Sunday, January 31, 2010

Worst. Itinerary. Ever.

Thanks to a glorious combination of a flight cancellation, ticket rebooking mishap and a pressing family matter, I spent 36 hours on what was scheduled to be a 16 hour trip. Instead of The Dorf-Atlanta-Houston, I had the Delta/AirFrance Busiest Airport Sampler:
Düsseldorf (every trip needs a starting point)
Paris Charles de Gaulle - Now with 30% less urine in the trains!
New York JFK - Bitterly cold, and Up Yours!
JFK DoubleTree Hotel (4 hour power nap, courtesy of EU passenger rights)
Atlanta Hartsfield Clusterf*&k
Houston Intercontinental

How do the last 4 rank on the list of the world's busiest airports?
CDG - #6
JFK - #12
ATL - #1
IAH - #16

That's right, I hit 4 of the Top 20 busiest airports in the world in one trip, without changing direction. If my final destination had been Dallas (#8), I'd have hit 4 of 12. One can only dream!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Live Blogging: African Cup of Nations Algeria-Egypt

Halftime - I understand that the Algeria tourism board wants to save cash by using the same commercials they made 2 years ago. However, why not redub the voiceover that claims, "We're already preparing for the 2010 CAN!" We're watching the semis -- either you're prepared or not.

Halftime - How do you know it's the right station for COCAN 2010? If the commercials only feature Africans, it's a good bet you're not watching anything else on German TV

Halftime - That was pretty weak on the penalty. Who stops, mid-run, to see where the keeper is going? And why didn't the ref call it back? Very, very lame. I hope he doesn't plan to celebrate that goal with a post-game hooker.

47:20 - Apparently Egypt's #17 thought that the person red carded was the keeper -- otherwise his shot from near the midfield circle is even less reasonable.

48:20 - Egypt's #3 suffered from a very harsh psychosomatic foul there. I often need to be carted off the field when my opponent gets within 6 inches of touching me.

52:20 - You know, I'm going to be bummed if Egypt wins this for the 3rd time in my 4 years in the Dorf but this time I miss the guys driving around all night honking their horns. Oh, wait, no I won't miss that.

53:40 - "The Pharaohs"? As easy as it is to make these guys go down, they should be called "The Dream Dates".

59:55 - Apparently Algeria has also caught the Italian Flu, but the ensuing free kick is punched away for a corner.

61:30 - Did the Egyptian team vote to wear the world's tightest jerseys? If they were cotton, I'd have pegged it as a Costanza, but instead I'm betting Casey picked them out.

64:00 - Now, THAT's some sweet action. First, a cheeky backheel followed by a nutmeg, then a great shot to make it 2-0. Get out those earplugs, Europe.

66:40 - At what point do the Algerian players respond to Egyptian trash talk with, "I'm glad to get a bit of extra rest before the World Cup. But you'll probably enjoy having June free."

69:00 - Hey, look, an Egyptian player acted like he was maimed when he was only brushed -- on the foot he's not holding.

70:00 - And Algeria decides that phantom fouls aren't enough and gets another red for a late, sloppy challenge. I have a bad feeling the USA will be the one getting the cards in June, though.

81:00 - Well, the 3rd goal pretty much wraps it up.

86:50 - And the 3rd red card does end the match. But how is it a red (via a 2nd yellow) if he didn't touch the guy? Shouldn't there be contact for a yellow?

88:20 - That's a sweet little dance the replacement keeper did as he waited to come in. But the neard? I'm not feeling it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

AFC Championship Game Recap, aka "I'd Kill A Snitch"

(Facebookers go here for video) While watching the AFC Championship game at Hooters last night, I had a realization.

Peyton Manning has been ruined for me -- by SNL. Everytime they'd show him, all I could think of was this (Non-US readers go HERE):

"Get your head out of your ASS! You SUCK!", "OK, I'm sorry, do you want to lose? I throw, you catch -- it's not that hard. Now, get the F*$% out of here." This was especially enjoyable during the pregame show -- the NFL films episode about the Colts beating the Pats in the 2006 AFC Championship Game.

The only other thing that stood out were the commercials -- ESPN America apparently can't sell the airtime, so they only had ads for ESPN America. Over. And over. This was the music to the most common one. I hated it, now I love it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Worst. Route. Ever.

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I'm thinking of going to Montenegro (part of the former Yugoslavia), and I'm looking into flight options. Dubrovnik is the closest semi-major airport, and so I wanted to check on the drive. The route above is what Google Maps suggested. Rather than take what appears to be a direct route of an hour or so, it suggests a 21-hour, 5-country odyssey involving two ferries across the Adriatic and driving in the exact opposite direction of the goal.

Strong work, Google.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

2010 Resolutions - 10 Beers Update

(Facebookers go here) This is definitely going to be the easiest of my resolutions to keep.  So easy, in fact, that I'm considering upping the difficulty to require that the 10 beers be tasted at the brewery.  Why?  Because my 1st two of the year, the Maxbräu dunkel and helles were from the brewery in Oberammergau (small town in Bavaria, pics to come later)

How were they?  The dunkel was good, smooth, but light.  The helles was also tasty, though not as good.

At dinner, I tried the Hasen Brau (you can really taste the rabbit!) from Augsburg.  It's light, drinkable, and a good accompaniment to the hearty Bavarian food.  It was not, however, up to the level of either the Augustiner or Andechs helles I had the next night in Munich.  But, then, what helles is up to the level of Andechs?

Friday, January 22, 2010

What's The Deal With Organic Wine?

I try to buy organic when I can, because, as a flaming liberal, it really nourishes my sense of moral superiority. Organic milk also seems to taste better than its normal counterpart, as do the organic fruits and veggies. And the organic turkey I cooked for Thanksgiving was amazing.

So, then, why are all the organic wines I've tried such crap? I picked out a Spanish Tempranillo (I'm assuming that's Catalan for "red"). It had the usual organic markup of 25-30% from my normal table wine (Viña Albali, quite tasty at 4E a bottle). The quality? Ouch. I'll be going back to polluting, unhealthy, but tasty wine. Not for the environment, but to keep my sense of moral superiority in check.

I will, however, keep an open mind if anyone wants to prove me wrong on this.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Family Trip 2009 Part 1 - Germany

Facebookers should click here for photos. My blog's photo albums used to show up before Steve ruined it for everyone.

It's always fun when the fam comes to visit, and this time was no different. The trip started with my mom, dad, and nephew spending 5 days with me in Germany before we headed to Paris to continue the fun. The pictures are from the dorf, Cologne and our night in Bacharach on the Rhine.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Should Harry Reid Step Down? Or Continue to Bungle?

I fully supported Trent Lott's resignation in 2002 as Senate Majority Leader, not because he implicitly supported segregation in a speech at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party.

"When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over the years, either."

No, clearly that wasn't his intent. He merely thought that we should all have interracial children out of wedlock and then pay to keep it a secret. I kid! I do think, however, that Reid's comments were insensitive at best, though a far cry from Lott suggesting that continued segregation was the path to national harmony.

But do I think Reid should resign after using "the marijuana of racial slurs" (Thanks Wyatt Cenac!). Yes. Why? Because he's done such a craptacular job. Take the out you've given yourself, and let the next idiot* in the Democratic party step up. Pelosi should also resign, and she can claim it's in solidarity for Harry.

Here's Cenac's take on Reid's apology (it's not porn, though it might appear that way -- a common misconception with political apologies).

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* Look at the Dem's record when they have faced success in the last 30 years. They. Are. Idiots.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Why Is My Former Employer Asking Me For Haiti Donations?

In spite of no longer working for Citigroup, I sometimes get a selection of their annoying corporate mails.  The most recent?  A plea for employees to donate to help their Haitian colleagues.  Of course, Citi is about to give gargantuan bonuses to a bunch of their investment bankers and traders*, but it's the employees that need to pony up cash to help Haiti.

This masks the bigger annoyance of why Citi and other corporations are asking for donations?  Why not just give a link to the Red Cross?  Or Doctors Without Borders**?  Or any of a large number of charities that actually have experience with this sort of thing?  A friend told me that Wharton is soliciting money from their grads -- how is fing Wharton qualified to dispense aid?

Of course, I think it will probably allow Citi, Wharton, etc. to then pass the money on, while keeping the publicity benefits.

Update: Citi is giving -- all of $2 million.  And at the bottom of their email, they also have a link for the Red Cross -- after the Citi aid link.  And the Citi-to-Citi charity says that "Citi will decide how these funds are allocated".  Hopefully, they use better judgment than they did in deciding to dilute their stock price so they could give big bonuses to execs.

* Having just read "Liar's Poker", I feel confident in stating that those receiving bonuses are mostly a bunch of lying douchebags.
** Beware, Nurses Without Boundaries is actually a porn series.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sign #3 That Your Friends Think You're Old

If your team captain has never seen you injured yet s/he* is worried that you won't make it through the season, you're old.

However, I'm taking the high road -- getting in shape, not complaining.  Then, right before Worlds, I'm calling Gilooly** to help me show Cap'n Crunch that a) old guys aren't the only ones that can have accidents and b) the High Road has exit ramps.

* OK, fine, it's CHery
** Remember Tonya Harding?  That was her jackass boyfriend.  And I'm kidding.

The NBA on MLK Day -- Come See The Big, White Italian Guy

In case you didn't know*, today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The Knicks have managed to offend twice in one ad.  First, they claim that the Pistons are an NBA team, when all footage I've seen this year disproves this.  Second, of all the players on the Knicks, which is admittedly a motley crew, they chose Gallinari for the promo.  Why?  There are a few theories:

  • The Knicks are promoting their only dual-minority player -- he has a jump shot AND was a high draft pick.
  • The Knicks don't see color.  Or defense.
  • Eddy Curry ate the rest of the team.
  • Their other ad, announcing "Only 9 Months Til LeBron!" wasn't approved by the league.
  • The Knicks are actually trying to embrace MLK's dream of a post-racial society, rather than engaging in shameless pandering**.
* And if you didn't, you're clearly a racist. Or just out of it.
** This theory is courtesy of Kristine, who apparently hasn't worked at Citi long enough to think the worst of everyone.  I give her a few more months before she figures it out.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Don't Get Scrumped!

One of the joys of the Internet Age is the delightful variety of spam that get through my Yahoo! and Hotmail spam filters. The big innovation here is that the scrumpers have bypassed text and instead attached a grainy, low-quality graphic.  I love to be on the cutting edge, and here it is, with my commentary (in RED, scrumpers can't afford color graphics).

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Look, Jackass, My Name Is Not Richard!

Lately I've had the pleasure* of doing quite a bit of work, over the phone and email, with some colleagues in India. I've discovered that my name almost invariably causes problems (I'm thinking initials aren't too popular in the subcontinent). Replies to my emails usually start, "Dear Richardson," which is fine as some Citi email systems list the surname first.

Today, however, I had someone reply to an email that started, "Dear Richard". WTF? Do I randomly chop off part of your name when I reply? Noooo, I cut and paste to make sure I spell it right. Double-click, Control-C, click, Control-fing-V. It's not that hard, brainiac.

I wouldn't be nearly so annoyed, but in his email he said that he couldn't give me the information I needed without 2 pieces of information from me. Info that I had already given to him. In the email he was replying to. Dolt.

Thus endeth the rant.

* Like I had the pleasure of foot surgery in November.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Best of 2000s - Ultimate Moments

While the closest I came to UPA Nationals was a play-in for the 1st coed championship, I still managed to have a decade filled with strong memories. For non-ultimate players, this will likely be even more boring than my usual drivel.

Facebook users should see the original post here, as there are videos and photos that FB hates.

Dishonorable Mention -- Most Uncomfortable Moment: Winter League 2001 - Maria & Jerral air their grievances - midpoint. What started as an all-too-typical argument about a call devolved into a profanity-laced lovers' quarrel. When I asked Rex, the opposing captain and reigning poobah, if we should do something, he snorted and said "I'm not getting involved." Shortly afterward Diana shut them up and play resumed. After all, EVERYONE is scared of DeeDee.

10. Paganello 2007 - In general, not that great of a tournament, it was notable only for a game that came down to ultimate (universe, double-game, whatever) point. We managed to turn it over on our own goal line before I got a layout block in the endzone, followed by a spectacularly dumb throwaway which was saved by Jules' MONSTER ho block, also in the end zone. We then marched it down to score and ensure that last place wouldn't be ours.

9. Kansas City 2003 - Charlie decided to forego amazing KC BBQ in favor of crappy tacos and drinking in the van. His theme music? 50 Cent's "Go Shorty, It's Your Birthday". For 90 unrelenting minutes. He topped it off with chucking discs over our heads and avoiding death by Uromysitisis poisoning with some quick thinking in our host's backyard.

8. Erlangen 2006 - My second tournament win of the decade was also Mother Tongue's only win so far. It also somehow convinced Sheila that I was a D player after I shut down some high school kid in the semifinals. Heh.

7. Galveston Beach Tournament 2001 - Getting to the semis (maybe?) as Dirty Sanchez and the Three Amigos was sweet. Jen (aka "Dirty Sanchez" not learning what a "Dirty Sanchez" was or why we insisted on holding our fingers under her nose in photos until the end of the day was sweeter. Let's just say I made a smart move withholding information. Unfortunately, I haven't played with Alex since.

6. Winter League 2003-04 - It was a HUGE amount of work, but it is definitely one of my proudest accomplishments (and it was a great season) -- the league split, the hat tournament, . And what I'm most proud of? Not killing Steve and Sarah for their incredible obnoxiousness during the draft. Jackholes.

5. Bibione 2008 - While the on-field success of 8th out of 30ish teams was nice, what made Bibi so great was that it was basically 3 days and nights of hanging out with great friends and laughing non-stop (largely due to me and my sidekick, Benny). Of course, Chunk took this as a sign that he should leave for BC and take a vow of electronic silence. It was probably our mid-point serenade of "My Chunk" to the tune of "My Humps" that made him leave the country. It definitely wasn't the repeated awesome play of Anja or "Reija being Reija" , or Michael's habit of getting a game-saving monster layout block in every game.

4. Poolimate 2009 - My next-to-last tournament of the decade also was the most satisfying. We beat the defending (and soon-to-be repeat) German coed champions twice on Sunday in addition to beating 2 other teams that made Deutsch nationals. In the final we were down 6-4 (after several horrendous throws by moi) before Franzi, Tobi and Oli laid the smack down in a most righteous manner. And I got a foot block and a point block at 6-5 after the game was capped at 7. Not bad at all. We won the last three to take it and then I ran off the field to go to work.

3. Savage Seven 2000 - Nothing* is sweeter than winning a game you have no business winning. Down 5-4 in a game to 7, Melinda had to leave to go home for class or a nap or something lame. The team led by Captain Nuclear Bitch from Austin scored to make it 6-4 in our first point of playing 6-on-7. However, we scored on the next point as they tried to get tricky with a zone, and then got a D with our own zone to tie it up. At this point, their captain lost her shit. She continued to travel, but we started to call it, and she could not handle this. Amidst a flurry of screams, she threw it away, John & I took off for the end zone aaaaannnndd... I caught the game winner (she didn't bother to play defense, adding laziness to bad spirit and whininess to her qualities on display). Of course, we lost the next game badly, but the win felt sooooooo good.

2. Texas Sectionals 2000 - The first time the Lemurs went to Sectionals, Texas had A and B divisions. We went into the B, figuring A was far too much for us. Rice U also went to the B division and then drove their punk asses home on Saturday after we beat them like rented mules, 15-4 (they started the game talking about an easy win before going out for the night - suckas!). Up first on Sunday? The Dallas My Bad team, including Effing Tony. At 5-0 for the Lemurs, he yelled "C'mon, we can beat this bullshit zone!" right before Mike Smith got a monster block, scored and bellowed, "How do you like that bullshit zone now?" My Bad then shut up and took their ass kicking like good kids. The final was another big win for us, this time over longtime rival Riverside, with Dan Mercurio getting an unbelievable full-layout greatest to me. I immediately threw for a score to try to steal some of his glory, but to no avail. To top it off, it was also the debut of the "Broken neck or broken femur, nothing stops a drunken lemur" and "Crack monkey D -- swingin' lemur O!" cheers.

1. Jackson 2002 - After getting humiliated by Chain 15-1, we got our act together against Helmar to take an early lead. We squandered it as they realized that Chip was on the team for his hucking more than his cock-blocking and they tried to shut him down. We tied it at 15-15, then we switched to a zone crumble and put the smack down 17-15 on a sweet huck from Bryan to Mike. A loss to Tanasi put us against Black Angus, and a win and forfeit from the old Houston guys meant that "WE'RE NUMBER NINE!" would be heard many a time during the party (which we won). Later highlights include Brent's last-ever night of rum, far too much leg humping, and Dan winning a bout of smack talk with some mouthy Houstonians.

* Except maybe winning a world or national title. I wouldn't know.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Best of 2000s: Best Books

I read a LOT. Some would say too much. This was true in 2008, when I was reading such crap as "Wuthering Fing Heights" and "Gravity's Rainbow". But most years, I read just enough. I had a Top 10, but I read enough during the decade to justify a Top 12. Don't like it? You would if you had 6 fingers on each hand.

And if you want to buy any of these, click on the Amazon widget -- it'll get me a few cents closer to being able to blog full time. If you and everyone you know buy 10 books from amazon each day off my blog, I'm home free!

12. Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA, Tim Weiner - Curious why so many people in the world seem to hate the US government? This tells you why -- the incompetence of the CIA, in all its "glory". And if you think that's harsh, you should know that the US had 3 high-level sources inside the USSR -- and all of them came to the CIA (not recruited) and ALL were caught and executed. Yes, Tom Clancy lied to you.

11. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby - I loved the movie, but, as usual, the book is better. Just don't read it as your relationship is falling apart.

10. Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson - I do love me some Neal Stephenson. This one is about the fight to keep Allied knowledge of secret codes secret interwoven with an examination of privacy in today's world.

9. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke - A fascinating story of jealousy and power. It's also hilarious and kind of an adult, though Victorian, version of Harry Potter's world.

8. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, Charles C. Mann - 1/5th of the world's population died in the 100 years following this book -- this is what their worlds were like.

7. Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, Mary Roach - Hilarious and filled with minutiae for your next cocktail party. Haven't you always wondered how sex researchers work?

6. The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde - It's pointless to describe, but if you like intelligent, humorous thrillers, you'll like this.

5. Anathem, Neal Stephenson - I already said it all in my review.

4. Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris - Read this with a bottle of aspirin at hand -- your sides will hurt.

3. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, Jared M. Diamond - Why did Europe conquer the Americas and not vice versa? It's not white people vs non-white, it's wheat and cows vs the lack thereof. A fascinating read -- world histories that don't take this into account are equivalent to those that refer to a flat earth.
2. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal - A HUGE hit with everyone I've recommended it to, it's a hilarious look at the missing 21 years of Jesus's life.

1. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver - Gripping, with a cast of characters fully fleshed out in one of the 20th century's most intriguing situations. Go. Read. Rave.

Best of 2000s - Nicknames

I pride myself on giving good nicknames to those around me, and the noughts were a fairly successful decade for me. Here are my best.

10. Lord and Lady Surly - If I'd been able to, I'd have taken credit for the name Surly. Instead I can only lay claim to elevating Bri and his Chica to the landed class.

9. Milhouse - In 2008, I had the pleasure of managing an employee on temporary assignment from our regional office. He was a magical combination of self-confidence, arrogance, and complete and utter incompetence. Fortunately, he looked a lot like Bart's loser friend so that I could mock him in emails in code.

8. Second Hand - After a Lemur hooked up with a teammate's ex, he immediately gained a nickname. Whether or not I named him, as captain I get credit. And all names are withheld to protect the horny.

7. Sideshow Rex's Calvacade of Whimsy - King Wally might have come up with this one, but I'm taking credit. The lesson here is that when a poobah, drunk on his own power, asks for a team name, you should give it to him.

6. Ruprecht - One of the execs at one of my jobs in the naughts ran a department that specialized in projects that were high-profile, expensive and abject failures. So I pictured him as Ruprecht the Monkey Boy in "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels". Then friends & I would laugh at the mental image of him standing in front of an elevator, utterly mystified by it's workings.

5. Angry Jenn - With the proliferation of Jenns in Dallas Ultimate, I felt it necessary to differentiate them. Since Jenn invariably appeared livid when I threw to her*, she became "Angry Jenn".

4. Evil Stu - Faced with 2 Stus that were almost complete opposites of each other, something had to be done. (un)Fortunately, one had a dog that was both annoying and aggressive - think a rabid raccoon that barked constantly. Add in his ability to consistently attempt throws just beyond his range*** and you've got Evil Stu.

3. SBK - This one is fairly versatile. Short for "Stumbulatory Buzz Kill", it refers to a friend of a friend that is invariably a pain in the ass whe s/he drinks. Feel free to assign this to people** you know!

2. Busty Jenn - At Tammy's 2006 Halloween party, Angry Jenn (noticeably less angry after becoming Pokey's squeeze) was dressed in a costume that emphasized her chestular region and "Hey, Busty Jenn, how'd you get your name?" was the next question on my mind.

1. LeChad - A good nickname needs to be catchy, annoying and a bit random. After watching the Seinfeld episode where George bemoans his childhood nickname of 'LeGeorge', I quickly combined it with Chad and the hated (by Chad) and loved (by everyone else) nickname was born. It was retired after LeChad threatened violence. The lesson? If you hate your nickname, ignore it with a sense of bemusement and it will most likely die out. Unless your friends are real jackholes. Then moving might be your only option.

* I've found quite a few people seem annoyed when I throw to them.
** Magpie, this doesn't include me.
*** I, on the other hand, consistently try throws far beyond my range.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Best of 2000s: Dumbest Athletes, Part 3 -- The Best Of The Best

Athletes really worked hard the last decade to be morons. No longer is Shawn Kemp-style fertility or Dikembe Mutombo's legendary "Who wants to sex Mutombo?" enough to make the list. No, this decade required more. However, some went too far, so if a death was involved, the person was ineligible, even if he was a complete moron like repeated-drunk-driving-while-on-the-cell-phone-with-no-seatbelt Josh Hancock.

Honorable Mention: Dwayne Rudd - If you're going to celebrate a victory, make sure the time has expired before taking off your helmet -- or you might cost your team the game. It's rare that you say one play cost you the game, but here it's clear. Nice work, brainiac.

10. Anthony Carter - This is really for his agent, but if I had a contract deadline worth $4.1 MILLION, I might give my guy a ring to make sure he'd faxed the form in.

9. Rafael Palmeiro - Sure, Congress lies to us ALL THE TIME. But it's not a great idea to lie to them. But Rafy taught us, if you're going to lie, do it with authority. He did, and the spineless weasels let him off in spite of his obvious perjury.

8. Gilbert Arenas - So, you've weaseled out of a bet and want to avoid paying. Do you a) claim you were joking b) put guns in front of your claimant and tell him to pick one to use outside or c) pay the rumored $100,000 so that the $77 million remaining on your contract doesn't get voided. Hibachi might go with a), Agent Zero perhaps b), but none of the Arenas personalities would pick c).

7. Najeh Davenport - First of all, Brianna, this wasn't me. Higgy will no doubt write a post about my most embarassing moments of the decade, but IT WASN'T ME that broke into a woman's dorm room and TOOK A DUMP IN HER LAUNDRY. Don't trust Higgy on this!

6. Jay Williams, Ben Roethlisberger - You're a young star athlete with a huge contract that expressly forbids riding motorcycles. You know you can successfully hide head injuries with your natural idiocy. The only question is, will coach notice the road rash? This is only a tie because Big Ben was lucky and Jay wasn't.

5. Michael Vick - Not for being into dogfighting, which is more evil than stupid, but for thinking that you can lie to the league in the midst of a federal investigation and they won't figure it out. "Roger Goodell probably doesn't read the papers, I should be fine."

4. Latrell Sprewell - You've been offered a contract worth roughly $25 million for three years of basketball, but you feel you're worth more. How do you phrase this for the media? At the Sprewell School of Sports Speak, you'll learn valuable techniques like, "Why would I want to help them win a title? They're not doing anything for me. I'm at risk. I have a lot of risk here. I got my family to feed. Anything could happen." Of course, "anything" might include "not playing in the NBA again after that season", "having your $1.5 million yacht repossessed" or "being a fing moron".

3. Nate Newton - You've retired from pro football, and you've got time on your hands between the breakfast and lunch buffets at Golden Corral. What do you do? If you're Nate Newton, you fill up the back of your pickup with 200 pounds of pot and head out! And if the cops catch you? Wait five weeks, then try again with 175 pounds. Of course, if you're a former Dallas Cowboy, such idiocy will only cost you 30 months of your life. And no real damage to your intellectual reputation, such as it was.

2. OJ Simpson - Ineligible for the 90s list, OJ reexamined his game and took a break from his nonstop search for the real killer to plan his move. In September 2007, he was ready. Apparently unaware that he might be somewhat recognizable to sports memorabilia dealers, OJ led a group of men to steal some of his memorabilia that he claims was stolen from him. He did not wear a disguise or mask. Dumbass.

1. Plaxico Burress - Isn't on this list for shooting himself, wearing sweatpants to a club, or carrying a gun he didn't have a license for. He's on it for thinking that the comfy waistband of his sweats is "loose enough to wear, but tight enough to holster!"

Best of 2000s: Dumbest Athletes, Part 2 -- Dumb Sports Figures

When coaches make bad calls in a game, GMs make stupid trades or signings, or announcers say dumb things, this is just bad job performance. They have to do something outside the realm of their normal job description to make this list. As always, suggestions are welcome!

10. Jim Harrick, Jr. - The course he taught on basketball, filled with a player or two, had such tough final exam questions as, "How many goals are on a basketball court?" Several Knicks executives thought the exams were "unfairly biased against the literate."

9. Tom Cable, Raiders Head Coach - Only the Raiders could have a head coach assault an assistant, break his jaw, and not get fired. I just hope Al Davis' corpse doesn't read this blog, or he might sic Cable on me. He definitely isn't busy preparing for the playoffs. Then again, he might just threaten to move the team again.

8. Max Mosley - It's not just athletes that have sex scandals! Nothing quite prepares you for a tough week of presiding over the FA like a good ol' Nazi-themed sex party. Especially if you're a year older than my dad. Wow.

7. Denny Green, Arizona Cardinals Coach - "The Bears are who we thought they were... If you want to crown 'em, then crown their ass!"

6. Mike Gundy, OSU Football Coach - What are postgame press conferences for? To rant about newspaper articles, of course. My favorite line is early on, "This was brought to me by a mother... of children."

5. Rick Pitino - So, you're out to celebrate hiring Reggie Theus as an assistant coach, and you realize a) a woman hassling you for tickets is hot and b) there's an empty back room perfect for a full-court press. How do you deal with this? Obviously, you hit it and then offer to pay for her abortion. Unfortunately, you forget to ask BEFORE sex where she stands on blackmail. Damn!

4. Larry Eustachy - While coach of Iowa State, Eustachy at least twice went to campus parties after losses by his team. Road losses. And the parties were at Kansas State and in Missouri. He resigned, citing alcoholism, but, still, wouldn't a bar have been easier, Larry?

3. Al Davis, Oakland Raiders Owner* - 6 head coaches in the decade, a series of 2nd or 3rd round talent as 1st round picks, and an offensive coordinator whose previous job was operator of a bed and breakfast. It boggles my mind that there are still Raiders fans.

2. Donald Sterling, LA Clippers Owner - Sterling has always been a cheapskate owner, but now it's clear he's also an all-purpose asshat. He's being sued for racial discrimination in his housing developments, and he's a big fan of a $500-a-pop prostitute. It's bad enough Clippers fans have to watch the Clippers -- to see a game, they have to give this moron money.

1. Joe Namath - Sure, Broadway Joe was just saying what we were all thinking, "I want to kiss you. I couldn't care less about the team strugg-aling." Truer words were never spoken. Nice work by Suzy Kolber to keep it vaguely professional.

* These are all 5 parts of his press conference to fire Lane Kiffin. It's mesmerizing.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Best of 2000s: Dumbest Athletes, Part 1 -- Sex Scandals

Professional athletes are famous, in good shape*, rich and travel a lot. This is a recipe for extramarital sex, and lots of it. So it takes some work for an athlete to be an idiot for sexual reasons. However, these are focused men (female athletes are apparently much more discreet, or possibly discrete in terms of relationships), and they have the drive to make this list happen.

10. Stephon Marbury - Marbury is many things, but a smooth-talker isn't one of them. His pickup line for a Knicks intern? "Are you going to get in the truck?" What girl could resist? Apparently not the type that interns for the Knicks.

9. Tiger Woods - Just having affairs is not worthy of inclusion on this list. But to get caught with a large parade of women is not the meaning of "high-performance" that Accenture is paying you for.

8. Kazuhito Tadano - While I would commend an athlete for coming out of the closet, taking a role in a gay porn video is not a smart career move. He claims he was doing it just for the money, unlike all those gay porn actors who do it to express their inner artist.

7. Kobe Bryant - Here's a tip, Kobe. If you're going to cheat on your wife, make sure whatever happens is consensual -- it'll save you $4 mil in jewelry.

6. The Egyptian Soccer Team - At the 2009 Confederations Cup, several members of the Egyptian soccer team complained of having their hotel rooms robbed. However, the cops had strong suspicions that the hookers the men hired to help them celebrate their victory over Italy cleaned the men out.

5. Mark Chmura - If you're going to refuse to meet Bill Clinton because you "lost respect" for him over the Lewinsky affair, you probably shouldn't be hanging out in a hot tub at a post-prom party WITH YOUR 17-YEAR-OLD BABYSITTER.

4. Roger Clemens - C'mon Rocket, I know those blond country singers are hot, but you really should stick to the ones over 18.

3. Michael Vick, aka Ron Mexico - Lots of athletes have unprotected sex. Not that many get busted for doing so KNOWING they have the herp. Vick is rumored to have done just this without mentioning this to his hookup, all while staying at hotels under the pseudonym Ron Mexico.

2. Minnesota Vikings - Minneapolis can be a bit tame, and Fred Smoot knew how to liven it up -- rent a boat, fly in prostitutes from Atlanta & Florida, and then let things develop naturally. Well, "naturally" might not be the right word. The crew claimed to have witnessed "Masturbation, oral sex, anal sex, woman on man, woman on woman, man on man, toys, double penetration, middle of the floor, middle of the couches, middle of the room." That is definitely not what "Minnesota Nice" was when I was in college there.

1. Ronaldo - The Brazilian Ronaldo, now most famous for either his gut or his inability to distinguish male transvestite hookers from females. In April 2008, he took 3 prostitutes back to a hotel to help take his mind off his recovery from knee surgery, only to discover that they weren't fugly women -- they were transvestites. He quickly tried to back out of the tryst, but the damage to his reputation had been done.

* Excluding baseball players and golfers.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The AP - Tool of The BCS Establishment

When Boise State and TCU were announced to play in the Fiesta Bowl, cynics like me saw it as the BCS's way of giving the teams a no-win situation.  A blowout meant the loser was a fraud.  A tight high-scoring game meant both teams had bad defense.  Now?  A 17-10 game decided on a fake kick means that both teams have bad offenses.

Take the "impartial" AP's take on the evening:

Some wondered whether the Broncos deserved a shot at the national title. On this night, they were just barely good enough to edge Mountain West champion TCU, snapping the Horned Frogs ' 14-game win streak.

The clear implication is that Boise State wasn't worthy of the national title, as they were "just barely good enough" to beat TCU.  They should just be open about their bias and write:

GO BIG 5 Conferences!!!

Monday, January 04, 2010

2009 Resolutions - A Look Back

In 2009, I made more serious resolutions than in 2008.  Let's check them out.

The list:
1. Lose 15 pounds - As of today, I'm 11 pounds below my 2009 starting weight.  Pretty close.  While I can blame foot surgery and the France trip for a bump, it really didn't affect my weight that much.  Those last few pounds are tough.
2. Read more - The only big success, enough that 2009 was the Year of Good Books.  I read 63 books, a big jump from 43 in 2008.  And, yes, I am so nerdy that I keep a list of what I read.

3. Learn to cook at least 6 dishes without recipes - Nope, but not too bad.  I have 4 -- chili (the real stuff, from dried anchos), lentil soup, risotto and spanish tortillas.  If you count scallops sauteed in garlic butter, I guess it's 5 (but I don't, so whatever).  But I still want to reach for the recipes to double-check on two of those.

4. Meet and successfully woo Katarina Witt - Big failure.  I didn't even see her.

So, 1.5 of 3 serious resolutions.  Not bad, not great.  The cooking one will get a redux, and I will lock down my black bean soup and refresh my tortilla knowledge.

2008 Resolutions - A Look Back

In 2008 I made resolutions.  How did they go?  Let's look back.

The 2008 List:
1. Fake my own death - Not done.  But I was tempted.
2. Ignore all election coverage outside of The Onion & The Daily Show - Close, but not quite.  I would say 97% of my election info was from The Daily Show.
3. Mend fences with my exes - Meh.  I've done my mending.
4. Stop throwing my exes under the bus to mutual acquaintances - Sort of.  I opted to just not have mutual acquaintances.
5. Escalate blaming of exes when talking to anyone else - Sadly, no.
6. Try dental tape instead of dental floss - Nope. Couldn't find any in the dorf.
7. Alienate more friends & family before their birthdays, reconcile immediately afterward - I did the first part!
8. Swear less in English - Fuck, no.
9. Swear more in German - Scheiß, ja!
10. Drink less at home - Um, no.
11. Drink more at work - Sadly, also no.
12. Look into switching to a more respected career -- organized crime, oil industry lobbyist, etc. - Nope, still working for The Man.
13. Wear chaps more often - Not a once.
14. Keep caffeine addiction to a manageable minimum - Halfway.  It's manageable.
15. Discover whether or not San Marino is, indeed, a myth. - No.  Why ruin a good mystery?

Stolen Top 10: Resolutions

I am a big fan of New Year's Resolutions, as it gives me a nice new list of things to underachieve for the year.  Steve had the bright idea to have each item refer to the number 10, so I will mooch the concept.
  • Lose 10 (half) Pounds - This should be doable, but my enjoyment of good food and drink will make it tough.  However, I wisely planned ahead during the trip to France to make this one more doable (I was at 162.3 today, my official starting weight).
  • Cook 10 New Dishes - Stolen straight from Steve, but this is more reasonable than my monthly list from last year.  And it should be doable.  Suggestions are welcome!
  • Take 10 Trips - Since I am generous with the definition of "trip", this should be doable*.  But I won't be doing my 2008 trip-or two-a-month binge.
  • Read 10 Books On My Gargantuan To-Read List - Specifically 10 that have been on the list for more than a year.  I know I'll be hitting up Higgy and other friends for other reading material.
  • Go to 10 New Dorf Restaurants - Counting places I eat while on trips is kind of lame, and I need to break out of my comfort zone in the dorf.  If it gets to December, I'll just eat at new döner stands each day.
  • Write 10 Pages - This seems far more reasonable than actually claiming I will write one of the novels I've been pondering.  Sorry ladies, it won't be erotica**.
  • Try 10 New Beers -  This is harder than it sounds in Germany, since it's hard to find non-local, non-macrobrews.  But I'll do my best.  Backup plan on this one is to head for Brussels.
  • Go To Yoga 10 Times - Much to the amusement of my friends in DFW, I used to do yoga regularly.  I need to get back into it, since I'm apparently not getting any younger.

That's it. I will keep you posted, unless I find it boring. Then I won't.

* If push comes to shove, I'll count Luxembourg the first few days of the year.
** Well, probably not.

Danke For The Tips, Herr Cabdriver

The complete and utter disregard for the customer in German tipping situations never ceases to amaze me. Normally, I'm amazed by the disdain or disinterest by waitstaff in bars or restaurants, but last night our cabdriver entered the fray.

After our 10-day trip to France, my dad's back was sore, we were tired and didn't feel like dragging our bags home from the station in the snow and ice, even though it's a short walk. Our cabdriver immediately informed us that we could've walked to the other side of the train station for a cab closer to home. He then spent the rest of the drive home criticizing us for our laziness and whining about how he'd had to wait 30 minutes to get to the front of the cabdriver queue. His rant lasted up to, and throughout, the payment process.

I kept my counterarguments to myself at the time, but here they are:
1. We should use the other side of the station - If I'm taking a cab, why do I want to drag my bags 200 yards through a crowded train station when there's a cab stand 10 yards from the base of my train platform?
2. We could walk - When combined with public transport, this is of 99.9% of cab rides in the dorf. If you feel so strongly about pedestrian advocacy, you're in the wrong line of work.
3. His wait, only to get a short fare - That's a damn shame. However, this is clearly a slow night and you should be happy you got any fare.
4. Our laziness to cab a short distance - Look, asshat, this is why you have a 5.50 Euro minimum fare. I had planned to give you 7 or 8, but you just moaned your way into only 6 -- and that's because I didn't want to be around you long enough for the change.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Stolen Top 10 of 2000s: Best Flicks

These aren't necessarily the best movies of the decade, but they are the ones I enjoyed the most. So, "City of God", "Triplets of Belleville" and other "great" movies didn't make the cut because I'm shallow in my entertainment tastes. I try to make up for it with my reading habits, though.

10. Team America: World Police - Who would have expected political satire of both sides of the aisle AND an explicit version of The Jackhammer in one movie? And it's made with puppets. America! Fuck Yeah!
9. Star Trek - A worthy reboot, but a bit long. Still, Kirk kicked ass and the rest of the gang was fun. Good to know they didn't settle for 2nd hottest in casting Uhura.
8. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - "Hero" was close, but I had to give the nod to Crouching Tiger in the Artsy Ass Kicker category. If they'd cut the romantic desert scene, it'd have been much higher.
7. Kill Bill, Parts 1 & 2 - Such a variety of styles in two flicks, this is Tarantino at his best. He runs the gamut of 70s flicks, from the gory revenge to kung fu to westerns with a bit of the 70s high cinema thrown in.
6. The Royal Tenenbaums - "And this is my adopted daughter, Margot"
5. The Dark Knight - Action, moral dilemmas, and one messed-up Joker. Good times!
4. Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith - Some dislike it, and it is dark. But it's a blast, and Palpatine is quite faaaaabulous as the Emperor. I do think the ending with Obi-Wan and Yoda basically hiding for 20 years is a bit lame.
3. Best In Show - "Counting those, you’ve already packed six kimonos… We’re in Philadelphia for 48 hours." My favorite of the Christopher Guest movies. Brilliant work by everyone. To be fair, it's so good, it probably leaves me a bit underwhelmed by other semprov fare like "Curb Your Enthusiasm"
2. O Brother, Where Art Thou? - "Hot damn, it's the Soggy Bottom Boys!" The Odyssey in Depression-era Mississippi? As a comedy? Oh, yes.
1. Anchorman - "I'm going to punch you right in the ovaries. One shot, right to the babymaker." Oh, Ron Burgundy, how you make me laugh.

Special nods to Ocean's 11, Borat, High Fidelity and Pirates of the Caribbean (the first one) as being close, but not quite there.

* And not the first I'd seen. Usually people like best whichever they saw first of this, "Waiting for Guffman", "A Mighty Wind", etc.

Best Photos 2009

If you're on Facebook, click here to see the photos. If you're tagged, you're in at least one. Warning -- there are 3 naked asses (none are mine, and all will remain anonymous!).

I took a lot of photos this year, but it's the last year of the decade, so I figured I'd splurge on some disk space. You get a monster album's worth, including many from Ireland, Paris, London and places in between. Of course, we'll all remember it for bringing Star Trek back into our lives, but these photos are some secondary memories of mine.*

* That's my lame attempt at a King Wally-style recap quip.

Bonne Annee!


Not my best photo, but you'll get over it. Tomorrow I will relate the entire epic story of our attempted celebration at the Tour Eiffel, but for now I'll just say, Happy New Year!
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