Monday, June 30, 2008

I've Got Nothing

I have absolutely nothing to say today.

I could bore you with random research articles, but I'll save those.

I could regale you with highlights of a subpar, boring weekend, but why bother? I'm tired and, quite frankly, the highlight was fixing my clothes line. I leave the rest of the weekend to your imaginations.

I could talk about the Sox or something sports related but I seem to be suffering a Celtics hangover and haven't been paying that much attention.

I could just make shit up. Want me to make something up? Me neither. What fun is that?

I could talk about how I took my son to see 'The Incredible Hulk' but it's basically me and him sitting in a theater staring at a screen. I'll review this in more detail later, but it's a thumbs up.

So instead, it's just today's distraction. I'm unmotivated and tired and will do better tomorrow. Promise. Hell, how could I not?

Today's distraction: Handy Latin phrases you can use everyday. We're using the first one in Boston right now!! Go figure!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Slow Simmer

I had an unexpected call from a buddy of mine last night. It came just as I was getting ready to leave work and it basically went like this.

Me: ‘Hey, what are you doing?’

Him: ‘Calling to see if you want to grab a few beers’

Me; ‘Well, damn, you know the answer to that one’

Him: ‘Of course I do. That’s why I’m standing in the lobby of your building.’

And that was that. Well, for a little while anyway. We started at JJ Foley’s then met two more guys and made our way to The Times on Broad Street, which has renovated a bit and added outside patio seating. Since it was a perfect night out, we grabbed an outdoor table and watched the pretty girls walk by.

A quick note about The Times. It used to have the best nachos in Boston, but they’ve removed them from the menu. However, you can still order them if you want. Don’t ask, I have no idea. It’s also one of the few remaining original bars left in the area. With the Big Dig, most of the other surrounding bars have changed their names and/or completely renovated. It’s coveted real estate in that area now and rightfully so.

The Times have redone things a bit, but it’s still a hole in the wall and their men’s room is one of the nastiest places on earth. Cramped and dirty, they did nothing when they renovated other than adding a urinal right next to the sink. So now when you wash your hands there’s a good chance you’re shoulder to shoulder with someone taking a piss.

Great planning!

All in all, it’s still a pleasant and – more importantly – cheap place to drink in Boston. My night was cut short however when wifey called to report the onset of a migraine. With two loud, crazy boys, I immediately paid up and got my ass home. I’ve never had a migraine, nor do I ever want one. I can only imagine how debilitating it can be.

I do my fatherly duties, get the kids to bed, get the wife to bed and turn all the lights off and close the door, tell the boys to keep it down, then head downstairs to watch the Sox finish off the Diamondbacks. Everyone in my house was sound asleep by 9pm except little old me who was feeling his slight buzz wear off. I flipped around for a bit, showered and went to bed.

This morning I wake to see wifey is not in bed. I get up and find her on the coach in the family room. She’s awake and tells me she took a migraine pill she found in the medicine cabinet and is feeling much better. She then says:

‘I don’t know who you were talking to at the bar last night, but you were having quite the conversation in your sleep with some girl’

I laugh because I have never talked in my sleep (that I know of) my entire life. I say ‘Get the fuck out of here!’

‘No, really, you were saying “You have beautiful hair and a pretty blouse”.’

A few things to address:

- I wasn’t talking to any girls at the bar last night. I was with three other guys who were all married or committed in some way. We chatted with each other and nobody else.

- I never remember my dreams. I mean ever. So I have no recollection of any conversation with any dream girl. Pity.

- Apparently, even while dreaming I’m a complete dork. That’s the best I could come up with? Holy shit, I’m lame.

- There is a good chance this never happened. My wife is notorious for telling me I’ve done things or had conversations with her when I know for a fact that wasn’t what happened at all. One night she woke me out of a sound sleep asking me why I was crying. When I looked confused and asked what she was talking about she mumbled something and went back to sleep. She has also had full conversations with me when I’ve come to bed after she’s been asleep that she never remembers or remembers in a completely different way. Let’s just say that her middle of the night stories tend to be unreliable at best.

- If I have really begun talking in my sleep, there could be potential trouble brewing in the BeachBum household. I don’t have a mistress and I’m not embezzling money or anything like that, but there could be dream like scenarios that even I’m not aware of that might be taken the wrong way. Also, if I happen to mention any specific names from my past, there will be hell to pay.

- Wifey is the type of person that will get angry at me over a dream. She woke up royally pissed because she had a dream I was making out with one of her friends. It was her dream, she knew it was only a dream, yet she still was angry. More confirmation that women are crazy. If she ever decides that she can ask me what I’m dreaming about and I actually answer, things could get ugly. Real ugly. It won’t matter if it is only a dream.

- If I don’t remember my dreams, is there at least a way I can control them? I’m figuring if I can control things so I can only dream about my wife I’ll be golden (if bored). This way if she asks my sleeping self who I’m complimenting I can respond with ‘Why you, honey. You are so beautiful!’. Talk about scoring points.

- Why, all of the sudden, would I start talking in my sleep? I didn’t have a hell of a lot to drink last night. No more than usual anyway. So what triggers this new found talent? Or, like I suspect, was wifey dreaming again and this whole thing never actually took place?

Only time will tell, I guess. If this space goes a long time with no updates, check news in the Boston area for a domestic murder involving a husband hitting on another girl in his sleep.

Today’s distraction: Visit the Dream Dictionary. I could spend all day on this site. Unfortunately, since I don’t remember my dreams, this is also virtually useless. Still, fun way to waste some time.

By the way, I looked up Seduction and here is one possible meaning: “To dream of seduction, is an expression of your sexual desires. Alternatively, you may be feeling lured into doing something you might not otherwise have done. You may be giving up your power of choice.”

Hmmm, like having to leave a guys night out early, perhaps?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Winner Is.....

Went with the rice and salad plate from Sue's Deli.

While I gave serious consideration to Hammen's suggestion, I had the nachos from Qdoba yesterday and my stomach still hasn't recovered. Let's just say I've been 'taking care of business' for the last 20 minutes.

Besides, the big draw at Sue's - besides their reliable rice and salad plate - is the prepackaged Whoopie Pies at the register. They look like those bland, mass produced treats, but they are the next best thing to home made. Fresh and tasty.

Like me.

Today's distraction: Seven ways to eliminate distractions from your day. Get it? It's irony! This is 'Today's distraction' and it's how to.....oh, nevermind.....

Democratic Lunch

I'm fucking starving and need to get lunch.

Here are my options:

1: Rice and salad plate from Sue's Deli

Pros: Fantastic nearly 100% of the time and my sole healthy option

Cons: Starting to gain a 'been there, done that' vibe

2: Buffalo chicken burrito from Boloco

Pros: Yummy

Cons: about 1800 calories all from fat

3: Poor Boy from Sandwich Express

Pros: Cheap and filling

Cons: Roast beef and I'm staying away from beef lately

4: Taco salad from Qdoba

Pros: Haven't had a bad one, yet; contains the word salad which fools my stomach into thinking I'm eating healthy even when I'm not

Cons: Distinct possibility of heartburn later today

5: Mac and cheese and salad plate from Deli One

Pros: Absolutely delicious and filling even if it sounds boring

Cons: Have to fight my way through the ridiculous lunch line at that place. Maybe if I head over early.....

6: Italian Chicken sandwich from Pressed

Pros: New Pressed is now right down the street

Cons: Last few I've had have been sub par

7: Turkey Light from Cosi

Pros: Top of the line sandwich in all of Boston

Cons: Insane line ALL THE TIME!!

I'll reveal the winner later today, along with today's distraction.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Twist and Shout

Having kids means never knowing where your day is headed.

Let’s take...oh I don’t know…yesterday as an example. Saturday night was spent tending to one or both of the boys. One would wake up ‘Dad, I can’t sleep’, then the other would wake once the first fell asleep. The night was windy and the temperature fluctuated from perfect to stifling. Even I would wake too cold or too hot and have to adjust things accordingly.

At one point three year old was sleeping on top of me in my own bed. It was 4:30 in the morning and he was crying for reasons only he’ll ever know, so I picked him up and laid down with him. He put his head on my chest and went right back to sleep. Eventually, I slid him between me and wifey and I fell back asleep.

Only to wake (yet again) with his tiny feet digging and pushing into my back. Even in his dreams, the kid’s a whirling, swirling, mass of humanity. It’s like his own body is rioting. He spins and turns and launches out with his arms and feet. Even more perplexing was wifey had left the bed. So it was me and three year old forming a human ‘T’ with myself taking the brunt of it.

I readjusted the boy and fell back asleep for approximately 25 minutes when eight year old came in asking ‘Why is Mommy in his bed?’. So that’s where she went. Turns out three year old was pushing her right out of bed and had grabbed big clumps of her hair while he was sleeping. Rather than fight the little bastard, she just went to his bed to get some sleep.

Wish I had thought of that.

The two boys get up, head downstairs and watch ‘Rise of the Silver Surfer’ which I had DVRed the night before. See? I think ahead sometimes. I get another hour of sleep before three year old comes crawling back into bed. ‘Daddy, Silver Surfer is scary!’ ‘Wuss,’ I think while saying ‘It’s ok, it’s just make believe and he turns into a good guy at the end of the movie’.

Keep in mind this is the same kid that loves – and I mean LOVES – Venom from ‘Spiderman 3’. That thing freaks even me out!

I do have a point to this story. I swear. I drag my exhausted ass out of bed and am helped down the stairs by three year old. We do our usual morning routine of cereal, coffee, and my not talking until I fully wake up while they finish the movie.

As soon as it’s over, my eight year old asks to go play baseball at the park. It was nice – if a bit humid – in the morning and you could just feel the impending storms. There are times in New England when the air gets so heavy and hot you can smell the rain and lightning on their way. I figure if we’re going to play, now is the time.

Since the season is over, it’s basically me and him and maybe three year old if I feel up to that challenge. Yesterday I did not. I tell number one son ‘we can go, but we have to tell your brother we’re just going to run errands and will be right back’.

Done and done. We head off to the park. As we pull up we see some kids playing on one field, but the other fenced in field is all ours. We get our stuff, start walking when boy number one says ‘Hey, the trophies have their own car?’

Completely confused, I look around and see a Volvo SUV parked in the lot. It’s completely covered in ‘Boston Red Sox World Championship Trophy Vehicle’ or something like that. On each side are large photos of the World Series trophies; one right next to the other.

My only thought, since I hadn’t had my full dose of caffeine yet, was simply ‘Huh’.

Well, ‘huh’ quickly turned into ‘Holy shit!’ as we noticed a line of about 20 people right in front of us. There, on a fold up table in the middle of the park, were the two World Series trophies the Red Sox has recently one. 2004 and 2007.

I saw the trophies first and watched my son as he checked out the line. ‘What’s everyone doing….’ and he stops as he sees the trophies. I mean stops as in stops talking and stops walking. Just stops. ‘Dad, are those the real ones?’

‘I think they are.’

‘Can we go see them?’

‘Yes, I think we can.’

So we get in line and after 20 minutes or so, we are greeted by who I now refer to as ‘Keepers of the Trophies’. We’re asked not to touch the trophies, but we can take as many pictures as we want. I take one of my son in between the two, then one of the Keepers (cute girl one, too!) was kind enough to take one of both of us.

Three things here:

First, it says a lot about the Red Sox ownership that they allow free, public viewings of the trophies in random places around the state (and country, from what I’ve heard). Everyone at this place was very friendly and accommodating, but they also moved things along so everyone had a chance to get pictures taken.

Second, the trophies are much nicer looking in person. I’m sure they’ve been polished up and all, but television really doesn’t do them justice. I’m now wondering if the NBA trophy isn’t as nice looking in person since it looks fantastic on TV.

Three, this is the reason camera phones were invented. If I didn’t have my blackberry on me, there is no way we would have been able to get our pictures taken with the trophies. None whatsoever. Let’s hear it for technology!!!

By the way, baseball was officially scrapped after the trophies. He had to get home to tell his mother all about it. He had no complaints from me.

There you have it. You have kids and your life takes drastic, unexpected turns on a daily basis.

Wouldn’t have it any other way.

Today’s distraction: One of my own. I managed to get tickets for the July 9th Red Sox – Twins game for my boy’s birthday. We’re sitting in the first row on the right field balcony and he asked about bringing a sign with us. Since it’s a perfect spot, I said sure. Now we have to figure out what to have the sign say.

I came up with ‘Welcome, Minnesota! Big Papi, KG and Randy Moss are all doing fine!’ or ‘all say hi’ or something along those lines.

I’m open to suggestions, of course, so send ideas my way. Keep in mind I have an eight year old with me and I don’t want to get kicked out of the game, so keep it clean.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

March On!

My plan today was to hit the Celtics parade, take some crappy pictures of cute girls in tight Celtic Championship shirts, then place another half assed post in this generous space.

As always my plan didn’t pan out the way I wanted.

To begin with, there were WAYY more people coming into the city than I thought possible. I forgot that most schools are out, thus everyone was bringing their kids into the city for the celebration. I work less than two blocks from the main parade route and made an attempt to see the trucks cruise by, but it was already 30 – 40 people deep at 10:30 this morning.

I also forgot another important, yet often over looked, aspect of these things: Nearly half the crowd is drunk off their asses before they even arrive. Don’t let the 11:15 am start time fool you at all. One friend told me there were high school kids on the train sharing a bottle of Southern Comfort. And it wasn’t even 9 am!

Still, I always have a contingency plan. I’m just going to pretend I made it to the parade and had a front row seat. Faking it: The next best thing! Hey, that should be the motto of this blog.

Here’s Garnett soaking everything in. I must say that of all the championship trophies, the NBA’s is the coolest. The Super Bowl trophy is nice, but it always looks banged up on television. Like 100,000 people have passed it around. I bet if they made it gold it would look better. Silver shows all the flaws and fingerprints.

By the way, don’t ask how I managed to get this close. I’m slippery and can talk my way out of any situation. Plus I made a fake PRESS badge using an old shoebox and permanent marker.

Here’s Pierce who held onto his MVP trophy all day. That cigar, by the way, was given to him by Red Auerbach just before he died and he has been holding onto it for nearly two years. He told me this personally. Not Pierce, Auerbach. I'm betting it was a stale smoke.

Some typically crappy signs with equally mediocre sayings scribbled on them. Seriously, this is the best you could come up with? My eight year old has better ideas than that. One other note here. See that guy with the cigar looking right at the camera…er…me? The running theme of the day (besides the liquored up teens) was everyone smoking shitty cigars and stinking up the city. If you’re going to celebrate, at least get a nice cigar so everyone around you doesn’t get nauseous.

There’s Rondo, who was put in the last truck and nowhere close to the trophy. Even his own teammates don’t think he deserves to hold it. In all seriousness, I forgot to salute his play in yesterday’s entry. That was the Rondo from all season long. Scrappy, annoying and all over the place.

If you’re wondering how I got this shot, I have a 53 inch vertical leap and stabilization control on my camera.

Here we have two polar opposites. One guy has two great signs, my favorite saying ‘4 million won’t buy you this ring’. The guy with the Garnett jersey has one checking off the local teams that have won a championship. However, he’s checked off the Pats for some reason, which means he either has blocked out the last Super Bowl from his memory or he’s a complete moron. Considering his other sign ends with ‘Your mama’ I’m leaning towards the moron theory.

Is there anything less intimidating than cops on twelve speeds? I can outrun these bikes (especially in a crowd) and I’m 40 and out of shape. Unless they come with handlebar mounted tasers that can shoot hundreds of feet, there is nothing these officers could do to me.

I found it uplifting to see all the young Celtic fans enjoying their first Celtic championship. Until I remembered not one of them could stay awake for any of the games.

Some die hard fans who apparently don’t have enough friends. Two more, guys. All you needed were two more friends.

Sadly, this is the best I could do in the ‘cute girl’ category. I’m 90% sure they’re 15 years old and bulimic. What I find absolutely fascinating is none of them are on a cell phone!! This could be the first recorded evidence that teenage girls can survive in the wild without texting.

More fans who’ve creatively found a way to recycle those dopey New Year’s Eve glasses. You threw yours out, didn’t you? Suckers! I really like the girl’s shirt with the two nicknames for Garnett and Pierce, then simply Ray below that. Allen is so bland we can’t even come up with a nickname for him. How about ‘Shooter’? Or ‘Dead Eye Allen’?

The celebration continues. I had to climb up a street light to get this photo. Hey, there is nothing I wouldn’t do for my loyal readers.

Look closely at this picture. This is what Boston has been like all day. See those nut jobs trying to high five everyone in their general vicinity? They’ve most likely been drinking since before breakfast and just did some lines to get themselves totally pumped for the parade. They also probably didn’t watch one game this entire season and have the price tags hanging off their jerseys.

Last and definitely not least

Sometimes a picture really does say it all. I may need to frame this one.

Today’s distraction: Great article by the underrated Jackie MacMullen about the path Paul Pierce has taken. She pulls no punches, which is why I like her writing.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Spoiled Rotten

To fully appreciate the events of the past year, you have to get into the mind of a life long Celtic fan.

I grew up watching Hondo, watching Bird, watching Cowens and Parish and McHale and DJ win championship after championship. We were spoiled. A team doesn’t build the reputation the Celtics have built without name players. We have been blessed to have seen some of the best players in the history of this game play in the green and white.

Back in 1986 we had the best team I have ever witnessed in my lifetime. Yes, I include the Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls in that list. To top off that championship year, the team managed to snag the number 2 pick in the draft. To top that off, they were smart enough to pick my favorite college player with that number 2 pick. Not just my favorite college player of that era, but of all time. A player that was Jordan only with 3 added inches and even more athleticism. He was a freak of nature before I even understood the term.

His name was Len Bias. He died two days after the Celtics selected him and immediately changed the fortunes of the NBA’s most charmed team. I can say with certainty that if Bias had lived the Celtics would have won at least 3 more championships. At least. They would have repeated for sure. Even without him they made it back to the finals; losing in six games to healthier, superior Lakers team.

The Celtics managed to remain relevant with Reggie Lewis taking the reigns once Bird retired. But we know what happened there, too. Lewis dropped dead in a pickup game and the city’s most consistent winner was suddenly on dark times. Keep in mind the Celtics were the pride of a working class, predominantly Irish city. They were our resident champions and we expected nothing less.

Back in 1986 (until this year the BEST year for Boston sports) the Sox lost the heartbreaker to the Mets, the Pats were killed in their unexpected Super Bowl appearance by Bears team nobody would have defeated anyway.

Twenty two years, two Red Sox World Series championships, three Patriot Super Bowl wins later and the Celtics are back on top. Yes, as a city we have been spoiled rotten. We are one ridiculous almost sack/helmet catch from having three world champions in the three major sports.

But with the Celtics it’s a different vibe. We’re elated and excited and jacked up like Kevin Garnett on Red Bull, but the difference is the history. When the Red Sox won in 2004 it was a relief. Joyous, monkey off the back, we can breath again, look there really is no curse relief. When the Patriots won in 2001 it was a shock to the system. When they did it again in 2003 and 2004 we simply reveled in the events. Because of the Celtics unexpected, sudden change of luck the city of Boston has learned to relish champion teams as they are happening. We know that nothing lasts forever.

Even last summer, it seemed the Celtics run of bad luck was continuing. Missing out on Oden or Durant in the lottery. It was a worst case scenario for a team searching for any sign of hope. Give Danny Ainge all the credit, though, for he learned a harsh lesson that day. If luck doesn’t help you, then fuck it, start making your own. He did. Trading for Ray Allen and getting KG to buy into what the Celtics were trying to accomplish, signing the perfect complement of role players (House, Posey, PJ Brown) and mixing in the young guys (Powe, Davis, Rondo). Sure he traded three quarters of the roster for Garnett, but it seems worth it now, eh?

Hell yeah, it does. Why not roll the dice and squash all the bad karma from the last 20 years? Exorcise the ML Carr era and the memory of an over the hill Dominique Wilkens starring as our center piece. Kill all memories of Rick Pitino constantly meddling with the roster. Of all the people that the Celtics hired to reverse the fortunes of the team, Pitino was the one that totally missed the point of the Celtics tradition. Forget that we missed getting Tim Duncan by THIISSS much.

Water under the bridge, my friends. For today we are celebrating the 17th World Championship by the single most successful team the NBA has ever seen. That is why the Celtics are special in this city. They aren’t just a part of our proud history, for nearly a century they WERE our proud history. They were the only sports team we could boast about; the only team we had other cities hated, yet wanted to be; the one team that could take our minds off the Red Sox futility, the NFL team that was professional in label only, the hockey team with an owner that refused to get that one last piece to put them over the edge. For generations of Boston fans, the Celtics weren’t just the best team Boston put together, they were the mirror image of the city itself. Proud, gritty, more than a bit lucky at times, but always in contention and always the hardest working team on the court.

There was a lapse there for a bit, but they are back where we need them to be. Things have been set right. The Celtics crushed the Lakers last night for the World Championship. Damn, it feels GREAT to say that again!!

Some notes from last night’s ‘game’ (I use quotes since there was no competition involved):

- Garnett was hilarious after the game. Telling Michelle Tafoya ‘you look GOOD tonight!’, shouting ‘Whatcha gonna say about me now?’ to the cameras, often just shaking his head in disbelief. I guess you could say he was happy.

- Pierce, too! His introductory ‘Let’s make this quick, I’ve gotta go party with my teammates’ when he met with reporters was great.

- The happiest moment was watching the entire team dancing and hopping around in the locker room while champagne and beer were sprayed everywhere. That is what it’s all about.

- Nice touch by Pierce pouring the Gatorade all over Doc Rivers. That has to be a first on a basketball court, right?

- While we’re here, I know the perception is that athletes are pampered, spoiled man children getting paid ungodly amounts to play a game and that is true to an extent. But the general public also doesn’t see how much off season conditioning, practicing, and preparation these guys put in year after year after year. You caught a glimpse (just a glimpse) of how hard these guys work when Pierce got emotional in the post game press conference. He started talking about how hard they had all worked to get there and simply stopped talking. After a long pause, he changed the subject.

- Not sure if this was the Celtics or some random fans, but unfurling that home made 2008 World Championship banner from the balcony at the end of the game was – for lack of a better word – AWESOME! I can’t wait for that to be raised next to the other 16.

- To Lamar Odom: Playing with fire and aggression when you’re team is down 30 in the second half doesn’t erase the fact that you played like a wuss when the game actually mattered.

- On the other hand, at least you were trying to lead by example unlike your so called team leader – Kobe Bryant – who literally disappeared for the rest of the game. Yeah, the Celtics clamped down on him impressively, but there were a few times in the third quarter I thought he was on the bench when he was on the court; hovering out by the three point line and watching his teammates try to get them back into the game. How Laker fans can keep defending and cheering for this guy is beyond me.

- Please, let’s stop calling Kobe Bryant ‘the best player on the planet’. He was referred to that way not once, not twice, but three times last night by different analysts and Mike Breen, the play by play announcer. After this series and especially last night’s game, I could make the case he’s barely in the top 5. Seeing what you saw last night would you rather have Kobe or Lebron on your team? Kobe or Chris Paul? Kobe or Paul Pierce? Kobe or Kevin Garnett? Yes, Kobe is a supremely talented player with tremendous all around skills, but would any of those other players let their team simply quit like Bryant did last night?

- While Kobe certainly quit playing, you have to wonder if Phil Jackson ever started coaching. He certainly didn’t seem to care whether the team won or lost. Has he become so complacent with his place in history he is just coasting now? Did he even think his team could get this far and knew the Celtics were simply the better team? Or, more intriguingly, did he want Kobe to fail? We know there is no love lost between them and Jackson is fully on record as despising the type of person Kobe is. Just a thought.

- True goosebump moment happened after the game when Garnett sees Bill Russell and gives him a huge, bear hug. You catch Garnett saying ‘I got my own’ (meaning championship ring) then stepping back and asking ‘Did I make you proud?’

Yup, just got them again.

- It’s especially gratifying to see Pierce, who has always acknowledged the tradition of this team, get his ring. He went through the darkest times of this franchise and the city of Boston couldn’t be happier for him. Sure, his relationship with the fans was at times rocky (please refer to the Indiana playoff meltdown a few years ago), but his sense of history and his drive to be considered a ‘Celtic great’ always endeared him to us.

- Great game from Ray Allen, as well. With Garnett, Allen and Pierce (off night shooting, but made great passes all night and kept the offense flowing) all having good nights, can we now rip off their ‘choker’ labels? Please? It doesn’t get any bigger than the clinching game of the NBA finals and all looked spectacular.

- As for Doc, well, I stand corrected. Although I will point out that once he took my suggestions and played House, Posey and Powe the Celtics steam rolled the Lakers. Still, he was impressive in this series, completely out coaching a Hall of Fame Phil Jackson. Maybe he was just learning on the job.

And finally

Things I’m looking forward to this summer:

- The first ads for the Celtics championship Sports Illustrated ‘commemorative’ book

- The Celtics showing up with the Red Sox at the beginning of SportsCenter every morning.

- Getting myself one of those new hats and shirts. Finally a championship hat that isn’t a disaster of color and style. Simple and hip. Nice work, NBA.

- The parade. Oh, I’ll be there!

- The constant ‘How are the Celtics going to get better’ stories along with the ‘What’s next for the Lakers’ stories.

- The first pictures of third world children wearing Lakers 2008 championship gear.

Congratulations to the 2008 World Champion Boston Celtics.

Let’s do it again next year!!

Today’s distraction: Like you need one today. Soak it in, Boston. See you at City Hall!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Good Vibrations

After re-reading yesterday’s entry, I realize I had a piss poor attitude. I’m here to rectify that. In an effort to change my state of mind and bring a positive vibe to Boston (and by extension – the Celtics) for tonight’s game, I bring you nothing but good news.

I should point out that this new found attitude coincides with the re-emergence of the sun in the Boston area. Waking to a beautiful morning after two days of drizzle and cold does wonders for the spirit.

Off we go.

- To be honest, this was one of the stories that helped get me in a good mood. Turns out drinking coffee is good for you. Coffee drinkers may be living longer than non coffee drinkers. Like I needed another reason to up my caffeine dosage. I can tell you already that I’ll be having a 4pm ice coffee in preparation for game 6.

There is a downside to this story as it seems women are more likely to benefit from coffee than men. I’m nearly positive it’s because coffee still doesn’t protect men from being nagged to death.

- I also read long ago that men who drink coffee on a regular basis have better sex lives later in life than those that do not. Wait, found an actual link that is cringe inducing on many levels. Who knew nursing homes were so happening?

- For all you Met fans out there, hope is now your new friend. They should have done this over a month ago or – many would argue – last season following that epic collapse.

- Hey, look! I’m not the only one asking questions about the ludicrous NBA start times. In fact, it seems the entire city of Boston is suffering from sleep deprivation. Meanwhile, LA – a city notoriously fickle in it’s fandom – cruises along with nary a care. Good for them!

Part of this article makes a great point that the NBA seems to be missing (or doesn't care about). An advertising professor from BU says ‘From an advertising perspective, from a common sense perspective, what the NBA is doing is clearly excluding a whole generation from being able to watch their games’. Well done, NBA, well done!

Oh, sorry, was that negative? Let me rephrase that:

Don’t worry, NBA, we can live with the 9pm start times. Especially if it brings the Celtics back to glory. Go for it, dudes!

- Ever been in a show down with some asshole displaying uncontrollable road rage? Well, help is on the way. Stanford is developing a ‘driver conscious’ car that will be able to judge what kind of driver is at the wheel and weather it needs to take control. No shit! Using voice analysis and facial recognition technology, the car would even be able to tell when a driver is a bad mood and apply brakes or stabilization if needed. I imagine this will only piss off the already angry driver more and result in many roadside ‘Office Space’ fax machine reenactments. Only with the car’s computer system.

- This story about a man coming back from the dead just as doctor’s were getting ready to remove his organs for donation is more good news/bad news. It was good for the 45 year old that was actually still alive but bad news for the doctors getting ready to cut him up and their malpractice insurance companies. Good news for the man’s family but bad news for all the people thinking they were getting new body parts. Not sure about you, but I was highly disturbed by the use of the word ‘re-animation’ and the not so subtle reference that the guy was ‘giving signs that he could feel pain’. I’m nearly positive it’s because they had his chest and gut wide open when he came to. Hey, at least he didn’t wake up in the crematorium or six feet under.

- For all you gay people out on the west coast, you don’t have to fly cross country to get married any more. California is having a gay marriage celebration! Congrats to all of you. I can only assume this will mean a gay marriage divorce spike in about 3 years.

- And, if you are gay or trying to decide which side of the fence you fall on, take note that your sexual preference may be genetic. More specifically, it’s all in your head. Literally. Brain studies show that lesbian woman and straight men have the same brain shape and activity. Likewise, gay men and straight women share the same traits. Don’t believe me? Look, there are pictures and everything! I wouldn’t lie to you.

Sidenote here: I was drawn to this story because the link read ‘Lesbians like straight men’. I initially thought it meant lesbians like (as in enjoy the company of) straight men and not ‘are similar to’. You can imagine my disappointment.

- For those wondering how life got started here on earth, here is some new information that may pique your interest. Scientists now think that the basic building blocks of human life may have originally come to earth on a meteorite. You can read the article for the details, but I’m wondering if this is true does that make the Scientologists right? Please say no.

- Good news for a Massachusetts state worker who was fired after child porn was found on his laptop. The laptop was state issued and used for work and the fired employee kept insisting he never looked at any type of porn on any computer. Turns out he was telling the truth and a virus is to blame. One note here, as this guy was vilified in the local media when this story broke last summer. Included in this story was mention that he was ‘ostracized by his community’ after the charges were filed and that his wife had to be hospitalized for a ‘stress related illness’. What’s not mentioned is the press coverage this story received and how most of the stations and papers here just assumed his guilt. Sure, they all put in the ‘alleged’ word to cover their asses, but when they interview neighbors and coworkers and they say things like ‘I would have never suspected him of this’ and ‘this is highly disturbing’ or ‘I’ll have to watch my kids a little closer in this neighborhood’ you are sending a message that this guy is guilty. Legally, you’re clear, but ethically perhaps you should take a second look at how you handle these stories.

- Tired of your old, boring, standard icons? Go here and download brand new ones for free. Just make sure no child porn is packaged in the downloads.

- And finally, remember my Man Hall of Fame inductee Ralph Baer? Well Leonardo DiCaprio has been signed to star as the ‘inventor of the video game’! Only he won’t be playing Baer. He’ll be portraying Nolan Bushnell, co-founder of Atari. No word on who will play Baer or if he’ll even be a character in this movie. He fucking better be, that’s all I can say.

Go Celts! Let’s wrap up #17 tonight so this city can get back to sleep.

Today’s distraction: Play Chronotron, a time traveling game that can be immensely frustrating.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dad Day

You know what would have been a nice Father’s Day gift? A Celtics celebration. That would have been a perfect gift. Especially since I stayed up past midnight to watch something that never fucking happened!

At the very least the team could have mailed it in and gone down by 20 in the fourth quarter. But, then again, that doesn’t mean much. They still could have come back. So, I stayed up in vain, will be sleepy all day and will have to go through the same fucking routine Tuesday night. Seriously, an 8 pm game time isn’t feasible? Really? The NBA would lose that much money if things started at 8 and not 9? I find that extremely hard to believe.

And don’t give me the West Coast shit, either. The game times would be the same if it were New Orleans playing and not LA. For some reason 9pm has become the sacred start time for the NBA. No idea why since the golden era of Bird, Magic and even Jordan would play Finals games on Sunday afternoons all the time. Of course, the playoffs didn’t extend until July like they do now.

The pity is my eight year old (as of today!) would love to watch some of the games, but they don’t START until he goes to bed. Is the NBA deliberately trying to block new fans? Why is a Sunday afternoon game impossible? Wouldn’t it be a win-win all around? Kids could watch, fans could get home at a reasonable hour, east coast fans could get some sleep, and more importantly, the NBA would be the talk of the day. Imagine a great afternoon game that ends around 7pm. It would lead SportsCenter and be the talk of the sports world for the rest of the night. How is that a bad thing for us or the sport?

Whatever. David Stern seems to have slipped into a ‘our way or the highway’ attitude when it comes to scheduling games and supervising the league's referees. I’m sensing a troublesome decline towards irrelevancy if this keeps up. As much as Stern has done for the NBA, maybe it’s time for some fresh blood.

Wonder if a horse’s head will show up in my bed tomorrow morning….

Some thoughts from the weekend.

- Did anyone – no really, anyone? – think this series wasn’t going back to Boston? Even with Pierce, Allen and Garnett getting whistled for every tiny touch, the Lakers still couldn’t put them away. Which is why I had to stay up and watch the entire game. I kept thinking the Celtics could pull it off. Something tells me if I went to bed after the third quarter, they would have won and I would have missed everything.

- Still, it will be nice to win it in Boston. When’s the last time a championship was won IN BOSTON? The 2004 Sox won it in St Louis. The 2007 team did it in Colorado. The Pats have always done it at some neutral site. Was 1986 the last time we celebrated in Boston? Me thinks it is.

- Yesterday was eight year old’s birthday celebration. We got him that Nintendo DS handheld game system with the Hulk game from his younger brother. Well, he is officially a zombie. He sat on the coach going between the Hulk game and Super Mario for hours. I don’t think he even ate breakfast this morning because he wanted to play his game. Ahhh, to be young again.

- What the holy hell was with the weather, yesterday? It’s been gorgeous in the Boston area for the past two weeks. The one day I need it to be nice out, the temperature drops 20 degrees and it rains. Bastard!!!!

- I watched game 4 on ESPN Classic Saturday night and was struck by the lack of urgency the Lakers showed in the fourth quarter. It was like they were leading by 20 in a regular season game. Very odd demeanor from them in that game. Maybe they were in denial about what was happening.

- After last night’s game, I’m officially unafraid of Kobe Bryant. He doesn’t scare me at all. There. I said it.

- Paul Pierce, on the other hand, should terrify every Lakers fan in the country. I was convinced he was going to win the game all by himself. Almost!

- I forgot to mention this last week, but there was an interview with Will Smith as he sat courtside during game 4 and he mention that he was from Philly and that he wanted the Lakers to give him ‘that feeling back’. By this he meant a championship, but if he grew up in Philly how can he now be a Lakers fan? Shouldn’t he be rooting for the 76ers still? He did mention that he was used to the Celtics beating up on his team, so maybe he was just rooting against the Celtics, but it sure didn’t seem that way. It seemed like he has switched allegiances to the Lakers and abandoned the Sixers. What an asswipe.

- Or maybe he’s not a sports fan at all and just showed up because ‘Hancock’ is coming out soon. Either way, he’s still an asswipe.

- Wait, who was Will Smith rooting for when the Sixers played the Lakers in the Finals a few years ago? I need to know these stupid things.

- On a related note, it was great to see Matt Damon in the crowd last night wearing his Celtics gear for all to see. No doubt about his loyalties.

- I noticed Jack Nicholson and Doc Rivers were chatting it up before the game and couldn’t help but wonder what they could possibly be talking about? What do those two have in common? Is Jack just rambling on about filming ‘The Departed’ and his favorite places to eat in Boston? Was he giving coaching advice? Was he inviting Doc to the Playboy Mansion after the game to fuck with his head?

- Those Chevy Denali commercials are annoying as hell. You know the ones with the obnoxious parking attendant talking to some unseen professional athlete? I fucking hate those and I’d bet if any real life parking attendant acted like that the athlete would either run him down or start taking public transportation.

- If you’re wondering, I will be watching ‘Wipeout’.

- Watched ‘I Am Legend’ over the weekend and it was ok (more on this in the next review post). It takes a certain suspension of belief for movies like this anyway, BUT I couldn’t get past that one of the 1% of those that were immune to a virus that kills most of humanity just happens to be the guy working on the vaccine to stop it. Seems a bit convenient, no? The book was a thousand times better.

This has already turned into one of those days where nothing goes right and every attempted fix gets more convoluted and confusing. I hate days like this. I think it’s getting time for a vacation.

Today’s distraction: The strangest internet cafĂ©’s from around the world. I don’t have to tell you which is my favorite.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Breakthrough Thursday

Last night was one of historical significance in the BeachBum household.

No, I’m not referring to the Celtics coming back from 24 down against the Lakers. More on that in a bit.

I’m talking about the two BeachBum boys.

First up is one seven – soon to be eight – year old who has been struggling with his first year in the minors. I may have mentioned that he was very down on himself a few weeks back and was ready to call it a career. ‘I can’t get a hit!’ was his battle cry. I told him at the time to just swing hard at good pitches and don’t swing at bad ones. That was his goal for this season.

He has been doing better lately - getting on base via walks. A lot. Last night was no exception; walking his first two at bats of the night. This is the minors and other young kids are pitching to him. By ‘pitching’ I mean they stand on the mound and throw the ball in the general vicinity of home plate. Usually it’s in the dirt or outside or five feet over the batter’s head. Walks are the norm.

Well, last night we had breakthrough number one. Seven year old was up for his last at bat of the night. Three year old was rolling around on the playground pretending he was a dog or a bug or a dog type bug. Either way I had one eye on him.

Seven year old runs the count to 3-2 and I yell to him ‘anything close you need to swing at’. Throughout the course of this season he has been called out on strikes more times than I can remember. His thinking is the odds of him walking are better than him getting a hit. He’s right, but I want him to HIT! So, I’ve been preaching for months now he needs to be aware of how many strikes are on him. If he has two he needs to swing at anything close.

As the pitcher winds up for the payoff pitch, three year old decides to jump off the bench and flop around in the dirt. As I tell him to get off the filthy ground there is a distinct ‘BING’ of the aluminum bats and I quickly spin around. There is a moment of stunned silence from both teams and the parents of our team.

There – still mid-flight – is the ball my son just crushed. It’s sailing over the second baseman’s head, between the center fielder and the right fielder. It’s still going! It bounces once and clears the cones. Ground rule double. Literally five feet more and it would have been a home run.

I’m so stunned I turn to look at my wife so she can confirm that he really did hit that ball. She’s standing staring at the field wondering the same thing. We make eye contact and I mouth ‘Was that him?’ and she nods with her jaw still around her ankles.

I look over at second base where ‘now All Star in his own mind’ stands and he is calmly and coolly tucking his batting gloves into his back pocket. He sees me, shrugs with a ‘no idea how I just did that’ nonchalance and smiles like he’s just hit the lottery. He got the game ball. Again. First member of the team to get two.

Next up is three year old. He of the never ending potty training. Well, after his older brother got all the attention from the team and his parents, I think some sibling rivalry instinct kicked in. While he was taking a bath I hear ‘Daddy! I’m taking a poop!’

My first thought is ‘FUCK!’ since last time he announced that he was actually shitting in the bathtub. For those without children, trying to fish out poop from a full bathtub is no easy thing. They are elusive little bastards!

I leap up and head into the bathroom only to find him already sitting on the toilet. In my shock I simply stand there. I check the tub. ‘Did you poop in the tub?’ ‘No, I’m going on the toilet’. Sure enough, the first legitimate shit of his young life has taken place.

I should point out that the first hit and the first shit both take place within an hour of each other.


To top everything off….

I watched the first quarter of the Celtics – Lakers game in shock. This is the team that was up 2-0? They look nothing like the Celtics I’ve watched the past two weeks. Garnett’s body language was atrocious, Pierce was forcing things. Only Ray Allen was on target, but he was only getting looks every fourth or fifth time down the court. Eddie House (who I have been campaigning to get playing time for over a month now) comes in and immediately throws up two bricks. Not just bricks, but the cement and manpower to make a complete wall. If they do a run down of the worst shots in NBA Finals history, those two should be in the top ten.

Still, there was something. They were getting the shots they wanted. It wasn’t like the Lakers were taking the Celtics out of their game with good defense. If this series has shown anything it’s that the Lakers can’t play defense. It’s against everything they believe in.

When Posey came in to replace Perkins (in foul trouble again – more on this in a second) I thought ‘Hmmmm, that’s an interesting move by Doc Rivers’.

(Sidenote here: The above thought is the first time I have ever combined ‘interesting’ and ‘Doc Rivers’ in the same sentence. EVER! Another first!)

Even when Farmer hit that ridiculous floater at the end of the half to put that Celtics down 18 I didn’t think the Celtics were in bad shape. Considering how they played, they should have been down 40. Even the Laker crowd didn’t seem comfortable as they weren’t nearly as rowdy as you would expect from a fair weather crowd. The Lakers just torched a Celtics team for 24 minutes straight and were only up 18 points. And it was only that large because of a prayer three pointer at the buzzer.

Something was amiss!

I’ll admit, during the first part of the third quarter when Kobe started hitting fall aways and the bounces would turn into Gasol dunks I had some doubts. Just didn’t seem like the Celtics night. Then I reminded myself that this is the Lakers. They are psychologically fragile and if you can get a few things going against them, they’ll fold like a house of cards in a hurricane. Besides, for the first time since game 1, Garnett had that murderous look in his eye. When he sat in the first quarter because of foul trouble, he looked like someone suffering from a migraine. He sat motionless, with his fingers pressed to his forehead, ignoring Sam Cassell who doesn’t look like he ever shuts the fuck up!

I was worried, then. Not in the third quarter, though. Even though they were still missing shots, they had notched up all the other things that make them so good. They were rebounding, the defense was cranked up a notch, they were getting their hands on passes, harassing the Laker guards and getting into the heads of Gasol and Odom.

Which brings me back to Perkins for a minute. I’ve noticed that he has been getting called for what I thought were unnecessary and stupid fouls. He would push someone into the first row on a foul shot or throw an elbow into the word Lakers on someone’s chest. But, the more I’ve been watching this Lakers team, the less I think these fouls were stupid. In fact, Perkins sole responsibility in this series seems to be to get into the fragile minds of this front line. Abuse them a bit. Get hard fouls on them and see how they react. Shove them when they are off their feet or elbow them in the head and let’s see what happens.

What happens is they back down.

In many ways last night’s game was a microcosm for both teams.

- The Celtics are tougher both mentally and physically then the Lakers and can weather stretches like the first half.

- The Lakers are fantastic front runners. They are cocky and in your face when things are going well, but withdraw into themselves and bitch at their teammates and refs the minute things start going badly. In the first half Odom was wagging his tongue and screaming at the Celtics, Kobe was smiling and jawing, the Laker bench was dancing and strutting on the sidelines. When things started caving in the third quarter, they were arguing with each other and giving the refs dirty looks and looking like someone close to them had just died. There is an alarming lack of personal accountability on this Lakers team and I’m betting it stems from their biggest star.

When interviewed after the game about his defense on Ray Allen's clinching layup, Sasha Vujacic said something along the lines of ‘well, everything I did was a foul so what was I going to do?’. Right, so just let him go by you while you stand still. Like Kobe, nobody is ever at fault on this team.

- The Lakers can’t get a stop on defense if their lives depended on it. When you watch the highlights of last night’s game, pay particular attention to Ray Allen’s layup I mention above. It was disgustingly easy and no help came from either side when Allen got past his man. If I didn't know any better (and I don't) it sure looked like the entire Lakers team quit.

A few other notes about last night’s game.

- This referee controversy could not have come at a better time for the Celtics. Last night’s game was the best officiated game of the series. It was fair, balanced and consistent. Fouls were called when it was needed, but it didn’t interrupt the flow of the game. With the increased scrutiny coming from Donaghy’s allegations, do you think the refs were more concerned about fairness than extending the series? I can’t imagine the Celtics winning last night’s game if the refs felt like they could call things for the Lakers and get away with it.

- The focus on game 6 of those 2002 Western Conference Finals makes Phil Jackson’s comments after game 2 of this series even more insulting. He said he had never ‘in all my years of coaching’ seen such free throw discrepancy. Well, he has, only in 2002 his team benefited from it. I guess it’s ok when it helps your team.

- Please, can we now cease and desist with the Kobe – Jordan comparisons. Have we all seen enough, yet?

- The Celtics – even if they somehow lose the series – have proven they have what it takes to be a champion. They took the best the Lakers had to offer, stayed close and slowly chipped away at the lead. The difference in mental makeup between these two teams was never more evident. The Celtics have the mental makeup of poor, inner city kids who had to fight for food while the Lakers have the mental tenacity of trust fund kids who’s biggest rejection was not getting into the best country club in town.

- Nothing was more satisfying than watching Pierce clamp down on Kobe in the fourth quarter. The exclamation point coming when he blocked Kobe’s ‘pretend to drive only to pull up for a 20 footer’. Eat that Kobe!

- Despite Phil Jackson’s claims to the contrary, this series is over. The Lakers looked like a defeated team after the game. They played one of the best twenty four minutes of their playoffs and still lost the game.

That, my friends, does not happen to an NBA champion. An NBA champion can clamp down defensively when they need to. They pull each other up when they’re down. They trust in their teammates even when they aren’t playing well. They find ways to win when they don’t play at their best.

An NBA champion looks an awful lot like the Celtics did last night.

Today's distraction: As a tribute to the differences between the Celtics and Lakers, play '6 Differences'. One of those fun, spot the differences between two pictures games. Loved those as a kid!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Blowing the Whistle

I only made it until half time last night. Yes, I’m terribly disappointed in myself. However, once I got a feel for the game I knew there was no way the Celtics would win.

The hammer falling when Kobe Bryant started show boating a bit by dribbling the ball between his legs repeatedly, then having it stripped by James Posey. As the Celtics were running back down the court on a fast break the ref blows the whistle to call a technical on Kobe.

Now, this is the second time in as many games Kobe has vehemently complained to the refs and been T’ed up. On both the replay has shown virtually no contact making the no foul call the correct one. This leads me to believe one of two things is happening:

1: Kobe is trying to show up the refs and thinks he deserves preferential treatment (in other words, he thinks he’s Jordan, Bird or Magic)

2: Kobe knows he wasn’t fouled, but wants everyone in the building and watching on television to think there was a foul. Therefore, his sloppy play or missed shot is excusable. This would also mean that Kobe has some sort of pathological need to be viewed as infallible (in either his mind or the perception of the public); that he isn’t capable of making mistakes on the court.

I tend to go with number 2. During game two, Kobe went up for a mid range shot and just lost control of the ball. It went flying out of bounds and he shot his arms out wide in a vain attempt to draw a whistle. When nothing was called and the ball was awarded to the Celtics, Kobe made a show of shaking his head and looking back at the refs as if they messed up the call. Well, the replays showed there was no contact and Kobe simply lost the ball out of bounds. He, of course, can’t accept that and needs to show everyone that nothing is his fault.

Maybe that’s the problem with Kobe. He can never accept anything as being his fault. He berates teammates on the court, makes exaggerated faces when things don’t go well and will look at the refs whenever someone makes a good defensive play on him. It’s never his fault. Why can’t anyone see that?

Sorry, I digress. Discussing Kobe has the effect on me.

Anyway, when they called a technical on Kobe last night and literally put the brakes on a Celtics 2 on 1 fast break I still had some hope. When Ray Allen missed the free throw – badly – I knew it was over. Ray Allen doesn’t miss free throws and he missed the technical and the next one he took. Still, I was actually encouraged when I saw the Celtics had only lost by 6 points. Sorry, Celtics, but I needed to get some sleep. I’ll be back Thursday for the duration.

Over shadowing everything, though, were these allegations from 'convicted felon' Tim Donaghy. Supposedly, NBA referees were ‘acting in the interest of the NBA’ by influencing playoff games in order to extend the series. Most notable was Game 6 of the Lakers – Kings series back in 2002. Any NBA fan is very familiar with this game as it’s notorious for the corrosive officiating and has become the poster child for conspiracy theorists everywhere. The Lakers got away with murder and eventually won game 7 and the NBA Championship. In fact, this game is why nobody is sympathizing with the Lakers’ after game 2 in Boston. They were basically handed a golden ticket to the Finals in 2002 because of this atrocious game.

David Stern responded to the allegations by calling them a ‘desperate act’ by Donaghy to get a lighter sentence and ‘baseless’.

Now, this may be a desperate act, but they are certainly not baseless. Baseless means there is no rationale or basis for the accusations. That is not the case here and I will tell you why.

First, baseless accusations have no merit and will result in the general public dismissing them until further proof emerges. What was your first reaction when you heard this? Were you at all surprised? I’ll quote Scott Pollard who was part of the 2002 Kings team that got screwed over in the infamous game 6. ‘My first thought was: I knew it. I'm not going to say there was a conspiracy. I just think something wasn't right. It was unfair. We didn't have a chance to win that game’.

Pollard, along with even casual NBA fans, aren’t remotely surprised by this. At all! If that doesn’t tell Stern there is a major problem with the image of NBA refs then he’s wearing blinders.

Second, baseless accusations tend to be irrational and make no sense. Unfortunately for the NBA and Stern, bad officiating has surpassed trend to become a running joke. After game 2 in Boston, did anyone think the Celtics had any chance of winning game 3 in Los Angeles? Any chance? I know I didn’t. During one of his podcasts last week, Bill Simmons joked that the NBA stood to make over $400 million dollars if the Finals made it back to Boston for a game 6. More than $600 million if there is a game 7. You think the series will make it back to Boston?

Yeah, me too. In fact, the perception is that it would be impossible NOT to get the series back here. The refs will see to that.

And, there, Mr. Stern is why these accusations are not ‘baseless’. The common, accepted belief that referees will make sure playoff series like this one going on right now will go seven games. That nearly a billion dollars will be lost if it doesn’t is why these accusations are not baseless.

While you may not have criminal charges to worry about, Mr. Stern, you do have an image problem. And an image problem – baseless or not - is something you should be addressing. Not just dismissing.

Today’s distraction: Stephen A Smith’s take on the Donaghy statements. While he can be over the top at times, I like Smith’s take on things and he brings up even more evidence to back Donaghy’s claims. This includes a 2005 playoff series with Houston which prompted Jeff Van Gundy (Houston’s coach at the time) to openly criticize the way Yao Ming was being officiated. Van Gundy has backed off those statements, but it makes you wonder how ‘clean’ these current batch of officials are working these Finals games. Here’s hoping the Celtics sent them all team jersey’s for Christmas.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Reviews and Other Crap

I haven't been watching too many movies lately, but here are a few I've seen. Below the reviews is some other random crap.

Juno: Quirky and cute and occasionally funny, but once again I was expecting some life altering movie watching experience due to the build up and hype. I was going to rant about all that, but from now on I’m just taking the movie on it’s own merits and this movie deserves to stand on it’s own. I can’t blame a movie for what other people are saying about it. Ellen Page is perfect in a role that seems to have been written with her in mind. A movie like this relies on a pitch perfect performance from it’s lead and Page hits it out of the park. She’s sarcastic, funny, bitter, and provides the movie with an emotional weight that surprises in it’s simplicity. Jason Reitman, by the way, does another great job (‘Thank You For Smoking’ was equally as energetic and hilarious in a politically incorrect way) and I’ll be eagerly looking forward to his next.

Once: This is a small, quick movie from Ireland. It stars nobody you’ve ever heard of in a story that isn’t at all original. It’s simple, straightforward, and may be one of the best movies I’ve seen all year. A guy (who is simply listed as ‘Boy’ in the end credits) is down on himself after an ugly breakup with his girlfriend. While playing in the street he is confronted by a young woman (‘Girl’ in the credits) who inexplicably and relentlessly prods and pushes him over the course of the movie to take control of his life and realize his potential. She is charming, foreign and brings out his own charisma. Especially fun is the scene on the bus where he uses impromptu song to tell his story to her. It’s funny and heartbreaking at the same time.

The joy of stumbling across this kind of movie is the unexpected places it takes you. The relationship grows through their mutual love of music and much of the film is told through the songs they write, flesh out and perform together (and are great, by the way). But it’s the details that tell the larger story. The stripped, worn guitar the boy carries with him everywhere, the cramped apartment the girl shares with her mother and three random men who arrive every night to watch ‘the telly’, the bizarrely hilarious opening chase scene. Normally, movies like this will end in an unrealistically happy ending, but this one ends perfectly. There is no happily ever after, but they’ve shared an intimacy others can only strive for.

Underdog: And I thought no movie could be worse than ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks’. Yeeesh…..

The Mist: If you’ve read the Stephen King story this is based on you won’t be disappointed in this adaptation. A bit more intelligent and thought provoking than your usual horror flick (there is a very strong religious theme and sociological examination of how people react in extreme situations), but there is also enough gore and realistically scary moments for the die hard horror fans. Beware the ending of this one, however. While it gives the movie more emotional heft it also makes you sick to your stomach.

Idiocracy: I was sort of excited to see this since it was directed by the same guy that created Beavis and Butthead and directed ‘Office Space’ but this is just a one joke movie that stretches itself to an hour and a half. Some funny moments, but I’ve already forgotten most of it. Luke Wilson is in it, if that helps.

Other crap

- In case you missed it, check out Simmons' article from yesterday. He does a great job describing the difference between pre Big Dig Boston and post Big Dig Boston. Unless you've lived here and seen the progress you really can't fathom the change in this city. It's - dare I say - beautiful.

- Congrats to Ken Griffey, Jr on home run number 600. I must admit that I think about how many he could have hit if he didn't keep getting injured the last 5-6 years of his career. Would he have surpassed Bonds by this point? Would Bonds be chasing him? We'll never know.

- I filled up my truck yesterday and $4.11 a gallon and I hit a new record. $60.80. What the fuck!?? I need to buy a scooter or moped or solar powered car or something.

- Congrats to my number one girl for having a baby girl. We can only imagine what Honor Marie will look like in 20 years. Let's just say she's got the upper hand in the gene pool.

- At least one country is taking a common sense approach to drug possession. A judge in Buenos Aires recently let two offenders off saying that the criminalization of drug possession without intent to distribute is 'unconstitutional'. Another judge released another guy, saying 'Criminalization will only apply in cases where the possession of narcotics for personal consumption represents a danger for the public health of others'.

- I have been considering adding Clint Eastwood to the Man Hall of Fame, but heard rumors that he smacked his women around when he was younger. I actually couldn't find anything online about that except for one story about him forcing one of his girlfriends (who was in a bunch of his movies) to get an abortion. Well, he may have just clinched his induction by telling Spike Lee to basically shut the fuck up. There is some feud between them and Spike Lee predictably plays the race card on Eastwood. What's funny is, even at 80, Eastwood would still kick Lee's ass all over town.

- If you think your company is incompetent, take solace in the fact that your company didn't start a two year volcano eruption. Lapindo Brantas was drilling for gas when it accidentally awakened Lusi, who proceeded to spew forth mud and ruin the homes of 30,000 people. It was originally thought that the eruption was caused by a distant earthquake, but turns out it was just human error causing millions of dollars of damage. Again. Um...whoops?

That's it for now. Went to the gym three days in a row and need something to drink. Game 3 tonight! Here's to the Celtics beating both the Lakers and the referees who will be trying to make up for the Game 2 criticisms. Oddly, I think this Celtics team may have rediscovered it's groove during the Detroit series. This may be a closer game than many think.

Today's distraction: Run, dinosaur, RUN!!!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Game Two

Some background before we delve into game two.

This weekend was scorchingly hot. Just the way I like it. Most Bostonians bitch and complain when it’s 3 degrees outside and the sidewalks are coated in ice only to turn around to bitch and complain when it’s 90 degrees outside and the sidewalks are cooking your feet.

The lesson is Bostonians like to bitch and complain about anything. There are maybe 3 days of the year that everyone is happy and even then it might be a bit too windy for their liking. ‘Can’t take my boat out in this choppy water’. Oh, you poor spoiled baby! How do you get on?

Anyway, since I’m fully into my new workout routine, I went to the gym Saturday and Sunday during this heat. I also mowed the lawn, cleaned some gutters, put up the pool (which has a leak and may flood our yard before everything is said and done) and had some night time fun with the wife.

What I’m trying to say is I was fucking exhausted by the time the game started. I also think I was borderline dehydrated due to the heat and workouts. Whatever the reason I saw no way I was making it to midnight. If I made it to half time I would have been impressed with myself.

Well, I watched the first half and sucked down two glasses of water, two Gatorades and one flavored water. Suddenly I was a new man. I felt good, my headache that had been lingering since late morning was gone and the Celts were looking good. I even cracked open a couple of beers. Mmmmmmm, beer….

Where was I? Oh, so not only did I make it past half time, but I made it the entire game! My reward? Only the most impressive two quarters of basketball the Celtics played this entire post season. I am fully aware of the fourth quarter debacle, but this team has always done that. Coasting instead of finishing off the other team. They’ve done it with Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit and now Los Angeles. This isn’t a new development.

I can forgive it, though, for the Celtics in the second and third quarters looked so impressive I couldn’t help wondering we’re they’ve been these playoffs. Doc Rivers apparently does read this space, because Leon Powe was out there for more than spot duty and absolutely abused the Lakers front line.

Or maybe not as Sam Cassell also showed up, but he didn’t do much damage and even made a nice pass to a sharpshooting Pierce for a wide open three. That was an ongoing theme of the night, by the way. Pierce somehow standing at the three point line with no Laker within five feet of him. How does that happen? This team is coached by Phil Jackson, right? We’ve determined he’s not an imposter?

Some highlights from last night’s game.

- Rondo being his irritating, chaos creating self. I love when he plays with a sort of controlled, reckless abandon. He was poised and calm on offense and a literal pain in the ass to the Lakers on defense.

- Powe’s coast to coast dunk. Not one Laker wanted to get in his way which said more about the Lakers’ defense than it did about Powe.

- Pierce being Pierce on a mission. He has really come into his own this series and – so far – has had one of the more impressive Final performances I can remember. Let’s hope he keeps it up in LA.

- Ray Allen actually playing some defense. No, really! He seems to have taken it as a personal challenge to give Kobe nothing. He’s never been a great one on one guy, but he’s been staying with Kobe and harassing him into bizarre fall away shots and keeping him away from the rim. Hey, it’s something.

- Old Kobe showing up! Anyone see his eye rolling, grimaces and screaming on the sidelines? I’m sure his teammates loved that coming from a guy who’s been shooting like shit.

- Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol disappearing in the second half. They both had me worried with some inspired play in the first half (including Gasol dunking on Garnett!!!), but they predictably faded when the Celtics imposed their will in the paint.

- Rondo blocking a six foot ten guy's three point attempt then racing down court for a dunk.

Some Lowlights:

- Garnett staying out by the three point line in the first half. What the holy hell was that about? Game one proved Gasol can’t defend KG, so why wasn’t he down in the post? Granted once they got back to that the Lakers started double teaming, but Garnett is an excellent passer and double teaming means someone is open. I would like to point out that the Celtics impressive play in the third quarter was when they went back to putting Garnett in the post. Just saying if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

- The collapse in the fourth quarter. Give the Lakers all the credit for most of that as they couldn’t miss from three point land for a 6 minute stretch and they sensed a defensive let down from the Celtics. The Celts also let the Lakers finish the game with some confidence. It would have been much more effective if they killed them by 15 or 20 heading back to LA, but now think they can score on this team.

- The referees. I don’t even think I need to get into this. Not horrible, just horribly inconsistent. Again.

That’s all I’ve got for lowlights. Not much for Boston fans to be unhappy about.

Before we go I wanted to address the foul shot discrepancy. It was the first thing Phil Jackson mentioned in his post game press conference (yea, stayed up for that, too) and some talking heads are saying what a lopsided officiating job it was.

First of all, it was lopsided, because the Lakers idea of defense is to simply swipe at the ball when the Celtic players are going up for a layup. You'll get arm more often than not when you do that. The Celtics were also the team getting offensive rebounds and driving to the basket. The Lakers were taking a majority of their shots from 18 feet and beyond. You don’t get many fouls called when you’re jumping straight up. Driving to the basket (see Pierce, Paul) and grabbing loose balls and going up aggressively (see Powe, Leon) is how you get to the foul line.

In summary, here are things we’ve learned from the first two games of this series:

- Nobody on the Lakers (except maybe Kobe) can guard Pierce.

- The Lakers defense is soft. At best. Guess that’s what happens when your front line is made up of Europeans and a pot smoking power forward who prefers to stay out by the three point line.

- Kobe might choke one of his teammates to death on the court. On live television. (While we’re on Kobe, he got a technical last night after scoring a basket and the impression was he thought he was fouled on the play and cussed out the ref to make his point. However, replays show nobody even touched him on the play. So what the hell was that about?)

- That Kobe is not Michael Jordan. Maybe this will change, but Jordan used to face similar defenses when the Knicks (only with hand checking allowed) would face the Bulls in the playoffs and he would put up 50 points on them annually. Can you imagine Jordan settling for jump shots against this Celtics team? He would be systematically picking them apart with layups and passes out of the double teams. Again, this may change when he gets back to LA, but Kobe hasn’t been dictating how the game is being played.

- That Phil Jackson might not be Phil Jackson. Has he made any adjustments? Has he done anything? Does he think Kobe is Jordan, too and is just waiting for him to take over the game? Cause that ain’t happening!

- That I can stay up for these ridiculously long games and function the next day. Although Tuesday’s game will be the ultimate test.

I’m tired just thinking about it.

Today’s distraction: Two of my favorite things are clashing. This is like witnessing your two children face each other in a championship game. Who do you root for? It’s just depressing all around.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Puttering Around

I have it figured this way. It’s Friday and it’s summer and that combo always produces a very slow work day. Especially from lunch time on.

Now, I’m a working schmuck (I use the term ‘working’ as being at work) and am fully aware that having something to divert my attention from the boredom of my work life is always welcome. Hell, it’s why I started this blog. I feel your pain.

Therefore, I am opening up the vaults. Here are some things to keep you entertained, educated and distracted from doing any real work.

Enjoy, friends. I’m here for you.

- Besides, according to this article, blogging is good for your health. No kidding. Research shows that writing ‘improves memory and sleep, boosts immune cell activity and reduces viral load in AIDS patients, and even speeds healing after surgery.’ While I can’t testify for the last two (honestly!), I really haven’t improved my sleeping or memory at all. That could just be me, though.

- Or it could be because of this. Although, let’s be honest, if you have smoked 5 joints a day for 20 years (what this research considers ‘heavy users’) you probably have bigger concerns than your hippocampus. Like where your car went or where all those bugs crawling over the ceiling came from and why they’re all singing ‘Macarena’.

Two quick updates from past posts:

1: Researchers at University of Leicester have found an even more scientifically awesome way to catch the bad guys. It’s proving so effective that it’s giving law enforcement hope for solving long unsolved cases. This new method involves applying an electric charge to a metal (like…oh….I don’t know…A GUN!) which has been ‘coated in a fine conducting powder’ to ‘visualize’ the print. Even better is this method works even if the person wiped down the gun or even washed it with soap and water.

According to Dr John Bond (you think he introduces himself as Bond….John Bond? I know I would), ‘The technique works on everything from bullet casings to machine guns. Even if heat vaporises normal clues, police will be able to prove who handled a particular gun’.

On the other hand, the person could just wear gloves.

2: Apparently, my warnings are going unheeded as some dipshits have just created a self replicating machine. No, I’m not kidding, although it’s nice they throw in a picture of the Terminator robot to make my point for me. In fact, here is one sentence from the article: ‘it will be greeted with some trepidation: robots that can reproduce feature in the novels of Isaac Asimov and the Terminator movies, often with disastrous consequences for humanity’.

Yes, thanks for bringing that up. Even better, the process of replicating itself has been dubbed ‘addictive fabrication’. Fucking fantastic. Not only are we allowing robots to build their own human eradication army, but they’ll be enjoying it (and probably hating themselves for enjoying it) at the same time. How can smart people be so stupid?

- Years and years ago, I was at a party that was hosted by my first cousin. I met and got along famously with a very attractive young lady. We spent a good part of the night joking around and feeling out the possibility of something potentially happening. As we were enjoying each other’s company, my cousin came up and said ‘Oh, you two met?’ We gave him a blank look. ‘She’s my other cousin,’ he said and walked away. We both looked at each other and uttered ‘You’re his cousin, too!’ at the same time. Horrified, we both said awkward goodbyes and slunk away from each other feeling dirty.

I bring this up because incest has been getting quite the publicity lately. While most states have bans on incest (duh!), some half cousins are questioning whether they fall into the category of incest. The courts have said no and even my sister, when she heard the story of me nearly scoring my cousin said to me ‘She’s not blood related to you, you know’. To which I said, ‘Maybe not, but we’re related in SOME way and that’s enough for me’.

- Speaking of inbreeding, there is a new study out that found flies bred for intelligence die younger. Something about the neurons needed to be smart sap the life energy. If this happens to be true for people, I’ll be living forever. Between stupidity and beer consumption, I’m in the driver’s seat, baby!!!!

- While we’re here, did you see that drinking alcohol can cut the chances of you developing rheumatoid arthritis by 40-55% depending on how much you drink. In fact, the more you drink the less likely you are to develop it. Like I needed one more reason to be a raging alcoholic. Hell, like I need any reason….

OK, on to the games from last night.

- Celtics took game 1, but it was anything but a convincing win. I’m appalled that Doc continues to play Sam Cassell over Eddie House. Yes, he had some good baskets in the first half, but he couldn’t do anything right in the second and I lost count how many times I uttered ‘Oh, C’mon Cassell!’

The knee injury to Pierce was heart stopping. If he was lost then so was the title. The utter astonishment and silence of the Boston crowd said it all.

I was so disappointed with the Celtics last night. Handing out white ‘Gotta Beat LA’ shirts (white? Couldn’t go all green, at least?), fireworks, video prompts to cheer, and cheerleaders in a circle during introductions. Red just spun like the Tasmanian devil in his grave last night. The worst part was the loud PA system and music completely drowned out the crowd reaction. I couldn’t hear them boo or cheer at all. From now on, can we just do straight intros? Please? Think of it as a tribute to Red.

I was reminded I missed two wildcard possibilities with this series in my rundown.

First, Kendrick Perkins gets no calls from the refs. I mean ever. He even got called for a loose ball foul that was actually Derek Fisher rolling into the back of his legs and knocking him to the ground. Maybe he needs to whine and protest like everyone else.

Second, the stunning inconsistency of the referees in general. If Stern wants to address an issue with the NBA, he should start there. It’s become a running joke in the league if not a downright embarrassment. Last night wasn’t even that bad and I could count 5 fouls off the top of my head that were called wrong.

Two moments that made me jump out of my seat. Pierce’s four point play (quick note here: how did that Laker player have the balls to complain about that call? Is it now just second nature to throw your hands up when the whistle blows? Did he not think he committed a foul?) and Garnett’s follow up jam on Posey’s three point miss. If one thing became clear last night it’s that Gasol is completely over matched.

The other thing that seems a concern for Lakers fans everywhere: The Celtics, when needed, can up their defensive intensity a notch. It was evident in the fourth quarter last night. The Lakers don't seem to have the personnel to do that. Other than Kobe, is there one decent defensive player on that team?

Kudos goes to the Boston crowd for not putting on those white shirts. A few had them on, but I noticed most of the crowd already had on their own Celtics gear and kept it that way. Nice work.

Suggestions for the rest of the series, in case Doc is reading this.

1: Play Eddie House. He’s fresh, better defensively, better offensively and Celtics fans across the country won’t be cursing his name every time he launches a 20 footer with 20 seconds left on the shot clock.

2: Play Leon Powe. He had some spot duty and was very effective against the Lakers’ soft front line. You could even play him at small forward with Perkins and Garnett on occasion and completely over power LA for a while.

3: Limit Pierce’s practicing and playing time in game 2. Anyone who’s sprained anything knows the next morning is the worst. He is going to be very sore and possibly ineffective if that was as bad as it looked. Rest him. There’s a long way to go and you need him in LA to have any chance at winning this thing.

- Leave it to the Red Sox to try and steal the Celtics thunder. Did the early start time make everyone insane last night? Did they catch the playoff vibe from the Celtics? Holy shit that was an insane game. Coco charging the mound and kicking off a good, old fashioned, basebrawl. Loved it. Loved it even more when replays showed how close Sheilds came to landing that punch.

Note to Gomes on Tampa Bay: Jumping on and sucker punching someone who is already fighting someone else is a douchebag move. The fact that it looks like you landed more punches on the ground and your own teammate makes you look even more foolish. Hope you slept well last night, you tool.

If that weren’t enough, it looked like Ellsbury got hurt and some bizarre semi-fight between Youk and Manny broke out in the dugout, although even Youk wasn’t sure what it was about or why they had it.

Maybe it’s just a full moon!

Enjoy your weekends, all. Game two Sunday night and I’ll be hitting a sports bar until 1 am if all goes well.

Today’s distraction: Last night’s brawl in all it’s glory. Not sure why, but I love bench clearing shit like this. Two questions:

1: If Ellsbury is hurt and Crisp is suspended (and he will get suspended), who’s playing center for the Sox?

2: If you’re Tampa Bay, why have one of your best starters throw at Crisp when you know a brawl and possibly suspension were a very real possibility? It looks like he may have landed on his throwing shoulder, too. Why not wait until the eighth or ninth inning and have some scrub reliever bean him?