Think about it, other than Ginobilli and Bowen, can you name one single perimeter player on that roster who you would trust to guard any moderately skilled offensive player one-on-one? Poppovich and RC Buford have done a good job adding veteran experience (Barry, Finley, Van Exel) to the roster in the last two summers but they’ve also robbed the Spurs of some much needed explosiveness off the bench, and it’s finally shown in this series. And, yes I have seen each of Mike Finley’s filthy fucking dunks in each of the last two games and I’ve loved them both. However, those two dunks notwithstanding, Finley is far from the player he once was.
Cavs- Pistons: I don’t really know if there is much more to say about King James at this point. Yes, he has earned that nickname. LeBron is sooo much better than even his biggest supporters could have imagined as little as a month ago. He’s elevated his game, his teammates’ games and even seems to have intimidated the Pistons a little. For a team that prides themselves on being the toughest bunch of guys around, this is no small feat. You’d have to be crazy to pick against Lebron tonight in Cleveland, right? Well, color me bananas because this is where I think the dream begins to die. You see, the Pistons are a team that thrives on being doubted and looked over. They laid the foundation for this run of success by defying the odds and coming back down from 3-1 against Orlando in 2003. They excelled when nobody thought they could beat the Nets in 2004. They played even better when the entire world wrote them off against the Lakers that same year. They continued to play at a high level last year as people kept waiting for them to come back to earth. Finally, when people did begin to buy into the Pistons’ success they took motivation from the praise being lauded upon Larry Brown’s coaching, as opposed to their individual abilities (both during last year's playoffs and early during the regular season).
This year, specifically the playoffs, is the first time that this collection of players has ever had to deal with universal praise for them as individuals and as a unit. What did they do? They came out fat and happy and promptly fell on their faces. Now, you have the whole damn world writing them off. If not in this series, then in the next against Miami. The Pistons are finally back where they are most comfortable, with their backs against the wall. Is this the way that most “great” teams operate? No. Then again, Detroit isn’t very similar to many of the great teams of the past.
Detroit wins tonight and closes Lebron out in 7. There you go. You don’t even need to watch tonight.
One last thing: The Basketball team that I play on won it’s third consecutive city league title on Monday night, finishing the season undefeated at 16-0 for the league’s first ever undefeated season. Yeah, we’re pretty awesome. Now I get to put on thirty pounds during the offseason. Sweet.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
This is normally the part where I'd bitch and moan about the people at my job calling a 2 pm meeting but failing to actually show until, say, well...not yet. I'm not going to do that today because these inconsiderate schlubs have unwittingly afforded me another 24 hours to wrap my feeble little mind around all thats transpired on the hardwood with the span of the last 96 hours (give or take). I'll be back tomorrow to try and tackle the absurdity of LeBron (why didn't the Texans select him?), the best NBA Playoffs I've seen since junior high, the beauty of soccer on Tivo, and of course tons of mindless droning about stuff you don't care to hear, read or see. Until then...
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Programming note: I’m not going to discuss any NBA Playoff action in this space until I can spend a little time organizing my thoughts on the various second round subplots. Look for that in tomorrow’s post. Again, all complaints go to David J. Stern.
- I’m sure a lot of people have seen this already (courtesy of deadspin). However, being the Cardinal fan that I am, I got an especially big kick out of this site.
- Any college football fan surely remembers former all-world recruit Xavier Carter. The Palm Bay native was the nation’s #1 Wide Receiver recruit two years ago. After a lengthy recruitment, Carter eventually chose LSU as his collegiate destination. Thus far, Carter hasn’t lived up to his prodigous billing during his stay in Baton Rouge. The most significant play made on the gridiron by Carter thus far was during his freshman year when he forgot the rules of football and scored a safety for UGA while he attempting to run backwards into the end zone for a touchback while returning a kickoff in Athens. It was an awful play in an equally awful performance by LSU in Athens. It’s been pretty quiet for Carter since then, at least during football season. As you may recall, one of the reasons that Carter was so highly recruited was his world class speed. It seems his speed is still his calling card, and still extremely world class.
- You know else is world class? Ron Zook…a world class jackass, of course.
- I'm sure you all know that Doug Flutie retired this week. What some of you may not know is that the Flutester attended the same junior high as me. That's right. Me and Doug Flutie. Yes, I'm a little surprised the entire school hasn't been bronzed yet either. Anyway, since Flutie is hanging up his step stool I figured I'd share a little anecdote that sums up one of the reasons why Flutie was able to defy the odds (and critics) for so long, his insane competitiveness. Flutie's parents have moved back to this area over the last decade or so. As a result, Flutie will often come back to visit during the holidays. A year or two ago, he showed up at the park to play ball early one Saturday morning. We've all heard about his ultra competitive streak. Though, regardless of how competitive one may be, can you really blame anyone for not talking to Rob Johnson? I digress. On this particular morning, Flutie came with a couple of other guys. They won the first game or two they played in. Eventually, my team made it on to the court to take on Flutie and his boys. As the game wore on, it became increasingly competitive and physical. Not anything out of the ordinary, just a tough game between two evenly matched teams who didn't want to lose. Late in the game, Flutie got the ball on the break. As he drove the lane, a older New Yorker named Mark jumped up and fouled Flutie to prevent his layup attempt. It wasn't a dirty foul but it was hard. Hard enough that Flutie took umbrage. He jumped up and got in Mark's face and said something to the effect of "you'd better not try that again". To which Mark replied, "What are you going to do you midget?". At this point I could barely contain my laughter. Not only was Fluite being called out, but by an old Italian mailman at that. Flutie then reached back and let fly with a vicous haymaker aimed towards Mark's face. He hit Mark with a glancing blow that seemed ready to set off a melee of midlife crisis sized proportions. Of course, some of the other guys on the court (Certainly not me. Are you kidding?) quickly got between Mark and Flutie in time to prevent what could've been one of the five greatest sporting moments of my life. Calm was eventually restored and Flutie decided to leave after his team lost the game, but not before Mark uttered the now infamous words, "Do you think I give a fuck if you're fucking Doug Flutie? Go the fuck back to Canada you bum!" Believe me when I tell you that it was a thousand times better than some dumb little drop kick.
Warning: Sports Reporters-esque parting shot.
I am one of the few people I know who legitimately loves boxing. I left the bar early on Saturday night (not that early mind you) in order to get home at a reasonable enough time to allow me to watch the Ricky Hatton fight on HBO that I had Tivo’d. While most of my friends could care less about the sport and would rather watch UFC, I still can’t get enough of good, high profile boxing. Why do I bring this up? Because, though I never saw him fight, I was a little saddened by the death of Floyd Patterson. Not sad in the traditional sense, more of a “sense of loss” for the sport of boxing itself. Anyway, I was watching a bunch of stuff on Patterson’s legacy when his battles with Sonny Liston and Muhammad Ali were mentioned. I found it amazing that Patterson chose to fight Liston (though he didn’t have to and was badly outweighed by Liston) because he felt like every fighter deserved a fair shot at the title. I also found it troubling that Ali had (evidently) continually taken shots at Patterson’s character when the two were preparing for their first match. Now, we all know that Ali was a master of trash talk, hell he practically invented the art as we know it. It’s part of his legacy. It’s what endeared him to so many during the prime of his career. It’s also what makes me hold a far different view of Ali than most. Maybe, I’m just a shortsighted jerk who doesn’t have enough sympathy for a great champion in the winter of his life. Maybe. If that’s the case, I’m fine with that.
I’m also fine with saying that I think Muhammad Ali was one of the biggest assholes that we’ve ever seen in athletics. This has jack to do with his political, religious, or racial viewpoints. In all actuality, I’m pretty comfortable with all these sides of Ali. What I find so distasteful about the man is the way he continually beat on his own people and played into racial stereotypes in order to further his image and build his wealth. He completely turned his back on Joe Frazier after Smokin’ Joe had given him money and helped him out during Ali’s ban from boxing. He labeled Frazier an “uncle tom” when he knew that to be criminally far from the truth. He also repeatedly referred to Frazier as a gorilla (even using a toy gorilla as his Joe Frazier puppet in numerous interviews) He used a lot of the similarly reprehensible tactics on Patterson. Calling him “a good negro” and promising to make Patterson “act black”. Can you imagine the uproar from the media if such taunts were trotted out today? Yet, somehow, all of this gets swept under the rug when Ali is mentioned.
Ali was certainly the greatest heavyweight of all-time and, more than likely, the greatest boxer ever. However, that doesn’t obscure the fact that he routinely stepped on anybody and everybody necessary in order to attain this level of greatness and notoriety. He has become a cultural icon and a beloved figure worldwide. A figure so beloved that he’s seemingly been given a free pass by all (even those who were around to witness his antics) as time has passed. He’s applauded and adored everywhere he goes. He’s hailed as a revolutionary figure. Somebody who changed the world and the landscape of sports. All of this is true. My question is, why do the media feel the need to leave out the other, much uglier, side of Ali? There are two stories to be told about Muhammad Ali, two very different stories. Sadly, we only hear the second story as a footnote to other people’s lives. We only hear the second story as an aside to some other tale of Ali’s triumphs. Is that because he won so dominantly? Because he captured the imagination like few (if any) boxers before or after him? Is it because he’s now a shell of his former bombastic self? I can’t say. What I can say is this: I don’t blindly celebrate Ali the man. I refuse too. I will celebrate him for his exquisite skill in the ring and his courage to stand up to antiquated social mores in the face of extreme pressure and racism. However, I won’t do this without taking time to remember a man who spit in the face of those who paved the way for him and helped him when he was down and out. There’s two sides to every story, it’s just too bad that everybody who could give us the other side of Ali’s story is too scared or too brainwashed to do it.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
It's gotten so bad that as I was driving to work this morning, the smoke hanging in the air made it impossible to see the river that was less than a hundred feet away from me. By the time I got to work, my clothes smelled as if I'd been drinking all night at a strip club. You think I'm joking here.
The last time I can remember the brushfires being this bad was 1998 when the state government banned all July 4th celebrations for fear of the entire state going up in flames. Which, considering the average IQ around these parts, was probably a wise move on the part of state legislators. Thankfully, there has been some good that's come from all this. As I drove to the gym this afternoon the local radio station was playing a number of "fire themed" songs. It's a surprisingly large category for music. Anyway, this semi-tacky gimmick allowed me to hear on of my all-time faves, The Cult's Fire Woman. Sweet.
I like the NBA's playoff commercials. The ritual themed one is a cool look at some of the idiosyncratic pregame activities of many of the NBA's best and brightest. I also really like the "right to keep playing" commercials where the annoucner lists the many sacricifices that have been made by playoffs teams. This series of commercials has two in particular that tickle me.
#1-Nets: Pretty standard until the shot of Jeff McInnis (or should we say the former Jeff McInnis, since he's apparently ballooned to the size of Pork Chop Womack during his rehabilitation) with his hair in a full blowout getting his ribs wrapped by a trainer. I'm not quite sure why, but the thought of Jeff McInnis and Lawrence Frank interacting on a daily basis brings a smile to my face.
#2- Pistons: Nothing abnormal in the stats or pictures in this commercial until the voice over announces that "1800 pounds were lost" during the season. Ummm, excuse me? Did the Pistons have Oliver Miller and John "Hot Plate" Williams on the roster during training camp? Does Richard Hamilton blow up like Ty Law during the offseason? I've got to be missing something here. How in god's name did the Pistons collectively lose 1800 lbs. during the regualr season? I need answers, and a hose. You know, just in case the fires keep coming.
Friday, May 05, 2006
It’s Friday and its also Cinco de Mayo, another one of the roughly 27 meaningless “holidays” that exist in this country for the sole reason of socially acceptable daytime drinking. Listen, I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy meaningless reasons to drink, rather that I never really need a holiday to convince me to get sloshed while the sun's still out. I may not still be in college, but I can sure as hell pretend like I am. Anyway, I won’t be doing any of the typically nauseating Cinco de Mayo activities at my local bar tonight because I have to attend a Cinco de Mayo event for work that promises to be inifinitely more nauseating than anything that you’re likely to see at your local watering hole. Just the mere thought of what awaits me this evening is enough to make me long for the friendly confines of that shit bag Mexican restaurant in Seattle. At least I have an excuse to gawk at the pathetic masses that will surely be in attendance this evening, as I’ll be manning the camera for the short time that I’m actually in attendance.
Other than my early evening obligations, I couldn’t be in a much better mood. The Cavs and Wiz square off in Game 6 tonight in what has been a phenomenally entertaining back and forth series thus far. As if that wasn’t enough, I’m also still riding high after staying up (late, oh so late) to watch the conclusion of Suns-Lakers Game 6 last night. Damn that game was fan-fucking-tastic. I don’t really care who wins the series (I’ll be rooting for the Clip joint in round 2 regardless) but I did care to see what has been one of the more entertaining series in recent memory (Wiz-Cavs is right up there too) go the distance. Here’s hoping that the Wiz can tie it up tonight and send that series back to Cleveland for another deciding Game 7. I don’t have a whole lot for you guys today, other than the latest batch of random thoughts that I’ve been stewing over.
- Anthony “the Godfather of Charleston” Johnson scored 40 points last night…in a playoff game…that was tightly contested. It’s official, the NBA no longer makes any sense to me. I feel like I just found out that my dad is really my uncle or something. Even though I watched nearly the entire game I’m still not ready to accept that this actually happened. I won’t even discuss the Tim Thomas playoff explosion for fear that my brain will explode right here at my desk.
- Actually, speaking of Tim Thomas. Is there a Bulls or Knicks fan alive who wouldn’t voluntarily fly to Phoenix and stab Thomas in the chest right now if they knew they could escape prosecution?
- In each of the last two Pacers-Nets games, Vince Carter drove down the left side of the lane for what would prove to be clinching (or near clinching buckets) and scored over Jermaine O’Neal. Each time O’Neal failed to attempt to block the shot, instead choosing to half-heartedly attempt to draw a charge on Carter. Can we finally all agree that O’Neal isn’t the franchise player that he’s been billed as? Can we also agree that his lack of dominance is as responsible for the Pacers’ underachievement as any of the other reasons (Artest, Crazy Steve Jackson, The Brawl, Rick Carlisle's offense) that are constantly cited by the media horde who loves Jermaine so much?
- One more Pacers note: Peja Stojakovic is officially a bigger bitch than Keith Van Horn could ever be. Van Horn may be a huge wet snatch during crunch time, but at least he’s on the floor. Peja’s been nothing short of invisible during each and every one of his teams’ big playoffs moments. His knee injury this year was just the latest edition in a series of disappointments. Finally, I think that I know Otis Smith isn’t this stupid but, if by some chance, the Magic offer Stojakovic a free contract this summer then I pledge, right here and now, to jump off a building. A tall one too.
Yes, Keith. Peja is that big of a pussy. You are off the hook.
- I’m no Giants fan so take this with a grain of salt. Considering that their first round selection is a guy who is very unlikely to even see the field on anything other than special teams during his rookie year, and their second round pick is an overrated midget, why wouldn’t they have just gone ahead and selected Santonio Holmes with their original first round choice? The Giants were clearly looking for a third receiver to spark their offense from the slot and give them big play potential. Holmes represents a significant upgrade in these areas over Sinorice Moss. Furthermore, there is little difference between Moss and Holmes in terms of special teams contributions. What exactly was gained by trading down and selecting Kiwanuka late in the first? I’m usually in favor of trading down and also happen to think Kiwanuka will be a very good player in the NFL. However, this particular decision perplexes me.
- I realize that underrated is a relative term when you’re talking about the fourth leading scorer in the NBA. With that said, Gilbert Arenas is as underrated as he could possibly be. The guy is (sung like Rick James) cold blooded.
- I was listening to those ridiculous long distance phone commercials with Michael McDonald doing his best Luther Vandross impersonation last night when I suddenly realized something. Michael McDonald is the original wigger. This guy’s been doing his thing for thirty plus years now and he gets absolutely no credit for it. I see you Mac.
- I wouldn’t want the Magic to give up a much in order to get him (and frankly I don’t think that they’d have to) but I would really like to see them make a run at J.R. Smith this summer. Even before he stomped Byron Scott’s puppy to death early this season, I was never as high on him as a lot of other people. He’s got a very weak handle for a shooting guard and plays defense like Greg uses contraception. However, he is still just 21 with a good jumper and amazing hops. Wouldn’t it be worth a shot to see if the Magic could get him and groom him with the rest of the young talent on that squad?
- With 4:26 left in last night’s first quarter, Leandro Barbosa went to the Phoenix locker room in order to receive four stitches to his chin and lip from a Kobe Bryant elbow to the chops. TNT even managed to get a clear shot of it on replay. So, maybe Raja Bell wasn’t being an irrational little bitch after all, huh?
- I wonder if Kwame Brown’s hands smell like cabbage too?
- I was watching ESPN’s replay of The Impossible Jump today while I was running (bonus points for the shameless cross-promotion of MI:3) when ESPN did a little piece on the guy who started the whole motorcycle daredevil thing, Evel Knievel. As the piece was wrapping up, Suzy Kolber mentioned that Evel wasn’t going to be in attendance for health reasons (read: a liver the size of Rhode Island). She then casually mentioned that Evel was a close family friend of hers, with ESPN showing us a pic of Kolber, Evel and Kolber’s father. Suddenly Kolber’s adept handling of the whole Joe Namath situation made a lot more sense. I’m sure Suzy’s been brushing off the drunk advances of Evel since she was old enough to shave her legs.
- Do you think that Sasha Vujavic hangs out in the back of the room cheering on Kobe when he has sex with groupies on the road? Does he hug him from behind afterwards too?
- I’m also sure that plenty of people are sick of me writing about the University of Florida Men’s basketball program, but something I found out today definitely bears mentioning. Billy Donovan and Co. have signed on to play Kansas in Las Vegas next November and have just recently inked a deal to take on Greg Oden and Ohio State in Gainesville on December 23rd. Is there a record for most NBA scouts in attendance at any one collegiate game? If so, it’s probably going to be broken twice in a month’s span.
- Finally, I’m glad that I’m not extremely emotionally invested in the Florida Baseball team.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Before I get started with the events of Friday, Saturday and Sunday, there are a couple of items that I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post. First, after spending approximately ten hours drinking on Wednesday night I woke at around 6 am with an uncontrollable urge to urinate. I awoke (still drunk) and attempted to open John’s door in order to access his bathroom. I twisted the doorknob and it seemed locked (I would later find out that it was actually unlocked). Because I’m a great guy I didn’t want to wake my host any earlier than normal. I still had to piss though, badly. I proceeded to walk out of John’s third floor apartment, down the stairs and into the courtyard of his apartment complex where I then urinated all over John’s neighbors bushes. Thankfully, none of the hippies in John’s complex were up in time to see this display.
Secondly (and perhaps more disgusting), was the sight that greeted me upon my second awakening later than morning. In what was meant to be John’s dining room was what can only be described as an enormous pile of trash. Eight full trash bags to be exact. Don’t ask me why John had continually stacked his trash in his apartment because I have no idea. I assumed that this was because the large trash bin was located far away from John’s apartment. I assumed incorrectly. As we would later find out, the trash bin was (maybe) 20 yards from John’s front door. Disgusting, yes. Pathetic, yes. Surprising, not in the least.
Anyway, back to Friday:
We didn’t do a whole lot during the early part of Friday save for a little lunch. John had to work early in the day and Calvin and I stayed behind at John’s apartment awaiting the arrival of our friend Duper. I’ve mentioned Duper in this space before. He oftens goes by Joe and I’ve described him as a white David Ortiz. The resemblance is uncanny actually. I won't get into why he’s named Duper, other than to say it’s a much better fit than plain ole’ Joe. Duper arrived around 2, sporting one of the finest wafros that I’ve ever seen. Duper lives in Montana and the lack of females in the area apparently inspired him to grow his curly red hair to heights never before seen. He now looked like some mutated cross between Ortiz and Kyle Broflovski (sans hat). Shortly after Duper arrived, John got off work and the four of us made our way down to downtown Seattle (beers in hand) to check out the Experience Music Project. Greg had recommended the EMP to me and John had also heard some very good things. We would not be disappointed. The EMP is an absolute must for anybody who visits Seattle and has even a cursory interest in music, history, or museums in general. It’s tough to describe the EMP as anything other than an interactive museum, though even that fails to adequately capture the entire vibe of the place. Put simply, it was another $20 well spent.
After leaving EMP we were thinking about hitting up the Space Needle. That is, until we saw it. It’s not that the Space Needle isn’t an impressive structure, rather that it’s a far less impressive structure than you would ever imagine it to be. It rests on a hill within Seattle that gives the impression of it being far taller than it actually is. When you are in it’s actual presence it becomes nothing more than an average sized structure with curious architecture. I’m sure the views from the top are fantastic, but only homo gays pay $20 for views of the ocean.
We ended up going to a nearby pizza place (gourmet pizza, I guess) for some beers and further confirmation that we were four of the more awful men in existence. I wasn’t especially hungry but Duper was famished from the drive up from Montana so I figured it best to let the guy eat, lest he grow cranky and try to eat some small asian child. After we finished up our meal we wandered around Seattle while making fun of the hippies who were staging an enormous bike parade and doing the ever popular beer in a random bar or three routine. Eventually we ended up at some bar called Cowgirls, Inc. that was basically a Coyote Ugly knock off. As knock offs go, it was pretty solid. Huge bar, good décor, random saddle bar stools that made chicks look/act like whores, and a pack of the hottest bartenders you’re likely to see. I can say this with confidence because I was still moderately sober at this point. I wish I could say the same for the guy in the Kelly Holcomb Browns jersey (seriously, WTF?) who was sitting next to me and openly cheering/booing for the WWE show (Smackdown?) that was playing on the TV in front of us. After about an hour at Cowgirls, we decided to leave. Not coincidentally, this was around the same time that one of the bartenders started dancing on the bar (in chaps) and receiving tips from Kelly Holcomb.
The rest of the night was rather low key. We grabbed a ton of beer on our way back to John’s and sat around watching some of the NBA playoffs and talking shit. Eventually we decided to venture out to a local bar. What a fucking disaster. We ended up at some awful Mexican restaurant that doubled as a Karaoke bar. I don’t think I need to explain to you how awful an establishment this was. The final straw came when a group (again, WTF?) of guys decided to sing the Backstreet Boys. We were able to get over to another bar an have a couple more beers and shots before last call. The night, it turned out, was far from over. Once we all managed to make it back to John’s we continued to drink and talk shit. Eventually John decided to fire up his DVR for some Saved by the Bell reruns. One problem, Comcast had cancelled John’s DVR subscription. John is one of the more irrational and random people I’ve ever met in my life (myself included) and this sent him into a rage like few people this side of Milton Bradley are capable of. He immediately began screaming and throwing shit, which was quickly followed by him calling the local Comcast number to complain (read: scream loudly and irrationally). It was a tour de force on hi point. He even threatned not to pay his next bill at one point (gasp), which of course led to a round of jokes about how he'd really figured out how to stick it to the cable company. By this time, it was four in the morning and we were all getting a little too drunk and too energetic for our own good. I may have been the worst offender of all. I’m not quite sure what sparked it, but eventually Duper and I were squared off in the middle of John’s living room in fighting stances as I threw half hearted jabs at Duper while shouting (Is there a word that means louder than shouting? If so, replace) a number of offensive slurs in his direction, not the least of which had to do with his inability to swim and love of fried chicken. I’m as big an asshole as most of you are ever likely to meet. However, this was uncharted waters even for me. Of course, I knew that it was all in the name of boozy fun and Duper had a decent idea (I think) but our other two companions were legitimately scared that a full scale brawl was about to take place. It never did and we eventually all passed out somewhere near 5 am.
The Draft. Awesome. What’s not awesome is waking up at 8:45 when you’ve been up drinking until 5 am. If I’d have been anywhere else, then I would’ve gone right back to bed for another ten hours or so. Unfortunately, that was not an option. After a quick trip to McDonald’s we were all in position for what would prove to be one of the saddest commentaries on our collective adulthood ever seen. I won’t go over the draft in detail other than to highlight some of the picks from the attendees specific teams of interest. John was first up with the Buffalo Bills. I was with John when the Bills traded up for JP Losman two years ago and let me tell you, it was not a pretty sight. I actually thought he might cry at one point. Well, when the Bills reached for Donte Whitner the entire room fell silent. We were all prepared for an awful pick by the Bills, just not like this. Really, Whitner in the top 8? Wow. Once we realized that John wasn't going to smash his new TV into bits, we piled on mercilessly for a solid 45 minutes or so. It got bad but then again, John had to know something like this was coming.
Calvin is a Browns fan and was moderately pleased with Kamerion Wimbley. At least until all my potshots at his “one season” and the sterling tradition of FSU D-Lineman in the NFL began to make him question the overall draft strategy of Teddy Bear Crennel and staff. The highlight of the Browns’ pick was John guessing that Romeo Crennel had picked Wimbley due to his proclivity for giving “belly kisses” which we all guessed was probably a requirement for anybody who works for the cuddliest man in all of Pro Football.
I was next up and things were falling into place in a manner in which I couldn’t have dreamt. Winston Justice was falling (fast) to the Bucs and I began to believe it could happen. Jerry and I had a couple of back and forths over the possibility and I was in full silent treatment mode when Duper mentioned Justice’s name. I should’ve known then that it was going to end badly. Wouldn’t you know it, the Bucs passed on Justice for Davin Joseph. At this point, I didn’t even react. It’s almost like I was paralyzed with anger. Almost. I soon snapped out of my trance and let loose with a stream of expletives that could be hear throughout most of the Seattle metropolitan area. This went on for at least a half hour as I would randomly remember the Bucs passing on Justice and the scream in fits of anger. Not good times.
Duper was last on the clock with the NY Giants. He theorized that there were so many ways in which the Giants could go that it would be virtually impossible for him to be angry. When the Giants traded down, he was looking good. I think that Dupe actually talked himself into a state of serenity because what followed was the oddest reaction to a first round draft pick that I’ve ever seen. When the Giants selection of Mathias Kiwanuka was announced, Duper’s reaction went something like this, (extremely excited) “Yes…wait, no, NO!” It was fantastic. I couldn’t believe he was happy with the pick. In fact, he was actually in a state of shock, as evidenced by his quick reversal. So thrown was Joe by Ernie Accorsi’s selection that Duper actually broached the idea of Kiwanuka as a DT (Duper is actually a very knowledgeable football fan, seriously) before Calvin and I both alternately laughed & threatened his life. So there it was, an entire first round with not one single pick that made any of us happy. Actually, that’s not completely true. When the Bills jumped back into the first round, John was already near suicidal. The feeling of impending doom was clearly hanging over his head (can you blame him?). That feeling got far worse when he discovered that the Bills had traded up for John McCargo, a player they probably could’ve acquired in the early second round. In a surprise move, the first round ended with John being (by far) the most upset fan of anybody in the room.
The rest of the draft was a bit of a blur. We all began drinking at some point around 10:30 am and continued to watch the draft, drink , and talk shit for the remainder of the day while keeping our eye out for players of interest (The Ko Simpson watch was an entire post unto itself) as well as our teams’ later round picks. Through all of this we watched the NBA playoffs and continued our running battle to determine which one of us was the worst fucking person on earth (the ballots are still out in the tightly contested race between Calvin and Duper). The highlight of this time was easily one of two things. Either (a) Calvin trying to nap and whining for quiet like a little bitch while John, Duper, and I all randomly screamed “It’s baby wake up time!!” at him in three to five minute intervals. Of course, Calvin responded to this by whining like a little bitch and generally just acting like the sandy snatch that we all know him to be. Or (b) the now infamous Reggie Evans crotch grab on Chris Kaman. As any man watching this event live surely was, we were all floored by this action. Well, all of us except for Duper who casually referred to it as “the reach beneath”. Keep in mind, Duper lives in Montana with a guy named Cowboy John and once opined on whether there was “anything other” than a man on man blowjob. I’m not making any of this up and I’m not accusing anybody of anything, I’m simply stating the facts.
The night ended with the four of us making our way to a strip club (per Duper’s request) in what can only be described as a “unique experience”. This club was huge and featured a bevy of dancers as well as two stages, a VIP area, a champagne room, and some sort of shower show room. All of this, but not a drop of alcohol in the place. Are you kidding me? It’s cool and all that you gals are full nude up there in Seattle, but what do you expect me to do while I’m sitting in one of these joints, read a book? Fuck. We hung out for an hour or so and ended up at the same bar we finished Friday night up at for a quick beer and Jager (at my request). After a few more beers we all retired to bed. I was flying out at 1 and figured I ought to get some sleep during one of these nights.
A rather uneventful day (nine hours on a plane will do that to you) as I flew through Kansas City ( inclement weather in Chicago) to Orlando, eventually landing back in Florida at 10:30 pm. I can’t really say I accomplished much other than finally finishing the book that Greg recommended to me (Marching Powder) and getting home safely by about midnight. Of course, I wasn’t the least bit tired what with being on west coast time and all. Thankfully, I had some beer in the fridge, Jager in the freezer and Deadwood re-runs on Tivo to help me get to sleep. Oh yeah, I had Monday off too…thank God.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Seattle: Great city that I could never ever live in. This point was driven home to me as I stepped out of John's apartment on Saturday night directly into a 41 degree chill. I know that 41 degrees isn't a very big deal to most. However, when you've spent nearly all of your 28 years in the south (specifically Florida), 41 degrees on the second to last day of April is an absolute deal breaker. Sorry Seattle, I'm sure you'll get over it. Besides Saturday, we couldn't have gotten better weather. It only rained on Saturday and the temperature hovered in the mid to low 70s the entire rest of the trip (during the day at least).
As for the actual city of Seattle, it was better than I'd built it up to be. I've always thought Seattle would be a really cool city, though that probably has as much to do with my repeated viewings of Singles as anything. What I found upon my arrival was a city that mirrored many of my favorite cities in it's basic structure. Small geographically with a vibrant downtown area that serves as the main engine of the city's nightlife. I like a city that I can walk while stopping in for an occasional beer and shot. Seattle was more than adequate in that sense. Seattle also has some fantastic scenery when you combine the enormity of Mt. Rainier with the city's skyline and the natural sunsets on Puget Sound. Furthermore, Seattle's citizenry was both multi-cultural and young which, while expected, was a positive nonetheless. I don't really have alot bad to say about Seattle other than to say this: The Space Needle is a fraud.
- My flight out was rather unremarkable, save for the Paul Davis siting that I had in Chicago. Let me assure you of this: He looks like a much bigger pussy in person than on TV (if that's even possible). In keeping with my tradition of star/celebrity spotting, I simply pointed at him and loudly said "Paul Davis" as he walked by me. I could care less about getting some dude's autograph, but I do like to alert the world of their presence so that they feel just a little less comfortable than before they crossed my path. Don't believe me? Just ask Xavier McDaniel about the time he ran into me in the Charlotte Airport bathroom (ngs).
- I landed in Seattle about 3:15 and as soon as I turned my phone on I had two messages. One from Calvin, and one from John...they were together by the way. These messages informed me that they were drinking at a Casino near the airport and that they'd be right over to pick me up. They may be idiots but they're not liars. Shorlty after grabbing my bags I was in John's car and on my way to Pioneer Square. Despite the fact that he'd already been drinking for an hour or so, John had a work dinner to attend on Wednesday evening so he dropped Calvin and I off in downtown to kill some time before the Mariners game at 7.
There a probably a number of ways to kill time in a new city. I chose to sample a number of new and exciting beers from the region while also slamming the occasional Jager shot. After doing this for a couple of hours and inhaling some Taco del Mar, Calvin and I made our way to Safeco Field which sits on the edge of downtown.
- Safeco Field was a first class park. It's similar to many of the new parks in that it had all the newest bells and whistles while still giving fans the intimate feel of an older ballpark. All of this makes it an awful shame that there were approximately 15,000 in attendance on Wednesday night. It didn't bother me or Calvin as we cheered the Mariners to victory over the World Champion White Sox while enjoying those tasty $8 beers that make taking in a baseball game in person such a rewarding experience. While I'm here, I'd like to give a special shout out to the music guy at Safeco for his music selection. More specifically, I'd like to commend him on his use of Werewolves in London for Raul Ibanez (think about it) and for using Seattle native Jimi Hendrix's Hey Joe for Kenji Johjima.
- After the game, Calvin and I met John outside Safeco and walked downtown for some beers (seriously, we all needed more to drink). We made our way back to Pioneer Square and bounced from bar to bar. The highlights of the rest of the night are a little blurry but there are a few things that stand out. First, we spent a good amount of time drinking at a place called "The Central" which, we would later find out, was the public birth place of bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, and numerous other Seattle legends. While I never would have sought this place out, it was kind of cool to find this out after the fact.
You'll have to forgive me if I don't remember the sequence of events for the rest of Wednesday evening. Here's a quick breakdown of what I DO remember:
- Calvin calling some guy (who was wearing a suit) a "bum". This guy couldn't have been farther from a bum, but Calvin still insisted on yelling at him "to stop begging for change". I'm not sure, but I'm guessing that the three of us came close to getting in a brawl on at least three separate occassions.
-John and I deciding that Calvin was an awful person who needed to be punished. By punished, I mean kicked. At one point late in the evening, John and I were chasing Cavlin around the streets of Seattle while viciously kicking him in his shins, knees and ass. I'm talking Cobra Kai style kicks here. Calvin has the bruises to prove it.
- I fell over into the middle of the street...twice. Pathetic, I know. The second time was so bad that I actually just laid in the street and laughed like some sort of crazy for a solid 20 count. Of course, I didn't remember this until I woke up on Thursday morning with two enormous scars on my knuckles from the fall(s). At least my co-workers think I'm a member of Fight Club now.
- John had to work for awhile so Calvin and I slept in and then watched the SportsCenter Spring Practice Special. Watching this show reminded me of one fantastic aspect of west coast living that nobody ever mentions, daytime television. When you live on the East coast there is never, ever anything on during the afternoon. Out west, they get all our mid to late afternoon programming during the early afternoon. There really is no better palce to be unemployed than in the Western time zone.
- After John got off work, we decided to take a trip up to America Jr. Vancouver was the destination and John said it would take about two hours, though he was really just guessing. After a ridiculously thorough interrogation at the Canadian border we were on our way. By the time we go to the suburbs of Vancouver, all three of us were in full on "ugly american" mode. Tossing out racial/ethnic epithets at every turn and openly mocking every tenet of Candian society that we could think of. The highlight of which was undoubtedly when we drove through the crowded Vancouver streets with our windows rolled down blaring America, Fuck Yeah!. I don't know what was funnier, our immaturity or the looks on the faces of those bewildred Canucks while that song boomed from John's Jeep.
- We spent the rest of the day walking around Vancouver, grabbing some beers at random bars and watching hockey. ("When in Rome"..."Go on".) During this time, we noticed a number of things. One, Vancouver has a ton of attractive women. This probably doesn't do you alot of good when its 10 degrees outside, but it was certainly a welcome addition on this day. Seriously, I think we saw maybe two slam pigs (more on that later) during our entire time in Vancouver. Two, their are a bunch of good music venues in Vancouver that attract a number a really stellar acts. I'm only basing this on the venues that I saw and the flyers for shows (both past and upcoming) but it sure seemed like they had a vibrant music scene up there. Finally (and most importantly), we learned that there are pirates in Canada. Who knew? Certainly not me. These aren't the kind of pirates that you're thinking of though. They don't dress any differently than your average person. They don't have peg legs (or kickstands). From what I can tell, they don't even say "Arrrgh!". So how did we know that we saw a pirate you ask? I'll tell you how: We saw a dude on the street walking around with a trusty sidekick on his shoulder, only this wasn't a parrot. This guy walked right past us on the street with a black cat on his shoulder. Let me clarify the situation a little. The man was walking the street with another guy and holding what appeared to be a normal, everyday conversation while the aformentioned black cat stood on his shoulders. I got close enough to verify that this cat was indeed real. I also got close enough to see that the cat was far from sedated and, in fact, looked totally ready to pounce on anyone who dare accost his master. It was standing on his shoulders like one of those black cats you see on those cheesy Halloween decorations. It was among the most bizarre things that I've ever seen. Of course, I quickly surmised the only logical explanation for such an oddity. Quite simply, the man was a pirate...a Canadian Pirate. I thought about asking the guy if he would show us his ship but figured it wouldn't be worth the effort to translate it all into Canadian.
Take my word for it, there are Pirates in Canada and they don't look anything like this.
What was worth the effort was the trip that we all took to a Vancouver establishment by the name of Smoke Signals. To say the experience was surreal would be an understatement. The three of us must've sat in that cafe for over an hour talking shit and listening to Led. Easily the best $20 I've spent in quite some time. By the time we finished up in the cafe, all that was left was a trip to Pita Pit and the ride back to America. At one point, I figured that I might have to assume the driving responsibilities but, in the end, John pulled through and we rolled into Seattle by about 1:30 am.
Quick Vancouver report: Different from any city I've ever been to. Extremely multi-cultural with an almost European feel to it. The architecture of the city left something to be desired though. Once you're in the city itself it's pretty nice, but it looks like some Eastern Bloc capital as you're approaching it. Lots of nondescript, old looking, high rise apartment buildings. I would never even consider living there but I would welcome a trip back, even without a return engagement at Smoke Signals.
I'll be back with the highlights of the second half of my trip tomorrow.