Wednesday, November 18, 2009

AWC's and Superdawg

Last weekend, on what was probably the last really nice day of the year, I took my bike up to a bike trail called the North Branch Trail, which effectively begins at the northwestern boundary of Chicago and extends northward up into the suburbs. Round trip it was about a 30 mile ride. It was a beautiful day and it felt good. I made a brief stop on the way back because I randomly saw a Japanese guy creeping into the forest with a camera. As it turns out, he was taking pictures of a herd of deer. Note: I had to check to see whether to say "pack" or "herd" or something else when referring to deer there. Here's a super fun list I found that breaks down all the different group names of various animals. My favorite? A "richness of martens" because I'll be damned if this isn't the cutest little animal I've never heard of. Also, did you know that 12 cows make a flink? Ok, way off topic here. Back to the deer.

In a trademark "This is why stereotypes exist" moment, as he moved closer and closer to the deer for better and closer shots, AWC (Asian With Camera) recklessly scared them off one by one until they all bolted. I quickly pulled out my camera and captured a couple shots before they were gone. The first one is like Where's Waldo but there's actually two Waldos (deer) in this picture.

After the bike ride, I was absolutely famished. Not sure why this happens after biking and not running, but after I bike, I feel like I haven't eaten for days. So, being that the famous Superdawg from Diners, Drive Ins and Dives (and other shows) was right around the corner from the trailhead, I decided to see what all the fuss was about.

The verdict? I'm not sure what all the fuss was about, other than the awesome male and female hot dogs on the roof of the building. I thought about this and I think the reason is it's a hot dog. Hot dogs aren't like burgers, sushi, cookies, or cupcakes. You can't ever really say "wow, this hot dog is the greatest hot dog I've ever had." It's just a hot dog and hot dogs just aren't that special, even when they're really good ones. The only thing that can make a hot dog really awesome in my opinion is chili, but that means we're talking about the quality of the chili and not the hot dog. The hot dog is merely a vessel used to consume the chili in a more manly, sloppy fashion. My disappointment was compounded by the fries, which were not even that great. While I'm glad I finally tried Superdawg, Five Guys would have been much more satisfying after a punishing bike ride. And so it is, my Hot Dog Hypothesis.

Song of the Day:
Florence & the Machine - Rabbit Heart

Sunday, November 15, 2009

And now....

The starting lineup for your Chicago Bulls!!!! Yes, I went to my very first Chicago Bulls game and let me tell you, the intro (which we only heard while walking in) was the most exciting moment of the whole game. Of all professional sporting events I've ever been to, going to an NBA game in November has to be the most underwhelming aside from going to a Cubs in late September. But in that case, at Wrigley Field, at least you have a bunch of bars nearby whereas the United Center just has gang-related violence nearby.

I think what makes the NBA game experience so uninspiring is that the play is so uninspired that they have to throw in all sorts of gimmicks to keep people interested. This speaks to two things: 1) People are morons and need flashy lights and circus acts to be amused and 2) Basketball is boring if LeBron James isn't involved, especially during football season. Throughout the course of the night, we saw endless meaningless giveaways (i.e. buy one cup of coffee at dunkin donuts get the second half participating locations, 10 cents off a big mac, $5 off tune-up at jiffy lube with purchase of 4 tune-ups, etc). Many other gimmicky things happened during time-outs, quarters, and halftime to keep people from leaving such as bad female dancers (the Luv-a-Bulls), bad fat male dancers (the Matadors), a mischievous looking squirrely bulls mascot, and about six massive inflated friendly bulls mascots along with a massive friendly bull blimp mascot flying around - all of which are in direct conflict with the image of the bull on the logo that has blood on its horns. Why are all these bulls so damn friendly? This is so watered down. What happened to these days when Bill Laimbeer and Isaiah Thomas used to beat up Michael Jordan like he was robbing their houses? I guarantee you there were no friendly inflatable bulls running up and down the arena coddling kids then. That was basketball.

Unfortunately, that's not the NBA we see today. The following is really the case for every sport, but I think the NBA is the most obvious case and the one that spells the most imminent doom for the league. We live in the world of bad cheerleader/dancers, corporate seats, $8 beers, $30 parking, and this monstrosity of a halftime show where some guy who was dressed somewhere between a matador and a chippendales dancer (not that I know what they look like with clothes on, I mean I don't know at all, I mean...Dwayne Zakamore Mr. October 1995, oh god....) did a high wire act, except one that was only about 6 feet off the ground. Just to clarify, that last parenthetical was a reference to BASEketball, the greatest sports movie of our time.

The most egregious offense of all in this spectacle was showing up to the United Center to find a new addition, two actually. On one side of the arena, this:

On the other side of the arena, this:

Ironically, this is the first year for this most eye-rolling gimmick, and it comes at a time when this arena and others are anything but a madhouse. The people who really care stay home because they can't afford to come, or they sit way up in the rafters while assholes like me who are indifferent to the bulls sit in corporate seats down low, or worse yet (and more typically), the seats sit empty. Thus, home court advantage is eliminated, rivalries are all but eliminated, and the corporations transfer their own wealth to the overpaid athletes who are indifferent to the weak crowd because they know they just made $300,000 for this 3 hour game. One day I will tell my son about how John Stockton used to average double digit assists per game, passing to Karl Malone with telepathic precision, how Michael Jordan used his deep-seeded hatred for all humanity to dominate the universe, how Larry Bird just wanted it more than the other guy, how much the Celtics hated the Lakers and how much everybody hated the Pistons, but sadly future generations will never know the NBA my generation grew up with. In memoriam, here's a couple great youtube montages from the days of yore...this is when people cared, honor was defended, and basketball was more like football. If you like sports, you know you miss those days.

Song of the Day:

Cold War Kids - Audience

Monday, November 2, 2009

It's Fall!

Well it took driving 375 miles to Columbus but I finally got the perfect fall weekend that I've been missing.

On Friday, Carrie and I went golfing then went for a run in a local park (it was 75 degrees!). We went on swings and did all kinds of fun stuff but you can find that on facebook. More importantly, the jungle gym is ruining young kids' minds. No wonder teen pregnancy is on the rise...or something.

Ok, so maybe that's just an adult who has the maturity of an adolescent boy amusing himself. But still, they could have given it some features. Though it's no longer accurate, I did like the fact that Pluto was still on this little educational tool. Poor Pluto. This band Jimmy and the Keyz created a nice tribute to the fallen planet (now planetoid - thanks IAU bastards). There are also a number of "Save Pluto" websites out there but this one is far and away my favorite due to the ridiculous simplicity. Sure looks like a planet to me.

On Saturday (Halloween), we went to see Ohio State put a thumping on New Mexico State. While the game was a laugher, halftime was super entertaining. The Best Damn Band in the Land (TBDBITL) put on a great show in honor of Halloween. Much like something you'd see at an Ivy League game, they put on a drama in addition to the music. However, there were a few major differences (this is where I finally have to be a super exclusive Ivy League kid - those who haven't been to an Ivy game wouldn't understand).

1) The band members knew how to play instruments so you could tell what song was playing.
2a) The jokes were funny.
2b) The band didn't try to outsmart the crowd.
3) Band members could walk and play instruments at the same time.
4) The formations actually created what shape they were intended to create.
5) Crowd reaction was laughter and applause versus puzzlement and embarrassment.

Ghostbusting "Michi-gouls"

Entombing the Michi-Gouls

For the most part, Ohio State fans are obnoxiously anti-Michigan 365 days a year. The stories abound and I'm not going to even go into them - some are awesome, some are funny, some are shameful and embarrassing. As shown above, Michigan does not need to be involved in the situation at all in order to be booed or chastised. The only thing I can compare it to is Red Sox / Yankees where a "Yankees Suck" chant could break out anywhere from Rhode Island to Maine at any given time year-round for no particular reason other than a deep-seeded hatred for the other team.

Lastly, on Saturday night, we saw a lot of great costumes while out on the town with friend Jacquie and her fiancee Jeffrey. One of the most convincing was this girl who dressed like in-his-prime Michael Jackson and was singing and dancing down the street in character as we left the bar.

Other highlights: my mom made homemade pumpkin cheesecake, and it was amazing. I feel like only moms can make something that they've never made before and have it be phenomenal. Now that I've been away for a number of years, I definitely have a greater appreciation for my hometown than I did growing up. The air is a little fresher, the people a little nicer, and general satisfaction with life a bit higher (except when Ohio State loses).

Song of the Day:

The Low Anthem - To Ohio