Thursday, April 30, 2009

What's going on in my brain

The past two days on the way to work, I’ve driven past the same homeless man drinking a 24-ounce beer in a brown paper sack. A few questions:

Considering it was 7:45 a.m., was this his breakfast, or had he been up all night?

Does he consider going to the store and buying a beer his morning routine? Is this the homeless person’s version of brushing their teeth?

What is the earliest time you can drink a beer without it being a problem? If you drink before 5 p.m. on a weekday, that’s not a good sign. If you drink beer before noon and you’re not on vacation or tailgating, you’ve got a problem.

While we’re on the subject of what time is too early for a beer, Back Yard Burger is giving away free burgers on May 1st starting at 9 a.m. I like burgers more than most people, but 9 a.m., really? I think I’m more disgusted by the thought of a burger at 9 a.m. than I am a beer at 7:45 a.m. I wonder if the homeless guy will save his morning beer till 9 a.m. tomorrow so he can get walk down the street to the nearby Back Yard Burger and have a beer and burger, you know, like a normal Friday at 9.

At work yesterday, I saw a plate-shaped tuperware in the men’s bathroom. I didn’t think much of it. Today, I saw the same tuperware in the same spot. First off, who takes their lunch container into the bathroom? I figure the person took it in there to wash it out, but we have a kitchen sink to do this. Second, what’s the time limit on tuperware in the men’s room? Obviously, it’s over 24 hours before someone claims it or it gets thrown away. I would’ve figured it would’ve been 20 minutes, personally. Now I know.

I was in the local bookstore and was checking out the “Staff Picks.” Someone recommended Synecdoche, NY and said it was “the most daring and thought provoking film of 2008” and that the film “touches on every facet of human existence…”

The only daring thing about the movie was how dare the director pass that crap off as entertainment. How dare he charge people money to watch that? How dare someone recommend this movie? If I watched that movie based on someone’s recommendation, I’d give them the Kendrick Perkins scowl, which is the Medusa of the 21st century.

The only thought that Synecdoche, NY provoked in my mind was “would I rather watch another minute of this movie or have my eyeballs removed by a lion?”

And seriously, “touches on every facet of human existence.” Can any movie do that? How many facets of human existence are there? 1,000? 100,000? A billion?

Instead of Synecdoche, NY getting a recommendation, I give you this:


Monday, April 27, 2009

The trouble with Kobe

In a move only slightly less bizarre than two movies about Steve Prefontaine being made at the same time, there will soon be two comprehensive documentaries coming out about the two biggest stars in the NBA: Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

Each promises to go behind the scenes. Each promises to show you a side of the player you've never seen before. Each will lay claim to being the definitve story of those players, and only one will deliver: LeBron's. You only need to watch the trailers to figure out why.

First up is the LeBron move, More Than A Game, about his senior year in high school and the bond he formed with his teammates:

Here's Kobe's, directed by Spike Lee, ridiculously titled Kobe Doin' Work, a 24-hour glimpse into his life:

It's a striking contrast. The LeBron movie focuses on the relationship with his teammates and coaches. The Kobe movie focuses on Kobe.

Kind of seems fitting, doesn't it? LeBron is turning into the most popular athlete in the world. Off the court he's funny, engaging and personable. On the court, he's playing basketball as well as anyone since Michael Jordan has played it, carries his team, and yet does so in a way that's selfless. And while you can dispute the wisdom of putting his buddies in charge of his business interests, at least you know he's loyal. It's why I can watch the trailer and get sucked in. I don't get the sense it's the slightest bit contrived.

Kobe, on the other hand, can try this stuff all he wants, but it'll never change the fact that while people respect and admire the way he plays the game, no one outside of L.A. really finds him likable. And Lakers fans are idiots, so they don't count anyway. How many players are so despised by their own coach that said coach decides to quit rather than work on the relationship, then rips them to shreds in a tell-all book like Phil Jackson did. The stories about him berating teammates and treating staff members as personal assistants are well-known. Oh, and there was that rape trial.

And you'll never believe this, but reports came out today that Kobe almost torpedoed the whole project the day of shooting because he wanted creative control.

It's impossible to know if that's true, but judging by the trailer it wouldn't be surprising. It's Kobe chatting with opponents, making small talk with the trainer, having a civil conversation with refs. All they need to do is throw in footage of a pre-game meeting with a sick child and it'll be the perfect piece of Kobe propaganda.

No thanks. I'll take LeBron.


A propos of nothing other than my affinity for hockey, I present one pretty damn good commercial. Hockey fan or not, you have to admit they nailed this one:

Now for the opposite end of the hockey advertising spectrum...

Who are the ad wizards that came up with this?


Sunday, April 19, 2009

“I’m Gary Busey so who knows what the %#@% I’m talking about”

There are things I’ve done in my life that I’m not proud of. I once took a shot of beer and mayonnaise. I cheered for the Lakers in the NBA Finals last year. Out of frustration, I’ve thrown a basketball at an opponent’s groin (from point blank range). Nothing good came out of these moments.

Around midnight on Friday night, out of boredom, I tuned into the Larry the Cable Guy Roast on Comedy Central. I don’t know what made me do it, and I assumed it would be another shameful moment of my life in which immediate regret would fall over me. However, this gem occurred halfway through that made me realize that not all bad decisions have bad consequences. (The three-minute mark kills me).

First off, instead of thinking Gary Busey is a lunatic, I now think he might be the smartest guy on the planet. What are the chances of that happening? It would be like playing against Bill Belichick in Madden and not having him look at your plays, or having someone tell you that Michael Jackson is the best babysitter around.

Second, I’ve come to the conclusion that roasts, no matter the subject, are awesome. Why does this have to be for celebrities only? I want to get about 10 friends together and roast one of them. How would this not be awesome? Even better, you know that one person would take the stuff personally and sulk. Can we make this happen?


Friday, April 17, 2009

The NBA Eastern Conference Playoff Preview

You know it’s bad when you procrastinate about writing a blog which is supposed to be for fun. Then again, when your Friday night consists of the following: cut grass, shower, eat Chick Fil-A, nap and write blog post, your life has definitely hit a lull.

Without further ado (and because the playoffs start in a little over 12 hours), the Chris Avis NBA Eastern Conference Playoff Preview.

Chicago @ Boston
Normally I’d pick Boston in 4 or 5 games and just move on. But with the Karma Police out in full force and eating away at KG’s knee, this series gets a little more interesting. As for the Karma Police, they’ve been doing some stellar work (injure A-Rod, banish TO, destroy KG’s knee). As much as I hate the Celtics and love D-Rose, I’m not silly enough to pick against Boston. The Celtics in 7.

Detroit @ Cleveland
Is this really a series? Could I be less interested? No I could not. Detroit sucks. They better make a big offseason acquisition or they’re about to be one of the worst teams in the league. Cleveland in 5.

Philadelphia @ Orlando
Two slumping teams. One of them has a front line of Thaddeus Young, Reggie Evans and Samuel Dalembert. The other one has Dwight Howard. How easy is this? Orlando in 5.

Miami @ Atlanta
Congratulations Eastern Conference, you have one interesting 1st round series! My gut told me not to pick against D-Wade. It also said, “Chick Fil-A was awesome.” But the more I thought about it, the more Atlanta looked like the pick. When is the last time someone said that? Boston won the title last year and couldn’t even win a game in Atlanta in the playoffs. Miami will this year? Plus, Atlanta was 3-1 vs. Miami this year. That has to mean something right?

I’d tell you all my other Eastern Conference predictions, but for some reason Graham only gave his 1st round picks, not the whole playoff bracket. If you know me, I’m not going to go the extra mile. Plus, Die Hard is on TV. What a Friday night!


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

NBA First Round Preview: Western Conference

LA Lakers vs. Utah:
What the hell happened to Utah? Two years ago they were in the Western Conference Finals, and now, with largely the same roster, they're an eighth place team that can't win on the road? Not since Franz Ferdinand has a young group with so much potential fallen so far, so fast.

As for L.A., I'm going to go out on a limb with this statement: Jordan Farmar is the best half-Jewish point guard in the NBA today. There it is. I'm not taking it back.

Anyway, the Jazz lost both their games in LA this year by 10+ points, and I see no reason to think that won't happen again. Best case scenario, Utah steals one at home. Lakers in 5.

Denver vs. New Orleans:
I want to pick the Hornets so bad. God, I hate the Nuggets. I hate Kenyon Martin's faux-tough guy act. I hate Carmelo Anthony. I hate Kenyon Martin's lips tattoos on his neck. I hate J.R. Smith. I hate Kenyon Martin's chest-thumping. I hate any team that uses Dahntay Jones as a starter. I hate Kenyon Martin running his mouth all the time when he only ranks fifth on his own team in scoring. I hate that Denver's airport is a solid 45 minutes from the city even with no traffic. I hate Kenyon Martin. I hate Denver.

But they're going to win. Denver in 6.

San Antonio vs. Dallas:

Now things get interesting. San Antonio is missing Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan is hobbled and Dallas is streaking. Look at Dirk's numbers in April: 30 points per game on 55% shooting.

Sure, Tony Parker is going to make Jason Kidd look like one of these, but the Mavs can put Jason Terry on him to even up that matchup.

You know what, I like Dallas in this series. They're peaking at the right time, Dirk is playing like it's 2006, and San Antonio is hurting. And with Denver in Round 2, I wouldn't be surprised to see Dallas in the Western Finals. This team has one more run in them. Dallas in 6.

Portland vs. Houston:
Get ready to see this highlight 477 times over the next two weeks:

That shot set the stage for this Blazers team that stormed into the fourth spot, and solidified Brandon Roy as a major star in this league.

As for this series, the Blazers are deeper than Houston, they can neutralize Yao Ming with Przybilla and Oden (Yao averaged 16 points on 42% shooting in the season series), use LaMarcus Aldridge to make Luis Scola a non-factor, and force Ron Artest to beat them.

But for some reason I have a nagging feeling that Houston can still matchup well against Portland. Artest and Battier will drive Roy crazy defensively. Aldridge and Scola will be a wash. Neither Przybilla or Oden can carry the scoring load if Roy and Aldridge are being handled. Steve Blake will be forced to keep up with Aaron Brooks and Kyle Lowry, and Blake is white. Who carries the scoring load if Houston is shutting down Roy and Aldridge? Not Przybilla and Oden. Outlaw? Maybe. Fernandez? Maybe.

Plus, Portland can't beat good teams on the road, so if Houston steals Game 1 or 2, they have a huge advantage. And if calls start going against Portland, they're finished quicker a virgin on prom night.

This series is going the distance. I'm cheering for Portland. But it's Houston in 7.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Extra! Extra!

Last summer I moved to the Portland, Oregon area. Vancouver, Washington, to be specific (not to be confused with Vancouver, B.C. That Vancouver, where I grew up, is a world class city hosting the Olympics next year. This Vancouver has a 24-hour Shari's. But their cinnamon french toast is terrific).

Anyway, the daily paper here, the Columbian, broke some earth-shattering news on their web site today. Check it out.

I'll wait a second for you to fully digest the severity of the article.

Now, understand, Vancouver may not be Manhattan, but it's not a one-stoplight farming town either. It's essentially an offshoot of Portland, a major city, if not a metropolis. Hell, even Vancouver alone has over 100,00 residents.

And while most people would see that article and maybe get a chuckle, I laughed out loud, e-mailed it to all my friends, and spent the better part of the afternoon obsessing over it.

Why did they write this article? How did they find out the light had been fixed? Did the city send out a press release? If so, how many people in management had to approve it before it was released? Did a concerned reader call it in? Has there been a reporter on stoplight watch? Did the reporter have a source that tipped her off? Why wasn't it enough just to say the light had been fixed? Why did they feel compelled to ask a city spokeswoman about it? What was the spokeswoman's reaction when she got that call? What was the reporter's reaction about having to make that call? Did the reporter want to hang herself for having gotten this assignment? Is this the only story she worked on today?

As a journalism graduate myself, I can attest that every budding reporter hopes their career will unfold like this:

Not like this:


Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Murtaugh List

Last week on the criminally underrated How I Met Your Mother, they introduced the concept of the Murtaugh List. Rather than explain the whole thing here, watch the video (forward to the 2:20 mark).

For the record, Laser Tag is not on the Murtaugh List. Laser Tag is awesome. If one of my friends called me to play Laser Tag, I'd ditch my wife and kid and be there post-haste.

Anyway, here is Graham's Murtaugh List:

-Eating cold pizza for breakast. Or hot pizza for that matter. Or cake, cookies, or any other dessert item. I need a reasonable breakfast. Cereal, toast, oatmeal, pancakes. Something to that effect. Or bacon. Lots of bacon...

-Staying on the topic of food, eating hot dogs on consecutive days is on the Murtaugh List. That even includes times where my wife is out of town. At the minimum, I need to boil some pasta. Or hit an IHOP. But not hot dogs two days in a row. I have my dignity.

-Alcohol: 99% of shots are out. That means you, Jager. There was a time I could handle it, but the last few times where I've been foolish enough to think I could turn back the clock, I've spent the next day in the bathroom. Not puking, mind you, but unleashing a torrent of diarrhea so potent that a Mexican restaurant janitor would be offended. Oh, and I puke sometimes too. Shots are out.

-Twitter. Just because it sucks though, not because I'm too old for it. Twitter should be on society's Murtaugh List. I hope one day we look back at Twitter with the same shame and embarrassment with which we hold John Mayer's success.

Wait, he's still successful? Dammit. OK, oversized women's sunglasses- oh come on!

Twitter, John Mayer, big sunglasses- our society is not in a good place.

-Adam Sandler movies. If you're over 30, and you pay any money to see an Adam Sandler movie, it's time to reevaluate things.

-Autographs. This is a big one: unless you have some unique piece of memorabilia, under no circumstances is it ok to ask an athlete, entertainer, porn star or any other celebrity for an autograph. That's just pathetic.

-Staying in a motel. I'm 31 and I have a job, I can spring for a halfway decent room. But there are two exceptions to this rule:
1: Long road trips
2: When using the services of a prostitute

-Late movies. There was a time I wouldn't see a movie before 9 p.m. Now, if I'm not out by 9 p.m., it better be the second coming of Heat. Because I want to go home.

-Crashing at a friend's house. I really shouldn't be out so late and having the kind of night whereby that's an option, but even then, going back to the I'm-31-and-have-a-job rule, I'll spring for the cab. The next morning will be rough enough without the turmoil of having to get up and go home in the kind of condition I know I'd be in.

-Not stretching before exercising. The last time I went for a run and didn't stretch out first, I was in traction for a week. Not good times. Then again, I guess I could just not exercise. Seems easier that way.

-Surfing internet porn.

Settle down, I'm kidding. You're never too old for that.


Friday, April 3, 2009

Geoff Calkins: The dumbest guy in the room

So before this post gets underway I suppose I should say three things.

1. I’m a huge University of Memphis Tigers fan, born and raised. I received two degrees from the school so this post will be from the heart, not the head.

2. My top choice for the coaching vacancy is Reggie Theus, for a variety of reasons, including:
a) he has NBA coaching and playing experience
b) he’s a relativity young, African American coach that could use both of these traits to his advantage in this city
c) he has college coaching experience
d) he was on a NBC TV show that came on immediately following “Saved by the Bell”

3. It’s past midnight on a Friday night and thus I’m a bit riled up.

Taking into consideration the above mentioned concepts, I have to break down the most recent Geoff Calkins article and ask you, fair or foul? (Calkins writing is in italics throughout)

“So the conversation turned to the Memphis coaching search, and the Division 1 head coach asked who the Tigers search team might be going after next.
"It could be Scott Drew."
The Division 1 head coach paused at this.
"Do they KNOW Scott Drew?" he asked.
Evidently, not. Or they know something about the Baylor coach that nobody else seems to know.

First off, Calkins implies that he was talking with a Division 1 coach and the conversation just happened to turn to the U of M coaching job vacancy. This is all Calkins has been concerned with for the past week. Of course the conversation went there! Second, Calkins implies that this Division 1 coach knows something about Scott Drew that no one else knows. Isn’t this collusion? These guys are both competing for the same jobs, the same money, the same prestige. Can we trust an anonymous competitor’s position?

A national television commentator (by phone): "WHAT?"

So a columnist said “What?” Can we be sure that he truly meant, “I can’t believe that the U of M would consider this person” as Calkins implies. Couldn’t he simply have asked “What” as in “I didn’t hear you, what did you say?” The source is still anonymous, so how can we prove otherwise?

An assistant coach in the SEC (by text): "Wow."
Scott Drew would be a "wow" hire in the world of college basketball, all right.
Just not in a good way.

So who is the assistant coach? What school does he coach for? What does he mean by “wow?” Does he mean, “Wow, I know that guy and he’s a hell of a coach. Wow, Memphis found a diamond in the rough.” Calkins frames the “wow” by implying that it was negative, but once again, the statement is simply a basic anonymous word, how can we know what it means without Calkins framing it?

And let me say, in the interest of complete disclosure, that I would not know Scott Drew if he walked into my living room and offered me a package deal.
Which he might do, by all accounts. But that's not the point here. I don't know Drew. I have never met the guy.
If the Memphis Tigers hire him -- and they talked with him Friday, after formally asking for permission -- it could turn out to be the best thing for this city since pulled pork. But that's not what people who know Drew seem to think.

So a bunch of anonymous sources, none that will go on record, who “know Drew” seem to think he’s a bad guy. While we’re playing this game, let me go ahead and say, anonymously, that I think Vin Disel is the best actor of his generation, that LeBron James is overrated and that Lindsey Lohan is a virgin.

I made a lot of calls on this. And Drew was invariably described as:
1) A phony.
2) A man who has never met a recruiting rule he couldn't bend.
3) A lousy bench coach.
4) And, really, what more do you need?

I’ll go ahead and ask Graham these questions. Wouldn’t an innocent bystander call Coach Cal a phony, a man who never met a recruiting rule he couldn’t bend and a lousy bench coach? Isn’t’ that the same guy the school and city desperately tried to keep?

It's not just me, saying worrisome things about Drew, either. It's everyone. Jeff Goodman, the national college basketball writer for Fox Sports, said on my radio show that hiring Drew would be a mistake. Texas coach Rick Barnes has publicly criticized Drew's recruiting tactics.

Well, if Jeff Goodman said it, it must be true. Didn’t this guy say that Memphis played lousy street ball last year up until they were 3 seconds away from being national champs? And if Rick Barnes doesn’t like the guy, isn’t that a compliment? I don’t want a coach that has nearby rival school coaches saying, “What a great fellow! Hire him now!”

George Lapides -- a newspaperman without a newspaper -- took the extraordinary step on his radio show of warning Memphis not to hire Drew.
Lapides said he thought about saying the same thing when Memphis was on the verge of hiring Tic Price. When the Price era played out as it did, Lapides vowed never to keep quiet again.

Well, if I can play the same game that Lapides is playing now, let me go on records as saying that I thought Michael Jordan’s baseball career was going to be a flop from the start but I wanted to let him learn on his own, that Shaq and Kobe should’ve never split up but I hate to get in the middle and that Barry Bonds was using steroids but I’m not one to judge.

Drew has a reputation as a creative recruiter. That must be part of it. But wouldn't it be nice to have a head coach who didn't spend all his time chasing national recruits with offers of jobs on the staff?
Drew hired John Wall's AAU coach to help bring the star guard to Baylor. Problem is, he forgot to get a guarantee that Wall would actually come. John Calipari might have been shady, but at least he was great at it.

What the hell am I supposed to make of this? Drew is shady in trying to get John Wall. Okay, I get that. But Calapari was shady in getting Dajuan Wagner (hired his dad and gave his BFF a scholarship), Derrick Rose (Worldwide Wes) and Tyreke Evans (hired one of his boys). So I’m supposed to fault Drew for not securing Wall’s letter of intent but praise Cal for getting Wagner, Rose and Evans. I’m perplexed.

The Memphis search team appears not to care about any of this. And maybe they're the smartest guys in the room.

How do we know the Memphis search team doesn’t care about any of this? They haven’t hired the guy yet. Maybe this is why the guy wasn’t first on the list. Obviously he wasn’t (Tim Floyd, Bruce Peal, etc.). “Maybe they’re the smartest guys in the room?” Aren’t they the only guys in the room? Who else is in the Memphis coaching search room other than the Memphis search team? In theory, they’re the smartest, dumbest, prettiest and ugliest guys in the room. They are the only guys in the room!

If I were on the search committee, I'd take another trip, just to be sure. Fly to Detroit, the site of the Final Four. Wander through the hotels. Ask people in the business what they think of their candidate.
They'd shoot straight. They'd roll their eyes their eyes a bit, too.
The Tigers might be interested in hiring Scott Drew?

So go to Detroit, the site of all of Scott Drew’s competitors, his rivals, see what they think and expect straight answers. Wow is right. Wow, Calkins really is this naïve, and he thinks his readers really are that stupid.