Friday, June 30, 2006

Every New Beginning Is Some Other Beginning's End

I just heard Semisonic's Closing Time at the gym. How could one of the most annoying songs ever written be infused with one of the juiciest foolproof melodies ever conceived of? How could singer Dan Wilson abandon his brother Matt (they were bandmates in the brilliant Trip Shakespeare) to form the cloying mid-90s not-a-bar-band? Why can't I get that song out of my head?
Happy long weekend everyone! Except for those of you who have to work on Monday. Or on Saturday and Sunday. I'll be far away. Then I'll be back.

When I roll into work Wednesday morning, I hope to be in a state of preternatural bliss, infused with the splendor of rainbows and waterfalls, perhaps after dreaming of a badminton game betweens gnomes and walruses on the shores of a Great Lake.

My NBA Draft predictions didn't work out well. I went 4 for 30. The dude in the white suit didn't even get selected. But the Wolves have a new point guard. And the new season starts in less than 4 months!

Not A Bentley

Not a Bentley.

Not much more to say than that.

Not suitable for children or Timberwolves fans.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The 2006 NBA Draft

(Don't let the subject of today's entry dissuade you from reading! Exciting links! Clever sentences! Sweet pictures! Stuff you never knew you needed to know!)

Tonight the NBA Draft will be held. This is one of the most important events on my calendar. For me, the draft combines the following:
  • Christmas
  • Miss America
  • The Oscars
  • The Independent Spirit Awards
  • The National Spelling Bee
  • Halloween
  • A Wedding or two
Yes, it's that important to me. And this year, my beloved Minnesota Timberwolves have the Number 6 selection. It's been years since the Wolves picked this high. This is the most important decision General Manager Kevin McHale will have to make, at least since his decision to pose for the photograph on the left. Five months before this photo, he made the brilliant Kevin Garnett selection in the '95 draft. Eleven years later, he has to make a similarly prescient choice if KG will ever have another chance to win a championship.

So what will KM do? Does he go for the sure safe thing and choose the serviceable Randy Foye? Does he go for the risky pick and choose Rudy Gay? Does he get lucky and have Adam Morrison or Brandon Roy fall into his lap? Would you really want Adam Morrison in your lap?

As I've said before, I vote for Brandon Roy. But I'm just pretending to know what I'm talking about. At 4:00 PM Pacific, I'm just going to sit back on my couch, fire up ESPN, prepare my graph paper notebooks (no not really), and enjoy three hours of young men in stylish but somethimes ill-fitting suits being paraded onto an oddly creepy stage in New York's Madison Square Garden, having their hands grimly shaken by The Commissioner, and being interviewed by a glad-handing part-time journalist, while in "The Booth," Jay Bilas and the other commentators harshly criticize (over a loudspeaker!) the same young men on what should be their most special of days.

You ask... -"Blogger, don't you work until 5:00? How will you be home at 4:00?" I came in early. I'm skipping lunch. This only happens once a year.

And here are my predictions for the draft's first round, likely of interest to me and only me (well, maybe freedarko too)

(note: I have to do my mock draft without the use of my computer's "up arrow" key, a more difficult task than you'll ever know. The key is stuck and may never be repaired)

(note: I'm ennvisioning the man in the wedding photo below as the #20 pick, probably higher than he should be but I needed him in the Top 30 in order to make the picture relevant)

1. Toronto, Andrea Bargnani, Italy (Will he be the next Dirk Nowitzki? Or the next this guy?)
2. Chicago, Tyrus Thomas, LSU
3. Charlotte, Brandon Roy, Washington (I'd rather have him on the Wolves but...)
4. Portland, Adam Morrison, Gonzaga (here he is again, crying because he cares)
5. Atlanta, Shelden Williams, Duke (voted ugliest player in college basketball once. poor guy. I don't have the heart to link)
6. Minnesota, LaMarcus Aldridge, Texas (you can't teach size. did I just write that?)
7. Boston, Randy Foye, Villanova
8. Houston, Rodney Carney, Memphis
9. Golden State, Patrick O’Bryant, Bradley
10. Seattle, Rudy Gay, Connecticut
11. Orlando, Marcus Williams, Connecticut
12. New Orleans, Saer Sene, Senegal
13. Philadelphia, Hilton Armstrong, Connecticut
14. Utah, Cedric Simmons, North Carolina State
15. New Orleans, Shannon Brown, Michigan State
16. Chicago, Josh Boone, Connecticut
17. Indiana, Jordan Farmar, UCLA

18. Washington, Ronnie Brewer, Arkansas
19. Sacramento, J.J. Redick, Duke (DRUNK DRIVING. POLO SHIRT. MUGSHOT)

20. New York, Kevin Pittsnogle, West Virginia (more PHOTOS of his wedding!
21. Phoenix, Sergio Rodriguez, Spain (they call him Spanish Chocolate. Proof
22. New Jersey, Rajon Rondo, Kentucky
23. New Jersey, Oleg Pecherov, Ukraine
24. Memphis, Shawne Williams, Memphis
25. Cleveland, Steve Novak, Marquette (shout-out to Milwaukee!)
26. Los Angeles Lakers, Mike Gansey, West Virginia
27. Phoenix, Quincy Douby, Rutgers
28. Dallas, P.J. Tucker, Texas
29. New York, James White, Cincinnati (will be a better pro than 17 of the 28 guys selected ahead of him)
30. Portland, Louis Amundsen, UNLV (Runnin' Rebels Yo!) the 2nd round, the Wolves have 3 picks. I think they'll be:
36. Ryan Hollins, UCLA
37. Pops Mensah-Bonsu, George Washington
57. Darius Washington, Memphis

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Waiting Period Over

In the past on this blog, I have overpraised movies, only to regret my ill-chosen words weeks later (Fun with Dick and Jane, Junebug, etc - fine films but not worthy of drooling fervor.) So, I chose to wait before discussing Nacho Libre. Some of you may have received a context-less text message from me calling it the greatest film ever made. But texts don't count - only blogs do.

I decided to impose a 10-day waiting period on all blubbering fawning blog entires relating to currently released films (music, books, and TV have no such restrictions.) It has been 10 days since I saw Nacho Libre in the Harkins North Phoenix Megaplex (you know - the one by the Chick-Fil-A) during a lazy academic conference weekend. I can now take a deep deep breath and consider all my options before proceeding.

Breath taken, options considered, I can now solemnly proclaim Nacho Libre as one of the best films I have seen during the middle period of the second Bush administration. To say that director Jared Hess improved his craftsmanship between Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho is the greatest understatement since I over heard someone in a fruit stand by the beach say "Mangoes are good." To say that Jack Black picked a better role here than he did in Envy or even School of Rock is a comparable understatement. To say I almost cried would be hyperbole but damn my heartstrings were pulled (the last movie I did cry during? this one.) Throw in an amazing soundtrack (unavailable in stores. why?), sweet costumes, and great supporting performances and you've got greatness. Even the wrestling scenes were tolerable!

Another great movie: Word Play. I have no words left to describe this one. Except: Long live Will Shortz. Great Indigo Girls (?!) cameo. I'm going to next year's national crossword tournament. But I have to get my completion time for a Monday New York Times puzzle below four minutes. The best ones can do it in 2:30. I've got a long way to go.

Monday, June 26, 2006

This is among the more amazing things I have recently seen yes it is

Just click HERE.

NBC tends to remove content from youtube. Watch it soon or you may suffer the absence of this experience.

Is there anything better than brilliant failure? Than tragic brilliance?

I actually saw it live a couple of weeks ago.... half asleep, waiting for Conan to start. I assumed it was a dream. I had forgotten about it until this morning and thankfully someone posted it on youtube .

It's the sound of a generation defining itself, deleting the definition, and then REDEFINING itself.

Watch the whole thing. It doesn't work if you only watch the beginning.

It's the sound of the redefinition being met with palpable horror. It's the vision of a man gone mad. Mad like Van Gogh or Plath, not mad like Dahmer. He's from Pasadena, you know.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

This Is What I Have To Say

This is what I have to say about the NBA Finals:

1. It never happened.

2. If it did indeed happen, I'm glad Gary Payton got his ring.

3. Avery Johnson, you need to chill.

4. Shaq, you were better than people say.

5. Dwyane, you were not as good as they say.

6. Dirk, be assertive.

7. It never happened.

This is what I have to say about World Cup soccer:

1. Go Sweden! Kick some German ass.

This is what I have to say about Phoenix:

1. Hot.

2. Dry.

This is what I have to say about airplanes:

1. The leg room is okay. We need more arm room.

2. To people sitting behind me: If you cough, cover up your mouth.

3. Better movies, please.

And finally, a list:

Top 9 Airports I Have Been In the Past 36 Days

1. Minneapolis-St. Paul. God's airport.
2. LAX. They always underrate you.
3. Las Vegas. Good food.
4. Ontario, CA. Sleek
5. Chicago O'Hare. Consistent.
6. Burbank, CA. Quaint.
7. Phoenix. Too big. Contain yourself.
8. Oakland. Whatever,
9. Chicago Midway. What the fuck?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


There's so much going on this picture. I could tell you stories. Maybe some day I will. Text and subtext. The yellow truck. The Foam Rubber Products building. The pink ruffles on the lovely rollergirl in front. The rainbow flag, the American flag. The way her laces match the tail lights. The skull and crossbones on the referee's shoulder. It's all so invigorating.

Now that was a basketball game last night, wasn't it?

And this is a beautiful day in Los Angeles. I've spent the last hour procrastinating important work stuff and reading through a Microsoft Word document that happens to contain every poem I wrote in 1999. 179 pages! I was prolific. Those were the days, the days before blogging. Now I write about basketball and why I don't perform at my job at a 100% level. My '98 file has 286 pages!

This next little story might seem reminiscent of the more recent old days - 2005 - when I would blog about my cubicle mates at my old government job. I just overheard a coworker's (loud) phone conversation in which he spoke of two things that are rarely mentioned in a professional office environment. I don't want to say too much. I'll just say both topics involved "jobs."

Tomorrow is a busy day at work. I will prepare for it by lazily pushing my way through my last 95 minutes here before I go home. Later, I will sleep early and emerge refreshed in the morning, ready for my long day of analysis and research.

Monday, June 12, 2006

NBA Finals

(note: this entry was written last Thursday, prior to Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Because of problems with the Blogger site, it was never posted. Arrogant in my belief that you want to read everything I write, no matter how untimely it may be, I am posting it now.)

It's clear now that my Minnesota Timberwolves won't win the title this year. The NBA Finals start tonight and it's the second most hated franchise in the NBA (the Miami Heat) against a likeable bunch of guys (the Dallas Mavericks). The Heat would be the most hated franchise if it weren't for:
A. Shaq, the second best player in NBA history and a seemingly nice guy. At his peak (2001-2002), he was so talented that he would have been an all-star even if he were a 5'1" point guard.)
B. The existence of the San Antonio Spurs, the most hated team in the NBA. (Note: The best player in NBA history is this guy. And don't you try to disagree with me.)

Why do I dislike the Heat? Well, the Heat is a stupid name. Pat Riley ruined the NBA in the 90s with his defense-obsessed graceless brand of basketball. Antoine Walker has a weak game. JWill is overrated. Dwyane Wade is nice though. And I wouldn't mind seeing Gary Payton win a championship. But you know I'd rather have happen? I'd rather see the goofy German Dirk and the certifiably crazy Jason Terry get their rings, not to mention little Avery Johnson, Devin Harris, the Senegal dude, and the guy from the Naked Gun movies. You might think that with the finals about to start, my incessant basketball talk will cease. It won't. The NBA Draft (my favorite day of the year!) is coming and the wolves have the 6th pick, which better not be that Gay guy from Connecticut (Gay is his name, not a descriptor... maybe it's both though) or Tyrus Thomas from LSU. No, I prefer Brandon Roy from Washington. And who wouldn't? My prediction: Dallas wins in 7.

(additional note: now that the Mavericks are up 2-0, I could have tinkered with my prediction and said Dallas in 6 or 5 or 4. I'll stick with 7. Shaq will play better. Stackhouse will miss some shots. Games will get closer. Or... I'm wrong about everything.)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

What Holds the World Together?

If you know the musical answer to the question in today's post title, you win a prize.

Speaking of questions, where have I been?

Around, I've been around. This is a complicated world. Los Angeles is a complicated city.

Lately, I've enjoyed watching the birds fly in flocks outside my window. There's a gang of green birds. There are always six of them. They swoop in and perch on the fruit tree outside my window, the one that lurches toward me from the nieghbor's yard. After a few minutes of perching, they fly away again, always to the northwest, past Kragen Auto Parts and into the hills, in the direction of the Magic Castle. But what kind of birds are green? Are they stray Pasadena wild parrots?

I've been sick actually. When you're as sick as I've been these past four years, a day like today - a day of recovery and clarity, of unplugged ears and cleared sinuses - is a beautiful day.

I've been sleeping very poorly lately. That's okay. I've been enjoying my late night/early morning phone calls with the central time zone. I've tolerated the late night talk shows (no excuse for watching Carson Daly though - Ali, what are you doing?) I need lots of sleep to catch up. Saturday - that's when I'm withdrawing my banked sleephours.

With Blogger down due to an "unexpected problem," all of my Sedarisesque/Spalding Grayish "woe is me" talk could be moot by the time I post this. Okay, I'll stop complaining.

You know what's a good song? Sugar Free Jazz by Soul Coughing. Yes, that's what I said.

There is a very good chance that I will meet one of my idols tonight. If this happens, I will report back to you tomorrow.