Wednesday, July 25, 2007
1) Performance Enhancing Drugs would level the playing field.
I know the idea that roids would level the playing field goes against conventional wisdom. But conventional wisdom is often very very stupid. If the playing field in sports were truly level, sports would be boring: every game would end in a tie. The biggest factor in causing an uneven playing field is talent. Do you know who won the first Tour de France? The guy with the most talent [Maurice Garin]. It wasn't the hardest worker or the grittiest competitor or the "smartest racer" or even the guy with the biggest balls. [Recent Tours have proven that one can dominate the race without a huge set of balls.] At the highest levels of athletics, the most important thing is Thor-given talent. At the highest level, everyone trains hard, plays tough and knows the game. Obviously hard work and sticktoitiveness are important, but talent will trump them all. So here's my question? What's so great about talent? If Athlete A (lets call him Lance) is really really talented, and Athlete B (lets call him Floyd) is slightly less talented, and both are willing to work extremely hard at their sport, is the playing field really level? Does the guy with more talent deserve to win more? You can't change how much talent you have. Unlike Athlete A, Athlete B could not win the Tour on talent alone. His parents screwed him in the talent department. If he wants to compete, he has to take the next step. I say we let him take that step.
2) Performance Enhancing Drugs enhance performance.
Nobody watched the XFL. One reason nobody watched it was that the XFL was totally gay. But another, more significant reason is that the best football players play in the NFL, not the XFL. And we'd rather watch the best players play. This is the same reason that Major League Baseball has more viewers than minor league baseball, and the NBA has more viewers than the WNBA. People want to watch the best.
[Before any of youse get all bent out of shape because I acknowledged that the NBA has better basketball players in it than the WNBA, I will readily admit that the birds that play in the WNBA have good fundamentals and are talented and they could all dominate me. But I'm not a professional basketball player, and ain't a one of them could play in the NBA. If one of them could, we'd watch her because she was the best, not because she was the best chick.]
Steroids make athletes better. Period. Remember that Mark McGuire/Sammy Sosa race to break the single season home run record back in 1998? How awesome was that? How awesome would this year be if we stopped giving a shit about roids, and Barry Bonds wasn't such a douchebottle? Watching great players do great things is what sports are all about.
3) Drawing a distinction between Performance Enhancing Drugs and other new technology is totally capricious.
Lance Armstrong's first book is called It's Not About the Bike. But the fact of the matter is, to some degree, it is about the bike Lance. Lance's team had the best equipment, and it showed. The gap is narrowing, but for a while, Trek and the US Postal team did far more testing and engineering and custom tailoring their bikes for their riders. But so what? Technology improves, and in a sport like cycling, that makes for faster racing. And don't even get me started on the clap skate.
Also, remember Kirk Gibson's famous game-winning homer in the 1988 world series? Could he have even stepped to the plate without a cortisone shot? My guess is no. Athletes use all sorts of "performance enhancing drugs" to play when they're injured.
The truth is that Babe Ruth didn't have access to cortisone shots, and Philippe Thys only had like three gears when he won the Tour de France. All sorts of technology has made comparing today's athletes to their predecessors rather difficult. None of today's athletes "play clean" by 1920s standards. But I say that Kirk's homer is one of the best plays in baseball history. And Lance's dominance in the tour made it exciting to a whole country. The technology that allowed them to accomplish their feats made their sports better.
4) A viable, legal market for Performance Enhancing Drugs would lead to the development of better and safer drugs.
Do you know who wins the modern Tour de France? It's still not the guy that works the hardest. It's not the guy with the most talent either. It's not even the guy with the best drugs really. It's the guy with the least detectable drugs. The guys that develop these drugs have to work largely underground. A major goal is to make said drugs undetectable. But if PEDs were legal, the big drug companies would jump headfirst into that game and try to make better drugs. Along the way, they'd make them safer. Sooner or later, we could all benefit from this stuff. If our children can all bench press 400 lbs, would it not be a better world?
5) We could enjoy the games we love without having to scrutinize the athletes that play them.
This should be a very exciting time in sports. These guys are out there getting paid big bucks to entertain us. They found a way to make their craft more entertaining. The only people it could possibly hurt are the athletes themselves, and they're the ones choosing to take that risk. Shouldn't they be free to do so? [This isn't Russia, is this Russia?] Shouldn't we be able to cheer them on without wondering what they're on? With respect to the Tour de France, legalizing PEDs are its only hope. Baseball isn't too far from that. Who knows what sport is next. Do we really want of romanticized visions of the past to ruin the sports we love?
Hoo-ray for Roids!
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Yeah, that's right, I'm a male attorney in my late twenties and I've read the first six books, I love them, and I was eagerly awaiting the latest chapter in Harry's life. While I was waiting in line with various children and girls that appear to be in the education field, I see Former Roomie B walk in to pick up his copy. [I should note that Former Roomie B is the manliest man I know. He has a freezer full of meat that he shot, he has several items of furniture that he built, he's a former rugby player, and last year when we went camping one of our canoes was plastic and it filled with water when the outside layer of plastic got a crack and therefore weighed several metric tons more than it did before it cracked and Former Roomie B carried it every portage after the crack (Hey, shut up, I still carried the other canoe). He also won our "who can throw that big rock the farthest" contest.] We had a good laugh at our own expense, then he left for the wedding and I left for the grocery store for some brats and Italian sausages.
I picked some winners from the meat department at the Metro Market by my place and went home to boil them. Now, you may not believe this now, and you surely won't believe it by the end of this story, but I am an excellent tailgater. I use charcoal instead of gas, I can open beer bottles with my teeth, and I pre-boil my brats in the best brat-boiling beer ever: Miller Highlife. Some people may tell you that you should use a dark beer, like a stout or a porter. These people are liars. I drink stouts and porters like crazy and I love them, but Miller Highlife is second to no beer for cookin sausage in. So I boil the brats and the italians and put them in bags marked "brats" and "I-talians" and put them in the fridge while I fill the cooler with beer.
Soon after everyone arrives and we're on our way to the game. I take the secret 41st St. entrance to Miller Park and in no time I have some perfectly burning coals in my little red grill. And then I realize that the meat is still in my fridge.
The lack of meat, along with the car alarm that went off every ten minutes made the tailgate situation less than ideal. But we still had fun, and ate plenty of grub in the stadium. But as we'd soon find out, I wasn't the only one that dropped the ball that day. The Brewers looked awful. I won't recap the game, but I'll just say that there wasn't a single moment of that game that was worth getting excited about.
Speaking of the Brewers, I'm going to take a second to plug an awesome blog. So, the Crew took the next game and then went on the road to face the Cincinnati Reds. Last nights game was a pitcher's duel between Chris Capuano and the Red's humongous ace, Aaron Harang. The game was tied at the end of nine and went to extra innings. This looked promising for the Crew because the the Reds' bullpen blows. But we loaded the bases in both the 11th and 12th and couldn't cash in on either. In the 12th ( I think) Johnny Estrada grounded into a double play to end the inning. My reaction is forever memorialized by a true artist, here:
That about sums it up. Go read Kate's blog. She really has a way of summing it up... with stick figures.
That's all I got today. I'm going to go read Harry Potter now.
Friday, July 20, 2007
That said, I do try to support my team, the Bucks, to some degree. I'm not an avid fan by any means, but I go to a few games a year. The recent Bucks news has centered around the fact that our recent first round draft pick from China, just like most of his American counterparts, is a prima donna asshole. The Bucks used their pick on a 7-footer named Yi Jianlain. Since then, Yi and his handlers have stated that Yi will not play for Milwaukee. He's requested to be traded and said if he isn't, that he would go back to China. His stated reasons have been conflicting, but one of them is that Milwaukee doesn't have a big Chinese population. He's a prima donna asshole AND a racist! Nice work Yi, nice work. So basically, we squandered our first round pick. Nice pick Bucks. Nice pick.
But this news is perhaps even more depressing for our front court. Andrew Bogut just did this to his head:
Are you kitten me? Seriously Andrew? Who the hell do you think you are, Tong Po?
Beckham's move to The States has been getting a lot of attention. What I've found odd is the level of condescension that most of the American sportscasters have treated Beckham and his sport with in their coverage. Bryan Gumbel thinks it's xenophobia. I'm not sure that's true, but it is asinine that the mediocre former athletes and douchebag columnists of ESPN think they're entitled to project any aura of superiority over Beckham or the sport of soccer. Whether we Yankees will admit it or not, soccer is a very difficult sport and its stars are outstanding athletes. And it's the most popular sport in the world. If you don't like the sport of soccer, the reason has more to do with the household you were brought up in than anything about the game itself. So if any douchebag sportscasters are reading this, here is my advice to you: If you don't like soccer or David Beckham, that's fine. But don't be such a dick about it.
I, for one, wish Becks well.
In other much-covered news, Barry Bonds comes to Milwaukee today, three homers shy of breaking Hank Aaron's career record. A few days ago it seemed unlikely he'd break it here, but after jacking two against the Cubs yesterday, it seems at least possible. I'll be at the game on Saturday, but to be honest, I don't really care one way or another if he breaks the record here. I have more important things to worry about. Like a pennant race.
You jerks have a good weekend.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Dave Navarro was the lead guitar player for Jane's Addiction for a while and I think, after that, he joined the shittiest band in the world for one album called "One Hot Minute" which I'm sure is full of songs about California. However, he is probably most famous for having a huge head, being really ugly, and dating Carmen Electra.
Lincoln was our 16th President, the founder of the Republican Party, an avid theater-goer and a dude with a huge head. He is known for preserving the union and ending slavery. Abe, we commend you and your big head.
Christina Ricci has been praised for her acting since she was cast as a child with a big head in the The Addams Family in 1991. Since then she has been nominated for many awards and, in films like Sleepy Hollow, has made me think she might be a little hot, despite (or maybe because of?) her big head. Yeah, I kinda do...
Tony Snow is, of course, President Bush's press secretary. His massive head distracts us from the lies coming out of his mouth, which helps us to be at peace in our ignorance of what's really going on in the world. I especially like this picture of Tony. The American flag and dipshit grin really help to bring out the size of his massive head. Thanks for keeping us safe with your big head Tony.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
But Exhibit B of why ESPN blows is this thing they've been doing on SportsCenter called "Who's Now?" I know a lot of guys live and die with SportsCenter, but I've never really gotten into it. My knowledge of sports, at least with respect to the big three, doesn't go too far beyond the state borders of Wisconsin and I've never really cared what the Yankees or the Lakers are doing. Plus SportsCenter is hosted by some really annoying guys.
But I have to say, based on my limited exposure to the show, "Who's now?" must be an all time low. I mentioned "Who's Now?" a while back after seeing the match up between the greatest golfer ever and a mediocre QB that porked some skanks. For your review, "Who's Now?" consists of a bracket-style "tournament" in which various athletes are matched up against other athletes in "nowness." I guess that means accomplishments on the field/court/pitch/pool, plus style and shit like that. Apparently accomplishments on the field are weighted much less than the other intangibles that make up "nowness." So each day or week or whatever, Stu Scott announces the current match up, three douchebags discuss it, and 50,000 morons vote on it. The last match up was between the greatest tennis player that ever lived and some guy I've never heard of. Now I scoffed at Tiger versus Matt Leinert, but at least Tiger won. This time though, according to three douchebags and 50,000 morons, Roger Federer, the greatest tennis player ever is less "now" than some guy I've never heard of (who is Tony Parker?). Awesome.
But the current match up has me livid. It's Michael Phelps versus Shaq. Now keep in mind the contest is for who's the most "now." As I've stated, I don't know what "now" means, but I can't imagine it means "ten years ago." Michael Phelps is unquestionably the best swimmer who ever lived. And frankly, it isn't very close. No person has ever dominated his sport more than Phelps. (The only possible arguments I would entertain are Tiger and Federer). And Phelps is doing it RIGHT NOW. And he's barely 22. So after Stu Scott announces the match up, he turns it over to two guys I've never heard of and an australopithecus that used to play wide receiver for Tampa Bay for some discussion. Now, this match up seems like a no-brainer (a total Schaivo as Ace would say) to me. Phelps wins. Hands down. It's a stupid contest, but Phelps is untouchable, especially against some aging NBA center that hasn't been dominant in years. (Don't get me wrong, I love Shaq as far as NBA basketball players go. He seems like a class act and, as I understand it, was once pretty frickin good.) So Stu Scott turns it over to the no-names and the caveman for some discussion, and ALL THREE of these "sports analysts" pick Shaq. Seriously, ALL THREE. ESPN, you are a stupid TV station.
Speaking of who's now, how 'bout them Brewers? I attended the baseball match between the Crew and the Arizona Diamondbacks last night and it was some good baseball. The D-Backs started the show with a solo dinger from their first batter. But Corey Hart answered right back when it was our turn. Two batters later, Ryan Braun made it 3-2. A Prince Fielder double in the fifth added another, and despite two more solo homers by the D-Backs, the Brewer's hung on to win 4-3. Ya gotta win those one-run games. Cordero and Turnbow both looked good shutting down the D-Backs in the 8th and 9th.
The bad news is that Ben Sheets was put on the 15 day DL yesterday. We brought in a pair of studs from the AAA squad down in Nashville. Manny Parra is a lefty starter that has been kicking butt with a 1.7ish ERA and a perfect game under his belt, and righty reliever Grant Balfour, who also had a 1.7ish ERA and a bunch of saves. This brings the average age on the team down to like 16. It's my kind of team Charlie, my kind of team.
Friday, July 13, 2007
Last night was sort of strange. The party that Former Roomie B won started at this bar called Victor's, where we got some free appetizers, before a bus took us to the Comedy Cafe. Victors is affectionately referred to as Victims. It looks like a Vegas lounge from the 1970s where down-on-their-luck businessmen go to pick up prostitutes. It has a reputation for being full of cougars. Considering all the stories I've heard about Victims, in the few times I've patronized the place, I've never had a bad time there. We ate our fill and then boarded the bus to JD's.
MC Big-glasses put on a fine show. He was followed by a woman who's first joke started like this, "when I told my dad I wanted to be a comedian, he said 'why do you want to be a comedian? Women aren't funny.'" I don't know how this joke ended, but I think her dad was right.
But the second act was sort of strange. He was this 45 year old white guy. He was a little overweight and had a goatee. He started off making jokes about pot and stuff like that. He was really funny and totally had the audience with him. But then he segued into some racial humor. At some point, he went off script and just started telling stories with no real punchlines and at some point soon after that, he started to look visibly frazzled. He was tiptoeing a line that few white comics dare to go anywhere near. It was a mixed crowd but it didn't seem like anyone was close to bustin a cap in his ass or anything. Anyway, it was a little weird. But then he went back to pot humor and jokes about his gay son and all was forgiven.
He was followed by a young black comic that made jokes about beating his kids and locking his students [he was a "staff member" at a middle school, but not a teacher] in his trunk. He was also very funny. Afterwards, we returned to victims to
I'm not sure I've mentioned this on here before, but I'm having a mid-life crisis. This is scary for several reasons, most notably that if this is mid-life, I'll be dead at 55. My pop tells me that everyone gets like this in there first few years out of school, so I'm probably just being melodramatic. Either way, a friend of mine sent me this old Onion article today and I found it very appropriate:
Temp Hides Fun, Fulfilling Life From Rest Of Office
BOSTON—Ty Braxton, 23, continues to hide his fun and fulfilling life from the full-time employees of Hale & Dorr, the Boston law firm for which he has temped since July.
"At a job like this, where you're surrounded by angry, perpetually stressed-out lawyers who are working 80 hours a week, it's important to hide the fact that you're enjoying a normal, balanced, happy life," Braxton said Monday. "People get really pissed when they hear stuff like that."
Braxton, who earns roughly one-fourth of what the firm's lowest-seniority full-time employees make, said he has no desire to make his coworkers feel bad about their "boring, shitty lives."
"If somebody complains about how bad it sucks to work overtime five days straight, I just nod and agree," said Braxton, who spends his weeknights at parties, at concerts, and playing basketball in the park. "No point in rubbing in the fact that no matter how busy things are, I leave at exactly 5 p.m. every single day.
This really makes me go hmmmm.
After like 4 horrible days without baseball, the Milwaukee Brewers and I return to Miller Park for a game against the Colorado Rockies. Awesome.
Have a good weekend jerks.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
The following is my list of 5 dominant brew pubs. This is largely (but not entirely) a regional list since I haven't visited too many brewpubs outside of Wisconsin. But there are a shitload of brewpubs in Wisconsin and I've patronized most of them. I think that I can safely say that this list probably represents the best brewpubs in the United States... possibly.. the world. It's also topical because there is a bill before the Wisconsin Senate that is pissing of some brewpubs owners. Basically, the bill makes it difficult for brewpubs that sell food to also sell their beer to other bars or liquor stores. In protest, the owner of the Milwaukee Ale House, um, dumped a bunch of beer in the Milwaukee river. I think he was trying to mimic the Boston Tea Party or something, but it was still a really stupid thing to do. They have some good beer for Chrisake. It seems like a waste to just dump it into the river. They could have at leasr given it to homeless people. Anyway, I don't really "understand" the bill or the protest, but I know that it has something to do with beer. And I like beer. And here are 5 dominant brewpubs:
1. The Great Dane. The Dane is located on King St., just off the Capital Square in Madison, WI. There are actually three locations, but the other two feel more like Applebees than Brewpubs. They all have the same dominant beer, but the downtown location is the best. They have six nice pool tables and good food. They also have really good beer. My favorite is the Devil's Lake Red. It's awesome. It has a creamy head, almost like a Boddington's, but it's red. The Peck's Pils is also good, but I think it has cocaine in it or something. Every time I drink the Pils I end up waking up on my back in the Capital's lawn.
2. The Lakefront Brewery. The Lakefront Brewery is located on Commerce Ave. in Milwaukee, WI. I suppose that technically it's a microbrewery as opposed to a brewpub, but that distinction is largely illusory because you can definitely go to the Lakefront Brewery and get shit-faced. You can also get a Friday fish fry. As far as I'm concerned, that makes it a pub. The LFB, which is not on the lakefront, was opened when two brothers that were both home-brewers bought an old bakery and turned it into a brewery. They eventually upgraded to a bigger building on the Milwaukee River. It was basically the only building for like a mile. But lately, condos have been sprouting up all around the joint. So basically, these guys have themselves a goldmine. The best thing about the Lakefront Brewery is the tour. It costs $5 and includes a pint glass and five beers. I used to live a few hundred yards away so I've taken the tour about twenty times. Unlike the Miller tour, which is led by some rando college chick majoring in marketing or something, the LFB tour is often led by the owners, or at least the guys that make the beer. Also, you get your free beer before and during the tour instead of at the end. The LFB also owns Bernie Brewer's old chalet and slide from County Stadium. On some tours they let you go down the slide. But lately I think they've shied away from that because of the liability issues that surround a big slide coupled with lots of beer. Their best beer is the East Side Dark, but they also have some atypical varieties like the coffee-flavored Fuel Cafe, and the pumpkin pie flavored Pumpkin Lager. That last one actually isn't as bad as it sounds. And I'm definitely a guy that prefers his beer to be beer-flavored.
3. The Milwaukee Ale House. The Ale House is located on Water Street in Milwaukee's third ward. It's right on the river, which makes for a lovely outdoor dining experience. They usually have solid bands playing on weekends too. Their best brew is definitely Louie's Demise. Louie's Demise is named after somebody's (I'm not sure who's) great great uncle Louie, who was killed with a beer glass in a barroom scuffle. Or something like that. Stupid story, but a good beer.
They also have a good one called Sheepshead Stout, which, obvious to Milwaukeeans, is named after the popular card game.
4. The Wasatch Pub & Brewery. I first encountered Wasatch beer at the Salt Lake City airport on my way to Vegas. We had a layover so we stopped for a beer at the nearest bar in the terminal. We were a little worried that a beer would be hard to find in Utah, given the state's reputation for being fucking crazy. But we learned very quickly that at least one person in the state of Utah has a sense of humor. Wasatch's flagship brew is called Polygamy Porter. Awesome. And it's not just a clever name, it's pretty good. A little lighter and sweeter than your average porter, but very tasty. They also brew a First Amendment Lager and an Evolution Ale. I bet the locals love them.
5. Goose Island. Goose Island is a Chicago Brew Pub in Wrigleyville. I've been to Goose Island a bunch of times. Their beer is solid and their food is satisfying enough (although last time I was there, I think it may have done some damage. Until I can confirm that, it's staying in the top 5). I'm a big fan of their main beverage, Honkers Ale. It's also a brilliant business plan in my book. And those goose head taps are sharp marketing.
That's all I got for my first 5 Things. If I feel like it, I'll do another one next Thursday. Also, if you happen to be the proprietor of a brew pub that I did not mention and you think you deserve a spot on my list, please send me some of your beer and I will consider revising my list.
Monday, July 9, 2007
On the day of the "party" I stopped by the Brewers' pro-shop to get Bill's future daughter her first Brewer t-shirt. I then picked up my other ol' pal Chris (probably not his real name either) and headed out to Franklin, WI for what would be the longest 3 hours of our lives. Three more of the ol' friends were invited and none of them showed up. Assholes. Absolutely brilliant assholes.
[Now, I should preface this by telling you that Bill's situation isn't exactly "traditional." He hadn't been dating/seeing/banging/whatever his baby's momma for very long before they got a start on their family. The child is, as they say, an "oops." But Bill has grown up very fast in the last few months. He's actually done everything right in this situation (except for not getting his girlfriend pregnant). He's making every effort to help her along, he's open to taking their relationship to the next level, but doesn't seem to be pushing it or anything. He moved close by her. And from what I can tell, he's pretty excited to be a dad. Nice work Bill, you'll do fine.]
Bill greeted Chris and I at the door, and boy was he glad to see us. He already looked frazzled (and at least a little tipsy) and it was obvious Billy was in for a long day. Also in attendance were Billy's parents (who I would learn don't like each other vary much), about 20 members of Bill's baby's momma's family and some friends. I'd estimate that the male to female ratio at this co-ed baby shower was about 1 to 5, although some of those chicks may have been dudes. By far the most well-represented subgroup in attendance was "aunts." Regardless, they were all looking at Chris and I like we had leprosy and we were looking at them like they were really unattractive chicks, which is to say we weren't looking at them at all.
Apparently, at baby showers, you play games. Really stupid games. Here are some of the games that were played:
Game #1-Answer 20 random questions about the couple, how they met, stuff from their childhoods etc. This game [like the whole party] was a little awkward because their "how they met" story isn't exactly a "meet cute," as they say in Hollywood [yes, I am familiar with romantic comedy terminology]. They met at work, but I think the courtship involved lots of booze and myspace.
Game #2-Blind taste-test some random baby food and guess what kind of dead bugs it was made from.
Game #3-I'm not sure what the next game was, but I saw Bill's baby's momma's momma putting a candy bar in a diaper, and I think she microwaved it. That was my cue to grab Chris and go hang out outside for a while. If any of my female readers [yes, I realize that I don't really have any female readers... because I'm a jerk] happen to know how this game works, could you please explain it?
After the games, we ate some food. And then we watched Bill and Bill's baby's momma open presents... for fourteen hours straight. Wanna know what they got? A lot of baby clothes and stuff! Who would have guessed? Apparently chicks like these "shower" things [both kinds], but my advice to you guys is this: Never ever go to a co-ed shower [this advice obviously only applies to one of the two kinds of shower].
I met some friends for Mexican food and margaritas at Botanna's and then headed into the festival. It was about 125 degrees out and the whole "cooler near the lake" thing was not doing it's job. I think the massive sweaty crowd of chubby Milwaukeeans increased the temp an additional million degrees (to 1,000,125 degrees). After some beer-drinking and people-watching, we ran into some of my old friends from my collegetrack team, most notably, former roomie Kev-O. Kev-O is unique in that his favorite band of all time is... Collective Soul. Who's favorite band is Collective Soul? I mean, I suppose they're a very good band, but all-time favorite? Really? Anyway, this decided it for me. I wanted to see Collective Soul with Kev-O, so my friends and I joined him, his wife B, other former college runner bud R, and really really hot runner chick K. The show was pretty solid. I found that I knew almost all of the songs they played, even though I wouldn't have thought that I would prior to the show. Good times were had by all.
After the show, we walked to The Milwaukee Ale House. This was stupid because we could have easily taken an air-conditioned cab instead of walking [almost] a mile in the 1,000,125 degree heat. But the people I was with were all people I ran with in college, and apparently distance runners from small towns are anti-taxi. Or maybe they just don't get how public transportation works. When I suggested a cab, hot chick K said "ooh, can I call it? like on tv?" and started waving her hand in the air. How cute. But we were overruled by Kev-O and R and settled for a long sweaty stroll.
Friday, July 6, 2007
Much of the conversation in the Brewers' clubhouse centered on the other guests at the team hotel. There was an Anthrocon convention in town, drawing people interested in anthropomorphics, described as "humanlike animal characters." Members of the organization also are known as "furries," because they wear outfits designed to make them look part animal, particularly cartoon animals. Apparently, the convention attendees really get into the transformation. "I didn't get a lot of sleep," J.J. Hardy said. "There were people in the room next to mine barking all night."
Whaaaaaaatttttttt?!?!?!? Furries?!?! Barking all night?!?! What the hell is that?
Okay, so I looked this crap up on Wikipedia and it turns out that "Anthrocon" is the largest "furry convention" in the world and is held annually in Pitt. Like 2500 people go to this thing, dress up in mascot costumes, have a dance, watch a puppet show... you know, normal stuff like that. And according to JJ Hardy, after that they go back to their rooms and... bark like dogs.
Here is a picture of the "fursuit dance" from Wikipedia:
Who are these people?
Sadly, and in the wake of Joey Chestnut's 4th of July defeat of Tekaru Kobayashi, Johnsonville has stated that they would no longer be sponsoring the Bratwurst eating world championships. Last year, Kobayashi crushed the world record by eating 58 Brats in 10 minutes. The competitive eating world would be clamoring for this event so soon after Chestnut's win in hot dogs on the forth. The Brat rematch would have been one for the ages. This is a big loss for Sheboygan, WI and the world.
It's the final weekend of Summerfest, the world's largest music festival. I'm planning on going tomorrow to catch Old 97s and Guster and prolly get a Sazz's sampler platter.
Thursday, July 5, 2007
Michael Bay has never made a movie that I would call "good," but I think he was a good guy to direct Transformers. You don't really need "character development" or "believability" or "a plot" in a movie about giant alien robots that turn into cars that come to Earth to fight other giant alien robots. And Bay actually made a couple improvements to the Transformers mythology. Most notable is that none of them drastically change size when they transform. When I was a kid I had a huge problem with the fact that the Megatron character was totally gay. He changed from a 30-foot tall robot into a little handgun. It was just retarded. Usually, Soundwave would fire Megatron when he was in gun-form. Soundwave was pretty lame too. He changed from a giant robot into... a tape player. In case the Deceptacons wanted to... like... record something... onto a cassette tape. The concept of Megatron turning into a gun and Soundwave shooting him at the Autobots would be akin to Darth Vader turning into a lightsaber and having one of those A-holes in the grey suits that he always chokes to death go after Chewbacca with it. Well in the Transformers movie, Soundwave doesn't appear and instead of being a little handgun, Megatron is this big-ass jet thing. Most of the Autobots were changed into GM cars for obvious product placement reasons too. The biggest change being that Bumblebee is a Camarro instead of a Beetle, like Herbie the Lovebug or the car that Mandie Moore drives in the video for Candy. Thanks again President Reagan.
So anyway, the "plot" of Transformers is that there are these huge sentient robots from planet Cybertron. They destroyed their own civilization through wars and stuff and were scattered across the galaxy. They're looking for this thing called the "allspark," which transforms electronic stuff into living creatures. It is essentially the Transformer God, except that it's a big cube instead of a muscular guy with a magic hammer like our god.
So the allspark ended up on Earth and was discovered frozen in the arctic circle by some old explorer dude a hundred years ago. He discovered Megatron there too. This old explorer dude's grandson, Sam, now has some artifacts from grandpa's exploration, including a pair of glasses that Megatron etched instructions for finding the allspark on.
The Deceptacons learn this and go after Sam, while the Autobots try to protect him and find the allspark themselves. A 1 hour, 45 minute car-chase/shootemup/robot fight follows. Awesomeness ensues. The end.
Transformers isn't without it's problems. It had several massive plot-holes, as is common in Michael Bay movies. And there was a little too much ham involved. They tried to make the characters more contemporary or something. Like they made the character Jazz a total douchebag. He was all "hip-hop" or something. I was happy when Megatron tore him in half.
But the biggest problem was the two assholes sitting behind me in the theater that wouldn't shut the hell up for the entire movie. Could someone please explain to me why two people that wanted to have a conversation would go to a movie? Why not go get some coffee or a beer? Why not just sit in your F-ing living room for Chrisake? We avoided the Mayfair theater because we didn't want to deal with this garbage. But I guess people talk in movies at the FoxBay theater too. I would have said something, but I think that people who talk in movies usually pack heat too. Also, these two assholes appeared to like the Jazz character, who, as I previously noted, was a douchebag.
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
We got to Juneau Park around 7:00 and despite the inclement weather, it was pretty crowded. Around 9:00 it started to downpour and we decided to hustle back to my apartment to wait it out. The news told us that show was still going to happen so we braved the weather and headed back out into the storm. There's a staircase right across the street from my apartment that leads down to the lakefront, so we set up shop there and had a pretty good view. It was a very good show. What made it especially cool was that
[Foreground display provided by the Bartolotta family, background by Thor and his magic hammer Mjolnir]
Sunday, July 1, 2007
Saturday, June 30 at...
7:01 am. I woke up early. Lots to get done before I boarded the train to Chicago. I felt pretty good about the upcoming games even in spite of the brutal 6-5 loss on Friday after Aramis Ramirez's walk-off dinger against us. If you want to see it, watch this clip. But pay special attention to the post-dinger celebration. The Cubs are obviously very, um, "close"...
(Edit: That youtube video keeps getting taken down so watch it here)
7:22 am. Got ready. I Drank a glass of Ovaltine and walked to the Wallgreens down the street for camera batteries, memory card, Redbull, tagboard and rubber cement. Had a Wallgreens employee making minimum wage look at me like I was completely bonkers.
7:45 am. Made sign. I went with "2007 - THE HUNT FOR NED'S OCTOBER" Get it? Ned refers to Ned Yost, the Brewer's GM, and October is obviously a reference to the playoffs. I'm so fucking clever. Actually I'm not. Some guy on the Brewerfan.net message board is so fucking clever.
9:30 am: Made sure I was properly attired. I went to Grand Avenue Mall and purchased a new Ryan Braun jersey. I wanted to get Matt Wise, but I don't think they make Matt Wise jerseys. The only person with a Matt Wise jersey is Matt Wise. It's kind of too bad, because Wise is a real card. The man missed half a season due to a salad tongs injury. But he's been kicking butt this year. Anyway, I instead settled for the young slugger/Robert-Downy-Jr.-look-a-like.
10:50 am: Boarded train. A former classmate of mine happened to be riding on the same train. So that was nice. But what wasn't nice is that, as far as I could tell, there was no bar aboard the train. I'm new at train travel, but I was expecting a bar. I've been totally misled by Jason Mulgrew.
12:24 pm: Arrived at Union Station. I made a quick call to Matt to tell him to pick me up. While I'm waiting a little kid in a Redsox shirt standing near me looks at my Brewers jersey and says, "Brewers? I like the Redsox." Did I get on the wrong train that somehow took me to Boston in an hour and 34 minutes? "The Redsox are oh-kay kid, but I like the Crew." See ya later kid. At least you're not a Cubs fan.
12:32 pm: Matt arrived in his ridiculously large Toyota truck. Who drives a ridiculously huge Toyota truck in Chicago? Matt does.
[A funny story about Matt's ridiculously large Toyota truck: the tires of the truck have these sensors that monitor the pressure. If one of the tires has lower pressure than the others, a light goes on on the dashboard. The light went on so Matt checked all the tires and the pressure was fine on all of them. He consulted the ol' interweb to see what the problem might be. He was advised to check the spare tire, because it too had a sensor. So Matt checked the spare tire, which was... gone. Stolen. So I guess those sensors and warning lights are good for something.]
So Matt picked me up in his spare-tire-less, ridiculously large Toyota truck. Also present were Pretty Paul and his brother Brian, who would be attending the game with us.
1:15 pm: Pre-gamed. We hit The Cubby Bear for some pre-game drinking. You might think that with a name like "The Cubby Bear," this bar would embrace all things Chicago. But don't be fooled. It's a Packer Bar. My brother joined us for beers, but he had to miss this game. We drank several rounds of over-priced Miller Lites. The Crew was well represented here, which was a good sign. Although the "Biggest Douchebag in the Bar" award would have to go to one of our fans. There was a guy wearing a custom Brewers jersey adorned with the #4 and the name " Favre." I hate to tell you this buddy, but Favre only playes football, the #4 belongs exclusively to a guy named Molitor, and you're a douchebag.
2:40 pm: Entered the Ballpark. We crossed the street and headed into the stadium.
[By the way, when Miller Park was being built, there was some debate about where it should be located. Some people wanted it to be down town instead of in the middle of nowhere. The pro-middle of nowhere crowd cited "tailgating" as one argument in their favor (parking, cost and some other crap were sited as well). That's a solid argument, but I really really really wish they would have built it down town. I love a good tailgate party, but there's something truly awesome about having a stadium in a neighborhood. There is something even more awesome about walkin 100 yards from a bar to your seat in the park.]
2:50 pm: Found our seats. We were in about the 13th row, on the first base side out in right field. Great seats. Wrigley Field is really a very cool ballpark. It's like going back in time. It's all brick and iron, nothing fancy. I don't even think it has electricity. The scoreboard was a bit charming, but sort of difficult to follow. On this day, it wouldn't matter.
2:51 pm: Got Beer. We ordered a round of... Old Styles? Wha??? Like "Pure brewed in God's country" Old Style? I thought I'd be stuck drinking Anheuser Busch products at this dump, but Old Style would do just fine. Although it's no longer pure brewed in God's Country (LaCrosse, Wisconsin) it is pure brewed in Milwaukee since Miller contract-brews Pabst products these days.
3:00 pm: Got on TV? The Fox Sports camera guy was all over us for like an inning and a half. As far as I know we didn't get on tv though. Did anyone out there see us on tv? Four jerks in Brewer gear on the first base side with a cool sign?
3:15ish: Watched some ball. Nice hit Hart, Nice hit JJ, RBI Double for Ryan Braun! RBI Double for Prince Fielder! Looking good so far. The Crew would bat around the order in the first and score four runs.
4:15ish: Established dominance. The Crew is now up 9 to 2 in the third inning. Everybody is hitting. We had a round of kosher dogs and several more rounds of Old Style. Some girls two rows in the row in front of use invite us to a "singles party." We never made it though.
4:30ish: Ran into a friend. I headed out to find the little cowboy's room and ran into my good friend Kyle! Small world. There really were a ton of Crew fans there! We man-hugged near the concession stand and had a quick chat about how awesome the Brewers are etc. etc.
4:35ish: Took leak. Yeah, the bathrooms here really do just have troughs to piss in. No privacy at all. It really is like going back in time here. It looks kinda like this:
6:15ish: Picked up the bro. I made a quick stop at the bro's place so I could drop off the sign and pick up the brother.
6:20ish: Drank more beer. We went to a bar called Moe's Cantina. Lots of Brewer fans were out celebrating. Most of us switched to Redbull-based drinks, hit on some ladies etc. My bro took off soon after. He's married and wasn't up for the general debauchery that was ahead for the rest of us.
8:00ish: Ate. Got some grub at Goose Island. I think it sucked, but I could be wrong.
9:15ish: Got bounced. We went back to Moe's Cantina, but this time, they wouldn't let us in... Because we were wearing baseball jerseys. It sounded a little fishy to me since the place wasn't exactly a club and the guys wearing the baby blue Robin Yount jersey and the pinstripe Ryan Braun jersey probably aren't in a gang. But whatever, we were happy to take our business elsewhere.
9:20ish: Got bounced again. Feeling jilted by Moe's, we went next door to John Barleycorn's. And they wouldn't let us in because we were wearing hats. Milwaukee Brewers hats. Now, I know for a fact that John Barleycorn's isn't anything close to a club. What the hell is wrong with this town. It's Wrigleyville for Chrisake, aren't they used to post-baseball game festivities?
10:00ish: Drank. We then went to a bar called Red Ivy where we spent the majority of the evening. Stuff starts to get very blurry at this point so the remaining times are "give or take 3 hours." We started talking to some relatively plain girls from Appleton, WI--Matt's home town. That got old fast so we moved on. Some Asian girls in white dresses started talking to Matt and I. They seemed innocent at first but... Anyway, we moved on and started talking with a group of Brewer fans at the bar, did some shots, danced like idiots (we danced in the polka and square styles. Heh.), hit on girls etc.
2:10ish: Bartime. So we moved on to a bar that's opened past bartime. Why don't we have these in Milwaukee?
2:20ish: Ate bad pizza. Stop for pizza at Pizza Ria, and boy did it suck. Sorry guys, but you can't put ketchup on a cracker and tell me it's pizza no matter how much I've had to drink. We met some young ladies though. However, Matt pissed them off when he dumped crushed red peppers all over their food.
3:00ish: Drank. We arrived at Frank's, a Sinatra-themed bar.
3:10ish: Vomitted. I threw up some black stuff. This was quite odd since I don't remember eating anything black...
4:00ish: Left. Had a spirited debate with Matt about whether we should walk back or get a cab. In the end, we pooled our remaining few dollars and flagged down a cab.
All in all, it was a very fun night.
9:22am: Woke up. I woke up with a painful case of hiccups/heartburn/acid reflux. Apparently I didn't get all of that black stuff out of me the previous evening. It wasn't the typical hangover ailments, this was a whole new animal to me and this animal really really sucked. I pounded some water, had some peanut butter toast and put on SportsCenter. [Now I've never been a big fan of Sportscenter and I rarely watch it. It's times like this that I realize why. What a stupid show. They devoted about 18 pico-seconds to my first place Brewers and like 45 minutes to this garbage team with a sub-500 record called the Yankees. What the hell is that? But to make it worse, they are doing this thing right now called "Who's Now?" They set up this bullshit bracket system to determine "who's now?" Answer: who cares? It works like this: each episode or day or something, that guy with the lazy eye takes two random athletes that the dipshits at SportsCenter embody a nonsense characterization they call "now," or more moronically, "nowness." Like this morning, it was Tiger Woods versus Matt Leinert. Voters are supposed to determine whether the greatest golfer to ever live is more "now" than some mediocre quarterback. So Stu Scott listed the accomplishments of the two. First, Tiger's massive collection of major victories and whatnot. Then he listed Leinert's accomplishments, which included, I shit you not, "rumored to have dated Paris Hilton and Britney Spears." What? I thought this was SPORTScenter? Is "nowness" determined by how many skanks an athlete bangs?] That was enough of that. Matt woke up and we headed out the door for game two.
11:25 am: Evaluated finances. We stopped back at Frank's so I could, you know, close my tab... Ooops.
12:13 pm: Beer and bags. Arrived at my brother's place for some beanbags and beer. The bro destroyed us all at beanbags, but I blame my acid reflux.1:10 pm: Left for the park. We saw this enterprising young man on the way:
1:20 pm: Found our seats. This time we were on the third base side. One other thing I found charming about Wrigley Field was this:
This is a professional baseball stadium, not a sports bar. But there are all of these random 19 inch TVs all over the place. They aren't even uniform. It's like they were acquired during different Walmart specials over the years. But what makes them even funnier is that United Airlines apparently sponsors these random 19 inch TVs.
1:25: Close to death. My acid reflux was still kicking my ass. I was seriously dying there.
2:00: Get some Tums. I finally decide to see if I can find some Tums in this stadium. I locate an usher and she had some generic Tums in her little medical bag. She was also pretty cute. Thank you cute Wrigley Field usher girl. You saved my life.
1:20-4:20: Watched baseball. The game was mostly uneventful, with the only highlight being a Corey Hart home run, which continued his hitting streak to 17 games. Nice work Corey.
After the game, I hung out with my brother and his wife for a while, grilled some dinner and caught the train back to Milwaukee. And I'm spent.