Showing posts from 2008

Classic card of the week

Gheorge Muresan, 1992-93 Classic Four Sport Collection

First of all, that is an offensive foul. You cannot use your non-shooting arm weapon to ward off would-be defenders whilst also utilizing your tree branch fingers to poke said defenders in the eye, mouth, or mustache. Second of all, it doesn’t even matter because you are simply delaying the inevitable if you call an offensive foul on Gheorge Muresan, unless you do that five more times, which would cause Gheorge Muresan to foul out of the game, thus delaying the inevitable until the next game. Also, the inevitable is Gheorge Muresan dominating your sorry ass in the lane all day long with his array of big man moves and arm weapon tactics. Third of all, this is the French League, and the first rule of the French League is: There are no rules. The second rule of the French League is: Get out of Gheorge Muresan’s way.

Let’s find out more:

Gheorge Muresan enters the NBA as an untested potential star.

This is the exact same way ever person w…

Classic card of the week

Dikembe Mutombo, 1992-93 Fleer

I’m sorry -- I know this sounds dorky, but aesthetically, this has to be one of the ugliest series of cards ever made. And within that ugly series, this card may very well be the ugliest of them all. And that is saying a lot.

Imagine that you have absolutely no background in basketball whatsoever. Somebody hands you this card. What would you make of it? Would you enjoy looking at the multitude of flailing arms and assortment of atrocious colors? Would you know what the letters -- written vertically, so as to cause additional confusion for the uninformed -- signified? And if you were somehow able to distinguish that the letters formed the name of the moderately popular Congolese-American professional basketball player Dikembe Mutombo, would you be able to figure out which player featured on the front of this card was him? And let’s say, for arguments sake, that upon further detailed inspection you were able to determine which player was Dikembe Mutombo. Wou…

Classic card of the week

Shawn Kemp, 1995 Upper Deck

When I think about the “Images of 95,” one of the first images that pops into my head is Shawn Kemp dressed as Santa Claus. An easier way to describe this image is: Santa Kemp.

Since I am, for the moment, rendered speechless, let’s immediately go to the back of the card:

Looking up at a six-foot ten-inch tall Santa may be hard to believe

Equally hard to believe: Looking up at any Santa. That aside, why can’t Santa Claus be 6’10”? He’s a mythical figure who rides a sleigh operated by eight reindeer -- one of which has a red nose -- and he delivers toys to every child in the world by sliding down a chimney at night, yet now we’re putting height restrictions on the guy? I think the “hard to believe” factor arises from the fact that, in this particular case, Santa plays power forward for the Seattle Supersonics. To wit:

The Seattle Supersonics All-Star forward has represented Santa proudly

This is -- for anyone familiar with the off-the-court exploits of Shawn Kemp -…

Making holiday memories here in moderate AZ

Note: This column appears in the 12/18 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 12/19 issue of the Peoria Times

There were two reasons my wife and I thought twice about moving to Arizona. First and foremost: family. Was Arizona far away enough? (That was a joke.) The second reason was much less important -- though still relevant -- and actually in direct contrast to one of our main reasons for wanting to move here in the first place (the warm weather), and it was this: Christmas…in Arizona?

(Spoiler alert: We moved here anyway.)

Now granted, both of these issues are rendered moot when we travel back east for the holiday itself. But Christmas isn’t just a day. It’s a season, and it’s one that starts -- judging by my 2008 calculations -- three weeks before Halloween. I had my reservations about what it would be like here for those days and weeks, especially after my dreams of sipping hot cocoa by the fireplace (that we don’t have) were interrupted by the sign near our house that reads: Fire dan…

Classic card of the week

Mel Blount, 1991 Pro Line Portraits

Scene: NFL studios is Los Angeles, California. Several executives are meeting with Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Mel Blount.

Executive #1: Thanks for coming by today, Mel. Listen -- I’m going to be “blount” (makes quote signs with his hands) with you-

Mel Blount: Stop right there. I will walk out of here right now.

Exective #1: I’m sorry…I’m sorry, Mel. I thought you’d appreciate that. Let me start over. Mel, I’m going to be honest with you -- we want you to do a Pro Line portrait. You’re one of the most popular players in the league, sort of, and it would mean a lot for our line of football cards to have you on board.

Mel Blount: I really appreciate that, guys. Really, I do. But I’m a busy man. Why can’t you just send out a guy to take pictures of me playing football?

Executive #2: That’s not how we do things over here at Pro Line portraits, Mel. We want the fans to get a taste of who you really are, off the football field. That’s what the football-card…

Holiday movies teach us important lessons

Note: This column appears in the 12/11 issue of The Glendale Star and the 12/12 issue of the Peoria Times

The theme of almost every holiday movie is finding the true meaning of Christmas. Except, of course, for the movie “Jack Frost,” in which the theme is: if your absentee father dies, be alert, because there is a good chance he will come back to life in the form of a snowman, and finally teach you how to play hockey. This is another important holiday lesson.

Anyway, the true meaning of Christmas in these movies usually proves to be quite elusive at first, but is ultimately found in some form of non-materialistic love. That is why, I am sure, so many people like myself are suckers for holiday flicks -- because they make you feel good, and reaffirm what you already know to be true.

But let me ask you this: Have you ever tried, in real life, to execute a non-materialistic Christmas? Contrary to what the movies would imply (gasp!), it is quite difficult.

A few years ago, on the heels of Hur…

Smell of the week

Milk That’s Almost Gone Bad, But Not Quite Smell

I go in stages with my milk usage. Sometimes I drink more of it because I’m on a milkshake kick or I’m mixing it with my protein (due to my vegetarian status) instead of water. Other times, I’m just using it on my cereal. Either way, I generally try not to think about milk that much because -- not sure if you’re aware of this -- milk is a white substance that comes from a cow’s utters and is often made even more disgusting than that through various processes it endures on the way to the supermarket. I almost threw-up just writing that. Nevertheless, the inconsistency of my milk intake frequently leaves me with a dilemma: How much milk do I buy?

What usually ends up happening is this: I end up buying a whole gallon of milk. Then I get home and realize that there’s still a half-gallon left in the refrigerator. My wife rolls her eyes and tells me she told me we didn’t need milk and emphatically warns me that I better not waste any. Then when…

Classic card of the week

Billy Ray Smith, 1991 Pro Line Portraits series

Let me ask you a question, and I want you to be honest with me: How many lightening bolts are on the outfit you are wearing right now? If your answer is: less than 800,000, then you are dead to me.

I feel like somebody is messing with me when it comes to this card. It doesn’t seem possible that this is real. Zubaz? Flowing mullet? Mustache? Billy Ray? Wristbands? It’s the wristbands that really take it over the top for me. Everything else is moderately feasible. I mean, did I personally ever own a pair of Zubaz? No. But I thought about it once. The mustache-mullet combination is a sign of the times, I suppose. And I would be less shocked if this guy didn’t have a two-name first name. But it’s the wristbands that make me question the integrity of this card. I don’t know what to believe anymore. Let’s hear what Billy Ray has to say:

Preparation is the key for me. I wasn’t blessed with blinding speed, or Herculean strength, but I spend a lot o…

Touring Luke with a General and a rental car

Note: This column appears in the 12/4 issue of The Glendale Star and the 12/5 issue of the Peoria Times

We hosted an attorney general a couple of weeks ago.

That would be my uncle, a lawyer from New Jersey who was recently promoted to Brigadier General of the Air Force. I have no idea what this means, but it did result in a big family party back home, so I know that it is at least as important as graduating the sixth grade. Of course, since his promotion, I have come to understand that this is probably the greatest professional accomplishment anyone from our family will ever experience. Unless you count my blog.

Having family visit was great. It was my uncle, his daughter and her fiancĂ©, and they couldn’t wait to see us. And by “us” I mean the New York Giants, who also happened to be in town that weekend. Go figure.

Anyway, what’s the point of having an esteemed family member if you can’t exploit their hard-earned reputation for your own benefit? With that in mind, we kindly demanded tha…

Classic card of the week

Bill Hanzlik, 1989 NBA Hoops

On one fateful day back in 1988, Bill Hanzlik crossed over James Worthy. Straight up crossed him. Worthy stood knee-locked for four seconds, not knowing where he was or what day it was or what a Laker is even supposed to be. Meanwhile, Bill Hanzlik -- who was more shocked at what had just happened than anyone else in the building -- drove past Worthy on a cloud of fear-induced adrenaline, hoping to reach the basket before Worthy gathered his bearings and recovered in time to use his superior athletic ability to smash Bill Hanzlik’s face into to the basket support as retribution for his public humiliation.

When he wasn’t busy crossing fools over, Bill Hanzlik was revolutionizing the bowl haircut + mustache + bowl full of weed combination.

Throw in the worst idea in uniform history and the overall fashion sensibilities of the late-80s, and you’re left with Bill Hanzlik: playa for life. Except, of course, when he was having back surgery:

Play limited due to bac…

A tradition unlike any other

Note: This column appears in the 11/26 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 11/28 issue of the Peoria Times

Thanksgiving traditions tend to change over the years.

My wife and I inadvertently initiated this holiday alteration when we decided to move here to Arizona all the way from New Jersey. And let me tell you something: Thanksgiving is quite different when you don’t eat meat and your family is thousands of miles away.

Back home, our tradition had always been this: Breakfast with my parents, then we’d spend the next few hours trapped in our car on the Outerbridge Crossing trying to get into Staten Island to see my wife’s uncle and the rest of the family for dinner, then back to NJ to my aunt’s house for dessert and our regular game of “which cousin got the drunkest?” It was always a busy day, but one of the best. My wife’s favorite, in fact.

Last year was slightly different. We simply couldn’t travel back home for both holidays, so we knew we’d be on our own. We wanted to make the best o…

Classic card of the week

Craig Ehlo, 1993-94 Topps

There are several ways one can choose to remember Craig Ehlo. One way involves the words: “Shot on Ehlo, GOOD! GOOD! BULLS WIN! BULLS WIN!” Another way to remember Craig Ehlo is this: super intense dribbler. I choose the latter.

Let’s go to the back of the card. But before we do, I ask all of you to graciously ignore the words “Spring shot” which randomly appear in red and blue lettering, and which – after hours of exhausting research – have no bearing on the overall content of this card. In fact, let’s jump right to “the buzz” surrounding Craig Ehlo. There is a lot of it, as I’m sure you can imagine.

Per minute, Ehlo ranked in the TOP 11% of the NBA in 3PM

Top 11%? That's almost top 10! Percent! This is a great stat to throw out if you are lucky enough to be invited to a Craig Ehlo-themed party. Or, you could also play the Craig Ehlo Arbitrary Statistic Game Where You Make Up A Craig Ehlo Stat That Nobody In Their Right Mind Would Ever Bother Looking Up (Mil…

Paying it forward and not looking back

Note: This column appears in the 11/20 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 11/21 issue of the Peoria Times

I’m not much of a good deed type of person. It’s not that I don’t want to perform good deeds, it’s just that doing so is not as instinctual for me as it is for others. For example, last Saturday night my wife and I were out for a drink with friends. While we were standing around talking, a very drunk man fell off of his barstool behind me. My first instinct was not to help the guy up, but to make sure everyone else saw this happen, because I thought it was funny. By the time the bouncers were hauling him outta there, the look on my wife’s face said it all -- Good deed: Unaccomplished.

Because I am apparently not the type of person to spontaneously spring into action, my good deeds must be carefully plotted out. I must create opportunities, or, at this rate, I am going to be in big trouble down the line. But here’s the other thing: Good deeds are not always accepted with open arms (…

Classic card of the week

Uwe Blab, 1989 NBA Hoops

So let’s say you’re Uwe Blab. It’s 1977 and you’re living in West Germany. Your name is Uwe Blab. You are 15 years old and like, 12-feet tall and have red hair. You have never seen a basketball before. Somebody hands you a basketball. You eat it. Somebody hands you another basketball and explains how to use it. You think the sport is an efficient game, and you decide to make it your career.

You fear the western culture and multi-syllabled names of the United States, but you realize that America is the land best suited for your talent of being 7’1”. You would prefer to inhabit an area of this land that rejects popular culture and accepts dictatorship. You travel to Indiana to play for Bob Knight.

Your teammates struggle to balance the rigors of the season with their academic requirements, but meanwhile you have joined an exclusive fraternity and are on your way to graduating with a double-major in math and computer science, which -- considering that it’s now 1983…

Classic card of the week

Jeff Snyder, 1992 Upper Deck

You probably notice the Star Rookie in the above card as none other than Jeff Snyder, the guy with the white-sounding name who was not, as it would appear, white, and who played for those immensely popular early 90’s Hawaii football teams with the rainbow-colored pants. But on the slim chance you are unfamiliar with this Star Rookie, we’re going to let the back of the card provide us with some additional insight:

University of Hawaii slotback…

That’s what she said.

…Jeff Snyder offers the Eagles the versatility of a Keith Byars, but in a smaller package.

This was pretty much what every team in the NFL was searching in vain for at the time, and have been searching for ever since: a player with the versatility of Keith Byars, but not as annoyingly large. Teams in the NFL are always looking for smaller players, as evidenced by the steady regression in player size the league has witnessed over the past decade. But it’s not just that -- they need these small player…

Conquering fears by giving of yourself, literally

Note: This column appears in the 11/13 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 11/14 issue of the Peoria Times

Like anybody else, I have fears. I’m not a big fan of flying, for example. In fact, I will not fly by myself. When my wife was studying at NAU a few years ago and I came to visit her from New Jersey, I actually took the train. I spent five days in all on the train and 45 minutes visiting my wife. But it cured my fear of flying, so that was good. I am also scared of the clown from the Stephen King movie “IT.” If you have seen that movie, then you are nodding your head. Another thing that scares me is death. Death is a biggie.

Luckily, for whatever reason, I never developed a fear of needles. This is probably due to the fact that my mom is a nurse, and she was able to use me as a human pincushion when I was a kid and she was working her way through nursing school; my arm in her right hand, textbook in her left hand, needle in her mouth. It never bothered me. The fact that I do not fe…

Smell of the week

Recently-cleaned-up-barf smell

Understand: we are not speaking of straight-up barf smell right here. That would be gross. What we are speaking of is recently-cleaned-up-barf smell. Which is arguably grosser. Nevertheless….

Hypothetical Scenario Based on My Own Personal Experience: You walk into your local convenience store where you always get your morning coffee. This place doesn’t smell too great as it is (Convenience Store Smell: coming soon!), but on this particular day you are immediately greeted with quite the pungent odor. “Who yakked?” you say to yourself. Could be anyone. Every single person you see looks like he just yakked 12 times in the past hour, plus half of them are buying hot dogs at 6:45 in the morning. You survey the grounds in search of the evidence. But as you realize there is no evidence to be found, your nostrils simultaneously detect a hint of a cleansing medium. Could it be 409? Fantastic? Liquid Comet? It’s difficult to determine because the “barf” part of rec…

Classic card of the week

Danny Ferry, 1990 NBA Hoops

When I was a youngster with dreams of playing in the NBA one day, this is exactly what I pictured my rookie card would look card like: Me, wearing a turquoise sweater, sitting in front of the Roman Colosseum, happy explaining the differences between The Cure and The Smiths to a crowd of intrigued locals.

Danny Ferry remains the Godfather of the Duke basketball stereotype: White, annoyingly intelligent, and a not-as-good-as-he-was-supposed-to-be NBA player. It’s often forgotten about now -- because no one besides me thinks about Danny Ferry in a historical context -- but Ferry pulled an Eli Manning back in the day:

Begins eagerly-anticipated NBA career after playing one year in Italy…Chosen by LA Clippers with No. 2 overall pick in 1989 NBA Draft before opting to play with II Messegero of Italian League in 1990…

In an embarrassing display on draft day, Ferry literally picked up his basketball, screamed, “But MOM, I don’t WANT to play for the stupid Clippers!” a…

Finding a good cause and sticking to it

Note: This column appears in the 11/6 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 11/7 issue of the Peoria Times

I have been trying to be more charitable lately.

This may be a direct result of the guilt I felt after my wife and I recently purchased a new 42” flat screen television (not her idea), which now broadcasts -- in HD -- those commercials featuring starving children in foreign lands. But the truth is that I had been feeling the urge to be more charitable even before upgrading TVs, which makes the fact that we bought the TV anyway an indication that I’m not off to a good start.

I’ve always tried to give here and there. For example, every single time I’m checking out at our local Safeway and I’m asked if I’d like to donate to so-and-so, I’m like, “Sure, throw a dollar on the ol’ credit card there -- that should solve it.” (By the way, I would donate more if they would lower the ridiculous price of their tomatoes. Seriously, Safeway tomatoes are so expensive.)

But lately something has been t…

Smell of the week

Copy machine smell

This is one of my favorite smells, not because it is a particularly enjoyable smell (it’s not bad either…sort of asexual), but because it reminds me of the good ol’ days. Many smells are pleasant not because of their inherent smelliness, but because of their nostalgic nature. It’s a personal preference. For example, Andy Dufresne probably enjoys the smell of sewage because it reminds him of escaping prison. That is an extreme example, but still.

Anyhoo, copy machine smell reminds me of my favorite job ever: working in the mail room at “the law firm” (aptly named so as to protect the identities of the innocent). It was my summer job for two of the best and least productive summers of my life. I worked in the mail room with a few guys that I remain close friends with to this very day, and each summer day was a lesson in how to get as little accomplished as possible while also complaining about the few times that work was required. Also, this work involved sticking paper…

Theme change: different stuff, coming soon!

The nice thing about having a blog called “So, do you like…stuff?” is that it enables me to write about pretty much anything.

Sure, since its inception over four years ago (!), it’s basically been a sports blog. In fact, you may notice the side bar mentioning how this blog has been nominated for “Best Sports Blog.” Well, I don’t mean to brag, but I was nominated by Peter Gammons my cousin Cara. And so far I have exactly one vote. And that’s because I voted for myself. Thanks everybody!

Anyhoo, I have been absolutely burned out from writing about sports. Don’t get me wrong -- I love sports. Always have and always will. But writing about sports -- even for a blog that nobody reads -- has become a chore. I mean, what else is there to say? There are SO many outlets now to read about sports, and almost every relevant sports topic now is draped in negativity. Much of it is speculative, voyeuristic, often pithy, and downright pointless. (I exclude myself from none of this, by the way.)

Maybe m…

Classic card of the week

Tyrone Calico, 2005 Topps

The only thing better than one Tyrone Calico is two Tyrone Calicos. (Three is just too much Tyrone Calico, as you could imagine.) That is why this is probably -- maybe, haven’t quite decided yet, because there are so many to choose from, but probably -- my favorite Tyrone Calico card. This card speaks to me. And this is what it says:

I’m Tyrone Calico, wide receiver for the Tennessee Titans. Don’t believe me? Check the inset. That’s me. Now stop staring at me. I hate you.

Whoa, Tyrone Calico! Why the animosity? Maybe the back of the card can explain:

Tyrone led the Titans in receiving in the 2004 preseason, but then hurt his knee.

The end.

For real though -– Calico pretty much never played after that. The Titans honored the short career of Tyrone Calico by first, a) cutting him, and then, b) never using a wide receiver ever again. Also, the back of the card fails to mention how he hurt his knee. Thankfully, Wikipedia exists:

After a knee injury caused by a horse-co…

Cards take road baggage on the road again

Note: This column appears in the 10/30 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 10/31 issue of the Peoria Times

Last Sunday, after the St. Louis Rams were narrowly defeated by the defending Super Bowl champions New England Patriots, the headline for the game recap on was: “Faulk grab lifts Patriots over Rams; St. Louis streak ends” I found this amusing because the “streak” being referred to was the two-game winning streak the Rams had enjoyed under the tutelage of newly anointed head coach Jim Haslett, which is the absolute bare minimum of consecutive wins that can logically be considered a “streak.” Not exactly DiMaggio-esque.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals are on a streak of their own -- a brutal one-game losing streak. They are also on a one-hundred game (approximation) road-losing streak, which is why this upcoming game on Sunday in St. Louis has to scare you if you’re a Cardinals fan.

As dumb as the aforementioned headline was, the Rams are a vastly different, and muc…

I can't believe it any more than you can...

...but nevertheless, for anyone interested, I'll be appearing on the Andrew Tallman Show on 1360 AM at around 5 o'clock this afternoon to discuss this post. You can listen online here.

Classic card of the week

Michael Cage, 1990 NBA Hoops

I’d like to begin the 2008-09 NBA season by paying respects to a team that is no longer with us: The Seattle Supersonics. It is appropriate, then, that we present to you the undisputed greatest player ever in Seattle Supersonics' history: Michael Jerome Cage.

My friend Eric sent me this gem months ago, under the subject title: How about some jheri curl action? To that question, I responded, in my head, “Well alright, sure, I guess. I am not certain what that means at this present moment, but allow me to click on this email and possibly discover what it is that Eric is referring to…” Then it was like, splid-OW! Jheri curl action. In my face. All the time. I was happy.

It has been said, “Once you’ve seen one jheri curl, you’ve seen them all.” (-Plato) Michael Cage would beg to differ. In fact, this is probably my favorite of all time. Why? Because it’s the one I’m looking at right now. I’m very fickle when it comes to my jheri curls; one day it’s Melido, th…

Cards remain reluctant to become road warriors

Note: This column appears in the 10/23 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 10/24 issue of the Peoria Times

I have to admit, I have been curiously amused by what now has become an almost indisputable fact: that Ken Whisenhunt made a crucial mistake a month ago in keeping his team on the east coast for two weeks instead of coming home, which ultimately resulted in a 56-35 loss to the New York Jets.

The idea that grown men who play football for a living cannot adequately function after “unnecessarily” being deprived of the comforts of home for an additional week is ludicrous. I also love how labeling this a mistake implies that the Cardinals would have beaten the Jets if they would have just come home first. As if the Cardinals deserve any benefit of the doubt when it comes to winning on the road.

The reason the Cardinals lost to the Jets is not because nobody was around to tuck them in at night the week prior -- it’s because they haven’t yet learned how to win on the road. It’s the same re…

Classic card of the week

Wade Boggs, 1999 Fleer

I’m uncertain how many more “classic” baseball cards I’ll be able to squeeze in here before the season is over. And if this is going to be one of the last ones of 2008 -- or, possibly the last -- I wanted to go out with a bang. So with that it mind, I decided to post this amazingly exciting card featuring Wade Boggs putting his batting helmet away. Can you even stand it?!

There are so many exciting things going on here. For example, look at all those bats! All different colors, and lengths, and possibly weights. Which one would YOU choose? It’s so hard to decide. Also, look who is standing next to Wade Boggs -- none other than the Crime Dog himself, Fred McGriff! And he’s just standing there like nothing is going on -- like he’s NOT standing right next to Wade Boggs! And there’s ol’ Boggsie, acting like HE’S not right next to Fred McGriff! I’ll tell ya' -- baseball players are so freakin’ cool. Also, if you look really hard, to the right of Boggs in the backgr…