Thursday, May 31, 2012

Crush of the Month

I would say this is back by popular demand, but I'm not sure anyone is still reading.  Therefore, for my own entertainment and the possibility of mentoring other middle aged, borderline perverts I'm bringing back (for a limited time only!) the Crush of the Month. 

Allow me some background first.  I was becoming intrigued by a British duo known as 'Blood Red Shoes' over the past month or two.  So much so that I recently purchased all three of their releases and have been listening to them on a consistent basis.  Think of them as a more pleasant version of 'White Stripes' as far as musical comparisons go.

While digging up their most recent release 'In Time To Voices' I caught my first glimpse of the female member of the band.

OK, Who?:  Allow me to introduce to you Ms Laura-Mary Carter, the adorable yet probably dangerous and emasculating lead guitarist and co-lead singer from Blood Red Shoes.  I say emasculating because her band mate looks like Michael Cera and I always think of that word when I think of any Michael Cera role.  Not fair, but I watched Arrested Development.  Things stick sometimes. 



'Why, hello, love'
She's British so I assume she calls everyone 'Love'


So, yeah.  She looks like that.  Needless to say my intrigue has turned into full blown obsession. 

And while she looks like ginger and spice and everything nice, here she is in her element. 





Well, ok, she still looks hot and sounds great and somehow makes dressing like she's working as an administrative assistant in a world bank seem sexy and slightly dangerous. 

And she's talented. 

That It?:  Not even close.  Recently she was involved in an altercation with a bouncer at one of her shows.  Said bouncer thought the lovely and talented Ms Carter was too young to be enjoying her glass of wine (she was over 21) and thought the appropriate measure would be to shove her head into a cement stairwell.  The result was the loss of his job, stitches in one of the cutest head's ever (that would be hers) and several members of another band coming to her rescue. 

When you look and sound like her, people would be trying to rescue you all the time, too. 


Anything Else?:  Actually, yes.  She thanked the band by baking them an apple pie.  She can cook and I love pie!!  It's like we were made to be together!

Then there's this song which creates confusing feelings in me.  Her voice is gentle and inviting while her guitar expresses the anger and frustration of the lyrics.  I don't know whether to give her a hug or run for my life. 



You can make up your own minds. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Charity Stripe

A while back during one of my insanity laced entries (I don't have the time nor the energy to look it up, but I know it's out there), I was complaining about the horrid free throw shooting displayed by most college and NBA players. 

My statement was something like 'I haven't picked up a basketball in over a year and could go out and hit 7 out of 10 free throws without warming up'.  Don't think that's it exactly, but the idea is the same.  I truly believed I could walk out, not warm up at all, and hit 70 percent of my free throw attempts. 

Until last week I never had a chance to test that theory. 

I had to go to Dallas again and was bored one night after work.  Combined with an over zealous appetite at lunch (at Spring Creek in which I had my first peach cobbler) I was feeling restless, bloated and wanted to move around in an attempt to feel normal again. 

The Residence Inn by our Dallas office has a mini sized basketball court (but no fitness center which drives me nuts!  What hotel in this day and age doesn't have a gym?), so I went to the front desk to borrow a basketball from the cute front desk lady (what are we supposed to call the people at the front desk?  Attendants?  Agents?).  She got a surprisingly nice ball out from behind the counter and fucking gunned it at me.  A two handed chest pass from about 3 feet away that would have broken my face had I not caught it. 

She gave me a smirk, said 'Nice catch' and went back to her computer.  Things were not starting off well.

When I get to the court I notice there is some weird, plastic, mesh covering the court.  Below it looks like a regular basketball court, but it's covered by hard plastic with tiny squares.  One bounce on it and the ball makes almost no sound.  So there you go.  It's some sort of noise reduction flooring so non basketball playing guests won't be disturbed.  You have go to be kidding.

Back to the task at hand.  I head to the free throw line and it looks regulation, however, it's been a while since I've been on a standard court and my memory is no where close to what it used to be.  I'll just have to take it for granted that they got it right.  You'll see in a moment why I question this.

Sidenote:  My biggest concern isn't going 0 for 10 from the line.  It's my shoulder. Forget what you hear about hitting 40.  That was a piece of cake.  45 is when your body begins to rebel on you.  My entire personal infrastructure is crumbling.  Even worse, my brain hasn't fully realized it yet and thinks it can do what I did 10 years ago  In particular, my right shoulder FUCKING KILLS whenever I throw a baseball (which is great when your kid is in little league and wants you to throw to him every day the sun is out), lift anything over my head or...you know....shoot a basketball. 

A few weeks back the shoulder was feeling fine and I was goofing around with the boys in the driveway.  They've set up a seven foot rim so the youngest has a chance to score.  My oldest was getting impatient, stole the ball from his brother (even though they were on the same team) and immediately went up for a shot.  To teach him a lesson I jumped and reached as high as I could to block his shot.  Instantly searing pain shot through the shoulder.  My eyes watered and I had to take break from the game while my boys huddled around me wondering why Dad was nearly crying. 

Good times. 

Even still, I refused to warm up.  I had a goal and I was going to see it through.  I'd know soon enough if the shoulder was going to put an end to this. 

I get to the line, bounce quietly twice, bend the knees and take my first shot. 

BRICK.  It wasn't even an excusable brick.  It was off to the left and barely hit the rim.  I thought 'ohhhh, this could get ugly'. 

Second shot, good.  Third shot....good. 

See this isn't so hard, I thought as I bricked the fourth shot.  What am I now?  2 for 4, I think when I hear 'Whatcha doing?'

Standing by the gate to the court is a five or six year old boy who apparently was never taught not to talk to strangers.  I glance around and see no adults anywhere close. 

'I'm shooting free throws.  Want to help?'

'How?'

'I shoot and you pass the ball to me.  I've only got six shots to go then you can play.'

He immediately runs over to stand directly under the basket.  I tell him to move a bit to the left so the ball doesn't land in his face.  He runs all the way to the fence.  'You don't have to go that far.  Make it half way between there and the basket.'

He moves a few steps and looks at me to see if he's where he should be.  I motion him over a bit more until satisfied he can get the ball without being killed by it. 

'Do you know how to count?' I ask.

'I counted all the way to 200 at school!'

'Wow, that's a lot, but you won't have to count that high.  I just need you to count how many shots I get in, ok?'

He nods, all serious like I've just asked him to take care of my dog for a week. 

'Ready?'

'Yup'

I shoot, swish.

'That's one!' he says. 

'Actually, that's three. I hit two before you got here.  So I've hit three shots in five tries.'

'THREE!!' he agrees.

I should point out that the ball has rolled all the way to the fence and he's standing there staring at me. 

'OK, can you get the ball for me now?'

'Oh, sure!' and spins around to find it.  I point him in the direction and he half throws, half rolls it to me. 

'Nice work.  That's all you need to do.  Only five shots left'

Another brick which makes the kid laugh.  'That was a bad one'.  Thanks, Michael Jordan. 

He tracks the ball down and gets it back to me.  'You still only made three'.  Thanks again. 

I hit the next shot; one of those back rimmed deals that brings the ball right back to me.  He says 'Heyyy' then laughs. 

I go to take my next shot when I hear a woman's voice, 'Is he bothering you?'  Mother of the year has shown up with a younger girl who is trying to hide behind the mother's legs.  Before I can reply, the boy answers 'No, I'm helping!' and he jumps up and down.  I laugh and tell her he's fine.  'I only have a few more shots to go'.

She stands by the entrance while we continue.  I hit the next shot.  'That's five!' which surprises me because I thought it was four.  Too many distractions. 

Hit the next...

..and the next...


'Where we at, little man?' I ask the kid.  'Seven!' he replies.   There we go.  I made seven of ten free throws. 

'Great!  Did you want to play?'

'No, keep shooting!'

'Alright, but when I next miss the game is over, ok?'

'Yup!' and he turns his back to me to watch the rim. 

I hit the next....

...the next...

.......the next....

...........the next.....

And it keeps going.  I'm in such a groove that the balls are swishing through and coming right back to me.  Anyone who's played knows what I mean.  The ball has such exaggerated backspin it bounces directly back to it's origin point when it hits the ground.  This happens at least four times in a row which causes the boy to laugh each time.  

At one point the father shows up and asks what's going on.  The wife shushes him and says 'He hasn't missed since I got here'.

I ask the boy 'how many shots have I made?' and he looks at me in a panic: 'I forget!'

'That's ok'

And I keep going.  At one point I thought I had missed, but the ball did that front rim, back rim, backboard move and fell through.  I make a few more, then one clanks the back rim, goes straight up, hits the top of the backboard and fall straight through.  The boy laughs and the father says 'Now we're just getting ridiculous'.

I laugh, hit a few more in a row.  I wish I could give you an exact count, but mother, kid and I all lost count.  The boy thought it was over 20 in a row, but it was probably more like 15 or 16 in a row. 

What finally ended it, you ask?

I was in the process of taking a shot when my phone went off.  I had placed it in the corner because I knew the boys would be calling to say good night soon.  When it rang, I jerked and the shot went to the right. 

Two lessons to take from this:

1:  At one point a 45 year old crumbling excuse of a man shot better than most NBA players who get paid millions of dollars a year.  Remember that when LeBron is missing a critical free throw.  Coming soon to the playoffs near you.  

2:  Families ruin everything.

Perhaps also this:  You should have known this story worked out well for me or I never would have brought it up. 


Today's distraction:  Practice some crowd pleasing dunks with a hot chick in a bikini.  The space bar is all you need.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Tale Of Two Cities

My most recent business trips have resulted in two, first time visits.  Let's do the old fashioned run down between the two.  I'm a bit rusty with this run down business, so be patient (and gentle) with me. 

The cities in question:  Dallas and Cincinnati. 

Let's compare them by category in order of importance.

BEER

Dallas:  Tried quite a few here, actually.  There was a (512) Belgian Wheat (think it was called 'Wit' but not sure why) that was tasty.  Also enjoyed their Belgian Strong that had a very high alcohol content.  I would suggest staying away from their Double IPA unless you like bitterness and getting drunk very quickly.  I think it had a nearly 10% alcohol content. 

The highlight, though, was a beer called Thirsty Goat Amber. Delicious!  Alas, only one pub carried it and I had to leave after only one night of discovery.  Pity.

Cincinnati:  Time for a confession: I never knew Cincinnati was on the border of Kentucky.  Only thing separating them is a muddy looking river littered with barges.  Technically my stay was in Covington, KY, directly across the river. 

Still, when I visited two different local pubs, I was told that there were no local beers to be purchased.  Uh...seriously, Ohio and Kentucky?  Nothing??!!  Not even some moonshine flavored piss out of some dude's basement?  I have never been so disappointed in a city. 

Major Advantage:  Dallas. 


FOOD

Dallas:  You'd think this would be a given, right?  Dallas is known for it's barbecue and tex mex.  And, yes, it is fucking fantastic.  Most memorable was a visit to Bone Daddy's which is basically a Hooter's with good food.  Attractive waitresses in skimpy outfits served me the best goddamn ribs I've ever had. 

Bonus:  I'm not a tattoo guy, but I did catch sight of the best tattoo I can remember.  One of the (smoking hot) bartenders had Colt 45 pistols drawn on each hip.  They were designed so it looked like she had the guns tucked into her waistband even if she were wearing a bikini.  Well done, nameless Bone Daddy's bartender.  Well done. 

I also met an old friend for lunch at a small, Mexican place and was not disappointed.  Wish I could remember the name of it, but it was a Spanish sounding name and I barely remember names in English.

Cincinnati:  My hotel was directly across the street from Burger King, White Castle, McDonalds and Waffle House.  So....yeah....

When I was at the office, however, the receptionist ordered me lunch from La Russa's or La Russo's or something that sounded like that and it was fantastic.  A chicken parm like paninni that was out of this world. 

OH!  I had what's called a Bistro Burger back at the hotel.  Basically a hamburger with a Russian Dressing - BBQ Sauce mixture on it.  And bacon.  Yeah, it was even better than it sounds.  I devoured the thing without stopping to sip any beer.  That's how good it was. 

Slight Advantage:  Dallas.  But not by much.  The Bistro Burger itself nearly upset the natural order.


PEOPLE

Dallas:  This wasn't even a contest.  People in Dallas are super friendly by nature and I love the drawls.  Plus, it had the built in advantage of owning one of my favorite people ever.   Everyone seems to have a sunny disposition and are just 'tickled' to show you around the city.  And the women are good looking.  There's that. 

Cincinnati:  Not that people weren't friendly here, as well.  There's just a guarded, self consciousness that hovers over every conversation I had with folks there.  I noticed it especially when they discovered I was from Boston.  Maybe they just think all Boston people are dicks. 

I did, however, meet a taxi driver who was a caricature of every mid western hick stereotype.  Long hair pulled back in a pony tail and tucked under a fedora, terrible teeth, fingerless leather gloves, talked like Huckleberry Hound.  During our time together (he was basically my driver for the few days I was there) he casually dropped that he had spent 30 years in Los Angeles and had just moved back.  When prodded for his time there he confessed that he spent more time travelling than living in Southern California since he was a musician for touring bands like...oh...I don't know...The Drifters..and Gladys Knight and the Pips...no name bands like that. 

I asked for some fun stories, but he claimed not to have any.  Said boredom and exhaustion were what he remembered.  I didn't believe him. 

Advantage:  Dallas.


CITY SIGHTS

Dallas:  I'm not sure I ever made it to Downtown Dallas proper.  I say not sure because Dallas is so fucking huge and sprawling I'm not even sure there IS a downtown.  The Dallas I saw was covered in highways and strip malls and office buildings.  There didn't seem to be an identity to Dallas or the surrounding areas.  Unless overwhelmingly enormous is what they were striving for. 

Cincinnati:  I first caught glimpse of Cincinnati from across the river and thought 'Wow, that's a nice looking city'.  And it is!  Clean, updated buildings, a glowing ballpark perched on the edge of the river bank and, even better, it reminded me of Boston in that you could walk nearly the entire downtown if you wanted to. 

Advantage:  Cincinnati.

TRANSPORTATION

Dallas:  I rented a car (if you want to call it that) because I had to spend two nights in Frisco and two in Dallas.  I had to prepay for the toll system on the Dallas freeways, but to this day I'm not sure how that system works.  There is no transponder, no toll booths, no monitoring systems that I could see.  Yet, every now and then I would see signs that told me the toll was $1.50 or .75 cents.  How it collected the money remains a mystery.

I did like that the speed limit was 70 in most parts of Texas and would have liked it more if the rental could actually get up to 70 in less than 30 seconds and without having to stomp the gas pedal to the floor. 

Cincinnati:  I was informed by my taxi driver/world class musician that the bridge I travelled over every day was the one Obama pointed out when he had a press conference below it.  Apparently the thing is ready to fall into the river but the, once again, politics is getting in the way of anything getting accomplished in our country.  One side of the river is represented by a Democrat and the other by a Republican and they're both fighting over who will get credit for obtaining the money for a new bridge.  As my driver said 'I don't care where the money comes from, just fix the stupid thing so we don't wind up driving into the river.'

There are pieces of plywood visible everywhere and the surrounding freeways are a jumble of half finished construction projects and closed lanes that end in a 50 foot drop.  Safety is not their number one priority apparently. 

On a sidenote, politicians, this bridge and the political bickering over it is EXACTLY why everyone is fed up with Washington.  Nothing is getting accomplished.  If I had my way, you'd all be thrown out on your asses and be forced to work a real job.  Get your shit together and stop thinking about yourselves.  You were elected to represent the people in your districts.  Start looking out for them for once in your pathetic, useless lives. 

And on that bitter note, time to break for the weekend. 

Enjoy, folks!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

WTF??

I had a few minutes on my hands yesterday so checked in with Bigsby's blog to see what was going on in his world (hint: booze, food, lots of sleep, and wise assitude coming out the ears...just the way we like it).

When I finished reading I notice to the right the link to this space.  There it said 'Last Updated 5 Weeks Ago' and I said aloud 'WHAT THE FUCK???!!!  It's been five weeks??!!!'

So, yeah, my schedule has been like that recently.  I have so much going on I can't even procrastinate.  It's really a shame as I enjoy wasting other mine and other people's time. 

Since I have a few minutes, here's what I've been up to:

-  Traveled to Cincinnati last week for a project and never knew it was directly across the river from Kentucky.  Why is University of Cincinnati and University of Kentucky not a bigger rivalry?  They're so close it would be like Duke and UNC.  Is it because they're not in the same division?  Or is UK further away from Cincinnati than my puny, east coast biased mind can grasp?

My plan is to make this trip it's own entry.  More to come (hopefully). 

-  Last weekend my youngest had his first sleep over at a friend's house.  The friend was directly across the street, but still.  As he said 'This is a big day for me!'.  He came home at 2:30 in the morning and promptly vomited all over our bed.  He was sick all day Saturday and has been a shell of himself all week.  Today is D-Day in that if nobody else comes down with it, we've dodged a HUGE bullet.  I would rather be shot than catch that stomach bug.  Last time I had it I was incapacitated for days. 

-  Eldest son has decided to play little league baseball again this year and is putting on a hitting display that even the older kids can't believe.  His first at bat was against the best pitcher from last year and he lined a shot to right field that was miraculously caught by a player on the other team who wasn't even looking at the ball.  He was told yesterday that he's now the starting left fielder.  Frankly, I'm surprised he even wanted to play again.  When a kid says 'I just want to take a year off' it usually means 'Fuck this!'. 

So my retirement plan is still in place. He crushes high school baseball, gets drafted at 18 and I skate through my golden years on his signing bonus.  What?  It can work!  Really need to get him pitching, though. 

-  Why are retirement years called 'golden'?  My best years were between 20 and 30.  Best here defined as 'fun times with pretty girls, the alcohol tolerance of a minor deity and sleeping until 1pm every weekend.'  I certainly wouldn't define incontinence, boredom and listening to your body creak when you get out of bed every morning as golden.  Let's call the retirement years 'copper' from now on?  Agreed?

-  Very belated thanks to Kos for recommending Chevelle's latest to me.  Been cranking it on my commute more often than not.  Still addicted to Mastodon's 'The Hunter', too. 

-  Speaking of my commute, I just bought a new truck.  Another Toyota Tacoma double cab.  This was more a case of rectifying a past mistake.  I sold my old one to my father and have regretted it ever since.  Wifey took the Camry so I could feel like a man again.  This one is fully loaded, too.  Bluetooth, tow package, awesomely loud stereo, power everything, and a rearview camera that displays on the mirror when I put the truck into reverse.  I'm in love. 

I'm sure there is more I've forgotten, but doody calls.  Until next time....


Today's distraction:  25 ways to procrastinate according to Paul Gardner.  Just so you know, I don't Twitter nor do I Facebook.  Those are lazy man techniques.