Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Cleveland Cavaliers vs Golden State Warriors; a McBone Preview of the NBA Finals

Hoping to give the Cleveland Cavaliers a little cosmic assist as they tear their way through the NBA playoffs, I've sworn off all beer on game days except that which is brewed by the Great Lakes Brewing Company. The strategy has paid off to the tune of a 12-2 record, with just 4 wins separating the Cavs from their first ring and Cleveland from its first title in 51 years. Only once did my vigilance slip: game 3 vs the Bulls, when I cracked open a Michigan-made Hefeweizen that tasted so vile that I knew only evil and defeat could follow. Indeed, my transgression did not go unnoticed by whatever energies rule the universe and dictate the outcomes of basketball games. A banked-in three pointer by Derrick Rose was at once a punishment and a warning against future infractions. My bad, Cleveland. That was unnecessary and it won't happen again.

To get an idea of the level of superstition I'm operating at right now: I was at our local organic store yesterday looking to stock up on some Great Lakes for the forthcoming championship series vs the Warriors of Golden State. Innocently enough, I selected a six-pack of Rye of the Tiger, but was seized by a sense of dread so immediate and overwhelming that I had to put that sixer down, leave the store at once and procure a different brew at an alternate locale. At the next stop, I quieted my mind, calmly surveyed the offerings and, spying a pack of Commodore Perry IPA that felt 'hot,' made my selection.

I am confident that the right beer is cooling in my fridge, and thus I am ready to break McBone's long silence with this preview of the Cavs' second appearance in the NBA Finals!

PG - Kyrie Irving v Steph Curry: Let me just put it out there: I already hate this Curry fucker, and I don't care if he was born in Akron. Hell, the cemeteries of Akron are filled with the remains of my enemies, so why should I give a damn about some kid playing ball in Oakland? Screw Steph Curry! If the Warriors win this series, it will be because the Cavs couldn't contain him and his eight million rainbow threes, and it will also be because Kyrie's knee and foot don't let him dominate the way he did in the regular season. This is the year Irving arrived, and there was a two-month stretch when he was destroying just about every great PG in the league. That said, there's no way he can defend Curry in his current state, and he won't likely be asked to. On the other end, KI must have his shot working and find a way to make the bastard sweat on defense. Advantage: Warriors, with the caveat that this would be a very even match-up if KI was healthy

SG - Iman Shumpert v Klay Thompson: Klay is another gunning SOB who can score a billion points in about two minutes, but he's going to have to do some of that scoring against one of the nastiest defenders I've ever seen in a Cavs uniform. Shumpert is everything that midseason castoff Dion Waiters is not: a guy who cares only about winning. Not touches, not points, not minutes, just winning, and he can be a Cav for life, as far as I'm concerned. Thompson is a tough defender in his own right, but if Shump can continue knocking down the open threes that have been there all postseason, he will keep the defense honest and open things up for our playmakers. Advantage: Warriors, but just barely

SF - LeBron James v Harrison Barnes: The best player in the league operating at the height of his powers against some guy named Barnes. For the Warriors to have any chance at winning this series, they will have to do a better job on LeBron than they did in their last meeting, when he went for 42-11-5-1-2 and they threw everyone at him, Barnes being the least effective. As for LeBron, he is peaking in terms of focus, mental toughness and hitting clutch shots. Advantage: Cavs

PF - Tristan Thompson v Draymond Green: This should be among the more entertaining matchups. Two high energy guys who never seem to take a play off. TT has a couple inches on Draymond, who probably will be spending a decent amount of time on LeBron. There was a time I thought that Chris Grant had made a tragic mistake drafting TT. After watching him make play after play after play this postseason, after seeing him block shots, make clutch baskets, and rebound the hell out of the ball, it turns out he was saving his best work for the games that matter most. Advantage: even

C - Timofey Mozgov v Andrew Bogut: Young, tall, physical, scrappy, shot blocking Russian center vs old, tall physical, scrappy, shot blocking Australian center. Advantage: even, although Moz did drop a 23 and 29 on Bogut's head last year. 

Bench - JR Smith, Matthew Dellavedova, James Jones v Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala, Festus Ezeli: One could make the argument that JR has been the second best Cav this postseason, and he did take his game to a new level against Atlanta with his 18 points annd 7.5 rebounds per game, suffocating defense and three pointers that were so contested they seemed impossible. Delly, along with Shump and JR, is one of the reasons the Cavs have neutralized the three pointer and made all stars like Rose and Teague look downright silly at times. Meanwhile, this Aussie kid Delly is too dumb to know he doesn't really belong in the league, and he's quickly turning himself into a cult icon in NE Ohio. You can book James Jones for a couple of huge three pointers at some point in the series. The rest can stay on the bench, unless there is some garbage time to be played or a hatchet man is needed in the form of Kendrick Perkins.

As for GS, Livingston is a perfect PG off the bench, and Iggy is going to give them a little of everything at the 2 and 3. What sucks for him is that he will have to guard LeBron, which he did not do well last time out. I can't help but be annoyed by a guy named Festus. Fuck him. I don't care about Mo Speights and David Lee. They aren't in the rotation. Advantage: Fuck it! Cavs, because JR fucking Smith
 
Coach - David Blatt v Steve Kerr: Both have done a stellar job in their first year coaching an NBA team. Kerr inherited a playoff-ready squad, however, and he has had the luxury of good health and little turbulence or turnover. David Blatt has been the one who was really tested this year, with a resting LeBron, a roster shakeup, injuries and rumors of his imminent midseason demise. The Cavs started the season 19-20. Since January 15, they have the best record in the NBA, including a 12-2 playoff run. Blatt has proven adaptable and capable of getting pieces to fit in a hurry. Advantage: Blatt

Prediction: This isn't the 2007 Cavs making the franchise's first trip to the finals playing an experienced and ruthless Spurs team. Now we have a fully formed LeBron James and a perfect complement of players who keep rising to the occasion. The Warriors are a good team. A very good team, but they are an inexperienced, jump shooting team playing on the world's biggest basketball stage for the first time. If Kevin Love hadn't been knocked out of the playoffs, I'd say Cavs in 5. Without Love, it will take one more game to put this Warriors team away: Cavs split in Oakland to open the series and win in 6.

This post is dedicated to our Uncle Al. I'd give anything to hear his own analysis of this series, or of anything going on in the world right now. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

James Williams, 1914-2014

If you're going spend 99 years living on this Earth, do it like this man did: full of peace, love and happiness.


Grandpa, you are the ultimate Gentleman. What a privilege it was knowing you for 15 years. I'm proud that your last name is my son's first name, and I'm grateful the McBonerito got to spend some time soaking up your presence.


We should all be so lucky in our latter years to have the towering love and care that these two magical people gave him.


Indeed, the love connection between Grandpa, his granddaughter and great-granddaughter was epic and profound, incredible to witness and a reminder of how relations among kin ought to be.

Grandpa, you blessed the world with your light for 99 years. Now go share it with the rest of the universe.

nwb

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bodies and Rubble

A country that can find the cash to wage a 10-year, $2 trillion campaign against an imaginary enemy but can't afford to feed its poorest families has no moral compass.

We know that airstrikes in Syria won't make anything better. What we can realistically expect is more bodies and rubble and animosity against us. And yet here we go again, writing another check to the weapons manufacturers.

The American occupation of the world must end.

nwb

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The End of Innocence

Until tonight, I had no beef with any of my sometimes-popular wife's parenting tactics:

video

Yes, it's shocking. Yes, it's scandalous. But let's be honest for a second: this really is my failing as a dad. My job was to protect him. Instead, I sanctioned this atrocity by agreeing not just to let it happen, but to record the event for posterity.

The boy has a good heart. I'm sure he'll forgive me one day.

Don't know if I can forgive myself.

nwb

Friday, August 15, 2014

Presenting Santiago José

My sometimes pregnant popular wife has done it again. Please join McBone in welcoming Santiago José to the greater McBoniverse.


Official Baby Statistics (McBone certified)
Weight: 7 lb. 1 oz.
Length: 20.25 in.
Time of birth: 8:12 AM, 07/5/14 (more on that date later)
Sex:

Let's get this out of the way: this kid was born with the worst haircut I've ever seen. One month later and I'm still not sure what he's thinking, trying to mask a receding hairline with a stringy, inefficacious combover. Add in elements of a mullet, '80s punk-spike, Spock sideburns, and an over-the-ear job reminiscent of the dad from Silver Spoons and you've got some kind of postmodern mess on your hands.


Aside from that, my first impression of SJ was that we had created an adorable blend of my wife and wrestling great Gorilla Monsoon.


Behind the Name

We wanted to choose a Spanish name to reflect the kid's Venezuelan heritage. Santiago, or Saint James in English, has no significance to us other than we like the sound of it. Also, there is this Michigan beer that I unwittingly picked up a few months ago...


...that served the purpose of 1) tasting great (5.0 McBones) and 2) reinforcing that our choice of first name was indeed the right choice, which is what a good beer should do.

José is of course the name of the boy's maternal grandfather, my father-in-law, who, at any given moment may be blazing trails in stem cell research or making himself the life of the party.


Also, Joseph (technically Hovsep, or Յովսէփ, in Armenian) was the name of my great grandfather, whose adventures in life merit a blog post of their own someday.

Regarding the birth

My wife is my hero. She's a first-rate gal on any given day, of course, but as I watched her push our boy into the world for 17 hours, I kept thinking: we men who gleefully inseminate our spouses do not appreciate enough what they do in growing and birthing our offspring, and we can never really make up for the beautiful ordeal that is pregnancy. After having the McBonerito plucked from an incision in her belly, she wanted to avoid a C-section this time around. She got her wish, and I'll never forget the sight of that slimy seven-pound person popping head-first into the world.

The DOB

The kid seems to have a patriotic streak. Labor commenced on July 4th, our day of independence,

Old Glory
Bald Eagle
Washington - Hero of Independence

and concluded on July 5th, Venezuela's day of independence.

Bandera de Venezuela
Turpial
Bolívar - Héroe de Independencia

It occurred to me that his name could be slightly more befitting this coincidence of birth date and parental heritage, something star-spangled, something that would unite the uneasy bedfellows that are the USA and Venezuela, but then we concluded that raising him on this street would be a significant enough gesture:


With this little Michigander joining a Buckeye, an honorary Buckeye and a Hoosier, our family has a decidedly Midwestern flavor. We shall endeavor to live our lives in a manner that is worthy of this magnificent tri-state area.


Santiago*, little Patriota, if you ever get around to reading this brief history, allow me to reiterate here that your first hairstyle was the worst I've ever seen. Incidentally, I love you, kiddo. Always have. Always will.

nwb

*This instance marks the last time I will ever use his real name on this site. We're hard at work seeking an appropriate nickname. Suggestions are welcome.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ian Malcolm Was Right. So Was Ron Swanson

McBone Outpost #5996 features a rather ordinary, run-of-the-mill, long-neglected basketball hoop.


But this hoop houses a secret.


A reedy, chirping chorus tipped me off. As did a scolding mother wren.


I had to climb a ladder and peek inside, of course.


Take a closer look.


Closer still. These five little house wrens look about ready to leave their nest of twigs and steel.


Life finds a way.  Nature is amazing.

nwb

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I Haven't Forgotten You, Moms

These are the two most amazing women I know:


Without them, I don't know where I would have ended up. Certainly not in a beautiful Michigan house, sitting on a comfortable sofa, sipping bourbon from a crystalline glass.


My sometimes-pregnant wife, obviously, is not my mother. She is, however, the mother of my sons.

This one:


And this one:


Watching her mothering skills in action only reinforces what I've known for almost 15 years: marrying this woman was the best decision I've ever made. She is also probably the only person in the world (sorry ladies) who could ever talk me into fathering a third child, which is why I've gone ahead with measures to sterilize myself while she is out of town.

My actual mother had three children of her own. She did a fine job with all three, but by my reckoning, the middle child is the one she got just right. I would like to add that she has put as much work into this new house as its occupants. That's why we've set her up with a basement suite, where she can rest her weary bones.

Mother's Day has come and gone, but a love note to a mom is always timely, so let me just say: Hey Mothers, I love you!

nwb

Thursday, May 8, 2014

THANK YOU CLEVELAND!

My last few words on Issue 7 for those have followed along about this crucial Issue that just passed on Tuesday here in Cleveland:


1.) Thank you for your patience as I flooded your social media channels with Issue 7 posts and campaigning. I understand that this Issue may have not been relevant to some of you, some of you were against it, and others have no interest in seeing politics on Facebook. We can now return to my regularly scheduled posts on how great Cleveland is.

2.) THANK YOU to the city of Cleveland and residents of Cuyahoga county for believing in what we are building towards, and sharing our optimism about the future of this incredible place. This issue wasn't just about our sports teams, it was about continuing the momentum we have finally started to see downtown. Together we will build a stronger city that all of us that live, work and play here can be proud of. Clevelanders have ALWAYS been strong, and CLEVELAND will soon be stronger than ever.

3.) These last few months that I have been involved with Issue 7 have been an incredible journey of personal growth and development for me. I am very grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of this process, and I learned a great deal about myself in a very short amount of time. I am thankful to be a part of an organization that is heavily invested in our civic responsibilities. Thankful that I work for a company that shares my passion to help bring this city back to life, and invest time, money and resources to do so. Learning and personal growth most often come when you are forced out of your comfort zone, and this campaign certainly provided that forum for me. I am as energized and motivated as ever to represent all the good that Cleveland has to offer, and be a part of all the great things to come.

Now that the issue is behind us I hope that we can all come together and focus on the positive momentum we have built. I hope that we can use that optimism to work together and tackle other more important issues that desperately need our energy. Politics have a way of creating barriers, walls and separation, but the essence of Cleveland has always and will always be in the strength of the people that live here. We all want to see our city reach it's potential and we all must continue to work together to make that happen. There is no greater force on this planet than a group of people united by a common goal, and there is no better place to make that a reality than right here - Where the people are strong...the people are resilient...the people are prideful...and the people are passionate. The future of the city is in our hands, and I have never been more optimistic for what the future holds. Soon, Cleveland will by synonymous with progress. CLEVELAND has, does and will always, ROCK!


jab