Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Going to London

What's up, McBoners? Just wanted to write a quick note to let you all know that McBone is taking its show on the road, a 10-day trip to London where I plan to do those things that one typically does in London, namely:

Visit friends
Eat food
Drink beer
See sights

But fear not. McBone will be back to report on these exciting events:

Bob Dylan's new album
The Cavs' second round series
Whatever the hell else I feel like writing about

Enjoy the first week of May!


Friday, April 24, 2009

The Pistons: One Bad Basketball Team

How bad are the Detroit Pistons? Let's put it this way: the Cavs put up a nine point, nine point third quarter, and still beat the stupid Pistons by eleven. In game three of the NBA playoffs. In Detroit. Against a team whose veterans have combined to play about 2,000 playoff games together. How much do I love this? Quite a lot, actually.

The Pistons put up the first eight points of the game. Throw that out, and that miserable third quarter when the Cavs couldn't have scored against the local chapter of the Loyal Temperance Union, and this was a 70-44 drubbing. Include those two brief periods of Piston dominance and you still have a Detroit team that managed 68 points and shot 38% in their own building. In no quarter did they put up more than 19. Their trio of 'cagey' veterans, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and, most adorable of all, Rasheed Wallace appear to have all the energy of a beached whale.

The Cavs will close this one out today and have plenty of rest for the winner of Heat/Hawks.

Of note:

Joe Smith put up 19 points and 10 rebounds on Friday. The Cavs should sign him to a two-year deal as soon as possible.

Let's hope that the performances of Delonte West and Mo Williams, combined 4 points and 8 turnovers, were an aberration.

If the Cavs blow the Pistons out, expect a very quiet night from Rasheed, whose Pistons days are at an end. If it stays close well into the second half, look for him to have one of his patented meltdowns:

I'm pretty sure the Cavs will see the Heat in the second round. The Hawks were much better in the regular season, but they don't have Dwayne Wade. On the other hand, Dwayne Wade doesn't have Shaquille O'Neal and so the Heat have no chance against the Cavs.

It was fun to see the Bulls beat the Celtics in game one of that series. Subsequent games, including a 107-86 humiliation in Chicago, remind us that Derrick Rose is a rookie and the Bulls are, after all, still the Bulls. Until someone on Chicago's frontline knocks Rajon Rondo on his ass, the Celtics will win round one going away.

On the other hand...the mighty Magic genuinely have their hands full with the 76ers, who lead their series 2-1. Andre Miller is playing out of his skull. I've loved Andre Miller since his days as a Cavalier, and unless we play the Sixers in a later round, I always will love him. One of the all-time underrated players.

The Magic are in serious trouble, which is what happens to jumpshooting teams in the playoffs. If the Sixers pull this one off, expect them to give the Celtics all they can handle in the second round.

The Lakers are basically embarassing the Jazz in that series. Very scary team. Should the Cavs meet them in the finals, expect an epic championship round.


Monday, April 20, 2009

McBone, the 2009 Swimsuit Edition

As the icicles melt and fresh April winds chase Old Man Winter back into hiding, it's only natural that we want to shed those extra layers and shake the mothballs out of the old swimming trunks. Here you have me in a pair of Bangladeshi-made, clearance-bin shorts, soaking up a few sunny rays from my MacBook. Of course nothing says "tropical paradise" quite like a white particle board desk and a piping hot cup of coffee.

Though few people know it, Akron, Ohio is a famous breeding ground for top-notch super models.

Bronzed and strapping, a true beefcake lazes away a balmy afternoon in Indiana. What a beach bum!

Coming soon: body paint!

Photographs by
Swimsuit by
Old Navy
Socks by
The Sock Man
Hair by
Stephanie at Great Clips
Makeup by
Dr. Fabulous


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Deep, Deep, Deep, Deep, Deep

Game one is over. The Cavs beat the Pistons pretty much as predicted, with a final tally of 102-84. The contest was controlled from beginning to end by none other than, who else? In celebration of the game's greatest player, we offer a glimpse of athletic prowess that almost any professional basketball player could only ever dream of, let alone you and me. Remember, when you hear the crowd explode after every basket, that the Cavaliers are visitors in the Bradley Center in Milwaukee. Yes, you've seen it, but just see again, one more time:

Cavalier legend Austin Carr gets so excited by the end of this two minute eruption he seems to be on the verge of tears. His commentary loses any trace of composure. Voice cracking, exhilaration sets in.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cavaliers Dream Season. The End of Season Report and Playoff Preview

Waaay back in September I predicted the Cavs would win no fewer than 55 games this year. What I couldn't have predicted was how absurdly conservative that number was. Sixty-six wins later, the Cavs finish the regular season with the NBA's best record and home court advantage throughout the playoffs. They set records all over the place, including an outrageous 39-2 record at home that included a one-point final game loss to the 76ers in which Lorenzen Wright played 34 actual NBA minutes. Oh, and there were a few other milestones along the way:

66 wins. A franchise best by NINE games.

A team record 39 home wins (2nd best in NBA history).

A team record 27 road wins.

A team record 13 game winning streak.

I hope you enjoyed it, Cavs fans, because you may never experience a regular season like this one again.

What accounts for such a vast improvement over last year's 45-37 squad? Let's start with the easy answers.

LeBron James. Not only is he the MVP, he put up what is without question one of the 10 best seasons ever recorded by an NBA player. He is far and away the best player in the NBA now and he does it on both ends of the court. End of argument. Sit down and shut up. Oh, and yes he should be all-NBA defensive first team, in case you were wondering. (And to all you Dwayne Wade supporters out there: Wade earned raves this year for exactly the same situation that dropped LeBron to 4th in MVP voting last year. Great players leading weak teams to the playoffs. So why is the media drooling over Wade for winning 43 games when they criticized LeBron for winning 45 a year ago? Because the national media love Wade and, in fact, know absolutely NOTHING).

Mo Williams. The addion of Mo cannot be overstated. In Williams, the Cavs got a Mark Price-like shooter who is an absolute killer in clutch situations. He can get his shot off anytime and over anyone and he is a much better passer than his 4 assists per game would indicate. His beautiful, high arcing stroke is almost enough to make us forget the misery that was watching 'shooters' Damon Jones, Lucious Harris, Jiri Welch and JR Bremer try spread the floor over the past 5 years. And let's not forget the knuckleballs that Eric Snow, Milt Palacio, Smush Parker and Kevin Ollie subjected us to for far too long. Trading Damon Jones for Mo Williams should earn Danny Ferry the Executive of the Year honors that will probably go to the dude in Denver.

Anderson Varejao. He would be the 6th man of the year if he hadn't started so darned many games. Andy had a fitful season last year, but the injuries and the contract situation are behind him. Now I'm convinced that he should be the Cavs' starting 4 for the next 8 years at about 10 million per annum. At his best, Anderson is the most disruptive defensive force in the NBA. His offense improves every season, he has perfect chemistry with LeBron and he is an absolute fan favorite. Pay. Him. Now.

And here are some less obvious reasons why the Cavs won 66.

Combo guard Delonte West. Usually 'combo guard' is a euphemism for 'can't really play any position well.' Remember Dajuan Wagner? Well, that rule doesn't apply in this case. The understated D-West has been as devastating at the 2 as Mo has been at the point. Analysts like to comment on how unselfish Delonte is. They call him an X factor. They praise him for putting team first and doing everything well. You know what? They're right. But he doesn't just do everything well. He has exceeded everyone's expectations one hundred fold and more with his passing (he's basically a second point guard out there), rebounding, shooting and, particularly, defending. Credit Danny Ferry for not casting Delonte off when Mo came to town. I thought the guy was ancient history. The Cavs should be praised for letting him play his true position.

Big Z's D. He remains among the most underrated players in the game, a center who can shoot, post up, rebound and, lately, bury a corner three. You have to see him play every day to know that he defends the paint waaaay better than people give him credit for. Trivia: What team had the best defense in the league? If you said the Cavs, you're right. You can't have the best defense without having a rock-solid anchor in the middle. That's Z.

Depth. The Cavs had a lot of injuries this season, with Z, Delonte, Wally Szczerbiak, Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic all missing significant chunks of time. They kept winning because someone always filled a role with aplomb, whether it was Sasha (yes, I have a crush on the guy, but I really think he's going to get some serious minutes in the playoffs because he's way better than Boobie Gibson or Wally Szczerbiak guarding the perimeter, which is vital in the postseason) filling in for Delonte (12-2 record in those games btw), Anderson for Big Ben or Z, Wally for Sasha (and vice-versa), and so on and so forth. Holes appeared, as they will in any season. They were plugged on almost every occasion.

Mike Brown. The Cavs coach deserves credit for his defense, which should prove spirit-breaking in the postseason, but Brown's best coaching this season may have been the coaching he didn't do. Putting ego aside for the sake of the team, he allowed his assistants to address a notoriously uneven offense. 66 wins later, the payoff is obvious. Does he deserve Coach of the Year for doing less? Who cares? All Mike Brown wants is the ring.

2009 Playoff Preview. Round One: Cavs vs. Pistons

Few people knew it at the time, but the Pistons reign of terror in the Eastern Conference came to an end in 2007, when Daniel Gibson shot them into oblivion in game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. Sure they made the ECFs a year ago, but who the hell was going to stop them? This year, after trading away their best player and trying to operate with a me-first scorer on a traditionally team-first franchise, they drag a 39-43 record to the playoffs. Iverson is done, so here are the matchups:

PG: Mo Williams vs. Rodney Stuckey. After trading Billups, Stuckey was handed the starting PG duties. He responded by proving himself a perfectly capable backup. There were stretches this season when Stuckey looked completely lost, and now he will be called on to handle one of the premier lead guards in the game. Some point to Williams' lack of playoff experience. I say, if you watched the dude play all season, if you saw him thrive late in games like I did, then you know he's not real prone to the jitters. Stuckey has talent, yes. He has had some big games, sure. Mo Williams should gobble this guy up all series long. Advantage: Mo

SG: Delonte West vs. Richard Hamilton. Hamilton remains a handful for any defender with his constant movement, ability to score in bunches and that idiotic facemask, but he'd better be ready to have a younger and extremely hungry Delonte West draped over him at all times. Hamilton probably also remembers 2007, when Sasha Pavlovic bumped and bothered him relentlessly for 6 games. The bottom line is: the guy can play; he'll get his points, but he's not going to carry a team through a playoff series by himself. Oh yeah, and Hamilton has the arduous and uneviable task of guarding West during his career season, lest we forget. Advantage: Even.

SF: LeBron James vs. Tayshaun Prince. See 2007 Eastern Conference finals. LeBron will soon be accepting Tayshaun's manhood, which the Pistons forward will hand over on a silver platter. Advantage: LBJ

PF: Anderson Varejao vs. Antonio McDyess. These are two fierce competitors. Only one of them is over the hill. McDyess is still a decent player, a good rebounder with a reliable jumper. That said, Varejao is going to absolutely torture him and, actually, this whole team. I can't wait until he and Rasheed Wallace match up. Advantage: Andy, by a mile and a half.

C: Zydrunas Ilgauskas vs. Rasheed Wallace. As the Rasheed goes, so go the blah, blah, blah. Look, everyone knows what Rasheed brings to the table. When he's on his game, he is a force who can post up, defend and hit back-breaking threes. At his worst, he is a flesh eating virus that will quickly spread through the locker room consume his team. He has not been on his game all season. At this point he is much more likely to have a nuclear meltdown than a double-double. Big Z brings the same competitive fire, only without the imbecility. Rasheed's flagrant elbow to Z's dome four seasons ago remains one of the dirtiest, most cowardly plays you'll ever see in a professional sport.

Advantage: Z.

Bench. Joe Smith, Daniel Gibson, Wally Szczerbiak, Sasha Pavlovic (I'm assuming that Ben Wallace will see little or no action in this round) vs. Aaron Afflalo, Will Bynum, Kwame Brown, Jason Maxiell and Walter Herrmann. Here's where things get even more brutal. How bad does Jason Maxiell have to be that he loses minutes to Kwame freaking Brown? Honestly, who among these Detroit backups scares you? Afflalo and his 4.9 ppg? Will Bynum and his 7.2? I thought not. Now, I'm not going to sit here and say that the Cavalier bench is flawless. They rely pretty heavily on some streaky shooters and questionable ballhandling (yeah, you, Boobie). That said, it is very, very unlikely that all three of these bench guards will be cold at one time. All have extensive playoff experience that the Pistons bench does not have to match. Remember, Sasha Pavlovic is buried on the bench right now, who not long ago was starting in the NBA finals. And then there is Joe Smith. Ah, Joe Smith, with his long arms, feathery touch and lock-down defensive presence. Joe Smith, who grabs offensive boards in traffic. Joe Smith, who sat out most of the season and is rested. Joe Smith, who contributes off the bench no matter how many minutes he is asked to play. The Pistons have no one who can touch this guy, and don't be surprised if you see him teamed with Varejao late in the fourth quarter. Advantage: Cavs, by 47 light years.

Coach: Mike Brown vs. Michael Curry. This is one of the bigger mismatches of the series. Curry has had trouble corralling his team from day one, and the rookie coach was in way over his head with the tiresome Iverson drama that lasted a whole season. And let's not forget how well he and Rasheed have gotten along. Mike Brown counters with 3 years of postseason experience and some of the best defensive schemes in the NBA. Mike Brown has never lost in the first round. Don't be surprised if Curry is jettisoned by his team when the season ends for Detroit. Advantage: Brown.

Prediction: The Pistons suck and have no business in this postseason. I'm pretty sure they don't even want to be here. I foresee a physical first game that will end nonetheless in a sizable Cavalier victory. Wallace will mentally check out for the season sometime in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, and his team will quickly follow. I suppose this scrap heap of a team can steal a win at home, but I doubt it. My real hope is they care so little about this series that they will spare us the cheap shots that are a longtime trademark of Pistons basketball. Ultimately, the Cavaliers are hungry, loaded, well-coached, and they have the greatest single talent in the NBA, who all season has been in an athletic state of grace. That spells trouble for the lads from Detroit.

The Cavs win this series 4-0.


Monday, April 13, 2009

To the Fuckhead Who Threw a Fucking McDonald's Cup on Our Lawn

Hey, fuckhead who threw a fucking McDonald's cup from his car window onto our lawn: I curse you. I curse you with the foulest most evil curse I can muster. I just wanted you to know: I wish only bad things for you until the day you die. Hellhounds on your trail!

What the fuck is your problem anyway, dude? I didn't get a good look at you, but you were definitely a dude, and I certainly saw your fucking nasty, greasy, hairy arm pitch that bloody 200 ounce McDonald's cup into the very lawn where I was breaking my goddam back doing yardwork. Of course it was a McDonald's cup, because you don't respect yourself enough to not eat that godawful, inedible, health-ruining shit. You slam the deathburger and fries, swill your fucking cola, and then pitch the plastic (reusable, by the way) cup into the nearest waste receptacle you can find: my lawn. Only you know what, fucker? My lawn is NOT A FUCKING WASTE RECEPTACLE. Did you happen to notice that fact? Did you notice that, before the unwelcome arrival of your projectile, there was not one other piece of trash on the lawn? I'm guessing you did, didn't care, and threw the cup anyway, and for that I say: a pox upon you, scum of the earth. May your days be filled with misery and woe, from now into perpetuity.

Go to McDonald's if you must. Binge on their patented variety of poisonous nonfood all you want. Pollute yourself with that unspeakable affront to your one and only body. All I ask is that you keep your fucking cup away from my lawn, you worthless sack of fucking shit, or feel the wrath of my curse sevenfold (with apologies to Bob Dylan):

That one doctor will not save you,
That two healers will not heal you,
That three eyes will not see you.

That four ears will not hear you,
That five walls will not hide you,
That six diggers will not bury you
And that seven deaths shall never kill you.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Nate Eats a Slim Jim!

Nothing says 'disgusting' quite like a Slim Jim. And these days Slim Jim is way more than a highly unhealthy, jerky style smoked snack stick. Sure you get the same old walloping dose of sodium and saturated fat, but did you know there is now a virtual Slim Jim world called Spicytown? I'll bet you didn't! Upon making this discovery, I immediately created an avatar and entered the delapidated and garbage-strewn universe. In Spicytown, you can collect Slim Jims, kick over garbage cans, spray paint walls, and, of course, pick fights. Your main weapons are your fists, your guile and a backyard charcoal grill that can be used to brain your opponent. One thing Spicytown did not have was a lot of guests. I suspect I was the only real visitor in the domain, and I myself quickly exited when I realized that each moment spent in Spicytown was a precious chunk of life flushed right down the ol' shitter.

Besides, in the real world my Giant Slim awaited. Time to leave Spicytown behind and, as Randy 'Macho Man' Savage used to implore us, SNAP INTO A SLIM JIM!!!!!!!!!!

I confess I have a weakness for this terrible, terrible treat, which I regard as sort of the filet mignon of the worst foods in the world. Everything about a Slim Jim screams 'unnatural, artery clogging death rod,' and yet I can't ignore the cascade of slobber that spills from my mouth. I've seen many similar snacks meant for dogs, but this baby is mine all mine.

First things first though, so let's have a look at the label! Just a little searching reveals that this Twin Pack (nearly two ounces all for me!) has been inspected and approved by the US Dept. of Agriculture. Always good to know the government has my back. I also notice that Slim Jims are manufactured by ConAgra, which is of course the food equivalent of the Third Reich. However, like any good consumer, I think happy thoughts and move on. Next is the nutrition info and I know what you're thinking. Obviously this ain't a health food, so why would a moderately, even minimally, health conscious person want to ingest something that is just a few steps removed from toxic waste? Well, we can spin things all we want in this here McBoniverse, so to you I retort: who cares if one Giant Slim contains 5 grams of saturated fat? I'm also getting 2% of the vitamin A I need to promote better vision and a stronger immune system. And calcium? A Slim Jim tips the scales at 4%. I haven't even taken a bite and already I can feel my teeth and bones getting stronger. Osteoporosis? Meet Jim!

I'll bet you've changed your tune now, haven't you? Now you're wanting to know what's responsible for all this wholesome goodness? Well, it's more than just beef. It's also plenty of: mechanically separated chicken, water, corn syrup, soy protein concentrate, less than 2% of: salt, spices, dextrose, paprika and paprika extractives, flavoring, hydrolized soy, corn and wheat proteins, lactic acid starter culture, sodium nitrite.

Okay, so it's not tofu, but it sure beats a Twinkie. I'm not really sure I want to know what lactic acid starter culture is, but that's enough fooling around. I take a bite and quickly notice that the thing doesn't 'snap' so much at all. Really it has more of a chewy, leathery texture, sort of like gnawing off a hunk of my baseball mitt. I'm willing to do a little work here, so I chew and chew and finally taste and am immediately sent into mild shock from the severe sodium overload. A tide of grease fills my mouth and the enzyme levels triple throughout my body, sort of the equivalent of sandbagging against an imminent flood and destruction. I'm going to pay for this somewhere down the road, but still, it's hard to get more shamefully delicious than what is being grudgingly broken down by my teeth and saliva. I examine the more subtle flavors: pepper, imitation smoke, and only the finest mechanically separated (beak free!) chicken. I swallow, and for a fleeting moment I see before me a barren plain filled with sulfur pits and a rolling black mist. Shrill, demonic laughter fills my ears, but I shake it off and finish my yummy snack, happy to have ingested 8% of the iron I need to get me through the day.

Hey folks, I'm not an idiot. I know I'd need about a dozen years of fasting and cleansing and meditation and god knows what else to undo the damage I just did to my poor body. Was it worth it, you ask? My answer is a thumping hell yes!

And so I say to you, McBoners, if you can get beyond the ConAgra thing and all the mistreatment of animals and horrible working conditions and the unrepentant polluting and blah blah blah boo-hoo, then treat yourself to a Slim Jim! Gnaw away, and I'll see you in Spicytown soon!


Friday, April 3, 2009

A Comic Strip Manifesto

These days, the funny pages are about the most depressing part of a newspaper, and, hoo-boy, that's saying something. Recessions, wars, the Cleveland Browns--none of it compares to the mindless waste of paper and ink that is your average daily comic section. Oh, you'll find the occasional gem (Get Fuzzy, Doonesbury) jammed between the Cathys and the Garfields that dominate the syndicates, but really, if Beetle Bailey disappeared tomorrow, would anyone ever notice? Would anyone care? By now, we really know what Hi and Lois has to offer. And how about Ziggy? We got him 30 years ago, we get him now, and he's just as astoundingly lame as he ever was. Blondie has been running for 75 years, for crying out loud. He's been making the same goddam sandwich all that time. It's not funny, and yet it remains in the funny pages. And of course when we do finally get a new strip, it's Prickly City, for the love of Pete.

My point is: all of these total crap comic strips (I'm talking to you Hagar. You too, Wizard of Id) have been around since the dawn of time. They may have been good once. They may have been groundbreaking in their way, but now they're just taking up precious space.

Well, I'm here to tell you, gentle McBoners, that we don't have to settle for the medocrity. You have an alternative, and it is created with love in Portland, Oregon.

My friend Josh Shalek has been drawing Welcome to Falling Rock National Park for the past 4 years. Today McBone is pleased to announce the release of his third book. Perhaps you never heard about the first two. I can't say I blame you. You were too busy not lauging at Curtis.

Welcome to Falling Rock National Park (the official comic strip of McBone) takes place in a desert in the southwestern United States. Within its borders live four creatures of such towering imagination, that only a cartoonist as highly talented and bearded as Josh could have created it. With just a few panels, Josh creates a universe of chain-smoking javelinas and megalomaniacal owls that will get you thinking (as any truly great comic strip should) but also--and this is the real trick--laughing.

So, I'm not asking you all to click on this link or this link and buy Josh's book(s). I'm telling you to. Like now. Right. Now.

No, seriously though. Times are tough for everyone. Take heart! You can read a month's worth of the strip for free by clicking right here. We at McBone think you'll agree: Falling Rock, like other comics that are original and provocative and funny, belongs in the papers where we all can see it. Hell, do you think a transfusion of new blood will actually hurt slumping newspaper sales? I think not.

So, sorry, Sally Forth and B.C., and but you've been put on notice. For every Family Circus, there are a hundred struggling cartoonists trying to get a toe hold. Let's take back the funny pages and turn them over to new talent. Falling Rock is a great place to start.