Wednesday, October 31, 2007
* Playoff Team
ATLANTIC DIVISION (TOTAL WINS)
New Jersey (40)
New York (30)
L.A. Lakers (45)*
Golden State (41)*
L.A. Clippers (29)
San Antonio (65)*
New Orleans (25)
ROUND 1 PLAYOFFS
Boston over Milwaukee, Chicago over Miami, Cleveland over Orlando, Toronto over Detroit
Phoenix over Golden State, San Antonio over L.A. Lakers, Denver over Utah, Dallas over Houston
ROUND 2 PLAYOFFS
Boston over Toronto, Chicago over Cleveland
Phoenix over Dallas, San Antonio over Denver
ROUND 3 PLAYOFFS
Boston over Chicago
Phoenix over San Antonio
Boston over Phoenix
MVP: Kevin Garnett
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Kevin Durant
COACH OF THE YEAR: Mike D'Antoni
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
1. Let's Get Ready to Bumble! As many of you know, I am a big Bill Simmons fan, and my favorite things to read are his running diaries. This one is about Fox's Celebrity Boxing II. If you want to know why I like this guy, read this article.
Time for our second match, which can only be described like this: "Screech vs. Horshack."
2. Moms Gone Wild. Very interesting Vanity Fair article about celebrity mothers -- specifically Lynne Spears, Kathy Hilton, and Dina Lohan -- and if reading this doesn't remind you of Amy Poehler in Mean Girls, then you clearly did not see that movie.
Kathy sobbed when Paris was sentenced to jail for driving with a suspended license, calling the 23-day stint "Paris-cide."
3. MJH's Lovechildren. You'll love this. Mac, Jurko, and Harry, my favorite drive time sports talk radio show hosts, have a page of sports-related look-a-likes that they call their lovechildren. For example, Charlotte Bobcats shooting guard Adam Morrison is the lovechild of Almost Famous actors Billy Crudup and Patrick Fugit.
4. One Red Paperclip. You may have heard about this story, but here's a place that you can track it. This guy -- Kyle MacDonald -- started with one red paperclip and kept trading it for slightly bigger stuff until he got a house. At the end of each blog entry, it says, "Click here to see who I traded my _____ with." Just click there and you'll go through the 14 steps it took him to get the house.
Now a pen, especially a fish pen, is a hard object to let go. But even with the awesome writing powers it may possess, you've gotta' face the facts: A fish pen can't really help you open a cupboard.
5. David Letterman's 9/11 Monologue. As you may have deduced from the title, this is not a funny link. It is, however, interesting, and that was all that I ever claimed that these things would be. I remember seeing him deliver this and liking him a lot better. (And I didn't have a problem with him before, unlike my wife.)
There is only one requirement for any of us, and that is to be courageous, because courage, as you might know, defines all other human behavior.
6. Shawshank Minute. This, on the other hand, is really, really funny. A spoof (even thought I don't like that word) on one of the best movies of all-time. NOTE: There's a bad word at the end, so make sure you're in a place where bad words are acceptable.
Straight out of prison, I'm a Morgan Free Man.
7. Six Degrees of Celebreality. Great game on vh1.com. An online version of a road trip staple in the Baker car.
Even Andy Rooney knows more about pop culture than you!
8. Bryan Pittman, Long Snapper. Okay, so I understand that not everyone who reads this is interested in football. In fact, many of you probably didn't even realize that "long snapper" was a football term. Regardless, I think this is awesome. Just watch it.
All right, honey, we're going for a short snap on the T.P.
9. Who is Wrong? If I had the time to create a real web site, this is the kind of web site that I would create. Is Alex Rodriguez worth $30 million? What's better, beer or chocolate? What's the best R. Kelly song of all-time? This site covers all of these topics and more.
You're not being specific. To generalize and say that "tap water is better" leaves a big hole in your argument. I'll take an Aquafina over the murky reservoirs of South America, thanks.
10. Free Rice. My buddy Claire recommended this one last week. If you're smart, the United Nations World Food Program gets free rice. If you're not, go back and play some more Celebreality games.
WARNING: This game may make you smarter. It may improve your speaking, writing, thinking, grades, job performance...
That's it for today.
Monday, October 29, 2007
INT. LECTURE HALL -- DAY
PRINCIPAL HAYES stands at the front of the classroom as teachers and staff filter in through the doors at the back of the room. Roughly half of them pick up the agenda for this afternoon's faculty meeting that he has placed on a desk at the back of the room. Principal Hayes is a short man who often wears short-sleeved dress shirts and ties with cartoon characters on them. He says things like, "Hey, Billy, what's the good word?" and generally makes people feel uncomfortable. He hopes that people notice the Dilbert cartoon on the agenda, but they don't.
PRINCIPAL HAYES. Okay, if everyone could maybe have a seat, we can get started.
Ten minutes pass.
PRINCIPAL HAYES. Okay, seriously guys…
JEFF HOROWITZ, the social studies teacher and wrestling coach, whistles loudly.
JEFF. Everybody shut up!
PRINCIPAL HAYES. Thank you, Jeff. Okay, now that we're all here, we can get started. Let's start with a few celebrations. First, Todd, would you like to say a few words about the football team? Todd? Where's Todd?
INT. FOOTBALL COACHES' OFFICE -- DAY
COACH WILSON and his staff sit on dirty couches watching game tape and eating Fritos.
INT. LECTURE HALL -- CONT.
PRINCIPAL HAYES. Well, I'm sure he's somewhere important. Anyway, the football team has been doing a fine job this year. We're all quite proud. Secondly, as you all know, Beth Campbell is our Building Health Coordinator, and she wanted a couple of minutes to speak in that capacity.
BETH CAMPBELL, a massive physical education instructor – NOT a “gym teacher” – bounces to the front of the room to a chorus of groans. She speaks in a gruff, husky voice.
BETH. Okay, okay, I know I’m probably not the most popular person here right now, but—
RICK DAVIS. Why does the machine in the lounge only have diet pop?
BETH. Okay, now I knew that this would be an unpopular decision, but in the long run, I think—
KATE PHILLIPS. How come the candy machine only has sunflower seeds?
BETH. Again, if you’ll hear me out, I think you’ll agree that this is the best thing—
HENRY GOMEZ. Beth, why did we all get this memo about—
BETH. Alright, you know what, everyone? I didn’t take this job to make friends. I’m trying to keep you all from dying of heart disease when you’re 40, but if you want to stuff your fat faces with Snickers bars and Mountain Dew, go ahead. Just don’t expect me to come to your funeral.
She storms out, seething.
PRINCIPAL HAYES. Okay, thank you, Beth. Now, it’s been brought to my attention that there are certain rules in the student and faculty handbooks that are being enforced…let’s say, unevenly throughout the building. I just wanted to highlight a couple that we really need to focus on. Now, if you’ll all get out your handbooks…
LESLIE HANSON, a special education teacher, gets out her handbook. No one else moves.
PRINCIPAL HAYES. Okay, so it looks like some of you forgot to bring your handbooks like I asked, but that’s okay. You can just look on with someone. Or listen closely, I suppose. First, students are not to be wearing coats in the classroom. This is on page 13. The reasons are twofold: first, it’s a safety concern, and second, we feel that it creates a classroom climate – pardon the pun – that is not especially conducive to learning.
Leslie raises her hand.
PRINCIPAL HAYES. Yes, Leslie?
LESLIE. Can we define the word “coat”?
MATT EVANS and AMY DUNCAN, both snarky English teachers, sit in the back of the room.
AMY. I agree. "Coat," was it? I’m not familiar with that term.
MATT. Is it anything like a boat? I know what a boat is.
LESLIE. Very funny, but what about a windbreaker? A fleece? Sportcoats? Those Columbia vests? Where do we draw the line?
MATT. Vests are okay. Coats have sleeves.
PRINCIPAL HAYES. Excellent point, Matt. I think we can all agree, “No sleeves, no coat.”
This conversation continues for fifteen minutes. We will not bore the reader with the details.
PRINCIPAL HAYES. Okay, so we’ve agreed that windbreakers, fleeces, and vests are acceptable because of the lack of sleeves and/or lining, but sportcoats are not because they have the word “coat” right in the name. Next, gum. Students are not to chew gum in classrooms, but Phil tells me that he and his crew are still scraping gum off of lockers and desks almost every night. Doesn’t make sense, people. We need to be vigilant about all of the gum-chewing that’s taking place in our classrooms and hallways.
RICK. Did it ever occur to anyone that if gum-chewing weren’t against the rules, students might be less likely to try to stick it under desks and in lockers to avoid getting caught?
PRINCIPAL HAYES. No. Third thing: I walk around the building between periods and during lunch, and I still see a lot of kids listening to their Walkmen. Walkmans? What’s the plural there, English teachers?
MATT. Doesn’t matter. No one is listening to a Walkman. The plural of iPod is iPods.
PRINCIPAL HAYES. Well, irregardless, it’s in black and white on page 48 of the handbook.
HENRY. Bob, I’m not sure I understand this rule. I mean, the kids who sit by their lockers during break listening to music aren’t hurting anyone. In fact, it probably mellows some of the bigger troublemakers out a little bit.
PRINCIPAL HAYES. Whether or not that’s true, Henry, the rule exists, and we need to enforce it. After all, if we let them listen in the hallways, what’s to keep them from listening in your classrooms?
HENRY. I would never allow that, Bob.
PRINCIPAL HAYES. Exactly.
HENRY. Yeah, exactly. So why can’t teachers just be trusted to enforce these rules in the classroom where it’s actually important that they’re enforced?
PRINCIPAL HAYES. That’s an okay point, Henry, but see, I like to think of the hallways of this school as my own classroom. But I can’t be everywhere at once, so I need your help enforcing those rules in my part of the building.
HENRY. That’s ludicrous.
PRINCIPAL HAYES. Thank you. Okay, I think that’s about it everyone.
Everyone stands and begins to file out while chatting casually.
PRINCIPAL HAYES. And don’t forget that WKCE testing is coming up next week. This is really important…Excuse me? Anybody? Oh, well. Maybe next time.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
1. A high school-age girl walking with a noticeable limp, inexplicably wearing a mini-skirt and high-heeled sandals. She had clearly sustained an ankle injury -- I'm going to say at volleyball practice -- but I'll be damned if that was going to stop her, on this Thursday morning, from looking like she was trying to sneak into a Crystal Lake club on a Saturday night.
2. A 30-year-old dude at Meijer pumping quarters into one of those games where you try to get a stuffed animal with a claw. He was alone, and he was there for a least as long as it took me to go in, find a copy of the Chicago Sun-Times, pay for it, and leave. In his defense, he may have been trying for the stuffed football.
3. A silver Volkswagen Jetta flipped upside-down in the middle of Hwy. 173. Probably, this would not be a funny story.
4. An interaction between a mother and her 7-or-so-year-old son at the pumpkin patch that went something like this:
MOTHER: You can go down the slide one more time. Then we're leaving.
SON: Two more times.
MOTHER: One more.
SON: (giggling) Three more times.
MOTHER: That's it. We're done. Come on.
SON: No -- you said one more.
MOTHER: Nope. You had your chance. Get down now.
SON: I'm going one more time.
MOTHER: I'm leaving. If you want to come with me, you'll come now. Otherwise, I'm leaving you here.
At this point, she turned and left without looking back. In this story, the boy groaned and ran after her. In my story, he would spend the night.
5. An old black woman wearing an Army coat and rolling her own cigarettes on the park bench outside the Woodstock Public Library.
6. Uncle Jesse from Full House fighting with Cousin Larry Appleton's boss from Perfect Strangers in a hospital. Oh, wait -- actually, that was a preview for E.R.
So here's the premise for my first novel: A boy is left at a pumpkin patch by his mother because he insists on going down the slide too many times. While they're closing things up for the night, three pumpking patch workers find the boy hiding in the giant caterpillar. The three workers -- an elderly black woman with emphysema who shops at the Army-Navy surplus store, a young man with a vast collection of stuffed footballs, and a high school girl with weak ankles and low self-esteem -- decide that they'll take him home. (Naturally, they all carpool to work togeher.) On the way home, they find a Volkswagen Jetta overturned on the side of the road and work together to save the car's occupants, an older gentleman with a sarcastic, curmudgeonly personality and a young musician with great hair who often says things like, "Have mercy." Sounds like a winner, no?
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Anyway, with that in mind, I think that Top 10 lists will be a staple of teacher man, and our inaugural list is going to focus on the greatest Saturday Night Live sketches ever produced. Now, I've done my best to find links to each of these sketches online, but a few are inexplicably unfindable. For those, you'll just have to take my word for it. First...
HONORABLE MENTION: Amy Poehler's Kaitlyn sketches; Celebrity Jeopardy (especially the French Stewart, Burt Reynolds, and Sean Connery one); Wayne's World & Aerosmith; Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker; the Bill Brasky sketches; The Devil Can't Write a Love Song; and "Get on the bag!"
And now, without further ado, the Top 10 SNL Sketches of All-Time:
10. Christopher Walken's "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" Monologue. We'll begin our list with one of the best beginnings to an episode ever. Hilarious. And yeah, there's no link. Sorry.
9. Peyton Manning's United Way Commercial. "Why is the door open?!" Okay, so this obviously isn't a time-tested clip, but I think it's going to hold up. I challenge you not to laugh when Peyton throws his first pass.
8. Sean Hayes at Jeffrey's. Again, there's no link here, but "There's a half-eaten taco in my Tercel!" is the greatest moment in Horatio Sanz's SNL career. And Sean Hayes is awesome.
7. Inside the Actor's Studio with Charles Nelson Reilly. The first appearance on the list for Alec Baldwin, and one of the most rewatchable clips on the list. How much of this was Will Ferrell ad libbing, by the way? "Nor indeed was the world. Nor history. Nor anything that the human eye has ever captured." He had to have made that up on the spot. And I can't even begin to count how many times I've used the word scrumptrilescent. Awesome.
6. Steve Martin's Christmas Wish List. If you were SNL, wouldn't you want good SNL clips to be out there on the Internet so people could see them and remember when your show was funny? Evidently not. However, I did find the monologue that Steve Martin delivered for the Christmas show back when he was a guest host in '91, and it's perfect.
5. "The Boxer," by Simon & Garfunkel. I know this isn't exactly a sketch, but you should definitely see it if you haven't. It's from the 2nd episode of SNL back in 1975, shortly after they had separated. They were totally still on the same page though.
4. Farley-Swayze Chippendales Dance-Off. How great is Chris Farley at committing to his character here? And Kevin Nealon's totally-serious explanation of why they're going with Swayze over Farley is perfect.
3. Ed Glosser: Trivial Psychic. Christopher Walken is a guest host and he's on this list three times. That tells you all you need to know.
2. Schweaty Balls. I really don't think there's much argument about the top two. Alec Baldwin steals the show here, but Molly Shannon and Ana Gasteyer are equally funny.
1. More Cowbell. Obviously. The cock of the walk, baby.
So there you go.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
ACT I, in which exposition is revealed and the central conflict is introduced.
March 26…Pitchers and catchers report. And everyone else because this is just high school ball. Expectations are high – to quote my athletic director: “You got a lot of seniors this year. Don’t screw this up.” And he’s right. We have 8 starters returning from last year’s team, 6 of whom received All-Conference recognition. We are a legitimate contender.
April 2 through 6…My 3 best players take the second week off of practice to go to Florida for Spring Break. Hmmm.
April 10…We win our season opener 10-1 over conference rival Clinton. Sam Berg (one of the Spring Break absentees) strikes out 13. Good start.
April 16…After 2 rain-outs, we lose 18-0 to East Troy. Wow. Didn’t see that coming. You know it’s a bad game when your lead-off hitter only bats twice. But fortunately, we don’t have much time to dwell on it because we play our strongest competitors for the conference championship, Beloit Turner, tomorrow.
April 17…Crap. Knotted up 0-0 going into the bottom of the 5th (Sam is emerging as a legitimate ace), we drop a flyball, botch a routine double-play ball, and allow the next 10 hitters to reach base. Slaughtered 10-0 in 5 innings. Crap, crap, crap.
April 21…When people ask me how it went on this day, I tell them, “I had the worst possible day you could have and still sweep a conference double-header.” We’re winning ballgames (now 4-1 in conference), but we’re not playing well. I know that things are about to fall apart if we don’t right the ship. Plus, one of my guys gets into a collision at the plate that leads me to flip out on Brodhead’s coach in front of everyone. Not good times. Bad times.
ACT II, in which the protagonist tries, mostly unsuccessfully, to solve the central conflict.
April 24…Things in our favor on this day: 1) We’re playing at home; 2) their coach decided to send his JV coach because his (the varsity coach’s) wife is going to have a baby sometime soon; 3) every guy on their team gets off the bus wearing his hat backward; 4) their first baseman takes infield with a Mountain Dew bottle in his back pocket; 5) they have not won a game yet this season; 6) they have not scored a run in a conference game yet this season; 7) one of their players uses some salty language toward his coach when asked to warm up their starting pitcher. Final score: Palmyra-Eagle 12, Big Foot 10.
April 30…We lose 1-0 on one unearned run. Sam is now 2-3 with a 1.44 ERA. Clemensian numbers.
May 10…Our 6th straight loss (an 18-15 track meet with the aforementioned Beloit Turner Trojans). The kind of garbage that you deal with when you coach high school baseball: One of my seniors comes in to pitch in the 4th. He goes into the 7th with a 2-run lead. Their lead-off hitter hits one off the bull and earns a free steak. 1-run lead. Next guy grounds out. Next guy doubles. Next two guys walk to load the bases. I decide to take him out. Following the game, his dad finds me on the field and tells me that his son was pitching well enough to finish and that I’m destroying his self-esteem. His is “glad [we] lost” because it “serves [me] right.” Did Gordie ever deal with this?
May 23…The regular season is over (7-12 overall, 6-8 in conference). Through some miracle, we are in probably the weakest Regional in the state, so we have a 3-seed and a bye. That means that we need to beat Brodhead (the ones we swept) and, probably, 1-seed Edgerton (who swept us) to go to Sectionals. Almost seems possible. Almost.
ACT III, in which the protagonist successfully resolves the central conflict.
May 29…We go to Brodhead and smoke ‘em 6-0. Sam throws a complete game shut-out while going 2-3 with 2 doubles. He was, incidentally, our only All-Conference selection, a 2nd-Team pitcher. (Could have been 1st-Team with that 1.98 ERA, but the 2-5 record was too much to overcome.) On the bus ride home, my rightfielder hears from a girl that he may or may not be dating that Edgerton lost to lowly Whitewater. That means that we are somehow hosting the Regional final, and that we need only to beat a team that is inexplicably worse than we are to end up in Portage (at the Sectional). Goodness gracious.
May 30…We beat Whitewater 8-7 (but not before the kid whose self-esteem I have destroyed loads the bases in the 7th). We are the Regional Champions. This is ridiculous. I almost feel guilty.
June 4…Interesting sidenote: My starting second baseman just informed me that he’s leaving for Mexico tomorrow and won’t be at the Sectional game. Thanks for the update.
June 5…We get clobbered by Edgewood, a semi-pro team out of the Madison area. Still, kind of a nice experience. And the 7th Regional Championship plaque in school history is hanging on the walls. (You know how sometimes a guy hits a little pop-up that falls in for a basehit and they say, “It’s a line drive in the book”? Well, that’s how I feel about that plaque. Sure, we did it with a mediocre team against some really God-awful teams, but it looks like a line drive in the book.)
So there you go. Hope you enjoyed our season. I almost did some of the time.
Monday, October 22, 2007
First, guacamole needs to take its place alongside ketchup and mustard as an everyday condiment. Here's what you need to do: Go to Red Robin. (Any similar restaurant -- TGIFriday's, Chili's, etc. -- will probably work.) Order a mushroom and Swiss burger, but ask them to put guacamole on it. They'll willingly oblige. Then get a side order for your fries. It's so good, you'll cry. But every time I do this, people say things like, "Hmmm. That's interesting." Then they get their lame burgers and go home with no idea how much better their meals could have been. And it's true of almost anything -- burgers, fries, brats, chips, chicken, vegetables -- there's almost nothing that isn't improved with a little guac. I won't rest until this happens.
Second, women need to stop wearing the following: tennis shoes with dresses; those tank tops with a strap over one shoulder and no strap over the other; anything with cartoon characters on it once they’ve turned 13; jeans under their dresses; most hats; high-waisted jeans; and t-shirts with stuff like Princess and Daddy's Girl on them.
Third, all t-shirts and underwear need to be tagless. There are a few companies -- Hanes is one -- that have started printing all the stuff that's usually on the tag right on the t-shirt, and it's just brilliant. No more scratchy tag or tag hanging out of your shirt. Who are these companies that are refusing to take this step? Reminds me of people who don't have e-mail addresses or something. It is CLEARLY better technology -- who would choose not to use it?
Fourth, cell phone companies and copier companies need to take a step back. Let's start with cell phones. What I want from my cell phone is pretty simple: I want to be able to make or receive a phone call, talk to that person until I'm done, then hang up. That's what I really want. Now, I'm able to watch movies, take pictures, check my fantasy football team, etc., etc., etc. with my phone, but I still lose calls all the time. Why did those companies decide that they had already conquered the original technology and were ready to move forward? Same with photocopiers. This guy comes to work the other day to show us how we can make little books, or change the size of things, or send documents from our computers directly to the machine, but every time I try to make a normal copy the stupd thing gets jammed. Quit trying to run before you can walk, fellas.
1) …spelling words backward. I was playing the game Cranium with friends the summer after I graduated from college, and you know how they have that category called “Gnilleps” where they read a word and you have to spell it backward? Well, I got “psychiatrist,” and I nailed it. And then on the way home, my wife kept quizzing me with these tough words – debatable, intricacy, oxygen – and I couldn’t miss. I can’t really explain how I do it, except that it’s kind of like a Sesame Street skit in my head. I’m standing there next to the word spelled out in huge letters – I’m 6’3, so the letters are maybe 10 feet tall – and I’m walking from the end to the beginning, touching each letter. As I touch it, it lights up. And I realize how crazy that sounds, but it’s one of my 3 things, so just leave it alone.
2) ...shooting free throws. I was decent in high school – 88% my senior year – but now that I spend so much time doing it in basketball practices, I’ve gotten almost perfect. If I shoot 100, I’ll make 90 and be disappointed. I once made 128 in a row.
Now, there are probably people who practice spelling words backward and could smoke me, and I know there are guys who hit thousands of free throws in a row, not dozens. But I’m not saying that everyone in the world is the best at 3 things – that’s nonsense. There are 6 billion people in the world. There’s just not that much stuff to be the best at. I’m just saying that there are 3 things that everyone is really good at. Like, I don’t know, better than all their friends or something. Anyway, I don’t know what my third thing is, but I have 6 possible candidates:
1) …typing. I’ve typed this whole thing in like 10 minutes, and I’m making most of it up as I go. As you can probably tell.
2) …punctuation. I only know 2 people who are as good as or better than me when it comes to grammar and punctuation, but I’ve really had to study it, so I’m not sure if it counts. I mean, anyone could be as good at it as I am if he or she wanted to. And I should probably be able to decide what counts and what doesn’t since it’s my theory, but I’m still not sure.
3) …deciding when to send a guy around to score and when to hold him at third. I coached 22 baseball games this spring, and I made a ton of mistakes (hence the 9-13 record), but I don’t think I screwed this up once.
4) …fantasy baseball. Kidding. I suck at fantasy baseball.
5) …writing letters of recommendation. Kids ask me to do this stuff all the time, and even my laziest efforts turn out okay.
6) …doing math in my head. I don’t know. I’m okay at it. Probably not one of my 3 though, now that I think about it.
So that’s it. It’s one of those 6. Or something else that I haven’t considered yet. If this was one of my English Comp. kids’ lame essays, they’d end it with something like, What are your 3 things? But that’s why they’re lame, so I won't.