Thursday, March 30, 2006
Somehow, I always understand his guests.
This is funny. Adam, we'll miss you in the Final Four. Welcome to the NBA.
Speaking of the Final Four. Here are some predictions, infused as always with non-sports minutiae for my non-sports-minded reader(s):
Florida vs. George Mason: I know that the University of Florida is in Gainsville and it's Florida State that's in Tallahassee but still... I want to further address the Mountain Goats album Tallahassee. There's an amazing song - one of the softer subtler tracks - called Peacocks. John Darnielle begins by describing a scene involving the title birds:
I hear them squeal
I see them preen
Fans all spread out
Neat and clean
Simple and pretty and direct. Based on the lyrics of the other songs, he's likely describing the home he shares with his soon-to-be-ex-wife, juxtaposing the beauty of peacocks with the misery of his life.
He ups the sweetness factor with a guitar melody that's the musical equivalent of a peacock spreading his/her wings. You can practically hear the exposed colors in the music.
Later in the song, after singing (tenderly) of sleeping late in the heat with the woman he wished misery (death!) upon just two songs earlier, he continues:
Then a sharp breeze kicks up
I hug myself hard
How come there's peacocks
In the front yard?
And it's those last two lines of the verse that get me. The way he says the words "peacocks" and "front" blow me away. I heard it for the first time Sunday and for the twentieth time this morning and I play it over and over and over again. He just wants to know why they're there!
Sun's all prickly
On my neck
When the helicopter passes
We both hit the deck
Hands grasping and groping
Right where it lies
The sky will fall
We will rise
And then it ends, the guitar strings no longer splaying in the north Florida wind. Florida 72 George Mason 65.
UCLA vs. LSU: UCLA is the archrival of my employer. UCLA teased me into thinking I would get not one but two jobs during the "Unemployment Spring" of 2004. Their second best player looks like Mark Wahlberg. LSU is in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Many New Orleans-area residents relocated to Baton Rouge. The team's players seem like nice guys who helped out greatly in their fellow Louisianans' time of need. UCLA 72 LSU 46.
Final Game - Florida vs. UCLA: UCLA is the greatest defensive team in the history of college basketball. UCLA 68 Florida 49.
(Aside to Los Angeles Unified School District students who walked out of class earlier this week in protest of anti-immigrant legislation: Good work)
Monday, March 27, 2006
AJ: “I’m gonna put a bullet in his fucking mummy head."
Without the “mummy” it would just be cheesy. With the “mummy” it will be quoted by me and other easily impressed people for the rest of our otherwise unfulfilling lives. Without AJ's new hair it would still be memorable, but I wouldn't have put the quote above in bold.
(Note: I'm not hoping that AJ gets in to family business. I hope he continues to pursue is interests in philosophy and existensialism. Still, it was fun to see him let out some pure frothing rage)
I'm enjoying Big Love as well. I'll never understand the appeal of Deadwood though.
- Neda Ulaby's fine NPR cultural commentary (plus - I went to a party at her Chicago apartment some time in '97 or '98. Fun)
- The album Tallahassee by the Mountain Goats. I'm 4 years late on this one but damn, JD - are these stories true? I hope for your sake and her sake that they're not.
- Cinnamon. I've spoken of my favorite all-purpose spice before. I'll say it again. Cinnamon rocks.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Adam Morrison cries. I saw UCLA play in person. They didn't look THIS good. They made the next Larry Bird cry. How do I go back in time to say, 1980 and make the first Larry Bird cry?
Does anyone know what happened to babypyrofleacircus? I'd ask internets but he disappeared.
thingsoncobra's snake-related photoshopping crown is challenged.
Lou Ferrigno has a son and he plays football at my workplace. The jarring presence of LF Jr.'s name was far more apparent in the print version of the article. But you can't link to matter.
My favorite blogger encourages monetary donations to my favorite internet radio station. It may be too late but I'm sure they'll take your money anyway.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Yesterday I saw a person I recognized as being physically similar to someone I used to work with. When I realized that she was indeed this person, I chalked it up to coincidence or fate or both. But it wasn't accidental. There was an intention driving the fate. There was a purpose informing the coincidence.
I slept on the floor because the bed is creaky and the couch just isn't for sleeping anymore. I love sleeping on the floor. Is that weird?
The Timberwolves have won 2 in a row. Another 10 in the row equals a playoff push.
I just wrote my second best short story ever. It's called Julianne and the Porch Leaf. It makes perfect sense. I set the story in Atlanta. I like Atlanta.
Once when I was 34, I was walking in Minneapolis, from my Holmes Ave. apartment to the uptown theater to meet my friend John to catch the late show of American Beauty. A little girl playing on the sidewalk between 33rd and 32nd Streets looked at me and said "You look like Ricky Martin." "What the fuck?" I responded. She screamed, retreating to her mother, doing some evening gardening by the porch. No of course I didn't say that. I smiled and felt an odd exuberant joy at being compared to the then-idolized not-yet-gay heartthrob.
Later that night, as I passed that same house on the way back to my apartment above the creepy landlord and his bug-collecting wife, I saw a plastic bag blowing in the southside wind. It was the most fateful thing I've ever seen.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Monday, March 13: On the way to my car at work, as I cross Figueroa to get to the parking structure, a car making a right turn and not yielding to pedestrians, brushes against me slightly, its bumper hitting my gym bag. I fall down. The hit-and-runner drives away. I'm okay, except for a cut on my hand where it hit the pavement. There are a few trickles of blood but that's all/
Sunday, March 19: In my morning grog, I'm shaving. I accidentally nick the side of my nose. Blood spills, more than you'd think. Eventually it stops.
Monday, March 20: At the end of my work day, I feel a sensation behind my right ear. I realize that I have a cut of unknown origins behind the lobe. There is dried blood. and new blood. Eventually it stops.
Today: At 1:30, I decided it was time for my afternoon smoothie (i.e., blended juice drink). In my enthusiasm to get out of my office for my liesurely walk to Jamba Juice, I trip over my own big shoe in the narrow area near the door. My tripped-on foot kicks my office door in such a way that the edge of the door causes a gash in my forehead. Ouch. This one requires an antibiotic wipe and a bandage.
I get my smoothie anyway. People look at my bandaged forehead.
I get the Peach Pleasure, with Vita Boost.
Friday, March 17, 2006
I have nothing else to say right now. Is it writer's block? the fact that it looks like rain and I left my umbrella in the car a half-mile away? Is it St. Patrick's Day? Is it the silence in the office? I think I need a pretzel.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Any good band has some element of danger in them. A band without a sense of danger is about the worst thing in the world. That said, danger comes in a lot of different ways, and I see danger in Cat Power and Belle & Sebastian and not in the Hives/Vines/etc.
And that's it! Danger takes different forms. Sometimes, the cuddliest one in the room is the most dangerous. In other words, who would win in a bar fight - the young Neil Young or the old Jonathan Richman? It'd be close but Jonny would be the only one walking home.
Where are my NCAA basketball tournament predictions. You remember last year, don't you? I'm still working on it. Tomorrow morning.
Finally - click here. Scroll down to pindeldyboz, find a familiar name. I'm notable again.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Sometimes, late at night, I get these visions. The lights in the hills and the shadows I can't see make room for monsters with crooked shoulders. Then I realize I've fallen asleep to Jimmy Kimmel and I wake up and all is well.
I've got to get some sunshine today. I'm looking pallid.
Some of my favorite music this morning: Liz Phair's middle period; Donald Fagen's new album (haven't even heard it... just got a feeling); Lifter Puller's Nighclub Dwight song; something I heard somewhere and never will again; and if you've ever walked two miles into the wind at nightfall in this big town you'll know music can be a savior.
Crash won? I still don't accept this. I know...it's just a self-congratulatory awards show that's more marketing than merit. But still - I've had only a few missions in my life and hating Crash was one of them. It hurts. Like the day Andrew Toney had to retire because his knees didn't work anymore. I think it was his knees. Or the day Natalie left the Maniacs.
Blogger's photo uploader is having problems today. Consider yourself spared.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
I'll get the facts out quickly: Laurel and I have separated. Amicably. So amicably we went to see Chappelle's Block Party last night after some fish tacos. Great movie. Inspiring movie.
I wonder if they have block parties on my new block. Yes, I moved. To Hollywood of all places. I know it's Hollywood because I can see the sign. I hope it snows in the lower elevations like it's forecasted to this weekend. I want to stand on my porch and take a picture of the Hollywood sign surrounded by snow.
My block is a funny one. The neighbors are neighborly though their parking trickery will only lead to more trickery. I will not back down from a challenge. I live at the top of a little hill. I've never lived at the top of a hill. Now it's the only place I'll live.
My neighborhoood is a fun mix of costume shops, panaderias, auto parts stores (just turn on Lemon Grove, across from the Kragen), and giant Korean spa facilities. And a too-charming park where city kids play. But the best part of my new area is its proximity to the rest of Los Angeles. Everything seems close and on some days it is. Soon, even Laurel will be close - right after she leaves the west side herself for somewhere east of La Brea and west of the river.
(Quick note to readers who haven't seen me in 20 years and/or those who live on the east coast and only think of me when they remember watching a Blue Velvet matinee at the Cooper theater on old Highway 12: That's not me in the red shirt.)
Seymour's here with me. He likes the view too. I think he's listening to Ecstacy on the Edge. Track 6. Or maybe Whip-Smart. Track 5. Lily may live here too. So much to decide.
It looks like the rain is coming. No turning back now. Some of you I'll see tonight on a hillside in Altadena. I hope to take your money. But I will show grace and humility in the process. Others I will see in squinty-eyed sunlight, in the distant future. I can see the world from here!
Thursday, March 09, 2006
I said that espn.com writer Scoop Jackson "always" nails his stories. Well, maybe half the time he does.
And I may have been a little too hard on sportswriting legend Frank Deford. He does annoy the hell out of me but I usually will read his stuff or listen to his NPR commentaries. So he must doing something right even if it's not managing his moustache. And why does he have to call it "sport" instead of "sports"? I guess the notion that "language is liquid" goes two ways, Ali.
And I wrote (since corrected) that Kirby Puckett hit his Game 6 home run in the 10th inning. Of course it was the 11th inning. And so what if the only one who noticed the mistake was me?
Now, a follow-up on something I promised to write about a couple of weeks ago: The Hold Steady concert. It was a great show. The crowd, most of whom were there to see headliner Les Savy Fav, got into the Hold Steady as much as one would expect. There was a smattering of Minnesotans in the crowd, evidenced by one woman's Gophers hoodie and one man's North Stars jersey (they're gone; they're never coming back). And Craig Finn knows how to command a stage. I love the way he holds the microphone with one hand and "sign-raps" with his other hand. A lesser man would use a mic stand and employ both hands. Not Craig, bless him. They played most of the new album, a little of the old one, and a couple of new songs, one of which was about the poet John Berryman's suicidal leap into the Mississippi River off the Washington Avenue Bridge at the University of Minnesota. Some of you who know of this incident will say, "well, what former or current Twin Cities resident hasn't written a song, poem, or book about John Berryman's suicide?" I'd concede your point but still insist that it's Craig Finn's finest song. Who would've guessed though that the best moment would be the closer Killer Parties? I always liked the song but I never thought it would have send shivers down my soul canal? Yes, I've been to Ybor City but not like that.
But hey I don't live there anymore. I l ive here. Los Angeles. The recent rains have cleansed the air. The street on which I newly live smells like lavender. There's a poker game on Saturday which will finance my April rent, I can feel it. The Clippers are a better option than the Timberwolves. The NCAA basketball tournament starts next week. And if my employer's basketball team can pull of three upsets in a row in the Pac 10 tournament (and they can do it because they're better than they realize and Coach Floyd, scratchy voice and all, knows what he's doing if he didn't really know when he was doing in his NBA days), they too can be part of America's finest sporting event: March/April Madness. And if the Trojans didn't have enough motivation to beat Cal today, well there's this. Follow the blue link. It's worth it. Really, it is. Here it is again.
Am I going overboard with the photos. I swore that my blog would never kowtow to The Man and get all visual. After reading freedarko I realize that pictures have a place alongside or in between words, especially when there's only a little context a grab on to. You see, where they lay low in the light, there's a river. A crowd is forming in the half-darkness. A narrow-eyed man with a baboon's heart crouches near a wooden plank. This morning I woke to the sound of car alarms.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Remember what I said about Crash way back in the day? (scroll to the bottom)
And here's what it would have taken for a Brokeback Mountain sweep: One more scene with dialogue, one less sweeping guitar crescendo over a looming vista shot. You guys blew it.
The greatest baseball player of my lifetime died Monday. This may seem like impulsive revisionist Minnesota history but I don't think the rest of the baseball world knew what we had in Kriby Puckett. In a pre-steroidal era he performed at the top of his game for 12 seasons. He had it all: power, hitting for average, defense (range and arm), and speed. I'm the first one to say that fake sports superlatives like moxie, grit, and "intangibles" are meaningless but with Kirby they might have actually meant something. But most of all Kirby Puckett was a force - the force that pushed one of the worst world champions of all time - the 1987 Twins - over the edge. And then when a better Twins team in 1991 needed a bigger push to beat a great Braves team, Kirby gave it to them in the form of Game 6.
Game 6. A word and a number that mean one thing to Mets fans, another to Red Sox fans, and a whole other thing to Twins fans. I'd like to say I was at the Metrodome on Saturday October 26, 1991 to see the game but I hadn't been inside the Dome since a beautiful summer day in '86. But, though I was living in California at the time, I was in Minneapolis for Game 6. I had gone there to visit friends and to see my father who was living in Singapore at the time but was in Minneapolis on business. That afternoon I had lunch with my father at a suburban office park restaurant in Bloomington. The restaurant overlooked the lake where I used to walk dogs with my first real girlfriend. My father and I talked about careers and Los Angeles and Singapore. We might have even talked about the Twins. It was one my favorite memories with him. For the next few years I saw little of him and he died in 1995, making that day the last I spent alone with him. And damn those French fries at Kincaid's rocked!
By the time Game 6 started, Dad was back at his hotel to rest for his flight back to Asia the next morning. I found myself at a sports bar called Hoops with my friends John and Brett. In the early 90s, downtown Minneapolis was undergoing a renaissance. The recent arrival of the Target Center and the Timberwolves and the hope (ha!) for a new outdoor stadium for the Twins (and maybe the Vikings) propelled a sports bar building boom. Suddenly, one had the choice of watching a game at Hoops, Pucks, Champs, Palomino, Gamers, Milligans, or any of the other half-dozen sports bars in the area (note: 3 of the 6 quoted sports bar names are fake; my memory's not that good). Anyway, hardly any of the bars are there anymore, making them a early nineties phenomenon like Sinbad, successful war planning, and the neo-jam band scene.
Hoops was a dark place, with cheesy basketball scenery like fake hoops and nets on the walls (but no balls, not even Nerfs!). Anyway, back to Kirby. The Twins were behind in the Series 3 to 2 and, if you haven't already heard, Kirby single-handedly drove them to victory, making a legendary catch (and throw) to rob Ron Gant of a home run and hitting his own definitive home run (pictured above) to win the game in the 11th. The energy in that ridiculous sports bar surpassed any collective force I've ever been exposed to. It was like we were at the Metrodome and we almost were (we were 4 blocks to the south, 6 blocks to the west of the goddamn Teflon wonder). Yeah, Game 7 was the next night and Jack Morris pitched 10 shutout innings and Brett, John, and I watched it in the hotel room my dad left for us and that was all good but Game 6 got scratched into my soul.
Then the story got darker. The Twins stopped winning World Series every four years. Kirby got hit by a pitch. Kirby went blind in one eye. Kirby retired. Kirby got fat. Then it got really ugly. Kirby may have groped a woman in an Eden Prairie restaurant men's room. Kirby may have threatened to kill his wife. Kirby may not have liked sick children. Kirby may have used a chainsaw to open a locked door. I could be reflexive and defensive and say now isn't the time to bring those things up (too soon! too soon!) but too late for that. Most of these allegations came up in a Frank Deford article in Sports Illustrated in 2003. Twenty years ago I'd have believed anything Deford wrote and SI published. But this was around the time the magazine went salacious in their bid to stay relevant in the ESPN era (just ask Mike Price) and if you've listened to Deford's wretched NPR commentaries the past few years you'd know that once he grabs an angle he won't concede it if it means not being able to make a bad pun about the crazy world of "sport." God, I hate Frank Deford.
And I loved Kirby. And I still realize that some of it had to be true, that "the beloved little pudgy guy with the infectious smile"(itself a vaguely offensive descriptor that white upper-midwesterners latched on to in lieu of something more complex). I know that magazines have fact-checkers and not every source lies. If I had to guess how much of the very bad things Deford wrote about Puckett were true, I'd put the percentage at about 31.8%, matching his .318 lifetime batting average. That's just a guess. It could be worse. He could be perfect though none of us are. I just feel bad. The perfect baseball player in an imperfect baseball generation just died of a stroke at 45. I feel bad for him, his friends and family, his fiance, his ex-wife, the woman at the restaurant, the Twins fans (reflexive and otherwise), and Minnesota in general (a fine place to live by the way).
Here's more on Game 6. And here's Scoop Jackson getting it right, as he always does.