Showing posts from January, 2012

Word game spells d o o m for my e g o

Note: This column appears online on The Glendale Star and Peoria Times websites.

My wife introduced me to Words With Friends. At first I thought she was trying to tell me something. Shouldn’t we be playing Words With More Than Friends? But then I realized it’s just the name of the game. Everything is cool.

Words With Friends is an app for the iPhone. People have said it’s like Scrabble, but the thing is, it is Scrabble. It’s just called something different, for some reason. The only difference is that it’s played on your phone at your respective leisure as opposed to the urgent confinement of a board game setting where several letters are missing and a dictionary must be referenced. (One day I will tell our daughter that, when I was young, we used to play a board game that required a dictionary, and I am going to sound like a Pilgrim.)

Anyway, my wife won the first game. I discovered this when I logged into the app to see if it was my turn and was instead greeted with a party-type audio …

DJ Mixmaster Peanut Butter Person is in the hizz-ouse

Hey, so first of all, I eat Reese’s Puffs cereal for breakfast. I am a full-grown adult male. I prefer Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch, but sometimes that cereal is like $4.95, and I have principles. Both cereals, however, are part of a complete breakfast, in that you must eat a bowl of kale and three gallons of organic prune juice just to break even on the nutrient scale.

The other morning I was standing by myself in the kitchen eating a delicious bowl of Reese’s Puffs when the back of the box caught my eye. MIXMASTER, huh? I own turntables AND I love Reese’s Puffs (although I admittedly do not own any Reese’s Puffs records like the one featured here, which makes me wonder why I even have turntables in the first place), so this seemed like something I should look further into.

First, I need a name.


Three ways if you include, “Use your imagination to think of a name on your own.”

1. Take the street you grew up on and the name of your first pe…

On playing host to great hosts and also kids

Note: This column appears in the 1/26 issue of The Glendale Star and the 1/27 issue of the Peoria Times.

My wife and I don’t often host parties. It’s not that we don’t want to, it’s just … we’re not exactly the laid-back type of hosts who can graciously serve food and entertain while also fielding questions like, “Where is your plunger?” without freaking out.

It’s not so much that we obsess over cleanliness, although that does play a small role in our anxiety, especially when kids are involved. Whenever kids who are not ours are in our house, my mouth says things like, “Hey, kids, let’s play, ha, ha, fun times!” but my brain is thinking, “Don’t touch that, put that down, get off of there, what time do you go to bed anyway, it’s almost six!”

More so than that, however, is a fear that people will not have fun due to some flaw in our ability to host. I think it all stems from an instance back east when we had a bunch of people over to watch a playoff football game, and literally more than h…

Classic card of the week

Patrick Ewing, 1998 NBA Hoops

Today we continue our exploration of 1998 NBA Hoops basketball cards and the manner in which they personally address the player featured on the card with down-to-earth street talk. With this Patrick Ewing card, however, we are treated to a special literary device called, “wordplay.”

Ew the man.

A common phrase throughout the mid-to-late 90s was, “You the man!” This would be directed at a particular individual who was serving his community well. This was a shortened version of the more exhaustive acknowledgement, “Hey, male—you are the best of all the men in present company, myself included! We are embarrassments to our respective families in light of your performance! Keep up the good work!” Here, NBA Hoops treats the cardholder to a clever case of wordplay when they utilize the first syllable of Ewing’s last name to say, “Ew the man.” Of course, this only works in literary form, as to verbally express the phrase would illicit head turns from average men wh…

Tough Mudder status: complete

Note: This column appears in the 1/19 issue of The Glendale Star and the 1/20 issue of the Peoria Times.

We had to hop over a 12-foot wall just to make it to the starting corral for the Tough Mudder event in Mesa last weekend. Once we landed safely, we were informed by the event’s emcee—after a rather inspirational speech—to be careful, as many of the runners who had already departed had suffered injuries like dislocated knees and broken collarbones. Oh, and also a heart attack. Someone had suffered a heart attack. And with that, we were off.

The second obstacle was the Chernobyl Jacuzzi, which has, for your records, been renamed the “Arctic Enema,” which does not do the obstacle justice, as I would happily endure a dozen arctic enemas before doing this again once. It is a dumpster filled with ice water and separated by a board in the middle. You walk in, unspeakably freezing water up to your chest, and to make it to the other side, you must submerge yourself in the water and go under t…

Kansas hip-hop

In the quest to discover new and exciting things to post to this blog in addition to the cards and weekly columns, esteemed reader and writer Don D. submitted his choice of “hip-hop-ifying classic rock songs.” Many times around these here parts we have interpreted hip-hop songs into the standard Caucasian vernacular, and that has been ... fun? Well, it has been for me. But Don’s idea got me intrigued as well. I have to admit I was skeptical at first, but I gave it a shot, and I remain skeptical.

There’s been discussion of, if this concept is well received and thus moves proudly into the future, posting simply the hip-hop version and having you, the reader, determine its classic rock origins in the comments for a prize of: cyber congratulations. So, please provide your feedback on that, if you will. For this week, however, there will be no reveal.

Also, a personal note: I truly dislike including curse words into this blog. Call me prudish, whatever, but like David Cross said on his come…

Training tip for Tough Mudder: hope everyone else trains less

Note: This column appears in the 1/12 issue of The Glendale Star and the 1/13 issue of the Peoria Times.

Many people who discover I am participating in a 10-12 mile mud run with obstacles—they discover this because I tell them instantly upon seeing them—ask me, “How do you train for such a thing?”

That was a question I asked myself after signing up. Initially, I had considered setting up a few giant, flaming hoops throughout our development that I could jump through during my weekend training. But alas, it is “no burn” season in our part of the Valley (pfft), and besides, my earlier attempts to douse hula-hoops in gasoline and set them ablaze did not produce the desired result.

My buddy and Tough Mudder teammate Pete sent me a few training videos a while back that I did not really watch because, well, I have a difficult time being led in a workout by an accompanying video. I mean, I’m trying to envision myself as Rocky here, downing raw eggs and running up an absurd amount of steps. In f…

Classic card of the week

Danny Manning, 1993 Upper Deck "Collector's Choice"

I’ve been a bit heavy of late with the artist renderings, I know. What can I say; I have a soft spot in my heart for the detail with which talented artists portray professional basketball players. It’s like flowers. Flowers are great and all in real life, with the way you can look at them and smell them and all that crap. But a painting of a flower is something you can look at and say, “Wow! That looks just like a flower!” Unless it’s one of those paintings that’s supposed to be a flower but looks like a mess, and you need someone who is good at interpreting art to explain it to you but you are not listening because you are bored. Man, art is the best.

And this particular card is not abstract at all, no sireee. That’s Danny Manning right there—two of him, actually—drawn by Alan Studt. I have to admit, the details are pretty cool, most notably the sweat beads on Manning’s forehead and the ripples in his Clippers jersey. Th…

Obstacle-filled event to determine my manliness

Note: This column appears in the 1/5 issue of The Glendale Star and the 1/6 issue of the Peoria Times

As many of you have become aware throughout the years, I’m not much of a man. Many of the things that define manhood, like knowing how to use a circular saw, I am unable to do. There are two main things I do that attempt to offset this reality: 1) have facial hair, which is easy, and 2) run, which can be challenging. The latter is not totally manly and is often open to women as well, but it does take some stamina and mental fortitude, and so I will allow it, as should you. I should also mention that doing so once left me in an ambulance, and served as the least manly moment of my entire life. Still though.

In fact, the past three years I have participated in the Phoenix Rock and Roll ½ Marathon. (They host a full marathon, too, but c’mon—that’s ridiculous.) But earlier this year I was thinking, “Is there anything manlier than running aimlessly on a flat, paved surface for a couple hours…