Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year from McBone!

With 2011 come and gone, another mayonnaise-free year is in the books.  Cleveland still didn't win a championship, but we have other milestones of significance to look back upon.  In the year's waning moments, please enjoy this photo of Stabbone and McGraw sipping on nature's most perfect drink: a dry martini on the rocks with a twist of lemon and three olives.


Happy New Year, McBoners one and all.

nwb and jab

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy Holidays from McBone!

No trip to Akron would be complete without a trip to Swensons, the official hamburger of McBone.  Here is a picture of me devouring a cheeseburger with everything (pickle, mustard, onion).  Also please notice my Teamsters local 348 hoodie, indicating McBone's support of organized labor.  This sweatshirt flies right in the face of governor Kasich and everything he and gang of anti-labor thugs stand for.

Not pictured: fries, onion rings, sometimes-popular wife

Let me take this opportunity to say happy holidays to everyone.  Everyone except for you, John Kasich.  To you I can offer only my sincerest 'bah, humbug!' this holiday season.

nwb

Saturday, December 24, 2011

McBone Presents the 2010-2011 Aunt and Uncle Standings

Another year shot to hell, another chance to evaluate aunts and uncles.  Before putting the family under the microscope, I would like to send them a general note of thanks for the many kindnesses bestowed this year upon me, my sometimes-popular wife, and of course the McBonerito.  Though we are blessed and the generosity was overwhelming, it did not preclude some seriously awful aunting and uncling.

Let us then visit the rogues gallery.

Aunts

1. Denise - The first-time winner waltzed to victory after acing the Q and A portion of of competition.

2. Susan G - The self-described "Santorum Republican" got hooked on medical pot (glaucoma), shed her former identity, embraced socialism, hit the Occupy movement and spun this hempen sweater for the McBonerito:  

¡Viva la McBonolucn!

3. Gail - The 'Madonna of Aunts' could not reinvent her way to victory.

4. Susan J - Good year of aunting undone by communicating pinkeye to entire family.


5. Fay - Snorted away last year's championship purse.


6. Ann - Sucked this year in a general sense.

Uncles

1. Ed - The first-time winner waltzed to victory after acing the Q and A portion of the competition.

2. Pete - Controversial runner up accused by rivals of using Putin-like thuggery and Rasputin-like charm.

3. Al - Slowed by ringworm.

4. Jeff - Knocked down several spots after Tweeting a picture of his wiener.

5. Don S (no longer in family) - Our own Kris Humphries was last seen working the drive-through at Hamburger Station.  Neglected to ask if I wanted fries with that.

6. Glen - His insistence that Art Modell and LeBron James are 'misunderstood' does not hold with McBone family values.

7. Don H - Was poised to end his drought until overheard commenting that Michele Bachmann is a 'hottie' who has 'some good ideas.'

Past Results

2010-2011
2009-2010
2008-2009
2007-2008

nwb

Saturday, December 10, 2011

First Thoughts on Fatherhood

We're a little over a month in to this thing, so I thought I'd slap a few observations about fatherhood and the kid on this ol' non-baby blog.

The kid seems happy in a general sense.  Things do piss him off from time to time (Christmas music. Mitch McConnell), but overall his disposition is sunny.

He is like a woodpecker, the way he constantly pecks at my flat, barren chest.

My green fleece has become the uniform of fatherhood.  I wear it every day.  Every manner of baby-related crud is embedded in its fibers.

Humming phrases of Beethoven soothes the little beast in his most dyspeptic moods.  The morbid fellow favors the funeral marches of symphonies #3 and 7.

Cloth diapers ain't what they used to be.  The particularly high tech model we use, an amalgam of elastic, snaps and cotton inserts, is probably the MacBook of baby waste absorption systems.  Nothing gets through these suckers.  Except piss and shit.

The kid is an artist with his fecal matter.  He has decorated walls with a Pollockian mastery.  Must invest in canvas, take aim and get rich.

Breast-fed baby shit is tolerably innocuous.  Compared to its immediate antecedent, meconium, it is lovely, mustardy, wonderful stuff.  Meconium is surely what I will be scraping off the surfaces of hell when I am condemned.

The tit is his lodestar.  All else is intrigue.

The crying does not bother me, luckily.  Luckily, the kid doesn't cry much.  I'm not sure why I feel so calm about things.  Perhaps being a 36-year-old first-time father has me better prepared than the 26-year-old or 16-year-old McGraw would have been.  

The crusty, dried-out, raisin-like umbilical stump fell off early.  Not sorry to see the thing go.  Any parent feeling an urge to keep it for posterity needs to maybe dial down the sentimentalism, in my opinion.  My sometimes-popular wife sacrificed it to the fire gods, which seemed a noble and proper end for the defunct feeding tube.

His limbs flail in disharmony.  Each is governed by its own impulse.  None works with the other.  The orb mounted upon his neck flops and bobs in an particular display of gracelessness.  At times it crashes down with a force that seems bent on shattering my jaw.

Cars, once a mere nuisance on my way to and from work, have become baby-seeking missiles intent on one thing only: find and destroy William.

Breast milk tastes good.  Yes, I went there.  No, you cannot have some.*

His slate-colored eyes stare into vast distances.  At what he gazes, I know not.  Sometimes he simply appears to be marveling at the ceiling.  Like,  How the hell does that thing stay up?

Sleep has become the most precious resource, better than food, water and air combined.  The first time getting a solid 5-hour block was like being dipped into the purifying, crystalline waters of some sacred, mystic pool of the high Himalayas.

Fatigue has made me loopy.  Things I am not fully aware of at any given time:

The time of day
The day of week
Where I work
My full name
The login credentials for this blog.  Yes, this explains my long absence.

The kid likes being held.  I like holding him.  One adapts quickly.  I have become very adept at making martinis with one hand.

Nothing elicits more contrary opinions than child rearing.  My one bit of advice to new parents: keep your worries and concerns away from the internet.

Go ahead, read every book in the universe.  Nothing can prepare you.

What a clever trick, that such an amorphous, squishy, screaming, shitting, parasitic little thing can make us love it so much.  He has urinated on me enough that I have begun to suspect it is intentional, and yet **sappiness alert** I do love him, with an almost crippling desperation.  Going to work has become a daily torment.  Coming home redeems me five times weekly.

nwb

*Until FDA approved.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Moustachioed Stabbone

Gentle McBoners,

I know there hasn't been much activity here in the McBoniverse lately.  Sorry about that.  As a sleep-deprived parent, I think I am well within my rights in blaming the kid, so let's go ahead and do that.  When you've got a scapegoat that hasn't learned to talk yet, you gotta take advantage.

I promise an abundance of words in the coming days, so you can give the refresh button a rest for the time being.  To tide you over, here's a picture of my idiot brother Stabbone's 2nd place moustache, which came by to visit him this lonely November.


nwb

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The McBone Birdwatching Journal; X-Rated Edition

So I'm just sitting there on the sofa with the kiddo and wife watching the birds do their feeding thing when I spied a gray squirrel humping another gray squirrel right in the middle of the yard.  I thought, Well now that's a fine display, ladies and gentlemen.  I mean, after all there are children here.  Then, just as I was charging outside to break up the party, they went and pulled the old switcheroo on me. Suddenly, the squirrel on the receiving end started humping the humper.  I paused and found myself wondering if this was a choice, or were they born that way?  And what do various religions have to say about gay squirrels? And are there any squirrel sodomy laws on the books that I'm unaware of?

Male, female, gay, straight--whatever the case, they have this whole great big private oak tree they could be using.

Anyways:

Birds sighted

Cardinal
Chickadee
Tufted titmouse
White breasted nuthatch
Carolina wren
Junco
House sparrow--about a million
House finch
Goldfinch
Mourning dove
Downy woodpecker
Hairy woodpecker

nwb

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dear Son

Dear son,

More than a mere father, I am a fortune-teller of sorts, a clairvoyant, a soothsayer, a prophet.  As such, I offer you a brief glimpse into your future:



Enjoy this grace period while it lasts.  Training begins in four years.

'It is,' as one father famously said to his son, 'your destiny.'

Love,

Dad


nwb

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Presenting the McBonerito

My sometimes-popular wife is pregnant no longer. From her bountiful womb has sprung the composite of sperm n' eggs and 2.3 million years of evolution:

13 years in the making.

Official Baby Statistics (McBone certified)

Weight: 8 lb. 4 oz.
Length: 21 in.
Time of birth: 8:43 PM, 11/6/11
Species: Homo sapien
Sex: decidedly

The name William Miguel was not suddenly struck upon.  Years of planning lay behind this moniker:

William: my paternal grandfather, Firestone chemist who made wine, drank martinis, listened to Jelly Roll Morton and was my hero.

Vilhelm: wife's maternal grandfather.  Danish-born engineer, inventor and lover of life.  Immigrated to Venezuela in the 1930s and fell for one of the locals.

Miguel: wife's father, affectionately called 'Michael' by his family.

Michael: my father, affectionately called 'Miguel' by his father.

The plan was an all-natural, surgery-free birth.  Nine months of preparations brought her fully contracting to our beautiful birthing suite at the new Clarian hospital in Lafayette.  The birthing pool awaited us, as did our midwife.  Grandparents were on hand.  So was Doula.  We were ready.

All was going as scripted, until she stepped into the pool and the time came to push.  Though she pushed with all her might, the kid would simply not come through the chute. The midwife determined that he was turned the wrong way, and a sliver of cervix would not dilate.

Measures were taken: different birthing positions.  Pitocin to ramp up the contractions and get the kid turned.  A last resort epidural to prolong things, soften the pain, loosen things up.  The kid, stubborn in the way his mother can be stubborn, would not budge.  And why should he?  His mom had been so good to him in pregnancy, singing songs in Spanish and setting modern day records for ingestion:

Milk: 50,000 gallons
Orange juice: 40,000 gallons
Protein: 5 billion grams
Calcium: Enough for 100 baby skeletons

Through it all, our parents kept us calm.  Doula was there to spell me, keep us hydrated, whatever we needed.  My father-in-law, the doctor, was invaluable when things got confusing and scary.  No matter what happened, he kept reminding us that the kid's heart was beating and strong.

And when, after 16 hours of labor, after attempting to birth this kid in every possible way, after enduring contraction after crippling contraction, after finally reconciling herself to the operating table and the C-section she wanted so badly not to have, when after all of this she looked up at me and said 'I'm sorry,' as if this decision represented some kind of failure on her part, that was the moment my heart was atomized, sucked into the hospital's ventilation system and scattered irretrievably in a billion particles. I must endeavor to grow a new heart worthy of this incredible woman.

She was wheeled to the OR and I outfitted with disposable scrubs.  When the time finally came, I peeked over the curtain separating me and her head from the proceedings down below.  There can be no more surreal a sight than a physician's arms deep in my wife's abdomen, groping for an unborn child.

And there is no surge of euphoria comparable to seeing a head emerge from the womb, cough up some goo and unleash that first phlegmatic howl.  Here are some early visual impressions that have stuck with me:

purple
mushy
wrinkled
squirming
coneheaded
confused
Edward G. Robinson

He cried as technicians cleaned him up, but he calmed when I said his name.  Perhaps he knew my voice from those daily, post dinner conversations we had.

The wife was sewn up and handed her child.  He took at once to the breast, feeding as greedily as he had a right to.

Mmm...colostrum!

William Miguel is one week old today.  To this blinded parent, he is, of course, handsome, brilliant, and defect-free.


Though this is by no means a baby blog, you haven't seen the last of the McBonerito.

Photos next.

nwb

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Happy 30th

Dear Friends that are turning 30 this year....

The first 30 years of our lives were undeniable amazing.  Our family has an unbreakable bond that is full of incredible memories and lifelong friendships.

So I'm dedicating my first Christmas Ale of the year to you guys.  Our 30's will be our best years yet!

Cheers!  I love you guys.



jab

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Moustache Will Return For MOVEMBER

The Moustache.  It has certainly been a hot topic on Mcbone over the past few years.  This blog has immortalized the mustache in many different posts, and even in a specific blog dedicated to mustaches only.  We love them, we're mesmerized by them.  Sometimes jokingly, but most often we are truly in awe of such a spectacular miracle of life.  Some may recall a moustache contest between my brother and I, which is still under heavy investigation by the National Moustache Association, or NMA as we affectionately call it. 

But today The Moustache takes on an entirely new meaning.  November is Men's Health Awareness Month.  The Lake Erie Monsters are supporting that cause by backing a campaign called "Movember".  Movember is a global movement that goes on across the entire world during November.  Men all over the globe grow out their moustaches with the purpose of raising awareness for men's health.   More specifically much of the money raised is used for prostate cancer research and other cancers that directly affect men.
It is a tremendous movement that prompts conversation among men and women about topics that often go overlooked.  The "Mo's" are then put on display and used to raise funds that can help fight prostate and other cancers.  So much attention has been given to the women's health movement that unfortunately the men have fallen behind.  We need to change our habits and live healthier lives.


Cleveland's Lake Erie Monsters will be supporting this cause all month by posting our players photos at http://www.lakeeriemonsters.com/ and allowing fans to donate money.  They can simply choose which player they feel has the best moustache and donate funds in their name which will be directly donated to men's health initiatives.  Then, on Friday, November 25th at the Monsters game we will be hosting our "Movember" night and passing out moustaches to the first 5,000 fans.  Again all in an effort to do our part in raising awareness.

SO.....Yes you guessed it.  My moustache will also be making it's triumphant, or maybe not so triumphant return.  However you want to look at it. I put together an official site where you can read everything you need to know about Movember and track all of my progress. Obviously this is where you would also donate to me and also donate to my team.  Whether you donate or not is up to you, but I highly encourage you to follow along and pass on to the men in your life.  This movement truly is meaningful, and I hope that you will enjoy the journey with me.  I'm dedicating my Movember moustache to all of the family and friends in my life that have been touched by cancer.

Peace, Love, Moustaches and Men's Health!

jab

Monday, October 31, 2011

On Pins and Needles

On this Halloween night an omen presented itself, as omens will, in sudden and mysterious fashion.

In anticipation of the birth of our son, the McBonerito's four grandparents are gathered in one house for the first time since our wedding day, 11 years ago.  The due date looms tomorrow, but dates and predictions don't mean much to the little guy in utero.  So we wait.  And while we wait, we feast.  My father, in a desperate search for a lemon to garnish his happy hour martini, removed entirely one of the bottom drawers of the refrigerator.  Unable to replace the drawer, he left the task to me.  What I found upon opening the door would shock me:



Frequent McBoners may remember posts of yore, when an equally frantic search for coffee earned me a similar reward.

Bear in mind that in preparation for the arrival of guests, I had scoured that fridge--every shelf and tray removed, cleaned and replaced.  Not a speck of anything foreign could be found.

What can it mean, then, this SECOND pearl-headed refrigerator pin?  A portend of things to come?  A puckish spirit run amok of our sewing kit?  Nay!  We own no such pins.  My sometimes-popular wife, ever the optimist, embraced the message as positive, of course, and ordered the pin placed in the child's room.


I, the atheist, am shook at the foundations.  Once more I must question what I believe.  I turn to you, gentle McBoners, in my search for meaning, of pins in fridges, of life, of the universe and its all mad workings.

nwb

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tryout Part II, Final Piece

On Saturday, after the first session I woke up at about 2pm after a very brief nap on the couch in my mom and dads living room.  The couch has always been my spot, in fact you can often times find me sleeping on mine in my living room.  I don't know what it is, but I can sleep on the couch just as easily as on a bed, and often times I prefer it.

It was literally the perfect nap.  I slept for the perfect amount of time that allowed me to wake up re energized.  So many times you can doze off and when you wake up from a nap you're actually more tired then you were before.  That would have been a disaster in this case.  I took a quick shower to fully wash away the remnants of my snooze and put on my favorite Nike basketball shorts for what I thought would be another 2 hours of intense 5 on 5.  I cleaned my shoes up as I always did before my games, packed up the rest of my gear and headed out the door at about 2:45.

I arrived back at the gym in Canton at about 3:15.  I was early as we were not scheduled to begin until 3:45.  Some of the out-of-towners were laying on the floor sleeping on their gym bags and using their sweatshirts as blankets.  It was pretty amazing actually.  What some of us were going through to chase our dreams, but I can tell you that it was intoxicating to be in that environment again.  I used the extra time to once again stretch out my legs and get as loose as I could.  I wanted to be ready to go as soon as I heard the whistle.  Slowly everyone started filtering back in, but not everyone.  There were clearly some folks that did not return, or maybe were told not to.  I'm not sure which but pretty hard to imagine considering there was an entry fee of $150 to just be there.

Coach Jensen arrived and introduced himself at the beginning of the session.  He had just been named the head coach a few days earlier and flew into town that morning.  He played at Utah with Andre Miller and was an assistant coach under Rick Majerus.  Huge guy, good basketball player.  Played in the states and overseas professionally and had experienced some of the things we were going through having been through tryouts himself as a player.  I was amped up at this point and itching to get going.  We started the 2nd session with more weave drills to get warmed up but then moved into some shell drills.  They broke us up and had us run through some offensive sets.  Fist Up, Fist Out and Flop were the calls and we were to use them in the upcoming games we would play.  I was a kid in a candy store at this point and was eating the whole thing up.  The point guard spot is my natural position so I loved getting some sets in and being able to run an offense.  Direct the guys around and be a leader.  I WAS BORN TO DO THIS!

Then we played for about an hour straight and it would prove to be the best I felt and played all weekend. The trainer had taped up my my foot and it was feeling really good.  I was getting after it on defense chasing guys all over the floor, diving for loose balls and hawking the opposing guards.  My legs were literally covered with floor burns and my arms had scrapes all over them.  It was amazing and I loved every second of it.  I was rebounding, playing great help defense and I buried the only jump shot I would take.  I felt comfortable and confident the entire session.  We wrapped up at about 5:30 as the other half of the tryout was going to start the second session. Wes, Coach and Ira brought us in to talk.  As I walked to the huddle Wes (The GM) grabbed me and asked if I could stay and play in the night session too.  I was the only guy he asked out of the 40 or so in my session so I figured it had to be a good sign.  I was completely exhausted, beat up and mentally drained at this point but I sure as hell wasn't going to tell Wes that.  I said  yes I can definitely stay, whatever you need me to do I'm in.  There was a team in the night session who needed a guard so I jumped on to "Team 3".  Two more unexpected hours were ahead and I had no idea how my body was going to handle it.

The night session lasted until about 7:45 and we pretty much just played.  IT WAS AWFUL.  My body completely gave out on me.  After I subbed out of my first game I threw up in the trash can and in the towel I was carrying around.  I couldn't stop coughing for about 20 minutes and there wasn't enough water in the Atlantic Ocean to rehydrate my drained body.  I couldn't dribble, I couldn't defend, I could barely get up and down the floor.  I don't know if I have ever subbed myself out of a sporting event in my life but I had absolutely no choice.  Betty White could have scored on me at that point and I didn't want to puke on the floor.  I literally thought I was going to pass out. 

The competition was much stiffer in the 2nd session so I was giving it everything I had, but unfortunately I just had nothing left to give.  It was really disappointing that my body prevented me from performing the way I know I could have, but I was simply exhausted.  Plain and simple.  Four hours later my afternoon session finally ended mercilessly and I collapsed in a heap on the floor by my bag. It took me about 20 minutes just to get my body to a point where I could stand up and drive my car home.  I dragged my butt to the car and made the 25 minute drive back to mom and dads.  Session #3 would begin at 8am in the morning.  All I could think about was getting home to eat about a 1,000 calories of anything that I could find and immediately lie down to sleep.

I got home, ate my dinner, showered and flopped down on the couch.  I tried to watch the Ohio State game but I had recorded the wrong game.  OSU, it turns out, can also stand for Oklahoma State University.  FAIL.  As I'm sure you can imagine it did not take me long to fall asleep, but it would not be the night of rest I hoped for.  I hurt all over and I just tossed and turned the entire night.  I ended up getting maybe three hours of sleep, maybe.  6:30am came quickly.

I woke up and wondered how painful those first two steps would be, and how sore my legs would feel.  It was not good.  Took me about a minute just to climb the 10 steps to get upstairs.  I shook off the early morning daze and got myself in the shower.  I ate a banana and drank a 12 oz bottle of water to get hydrated.  I was definitely sore and beat up, but overall I felt fairly strong.  Today was going to be a good day.  We had one session and it was mostly just playing.  Short session.

I left at 7:15am and arrived in Canton at 7:45am.  My radio was blasting the entire way with music that gets me pumped up.  I can't reveal my song selections, but I can tell you that I was getting goosebumps on the way down.  What if they actually pulled me aside and told me I was going to get invited to camp?  What the hell was I going to do about my job that I just got promoted at?  Decisions that would have to be made later.  Now I just needed to make one last impression.

The last session literally flew by and I played very well.  Even more guys didn't show up but those weren't the guys I needed to worry about anyway.  My legs came back and I was able to get back to what I do best.  Defend and run the offense.  My team won every game we played on Sunday which ended up being four games of 12 minutes running clock.  Other then our warm-up all we did in the final session was get after it in live scrimmages.  Once again I ran myself into the ground and left every ounce of energy I had out on the floor. In the back of my mind I was thinking this could be the last time I play a meaningful game of hoops in my life.  If you know me at all you know how difficult a realization this was, but all I could control was playing the way I've played the game of basketball my entire life.  So that is what I did.  Our session ended at about 10:00 and I walked off the floor.  Wes brought us in and said that they would get in touch with our agents or with us directly if they had an interest.  He thanked us for the weekend and said it was one of the most talented tryouts he had ever been a part of. 

And so it was over.  I did my best, left some skin on the floor and could go home knowing I did everything I could.  I would say it was very unlikely that this 5'10, 30 year old white guy was what they were looking for, but I'm confident that I at least made an impression.  If I don't make the cut I could always say I tried out for a professional basketball team on my 30th birthday, and held my own with some of the best basketball players in the country.  It was an incredible feeling and amazing experience from start to finish, something I will surely never forget.  I sent an email to all the guys running the tryout to say thank you, and I really meant that.  At this point I was not that concerned with the result.  I'm pretty happy with my life and I've got a great career.  But I truly was thankful for having a chance to go through this experience, and that I didn't give up, I didn't quit, and I competed.  Nobody could ever take that away.

So I'm sure you are wondering what happened, and if I ever got that call.  Well no, I haven't received a phone call yet.  They've only signed two players that we know of and none yet from the tryout.  I told Wes that even if they have no interest in me to play on the team, I'd be more than happy to come down and practice with the team and beat up his players a little bit.  They only carry 10 guys on the roster so they will need some practice players to give the guys some reps. 

Well I guess that is pretty much it for the story of my tryout.  I hope you enjoyed the read and thanks for following along.  All the support from friends and family was incredible.  Back to reality, for now......

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My Tryout Story, Day 1, Session 1

The day had finally arrived.  I literally had been dreaming about an opportunity to play professional basketball my entire life. Not just deaming though, but searching out opportunities to make it happen.  Now I found myself, on my 30th birthday, driving down I-77 South heading towards a high school gynamisum to try out for the Canton Charge.  An NBDL team owned by the very company I work for.

r_jv_1019_charge_coach5602.jpgThe ride down I found myself thinking about a day that I spent at Springside, the fitness club in Akron I frequented during my younger days.  I trained there often and played in 5 on 5 games with a bunch of older guys who would come on their lunch break.  Good games and sometimes a former NBA player would even stop by when it was the offseason.  Jimmy Oliver.  He played for the Cavaliers and Celtics, but more notably became a star overseas.  He was about 6'7, strong, and had a tremendous jumpshot.  He had the opportunity to earn a great living for his family playing for several different teams in Europe.  Jimmy is a great guy.  He befriended me and would stay after to help me work on my game.  I would always take the challenge of guarding him in the games because I knew it would only make me better.  He was a beast but I loved mixing it up with him.  On one particular day he said something to me that would stick with me.  "You should be playing overseas.  Get an agent and take a shot."  I didn't do it, obviously, but I didn't forget it either.

So I arrived at Canton McKinley High School at 8am.  Tryouts were to begin at 9:00am but they needed an hour to get everyone registered.  Ricky Garratt, my man from the Q box office was running the registration table, along with James Williams who is the director of player personnel for the Charge.  I stepped into the building and saw far more guys than I had expected.  Looked to be at least 50 or 60, which eventually turned out to be over 70.  Everyone was standing around nervously waiting to be registered.  A lot of guys much bigger than I.  In fact I may have been the smallest overall, and one of the few white guys. There were some issues with the internet so we were all forced to wait.  We walked down to the court and everyone spread out and most of the guys sat down.  It was early.  Basketball players are used to getting up early for workouts, but I think we all tend to be mostly night owls.  There were some tired faces and lots of yawning.

I used the delay as an opportunity to start stretching out my 30 year old body.  I brought an elastic band and my new shoes had barely been broken in.  So every additional minute was important for me to get my body loose and get a sweat going.  Most of these guys were much younger than I was so they probably could jump on the court and start playing.  As I could when I was 22, but if I attempted that now I'd be in the hospital within 10 minutes.

Finally the internet started working and we could get everyone registered and signed in.  Wes Wilcox is the GM for the team and he brought us in for a little talk.  He introduced Ira Newble (former Cavalier) and James Williams as guys who would be helping out during the weekend.  Alex Jensen, the newly named head coach, would be joining later.  He said we'd be doing some conditioning, running a few basic drills but mostly playing throughout the weekend so they could get as much time evaluating as possible.  They passed out our NBDL Canton Charge jerseys and we were broken into teams of 9-10 players.  It was about 9:00am and the experience was about to begin.  There were a million emotions going through my mind and body but probably different than what you expect.  I wasn't nervous, instead I was excited and the adrenaline was coursing through my veins.  I wasn't overwhelmed or intimidated by the mostly 6'4 - 6'8 guys around me that had played Division I basketball or already had played professional.  I was motivated and determined to be noticed amongst these guys that most likely already had a reputation with our evaluators.  The first drill would be three man weave.  One of my favorites.  Three lines with the ball starting in the middle.  Pass to your right or left as everyone sprints down the court.  Passer runs behind the guy he passed to and last pass should to a guy at the opposite end of the court for a layup.  We divided into three lines under the basket and Ira explained what he wanted.....Here we go.  At this point all I could think about was that there was not one guy in this gym that was going to leave more out on this court than me.  I was ready to bleed, sweat, puke, run, dive, and whatever else it was going to take to be noticed.  I took my spot in the left line because I knew I could showcase my speed.  The first drill began, picture is below, you can just see me waiting for my turn. Everything I am, everything I want to be....let's go...The next two days would be one of the greatest challenges of my life.

http://www.cantonrep.com/photos/x940617041/Canton-Charge-NBA-Development-League-Tryouts?foto=26

The first drills were smooth.  I got loose and the three man weave was just as natural as it had been when we ran it in high school and college.  Up and down we went and I felt amazing.  Feet and legs were holding up and my conditioning was strong.  We broke into a 5-man weave and it was more of the same.  Gave me a chance to use my speed and lead my groups by communicating, which is key to making sure the weave is done correctly.  Ball should never touch the floor. 

After that we broke into some three on two, two on one drills.  Up and down the floor to first test our decision making in the fast break scenario, and then how we would do in a compromised defensive position.  2 on 1 fast break.  On an island by myself.  The first drill I found myself on the defensive side of the 2 on 1.  Two guys spring down the sides, both 6'4 or bigger.  Defense.  My bread and butter back in the day.  pass went from my left to right and the big guy ended up with ball and went up for a dunk. But he never got the chance, I stripped the ball away.  Nice little confidence booster.

Ok so things were going fairly well to this point.  We broke off from the drills and Wes brought us in.  He wanted us to run through one conditioning drill to see who had truly prepared themselves for this. He called it "The Easy Run".  A conditioning drill that the Cavaliers use constantly to keep the team in the best shape possible.  Up the length of the floor in a light jog with the hands raised all the way in the air.  Defensive slide to the right, then backwards shuffle back with hands in the air.  It was one long line, no breaks, repeating for 15 minutes straight.  Way tougher than it sounds. First the arms and shoulders go, then the legs start.  I loved it.

This was the first time you could really start to separate the men from the boys.  Some dropped out and couldn't finish, others laborerd their way through.  Either way it was now time to play 5 on 5 live basketball.  No play calls, just hoops.  He broke us into 10 teams of about 8-10 players each.  We played 12 minute games and would sub in one time.  I started at the 2-guard position with my team.  Everything was going well.  A hit a jumper and I was playing the kind defense that I used to drive offensive players with.  Up in your face from one end to the other.  We were well as a team and winning our game when it hit.  Out of nowhere my legs got heavy.  Like 50 lb sand bags were suddenly dumped on my shoulders.  I committed a couple bad turnovers right before our group subbed out.  We went on to win the game but I was a little disappointed that my legs gave out on me.  My Plantar was definitely acting up and I think it really hurt me as I was compensating with my left side.  But I think I may have overdone it on Friday morning playing three hours and then lifting in the afternoon.  It was definitely more fatigue then not being in good enough shape.  Pissed me off because I could have performed better in the games.

So that was about it for the first session.  It was about 12:30pm by this time.  I'd give myself a B- based on my overall performance. Good effort and intensity, but the afternoon session needed to be better.  It was time to get back to my parents house to refuel, regroup physically and mentally.  Maybe even a little nap.  I called my dad on the way back and he offered a little advice. Just go out there and play, have fun and enjoy it.  Good advice, but I could enjoy it later.  All I could think at that moment is how I could improve when I had to report back at 3:45pm for session II of the day.

I enjoyed a bowl of pasta, a banana and a ton of water to get some calories in my body.  Then I took a quick shower and then laid on the couch with the TV on.  Slowly my eyes closed....

To Be Continued....

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tryout Eve!

Ok wait, there is a little more to get to before the actual tryout.  I think it's important to have the entire experience down in writing....

The Friday morning before the big day I woke up at 5am to get a workout in.  I played basketball with the usual 6am morning hoops crew to work on a few small things I wanted to focus on.  I also made a decision to play in the 7:30am run, something that I very rarely do. Thought I could use a little more game action to get myself ready. We'll get back to that decision later.
The Lake Erie Monsters also played a game on the Friday night before tryouts, and so I was busy with the usual game day workload.  However this day was different then most in my tenure with Cleveland's hockey team.  My thoughts and mental focus were in another place, on another challenge that was inevitably coming.  I couldn't help but think about what was coming that next morning and what this opportunity meant.  Basketball is part of my DNA, part of who I am.  I never was able to get over the fact that I wasn't a basketball player anymore.  Everyone wants to be identified by things they do well.  Basketball was something I've always known I could do better than most, but my potential never was never fully realized.  Maybe this was one last chance to prove that, or maybe it was just one last chance to get on the hardwood with something on the line.
 
Either way I couldn't help but feeling a little guilty throughout the day for my mind being elsewhere on a game day.  My team depends on me, and I depend on them, but that day admittedly I couldn't keep my mind on the business.  Shortly after the puck dropped at 7:30pm I headed up to the office to pack my bags and sneak out a little early, but not before I got a phone call from one Scott Gordon.  Our Senior Client Relationship Executive.  He said there was an issue and needed my help right away.  I literally had my bags on my shoulders and was walking out the door, and it was absolutely the last thing I needed at that moment.  An angry fan screaming at me sending my blood pressure through the roof. But I put my stuff down and headed back down to the concourse. 
 
Shockingly, there was no emergency.  Someone on our team, who will remain nameless, had set me up.  Again.  And it was none other than the person that has stood side by side with me since the Monsters were born and helped build it from scratch.  Who coincidentally is also turning 30 soon.  Anyway, I was called out onto a platform by my good friend and our in-arena host at Monsters games, Olivier Sedra.  He then proceeded to do a live spot with me on camera and put me on blast in front of the entire arena of Monsters fans.  Happy 30th birthday and good luck was the message, followed by my Armenian mug on the giant Q-tube as he let everyone in the building know.  The whole thing actually made me relax a little bit and made me feel great about the people that make up our Monsters team.  It's why we are who we are.  Good people are what make an organization great, not the other way around.
 
But I digress....
 
So I finally was able to leave the arena and head to my house in Ohio City.  I packed my bags with enough gear for three days down in Akron and four sessions of basketball.  The plan was to stay with my parents in Bath, which was much closer to the tryout location, Canton McKinley Memorial Gymnasium.  It was going to make the early mornings much easier and just being at home would have a calming affect on my mental state.  But that Friday night I decided to stay in Cleveland so I could get to bed sooner and then make the early morning drive down. 
 
The one thing I haven't mentioned yet is that for the last three months I have also been fighting a very severe Plantar Fasciitis injury.  It has limited my quickness and explosiveness on the court and it is extremely painful anytime I play.  I've never really had an injury like this that would just not go away, so it definitely has caused some adversity adjusting to playing with it constantly.  So I got one more stretching session with exercises provided to me by my friend Jennifer, who is also suffering from the injury, and iced it down for 25 minutes.  There would be a trainer at the tryouts to tape me up so I wasn't overwhelmingly concerned about it affecting my play, but it definitely was in the back of my mind. Either way I'm not an excuses type of guy and I never have been.  Everyone who has been playing basketball as long as I have has injuries.  As the saying goes, only the strong survive.  SO... I eventually got to bed around 10:00pm with my gear packed and my new Nike basketball shoes ready to lead me onto the hardwood.  I laid myself down hoping that my brain would shut down long enough to get a few hours of sleep and the anxiety would not keep me awake....
 
To be continued..... 

jab

Canton Charge Tryouts

The story of my tryout did not begin on Saturday, October 15th 2011 on my 30th birthday, but long ago when my favorite sport became my passion.  Basketball is a game I started playing around four or five years old.  I took every opportunity available to pick up a ball and shoot at anything even resembling a hoop.  Including setting up a mini hoop in the living room, moving furniture and shooting with socks covered with Duct tape. At my grandparents house there was not a mini hoop readily available, so we would tape a shoe box to a skylight.  It was in a narrow hallway barely wide enough to fit two people standing side by side, but is was all we needed to get our basketball fix.  Nate, being six years older, was always taller and stronger, but I held my own.

My passion for the game grew as I developed an affinity for the Cleveland Cavaliers as my favorite Cleveland sports team.  Mark Price was the smoothest point guard I had ever watched.  Running the offense seamlessly and executing the pick and roll with Brad Daugherty to perfection.  It was unstoppable.  He could shoot from anywhere on the floor and with hands in his face.  He had a deadly release and always found a way to get his running one-hander offer in traffic amongst the trees down in the paint.  This guy was a genius.  Go back and watch some tape of his jumper.  No matter where he was on the floor he found a way to square his shoulders to the basket as he released.  This was the first lesson I learned about shooting a jump shot.  My dad would say "Watch him when he shoots.  You square your shoulders like that and you will always have a chance to make the shot."

Anyway basketball became my first true love.  I was a standout in the Perkins rec league in West Akron.  Every time I stepped on the floor my obsession with the game heightened.  However, on one faithful day after I had moved to Bath I stepped into the gym at Revere middle school for my 8th grade tryout.  Coach Burnett was the 8th grade coach.  He proceeded to cut me from the team because I wasn't tall enough.  There were literally guys on the team that could barely make a layout, and I played tremendous throughout the entire week of tryouts.  Even though I was one of the best two or three players on that court, he decided my height just wasn't up to his standards and he sent me packing. Probably should have crushed me, but as it was, the moment I read the sheet with the final roster, and didn't see my name was also the exact moment I decided I would play college basketball.  I was furious and more motivated then I had ever been in my life.

And so I played four years at Revere High School.  It ended my senior year against Warrensville Heights in the state playoffs.  Jubie Johnson and company were one of the top ranked teams and eventual State champs.  I hit a three with 10 seconds left to tie a game that we were expected to be blow out of.  Jubie air balled a three with two seconds left, or so I thought.  I went to grab the ball and it glanced off the rim just over my hands, and one of their guys flipped it in at the buzzer. Although I had tied up Jubie early in the possession and  it should have been called a jump ball with us getting possession.  Anyway I collapsed where I stood and cried my way into the locker room for about 20 minutes.  I knew it wasn't over.  I went on to play an unassuming three years at Heidelberg University.  Two different head coaches and two very different philosophies, I never really got my feet on the ground.  After college my game blossomed as my body finished filling in and I gained a better understanding of the complexities of the game.  I continued to play after college and my skills progressed to a point where I was actually a far better player than I had ever been in college or high school.  I've continued to play 2-3 times a week for the last eight years, along with developing a fairly serious weight lifting program. 

Then the announcement was made. Dan Gilbert had purchased a D-League team.  A developmental professional basketball team that would serve as the direct feeder for the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers.  Open tryouts would be announced shortly after. I knew immediately that I would be there.  I took my training up a couple notches now knowing exactly what I was training for.  Plyo-metrics, weights, late night and early morning shooting sessions.  5 on 5 with the morning hoops crew.  I did everything I thought I needed to do to be ready...

The day arrived.  Saturday, October 15th.  My 30th birthday.  I woke up at 5am having packed all my stuff for the weekend the night before.  I got in the car and hopped on I-77 South heading towards Canton-Mckinley Memorial Gymnasium.  One of the greatest challenges and most fulfilling experiences of my life would begin in just two hours........

to be continued.......

jab

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Round One

Fall.  Some call it their favorite season.  Some go as far as to wax poetic about it.  I understand.  Hell, I'm an autumn child.  As seasons go, fall is one of the best, but I don't love everything about it.

This is the pile of leaves I raked this morning:


McGraw 1, Leaves 0

Notice that none of the leaves from the tree directly above the pile have fallen yet:


McGraw 1, Leaves 1

And here is a sizable hunk of squirrel tail found in the yard.  Not sure what squirrel dismemberment has to do with the time of year, but squirrels and fall leaves are a kindred menace.


McGraw 2, Leaves and Squirrels 1

Bring it, bitches.

nwb

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Stabbone at 30

Today is my idiot brother's 30th birthday.  It also happens to be the day of his big tryout with the new NBA D-League team, the Canton Charge.  What business does a thirty-year-old have on the same court with much younger and much taller NBA aspirants?  Understand that my brother grew up idolizing an overachiever named Mark Price, a six-foot point guard drafted in the second round who went on to become an all-NBA first-teamer with the Cavaliers.  I think my brother always saw a bit of himself in Mark Price--the tenacity, the fearlessness, the sensible haircut--and I think that must have contributed in some way in his decision to go for it this weekend.

Should my brother similarly beat long odds and make the team, he would be the first in our family to play professional sports since our great uncle Grant had a cup of coffee with the White Sox in the early '30s.  Uncle Grant drifted west once his playing days were over and became known as the "Gentleman Pimp of Denver."  He was found face down in the prairie with a bullet in his back, but that's fodder for another day's blog.

Because today is Stabbone's big day, and to celebrate I shall pour a Bombay martini on the rocks with a twist and two olives.  I will not pour two Bombay martinis on the rocks with a twist and two olives, just in case my sometimes-pregnant wife decides to go into labor.

So this martini is for you, jab.  Though the younger and lesser brother you may be, ever striving toward your lodestar (me), you've come a long way.  After a mere 30 years of living, you've found an awesome gal and a great job in the promised land.  Now you're saying 'fuck it' to the world and pursuing a dream.  For that, I'm proud of you.

Happy birthday, idiot.

nwb

Saturday, October 8, 2011

T-Minus

My sometimes-pregnant wife can't get much bigger.  Here I am getting sucked into her gravitational pull.


Photo by Spronk, whose leftover lunch is now under 24-hour observation at the Purdue University Department of Food Science.

nwb

Monday, October 3, 2011

36 and counting....

My idiot brother turns 36 years old today.  Six years is all that separates the two Bowler brothers.   But it's actually quite amazing how big a difference that six years can make. The fact that I have an infinite amount more of natural athletic ability,  I'm a thousand times more handsome, our nieces like me way better, and our dog Cassie (RIP) always seemed to favor me . Hell even his own son will probably love me more.  It's hard to figure out how it's all possible.

I have to imagine being the 2nd best Bowler brother is a difficult job to take on every single day.  I never have nor will I ever know in the future how that feels, but I just know it has to be tough.  For that I give you a ton of credit. 

Mom and Dad may say they love us all equally, but that's like saying someone feels the same way about Hamburger Helper and Filet Mignon.

Not that I'm comparing you to hamburger helper, maybe just tuna noodle casserole.

So in conclusion, you degenerate....Your genius, humor and future as one of the world's all-time greatest dads make you one of the best people to ever walk the earth.  And of course your affinity for gin, Swenson's, Cleveland sports, Bob Dylan, ribs, and the story of Rock McGraw and Stabbone make you my brother.

Love you bro.  Happy Birthday.  Idiot.

jab

Friday, September 30, 2011

Take a Risk, Not Afraid to Fail

I believe that most people think and dream about their aspirations and goals constantly.  Probably every single day.  I know that I do. And I guess I have nothing to prove that this statement is true, but I would say that approximately 99% of those people don't do a damn thing to act on any of it. My opinion is that most are cripled by the fear of failure or humiliation.  It is a scary thing to go after something that you are so passionate about, and have it crumble right in front of your eyes. The people around you that truly love you won't care, they will still love you, but deep down you still feel like they think of you a little bit differently.  Maybe judging just a little bit, having conversations between themselves about how you should have known better.  On some level that probably does happen a little bit.

Anyway so I'm going to do something in a couple weeks that I can guarantee most people will think is ridiculous.  I don't care what they say to my face, how much they say good luck, secretly they are saying this guy is losing it.  Or he needs to move on. 

So the Cavaliers recently purchased a NBA D-League team which will make its home in Canton.  They will play their 24 home games at the Canton Memorial Civic Center.  The organization will be holding open try-outs for local players looking to fulfill a lifelong aspiration and dream of playing professional hoops.  I'm sure by now you can venture a guess as to where this is going.  I'm trying out. It's a two day session one being held on the 8th and 9th, the other on the 16th and 17th.  That would be a day after my 30th birthday.  I haven't decided which I will be attending, but my registration is filled out and turned in.

Crazy, right?  I can imagine some of my buddies reaction when they read this.  The reality is the D-League is an up and coming pro league that has some of the best basketball players in the world.  Mostly Division I players that did not get drafted or invited to an NBA training camp.  The number of players in the NBA that graduated from the D is growing every year.  A daunting reality for me indeed. 

Am I hanging on to a few words a former NBA player said to me almost a decade ago?  Maybe...  I used to play at Springside Raquet Club in Akron where former NBA player and Euro MVP Jimmy Oliver worked out in the offseason.  We would go at it from time to time.  Just playing one on one.  He told me once I should go try and play in Europe.  Get an agent and see if he could get me a shot.  Far fetched again, I know.

But that's not it.  The fact of the matter is I love the game of basketball, and I'm good at it.  I'm better than any of my coaches ever gave me credit for.  I am also in the best shape of my life physically and playing better basketball than I ever did.  I also have absolutely nothing to lose by going to an open tryout and playing the game I enjoy so much.  I would regret not giving it a shot the rest of my life.  Even if the likelihood of making the team is slim to none.  Even if I will probably have to have the conversation, "How did it go?", "I didn't make it", a million times. Even if I fall flat on my face.  So I'm going to do it.  I'm going to go out there and leave it all out on the floor and play a meaningful game of basketball for probably the last time in my life. No matter the outcome I'll know that I wasn't too afraid of something to take a chance.  That I relied more in my belief than anything else.   

I would encourage any of you reading this to take the same approach with anything in your life that you've be afraid to try, or just haven't pulled the trigger on yet. I have to believe that most great accomplisments were preceded by failure at some level.  Take a risk. Even if it means taking on a few bruises along the way.

jab

Indians Season Wrapup

I have a terrible taste in my mouth after the Indians concluded what was a more or less successful season.  Considering the preseason predictions and the financial climate in which they operate, I should be happy with a 11-game improvement over last year and a decent outlook for 2012.  Still, did they HAVE to lose ALL NINE of their final games against the Tigers?  Did they have to be swept thrice in three late-season series?  That's the difference between an 80-82 team and a 89-73 team.  Had they won ONE of those games, their record would today be standing at a respectable .500.  And really, 81-81 just looks much nicer than 80-82.  What's worse, much of the damage done in those games came at the hands of former Indians Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta, who exasperated fans in Cleveland by being boring, 'fat' and putting up a meager 20 and 80 each season.

I'm trying to be positive here, but those 9 games really stick in the craw.

Argh.

Anyway, here are the conclusions I've drawn: 

McBoneriffic

Second Place - I had them finishing 6th in their 5-team division, so 2nd place in the standings looks mighty good considering my preseason pessimism.

The Bullpen - Anchored by five arms with a composite ERA of 2.74: Rafael Perez, Tony Sipp, Vinnie Pestano, Joe Smith and closer Chris Perez (36/40 in save opportunities).  This complement of relievers was unimpeachable.  If bullpens weren't so maddeningly inconsistent from year to year, I'd say the team should be set through 2015 in this department.  These unsung stalwarts kept the season afloat when the injuries and losses started mounting. 

Asdrubal Cabrera - A late season fade does not negate an injury-free breakout year.  Never saw the 25 home runs coming.  He's no Vizquel in the field, but the occasional flub with the glove is more than offset by frequent brilliance.  Without the team MVP, we're talking 15 fewer wins, at least.  Would have been a candidate for league MVP but for the second-half dropoff. 

Justin Masterson - Rotation's MVP.  Never complained that the team averaged 0.3 runs for him.  Should have won 18 games.  Ideal #2 starter.

Carlos Santana - Quick hands and a violently powerful swing generate tons of power.  When (if) he learns to shorten his swing by a fraction, he will be a 30+ 100+ guy.  Combines power with patience.  I love how often he gets on base, but he needs to hit .280, not .240. A hair's breadth away from superstardom.

Josh Tomlin - This kid doesn't have the showiest arm, but he displayed good stuff and poise well beyond his years his first campaign.  I don't think anyone foresaw a 12-7 season.  Went 2-2 with an RBI and a run scored in stupid interleague play.  Pitchers should never hit.  Ever.

Jason Kipnis - Rookie looks like a gamer.  Hard-nosed and ready to play immediately upon his call up from AAA.  Showed a lot of power and no jitters in his first big-league action.  Starting second baseman next year, end of story.

Shelley Duncan - Can't believe I'm saying this, but he should have been playing every day on this team.  He remains a backup outfielder on a good team, though.  Incendiary August has me hoping he's back next year as our fourth outfielder.

Manny Acta - Kept the kids playing hard through a summer swoon and all the way up to the bitter end.

Meh

Ubaldo Jimenez - The team's success next year hinges on Ubaldo's success.  I commend Antonetti's testicular fortitude for trading pitching prospects #1 and #2 for a guy who could very well be the next Fausto Carmona.

Kosuke Fukudome - He is what he is, but he stabilized an injury-plagued outfield with some energetic play after a midseason trade.

Travis Hafner - Found his swing.  Hit several game winning home runs.  Got injured.

Fans - Beat last year's attendance.  Beat projections.  Should have been more supportive of an overachieving team that thrived at home.

Lonnie Chisenhall - Third baseman of the future looked overmatched.  I'm not crazy about his bat speed (slow) or his apparent aversion to getting on the basepaths.  Has all the swagger and confidence of a young Andy Marte.  Better keep these guys around:

Jack Hannahan and Jason Donald - Did what utility infielders are supposed to do: not much.  Hannahan was, at times, spectacular at third.  Can't hit a lick.

Ezequiel Carrera - Stubbornly unproductive.  Give the guy 700 ABs and you will get a solid .255 with 20 RBI.

McBlech!

Matt LaPorta - Sabathia for LaPorta will go down as one of the five worst trades in the history of the franchise.  Classic no-tool player.  Doesn't hit for average or power.  Doesn't get on base.  Can't field.  Can't run.  His 11 home runs were three more than utility infielder Jack Hannahan's.  All of his RBI were earned on fielder's choice groundouts.  Should never have another at bat with this team.

Matt LaPorta - He predicted that this season would determine if he was a 15 or a 40 home run guy, then failed to amass 15 home runs.

Matt LaPorta - Led the league in getting jammed.

Fausto Carmona - Enough already.  Sick stuff, and absolutely no faith in it.  If fellow sinkerballer Jake Westbrook had Fausto's arm, he'd be a Hall of Famer.

Shin-Soo Choo - Got drunk, got injured, didn't produce when he was on the field.  The team's all around best player from the past two seasons might as well have used 2011 to fulfill his military obligation in South Korea.  Major letdown.  Cost the team many, many victories.

Grady Sizemore - I'm sure Grady will have a renaissance with another team.  Played well for one week after returning from injury, and then got injured.  Still strikes out too much.  Career in shambles.  Should be on the verge of a $20+ million contract with the Yankees. Pundits wonder if the Indians will pick up his option.  Future Pittsburgh Pirate?

Injuries - Sizemore, Brantley, Choo (that's the entire starting outfield, folks), Tomlin, Carrasco, Talbot (that's three starting pitchers), Hafner, Kipnis...etc, etc.  The staggering body count made necessary the services of guys like Ezequiel Carrera.

Jim Thome - So, the guy skips town for more money and, after he clears waivers 10 years later and collects a couple of feel-good homers, suddenly we're erecting a STATUE of him?  Makes me almost as sick as Chief Wahoo does.

Chief Wahoo - This ugly, obnoxious, outmoded, tacky, offensive and racist logo remains, aside from Matt LaPorta's swing, the most hideous sight in all of American Sport.

Dolans - 0.0 McBones.  Why be that rich and own a baseball team if you're not going to enjoy it?  Dolans are like the guy who buys a Ferrari and parks it in storage for 40 years.

So that's it.  I'll give this season a 3.0 McBone rating with a--yes I'm going there--positive outlook.  Another year of seasoning and a few less injuries should have them in the hunt in 2012.  They will not be good enough/healthy enough/lucky enough to make the playoffs, but a five game improvement is plausible.

Oh, and regarding the events of yesterday:

Ballplayers have been chafing under the sportswriter irritant for as long as there have been ballplayers and sportswriters.  This is the best of the best.  I believe the reporter intentionally asked the stupidest question possible to see if Jonathan Papelbon's head would explode.  Watch his eyes bug out.  See the unfiltered hate pour forth:



Jonathan Papelbon's pain = McBone endorphin rush.

nwb

Sunday, September 25, 2011

McBone Birdwatchign Journal; Eastern Bluebird

Last week my very sprightly, sometimes-pregnant wife sprang up from a sitting position, catapulted herself over the orb...


...somersaulted to my desk, grabbed the camera, and, a split second before it flitted away, captured this eastern bluebird perched atop our feeder stand:



A tree-filled city neighborhood is not the natural habitat of a bluebird.  How nice of it to stop by McBone Manor for a spell.  All it took was an Olympian display of athleticism to bring it to you, gentle McBoners.

nwb

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Monstrous Oversight

As my two partner bloggers and resident Musicologist recently chimed in regarding the breakup of R.E.M., I feel compelled to hold up my corner of the triumvirate.  What follows is a brief history of my experience with the band:

1989 - Watched video for Stand.  Outwardly dismissed it as 'weird.'  Inwardly embraced it as 'awesome and weird.'

Aug. 1995 - Enrolled at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.

Sep. 1995 - Watched video for Tongue.  Capitally enjoyed melodic piano, organ and slow, sensual Stipe falsetto.  Vowed to listen to roommate's copy of Monster all the way through.  Too stoned to remember to follow through on vow.

Oct. 1995 - Answered 'YES!' to question 'Do you like R.E.M.?' posed by amorous co-ed.  Inability to unclasp brassiere incites chaos.  Dropped out of Ohio University.

Jun. 2008 - Remembering fondness for Tongue, tried downloading track to iTunes.  Transaction failed due to 'insufficient funds' in bank account.

Sep. 2011 - Watched video for Stand and Tongue on YouTube.

So there you have it.  I feel the final chapter of this decades-long tale has yet to be written.  I respect the musical tastes of my partner bloggers without reservation, except when it comes to Shaft and his curious yen for the sounds of X-mas.  I may be painfully late to the party, but better late than never.  So let's do this thing.  I hereby announce my official Quest for R.E.M. Fanhood, to commence immediately upon posting.  I have high hopes; lots of good stuff has come out of Georgia.

nwb

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

We Are All Texans Now

I don't know much about Troy Davis, except that he died tonight by lethal injection.  He could well have been a cold-blooded killer who shot a cop to death, but I'm in no position to opine on that.  This isn't about Troy Davis, anyway.

This isn't about morality, either.  I don't have any real objection to a murderer being repaid in kind.

What I believe, though, is that any state that hands down a sentence of death will eventually err.  Somewhere, sometime, an innocent person will die.

Capital punishment should exist only in an infallible system.  Maybe that's what our latest cowboy of a presidential candidate thinks he has down there in the Lone Star State.  I would argue that there's no such thing, and the practice, states' rights be damned, must be abolished forevermore.

nwb

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

McBone Mini-Reviews; Drive

I was going to use this space to tell you all how much I liked Drive.  You know, like back in the distant past when I used to do movie reviews?  If I had some kind of tricked-out, time-traveling sports car with a stainless steel exterior made by a long defunct manufacturer, I'd revisit those days and say that what I liked most was how purely cinematic the film was, how Danish director Nicholas Winding Refn bucks the conventions of bloated Hollywood, doesn't OD on dialogue or plot and lets images tell a story about a guy who drives.  Channeling the silent era is to be admired in the age of Michael Bay doing to cinema what Olive Garden has done to Italian.

I'd like to go on about how good Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan are at shutting up and expressing themselves with subtle gesture and quiet wit.  I could tell you how terrifying Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman are as second-rate gangster thugs.  And then there's the way Refn gives the flick real style with long takes, synthy songs and a seriously laid-back 'tude.  Not to say Drive is a snoozer--there's real menace behind the hypnotic pace that keeps things moving along.

All that stuff would be terrific to blog about, but what I can't get out of my head is one of the most brutal onscreen killings I've ever seen.  It wasn't really the killing itself that got me as much as the reaction of the crowd.  While my jaw clenched at the sight of savage, execution-style violence, several in the audience erupted in howling laughter.  Mind you, this was not a funny death; this was a very seriously rendered murder.  All around us, young men guffawed as if Inspector Clouseau was tumbling down a flight of stairs.

You can impugn my sense of humor if you like, but I've laughed at movie death before.  Even with splashes of humor here and there, at no point does Drive feel like parody.  The scene in question had all the hilarity of a cancer diagnosis.

So, I don't know whether to be relieved that there remains a shred of sensitivity in my own numbed-down psyche or disturbed by the apparent enthusiasm with which many of us observe violent death.

I get it that it's just a movie, but then is it?  Why do we go to movies, if not for a sense of pathos?   And why do so many of us seem to get worked up about human death when it comes to the unborn or the vegetative?

Anyways:

Drive: 4.5 McBones

Audience response to gruesome death: 0.0 McBones

nwb