Thursday, June 19, 2008

SWEEEEEET 17!!!

Congratulations to the NBA Champion, Boston Celtics!!!

I decided to watch Game 6 at a bar called Professor Thom’s in NYC. This bar has emerged as the most popular Boston bar in New York. I met up my good friend PA and one of his buddies. We watched the Celtics clinch the Eastern title here so we figured it would be good luck.

617

At 6:17 I received a text from my buddy EA: “Boston area code: 617. The date: 6/17. Game 6. Championship 17. Go Celts!” And there’s more. The game started at about 6:17 on the West Coast. And I had approximately 6-17 drinks throughout the night; for some reason I can’t remember the exact number. And I’m not sure yet, but the numbers may somehow be connected to the show Lost.

Welcome to the Garden

Professor Thom’s reminded me of the old Garden. It was hot, muggy (no AC), and absolutely packed. We were piled in, had to stand the whole time, and I loved it. For most sporting events, I can’t stand watching at a bar, but basketball is a little different. It’s fast-paced so it’s harder for stupid fans to ruin it and cheer at the wrong time (Like in baseball when people confuse a pop-up for a homerun or football when fans don’t understand what a holding call is.)

Down in Front

At the start of the game this tall-ass guy kept blocking the TV closest to me. Everyone shouted “down in front” but this guy didn’t get it. Then a funny thing happened. We start winning. Then we started killing. Then we started annihilating. In the 1st quarter, everyone wanted to kill this guy. But as we rolled, I looked forward to him extending his long arms and blocking most of the TV. Because every time he did, something good happened. By the end of the game, he was one of the random strangers I hugged in jubilation.

Love Thy Neighbor

When you’re in a packed bar, and your team is winning, you learn to love your neighbor. I met and befriended people from Brockton, Wellesley, Belmont, Lunenburg…on a tangent, how many random towns are there in Massachusetts…where the hell is Lunenburg???

As the Celtics put on their clinic, I celebrated with my friends, but also with the random strangers next to me. We toasted beers, slapped five, and even hugged. I benefited from my location as I received several hugs from a beautiful Asian girl.

Girls

I never understood why girls would go to packed, sweaty, smelly, loud sports bars for the big game only to be surrounded by loud, drunk, vulgar cavemen. I will openly admit that I am not myself during the game. I scream at the TV, chant “defense”, pound my chest —I basically turn into Kevin Garnett. And I’m an irrational fan—I truly believe my actions have an impact on the game. I could care less about my surroundings especially girls. So why would girls want to be around guys like this?

My theory is that some girls actually like this behavior. Deep down, they love seeing men regress into little boys and show their true passion for something. As a result, they are turned on by the obnoxious, OCD, psycho-crazy guy and even find him endearing. Remember, girls like emotions, and complain that men never show them—so this is one of the few times when men display their raw feelings and emotions.

My good friend PA met a special someone at my Super Bowl party in 2002 (Patriots upset over the Rams—one of the best days of my life.) What she learned about him that historic day was essential: he cursed at the TV, knocked on wood before big plays, occasionally pounded his chest to pump up the team, and pig-piled in celebration. If this isn’t a turn-on for a girl, I don’t know what is. She must’ve found this endearing because four years later, they were married.

There were a good amount of attractive girls at Professor Thom’s on Tuesday night which was unexpected. Maybe they were searching for their future husbands. I was surprised, because let’s be honest, there’s just not that many hot chicks from Boston. But my theory is that the most attractive Bostonians move to NY or LA. This depletes the Boston region of its hot girl resource. But lucky for me, I was at a Boston bar in NY so I had the best of both worlds.

I’ve written a lot about girls, but during the game, I could care less about them. The following is an old post explaining this idea:

(I was at a bar in NYC watching the Red Sox vs. Indians Game 2 (the 13 inning game.) The bar was geared towards the game: tons of flatscreens, sound on, all sports fans (mostly Sox fans.) But once midnight hit, the bar metamorphasized into a fraternity/sorority bar. Girls with skimpy outfits and too much make-up poured in. Dudes sporting visors and polo shirts with the collars up bumped into everything. 80’s music blasted from the speakers. The TV’s stayed on, but there was no more sound. Four gorgeous girls strutted by us and sat at the bar. They were HOT, and they knew it. But the best part was, NOBODY CARED. We were watching the game. The girls sat, played with their hair and their cell phones (we could talk about the obsession with texting here, but that’s a whole ‘nother tangent,) and waited for someone to buy them a drink. But nobody did. We were too focused with the game. After 40 minutes, all four girls stood up in frustration, grabbed their coats, and left. It was one of the few victories a nice guy will ever have over a hot girl. When the game is on, nothing else matters. Not even hot girls.)

Nothing But Net

I have never seen a game like this before. (Take Game 7’s blowout of the Yanks in ‘04 and multiply it by a 1000.) I joked at the start that I wasn’t going to crack a smile unless we were up by 40. I couldn’t keep my promise because after Ray-Ray hit back to back threes to put the Celts up by 34, I lost it. This was an absolute blowout. You know the Celtics shot only 49%, but I swear they didn’t miss from the second quarter on. It was strange to watch and have absolutely no worries about the outcome. It was pure joy.

KG’s Move

Garnett answered every critic and played one of the best games of his career. It was highlighted by a “how-the-hell-did-he-just-do-that?” moment. Garnett hung in the air, ate a sandwich, brushed his teeth, checked his email, and then hurled the ball off the backboard as hard as he could—3 point play. Unreal!

Lesson Learned

The Celtics leaned a valuable lesson in Game 2. No lead is safe. As a result, the Celts pummeled the Lakers into submission throughout the entire second half. There would be no comeback in Game 6.

My Apologies to…

Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Doc Rivers, and whoever else I knocked during the playoffs and regular season. Here’s my apology: I'm stupid. You're smart. I was wrong. You were right. You're the best. I'm the worst. You're very good-looking. I'm not very attractive.

Team Effort

Even Tony Allen (that dunk was sick) and Big Baby got in the mix in Game 6. Over the course of the playoffs and regular season every player on this roster contributed at some point. It’s pretty rare to see that in professional sports. I stopped watching the NBA the last several years because it became an individualistic sport (and because the Celtics sucked.) It was great to see teamwork on the floor, cheering from the bench, and constant encouragement between the coaches and players. There was a glaring contrast between the Celtic TEAM and Laker team. Most analysts agreed defense was the key to this series, (which is true) but having a team that actually likes/respects each other goes a long way too.

Celebration

I was more emotional than I thought I would be. It hit me during the blowout (and my 6th beer) that this was my first real Celtics championship. I definitely remember the 80’s—I used to play imaginary Celtics-Lakers game on my Nerf hoop and even kept box scores. But I never grasped how cool it was to see one of my teams win a championship. As an adult, I invest way too much time, energy, and prayer supporting my teams. So seeing them win, especially for the first time, is about as sweet as it can get. Red Sox in 2004. Patriots in 2002. And now the Celtics in 2008. It will sound absurd to a non-sports fan, but these are three of the best moments in my life.

How did I Celebrate...

First off, my buddy PA poured half of his beer over my head and then I returned the favor. It was a bit ridiculous, but it was so hot in the bar, and the game was so incredible, it felt damn good. The only flaw to the celebration was the wasted beer that dripped to the floor.

As I exited the bar, I hugged several random strangers (and the hot Asian girl like 10 times.) If I was at all coherent, I would’ve tried to hit on her, but I was screaming so much that my brain hurt. Once I was on the street, I high-fived whoever passed by: a hippie couple, a pizza delivery man, an old lady. I didn’t care. I was so happy (and drunk.) People seemed to enjoy my behavior; some smiled and nobody maced me which was good.

The last thing I recall was eating a hot dog at Nathan’s. I bought hot dogs for 2 cute girls in Celtic jerseys, and if memory serves, they invited me to another bar. Instead of going (what was I thinking?), I sat in a booth with one of my best friends, and we talked about how much winning the championship meant to us.

My final memory was preaching to the 2 teenage employees at the Nathan’s. They nodded in agreement (or fear) to all my comments about the dominance of the Celtics, Boston sports, and the city of Boston. And how one day Boston will rule the world.

Maybe I got carried away, but right now, that’s how it feels.

Gatorade

The Celtics Gatorade celebration was pure and genuine excitement. It was spontaneous and fun…and guess what…if you’re up by 40 points in the game clincher at home, you should be able to do whatever you want. Why Red Gatorade? It was either an obvious tribute to Red Auerbach or just a simple coincidence.

Doc Tribute

Three hours of jubilant screaming caused me to lose my voice. In honor of Doc Rivers, I am completely hoarse. I wouldn’t be surprised if thousands of other Boston fans are paying the same tribute to the Doc.

It All Evens Out

After several complaints about the discrepancy in fouls and foul shot in the 1st three games, look what happened in Games 4, 5, and 6. It looks pretty even to me.

Total Foul Shots (Games 4, 5, 6) Celtics: 96 Lakers: 98

Total Fouls (Games 4, 5, 6) Celtics: 77 Lakers: 76

Wipeout

The NBA has decided to punish the Lakers for their hideous performance by forcing them to appear on the new summer show, Wipeout. The following images come to mind: Derek Fisher plopping into a lake of mud; Kobe strangling Gasol in a river of filth; Vujacic bouncing off one of those giant rubber balls, landing face first in a pile of gook, and then complaining to the refs that the game isn’t fair. And finally, Phil Jackson pretending not to care as his team embarrasses themselves…oh, wait…that already happened.

DropKick Murphys

This group has cemented their place in Boston Sports. Tessie has joined Dirty Water and Sweet Caroline as Red Sox songs. And “I’m Shipping up to Boston” (the song in the Departed) could be one of the greatest pump-up songs of all time. I can barely comprehend the words, but I don’t’ care. The bar speakers blared this song during the commercials, and we all went nuts. It was awesome!

Wait Your Turn, Tiger

Tiger stole the Celtics thunder on Wednesday. His injury headlined on SportsCenter, Around the Horn, PTI, and pretty much everything else. All I wanted was one day of excessive coverage and analysis praising the Celtics magnificence. Instead, the Celtics got second billing. Tiger’s success despite his injury was amazing, but all the Celts fans wished he could’ve waited an extra day to tell us about it.

SportsCenter Intro

Have you seen the new intro right before SportsCenter starts? You know…the music goes beep…beep…boop. And then they show Eli, Youklis, some Nascar guy, and 2 other little clips. Well now there’s Youklis and Garnett in the mix. Imagine if the Pats hadn’t choked…every SportsCenter until November would’ve featured all Boston sports stars; Brady, Youklis, and Garnett over and over again. People would’ve wondered if they were watching ESPN or a local Boston Sports show. Well, I guess it could still happen next year. The Sox are in 1st place, and the Celts and Pats are favorites to win their respective leagues next season.

Go Boston!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tiger Woods to Play Point Guard for Celtics

Before sports fans got ready to watch Game 5, they tuned in to see if Tiger could do it again. Tiger, in clutch fashion, calmly knocked in a long putt to force an 18-hole playoff. When the pressure’s on, is there anyone else that is more reliable?

The Celtics could have used him on Sunday Night. I was going to title this piece Happy Father’s Day and write how I didn’t buy my dad an actual present because the Celtics winning the championship would be all he needed. Unfortunately, it was not in the cards.

It was no fault of Pierce who tried to do his best Tiger Woods impression. But basketball is a team game. Pierce is proving his greatness this series, but like Kobe, LeBron, Larry Legend, Magic and even MJ have learned, you can do almost everything, but you can’t do it all.

The amazing feat about Game 5 is that Pierce almost disproved that theory. He drove to the basket at will, had 38 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds, and played all 48 minutes. But it was the one turnover that lead to a Kobe dunk, and a 4 point swing that iced the game. Some argued it was a Kobe foul, but it was clean enough. The interesting aspect of that steal is that it was on lazy defense. Pierce was one dribble away from slicing through the soft Laker D again. Kobe was already beaten so he went for the last second poke, got his hand on the ball, and insured his team another flight into Boston.

The Celtics have prided themselves on playing as a team, but nobody seemed to show up on Sunday night. Ray Allen played well enough, and James Posey took a charge and knocked down some shots. But where was everyone else? Most of the blame is squarely on KG who admitted to playing like garbage. I will be shocked if he doesn’t play a ferocious game 6. He has come too far and worked too hard to put in another Greg Kite-esque performance.

I Hate Derek Fisher

I still can’t stand this guy.

Who’s Gonna Play Point Guard?

Rajon Rondo? He helped carry the Celts to the finals, but he is finished for this series. In the 1st quarter, he passed up a WIDE OPEN lay-up. Instead, he kicked it out to Pierce for a 3. Whether Pierce knocked it down is not important (he missed), it’s the fact that Rondo is terrified of shooting the ball. Remember in White Men Can’t Jump when Snipes intentionally loses a game to con Woody. He uses his fancy moves only to pass up wide open lay-ups and instead kick it out to a covered Harrelson. I’m not implying that Rondo is throwing the game. I am implying that the Celtics aren’t going to the Sizzler until Rondo learns to shoot.

Eddie House? I love Eddie, but he’s not a true point guard. One play, the Lakers baited him into driving the lane. When they closed in on him, he panicked and threw the ball away. He is not a penetrator; he’s a “knock down” shooter. (Thank you, Mark Jackson.) And while he’s in, Ray Allen should bring up the ball especially if Farmar is in the game.

Sam Cassell? He actually played decent in Game 5. He had a nice offensive stretch, and didn’t take many “hero” shots or as I call them “moron” shots. But I still cringe when I see him on the court. He should not be in for more than 5 minutes.

Tony Allen? What the hell? He’s still on the team. He came out of nowhere and actually played OK. But he’s not a point guard either. And I have no idea how he moves around with that giant knee brace. The Celtic’s cannot turn to their 11th man (Big Baby is 12) to lead them to a championship.

Doc Rivers? In 13 total seasons, Doc averaged 11 points and 6 assists per game. He could wear a jersey under his suit and be the 1st player-coach to win the title since Bill Russell.

Lucky the Mascot? He has the uncanny ability to spring off a trampoline, do a flip in the air, and slam the ball through the hoop. But his skills may not translate as trampolines are rarely allowed on the courts during games.

Tiger Woods? I’ve never seen him play ball before, but I’ve never seen him lose before either.

The Celtics are going to have to pick their poison. Let’s hope the big 3 plays so well that it won’t matter who's playing point guard.

One More Win

Tiger won another Championship on Monday. He overcame his injuries and proved why he is the best. We’ll see if the Celtics can do the same on Tuesday night.

Monday, June 16, 2008

You Don't Mess with the Zohan

Take Zohan’s advice and don’t mess with him. In fact, stay far, far, far, far away.

On Sunday afternoon, I was persuaded to see You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. I was offered a free ticket, a bag of popcorn, and a candy to be named later. I figured it would be a stupid movie, but at least provide me with a few laughs.

Zohan didn’t have much going in its favor from the beginning. My theatre didn’t have air conditioning and I was melting like a snow cone in Phoenix. But at least the theatre attendants graciously offered us a complimentary cup of tap water so that made me feel better. The guy next to me belonged in movie jail as he was texting throughout the previews and the movie. I was enraged at first, but this movie was so bad, I soon envied the texter. At least, he was kind’ve having a good time.

I am not going to bore you with the painful details of why you won’t like this movie. Instead, I’ll focus on why you might like it.

You will enjoy this movie if you…

#1 …like multiple jokes about hummus.
#2 …like multiple jokes about hackey Sack.
#3 …like multiple jokes about old women (60-90) having sex.
#4 …are an idiot.
#5 …like multiple jokes using the word fagela.
#6 …like multiple jokes about big crotches.
#7 …like multiple jokes about haircuts.
#8 …are on a serious amount of drugs (but that’s still a maybe.)
#9 …like 5 minute SNL sketches being extended to 2 hours.
#10…liked Little Nicky.

Here’s the Pitch

Sandler: Boy, do I got a movie for you. You ready for this?
The greatest Israeli soldier gives it all up so he can
be a hair dresser.

Studio: That’s brilliant Adam, but it needs something more.

Sandler: He’s got a really big crotch.

Studio: That’s GOLD! Now all we need is a really crappy title,
and we’re all set.

The Chris Rock Curse

Just to ensure that this movie would be bad, Chris Rock makes a cameo. At least Rock is consistent and can now add Zohan on his list of horrendous movies. Zohan joins Head of State, Bad Company, I think I Love My Wife, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Osmosis Jones, AI (Artificial Intelligence), Down to Earth, Lethal Weapon IV, Beverly Hills Ninja, Dogma, and Sergeant Bilko.

The Joke’s On Us

Is it possible that Sandler is trying to make the worst movies possible? In 20 years, Adam Sandler is going to accept his lifetime achievement award and he will admit that he made a bet with the studios. The wager being that he and his buddies could make the most idiotic movies possible, and people would still see them (Zohan has earned 70 million in 2 weeks.) Then he will laugh at us, make another bad movie, and we will all see it.

We need to take a stand, people, and not see his movies anymore. I know how hard it is to resist. You keep thinking it could be another Billy Madison or Happy Gilmore. And those commercials are tantalizing—Sandler’s one-liners and ass-kicking is just a ploy. There’s no story. There’s no plot. There’s no laughs. We need to take a stand. Stop Supporting Sandler!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Unbelievable!!!

Wow! Game 4 was one for the books. Well, as long as you weren’t a Lakers fan. Simply Amazing!

The Lamar Odom 4 Step

I assumed the game was over from the start. The obvious Lamar Odom travel on the 1st play was an ominous sign that the Lakers were gonna get the calls and win this game. I lost it when a foul was called on Perkins DURING a foul shot; something I’d never seen before. It prompted me to text my friend PA and declare that this game was over.

This Game is Over

In the 2nd quarter, down by 24, I mentally checked out. I think it was 3 pointers by Ariza and Luke Walton that did it. But I had to keep watching just in case “something special” happened.

Lakers Fans, Celtics Fans, Sonics Fans?

Why was there a guy wearing a vintage Shawn Kemp jersey (#40) in the front row? Who was he rooting for and what was he thinking?

The Costanza Approach

I’m always scared when my team goes up big because then the only two options are win or choke. It’s like the George Costanza approach on life. If things are going really well, that’s not good, because that means something really bad is gonna happen to balance it out.

For each game I’ve prepared myself for the worst way to lose so I don’t flip out.

#4 Blow Out

It sucks to invest 3 hours of your time to see the team you’ve followed all year look like a bunch of clowns. You keep expecting a comeback, but nothing happens.

#3 Buzzer Beater

I believe Sports’ guy calls this the sucker-punch game. Hope is a dangerous thing. In this game, your team gives you hope that you could possibly win the game. And then it is snatched away from you.

#2 Blowing a Huge Lead

Mid-way through the game, you are high-fiving your friends. You let your guard down because the game is over, right? And then out of nowhere, boom. It’s kind’ve like being in what you think is a perfect relationship, and then suddenly, one day, the girl says: “We need to talk.” And then you find out she’s been cheating on you the whole time.

#1 Blowing a Huge Lead and a Buzzer Beater

A combination of 2 and 3. This makes you contemplate whether you will ever watch sports again.

33

The Lakers scored 33 points on 33% shooting in the second half of Game 4. When I see 33 pop up a few times, all I can think of is Larry Bird. I know he’s not walking through the door (Mr. Pitino), but the presence of his number makes me feel good.

His only appearance has been in those NBA Finals commercials where it looks like he’s gained 100 pounds. (The one with him and Magic makes me feel so uncomfortable—they’re both so fat now. It’s worse than Chandler’s transformation on Friend’s.)

True Identities

When teams are losing big, you get to see what they’re made of. When the Lakers were getting destroyed in Game 2, there was a lot of tension, anger, and fear on that sideline. The reason for their valiant comeback— everyone was petrified that Kobe would literally kill them (or at least make them cry.) That comeback was built on fear.

When the Celtics were getting ransacked in Game 4, the Celtics stayed calm. There was no fighting, arguing, glaring. Doc Rivers did a nice job of keeping the peace and the players followed along. I was amazed how cohesive these guys were despite getting their asses kicked for 32 minutes.

The Zen Master

After Ray Allen sliced and diced Vujocic for the lay-up, the Lakers should’ve called a time-out immediately. Instead, they passed it in, and as a result, had to use 2 time-outs to get to half court.

I re-watched Phil Jackson’s reaction after that lay-up several times. He looked completely zoned out. Like he was thinking what he was gonna say to the media after. In his mind, the game was over. He looked embarrassed to be coaching this team.

Great Moments

The PJ Brown dunk in Kobe’s face. Wow!

Eddie House’s shot to take the lead 84-83.

Paul Pierce’s 3 point play— My favorite part was not the shot, but afterwards. Pierce fell to the ground (as usual) and 3 teammates were there to pick him up. They were all smiling and laughing a little bit; having fun playing basketball. They were still down by 10 at that point, but there was an heir of confidence. It was very special to see.

Ray Allen’s up and under move—It was almost a mirror image of one of his moves in He Got Game. You can see how amazing this move was with the super-slo-mo cam, a great invention by the way. I haven’t seen replays this good since Double Dribble.

Pierce's block on Kobe!

Posey’s big 3’s in the corner.

The Ray Allen game finisher.

Help Defense

What is up with Pau Gasol? During the Ray Allen finishing move, he barely came over to help. There was no reason not as he was guarding Garnett, who was sliding away from the basket. After re-watching the game, Gasol looked incredibly confused on how to play help defense the whole time. This guy is a top-notch fantasy player, but in real life, he doesn’t know how to play defense.

House is to Rondo/Cassell as Ellsbury is to Crisp

House’s emergence reminded me of Jacoby Ellsbury on the Red Sox last year. He didn’t get his chance to shine in the playoffs until Crisp got hurt crashing into the wall. Now that Rondo and Ca-smell are banged up, House is finally getting his chance. He hit big shots, had tons of energy, and committed 0 turnovers.

Posey

He’s got a ring, but he doesn’t have nerves. Through 4 games, the Celtics have proven that their team is made up of more than the big 3. Posey’s been reliable all year, and it’s nice to see him get the props he deserves.

Fight Club and Trading Places

These were the movies I switched back and forth with because I was so frustrated with the game. This is one of the strange things I do when watching the game; I pretend not to care. I could give a crap about watching a movie, but I needed a distraction. I feel that if I pretend not to care, there will be positive results.

3rd Quarter: Fight Club. 4th Quarter: Trading Places. Tyler Durden seemed to inspire the Celts to Fight Back. And after House’s jumper gave them a lead, it was clear the Celtics and Lakers were Trading Places.

Other movies that could’ve worked as well: Bringing Down the House, House Party, Celtic Pride, The Three Amigos, Victory, The Comeback Kid, Never say Never Again

Stuart Scott

In the post-game, he reminded us 14 times that no team has ever come from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA finals to win. These stats get me nervous because it’s similar to the blow out game (win or choke.) The Celtics can win their 1st championship in 22 years, or they can make history by being the only team to lose in the Finals despite being up 3 games to 1.

Next time you watch the post-game wrap-up notice a few things about Stuart Scott.

#1 He technically doesn’t have a “glass eye” but there’s something seriously wrong with it. It’s bizarre and funny at the same time.

#2 His eye brows are out of control.

#3 Before each wrap-up, he will obsess with one stat (no team has ever come back down 3-1) and will repeat it over and over and over again.

#4 He will ask a complicated question and then mandate that it can only be answer with 1-3 words. For example: “Give me one word on how the Lakers are feeling right now.” It’s great because the other announcers have no idea what to say. The best is when Stu Scott chastises them for using too many words. What the hell is wrong with him?

Key to Victory

The Celtics are 3-0 when the Red sox win that same day. And their only loss came when the Sox lost to Baltimore 10-6. So if you want to know the Celtics outcome ahead of time, just watch the Red sox-Reds game at 1:15 on Father’s Day.

Who’s Gonna Win

Most people haven’t thought about this stat. Are you ready for this? Since 1980, only 8 franchises have won the NBA title. In the same time, there have been 18 different World Series winners, and 14 different Super Bowl winners.

I bet you thought there was more parity in the NBA in the last 28 years. Can you name the 8 teams to have won a championship since 1980? (Here’s a hint: two of them are playing right now.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Jack Nicholson Story

Game 3 Recap

Since I am a poor loser, I will only write a few brief thoughts about Game 3. When final shots are being taken by Kobe Bryant and Eddie House (although I love him), the advantage easily goes to the Lakers. Pierce and Garnett must’ve partied late into the night at Barney’s Beanery because they looked hungover at the Staples Center. If these guys don’t bring it, the Celtics are in rough shape.

But instead of going into an in-depth analysis, I’m gonna write about Super-Laker fan Jack Nicholson, and my brief yet memorable connection with him.

You Ever Dance with the Devil in the Pale Moonlight?

In 2004, I worked at a wealthy private middle school in Los Angeles; A place where money did grow on trees. Celebrity parents dropped off kids from their brand new “environment friendly” Hummers. Parents also featured people like Ari Gold from Entourage. In fact, my advice to anyone trying to make connections in the entertainment industry is not to work in tv/film, but instead in education. But I digress.

My job: I coached the middle school boys’ basketball B team. We were the equivalent of the bad news bears, and did not have many fans. Most parents/fans came to see the A team play because they were better and because a certain celebrity Dad would be there.

I was shocked/amused to see the Joker himself, Jack Nicholson, sitting in the bleachers before the first A team game. He was in the front row wearing shades just like it was the Lakers game. He rooted on his son who we’ll call William. Jack was usually the biggest celebrity although I do recall Denzel’s son playing versus Jack’s son one game. Two Oscar award winners were shouting at middle school refs—it was classic.

Occasionally, my B team needed some ringers and one of them was William. He was a decent athlete, a pretty good kid, but a hardcore Lakers and Yankees fan just like his dad. (Did you know Nicholson wouldn’t wear a Boston hat in The Departed because he hates the Sox? Next time you see it, notice his hat is blank.)

You Can’t Handle the Truth

William enjoyed playing for me because I was a good coach, but more so because he could dominate the B-team opponents. My team usually struggled, but one game we were actually destroying the other team. Up by 30, I took William and the other ringer out of the game. They were not needed anymore. I swear Jack gave me an evil glare from the bleachers, but who could really tell with those shades on.

William then did what most kids would do that in situation: he begged to go back in. He nagged and nagged until I finally turned to him and asked him a few questions.

Me: You wanna go in?

William: YES! Please!

Me: Who’s your favorite baseball team?

William: That’s easy. The Yankees!

Me: Who’s your favorite basketball team?

William: The LAKERS!

I shook my head. He got both answers wrong. Now remembering that I was a Boston die-hard, William asked for another chance.

Me: Who’s your favorite baseball team?

William: The Red Sox!

Me: Who’s your favorite basketball team?

William: The CELTICS!!!

I let out a big smile. He chose correctly.

William: Can I go in now?

Me: Nope!

All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy

My behavior was stupid, immature, and slightly cruel. It also severed any chances I had of getting Jack to star in one of my scripts. But I thought it was awesome.

As far as Jack, I did meet him once. I introduced myself and probably said something stupid that I can’t remember. (Probably similar to the embarrassing moments I’ve had with Larry David, Matt Groening, Hank Azaria, Fred Savage, the list goes on.) It wasn’t groundbreaking, but he was polite enough, and I thought it was cool.

So last night when I saw Jack in the front row with his shades on, all I could think of was this story. Jack may have been happy about last night’s game, but I’ll always have the upper hand because I converted his son to be a Celtics fan even if it was only for a moment.

Monday, June 9, 2008

NBA Finals: Game 2

The Refs

It was definitely a little one-sided. I didn’t like the offensive call on Kobe in the 1st quarter when he barely brushed Ray Allen in the face with his hand. They got to let that go. The chief complaint everyone has brought up is the 38-10 advantage for Celtics in foul shots. But here’s a number nobody has brought up, 28-21. The Lakers only had 7 more fouls called against them. That’s not a huge difference.

And why did that happen? The Celtics drove to the basket while the Lakers settled for jumpers. I’m sure the officiating tides will turn at the Staples Center, but if the Celtics continue to drive while the Lakers continue to settle, I don’t think there will be a major difference in fouls.

Jeff Van Gundy vs. Mark Jackson

These guys must hate each other. Van Gundy ripped into Mark Jackson for comparing Leon Powe’s coast-to-coast dunk to Dr. J in the slam-dunk contest. First off, it was a decent comparison as it was reminiscent of Dr. J minus the amazing jumping ability. Second, did Van Gundy need to spend the next two minutes ridiculing Jackson for a pretty benign comment? Van Gundy is entertaining—I liked him mocking Sam Cassell: “Can you believe it? He passed it again!” But I have no idea why he rips on Jackson so much. Jackson is a mediocre but harmless announcer. Maybe the whole thing is a performance, and at the end of the game, they go out for beers. But something tells me, if we see another blowout, these two are gonna have an on-air blow-up. It won’t be as entertaining Joe Namath trying to kiss Suzy Kolber, but it would be pretty good.

Lakers D

I haven’t seen a defense dismantled like that since Teen Wolf.

Get Physical

All year we talked about the West. They had the most entertaining teams, the best players; they averaged 100+ points/game. But one characteristic we didn’t talk about was toughness. The Lakers look soft out there, and the Celtics seem relieved that they’re not facing Detroit or Cleveland. L.A. might need to suit up Kurt Rambis because I certainly can’t see Luke Walton committing a hard foul.

I Hate Derek Fisher

Not much to say about it. I just think he is a flopping meatball and I don’t like him very much.

The Meltdown

Being from Boston, it is ingrained in my head that the game isn’t over until it’s over. No smiles. No celebrations. Nothing. Not until the game is over. I grew up a Red Sox fan--I always expect the inevitable collapse.

Mid-way through the 4th, I was feeling pretty good, but I still knocked on wood when I heard a ‘game-over’ comment. I still remember the Celtics miraculous comeback against the Nets in 2002. (They overcame a 21 point 4th quarter defecit to win--greatest comeback in NBA Playoff history.) That game was over too, right?

For some unknown reason Doc subscribes to a different theory and told his team the game was over, but to keep playing to prepare for Game 3. What was he thinking? This is a huge Achilles’ heel for the Celtics. Their ability to close is a lot like me with the ladies—unfortunately, not very good.

E for Effort

In the 4th quarter, Kobe got angry and caught on fire. Why doesn’t he try like that the whole game? It’s like he’s Drago from Rocky IV. He just sits there dodging punches until his coach commands him to attack. Why doesn’t he just attack right away? Why does he have to wait until the 4th quarter? It would be cool if Kobe blew up a la Drago and just picked up Phil and tossed him into the crowd and then announced: “I do not win for you. I win for me. FOR ME!”

It’s Pronounced Powe (Like Edgar Allen Poe)

The Lakers have greatly underestimated the Celtics as an opponent. Phil doesn’t even know how to pronounce their names. Although this was an honest mistake (that he corrected), it still symbolized how lazy the Lakers were in preparing for this series. They are getting out-hustled, outplayed, and even out-coached (who would’ve thought that?)

No Sleep

The 9:13 PM start time is a killer. After last night’s victory, I was so excited that I watched an hour of post-game interviews and didn’t get to bed until 1AM. But a victory will always triumph over lack of sleep. I’m just worried about the late bed times combined with a Celtics loss. That’s going to kill me. But if the Lakers keep playing the way they are, I may not have to worry about that.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

There's Always a Way

When people ask me how seriously I take sports, I tell them this story:

November 23rd, 1984

On November 23rd, 1984, my parents got me a special present: tickets to the Mickey Mouse-Capades. I was 6 years-old. Every little kids dream, right? It just so happens that November 23rd, 1984 was the same night of the Boston College vs. University of Miami football game. I threw a tantrum (which I did a lot as a kid.) I didn’t want to see Mickey Mouse on ice; I wanted to watch the game. (I’m sure my Dad felt the same way, but he couldn’t say anything. And I have to credit my two older brothers for teaching me that watching sports was far better than Mickey Mouse on ice skates.)

The Hail-Mary

My memory may be slightly off, but this is what I recall. My Dad took me to the bathroom during the show. I wandered off and my father chased me throughout the arena. Somehow, someway…I found a janitor watching the game on a mini-TV. My father found me and the 3 of us watched the game together. It was a great moment: me, my dad, and some random janitor named Pepe taking in the game. All was good until my mother hunted us down and brought us back to our seats. She was pissed.

In the end, I didn’t see Doug Flutie’s miraculous hail-mary. And I didn’t see one of the greatest college football games of all time. But even at 6, my priorities were already set—there was nothing more important than watching sports and I was committed to doing whatever it took to do so.

June 5th, 2008

I tell this story because I was met with a similar situation 24 years later. Somehow, I was coaxed into chaperoning a high school prom. This happened several weeks ago—how did I know Game 1 of the Celtics-Lakers Finals would be on the same night? In retrospect, it was completely my fault as I failed to check the schedule. It’s kind’ve like planning a wedding during October, and then shrugging when it conflicts with the World Series. I should’ve known.

I cried and moaned, (just like when I was 6) but there was no getting out of it. I thought of buying/bringing a mini-TV—a strategy my father has used at Bar Mitzvahs and weddings. (It doesn’t win points with my Mom, but instead by other men longing to see the big game. He gets treated like a hero.) But I was assured there would be a TV in the bar downstairs—I couldn’t watch the whole game, but this would be OK. The Celtics are so inconsistent; I can’t watch the whole game anyways.

Why Not Just Tape The Game?

This was the brilliant solution every woman came up with. I cannot tape sports for the following reasons.

My phone: I receive 5-10 text messages after big wins. If I don’t receive any, I know we’ve lost. I could shut off my phone for 6 hours, but that’s a real pain in the ass.

Random People: I am bound to run into one person on the way home that will reveal what happened with the big game. (I know some people didn’t like Fever Pitch, but there is a great scene in this movie that shows why taping the game doesn’t work.)

DVR: It’s a great invention, but am I willing to leave something this important up to a gadget— What if it breaks? What if it tapes the wrong show? What if my roommate accidentally changes the channel? There are so many issues that could come into play. It’s just too risky.

Self-Control: It is incredibly hard to watch a game knowing you can press one button and find out what happened. I cannot handle that responsibility. It is just too hard for me.

The Prom

8:30 PM—When I arrived in my tuxedo, I was shocked to learn there were no televisions. Let me repeat that: No TV. What kind of establishment was this? I went into panic mode. That’s when I remembered 1984. I would find a way to watch this game.

9:35 PM—While the kids groped each other on the dance floor, I snuck out of there. I figured there would be a bar within walking distance. But what I failed to realize was that I was an area where televisions were considered evil.

Brooklyn, NY: Williamsburg

Williamsburg is the Los Feliz of New York City. Conquered by hipsters in the early 21st century, these people hate sports, TV, and cheap beer—basically anything a normal dude enjoys. So when I ventured to the five nearby bars, there was not one television. Not one!!!

I was furious. I sprinted and shook my head at the same time. Finally, from a distance, I saw the flashing of a flatscreen. Was it a mirage? No, it was a gym. I entered in my tuxedo and explained my problem to the cute receptionist named Olga. She was extremely confused, but I charmed her into changing the channel from “Indy” rock videos to the NBA Finals. I even grabbed a gym towel and cleaned myself up.

I barked at the TV as the Lakers outplayed the Celtics in the 2nd quarter. Gym-goers scratched their heads as they looked at me: why would a man in a tuxedo be at a gym at 10 PM watching a basketball game? As the halftime buzzer sounded, I was off. On the way out, Olga warned me that the gym was closing very soon. She wished me good luck and I swear she shouted: “Beat L.A!” It was either that or “Please go away!”

10:15 PM— I returned to the prom and interacted with as many people as possible; danced, ate, posed for pictures. This gave the effect that I was there the whole time. When in reality, I would be disappearing again very soon.

10:45 PM— I was jogging again. I ventured past the gym, which was now closed. I felt like James Bond in my tux: a man on a mission. I tweaked my knee and hobbled into the only bar in this damn town with a TV. As I limped in, Paul Pierce was doing the same (except he heard the loudest standing ovation the New Garden history while all I got were several blank stares.)

The Comeback

I proceeded to watch one of the most memorable NBA Finals performances. Pierce’s “comeback” is now being compared to Willis Reed (obviously not the same because it was Game 7, but still…) For those who thought he was “faking,” can I remind you that Pierce survived being stabbed 11 times in the face, neck, and back in September, 2000. And he still started every game that year. Maybe the skeptics thought he was faking that time too. Pierce is bad-ass, and his performance was amazing!

Garnett’s Dunk

I let out a primal scream when Garnett nearly tore the hoop down with that vicious dunk. There were actually a few Celtics fans at the bar who cheered as well. They were slightly afraid of me, but gave me high fives on the way out. I pumped my fists in celebration, and headed back to the prom.

11:55 PM—I made it back to the prom with five minutes to spare. The kids had a great time, and so did I. I did my duties as a chaperone, but I also found a way to watch the game.

Moral of the Story

So for all you sports fanatics out there who can’t watch the big game because of a wedding, bar mitzvah, anniversary, event with the in-laws, work function, birthday party, or even prom; Just recall my story, and remember, there’s always a way.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

DEAL BREAKERS

The following is my top 10 relationship Deal Breakers. Sure, I’d hook up with these girls, but as far as seriously dating, there’s not a chance. And I tried to be somewhat realistic so I didn’t include categories like Serial Killer, Cyclops, or Mermaid.

#10 BAD TEETH

In 6th grade, we all got braces. Except for these girls. What were they thinking? I am not a big fan of sharp, jagged, crooked teeth. I always think of the Simpsons and the big book of British smiles. Lisa needs braces. So do these girls.

#9 GIRLS IN A LDR (Long-Distance Relationship)

This is a trap.

I don’t know why, but I always meet this girl. Her boyfriend is in another city, state, country, and she gravitates towards the nice guy (i.e. me.) You and LDR Girl spend all your time together. You help her move, take her out for dinner, watch movies, hold her purse, and give her relationship advice. People often mistake you guys as a couple because there’s so much flirting. But you’re not a real couple because there’s no hooking up.

Over time, this usually changes. One thing leads to another, and then “Bam!” Now, you’re hooking up. But things get weird when the girl remembers she still has a significant other. Plus, if you guys keep hooking up, she may lose you as a friend. So she stops hooking up with you, becomes more distant, and when the real boyfriend returns, you are put back on the shelf. (Yes, I’m a little bitter.)

At least I learned from my experiences. This is now a Deal Breaker!

#8 HAIR IN THE WRONG PLACES

You can use your imagination on this one. It may be shallow, but seeing hair on the back, big toe, or nipple area, is an immediate Deal Breaker. It is a hideous image that can never be replaced.

#7 SUPER RELIGIOUS

Anytime a girl mentions bible camp, bible group, or bible studies class, I’m outta there. I once dated a girl who I met in a taxi from the airport. We ended up meeting for dinner one night.

When the food came, she stopped talking to me. She put her head down and ignored everything I said. Did I offend her? I didn’t think my Michael Scott impression was that bad. Why wasn’t she talking to me? She then lifted her head up and smiled. She was praying. I then prayed that the date would end soon. And it did! The power of prayer!

#6 CRACK HEAD (and/or other hardcore druggie)

A few years ago I dated this random girl from Amsterdam. For those who remember her, she is the lead character in the girl-who-tried-to-kill-me-story. (One of my all-time favorite stories to be written at another time.) Amsterdam Girl and I had some drinks, and were having some fun. We entered the “what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?” part of our date. My answer: “In high school, I once snuck into a movie.” I thought it was a pretty good response until she trumped me tenfold.

Amsterdam Girl: It's really stupid, but me and my friends... (giggling)

Me: What?

Amsterdam Girl: Well, me and my friends…we used to smoke crack all the time.

(I tried to stay calm, but I was freaking out. My response would make no sense. Kind’ve like when George meets the bubble boy and blurts out…“my cousin’s in a bubble.”)

Me: Nice. I heard that can be really fun.

Amsterdam Girl: It got so bad…we ended up in…what’s it called?

Me: Rehab?

Amsterdam Girl: Yeah, that’s it.

DEAL BREAKER!

#5 DISLIKES ANY OF THE FOLLOWING THINGS: The Wonder Years, Back to the Future, The Shawshank Redemption, Town Spa, The Sauce Place

The girl doesn’t need to love these things, but she needs to respect them.

a. The Wonder Years
My favorite show growing up still stands the test of time. Every time I see Kevin and Winnie, I feel like a kid again. And occasionally, I have to admit, I will shed a tear at the end of an episode. I once met a girl who hated this show so I hated her.

b. Back to the Future
This is my favorite movie of all-time. I don’t want to be with a girl who fails to see that this is one of the best written, original, quotable, fun, romantic, funny, cool, and creative movies ever made.

c. The Shawshank Redemption
The AFI has there top 100, but if you were to pick people at random and ask for their top 5, this would make almost every list. So I was offended when I read a girl’s JDate profile that knocked this movie. I actually emailed the girl and suggested she take it down if she wanted a chance of meeting someone. She wrote me back and misinterpreted my criticism for flirting. It’s safe to say that I did not write her back.

d. Town Spa
Everyone from Sharon, MA and the surrounding areas knows that this is the best pizza place of all-time. (Try getting the hamburger and onion pizza with a side of honey mustard. It is absolutely delicious!!!) This is #1 on my list when I go home (#2 is see my family.) If a girl doesn’t like the Spa, she’s done.

e. The Sauce Place
My 2nd favorite pizza place of all time is located in L.A. on Robertson Street. The actual name is Al Gelato, but I coined this place “Sauce Place” because it’s the best pizza sauce I’ve ever had. My friends and I will order extra bowls of sauce to pour over the pizza, fresh bread, salad, dessert, etc. The gelato’s not bad either, but I’m in love with the sauce.

I stumbled upon the Sauce Place on a first date years ago. The girl had heard good things so that’s where we met up. I devoured an entire pizza, a bowl of sauce, half of her gnocchi, and a cannoli. The girl was OK. The date was mediocre. The food was delicious. If you don’t like the sauce, I don’t like you.

#4 VEGAN

Vegetarians I get (not really), but vegan; gimme a break. The Vegan Girl is like the super religious girl because she’s always trying to convert you. I know where a hamburger comes from. Stop trying to make me feel bad because I think they’re delightful.

I was taken to a vegan restaurant in LA which was revolting. This is what I don’t get about these meat-hating tree huggers. They hate meat, but the entire menu featured meat-like products. The beatnik waitress suggested I try the Bacon Double Cheese burger or the Triple Chili Tacos. “It tastes just like the real thing.” How would you know? It was disgusting. She also suggested that Janeane Garofalo was really funny.

I don’t want to be ignorant, but these people just weird me out. If I had to choose between dating a vegan or attending a WNBA game, I would go WNBA. Deal Breaker!

#3 REPUBLICAN

There’s no way I could put up with a Bush lovin’, Nascar watchin’, Fox News supportin’, Rush Limbaugh listenin’, democrat hatin’, gun totin’, ultra-religious, right wing, pro-war, ignoramus unless she was really, really hot. But in the end, my Mom would disown me, and I respect her too much to put her through something like that. Republican is an official Deal Breaker.

#2 CIGARETTE SMOKER

I once dated a cool German girl who was a cigarette smoker. She was very nice, but her kiss kind’ve tasted like an ashtray. I avoided ending it for a while, but eventually I had to break up with her. She was also anti-Semitic, but it was really the smoking that got in the way.

On a side note, it’s great that smoking has been banned in most bars/restaurants in the country. No more second-hand smoke. No more smoky clothes. No more chronic bronchitis. There is still the occasional smoker that complains about the rule. What’s wrong with second-hand smoke, right? As Seinfeld once put: “I second-hand smoke 2 packs a day.”

Here is my rebuttal: Second-hand smoke is the equivalent of me eating dinner, and occasionally flinging food towards your face. Even if it’s unintentional, it’s still uncomfortable, annoying, and messes up your clothes. I experimented with this once, and it was not a positive experience for anyone involved.

I also enjoy making the “I-think-I’m-going-to-die-face” when I pass by smokers. As I walk by a smoker, I occasionally cover my mouth with my shirt and start coughing. I just like making them feel as uncomfortable as I feel inhaling their smoke. Real mature, I know. But it’s the little victories that keep me going.

#1 YANKEES FAN

When people ask me about my background, this is my response: My ethnicity is Jewish and my religion is Boston sports. I am not that religious, but when it comes to Boston sports (especially the Red Sox), I am ultra orthodox—the highest degree. Some of my beliefs may seem extreme, but that’s how I was raised, and I’m not changing now.

Now imagine matching up an orthodox Jew with a practicing Catholic (or any other religion you’d like to fill in.) It just doesn’t work. And let me make it clear: we’re not talking about the girl that likes the Yankees because she thinks Jeter is hot. Over time, those girls can be converted. We’re talking about the chick with the New York accent who grew up sitting on her grandfather’s lap watching Don Mattingly win batting titles. She knows the players, the stats, and she hates the Red Sox. Sure, the hostility would make for amazing sex, but over time, I would lose my mind. Plus, in this case, my Dad/brothers would disown me. Deal Breaker!

Dating Blind

Another guest writer is in the house. Everyone give my buddy JM a warm welcome and enjoy his thoughts on blind dating.

Going on a blind date is like walking into a movie theater and picking a random movie off the board that you know very little about. Maybe your friend called you and told you to see it, but usually you aren’t sure of genre, the length of time you are committing to or how good the movie is going to be. You are willing to give it a try though because it could just be a great movie, maybe even the best one that you’ve ever seen. It could also be horrible and you’ve just wasted your money and a few hours of your time sitting there hoping you were somewhere else, while wondering how your fantasy players are doing and attempting to poke yourself in the eye with your soda straw because you didn’t realize that you committed to the Portuguese version of Rocky 18, The Geriatric Challenge. Thus is the world of blind dating...

As a single, Jewish male (SJM), I tend to get set up a lot on blind dates with single, Jewish females (SJF). I don’t know if it’s the idea that every Jewish person out there is supposed to marry another Jew or that your grandparents will disown you and take you out of their will if you don’t marry one, or just the nature of dating these days. Whatever the reason, everyone seems to know someone that knows someone, etc. that they want to set me up with. They always rave about how attractive the person is, and 90% of the time they are way off - they must be using a different scale of attractiveness, let’s call it the SJFNECAS (Single Jewish Female Not Even Cute At Synagogue) rating system. I think most of you know what I’m talking about.

The other night I reluctantly went out with a girl that my mother recommended. I try to avoid going out with my mother’s “picks” at all costs, but after a while, I tend to give in, because let’s face it, she nags me if I don’t, it’s been a while and I honestly didn’t have anything better to do that particular night. This girl hadn’t been vetted at all by mother (who is quite a sleuth when it comes to most of the SJW in the tri-state area) and I couldn’t find her picture anywhere, i.e. Facebook, MySpace or even Friendster (still good for something, I guess). That’s usually a very bad sign indicating that she lives in a cave somewhere off of the Jersey Turnpike with her fifteen cats and a bunch of stuffed animals.

Now, I consider myself a relatively attractive guy, I eat well, exercise (think Elaine from Seinfeld quizzing the guy about whether he’s “sponge worthy”), am tall for a Jew or otherwise, and am employed, at least part of the year. As a 6’3” guy, height can be an issue and I tend not to date below 5’3”. While having a short girlfriend may be conducive for some things, it can be a bit awkward when we hit the professional swing dancing circuit.

You know it’s a bad sign, as one of my good friends told me the other day, when you are thinking about running away after you see your blind date and before the girl spots you. When she showed up, let’s call her Sally, she was 5’0” standing on a telephone book and her best characteristic was her quiet demeanor. Sally rated a two on the SJWNECAS.

When I tell you that Sally most resembled one of those troll dolls with the frizzy hair that were around in the ‘80’s, I wish I was exaggerating. She went on to tell me that it was the 8th wonder of the world that she was still single (I obviously had a different opinion about that). Sally also shared the fun fact that her dad has a “Single’s Drawer” in his dresser for his unattached socks (I was just as confused as you are about this story) and how her mother spends time yelling at him about said sock drawer because he should be focusing less on setting up his socks and more on setting up his daughter (interesting Thanksgiving Day conversation - “you should’ve seen the two brown babies I matched up this morning - they’re perfect together!”). Needless to say, I won’t be seeing Sally again.

So, where does that leave me? While I am pretty sure that this won’t be the last “Sally” that I meet, I may pause the next time one of my friends has a “cute” SJF to set me up with. I’ll be honest, I’d much rather check my fantasy stats on my couch than make them up in my head while digging a fork into my thigh and kicking myself for accepting another blind date...