Monday, March 26, 2012

Denied Again

If I had to guess, I would say I've been involved in March Madness pools for over 20 years.  My first taste was a five dollar, informal, pre internet, having to hand check all the scores, bracket with college friends who shared my gambling problem.  It was organized by a good friend who nearly had his thumbs broken by a bookie years later when he couldn't pay off his debt.  That's not even a joke.  I had to loan him the six hundred dollars before bad things were going to happen. 

As a rough estimate, let's say I've filled out 23 brackets in my life time. 

Not once have I ever had a perfect Final Four.  Not once.  0 - 23 in Final Four perfection. 

Then comes this past weekend.  I enter the weekend in third place. 

Then Kentucky wins.  One out of four.

Then Ohio State wins.  Two out of four

Then Louisville wins.  Three out of four. 

Oh, yeah.....Come on, Tarheels!!

Sidenote:  I would like to apologize to Jum for rooting against his Jayhawks, but four for four (Fo fo fo, as Moses would say) is something I've been shooting for a very long time now.  I should also point out that I really wasn't into it.  I can't stand Roy Williams.  I have nothing against UNC (always enjoyed the Dean Smith era), but I can't even stand the sight of the weasel Williams.  I get angry just looking at his stupid mug. 

Obviously it didn't happen, but man, I had images of perfection for about 48 hours.  It was a tantalizingly brief glimpse of glory. 

While we're here, some past highlights from my personal Madness. 

-  Hitting three out of the Final Four at least five times now.  Wait, six with this year

-  Correctly guessing 15 of the Sweet 16 teams four jobs ago.  Alas, I came in third by the time all was done.

-  Winning 700 bucks a few years back when upset after upset nearly destroyed everyone's brackets.  It was a win by default and I was so far ahead that the final game didn't even matter.  I believe that was the year Syracuse won with Carmelo.  I used to like Carmelo back then.  Or maybe I just associated him with large sums of money coming my way. 

-  Setting up my office with three monitors and streaming every game live for the two opening days.  I have never been so popular at work. 

-  The joy of simply playing. 

Don't get me wrong, there have been plenty of lowlights.  One year I was done by the time the Sweet 16 had been decided.  Made for a boring last weekend.  Another year, I was head to head in the Finals only to have my team lose horribly. 

I would say my main goal is to simply have a chance heading into Final Four weekend.  I certainly have that this year.  I'm still in third place, but the two people ahead of me have North Carolina and Michigan State winning it all.  Whoops!

However, there are several Kentucky people lurking close behind me.  For the record I have Ohio State (yup, will be rooting against Kansas again, Jum) and Kentucky meeting in the Finals with Ohio State winning it all.  I know, Kentucky looks impressive, but there are three things I've learned over the past two decades:

1:  Roy Williams is a weasel.

2:  Anything is possible in this tournament.  Just ask Villanova and Ed Pickney.

3:  No matter how talented on paper, John Calipari teams find a way to lose.  Then have their Final Four appearances voided by the NCAA due to violations. 

Head's up Kentucky fans.

Today's distraction:  Some Calipari quotes that show how masterful he is at speaking without really saying anything.  Not noted:  His calling a New Jersey reporter 'a fucking stupid Mexican' even though that's probably his most honest and entertaining quote ever. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Haunting Lunches

A few weeks ago I was sent to get some class (it didn't take) and found myself in my old Boston work neighborhood.  That would be Downtown Crossing for the uninitiated.  A sort of low end shopping/financial area that doesn't even bother to compete with Newbury Street (the hoity toity section of Boston that has grown on me over the years.  Perhaps that superb cigar store and many pubs has something to do with that.) 

Scattered between Macy's and a hollowed out Filene's Basement are vendor carts, homeless people scrounging for change, worker drones, emergency vehicles on constant standby and CEOs all lumped together. 

This is my favorite sliver of Boston that doesn't include waterfront.  You never know what you'll see here.  One day I saw a brand new Lamborghini waiting for a drunken, ranting (I'm assuming homeless) man to stagger out of the way.  Even got a picture of it that has since been lost.  I need to take pictures of all cool cars to show my boys.  I'm no auto perv. 

While I was in the area, I took the opportunity to visit my old lunch haunts.  Come along for the flashback ride, will ya?

Monday (President's Day):  I had a rough idea which places I wanted to hit weeks before I even got back to Boston and Sandwich Express was at the top of that list.  A tiny place in the lobby of 99 Summer that has one of my favorite sandwiches of all time:  The Poor Boy.  Or, as I call it, Po' Boy.  It's a roast beef sandwich (Boar's Head, of course) with Russian Dressing and coleslaw dumped all over it. 

Since it was a quiet day due to the holiday, I took my time only to arrive and find the place closed.  Or semi-closed.  The door was unlocked (accidentally, me thinks) but the entire prep area was shut down.  Using my considerable charm (none) I talked the only worker into making me one.  She agreed but had to put it on wheat bread instead of the customary roll.  This made it ten times messier, but just as delicious as ever. 

Score: 8 out of 10

Tuesday:  Met a friend of mine at Boloco where I devoured my usual buffalo chicken burrito (BCB for short).  Wasn't nearly as spicy as I recall, but still worth it.  Plus I used up the last of my Boloco card points and got it for free!  Free makes everything taste better. 

Score:  7 out of 10

Wednesday:  I had been waiting for this for a while:  Al's Chicken Salad sub.  I used to get these maybe once a month when Al's was only located on State Street.  Since they opened a branch on South Street, I would visit once a week.  If you live in Boston and haven't had Al's chicken salad then you need to get your ass over there pronto.  I get mine with pickles!  And, an old friend of mine bought it for me.  Again, free = delicious!

Score:  9 out of 10 (would have been 10 if not for the way too full feeling I had afterwards.  More my fault than theirs.  Didn't even eat dinner that night)

Thursday:  There was much debate regarding this lunch.  Should I go to Qdoba for their chicken queso?  Perhaps JJ Foley's for their buffalo tenders and many (many) beers?  Good Life for that chicken sandwich?  I then realized several things at once:

1:  There are Qdoba's everywhere.  Why waste a Boston lunch on that?

2:  Lunch at Foley's makes me nostalgic for a certain someone and I hate missing people. 

3:  I was meeting friends at Good Life for drinks after work.

4:  Deli One was right next door and decided that the mac & cheese and salad plate was in order.  Oh, man, my mouth started watering as soon as I wrote that.  I've got a problem. 

Score:  8 out of 10

Friday:  This one wasn't even a decision.  It was a 'when' rather than a 'whether' option. The place is called Chacarrero and serves a one of a kind Chilean sandwich.  They make their own bread daily and you have your choice of meat or chicken.  I highly recommend barbecue chicken sandwich.  It comes with some sort of spicy spread, green beans, red peppers and seasoned chicken.  Absolutely fantastic.  Again, if you're in the Boston area, check it out.

Score:  10 out of 10.  It was so good that I recovered quickly from the shock of a small sandwich being nearly 8 dollars.  Worth every penny. 

Today's distraction:  Match the mug shot with the item the person stole.  Sorry...allegedly stole.  Right.  I only got 2 out of 5 correct. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Why Hi!!

Yes, I'm still alive.

No, I haven't abandoned this space (yet).

Yes, I hope to post more in the coming days, but this new job has been relentless. 

As a teaser, here is a quick rundown of the past month.

-  Spent a week in Boston taking a class (I had class for once!) which resulted in multiple visits to my old drinking places.

-  Went to my first Bruins game in over 25 years and had more fun than I ever expected.  Still not much of a hockey fan, but it was a good time.   

-  In Dallas for a week to meet all the big wigs in my new company.  I even impressed them with a possible solution to an ongoing issue and my awe inspiring drinking ability.

-  Bonded with new boss over cigars and beer while he got sloppy drunk and spilled more than he should have to me.  Still, I consider it a trust test and I will not say a word to anyone. It helped that he was sitting at the bar at the local Benni Hannas sucking down cheap Saki for hours before I arrived.  I now understand the term 'Hot Mess'.   

-  Realized I lost my dear DA's cell phone number during my move to the new gig.  Trying to figure out a way to get it back without risking another 'incident'.  DA, if you're reading, I'm open to suggestions.  Have I mentioned there are five offices in Southern California with this new company?  Just sayin'.  Still need a debrief on New York and Paris.  I'm assuming you got there somehow. 

-  My poor Patriots lost to the Giants in the Super Bowl again.  (Seriously, fuck Eli).  Since Wifey has a major crush on Wes Welker I made sure to point out that his dropped pass is the reason they lost.  May not be true, but it's fun to watch her try to defend him. 

-  Celtics are a mess with Rondo alternately pouting then playing like second coming of Tiny Archibald.  With all the trade rumors flying around I can't make up my mind if trading him is a good idea or not.  Depends on the day.

-  It's currently 70 degrees in Boston following one of the mildest winters in my lifetime.  Go global warming!  If every winter were like this, I would just fine. 

I'll touch base later with more details.  Back to work.