Showing posts from 2011

Reader appreciation feedback survey comment thingee day!

This week, we here at So, Do You Like … Stuff? are not posting any real content—assuming anything we ever post is real OR content—because we don’t feel like it. But, I’d like to take this opportunity, and thus the risk that it will go completely ignored, to solicit feedback.

First though, a sincere and heartfelt "thank you" to every single person who visits this blog by intent or accident, or who has purchased the book by intent or accident, or who enjoys what is written here on any level. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Now ...

We—and by “we” I mean I—are wondering if the classic cards should proceed as usual throughout the immediate future. Since I’ve been writing for the fabulous (as recognized by Google!) The Baseball Card Blog, and doing card writeups for them, I’ve been wondering if the cards here have worn out their welcome or become stale. Some of the followers of this blog are obviously card enthusiasts, and I certainly don’t want to alienate them, but the issue is tw…

Classic card of the week

Dominique Wilkens & Kevin Willis, 1991 Skybox "GQ"

We have been fashion-heavy here of late, and that is okay by me. Here we have another installment of GQ’s “NBA All-Star Style Team,” because, sure, anyone can spin 360-degrees in the air and dunk a basketball, but not everyone can do that and also manage to dress well with all the money they make dunking basketballs.

Today we present Dominique Wilkens and Kevin Willis. I’m not sure where exactly this shot was taken, but let’s assume they just de-boarded a very formal evening hayride. But what everyone really wants to know is, “Who are you wearing?”

“Two guys who’ve got the jump on style.

Hey, basketball players jump a lot, so this terminology works well!

Wilkens sports

Hey, basketball is a sport, so this terminology works well!

his own suit, while Willis wears clothes from his own company.”

Willis: Get a load of this guy. Where’d you get that suit, the Salvation Army?

Wilkens: Pfft. Stop trippin’. This is MY suit. Nobody dresses …

Soundtrack to Christmas on shuffle, not repeat

Note: This column appears in the 12/22 issue of The Glendale Star and the 12/23 issue of the Peoria Times. Also: SAP ALERT!

Before I could drive to school and received the keys to the ol’ Dodge Spirit—provided I dropped her off and picked her up from work—my mom often had to pick me up from high school basketball practice.

I attended an all-boys Catholic high school that was about 35 minutes from our house, even though we lived in a reputable school district and I could have attended the local high school, which was literally within walking distance, for free.

Most of those seemingly long rides home in the dark in which I was filled with teenage angst have blended together into an indecipherable blur. Except for the ones in December.

On those rides home during the Christmas season, my mom had playing, on a constant loop, Stevie Wonder’s Christmas album. The album is from 1967, right before the zenith of his creative prime, and it existed largely under the radar until recently, as a few so…

Classic card of the week

Michael Jordan, 1990 NBA HOOPS/Inside Stuff

Here is an exciting basketball card featuring Michael Jordan standing around in front of a camera. This card is part of NBA HOOPS cards collaboration with NBA Inside Stuff, which was a television show that aired on Saturday mornings after Saved by the Bell and Hang Time, a realistic show about a co-ed high school basketball team that played its games in a gym the size of a utility closet. The basketball court from Hang Time made the basketball court from The Fresh Prince look like a football field. I watched too much television as a child.

As amazing as this sounds now, with the exception of daily highlights on CNN Sports or ESPN, Inside Stuff was essentially the sole link between the NBA and its young fans. Mostly it consisted of host Ahmad Rashad conducting “interviews” through which he asked softball questions and laughed hysterically at the players’ responses. But there were some in-depth features. I remember one episode in which the show …

Lost in stores that smell really good

Note: This column appears in the 12/15 issue of The Glendale Star and the 12/16 issue of the Peoria Times

I do almost all of my holiday shopping online. There are, however, rare instances whereby unnecessary shipping costs or in-store-only coupons force me against my will to venture out in public and shop in human form.

These instances always involve shopping for my wife because—let’s be honest—she’s the only person I have to shop for. These instances also usually involve me having to enter the unfamiliar and intimidating realm of the female-centric store.

My knowledge of what my wife actually wants from these stores is typically limited to, “I know she shops here, I think.” As a result, upon entering the store I immediately seek out an employee from the all-female staff, which is not difficult as they usually spot me first thanks to the glazed look of bewilderment on my face and also because I am blocking traffic.

I always preface these conversations by specifying that I am shopping for…

Classic card of the week

Karl Malone, 1991 Fleer

If I ever get the chance to be depicted in cartoon form for a series of cards featuring obscure bloggers, remind me to call whoever did this one here. I don’t believe Karl Malone has ever looked better … a full, lush head of hair, trim waistline, the sheer glow of invincible youth. If I were Malone, this card would have been blown up into a humongous portrait that sits above my bed, or my fireplace, or the fireplace in my bedroom, and the frame would have feathered tassels to match the horse saddles that rest on my floor because again, I am Karl Malone.

Granted, I remain slightly confused by the basketball crashing through the glass sky. It seems like Malone lives in some Truman Show-type universe, and a comet basketball from a distant cloud has just revealed that Malone only exists in his own self-centered world, outside of which is only outer space, so I guess Malone’s world isn’t that much different than the real world, except for the glass sky and randomly em…

Training days in a small world

Note: This column appears in the 12/8 issue of The Glendale Star and the 12/9 issue of the Peoria Times

We are currently in full throttle potty-training mode.

Not for ourselves—let me clarify—for our daughter.

I have to admit that this is one instance where foster parenting truly afforded me valuable experience. The first occasion of me, by myself, having to enter the bathroom with our first foster daughter, who we also potty-trained, was one of the most frightful occasions of my life. I didn’t know what to do, what to say, where to stand—should I crouch?—and most importantly, how to enact the wiping process. Somehow, someway, by only the grace of God, I got through it. By the time that little girl returned home, after months of being able to notice the subtle behaviors that required an all-out rush to the bathroom by which I carried her like a football as she insisted she didn’t have to go, I’ll be darned if she wasn’t potty-trained. I’ll be darned.

It wasn’t easy though, and as we appr…

Classic card of the week

David Robinson, 1992 Skybox

Remember college? Wasting away the days sleeping, fully clothed, in a comically small bed for your size … Oh, no! I almost overslept for my voluntary Aeronautics study session in the quad! Ha, ha … those were the days. David Robinson reminds me a lot of myself at that age, the only difference being that he is taking a brief, well-deserved rest from being awesome at basketball and serving our country, while I was most likely passed out at some off-campus apartment I had wandered into at four in the morning, and had also probably urinated myself.

I do hope that David Robinson is posing for this shot, and if he is, add “being awesome at pretending to sleep” to his long list of talents and personal accomplishments. But if he is actually sleeping, then Skybox is a weirdo stalker.

David Robinson: (Turns over, opens eyes, rubs them, startled) What the—?

Skybox: Shhhhhh! Go back to sleep, David! It’s just me, Skybox.

Robinson: What are you doing in here? (Furiously pic…

It’s never too early to celebrate Christmas

Note: This column appears in the 12/1 issue of The Glendale Star and the 12/2 issue of the Peoria Times

Christmas is my favorite holiday. I know, weird, right? I’ve always been different, I guess.

I’ve been looking forward to this particular Christmas season more so than any since I was a kid. That’s because of our daughter, who is at an age now where she is starting to get it. Granted, she is convinced she is going trick-or-treating on Christmas morning, so I’m not saying she’s a genius, I just mean she’s at the point where she understands that Christmas is something to be excited about.

Sure, a part of me is living vicariously through her. Last year when Santa got her a miniature baseball set, I immediately redirected her to her other toys so I could play with it, and became legitimately upset when it told me I had hit a “single” after I crushed the ball so hard the entire thing fell over. I’m sorry, but if that’s not a home run, I don’t know what is. More so than that though, and corn…

Classic card of the week

Kennan McCardell, 1999 Topps Gold Label

Here we have a sample from Topps’ super-exclusive “Gold Label” collection. Presentation of a Topps Gold Label card at any participating outlet can earn you up to 3-percent off already marked clearance items and VIP access to the fitting room. I doubt this comes across over the Interwebs, but this card is two inches thick and has enough gloss to … gloss a horse? I wasn’t really sure how to finish that sentence. It’s a lot of gloss.

So, according to this card, Keenan McCardell plays football. Let’s find out more about Keenan McCardell, football player:

McCardell conducts himself with style on and off the field.

This is best evidenced by McCardell’s brash-yet-stylish backwards hat that sits slightly askew. This hat is supposed to go this way, but I’m gonna wear it this way! = style. I mean, it’s not like he’s breaking new ground here—Griffey was the first athlete of note to wear his hat backwards during non-game activity, and it looked awesome, AND th…

Lost in translation

Note: And edited version of this column appears in the 11/23 issue of The Glendale Star and the 11/25 issue of the Peoria Times

I began taking Spanish classes in seventh grade. I had no idea what was happening.

This confusion continued throughout high school, where Spanish remained my most difficult obstacle to a well-balanced intelligence. I could understand and translate certain words, but I simply could not grasp tenses and the fact that words had genders. The library is a lady but a book is a man? I'm sorry, but that's not what the Bible says.

I remember those rare occasions when I felt I was kind of getting it, and the teacher, sensing my newfound confidence, would begin speaking at a normal pace, and my head would explode and I would run out of the classroom holding my ears. Were it not for -- I'm not proud to say this -- a particular high school Spanish teacher who was not very adept at monitoring the classroom during testing, I never would have graduated.

In fact, six …

Classic card of the week

Jermaine O’Neal, 1998 NBA Hoops

If you’re like me, you’re not missing the NBA that much at all, but you are kind of missing the 1998 set of NBA Hoops basketball cards that feature down-to-earth street talk and other helpful tidbits about various NBA players.

That said, here:

Yeah, we’re feeling you.

Was there any question we were feeling Jermaine O’Neal? OF COURSE we’re feeling you, Jermaine. If we weren’t feeling you, we probably wouldn’t have created this basketball card featuring your image and statistics. Our feelingness of you is therefore implied. Nevertheless, I would be overjoyed if, during the 2012 Republican and Democratic National Conventions, each person who speaks on behalf of his party’s elected candidate begins his speech, “Yeah, we’re feeling you.”

Sidebar: Jermaine O’Neal’s hair is blonde on this card. Remember when stuff like that happened in the late 90s? Frosted tips for white guys and blonde hair for black dudes? If anything can finally bring our two races together, I…

Forever isn’t two cents away

Note: This column appears in the 11/17 issue of The Glendale Star and the 11/18 issue of the Peoria Times

I recently purchased stamps at the post office. This somehow caused a minor argument between my wife and I.

You see, I did not specify what type of stamps when I verbalized my order of “Stamps, please,” and thus I received “forever” stamps. A few years ago, when the post office was raising its rates every two weeks, I intentionally purchased several books of forever stamps at the market price, confident that in 2041, when envelope postage is a robust $2.90, we will be laughing all the way to the bank, retroactively profiting from what few envelopes we actually send out, as everything by then will be communicated telepathically. This is, of course, assuming we have not lost our forever stamps.

Anyway, the reason I had purchased stamps was because we were out of them and had a few items that required mailing, which is the most exciting sentence I have ever written. My wife, however, up…

Classic card of the week

Steve Sax, 1989 Diamond King

This is the second artist’s rendering of Steve Sax we have examined around these here parts. Which one is better? Difficult to say. Purely subjective. For me personally, the colorful lines randomly zig-zagging in the background really take this one to another level. Do those lines represent the unique yet aimless nature of our very existence? Prolly. Or, it could have just been like:

Donruss executive: Background’s too white on this Sax.

Diamond King artist: I could put some lines on there, all different colors, going this way and that. I’ll make it look like the background of an 80s grade school picture.

Donruss: This is the 80s. Why are you referencing this current era?

Diamond King artist: I don’t know. I’ll go get my ruler.

However those colorful zig-zaggy lines speak to you, they leave no doubt that Steve Sax was a baseball player.

But what kind of baseball player?

Steve Sax is one of the rare players who made the transition to playing for the New York Yank…

Homecoming and coming home: an account of grievances

Note: This column appears in the 11/10 issue of The Glendale Star and the 11/11 issue of the Peoria Times

Punch me in the face if this column ever takes on a “kids these days!” or “when I was young, things were like this!’ tone. I never want to be the one making sweeping generational generalizations out of frustration and a false sense of nostalgia. I’m sure the 1720s witnessed its share of ungrateful, punk kids who lazily ditched the intricacies of word-of-mouth to play on their fancy newspapers all day.

That said, allow me to be specific about my angst. There are several groups of kids in our neighborhood who roam free of the restraints of parental supervision. Recently, united by their brute incivility, they have joined forces. Some of their accomplishments have included setting the local plant life ablaze—in order, I assume, to send a smoke signal to airborne local law enforcement to save the rest of us from their wrath—and washing the street of debris with their own urine. I wish I…

Classic card of the week

John Franco & Bobby Thigpen, 1990 Fleer

I want to point out that here it appears as though John Franco is smelling a nasty fart, and that Bobby Thigpen is trying to be sly about having dealt it. Franco’s “Who farted?” face pales in comparison with the greatest one, but still, I commend it. And Thigpen? You’re nasty. It smells like you ate a day-old egg and sulfur sandwich. Get a hold of yourself, man.

Enough with the fart observations though. I can do other things.

Relievers Bobby Thigpen and John Franco had one thing in common in 1990,

They were relievers? They were the TOP GAME SAVERS as you pointed out on the front of the card? They played baseball? They enjoyed “Cats?”

but it’s likely neither one was thrilled about it.

Hmmm, this is getting tricky now. Let’s see … they both had bouts of diarrhea? They enjoyed “Cats?” I am stumped.

Thigpen, the American League save leader, and Franco, tops in the National League, wound up on teams that finished second in their respective divisions.

The man in the garlic tuxedo

Note: This column appears in the 11/3 issue of The Glendale Star and the 11/4 issue of the Peoria Times

We traveled back east recently for my brother-in-law’s wedding. A great time was had by all, although we did experience our fair share of minor stresses.

For starters, my father-in-law wasn’t feeling well. This was cause for concern, because it takes a major bout of sickness for him to even reveal he’s not feeling 100-percent. He could be battling the bird flu and he would still go spinning at the gym in the morning and then claim he had thrown up afterwards due to “bad water.”

As in all cases of sickness involving my father-in-law or his family and friends, the solution was simple—garlic. He boasts an entire menu of garlic-based, home-health-remedies. He once had me chew straight garlic cloves for a severe sore throat and also famously forced my wife to ingest a garlic-lemon-honey concoction to treat a scorpion sting. There is literally no ailment, in his mind, that could befall a hum…

How long you had that problem?

I fully realize this sounds like a sorry excuse to revisit another old, bad rap song. However, the truth here is lamer than fiction—the other night I dreamt I was in the Positive K video for “I Got a Man.” I had no role in the video other than to watch what was happening, and everything took place inexplicably near my work, in front of Bank of America—traditionally not a place for rappers to annoyingly seduce women. God only knows where this came from; it’s possible the song briefly played on my wife’s clock radio alarm (she has an iPad, by the way, which I’m sure could gently nudge her awake with pleasant ocean sounds, but she still opts for the frightening static blast of the F.M. station on her clock radio) before a quick hit of the snooze button. Regardless, the song has unfortunately been in my head since, so

Aiyyo sweetie, you’re lookin’ kinda pretty

I wanted to sarcastically say that there might be a better way to approach a woman than to say “Aiyyo,” and then describe her as “…

Dog barks + owner shrugs = gavel slam?

Note: This column appears in the 10/27 issue of The Glendale Star and the 10/28 issue of the Peoria Times

We’ve finally reached that point of the year where we can turn off our air conditioners and go to sleep soundly with the windows open, the gentle cool breeze blowing in and comforting us as we dream of unicorns jumping over rainbows, or whatever it is that you dream about.

And then, if you’re like us, you can be violently awoken by your dog, who jumps up to start barking back at a neighborhood dog who has been left outside and began barking wildly, at something, like nothing, for some unknown reason.

This has always confounded me—say you have a dog, right? And you love your dog so much that you’re like, “You know what dog? You’re gonna stay outside like, forever. Summer heat? Coyotes? Bobcats? Scorpions? Deal with it. You’re a dog. You can handle it. I love you. But I must set you free.” That makes no sense, right? I mean, why even have a dog?

But hey, everyone’s different, I guess. I…

Classic card of the week

Joe Girardi, 1994 Upper Deck

Hey, I have an idea. Get up.

Seriously. Get. Up. You’re embarrassing yourself, writhing away in the dirt like that. It’s your own fault. You thought you could run through the brick wall that it Joe mo’ freakin’ Girardi? Pfft. Hold on, let me flick this bug off my shoulder. There. That was more difficult for me than blocking the plate from you.

Get up.

How did you even get over there? I honestly don’t remember. I think I fell asleep there for a second. I remember yawning when I saw you rounding third with a full head—your head is huge, by the way—of steam, but I don’t really remember much after that. Was there contact? My uniform looks like it just came out of the wash. Man, I am bored.

Get up.

Did somebody shoot you from the stands and I didn’t see it? If so, apply pressure to the wound. If not,

Get up.

Do you see a white light? Move away from the light, man. That would cause a massive delay here, and I got a family to get home to. Speaking of families, you are e…

Classic card of the week

Steve Hosey, 1993 Pinnacle

Here is a 1993 baseball card in which Pinnacle introduces a member of its forecasted “Team 2001.”

Why 2001 as opposed to a Conan-esque “in the year 2000?” Well, in 2000, Pinnacle figured, the instant future would be weird and messy. “Forget about baseball—how do I operate this flying robot dog?!” is what people would undoubtedly be saying very frequently. But by 2001? Everything would fall into place and make sense and be more established. Hence, that will be the perfect time for America to unleash its sole athletic team on the rest of the unsuspecting world. Wait, not world—universe. According to its schedule, Team 2001 faces the Jupiter Juggernauts on a neutral space field the second weekend of August. Best of luck, guys! Bring home the Galactidoid!

The Giants envision Steve as part of a super outfield in the not-too-distant future.

Da-da-da-da-daaaaaaaa! Introducing your SU-PER OUTFIEEEEELD! Picture it—2001. Giants versus Dodgers. Dodgers trot out their civi…

The sporting life

Note: This column appears in the 10/13 issue of The Glendale Star and the 10/14 issue of the Peoria Times

Our daughter, who just turned 2, had her first soccer practice last Saturday.
You may be wondering, as I was—how does a 2-year old play soccer? Well, it’s complicated. For a young girl like our daughter, who is not that much bigger than the required soccer ball, there are obstacles, the least of which is the size ratio of foot-to-ball.

We had signed her up through the City of Peoria’s website for this Toddler Tots six-week soccer practice thingee. As parents, it was strangely exhilarating to say things like, “Sorry, can’t go. Our daughter has soccer practice.” The whole situation enabled me to excitedly forecast a future when I am escorting her to more advanced sporting events of which she is a participant, and I can actively complain about the coaching and/or officiating and openly lobby for her All-Stardom.

In that respect, we’re off to a rough start. The practice began with positiv…