December 8, 2009

EVERYTHING TO LOSE



It might seem ridiculous saying the Suns have taught me a thing or two about life, but this is how I have grown up.

"It just feels right to live in a world where the Phoenix Suns are competitive again. They may be lacking in many respects, but to see Steve Nash lead this squad on break after break is a facet of the modern NBA that simply cannot be replaced. The unique combination of pure speed, versatility, and team coordination just can’t be rivaled, and though this year’s team may shine in a different hue than the models featuring Shawn Marion, Boris Diaw, or Joe Johnson, I don’t think it makes them any less resonant.

Mike D’Antoni may not have been a prophet, but he was certainly a philosopher. The trademark of D’Antoni’s Suns was always their mortality, and I think that legacy has lived on through this current team. The Seven Seconds or Less squads wear (or wore) their vulnerabilities on their sleeve, but their mortality comes as much from leading a particularly vulnerable existence as it does from finding exuberance in it. These teams, in all of their fast-breaking splendor and glory, know how to live. They know how to play a bit, too, but the defining legacy of the Mike D’Antoni era in Phoenix (which lives on today) should be the Suns’ artful display of basketball as life.

Maybe the hustle and the bustle of the Suns doesn’t quite fit your living style, but who could possibly claim that the exaggerated in-game highs and lows of the Suns — the 20-point lead built and swallowed by a 5-25 run, the 3-point barrages followed by defensive letdowns — aren’t basketball’s most fitting equivalent of life on the outside?

It’s not about the 9-5 grind, and it’s not necessarily about winning all the time; the Suns’ existence is predicated on winning more than you lose, embracing who you are, playing by your own rules, learning to live through the ups and downs, and remembering that the line between work and play doesn’t have to be crystal clear. They work hard, they score points, and they play basketball like it’s a game worth playing.

They may not have the talent of the Lakers or the convention of the Spurs, but this is a team of hard workers and ball players with a plan. I don’t know if that plan means anything in the Western Conference playoff picture this season, and in the grand scheme of things I’m not sure it matters all that much. If there were ever a solid case to be made against the championship being the end-all of athletic conquests, it would have to be the Suns, who may have discovered along the way to 60-win seasons and the Conference Finals that the journey is perhaps the worthier part.

I’m not presumptuous enough to claim to know everything about life, but a very wise, script-assisted high schooler once gave me some sage advice: Life moves pretty fast, and if you don’t stop to look around once in awhile, you could miss it. It’s easy to have your perception of the Suns skewed by the whiz-bang-boom of their transition offense, but taking in the entire scene is crucial to our understanding of the Suns in a historical context. There are plenty of teams in the league that I enjoy watching, but few, if any, so perfectly encapsulate what is it to do something to its fullest and to enjoy it so wholly and completely. Watch this year’s team and you’ll see it. Breeze through the pages of Jack McCallum’s book and you feel it. And then think about the Suns, consider all that they’ve been through and all that they’ve done for the game of basketball, and you’ll just know it. While some may remark that the Suns play as if they have nothing to lose, I think their style speaks to the contrary. The Suns play basketball like they have everything to lose. If not, then they themselves might slow down for a minute to pick at old wounds or over-analyze what they see in the mirror. But they don’t, and each night on the schedule is another exercise in celebrating everything that is theirs to lose. If basketball is life and life is basketball, then the run-and-gun Phoenix Suns have been the game’s magnum opus: a team that plays in a way that begs you to watch, but more importantly plays in a way that begs you to listen."

SMART GUY


"We are all afraid of something. Some have more fears than others. The one we must all guard against is the fear of ourselves. Don't let the sensations of fear convince you that you're too weak to have courage. Fear is the opportunity for courage, not proof of cowardice. No one is born a coward. We were meant to love. And we were meant to have courage for it. So be brave. The rest is easy."

- John McCain

November 25, 2009

WHERE RUBBLE LIES, WE'LL BUILD



Take these papers and tell me I'm loved
Keep me from writing one more sad song

Here's the good news: Where rubble lies, we'll build
In paper valleys, on paper mountains
This fragile house is for me to live in

I built these walls, I wrote every word
And each passing sentence brings them much closer to falling on me
The weight brings them down with gravity

Help me, honey, to mend what I've made
Fix me, quickly, before I bend and break
I've got troubles building on me
And one day if I don't escape
This refuge I built will take me away

I built these walls, I wrote every word
And each passing sentence brings them much closer to falling on me
The weight brings them down with gravity

November 3, 2009

IT'S TRUE, YOU KNOW


"If
anything matters, then everything matters."

- William P. Young, The Shack

October 22, 2009

I WILL PRAISE YOU IN THIS STORM

At this point, prayer, faith, and trust are all we have. Please keep praying. It's so powerful. Love you, Mo.



I was sure by now, God
That You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say amen
And it's still raining
As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
The God who gives and takes away

And I'll praise you in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to You
And raised me up again
My strength is almost gone how can I carry on
If I can't find You
And as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
The God who gives and takes away

I lift my eyes into the hills
Where does my help come from
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth

October 13, 2009

THAT IS WHAT IT'S ABOUT


As mentioned previously, it seems the majority of my friends have determined this month to be the beginning of wedding season. And as such, this past weekend was spent with 14 of us in Vegas for Michael's bachelor party. Now, for those that know our group of friends, they know that we don't really have any interest in strippers and the like at all, so we didn't have your typical "bachelor weekend in Vegas." We did, however, have a weekend that wouldn't surprise anyone that knows us in the least. Long-story-short, it was madness. And SO MUCH FUN. Beyond the inebriated insanity that is Vegas, it was the first time in quite awhile that we had all of us (save Kohl) together again. So, we celebrated as such.

But that's not really the point of this. Not here to tell crazy stories, and it has nothing to do with the "what happens in Vegas..." mantra. That's nonsense and everyone knows it. No matter how much you want to believe it. The only time that holds true is when you are literally too trashed to remember. So I guess you can go with that.

Anyways, the point of this is the fellowship factor that we all had back in our lives for 72 or so hours. That sounds almost trivial, using the word fellowship to describe a weekend in Vegas, but I mean it. Yes, we had our fun, and did plenty of dumbass things that had people shaking their heads. But we did it together. Like we used too in the Martin's garage or on the streets of Phoenix every single weekend when we were younger.

What stuck most with me this weekend was Michael's bachelor dinner. We spent it on a patio sitting over the strip, sharing drinks and food and stories from the past, just enjoying each other's company. Towards the end, Michael's dad Dennis had some things to say to both Michael, and the group as a whole, and it ended up being my favorite part of the weekend.

You see, Dennis is basically like another dad to me, and the Martin's another family. About the time I met them, 12 or so years ago, Michael's older brother had just passed away. And somehow, over the years as Michael and I became best friends, I also became his brother. I think I spent the night at his house every single weekend I was in the state of Arizona for about four straight years. No lie. And now he's getting married. It's crazy. I love him, I love Dennis and their family, and they love me like their own. After Dennis' speech he grabbed both Michael and I, and we just hugged for a long time and, if we're being honest, we all teared up. One of those indescribeable moments in life that words do no justice. But what struck me just as much was the way Dennis closed. He had spent the last few minutes mentioning all the things that he has loved over the past bunch of years, and his last was for whatever reason just so simply profound to me -

"...and I've always loved cigars. And the reason I love them so much is that they force us to sit down and just be with one another."

And for us, that is what it's all about. What it always comes back to. Michael is the one getting married, but in a way, even this we're doing together. Always together.

October 8, 2009

I'D LIKE TO MAKE MYSELF BELIEVE



You would not believe your eyes
If ten million fireflies
Lit up the world as I fell asleep
'Cause they fill the open air,
And leave teardrops everywhere
You'd think me rude, but I would just stand and... stare

I'd like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns slowly
It's hard to say that I'd rather stay awake when I'm asleep
'Cause everything is never as it seems

'Cause I get a thousand hugs
From ten thousand lightning bugs
As they try to teach me how to dance
A foxtrot above my head,
A sock hop beneath my bed,
A disco ball is just hanging by a thread

I'd like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns slowly
It's hard to say that I'd rather stay awake when I'm asleep
'Cause everything is never as it seems

Leave my door open just a crack
(Please take me away from here)
'Cause I feel like such an insomniac
(Please take me away from here)
Why do I tire of counting sheep?
(Please take me away from here)
When I'm far too tired to fall asleep

To ten million fireflies
I'm weird 'cause I hate good-byes
I got misty eyes as they said farewell
But I'll know where several are
If my dreams get real bizarre
'Cause I saved a few and I keep them in a jar

I'd like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns slowly
It's hard to say that I'd rather stay awake when I'm asleep
'Cause everything is never as it seems

I'd like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns slowly
It's hard to say that I'd rather stay awake when I'm asleep
Because my dreams are bursting at the seams

October 1, 2009

HELLO, OCTOBER

As you know, unless you live in a cave, October is here. And that means fall is too. It's my favorite time of the year for a variety of reasons, and this year is no different. Well, it kind of is, being that apparently the cool thing to do this fall is get married. Not me though. Maybe I'm just not a cool kid. Whatever. Anyways, it doesn't make fall any less fantastic. Amazing weather, birthdays and Thanksgiving (and weddings), football, prime time golf season, playoff baseball, basketball coming back, and only a few more weeks until my rib is supposedly undislocated (located? relocated? I need help here). I love it. It was 60 degrees when I woke up this morning. Huh?

But as much as I love fall, I am kind of weary regarding this one. Stoked for sure, but unsure as well. Like in Missed the Boat: "certainly uncertain, at least I'm pretty sure I am." For me, I get the feeling that this is going to be a big fall (the season, not a plunge). I think it could be a turning point. Yeah, I graduated a few months ago, and most consider that the proverbial turning point. But for me, I feel differently. I've been home a few months now, and I don't need to rehash how much I love it. It's been great to slow down and get back into things here. Relationships, routine... just life here. But I think that it has kind of made me stagnant to a point, as well. Kind of like being in a big game or something - Are you just happy to be there, or are you going to make something of it? I think it might be time to start making something of it. Not that I haven't been, so I guess this analogy kind of fails. But time to not just be complacent being here, I guess. The plan was law school next year, but a wrench got thrown in that recently, so I have no idea. Right about that time, though, I was given what may turn out to be one of the bigger opportunities of my life. It's a long long loooooong shot, but it's something, so we will just leave it at that for now. And last night I took the first step down what could be quite the road.

To be honest, though - it scares the hell out of me. What if it doesn't happen? What's the plan then? Or what if it does? That would bring about a thousand new questions and logistical nightmares to my life. And what the hell do I do in the mean time? It could be awhile either way. Do I pursue this or that? Do I put myself on the line in a relationship or situation without knowing even a likely outcome of the bigger picture? Do I even spend time hoping someone might put themselves on the line with me? Why don't you just say something already?

Freaking 18 questions at a time. I have quite the dilemma - wanting to move forward and have things grow, without knowing if or when things are going to change again. It makes the complacency a lot easier. Even for someone prone to taking risks like me.

What's up, October? What's up, fall? What's up, life? Bring it.

September 28, 2009

NOT AT ALL


“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace - only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.”
- Anne Lamott

September 21, 2009

I ALWAYS BELIEVED IN FUTURES


"What matters is what hasn't been. Hey now, we're wide awake and we're thinking, my darling... Say hello to good times; trade up for the fast ride."
- Jimmy Eat World, Futures

September 19, 2009

SUPPOSE YOU DID

You ever have one of those moments where you read something, or see something, and wish it was meant just for you, except that you're thinking there's only 0.31% chance that it is? Maybe it's meant for someone else, or maybe no one in particular. But it's exactly what you want to hear, and need to hear... That if somehow it was for you, it's all you'd need to be sure. Funny how life works.

One of the best songs I've ever heard.



You close your eyes and kiss your hand then you blow it
But it isn't meant for me, and I notice
If the choice was ours alone,
Then why'd we both choose letting go?
Does it end like this?

Time never had a chance to heal your heart
Just a number always counting down to a new start
If you always knew the truth
Then the world would spin around you
Are you dizzy yet?

Respectfully, so honestly I'm calling out
Do you hear the conversation we talk about?
Back away to the safety of a quiet house
If there's half a chance in this moment
When your eyes meet mine, we show it off

All talk and not a lot to think, we were living dreams
And shame never crept close to our naked feet
If there's something left to lose,
Then don't let me wear out my shoes
I'm still walking

I tried, but it rang and rang, I called all night
On a payphone, remember those from another life?
If everything I meant to you,
You can lick and seal then fold in two
Then I've been so blind

Oh, oh take it all back, take your first, your last and only
Oh, oh take it all back, take it all back, everything you showed me
Oh, oh this must be how it feels when the feeling goes

I told you as I hovered, I never felt this way
You said I have the shot that stops my clock
Baby, it's okay
You said you'd never have regrets
Jesus, is there someone yet who got that wish?
Did you get yours, babe?

Respectfully, some honesty I'm asking now
Do you hear the conversation we talk about?
Back away to the safety of a quiet house
If there's half a chance in this moment
When your eyes meet mine, we show it off

September 18, 2009

THE MOON MAN



I be that man on the moon
I'm that man on the moon
And I'ma do what I do, so
Do you, hey hey
I be posted with my blunt and a brew, my dude
I'm that man on the moon
I'm up, up on the moon

September 17, 2009

WHERE'S THE BEYOND SECTION?



Yesterday, Jeffe moved home. For those unfamiliar, Jeffe is my younger brother. He is much like myself in that we do ridiculous, shameless things, regardless of who's around or what's going on. A lot. Pants off-dance off? Sure. Streaking through Desert Ridge in Mickey Mouse gloves and a Fantasia hat? Yep, I got that. Peeing on Obama posters in the store? You can just about chalk that up to the grasshopper. Basically, you can plan on the unplanned if you catch us in the right mood. Yesterday was one of those days.

With Jeff moving home, I got a new bed. A new, COMFY bed. I don't think I've ever slept so well in my life. But the new bed needed sheets, so we had to go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. They have comfy things in that place, and one of them happened to be a cage full of those fluffy throw pillows. Of course, within three seconds of seeing it, Jeffe is in the damn thing. And I mean IN. He disappeared. And it's not like he was wiggling his way further into the pillows. Anyways, it took five minutes and a pulled hamstring to get him out. With the store attendant standing there just staring at us. And of course when we finally got him out, she asks the requisite "Can I help you guys?" Jeffe's response? "Yeah, where's the beyond section?"

Welcome to my life.

HANGING ON MY WALL



"One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain."

- Bob Marley

September 10, 2009

AND THEN SUDDENLY, IT WAS BACK

I could not be more excited. No way; no how. The Saints are coming.

September 8, 2009

STICK TO YOUR GUNS

For any of you that haven't been to Arizona recently, we have this new thing where we put cameras on pretty much every remotely busy intersection in the entire effing greater-Phoenix area. It's super cool. Except not. At all. I'm pretty sure there's a camera for every driver in the state at this point, and it's all just a cash grab by the various little suburbs of our wonderful Valley. It's horse shit.

Some night in early July, I got 'flashed' for supposedly running a red light at Hayden and Indian School in Scottsdale. I have never gotten a ticket in my life, and fancy myself a good driver, so I was a little pissed off to say the least. When the ticket came a couple weeks later it had all the little details including this fun little number: I had fully passed the cross walk and proceeded into the intersection 0.1 seconds after the light turned red. Going a couple under the speed limit. Point #1 - Don't you think if I thought I was going to be remotely close to running the light, I would have picked up the pace a little bit? Do you really think I would have cruised through going under the speed limit? I will speed in your city the rest of my life, Scottsdale, because that 4.3 seconds of yellow required by law definitely was NOT there. I don't give a damn what your computer says. It wasn't. Watch the video you sent me the link to and honestly tell me I was endangering anyone in a COMPLETELY DESERTED INTERSECTION 0.1 SECONDS AFTER A LIGHT TURNED RED. I must be the most aggressive driver on the planet. Point #2 - Learn how to paint a damn crosswalk. Supposedly, it's supposed to be an extension of the accompanying curb. You know, according to your laws and just like every other place in the world. And if you're passed the curb (crosswalk line) when the light turns red (and most likely a tenth of a second afterward), you didn't run the light. Unless you're in Scottsdale, apparently. You should treat one of your native sons better, dumb ass city. From now on, I will be from Phoenix when people ask. Scottsdale no more.

So, when this ticket shows up it says I can go to court and pay them $224, or I can go to "defensive driving school" to apparently learn how to not run red lights/get the ticket off my record. Only $195. Great. Or I can just not pay it, and take my chances of getting served. I chose the last option for about a week, before deciding my dad would inevitably screw it up and accept a ticket for me in the next four months. So, I went to driving school. Driving school, like red light and speeding cameras, is just another money grab that is absolute NONSENSE. Die, both of you. Here are a sampling of questions from my ever-important defensive driving test that supposedly saves lives by educating people -



Obviously, a key to being a good defensive driver is eating carrots. Who knew?



A telegraph machine? For real?



Hmm, imagine that.

Yes, I paid $195 for this. And the best part, there are about 20 different sections of the test with questions like this. It takes all of 12 seconds to answer the three or four questions at the end of a section - without reading the section, I might add - so you would think it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. Except that you have to spend an arbitrary amount of time "studying" their supposedly pertinent tidbits to driving safety. Take 12 seconds to answer common sense questions that my dog could answer... wait 13 minutes and 48 seconds until I can move on to the next section. Take 23 seconds to answer common sense questions that your dog could answer... wait 18 minutes and 37 seconds til the next awesome section. For. Five. Effing. Hours.

Oh, and when you get so stoked you're done with that crap and click on the link to take the "final exam" and be done? You get to print off a receipt for your local UPS Store and go pay them more money to use their computer to take the final exam while being "supervised." By the UPS man. Just in case the whole process wasn't inconvenient enough already.

Do not pay these people a dime. Make them find you and serve you; and if they do, go bitch at someone for this nonsense. Stick to your guns.

September 2, 2009

THAT SECRET THAT WE KNOW

Apparently it's September. I have no idea where the time goes. Just a couple songs for now... You know, a good way to start another month. The first is The Lime Tree by Trevor Hall - one of my ten or so favorite songs. The second is Bon Iver's Blood Bank. Tonight was the first I've ever heard it, but I love it.





I spark a match and watch the candle burn
The wick runs out and then love takes its turn
On fallen angels and broken sounds
We will last past the final round
It took awhile for you to find me
But I was hiding in the lime tree
Above the city in the rain cloud
I poked a hole and watched it drain out

And parallel to the city streets
Our broken crowns beneath our feet
But as we walk across the diamonds
We know that love is always shining
So save me love, save me all the time
I'll wash you down with a simple sip of wine
Toast my glass to all my loved ones
To let them know that the stars, well they still shine

It took awhile for you to find me
But I was hiding in the lime tree
Above the city in the rain cloud
I poked a hole and watched it drain out
It took awhile for you to find me
But I was hiding in the lime tree




Well, I met you at the blood bank
We were looking at the bags
Wondering if any of the colors
Matched any of the names we knew on the tags

You said see look it, that's yours
Stacked on top with your brother's
See how they resemble one another's
Even in their plastic little covers

And I said I know it well
That secret that you know
That you don't know how to tell
It fucks with your honor
And it teases your head
But you know that it's good, girl
Cause it's running you with red

Then the snow started falling
We were stuck out in your car
You were rubbing both my hands
Chewing on a candy bar
You said ain't this just like the present
To be showing up like this
There's a moon, waning crescent
We started to kiss

And I said I know it well
That secret that we know
That we don't know how to tell
I'm in love with your honor
I'm in love with your cheeks
What's that noise up the stairs, baby
Is that Christmas morning

And I know it well


August 31, 2009

GO GET IT


"When a defining moment comes along, you define the moment, or the moment defines you."

- Roy McAvoy, Tin Cup

BACK TO WHERE WE LASTED

Seven years ago. Yes.


Yesterday was another painfully long day in the sun at the Biltmore, complete with more d-bags than normal. Exhibit A: Give rando, Rollie Fingers look-alike, a ride up to the hotel, store his clubs for him, etc, etc. He hands me a five dollar bill and asks if I can give him change. The following ensues:

Me: Sure, no problem. How much do you need?
Rollie Fingers dick bag: Five ones please.
Me: Ooook..? Here you go...
Rollie Fingers dick bag: Thanks. Have a good one. Walks away.
Hotel bell-hop standing there: Did that just happen? What a POS.


Rollie Fingers was the man.
Rollie Fingers look-alike - not so much.


Needless to say, I was pissed. Had a parting word for Rollie Fingers and drove back down to the country club. But right after I did, I got a text from Caleb asking if I wanted to play lalo later that night after work. Now, the majority of the world doesn't have a clue what lalo is, mainly because it's a game we made up when we were freshmen in high school, but it is the most fun thing you could ever do. Basically, it's a cross between hockey, team handball, and ultimate frisbee, and it is amazingly fun. I hadn't played in years, and just thinking about getting to play again got me through the rest of the work day. So, I was off to Southwestern for lalo right after work. Dinner could wait.

I got there a little after everyone had started playing, so I laced up and jumped in the next game. Now, beyond just a fun game, lalo was something that bonded us growing up. That might sound ridiculous, but it's completely true. It's what we did constantly. Back yards, city parks, tennis courts, gyms, the youth center at church. It didn't matter where, so long as we were together and playing. It was our fellowship. Tonight brought all that back, and then some. The group there last night consisted of some of the guys from our 'group,' but also had former and current youth leaders from our church, a guy I consider one of mentors, Pinky, who I hadn't seen pretty much at all (until this week) since I moved home, some current high schoolers from the youth group, and even a couple of their dads. It was really kind of neat to see this game that we loved for both fun and fellowship amongst our friends, had translated to fun and fellowship for a whole slew of people, from teen to 40-something.

It really took me back. I love my church, and missing the fellowship that comes with it is one of the reasons I really wanted to move home. But working at Biltmore, I don't get to go much because Sunday mornings are big on golf. Last night was pretty neat for me. Beyond the fun, and the crazy good workout (currently, it hurts to move my legs), it was amazing to get back to that fellowship and fun and catching up with everyone's lives. Hanging out with our mentors, and slowly becoming mentors for the younger guys ourselves. It's a great dynamic, and I love it.

And to borrow a phrase -
I'm really glad I'm here.

August 26, 2009

IN LIKE FLYNN


"The public has always expected me to be a playboy, and a decent chap never lets his public down."

- Errol Flynn

August 24, 2009

LIGHT A ROMAN CANDLE WITH ME



"I will think it's magic and I hope you agree. So light a roman candle with me... Well, we owe it to ourselves to try, so we aim and ignite."

- Fun, Light a Roman Candle With Me

OWN IT

Those people that know me relatively well, and also the majority who don't, know that I love baseball. Love it. It was my life for forever, and will probably continue to be a part of it for as long as I'm around. Just the way it is.

One of my favorite players, for a variety of reasons, is Josh Hamilton. People that follow baseball know his story, and it really is quite amazing. In a story lede: Former all-world-number-one-draft-pick-turned-drug-addict beats addictions through faith and becomes star. It's inspiring stuff, and something you should definitely do some reading on. I also really suggest reading I'm Proof That Hope is Never Lost (Another 'You Picking Up What I'm Putting Down'), an article Josh wrote with Tim Keown a couple years ago when he returned to baseball. It's incredible. Here is a video that briefly tells the Josh Hamilton story.



There are a couple clips in that video of Hamilton absolutely destroying baseballs in the 2008 Home Run Derby. It was one of the most incredible things I've ever seen in my life, baseball, sports, or otherwise. He was on top of the world. Yankee Stadium was chanting his name and the raw emotion of the whole thing was surreal. It's something I can't get over, and literally gives me chills any time I see footage of it. You couldn't write a more fitting ending to a comeback story.

So, when pictures of Hamilton getting trashed at a Tempe bar started popping up a couple weeks ago, I, and countless others, were shocked.



It was hard to believe - to the point that I honestly didn't believe it was him. It was disappointing, to say the least. But we all mess up, and I was interested in how he would handle it.

His response was refreshing. In an era where we find out about another 'hero' being on steroids every other month, only to have them dance around the questions and make up all kinds of bull shit (Roger Clemens, A-Rod) or wait a week and a half to talk about it while the players' union prepares statements and lies for you (David Ortiz), Hamilton owned up to what is ultimately a much more serious situation. You want to do steroids? Fine, I really don't care a whole lot. Honestly, I don't. But why lie about it? Why destroy your reputation as one of the best ever, and make up words like 'misremembered' as you lie to Congress, Clemens? At least someone like Bronson Arroyo has the balls to say "Yeah, I took all kinds of shit and I don't give a fuck." Hamilton held a press conference the next day and owned everything. And for me, it made him all the more inspiring. It made him real again. It was nice to see someone own a mistake for a change.

"I'm embarrassed about it. For the Rangers, I'm embarrassed about it. For my wife, my kids... Honestly, I hate that this happened. But it is what it is. You deal with it. I realized that, obviously, I'm not perfect, in this on-going struggle, battle, that is very real. A lot of people don't understand how real it is.

"As soon as it happened, I called my support system -- my wife, the Rangers, MLB and told them what had happened. I was absolutely open and honest about it.

"I went to get something to eat. Obviously, I eat at restaurants that have bars in them all the time. I wasn't mentally fit to go in there, spiritually fit, and it just crossed my mind, 'Can I have a drink?' Obviously, I can't.

"I don't feel like I'm a hypocrite. I feel like I'm human. I got away from the one thing that keeps me straightened out and going in the right direction."

August 21, 2009

MICKEY MOUSE AND DESERT RIDGE?


"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."

-Ernest Hemingway

August 19, 2009

THE BALLAD OF JERICHO SCOTT

Ever since I can remember, I have been obsessed with good sports writing. I don't know why, exactly, that is, but whatever. Maybe it's my love for sports - and good writing. That kind of makes sense. There is just something magical to me about quality journalism. The way a person turns words to paint a picture. It fascinates me. I have grown up on Bill Simmons, and was enthralled with Rick Reilly's 'back page' for Sports Illustrated (before he sold out, copyrighted his name, stopped caring, and started turning out gimmick pieces and shows for ESPN that he passes based solely on his name), and will argue until I die that Bissinger's Friday Night Lights is one of the five best books ever written. Ever. Even though he is borderline insane. But today, I found someone new. At least I think I did. I have only read the article I found today, so it's probably too early to judge. But this article... I found it impressive.

This article struck me because I grew up playing what some would consider "big time" sports as a kid, and I saw some of the nonsense described in this article on a weekly basis. While that is obviously a story in its own right, what is more intriguing to me in this case is what happened to respectable journalism? I mean, seriously. How did this story end up so WIDELY reported the way it was, when there were little to no facts involved? While I agree with the detractors of the "Pussification of America/Everyone Gets a Trophy" wholeheartedly, it boggles my mind how this little kid was turned into a pedestal for their arguments.

Anyway, I think as I run across good sports pieces, I'm going to add them here. You know, another time-waster for bored folks. Only one that I can promise you is worth your time. At least in my opinion. Whatever that's worth. I guess I could make another blog dedicated to such things, and maybe someday I will. Who knows. It is safe to assume that the majority of the articles will be long and take some time to read. But that's the point, right?

For now, this is the first in a series that has yet to be named and will most likely never be numbered (Now tentatively named: You Picking Up What I'm Putting Down?).

The Ballad of Jericho Scott
by Craig Fehrman


Jericho Scott was the 9-year-old who briefly became a media sensation when he was deemed "too good" to pitch in his youth league. A year later, Craig Fehrman checks in on Jericho and finds that everyone got the story wrong.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Dom Aitro Field sits in a dense, hilly neighborhood, right behind a battered K-4 school where the "Free" in the "Drug Free Zone" sign has been spray-painted over. Still, when the weather's just right, the sunlight and the thick trees circling the field create a shadow that splits the diamond in half, from home to second to center field. The dugouts' peeling aluminum roofs and the wet laundry hanging 15 feet away seem to disappear. Dom Aitro Field becomes the perfect place for baseball.

On Saturday, Aug. 1, the weather's just right, and Mark Gambardella's New Haven All-Stars are playing in the PONY Baseball North Zone Tournament. It's a double-elimination affair, with the winner going to the Mustang (10 and under) World Series. And, in the bottom of the fourth inning of the tournament's first game, Jericho Scott nods at his catcher, takes a deep breath, and winds up.

You remember Jericho, right? Last year, he became a national sensation — the 9-year-old pitcher banned by his league for being "too good." He also became, in what is always a competitive category, the worst-covered sports story of the year.

* * *

The New Haven Register inaugurated the Jericho Scott era on Aug. 22, 2008, with a story on the controversy surrounding the Liga Juvenil de Baseball de New Haven. The LJB, an independent inner-city league, had told Wilfred Vidro, Jericho's coach, to stop pitching him because he threw too hard and presented "a danger to other kids in the league." When, two games later, Vidro sent Jericho back to mound, the LJB ruled it a forfeit.

Jericho didn't go viral until a few days later, when the sports blogosphere's major players latched on to a Register follow-up about Jericho's parents protesting the LJB decision. Old media and new media — both followed the same pattern, praising Jericho, mocking the LJB, and lamenting the everyone-gets-a-trophy contagion.

But there was always more to this story. At that non-game, the parents and players of Jericho's team allegedly chanted "losers" and caused enough commotion that the LJB had to escort the other team off the field. Several people heard Jericho's mother curse and threaten league officials. The LJB claims she said: "This will be the last year. Once the lawyer is done they're gonna eat shit and there ain't gonna be a league next year."

It's important to keep those words in mind when you learn the history of the LJB. Formed four years ago, the league and its volunteer staff give about 100 inner-city boys and girls — some fresh from T-ball, others who've never even played sports — the chance to learn, exercise and have fun. Look at what Jericho wore in all those sympathy-inducing pictures: sweatpants, mismatched shoes, an adorably oversized hat — this is not the uniform of cutthroat baseball. Or consider the LJB's response. While the league ended up disbanding Jericho's team, they offered to refund players' $50 registration fees, to put them on different teams, to keep Jericho as a non-pitching player, even to help him find a more competitive league. Most of these details came from Peter Noble, who emerged as the LJB's reluctant spokesman. While reporting this story, I became quite familiar with Noble's voicemail message, which, first in Spanish, then in English, offers daily updates for the after-school tennis program he also runs. He seems like a pretty stand-up guy, even if he never returned my calls.

All this to say that, when LJB officials acted to prevent Jericho from pitching, they acted intelligently and responsibly. They did exactly what a developmental league with a wide range of players should do — ensure that everyone gets a chance, not to win, but to improve. If an athlete becomes too good for his age group, he should move up. Youth sports leagues do this all the time.

Nevertheless, the media sided with Jericho, waving around "too good" as if it were an indictment of the league's actions and letting Jericho's camp get away with outrageous statements like: "It spoil[s] their summer and their childhood"; "He's trying to hold the weight of the world on his shoulders"; and "I'd rather have him in the midst of this controversy on the field than dealing drugs on a street corner," as if those were the only two options. Moreover, the media uncritically aired the Scotts' ever-evolving reasons for refusing the LJB's compromises — the Scotts wanted Jericho to remain with his friends; they wanted this particularly close-knit team to stay together; they wanted (this is my favorite) Jericho "to stay grounded"; or, in what became their final answer, they wanted to stand up to a full-blown conspiracy centering on the league's second-place team, which was sponsored by the LJB president's barber shop. (The kernel of truth: the LJB president was renting a chair in said barber shop while his own business was rehabilitated after a fire.)

This one-sided coverage was bad enough. But the media also overlooked crucial information. Not long ago, I talked to Gambardella, a local legend who's coached PONY baseball for the past 30 years — and Jericho for the past five. "The only reason Jericho went to that other league," Gambardella says, "was, well, I gotta take a vacation sometime."

So, while Gambardella took two weeks off, Jericho and a friend joined the LJB's season in progress, signing with a team that was already 4-0. Over the next five days, Jericho pitched 13 innings in three games, but the LJB was never his primary gig — that was the PONY league and Gambardella's All-Star team, both of which were a cut above the LJB. Yet the Register's viral hit mentions "another league" only in passing, and the AP story that ran on ESPN.com's front page doesn't mention it at all.

Neither did Jericho's parents, of course, since it undermines pretty much everything they've put on the record. Instead, with the entire media as their mouthpiece, the Scotts played the role of aggrieved parents and captured the national imagination. When CBS's Early Show did a short feature on Jericho, it made no attempt to explore the league's side of the story. When the Scotts told the New York Daily News that "five of the [LJB team's] victories were no-hitters that Jericho hurled," the paper fit it into its glowing profile — even though, again, Jericho pitched in only three LJB games.

* * *

Which brings us back to Jericho on the mound in New Haven, pitching for a spot in the PONY World Series. Despite the stakes, it's a youth baseball tournament like any other — camping chairs, distracted siblings, maybe 100 spectators in all, with a slight majority for New Haven's opponent, CBC. From a woman who kindly shares her bug spray, I learn that they came from Chesterfield, Va., an eight-hour drive away. It's a more suburban crowd than New Haven's, a sea of khaki shorts, and they like to grumble. "This is a horrible field," says one parent. "How did they get to host this? I mean, really."

Clearly, we're in for a bit of a class war. CBC's kids boast name-brand equipment bags, Space Age batting helmets, and, back home, as another parent proudly informs me, a "baseball complex" recently remodeled for $500,000. New Haven's team, in contrast, is a tough bunch of Italian-, Hispanic-, and African-Americans, and they're representing a city whose Little League barely found enough sponsors to survive. They have . . . well, they have an impressive array of chants.

Nevertheless, by the time Gambardella pulls his ace, New Haven's winning 20-0, and the CBC coach is frothing — literally, I'm afraid — at his players. In comes Jericho. Now, I'm no Keith Law, but I can play one online. One of the more telling sins journalists committed while covering Jericho was wildly overestimating his talents. The Early Show clocked him at 47 mph, but that's actually in line with his age group's averages. (And, again, let's contextualize the hype: In Beyond Belief, Josh Hamilton remembers throwing 70 mph at about the same age.) Jericho does have a smooth, compact delivery and a nice pickoff move, but, more than anything else, he seems really polished. He's a fun-sized Orel Hershiser.

Jericho, or "J," as his teammates call him, strikes out the first CBC hitter on three straight, but then gives up a home run to left, a double to right, a loud out to center, a double to left and another fly out. His final line is one inning, three hits, two runs, one strikeout, but, thanks to the 10-run rule, the game's over. New Haven has its first win.

In its next game, New Haven plays another Connecticut team, Stratford. Gambardella goes with his second-best pitcher, a finesse lefty who quickly gives up six sloppy runs. New Haven chips away, but, in the top of the fourth, they're still down 6-3.

Up to the plate steps Jericho Scott. As in the first game, he's batting ninth and manning second base. If Jericho is one of New Haven's five best players, it's for his defense; later in this game, he'll make the Web Gem of the weekend, a beautiful, bare-handed grab-and-throw. With the bat, his best skill is a preternatural eye at the plate. Against CBC, he walked and struck out looking (it was a terrible call), and here, against Stratford, he carefully works the count.

We're all a little shocked, then, when Jericho just smokes one to center. Stratford's outfielder tracks it, but it's gone — and to the deepest part of the park. Jericho basically skips around the bases; his mom whips out her cell phone and stays on it for the rest of the inning. New Haven never looks back, winning 13-6.

CBC's brain trust sticks around to watch the game, though the parents and players head back to the hotel. As New Haven starts sing-songing through another chant, the CBC coach shakes his head. "That is such an obnoxious team."

* * *

Whatever else they said, no one from CBC (or the other teams) mentioned Jericho's past. It seems unlikely that this was out of respect. Instead, even youth baseball junkies forgot one of 2008's noisiest stories.

While that story began online, it quickly crossed over to talk radio, then TV, with the Scotts receiving overtures from Letterman, Leno, Ellen, even Dr. Phil. But Jericho's biggest impact came in sports columns and blogs, where, as always, the Youth Sports Scandal was packaged as a simple allegory for decidedly grown-up concerns.

Journalists from as far afield as Idaho's Lewiston Morning-Tribune and Michigan's Grand Rapids Press weighed in. They worried about Jericho and his poor parents, raised a fist against Big Brother, linked the LJB to the subprime mortgage crisis. "Sort of makes you glad Michael Phelps didn't splash the water at the local swimming pool too hard when he was a kid, scaring the other kids," wrote one wordsmith. "Next, let's yell at him for being too good at math," opined another. (The blogosphere arguably outdid their print brethren. See this post, lovingly titled, "The Tale of Jericho Scott: Trophies For All! Let's Turn Our Kids Into Sissies! Why Not Socialism, Too?") Such reactions make it pretty clear why the story took off. It was never about Jericho. It was never even about sports. Instead, it was about one of our great national myths, an anxiety that dates back at least to the dawn of the 20th century. For a short while, Jericho Scott's story was Exhibit A in The Gradual Pussification of America.

Well into the fall — and well after the LJB season had ended — the Scotts kept their cause alive. They organized various fundraisers, from washing cars to selling memorabilia autographed by Jericho. And Jericho began lending his celebrity to other (actual) causes, attending a walk to fight sickle-cell anemia. This led to probably the low-point in the whole mess, when Gary Smart, who serves on the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America's national board of directors, told the Register, "Jericho's case is similar, in that he, too, is being set aside."

But the rest of the world had moved on. Or, more accurately, the media had moved on. Leno et al. probably lost interest after seeing the Early Show; it's hard to make compelling TV out of a cute kid who can't quite make eye contact. But the LJB held a press conference that, according to several accounts, was well attended. Even the Register's reporting improved — notably in Dave Solomon's column, which briefly quoted Gambardella. Here, then, were important updates, fresh angles, genuine news.

But if the media brought Jericho's story to life, they just as quickly left it for dead. (See the stalagmite-looking Google Trends graph.) Why? Perhaps they felt trapped by their own righteous reactions. Perhaps they needed to move on to the next big thing. Or perhaps it was never a story so much as a platform, with Jericho serving as a 58-pound human soap box.

* * *

On Sunday, Aug. 2, New Haven plays CBC again, and, this time, CBC jumps out to a big lead. Their fans, who apparently spent Saturday night cooking up their own chants, explode. "Give me a C!"/"C!!!" and so on, ending with, "What does that sound [?] like?"/"CBC!!!" In the dugout, their coach prowls. "Let's give 'em some of their own medicine."

In the top of the fifth, New Haven starts a mini-rally when Jericho steals home. (Throughout the tournament, New Haven runs the bases like the '82 Cardinals.) As he gets up, though, lightning flashes across the sky. The umps push the game to Monday.

Later that afternoon, the sun comes out, and I check back at the field. It's empty, except for four CBC parents. Three are on their hands and knees in the mud, bailing water with styrofoam cups; the fourth is taking pictures to document the now-playable field. If New Haven's fans seem like a more combustible mix — they include not only Jericho's parents, but also Vidro, his old coach and new team's rowdiest fan — it's the CBC contingent who, this weekend, at least, comes off as arrogant, entitled, paranoid and downright mean. The beauty of it is that, just like in Jericho's case, everyone claims to be "about the kids." "We just want them to play tomorrow," is how one of the muddy CBC parents puts it to me. "We don't want it to come down to a coin flip."

It's no surprise when sports parents behave badly (I won't even waste our time on the call to the cops after Saturday's game), but more than anything, more than a small youth league doing what small youth leagues always do, it was that blend of eccentricity and overcommitment that lay at the heart of Jericho's saga. The story of a 9-year-old boy who was "too good" was in fact the story of adults — parents and journalists, alike — who were ultimately too childish.

On Monday, Aug. 3, the weather returns to just right, and CBC quickly finishes yesterday's business, 14-4.

One final game, then, to decide who goes to the PONY World Series. CBC turns to a short kid who throws a 12-6 changeup, if that's possible, and it's devastating. He easily strikes out Jericho, who leads off this game. In the bottom of the first, CBC scores five quick runs. Their fans are delirious.

New Haven fights back, tying it 7-7, but that's as close as they get. In the bottom of the fourth, with New Haven now trailing 14-7, Jericho comes in to pitch. It's a tough spot — two on and CBC's third baseman-slash-manchild at the plate — and Jericho struggles. A sharp single to right, a walk, a double to right-center, and it's over. CBC wins on the ten run rule, 17-7. As New Haven's fans graciously applaud, the CBC coach careens on to the field, slapping kids on the head and screaming, "That's it! That's it, right?" No fewer than fifteen parents charge down from the stands, all armed with digital cameras and camcorders. The CBC kids seem . . . relieved.

Jericho Scott pushes back his hat, keeps his composure, looks at Gambardella, then at his parents. More than anything, he seems shocked at how quickly it ended.


August 10, 2009

LIKE A DUCK


"Be like a duck. Remain calm on the surface and paddle like hell underneath."

- Michael Caine

August 9, 2009

REAL AMERICA STILL EXISTS

With both my brother and best friend serving in the Army, this brought tears to my eyes. It absolutely blows me away. There is no greater sacrifice. God bless America, and God bless our troops.

"Values such as caring about others, decency, honesty, and respect. Those values still exist throughout this great country, they just don’t get the recognition they deserve from a celebrity and disaster obsessed media.

Killed in action the week before, the body of Staff Sergeant First Class John C. Beale was returned to Falcon Field in Peachtree City, Georgia, just south of Atlanta, on June 11, 2009. The Henry County Police Department escorted the procession to the funeral home in McDonough, Georgia. A simple notice in local papers indicated the road route to be taken and the approximate time. This was filmed during the procession by a State Trooper."

STANDING OUTSIDE THE FIRE

Call me a fool, call me weak, but I'm fully convinced life is just merely survived if you're afraid of it. Big things happen, and it's how we react that makes life what it is. It's not always fun, and it's not always easy, but it's a beautiful ride. Personally, I haven't had things so easy the last few years; and to be honest, there were certain times that I used to feel sorry for myself. It's taken some growing up to get beyond that, and it still pops back up from time to time, but I realize more and more every day that all the trials have made me who I am. A lot of times, it's easy to run away. To bury whatever it is that ails you. But next time it comes up, jump in the fire - you might be surprised at what you find out about yourself.



We call them cool
Those hearts that have no scars to show
The ones that never do let go
And risk the tables being turned

We call them fools
Who have to dance within the flame
Who chance the sorrow and the shame
That always come with getting burned

But you got to be tough when consumed by desire
Cause it's not enough just to stand outside the fire

We call them strong
Those who can face this world alone
Who seem to get by on their own
Those who will never take the fall

We call them weak
Who are unable to resist
The slightest chance love might exist
And for that forsake it all

They're so hell bent on giving, walking a wire
Convinced it's not living if you stand outside the fire

Standing outside the fire
Standing outside the fire
Life is not tried it is merely survived
If you're standing outside the fire

There's this love that is burning
Deep in my soul
Constantly yearning to get out of control
Wanting to fly higher and higher
I can't abide standing outside the fire

Standing outside the fire
Standing outside the fire
Life is not tried it is merely survived
If you're standing outside the fire

August 5, 2009

FROM SMALL THINGS


"From small things, mama, big things one day come."
- Bruce Springsteen, From Small Things

August 4, 2009

WAGING WARS TO SHAKE THE POET AND THE BEAT



KOL's song is amazing. It just doesn't get old, and I don't think the original can ever be topped. But one of the best things about it are all the covers out there. Add this one to the list. And maybe somewhere near the top.

Yes please.

July 29, 2009

THE TOP 10

Yesterday and today were pretty uneventful days at work, which led to a lot of article reading on the Blackberry. One of those articles was about a movie; one of my favorite movies, actually. Lists have also been popping up in my life lately, and as such, I decided to make one - my ten favorite movies. I'm not too great at writing 'reviews' as you can tell by my feeble attempt at Discovery's new album (music reviews are Rather's deal from now on, seeing as he's good at it), so I will add favorite quotes or characters or scenes or something from each. I like movies with good casts, good roles, good quotes, good writing, good music, and the most important factor - rewatchability (yes, another made-up word). I imagine this will get long, so consider yourself warned. In alphabetical order, because numerical is rather difficult... I will say that 1a and 1b are Almost Famous and Jerry Maguire. What do they have in common? Both written and directed by Cameron Crowe. Interesting.


ALMOST FAMOUS

First of all, it stars Kate Hudson, the love of my life (even though she's currently with King of the D-bags). And Kate Hudson isn't just in the movie, either. It's her best role ever. Hands down. Another fun fact about Almost Famous - it's the only movie I've ever seen in which the 'Director's Cut' version on DVD, in this case an extra 35 minutes, made the movie even better. The movie has so many money quotes and scenes it's unreal; and I really believe that any person in the world could watch it every day for the rest of their lives and not get sick of it.



"Some people have a hard time explaining rock 'n' roll. I don't think anyone can really explain rock 'n' roll. Maybe Pete Townshend, but that's okay. Rock 'n' roll is a lifestyle and a way of thinking... and it's not about money and popularity. Although, some money would be nice. But it's a voice that says, 'Here I am... and fuck you if you can't understand me.' And one of these people is gonna save the world. And that means that rock 'n' roll can save the world... all of us together. And the chicks are great. But what it all comes down to is that thing. The indefinable thing when people catch something in your music."


BOONDOCK SAINTS

The movie is just bad ass. Period. And it reminds me of me and Jeffe a lot. Still waiting on the sequel... Come on already! It's been ten years!



"And shepherds we shall be,
For Thee, my Lord, for Thee.
Power hath descended forth from Thy hand,
That our feet may swiftly carry out Thy command.
So we shall flow a river forth to Thee
And teeming with souls shall it ever be.
In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti.
"


FIGHT CLUB

Edward Norton kills it. So does Brad Pitt. The cinematography is amazing.



"Let the chips fall where they may."


GOOD WILL HUNTING

The only movie I've actually paid for on itunes. It's that good. Robin Williams and Matt Damon at their bests. And my favorite movie scene of all time (the one below).



"No. No, no no no. Fuck you, you don't owe it to yourself man, you owe it to me. Cuz tomorrow I'm gonna wake up and I'll be 50, and I'll still be doin' this shit. And that's all right. That's fine. I mean, you're sittin' on a winnin' lottery ticket. And you're too much of a pussy to cash it in, and that's bullshit. 'Cause I'd do fuckin' anything to have what you got. So would any of these fuckin' guys. It'd be an insult to us if you're still here in 20 years. Hangin' around here is a fuckin' waste of your time. "


JERRY MAGUIRE

Plot involving one of my dream jobs, the Cardinals, ASU, a solid love story that has the movie bordering on chick-flick. Cuba is so good he won his first Oscar. Too good.



"I am a valuable commodity! I go across the middle! I see a dude coming at me, trying to kill me, I tell myself 'Get killed. Catch the ball!' BOO YA! Touchdown! I make miracles happen!
- Rod...
I'm from Arizona Jerry! I broke Arizona records! I went to Arizona State! I'm a Sun Devil, man!
- And now you want Arizona dollars?
Exaaaacctly! "


LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN

I like movies that make you think. This is one of the better scripts I've ever run across and the movie also has a solid cast with Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis, Josh Hartnett, and Lucy Liu. If you switched any one of those actors out for someone else, the movie would fall apart. There isn't a single one of them that I can come up with a replacement for. Says a lot about the script, director, etc.



"Hey, don't stop on my account."


OUT COLD

So funny. So quotable. So good. And a kick ass soundtrack. Zach Galifinakis and David Koechner are priceless. This is the beginning of Galifinakis' Hangover role.



"Well, yeah it doesn't really allow my dice to roll and by dice I mean testicles. Speaking of testicles, let me get a beer. "


SNATCH

One of Brad Pitt's better performances, I think. And Jason Statham is always solid. Highly entertaining.



"You should never underestimate the predictability of stupidity."


TOP GUN

It kind of bothers me that I have two Tom Cruise roles in my top 10. Dude is an assclown. But it is what it is, I guess. Another ridiculously good soundtrack (how it is not on any Top 100 Soundtracks lists boggles my mind). You've Lost That Loving Feeling and Great Balls of Fire (even if they're not officially on the soundtrack)? Take My Breath Away? Danger Zone? Hot Summer Nights? THE ANTHEM? Are you kidding?! This movie made me want to fly jets. Then they told me I was too tall. Nonsense. Watch it on BluRay; it will blow your mind.



"You're everyone's problem. That's because every time you go up in the air, you're unsafe. I don't like you because you're dangerous.
- That's right! Ice... man. I am dangerous."


USUAL SUSPECTS

Another movie along the lines of Slevin that makes you think. Really well written. Won a couple Oscars. Some call it the American thriller of the nineties. Whatever that means. Kevin Spacey and Stephen Baldwin are my favorite two roles.



"What the cops never figured out, and what I know now, was that these men would never break, never lie down, never bend over for anybody. Anybody."

July 28, 2009

SPECIALIZATION IS FOR INSECTS


"
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
- Robert Anson Heinlein

IT'S HOT HERE



Outside of CA and Italy for school, I've spent my entire life here in the Valley, and at this point I'm pretty used to the heat. I actually enjoy it from time to time. Sick, I know. However, there are days, maybe a dozen or so a year, that are just ridiculous hot. Today was one of those days. I mean STUPID hot. Why Jeffe, Chris, Mark and I chose to go spend our entire afternoon in the sunny, 115-with-humidity, I don't really know. But it probably has something to do with golf being one of the best things ever invented... Unlike crocs (absolutely awful). And twitter (certain lucky people get a free pass). Anyways, around 8:47pm tonight, and by around 8:47pm I mean precisely at 8:47pm, it was still 109 degrees. Yep. And now at nearly 1am, you ask? Oh you know, just 101. But the humidity is down to 23%! Woo!

ONCE UPON A TIME, I HAD PET DUCKS


Once upon a time, I had pet ducks. McLovin and Thunder Dan (named after the best their ever was, period). I don't know why, but I've always had a thing for ducks and kangaroos. Ducks I can't explain, they're just hilarious to me. But every now and then I have a dream where I've got a pet kangaroo and he carries my books to class in his pouch. Awesome. I have a ton of stories about that crazy pair, but I found this old story about the beginnings of Thunder Dan and McLovin, and thought I'd share it here... You know, because I don't have a whole lot else to talk about at the moment, and you don't really have anything better to do but read a 1,285-word story (that is, if you're spending your time here).

Welcome to My Life - The Wild Goose Chase
September 20, 2007

I guess it would be more appropriate to call it a duck hunt than a goose chase, because in reality, that's exactly what it is. Anyways, we all know that I want a duck, ducks to be precise, and I am going to get them. That's just the way it is. The adventure technically began a few days ago with a post on craigslist with me asking the animal lovers of LA where I might be able to acquire a duck. I got a handful of responses all leading me toward downtown LA. I did some legwork and called around, and no one sells damn ducks; they just don't. I guess I should have thought about this in advance, but that would be giving up, and I'm stubborn as hell. Anyways, the emailers said they could be found downtown, so that was where I was headed...

Well, where me and Alex were headed. I should have known how this day would go with the way it started, but whatever. Alex wakes me up with a call from campus around, ooh, 11 or so. He has a meeting til 12, yada yada. Oh wait, his car is here, and his keys are at the girls' house. So, me and Brenden have to drive to the girls' house, where Arianna is sitting on the floor in the fetal position in her underwear, to get Al's keys then drive back home, where I can get his car and drive to campus to pick him up. Obviously. Great way to start the day. Like I said, this was an indicator of what the day would hold.


So I pick Al up and we're headed downtown. Just downtown, no address, no phone numbers. On a wild goose chase, except for ducklings not gooslings... We're feeling Chinatown so that's where we go. We survive ghetto ass South Central and get to Chinatown and start asking around. Only in Chinatown, everyone is actually Chinese... who knew? So, I try to talk to all kinds of Chinamen before we finally see some white people so we pull over to ask them... oh wait, they're German tourists. Effin-A, cotton. Finally, we find a Chinawoman who speaks English, except that Al just about runs her ass over... Another sign. Are you seeing the pattern?

So she says "oh titwightowndatreet" and we're amped. Except we have to turn right and when we do we see the live poultry place with a duck and a chicken on their sign. Double amped. We park (next to the sign that says they aren't responsible when someone beats your ass and jacks your shit) and go inside. Of course, we're the only white people that have ever been in the place, and I'm a foot taller than everyone. Love it. Get to the front and find out they have ducks but no live ones. False advertisement. Better Business Bureau will be getting a call.

So we turn around and go to where that-one-lady-Al-almost-killed told us to go, and end up finding some parking at a meter. Pop in some change, good to go. Then some other Chinawoman comes at us talking gibberish about parking and we just kinda blow it off like yeah, we parked, we're good thanks. Another sign we missed. Glorious.
So we go into this place, check out some samurai swords and ninja stars and all kinds of other useless crap and get directions to the pet store. Yes. Ducklings not far away. We walk a couple shops down and find the pet store. YES. We did it. Only we get to the duckling and baby chick cage and they're all out of ducklings. SOB's. So we talk to Hung, that's the guys name (and I highly doubt it's a pun), but he says next week I get my ducks. Hmm, fine. At least we found where they'll be. I try to convince Al to get some little chicks in the mean time cause they're 2 for $5 and cute as hell, but he talks me out of it. Apparently chicks turn into chickens.

We go back toward the car and decide we're going in the Chinamarket cause we have time left on the meter. I buy some new Kanye's, Al looks at cell phone crap, and we leave. Only, we leave to where the car used to be. Yes, USED to be. Apparently your car gets rolled on if it's there after 3. 'But you had time left on the meter' you're thinking... yeah, apparently that doesn't matter in this gay ass city. So, we're effed in the g-a. Al chucks his coke, I yell an f-bomb or two, and we start trying to figure out how to get the car back.


We finally find the damn phone number after calling about 8 different LA agencies and get the address to the impound. We have less than an hour and a half before they start charging even more money for the stolen car. Dick bags. So naturally, we start trotting the streets of LA like we know where we are going. After about an hour of wandering aimlessly and finding out we have the wrong address, Al's phone dying, along with the GPS in it, we decide were going with the cabby.

We wander another half an hour looking for a damn cab and finally find one and get in. Don't worry, just a $2.65 surcharge plus $.35 for every 1/7th of a mile or 47.5 seconds in the cab. Who comes up with this shit? Honestly. After about a two mile ride we suddenly owe just under $10 to cabby. Get out, pay the man, and go join the rest of the fine citizens who got jacked by some stupid 3pm law.


I don't know if you've ever been to an impound, but it is hell. They won't give us the car because it's registered to Al's dad, not him, and we have to go through all kinds of crap to get it back. Call Al's family, get crapped faxed down, yada yada, yada yada. On a side note: there was this model girl whose car got towed while she was doing a shoot downtown. How unfortunate. Maybe there is a bright side to this day. Nope, find out she's married to a Marine. Thank you for serving sir, my brother is a soldier too; but I'm going to steal your gorgeous 21 year-old wife. I'm not even kidding. I'm going to marry her. She even breaks the 5'8" rule, and I still don't have any hesitation.

Anyways, Al has a Prius and everyone knows you can't tow a hybrid with a normal tow truck, you need a flat bed or it will kill it. Obviously, the towing company didn't know that, you know, cause they're smart like that, and Mother Navarro flips. She's pretty good at it.
To make this long ass story a little shorter: we got the car back. Still not sure if the genius towing guys messed up the computer with their brilliance yet, but we'll know soon I'm sure. Still livid from dealing with dick bags, we decide we're going on the duck hunt once again. Only it's rush hour, and we're going the wrong way on the 5. Fail. Turn around, get off, drive down to little Mexico, or wherever the eff we were. Get stared down, pointed at, yada yada. Nope, this pet store is closed. Done with this. Ducks aren't worth putting the life on the line today. After two hours in traffic, we finally get home. Hong Kong Express. Arizona Ice Tea. Couch. 93 Suns - Sonics game with Thunder Dan going off. Done. And. Done.