Friday, October 30, 2009

The Underground

This is the first line of Peter King's Friday column:

Brett Favre's pretty much gone underground this week, except for his regular Wednesday press conference, Thursday's NFL Network interview with Steve Mariucci and a one-on-one with Terry Bradshaw, which will air on the Fox NFL Sunday pregame show.

That guy is like a hermit!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Classic card of the week

Oliver Miller, 1992-93 Topps

Here is a “Time-Life Magazine”-worthy floor shot of Oliver Miller throwing it down with lukewarm authority. How he got down the floor before everybody else on this play is anyone’s guess. Though my hypothesis would be that he was not an active participant in the previous defensive series.

But let’s see how long it takes the back of the card to mention Oliver Miller’s weight:

They called Oscar Robertson “The Big O,” but the massive Oliver Miller gives new “dimension” to that nickname.

That dimension is fatness. I also appreciate how “dimension” is in quotes, as to imply that Oliver Miller is so fat -– How fat is he? -– that he can only fit in an alternate dimension. That is not nice. But what else?

On offense, Miller was nearly “automatic” –- the Razorbacks’ most accurate shooter ever.

I am at a loss as to why “automatic” is in quotes. As far as being Arkansas’ most accurate shooter -– that is what happens when you do not/cannot move from the five-square-foot parameter directly underneath the basket.

So we know about Oliver Miller’s weight issues. But can Wikipedia shed any new light on his basketball career? Of course they can:

In December 2001, after another brief term with the Globetrotters, Miller was released for showing “no appreciation for what it takes mentally and physically to be a Harlem Globetrotter.”

Let me start by saying this: You can get released by the Globetrotters? To the point where they need to issue a statement? I had no idea. Also, how in the hell do you lollygag it on the Harlem Globetrotters? They’re whole shtick is bringing energy and excitement to the crowd by executing incredibly difficult and detailed basketball trickery. What did he expect? I can just picture Oliver Miller standing on the court, holding a stick with a spinning basketball on top of it with one hand, and a hot dog with the other, and then taking a pass to the face because he wasn’t paying attention to the rest of the routine. Then he gets chewed out by the head Globetrotter as the confused crowd looks on, wondering whether or not it’s all part of the act. And if you think that’s a hypothetical scenario, believe me –- I was there.

So anyway, if you’re the Phoenix Suns, how can you not draft a 300-lb center with your first round pick? And was that shot at the Phoenix Suns just sarcasm based on retrospect? Possibly. But please allow me to relay a question that, for me, has become one of the great mysteries of life: How can you play basketball and, simultaneously, be fat?

Honestly. This is something that has absolutely, positively befuddled me for years. I mean, basketball is one of the most physically taxing sports out there. You can burn up to 80 calories just watching a game of basketball. For the average person who plays the sport consistently, it is near impossible to not remain in adequate shape. To play the game professionally -– as in, it’s your freakin’ job to play a game that intrinsically prevents you from being fat -- and to remain overweight in the process shows an uncanny lack of discipline and effort both on and off the court.

I guess I just answered my own question. Still though.

Did you know?
Oliver Miller was the reason Krusty the Clown bet against the Harlem Globetrotters.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Smashmouth: "All Star," explained

Today we continue our randomly strung-together series breaking down "classic" songs that I am reminded of when I hear them somewhere and suddenly come to the realization that, "Wow, that song is stupid." Featured here is Smashmouth's "All Star," which you may have heard during every movie you've ever seen within the past decade. Please enjoy.


Somebody once told me the world is gonna roll me

Allow me to begin my endeavor by acknowledging the popular adage: The world is gonna roll you. This is a clever way of saying that the world –- which is like a ball -– will eventually roll you over. With hardships. As far as the “somebody” who told me? None other than William Franklin Shakespeare. Yeah. I drew the line from the wonderful yet largely ignored Shakespearean play entitled “All-Star,” in which the antagonist, “Smashmouthikus,” utters the dramatic line, “Thy world shall roll thee.”

I ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed

Allow me now, as a follow-up to my previous sentiment, to acknowledge that: I am a dumbass.

She was looking kind of dumb with her finger and her thumb in the shape of an “L” on her forehead

I hope you have enjoyed the imagery of a female character I have yet to introduce making the “loser” symbol on her forehead. How this relates to any other part of this song has yet to be determined. Is she making the loser sign at me because I am a dumbass? Or at herself because she is also a dumbass? It’s difficult to say. I do however, find it interesting how “shed” sort of rhymes with “forehead.”

Well the years start coming and they don’t stop coming

New thought alert! Listen -- I graduated with a 2.9 GPA from the Northeast Technical Institute of Smartness. I have done an exhaustive amount of research on the subject, and was awarded the Achievement in the Field of Excellence trophy by my brother-in-law at our annual family reunion, which is where I revealed my thesis. And what I had discovered is this: Time does not stop.

Seriously. One year it’s this year, and the next year it’s a different year. It’s crazy!

Fed to the rules and I hit the ground running

This line has two meanings. On one hand, I equate rules with hungry animals. And society always tries to feed me to those rules. Because rules, like caged animals, are insatiable in their hunger for obedience. On the other hand, I am also fed up with those rules. So, in my quest to rid myself of being eaten by rules or to simply avoid adhering to them, I have decided to hit the ground running, which is just a nonsensical cliché that cannot actually be incorporated into any aspect of my life. Take that, rules!

Didn’t make sense not to live for fun

Ya’ know what I realized doesn’t make sense? Anything in life in which the end result does not equal fun. I thought of this while trying in vain to put together a rolling filing cabinet that I bought from IKEA. So I just dropped those mini tools, ran outside –- hitting the ground running, mind you -- and got drunk. It was the funnest day ever! I assume that this philosophy of living solely for fun can be easily translated to all areas of everyday life. Like parenting.

Your brain gets smart but your head gets dumb

I hate it when your brain gets smart but the rest of your head -– all the parts that can neither retain or reject intellect, as they do not themselves have brains -– get dumber. This only happens to me on two occasions: 1) when I’m living for anything but fun, and b) when I am reading James Joyce’s “A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man” while drinking a Big Gulp slurpee.

So much to do so much to see so what’s wrong with taking the back streets?

There is too much to do and see in life to waste your time in getting there faster by taking I95. What you need to do is live life to the fullest by taking the back streets, so that you can see what life really has to offer. Which is mostly residential housing.

You’ll never know if you don’t go

You cannot really know anything unless you actually go there. For example: South Dakota? I remain skeptical.

You’ll never shine if you don’t glow

“Shine” and “glow” are both figurative terms used to describe standing out. So this is sort of like saying, “You’ll never stand out if you don’t stand out.” Pointless? Possibly. But you cannot deny it as a truism. It should also be mentioned that this song reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Hey now, you’re an All Star, get your game on, go play
Hey now, you’re a rock star, get the show on, get paid

I hope that I have adequately motivated you do something via my song-writing technique of randomly strung together words and awful clichés. What’s that? You’re still not going to hockey practice or your clarinet lessons? Hold on…

All that glitters is gold

This is actually in direct contrast to a truer and more meaningful cliché. Nevertheless, I recommend you get out there and glitter as a means of displaying your overall worth as a human being.

Only shooting stars break the mold.

You? You are a shooting star! Now get out there and break the mold with your glitter! And bygone it -– don’t forget to shine! And when you go, take the back streets, and try not to get a dumb head, okay? Just remember –- hit the ground running and don’t look back at the rules that are trying to eat you. And hey -– live for fun, alright? Because time doesn’t stop! And pay no attention to that girl making the loser sign at you. That’s my sister. And she’s a bitch.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Classic card of the week

Jeff Hostetler, 1992 Collector’s Edge

If I’m Jeff Hostetler, I am pissed. In fact, let’s for a second just pretend that I’m Jeff Hostetler, okay? Okay.

Hi. I’m Jeff Hostetler. And I am pissed. Seriously. I mean, I am the starting quarterback of the New York Football Giants. I led my team to a freakin’ Super Bowl title like, a few months ago. I have a ‘stache to die for. Don’t believe me?

So yeah, I’m pretty awesome. As a result, I think that my own football card should reflect at least a modicum of my awesomeness. So how does the Collector’s Edge brand of football cards honor my Super Bowl-winning awesomeness? By showing a picture of me with my eyes closed, getting sacked by some dude on the Rams, and almost certainly about to turn the ball over. I mean really. You could have snapped a picture of me with my jersey on taking a dump in the locker room stall and it would have been more flattering than this.

Oh hey, one other thing. I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly thank O.J. Anderson for picking up the weak side pressure on this play. Thanks, buddy! You were just in time! Ya’ know what? Next time just tackle me yourself, okay? It will lesson the chances of me breaking my back, which is exactly what happened to me last year, amazingly not on this very play.

In fact, ya’ know what I’m going to do? Because I am Jeff Hostetler –- Super Bowl-winning quarterback –- and I am so insanely proud of this football card of me, featuring me, with my eyes closed and getting my ass kicked, I am going to blow this baby up and hang it on the wall of my bagel shop. That’s right. I’m going to take down that stupid picture of me hoisting up the Lombardi Trophy and replace it with this very picture. That way, customers can come by, grab an onion bagel with some lox, and enjoy it while staring at the most unflattering picture of the namesake of the very bagel shop they are at.

What? You don’t think a Super Bowl-winning quarterback with a ridonkulous ‘stache can have a bagel shop? Why not? Everybody loves bagels! Listen man, football is fleeting. But bagels are forever:

Hostetler now lives in Morgantown, West Virginia, and owned Hostetler Bagels. He closed his bagel shop in 2005.

There was a strike, okay? I don’t want to talk about it.

Did you know?
Former Giants’ head coach Ray Handley once said that choosing between Jeff Hostetler and Phil Simms was like “trying to pick between a beautiful blonde and a brunette with a mustache, except the blonde is always injured and can’t play football.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kids, Saturdays make Halloween worth the trouble

Note: This column appears in the 10/22 issue of The Glendale Star and the 10/23 issue of the Peoria Times

I was in seventh grade the last year I went trick-or-treating for Halloween. It was that awkward time where I was too cool and definitely too old to go trick-or-treating, but I still liked candy. So I went after school and told various homeowners I was dressed as a “Catholic school kid.” After several dirty looks and fewer Reese’s than I expected, I decided to retire.

Since then, Halloween has just been ehhh. There was brief resurgence in college, when I got to dress inappropriately and act like an idiot for a day, which made the holiday really no different than any other day, I suppose. But Halloween hasn’t been something I’ve really looked forward to in quite some time.

Until this year, that is. The main reason being we actually have kids to celebrate it with. The joy and anticipation of Halloween gets renewed when kids are involved, as you get to live vicariously through them. And eat their candy. And also dress them in silly outfits that make them uncomfortable and possibly give them rashes. In our case, our foster daughter wants to be a cat –- a costume idea that will no doubt disappoint her the very second she sees a better costume –- and our nine-month old foster son will be sweating the excess pounds off in the bumblebee outfit my wife bought for him. It’s going to be great. I think.

But another reason that I’m looking so forward to Halloween this year is that it falls on a Saturday. This really gets the adults involved because -– let’s be honest –- no rational person wants to dress like Winnie the Pooh on a Tuesday.

As for me, I’m keeping it simple this year. I learned my lesson the last time I dressed up for Halloween, which was, coincidentally, the last time it fell on a Saturday. My wife was Sonny and I was Cher. I couldn’t have possibly made an uglier woman, and when the initial shock and laughter of it all wore off at our family Halloween party, I was left hugely uncomfortable and unable to sit down in a manner that did not reveal all of my body parts. To boot, I found it impossible to carry on a moderately serious conversation. A question as simple as, “So, how’s school?” cannot be answered when it is asked by a hairy 6’3” man in a dress and lipstick.

In trying to decide my costume for this year, my wife recommended – because of my omnipresent beard – that I go as the bearded lady. But I nixed that idea immediately. Instead I went to the store over the weekend and, frustrated by the audacity of $50 costumes that you’d only wear once, bought a $7 ship captain’s hat.

I have no other parts of the outfit. I don’t even own any white clothes. But this is my new Halloween philosophy: Buy a hat, and work around it. And hope that nobody asks what you’re supposed to be. Since I’ll be rolling with the cutest cat and bumblebee ever, I don’t think anyone will care.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Classic card of the week

Ray Durham, 1996 Topps Laser series

This card is part of the Topps’ “Laser series,” in which Topps printed a set of baseball cards and then had a laser come through and destroy about 35% of each card. Pretty cool, huh? Said Topps executive Bart Swingleman in 1995: “We wanted to draw attention away from the player featured on the card, so that kids could focus on the awesomeness of our lasers. And I think we accomplished that.”

Indeed they did. I am having trouble focusing on Ray Durham boringly crossing home plate, as I am distracted by the nondescript, yet very red and very lasery ballplayer to the right, who is jogging out of the card! Amazing. But I need to refocus here. What about Ray Durham? Let’s check some “spotlight stats” on the back:

.640: Winning pct. by 1995 White Sox when Durham scored

Now, the naysayer might say: “Nay. I am unimpressed by the fact that the White Sox won 64% of the time when Ray Durham scored, as runs scored invariably increases a teams’ chances of winning, and so that stat is less a reflection on Durham himself, but more on the effect of scoring runs in general.” However, what the naysayer -- in this case, author and question-mark suit wearer Matthew Lesko, who actually said that –- did not know was that when Ozzie Guillen scored a run, the 1995 White Sox lost 89% of the time. So obviously Ray Durham’s runs had a more positive effect.

But what more about Mr. Durham? Wikipedia?

Ray Durham (born November 30, 1971 in Charlotte, North Carolina), nicknamed The Sugarman

Never in my entire life have I ever heard anybody refer to Ray Durham as “The Sugarman.” If I were at a fantasy baseball draft in 1996, and somebody said, “I’ll take the Sugarman,” I would not know what to write down on my sheet, because I would have no idea what that person was talking about. Since Wikipedia declines to expand on this, I am left to wonder about the origins of this nickname. I will simply read on:

He was a bit of a womanizer because of his amazing looks.

Ray Durham has/had amazing looks? I am beginning to feel as though I know little to nothing about Ray Durham. I can only assume that this reputed womanizing earned him The Sugarman nickname. I may not know a lot about Ray Durham, but I know that women = sugar. And Ray Durham had a lot of sugar. Because of the sex he had with women. May I also suggest that a “spotlight stat” involving the amount of sugar attained by Ray Durham would be more interesting -– to me -– than a stat about runs scored. Unless by runs, they mean women.

Ray Durham has also gained fame and popularity through his nickname: “Ray-Ray.”

First of all…what? I thought his nickname was “The Sugarman?” Secondly, I was also unaware of the “Ray-Ray” nickname, so the fame and popularity he gained through it was, once again, lost on me. It should also be mentioned that Ray-Ray is not to be confused with Ray-J, who is also known as The Sugarman.

Did you know?
Ray Durham also played baseball.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Please recycle after reading

Note: This column appears in the 10/15 issue of The Glendale Star and the 10/16 issue of the Peoria Times

I have always been interested in recycling.

Not interested in the sense that I’d like to make a career out of it, but interested in the sense that when I throw something in the recycling bin, I wonder for a split second what will happen to it. That is the extent of my interest. As a result, I have written a column.

My family has always recycled, for as long as I can remember. I recall my dad tying up old newspapers and leaving them on the curb to be picked up, at which point it would rain, rendering everything non-recyclable. Those were great times.

I also recall being appalled when we first moved here upon discovering that Peoria did not recycle. I knew things were slower out west, but it nevertheless surprised me that the simple concept of using stuff over again as a means to save money and the environment had yet to “catch on,” as if it were some kind of fad, like the Internet. Luckily it was only a few months later that we received our giant, city-approved recycling bin, at which point we were instructed to throw all of our recyclables inside.

Again I was surprised. Back east we had to separate our paper from our cans, our cans from our cardboard, our hedge clippings from empty bottles of Absolute. Peoria didn’t seem to mind, which made me wonder if their recycling program was a big sham, and our giant bins were just emptied into the rest of the trash.

More disconcerting was the ever-present struggle between my wife and I on recycling-related issues. She prefers to recycle everything. Tin foil, hair, straws, pens when they run out of ink…anything. If I tell her we can’t recycle something, then she tells me to use it again on my own, which is why I’ve been using the same sandwich bag for six years. We have gotten in serious arguments about whether or not to recycle those things that eggs come in and the hard tin foil that pies come in, an issue made all the more complicated considering that we only eat eggs and pie. Also, my wife doesn’t think recyclables need to be washed. She’ll just throw an empty bottle of ranch dressing in the bin without even rinsing it out, and I’ll ask her what she expects the government to do with that, and then we get in a fight. It is terrible.

Recently I decided to do a modicum of research that put to rest some of my recycling concerns. For one thing, did you know that we’re not supposed to recycle pizza boxes or glass windows? Me neither. Every week I attempt to recycle at least four glass windows. I am embarrassed. Believe it or not, my wife was right about tin foil and pie plates – they can get recycled -- but I was right about them having to be clean first.

I discovered that the co-mingled recyclables that Peoria collects are separated in a processing facility. By a guy named Bert. Also, I had always assumed that like, a recycled can of Dr. Pepper was crushed, and then turned into a can of Mountain Dew or something. I was wrong. According to Peoria’s website, aluminum cans are turned into can sheet (?) and castings…cool! Old newspapers are recycled into food for the Internet, and plastic bottles are morphed into auto parts and fiberfill.

And that is why my muffler smells like ranch dressing.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Classic card of the week

Danny Heep, 1991 Score

This is Danny Heep. Let us begin:

Danny’s 1990 season was not a heap of fun for him

I thought maybe they were going to wait for it; wait to cash in on the gold mine of comedy and literary device that is Danny Heep’s surname. But they did not wait. If I may, in my own feeble attempt to combine baseball terminology and Danny Heep wordplay, I would say that they hit us off with a heap of it, right off the bat.

for he missed a large portion of it because of a herniated disc suffered in late June.

That is a heap of herniation right there. When Danny Heep felt the disc in his hernia area burst, he knew immediately that he was in a heap of trouble. Shall I continue? I am going to continue.

But he did cause a few laughs

A heap of laughs? No? Just a few? Okay.

When he became the first Red Sox position player in 38 years to pitch in a game. The Sox were losing 15-0

That is a heap of runs.

to the Twins and Danny finished the game by giving up four hits and one more run. His ERA: 9.00.

I know how to compute ERA when somebody gives up one run in one inning, thank you very much. Also, to this point in the discussion –- and the discussion is finished –- I have not learned anything worth knowing about Daniel William Heep. I know that he herniated a disc, and that he was asked to pitch in a blowout when the Red Sox ran out of pitchers and did not want to risk injuring one of their better players. Do I have to consult Wikipedia for more info? Because I will:

In 1986, while playing with the Mets, Danny Heep became the first player in a World Series to be a designated hitter (DH) with the initials “D.H.”

See, now that is the type of useless information I am looking for! If Danny Heep were the first player ever to DH with his initials, that would barely fall into the category of something that somebody would ever include in some kind of trivia format. That he was the first DH in a World Series with those initials is so obscure and “when or why did somebody even figure that out”-ish, it’s not even worth taking up the space in my brain. But now it’s too late. What else, Wiki?

Earned the profane but in good fun nick name Danny “Heep of Shit” from Mets fans.

How is that in good fun? God, I love New York.

Did you know?

One heap equals a baker's dozen minus several.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Classic card of the week

Eddie Murray, 1987 Ralston Purina Company Collectors’ Edition

Does your dog like to eat? Well then there is a strong possibility that your dog will also enjoy baseball cards. If by some strange chance your dog does not enjoy baseball cards –- or, more specifically, Eddie Murray -- and the acquired discipline of keeping them in mint condition rather than eating them or burying them in the backyard, then possibly you, as a dog owner, will take pleasure in our line of baseball card products.

This was the rationale of the Ralston Purina Company circa 1987. I have gone through the trouble of doing some research on this upstanding company and have, luckily for all involved, uncovered their principle activities: The principle activities of the Group are the production of dry dog food and soft-moist cat foods and other pet products. Also, baseball cards.

Take me, for example. I’m the type of guy that, when I have a cat -– which I don’t, because I don’t really like cats that much -– I like my cat food to be soft and moist. But the other thing about me is this: I like baseball. When I am opening up a can or a box or a cylinder (?) of soft-moist cat food, and I am not presented with the opportunity to obtain a baseball card from this endeavor, I have to admit -– I am disappointed. That is why I always choose Ralston Purina Company pet products.

What you just read would have been my radio promotion for Purina if I had ever been approached to do such a thing. Because I have never been asked to do such a thing, and because I am bitter about this, I will instead choose to observe the ridiculousness of this card on my blog.

I like to believe that the cris-crossed bats and red border is an attempt to make it seem that Eddie Murray’s head resides in a doghouse of sorts. I like this, as it I think it goes along with the theme of this card being the product of a dog food company. As you can also see, this is part of the 1987 Collectors’ Edition. This card is strictly for collectors. If you are not a collector, back off! Don’t think for a second that I will not call the authorities. Also, that picture of Eddie Murray is from like, 1975.

But there remains a mystery here, and the mystery is this: How did I get this card? Fact #1: I never had a dog or cat as a kid. Fact #2: I was completely indifferent to Eddie Murray. He was old when I was collecting baseball cards, and he just retired like, Tuesday.

The only thing I can point to is my strange obsession as a kid with having weird cards. I always thought that cards like this were “rare” and would be worth considerably more money than say, a 1987 Eddie Murray Topps card. According to various ebay sellers -- who should be commended for taking their baseball card collecting as seriously now as they did when they were nine – this particular card is probably not worth more than $1.90. In an effort to expand my profits, I will hold.

Did you know?
In 1988, the Baltimore tabloids had a field day when Eddie Murray was spotted walking out of a convenience store carrying two cans of Fancy Feast.