Thursday, October 27, 2011

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 “kinda pretty,” but I honestly couldn’t think of one. Touché, Positive K. Touché.

What’s a girl like you, doin’ in this rough city?

“A girl like you” seems to imply that by her stature, demeanor, and manner in which she carries herself, this girl rises above the gruff predictability of inner-city life. In the video though, she is wearing a skin-tight, bright orange, full-body running suit ... and also carrying dumbbells, for what it’s worth.

I’m just here trying to hold my own ground

1) For anyone who has actually heard this song, her voice comes in as smoothly and delightfully as a squawking parrot unfolding an ironing board, and is enough to make a lesser man (like, say, Negative B) immediately cease his line of questioning and move on. 2) It is indeed much easier to hold one's own ground when one is carrying dumbbells.

Yeah, I think I like how that sound

Here, Positive K reacts as if this woman has responded, “I would like to take you back to my apartment and rip off your multi-colored Nike Air windbreaker and make sweet love to you,” and not the cliché of trying to hold her own ground. It’s almost as if Positive K is just hearing whatever he wants to hear.

What you say we gets to know each other better?

How many long-lasting and fruitful relationships have begun with these exact words, first uttered by Shakespeare himself via Romeo in the famous play, “’Sup Whichu, Boo?”

That sounds good but I don’t think that I can let ya


I don’t know, tell me is it so
Do you get a kick, out of tellin’ brothers no?

Ah, the ol’ misogynistic approach. It certainly can’t be Positive K's fault—he’s Positive K!—but rather this particular girl must get cheap thrills from rejecting various handsome and charismatic suitors. The paradox, of course, is had she simply agreed from the outset to “gets to know” Mr. K, she would eventually attain a much harsher label in subsequent rap songs by Too $hort. It's a no-win situation.

No it’s not that see you don’t understand
How should I put it,

You got a man? That almost rhymes.

I got a man,

Okay, cool. Understood. Sorry to bother you, miss! Have a pleasant afternoon, and enjoy your workout!

What’s your man got to do with me?

“Ummm, well, I’m not sure how to respond to that particular question, but it is indeed relevant that I do already boast a significant other, and as a woman intent on remaining monogamous, I theretofore officially rebuff your advances.” Let’s see if she goes with that response.

I told ya’

Or that. Let’s see how that steadfastness holds up.

I’m not trying to hear that see

It surely is true that Positive K only hears what he wants to hear. However, he is nothing if not persistent.

I’m not one of those girls that go rippin’ around

?. I am unfamiliar with that expression. According to Urban Dictionary, “rippin” has several slang definitions, so I suppose we can safely safe say that this girl does not “get down with the ladies” or “pull mad horizontal g’s on her Skidoo while roostin’ down a snow covered trail in western NY.” Man, I love the Internet.

I’m not a dog baby, so don’t play me like a clown

A) dog = clown, b) dog baby (puppy) = clown, or b) “I’m not a dog baby, so don’t play me like a dog” is redundant and doesn’t rhyme with “around.” Another word that doesn’t rhyme with “around” is “clown,” but I don’t want to get too involved here. It’s just a silly rap song, after all. Or, also: d) "I'm not an animal who chases women/mailmen, so don't treat me like a person who makes people laugh at the circus." Five points to Positive K for originality.

I’ll admit, I like how you kick it

MIXED SIGNALS! Also, really? You like being called “kinda pretty” and “baby” and being generally haggled into sexual relations? Man, I am starting to side with Positive K is this romantic tug-of-war.

Now you’re talkin’ baby, dats da ticket

You see, I mean … have fun telling Positive K to go away now. Sheesh.

Now don't get excited and chuck your own in

C'mon , baby. Get realz here. Who doesn't want to chuck their own in after being told he kicks it well? Of course, I am kidding. I have no idea what this means.

I already told ya, I got a man

I think I know what's coming.

What's your man got to do with me?

And so on and so forth. Personally, I believe this young woman should try, "I am spoken for," as an alternate response, if only to witness her counterpart's free-styling ability. Example:

"I'm spoken for"
"I'm not trying to hear that see yo for"

Now you can persist to play Don Juan all day
But ain't nothin gonna change
Yeah baby, sure you're right

The clever and subtle A, B, C, D, E, F, G, etc. rhyme scheme. Brilliant!

I'ma break it down and do whatever I gots to do

I sincerely hope "whatever" doesn't include rape. I'm just saying.

I'll tell you now, I got eyes for you.

"I Only Have Eyes ... For Your Booty," was Positive K's contemporary take on Sinatra, and reached No. 112 on the Billboard charts in '93. He was later sued for copyright infringement by R. Kelly, but only because R. Kelly was upset he didn't think of it first.

You got eyes, but they not for me
You better use them for what they for and that's to see

I don't want to get too technical here, but urging Mr. K to use his eyes to see -- good advice, don't get me wrong -- does not necessarily dissuade him from doing just that to see you, and need I remind you that you are wearing a bright orange skin-tight leotard. You have made no progress here in your endeavor.

You know what's the problem, ya not used to learnin

Ha! Boom, roasted! You uneducated broad! Why don't you try learnin something every now and then? Quick, what rhymes with "learnin?"

I'm Big Daddy Longstroke, and your man's Pee Wee Herman

A, ha! Few things make a woman melt more than the classic, "my penis is bigger than your man's, who I do not know, penis." Gets 'em every time, amiright, ladies? I should also mention that I have never heard of this fabled Big Daddy Longstroke, but using context I find it safe to assume that his children's television show was much better than Pee Wee Herman's.

Now seems about as good a time as any to end this thing. This song goes on forever and most of it involves Positive K not trying to hear dat.

I should probably stop drinking coffee before bed.

Is that Bank of America?
I told you, I got a bank.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

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 just would figure that the least a person can do, for both his dog and the betterment of the entire neighborhood, is bring the dog in at night. It’s bad enough to hear the howling sounds of the coyotes, and the accompanying mental imagery of them surrounding a poor, defenseless baby unicorn somewhere in the nearby desert. But the cacophony of barking induced by coyote-howling and much lesser sounds, like wind, from dogs left outside is just too much.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks this. Glendale City Council recently considered the issue of public noise, especially from dogs, and they also touched on the sensitive topic of public smells, for which I firmly believe there is not nearly enough legislation.

Judge Elizabeth Finn, based on how things proceed in Peoria, recommended that three unrelated nearby property owners must sign a complaint in order to achieve prosecution for an owner with an annoying dog. Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs was not a fan of such a definitive required number, stating that some homes in Glendale feature large acreage, so finding nearby property owners to concede would prove difficult. Now, I would argue that if you live on a large chunk of land, and you are hearing a dog bark at night or smelling a foul odor, it is probably your own dog and own odor. But whatever. The point is that city council is finally addressing barking dogs and random odors. Also “squawking birds.” Some people have problems with that, too, apparently.

My problem is that I am still unsure from which houses these dogs are barking in my own neighborhood. I therefore run the risk of approaching my neighbors to sign a complaint and discovering that they are actually one of the culprits.

“Hello, neighbor. Would you mind signing this complaint? Dude over there keeps his dog out at night and it drives me crazy.”

“I keep my dog outside at night.”

“Oh that’s cool. Did I say ‘dog?’ I meant, the dude over there smells bad. Just sign here.”

I already have zero or a negative relationship with the majority of my neighbors, so this should work out well. I miss the old days when things didn’t have to pass through city council, and if you had a problem with your neighbor you got a bunch of other neighbors to help drag that person into the street and publicly spank them with a humongous wooden spoon. It used to happen like that, right? Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

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 embarrassing yours right now. And mine. And America. So please,

Get up.

No? Okay. Might as well tell you a little bit about myself. Grew up in Peoria, Illinois. Ever hear of it? Thought so. Played sports, obviously, excelled at them all, obviously. Just for poops and giggles—I don’t curse, that’s another thing about me … it’s so, predictable—went to Northwestern and got a degree in industrial engineering. I could pretty much design a skyscraper that’s also a rocket ship if I wanted to, but I prefer to teach harsh life lessons to pretty boys like you. What did you major in, not going to college? Prolly. Oh, and by the way, I was the first freshman ever to be elected president of my fraternity, Alpha Tau Omega, which is Latin for ... something. Sorry, don't speak Latin. Too busy being an industrial engineer who is awesome at baseball. Anyway, yeah, a freshman president. My hazing was that the seniors had to bow down before me and wash my baseball spikes with their saliva. It was tough, but I came out a better man, if that’s even possible. It’s not possible. I came out the same. Also, I was forged from steel.

Get up.

We’re friends now, right? Cool. Between you and I, I’m sick of this Colorado biz. My game-calling skills are unmatched, but infield flies here are three-run ding-dongs, ya’ know? I can’t do anything about that. I used my industrial engineering expertise to construct and then recommend to the front office a humidor for the baseballs, but no one was feeling me. I patented the idea anyway, just in case. Anyway, think I’m gonna head somewhere else, win a bunch of titles. What about you? Gonna lay there? Cool. Let me know how that works out.

Get up.

Definitely gonna manage eventually. When I do, tell the world how I inspired you on this day. It’ll make for a great story, a precursor of sorts. Media loves that sort of thing. Oh, hey, I almost forgot—you’re out. Figured that went without saying, but you seem a little dazed, so thought I’d let you know. Here comes the trainer. Do me a favor and dust off the plate before they put you on the stretcher. It was nice talking to you.

Did you know?
Joe Girardi was surprisingly unable to tell Alex Rodriguez to "get down," in the batting order, of the 2011 playoffs.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

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 civilian outfield. Dudes jog out of the dugout, hang out in the grass for a little while, scratch their respective groins, chase after balls hit in the gap and stuff. Pfft. Embarrassing. Bottom half of the inning? BAM! Super outfield to the rescue! Steve Hosey, Barry Bonds, and some other guy—let’s call him, “Future McFutureson” (right field)—literally fly out of the dugout! They’re wearing capes that feature their faces. Also, the bottom of their spikes are on fire—rocket booster spikes! They fly around in a figure 8 to the delight and amazement of the once hostile crowd before slowly allowing their rocket booster spikes to drop them into position. Uh oh, first pitch, looks like an upper deck home run for the Dodgers … not so fast! Steve Hosey flies high into the sky and grabs the ball with his bare hand! PLAY OF THE CENTURY! Then, while still in midair, Hosey grabs, out of nowhere, a baseball bat, then throws the ball up to himself, and hits it into the stratosphere! That’s 38 trillion galact-o-runs for the Giants! Game over! Season over! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!

Phew. Man, I can’t wait for the future! Where was I?

Steve is big, fast, powerful, and agile.

Four tools. Other tool is a shrink ray gun, which Steve also has. Unsure why they didn’t mention that one. Kind of important.

Wikipedia, anything to add?

Hosey's half brother is Boston Celtics basketball player Paul Pierce.

Paul Pierce was unceremoniously left off of Team 2001 because he did not play baseball. Had he made it, Pierce and Hosey would have made headline news as the first half-brother superhero tandem in the brief history of cosmic baseball.

Did you know?
Future McFutureson once tore his ACL after falling down the dugout steps. It healed itself immediately, but he was still placed on the 15-day DL for “embarrassment,” as the future is much more sensitive to emotions.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

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 positive encouragement from the coach for all the kids to begin stretching by holding your arms out like this and twirling them around! Simple enough, it would seem. But something about these encouraging instructions caused our daughter to break down, wail loudly, and then cling to me, the parent chosen to assist her in this practice so that my wife could patrol the sidelines with the Flip video. Up until that very moment—literally the first moment of the whole thing—all the kids seemed happy and excited. But our daughter’s wailing set off the familiar domino effect, with other young ones following suit. Sorry, coach!

Not helping matters was the fact that it was like 105-degrees out and very humid. Only in Arizona can the first October morning of fall feel like the Peruvian rainforest. (By the way, is it me or have the last two summers been very humid? I was promised dry heat. What gives, God?) After five minutes her face was flush red and my wife was running over with a water bottle like our daughter was a boxer in the corner of the ring, while lamenting that one of us had neglected to put sun block on her. Sports!

The practice proceeded as such, with me holding her hand as we attempted to execute simple soccer drills. Many times she opted to fall to the ground in a heap of crying despair, leaving me in that compromised state of having to choose between tough-love parent or coddler. I straddled the line for a bit, but by the end I was simply holding her while dribbling the ball myself and knocking other kids out of the way so I could she could score.

She did have fleeting and encouraging moments—mostly, for some reason, when my wife briefly took over—of participation whereby she exhibited a skill level on par with any popular one-named Brazilian. I think she’ll do better as the weeks go on, and both the weather and immense pressure of living up to the glory and tradition of Toddler Tots soccer cool off.

My wife later described the practice to her mom, which prompted my mother-in-law to ask what color the uniforms are, as if this is a traveling team sponsored by Best Buy that challenges the best 2-year olds from in and out of state. The contrast of that question to the reality of the day was awesome.

Maybe she will wear a uniform one day. Maybe not. It doesn’t matter. Right now, I am a soccer dad with the loudest kid on the team, and it feels pretty good.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Classic card of the week

Tommy Lasorda, 1996 Upper Deck checklist

Of all the things I enjoy about this card—there are many—I most enjoy the contrast between the intended modernity of the card itself and the oldness of the man featured on it. This is like putting a GPS on a horse and buggy.

I don’t think any card better exemplifies why I so enjoy the managerial baseball card. I mean, just for fun—remove all context here. There is no such thing as baseball cards. Our society has not acknowledged the magnificence of the heroes of our national pastime being featured annually on tiny pieces of cardboard. But then, this emerges, and what we have is a crystal-clear card inexplicably featuring a 70-year old man in uniform. If we were to put this card in a time capsule that wasn’t opened until the year 4017, when baseball has morphed into “blorkball” and is played with lasers by robots—my concept of the future is quite juvenile—we would be totally embarrassed from heaven. What we were we thinking?! (Everything else in the time capsule would represent our era honorably.)

Of course, even within the context of baseball cards, this particular card makes no sense. We are still left with the nagging question, “What am I supposed to do with this?” For me, 15 years later, I have discovered that the purpose of this card is for me to post it on the Internet and question its purpose. But others haven’t been so fortunate, I imagine.

This card is part of Upper Deck’s "Managerial Salute." And I say it’s about darn time we salute the often elderly men who make hundreds of thousands, or millions, of dollars for socializing around star athletes and sitting on a bench for three hours a night and making gut-based decisions like, “Bring in the lefty,” and “That’s a strike, you nincompoop!” These men deserve more praise, especially the ones who are unceremoniously dismissed from their position, and forced to take the same position with a different team a few years later, or a slightly lesser position for slightly less money until they become manager again, or appear in the broadcast booth or on television and realize the dream job of every red-blooded male in America. I don’t want to take things too far, but I think every time a former or current manager of a baseball team at any level steps into a public arena, everyone should stop what they’re doing and salute. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Lasorda especially deserves a salute. In fact, I just don’t think he ever received the attention here that he did abroad. Sayeth Wikipedia:

Lasorda became a local celebrity in the Dominican Republic due to his many visits in search of young baseball talents in this land of many famous players in the major leagues, especially after becoming a devoted fan of the "chicharrones" (deep fried pork skins) commonly sold on the streets of the Villa Mella neighborhood of Santo Domingo.

“Here comes the old, fat white man who takes all of our athletes and eats all of our deep fried pork skins!” is what many of the locals would excitedly scream, in Spanish (if someone can translate that sentence for me into Spanish, I will post it on the blog immediately as its own post with no explanation; also, I studied Spanish for a total of eight educational years), as Lasorda stepped off of his golden helicopter and into the small villages of the Dominican Republic. Then, of course, they would salute.

Did you know?
When Word was executing its spell-check, one of its suggestions for “blorkball” was “blackballs.”

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Movie company offends the right person

Note: This column appears in the 10/6 issue of The Glendale Star and the 10/7 issue of the Peoria Times

Last week I canceled our Netflix account.

I wanted to cancel it a while ago, but my wife was convinced it made sense to retain because: how else are we going to see any movies? She is right in that regard. Having not walked into a movie theater in ages, and overwhelmed by the bevy of DVR’d television shows we must watch, movies literally need to come to us in order for us to consider gracing them with our time and attention. (Occasionally we even read. Really!)

The reality of Netflix was, however, this: I would send a movie back, and then forget to update our queue, and so we’d get a movie we didn’t really want to see and only added to the queue to fill the queue, and thus the movie would sit on our kitchen table for weeks and weeks, burdening us with the reminder that we actually pay for this service. Then we’d finally watch it reluctantly, and my wife would say things like, “I can’t believe you picked this movie,” and “When does this end?!” and I would say, “You can pick one anytime, be my guest!” But she never would, and I would forget to update the queue again, and the cycle would refresh. (One time I ordered a faux documentary about a Dominican minor league baseball player that was 18 hours long and had subtitles. One thumb up!)

Making matters worse is the fact our DVD player stinks, and on the rare occasion we were mutually enjoying a documentary about the food processing industry, it would suddenly freeze, and then skip to another scene. “I don’t think that part was important,” I would say as my wife rolled her eyes.

I was finally let off the hook after Netflix made national news by raising its rates and causing a PR nightmare with the way they went about it. You see, here’s the thing about my wife—she’s very loyal, and she defended Netflix admirably. But if you cross her, that’s it. By raising their rates about 80 percent and doing so rather sneakily, Netflix is dead to her. I didn’t just get the green light to cancel; I had no choice. (Netflix does offer a streaming option, which would resolve the DVD player problem and price increase. But a) I’m trying to eliminate things, not learn how to do other things, and b) sayeth the wife: “They can stream their way to bankruptcy!”)

So we are now unburdened by that monthly charge that earned us, on average, 0.04 movies every 30 days. We are still left, however, with the problem of how to view movies, especially after we watch the Oscars and realize we have no idea what’s going on. I suppose I will have to use those Redbox thingees that I see all over the place. I am very much looking forward to standing in front of that big machine, feeling rushed and tense because someone is behind me, picking the wrong movie, and then watching it freeze on our DVD player.

Man, being entertained is difficult work. I suppose I could read a book, but sometimes they turn those things into movies. It makes sense to wait it out.

Okay, let's see here ... how do I search for dark mocumentaries about the finance industry?