Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Coaching In The Next Decade

I wonder if there ever was a time when coaches didn't say, "Kids these days aren't as tough as they used to be." Maybe when football was invented, coaches would yell at players during practice and say, "Back when I was kid, we didn't have football- we just worked in field all day with no play time at all! You kids are lucky to be participating in football- no run 8,000 gas-ers!"

Well, it seems like we are, more and more, living in a day and age where coaches are handcuffed and only allowed to use positive reinforcement. How is a kid supposed to learn that, in life and on the field, that there are going to be hard times that won't always be positive? Given great coaching, it will be easier for them to succeed during times of adversity.

With the recent firings of Mark Mangino and the weird situation going on with Mike Leach at Texas Tech, I'm here to help! Coaches can still bring their players to the brink of sanity without getting fired. How you ask? Well, here are a few ways:

1) What is wrong with running? Coaches seem to think kids/players are immune to running. It's pretty much the easiest form of acceptable punishment you can possibly use. You can make a player run all day instead of practicing. Chances are, they will eventually quit or buy into what you're selling. Either way, the problem is dealt with. There is also the tactic of making the team run while the slacker gets to watch. That works to bond the team together, and forces the slacker to pick it up or get exiled from the team by the other players. Who needs to lock a player in a utility closet? That's just plain silly.

2) No personal attacks that border (or jump completely into) racism. Mark Mangino was accused of telling a kid, "If you don't work harder, I'll send you back to the ghetto to get shot." Whoa, buddy! Only say stuff like that if you want to get fired. I'm sure there are personal attacks that you can use about him being soft or not caring about the team. Never go into someone's background to attack them if you'd like to keep your job.

3) Take parents into consideration. One reason I don't coach (and it might be the biggest reason) is that I don't want to deal with the parents. If you are a college coach, you not only can recruit players based on their talent and character, you can recruit them based on how annoying you think their parents will be. There's a certain amount of catering you'll have to do with every player, but if you think the parents just want a reason to complain, then pass on the kid. One talented kid is no reason to ruin your program or have you lose your job.

4) Any difficult activity you do, make sure it is directly related to the game. Don't starve players. Don't lock them up and confine them. Don't choke them or throw chairs at them. However, by all means, run the players to death. Bring them to a steep hill and make them run up with weights. Make the players do arduous physical team-building exercises that can always be linked back to you making the team better. There is a big difference between making players do difficult things and assaulting them because you're a frustrated coach. Always remember that.

5) Have fun. Too many coaches forget that ultimately their sport is a game. Their livelihood is on the line so many coaches stress out and get chest pains (Urban Meyer.) They can't remember why they started coaching in the first place. Love the game you coach and enjoy it. Being a coach is inherently frustrating, you can't always have self-motivators like Tim Tebow, so keep that in mind while you're going through every day operations. Part of the joy of being a coach is seeing players grow and mature, and that doesn't happen overnight. There's no reason to lock them in a closet or physically assault because of that. Enjoy yourself as well, coach!

So there you go. Push your players, but don't get fired. Easy, right? It's probably as easy as not growing to weigh 350+ lbs. but Mark Mangino couldn't do that, so why would anyone expect him to coach any better?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Amazing Things I've Seen This Week...

1) A guy at Wal-Mart wearing a zip up jacket that wasn't zipped up. Why is this a big deal? Well, he was wearing no shirt underneath. While Sacramento is definitely not that cold during the winter, it's definitely not a place where you can just do that and be comfortable, so the obvious connection is that "The Situation" is now influencing teenagers on the opposite side of the US.

2) The Bears winning in overtime against the Vikings on Monday Night Football. By far my best experience all year as a fan. Unfortunately, this game is meaningless and only gives me hope that Jay Cutler can be better next year along with the Bears (bad news: The Packers are going to be very good for a long time.)

3) I've tried to see Avatar three times, and still haven't seen it. Granted, they have been lackluster efforts, but I didn't figure that "Titanic for Nerds" would be selling out for weeks after it's release. I guess I was wrong.

4) Mario Kart Wii is one cheating-ass video game. Seriously. Why am I always in first going into the last turn of any track then get hit with a Blue Shell, then a lightning, then a Pow, then a Red Shell and all of a sudden I'm in 11th. Some good ol' controller throwing is definitely in order when playing this game.

That's it. There might be a few more average blog entries, but I'm not promising anything. Remember, I'm playing NEW YEARS EVE at THE BOXING DONKEY IN ROSEVILLE. No cover, so if you don't have extravagant plans and want to hang out in Roseville, then make sure you come out!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Saved By The Bell: A Home For Christmas

TBS plays Saved By The Bell re-runs every morning and appropriately, they played this Christmas themed episode today. And while I still love the show, I had to laugh at how ridiculous much of this episode was.

If you recall, Zack hits on a blond girl that works at the mall. He puts the mack down on her, and can't figure out why she would be reluctant to get with the coolest guy in the LA area?!?! And the same time, Screech and Zack run into a bearded man shaving at the sink in the mall bathroom. Zack deduces that the man is homeless (dun dun duuuuuun!) I mean, I'm sure there are lots of homeless men that discreetly walk around high class Beverly Hills malls and shave in the bathroom with no one bothering them.

Later, when Zack finally gets the blond, Laura, to go out with him, he sees the homeless man and makes a comment. Laura immediately changes her mind about going out with Zack. It turns out (wait for it-) that the homeless man is Laura's father (what a coincidence!!!)

So in the white-washed reality of Saved By The Bell, there the only thing different about homeless and not homeless is literally the fact that the guy has a beard (and even then, the homeless man, Mr. Benton, was still able to trim up his the neck portion of his beard.) This is almost as ridiculous as someone getting addicted to Caffeine Pills!

Throw in a boss that acts like Mr. Scrooge from "A Christmas Carol," Laura getting accused by said boss of stealing a blazer for her homeless dad, then the boss ending up apologizing and giving Laura the blazer (which I'm sure will magically earn him a job) and you have the recipe for a phenomenally cheesy Christmas episode. In the end, Zack talks his mom into letting the Bentons stay with them until Mr. Benton can get back on his feet (or until Zack can get a little play from his daughter.) Mr. Benton actually says, "We've been in California 2 months, and you're the first people to help us out at all." Really? You lost your job, became homeless, and you're first idea is, "Let's go to California! The land of the highest inflation and housing costs in the nation!" No wonder this guy lost his job.

Would Zack have done any of this if the guy's daughter wasn't hot (I'm using the word "hot" very loosely)? Nope. And that my fellow readers, is the true meaning of a Saved By The Bell Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

X106.5 Sacramento

My favorite radio stations growing up were Live 105 (105.3 in the Bay Area) and KWOD 106.5 in Sacramento. KWOD was always the superior radio station in that they would play not only great alternative music, but would also go deeper into album catalogs to play music that no other radio station had the guts to play.

A couple years ago I was mortified to find KWOD 106.5 had become "KWOD 2.0" where they played a bunch of Adult Contemporary Pop/Rock. Not that some of their selections were all that horrible, but because it became a watered-down radio station, I was disgusted and boycotted ever turning the dial to 106.5.

They eventually apologized and returned to a similar format as they originally built their following on- Alternative Rock. This lasted for awhile- at least until recently when 106.5 became "The Buzz." Ugh. It's all 90s, all the time. Again, the station itself is not that bad, but because it took away my number 1 preset and made it far worse than it was before, I had to boycott this station as well.

I recently discovered that the DJs from the original KWOD 106.5 started a website at that plays all the Alternative Rock that you would need and more. I listened to the station during my drive to Walnut Creek on Monday, and it was awesome. I felt like I was back in high school (which was appropriate considering the event I was going to.)

They played Radiohead, Silver Sun Pickups, some new songs I'd never heard before and even a Jay-Z/Radiohead mash-up. One suggestion that I would make to the station managers is that every time they think about playing Linkin Park, they should play God Lives Underwater to replace every other Linkin Park song (one LP song for you, one GLU song for me.)

The best part about is that anyone can listen to it anywhere in the country because it's a web radio. Also, you can listen to it on your iPhone or Blackberry (I would guess it works on the Droid as well.)

I highly recommend checking out this station if you're into Alternative Rock- you won't regret it. Thank goodness I don't have to deal with "The Buzz" anymore.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Northgate Basketball: Still A Tradition

As I write this at 1:45 am, I am simply amazed at what was accomplished tonight. I went back to my old high school to honor our legendary, State Championship winning coach, Coach Frank Allocco, Sr., and also inducting one of the greatest players in Northgate Basketball history, Jim Croy, into the Northgate Athletic Hall of Fame.

It was immediately great to see faces from Northgate basketball past. Frank Allocco, Jr., Mike Allocco, Rick Croy, Jim Croy, Bobby Callaway, Ryan Inouye, Nate Murray, Mike Samuels, Jeff Samuels, John Grigsby, Jarrett Tong, Ben Wallis, and Mark Alexander (to name a few.) Catching up with everyone was excellent, and I was extremely honored and proud to be a part of it.

It was also great to spend a few moments with Coach Allocco and Coach Brian Sullivan. Growing up, I was always tall, but it took coaching from those two to truly mold me into a basketball player (and I am a better man for it.)

The formal honoring of Coach Allocco, our 1995 State Championship team, and Jim Croy took place during halftime of the Northgate/Las Lomas game. The Las Lomas crowd was fairly rude as they could not appreciate how undeniably dominant our program was 10-15 years ago. True, the ceremony took up more time than a normal halftime would, but this was a special occasion that should have been treated with ultimate respect. Teacher Jeff Spoden spoke of how Coach Allocco changed things at Northgate for the better by instilling an intense feeling of playing perfect basketball in order us to not let our teammates down. Rick Croy spoke about when Coach Allocco first arrived at Northgate, brought all the players to the parking lot and said, "Imagine the street in front of the school lined with cars and the parking lot full. Forget earning a winning record, we will win a State Championship here." A couple years later, he brought the team out back to the parking lot before a game, and what did they see? The street was gridlocked with cars attempting to get into a full parking lot. They did it. They then went on to rip out the soul of that opponent and many other opponents that they faced in the Corral (the name of our home gym.)

Northgate won the game against Las Lomas, which was fitting, and then our group went to Rocco's for some pizza and to catch up with one another. Many of the former players have wives and children and it was great to see of these players that I once looked up to and admired growing into men and starting families.

But the fun did not stop there. at 10:30pm, we were allowed to go into the gym for an hour and a half practice with Coach Allocco and Coach Sullivan- just like the old days. You might be wondering, how did that go with a bunch of older guys that were 10-17 years out of high school? Let's just say that I guarantee that it was the hardest working practice that will take place in the Northgate gym this year. We did Olympic drills, including a weave to half court. We did Vegas and Motion offense drills. We did dribbling and defensive slide drills. We did free throws for water (Frank, Jr. and Nate Murray went 4 for 4 with their free throws.) We ran a line when one player did not dive into the corner of the gym for a ball. We did defensive breakdowns, box-out drills and rebounding drills. We had a legitimate practice for a solid hour and a half.

I dove on a couple balls, got hit in the throat by Rick Croy as he went through a screen, missed a defensive assignment (and got yelled at for it), had one strong move in the post, and played as hard as I could for 90 minutes. I made sure to challenge myself by always looking to be in Coach Sullivan's group. More importantly that all these "I" sentences- "WE" as a team, came together for one night, 10-17 years after we were done playing, and 13 years after Our Coach had moved on (to De La Salle High School in Concord) and we played hard for each other. We were a team again. And even though it was a smattering of guys from different class years, we held up the old Northgate Traditions with pride for one more night- and it was an absolute honor.

I can't relay to people how difficult it was to be in a Coach Allocco led program (unless you are in it now, or have been in it in the past), but their saying still holds true today: Northgate Basketball is not for everyone, but those that stay will be Champions.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Case of the Mondays: Face Punch Edition

There could be no better topic for today's post (post #350) than a girl getting punched in the face. Now, to be clear- I am not in favor of girls getting punched in the face. At all. End of story. However, popular culture has been buzzing recently with Snookie from the Jersey Shore getting punched in the face by a school teacher who is now not a school teacher because he punched a girl in the face.

With that intro in mind, I will now re-tell the exciting story of my show on Saturday night. One more thing before I begin- some of this is hearsay, so by no means is this supposed to be an legally binding, official statement. Let's just say this is for entertainment purposes only.

I arrived at the Boxing Donkey like any other night, set up, and prepared to play a rocking 3 hour set. Near the beginning of my set, a group of people showed up that seemed a bit off. Two girls, two guys- of the two girls, one was skinnier with a white top, the other had a heavier build with a red dress. Of the two guys, one had a black shirt, the other had a white shirt. The guy in the black shirt and the girl in the red dress seemed to be together, wasted, and having a disagreement. She seemed to be one of those girls that has a mouth on her when she imbibes Uncle Johnny's Cough Medicine. By that same token, the guy did not seem to be all that sympathetic toward her whining- which can be quite a bad combination.

From my point of view, I was playing up in the front of the bar, ironically playing "With a Little Help From My Friends," when a rush of people went from the front of the bar to the back near the patio. I could immediately tell something was wrong. I reluctantly kept playing- and wrapped up the song as fast as I could. I decided to take a break to let things blow over. Then I saw...

The girl in the red dress covering her face and running toward the front door. She had obviously been punched in the face. Her nose was blown up and she was bleeding profusely. The staff got her a towel to bleed into and a chair to sit on. This was good because she looked like she was about to double over from the loss of blood, the ingested alcohol and the likely concussion she experienced.

The police, ambulance and fire trucks arrived after someone called 9-1-1. With a little break-time investigation, I found out the one of the guys (I think the white shirted guy) had punched the girl in the face. I believe it went down like this- the girl got a little mouthy, the guy put his hand around her neck to choke her, the girl pushed the guy off of her, he then pushed her into a wall. When she bounced off the wall she came back toward the guy, and that is when he punched her in the face. This all happened out on the back patio area. Talk about ruining the vibe for a show!

I talked to a couple at the bar, and the said the guy who punched the girl in the face had actually said earlier in the night, "I hate that girl, I'm going to choke her by the end of the night." Even worse, and I hope this isn't true, I heard that the guy who punched the girl was actually an off-duty Roseville Police officer. Now if that is true, that dude better lose his job (much like the teacher who punched Snookie.)

Overall, it definitely affected the crowd for the rest of the night. Many people left, and it sounded like rumors circulated the downtown Roseville area- "Did you hear that girl at the Donkey got stabbed in the face?!"

So this is the part where I invite everyone to come out on New Year's to the Boxing Donkey! I'll be playing and we're assuming that no girls will be getting punched in the face. There's no cover and there will be a New Year's toast (I believe it is going to be a shot of Bailey's Irish Cream, if I'm not mistaken.) It really is a great place to hang out besides that one bad episode, so come on out and be ready to party!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Under-Appreciated Bands of the 1990s: Gigantic

Gigantic was formally known as Flesh For Lulu, and ironically, that's what they are know as today. They only released one album in 1996. While promoting their album, they toured with Bush and the Goo Goo Dolls, yet those efforts were futile. The album never fully caught on.

However, I highly recommend listening to it. It was re-released under Flesh For Lulu and the album is now called "Gigantic." Here's a clip of the song "Disenchanted:"

And for those that might be wondering why I haven't been talking about sports much- well, the answer is obvious. The Bears are eliminated from contention, the Bulls recently lost to the Nets, and the Cubs still have a hemroid named Milton Bradley.

I'm playing in Roseville tomorrow night at the Boxing Donkey - 300 Lincoln St - so come on out and enjoy yourself.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Album of the Year - 2009

I love and hate choosing rankings for music. I like to think of music as a friendly competition between musicians, so assigning the equivalent of AP College Football Rankings to albums is fun- albeit futile. In the end, my rankings are probably far less accurate than the flawed BCS system. I will give you some of my favorites, though. By all means, check out the ones you've never heard of, and re-listen to anything that's already load on your portable MP3 player.

Merriweather Post Pavilion by Animal Collective - This dreamy foray into electronic beats coupled with some of the best harmony vocals since Four Guys From Liverpool back in the 1960s, earns this album a spot on my list. SPIN Magazine did crown this one #1, though. Stare at the album cover below- it might hyponitize you in listening to it!

Veckatimest by Grizzly Bear - My buddy Eric let me know about this band and assured me they would not disappoint. In fact, they did not. If you need any convincing, just put on the song "Two Weeks" and you'll see what I'm talking about. In fact, here is the video right here- it's creepy, but it gets the job done:

The Resistance by Muse - Just assume that any year Muse releases an album, it will go in my Top Five albums of that year. These guys just don't disappoint. The way that classical music, Queen and Franz Ferdinand have influenced this album is quite obvious and it makes for an enjoyable listening experience. Here is "The Uprising"- the lead track on the album:

Wilco (The Album) by Wilco - Jeff Tweedy and Co. have been making great albums for 13 years now and I don't think I'll ever get sick of anything they ever do. This album is more accessible to the general music listener than their last three albums, but it still has an original punch that even music snobs will have to tip their hat to. Here is their performance on Letterman:

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix by Phoenix - I love this album. It is works for when you're in a bad mood and want to cheer yourself up. It works for dancing. It works for jogging. It works for sitting around and drinking. It works for any situation, and that's why this gets the official Tony B. stamp of excellence. I'm not sure what that means within the music community, but I'm giving it out anyway. Here's a track from their great, great album:

Let me know what I missed. I know there a few albums I haven't listened to just yet (the new Alice In Chains springs to mind) that I just don't know well enough to include. Either way, these albums all kick ass.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dexter Season 4 Finale Review

Another fine season of Dexter has come and gone, and this one could have been the best one yet. The introduction of John Lithgow as the Trinity Killer was as good a decision as anytime I've ever had breakfast food for dinner. His kills were cunning and brutal. In many ways, though, they gave enough of Trinity's back story to let the audience debate if Trinity ever had a choice to become a monster, or if he, like Dexter, was "born in blood" and could not squash the demon inside. Dexter might have been a similar killer to Trinity (if not more sloppy) had he not had Harry to instill "The Code" in him.

So let's talk about the season finale. I'm laying it out there right now- SPOILERS WILL FOLLOW so if you have not seen the season finale- DO NOT CONTINUE READING!!!

I thought the episode set up nicely. Beginning in the Police Station, where Trinity has found the real identity of Dexter and the two of them are staring at each other like Old West gunfighters. Each statement Trinity makes seems to make Dexter shrink down further into a shell of uncomfortable regret- Why did I not kill this asshole 5 episodes ago?

What then transpires is a chase scene with Dexter weaving in and out of traffic. He's on the phone with Rita, planning their weekend Honeymoon getaway while trying to catch up with Trinity. I couldn't help but see this scene as a symbolic microcosm for the rest of the season. Dexter has been having trouble balancing work, family, and being a serial murderer- and when he hits a parked car while driving, we are given another example about why Dexter's family situation is doomed to fail (or at least, something had to give.)

To speed up the summary, we'll gloss over the middle of the episode because let's keep it real, you shouldn't be reading this if you haven't seen the episode, and if you have, then you don't need me to recap the whole thing.

I had been hearing about the "Amazing Twist You'll Never See Coming" for a few weeks, and I knew there was an outside shot that they would kill off Rita- but I definitely did not see it coming when it actually happened. My mind was going down the road of "Maybe they'll let Trinity live and they'll accidentally run into him in the Keys next season." I'm very glad they did not do this as there would not have been any satisfying closure to the episode and season.

When Trinity's car broke down, I figured Dexter was somewhere ready to pounce. I couldn't tell if he came from the trunk or the backseat, but that was a pretty sweet way to surprise Trinity. Once Dexter has Trinity secured in the kill room, they have a very interesting conversation. At first viewing, it seemed like Trinity was coming to terms with dying, and Dexter had locked back into to being the dominating, mistake-free killer that we have come to love. Dexter rants about how he wants to be better than Trinity and about how he is good for his own family (while Trinity, in comparison, made his family live in fear.) When Trinity says, "It's already over..." I thought- Hell yeah, it is! Dexter is finally going to kill this monster! However, I was not totally prepared for what happened next.

Dexter returns home and is about to leave to meet Rita on their Honeymoon getaway. He calls her and finds her phone still in the house- then he hears his baby, Harrison, crying. Dexter finds Rita in a bathtub full of blood, killed by Trinity in his own signature way, and Harrison sitting in blood- totally reminiscent of the way Dexter was found after his own mother had been murdered.

It was a fitting end to the season, and while most people are probably glad to be rid of Rita's annoying voice, I don't think anyone really wanted her murdered by Trinity in front of her and Dexter's baby son. Well done, writers. Well done, indeed.

So what are the ramifications of such an ending? Here are some questions I have:

- Since Dexter was found at the bank where Trinity pulled out his entire life savings, and arrested- then found suspiciously in Trinity's garage as if he magically appeared, and Trinity's family can identify him if they are questioned- wouldn't that open up some serious questions into what the hell Dexter was doing in his "personal time?" On top of that, the police will find Rita killed Trinity style? There has to be some questions coming Dexter's way. Seems like he may find himself in an investigation of his own.

- Will Astor and Cody stay with the family they left with to go to Disney World?

- Will Dexter retain custody of Harrison? Maybe have Deb move in to his house? Or will Dexter move back to his old apartment?

- Will Quinn be the new Doakes and get all up in Dexter's business? Will Quinn convince Deb to be suspicious of Dexter?

- And my favorite recommendation for next season, have Dexter on the verge of getting caught for the murder he's been up to, and the season end with the Police Chief sit down with Dexter and reveal that he knows who Dexter is. In fact, I want to see the Chief reveal that he's been helping Dexter get away with the murders the entire time. It would make sense that Harry would have given the Chief a heads-up about Dexter to a) give Dexter help and b) make sure Dexter abides by the code.

No matter what happens next, I know I'll be watching. I can't believe it took me so long to get around to watching this fine show, but I'm so glad I got into it. Next up: Lost Season Premire February 2...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Peppermill Weekend

I won't make this post a marathon trilogy of posts for this weekend- and mostly it's because there were gambling losses and I'm not big on talking about losing.

Our group arrived at about 5 or 6pm on Friday, checked into our suite in the Tuscany Tower, prepared our makeshift bar, changed clothes and began drinking. After a nice little buzz, Mrs. B., Katrina, John, and myself went to Biscotti's for some dinner. I always get their stir fry because it is frickin' delicious. Eventually, John and I made it over to the Craps table and for Friday night, the table was HOT. John bet bigger than I did, and that night pretty much set up his weekend. I was up, but not an insummountable amount.

After getting some breakfast the next morning, Mrs. B. and crew had spa appointments, and I went to the Poker Room to play some 1-2 No Limit Hold 'Em. I was up and down for 5 hours, and I learned that 5 hours is the maximum amount of time I can ignore stupid people at the table. Between the 9 fingered veteran complaining about Obama or the woman wearing a holiday reindeer sweater that kept talking about what a great poker player she was (she wasn't), and me getting cold cards, I ended up losing a bit of money right at the end of my session (only about $75, but I wasn't pleased.)

Dinner at CHI was great. Our group got the $24 a person dinner deal which allowed all of us to get a family style Chinese dish each, which we all split giving us a variety of 6 dishes each (we had seven people, but they allowed us to get one fewer because the portions are huge.)

After more drinks it was back to Craps. Winning the first night is great- but it can also be a curse. The tables were cold, so I eventually went back to the Poker Room. After playing patiently for awhile, I picked up pocket 10s and raised. 4 people called. The flop came Jack, 10, 3 of diamonds. Fearing the Flush Draw I made a pot sized bet of $35. It folded around and got to the guy to my right. He made some comment like "Let's gamble" and put himself all-in for $38. I called the $3, and was dismayed to see he had Ace-5 of diamonds. Save the speeches when you have the nut-hand, asshole.

To make matters worse, the next two cards were the 2 and 4 of diamonds. Yep, I got beat by a straight flush. And had I actually been able to magically go back in time and somehow get that original Jack of diamonds to become the 10 of hearts, I would have lost straight flush to four of a kind. This would have netted me the bad beat jackpot of $12,000. Unfortunately, I am not Biff Tannen and I cannot steal the Delorian to go back in time. I believe I ended up down $50 for this session.

I went back to the room where the group continued drinking and listening to alternative rock from the 90s. It was awesome. What was not awesome was me, the next day, betting on the Raiders (I hate JaMarcus Russel) and NY Giants (those turnovers were soooo costly.) I'm lucky the Peppermill enjoys comping us rooms, otherwise this would have been a really bad financial weekend.

I must say, overall, it was a great time. I just hate losing. Case in point, I made it back onto Full Tilt last night and won two sit and go tournaments before going to bed last night. That helped me sleep easier, I suppose.

In the end, the Peppermill is still a magical place and we all had a lot of fun. Hell, John even put a $100 bet on the way out on the Monday night game for the Niners to cover and he took the under- BAM! I wish I would've followed him on that one. Until the next trip...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Off To Reno...

Alright folks, Mrs. B. and I (and friends) are going up to the Peppermill once again. If we don't die in the snow on the way up or freeze to death in below 0 degree temperatures, then you will most likely find us at the Craps tables tonight with many drinks consumed. Having just watched "Jersey Shore" last night for the first time ever, I'm ready to treat Reno in a very "The Situation"-esque way. That show is unreal. I can't believe a dude socks "Snookie" in the face next week!

Anyway, I'm looking for betting advice for the weekend. 1-3 NFL games would probably do the trick. Any good bets you have your eye on? I hate to say it, but I saw Green Bay -3 over the Bears and that looked pretty enticing (I should rot in hell for saying that.)

I'm coming back on Monday, so hopefully I'll post late Monday with some adventures. Have a great weekend, and try to keep warm.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Piece of Advice

Mrs. B. went to get her hair cut yesterday. Because we're a bit tight on funds these days, she found that her friend from high school teaches at a beauty college, so she could get a cheap yet good hair cut there. The trade off is that the haircut takes a long time because one of the students is allowed to participate in said haircut. You are essentially volunteering your time for a less expensive haircut.

Wednesday is Senior Day down at the beauty college so there were many older ladies getting their hair done at the same time Mrs. B. was in there. It turns out Orlando Magic player Matt Barnes' 80 year old grandmother was one of those older ladies.

When Grandma Barnes (maybe not her actual name, but we'll go with it for the purpose of the blog) found out that Mrs. B. went to the same high school as Matt and had known Matt and some of his siblings, she was ready to have some serious conversation. Matt's brother James is apparently a cook:

"James is turning into a fine chef! He used to be fat- but now his cooking much healthier!"

Attention turned to the stylist's sleeve tattoo:

"I hope that comes off. No? Well it looks like shit! I just hate tattoos!"

Then it turned to Mrs. B.'s love life:

"You married? Well let me give you a piece of advice- F*** a lot! You know why? Because one day this [points to the genital region] and that [points off into the distance at a penis somewhere in the world] ain't gonna work, so you need to get as much of that in as possible!"

Awesome! Matt Barnes' 80 year old grandma is handing out sex advice at the hair place! Your point is well taken Grandma Barnes. I only hope that my readers, my wife, and I are able to heed your advice in the coming years (not all in the same room, of course, but you get the point.)

Enjoy your Thursday- I know I will if Milton Bradley is off the Cubs by the end of the day!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Drunk Girls Part 1 and 2

In playing two shows last week at the G St Pub in Davis, CA (Thursday and Friday), I got to see a few drunk messes around the bar. One guy was at the bar hunched over and could barely speak. He swatted me away from the bar when I went up next to him to get a drink (I think he was attempting to communicate that he was saving the seat next to him, but he was too drunk to speak.) After a few choice words on my part, I went to the other side of him to get a drink.

This was a tame situation compared to the drunkest of girls that I saw on Thursday and Friday. First, let's look at Thursday. I was up on stage playing when I saw a girl stumbling around a little further back from the small dance floor area in front of the stage. I didn't think too much of it besides, "She's pretty drunk- haha."

As we continued the song, her head swung around like a bobble head doll and she began to teeter. She was around two guys (could've been her friends, I have no idea) that I thought were going to help her out. While losing her balance she grabbed onto the tall table that has not one, but two water coolers on it. As she fell to the ground, she tried to use the table to pull herself back up. This was a horrible plan, but I suppose her drunkness got in the way of her "let's execute a better plan" portion of her brain. The table immediately toppled and both water coolers had their tops pop off. The silver cooler actually had the water dispenser break off, completely breaking the cooler. Water was now covering the wooden dance floor, and this made for a very slippery and dangerous time for the rest of the people at the pub.

The staff jumped into action by kicking the drunk girl out of the bar, and mopping up the water (which was pretty much a lake at this point.) She was a train wreck.

The second girl who did not know her alcohol limit was at the Pub the next night. My band had already played, and I was standing in the corner watching Automatic Rival do their thing. I tried to get out of the way of the crowd, but there were a lot of people there, so finding a place away from others was a tall task. As I was watching AR, I felt something hit my foot. A blond girl had fallen down right next to me. The odd thing is that my first thought was, "I'm not helping her/touching her because I don't want to get in trouble!" Like Dave Chappelle said, "Chivalry is dead, and ya'll killed it!" I'm not going to be the guy who gets in trouble for trying to help.

Oddly enough, her two girlfriends were trying to help her up, but her drunk body was dead weight. That was when a gentleman sprang into action! A guy came over and pulled her up off the ground. He brought her a few steps away from me and her friends. I believe he asked if she was ok, and then she gave him a drunk hug. Then a kiss. Then a full on make out session. I figured, "Huh? Seems like this is her boyfriend..." I was curious so I continued to watch the situation blossom.

It was only then, when her friends came back over for her and pulled the "we're going to lock arms to apparantly play a game of Red Rover at another part of the bar" move, that it was confirmed that this was not her boyfriend, but just some dude. Well, well, well... it looks like our chivalrous hero was actually an opportunistic sexual deviant. He is the kind of guy who gave men a bad name, and probably the reason why I didn't help to begin with!

Moral of today's blog: Don't be that girl (or guy) at a bar! Don't get wasted an do stupid stuff. It's fun to be drunk, but not being able to walk or stand up is a problem (unless you have strong friends to keep you in check/carry you home.) The other moral- playing music allows you to see some ridiculous situations.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Target Nightmare

Mrs. B. and I went to Target the other day to exchange an item from our wedding registry. I hate having to return things (I'm not sure if this is a male trait or an individual trait, but either way...) so I was shying away from the situation. This is compounded by the fact that I don't like returning gifts. I was not in my most favorite situation.

In this case though, the item we were returning is something we did want initially, but now that we've moved in many of our new gifts, realized we don't have room for it, and since Mrs. B. lost her job, we were in need of some other supplies and this was the gift was easiest to return and live without for the moment.

So what is the point of having a registry somewhere? Well, in my opinion, it is twofold. One, to get some sort of reward program. If you register at Macy's, you rack up points based on purchases made off your registry and eventually you get a gift card. Seems like a great reason to register somewhere.

Two, it makes returning things easier. What's the point of having a running list proving which gifts you received, if you are unable to exchange items easily. A great example of this was when I put towels on our Macy's registry, my colorblindness got the best of me and we got light green towels rather than the gray ones we wanted (I have an issue with companies making up fancier names for their colors- just call it green or gray or black or blue- no need for ridiculous names!) We easily exchanged the towels for the correct ones, and my colorblindness was excused.

Back to our Target situation, we printed out the registry. It did not have the item on it. This was a little confusing since we clearly received this item off the registry. I didn't think much of it until the woman at the counter refused to return the item. She treated us like we were trying to pull a fast one on her.

My initial thought was, why even have a registry here? It seems like things should be easier than this. Items magically not showing up on the list that we printed out? It doesn't make sense. My second thought was, I can print out a different page that would have the product on the registry. I go over to the kiosk, and magically print out the page when all the items. It turns out that Target breaks up their products on registries into "Store Bought" and "Online Only."

Proof in hand, Mrs. B. tries to return it again. This time she goes to a different customer service lady. The original lady ran over to the second lady and immediately said rudely, "You have to have a packing slip to return this. Don't you have the packing slip?" Being that we were working with Macy's previously and had a great experience exchanging items, we weren't aware of any packing slip requirement. At that moment, we still doubted that Target had any requirement. Mrs. B. tried to present the new page that I printed off the computer, and they lady would not even look at it. She replied with, "You have to go home and print up a receipt, get the packing slip and come back. We can't help you." It was unpleasant to say the least.

Back in the car, we decided to go home, get the packing slip, and drive immediately back. This lady had been rude to the wrong newlyweds. It took us literally 5 seconds to find the packing slip, we were back in the car, and it was on!

As I said, I'm not a huge fan of these situations, but I decided to tag along because I couldn't miss the action. Upon seeing us, the original rude lady said, "Ok, let me know show you now how to print out a return receipt." Mrs. B. replied, "You told us to go home and get the packing slip, so we did. Now you're telling us you could've printed this return receipt here in store?"

Rude lady said, "I was trying to tell you, I'll help you print it out-" and she stepped around the counter and I stepped in front of her. I was fed up with her bullshit.

"You're not helping us anymore, and we need to see a manager." I felt her forward momentum recoil backwards. I looked at the other girls behind the counter, "Can you call a manger?" I asked.

The manager arrived and I took the reins. The main point in all of this was that the customer service lady was rude, refused to help us, gave us wrong information, then after we left and she realized she could've helped us instead of treating us like tricksters, she tried to play it off like she was going to help us but we didn't understand what she was telling us originally. I just about flipped my lid when other employees had to go to the computer kiosk and print out a return receipt from our registry- that could've been done 25 minutes ago! Unforutnatley, the first customer service lady was unwilling to step around the counter and instruct us in the ways of the Target kiosk. I guess it's our fault for not being masters of the Target kiosk. Remind me to look into any upcoming training seminars like Target kiosks are the ulimate in technology. I'm fairly certain your actual job is help people like us, so if you're going to be rude and not help- what are you actually doing at your job!?!?!?!?

After making the return, I made sure to tell the manager, "We were going to use our credit tonight at your store, but now we are going to make sure to spend credit at a different Target store because this experience was so horrible." She apologized. I mean, really, there was nothing much she could say at that point. The best part was that the original lady was right there to here all of our complaints, and at the very least I hope I ruined her day (because she needlessly ruined ours.)

The manager did come back over and give us 3 $3 off coupons that were essentially gift cards (we could use them simultaneously) so that did soften the horrible experience at least a little bit.

Sorry Target in Natomas, we will not be shopping at your store ever again. To be honest, I also recommend not registering at Target for wedding stuff. We registered there mostly for electronics and a few other things, but find somewhere else to get those things because it has been difficult throughout the entire process.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Case of the Mondays

What a busy/rocking weekend!

Friday night I had the opening slot at the G St Pub in Davis (opening for the excellent band Automatic Rival- they sound similar to Jimmy Eat World, if not a little more punk.) I got the gig because the original opening band, Jetset Society, had the unfortunate situation of their drummer having his drum kit stolen. I asked one of the members of the band, Dusty, if he wanted to learn a couple tunes and sit in on bass guitar for me on Friday. We worked out 5 tunes. I got my drummer Bart to show up and all of a sudden we had full band Tony B. originals live and on stage. It was a lot of fun. Here was the set list:




It was a great time, and we might try it again on January 8th (details forthcoming...)

Saturday, after watching Florida get dominated by Alabama and cheering for Texas to lose to a team that rhymes with my last name, I headed out to the Boxing Donkey in Roseville to play another show.

The Boxing Donkey shows consist mostly of cover songs to keep people dancing and singing, and that's exactly what happened. I can tell that I'm improving on my game over there because the the people of the Donkey were very pleased with the results of Saturday's show. On top of that, drunken people were either hitting on me, taking my lyrics cheater binder (hey! I can't memorize all 250 songs!), stealing the chair that the binder was resting on, and stumbling into my microphone in general. I'm going to take some credit for getting a drinking friendly vibe, and luckily I knew some songs off the top of head while my binder was MIA. Basically, it boiled down to a drunken sing-a-long fest in old town Roseville.

I'm playing there again on the 19th and a New Year's Eve thing is in the works so check back!

Sunday brought a day of rest, football, Mario Kart Wii, and six loads of laundry (fun!) What to say about the NFL this week?

- The Bears won and I don't care and still haven't seen highlights. Thanks for winning so you can have worse draft picks. Oh right, you traded your first rounder away, so I guess it's not that big a deal.

- We had the Saints/Redskins on in morning along with the Raiders/Steelers. Both were surprisingly great games. Too bad I missed the end of Saints/Redskins due to the beginning of the Niners/Seahawks. I'm not going to get into which way some of the Saints/Skins replay calls should have gone, but I will say that I started Robert Meecham in Fantasy so I was happy to see him turn a Brees interception into a fumble strip and touchdown.

- In the battle of old geezers, concussed Kurt Warner wins versus Brett Favre. I suppose I'm happy because I hate Warner less than Favre. I wonder if Warner will get into the Hall of Fame? It's an odd question due to his awfully streaky and inconsistent career, but I think he might actually get in.

And now we're back to Monday. Ugh. We have a trip planned to Reno this weekend to celebrate Mrs. B.'s birthday, but there is lots of snow on the mountains and I'm a bit worried about how we're going to get up there. Here's to hoping for better weather!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Last Night's Show...

So we had our most recent edition of Live Band Karaoke last night and, to be honest, it didn't go quite as well as we hoped. It's quite an interesting issue when we practice for four hours and get through 10-12 songs, add them to the list, and then by chance no one picks them. No one wanted to rock "Billie Jean" or "Hard to Handle." No one wanted to rock "Light My Fire" or "With A Little Help From My Friends."

We had to reach far back in our memory banks to come up with older songs from our list that, while easy, we really hadn't played or listened to in quite some time (i.e. "Friend of the Devil" or "Stuck In The Middle.")

But we will not be deterred. Despite the disappointment that lingers, we did not sound bad- just not up to the standards we were hoping for. We are going to continue practicing and locking these new songs up (while reviewing some of the old ones.)

I highly recommend coming out getting up on stage to sing. There are lots of karaoke bars, but what place has a karaoke where you actually join the band? Not too many places.

I have another show tonight where we will be playing mostly originals. It should be fun:

G St Pub in Davis, CA 10pm- opening for Automatic Rival

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tiger Woods Scores In Many Holes- Then Loses

I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on Tiger's situation because 1) I am following his story about as loosely as Jaimee Grubbs herself and 2) I've never cheated on a girlfriend/wife, ever. However, since everyone seems to have an opinion on this matter of Tiger Woods cheating on his wife with any number of 1-3,000,000 women, I might as well throw mine in there as well.

My initial reaction was a deep sigh of, "Surprise, surprise. Another athlete/celebrity cheated on his wife. Big deal." As much as I disagree with Tiger's choices (and I disagree strongly with them), I'm not about to waste a second of emotion (disgust, anger, amazement, etc.) on some billionare that I don't know personally. Poor people with little less options seem to find ways to cheat on their spouses, so why would anyone be shocked that a man with over a billion dollars (leading to plenty of hot options that he apparently still passed on to go with less attractive/easy options- why do men always cheat on their wives with less attractive women?) would cheat on his wife?

And yet, just because there are more options and travel in Tiger's life, he still made the choices he made, and why wouldn't he reap the public ridicule of his "transgressions?" His public apology all but admits to cheating on his wife (see: Jason Giambi and steroids), but he still found the courage to rip the media in the process. He wants his cheating to be a private matter between him and his family. This concept is almost laughable...

What is the greatest moment of your life Tiger? Was it your wedding? Doubtful based on your actions. Was it winning your first Masters? Winning your most recent Major Championship? Was it signing a deal with Nike to make you millions of dollars? Or how about signing the deal with EA Sports to have your own video game franchise? Now, maybe it could've been the birth of your child- but once again, I have to believe that based on your actions that you were enjoying the championships in golf and the fame that came with it a bit more.

The point is- these moments were in the public eye. Having a good round of golf at Augusta would probably be a great day for any average person- but having a great fourth day in a row and winning a green jacket with thousands of spectators and millions of people watching on TV makes a moment of a lifetime. So if you enjoyed your best moments on the backs of the public fans, viewers, and media, can we not say that it is fair for your worst moment to also be in the public eye? It's the price of fame.

And don't give me the load of crap, "All celebrities cheat." Why have I never seen Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day getting caught cheating when he probably deals with thousands of groupies every year who are begging him take a "Dookie" on their chest? Because he has the self control to NOT CHEAT (by the way, Billie Joe- if you ever get caught cheating and ruin my argument based around your behavior, I'm going to be upset!) Billie Joe has stayed true to wife through all the hit records and he should be respected for that. We can't say the same thing for Tiger.

So there you have it. I initially didn't care. I still pretty much don't. I personally do think it's his own business, so I won't seek out more information on the story. However, I do think that the media and the public do have a right to be curious if they choose to be, based on how much time and money the public has spent supporting Tiger and making him a household name. After all, his billion dollars didn't just appear out of thin air.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Top Ten Favorite Star Wars Creatures

In reading this list, remember this is all based on my opinion/memory, so if I forget the most favorite of creatures, please feel free to add them in the comments. Some characters toe the line between creatures and characters, so let's eliminate characters that speak English from the mix (sorry Yoda- you're out of this list!)

(Make kids/geeks everywhere jealous with the Tauntaun sleeping bag!)

10. Tauntaun - This beast provided warmth for Luke and Han on the ice world of Hoth when Han cut his Tauntaun open so that he and Luke could climb inside. This also led to Han's excellent quote: "And I thought they smelled bad... on the outside!" I believe Jamie Foxx said something similar about Kirstie Alley!

9. Wampa - Speaking of Hoth and horned creatures, one ugly looking Wampa took Luke hostage in an ice cave and hung him upside by covering Luke's feet in ice! I'm no scientist, but this seems like an impossible scenario as you'd have to hold water around Luke's feet while it freezes leaving him upside-down. Still, Luke uses the force, grabs his lightsaber, frees himself, and cuts off the Wampa's arm- how very dark-side of you, Luke...

8. Three Creatures from the "Attack of the Clones" - Near the end when Anakin, Obi Wan, and Padme are chained up in the gladiator arena, three creatures come out to attack them- a Mantus, a Cat/Dog thing, and Rhino type creature. These are all pretty bad-ass, yet they all are defeated by the jedi. I'm always down for a Gladiator-esque arena battle- this one is just missing bengal tigers, Russell Crowe, and a telephone.

7. Jawas - Little entrepreneurial beings that ride around on sandcrawlers. They drive a hard bargain, initially sold Luke C-3Po and R2-D2, and constantly say "Tee-hee!" I don't know about you, but I want one as a pet. On second thought, maybe having one as a pet would be bad because it would constantly be trying to have yard sales with my things...

6. Colo Claw Fish - One of the only great moments from Episode I is where Obi Wan and Qui Gon are escaping from this massive fish in their little underwater cruiser. The moment is immediately ruined when this fish is eaten by another large sea creature and Qui Gon says, "There's always a bigger fish." Nice throw away line, George Lucas.

5. The Asteroid Worm/Snake Thing From "Empire" - When the Millenium Falcon lands on an asteroid and goes in a crater during "The Empire Strikes Back" there is no hint of danger. That is, of course, until they realize they are already inside some sort of worm or snake that wants to digest them. How they manage to escape from the belly of the beast is irrelavant- it still makes for a great movie moment (however ill-conceived it might be.)

4. The Rancor - Jabba the Hutt manages to trap Luke in a pit where the Rancor almost manages end Luke before he is able to schedule a rematch between him and his "come to the darkside" father, Darth Vader. Best part: When Luke sticks a bone into the Rancor's mouth!

3. The Sarlacc - This sandmonster is bad-ass! I came to this conclusion by the transitive property- because the Sarlacc actually eats Boba Fett in "Return of the Jedi," and Boba Fett is pretty bad-ass on his own, that means that the Sarlacc also has it's own legit street-cred. I mean, this thing is a mix between quicksand and a digesting hollow tree- what's not to like?

2. Salacious B. Crumb - One of my favorite Star Wars creatures has to be this little guy! All he does is sit in Jabba the Hutt's chamber and laughes at everything Jabba does to taunt guests and prisoners. His signature cackle is one of the best parts of "Return of the Jedi." He is the ulimate "Yes-Man" for Jabba.

1. Chewbacca - The creature probably should count as a character, but he is the favorite Wookie, Chewbacca. He's quite involved in Episodes IV-VI and even makes a cameo in Episode III (Yoda loves riding around on shoulders, doesn't he?!) As Han Solo's trusted friend, Chewie is not only a cool creature, he's also a hero. Now can someone explain to me why all the Ewoks look like a Wookie got busy with a whole bunch of Endor midgets?

So that's it! May the force and what-not be with you...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

R.I.P. 2009 Chicago Bears

I could use a reprieve from pictures of NFC North defenders taking Bears' QBs from behind (Google image search Rex Grossman and look at the first pic) but of course the Bears offensive line loves giving photographers these kind of poses.

The Bears, yet again, were available to me on regular TV from the comfort of my own home. I am fairly sure this season is the year where the Bears have been most readily available for me to watch on TV. And what a year it's been!

I am officially giving up on the season. I probably did this last week after the loss to the Eagles, but as a fan there is always a hope that Vince Young can come in and lead a team to 5 consecutive victories (oh, crap, the Bears don't have VY.)

So enough is enough. No more interceptions. No more .5 yard gains on Matt Forte runs. No more .3 second protections from the offensive line. No more Orlando Pace showing why he is the least athletic player in the NFL. No more special teams fumbles. No more defensive schemes that get carved up worse than the Thanksgiving turkey you probably ate on Thursday. No more three and outs. No more BORING Lovie Smith post game comments (he is the John Kerry of NFL coaches.)

Even President Obama, who is shown in the new slow motion NFL commercial is wearing a Bears jacket, but you would never know it because the camera angle never shows the logo. Even he knows that he can't show off his Bear-fan-ness for fear of setting the country into the state of emergency ("How can we trust a President that roots for the Bears?- they are terrible!")

But you know what? Is there hope in Chicago? I think there is. Would I make the trade to bring in Jay Cutler again? Yes. He is a quarterback that the Bears can work with, and don't forget that Johnny Knox was part of that deal. What did most people say when the Bears got Cutler? "He's great, but his offensive line is shaky, and he needs more weapons around him." What actually happened? For once, "most people" were actually correct. The Bears need better protection and more weapons. Hell! I'll settle for just better protection and I'd love to see what is possible. Their last ditch effort to add over the hill Orlando Pace does not count as good protection.

They also need to find a balance on offense. I'm sure they have a lot of tape on the Vikings, and they should watch how their division rivals do things to get some idea of what to do.

Their defense is closer to being corrected than their offensive line, so there really is hope in Chicago. I mean, assuming a healthy and rested Brian Urlacher comes back next year, that alone will act as a needed upgrade to help the rest of the defense.

So goodbye 2009 Chicago Bears. I'm done worrying about you, or letting you ruin Sundays. I won't be one of those near-sighted Chicago fans that thinks the world is ending and that Jay Cutler is bringing the apocalypse, but I am someone who likes to watch good football (like I am right now- Saints vs. Patriots- so awesome!)