Saturday, June 28, 2008

Taking a break

from my busy day of working and napping and bathroom cleaning to give you a gift:

Maybe, just maybe, Larry David can cheer you up.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Books, Books, Books

As much as I wish I had more Tom Waits reviews to relay to the massive (relatively) readership I've attracted over the past few days, I do not.

I have, however, been much more active on the reading front. Since I finished David McCullough's John Adams (yes, I'd like to be able to underline these titles, but I have not been able to figure that out yet), I've read another three books and am about to embark on another, but I feel compelled to get these entries out of the way before I do so. Since this post is going to be covering what could in actuality be at least four long posts, I'm going to be fairly brief in my reviews/reflections on each book in the interest of keeping things moving forward here at Inconsiderate Prick.


John Adams
, by David McCullough

Obviously, this has gotten a lot of attention over the past few years, what with the Pulitzer and the HBO miniseries. For whatever reason (laziness, lack of motivation, alcoholism), it took me almost a year to finish that book. As such, my retention was probably not what I'd have hoped.

McCullough's prose is pretty accessible for history writing, and his painstaking research clearly paid off as the life of our Second President was one of rife with nuance and complexity. His exploration of the unwavering devotion and anachronistic equality within John and Abigail's relationship is largely informed by their own letters to one another and, as such, adds rich personal insight into their lives. Outside of the sphere of the family, the role John Adams played in leading the United States to independence is investigated in great detail with impartiality, thus allowing the reader to see Adams, warts and all.

Was John Adams the world's easiest read? No, but it was not insurmountable and certainly merits a read if solely to gain better insight as to his place in history.


The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neill's America
, by Joe Posnanski

There is very little impartiality going into my thoughts on this book, as Posnanski is probably my favorite sports writer, and his blog was the first to be entered into the links section here.

That being said, this book was great. It was an incredibly fast read dedicated to a great man, whose efforts to spread the word about the colorful history of Negro League Baseball and his crowning achievement--the Negro League Hall of Fame--drove him to the end. As much as his efforts to keep the memory of the largely forgotten and historically relegated Negro League alive in our collective consciousness started to define who Buck O'Neill was later on in life, it does not take long to see just how much of his success was the result of his kind heart, gentle disposition, and warmth of spirit.

The book is also teeming with great stories of baseball's yesteryear, like Buck O'Neill going to Billy Williams's home (Williams had left his minor league team following one in a series of many discriminatory episodes in his young career ) and staying with them for days, not mentioning baseball once, waiting for Billy to come back on his own terms--well, he also paid some neighborhood kids off to help his cause. His insight into the game was legendary, and his stories ranged from having seen Babe Ruth play when he was a child to hearing that same crack of the bat decades later when Bo Jackson played. He lived in Kansas City in its heyday, saw Charlie Parker playing on the streets as a child, and was close friends with Satchel Paige.

This really is a must-read for any baseball fan or anyone who has the desire to see what makes a man who holds no grudge against anyone, despite having what most would justifiably assume was ample reason to be mad at the world at large. Buck O'Neill's love for baseball and life shine through with ease, and Posnanski's love for his subject and baseball itself certainly do not hurt Buck's cause here. Oh, and the last two chapters are absolutely crushing.


A Drink Before the War, by Dennis Lehane

The first in the Kenzie-Gennaro series (whose later installment, Gone Baby Gone, was brought to the big screen last year), A Drink Before the War is brilliant. Its narration is great, with Patrick coming across as every bit the wry, hardened Bostonian that he is in the Affleck brothers' effort last year, and the action does not slow once it gets started. The plot is labyrinthine and some pretty dark recesses of the human experience are delved into without hesitation. Politicians are dubious, cops are slightly vengeful, abusive husbands get their comeuppance, and private investigators crack wise as well as Bogey ever did.

Upon first reading, Lehane seems to be a damn gifted writer, and his graying of the codes of morality are thought provoking to say the least. When you finish, you will find yourself wishing there were more. There are, and I certainly anticipate running through the rest of the series once I make some headway in the ever-accumulating stacks of books I have been acquiring.


Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This novel looks back at a puzzling murder that occurred years prior to the narrator's return to the scene crime. In historically investigating the murder of a friend, the inexplicable complicity of the entire village is pulled into the foreground and inspected with careful scrutiny.

As always, Garcia Marquez's prose is beautiful, and his knack for conjuring magical imagery is key to the beauty of the book. At a mere 120 pages, this is a book that could easily be read in an afternoon, and if you like Gabriel Garcia Marquez's other works, there's no reason not to dive right in.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tom Waits - Dallas

Forget what I just said, I guess. There have been far too many Tom Waits related hits of late to not keep on truckin'.

So, Andrew was my travel companion this time around (no rental car was needed), and we made it to the road by about 2:30. After a short detour to the Czech Stop in West for real kolaches, we rolled into Dallas with about an hour and a half to spare. We found street parking near the Palladium--our spot happening to be right in front of a bar where we drank until about 15 till show time. When that time came, we mobilized, made it to the door, grabbed two beers a piece at one of the side bars, cut in front of a good chunk of the crowd masquerading as friend-searchers, handed a beer to each of the guys we'd be standing in front of, and prepared ourselves.

The wait for Waits was about 30 seconds, and we immediately found ourselves in the middle of the "Lucinda"/"Way Down in the Hole" two-song kick start I'd grown accustomed to over the past few days. After taking "Anywhere I Lay My Head" out for a walk and following it up with a little "November" and megaphone enhanced "Chocolate Jesus" action, he busted out the first shocker: "Frank's Wild Years", which at one point was my ring-tone until I realized that I was missing just about every received call. It was so fucking unexpected I nearly shat myself from glee. Obviously, it was great.

Maintaining the oldie-but-goodie momentum, the crowd was taken to a small island of the Malay Peninsula that some like to call "Singapore", and while no one was actually caned, Tom Waits did kick all of our asses just a little bit. After the tour standards "Hoist that Rag" (which was performed the best in Dallas of the three Texas shows) and Mississippi Delta hole-in-the-wall vibed "Get Behind the Mule", he played the pair of Eyeball Kid related songs, "Such a Scream" and "Eyeball Kid", which was probably the high point of the entire Texas leg of the tour for my money.

Following that, he made his way to the piano for piano set standard "Lucky Day" with special treat "Invitation to the Blues" coming right on its heels. Then he swung around to the reed organ for "Lost in the Harbor" after which I assumed he'd make his way back to center stage--as he had in El Paso--only to be surprised with "Innocent When You Dream". I suppose here would be the time to point out that of the crowds I saw Tom Waits with (my personal company excluded), the Dallas crowd was the best. Maybe it was the communal heat stroke that was going on in the Palladium, as it was hot as fuck in there, but the crowd was much more into participating in the show, not just sitting there. I guess that's probably caused by the assigned seating versus general admission nature of the shows, but unlike in Houston, Tom Waits didn't have to ask the crowd to sing louder on "Innocent When You Dream" in Dallas.

Hopping back onto his circle of sawdust, he broke into "16 Shells from a Thirty-Ought Six", which I kind of hope he didn't play in Houston just to spite the retard who kept yelling, "16 Shells!" after every song had already started. It was pretty fucking primal, honestly. He then built on that energy with "Lie to Me", which has quickly made its way to the top of my favorite Waits songs after seeing it on this tour. Then, again hopefully to spurn Houston, he dropped in "Fannin Street". He kicked it back up a notch with an new version of "Black Market Baby", which plays just as well as it does on the album, if not better, and then closed the regular set with "Misery is the River of the World".

As he came out (quickly again) for the encore, I was sure that he'd crank out "Goin' Out West". No dice. First, he made it rain, which was tight once again, then he treated us to the blues jam "Jesus Gonna Be Here" (which the more I think about sounds kind of like what Sam Beam has done with a lot of the reworked Iron & Wine material when they're playing live). Expecting him to be done after that, he shocked me by going into "9th and Hennepin", which was fucking stellar and was exactly what I wanted to hear (as I kind of doubted he'd be busting out "Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis" again on the tour, and I like to get my Minneapolis fix anyway I can), and then he sent us home with the classic "Time".

Honestly, without any hesitation whatsoever, this was the best of the three shows I saw. I thought the set list was the best. The crowd was the best. The sound was the best. The band was the best. It was a great fucking show, and it made me wish I was going along on the rest of the tour.

As Andrew and I made our way back to Austin, we stopped at Jack in the Box in Hillsboro and then again in Waco. Bad move. Andrew didn't shit for a day. I, on the other hand, did. More than I'd have liked. That's saying something. I also decided that I was just going to need to make myself throw up at about 7:30 am if I was going to get any kind of decent sleep.

Maybe it's time for me to swear off fast food altogether. I've done it before. I can do it again.

Too tired

I really want to finish off my posting about the Tom Waits concerts, so I can move on to the other things I said were coming down the pike, but I'm too tired tonight. I've almost finished another book that I'd also like to write about, but there's not enough time in the day, or at least there hasn't been what with me having to study for the Texas Party Boat Operator Licensure exam. But that's over and done with (I passed, barely), and now it's back to a (hopefully) quasi-productive lifestyle filled with blog entries and going to the gym and reading books.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

NL Champs???

It is becoming more and more clear that the Royals should be in the NL. They have the best record of any MLB team in interleague play. DeJesus has caught fire. Guillen is still smoking hot (and he walked twice against de la Rosa and the Rockies last night!). Aviles has been more than surprising and certainly seems to be sparking the offense from the two-hole.

Their pitching seems to be back with Mahay providing some stability out of the pen, and the rotation stepping back up to its performance level earlier in the season (although Davies seems to be doing it with smoke and mirrors, as he's not striking guys out while maintaining about a 1:1 K/BB ratio and a 1.65 WHIP).

Olivo's bat is so powerful it's taking out umpires--OK, maybe that was too soon... Seriously, well wishes to Brian O'Nora, whose face was the latest victim in this ridiculous maple bat fiasco that did not see any decision made today when the owners met to talk about it (amongst other things, of course).

But mostly, I think it is odd to have just broken free from another long losing streak only to find the Royals a mere eight games out of first and two games out of third place in the AL Central after less than a month of time has passed. I really think they do have the talent to threaten .500, as the offense couldn't possibly underperform for that long, and if they get the Billy Butler back, who is tearing up AAA (why is he not up yet? I think that swing is fixed...), and he keeps raking, it would stand to reason that they could really start to score enough runs to stay in ballgames.

I guess I'll ever be the slight optimist.

Tom Waits - Houston

When I got home Saturday night, my cell was finally back in able-to-check-messages range, and I was treated to a message stating that the guy who'd called to see if I had an extra ticket a couple of weeks ago had gotten dicked over at work and was needing to work through Sunday to finish a product. Great...

I asked my roommate if he wanted to go. Too much to do on Sunday. Made a call to a Spaniard. Maybe. Called the inimitable John Pike. Sure. Why the hell not? Once the Spaniard had deemed himself too Spanish, it was John Pike to the rescue. So--after a ridiculous wake up from friends and an unwanted detour to Spider House--we rented a car and headed off to Houston. Not wanting to deal with some retarded traffic jam on I-35, I took to the city streets of East Austin, which led me to FM-969, which I left for a road which was to take me Elgin and presumably US-290 only I somehow managed to miss US-290 and found myself in Taylor, from where I knew how to get to US-290. I didn't have to get out and ask for directions, though...

After the detour, we were really off to Houston and arrived with plenty of time to spare, having only stopped off for what turned out to not be "the best kolaches in Texas", despite what the sign said on the highway. We found Jones Hall, parked a block away, and moseyed on down to the first of two cookie-cutter Irish pubs on the 500-block of Main Street. Neither were particularly impressive and won't even get a shout-out by name. After wasting our hard-earned money on Houston-priced beers and substandard food and making a phone call to Jackie on her birthday, we made way to the venue, bought oil-stain shirts, and headed to our seats (which were much farther away from the stage than our El Paso tickets).

As the show started, it was quickly clear that it was not going to be loud enough. Maybe the lack of clarity and volume was related to the fact that we were sitting in fucking Galveston, or maybe it was because we were under the balcony, but the sound definitely wasn't loud enough and certain vocal flares were not as pronounced. That being said, he started out with "Lucinda" and "Way Down in the Hole" again, and once again they really got the show kickstarted. The next three songs, "Falling Down", "November", and "Dead and Lovely" were all great and started to set the tone that would permeate the show. This was going to be more of a balladeer set--well, at least as close to a balladeer set as Tom Waits can get.

After another raucous rendition of "Lie to Me", Tom jumped on guitar and played "The Day After Tomorrow", which was particularly affective. He then kicked the shit out of "Hoist that Rag" again, with the first breakdown sounding more together than it did in El Paso, but that may have just been the result of not being able to actually hear it from where we were sitting. Three great songs passed ("Get Behind the Mule", which couples very well with "Hoist that Rag", "Cemetary Polka", and "Trampled Rose"), and Tom went to his radically reimagined "Jesus Gonna Be Here".

After the dirty blues bar jam of "Jesus Gonna Be Here", Tom made his way to the piano and belted out "Lucky Day", "Tom Traubert's Blues", "House Where Nobody Lives", and "Innocent When You Dream", which made for a helluva piano set when coupled with his piano banter and the mandated sing-along with "Innocent When You Dream".

Taking his place back atop his sawdust-laden personal stage, Tom broke into "Make It Rain", which he followed up with a version of "Murder in the Red Barn" that took me until the chorus to place (no, he didn't kick the song off with the lyrics from the album). Following "Murder in the Red Barn", we were all treated to "Come on up to the House", then "Dirt in the Ground" (fucking amazing once again), and finally a completely rearranged "Eyeball Kid", which closed off the set with style.

Coming back on stage to rabid applause (and much faster than he did in El Paso), he quickly made his way through the sublime romp of "Goin' Out West" and closed it off with the unexpected "All the World is Green".

Surprisingly absent was "Fannin Street", which made the cut in both El Paso and Dallas but not in the town it's about. I guess Tom Waits does whatever Tom Waits wants to do.

All in all, I'd have to say the El Paso show stands out as being slightly better, which may very well be the result of my proximity to the stage at each show (or the jackass singing off-key but emulating Tom's vocals in my ear behind me, or maybe the incomprehensible frequency of dickheads in the rows around us getting up to go wherever it was they needed to go only to come back 30 seconds later), but I think the El Paso set was more to my liking than the Houston set. Was it better than Dallas, though? You'll find that out soon...

After the show, we made our way out of Houston and sped on home, managing to leave just about every toilet from Austin to Houston on US-290 and back to Austin on TX-71 virtually unscathed--which was a let-down of sorts for all you readers out there, I suppose.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tom Waits - El Paso

I'm of the school of thought that more so than most other events in one's life, the concert goer's experience is formed by what leads up to the show, the contents of the show, and whatever happens after the show. Keeping that in mind, this is going to be a long fucking post.

Brace yourself.

When the tickets for the Glitter and Doom Tour went on sale, I was on top of things and got pairs of tickets for each show without definite takers for any of the extra tickets except for the El Paso show at the Plaza Theater set for June 20th. That taker was one John Michael Pike. Along with Pike, we had six others heading out to El Paso--two carloads--our car being driven by Mark with his old lady sitting shotgun.

After running Pike errands that led us to a Juneteenth parade with black cowboys on horseback riding through the middle of Austin, we hit the road on Thursday with a planned stopping point of the Holland Hotel in the Alpine. As we approached Johnson City, Pike decided that he was going to let us choose what he was to slam at every gas station we stopped at along the way. We chose the Budweiser/Bud Light Clamato Chelada. I was lucky enough to get to drink any tall boy I wanted. By the time we arrived in Alpine, Pike had ingested 96 ounces of that shit, having stopped in Johnson City, Ozona, Bakersfield (where we were hoping to catch a glimpse of a previous mirage of a beautiful girl working in a gas station about 50 miles from nowhere), and Fort Stockton along the way. Despite all the stops--many including adventurous shits throughout West Texas--we made pretty good time to Alpine and coincidentally got in at the very same time the Steen & Co. car was pulling into town.

We all checked into the hotel (Harley and John 2 into the Sunday House Inn famously possessing Texas-sized rooms and adorned with an autographed picture of Thomas Haden Church as Lowell in the lobby), defecated (some of us multiple times, and Pike's being especially rancid as the amount of the semi-toxic clamato he'd put in his body caused him to emit horrifying odors in myriad ways), and dawdled. After wasting a proper amount of time, we headed down to the Buffalo Rose, receiving surprisingly good fare all the way around, and then made the rounds to various Alpine Bars on a refreshingly cool desert night, spending a large chunk of time at the Railroad Blues Bar, where Pike was fortunate enough to find another Clamato Bud Light (light to maintain his figure, of course), upping his amount imbibed to an even 120 ounces on the day. Impressive? Yes. Would I advise anyone to ever attempt such a feat knowing what I know about the endgame? Never.

Upon returning to the Holland, Jeremy and Pike shared some special moments (and some delightfully lewd ones), some of which were forever captured on film for posterity's sake by Miss Shelley. More drinks were consumed. People were happy.

When we woke up, we discovered that the amazing breakfasts that were included in our last trip to the Holland were only on weekends, so we chowed on our continental breakfasts and headed to Marfa, where we proud defecators made sure to leave our mark wherever we could. Pike and I washed down our Pizza Foundation grub with tall boys, and before you could say "I shat" we were heading towards El Paso (some of us going a more direct route than others) and a date with Waits.

We rolled into El Paso, dropped Pike off at the border, and headed off to find a hotel. Luckily, El Paso is rife with Gentlemens' Hotels and we found one befitting the reason we were in El Paso in the form of the Gateway Hotel. It was dirt cheap and centrally located, mere blocks from the Plaza. As Mark, Megan, and I walked around stomachs a-growlin', we attempted to get in contact with the second car (who, it turned out, were a few miles out after having been pulled over twice by those always diligent West Texas Peace Officers), so that we could eat. Once they pulled up behind us, we (sans Pike, who was presumably up to no good in Juarez) headed to Kiki's, where we had great dishes including the Machaca and Rosa's Mole. The food was so good, in fact, that the other crew returned the next day for lunch.

After Kiki's, we headed back downtown to the Plaza, where we began the process of entering the theater, looking around, breaking in the toilets, etc. By 8:00 pm, we were in our seats awaiting what we assumed was going to be greatness.

We were not disappointed.

As Tom Waits walked onto the set (which looked pretty much the same as it did in Phoenix), the crowd went crazy, and Mr. Waits promptly busted into a most stomping-up-the-sawdust rendition of "Lucinda", riling the crowd up. As he rolled through early numbers "Way Down In the Hole", "Falling Down", "Chocolate Jesus" (megaphone and all), and "Singapore", it was clear to all that this man and his band were really at the top of their game. Honestly, aside from the first breakdown in "Hoist that Rag" not seeming entirely together (the second breakdown was fucking amazing, though, with great sax/guitar interplay between Vincent Henry and Omar Torrez) and the occasional lead guitar part seeming slightly off effects-wise, there wasn't a weak point in the show.

"Hoist that Rag" absolutely brought the house down. His monologue between songs while seated at the piano was especially engaging, having chosen to regale the audience with animal kingdom factoids and shrimp-jokes. The combination of "Lie to Me" (in which his yowl is at rabid peak to start) and "Goin' Out West" (where he really plays up the "I look good without a shirt" line) could have ended the show without encore and everyone probably would have clapped and hollered till their hands bled and their throats exploded. He started a rearranged "Jesus Gonna Be Here" a capella, and it absolutely captivated the audience until the instruments came in surprising everyone with a much more relaxed, lounge-y feel than I think most were expecting.

For the encore, his aping on "Make It Rain" was perhaps the peak of his theatrical touches in the show, and "Dirt in the Ground" (lowered considerably) made for an optimal closer.

As we left the theater sated, everyone looked at me with jealousy in the eyes and hearts, wishing that they, too, were seeing him again in Houston and Dallas.

Following the show, we headed to a terrible bar called "The Black Market" or something to that effect, which was not any place any of us wanted to be (Mark appropriately deemed the experience at The Black Market the reverse of the afternoon that we went to Pirates 2 (shit heap) and then had to watch The Thing to make everything better). We quickly made our exit, informing those who'd not yet returned from a pick-up that we'd not be staying there, and headed to an underground punk show. We left that after realizing that there was very little alcohol and no way for most of us to pay for it as we'd run out of cash the day before (but not before Jeremy discovered a secret room of dick paintings) and made our way toward the hotel and The Tap. The Tap was much more our kind of bar, and we stayed there till they kicked us out, headed to an alcohol-less party with a stroller in the hallway and baby stuff throughout the apartment, promptly left (but not before Pike informed them that he'd be back at 6:00 am to steal the baby), and returned to the Gateway with a small party that ended pretty much when the alcohol ran out, but not before a former co-worker who has since moved to Las Cruces and we ran into at the concert called needing a place to crash, meaning I got to sleep with Pike.

Don't worry, Jackie, nothing happened. Well, I did wake up in the middle of my four hour slumber to ask Pike, "How much did you bribe the Priest?" After gathering his druthers, he replied that he'd paid the Priest $100 and that the Priest had baptized the baby.

The next morning the members of the Tonucci party and our Las Cruces add-on headed to La Malinche*, where Pike could not get bread to save his life, but the rest of us received everything we wanted. We then parted ways with the New Mexican, packed up our things, and headed out of town.

We left El Paso at about 1:00 pm MDT. We arrived back in Austin at about 2:00 pm CDT. In between, Pike ate a pancake sandwich at the Sands in Van Horn, which somehow managed to usurp the place that his chilaquiles had occupied and blocked up everything that came after it for a good five hours; we hung out in the parking lot of an Ozona Town & Country for somewhere in the neighborhood of an hour, scratching off lottery tickets, eating Godfather's Pizza**, destroying the men's room, and furtively slamming the latest in our series of tall boy buys (I actually went in and bought a second, since we had been there for so long); and Mark managed to avoid all deer that got near us, including the one that jumped in front of the car. It was pretty much the lollygaggingest return trip from El Paso you could imagine, but there was no rush, and there was enough conversation about bowel movements (especially regarding my recent ass illness) to keep things light.

We did return to that gas station at the Bakersfield exit, but it had closed fifteen minutes earlier, so no clear determination as to whether or not the beautiful gas station employee--who Pike had straight dibs on, and Mark's old lady had lesbian dibs on--A) still worked there, or B) existed at all.

*As we were choosing to eat at La Malinche, Pike told us the story of La Malinche and expressed his admiration of the naming of the restaurant. While I'm not sure why they'd named it that, it is pretty awesome.

**I was especially pleased to find a Godfather's (albeit one in a gas station) in Ozona. When my siblings and I were but mere children in Cedar Falls, IA, we were treated to Godfather's almost every Friday night as our one night of eating out a week. Later, when we lived in Kansas, we would go after church. It has long since become nearly extinct, with only a handful of Godfather's still in existence, to my knowledge. I can only think of two that I have seen in the past ten years. One was in Moundsview. The other is in Ozona about 1500 miles away. I was truly shocked to find it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Travel Update

Tomorrow morning we head out for Tom Waits in El Paso, stopping in the Alpine/Marfa area on the way.

Buffalo Rose, here I come.

If you haven't heard from me in the next week or so, assume the Juarez Cartel got me. If so, hopefully I went out in a blaze of glory.


A gem from Posnanski on Michael vs. Kobe.


Interleague play sure seems to be treating the Royals well. If only they'd made the switch when they had the chance...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

2008 NBA Finals

These Celtics are very good. Anyone who watched them demolish the Lakers in Game Six can attest to that.

They were resilient, as is evident in their having come back from 24 down to win Game Four and 19 down to take a late lead in Game Five.

Their role players showed up to play almost every day. Rondo was great in Games Two and Six. Posey gave them great minutes throughout the series. Powe was unreal in Game Two. Kendrick Perkins made himself a nice chunk of change with his play. Eddie House helped the Celtics spread the floor when Rondo periodically disappeared offensively, and along with Posey was integral to their unimaginable comeback in Game Four.

But really, the trio of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce were the story. They each had their great games. They each had their sub-par games, at least by the lofty standards they have set for themselves.

KG has his ring now. There is not a player who I wanted to have one more. He is my favorite post-Jordan player, period. He had moments in the series--Game Five comes to mind--where he wasn't as aggressive as he probably should have been, but he capped off the series in emphatic fashion, taking shots in the low post early and often, which opened up shots for his teammates on the perimeter. He was the driving force behind this team's success, at least from a leadership standpoint. Seeing him post-game made me happier than I've been from watching sports in a long, long time.

After having largely disappeared in the earlier rounds of the playoffs, Ray Allen made it known that he was not done. He came up big in this series, keeping the Celtics in Game Three when Pierce came up a little short. His left-handed lay-up after blowing by Vujacic and splitting the defenders in the post which capped their magnificent comeback was possibly the signature play of the series. His three-point shooting, especially in Game Six when he tied Kenny Smith and Scottie Pippen for most threes in a game, was stunning. He was often the stabilizing force for the Celtics and really stepped up his defense when called for.

And Paul Pierce... Where to begin? I spent the last ten years doubting Paul Pierce as an all-around player. His early years with Antoine Walker where they would combine for 60 shots a game really painted him into a corner in my mind. Maybe I was wrong before, but I think it's much more that he simply became an entirely different player. He took over. Not just intermittently. With the exception of Game Three, where he went missing for most of the game, Paul Pierce dominated. He single-handedly kept them in Game Five after the Celtics got down early. He drove to the hole. He drew fouls. He defended Kobe in the second half of Game Four and shut him down when they needed him to. He came back from an injury in Game One and took over in the third quarter, and there was no looking back. He truly established himself as one of the game's best players, which I honestly never would have imagined would have happened. Paul Pierce is simply great.

As for Kobe and the Lakers, well, he's not Michael Jordan, and they're not as good as the Celtics. Kobe has a seemingly capable supporting staff (certainly more competent than, say, everyone in a Cavs uniform not named LeBron), and he disappeared for long stretches of this series. There were entire second halves of games where his presence was not felt at all. He was not particularly impressive, and it would seem that maybe he's not the heir to the Jordan throne. That status, for the time being, would seem to be reserved for LeBron, who can carry his team in the second half of games.

But enough of the criticism of the defenseless Lakers--this space should be used to laud the Celtics. Driven by their dedication to defense and put over the top by the ability of two of the three of their studs to show up on any given night, the Celtics proved what I thought to be true from the beginning of the preseason: They were the best team in the league.

I am actually happy for this team, and I don't get to say that often about professional sports teams.

Congratulations, Boston Celtics.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Things that have Passed, Things to Come

My illness has led to the woeful neglect of this site over the past week or so. It's getting to be more and more under control, but my actions are still largely dependent upon the cooperation of my colon.

I've got plans on what is to come on the blog in the near future.

In entries soon to be written, you can expect a reflection on the NBA Finals as a whole, the glory of coffee being reintroduced to my diet after a trying week without it, a book recommendation or two, a review of The Foot Fist Way, and more than likely a detailed account of the Tom Waits Concert Experience (times three).

To all the dads, Happy Father's Day from me to you (I'm going to go ahead and say that since I'm still awake, it's not belated).

And I'll close with a request to my fantasy teams: Please do not fail me again because this last week's failure was unacceptable.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Still Shitting?


I am still shitting.

A lot.

It is not nearly as awesome as I'd hoped it would be. I've lost count, but Elias Sports Bureau called and said my last one was #2 #67 since Friday morning, so I'll defer to them...

So I'll take this quick second to enter my quick thoughts on Game 2 before the start of Game 3.
  • The Celtics looked great for three and a half quarters.
  • When they kind of let up, it probably still should have been enough to win, but the Lakers went off on a retarded three-point binge, which I hate. Basically, the Lakers are down 20 and start chucking up threes, which just happen to fall. All of them. That mindset pisses me off so much because it turns most somewhat close games into blowouts because the threes actually fall in about 1 of 20 games.
  • Let's not forget the four-step Radmanovic dunk that was also a gifted two points that cut into the deficit in the fourth.
  • The free throw disparity was a bit shocking, but the Lakers were not aggressive at all, so I don't really feel like the Lakers were short shrifted. Maybe it's a biased viewpoint--in fact, it is--but you need to do something to get a foul called, not just shoot fadeaways, Kobe.
  • Powe was a pimp (and no, he will not commit suicide). What a game.
Here's to hoping for a great Game 3.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Reasons #1-32 Why I'm Never Eating at the Wendy's on MLK and San Antonio Again

At 2:30 AM Friday morning, I rolled through the drive-thru after a trip to I Luv Video. Generally, I try not to eat the fast food, but your options at 2:30 in the morning are slim and none. Well, I rolled up to the window, ordered the Spicy Chicken Club (deciding of course that the Tomato Quality Assurance Notice was enough) and went home. I ate it while posting my last entry and went to bed. When I woke up Friday morning, I was greeted by a rather unimpressive bowel movement, but thought nothing of it, chalking it all up to having eaten fast food.

Well, by the time I had gotten home from dropping Jackie off at work, one shit had become three. As I lay in bed that afternoon, my slumber was interrupted about five more times for trips to the can.

Sixty-plus hours later, I'm staring #33 down. I've been burning up, shivering, sweating through clothes and blankets, shitting horribly, and feeling incredibly weak. I've lost ten pounds since Friday, and they aren't good pounds. They're dehydration pounds. I also lost a pair of boxers in this war. To you, boxers, I apologize. I apologize for my need to defecate into a clean receptacle.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Reflections on Game 1

It was great to see the Celtics win Game 1. The big three all had their moments and role players did what they had to when it was needed.

KG punctuated the game with his put-back dunk on the missed three inside three minutes to go in the fourth. He was the motor that started the Celtic machine going, and when the engine started sputtering late in the fourth, he kick-started it again.

Paul Pierce had his mini-Willis Reed moment upon his return from the locker room after dramatically going down in the third quarter. When he went down, I was sure the game was over. In the second quarter--when Paul Pierce was sitting with three fouls--the Celtics faltered. It really seemed like that would resume, but contrary to my intuition, Boston came strong and went on a 6 - 0 run when Pierce went to the locker room. Then Pierce came back and hit two dramatic threes, and you really got the sense that when the second one dropped the Celtics were going to win.

Ray Allen had six rebounds to go with his 19 points, which must have been the first time he'd had that many boards since he played for Connecticut.

Aside from a quiet performance by Kendrick Perkins--who left the game about 20 seconds after Pierce with an injury--the Celtics' role players stepped up also. While Posey and P.J. Brown didn't blow up the stat sheet, they both contributed some solid minutes, with P.J. Brown looking like a damn hungry 38-year old, scrapping for loose balls, grabbing rebounds, and drawing fouls down low. Rondo played under control for the most part and contributed 15 points to go along with his seven assists and five boards. Cassell hit some important shots in the second quarter, when no one else seemed to be able to hit anything.

All in all, this had to be a very encouraging ten point win over the Lakers, who despite lacking home court advantage in the series, seem to have been crowned the champ before they played a game.

If only I had been able to watch the game live...

Thursday, June 5, 2008


The tapeworm inside me is dying. It may have already exploded. Tapeworm guts are everywhere.

Maybe as John Smoltz goes, so goes Josh...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Always on top of things...

I've just gotten around to watching "Garth Marenghi's Darkplace" and unlike that Indiana Jones movie, it's both well-written and funny. I was starting to wonder if that could happen. Well, it turns out it can and did. If you haven't seen it, it is readily available on the internet.

Here's a snippet:


On an unrelated note, the primary season is finally over. My boy won, so I'm naturally happy. I've essentially tuned out since about Pennsylvania, as the media coverage has been anything but enlightening, but I'm obviously happy to see the person who I think has the most promising vision for the country walking away with what one would assume is the nomination.

Personally, I'm not of the mindset that this drawn out primary process has hurt the Democrats too much. For starters, I think the closely contested nature of the battle for the nomination kept whoever the Democratic candidate was in higher profile than their Republican opponent.

Now, the talk of who Obama will choose as his running mate is getting amped up with reports coming out that Clinton herself is trying to position herself for the Vice Presidential nod. I understand the reasoning behind arguing for choosing her, but I really believe that he'd be better served choosing a running mate with a much stronger defense background like General Wesley Clark or Senator Jim Webb of Virginia--Webb having the ability to deliver a much more valuable state than Clark, who may not even be able to deliver his homestate of Arkansas--both of whom could neutralize the war hero/defense strength of the McCain ticket. There is also the problem of their race having been fairly brutal, and she's looked less and less like a good sport about things as the race has appeared to get closer and closer to being his.


Baseball notes:
  • The Royals' two-game winning streak was snapped. Greinke was knocked around in the defeat. Not encouraging. Banny did pitch well Sunday, probably just to spite me for dropping him in my keeper league after his second-to-last start. He also busted out a new 70 mile an hour curve ball. Hopefully, Joakim can teach him how to throw in the 90's, and maybe he'll grow the Lincoln beard, too.
  • I should also note that Miguel Olivo has played quite well for the Royals. There was quite a bit of rumbling when he was signed, but he's making a compelling case for being their everyday catcher. Sure, he strikes out a lot, but he's getting a lot of extra-base hits in limited playing time, while John Buck has often looked over-matched at the bat.
  • John Smoltz made his return to the Braves as their new closer (with a new, three-quarter throwing motion). Apparently it didn't go as well as one would have hoped, resulting in a blown save. I really hope he can be effective, as he may be my favorite player.
  • Jacoby Ellsbury is on pace for 74 stolen bases this year. That's in somewhat limited playing time with Coco Crisp getting the occasional start in his place. He is really making quite the case for being AL Rookie of the Year. Now I understand that it may be difficult for the Red Sox to get rid of Crisp, but it seems like they must be able to package him and Lugo (eating a sizeable chunk of Lugo's paycheck) for a real shortstop, which seems to be the only gaping hole in their lineup.
  • The Indians lineup is looking terrible. Joe Posnanski put some of their key contributors' projected stats up and they're shocking. Now, I thought Hafner was due for another subpar year, but Pronk is hitting .217 with little power. Victor Martinez still hasn't hit a home run. There are some serious problems in Cleveland, and there isn't a river on fire. I'm sure it has to do with renaming the Jake.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Man on Film: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

One might think that when a group of men wait nearly 20 years for the right script to come along before they make a fourth installment in a much loved series that the end product should at the very least have a good script. Were one to operate on that assumption one would be giving the men behind some of the more entertaining films of the last 40 years too much credit because the newest Indiana Jones film is not very good and much of the film's shortcomings stem from its (to be kind) weak script.

For starters, this film is basically the combined plots of National Treasure Book of Secrets and The Last Crusade with a few of the sets looking like they probably just repainted the old National Treasure sets just for good measure. The dialogue is shockingly bad, devoid of any wit whatsoever, and was apparently written under the idea that their entire audience was going to actually be developmentally disabled adults. Following the crew's final escape to safety, Indy actually says, "Knowledge was their gift. Their gift was knowledge." I think I'd rather hear the pimp line from Southland Tales another three times than phoned in dialogue like that.

Apart from the completely cribbed plot, they also made the decision to incorporate an absolutely retarded alien plot line that was simply baffling. Not baffling in the way that the plot was just too complex for my feeble mind to comprehend it. Baffling in the way that I had no idea why the fuck it was even there. It was completely out of place in the series and, honestly, has no place in the genre. Seriously, if I had told you that the newest Indiana Jones flick was going to have aliens, you'd have punched me in the junk. Hard. There are fucking aliens in the new Indiana Jones movie. What the fuck?

Shit script aside, there really isn't a lot to like about this film. Shia LaBeouf did what he could with a crap role loaded with cliche-ridden, greaser dialogue. Cate Blanchett's hair looked good. There's something about Ray Winstone I generally like, I guess.

Back to the garbage...

The special effects are terrible. There are inserts of CGI animals in the opening that look comically bad. Their effects during the intra-jeep sword fight are cartoonish at best. Indy getting hurled somewhere in the vicinity of a mile inside a refrigerator (and getting out immediately without any problems at all) in a nuclear blast was both unrealistic and unbelievable.

I could keep going. I could complain about the lame wedding and the hat blowing to Mutt's feet with a heavy-handed opening for a spin-off. I could elaborate on a bunch of things that left me wanting, but Spielberg and Lucas have worn me out. I don't want to spend any more energy (read: time and/or money) on them.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Reasons I Dislike "Battlestar Galactica": Part Two

Disingenuous use of sex as a selling tool

Especially early on in the series, it seemed as though sexual activity was included in the goings-on at an exploitative rate. There were younger characters throughout the show gallivanting around in their skivvies (or less) sexing each other up. It was rare to say the least for that sex to be necessary for what was actually going on.

Now, I most certainly did just write an entry about how I preferred Paradise to Blue Lagoon because I think Phoebe Cates circa 1982 is much more attractive than Brooke Shields circa 1980. I do think there's a large difference between the two films and "Battlestar Galactica" though. To just about anyone watching those two films, there is little argument as to what the viewer is actually watching them for. These films are selling sex. There is really very little reason that these movies exist past the sexual nature of the two Adam-and-Eve-scenario films.

"Battlestar Galactica" is an entirely different beast. It would not be much of a stretch of the imagination to label the BSG demographic as undersexed. I'm sure there is a much higher percentage of virgin BSG fans than there would be of, say, any show not on Sci-Fi. Sure, that is a speculative statement, but I have a feeling that it is not far off. That being said, the sex in BSG reeks of manipulation.

If this show didn't have so many glaring deficiencies to me, maybe this wouldn't bother me. However, the extraneous sexing up of the show seems like it is simply a tool that was used to draw in the return viewing of the un(der)sexed sci-fi nerd.

Hell, there's an entire character designed just to get the fanboys from six to midnight whenever the show is dragging. If there's a lag in the action, what do they do? Oh, yeah, let's just throw the robot-chick out there in a revealing red dress. If nothing has happened for more than an episode, what do we get? Semi-nude Tricia Helfer rubbing up on none other than a world-renowned scientist. Of course. Scientists get all the hot models--er, robots.

Call me disillusioned, but this strikes me as shameless pandering to the hunger-stricken libido of the virginal fanbase, who--at least on some base level--think to themselves, "Maybe, just maybe, I'll see a nipple this week."

If I wanted to have something shamelessly dry-humping me in the hopes of me opening up my wallet, I'd go to a strip club. At least everything is honest there.
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