Wednesday, August 31, 2005

And the Winner Is...

...Not Mark Cuban.

In a move than can only be classified under the "Let's see who laughs last, bitch" category, Michael Finley decided to sign not only with another Western Conference team, but another team in Texas - the Spurs. In the end, Fin rejected the email advances of and resisted the lure of Shaq on South Beach and decided to go with the team that sent a one-man contingent -- Pop.

But really, who can say no to this face?

Fin will be reunited with another spurned Mav in Nick Van Exel. Ain't vengeance grand?

Speaking of vengeance, I just saw Oldboy and all I can say is Damn! I guess I didn't fully realize what to expect from a movie promising to be a revenge thriller with live octopi and a Korean Gary Oldman, but it was all that and then some. Definitely recommended.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Ladies' Favorite Dime Piece

Look who's on the cover of the latest Dime. The Man himself, Mr. Dwyane Wade. I'll let you know how the article is once I stop drooling over the pictures.

One thing that bothers the hell out of me - yes, just one thing this time :) - is that once we girls get past the
Teen Beat/Big Bopper stage, we're marketed to the same way as men - namely, with images of women. Think about it. Men's magazines like Maxim and FHM have covers of Halle Berry, Jessica Alba, etc. Women's magazines like Vogue and InStyle have covers of, yup, Halle Berry, Jessica Alba, etc. Men's Health and GQ use coverboys, like Tom "I hate my golden boy image so I'm going to pose for GQ and Gap" Brady, but we girls still only get other girls for Self and Elle. And if we pick up a Dime or Slam because that's where one finds gorgeous pictures of 1/4-naked men, we have to sift through all the "Dime pieces" and pictures of 3/4-naked girls. No wonder we get so catty - we're sick of being force fed one another.

So that's my spiel of the day. But still, definitely check out the latest Dime. It's hot!

The Mouse that Roared

Damon Stoudamire has temporarily, but officially, dethroned his ol' buddy Rasheed of his Best Mouth crown.

When asked what he thought of Pau Gasol during the Grizzlies' press conference, Mighty Mouse said,

"His initials are PG, but I want him to be rated R."

Finally, a reason to watch the Grizzlies - no offense, Shane. Aside from the potential of Pau morphing into the tongue-wagging, towel-throwing Dirk that emerged during this year's playoffs, the Grizz also got one of the most likable players in the league - Mr. Bobby Jackson.

Can't wait for the season to start!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

T'Wolves on the Prowl in Vegas

Am I the only who doesn't think this is a good idea? A bunch of men - very, very rich men - going to Vegas together to "bond." No one else hears the warning bells going off? Going for the summer league is one thing - at least then you're under the auspices of playing and watching basketball.

However, going strictly for the purpose of bonding...

With Kandi-man on your roster...
(Remember the cops playing taser tag with him? The cops won.)

Lawyers, on your mark, get set...

Who knows? Maybe Dwane Casey figures having a little blackmail on all his guys is another way to get them to play together. Maybe I'm just thinking too much like a girl...or as the future wife of Andre Iguodala.

Speaking of Dwane Casey though, let's think of how many more ways we can spell Dwyane!

Day 5: Coffee

But I only had 6 ounces - that's not even a full cup. (I'm sure some of you are scratching your heads right now so here's the lesson of the day from NBA's Finest: 1 cup = 8 ounces.) I couldn't help it. I was starting to look like Jeff Van Gundy, especially around the eyes.

But it wasn't just for vanity's sake that I broke my vow; it was for my sanity as well. Case in point - I needed a yoga mat so I went to the very spiritual, very we-accept-all-people Center for Yoga. I took off my shoes (rules of the center), picked out a mat, and went to pay. That's when things got a little testy. Basically, I nearly impaled the girl at the register with a pack of incense sticks because I thought she was trying to charge me $50 for a $20 yoga mat, when in fact she was charging me $50 for a $50 yoga mat. (It's hard to see with Jeff Van Gundy eyes.) That's not the insane part though. Sadly for me, almost impaling someone and accidentally calling them a "bloodsucking yogi" is all part of my daily, no-coffee routine. The insane part was that I actually bought the $50 mat. $50 for an all natural, earth-friendly, but in the end, piece of rubber. See, this would never have happened if I were in my right mind. In trying to save $3-5 a day, I ended up blowing $50. So that's when I caved and bought my 6 oz of coffee. I figured I better have some before I had to buy anything else out of guilt...or legal action.

That was Sunday. I went all Monday without a single cup, or ounce, or incident. We'll see what tomorrow holds.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Day 4 of No Coffee

So I decided to give up coffee after realizing that the amount I spent on coffee in the past 6 weeks could have bought:

  • Floor seats to a Clippers game. Actually a couple Clippers games. Maybe even a Clipper.
  • A digital camera.
  • Half a pair of Manolos.
It hasn't been that bad so far...Although I can't say for sure since I have yet to make it through a full day without passing out at my desk (hence, the lack of posts the last 4 days). Starbucks isn't that hard to give up since all I have to do is think of Ray Allen and Danny Fortson, but Coffee Bean's more of a challenge. We'll see how long this lasts.

What About Spoon?

In addition to Michael Finley, Doug Christie, and Brian Grant, another player waived under the NBA's Mariah Carey plan was Clarence Weatherspoon. Ol' Clarence may have only averaged 13.1 minutes, 3.1 points, and 3.1 rebounds, but I'm still gonna miss him on the Rockets. I thought he fit perfectly -- he looked like Clutch, the mascot.

Both are sort of cute and rotund and more for entertainment than actual basketball. But I guess you can't feel too bad for a man being paid $6,353,200 to not do anything. May we all be lucky enough to be that mediocre (or in Mariah's case, that crazy) that people will pay us not to come into work.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Digital Camera Dilemma

So after a summer of being told by a bunch of 10-year-olds that my camera sucks (or more accurately, "Haha teacher. My camera's better than yours!"), I've finally decided to invest in a digital camera. But here's the problem: What the hell do I buy?? Help!

I've been looking at camera websites for 2 days and I have no idea what's what anymore. Apparently, unless you have the mental and physical discipline of a British guard at Buckingham Palace, you're doomed to wind up with a blurry picture all fringed in purple.

I just want a pretty camera to take pretty pictures. Is that too much to ask? Here are some of the choices I've narrowed down to. If you know something about one of the cameras - like you take a picture of Dwyane Wade and it comes out looking like Calvin Booth - please tell me. I would really appreciate any and all feedback.

Sony Cybershot DSCT7 and DSCT5

5.1 MP, 3x Optical Zoom

These two are both so pretty and sleek, but I think the person has to be standing 2 feet in front of you in order for the picture to come out. And anything more than 3 people and the camera may explode. But it looks sooo nice. This is my problem - if I had a choice between Naturalizers (those ugly librarian-looking heels that are comfortable as hell) and 4-inch Christian Louboutins, I'm unquestionably going for the Louboutins. Nevermind that I would be crying out in pain after 5 minutes. I have a feeling the Sonys here are more style than substance, but damn, are they stylish.

Casio Exilim EX-S500

5 MP, 3x Anti Shake Optical Zoom

This is the dark horse candidate. I told my best friend I was looking at a Casio camera and her response was,
"Casios just remind me of those toy tape recorders with the microphone attached to them. Remember those? I used to scream tlc songs and another bad creation into those. Anyway yeah casio reminds me of technology for 5 year olds."
That's what I thought at first, too, but people kept telling me Casio was like Canon, but with more bang for your buck.

Canon SD500

7 MP, 3x Optical Zoom

I was originally leaning towards this or the SD400 or SD300, but I kept reading that the LCD screen cracks and the pictures aren't as clear.

Bottom line, I want something that takes good pictures but is sturdy (and pretty) enough to carry in my purse. Any suggestions?

Vegas Sports Books

Another reason to kidnap a Maloof: The sports book at the Palms sucks!

When I was in Vegas for my girlfriend's wedding, I went on a mission to find the best sports book to watch the game. I figure the combination of big screens and free drinks makes Vegas the pre-eminent venue for any sports fan. I have to say I was really disappointed. Nevertheless, here's my guide for anyone looking to watch a game in Vegas.

Top 3:

  1. Caesar's - Situated next to Pure, the Caesar's sports book boasts large flat screen TVs on the walls as well as individual flat screens at the tables. Each table is designed to comfortably sit 4 people. I didn't watch the game here; I just passed by it while going to Pure, but I think it had the best and largest setup by far.
  2. Bellagio - I ended up watching the game here because the seats looked the most comfortable and it's my favorite hotel. However, let me warn you. The seats are those large, leather armchairs more commonly found in libraries. As such, the seating area is pretty small and you may be stuck next to a chain-smoking, loafers-and-socks wearing jackass more comfortable in a library but trying to look cool by showing up at a sports book. The idiot next to me spent the whole game calling Danny Crawford "Joey" and saying how Joey always call this and Joey always calls that. He then made fun of Bruce Bowen's alcoholic parents during the halftime piece as he washed down his 5 beers with 5 more beers. Utterly hateful bastard. I almost beat him with his fanny pack.
  3. The Palms - But only because there's a Coffee Bean in there, too. Considering you get about 4 hours of sleep the entire time you're in Vegas, Coffee Bean is like Valhalla.
The Rest:
  • The Wynn was just disappointing overall. There was so much hype when it opened, but inside, it's really not that different from the Bellagio. I think the Bellagio raised the bar when it opened, but it also made luxury more commonplace. Therefore, the Wynn just seems like more of the same. The two main attractions of the Wynn: Ferrari and Manolo Blahnik. The sports book is really small.
  • New York, New York - This whole hotel just gives me the creeps. I don't know whether it's intentional or not, but there's a seedy vibe to the hotel and even more so at the sports book. Lots of lonely old men. Yuck.
  • MGM Grand - Very similar vibe as New York, New York. And they keep lions in a glass case. Enough said.
  • Monte Carlo - I expected this place to be a lot nicer than it actually was. It's actually really cheesy and smells of urine in parts. Sports book is nothing special.
  • Paris Hotel - I don't really remember the sports book but the food is really good here. I had bananas foster...yum.

Calling Kyle Korver

So as you know, I'm not really one to mock people. But there are times when the situation just calls for it.

I recently enabled the option that notifies me whenever anyone leaves a comment. Not that I didn't care what people had to say before now, but I didn't realize people were leaving comments on posts that I'd written months ago. So anyway, I was checking my email and there were 5 comments within a 9 minute span on a Kyle Korver post I'd written back in January. Check it out here.

Girlfriend's got the hots for Kyle! Philly grl, I hate to burst your bubble but I don't know Kyle. If I ever met him, I think after a couple minutes of awkward silence, I'd say, "So, uh, is Andre around? How about Allen? Any AI will do." But if anyone does know Kyle, please send this girl's messages along so she can finally fulfill her dream of having him walk past her! I think that's when you officially move into heart-throb territory - when your mere presence is enough to make a girl's dream come true. On the other hand, maybe that's just when a girl moves from fan to stalker. Either way, good luck to you, philly grl. May your future plans not be hindered by girlfriends or restraining orders. :)

It Takes a Village...To Build-A-Bear

...And other things I learned during the past 6 weeks.

First, I learned that schooling doesn't necessarily beat experience. For example, I'm sure academically trained teachers and psychologists would have handled a kid calling another kid "a gorilla and a lesbian" a specific way. I, however, having been raised by my mother - a woman who, to my brother's and my everlasting chagrin, had mall security called on her on at least two occassions during our childhood - chose to draw on his face and embarrass the hell out of him. This led to my second lesson.

Second, it's not very hard to make a kid cry.

Third, I learned Mike Newell is a prophet. After being chosen to direct the latest
Harry Potter movie, Newell said, "I [am] very anxious to break the franchise out of this goody-two-shoes feel. It's my view that children are violent, dirty, corrupt anarchists. Just adults-in-waiting basically."

Fourth, I learned that the reason why it takes a village to raise a child is essentially because kids are really fucking dumb.

One of the last outings for these kids was a trip to the mall. The other tutor who was supposed to go with me couldn't make it because of a doctor's appointment. Right. Anyway, this left me alone with five 7- to a mall...for 5 hours.

After breaking a couple displays at Kay-Bee and being glared at by 5 different Kay-Bee employees, I rounded up the kids and took them to the very kid-friendly Build-A-Bear Workshop. I figured that would be a good way to kill an hour or two. One flaw in my plan - of the 5 kids, only 2 of them were girls. Two of the boys really had no interest in building a bear or anything else in the store. Then, there was the last boy - Mark.

Mark is a special boy. He's sort of like a mini-Larry David in that things just sort of happen to him. He also likes to talk, a
lot, and he likes to touch you when he talks - so much so that by the end of the day, I was slapping his hand away every time he grabbed my arm. Anyway, Mark's quest that day was to buy something for his parents. When we went into Build-A-Bear, I told him, "Mark, I'm going to help the girls make their bears. After we finish, we'll go find something for your Mom and Dad, okay?" Okay, things are going well, I thought. I helped the girls pick out a cute lil bear and we were waiting in line to get them stuffed. While we were in line, the girls were picking out sounds they wanted to put in their bears.

Then, I felt a grubby little hand on my arm. "
Teacher! I want to buy this for my Mom. I know she'll really like it." I look down and Mark is holding a sound box. Now, I don't know if you've ever been to Build-A-Bear, but the whole point of the store is to buy things to either put in or on a bear. That's it. So I see Mark holding the sound box that's supposed to go inside the bear and I say, "Mark, that's supposed to go inside a bear. Are you buying a bear?"


"Okay, then nothing in this store is really for you. Just wait a little bit and we'll go find something for your parents."

A minute later. Another hand on my arm.

I look down and this time Mark is holding two sound boxes.

Teacher, I want to buy this for my Mom and Dad. I know they'll really like it."

Kill me now. "Mark, I just told you that those are for the bears. Do you think your parents would really want a sound of Elmo laughing? Just put them down and play with Danny. We'll be done soon."

The girls and I had meanwhile inched closer to the front of the line. At the front, they have hearts that you can put inside your bear. I saw Mark reaching for one and said, "Don't even think about it. Those are for the bears. Your mom wouldn't want one." He looked surprised that I knew what he was thinking and he walked away. I thought I'd finally gotten through and turned my attention back toward the girls who were just about to have their bears stuffed.

After the first girl had stuffed her bear, I hear "
Teacher, teacher!" I turn around and see Mark barreling towards me with a huge grin on his face. He's holding a pair of pink bear slippers. "Teacher! I want to buy this. My Mom would really really like it. I know she would really like it."

This is a dream. This cannot be real. "Mark, is your Mom a doll? Is she the same size as these bears??" Pause. I see him pondering the question in his mind. "No, Mark, she's not! These shoes are for these toy bears. Your mom is not a toy, and she's not a bear. These shoes are not for her." I see he's still struggling with the question in his mind. "Just don't touch anything. Don't buy anything, don't touch anything. We're leaving soon."

So, after 6 weeks of Mark, Carl, and the Gang, I've realized something. Parents aren't incredibly patient, loving people. They're all just suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. How do I know this? Because I consider myself a rational person, and yet, despite what logic and rationality should dictate, I miss these kids like crazy. Even Tommy, the kid I made cry...twice, said to me before he left, "Teacher, you're going to write to me, right? Don't forget me." That sumamabitch (© Bernie Mac, Kings of Comedy) almost had me in tears.

So anyway, that's the story of my Stockholm summer. I hope everyone had a nice summer and enjoy what's left. I plan on capping mine off with a trip to Vegas. Did I tell you I saw Damon "the Butler" Jones there last time? He was sitting at a blackjack table right before Game 2 of Spurs-Pistons. He looked then like he looked throughout the Heat-Pistons series: lost and completely outplayed. During my next visit, I may have to kidnap a Maloof or two as retribution for Bobby Jackson.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Where Basketball Without Borders Should Go Next

While we're on the subject of David Beckham and his influence on young boys, I just read the ESPN the magazine cover story on him. In the article, he says,

"I wouldn't have minded being a basketball player. I think they are the best athletes in the world. My wife always jokes that she wishes I could bounce a ball."
That got me thinking, why aren't there any British players in the NBA? And Steve Nash doesn't count...Canada's already claimed him. And then I thought, well people who are really gifted in one sport often just have a tremendous natural ability that makes them great all-around athletes. (I was thinking of Steve and his header to Amare during the Dunk Contest, and people like AI and T.O.) What does he mean he can't even bounce a ball. That's probably just false English modesty.

Nope. This is what he means:

I haven't seen a dribble that high since elementary school!

I know David Stern wants the NBA to reach the furthest spans of the world, but damn, let's send a little love and assistance across the pond. Round up Steve and Dikembe for some international flavor and Kyle Korver for his pretty boy looks the Brits seem to favor and let's get this rolling. Next stop for BWB: the UK!

Tomorrow's David Beckham

The grand experiment where I am placed in charge of kids comes to an end this week. Like any last week of school, there are lots of tests. Today, I had the pleasure of grading the writing comprehension tests...for 2 hours. Luckily, I had another tutor (G) there to share in the pain.

Anyway, we were comparing scores - basically, trying to outdo one another as to who had the stupider kid - when G goes, "Okay, what's your lowest score?" I proudly hold up a 29, thinking what can possibly beat a kid who spells garden with an "n-e," when G says, "I have an 8."

Me: You mean a kid only got 8 questions right?

G: No, I mean he got an 8. Percent.

Me: Please don't let it be Carl, please don't let it be Carl.

G: No, it was Kevin.

Me: That dumbass. I believe it. I swear the boy doesn't even know his own name. I was calling him the other night and he just walked on by like he didn't have a thought in the world.

G: I know, he’s in my class. I asked everybody what they wanted to be when they grew up and Kevin said he wanted to be a professional soccer player.

Me: Shit, that may be the smartest thing he's ever said. Let me see his test. (Pause while I look at Mensa Boy’s test.) Motherfucker spelled flower f-o-l-w-e-r. Forget books. His parents need to invest in good cleats and a coach.

After grading the rest of the tests, G and I went to the gym where the kids were playing dodgeball. They get an hour in the gym every night after tutoring. Anyway, I had previously recommended to all the kids that they read Harry Potter or whatever book caught their fancy. I saw Kevin demolishing all the other kids in dodgeball and said, “JR, get over here, boy!” No response. “Okay, fine, Kevin, get over here.” Still no response. “Kevin! KEVIN! KEVIN! Finally, contact. He trotted over and I told him, “Boy, forget Harry Potter. That’s only going to confuse you. Stick with a book called Harold and the Purple Crayon, okay? And stay in the gym for another hour today. Keep kicking the ball and practicing, okay?”

Kevin: Huh? We’re playing dodgeball, not soccer.

Me: Yup, that’s pretty much 8%. Okay, go back to the game, Kevin. Good luck…in life.

So that pretty much sums up my life as a teacher. I’m rather shocked that more teachers don’t end up killing themselves. Imagine if Kevin makes it as a professional soccer player – which means nothing here in the US, but luckily for Kevin, he’s from what the Bush administration likes to call “the rest of the world.” Provided he follows the David Beckham model, and he’s already well on his way – for the talent show, he and his friends dressed up as girls and put on a little fashion show…what’s more Becks than that – he stands to make bank, or at least a hell of a lot more than those people for whom “flower” is not a trick question.

Actually, I was watching Letterman tonight and one of the guests was Drew Rosenhaus. Dave brought up the T.O. contract situation and when Rosenhaus said that T.O. was underpaid, Dave started in on a holier-than-thou tirade about how teachers, not T.O., are underpaid. This coming from the man getting paid over $100 million to sit on his ass and give us another reason not to watch CBS. Out of all the arguments about how athletes are overpaid, I hate the teacher one the most. Do I think teachers are underpaid? Very much so. Do I think athletes are overpaid? Yes, but not when considering how much they bring in. Then Dave went on about how an athlete demanding more money means the fans are the ones who have to pay, blah, blah, blah. Once again, this coming from the man who inflicted Ed and that creepy ass Paul Schaffer on us. Worst of all, he had me defending that douchebag Rosenhaus. But really, I can’t stand it when uninformed people try to get in the sports salary debate and use the “what about the poor teachers” line. You really can’t compare the two. People don’t pay 100 bucks to watch a teacher in the classroom. Networks don’t pay hundreds of millions of dollars for the rights to televise classes. If they did, teachers would be getting million dollar contracts, too. And it's not like athletes' getting paid is what prevents teachers from getting a raise. You can’t even compare football to basketball or baseball. In a sport like football, which is more physically demanding and damaging than basketball, baseball, or Dave’s go-karts, and in which your contract can be cancelled for any reason whatsoever, I think players like T.O. have every reason to holdout when they feel they’re not getting market price for their services. Doesn’t mean I think T.O. deserves all that money, but I don’t think Jeff Lurie deserves $833 million either. And you better believe if I thought I was a main reason why Lurie and the Eagles were in the Superbowl and made all that green last year, I’d be demanding a bigger check, too.

Ahh, aren’t you glad to have me back? Be careful what you wish for!