Wednesday, December 28, 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 two-fold: 1) lack of response has left me curious as to the enjoyment the posts are intended to inspire, and 2) I am actually running out of cards to post.

So … do you want the cards to continue, or would you prefer to simply head over to The BBC Blog for that and have me begin posting something different each week in addition to the column? If the former, I need some new cards in which athletes are looking very silly and fat and dumb and/or which contain writeups that make no sense and are grammatically incorrect. (Just writing that sentence has left me with the feeling I should be writing about more important things. Aaaaaand …. that feeling has passed. Whew!) If you own such things, and are willing to share, holla atcha boy (me) at mikekenny.stuff@gmail.com.

If the latter, cool, but I still need advice. Any funny/dumb theme we can explore on a weekly basis? The estimable Jason Silverio once suggested “Smell of the Week,” which I thought was a fantastic idea, but … I ran out of smells after like two weeks. Does anybody know a lot of and/or exude a lot of smells? Or somehow have a different idea?

I just figured, what better time than the New Year to consider expanding upon the pointlessness this blog has become not famous for! Please feel free to leave a comment in the comment section, which is reserved for comments by commentors.

Also, Happy New Year!

Sincerely,

Mike

Thursday, December 22, 2011

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 Dominique Wilkens except Dominique Wilkens. Believe that! And I got this baby in Italy. It’s Italian. And look at you! Looking like Jeffrey the butler …

Willis: Oh please. This isn’t just my suit—it’s from MY company: “Kevin Willis’ Clothes, Co.”

Wilkens: First of all, you don’t call it a “company.” It’s a line. Everybody knows that.

Willis: Pfft.

Wilkens: PFFT!

Willis: (Looking around …) I’m sorry, where’s YOUR (air quotes) “line?” I don’t see it. I only see a sucka with a flattop who paid way too much for a suit that doesn’t even fit leaning against a car that ain't his like he knows something but he doesn’t know JACK.

Wilkens: First of all, get your big forehead out of my face. Thank you. Second, I want to know—who’s walking into JC Penney and saying, “Excuse me, can you please point me in the direction of Kevin Willis’ suit collection? You know, the power forward for the Atlanta Hawks basketball team?” Please, get real. What you shoulda done is come out with a line of headbands for people looking to cover up their humongous foreheads.

Willis: Well, for one thing, my collection isn’t available at JC Penney, Sir Worthington the Fifth. I mean really. My collection is available at stores where real men shop who want to look their best whether they're in the board room or out with a lady or something.

Wilkens: Is that your motto? “Kevin Willis Clothes: Available at stores for real men who want to look their best whether they're in the board room or out with a lady or something.” That’s con-CISE!

Willis: I don’t know. Maybe! Haven’t settled on a motto yet. But I know one thing—it’ll be better than your motto: “I bought this in Italy. It’s Italian.” Re-DUN-dant!

Wilkens: Pfft.

Willis: PFFT!

Did you know?
Formal hayrides are coming back in 2012, and you heard it here first.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

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 songs have been featured in major films. Every note of that album reminds me of those rides home, the warmth of the car—she always left it running in the parking lot; the Spirit of that particular Dodge was mostly exhaust fumes—in contrast to the cold outside, the lights of the passing houses, the often reassuring conversation, and the simple comfort of being on our way home.

It’s on my iPod as opposed to a cassette player, but I still have the album, and nobody can convince me of its equal. Every time I listen to it, and I have listened to it a zillion times, it takes me back. It is and always has been more than the album itself, although it is fantastic musically; it represents for me everything wonderful about growing up. It’s part of the soul of my childhood.

I do believe that we all reach a point where Christmas becomes a desperate exercise to recapture the past, the quality of each passing holiday defined by how well it indulged our nostalgia. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it may blind us to the fact that we are playing a crucial role in developing lifelong Christmas memories for those around us.

I barely remember any Christmas gift I received as a kid—minus the He-Man Castle Grayskull, which was, obviously, a watershed moment—regardless of how many mall-fights my parents may have initiated in our honor. What remains embedded is the soundtrack to those occasions of my mom just being a mom, and driving her son home from basketball practice; my dad bringing the tree in the house and the smell of pine filling each room; my sisters and I waiting anxiously at the top of the steps on Christmas morning ... and then me threatening them with physical harm should they touch my Castle GraySkull.

This past Monday afternoon, my daughter and I went holiday shopping and then had a pizza date. She probably won’t remember it, because she is two, but that doesn’t mean I can’t influence her subconscious. I don’t have to tell you what was playing in the car.

Merry Christmas.


Someday at Christmas, we will have a better car.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

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 followed Shawn Bradley to a restaurant, as he explained how he needed to gain weight, and we then watched him eat an entire turkey club even after he was already full. Riveting.

But Ahmad Rashad was at his best when it came to Jordan, with whom he was downright smitten. And really, who can blame him? I think the most difficult question Rashad ever asked Jordan was, “What does it feel like to fly?” It seemed like Jordan was featured every week, and relative to his dominance of the league which the show “covered,” I had no problem with that.



Want a sneak preview of Michael Jordan’s new home video?

That this question isn’t immediately followed by, “Then visit, www.youtube.com/Jordan_home_vid,” is a harsh reminder that this is 1990 we’re dealing with here. This—this piece of cardboard—IS the sneak preview. Also, before we read on, I highly doubt this is a “home video,” unless Jordan does actually have a graffiti-filled asphalt court with an absurdly dirty backboard in his home. Besides, knowing now what we’ve come to learn about Michael Jordan, I’d rather not see a leaked home video of gambling-related domestic arguments.

NBA HOOPS takes you behind the scenes.

You showed me a picture from literally behind the camera as this video was being shot, so yeah, I guess you have. I look forward to obtaining the VHS copy of this video, and then using this card for additional reference in case I become confused at any point during the viewing.

“Michael Jordan’s Playground” is not a typical sports video; it goes beyond interviews, film clips and features. It’s Michael in his first appearance as an actor!

Oh, so it’s going to be one of those videos that is … horrible. I take back my sarcasm re: the importance of this sneak preview.

The story revolves around a kid who gets cut from his high school basketball team and begins to give up on himself. Michael Jordan appears in a vision

!!!

to encourage the boy to keep on trying.


For someone who watched “Come Fly With Me” approximately 8,457 times, I myself am amazed I have never seen this. But I imagine the pivotal scene plays out at follows:

Boy in bed, tossing and turning, can’t sleep due to anxiety of giving up on his dreams. Suddenly, above his bed appears a cloudy vision of Michael Jordan dressed in street clothes and holding a basketball.

Jordan: Wake up, Billy. It’s me, Michael Jordan.

Billy: (rubbing eyes) Whoa, Michael Jordan?! Are you dead?

Jordan: What?! Pfft. No, I’m not dead, dumbass. I’m just appearing as a vision because it’d be super weird if I physically walked into a young boy’s bedroom who I don’t even know while he was sleeping in order to console him.

Billy: Oh.

Jordan: Anyway, Billy, listen—I understand you were cut from the team and you’re thinking of giving up. But let me tell you a story. I once knew a kid who was also cut from his high school basketball team, but he didn’t give up, and worked hard every day, and eventually he set the league on fire and dunked on the heads of all the haters who ever doubted him and—dang, I’ma rain blows on Detroit this year, I swear …

Billy: …

Jordan: It was me, Billy. Damn, do I have to spell it out for you? The boy was me. Anyway, (squinting to read cue cards) keep working hard and … don’t give up, and uh, one day you’ll be in the NBA or a scientist or something.

Billy: Thanks, Mr. Jordan!

Jordan: Oh, and meet me on the playground tomorrow. I’ll be there in my physical form and I’ll let you beat me off the dribble ONCE so you can impress your friends. But after that I will dominate you and I will shred any lasting hope you have ever had of playing bask—I’m sorry. Just meet me there, okay?

“Playground” also features an MTV-style music video starring Air Jordan.

First, I can only imagine how awesomely awful the accompanying music video is to “Michael Jordan’s Playground.” Second, I thoroughly enjoy the gratuitous MTV name drop so as to appeal to the kids. Third, that wouldn’t have helped someone like me, who wasn’t allowed to watch MTV. Fourth, because I watched it anyway, I imagine the MTV-style music video that went with this film featured Air Jordan, pointy bras, Alicia Silverstone, MC Skat Cat, and several spandex-clad dancers.

Seriously though, if anyone has this video, please call me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

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 my wife. I honestly don’t know if I do this as some sort of subconscious, machismo defense-mechanism, like, “Don’t you think for a second I’m shopping for myself!” If so, that is dumb, and I imagine each female employee has thought to herself upon hearing this, “Oh really? You, with your t-shirt that reads ‘Fantasy football legend,’ are not here to buy strawberry-scented foot lotion for yourself? What a surprise.”

The next question is, “Well, what does your wife like?” This one always gets me. I mean, I know what my wife likes, but it’s usually better if she tells me first. So I will say something like, “She likes television a lot. She has dark brown hair. She’s a woman. Does that help?”

This past weekend I ventured yet again into foreign land, into what is my least favorite female-centric store. I have been in there several times before with my wife and have always dreaded it. There is nothing I can do while she looks around. There is nothing I can even look at without thinking, “If someone saw me looking at this, they would think I am a weird person or not a man.” I literally have to stand in the middle of the store staring at the exit until she’s ready to go.

But at least this time I knew what I had to get. My wife, who had astutely spotted a coupon from a different female-centric store that we received in the mail and that I had set aside to use, told me not to go there, as there was nothing she wanted from that store. Instead, she specifically told me what she wanted from this other store and even gave me a coupon and her rewards card so she could earn enough points for free bath lotion or whatever. Sure, this part of her Christmas gift wouldn’t be a surprise, but it also wouldn’t disappoint.

Of course, just because I knew what to get didn’t mean I knew where it was. Also, I had forgotten the coupon my wife had given me at home and left her rewards card in the car. If my whereabouts had left me uncertain, my idiocy was a deft reminder that, yes, I am a man! My desperate pleas for mercy at the register earned me all the necessary discounts and rewards. Also, in my wanderings I was reminded that this store carries a face wash I use. More rewards!

Yeah, I use a particular face wash. My wife found it for me years ago after she realized I was using bar soap on my face, which is apparently not good for your face since, as she pointed out, you also use it on your butt and armpits. She’s the best. She has dark brown hair.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

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 emerging comet basketballs. Anyway, I think I speak for everyone when I express my sincere hope that all of the oxygen doesn’t get sucked out of Malone’s world as a result of this accident. He doesn’t seem overly concerned though, so let’s move on.



Karl Malone is pure thunder wrapped in flesh.

This is the greatest lede in the history of the backs of sports cards. It reads like a passage from the Book of Genesis, when God, dissatisfied with Adam’s lack of dominance in the paint, grabbed a handful of pure thunder—the pure stuff, not the synthetic kind—wrapped it in flesh, and said, “Go forth, and play basketball! Thou shalt be called, ‘The Mailman.’”

Karl Malone has simply had his way with the NBA,

That sounds inappropriate Also, does the NBA you speak of not include Magic Johnson, Isaiah Thomas, or Michael Jordan?

using his 6’9”, 256-pound, chiseled frame to thrash and crash his way through confused, helpless defenses for six seasons running.

This part reads like an overly dramaticized infomercial that is selling protection against the dominance of Karl Malone. Has THIS ever happened to you? (Cut to black and white footage of Malone knocking over awkward, skinny high school kids like bowling pins.) That’s why YOU need the Thunder Flesh Protection Bubble!

I mean, why are the defenses confused?

“I want more for this organization, more for these fans than we’ve given them. My wish is to win the whole thing.” When you watch No. 32 perform, you know it’s just a matter of time.

Still waiting. Why do I get the feeling that Phil Jackson came across this card in the early 90s and held on to it just so he could read it to Michael Jordan before the ’97 and ’98 NBA Finals? I can’t prove it, but that definitely happened.

Did you know?
If you buy the Thunder Flesh Protection Bubble right now, we'll throw in this Thunder Flesh Protection Bubble cleaner, that you absolutely need anyway if you're going to own this thing because it gets really dirty, FREE!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

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 approached that special time for our own daughter I became anxious. Our daughter, you see, is like her mother in many ways, but one trait they share in droves is stubbornness. She will fight us to the end on the smallest thing, so I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to this Battle Royale. Because the thing is, kids are frustrating and utterly confounding in many ways, but never more so than when it comes to their incessant opting to go to the bathroom in their clothes rather than in an actual bathroom.

We still have a long way to go, but the early results are shockingly positive. A rewards system and positive reinforcement have seemingly worked well. Our experience, too, has paid off, although I still haven’t settled on the correct father-daughter terminology, so my reminder to “Wipe … down there,” feels like it needs work.

My wife, however, recently decided to take this thing to the next level. She is frequently getting new ideas from the families she works with, and last week she came home with something more than an idea. It’s a small device that you place in a young child’s pull-up that plays a song—in this case, “It’s a Small World After All”—when the pull-up gets wet. When you hear the song playing, you rush to the bathroom.

I don’t really understand this thing on a multitude of levels. For starters, I don’t see how “It’s a Small World” really connects to the urine theme at hand. Second, when you hear the song, isn’t it too late? Third, being rewarded for urinating in your pants with a joy-filled song seems like it would obviously backfire. Fourth, what happens when something surpassing urine is involved? Does it kill the battery? Fifth, who is washing this thing?

At least one of my concerns manifested itself the very first time we tried it, when our daughter happily exclaimed as we rushed in vain to the potty, “I play a song, Daddy!”

I thought we were doing fine, so I am against the introduction of this device. But it doesn’t matter. My wife, like her daughter, will fight to the end for the smallest thing. In this case, the smallest, urine-soaked thing that plays music.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

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 picks up emergency phone.) How did you get clearance?

Skybox: Just documenting your college life, David. No worries … pretend I’m not here. (Whispers … ) Rock-a-bye, Davey, on the Navy ship, when the bow breaks, he’ll win the championship …

Robinson
: (Puts down phone, goes back to sleep.)



When Robinson entered the Naval Academy, he was 6-foot-7, an inch over the height restriction.

Me, from an honorable Navy family: Well, Dad, I got bad news. I’m 6-foot-7 now! Looks like I won’t be able to join the Navy after all. Man, and I was really looking forward to waking up absurdly early every day and doing hard labor and depriving myself of what you and grandpa call luxuries but I call essentials. Oh well. I think I AM actually gonna continue playing bass in the band. Anyway, I’ll be in my room if you need me. Whoa, that was close! Almost hit my head on the door frame. Ha, ha! (Whistling as I walk up the stairs …)

The Academy makes exceptions for up to 5 percent of the incoming students as long as they are not taller than 6-foot-8.


I’m sure the U.S. Navy knows what it’s doing, but I don’t understand this. If I’m another country, and I’m glancing across the sea at a boat full of 5-foot-11 schmos from West Hempstead, I’m like, “Pfft.” But if I’m looking across at a squadron of 6-foot-8 David Robinsons, I’m like, “Howdy, Americans! Just passing through! No problems here! Thank you!” (My country speaks English.)

By his senior year, he was 7-foot-1, a circumstance that banned him from duty

Duty. Heh.

on ships, planes or submarines.

I remember how Robinson gained a reputation for being soft, or too nice a guy, in the NBA. I highly doubt that was true. Regardless, David Robinson was in the Navy. The Navy! And not only that—he had every conceivable excuse to not be in the Navy, but was like, “Screw it, I am serving my country no matter what.” I mean, could you imagine Shaq (one of Robinson’s critics) in the Navy? It would be a reality show like that time Tommy Lee went to college. His hat would be on crooked, he’d be trying to convince the other guys to stay up past curfew, and the captain would tell him he’s too tall for the submarine, and then the camera would cut to Shaq eating a foot-long, and he’d be like, “But he didn’t say I couldn’t eat one!”

Soft? Please. Oh, and David Robinson was built like a super-hero. And he kind of was.


So then I said, "We're gonna need a bigger submarine!"

Did you know?
Did I say that part about urinating myself out loud? I hope not.