Friday, January 30, 2009

Diverting Conversation

For your Friday pleasure, I'm going to recap the weirdest experience I've ever had in a Best Buy electronics store. There is a moral to this story- a very important moral that many, many people I randomly come across could learn from.

I was dating my now-fiance for only a couple months, and she was telling me about the show "Flight of the Conchords" (now one of my favorite shows.) The DVD of Season 1 had just come out and we went to Best Buy to get it. This was also just after Halloween, and we had been watching scary movies. I mentioned to her that we should watch "28 Days Later" because she had never seen it. In addition, I decided to also purchase "28 Weeks Later" because neither of us had seen the sequel.

With said items in hand, we went to the check out line. The line was fairly long even though it was nearing closing time. We waited patiently until the middle-aged man next to us said, "What are you two getting?"

He proceeded to inspect our shopping items as if he was a Scotland Yard official. I hate when people do this. It's not your business. We're not friends and there's no point in making small talk. My only hope was that he'd see the zombie movies I was buying and back off. I showed him the movies and he replied, "Oh, I don't like those kind of movies." To which I thought, Nothing like someone asking what I'm buying and then critiquing my taste.

He continued, "You know what movies I like?"

No Jack-ass- what do you like, I thought.

"Disney movies! They are happier movies without all the murder and rape. That'll just get in your head and make you crazy."

Crazier than a late 40s, early 50 year old man proclaiming that he loves Disney movies out of thin air, eh? Well played, sir.

"What's your favorite Disney movie?" he asked.

"Umm, Jungle Book, I guess," I replied in a less than enthusiatic tone.

Apparently he didn't catch on to my tone because he then broke into song and dance (seriously, I'm not joking.) He sang, "Look for those bare necessities, those mother nature's receipes- Forget about your worries and your strife!" His dance was remincient of Lloyd Christmas's dance during "Dumb and Dumber" when he first puts on the bright orange suit (As seen here at the end of the clip. Yes, it's in Italian.)

And you would think by this time, the line would be done or he would have realized that he was being ridiculous. Nope, neither.

"Do you two like Disneyland? I love Disneyland! Everyone is so happy there! I love the characters and the rides and everything about it!"

Dude, are you serious?

"You know what the best time to go to Disneyland is? November, when it's a little cold and rainy. You can get on the rides so much faster because not many other people are there! You know what else is a great way to get to the front of the line?"

To which I replied, "Go with someone in a wheelchair so you are immediately allowed to the front?"

And while my answer is in fact correct, he said, "No. Single-rider! You see, if you go on the rides by yourself, you can go to the front and they'll let you fill in empty seats. It's great!"

So let me get this straight, assuming you have a wife, you leave her at Toon Town while you single-ride the rides spreading your merriment to other creeped-out folks?

My fiance took the high road. She said, "So do you go to Disneyland with your kids?" She was trying to let him save his manhood. Give him an excuse so this story won't sound so crazy.

"Nah. My kids don't like it as much anymore. I think they've grown out of it."

"Oh, how old are they? 13? 14?" my fiance asked.

"No. They're 27 and 25," replied the Disney-loving man.

So at this point, there can't be anything left, right? Wrong. He, out of nowhere, brought up another Disney story.

"So one time, I'm right over by Mickey Mouse, and you know that the mascots are not allowed to talk. There were a lot of kids around Mickey and I did my best Mickey Mouse impression from behind him- 'Well, hello there! [in a high pitched Mickey Mouse voice.]' All the kids started freaking out! 'Mickey Mouse talked!' they said. My Mickey impression was so good, that the kids thought he was talking!"

Wow. We were speechless. I mean, what can you really say about a grown man striking up a conversation with complete strangers only to direct it in a fashion that would lead to him doing a Mickey Mouse impression? Since he was in front of us in line, it was his turn (FINALLY) to approach the cashier. For good measure he greeted the cashier with his Mickey Mouse impression, "Well, hello there!" My fiance and I quickly made our purchases and bolted for the car as quickly as possible. It was finally over.

What is the moral of the story you ask? Please, please, please if you are a stranger that wants to start up a conversation with someone- do NOT start it with the agenda of leading it somewhere that serves only yourself. In fact, don't start it at all. This man only began the conversation about what we were buying so that he could eventually "show off" his impression of Mickey Mouse. I literally have no problem with Disneyland, or adults liking it. I do have a problem when someone views my purchase of "28 Days Later" as a way to bring up their undying love for Disneyland, single-riding, and Mickey Mouse.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the Super Bowl. The Steelers are going to win, and probably cover- just in case you were curious.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ok Cubs, I'm Still With Ya...

Being a lifelong Cubs fan has its ups and downs, and currently the team is gearing up for a three-peat of the NL Central Division. Here I will briefly summarize the major moves they've made and add in some of my own opinions on Jim Hendry's "masterplan:"

- Did not re-sign Kerry Wood - Not a terrible move. Wood ended up signing a two-year $20.5 mil contract with the Indians. The thing I don't get, however, is that there were reports that Wood would've taken less money and signed a one-year deal with the Cubs. GM Jim Hendry said those reports were "highly exaggerated." Really? Then why didn't you offer him arbitration and get a draft pick when he signed elsewhere? I believe Jon Papelbon set the record for arbitration for a closer at over $6 mil this year. I think a draft pick, or Wood for $5-$6 mil this year would not have been a bad idea.

- Traded Jose Ceda for Kevin Gregg - To fill Woody's shoes, the Cubs traded highly touted prospect Ceda for decent closer/set-up man Kevin Gregg. I'd say you can expect a 3.70 ERA from him, but he's not a dominant pitcher by any means. Why all of a sudden did the Cubs trade Ceda, after REFUSING to trade him the year before? Something we don't know? Perhaps. I have a feeling the Cubs may come out behind on this deal.

- Traded Mark DeRosa to the Indians for 3 pitching prospects - I've said all along that if this trade leads to a possible acquisition of Jake Peavy, then I'm cool with it. If not, it probably was a salary dump and that is stupid. Realistically, only one of the three pitchers (Jeff Stevens) is projected to be good at the Major League level. Trading away a hard-nosed utility guy like DeRosa could have a negative effect on the clubhouse.

- Traded Jason Marquis for Luis Vizcaino - Salary Dump. Solid move. I like Marquis enough, but Sean Marshall can hold down the fifth starter spot with equal effectiveness. I doubt Vizcaino will be that good, but clearing payroll was worth it for the next move...

- Signed Milton Bradley - 3 years/$30 mil for a switch-hitting, crazy outfielder. Bradley sounded awfully calm at the press conference, and he a great year last year with the Rangers. He will do great with the Cubs as long as a) he stays healthy and b) he doesn't challenge any fans or teammates to a No Disqualification Match inside Wrigley Field.

- Signed Aaron Miles - Also a switch hitter, he will fill some of what DeRosa used to do. I have a feeling that Mike Fontenot will be taking over Second Base duties with Miles subbing at different positions.

- Traded Felix Pie to the Orioles for Garrett Olson - I loved this trade. Pie is a good defensive outfielder, but hasn't shown an ability to consistently hit at the plate. He was out of options so the Cubs could've put him on the roster, released him, or traded him (no minor league option.) Getting left hander Olson was a steal and also a piece that the Padres were interested in.

- Traded Ronny Cedeno and Garrett Olson to the Mariners for Aaron Heilman - Ah, the Cubs. Being a fan of them is so great, and yet so frustrating. Getting rid of Cedeno was a great move. He, like Pie was out of options. He's a good bench/utility player, but nothing more. Olson on the other hand is a valuable left handed pitcher the Cubs could've turned over to the Pads for Jake Peavy. Jake Peavy! One more time- Cy Young Winner Jake Peavy! And if they weren't going to do that, they could've kept Olson and let him be the fifth starter or a long reliever. Instead, the Cubs now have Aaron Heilman. Great. The guy that the Mets let go, when the thing they need the most is bullpen help. Awesome.

- Other than that, they re-signed Ryan Demptster and acquired Joey Gathright. Fukudome is likely moving to Center Field (I still don't expect much from him- he has a hole in his swing!) The Cubs line-up looks very good, and their rotation looks great. I might be a bit greedy when it comes to getting Peavy, but I'm certain there was a way it could have happened. It disappoints me that they made all these other moves rather than go after the biggest fish available to them.

I expect them to defend their Division title this year, but we'll see when it comes to the Playoffs. Considering their 0-6 record over the last two years in the NLDS, I can't predict anything beyond that- they have to prove themselves this year.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Make a Lay-up!

For many months I neglected playing basketball. It was a difficult thing to give up when I stopped playing. Because of two wrist surgeries (one right, one left) in college I was never able to play college basketball (I was recruited to play, and ultimately cut from the team- then had the aforementioned surgeries- finally healed and a senior.)

Anyway, like a relationship that goes wrong, but is hard to get over- I had to let the game go. I almost exclusively watch baseball and football for entertainment, and rarely watch basketball. I played basketball even less.

But why write about any of this drivel? Well, because I wanted to mention two things:

1) I attended a Sacramento Kings game on Friday night.
2) I played in a UC Davis IM game last night.

For anyone checking the schedule, the Kings played the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night. Why the hell would I attend this match-up of epic proportion? Well, the answer is simple- free tickets and free parking. While I did manage to spend $20 on a couple Bud Lights, it was still a good deal to attend an NBA game.

The Kings managed to give up 19 points to Michael Redd in the first quarter. In fact, they could've been playing against just Redd's points and been losing. Down 20 at the half, my friends and I went to the bar. Now, for the life of me, I can't figure out why there are so many women who are dressed up (or dressed down, if you get me) at Sacramento Kings games. Are they on dates and trying to look hot (trying being the optimal word)? Are they going out after the game? Are they hooking up with one of the Kings players (why? and couldn't the player get you better seats?)

So after spending the entire 3rd quarter in the bar, we went back to watch the 4th quarter. The Kings actually made a run and cut it to within two points (114-112), but were ultimately overmatched by the almighty Bucks. While it's not a brand I'm willing to pay for, it was a pretty fun time. I mean, I am stuck in Sacramento, so what are my options, really? Kings or an hour-plus drive to watch the Warriors? And in reality, if the Kings were good, would the tickets have been free?

Coincidentally, after having a decent time at the Kings game, I was asked to join a UCD IM team playing with some of my employees. I figured that shaking off the rust would be good, and despite having to purchase an IM card and a UCD gym membership (this is b.s. by the way) I was ready to go.

While I'm a far cry from back in the day, I didn't play that bad. I couldn't make a lay-up to save my life. It's the worst feeling in the world, but my touch was just not there. However, it was ridiculously there from the three-point line. I lost count, but I'm fairly certain I hit 5 or 6 threes. The team we were playing had a decent strategy playing zone (though that is lame) because they were a lot smaller than us, but they would not cover out to the arc. In a way, it was a good warm-up game and we probably would have lost to a better team, but a win is a win. Unfortunately, because of my lack of ability on the lay-up making front, I'm going to be doing Mikan lay-ups everyday until our game next week.

So I suppose the point of it all is that it feels good to play a little and even watch a terrible NBA game. It's like catching up with an old friend. I'm not going to be able to play forever, so I suppose I should take advantage of it while I can.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Good Things For the New Year

Well, now that it's 2009 I'm trying to organize my thoughts for the new year. Here are some things that are going on in the upcoming year:

- TV Shows - There's already been a glut of TV shows coming back to the air. Scrubs has been pretty good (and I love the double episode action.) Flight of the Conchords is coming back on Sunday (if I'm pissed off at work, I'll throw on some FOTC and I can't stay in a bad mood for too long.) And of course, my favorite show, Lost, returns a week from today (is Doc Brown going to show up or what?) My one request is that they cancel Heroes. My fiance and I will end up watching that crap if it comes on in the hopes that it will get better- but it has been garbage for two seasons now (waaaaay worse in season three.) It's like a horse with a broken leg- unfixable.

- Baseball Season - As a Chicago fan, the Bears choked (your WELCOME Eagles fans) and the Bulls are on their way to an under .500, possible 8 seed in the East. I never thought I'd see the day where the Cubs are the crown jewel of Chicagoland, but that days is here (easy there Blackhawks fans- I know they're young and good, but they got destroyed by the Red Wings on New Years' and aren't quite there yet.) I was telling my fiance about how the Cubs signed Milton Bradley, and she asked, "Did his mom know what she was doing when she named him?" Fair question. Does anyone she intentionally named her kid after the board game company? It's not as bad as naming your kid "ESPN" or something, but c'mon. And by the way, how dominant of a name-combo were Milton Bradley and Coco Crisp when they were on the Indians? They sound like the ideal play day for a group of 7 year olds.

- More Music - I know I keep mentioning this so-called new album that I'm working on- and it is coming- but I want to make sure it is really good. I'll also keep playing shows here and there, but I think I maxed out this past year (102 shows!) and can't do much more on a solo capacity. Now, any musicians in the Sacramento area can feel free to email me if they want to start a band. I'm thinking of a Beatles/Wilco/Radiohead/Crowded House/Killers type band. Inquire within.

- A New Computer - My hard drive crashed, so I got a new hard drive to repair the old computer and bought a new one for good measure. You have to be prepared these days- where would we be with Google, Sports Updates, and Adult Content?

- Just do this:

1. Go to Google
2. Type in: Find Chuck Norris
3. Press the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button

- Economic Rebound - Call me an optimist, but the economy is going to have to bound back. The downturn forces people to get creative and create new products and markets. And hey, if it doesn't happen, you're looking at some awesome depressing music (we might find the next Nirvana!)

- A Terrible Superbowl - I don't know if I can watch a Cardinals/Ravens Superbowl. Seriously, I can't think of a worse match-up. Steelers/Eagles would be ideal at this point, so I guess I'll hope for that.

As you can see, it's going to be an interesting year. Happy '09...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Setlist G St Pub 1/9/09

Last night I opened for Automatic Rival at the G St Pub. It was a lot of fun considering I hadn't played there since October. Here is the setlist from the shenanigans:

Neon Sign
Second Rate Song
Shallow Water Blackout
50 Stories
This Time Around
Saturday Boy
So Far Away
A Girl I Know
Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash cover)

Thanks to everyone who came out!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Easily the Best Infomercial Ever

The Amish Electric Fireplace:

Why do they keep saying stuff like, "The Amish have imposed a 2 per household limit" as if every Amish person is in on this? Also, why would "The Amish" make an ELECTRIC fireplace? Why do they have to demonstrate the 2 per household limit by putting two fireplaces on a wagon? Why do they have guys with Amish looking beards in a regular industrial warehouse with a fire extinguisher and exit signs? Oh wait! There's bails of hay! This must be legitimate!

I cannot believe someone has not already parodied this commercial- though, there's not much to parody. It's already hilarious!