Monday, September 26, 2011

Best of the best

Since I just witnessed an all-time great episode of television last night, and I know the world desperately needs this, I will rank the ten best shows currently on air. They don't have to be currently in-season, but they must be still in production. So no Friday Night Lights or 24.

Another rule: All shows ranked below are scripted, fictional series, comedy or drama. So no Daily Show, Colbert Report, Jersey Shore.

Let's get on with it already.

10. Sons of Anarchy: While uneven, the boys of SAMCRO eek onto this list by sheer entertainment value. This show is never boring. And the acting, especially from Katey Segal, is top notch. SOA also gets points for having Maggie Siff on my screen. Much appreciated.

9. Curb Your Enthusiasm: After eight seasons of Larry David haggling over inane social customs with ignorant, oblivious, spoiled Hollywood bourgeois, Curb often feels rote. Larry fights a hostess of a fancy restaurant and then needs this hostess for a big favor at some future point in the show, only to be rejected. Cue the theme music. However, every other episode or so - counting "Palestinian Chicken" - scores a knockout and invigorates the series. If Curb were a baseball player at this point, it would bat around .270 but hit 25-30 homeruns.

8. Boardwalk Empire: Beautifully rendered, well acted ... this is a professional show in every regard. And the topic - the rise of the gangster lifestyle in the 1920s - is ripe for great storytelling. Yet the shows often leaves me feeling cold. I watch the characters. I am entertained by them. I do not feel for them. It makes this list because it's well done, but Boardwalk has yet to reach its full potential. Tony Soprano brought a real intensity to The Sopranos that is lacking with Nucky Thompson.

7. Louie: I've been reading plenty of proclamations along these lines: Louie is the best show on TV. I won't go that far. Some episodes fall flat, like the time Louie and his girls visit the racist aunt. What makes Louis ONE of the best shows is its ability to make me laugh one episode and feel enormous catharsis the next. This is not strictly a comedy despite the presence of the No. 1 comedian in the world. The episode with his suicidal friend was better than what most dramas can offer.

P.S. And the segment where Louie was on TV defending masturbation has to be one of the funniest of the year.

6. 30 Rock: A year ago this would be much higher, but the show lost just a smidgen off its fastball. That does little to detract from the funniest set of characters to come down the pike in a long time. Even if an episode here or there fails to live up to the show's standards, the combo of Jack Donaghy/Liz Lemon/Tracy Jordan will never fail to get me through 22 minutes. A show that is a pure joy to watch.

5. Justified: This FX offering flies under the radar a bit. Timothy Olyphant was born for the role of Raylan Givens, the laconic, prone-to-violence federal marshal Raylan Givens. Walton Goggins shines as his smooth antagonist Boyd Crowder. Never before has backwoods Kentucky been this intriguing.

4. Parks and Recreation: Just beats out 30 Rock as the best comedy on the air. Season 3 was damn close to perfect. Andy Dwyer is a riot. April Ludgate is sarcastic apathy at its finest. But this show is awesome for one reason: Ron Swanson. The gruff, libertarian, "man's man" boss of the Parks and Recreation department in Pawnee, Indiana is comedy gold. I put him up there with Donaghy, Costanza, even Homer (Simspon, not the guy who wrote "The Odyssey") I could watch a show with just him complaining about his job. If you can't or don't want to watch this show, at least YouTube the character.

3. Mad Men: My main problem with Mad Men in seasons 1 and 2 was that many episodes did not move the plot along one inch. The show fell in love with its characters and setting and forgot about the "stuff actually happening" part. While still awesome television, I would not say it's No. 1 for that reason. But they have rectified that issue the past two seasons. This is the most dissected and talked about show among the TV snobs in America (and I include myself in that group). Many would say it's by far the best show going - it's won four straight Emmy's for best drama. I disagree, but that doesn't mean I dislike it. This show is gold and the biggest mistake HBO has made in years was passing on this sure-fire critical hit.

2. Game of Thrones: Speaking of HBO, this is the best series the channel has produced since the final episode of The Wire. Tremendous acting. Awe-inspiring to look at in HD. What really sets this show apart is plot. They burn through it like Sherman to the Atlantic. Every episode ends in a great plot twist, including the biggest twist of the year in the next to last episode. And if you feel there's a dearth of great female characters on TV, watch this show. Arya Stark. Cersei Lannister. Katelyn Stark. Daenerys Targaryen. You might have no idea who these people are. You should. But ... the best part of this show is BY FAR the performance of Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, aka "The Imp." He's one of those ambivalent characters who you're not sure is good or bad but you're sure is damn interesting. Simply, he's phenomenal. As is this show.

1. Breaking Bad: I must thank Jeff Schaible for turning me on to this show. I saw the commercials for the first season and assumed it would be one of those trippy stoner shows, like a televised version of Trainspotting. I was not interested. Then I started watching, and it's clear that while Mad Men wins all the Emmy's, it is not the best show on its own network. Bryan Cranston so dominates the role of Walter White it frustrates me when he's not on the screen. No show does suspense like Breaking Bad. It's the Cohen Brothers on AMC - the desolate settings, the pathos of sudden violence and black comedy. And it just gets better and better. The most recent episode - Crawl Space - had my heart pounding. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. There's no question in my mind this is the Tom Brady (not yesterday's version) of television shows, and I say this aware that I haven't watched all of them. I just know.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Two weeks have passed since I spent my first full day in my new single apartment in Coconut Creek. I can safely draw some conclusions about my new abode. Why not share them?

The first night I slept in this place, a powerful sense of loneliness consumed me. I did not see it coming, either. I've spent time alone in apartments before - the summer of 2006 in Brookline being a prime example. But for some reason, the sentiment turned intense that maiden night. I grew up sharing a room with three sisters, then had roommates in college and roommates/housemates in Florida. It took me a few nights to get used to it, but I am.

It's awesome being able to watch what I want when I want now. It's great to not have to worry about waking anyone up at night or in the morning, cooking, watching a movie or practicing the xylophone. I rule this house! ME!! The power is intoxicating.

The location is quite nice. I'm right at the entrance on the first floor. I don't even have to share a hallway with my neighbors. Speaking of which, I've yet to meet a single one. I rarely see anyone milling about, sitting on their porch or anything. The guy next door drinks a lot. I can tell by the Budweiser cardboards I see outside his door every other day. But that's the extent of my knowledge concerning the near dwellers. Perhaps they are shut-ins like me.

My new complex is across the street from a supermarket plaza and I'm withing walking distance of a Starbucks! How neat is that? I walked the 15 minutes last Sunday. It was 92 degrees. I drove to the same Starbucks today. What can I say? Florida is not friendly to pedestrianism.

It hasn't all been lollipops and coffee milk here. I've had an ant problem - little sugar ants crawling all over my countertop and kitchen floor, even my nightstand on one occasion. There are some sultry teenagers who like to hang outside my apartment, smoking their cigarettes and looking intensely at me when I walk by. You don't scare me, street toughs.

The one negative that keeps popping up in my mind is the longer drive. My old place was so damn close to work. I got spoiled by the seven-minute drives back and forth. Now it's closer to 20 minutes. I know many would still love that commute, but after four years, the short drive burrowed into my system and it's hard living without it. Every night when I'm driving back I think, "Shouldn't I be home by now? Why am I still in this driving machine?"

Besides those minor quibbles, I'm enjoying the new digs. Consider yourself in the know.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A damn good night

That was awesome.

I just returned from Sun Life Stadium having witnessed one of the greatest exhibitions of the quarterback science in NFL history. I saw two fights, one between a man and a woman. I saw parachuters and a stealth bomber.

And I finally saw NFL football in person.

The 9/11 tribute was great to see in person. And the stealth bomber flew directly over my head. (I was high up there.) Stealth is a good word for it. I didn't hear it coming. There are motorcycles and scooters louder than that fine piece of American weaponry.

The game started inauspiciously with Chad Henne turning into Michael Vick. But then Tom Brady came out and showed that the Dolphins couldn't do much to stop him. Seeing him play on TV is one thing. Seeing him in person is another.

I had a nice coach's tape eye-view from my seat next to the moon. The plays develop in flash. Four or five guys running routes with only three seconds to decide where to throw it. And when he does throw, the space available is tiny. And he just zipped pass after pass after pass into those tiny spaces.

Surgical is a word used often to describe Brady, and it's damn appropriate. That first bomb he threw to Matthew Slater ... his back was to me so I sort of saw what he saw. There was a sliver of space and he zoomed a perfect dart.

Then there's one of my favorite live sporting moments I have ever seen live. The Pats were at the half-yard line driving toward my section behind the end zone. Brady was barely visible behind all the lineman buried deep in New England territory. He throws a seam route to Wes Welker. I couldn't tell if he caught it. Then he's running in my direction and I lost it.

I was quietly rooting for the Home 11, but I could not help myself on that play. Just awesome. That sent whatever remaining Dolphins fans home for the evening.

The game was far from the only interesting thing I witnessed. In the second half the people in my section started to get rowdy. There was this one female Dolphins fan who was cussing at every Pats fans walking up the aisle. "Suck my d&%$!" Or "Suck his d%^#!" while pointing to whom I suppose was her boyfriend.

A trio of Pats fans just laughed it off. But seconds later, the Patriots scored. I believe it was the Aaron Hernandez touchdown. That trio came back down to talk some trash to this lady. There were words exchanged. Another Patriots fan sitting across the aisle from me started to horn in on the action, using naughty words to describe this fine lady.

So one of this lady's friends approaches him and they jaw at each other until she splashes beer in his face. That involved the Pats fan's girlfriend and the lady's boyfriend. Some shoving, pointing fingers, all egged on by the crowd of course.

"Control your bitch," the Pats' fan said to the boyfriend. That only escalated matters. The girls started shoving a bit, but at that moment, the authorities intervened. They were just about to the eject the Pats fan but, shocking, Dolphins fans came to his defense and he was allowed to stay.

Later on, there was another fracas seven or eight rows up. A Pats fan was ejected for this one. Seems the police have a little bias, but then, Miami fans have to win at something, right?

I stayed until the final whistle. I wanted to soak it all in -- the half-empty stadium now taken over by Pats fans, who already had represented themselves in impressive numbers. I exited on the opposite end of the stadium from where I parked (my sense of direction failing me again) but I did happen to drop by a fleet of buses that were taking the victors to the airport.

This blog makes adding photo difficult, though my photos aren't great anyway, but I did see some Patriots board the buses and talk to family and friends. There was Chad Ochocinco. Nate Solder. Julian Edleman. BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Deion Branch. Vince Wilfork. Albert Haynesworth. And Bill Belichick himself. No Tom Brady, unfortunately.

But he made up for it on the field, don't you think?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Come on, Irene

Latest update from the "I Don't Need This Shit" department ...

A tropical storm is waiting in the seas of the Caribbean and South Florida is in her crosshairs.

Just last week a few friends and I were talking and it came up that I have yet to experience a hurricane or tropical storm in my nearly five years in Florida. It is quite a run. I hope I don't have to change that to "it was quite a run."

A hurricane is bad enough. No one wants to live through one of those, but that sort of weather disturbance is a fact if life down here. My main problem is the forecast time of arrival.

This Thursday and Friday.

That poses a problem. I am scheduled to move Thursday and fly up to New Jersey on Friday. The timing is delicate and the last thing I need is for an interruption in the form of 100 mph winds and torrential rain.

For the last eight months I've been looking forward to this move date. Words can't express how badly I've wanted to find my own apartment. And I NEED to do it before Friday.

The day after this move, I am scheduled to fly north for my first vacation in eight months. I desperately need this vacation and I don't want anything to go wrong. And I certainly don't want to waste days (potentially) of my precious time off.

Do I worry too much? It's early Monday. This storm could be over London by late next week. A friend of mine has already told me I worry too much. My mom agrees. I just have a bad feeling about this one.

I do have one thing going for me ... I actually purchased travel insurance with my plane ticket. I saw this coming months ago. Right when I found out that the wedding I'm planning this trip around was on Sept. 3, my brain started churning.

You see, late August and early September is the absolute heart of hurricane season. My constant worry-wartism served me well this time.

I'm so on guard about this I've checked the weather three times today. My usual system of checking the weather is looking out the window. The thought of having to drive up north has even crossed my mind. If my flight is delayed 24 hours, then the Mets tickets I bought would most likely go to waste. And my chances of trying terrible drinks at Zach's bachelor party would be severely threatened.

Take a deep breath ...

I won't go totally crazy unless this thing is still on track by Tuesday. Before then I promise only to fret and worry, giving me a few more gray hairs - as if I needed more.

If, however, the weathermen say Tuesday night Irene is coming to town, then I go into arms-flailing mode.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Reverend

"I can motivate just as easy as I can bring someone down."
The Boston Globe had Speck, with his array of strange quotes I'll always remember. "Where's the wellington, hi-ho?" being the No. 1 most memorable, and oft-repeated, line.

My current job has someone even more quotable. So quotable, in fact, that one of my co-workers keeps a wall of his cubicle covered in post-it notes chronicling the best lines this man mutters.

For the purposes of this blog, we'll call him The Reverend. That's his nickname. And this man knows how to give out nicknames. I am "Willy Lee," an ironic redneck name for someone who is far from a man of the South. Other nicknames include "Shandoor," "Yo-gee," "The Professor," "The Director," "Jitter Bob," "Remo," "Mr. Pink," "Spaniard," and my all-time favorite, "Fritzy," for a guy with Sideshow Bob style hair.

As The Reverend would say: "I don't give nicknames to individuals I don't like."

This man came to America in 1984 from Communist Romania. He's a New York sports fan who happens to be very good at ping pong. He's a no-nonsense individual with a manner of speaking and plethora of phrases I will use in my every day life. Here's a few.

Used to describe anyone who is disheveled, unseemly, messy, and usually, obese.

Sounds like fu...wayyy. Used anytime someone burps, farts or says something disgusting. It's used often.

Used to describe a clown deserving of no respect.

Criminal element
Used when talking about shady characters like Michael Vick, Plaxico Burress, etc.

Those are just a few of his original phrases. But I'm here today to give you some of his best quotes. Enjoy.

On a man who likes to eat.

"He'll always be a pork. Food is too important to that individual."

On my frequent trips to Boston Market.

"Willy, that is a terrible establishment."

On an injured player.

"Is he broken? He's broken. Cadaver on the field. Career over."

On something that doesn't concern him or matter to him.

"That don't bother me no none."

On a particular co-worker making personal calls to you for a favor

"Any time he calls you, he has filthy reasons."

Here are a couple on his ping pong exploits. He does not lack for confidence.

"Whenever I am down, I rise to the occasion to show I am the superior athlete."

"Wanna lose with your ball or my ball? Your choice."

"When I serve it, I serve it nasty."

"Put any punk in front of me, and I'll beat him like a mutt."

"I made him bleed."

"His name is Alex. I'll take the English out of him. Call him Alejandro."

On someone having a cushy day or afternoon schedule.

"Those are banker's hours."

On someone calling me "Lord Willy" in honor of the Bruins winning the Stanley Cup.

"There ain't no Lord. There's only me, the baddest motherfucker on the planet."

That's all I can recall off the top of my head. There are more.

This guy is endlessly entertaining.

Monday, August 8, 2011

It's about time

The last time I opened the dusty drawers of this blog, there was a functioning American economy.

With hard-working citizens forced to barter human skulls for rat meat, I figure it's time to write something here. Usually I have nothing going on. Spouting off with inane comments on pop culture loses its luster after a while. So it's funny that over the past two months "stuff" has been going on and yet I wrote nothing.

I have failed you all.

Work has been nuts. I'm now somewhat of a supervisor. My dreams of middle-management have been achieved! While my compatriots wander off on their summer vacations, I've held down the fort at the Eye's sports website. Countless columns on the NFL lockouts ceded to countless columns on the craziest Free Agency news orgy I have ever experienced in journalism. I was so drained that I bought beer at 7/11 at 2:30 on a Friday morning and guzzled it out of a brown paper bag. My eyeballs pulsated with a dull pain and my senses were fried and beer provided the only remedy.

You can guess why I've been too lazy/almost suicidal to blog.

Throw on top the always enjoyable process of moving. I haven't packed a single thing yet and I'm almost exhausted. Hiring movers, buying all new furniture, purchasing mandatory renter's insurance, setting up bills ... this new place better be worth it. I move in the day before my first vacation of the year starts, so I will not be able to enjoy my new South Beach penthouse until early September.

I plan on making this an actual 'home.' Not in the sense of a huddled family around the fireplace, but an apartment that isn't just a collection of furniture in front of a television set. With this in mind, I purchased matching sofas and sleek glass-top tables. I might even get a plant or some artwork.

Also, during the last month or so I reconnected with this girl I mentioned in a previous entry. To her dismay, I had not struck big as an Internet entrepreneur nor had I turned into an Alcide-type hunk. The reconnection was mercilessly strangled in its infancy. The one lasting effect from this tired story was a lack of eating.

There were days when a persistent anxiousness dominated my waking hours to such an extent I lost much of my appetite for a period of about four weeks. Yes, I know I have major issues.

Warning: This part will most likely piss you off ...

Backtracking, I weighed roughly 170 pounds in college. I feasted on an almost daily buffet of coffee coolattas, muffins, pizza and pop tarts. I was still a stick figure, but I did not quite resemble a famine victim. Perhaps a malnourished peasant, but not famine. My weight remained consistent through the Florida years until I contracted food poisoning. The morning after that terrible day, the scale was below 150.

I figured I'd gain it back eventually. While some of it returned, a hefty amount of stranded pounds disappeared. The stress of the past few months curtailed my eating further. At this moment, I'm at 153. When I traveled up north for a short period of time in May, many Sears denizens commented on my noticeable thinness. My mom commanded me to eat more.

You know me: I do what mommy says. While I watch what I eat a little bit more than I used to, I no longer care if I drink too many frappuchinos in one week. I enjoy dessert with abandon. I still don't eat lunch, but I consume large dinners. And while I do my fair share of exercising, the intense heat of the Florida summer, combined with constant rain and work-related exhaustion have curtailed physical activity to some extent.

Yet my weight stays the same. I might reach 154 or 155, but that's about the limit. Could I eat nothing but KFC double-downs and watch every episode of the People's Court for a good month and not gain a pound? I'm starting to wonder.

Last week I went to the doctor's office with an ear issue. (The Schaibles might remember my 2006 stay in San Diego which involved a doomed job interview and nothing but Family Guy DVDs for several days ... that malaise occurred in large part to the same ear problem for which I visited the doctor most recently.)

One of the nurses could not even read my blood pressure because my arm was too thin for the flap. She had to get a smaller one. And after the doctor fixed the ears, she asked me how everything else is going. I told her that I cannot gain weight.

She only laughed. "Most people would cut a limb off to lose weight. As you get older, your metabolism will slow down."

She's right of course. But people told me my metabolism would start to slow in the late 20's, yet it is stronger than ever. While God/nature gave me graying hair, the social skills of a wooden chair, gorilla legs and a pipsqueak of a stomach, they also bestowed upon me a world-class metabolism (and a wicked split-finger pitch.)

Odds are my skeletal frame could gradually shrink until I'm nothing but a poor imitation of Benjamin Button. Before that happens, I must fatten myself up. Stay away from stress and hunching over my laptop and blogging more frequently would be a decent start.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Harsh, but true

Jason Stackhouse is tied to a bed, his rippling abs displayed prominently, while backward hillbilly Werepanthers (yes, it's as stupid as it sounds) gnaw at his torso.

The next week, Jason remains in his predicament as one of the female Werepanthers rapes him for the child Werepanthers to watch.

Why does this storyline exist? What the hell is a Werepanther? And, do the writers of True Blood think this constitutes good television?

Do they even care if it is good television?

True Blood started as a fun, sexy and campy vampire drama topped with nice helping of southern gothic storytelling. It never sought the status of The Wire or The Sopranos because that would be a hopeless endeavor. It tried to be fun and buzzworthy. The show's stars show up naked (save for some conveniently placed limps) and are always on hand to shoot the camera a sultry glare, their hair neatly coiffed and fangs showing.

And I admit, I watched. The acting is great, the production value is top notch. Every episode ends on a cliffhanger, usually involving Anna Paquin screeching into the camera followed by a quick cut to black. Not quite the definition of high-brow entertainment, but never boring.

As Season 1 became Season 2 and Season 2 became Season 3, my admiration for the show waned. I'm no prude, but the show devolved into vampire porn. There must be a site out there that counts down the minutes until a man takes off his shirt and a woman does the same. Don't even get started on the short time it takes before we see some, can I say, passionate and rough intercourse.

Still, I watched. True Blood had yet to break the No. 1 rule of TV - At first, do not bore.

Which takes us to the current season, which just aired its third episode. Let's count the screw-ups, shall we?

There's one everlasting truth in Bon Tomps -- no one is human. Everyone has some secret power. Everyone is either a vampire, a Werewolf, a shifter, a Werepanther, a witch, a mindreader and even a maenad. If someone in that hellhole Louisiana town is not some supernatural being, that person soon will be.

This leads to Mr. Stackhouse and his mind-boggingly stupid storyline. It's not fine that he remain a dim figure of comic relief; he needs to turn into a panther. The Werepanthers are dumb characters who waste precious time, yet every other scene involves them and their lack of teeth while they charmingly chew on dead squirrels.

They are far from alone in the wasteful character dump that infests this show. Tommy Merlotte ... don't care. Get him off my screen. He's annoying and useless. The witches ... again, don't care. Don't we have enough going on with vampires and Werewolves and warlocks and hobbits and sonic hedgehogs? Must we spend time watching Marni mumble in gibberish? Arlene and the baby ... just not interesting. Tara and her ratings-friendly lesbian relationship ... not interesting. Sam's new shifter support group ... more of the same. There's only 50 minutes or so of show time. Save it for Sookie, Eric, Lafayette, Jessica and Bill. Sprinkle the others here and there.

I forgot to mention fairies. The first ten minutes of the season opened with Sookie in some fairy netherworld where people eat glowing golden apples. These apples are bad! The fairies are farming .... people!! Oh wait, there's Sookie's grandfather! Let's have a heart-to-heart. Oh no! The fairy queen is turning into some kind of gremlin. Now every fairy is a gremlin. They shoot laser beams from their hands. (This looked straight from a show you'd find on Saturday afternoons on the old UPN network.)

Sookie and her grandfather jump into a closing portal and re-enter the real world. But heavens no, her grandfather is dying! Sookie cries. I'm broken-hearted because I've known this grandfather character for five minutes. He turns into a sickly gray mass and disappears. We're supposed to be sad.

I'm just mad at what this show has become.

Yet I still watch. It takes a lot for me to give up on a series. I have only done it a select few times (Boston Legal, ER). There is still just enough to keep me intrigued. I'm a big fan of Jessica. I like Bill as the King of Louisiana. Eric and Pam are always fun. But I'm setting an eye-rolling record for this season, and I doubt I'm alone.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Just a few questions

After months of secrecy and deceit, the child is coming. It's exciting news for sure, but the American public has a lot of questions for the Schaible couple. Like, when bearing gifts for the new child, should we bring gold, frankincense or myrrh?

The biggest query I have is the name. Will the Schaibles go the celebrity route and choose a name like Baseball Prospectus Schaible or Coffee Coolatta Schaible? No one knows. There was less secrecy to the Osama bin Laden mission than with this baby's potential name. Here are a few guesses of mine ...

  1. They could do the right thing and name the child after me. I'd be honored if a baby boy was named Stephen Steve Schaible. In the case of a girl, Stephanie Steve Schaible would be acceptable.
  2. Another possibility would be to honor Jeff's best friends from college with Vishal French Schaible. A diverse name for sure. He'd easily make it to Harvard.
  3. For a girl, the Schaibles could get lazy. Hey, it's been a hectic few months. So Emily Emily Schaible has a nice ring to it.
  4. Since the parents really got to know each other at the Boston Globe sports department, honoring that wonderful dream maker would be appropriate. MIAA High School Roundup Schaible? Wintext Sport Joe Schaible? The possibilities ...

The smart Vegas money had to be on smooth, one-syllable name, especially for a boy. Dave. Bill. Tom. Joe. Something that would fit easily on the lists of Bristol, Connecticut's finest country clubs 50 years from now.

In the instance that the child is a girl, the field of names if wide open. I wouldn't know where to begin. It's not unlike the field of candidates for the Republican convention, except the fetus probably accepts evolution and climate change by now.

Now, there are other questions I've been hearing. Such as: Where is the birth certificate? The fact that the baby hasn't been born yet is not enough to deter certain conspiracy theorists on the web. Other issues ...

  1. When will the child have a Facebook account?
  2. By what age will the kid have a fastball that is better than mine? Five or six is the guess, boy or girl.
  3. Which baseball team will be the kid's favorite, Red Sox or Yankees? Or will the kid rebel against his/her parents and hate baseball and love other activities, like clapping at a movie theater to movies like "Tree of Life?" By the way, what is "Tree of Life?" A sequel to the "Lord of the Rings?" I'm really out of the loop on this one.
  4. Which website will the child use for his/her Fantasy games, because you can't beat the top notch product at!

At least a few of these questions should be answered very shortly.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The man with the scary tattoo

Last Friday my string of one-on-one basketball victories came to an end. And I knew it would the second I saw my challenger.

He was around 6-foot-2, 6-foot-3 with a very long wingspan. When you play enough times, you can just tell when guys are good. You develop a sixth sense for this stuff. This guy looked like he had played in high school.

But I'm never one to back down, so I accepted his challenge and we played a three games to 11 on a blustery, 94 degree afternoon. (I had already been shooting for almost an hour by the time he arrived, and the winds that day were cruel.)

The reason I blog about this particular game is not that I lost, which is certainly rare enough to warrant such a report. It's that the guy took off his shirt and displayed a tattoo I will never forget.

"Fuck Every Body" ran right across the top of his chest. You should have seen my face when I saw it. "Dear God, he's going to destroy me." He also had tattoos of woman's faces on his stomach. It was distracting. And sort of scary.

In the first game, I took a quick lead driving to the basket without abandon. But then I missed a shot wide right (remember, 15-20 mph gusts that day) and he decided, "Perhaps I should post up this 158-pound stick figure." From then on I was powerless to stop him.

My strategy was to play off him and pray that he would shoot jumpers. It worked here and there, but he built a 7-2 advantage. At one point, I blocked one of his jump shots, but the ball went right back to him and he attempted a hook shot. He missed that one, too, but rebounded over my back and laid it in. I screamed a profanity in frustration. You can't call "over the back" in pickup hoops, but I was still peeved. He told me to "calm down."

Yes, the guy with "Fuck Every Body" tattooed on his chest told ME to calm down.

This lit a fire in me and I hit five straight shots to tie the game, but he went on to win 11-9. Absolutely exhausted and my right shoulder killing me, I rested for ten minutes and then we faced off in a rematch. I entered Schaible mode and shot almost nothing but two's (shot from behind the arc). I couldn't drive on him. He was too tall. I couldn't do my patented drive, stop and shoot a fade-away because he had arms like the tentacles of a giant octopus.

He got out to another big lead, but I found my touch once again. It was 9-9 and I missed three two-point attempts in a row. Thankfully, he was taking jump shots and missing them. At last, I grabbed a rebound, raced to the top of the key and nailed a two-pointer. I ran forward in case there was a rebound, saw the ball touch nothing but net and raised my arms in sweet, sweet victory.

Whatever is beyond exhausted, that's what I was at that point. I also had to be at work, but a true man can never leave if a series is tied at 1. A tiebreaker must be staged.

He toyed with me down in the paint, at some points laughing to himself because he got about 90 percent of the rebounds. Again, this guy's wingspan was ridiculous. Up 7-1 at one point, he thought victory was assured. Little did he know that his spindly opponent is not called "Ironwill O'Houlihan" for nothing.

The gusts FINALLY died down and I started draining everything. I took the lead at 9-8 and had a chance to make it 10-8 but I short-armed a very makeable hook shot. Unfortunately for me, he did his thing in the paint and won the deciding game 11-9.

Yes, this story ended tragically. But perhaps I gained a modicum of respect from this fellow I shall forever know as "Fuck Every Body." He said, "Good shootin'" and we clasped hands before I stumbled deliriously to my car.

My streak of not having lost a one-on-one series, which lasted all of 2011, is over. But my pride shall never die.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Adventures at Starbucks

The weirdos are supposed to be at Dunkin' Donuts. The creepy old man in his blue truck who always stared at me before I bought my 4:45 a.m. iced coffee. Or the other old creepy man sitting on a chair outside the Dunkin' Donuts, slumped over, mouth hanging open and looking like he just overdosed on pills.

I expect that at the Dunk. Not at Starbucks.

Sure, you have your screenwriters, your professionals reading the New York Times, your random musicians. However, recent experiences may require that I carry a weapon or camera so as to protect myself or capture for myself some very strange moments and people. Let's go down the list.

  1. I walked past a woman getting out of an orange car on my way to Starbucks to finish reading my 700-page Lyndon Johnson biography. Didn't think anything of her until I saw her reflection in the black glass of a nearby store. She had no shirt on, just a bra. I couldn't help myself so I shot a very conspicuous look back at her to find this woman, probably in her 30's, with short blond hair, in the process of putting on a dress. Right in a parking lot. At 5:30 p.m. People everywhere. To top it off, she gave me a little snarl, as if to say, "How dare you!" Hey, I'm not the one who mistook a parking lot for the fitting room at Filene's Basement. I did not deserve that look. Not at all.

  2. In the corner of said Starbucks sat a mysterious woman who had unfurled several manila envelops on the table. Nothing out of of the ordinary there, until on further inspection, she reminded me of a towering figure from my past - Mrs. Tanner, the feared 12th grade English teacher at Cranston High School East. Imagine the stern headmaster in any British movie and you get a fair picture of her. This lady had the same face, same protruding chin, same cold eyes, same glasses perched at the edge of her nose and even the same hair style, except Starbucks Tanner had maroonish hair, not black like Cranston Tanner. This poor lady must have wondered why this lanky kid in a Serra Padres shirt was looking at her in abject fear.

  3. A few days ago I was working on my computer, minding my own business and trying to listen to my iTunes. To my dismay, my headphones were broke. I mention this because a first date was going on right next to me and I couldn't help but hear the whole thing. I've well entered my bitter, angry man phase, so this interaction pissed me off. Having to listen to some chirpy couple exchanging annoying small talk in annoying voices really .... annoyed me. The guy regaled the woman about his job as a hypnotist. Yes, a hypnotist. And he was so gosh darn happy about it. The woman spoke in a throaty, high-pitched tone that scaled at my eardrums. They were happy and cheerful and flirty. Grumpy old Sears shot them dirty looks all afternoon. (Really, a hypnotist? He told a story how he learned of his "talents" at a summer camp when he was 12. Shut up.)

  4. Another day, another couple, just not as bothersome. The woman was very beautiful, some kind of foreign. I couldn't tell though. And the guy had a British accent and he was kind of a jerk to her the whole time. They argued about something, and he was winning. I didn't get the particulars since my headphones were actually working this time. But they aren't the crux of this vignette. A hippy-looking kid with floppy brown hair and Rivers Cuomo glasses walked right up to me and asked, "Do you know how to hack into the FBI database in this Starbucks?" I said, "What?" And he repeated his question even louder. The woman next to me shot me a nervous look and I told the kid, "I have no idea." He shrugged and walked back to his friends. I told the couple next to me, "And if I did know I certainly wouldn't tell him." They smiled, but did not laugh as uproariously as I had intended. An elderly man sitting by himself in the corner then shouted to me, "Just a stupid kid. A really stupid kid." He shook his head in disgust and continued reading his book. I will be that man in about 30 years.

  5. Once again, trying to read my LBJ biography and a man dressed like one of the green men at the Canucks games walked in, except his getup was blue. It's been so strange at Starbucks for me recently I didn't bat an eye and kept reading, completely ignoring his prancing around.

Strange enough for you? Some of you could be disappointed that I wasn't vomited on or thrown out by a power-hungry home plate umpire. Still, weird people need to stay away from me. Actually, all people need to stay away from me. I really want to be that cranky guy in the corner of your local Starbucks by 2040.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Back to the Tercel

My days as a semi-normal human being are over ... for now.

A few weeks ago my bosses told me they were switching me back to the night shift. My time as the early, early morning guy ended today a little past 2 p.m. So goodbye, weekends. Goodbye, 4 a.m. alarm. Goodbye, delicious company breakfasts. Goodbye, sunlight.

While getting up at 4 a.m. and going to bed at around 10 p.m. befits a man of 80, it was still as close to normal as I have ever been since college. I felt like I had the whole day to experience. On days off I woke up at 7 or 8 a..m., a full day to waste. And waste them I did.

Now I head back to sleeping until mid-afternoon, the sun almost ready to set by the time I'm ready to go outside. I head back to Vampire Hours.

It's not all bad. I will be able to watch the mediocre Red Sox now. I will be able to watch live sporting events without fighting to stay awake. Staying up for all the Bruins and Celtics game the past month and a half took a heavy toll. Two days ago I returned to my apartment right after work, plopped into bed and decided to nap 'for a few minutes.' When I woke up, three hours had passed.

This move fills me with no joy, but I guess if I wanted a 9-to-5 job I should have chosen a different profession. Don't you worry about Steve Sears. I will carry on. I will still drink coffee, only this time the caffeine will keep me alert at midnight, not 5 a.m. And I will always appreciate my eight-month respite as a normal human being. It reminds me of the time my craptacular 1988 Toyota Tercel needed repairs and I drove a rental car to high school. I forget the make and model, but it was sweet.

Really sweet.

It's white paint glimmered with that new car shine. Unlike my Tercel, it had a working radio and did not spew a mysterious and probably fatal green gas into the atmosphere. (I am the biggest cause of Global Warming.) The seats weren't torn. It reached 50 mph without shaking violently. Basically, I drove a limo to Cranston East for a few days. It was so sweet I should have been allowed to park in the spots reserved for City Hall employees.

The first morning a girl I liked noticed that I wasn't driving a shitmobile that Tom Joad would refuse to be caught dead in. "Is that your car, Steve?" she asked. Did I say, "Yeah, babe. Jump in the back seat and I give you a tour." No, Jean-Ralphio would say that. I stupidly admitted it was a rental. But my high school failing aren't on trial here.

I only had that car a few days, but it was a marvelous few days. I always knew I'd end up back in that 1988 Tercel back in 2000-2001. Ten years later, same old Tercel.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I just don't get it

It's safe to say Bill Belichick knows more about football that little ol' me. Criticizing his selection of players is akin to me criticizing a neurosurgeon during an operation.

Still, I just don't get this draft.

They had a need on the offensive line, which has been dominated in the team's last three playoff losses. Nate Solder could address that. But defensive line/linebacker? They didn't try.

Many love to screech about the unwashed masses who yearn for a pass rusher like we're baseball fans who hate OBP and BABIP, like we're the same WEEI banshees who would call for cutting Carl Crawford.

Yes, it may be a cliche at this point. But we watch the games, and it's a clear as it can possibly be. Opposing quarterbacks have dissected this defense with ease for years. Matt Flynn did it. Seneca Wallace did it. Mark Sanchez's jersey is always a pristine white after any Patriots game, if he sucks or not. Why not? When Tully Banta-Cain and Rob Ninkovich are your pass-rushers ...

I can't go on. The fact that these two are the main pass-rushers makes me ill. I don't want to vomit on my keyboard. I liked TBC as a guy they brought in on third downs occasionally. I never, ever wanted him to start, to be the main guy.

For many years, we Pats fans have been waiting for the next Mike Vrabel/Willie McGinest. Shawn Crable never panned out. Adalius Thomas was a bust. And in the draft, the Pats aren't even trying. I always hear "so-and-so doesn't fit the scheme." So, for three years not one pass-rushing outside linebacker or defensive end fits the scheme? Clay Matthews seems to fit Green Bay's scheme. If 1980s Lawrence Taylor was available, would New England trade out of his spot to stockpile 14 second-round picks in 2013 because "he doesn't fit the scheme?"

Draft all the corners you want, a secondary of four Deion Sanders clones could not cover receivers if the QB has five minutes to throw. This is what Mike Vrabel and Willie McGinest and Tedy Bruschi were able to provide. Jerod Mayo is good, but he's not a force in the backfield. Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork are supposed to occupy O-lineman in the 3-4, creating space for the LBs to attack the passer.

Who's going to do that next season? Jermaine Cunningham? Dane Fletcher? Lt. Weinberg? I don't know. But the fact that the Pats aren't even trying to fill this hole frustrates me to no end, as a fan. Going 14-2 or 12-4 is fine. But I don't want my team to become the Colts, completely incapable of making the big play on defense when it counts.

If a sports genie told me, "I grant one of your teams a championship. Pick which one, but only one," I would pick the Pats. The Bruins would be tempting, to finish out the four major sports, but I DESPERATELY want one more title for Tom Brady and the Pats. The last Super Bowl which I am refusing to name still stings. Balancing the scales from that epic, gut-wrenching, haunting disaster of a game is the one thing in sports I want more than anything else.

And Brady is in his 30s now. The end of his career is no longer a decade away. (As for Ryan Mallett, I watched him plenty and he gets the Drew Bledsoe yips when things start to go wrong.) So instead of making sure we have 13 draft choices every season, the Pats should be focused on the now. Go for the Lombardi Trophy while Brady still wears a Flying Elvis. Sell your soul if you have to. Having five or six picks won't doom the team to 3-13.

And getting NFL-capable outside rushers is important. The Ravens have Suggs. The Steelers have Harrison. The Packers have Matthews. The Colts have Freeney. The Pats have Banta-Cain and Ninkovich.

I don't get it.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The One

To Zach and all other iced coffee drinkers: Now I understand why, during college, you'd buy an iced coffee, take one sip, sneer at the terrible taste and throw the whole cup away.

In those days, the only coffee I had was in the milk/ice cream variety. Now that I must work early-early mornings, I've joined the rest of civilization. And now I truly appreciate how difficult it is to find that iced coffee that hits the palate just right.

There's one Dunkin' Donuts open at 4 a.m. close to my apartment. My girl Padma knows me inside out. She knows every order of every person who's been to that DD more than once. Amazing. That iced coffee is drinkable. A little too-coffee tasting, if that makes sense. It's not as sweet as I would like, but it's good enough.

There's another DD that gave me the perfect iced coffee. It was delicious. An unforgettable one night stand of sultry pleasure. She promised she'd come back, but she never did. I have tried again and again in a vain attempt to recapture that special time. I dream about it. The others come close, but they're not as special. There was only One.

I wish I knew how to find the special one. Too much sugar? Not enough? Different cream? I have no clue. What I don't get is how the same franchise makes the same product so differently from place to place, even shift from shift. I once drove 30 minutes to find the western most Dunkin' I know of, only to be disappointed.

Before I move on to the next section, I have to make an admission ... I've kind of converted to Starbucks.

Yes, 18-year-old Steve would be disgusted. DD is for the working man and Starbucks is for the hippies with their scarves and berets and their poetry and their French politics and their coming-of-age screenplays.

One reason I go to Starbucks more is, yes, I like to read there. I have a 600-page biography of Lyndon Johnson to read and I can't really do that in a half Dunkin' Donuts/half Baskin Robins store. Second, they seem to make what I order more often than not. With the Dunk, it's Russian Roulette.

And even at Starbucks, they get it wrong. I ordered an iced coffee yesterday and what I got I still don't know. I do know it was gross. That said, their iced coffee is more consistent. It's peak isn't as good as the One, but I know what I'm getting.

When one orders a hamburger, one knows what's coming. Same for a milkshake or a pizza. I'm not picky with any of the above mentioned food stuffs. Yet with iced coffee, I'm like an old lady who tries to use an expired coupon - I'm ready to fight if I don't get my way.

Don't fret. My search isn't over. I know the One is waiting for me. I shall catch her, and when I do I will never let her go. Sometimes you have it and you don't fully appreciate it. Sometimes it's an instant connection. Sometimes you have to work and work and hope it falls in your lap.

Either way, a lifetime of happiness is in store. I'll do what it takes. There's One out there for all of us, right?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Struggle

For eight long days I have suffered the scourge of braces. The time hath come to expunge my misery on you, the faithful, bored, semi-interested reader.

  • I can't eat pizza. At least, I can't eat it without a knife and fork, which I believe is a felony is some Floridian counties.

  • I can't chew gum. I love to chew gum.

  • No chicken parm subs for me.

  • You know how annoying it can be to have food stuck in your teeth? Well, imagine that feeling every time you eat.

  • I now have a baggie of tooth cleaning apparatus at my work desk.

  • And a kit of Orthosentials at home.

  • It took me a half hour to eat a bagel this week. They are not easy to cut with plastic knives.

  • No popcorn

  • No nuts

  • No hard candy

  • No caramel. I love me some caramel

  • And there are Led Zeppelin songs shorter than it takes me to floss.

It is a national tragedy.

Perhaps you're sitting in your pajamas reading this (and if you are, reevaluate your life choices) and telling me to suck it up and be a man. That's not my style.

Maybe you're sitting there saying, "Braces? Who cares? I have another human being inside me!" or "I lost a leg in Vietnam." Boo hoo. Wah, I'm pregnant. Wah, I'm missing a limb. Try walking around wearing the yolk of clear braces, impairing your ability to enjoy gum and candy and pizza, ruining your radiant smile. Only then can you know true pain. Only then can you know my misery.

I am a week through this ordeal. Eighty more to go, give or take. Pray for me.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The vow

The process has begun. I'm having the braces on my top teeth installed next week. But before I can do that, four of my teeth needed to go.

So to the dentist I went yesterday. These men and women are hard to please.

"So I guess you don't floss much," he said while sticking various Hostel: Part V: The Cranston Vacation objects at my poor teeth. Actually, I floss every day, sometimes twice a day. "You need to do a better job."

"Do you smoke? I see some stains." They're coffee stains, I couldn't say. It's not like my teeth are black and rotting, for crying out loud.

"I see you've become addicted to crystal meth."

"Do you eat hamburgers, where instead of the burger, you're eating a patty of chewing tobacco?"

"Have you set your teeth on fire recently?"

I believe I take decent care of the chompers. I only need these braces due to issues dating back to childhood. Since high school, I've been a fairly conscientious brusher and flosser. I won't be in any Colgate ads, but I don't look like a toothless thug in a 1930's gangster movie.

Except for now.

If I smile widely, you will see four hideous gaps where my first molars should be. It hasn't been painful, but I don't care how much Novocaine they stick in your gums, seeing a scary metal clamp approaching your mouth and sensing and hearing the tooth pried out is not a pleasant experience.

They showed me my four detached teeth and I felt sorry for them. It's true. They didn't deserve this fate. They were a part of me and are now gone for future dentists to study and mock.

"Was this guy a meth-addicted arsenic swallower or what?"

I'm OK if I don't smile like a buffoon and if I only laugh modestly. No one seemed to notice at work today. But in the mirror I can cackle like a superhero villain and give myself nightmare. It's pretty bad. I look like Joe Pesci from Home Alone, except for the gold teeth imagine nothing but blackened gums.

And if you want to know what it's like in my mouth right now (and why wouldn't you?), gargle your own blood every few hours.

So why the hell am I doing this? I've asked myself this question often. I hope an angel can someday take me on a tour in 20 years of what would have happened if I did not fix my orthodontic issues. I'd have dentures at 40. I wouldn't be a world-famous Crest commercial actor. That way, all this annoyance, inconvenience and money (lots and lots of money) will be proven worthwhile.

That's all I have for now.

And I am making a vow. After this whole process is complete, I am done with dental procedures. I've spent an obscene amount of money fixing things the past three years and that will only increase over the next two.

Barring anything but intense pain, I am putting my foot down. I promised myself when I was a little boy I would never touch a cigarette, joint, cigar or any other smoking instrument. I never did. I made that vow for my health.

So I make this vow today for my social well-being (whatever is left of it) and for my wallet (whatever is left of it). The vast dental conspiracy that has convinced me I've needed tissue grafts, bone grafts, extractions and braces will go unheeded from here on out.

The foot is down ... starting in 2013.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Basketball Guy

After every school day in high school, I would rush home to listen to the Jim Rome show. Did this lead to a lucrative radio career berating callers or playing fart noises on WEEI? Sadly, it did not.

Nonetheless, Jim Rome cracked me up. One particular bit he did that I will always remember is “Softball Guy.” He would rip on the stereotypical middle-aged man who takes softball way too seriously. You know the type: guy who wears batting gloves, cleats, the stirrup socks, eye black, the whole works. He acts like he’s playing DH for the Yankees, instead of third base at the Irish O’Malley field in Dorchester for Jacko and Sons Plumbing, LLC.

Yesterday, I participated in two full-court basketball games where I witnessed many incarnations of certain Basketball Guys. After years of playing with Bob Knight Hosseini and Nenad Schaible and Kyle Korver Grimala, then playing with the serious types down in South Florida, I believe I’ve accumulated ample expertise to delineate the certain types you’ll find playing any basketball game.

Has this been done before? Sure, but not with my wit and keen insight.

And-One Bloopers Guy

This guy loves to dribble between his legs, juke no one out of his shoes, run the fast break like Marcus Banks and, my favorite, loves to try fancy passes during games. Too bad for him every pass behind the back hits someone in the knee or rolls helplessly out of bounds. This guy popped up numerous times yesterday. One time, I’m Not Steve Nash, who was on my team, had a 3-on-1 fast break, dribbled up the middle and tried a behind-the-back, no-look pass that clanked off someone’s shin and right to the waiting arms of the defender. If you can pull off the Harlem Globetrotters’ moves, then play for the Harlem Globetrotters. If not, then a simple pass will do.

Doesn’t Shut Up Guy

This guy likes to showcase his knowledge of primary colors on defense. “Get White!” “Watch out for Red!” “Watch out for Black!” He calls for the ball on every possession. He complains loudly when he doesn’t get the ball. He yells at people when they miss shots. He’s the guy who makes a loud, random noise in your face when you’re shooting, just to gain that little competitive advantage while also coming across like a giant douche.

Follow the Rules Guy

This guy thinks he’s Dick Bavetta. He never misses a shot on his own, calling for a foul instead. He calls traveling and double-dribbling with such insane bias you’d think he was reffing a Lakers game. He will yell at you for ignoring the Treaty of Versailles. But if you dare call him out for any infractions, prepare for ….

Bitch-and-Moan Guy

He comes in many sizes, but he is impossible to miss because he complains about everything. His testosterone levels are enormous and he’s not on the court to play basketball; he’s on the court to impose his male dominance. I’ve played in pick-up games that were brought to screeching halts for 10 or 15 minutes just by guys arguing at each other. And it’s always the same culprits week after week. Is there anything more pointless than filibustering during a pickup game? Can’t we all just play mediocre, post-Kendrick Perkins Celtic basketball that would make James Naismith wish he’d invented the XFL?

The Chucker

George Costanza is the most famous of this popular species. The chucker believes he or she is Ray Allen and Reggie Miller, firing fade-away threes whenever the balls touches the hand. And yes, I’ve played with a guy who hoists at least four or five fade-away THREES a game.

Yesterday, the chucker was a girl. She had some game, but she took at least 10 threes over two games and each one was a more horrible disaster than the next. Like M. Night Shyamalan movies!! (And the foul!) I cleaned up after her, scoring off these terrible misses several times, enough to really frustrate the other team. “Who’s watching RED!!??!?!” Still, all chuckers, there are four other players on the court. And there’s no shot clock. No need to play like all the idiots in the NCAA tournament who dribble around for thirty seconds and then heave a 30-foot prayer. We’re better than that.

The Midget

One of these yesterday, too. He’s usually a little over 5-feet tall. And he knows he needs to make up for it by being a 7-foot asshole. He will elbow you in the nuts. He will slap you silly. He will do everything he can to annoy the living hell out of you. While one must appreciate the effort, the groin area is important and does not want to be disturbed by sweaty, small male hands. Unless it belongs to a Republican. (And the foul!)

We get it, Danny Woodhead wannabe. You’re a ‘gamer.’ Yesterday, you tried to post me up. Yes, I had at least a foot on you and you were posting me up. Now, my defense in the paint is Situation-trying-to-be-funny abysmal, but still. And you elbowed and scratched and clawed … and you never got the ball because no one wants to throw an entry pass to Tom Cruise.

On the next possession, you tried to sprint for an offense rebound and Steve “The Thin Fundamental” Sears eased right in your path and gave a solid box-out. You audibly groaned when you made contact with my muscular frame. You never did post me up again.

The Old Guy

My college buddies will never forget Bert. Or was it Bird? Anyway, he was an older, rotund gentleman who wore a Larry Bird jersey and, even worse, Larry Bird short shorts. Covering him was like swimming in a pool of his sweat. He donned the goggles and the headbands. Straight outta 1983. He also cherry picked like a mofo, but that’s another story.

Yes, you know you’re in a pickup game when there’s at least one dude in his fifties laboring up and down the court. No, not me. He might not have hair or a working back, but he does have guile. I can’t help but love these guys. They have their set-shots, their muscle-shirts showcasing healthy amounts of chest and/or back hair. They are not afraid to take off said shirts at any time. And if you ever find yourself in a locker room with one, the penis will make a guest appearance.

The Pretty Boy

Oh, he’ll play alright, but not before he applies the hair gel, the very tight black shirt and his new kickin’ sneaks. He thinks he’s way better at basketball than he is. He will be picked before more capable players because he looks like he can play, but then you find out he can barely dribble. He just wants to run around and show off his biceps to the ladies. But unless the Food Network or Bravo starts televising pickup games, ladies won’t be watching.

The Kobe

Our final type. He is the best player on the court. He assumes the leadership position and everything just runs through him. Pickup warriors can usually pick this guy out during warm-ups. He has a steely confidence and focused glare. It’s Game 7 of the Finals and he’s ready to win it all. He is also extremely demanding, unafraid to cuss you out for missing a layup or failing to grab a rebound. He’s like Kobe Bryant, except you don’t necessarily hate this guy. But like Kobe, you need him to win. You just hope he doesn’t try to backstab you to the Colorado police.

I will stop here. There are other types, but I don’t want this to turn in to a Bill Simmons column. There’s the Fundamental Guy Who Does the Little Things (ME!), the Foreigner, the Girl, the Trash Talker and the Ringer. If I missed any big ones, feel free to let me know how stupid I am in the lonely hellscape of my comments section.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Old dirty bastards

I'm just a helpless damsel being mercilessly attacked by roving gangs of ruthless elderly hoodlums.

Which is why I plan on becoming a superhero who battles the senior menace, stalking the grocery stores, bingo parlors and slot machines of South Florida to catch these dangerous clap-on rapscallions.

Sigh. Who am I kidding? In all likelihood, this will not happen. First, the seniors have the politicians in their pockets. Instead of taking the blue-haired bandits off the streets, corrupt officials would target me. Second, streaming episodes of the Larry Sanders Show aren't going to watch themselves.

Steve, why the frustration with our more wiser, graying friends? Seniors are nice people who spoil their grand kids, not career criminals.

Obviously, straw man questioner, you haven't been down here in a while.

I was in line at the BankAtlantic Center to purchase overpriced concessions when a senior citizen cut me in line. Blatantly. He didn't give me the finger, but he should have. I was in Starbucks to buy overpriced coffee when a senior citizen cut me in line. He didn't take out his penis and waved it around in masculine triumph, but he should have.

Think I'm done ? I was waiting patiently while grandma shuffled coupons at Walgreen's. Fine, I might be like that someday. No worries. I waited and waited. While I perused the lovely Olivia Wilde on some magazine ... an old man cut me in line.

I stared a laserbeam at him. The full Schaible Face came over me. Thing is, this guy just did not give a damn. "I'm old. I can do what the fuck I want. You gonna stop me?"

Well, no. Can't yell at him. Can't push him out of the way. All I can do is wait even more, furrow my brow, pay his Social Security while he votes to destroy mine, and buy my items in 2014.

Not a day later, I was driving around 45 mph side-by-side with a blue car that suddenly swerved in my lane to pass a slow-moving vehicle (driven by a 90-year-old). It was like I wasn't there. And I never beep at people, but I blared the horn at this driver and made sure to get a good look. Wouldn't you know? An old lady.

Almost drove me off the road. Could have killed me!

Is it not enough to slap me in the face during Panthers games or at Walgreen's? It it not enough to make grocery shopping an Olympic sport of stamina and focus? Is it not enough to vote for Rick Scott?

Now you want to kill me?

If Bruce Wayne can fight crime in his spare time, I can do the same. You're on notice, old people. Some day I will snap, and it will be ugly.

(P.S. This clip from my cartoon twin is a likely indicator how my pursuits would go.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The cure

I actually did stuff this past weekend, hosting MMA impresario Dave Doyel on a trek to Fort Myers for Red Sox spring training.

Here are the bullet points.

• I did not get lost from the airport.
• I did miss the exit to 75 North, which crosses Florida east to west. Just a small diversion.
• I still did not get lost from the airport.
• I had my first memorable Jacuzzi experience. Where I hung out in Rhode Island and Boston, Jacuzzis were rather rare. Those things are relaxing! Either that, or it sapped all my youthful vigor and turned me into a static prune.
• We sat in the Jacuzzi with a farming couple form Minnesota. The salt of the earth cavorting with evil librul commu-fascists. They were none the wiser.
• I challenged Mr. Doyal to a swim race, assuming a victory. Instead, I was routed. I'm used to some jabroni challenging me on the basketball court, his head filled with hubris, and then quickly and coldly dispatching that hubris. To be on the opposite end is not as enjoyable. I am not a creature of the water.
• We drove around our first night in sprawling, octogenarian Fort Myers looking for a cool place to eat. We ended up at P.K. Sam's aka P.F. Chang's. After more than four years down here, I should know that you don't find cultured eating in this state.
• Game 1 on Friday afternoon. Great seats several rows up near home plate at the spring home of the Minnesota Twins, Hammond Stadium. Carl Crawford didn't make solid contact once and Jonathan Papelbon could not find the strike zone. Recipe for a Red Sox defeat.
• I did get revenge for my loss in the swimming pool with a thrilling win at Smuggler's Cove mini-golf course. I started out hot, went into a slump, but then turned on my Ironwill O'Houlihan motor to pull out a one-shot victory.
• We met up with some of Dave Doyil's Harvard buddies, one who used to work as a hawk back in the pre-Sears days. Dark, dark times. I heard of a scoring scandal and a hilarious story involving Sport Joe. For more details, you'll have to ask nicely.
• One of the guys thought about being a journalist but instead went into consulting. He asked if he made the right choice. After laughing uproariously, I asked him, "Do you like money?" He nodded. I asked, "Do you like living like a normal human being?" He said yes. So I told him he made the right decision.
• This group of Boston-educated Red Sox fans ended up at the Fire Pit, one of those cookie cutter restaurants that tried its hardest to appear trendy and appealing. Mediocre food. While we left, they were setting up the place into a nightclub. During the day, I hear it's a library and a BINGO hall. (I've been watching too much Larry Sanders.)
• The next day was a trip to City of Palms Park, the site of the Boston Red Sox. We packed into the right field bleachers and baked in the sun while we (mostly me) tried to find as many non-Caucasians attending a Red Sox game as possible. And I found a few.
• I was there for Adrian Gonzalez's first at-bat in a Red Sox uniform, a solid single. The game went very well, even John Lackey pitched like a professional.
• The one player who stood out in both games was by far Jacoby Ellsbury. He smashed the ball all over the field in the two games we saw, including a home run against the Marlins.
• After the game, NESN reporter Heidi Watney walked right by us. Just thought I'd mention that.

In summation, you can't beat a few days of spring training baseball in wonderful Florida weather with likable people. And while Fort Myers has its faults, Dave said, "I could see myself loving to live here when I'm 70."


After last week's unfortunate events, this little excursion was the perfect elixir. Now it's time to enter the chaos that is mid-March at my job. It begins Thursday.

Friday, March 4, 2011

I'll keep the dime

This week can go screw itself.

I broke my favorite sunglasses on my birthday. I stopped at a court to shoot hoops randomly and forgot I had my sunglasses. So I placed them behind the basket. Twenty minutes later, a shot of mine bounces over the backboard, against an adjacent fence -- as I watch it unfold in slow-motion -- and directly hits my shades.

The Horatio Cane eyewear isn't the only thing in disrepair. My body is breaking down. I have to stretch for 15 minutes before I plan on breaking a sweat or I will pay the price dearly. My legs have been bothering me and the doctor tells me its because I sit down too much at work. It feels like restless leg syndrome, though I have no idea what that is. It feels better to give this malady a name.

The doctor told me I should exercise more. (I haven't really stopped, actually. A $25 co-pay for that advice.)

I can't edit any NFL lockout stories or conjure brilliant puns from the treadmill.

Ahh, work. I can't get into it too much in this space, but this is "Filene's Basement during the Running of the Brides" time for all sports media entities. If that's not enough, I had problems keeping a vacation that I had planned for months in advance.

Hell, it's not a vacation. Just a weekend. Even that resulted in a mini-crisis this week.

Also, I have tickets to see the Capitals play the Panthers, yet no one to take as of yet. Great seats, too. This is Panthers hockey! C'mon, who wants to go?
Think we've hit the bottom here? Like Charlie Sheen (I had to mention him), there's no such thing as a bottom. Or a denied interview request.

Way back during the first dentist visit I can remember, the word "orthodontist" come up. I never went to the dentist after that during my Rhode Island years, but I started under my nice insurance plan I have at work here in Florida.

First dentist said the dreaded "o" word. Warned of dentures at 40. (Not really, but he was an alarmist.) This dentite sent me to another, who passed on the same warning.

"You will lose your teeth if you don't get this checked out."

I finally broke down and went this week. Maybe the news wouldn't be that bad. I keep decent care of my chompers.

But by The Law of Sears, such cautious optimism suffered a violent death.

The orthodontist laid out the evidence better than anyone I have seen, complete with x-rays and computer imaging. Some people have worse teeth than I, which makes me feel a tad better. Just a smidgen.

But I have an "open" bite where my top front teeth don't correlate with the bottom. They flare out. And there's my bottom two front teeth, which nearly face each other.

The prognosis begins: tooth extraction. Four. I asked her in disbelief, "You mean you're going to pull four teeth??"

Yes, she answered matter-of-factly.

Then the hammer. "What you'll need are full metal braces along the bottom and front teeth."

"How long?" I ask, about to cry.

"A year and a half." I literally winced and muttered, "Jesus Christ." She sympathized.

Following braces would be months with a retainer, 24/7, and when that ends, only at night. For pretty much the rest of my life.

In summation, a giant hassle that will cost me thousands. There are social considerations of course, being an "adult" with so-called "metal mouth." For someone as self-conscious as I, this might be the biggest hurdle.

"Hi, I'm Steve. I'm a lanky, socially awkward copy editor who enjoys the comedy of Carrot Top, despises dancing, drink like Miley Cyrus and frankly doesn't do well with people. And I have braces. Wanna grab some coffee? I hope you don't mind me bringing my dental fanny pack with 14 kinds of floss, specialty brushes and a cup for my excess saliva."

On the other hand, what would braces really mean to my social existence? Not much. I can still stream Larry Sanders episodes on Netflix or regurgitate haphazard blogs on an irregular basis. It's like tossing a twinkie wrapper in a landfill. You're not ruining the Mona Lisa. It's already a dump.

With all the crap that's been dumped on my plate this week, you'll never guess what almost sent me over the edge. Remember that Family Guy episode where Lois goes nuts trying to plan the perfect Christmas for the Griffins? Peter accidentally gives away all their gifts. Brian sets the house on fire. The kids are ungrateful. None of this sets her off; it's when she asks for more paper towels and find there's none left.

It's the straw that breaks the camel's back, as the cliche goes. The "that's it" moment.
Mine came at Dunkin' Donuts. I had a gift card and I wanted a small iced coffee. Came to $1.90. I gave the cashier the card. He swiped it only to elicit a loud beep. Second try, no luck. Third, nothing.

I had just used it on Monday. It was Thursday. There was still 20 bucks on it. I informed the man the card definitely possessed sufficient funds. He didn't care. So I swiped the card from his hands and gave him two dollars, visibly upset. Seething, really.

Normally, I will throw the spare change in the tip mug. Not this time, sir. I took the dime and stormed out of the store.

A man can only take so much.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Listapalooza Part 3

Bringing back an old feature ...

Top 5 songs I hear all the time on satellite radio

5. Welcome to Paradise - Green Day

4. Aeroplane - Red Hot Chili Peppers

3. Thirty-three - Smashing Pumpkins

2. The Cave - Mumford & Sons

1. Howlin' for You - The Black Keys

Top 5 songs satellite radio has introduced to me

5. Sweet Disposition - Temper Trap

4. Down by the Water - The Decembrists

3. The Ghost Inside - Broken Bells

2. Helicopters - Deerhunter

1. Young Blood - Naked and Famous

Top 5 bands that sound very similar to another band

5. Naked and Famous - Passion Pit/MGMT

4. JJ72 (them again) - Smashing Pumpkins

3. Silverchair/Seether - Nirvana

2. Muse - Radiohead

1. Silversun Pickups - Smashing Pumpkins

Top 5 "That Guy!" character actors

5. J.T. Walsh (A Few Good Men, The Negotiator)

4. Dylan Baker (Disclosure, Law & Order)

3. Kurt Fuller (Ghostbusters II, Wayne's World)

2. Glenn Morshower (24, Friday Night Lights)

1. James Rehborn (Independence Day, Scent of a Woman)

Top 5 most hated words

5. SpyGate - For obvious reasons

4. Cheese - Jut don't like it.

3. Testicle - Anytime the word comes up, something like "cancer" or "ruptured" is close by.

2. Mani-pedi - Do I even need to explain?

1. Tweet - I hate when important news is grouped with this word.

Top 5 favorite words

5. Sundry

4. Rapscallion

3. Pariah

2. Schaible

1. Skulduggery

Top 5 whitest bands

5. Weezer

4. Death Cab For Cutie

3. Wilco

2. Arcade Fire

1. Vampire Weekend (I looked this up after the fact and there are articles online about this topic. So no points for originality on my part.)

Top 5 funniest shows on TV right now

5. Conan - Love Ted Turner

4. Parks & Recreation - Love Andy Dwyer and Ron Swanson

3. The Ricky Gervais Show - Must use the term "knockin' about" in my life

2. The Colbert Report - It's been better than the Daily Show lately.

1. 30 Rock - The defending champion

Top 5 favorite TV bosses

5. George Steinbrenner (Seinfeld)

4. Michael Scott (The Office)

3. Ron Swanson (Parks & Recreation)

2. David Brent (The Office)

1. Jack Donaghy (30 Rock)

Top 5 random Conan characters (excluding Triumph the Insult Comic Dog)

5. Coked-up Werewolf

4. NASCAR-driving, gun-toting Jesus

3. Vomiting Kermit

2. Jewish Turtle Riding a Mechanical Bull

1. Masturbating Bear

Top 5 favorite Rhode Island people

5. Bill Reynolds

4. James Woods

3. Buddy Cianci

2. Art Lake (R.I.P)

1. Doug White (R.I.P.) - He used to come to Phred's all the time when I worked there. Nice guy. Great hair.

Top 5 favorite New York Yankees

5. A.J. Burnett

4. Ruben Sierra

3. Kei Igawa - Are the Yankees still playing him?

2. Jose Contreras

1. Kevin Brown - A travesty he's not in the Hall of Fame

Top 5 sporting events that have been ruined by my career in journalism

5. Super Bowl

4. Postseason hockey (for games that go into four overtimes)

3. Any trade deadline

2. NFL Draft

1. NCAA tournament - Utter insanity and almost impossible to enjoy now

Top 5 athletic moments

5. Cabin X football extravaganza - Where I intercepted a pass for a touchdown, caught a touchdown and ran for a touchdown to lead my team to victory

4. Dunk you very much - We were playing on an eight-foot rim once in Cranston - I don't know why - and I was facing some kid who had his girlfriend loudly and obnoxiously rooting for him to beat me. So I took it to the rim and dunked in his face. True story. Also true ... the girl stopped talking after that.

3. Leveling R.T. - In college, the three amigos plus our roommate from Seattle were playing two-on-two touch football. As the QB, the fourth roommate with the initials R.T. kept running for big plays. This is very lame in two-on-two. So in a bit of frustration, I attacked him at a perfect angle during one of his runs along the sideline and pushed him with such force to send him flying to the ground. Message delivered

2. Deion Sanders Sears - In one flag football game for CBS, I made two interceptions on consecutive possessions and caught a touchdown. I played such shutdown defense that the guys were calling me Deion. Or anti-Asante Samuel.

1. Three-on-three touch football champions - Zach, Jeff and I played a makeshift tournament in touch football for hours. We beat all challengers and advanced to the final against some athletic European types. It was a war. I caught the game-winning touchdown on fourth down. Afterward, I've never been so exhausted in my entire life.

Top 5 least favorite athletic moments

5. Dodge ball to face - In gym class, I was hit in the nose in dodgeball and bled profusely. Thing is, no one noticed. But that sucked.

4. The ski disaster - Already covered this

3. Fracture clavicle - We snuck into Cranston Stadium to play tackle football. I picked up a fumble and rumbled almost thirty yards down the sideline, but in a reverse of my R.T. leveling, I was speared badly. The tackler's heat met my clavicle. Fracture. I had to climb the fence with one arm to get out and I had to wear a sling for a few weeks. Intense pain.

2. One-on-one touch football standoff - I was the QB as Jeff and Zach battled in football. It was getting dark and for whatever reason, I decided I was done playing. With a dead arm, I threw terrible pass after terrible pass. I was Todd Collins. Just awful. We just had to call the game due to my suckiness.

1. Softball ejection - I will probably do a SteveCentury on this soon, even though Zach has told every living and non-living being on this planet and others this tragic story. I might as well get it down for the record.

And finally ...

To 5 names for Baby Schaible (which I am predicting to have a penis)

5. Vin Books Schaible

4. Tres Duces Schaible

3. Onion Dip Schaible

2. Tanyon Sturtze Schaible

1. Chinua Achebe Schaible - Duh.