Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Weekend Trip To Tahoe

Sorry folks, I know the blog has been dead for over a day, but I'm freakin' tired! As it turns out, despite my rising age and awesome future marital status (three more months?!) my fiance and I still party pretty hard- and this is ultimately tiring. After getting a bit older, the biggest difference I've noticed is that my body can't recover from staying up late and/or drinking as fast as it used to. None the less, I had a great birthday weekend (don't worry, there is no trilogy of blogs this week):

We arrived at 6:30ish to Harvey's in South Lake Tahoe. We've never been up there together, and I don't remember the last time I actually stayed in a casino in SLT. Admittedly, we've gotten pretty comfortable with going up to the Peppermill in Reno, so it took some adjusting to get comfortable at Harvey's. The room was a good start, as it had a solid king bed, plasma TV, and multiple room bathroom.

After getting ready, we decided to eat at the awesome buffet on the 18th floor of Harrah's. We got a window seat that overlooks like lake and the mountains- a most excellent view (I sounded like Bill & Ted there for a second!) I'm not a huge fan of buffets (or Jimmy Buffet for that matter) these days, but this one is the best I've been to. There's nothing quite like getting grilled chicken, ham, filet mignon, chow mein, and a piece of pizza on one plate. The dessert area had Reese's Pieces as a topping for the frozen yogurt- how underrated of a candy are those?! I don't know what happened to them, but I feel like there are way more M&M's around, and yet, Reese's Pieces are far superior.

After dinner, it was on. We headed to the gambling area of Harvey's and I posted a Craps table. Future Mrs. B. tried to watch, but an old guy placed himself at the position next to me, and then promptly began crop dusting the area with his farts. I let the roller finish up and I walked away up $12, but down an awful sensation in my nostrils.

I found my lovely Bride-To-Be at a Roulette table so I joined in. I was up about $40 when I started betting on the 2 to 1 box on the vertical string of numbers all the way to the right. For a 33% bet, it sure wasn't coming up 1 out of every 3 times. down to my last $20 (out of $120) I went with the same box. I think 3 or 6 came up, so this put me back on the come back trail. I decided to take a few rounds off by placing one chip ($2) on my old basketball number (24). The second time I did this- BAM- it hit! I've never hit exactly on a number in Roulette, and let me tell ya- it feels fantastic!

Despite that great win, the vibe in Harvey's was awful. It felt like everyone at the tables wanted to kill themselves because they were losing money. I talked FMB into a second round at the Craps table, except this time we went over to Harrah's (both Harvey's and Harrah's are owned by the same company, but the vibe in Harrah's was way better.) There was more excitement and positivety. Unfortunately, this did not lead to me winning, in fact, I ended up losing a bit of money at the Craps table. Then I did the unthinkable. I turned to the Devil's Game- Blackjack.

Earlier in the day, I took our cat, Cosmo, to the Vet because his eye was a goopy. We got some oinment for him, but during the check up we found out that a previously diagnosed heart murmur had become more pronounced (read as worse.) We were recommended to go see a kitty cardiologist and get a test to see in more detail what is going on (read as expensive.) Even though I have awesome insurance, and even though we do treat our cats like our kids, we obviously are not covered for cat problems. So we did what any responsible cat loving people would do... we made Cosmo our gamlbing mascot!

At the Blackjack table, we let everyone know that Cosmo was in need of a trip and that the dealer was going to help pay for it! During the excitement and drinking, it went from "Cosmo needs a trip to the cardiologist!" to "Cosmo needs a new heart!" The dealer informed us that he knew what it was like to love a pet, because he saved and adopted a wolf! How awesome would that be! A pet wolf! He at least would keep away annoying young girls in red sweatshirts (please feel free to groan at that one!)

Ultimately, I ended up losing at Blackjack, and went on to feel horrible. I probably could be paying for Cosmo's appointment instead of gambling the money away! Well, after a break for more drinks, we travelled back to play Craps. FMB decided to give it a try, so we both bought in with our remaining money- excellent decision. This table was hot, and being that it was a $10 minimum table, we were forced to win more money (as opposed to a $5 minimum table.) By the end of the session, we had both won all of our money back and then some! It pretty much saved the trip!

The next day was pretty much just relaxing and waiting to go to the Wilco concert- though I'd like to give a special shout-out to the Beach Hut Deli in Tahoe for providing me with the worst meal I've eaten in quite some time. I love the BHD in Sacramento, but the Tahoe location was out of multiple products (bread, sprouts, other stuff), some produce they served was awful (the avocado was stiff and disgusting), and their fountain drink machine was broken (even though they said the Lemonade and Gatorade were working, they were not.) Just horrible.

I'll review the Wilco concert separately- just please go listen to their music if you're unfamiliar. I'm going to keep driving this point home because it's worth making.

After the concert we went back for more Craps action. Here are the notable details from this round:

- We met another fun couple (yes, I'm insinuating that we're fun too!) who actually flew in from Colorado to see the Wilco show. They are also going to the show on Friday at Red Rocks- legit Wilco fans. Excellent company and very hot rollers!

- Even I was not comfortable with someone wearing a Cubs hat at the Craps table. In addition, the guy was wearing glasses and a long sleeve shirt... very Steve Bartman-esque. This scared me off of some extra bets that would have paid out fat! While he pretty much wore the opposite outfit ideal for a casino, this guy was a shooter. To his credit, he pressed damn near every bet during his roll, and at one point, bet $100 on the passline while backing it up with $400. He totally hit and the table went crazy! Three pit bosses had to come over to make sure there was no funny business going on at the table.

- A girl walked up and her first bet after the button was placed on 8 was "6 and 9." The guy next to me said, "Oh, dirty girl!" I had to laugh because I was thinking the exact same thing. It became even funnier when FMB made the exact same bet an hour later!

- The Blackjack dealer from the night before came in to sub for a dealer for a second, and the first thing he said was "Let's win money for Cosmo's heart!"

- My rolling left a lot to be desired. Don't tell people it is your birthday when you're rolling! Everyone thinks it is a sign of luck, when in fact, it has no influence on the dice! People will ultimately turn on you because they're probably betting more money based on perceived luck.

FMB and I were both up for the trip (probably $150 or $200 each), so overall it was a fantastic birthday. I had a great time, and now I can't wait for my bachelor party in August! Peppermill here we come!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Men's League Basketball: Playoffs

Last night was the final night of our Sacramento Men's Basketball League. Our first game was at 8pm against one of the two teams that beat us during the season. Our team was definitely up to the challenge. We jumped out to a 20-10 lead, then the other team crept back in. By halftime it was 29-27 (with us leading.) We just kept up the intensity, and pulled through. The first time we played this team, we got sorely out-hustled, which is why we lost. Near the end of the game, everyone hit their freethrows and we won by 6 or 7 (I think they hit a throw away three in the waning seconds of the game.)

While not the ideal situation, the championship game was at 9pm. This gave our team about ten minutes of rest before going again. Our team really isn't equipped for those back-to-back games, and it ultimately did affect our play. I must say that we did give a great effort, and gave that team a run. I was really impressed with Kevin and Brian's play as they stepped up and shot the ball well. Annoying Blogger was really impressive with his hustle. JeVaughn is such a great point guard, who definitely leads the team with his knowledge of the game and skills. Joe and Matt held it down on the inside. Very impressive guys.

I must say, my game was off last night. I might have had 10 or 12 points in the first game, and I doubt I made it to 10 in the second game. My shooting percentage was probably a solid 9%. But I'm not blowing smoke when I say I don't care about my individual performance as long as we win. I'm very proud of our team for beating one of the two teams that beat us during the season, and even though we didn't get it done, I thought we gave a great effort.

One final note, one specific guy on the other team talked loud shit during final 30 seconds of the game. In front of his kids, and all the rest of the kids in the gym, he made a mockery of sportsmanship. LeBron James not shaking hands after losing a game is one thing, that's a bit more subtle, and I think was overblown. Sidney Crosby not immediately going over to shake the Red Wings hands is even less of a big deal. What this dude did at the end of the game was out of line. He was yelling about how we suck, and how we couldn't get it done, and we couldn't win the championship, etc. etc. Thanks for the news flash Ron Burgundy- you stay classy!

We get a month off and it looks like we're back on in August! I can't wait!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Review

Since I'd rather not talk about the Cubs or the Bulls (I'm fairly certain they should've taken DeJuan Blair with either of their first round picks) we're going to review the new Transformers movie that I saw on Wednesday morning at 12:01 AM (Tuesday night.) Hopefully I'll provide a little prospective on the movie that will ultimately help you decide if you should see it or not.

There are a few ways to review this movie- you could do it like respected movie critic Roger Ebert and rip it to shreds. Because of who he is, he pretty much had to review the movie this way. Why, you ask? Well, because if you want a storyline that rivals Academy Award type movies, you're not going to get even close. If you want you a well acted movie that takes itself very seriously- once again, you will be disappointed. You must have the proper perspective before going into a movie like Revenge of the Fallen...

Ask yourself, "Do I want to see huge explosions, campy/corny jokes, and big-ass robots fighting for two-and-a-half hours?" If the answer is yes, then go see it. Hell, buy yourself a $6 soda and a $8 tub of popcorn as well! If you answered no to that question, then don't waste your time- this movie isn't for you. The funny thing is that the best barometer for whether you'll like Transformers 2, is if you liked the first Transformers because the movies are quite similar (although there are more grand set pieces and more robots in the sequel.)

As you know from my post a couple days ago, I am a self professed Transformers fan/geek. Being that I do have knowledge of previous stories (cartoons and comics) I could easily rip the movie apart for not staying true to the original source material. I also will not do this. Too many fanboys get mad when movies are directly lifted from source material, and likewise complain when anything is changed. Movie-makers can't win, so going down this road helps no one.

The theatre I went to was packed and we ended up getting very good seats (luckily) to enjoy the movie. I must say the audience was great. Nobody tried to be the jokester that continually makes loud comments during the movie (ya know, the same people that ruin comedy shows) yet there was rousing applause when it was warranted. Great environment to watch a movie event like this one.

The movie starts with a voice intro by Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) explaining that humans and Transformers have had more history together that we (the audience) originally knew about in the first one. He also explains that the Autobots have joined up with the US Army to hunt Decepticons all across the globe. The opening action sequence in Shanghai is absolutely amazing. I really want to see this scene in IMAX because I believe it will only improve the action.

The biggest thing that this scene does is show how badass Optimus Prime actually is. The first movie had him beat up on a lowly Decepticon during the freeway fight (OP slices the his [Bonecrusher's?] head off) but then he gets beat down by Megatron in the city. He ultimately loses that fight and is bailed out by Sam pushing the All Spark into Megatron's chest. The second movie does a better job showing that Optimus is the strongest Transformer.

Shia LeBeouf does his generally servicable job as the movie's main human protagonist, and Megan Fox is still hot (though it does not come off quite as hot as the first movie.) Sam's parents are decently funny (though corny) and Army guys are solid. I appreciate that they have limited the number of groups of humans in this movie to allow for more robot screen time...

However, there are two robots I could do without. Mudflap and Skids are very annoying. If you loved Jar-Jar Binks from the Star Wars prequel trilogy, then you'll love these guys. Unfortunately, almost no one did love Jar-Jar, so Mudflap and Skids will share the same fate. Many people have accused these characters of being inappropriate racial stereotypes (toward Black people) but I won't take it that far. I'd say they are just annoying and could be stereotypical of any annoying person who overuses street-slang and admits that they can't read.

Ultimately, this movie is a number of huge set pieces that give way to lots of action. The plot is only there to string these set pieces together. Is it life changing? Nope. Is it a lot of fun? Yes! If anyone goes back to rewatch an episode of the 80s cartoon version of Transformers, you'd know that the show followed the same formula. It was a lot of action and robots doing cool things. None of it was mind-blowing, and it was made for kids. This new movie follows suit.

That being said, I think there probably is a way to improve this series of movies, but that could be a good thing. I mean, I have a hard time believing the next Batman will top "The Dark Knight" which is, in a way, depressing. I do think that another Transformers could put together a better plot and amp up the action even more, but we'll see what the future holds. If you want an assult of stimuli to your brain for 2.5 hours, and you're not bothered by occasional lame plot turns, then this is the movie for you!

Fun Time At The Theater? 5 out of 5
Plot Line? 2 out of 5
Comedy? 2.5 out of 5
Action Scenes? 5 out of 5
Overall (not an average)? 4 out of 5

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Seriously?!

I'm one of the biggest Cubs fans you'll find. One year I would only shave on days when they won. After growing a full (yet somewhat spotty) beard I decided that it was a terrible idea, but finished out the season anyway. This year's team is amoung the most maddening I've ever watched. I know that they are underachieving, but the question is, by how much? At face value, I don't see much difference between this year and last year, but all the players they retained are worse, and all the players they've picked up are worse than the players they've gotten rid of.

Milton Bradley vs. Mark DeRosa? DeRosa

Kevin Gregg vs. Kerry Wood? They both can blow their fair share of saves, but Wood is better.

Carlos Marmol '08 vs. Carlos Marmol '09? Does he even throw strikes any more?

Aaron Heilman vs. Michael Wuertz? Wuertz has a 3.00 ERA for the A's, why'd the Cubs get rid of him again?

Alfonso Soriano vs. Himself? Stop swinging at terrible pitches!!! Please! 5 more years of this, eh?

And after putting it to the Indians, I should've known not to get to high on the team. Beating the Indians not only means nothing (they are the Nationals of the AL), but Kerry Wood had to help the Cubs win two of the games. Then to start this week, surprise surprise- zero runs against the Braves, a bullpen implosion [cough Kevin Gregg cough] on Tuesday, and flat out getting beat by the Tigers on Wednesday. I don't have the answer, but the Cubs are in a very winnable division against teams that aren't as good as them on paper. This new, calm Lou Pinella might be helping his own blood pressure, but it's not helping the team. Yell at them! Choke someone out! Let Big Z fistfight someone in the bullpen! Anything for the team, ya know?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

NBA Mock Draft

Stop over at Davis Sports Deli where Pat the Bat has a pretty good mock draft. Let him know what you think. I'd do one, but it wouldn't be as complete as Pat's. Respek.

Wilco's Best Songs

For my birthday this weekend, I'm going up to South Lake Tahoe. I'll probably play some table games, enjoy the scenery, but the main event is Sunday night when I'll see Wilco at the outdoor amphitheater. Being that they are one of my favorite bands, I thought it was appropriate to mention some of their best songs. In truth, all of their songs are very good, but here are some highlights (in no particular order):

- Dash 7 - From their first album "A.M" this song is ridiculous. It's tuned down a step (I believe) and it is a perfect moderate ballad about a jet fighter. It gives away the direction would head to in future albums (they were originally tabbed as Alternative/Country/Americana but are currently in boarderline experimental Rock.)

- Sunken Treasure - Off of "Being Here" I once saw them play this song live in Chicago at the Vic Theater while Jeff Tweedy's amp was not grounded. His guitar was shocking him the whole song yet he performed it quite flawlessly. After the song they had to make some adjustments and did an extra-long acoustic set (and took requests from the audience.) It was the best $60 I've ever paid a scalper.

- Lonely 1 - This song looks at the musician from the fan's perspective. It's a beautiful ballad that reminds me (somewhat) of what it was like going to see shows as a teenager. I've since become more jaded and picky, but this song comes from a very pure, almost naive place. I play it live ever so often.

- She's a Jar - This song was played during the aforementioned acoustic set at the Vic. I don't think they play it all that often (but here's to hoping they do on Sunday!) This is a really trippy song that veers into the topic of unhealthy abuse, but it is masked by a gorgeous acoutic guitar. Definitely worth checking out.

- Nothingsevergonnastandinmyway - I don't know why they didn't put spaces in between the words in the title, but this is poppy, almost Beatles-esque. It's quite the upbeat number off of the great album "Summerteeth."

- Magazine Called Sunset - This is a rarity off of an online only EP, but it's a great song. I believe it was feature at one point during the documentary "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart." It's a black and white film about the making of their "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" album. If you're into documentaries, this one is a must. There is a lot more drama than one would expect of an album creation.

- Pot Kettle Black - This is one of the first Wilco songs I ever really got into. My buddy made me a mix when I visited San Diego. The mix was full of Ryan Adams, The Shins, Badly Drawn Boy and other great songs. This one stood out above the rest. Highly recommended.

- Poor Places - This is such a twisted folk song that is produced into a pretty experimental jam. It's almost the same riff throughout the song (until the very end) but the addition and subtraction of instruments lead to a great sonic experience. Definitely worth finding a pair of Bose or Shure headphones to get the full effect.

- Either Way - One of the songs used on the VW commercials a few years back- this is just relaxing. I will occasionally put this song on if I'm having a bad day, and it usually brightens it (if only slightly.) It sets the tone for the "Sky Blue Sky" album in a great way.

- Walken - This song will play when Future Mrs. B. and I are announced at the wedding reception. It's that good. It's the perfect mix of poppy hook, jamming guitar, confusing tempo, and tight instrumentation. This is one of their finest works.

- One Wing - This is off the new album that "drops" in a week. I haven't listened to enough of it to call out all the songs, but this one really calls out to me. I love the groove and it proves to me that Wilco is still on the right path.

Wilco is a great band. I hope this inspires someone to invest the time into checking them out (or just to go back and listen to them some more!) A truly inventive band that does it in a more subtle way than a band like Radiohead (not that Radiohead is bad, they're just outwardly creative.) Wilco is a must own for any record (CD/mp3) collection.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Top Ten: Transformers

Since I'm going to see the new Transformers movie tonight at midnight, I'm going to let my inner nerd shine today. Growing up, this was by far my favorite cartoon and toy. I can remember the day I moved from the Chicago suburbs to Northwest Ohio, my parents got me a little green Constructicon (I believe it was Hook) to keep me from being upset (it worked.) I'm also fairly positive that all of my birthday parties from age 6-9 involved Pizza, Sunkist, and a cake with a Transformer on it. Anyway, I have enough knowledge to make a decent list here (in conjunction with Wikipedia), but feel free to correct me if I forget anyone...

10. Cliffjumper - Originally voiced by the one, the only, Casey Kasem, Cliffjumper was a badass. He was the same size as Bumblebee except he didn't have as much time for making friends with the humans. He was too busy actually fighting. His temper was an asset and a weakness, but at least he was a pretty tough Autobot. Also, changing into a VW Bug is pretty terrible, which is why Cliffjumper was better- he changes into a 1981 Porsche.


























9. Shockwave - Shockwave was cooler depending on which version you look at. In the original cartoon, he was typically a powerful yet subserviant Decepticon (read as: Megatron's bitch.) But in the original Marvel comic, he was all about logic and domination. He would continually come up with stats and logic that stated one thing: he should be the leader of the Decepticons. At one point, he chopped off Optimus Prime's head- and for that alone he makes the list. He also was a pretty badass floating gun in his alternate mode. It didn't make sense but it doesn't have to- never question Bruce Dickenson!

8. Hound - I always liked Hound. He was a scout that was similar to Bumblebee, yet again, he was way better. First, he was a cool Jeep with a large cannon. Second, he could create holograms that would trick the Decepticons. Third, while he was a scout, he did have decent firepower and was never insinuated to have been completely weak. Definitely a solid member of the Autobot team.

7. Prowl - Prowl was a very tough warrior and always seemed to be some sort of leader underneathe Optimus Prime (like the Vice President, or Secretary of State.) He turned into a cop car, which was probably very helpful in times of traffic or sneaking into highly dangerous situations. It's funny that they used the cop car mode for a Decepticon (Barricade) in the first Michael Bay flick, and I thought it was one of the more badass robots in the movie.

6. Megatron - Megatron is a very awesome Transformer. He's powerful beyond belief, and completely insane. Unfortunately, his insanity is what drops him down a bit. His plans grew more and more ridiculous as the cartoon wore on, and at some point, you have to think that Starscream had just cause for trying to upsurp leadership. It was also confusing that he was ridiculously powerful, but then transformed into a little pistol that another Decepticon would have to use. At least when he was made into Galvatron (in Transformers: The Movie) he could shoot himself and was voiced by Leonard Nimoy. Now that's a one/two punch!

5. Grimlock - My other favorite childhood thing is dinosaurs, so it makes sense that Grimlock makes the list. Not the smartest tool in the shed, Grimlock was very powerful and turned into a T-Rex! He had his own version of talking about himself in the third person, "Me, Grimlock say, do you smell what me, Grimlock is cooking?" It's like Yoda-speak for morons. I wonder if we'll ever see the Dinobots come into play in the live action movies?

4. Soundwave - This guy is so cool that he won employee of the month at Peter Griffin's work! He also apparently met his wife in a Christian chat room. Soundwave's trademark voice was awesome, his cassette tape brigade featuring Laserbeak, Rumble and Ravage were sweet, and he was pretty powerful as well. Overall a great character in the realm of Transformers.

3. The Constructicons - There's no way around it, these guys are badass. 6 robots that form the massively intimidating Devastator (I hear it's 7 robots in the new movie.) Their best moment was the attack on Autobot City in the 1986 movie. It reminded me while there were many groups of Transformers that formed into one big guy, the Constructicons were the original, most powerful, and best of the bunch.

2. Optimus Prime - OP was a great character. It was ridiculously sad when he died in the 1986 movie, but of course, you couldn't keep him down for long. In fact, it seems like he is a very popular character to kill and bring back from the dead (in the comics and cartoons.) Besides all that, he stands for truth, justice, and the American way! He was even once sponsored by Pepsi! Optimus is probably the most recognizable Transformer and will continue to be. I'm very happy that they got the original cartoon voice man, Peter Cullen to voice him in the new live action movies- it gives those movies the extra touch that they need to resonate with the old school Transformer fan.

1. Starscream - originally voiced by the now passed on Chris Latta (Cobra Commander! Cobra-la-la-la!) this guy was one powerful mofo. He was always trying to take over the Decepticons from Megatron- and why did Megatron never kill him? Well, because Starscream was badass! I almost think of him as Seth Greene's character from Austin Powers. "Why don't we just shoot them in the head and take over the world?" Megatron would always say something like "You don't get it Starscream, once we do [insert lame plan here] then the Autobots will bow to us!" Of course that never happened, and Starscream's leadership position lasted all of ten minutes in the 1986 movie before he was obliterated. But it was all about the journey, and he was badass, so he gets the top spot.

So there it is. Sorry if you're not feeling like letting your inner nerd out today, or if you just legitamitly hate the Robots In Disguise. I understand if you want to blame Shia LeBeauf for the shittiness of the new movies, but if you can get over that, it should be a good popcorn flick and I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Case of the Mondays

Lots of stuff going on this weekend, let's start with the big news:

- My Fantasy Baseball team finally lost this week. The bad thing about it is that my team scored the third most points in the league this week- but I was playing against the team that scored the second most points. I'm still 10-1, but it just doesn't look as pretty on the computer screen. This week I'm facing off against my brother in a fight to the finish. Yeah, that's a good place to end.

- Kerry Wood is still helping the Cubs win games! I almost feel bad for the guy, Indians fans may inevitably make comments like "Wood intentionally blew the game for the Cubs." Now, while I don't think that is true, it can't feel good to blow two games against your old team. Fun fact of the day: the Indians have more blown saves than completed saves! That's terrible!

- We're not done with the Cubs just yet... They've won four games in impressive fashion. It seems like this team is growing a little uh... intestinal fortitude. Derrek Lee hit four homeruns in three days! I don't know if this guy found the fountain of youth, or he's finally found his groove, but I hope he keeps it up. The Cubbies are only 2.5 games out of first. I'm not jumping to conclusions, but they're letting the young guys get after it, and add a splash of Aramis Ramirez in July and things are looking up.

- I saw "The Hangover" on Saturday. The movie is absolutely ridiculous- in a great way. I can't recommend this movie enough. If you like movies like "Wedding Crashers" or "Old School" then you'll feel right at home with "The Hangover." Just beware of tigers or tiny, naked Asian men!

- Our Men's League Basketball team in Sacramento won on Friday, so we now advance to the next round of the playoffs. My 3 point shooting was definitely off, but luckily my free throw shooting was on like the break of dawn. The team we played was supposedly the worst in the league, but they played very well. We ended up winning by about 10 or so, and it was a hard fought victory. Next week, we play at either 7 or 8, and if we win, we have to play the championship game at 9. I really want to win, but I am unsure if my body will be able to hold up after two games!

It was a pretty good weekend, but next weekend should be even better- going to Tahoe with my lovely lady, checking out Wilco on the 28th, and my birthday is on the 29th. Should be solid!

Friday, June 19, 2009

An Average Day

Is anything interesting happening in the world?

I'm stumped. I have nothing to write about because nothing all that great or terrible is happening. Everything is just average. I played a fun show last night, and would like to thank the folks that came out in support, but there wasn't anything all that unusual. No one tried to steal money from the tip pitcher, or harassed me to play "Sweet Home Alabama." No one told me that my voice sounds like a choir of angels or the guy from Creed (these two things would be opposite of each other.)

The Cubs won yesterday in heroic fashion, but their 31-31 record does not allow me to get all that excited about it. Today, we have Cliff Lee versus Rich Harden at Wrigley, along with the return of Kerry Wood and Mark DeRosa to the Friendly Confines. Even that is not stoking my inspirational fire.

My Men's League Basketball team, Sham-Wow, has their first playoff game tonight. I'd throw down the "We're going to win" guarantee, but no one on the other team reads my blog (that I know of) so that isn't interesting either.

Some lady in Minnesota was told to pay $1.92 million dollars for pirating 24 songs ($80,000 a song, and she was accused of a lot more file sharing, but the case was boiled down to 24 songs for simplicity sake.) Clearly this lady does not have the means to pay $1.92 million to the record companies. That would be like someone telling me that I owe "a bagillion dollars" movie hopping. I know they are making an example of her, but they should at least make the figure reasonable. Giving her a debt that she could actually pay off would probably hurt her more because she'd actually have to pay it off.

Have I come up with anything yet? Nope, still nothing. I'll leave you with Florida Panthers announcer Randy Moller. His calls are ridiculous- enjoy:



Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dexter Is Awesome!

I have a correction to make. Awhile ago I did a Top Ten TV Dramas post. I had ranked "Medium" as number 10- not a popular choice within the commenters. Truth be told, I was trying to diversify the list, and I didn't have enough TV shows to really fill up the Top Ten.

Well consider this the public apology/alteration to the list. I have recently been watching "Dexter" and that show is unbelievably awesome. In fact, it may rank at #3 behind "Lost" and "Carnivale."

For any of you that don't know what "Dexter" is about, he is a serial killer that kills other killers. Quite the moral debate. Is he wrong for killing other killers outside of the law or is he a hero that is cleaning up the streets? To be honest, I'm almost through Season 2 and I still haven't answered that question. What I do know, is that "Dexter" is very entertaining and I am enjoying it more than any show (but "Lost") in a long time.

It's a pretty short post, but I've been too busy actually watching "Dexter" and I'm too depressed to complain about the Cubs.

Also, I'm playing tonight at Pyramid Alehouse in Sacramento- 6:30-8:30pm. Come on out!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sammy Sosa Tested Positive for Steroids?!

No way. I don't believe it. I can't believe it. I'm shocked.

Wait a second- we are talking about Sammy Sosa, right? They guy who hit 60 home runs in four different seasons? The guy who got caught corking his bat? The guy who got butt-hurt about Rick Riley asking him to take a drug test? The guy who forgot how to speak English when Congress called him to testify?

Look, we all have our favorite teams and our favorite players. I admit that I was naive in the early 2000s about players cheating. I saw the great home run hitting and wanted to believe it was legit. I had one of the great power hitters of my generation (Sosa) on my favorite team. I'll never forget the day he was caught with the corked bat. I believe they were playing against the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Wrigley when his bat shattered and the ump went over to check it. It was obvious that he was using a juiced bat. I felt as if I had just been cheated on by a girlfriend that I thought was faithful. As it turns out, that girl was a dirty little hooker.

Sosa had some lame excuses about the cork. It was his batting practice bat. He only uses it during BP to "impress the fans" with his long home runs. The bat was incorrectly marked and he used the wrong bat during the game. All ridiculous excuses.

So what is to stop him from using steroids? Uh, the simple answer is- "absolutely nothing." There was no testing, and no one really questioning all the home runs. Why wouldn't he be juicing? Oh, well I guess "because it is cheating" didn't really factor in at the time.

These days, I'm so much less sensitive to people getting exposed for steroid use. A-Rod, Manny, Sosa, Clemens, and Barry Bonds. Who cares? There's really no way to wipe the slate clean. We can't go back to 1977 and set off a hydrogen bomb so that steroids would never affect the course of the future- that only works on really awesome TV shows. If you pick out your favorite team, I guarantee there's at least one guy who has played for your team that was using steroids. It's time to crack down and go forward. Release the names on the supposedly anonymous list of players, or don't. It doesn't matter. I won't be surprised at anyone's name that shows up on it. We'd only release it because we as a society are curious like cats. Our nickname should be Whiskers.

Is there anyone's name who would shock you if their name showed up on that list? Mother Teresa? She used the cream and the clear to help the poor better. She led the league in helping give food and shelter to needy folks. Dick Cheney? Turns out him shooting that guy in the face with pigeon spray was an act of 'roid rage. Bono? The song "Elevation" was about using steroids. Jesus? C'mon, you think walking on water can be done without HGH?

The bottom line is that I, and probably most of society, am now desensitized to people getting caught using steroids. Slammin' Sammy used to be the toast of the Windy City, and now most people think he's a bum. Hell, instead of retiring his number, they gave it to Milton Bradley. That's how little respect the Cubs have for Sosa! They probably should retire number 21 on the grounds that it has been dirtied by the players who have worn it (I'm looking at you too, Jason Marquis.) We talk about moving forward, but the steroid story just keeps dragging on. Just continue to have a strict policy in all sports, so that athletes know that their careers are on the line if they touch the stuff. And for goodness sake- can we get back to watching baseball!?!?!?! Ever? Please?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Joe Buck Live

Wow. Why did I even watch this show? I'm confused about my own motivation to turn it on. I think I was curious as to what Brett Favre had to say, and yet, I don't like Brett Favre. Him staying retired or coming back to the NFL to play for the Vikings does not affect me at all. I care more about filing my nails (which I rarely do) than Brett Favre's status as an NFL player.

On top of that, I don't like Joe Buck. He's smug, not funny, and condescending. Not to mention he's a Cardinal fan. Honestly, why was I tuning in?

I watched the Favre segment and it was pretty boring. He didn't commit to playing this year, but he didn't turn it down either. In fact, he didn't really say anything of substance during the whole interview. If the interview was a meal, consider the main course Jello.

After a boring taped segment with David Wright where Buck and Wright discussed the proper amount of time that should elapse during a "man-hug," they moved on to Michael Irvin and Chad Ochocinco (without his gold grill which leads me to believe that G$ was correct in saying that he saw him over the weekend.) In the middle they had a video montage of many of the athletes that have gotten in trouble over the recent years, and their apologies.

After a stupid skit from Funny-Or-Die.com (usually a good website, but this wasn't that funny) they brought Paul Rudd, Jason Sudekis, and Arte Lange on stage. Arte Lange just dominates the interview in a bad way, and Joe Buck was helpless to the mayhem. Here's the overtime segment- watch it while you can, because I have a feeling YouTube will pull it soon: (They already took it down, but I found the earlier segment)



So there you go- Arte talking about the "Lucky Pierre" and the jizz Joe Buck shot on his chest. Awesome. I really can't decide if this ruined the interview, or made it an entertaining trainwreck, but this much is certain- Joe Buck should get tamer guests because he cannot compete in a war of words and that was the only way he had a chance to shut Arte up and save his version of the show. Love it or hate it, that was some uncomfortable television.

I enjoyed most of Costas Live (Joe Buck recently took over for Bob Costas on HBO), which is the main reason I gave this a chance, but I doubt I'll be tuning in next time unless a) they have Ryne Sandberg as a guest or b) they bring Arte back for an encore. Even then, I doubt I'm in.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Case of the Mondays

This was a fairly laid back weekend for me- no sporting events or huge gambling wins as I've become accustomed to over the last few weeks, but it was decently fun none the less.

- My basketball team had to play the first place team in our Men's League on Friday. The catch was that we were missing two of our best players and had no subs. We played fairly hard and kept it somewhat close but ended up losing by nine. The highlight of the game came when they stole the ball and got a fastbreak dunk. The only problem is that dunks are illegal in our league! It's a really lame rule, but our team was well aware of it (and who am I kidding- I'm not dunking these days anyway!) The refs T'ed the guy up and kicked him out of the game (and out of the gym.) The narrowed the gap a bit for our team, but it wasn't enough. I probably had 25 or something, but it really doesn't matter since we lost. I have a pretty nasty bruise on my right arm, but I suppose that goes with the territory. Anyway, our team is now 3-3 (we're the only team that had to play the best team twice) and we're headed into playoffs this Friday.

- I woke in the morning and played at the Farmers' Market in Vacaville. The crowd was great! The people of Vacaville are really awesome and I love playing there every time. To be honest, that's part of the reason I'll be getting married in their fine city. The lady in the next booth over was very complimentary before I even started playing. She said she had gotten my CD last year and plays it at her house all the time. Even guests to her house compliment it as well! I'll stop before my head grows a size- wait one more. Another gentleman on a bicycle said my voice sounds like Kurt Cobain from time to time! I had never heard that one before, but I'll take it! As long as I'm not sounding like Chad Kroeger, then I'm good.

- Ran some errands for the wedding and checked up on the Cubs via my iPhone. They are so bad. Between Milton Bradley not knowing how many outs there are, or Milton Bradley making baserunning mistakes, or Milton Bradley thinking everyone is out to get him, I think he might be the reason this team is imploding. He needs to get shipped to a team like the Royals where no one cares and I guarantee he'll hit .310. He loves being on teams that don't get much ink. You're in a big media market now, Milton- get used to it! And to think the Cubs could've a) kept Mark DeRosa or b) gone harder after Raul Ibanez. Now that would've been way better.

- And another thing about the Cubs. The had the best offense in the National League last year. The reason for getting Bradley was so that they could have a more balanced lineup going "Right, Left, Right, Left, Right, Left, etc." The example they kept showing on ESPN was Chad Billingsly carving up the Cubs' lineup in the playoffs last year. It showed that he didn't have to change his breaking ball because all the Cubs hitters were right handed. Essentially, he got in a groove and didn't have to adjust. Well, did anyone think that maybe Billingsly was just on fire and the Cubs got cold at the wrong time? This more expensive and re-tooled offense is doing nothing. NOTHING! It is worse than watching the SF Giants' offense! And guess what?! The Cubs' starters have a better ERA than anyone else in the National League, including the Giants! So, if they had some offense instead of none, they'd probably be near the top! I can feel my blood pressure rise as I type this!

- Kobe gets another ring- yay? That was one of the lamest celebrations of a title ever. Isn't it always better to win on your home court? Some of the Magic fans stayed, but it was a very quiet arena for the post game celebration (as well it should be, but it was horrible TV.) Congrats LA fans, you just won the least dominant championship of all time!

- Last, this one goes out to the blog community. I know more people than just G$ read my blog (and a big thanks goes out to my one strong commentor) so as a reminder, don't be shy. Comment away. And if you have a good idea for a topic, or have any questions that you want my opinion on, then throw those in the comment section as well. This thing succeeds when people participate!

That's it for today. Go get the Pearl Jam "Ten" Redux album- it's awesome.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Prime Time

As I went to get an update on the Cubs game on CBSSports.com, out of nowhere, Optimus Prime appeared on the screen and decided to show off his moves with the rock. It was an ad and if want to see the big man throw it down, just head on over to CBS.

Congratulations Brothers!

I don't have much today because I have been driving on highway 80 like my life depends on it for the last two days. If I never drove on highway 80 again, I would not miss it.

Anyway, yesterday I drove to the love Sleep Train Pavilion in Concord to watch my two younger brothers graduate high school. So first off, I'd like to send a big Congratulations! to my brothers. I hope you guys are proud of yourselves and realize that your adults now.

At the graduation, the highlight for me was watching the sign language interpreters sign the entire ceremony. They signed speeches and song performances. If during a song, there was a musical break, they would mimic the instrumental break (i.e. during a guitar breakdown, they would play some air guitar.) It was hilarious! If you know anyone who can sign, ask them to sign "Beautiful Day" by U2 and then come back and tell me how awesome it was. The signer should feel free to add facial expressions for maximum pleasure.

At the end we took some pictures, and I ran into a few of my old teachers- two English teachers and one Social Studies teacher. It was pretty cool to see them after all these years. My Senior Year English teacher mentioned that she still had a song that my friend and I recorded as an extra credit project for MacBeth. I was tempted to try and get the recording, but I know it's probably better left alone. I'm fairly certain we recorded that goofy song on a regular tape player by just pressing record. However, I'm also fairly certain we got full extra credit.

As far as sports goes, there's not much to talk about- the Cubs blew it yesterday, the Magic blew it last night (what's up with guys giving themselves the nick-name Superman and then not being able to shoot freethrows? I'm fairly certain the Man of Steel would make his foul shots), and NHL's Game 7 is tonight. I'm playing tomorrow morning at the Farmer's Market in Vacaville so feel free to come on out and get fresh produce and listen to me rock it out. Sorry, no acoustic Danzig is on the setlist.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Oakland A's Vs. The Minnesota Twins 6/10/09

Awhile back I discussed my Top Ten sports experiences- a list that was heavily dominated by baseball. Well, last night I had an experience that easily ranks in the Top Ten. My friend hooked up some tickets in the Diamond Level seats at the Oakland A's game (thank you, thank you!!!) I was pumped because they were playing the Twins, and of course readers of this blog know that my man-crush on Joe Mauer continues to grow as he bats over .400 and leads my fantasy baseball team to an undefeated season.

Anyway, I took the Best Man from my wedding to the game and we felt pretty special pulling into the VIP parking lot with the Twins' team bus. Weird, right? So we walk in and have no idea where to go. After getting directed by multiple A's courtesy folks, we find our way to the correct place and descend toward the Twins clubhouse.

The lady at the door asked us if we'd been to the Diamond Level before, and we said we hadn't. She then informs us of the rules.

"When you are going to through the hallway, there is no cell phone usage, no alcohol, and no talking to ballplayers."

What? Really? I knew we'd be close, but not this close. Upon entering they stamped our hands, gave us drink tickets, and guided us to our seats. Soon after, some of the Twins players emerged from the tunnel. This picture gives you an idea of how close I was Joey "Sideburns" Mauer. It was surreal.

We found ourselves seated next to third base umpire, Marty Foster's wife. It was actually pretty funny when the umps came out and met at home plate, then looked over in our direction and started waving at us. At that point we had no idea that Mr. Foster's wife was next to us, so we just thought they were waving at us.

There was no time for embarrassment though because we had food to order (from our seats and free, of course) and a solid pitching match up to watch (Francisco Liriano vs. Dallas Braden.) The game started and Mauer got a hit in the first. I got a text message from a co-worker telling me to stop eating so much behind the plate! The visual evidence (to the right, I'm under the Comcast Logo) shows me eating the complimentary peanuts during Mauer's hit. At the same time, my friend's girlfriend was texting him playfully, "Stop talking to that whore on your left! I see you smiling and flirting!" Damn- we were apparently very visable! (In all fairness to Mr. Foster's wife, she was very nice and great company during the game.)

Around the third inning, I look over and Joe Nathan is standing maybe ten feet from me. I had a bowl of fruit in my hand, and I figured a ballplayer could use a little extra energy. "Hey Joe- you want some grapes, or something?" As I extended the basket in offering, he chuckled. "Nah, thanks man." Hilarious. I'm bummed Joe didn't take the fruit, but he did end up getting the save, so maybe he made the right decision.

A little while later, during the middle of an inning, they had a promotion for the Monterey Bay Aquarium where they played "Yellow Submarine" by the Beatles and put people on the Jumbotron. They distorted the picture to give it a more underwater feel. Of course, we got on the Jumbotron, which was pretty sweet. The funny thing about it is that my friend, who is now a firefighter, worked at the Aquarium for two years. I wonder if the A's sell the videos from the Jumbotron because that would be a popular video within the Aquarium friend circle.

Anyway, as the game was nearing an end, we did get to see Jason Giambi pinch hit, which was cool. He killed the ball off the wall and nearly got thrown out while advancing to second base. It was still awesome.

The Twins ending up winning the game, and we got to watch all of the players exit from the field to the clubhouse. Mauer even signed a little three year old's jersey on the way off the field. Overall, it was an amazing baseball experience, and to be honest, it made me like the Twins players a lot more. They were all very nice and laid back. It was also great that I got to go with my Best Man, as we have had a harder time hanging out due to scheduling and geographical conflicts. It was a great time all the way around.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Carlos Zambrano recently won his 100th game. That's a bigger deal these days than it has been in the past, but of course reports had to ask him if he can reach 300 wins (because Randy Johnson just accomplished that feat.) And here's what he said:

"After this contract, I'm done," said Zambrano, who is signed through 2012 with a vesting option for 2013. "I'm serious. I don't want to play. I want to help this team, I want to do everything possible to win with this team, but after five years or four years, or whatever I have left on my contract, I just don't want to play."

Nice Big Z. I've talked to a couple friends about what he said and we all agree that there is no real problem for thinking this way. While we're working regular jobs that pay us anywhere from $30,000 to $90,000 a year, (I'm estimating a broad range, I don't actually know everyone's salary) Zambrano is making $91.5 million over five years. Unless I hit the big time with my music, harness the power of Chuck Norris' tears, or I get subcontracted to psychologically talk Brett Favre out of continuing to play retirement hokey-pokey and I succeed, I have a feeling I will not be making $91 million anytime soon.

So who cares if he decides to retire to hang out with his kids, or whatever he wants to do? Not me. I understand that when you have that much money, if you are smart, you can live out the rest of your days without working. What a beautiful thing! The catch is, of course, why the hell do you tell the media this? Here are some possibilities:

- Looking for attention. Big Z is lonely because everyone is afraid they'll end up like the Wrigley Field Gatorade machine if they say the wrong thing around him. The media, of course, is happy to indulge him.

- His future job as a Miss Cleo-type fortune teller depends on it. He's bummed that his Cy Young and World Series predictions haven't come true, so he's now predicting something he can control.

- It's a bargaining chip. He wants the Cubs or some other team to bid against his retirement at the end of his contract. It worked with Roger Clemens- so why not Big Z? What about Big Z?! What about Raven!?

- This season is grinding him down. It's painfully obvious the Cubs have not been firing on all cylinders. They look like a rickity machine that needs constant maintenence every few days. Once they get going (say, for two wins in a row) something else happens to stall them out. I don't think Zambrano is the most mentally tough athlete so this is probably getting to him.

- Speaking of mental toughness, Z does not strike me as someone who loves working out. This could be another reason he wants to retire. He could retire, buy a Checkers burger franchise and live out the rest of his days (do they even have those anymore?)

- He's serious and he doesn't care who knows.

I think the biggest problem I have with announcing it to the media is that he's creating a story that the media can latch onto in his final contract year. He's also mentally starting to check out from the team before his contract is up. Trust me, Carlos. You have a great job. The years you can do this job are fairly limited, so you may not want to cash in your chips so early. Or maybe you do- but if they are paying you to play baseball, it is NOT your job to talk about retirement.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The San Francisco Giants: A Revision To Previous Predictions

The San Francisco Giants have been a hard team to figure out. They looked like the worst team of all team during the first ten games of the season, ten they caught fire and got back up over the .500 mark. Even with their loss to the Florida Marlins on Monday, they are sitting at 29-27. Not bad, but not great. The biggest problem for them is that they are in a division with their hated rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers, who currently hold an 8.5 game lead on them for the National League West Division.

While I freaked out and a disparaging blog after their early troubles, I did pick them to finish second in the NL West (if they did not sign Mr. Female Fertility Drug himself, Manny Ramirez.) They seem to be on track to do that. But what can they do to help themselves? I hear lots of opinions, and it's hard to wade through all the muck to get to some sort of clarity.

Do they trade Matt Cain? Such a great question. He's currently 7-1 with a 2.27 ERA. That puts him in the race for the Cy Young Award. It's a pretty tough sell to trade a pitcher of that caliber. Look at the Pirates- they just trade Nate McLouth for almost no reason to the Braves, and if I was a Pirates fan I'd be jumping overboard like the passengers of the Titanic right now. I have a feeling a trade of Cain by the Giants would send similar (but not the same) shockwaves through the Giants fanbase. Who would be fair value for Matt Cain? I'll throw out a few names, and you tell me if any of them make sense (for both teams): Prince Fielder, Nick Johnson, Matt Holliday (this would have to include an extension), Alex Rios, Adam Jones, or Carlos Lee. I'm not sure all of those players would be fair value, but you would need someone in return that can mash in the middle of the line-up, and in a dream world play first or third and bat left handed.

Do they trade Jonathan Sanchez? This is more likely- and could be traded in a similar scenario as I laid out for Cain. I think Sanchez for Nick Johnson would be fair value. If you were trying to pick up Holliday or Fielder, you'd need to sweeten the pot to make it happen. Sanchez has a great chance to be a good pitcher for a long time to come, but his inconsistency will probably scare off some suitors, or create unrealistic deals that the Giants will refuse to make.

Do they trade Benji Molina? Any teams interested in a catcher? This guy has been their best hitter and a leader in the clubhouse, but with Buster Posey waiting in the wings, it may be time to cut bait with Molina and try to strengthen the offense in the farm system. Any trade the Giants make has to be for legit major league hitters, or high prospect type hitters. They have plenty of pitching and need to start operating that way. Not that it's a direct comparison, but I always fell in love with pitching in Fantasy Baseball. This year I made a strong effort to draft offense first, and low and behold, my team is in first and undefeated. I think the Giants have the potential to be an elite team if they can find two solid power hitters somewhere... that's not asking too much is it?

What other moves could they make? I've heard a lot of great suggestions, and I've heard suggestions that are worse than the decsions Michael Vick has made over the last few years. What would be a move that would make Brian Sabean look like a genius? Is there any move to make? What team would be willing to give up a power hitter? And why they holy hell did they pay Edgar Rentaria $18 million for 2 years, when they could've gotten Adam Dunn for $20 million/2 years? The world may never know...

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Case of the Mondays

Another weekend has come and gone- and I miss it already. But here is what I've been up to/paying attention to:

- Our Men's League Basketball team killed it on Friday night. The other team was shooting a solid 70% against us, and yet we still had a 5 point halftime lead. In the second half, there was an absolutely ridiculous sequence where one of our players traveled (not called), then another one of our players traveled (also not called), and we scored a bucket on top of it. The other team went nuts and got a couple technicals called against them. In our league, we got an automatic 4 points and the ball. We were pulling away before the T's, but this sealed the deal. I'm fairly certain I had 35-ish points, but I was really impressed with our other players holding it down. The Clark brothers both were in double digits, and that was great to see. We have a really tough game coming up this next week, so hopefully we bring our A-game.

- My buddy JP came up from SoCal this weekend and we got after it. We went to a BBQ at Urijah Faber's house (Urijah fought Sunday at ARCO, and unfortunately lost in a decision- though I heard he broke his hand in the first round and kept going for the full five rounds.) My buddy used to wrestle with Urijah at UC Davis, so it was pretty crazy to go hang out at a pre-fight party.

- After we got a small crew together and went out in downtown Sac. It was a great time. There were many fake names and professions given out (by us and by girls alike) and I kept the Jack Daniels theme from last weekend going. One bar, Whisky Wild, allowed girls to dance up on the girl which was pretty solid. Overall, it was a great night out with the guys.

- The Cubs took two of three from the Reds, and I'm pretty sure every game went into extra innings. That's one way to screw up an already terrible bullpen... I hope the Cubs figure their stuff out soon, because it is awful to watch them struggle through the season. Did anyone realize that Alfonso Soriano is hitting around .240? What the hell happened to that guy?

- The wedding is less than four months away and I was handling some business on Sunday. Shirt, tie, pocket square, and groosman ties- done and done. Things to work out this week- book honeymoon, call the hotel in Vacaville about a block of rooms, get a passport, and pay the photographer another for another portion of his eventual services.

- Did the Lakers win tonight? I think they did. I'm losing interest in the NBA at a rapid rate, Kobe probably needs to sexually assault someone for me to gain interest again... ok, I'll settle for the Magic to just win game three.

- Barring some ridiculous adjustment of our scores, I beat the Best Man in my wedding to continue my undefeated Fantasy Baseball season. 9-0 baby! My team is off the hook! Hopefully nothing goes changes and my team wins out. Unlikely, but still possible after this week.

That's all for the weekend- hope you had a terrific one as well. One final note- the new Dave Matthews Band album is actually pretty good. They lowered their expectations with their last dreadful album, but this one is a vast improvement. I'll keep listening and maybe even review it in a future blog, or maybe not- who knows?!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Live Band Karaoke Last Night

I'm going to make this short and sweet. Sorry for the mail-in's, but I was up until 3am playing with the Live Band Karaoke band last night at the G St Pub in Davis. I was responsible and didn't drink, but I'm just too tired to even think about writing anything coherent.

However, here are some of the songs the band played last night. We do this every first Thursday of the month at G St, so try to make it out if you can. You can get up there with us and sing!

We opened with the Pixies "Where Is My Mind???" where I sang lead. From there we let the people pick songs and sing:

Duran Duran "Hungry Like The Wolf"
Billy Idol "Rebel Yell"
Johnny Cash "Ring of Fire"
Van Morrison "Brown Eyed Girl"
Young MC "Bust a Move"
White Stripes "Seven Nation Army"
Radiohead "Creep"
Muse "Time Is Running Out"
Britney Spears "Baby One More Time"
Prince "Kiss"
Harvey Danger "Flagpole Sitta"
Danzig "Mother"

That's all I can remember right now. I never thought I'd be on stage singing the chorus of Danzig's "Mother" but it was pretty damn fun. If you're in the area, you should come out and sing a song- it'll be well worth it!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mailing It In

What to talk about today? Hmmm... I really don't have much. Let's start with a special Rest In Peace for David Carradine.
















What a regal and enchanting photo! I've always been pretty neutral on him, but being that he was Bill, I'll pay him his deserved respect.

Realistically, I'm not going to write anything today of any worth to society, so here are a few ridiculous videos that may or may not be funny to you:









So there you go. That's my mail-in post for the day.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Weekend At The Peppermill Reno (Part 3)

Let's see, where were we? I believe we were headed to dinner- well, maybe not quite dinner just yet. The group met at a suite in the Tuscany Tower for some pre-drinking and I had some Crown and Cola- and it was tasty. After a few drinks we sauntered to Oceano, a faux-sushi restaurant. I say faux-sushi because what sushi restaurant has chicken sandwiches and pasta on the menu? I decided there was no way I was going to have bad sushi, so I did in fact go with the chicken sandwich.

The main reason we went there was to do Sake-Bombs anyway, and that got done in a major way. I really have no clue how many I did personally, but six or seven sounds about right. Thank goodness I went with the chicken sandwich because it gave me just the right weight needed to power through the drinking. There's no chance I would've been ok with just sushi. In either case, dinner was a lot of fun and after all the drinks, I was humming.

The entire group of 18 or 20 folks left the restaurant and we immediately lit up cigars. I don't smoke all that often, but this cigars were actually very good. I was told they were only $5, but to be honest they were better than some more expensive ones I've had. All the guys in the group decided to find a Craps table to post at. We were unable to find an open $5 minimum table, so we grabbed a $10 min. table. This was probably the best decision of the weekend.

I was not terribly comfortable initially, but face it, I had drinks in me and I was already up for the weekend- I got over it real quick. After buying in for $140 and ordering more Jack Daniels, it was on. I managed to stay away from the middle of the table bets and keep my strategy of Pass Line and 6/8 betting. The rollers were hot. I'm not sure I can remember the order or a remotely close play by play, but lets just say we had three different rollers all roll for about 30 to 45 minutes each without giving up the dice. The payouts got insane. My first bathroom break I went to he cashier cage and cashed out $165. So if I had lost all the chips from that point on, I would be up $25 for the session.

On my second bathroom break, I returned to the cashier cage and cashed out $405 and still had a lot of chips to play with. This is about the point where things go hazy. I know I cashed out more money when we finished the game, but I'm fairly certain I gave Future Mrs. B. $100 and we played some Roulette and Blackjack. I won on both games and we eventually ended up eating breakfast at the Peppermill's Coffee Shop at 5:30am.

I think I got two and a half hours of sleep and then got up to prepare to leave. I did lose $40 or so on Blackjack in the morning, but it could not ruin the mood. I have never had such an amazing gambling trip. I've won some, lost some, and broken even before, but nothing like this. It's no time to get cocky and stupid with my bachelor party coming up in August, and I suppose that writing a three part blog about how much money I won could be the ultimate jinx, but I feel like I understand the games a bit more now. I get why the casino wants people to drink and bet on the terrible odds. I also get that even by reading a success story like this, it may promote others to trek to the Peppermill and lose more money than I won- but don't be fooled! Second Rate Blog does not endorse gambling trips- it only endorses trips when you win lots of money!

Quick Recap:

- Got let off the hook on a speeding ticket
- Won money on Craps and Roulette the first night
- Drank but was not hungover and bedtime was 4:30am
- Woke up and won $268 on Poker
- Went to the mall for a belt but also got socks and a kick ass shirt
- Back drinking Crown and/or Jack, then Sake-Bombs
- Smoked a cigar
- Won over $430 at the hottest Craps table I've ever been at
- Ate breakfast at 5:30am
- Free Wedding Suite
- Did NOT run into Dangle, Jonesy, Junior or Wiegel. One of the Craps rollers/Birthday Boy's buddies looked a bit like Nick Swardson though.

I seriously have not caught up on my sleep yet, either. However, the trip did give me a shot in the arm. I was feeling a little bit lathargic- one could say I was in a rut, but nothing cures that like winning $700 - $800. I hope this tale was inspiring and more importantly, not boring. I wish I could remember smaller details about the dealers and other aspects of my adventures, but unfortunately- no dice. That's about the only thing that was "no dice" for the weekend! Until my next trip, we'll get back to the regular stuff tomorrow... are the NBA Finals tonight? Will that even be interesting? Probably not.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Quick Note: Fantasy Baseball

My team is still undefeated! 8-0!

Going to see the A's/Twins on June 10th. Totally cheering for a good sideburns performance by Joe Mauer!

A Weekend At The Peppermill Reno (Part 2)

So I last was talking about getting out to party at 1:15am. Future Mrs. B and I met up with the group, many of whom we had never met before, and immediately launched into the amazing story of the Highway Patrolman letting me go without a black-mark to my name. The birthday boy mentioned that they had tons of alcohol in his room, so we went to the room to find our friend Jack Daniels. After making a drink or two we headed to the Craps table to get after it.

We found a $5 table and began to get after it. Now I'm somewhat new to the Craps game. The first time I ever played was in Tahoe just a little over a year ago. Since then I've played minimally two more times. So, this was my fourth overall time playing. I understand 90% of the game and fully understand why it has the best odds in the casino (50% if you play the Pass Line and back up your bet.)

I bet in a fairly conservative manner. Pass Line, back up the bet once the button is declared, and if the button goes on 6 or 8 I would cover the other number. Side note- I hate people who bet the Don't Come line. C'mon jerk- don't bet against the rest of the table! You're probably hedging your bet anyway, so stop it!

The Craps table was almost a bust, but it got hot and I ended the game up $55. After Craps came Roulette. I'm not a huge fan, but FMB loves playing so I participated as well. I would only bet the close to 50% bets (black/red, odd/even, 1-18/19-36) and that keeps me up or close to even. If I lose a bet, I'll just keep doubling the bet until it comes up correctly. Obviously, this strategy doesn't work if the wrong end of the 50% doesn't come up in four tries (assuming I'm playing a $1 table with $5 outside bets and I buy in with $100.) But lucky for me, the numbers were hitting. I did get a little stupid by the end and only walked up $16, but ten Jack and Colas can do that to a person.

Night One Totals: Up $71, ten Jack and Colas, and no speeding ticket.

I went to bed around 4:30am and woke up at 9:30am. I went down to the cafe and grabbed a fruit and yogurt parfait and water. FMB slept in, but I went to the Poker tables. The Peppermill has a phenomenal poker set up. I've never been to a place that has $1 and $2 blinds on a no-limit game. I love the cheap blinds and it also makes raises seem more powerful. One guy literally kept throwing a fit about people raising to $10. He was one of the tightest players I've ever seen at a Poker table, but I digress.

I made a pact with myself to not do anything stupid at the table and to not drink any alcohol while playing. Upon sitting I was hoping to sit out the first ten hands or so to get an idea of the players playing. Unfortunately, or fortunately I was dealt very good hands off the bat. Pocket 5's to start. Called a raise to enter the hand, folded after the bad flop. Second hand, King/Queen of hearts. Called another raise, flopped top pair. Called a $15 bet on the flop, check/check on the turn, and bet $25 on the river. The guy called because he said he was "curious" and I won the hand.

I played fairly tight from then on, but was winning occasional hands here and there. Then came the monster. The same "curious" fellow raised to $15. I look at my hand and have Ace/Queen unsuited, and call. The flop comes: King/10/Jack. Hi-oooooooooooooo!

So I have Broadway (Ace to 10 straight for anyone not familiar with Poker) and the guy leads out and bets. Now there are two spades on the board, so I have to assume he could have two spades in his hand. But I raise his $20 bet to make it $60. He goes all in, and I call instantly. I was hoping he had top pair, but my worst fears were realized. He was on the spade draw.

The Turn came a 3 of diamonds. Beautiful. The River comes a black 7... scared the hell out of me. Luckily it was the 7 of clubs and I just doubled my $200. Just like that. Now I realize that I was only 64% to win, but that's obviously a play one has to take their chances with. I mean, what kind of person would I be if I folded Broadway to a flush draw?

There were a few more hands that I took down and after my quick three hour session I was up $268 in Poker.

Upon leaving the Poker area, I went to the member services desk and got a great coupon book with all kinds of deals. They also informed me that I had been upgraded to a "Bronze" member. This really doesn't mean that much, but I do have a cooler looking card in my wallet now. Hopefully they'll send me even better deals in the mail.

I returned to the room, and FMB was just getting up. We went to the lunch and then to the mall (I forgot a belt because I was in my basketball uniform when we arrived the night before.) After buying a belt, some socks, and a XL-Tall shirt that says "That's What She Said" on it [yes, Rae- it was only $13, and I'm totally wearing it for Beer Pong sometime in the near future] we returned to get ready for the evening.

After showering, I squeezed in a $50 Blackjack loss and a nap. I'd like to emphasize that Blackjack is the devil's game, and I really don't think I'm going to play anymore. I can play by the book, or play extra conservative, or really crazy, but it really doesn't matter. It is a really hard game to win. I suppose if I worked hard to be able to do some subtle and effective card counting, but I don't have that kind of effort in me. Feel free to leave me a comment if I'm wrong, but I'm fairly sure the game is just awful and that's the way it is.

From dinner on is when the night really kicked up a notch. Part 3 will be the final and most exciting act. A quick recap of awesomeness:

- Up $55 on Craps
- Up $16 on Roulette
- Stayed up ridiculously late
- Won $268 on Poker
- Bought a belt, some socks, and a shirt

The final chapter coming soon...

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Weekend At The Peppermill Reno

As I sit here on Sunday evening watching one of the many great Chicken Fights on Family Guy, I am going to attempt to sluggishly write my weekend vacation to the Peppermill Reno. It is quite the ridiculous story, and I'm sure many people have had similar tales, but let's just say that it made me realize that I can still party with the best of them. I'm not 100% sure this can fit in one blog, so I may write a few entries throughout the week, we'll see how it goes.

Warning: Drinking, Gambling and Adult Content to follow.

The vacation really started before we even got there. The night began with another Men's League Basketball game in Sacramento at 8pm. Long story short, our team played some sluggish defense and got beat by about 10 points. I shot alright, but if I'm being honest, I played a bit soft and I will improve upon that. I think I still had around 20 points thanks to some good 3 point shooting and a phantom foul that gave me three freethrows. Anyway, with the game ending around 9pm, a two hour and fifteen minute drive to Reno, and the Peppermill only holding our room until midnight- future Mrs. B. and I had to hustle.

Without showering or anything, we jumped in the car and got going. There were two errands we had to run on the way- dropping off a vacuum in Carmichael at FMB's Mom's house, and dropping off some products for one of FMB's tanning customers. You see, her job is to sell tanning supplies (lotions/lamps) to tanning salons all over the country. It just so happened that this customer was located in Grass Valley. Without getting overly pissed off explaining the situation, the salon owner was supposed to meet us just off of highway 80 so we could give her the product. She grossly misunderstood that to actually go where she wanted to meet us, it would be a solid 50 miles out of our way. 20 miles off of highway 80, and 30 miles to get back on it (yes, I know, it's ridiculous.) Ultimately, we tried to go somewhere closer to off of highway 80, and never ended up meeting up with the salon owner. We did successfully waste a solid 25 minutes . Essentially, we were now running behind schedule.

I called the hotel, and they did agree to extend our room check in time, but we were wasting precious drinking and gambling time! Back on the highway, I was burning up the highway. Let's just say if I was Michael J. Fox, and my Jeep Compass was a Delorian, then we would've gone back in time (or hopefully to the future where there are hover boards and the Cubs win the World Series against some team that doesn't exist yet.)

As we neared the California/Nevada border, we were cruising. That was when FMB spotted something in the dark of the bushes... "COP!" she shouted. I threw on the brakes and tried to slow down, but it was futile. The Highway Patrole man threw on his lights and my dreams were about to be dashed before the vacation even started. Mortified, I came to a stop on the shoulder.

FMB got out my registration and proof of insurance and I had my license ready. The cop came to the passenger side window. I don't remember the conversation word for word, but it was close to this:

"Going a little faster there, eh?"
"I'm sorry sir, I know I was going fast. I think I didn't slow down coming off the hill."
"Well, we don't really consider that a hill. I clocked you at 83 and you got down to 80, but you would've had to have had your foot on the accelarator to go the speed you were going."
"I'm sorry sir."
"Where are you headed?"
"Reno."
"Do you come up here often?"
"No, sir, not often at all."
"Well, listen- you're 30 minutes away from Reno, and I need you to watch your speed and drive more safely. 65 or 70 is ok, but it's 80 that is the magic number. That's when we have to pull you over."
"Ok sir, I apologize- I will definitely watch my speed more carefully."
"You two have a good, safe night."
"Thank you sir- we will."

What?! How in the hell did I get out of that??? It is unexplainable. I will tell you this- it 100% saved the trip. I went 65 the whole rest of the trip and drove in the most law abiding fashion. It also made me feel like I had more money to gamble with. Does that even make sense? I don't get a ticket that could've easily been $300 plus traffic school fees and that mentally increases my budget for degenerate gambling. Ridiculous.

Anyway, we showed up around 12:25am and checked in. While I don't go up "often at all" to Reno, I do have a player's club card at the Peppermill. They had send me deals over the past few months that were increasingly better. The first deal was $50 a night for a room. The second was $30 a night plus some free slot play. The third was two FREE night plus $50 in free slot or table play. It worked out that we were able to use the deal for this weekend and join in the festivities of our friend's 30th birthday party (the husband of one of our bridesmaids was the lucky birthday boy.)

Upon getting there, we met with lead hotel desk guy and talked to him about what room we were getting. We wanted to make sure we got one of the remodeled rooms. On a previous trip we got an old school room that clearly was going for that 1970's brothel type theme. Full mirror across the back of the room where the bed is with green and purple fabric on the walls. The decor wasn't the main problem though- I would say the main problem was more the fluid stains on the green fabric and the stains and chipped tiles in the bathroom. On that earlier trip we complained and got upgraded to the best hotel room I've ever stayed in. Two king beds, flat screen TV in the main room and in the bathroom, etc. etc. The point being, the room was sweet.

When talking to the desk guy this time, we explained our preference for the remodeled rooms, and he looked for what was available. He said, "If you don't mind not having much of a view, I can give you the Wedding Suite." Um, yes- we'll take that. The room was not quite as nice as our previous suite, but when we're talking FREE and remodeled room in a private hall, then I have to say we're getting a great deal.

We quickly got ready in the room and found out where our friends were hanging out... we were out the door and hanging out by 1:15 am, and that is when I had my first Jack and Cola of the trip...

I'm tiring at this point I'll have to continue tomorrow. To recap- awesomeness so far:

- Got out of a speeding ticket- no idea how.
- Free remodeled Wedding Suite in a private hallway.
- Out the door to party by 1:15am.

To be continued...