Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Blasts from the Past (AKA midlife crisis post)

I still haven't gotten over the fact that my daughter is now a high school graduate. Combine this with the fact that I was thinking about old TV shows during the live blog, and receiving a "You know you were a child of [insert era here]" email, and I've been spending some time thinking about my youth. So in this post , I'm going to remember things as a kid growing up in the Phoenix area. I realize that this won't resonate with 99.999% of you out there. Good way to keep an audience.

1. Wallace and Ladmo. If you were a kid living in the Phoenix area before about 1990, you know and love this show. I've heard it was the longest running kids show in US history. To a kid, this show kicked ass. Ladmo was hilarious, they showed cartoons, and they gave away stuff. They had these skits in between cartoons which was when I would get ready for school. As I got older, I decided it wasn't very cool to watch a kiddie show like this. However, in high school, I rediscovered the show. The skits, which I always thought were lame, turned out to be the best part of the show. These weren't meant for the kids. They were adult humor that went right over the kids' heads. No wonder it lasted over 35 years. Now I understood why my mom would laugh at this show as well. When Ladmo died, the entire state mourned. And of course, to answer the question that ALWAYS gets asked when talking about the show: No, I never got a Ladmo bag.

2. Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour. Hands down, the best place ever for a birthday party. This place served ice cream, ice cream, and more ice cream. I can't remember if they served anything else. If they did, it wasn't ever ordered. The place had an old-timey feel. All of the employees looked straight out of a barbershop quartet. For parties, they had the Farrell's Zoo, which was a GIANT tub of ice cream, with little animals camped out all over it. When one was delivered, they would bang a big drum, and bells and sirens would wail as the waiters ran around the restaurant with the Zoo on a stretcher. Absolute chaos, and I loved it! After you would gorge yourself on ice cream, the only way out of the restaurant was through the best candy store I've ever seen. You name it, they carried it, along with a bunch of other stuff I never saw anywhere else. A dentist's nightmare, but a kid's dream.

3. Big Surf. Apparently, Big Surf is still around, although under different ownership. This place was pretty awesome as well. It had a wave pool that you could actually surf on. As far as I know, it is proprietary, and nobody has been able to replicate it. They would have concerts at night. I remember as little asshole kids, we would try and snatch the girls' bikini tops off as they went by on the rafts in the wave pool. Fun fact: Remember that movie Just One of the Guys? The "famous" prom scene at the beach were the chick reveals she's really a chick by showing her boobs was filmed at Big Surf. Plus, I knew some of the extras in that movie. And as an added bonus, there was a drive-in theatre across the street. In high school, this was a good capper to a summer day. Speaking of high school...

4. Valley Art Theatre. This was an old theatre in downtown Tempe, on Mill Avenue, before they cleaned up the area and turned it into a franchisee's wet dream. I personally prefer the old Mill Avenue. It had one screen, and a balcony. The theatre would show the indie type films, cult films, and midnight movies. I'm pretty sure nobody in there was ever sober. I know I wasn't. The first time I ever did shrooms, we went there and watched Alice in Wonderland. Plus, they had all you could eat popcorn. When you were high, this was a godsend. The place would get shut down from time to time for showing porn. I don't know if it is still there or not.

5. Happy Trails/Trails. This was a head shop on old Mill Avenue. It was originally called Happy Trails, but I think Roy Rogers filed a lawsuit, so they just changed their name to Trails. A cool place to burn away a few hours. The Mill Avenue cleanup got rid of this place.

6. Pete's Fish and Chips. Man, this place was a dive. We used to joke that the place was awesome as long as you didn't watch them prepare your food. Greasiest place I've ever been to, and that's saying something. The main draw was the price. You could get a Monster Burger (1/3 pound burger with the works, including Tabasco sauce), large fries, and a tub of soda for a couple of bucks. This place was always packed with broke college students and high school kids. Strangely enough, I don't know anyone who has ever had the fish there. We always ordered burgers. Another casualty of the Mill Avenue cleanup. Can you figure out where I used to hang out yet?

7. Elroy "Buzz" Towers. I think this dude started as a fake helicopter traffic reporter, but I'm including him on this list for his TV show. They used to show these awful B movies, and he was the host. Think of Elvira, without the wig and boobs. My brother and I would watch these terrible movies, and make fun of them. All of our friends loved our bits. Little did we know there would be a market for people doing that. We were seriously bummed out we realized it. Plus, it was on his showed that I discovered the cinematic masterpiece which was Basket Case, AKA The Most Underrated Movie of All Time. Seriously, a movie about a Siamese twin which was some kind of mutant, removed at birth but lives, and then goes on to rape his brother's girlfriend? Oops, I should have made a spoiler warning. How did this not win an Oscar?

8. Hand printed driver's licenses. Back in the day, in Arizona, when you went to get your driver's license, you would fill out the information on the application. And then they would use that information directly on your actual license! In your own handwriting! A direct copy! I love exclamation points! It took us all of about 3 seconds to realize what this meant. We could write our birth dates in such a way that we could alter it immediately when we got our license. 1967's became 1961's, 1968's became 1963's, and so on. Which made the drinking age go from 19 to 16 in a hurry.

9. The Cine Capri. Simply put, the baddest ass movie theatre I've ever been to. You can click the link for all the history and stuff, but my memory of it was going to see Star Wars there. My grandmother took us to see it. It was the first theatre I remember that had Dolby surround sound, and grandma thought it was way too loud. So she decided to stuff Kleenex in her ears. My brother and I didn't think too much of it, as Star Wars at the Cine Capri was like a cinematic orgasm to a kid. But as we were leaving, we realized she still had Kleenex hanging out of her ears. As mentioned before, we were little assholes, so we never told her. We just giggled about it all the way home.

10. Bill Johnson's Big Apple. One of the few places on this list still going strong. I remember thinking how cool it was that sawdust covered the floor. My mom told me they used it to soak up the spit in the old cowboy days. Big mistake, as I spent the rest of the time spitting on the floor every time we went. It's known for it's BBQ, and don't get me wrong, the BBQ is very good. But my memories are of the breakfasts. They were huge southern style breakfasts, and they were delicious. My lady friend and I were back in the Phoenix area not too long ago, and looking for a breakfast spot when we went past one. Of course I had to check it out. It was as good as I remembered. What I didn't remember was how cheap it was. We got more food than we could eat for under $20, after tip. We were so full, we didn't eat lunch, and even had a light dinner.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Live blog, interleague style

Or is it intraleague? I can never remember. Let's go to the game. As an aside, I'm also keeping track of the UCLA-Missouri softball game, as the winner of this series will face the Devils in the Women's College World Series.

Top of 1st: Lopez was hurt in last night's game, so Augie gets the start at 2B. Ryan Roberts gets a rare start at 3B, and leads off with a long fly ball. Parra batting 2nd, and I am loving this guy. He just got called up from the minors a few games ago, and has been just tearing it up. Some dude named Outman (good pitchers name) is pitching for the A's, and his socks are ridiculous. Old school, 70's style socks. Parra continues to be awesome, and draws a walk. Upton is the DH today, batting 3rd. Outman struggling with his control early, and gives up a hard line drive on 3-1 count. Upton with the double, runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out. Stephen Drew, hitting under .200, batting cleanup. Hinch is a genius. Oops, my bad, he's hitting .203 after a good game last night. He hits a dribbler to short, but it's enough to score the run. Special K is up, and he's been pretty good this year. He hits a grounder to end the inning, but the D-Backs are up 1-0.

Bottom of 1st: UCLA up 1-0 after 2 innings. Hey, it's Mr. Agility pitching today. He's been OK this season. His ERA isn't so hot, but for whatever reason, the team seems to hit for him. Drew throws Cabrera out on a nice play. Kennedy hits a little blooper in the Bermuda triangle to get to first. Byrnes the Clown is playing left, and bobbles a routine fly ball, but holds on for the second out. Did you see that play the other day when he "tossed" the throw into the left field bullpen. Awesome. That guy is a disaster in the field. The phone rang and I missed the third out.

Top of 2nd: Snyder leads off with a high fly ball to left. Byrnes the Clown hits a little broken bat blooper to left, and hustles to get to 2nd. I have to give props, that was good hustle. Hey, it's Augie!! RBI opportunity here, but he's been a little cold of late. Augie crushes one, but it's hit right at the CF. 2 outs. Young continues to struggle with a fly out to Buck (former Devil) in right.

Bottom of 2nd: UCLA still up 1-0. Maybe my timing is bad, but there's been a serious lack of hotness in that game. I expect more from UCLA. Giambi up, and I haven't noticed how gray his beard is. Is that a side effect of steroids? He grounds out to first. Speaking of gray beards, now they're showing Tony Clark in the dugout. Actually, it's more of a gray Fu Manchu. I sense a theme. I have a gray beard too. Well, I did, but I shaved it. And now I'm boring myself. Back to the game. Sweeney just about takes Mr. Agility's head off with a line drive up the middle. Buck bunts, and almost beats the throw, but Mr. Agility lives up to his nickname and makes a nice play. Leave it to the Sun Devil to put his team ahead of his stats. Crosby draws a walk. Man, I need one of those voice recognition things so I can just say my thoughts and it types them for me. This is a lot of work. Powell, hitting under .200, draws a walk to load the bases for Cabrera. This is trouble. Yikes, he drives Byrnes the Clown to the track, but it stays in the park. I think I'm going to shorten Byrnes the Clown to BTC. My goal is the have a nickname for every player on the team before the season is over.

Top of 3rd: I think everyone on this team is trying to hit a home run. Roberts hits yet another fly ball to start the inning. Parra hits one as well. Can Upton complete the trifecta? Nope, infield single. Upton has been playing well. How will Drew disappoint me today? Routine grounder to 2nd. Darin Sutton is already getting on my nerves. I see a MUTE button in the near future.

Bottom of 3rd: Mr. Agility strikes out Kennedy to start the inning. I'm having some difficulties, as I am typing with one hand right now. No, I'm not jerking off. I'm lying on the ground, leaning on my other arm. Both are poor excuses. Hmm, should I be lazy, or a pervert? I could be both, but that wouldn't leave me any free hands to type. Cust hits a high fly ball, and BTC makes it adventure, but gets the 2nd out. Holliday gets a single. This guy kills us. I'm glad he's out of the NL West. Holy crap, they have an amazing shift on for Giambi. Why don't these guys ever bunt? If it stays fair on the third base line, he's safe easily, even as slow as he is. It doesn't matter, as Giambi draws a walk. Christ, this game is BORING. I'm doing more surfing than watching right now. My ESPN streak is now a 3 game losing streak, which is the longest I've ever had. I think I'll pick a NASCAR event. That should keep the losing streak going. I don't know shit about NASCAR. My mom is a redneck NASCAR fan. D-Backs record third out. And fuck, what the hell is this? D-Back to basics? Imagine unfunny dudes trying to be funny while teaching baseball tips. Awesome. It's like a poor man's Baseball Bunch. Hold these thoughts, the inning has changed.

Top of 4th: Crap, my NASCAR pick didn't take. I guess the race started. I guess I'll pick Cleveland to beat Orlando. Special K draws a walk. I didn't know the Baseball Bunch was filmed in Tucson. Man, I used to watch that show religiously when I was a kid. The kids on the show were annoying as fuck, but Johnny Bench was my favorite player, so I was a regular viewer. Plus, it had the San Diego Chicken, before he became just the Chicken. And for your pleasure, check this out...

Is Tug McGraw high in this? Probably. It doesn't matter, I loved that show. Back to the boringness of the D-Backs game. Another walk. BTC does his speciality, and pops up. And Augie hits into a double play. Dammit Augie, if you don't quit sucking, I'm going to change my loyalties to Parra.

Bottom of 4th: Buck pops up. This game is two fucking hours old, and we are only in the 4th inning? In a 1-0 game? What the fuck is taking so long? Crosby grounds out. Wait, Mr. Agility has a little circle band aid on the back of his neck. What's that about? Did he get nicked getting a hair cut? Powell grounds out. I picked a real doozy to live blog.

Top of 5th: UCLA up 4-0. Looks like they will go to a deciding third game in that series. D-Backs are going to sit on a 1 run lead. Bad idea. Young leads off with a pop up. This offense is horrible. They just said that Young is twice the league average on pop ups. I wonder what BTC's average is. Roberts grounds out to the pitcher. I think I'm going to surf youtube for more blasts from my childhood. But wait, Parra is up. Not for long, as he grounds out.

Bottom of 5th: I always thought Electric Company kicked Seseme Street's ass. Two quick ground outs. I've officially lost interest in this game. BTC makes a diving catch, and the ball pops out when he hits the ground. He didn't need to dive, watching the replay. The ball hit the heel of his glove. THAT'S the BTC we've come to grow sick of. By the way, that was Cust. If they didn't have that ridiculous shift, Drew could have gotten to that pop up. Cust gets a double out of that. Holliday draws a walk. Back to Electric Company. I knew Irene Cara was one of the kids on that show, but here's something I didn't know. She was replaced by the actress who played Violet in the Willie Wonka movie that didn't suck. She was kind of a cute kid. I wonder if she's hot now. This will be my mission, since the game sucks. Giambi flies out.

Top of 6th: The actress' name is Denise Nickerson. According to IMDB, she played Lolita in a Broadway musical. I told you she was a cute kid. I feel like I need to put a disclaimer on this conversation, or else Chris Hansen is going to show up. Upton fouls out, and Drew walks. Special K hits into a double play. Sigh.

Bottom of 6th: I think this is a picture of modern day Violet. She's kinda old, but then I remember that the movie is probably close to 40 years old, so she's probably in her 50's. Sweeney leads off with a single. Here's another pic. Is she rocking the femullet? So I guess the verdict is - NOT HOT. But to be fair, I didn't realize how old she was. Well, that killed some time. I love the internet. Buck pops up. Crosby hits a single to right, and Parra almost gunned down Sweeney at third. Holy crap, that was a throw! A's got something going here. And fuck, wild pitch ties the game. Zavada, our newest minor league call up, is warming in the pen. Powell just blasted a 2 run homer to give the A's a 3-1 lead. Damn. Zavada has the coolest moustache in baseball right now. It looks like one of those old timey Civil War moustaches. Cabrera pops out, and Parra makes a diving catch to end the inning. Hey BTC, that's how you make a diving catch.

Top of 7th: That was Powell's first career home run. Great. UCLA up 5-0. Snyder leads off with a walk. BTC promptly hits into a double play. This offense sucks so bad, I can't think of a word stronger than suck. Augie tries a drag bunt, and barely gets out. We have 3 hits in 7 innings.

Bottom of 7th: Missouri trying to make a comeback in the last inning, as it's now a 5-2 game. Oh boy, here's Slaten. He just got called back up too. Cust strikes out, and Holliday grounds out. And because it's absolutely impossible for Slaten to get through an inning without giving up a run, Giambi hits a bomb. Sweeney pops up to end the inning. 4-1 A's. How many pop ups is that?

Top of 8th: Young actually gets a single. Who will hit into the double play this time? Roberts tried to, but it got by Cabrera. E6, Young to third. Parra comes up as the tying run. Oh, there's the double play. At least the runner on third scored. I guess it's back to thinking about childhood shows, and which girls grew up hot. Remember Little House on the Prarie? Laura was pretty fugly, but I always thought Mary was pretty cute. Yes, she's probably in her 50's too, but I've got to do something to pass the time during this snoozer of a game. That didn't take long. Yep, she still looks pretty good, although a lot of freckles. Man, I'm such a pig. One of the great things about being a guy. Upton strikes out.

Bottom of 8th: Slaten still pitching. Buck flies out to BTC, and that's it for Slaten. Vasquez in to face Crosby. He flies out. Powell draws a walk, and then Cabrera singles. And another wild pitch puts runners on 2nd and 3rd. Kennedy singles, driving the runners in, but gets thrown out at 2nd. 6-2 A's.

Top of 9th: Ziegler in to pitch. Drew grounds out. Special K with one last chance to keep his hitting streak alive. No such luck, as he lives up to his nickname. Tracy hits for Snyder, and gets an infield single to prolong my misery. Montera pinch hitting for BTC. Montero gets a single as well. Augie is up, and let's see if he can keep this going. He pops up to end this game fittingly. Good, this was a long game that was boring as well.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A graduation letter to my daughter

My oldest daughter is graduating high school next week. I'm a guy who keeps his feelings pretty close to his vest, so I wanted to let her know how I really feel. I'm planning on giving her this letter on graduation day.

It’s hard for me to believe that you are actually graduating high school. Wait, that sounds bad. I don’t mean I’m surprised you can do it, I mean it doesn’t seem possible that it has happened so soon.

I remember when I got the telegram on the boat that I had a baby girl. It was one of the happiest days of my life. I got the telegram in the middle of a drill, and was getting scolded for not taking the drill seriously, but I didn’t care. I was on cloud nine the entire rest of the patrol, and couldn’t get home soon enough. And when I finally got home, I remember thinking you were one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. I still feel the same way eighteen years later.

I remember holding your hand with you as we walked to school on your first day of kindergarten. I was wondering if you would be one of those kids that would cry and carry on. Nope, you couldn’t run into the classroom quick enough. I guess I should have realized even back then that it was a sign of your maturity and independence. I still see a lot of that in you today.

I remember when your mom and I split up. [Your sister] was always crying and upset, but you never let on with how you felt. I know it hurt. I could tell by how you always wanted to wear black, and with your poems. I wish I could have done a better job of comforting you two, but I was going through my own hurt as well. I know it was a horrible time for all of us, but I learned something about you during that time. You showed considerable poise and grace during a difficult time.

But I want you to know, you don’t have to be that way with me. You will always be able to tell me anything, and I promise I won’t judge you. I can’t promise I won’t get upset, but I can promise I won’t judge, and will do my best to help out however I can. Besides, there’s only room for one person in this family who hides their emotions, and I was here first.

And that’s why I’m giving you this letter. I wish I had the courage to be able to say these things to your face. But that’s not me. I’m not a lovey-dovey kind of guy. I’m sure you figured this out by now. I never had a role model on how dads were supposed to act. With you, it was definitely on-the-job training. I’ve joked about how with you, I did all my screw ups, so with [your sister] my parenting will be better. I think even though it’s a joke, there’s a little truth to it. I’ve learned a lot with you.

When I got mad and took away your bedroom door, deep down I was wondering if I had gone too far. When I give you crap about your hair, I wonder if I’m going about it the right way. When I argue with you about the clothes you wear, and make you change into something different…well in this case I KNOW I’m right, so I don’t wonder about it at all. ;)

I guess this is just a long way of getting to a point I’m trying to make with you. Everything I’ve ever done, whether it was good or bad, whether it worked or not, was because I wanted to make sure my kids turned out better than me. It was because I wanted to make sure neither of you girls got hurt. And it was because when this day came, I wanted to make sure you were ready for it.

And you are ready for it. Whenever I sit and wonder if I’ve done a good job of raising you, all I have to do is look at the lady you’ve become. If I had screwed up too badly, there is no way you would be as intelligent, thoughtful, creative, funny, and loving as you are.

I don’t tell you this anywhere near enough, but I am really proud of you. I absolutely adore the woman you have grown into. I love you so very much, and that is why today is one of the best days of my life, and also one of the toughest. It’s one of the best, because you are now ready to get out there and take on the world, and I know you can do it. But it’s one of the toughest because I am going to miss you terribly when you go away to college.

So make sure you do great in college. I’d hate after writing all this sentimental stuff to have to go up there and kick your butt.

I love you.

So is this a bad idea? It is so out of character for me, but I want to make sure I give her something to remember on her grad night. Those of you who are daughters, any thoughts?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

More proof I'm easily amused

OK, since my last post was so bitchy, let's lighten things up. I have a confession. I'm a youtube junkie. I'm always looking for stupid shit, and this gave me endless amusement for some reason. I'm not ashamed to admit I watched this about 30 times. First, I'm actually going to enter the 20th century by embedding a video. Yay technology! Take a look, and then I'll dissect it like the Zapruder film. Should I say "Spoilers below"?

OK, this was pretty funny on first glance, especially since I'm a sadist. But on further reviews, this thing got better and better. First of all, I've seen this contest done quite a few times at minor league games, but never with a pitcher warming up. When I saw the title of the video, and the pitcher throwing, I was expecting big trouble. Kids running into each other = funny. Kid getting skulled by a pitcher = not funny.

Even on first viewing, I laughed at the guy saying "That happened yesterday too" right after the collision. Really? And nobody got sued? Maybe there's some hope for this country after all. And like I said, I've seen this done numerous times, and usually one kid smokes the other one. To have back-to-back collisions? That rules.

The next thing I noticed on the next viewing was the catcher. Check him out a few seconds before the collision. He's looking at both of the runners, and you know he's thinking "Oh shit, this is going to end badly." Damn that was awesome.

Another funny thing is the crowd reaction. You can hear them getting excited as the kids approach the plate, and then a big "Oooooooh" after the crash. Even better is the PA announcer in his super happy voice yelling "It's a tie!" Yeah, I'm sure that made the kids feel better.

At the very end, check out the dude in the black shirt and jean shorts. You know he's praying nobody is bleeding. And then, once he realizes everyone is OK, he starts waving his arms to pump up the crowd. Classic.

Finally, let's give some serious love to those kids. THAT is some competitive spirit there. Fuck letting up, I'm going hard all the way to the plate.

Life as an AZ sports fan

Hey all. It's been a while. Let's catch up real quick, then on to my point. Work still sucks, I've got a new gig in a old school punk band, and my daughter turned 18/went to prom/graduating high school all in a 10 day span. Things are pretty crazy in umbrella land.

However, I'm here to talk sports. I'm watching the NBA playoffs, yet the Suns aren't involved. Steve Kerr and Robert Sarver have ruined this team. Now Alvin Gentry is the new coach. Next year will suck too.

The Coyotes look like they're leaving town. They've pretty much sucked as long as they've been in Phoenix. I'd like to be more upset about this, but it's hard to get irate when the team you stole from another city leaves. It's like getting upset when your wife cheats on you, but forgetting that you started fucking her when she was still married to her first husband.

But the real pain for me is the Diamondbacks. The 13-22 Diamondbacks. Let's have a contest in the comments section to come up with the best two word phrase to describe this team. Unmitigated disaster. Underachieving mess. Giant clusterfuck. All of these work.

We've had injuries. Brandon Webb, Stephen Drew, Tony Clark, and Connor Jackson have all been on the DL this season. But that's no excuse. The real culprit is the offense. It's horrible. It's so bad, that from now on, I'm calling them the Diamndbacks. No O, get it? Thank you, don't forget to tip your waitresses.

Let's take a look at the numbers. Out of the 30 teams in baseball, here's where they rank. Batting average, 30th. Runs scored, 29th (San Diego has one less run). Hits, 28th. On base percentage, 30th. Slugging percentage, 24th (this surprised me). Average with runners in scoring position, 30th. Scoring position with two outs, 30th. And my personal favorite: six of the position players who started opening day are batting .215 or less. SIX!!

As awesome as Augie is (hitting .310 in limited playing time), he can't do it all himself. The manager, Bob Melvin, was justifiably fired. However, they hired some front office puppet who has NEVER managed a game at any level in his life. Genius.

Esteemed leader, or chess team star?

I'm so disgusted, I can't even do any live blogs. This team has openly quit on its manager, and the fans are letting them know. I went to Monday's game against the Reds, and I have never seen a crowd that small. And everyone there was in a foul mood. I didn't know such a tiny crowd could boo so loud. Worse thing is, it's only May.

You know it's a cold day in Hell when the Cardinals are the best franchise in town.