Thursday, March 31, 2005

Wedding Ring Enscription

Many of you know that I'm going to be getting married in the next two months. Amy and I are on our way to marital bliss beginning May 15th. Despite my best efforts to shower her with compliments - she still expects me to come up with an enscription for our wedding rings. She is, of course, expecting the declaration to be heartfelt immediately sending warm fuzzies to even the biggest and baddest alpha males. My problem is that I would prefer to keep it light - make it a joke.

Last night, I told her that if she kept harrassing me about the enscription then I am going to put, "Together Forever, Like Run DMC." That's when I decided - I need a list of great enscriptions and she can choose the one she wants... There are plenty of inside jokes that we share - the next one isn't going to need much explanation, except to say that we discuss bowel movements already, "It's Not Easy Being Your Green Dookie Ball." And of course, there are the enscriptions that have a little story... Whenever my father used to see adults acting like complete asses, he used to say, "See that, they weren't beaten enough as a child." This should give you a good idea to my father's parenting techniques. My enscription would read, "You Weren't Beaten Enough As A Child, But I'm Going to Correct The Oversight." Fake sentimentality is always humorous - start off strong and then deliver the punchline, "You Complete Me, But I Am Perfectly Satisfied With My Incompletion."

Geez, the pressure on me to be the perfect fiancee and husband might be too much. How can I live up to this Gone With The Wind standard of romantic. Flowers and hallmark cards for every occasion, an unlimited source of unique compliments for each new day, ughhhhh... Who wants perfection when you can be happy with less? Wow, that sounds like another enscription...

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Television - The Downfall To My Existance

I hate those cursed bastards at Time Warner Cable - they coerced me into giving my life over to the bright glow of my 32" television. I still remember receiving my first bill from those devils, $29.95 and suddenly my soul was gone. The programming isn't that great, but all it takes is one good show out of a hundred to flush thirty minutes of your life down the tube.

I originally got cable to see basketball games (NBA and NCAA) - basketball is an obsession I can live with... but of course, cable sucked me into much more. Most mornings begin with an unhealthy dose of SportsCenter. Hey, I'm eating my cereal - the entertainment value in most cereals is low, except maybe Rice Krispies. Snap, Crackle, Pop, Rice Krispies. Who doesn't love that theme song? Usually I watch between 10-15 minutes of SportsCenter and catch the worst 15 minutes of the show (all the best stuff occurs at the beginning). Special K and banana with a little steroid talk and basketball highlights on the side.

After a grueling day at the office (haha), I need a little "zone out" time. Time for my mind to turn into mush and listen to some sports "experts" discuss the day in sports. Mike Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser battle it out on ESPN in a show called PTI, Pardon The Interuption. The show is like a timed sports version of Crossfire. A one-minute discussion occurs between the hosts on subjects like Kobe's selfishness, steroid usage, the Virginia coaching job, and the NBA's MVP race (Nash better win...). 30 minutes of time daily - flushed.

Next up at 6PM, on Court TV they show NYPD Blue reruns. What can I say - I'm a fan. The show ran for 12 years so there are a few episodes I've missed. For me, it doesn't matter whether Detective Sipowicz's partner is David Caruso, Jimmy Smits, Ricky Schroder, or Zach Morris (oops, I mean Mark Paul Gosselaar). I watch them all - enjoying every minute the cops brow beat some unsuspecting rapist. One hour of time daily - flushed.

Most normal people turn the television off at this point... It's time to do something worthwhile with their time like reading a book, working out at the gym, eating, something else, anything... Not me, The Daily Show is on next. Yes it's reruns from the previous day, but I can't stay up until 11PM on a work night. Sarcasm and irony run amok as Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert, and the rest of the gang run through the daily news. Highlights include the God machine, Bush's sack size (that's right, nut sack), and anytime Bush says something stupid (usually daily). 30 minutes of time daily - flushed.

7:30 is terrible unless basketball starts early. During this time I flip through my fifty-four stations searching for satisfaction and all I can find is Hollywood Tonight or Cosby Show reruns. Oh, damnit - it's 7:30 I'd better fix dinner fast. 8:00 is rolling up fast - full of television potential. AMC movies, TNT broadcasting the NBA, ESPN has the NIT basketball championship, or movie selections from Comedy Central, FX, or USA. If not, I've got my three netflix movies to watch. Two hours - flushed.

Ten o'clock to eleven o'clock is a tricky time. I'm left pondering bed time or watching the end of some horrifically poor basketball game. Basketball it is... 30 minutes - flushed.

My biggest problem, and I have a few to choose from, is not my weakness of character, boredom with life, or those bastards at basic cable. None of those things make me push the Power button on the remote control. Habit... I am a creature of habit and obsession. If I see a show once and like it - I have to see them all just to prove that I like it. Casual viewing is not in my vocabulary. Most of my life is cornered by obsessions... Basketball began my obsessiveness - playing morning, day, and night. Then, hip-hop music followed in my highschool years and the film fixation came in college when my favorite video store ran a special deal (one movie a day for a month at $25).

I'm going to beat this obsession however, because it leaves me with no satisfaction. There is nothing redeeming about knowing the plot for every NYPD Blue episode, remembering every ironic line Jon Stewart says, or seeing every game winning basket in the NCAA tournament. This is my AA meeting, people - I'm admitting I have a problem. Now, I'm going to fight to beat this damn thing. BE STRONG. Tell those jackasses to stick that $29.95 up their ass. Three obsessions is enough for any man. I'm reminded of an Aesop Rock song called Basic Cable:

"plug it in, turn it on, prop me up against the couch
lights out, I ain't ever gonna have to leave my house
satellite dish, get up on my wish list, turn me to a tyrant
let my clean spirit dissolve through the appliance
plug it in, turn it on, be my mother when she's gone, great
wipe the spittle off my chinny-chin during the breaks
if I gotta go blind I'mma do it for the love of all television kind
and that's fine, and that's fine..."

It's no longer fine with me. Cancel my cable - PLEASE...

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Road To The Final Four Is A Bumpy One...

Now that the final four is here, it's time to re-evaluate my time spent on the couch wholly committed to the one goal of watching so much damn basketball that I make myself physically ill. And while that goal has not been entirely achieved other secondary goals have emerged. The timing of bathroom breaks has to completely coincide with television timeouts, sandwiches must be created during halftime and/or between games, and the completion of chores is off limits during game time. Priorities - trash can be taken out any time, but a West Virginia game winner happens in the moment - I like to call it Steve's Moment Of Basketball Zen. Loud yells occur during and a moment of silent contemplation after. Let the games begin - mmm...

The opening day of March Madness went fairly close to how the "experts" thought it might - close games, few upsets, and the first and second seeds rolling. Then, zang - day 2 began and my bracket was promptly scrapped and I was left in a furious fit of rage at my own stupidity. When Syracuse lost, I was confident that my bracket was ruined... However, Kansas felt the need to supply a confirmation by losing in the first round to Bucknell in the biggest upset ever. Wayne Simien's "I wish my name was Christian Laettner" turnaround jumper barely caught the front iron single-handedly ruining all hopes of a bracket victory. I had those evil bastards in the finals... and, like that, it was over. However, that wasn't enough - Oklahoma folded to a mediocre Utah team, Connecticut played its worst game of the year against NC State, Louisville smashed an overrated Georgia Tech team, and Michigan State rolled on despite looking pedestrian all year long.

Forget all of those teams for a moment and lets get to the second best game of the tournament - Wake vs. West Virginia fighting to get to the Sweet 16. Wake led the entire game by about 10 points, but at the 5 minute mark West Virginia came alive. Both teams shot a ridiculously high percentage, but every field goal by Wake was answered with a three by WVU. Suddenly, this February bubble team became the spoiler of the tournament and ran through double overtime to defeat the otherwise final four bound Wake Forest. Mike Gansey came up big for the Mountaineers. He scored 10 points during regulation and then 19 points during the two overtime periods. There were so many clutch shots in this game - it really seemed like a crime to have somebody lose. Downey hit some ridiculous game tying shots for Wake and everytime Gansey touched the ball it was automatic points. Six starters fouled out and the other four all had four fouls. One more overtime and we would have seen the two team's walk-ons battle it out for the win.

Just when I thought that game couldn't be topped the regional finals became the only quality television CBS has shown this year. Three out of the four games went into overtime and two of the games featured the biggest comebacks ever in the NCAA tournament. First off, the West Virginia vs. Lousiville game featured a 20-point comeback for Pitino's boys. WVU came out and hit a ridiculous 10 three-pointers in the first half. Luckily, Pitino grew a brain at halftime and took Louisville out of its ridiculous 2-3 zone and pulled a miracle comeback with future NBA star Francisco Garcia fouled out on the bench. The game went into overtime, but the conclusion had already been decided in the last five minutes of regulation with Louisville's remarkable turnaround.

How can that be topped you ask? Illinois had the damn answer. The Arizona and Illinois matchup promised to be one of the tournament highlights. Arizona played its best basketball of the year in the first half and 15 minutes of the second half - running up a lead of 15 points by shooting an absurd 57% for the game. Illinois looked like they were going to be run out of the gym and then, Arizona stopped scoring. In the final three minutes, Illinois cut a 14-point lead to 3. Arizona has the ball with 25 seconds inbounding and the play goes all wrong. Illinois steals the ball, passes to the amazing Deron Williams who hits a beautiful wide open three. The overtime featured some more great plays from both teams, but again the momentum swing in the final minutes was too much for Arizona to overcome. Many are calling this the greatest game they have ever seen - I'm in no position to argue.

After UNC slid past a fiesty Wisconsin team - Michigan State and Kentucky went to war. Michigan State led the whole game, but after a few slow down possessions in the closing minutes by MSU (why do smart coaches do this?) - Kentucky got back in this one. With Kentucky down by 3 points and 12 seconds to go - Kentucky squeezed off two missed three point attempts, but the third was truly magical. Sparks pumped a three-pointer that hit off the rim, then backboard, then rim again before falling through the hoop. The play was in-time, but the referees spent ten minutes reviewing the play to see if Spark's big toe was on the line. The television blew up the camera shot and played it back 15 to 20 times and the evidence was inconclusive. Overtime, bitchez... Kentucky had this one won in the first overtime as MSU was completely demoralized, but Kentucky's point guard didn't get off a shot in the final seconds forcing the second overtime. Kentucky's players looked spent and MSU stole this game to get into the final four as a five seed.
The argument on ESPN's Pardon The Interuption was whether this is the greatest weekend ever for college basketball. Mike Wilbon, ESPN analyst and sportswriter, had to go all the way back to 1981 to even have a comparison (three number one seeds lost in one weekend that year). The road to the final four was wonderfully unpredictable as always, even with the two top teams advancing (Illinois and North Carolina). There are so many great stories to follow this weekend - Illinois' quest for a one loss season culminating in a national championship, Roy Williams' quest for his first national championship, Mike Izzo's best ever win percentage in the NCAA tournament and fourth final four in ten years, and Pitino's return to the final four with his third different team (which has never been done before). One thing is for certain, you don't want me picking the winners. Just for the record - I had Illinois to win at the beginning of this tournament. Those poor bastards don't have a chance. Sandwich creation, timed bathroom breaks, and the glowing light from the television awaits. Steve's Moment Of Zen is almost here...

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Who thought a month could be such a short amount of time?

As a kid, 1 afternoon alone used to be endless. Now it's three weeks before I realize any time has passed. Someone please wake me tomorrow when I'm dead. I dumped my entire being into work for a couple of months to try to prove that career even means anything in the new millennium. I'm ready to start posting again, in the midst of my heaviest work week ever - if only because sleep dep limits logical thinking. I'll try to break it into smaller tales rather than make an Iliad of it. Expect more this afternoon and tomorrow.

Shout outs: Bro! Fiancee! Wifings! Drew! Pam! GB! Constance! Wes!

Obligatory current music selection: "Agony of Lafitte" - Spoon

Friday, March 11, 2005

Surrender to the Pod

So I found out this morning that one of my favorite public radio stations (KCRW) is podcasting a show by one of my favorite people (Harry Shearer). I've got a MP3 player because, duh, I'm a walking cliche of my demographic - I don't eat red meat, I work in technology, I'm blue state, blah blah blah. Anyway, here's what I'm wondering and here's what I think you at Hard to Get know:

What software should I download to start carrying Harry Shearer around with me on my neighborhood walk?

Also, if This American Life starts podcasting, I will just die of joy.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Finding your totem animal

context: totem animals are a fanciful concept, chosen to reflect some part of ourselves we must project to see. One of my favorite, personal totems is the octopus. Intelligent, covert, capable of fading at will to virtual invisibility, this insanely vulnerable invertibrate pulses through the sea. The paradox of the apparant power of the larger of these beasts & the obvious vulnerability are often the focus of meditations I do.

So, here's a story: Jason comes home the other night & excitedly tells me about a date he wants to set up with me. He's been talking to a co-worker, who recommended scuba diving, in the Puget Sound. I'm a bit shocked, having a fear of water, however temporary & certainly a fear of sealife. He's dying to tell me more & starts talking about the octopi in the Puget Sound & how we can see giant octopi, but should probably go at night, there will be sharks, the water is murky, etc...

He's always very excited to go to the very limits to get me to what my heart's desire. Which scares the hell out of me. Generally, I figure out a way to join him, his ideas are typically spot on. He also takes offense if I reject his cool ideas for reasons of safety, assuming I have some kind of trust issue.

It's likely that I'll go scuba diving, but I'll prep first. The moral of the story is contained in the joke below (My husband is from North Carolina):

What are a redneck's last words?
"Hey Y'all, watch this"