Wednesday, November 26, 2008

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 back surgery…

Yeah, back surgery will undoubtedly limit your playing time under most circumstances. Hanzlik often told friends and family that he broke his back carrying the Nuggets for 82 games every season, something his coaches and teammates resented, but could rarely argue with:

Has played all five positions for Denver…

As the old NBA saying goes, “When a guy with a bowl haircut and mustache is playing every position for your basketball team, you probably need a new basketball team.” I just made up that saying, but you could see how it would be relevant here. Also, many people find this hard to believe, but Bill Hanzlik was from Ohio.

Did you know?
Bill Hanzlik defied Newton's scientific theory that a Laker sinks a Nugget.

Monday, November 24, 2008

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 of it, so we decided to spend Thanksgiving in Sedona. The night before we left, we were lucky enough to get free tickets to see the early 90s hip-hop trio of Bell Biv Devoe in concert in downtown Phoenix. If your Thanksgiving holiday doesn’t start with Bell Biv Devoe, then you are doing something wrong. It’s how the Pilgrims did it. You can look it up.

We'd like to give a shout-out to all our peeps on the Mayflower...this next joint's for you. Hit it!
Do me babyyyy...

Thanksgiving in Sedona was beautiful, but bittersweet. We were accustomed to a loud, raucous, delicious dinner in which my wife’s uncle busted our chops for two hours straight for not eating meat, yet went out of his way to make us salmon on the side. In Sedona, we were the only two people sitting in a nice restaurant for an early dinner, eating our salmon without anyone making fun of us while we laughed to ourselves wondering what the family was up to.

As much as we missed our family, a funny thing happened over the course of the past year. When we realized that this year would present a similar situation for the holidays, we found ourselves really looking forward to our new “tradition” of spending Thanksgiving with each other in Sedona. When a Coldplay concert at Arena we had purchased tickets for way back in June got pushed back to the night before Thanksgiving, we knew our holiday formula of concert-then-Sedona was meant to be. Sure, maybe it’s a little untraditional. But it’s our tradition.

We even added one more guest to our new Thanksgiving tradition: our dog Mac. We’re now staying at a pet-friendly hotel in Sedona, and it should be interesting to find a restaurant open on Thanksgiving that not only serves fish, but that will let our dog join us. This will probably lead to all three of us eating our holiday meal outside of a Long John Silvers in 40-degree weather while we laugh to ourselves wondering what the family is up to.

Holiday traditions change all the time, whether due to marriage, people moving away, kids being born, or whatever. Adjusting to these changes is often difficult. But the one constant remains, and that is that we all have a lot to be thankful for. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to prepare for the holidays by packing some dog food and getting ready to enjoy some live British soft rock. I’m sure you’ll be doing the same.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

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 (Milton-Bradley). Here, I’ll try one: Per possession, Ehlo ranked in the TOP 18% of the Eastern Conference in dribbling intensely. See? I just earned 14 Ehlo Points! Fun!

Back of the card, your turn!:

Hit 20/35 3PT FG’S (.571) in one early-March stretch.

Awesome! Except for “FG’S” being possessive (minus 20,000 Ehlo Points). Actually, I can build on that by mentioning that Craig Ehlo is seventh ALL TIME in the NBA in fruitful early March stretches. In contrast to that is Mugsy Bogues, whose career was ultimately defined by his mid-April lulls.

I hope you have all enjoyed playing statistical games with and/or about Craig Ehlo. Don’t forget to cash in your Ehlo Points at the nearest Shop Rite!

Did you know?
In 2003, the Craig Ehlo Camp For Intense Dribbling was shut down because the buzz on the street revealed that Ehlo was paying counselors under the table.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

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 (evidenced by the time I tried to give a homeless man $2…also, he was not homeless), and the last thing I need is any sort of backlash for my good intentions. What to do?

Well, a couple of years ago my wife was watching the news when a segment aired about a man who had offered to pay for the person behind him at the drive-thru window of a fast food restaurant. Apparently, this gesture continued throughout the day, each person paying for the person behind them. “Pay it forward,” they called it.

To me, this was perfect. It was the chance to do a good deed, without the risk of a potentially disastrous social interaction. In fact, after hearing about it, my wife and I tried it that very next weekend, at our favorite establishment: Dunkin’ Donuts. We had big dorky smiles on our faces as we happily paid for the man behind us at the drive-thru. It was a really good feeling and it only cost us a couple of bucks.

Based on the events of last weekend, I knew that a good deed was in order, so I wanted to try this again. Unfortunately, the local Dunkin’ Donuts does not have a drive-thru window, and I typically try to steer clear of fast food. Eventually I decided to undertake this good deed at that great light tower of the needy: Starbucks.

So there I was last Monday morning sitting on the ridiculously long line at the Starbuck’s drive-thru. I looked in my rear view and saw the car behind me. One woman. Good. Though I hoped she wasn’t getting treats for her entire office. (My good deeds have financial limitations.) For some reason I was so nervously excited. It cost me an extra $3.50 or so at the window, and I was happy to pay it forward.

I sped away as fast as I could, fearing that this woman would chase me down on the highway and demand I roll down my window as she yelled, “What do think I am, poor?!” Once I knew I was in the clear, I smiled as I sipped my coffee and zoomed past a car with a flat tire on the side of the road.

“One good deed at a time,” I thought.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

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 -- basically means that you invented the computer. You create the first known website after uploading videos of your jump hook shot directly from your camcorder to your computer, and you call this website: UweBlabtube.

You make it to the NBA, where you proceed to average just over two points-per-game for your career. You cannot shake the constant comparisons to Bill Walton. But all of that becomes trivial because during a trip back home in 1989, based on a dare posed to you by your best friend Lek Glurg, you symbolically dunk over the Berlin Wall, knocking it down entirely and uniting the country of Germany forever. You missed the dunk, but still.

Did you know?
After Uwe Blab refused to address speculation in 1982 that Bob Knight had hit him in the knees with a pipe during practice for failing to grasp the 2-3 zone, an Indiana Gazette headline read: Blab won’t blab.

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 players to be versatile too. And when you talk about versatility in football, there is really only one player that comes to mind: Keith Byars. In fact, as you’ll notice from the above tidbit, Byars himself was so versatile that to even imagine someone that could approach his versatility was heresy, hence the suggestion that Snyder offered the versatility “of a Keith Byars.” Not the Keith Byars. Because that would be crazy. Keith Byars played every position for the Eagles while also coaching the team and singing the national anthem before home games. If it weren’t for the elephant-like nature of his physical size, he would be in the Hall of Fame.

But what did people in the know think about Jeff Snyder?

“Jeff’s an electrifying returner without any doubt,” says Eagles head coach Rich Kotite.

Listen, when Rich Kotite has no doubts about a particular issue, you can pretty much carve it in stone. Also, Jeff Snyder’s returning abilities were so electrifying, that they must have cut off the circuit over at Google, because I could not find any additional information about Jeff Synder. Unless you count this.

So, to recap:

University of Hawaii slotback…

“Jeff’s an electrifying returner…”

Synder was the lone receiver chosen by Philadelphia.

Man, that guy was versatile!

Did you know?
Rich Kotite once said of fellow NFL head coach Ray Handley: He's an electrifying coach without any doubt.

UPDATE: A literate commenter pointed out that Jeff Snyder's name is actually Jeff Sydner. This probably explains why Google returned no results. Also, I cannot read. I apologize for nothing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

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 fear needles enables me to rather easily do something that I think is very important: give blood.

Of course, the act of giving blood is not without its other implied fears. I just recently started to donate, even though for years I knew that giving blood is one of the easiest things a person could do. This is because I had always feared that one day I would donate blood, and two weeks later I would get this message on my voice mail:

Hello Mr. Kenny. Thank you for donating blood to United Blood Services. Unfortunately, we cannot use your blood. Because you have Dengue fever. Have a nice weekend.

This irrational fear was solved when my wife and I applied for new life insurance, and I was forced, against my will, to submit a blood sample. Thankfully, everything checked out okay. So when my boss encouraged our entire office to donate blood last year during the holidays, I was ready.

There was a pretty lengthy interview process beforehand, which included many personal questions, such as: Have you ever had relations with a goat in the Dominican Republic? If you think that was a joke, then you have never donated blood before.

The actual act of giving blood was surprisingly quick and easy. For one thing, I have an abnormally large and accessible vein in my left arm. As far as taking a needle in that vein, there is a 93% margin of error. Every time I have ever had to get stuck with a needle, the nurses call each other over and marvel at this vein: Hey Margie, get a look at this! I imagine myself as the Bigfoot of the medical profession, and only those who have actually stuck me believe that I exist. When I gave blood a few months ago, the head technician decided that my arm would be the perfect practice for one of their new students. “Bring it on,” I said. I was used to that.

I’ve only donated now several times, but I feel like a veteran of the process. And here’s the thing about donating blood: it takes a matter of minutes to do, and afterwards you’re sitting there eating free cookies and drinking from a juice box and everyone is calling you a hero. It’s pretty awesome.

But hey, maybe you’re scared of needles. Or maybe it’s a different fear. One way to think about it is this: Someday, somewhere, someone will be staring his or her greatest fear right in the face. And your donation can save their life. That should eliminate your fears quicker than, say, a five-day long train ride.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

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 recently-cleaned-up-barf smell is the dominant odor. You are three seconds away from barfing on yourself just from the funk, and you seriously consider going somewhere else because you do not want any of the barf smell getting in your coffee. Also, this smell does not leave the store for three months.

I trust that this scenario sounds familiar, although the settings may differ. In fact, recently-cleaned-up-barf-smell can be enjoyed most often in everyone’s favorite establishment: school. There are many teachers and educational administrators in our family, and each one of them would conclude that the greatest day of the school year is the day that every student can collectively refrain from barfing in the hallway for a whole six hours.

In fact, recently-cleaned-up-barf-smell is pretty much a staple of youth simply because of school. Although, things were a bit different in my day, and that leads me to a distant relative of recently-cleaned-up-barf-smell: slightly-suppressed-barf smell.

I remember walking the school hallways as a kid and getting a whiff of barf, though a slightly fainter whiff than usual. I would immediately look down and see a pile of…something. “That’s weird -- barf is not typically uniform in color, and the texture here appears different,” my very advanced 9-year old mind would say. Then I would realize that what I was looking at was actually one of the great mysteries of the modern world: barf covered in powder.

I cannot begin to explain this phenomenon. So instead I will provide a sample conversation between a janitor and a janitorial intern circa 1987.

Janitorial intern: Hey boss, I was just in the main office and it looks like little Jimmy O’Gillicuty threw-up in front of the biology room again.

Janitor: Oh, you mean Sir Pukes A Lot? What the hell is wrong with that kid? What are his parents feeding him, Lunchables?

Intern: Not sure. Anyway, just came by to get the mop and bucket.

Janitor: Mop and bucket? Pffftt. What are you talking about, rookie? Just throw some barf powder on it.

Intern: What?

Janitor: Barf powder. Did I stutter? Just scoop some out of that giant bin over there labeled “barf powder.”

Intern: But…what does it do?

Janitor: It covers the barf.

Intern: Yeah, but…then the barf is still there.

Janitor: Listen. Trust me on this one, okay? Just sprinkle some barf powder on it. Then go and get a sandwich or something. Come back in twenty minutes, and it’ll all be gone.

Intern: But how does that happen?

Janitor: Nobody knows, son. It’s magic.

In conclusion, recently-cleaned-up-barf-smell: Thumbs down!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

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!” and then walked off the stage. Commissioner David Stern was forced to pose for pictures in front of a cardboard cutout of Ferry, which was awkwardly draped in a Clippers jersey. I find it humorous that the Clippers were actually saved from another ill-advised draft pick simply because said draft pick refused to play for them. I also imagine Danny Ferry landing in Italy, stepping off the plane expecting a hero’s welcome, only to see one guy with a mustache waving an American flag, and then asking him in broken English, “Is you Patrick Ewing?”

During his tenure in Italy, the Clippers traded his rights to the Cleveland Cavaliers, which convinced Ferry to return to the States, to the grand indifference of everyone! (Also: The Cleve > L.A., apparently.) He proceeded to play many years of okay basketball before shaving his head, winning a title with the Spurs, and becoming an executive, which is pretty much the required progression for white NBA players.

I hope that I have included enough stereotypes in this post.

Did you know?
Danny Ferry’s father, Judge Smails, also played in the NBA.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

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 tugging at me, imploring me to give more. It may have started at church a few months ago, when a man came to speak on behalf of a great organization called Esperanza. My wife and I decided to make a small financial commitment to them, and things started to snowball from there.

Wait, did I say snowball? I meant snowflake. Here’s what happened: I got so caught up in the spirit of giving that I made a promise to myself to never refuse a solicitation for a charitable donation, no matter how little I was able to give. The end result of this was me writing $2.78 checks to the Nebraska Crop Farmers Association.

The promise I made to myself lasted approximately ten days. Apparently, my thought process generated brain waves that traveled to every local charity organization within a 50-mile radius, and the following day I began receiving dozens of letters, all eagerly awaiting my reply, many of which contained pictures of sick children who were relying on me. Luckily, I needn’t worry about return labels, of which I now have three billion, and which I would simply stick on the reply envelope of whatever organization was next on the pile. It was quite a cycle.

I couldn’t keep up. Plus, I didn’t have enough time to research all of the organizations I was contributing to. Sure, they all had familiar names, but I wasn’t always certain how the money was being distributed. The last thing I wanted was my seven dollars going towards the production of more Snoopy-themed return labels.

This had to stop. A thought occurred to me: maybe I should focus on contributing to just a few organizations that I trust. I liked Esperanza and a charity called Food for the Poor, but I was also thinking about something more localized.

Last week I approached my boss with the idea of our paper teaming up with a charity for the holidays, and without hesitation he provided his suggestion: The Salvation Army. It’s one of the most trustworthy and recognizable (especially during the holidays) organizations in the country, and there are local branches in Glendale, Peoria, and Sun City. So be on the lookout for ways you can help contribute in the coming issues of the paper.

As for me personally, I feel like I’ve narrowed down my charitable commitments to those I feel comfortable with. And you can, too. It doesn’t even have to be a monetary donation – it could be time, food, clothes…whatever. Take us, for example. It suddenly turns out we have a perfectly working non-flat screen television to donate.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

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 on top of a giant machine and hitting the “Go” button. The rest of the day was spent playing solitaire, putting sticky notes with graphic phrases or drawings on the backs of unsuspecting victims, and trying to scare the crap out of each other as we came out of the bathroom. Then we would go drinking.

In an ironic twist of fortune, every serious job I have held thereafter has contained within its walls an omnipresent copy machine. In fact, I am sitting in front of one right now. When I started this job over a year ago, the copy machine got jammed and everyone was all in a huff, and I was all like, “I’ll handle this,” and I started opening all types of secret doors and crap and pulling out crumbled-up documents from the mid-90s and my hands were all black and I almost caught on fire but I got that baby back up and running. That’s what we in the field like to call “experience.”

At first I thought the copy machine was there as a constant reminder of my current place in the real world. But on the contrary, when I get a good, solid whiff of that copy machine smell every now then -- that sweet aroma of paper and ink, with a dash of…rubber? I have no idea -- it takes me back to that precious time of a worry-free, work-free, money-free existence. And it makes me smile.

Important note about copy machine smell: You can’t experience it by just standing at the copy machine. You have to get it on that perfect copy, usually midway through a large job. You’ll also get it when it jams and you open the big door and smoke is coming out. Then it’ll hit you right in the freakin’ face.

Monday, November 03, 2008

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 my passion was lost now that I no longer have my favorite teams to write about for the paper (and thus, the blog.) But I doubt it. I’d feel the same way if I were making Plaxico Burress jokes every week instead of Matt Leinart.

Another point, as far as this blog and the newspaper are concerned: I have received some of my best and most positive feedback on the non-sports related items I have written. People seem to like reading about family trips to Florida or how I collapsed during a road race more than Kurt Warner’s penchant for fumbling. I can take a hint.

So last week I approached my publisher with the idea of switching up the theme of my weekly column. My intention is to make it more positive, more proactive, and quite honestly, something that I can be more proud of on a different level than whether or not it’s funny. But of course, I am still going to try and make it funny, because that’s the whole point.

This may seem like a strange coincidence coming off this post, and the “media firestorm” that ensued. But to be quite honest, this is a change I have been thinking about for a while now. Sure, maybe the feedback on that post was what spurned me to action. Actually, it probably was. Nevertheless, this has been something I have wanted to do for some time.

Oh, and not to worry -- the Classic Cards will still be in full effect. Thems my favoritest.

So anyhoo, from this point forward, the weekly columns are going to be different. If you feel so inclined, let me know what you think. It’s going to be a gradual process, but hopefully I’ll eventually be able to find my niche.