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Showing posts from November, 2010

A home filled with castles is my castle

Note: This column appears in the 12/2 issue of The Glendale Star and the 12/3 issue of the Peoria Times

We live in a modest home. It’s a considerable upgrade, however, from where we lived in New Jersey, which was a two-bedroom condo.

There was more storage than we had stuff when we moved in. This was great, as everything could be packed neatly away. As the years progressed, and we acquired more and more stuff, and my wife maintained her refusal to dispose of the stuff we already had, that extra space dwindled. Now, we have a child.

There is no more space. In fact, the walls are closing in. There is a trampoline in our dining room. Next to my side of the bed rests a multi-colored jumper thingee that our daughter no longer uses, which has a plastic sun on it that sarcastically smiles at me each morning as if to say, “Still here!” At the foot of our bed rests a plastic dinosaur castle. It has compartments for the dinosaur egg balls it came with—obviously—but now our daughter uses those com…

Classic card of the week

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Wilson Alvarez, 1996 Topps

Here is a Wilson Alvarez baseball card. Like you, I wonder: Did this professional baseball player play baseball as an adolescent?



Wilson pitched for a Venezuelan entry in the 1982 Little League World Series, an event that also included a Tampa, FL, team whose star was Gary Sheffield.

This is the most interesting thing I have ever heard about in my entire life. Are you trying to tell me, card, that Wilson Alvarez played baseball in an event that also featured another, different baseball player? I mean, what are the odds? Furthermore, what are the chances that the other player would be none other than Gary Sheffield? Is there no end to the link between Wilson Alvarez and Gary Sheffield? Some things are just…destiny.

Earlier that year, he’d fanned 21 in a game!

Who? Gary Sheffield or Wilson Alvarez? Either way, I enjoy the emphatic exclamation point as it pertains to what somebody did when they were 12-years old. I don’t like to brag, but I once accumulated 36 total…

Holiday TV specials inspire nostalgia, teach about love, war

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Note: This column appears in the 11/24 issue of The Glendale Star and the 11/26 issue of the Peoria Times



Television is a big part of my annual holiday experience.

For me, much of the nostalgia that surrounds this season revolves around movies and specials that I continue to watch on TV, even if those movies/specials have nothing to do with the holiday itself. For example, this Thanksgiving I will be greatly upset if I do not see two movies that have come to define this holiday: the original Willy Wonka and Home Alone. The former aired for whatever reason during a few Thanksgivings of yore, and I steadfastly continue to search for it on TV each year, even though I don’t really like the movie and find it bizarre and disturbing. The latter traditionally airs every Thanksgiving night, and I will not be able to sleep unless I see Joe Pesci fall and hurt himself 80 times. Again.

This week will also unleash the flood of Christmas specials, few being as special as A Charlie Brown Christmas. Thi…

Classic card of the week

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Jeff Gryaer, 1993 Topps Stadium Club

“GET OFF ME, RON HARPER!”

This is what Jeff Grayer said, in his head, as he dribbled a basketball while wearing white tube socks. One can sense the excitement of this dribble-off as the culturally diverse crowd looks on in amazement and anticipation of what will happen next. Will he shoot it? Will Ron Harper get called for reaching? Will Jeff Grayer dribble in a different direction? Is a five-second call in order? Who knows. Anything can happen in basketball. All I can say is, that is some fiiiiiiiiine dribbling.

What else about Jeff Grayer?



Here Grayer is rocking the Warriors throwback jersey, although that trend in clothing hadn't yet peaked among NBA fans. Coincidentally, Grayer's Warriors jersey on the front of the card is now a throwback. Jeff Grayer is so old that his regular jerseys are throwbacks and his throwback jerseys are future jerseys. In fact, according to this card, Grayer was popularly referred to as “Ol’ No. 44.” I think we’re…

The old man and the sea of change

Note: This column appears in the 11/18 issue of The Glendale Star and the 11/19 issue of the Peoria Times

Like many men of his generation, my grandfather held strong—often stubbornly strong—to his worldview.

God only knows what he experienced and witnessed during World War II. He wasn’t the type to talk much about it. Post-war America was a much different place than it is today, and all of this helped shape his ideals and opinions.

When we were kids, my grandfather was a larger than life presence, sitting on his throne, which doubled as a recliner, watching golf on TV and generally not wanting to be bothered. The underlying threat of my grandmother telling Pop of our misdeeds was enough to redirect us to better behavior, though I’m now certain that the last thing he ever wanted to do was get out of his chair to discipline us.

All would have been well should things have proceeded as expected in his world, but life had other plans. It began when his eldest daughter married a Jewish man and…

Classic card of the week

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Michael Adams, 1992 Stadium Club

Several things immediately stand out about this basketball card. First, Michael Adams is a small man. He is roughly the same size as the referee in the distance -- we all know how small referees are, am I right? Hello? -- and I imagine that the referee will get taller as he gets closer. (I’m no scientist, though.)

It also appears -- and I realize this is a small sample size, in the form of one still shot -- that Michael Adams does not know how to dribble a basketball. The ball is hitting the side of his hand. Plus, I do not understand why he is bouncing the ball so high in the first place. Remove the crowd, keep the knee pads, switch the uniform to a pair of jorts and an oversized t-shirt, and you have a small man playing basketball for the very first time.

But on the contrary:



The always-reliable Sporting News Skills Rating System has Michael Adams’ ball handling skills at a 4.6, which matches his “floor leadership” rating. In those categories, Adams is…

Road to dental wisdom is paved with speed bumps, tarter

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



One advantage of living in the middle of the hurricane that is fatherhood is the ability to more easily put off certain burdens, like going to the dentist. When I considered the stark reality, however, that putting it off further will only make it worse when I actually do go, I decided to make an appointment.

I have been repaying the carelessness of my youthful lack of dental hygiene—I rebelled against my own braces—throughout my adult life. For example, I have been forced to wear a mouth guard at night, every night, for the rest of my life. Apparently, I rather forcefully grind my teeth at night, a habit that is no doubt a form of relief at the subconscious stress I feel towards dentistry in general.

I repented long ago, and have since committed to brushing twice per day, flossing and using mouthwash. I also, sans for this latest procrastination, go to the dentist every six month…

Classic card of the week

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Greg Lloyd, NFL A1 Masters of the Grill series

Mmmmmmm, it smells delicious! What is Greg Lloyd cooking up today?



Onion wine sauce? Nice! In my opinion, there is nothing better to do on a beautiful day -- one in which the sky is so blue that it seems to go on forever -- than go over to Greg Lloyd’s house for a barbeque. Greg Lloyd is the type of guy who will toss on his football jersey, an apron, an oven mitt, and a chef’s hat, and invite the entire neighborhood to his house as he cooks a marinade for some delicious steak. (You have to bring the steak though.) There, you can sit in his backyard, admire the vines growing up his gorgeous white lattice, and listen to Greg Lloyd recount graphic stories of grabbing other dudes’ testicles during football games. This is a rite of springtime for all of Greg Lloyd’s neighbors.

Because Greg Lloyd is much more than just a recipe for onion wine sauce, let us consult Wikipedia to discover other details of his personality:

In 2001, Lloyd was accused o…

The security of marriage

Note: This column appears in the 11/4 issue of The Glendale Star and the 11/5 issue of the Peoria Times

I am as guilty as anyone as falling into a false sense of security occasionally. In this day and age, that can be bad news. Thankfully, in between checking fantasy scores and other people’s mundane status updates, I always make it a point to check my accounts online daily. A few weeks ago I noticed a fraudulent charge on my credit card account.

As I sat there with a quizzical look, muttering to myself, “What is this charge?” my wife, who is known in our family as “the investigator” for her innate ability to question everyone and everything to uncover the truth, reacted like a CIA operative. “What, what, what…TELL ME!” she said. I barely got the words out before she was locking the doors and windows, and questioning whether we should shred our files and flee the state for a few days.

My wife is always on guard. Whenever we are at the store and the cashier asks for our phone number, she …