Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Go...um, go Tennis?

Ramblings Post #337
The something about sport. It transcends a lot. People who can't stand each other will come together for sport. People who don't know each other will come together for THE game, whatever it maybe. As long as the common element - the home team- is winning. Winning hide flaws and quells fears. Losing however is the devil's tool shed.  

First, at the new "Ranch" they put Wimbledon up on the big screen around mid-day on Monday, so the whole office could watch. I've worked a lot of places, and I can't really think of any place else that ever did something like this. Normally a big game or event might be shown in the break area and if you were willing to catch the evil eye from your manager for thinking about something than barge lifting or bale toting, you could enjoy for few minutes. But this setup let people at their desks could literally stop and just watch for a while. We discussed rankings, shot selection, serve speeds. I'm not sure if this type of stuff is supposed to happen in a professional environment.

At some point I started rooting for Mueller, because the crowd kept cheering for Nadal.

When I broke for lunch, #4 Rafael Nadal was down two sets and I thought it over. Way underdog #16 Gilles Mueller was on his game and I figured even if Nadal surged late, the Luxembourger could weather it and close it out in short order. Your guy went to lunch, had a lovely custom made garden salad with roast chicken flavored with a able honey mustard dressing, and took a few moments to enjoy the afternoon breeze on the veranda. When I came back Nadal may as well have been running up the steps in Philadelphia while the Eye of the Tiger jamming though the speakers. As comebacks go, this one was shaping up to be epic, man versus man in the harsh and unforgiving English Savannah of the courts. Deuce after deuce, unforced error after unforced error. And seemingly the only people backing Mueller were his family and a the one guy in Leeds who put down a hundred quid. Every shot, every point by Nadal the crowd... well, it is Wimbledon, they respectfully clapped quietly. It's an English thing I guess. Without looking at the screen I knew when Mueller was doing good - I was at work after all - because the crowd would have been quiet for too long.

And they kept playing. Apparently on the English greens of legend there is no tie breaker, they are to just keep playing until someone wins by two. So it went first it was both 6, and then 8. I stopped watching to get some things done and a while later was surprised to realize they were still playing and it was 12 all. Had this been in the US no doubt both men would have been commended for their strength of character in the face of adversity, and if Nadal was able to complete the comeback it would become the stuff of legend. Wheaties commercials, an ESPN 30 for 30, maybe even a blurb on Buzzfeed....stolen from Reddit. At 13-all I was ready for someone to just stand there while the other served and watch it go by. They'd been playing for almost 5 hours, the final set at this point longer than other players complete matches, and quite frankly had more than earned a dramatic "Fuck it" as far as I was concerned.

When Muller finally was able to close out the deuce, an astonishing 15-13, I was almost certain they would both have to sit there court side for ten minutes or so getting their legs back. Or maybe I'm just that out of shape. It was good tennis...something you don't hear everyday.

They turned it back again today but the matches - Djokovic, Venus Williams match and one with a classically named Coco Vandeweghe (she lost poor dear) went pretty much as expected. They paled in comparison to the herculean effort of the previous day. Now, if Konta can beat Venus....well, then...well, it's still tennis. I just started really watching like Monday. 

Barkeep. We'll have tea and cucumber sandwiches in the garden. And by tea I mean the kind in the bourbon bottle. And by cucumber sandwiches, make mine honey-bbq and all drums. And by garden I mean hear at the bar. It's an English thing. Pip pip and all that.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Incoming!

Ramblings Post #336
I used to go to the best cookouts. Two hundred or so people, food that would run out in a half hour, a line for single bathroom, people drinking all the chaser for like no reason and girls who just needed someone to keep them occupied until the cute guys arrived. Ah, the memories. There really is something to growing up. 

The word fireworks doesn't quite cover it. The correct term is "munitions."

If there are any vets in my area who are suffering PTSD they have my deepest sympathies.

My neighbors really lit it up for the fourth. For a solid hour and a half they launched what must have been a lovely cross section of the entirety of the US military's impressive arsenal, the festivities sounding at times like a thunderstorm, then a volleys of gunfire (Steven Segal gunfire, not real gunfire), and having your position shelled.  Honest to god explosions. There is a scene in the movie Full Metal Jacket where the soldiers are resting in the bunker but the noise outside sounds funny, then suddenly they've grabbed their gear and are running as fast as they can for the slit trenches, preparing to lay down suppression fire. It was like that. My windows rattled.

When I wandered outside to see who was winning, the street was thick with the haze and smoke that comes from exploding a lot of things at the same time for a long time. And I think a few of the people had their displays set too low, as a few blooms went off while still below the tree line. Music was playing, in the dark children were granting them 'ooohs and aahhhs, and I could hear the yelling that comes from patriotic fervor, or too much alcohol  or a need for everyone to be impressed at their purchases. I went back into my house. I could still hear small explosions in the distance even after midnight as I tried to keep Vietnam movies from invading my dreams.

And I live in a pretty much all black neighborhood.

I've seen a lot of chatter online suggesting that the descendants of slaves (so, just to be simple - black people) shouldn't celebrate the 4th, because while the declaration did set off Brexit 1776, the notions espoused in it really didn't apply to everyone in that country yearning to be free. But then by that weird logic, the only people who should be celebrating it would be landowning white males, which would mean the way we celebrate would be the same - exploding things - but there would just be less demonstrations of patriotism.

Apparently women shouldn't celebrate, as they didn't get the basic benefits of being American, getting to own their own property or vote for 150 years after this grand declaration. And blacks faced  slavery and then legalized discrimination for the first 180 years since we pulled out of the BU, and things aren't so great now, so we have no reason to be happy either. In reality, when I think about it the words to "This land is my land, this land is your land" from my childhood, it really was more an expression of a idealized America, provided most of us stayed in our lane, than a realistic view of the United States. So, what exactly are we marginalized folks celebrating?

Well, for starters, I'm celebrating the country that I was born in, am a citizen of and that I live in. No, I'm not a closet nationalist or whatever term they're using these days (collaborator?), and although this country still has its many faults, problems and shortcomings* if you're not a landowning white male, it is still a fairly decent place to be in a world still rife with problems common sense should have handled years ago. I'm not necessarily celebrating America as it is today, but that idealized version of America I thought we'd have when I was a kid.

That I even have to explain this strikes me as odd now. Even those who are theoretically on the same side are so divided in their thinking.

Barkeep. A beer. Cold. No, it's just beer, it really doesn't matter.

*Faults and shortcomings being almost too many mention, including racism, sexism, injustice, poverty and the need to put cheese on everything. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

New Ranch

Ramblings Post #335
Ah summer 2017, and I'm home again, trying to get my situation right, as they say taking the time to do those things I need to do to get to where I'm going. The issue I have is, unless you're satisfied with where you are you always need to be working on the next thing. Which means I'm going to working for a long time, because satisfaction is a hard thing to pin down. 

After a bit too long a hitch at the old ranch, I've quite unexpectedly been moved onto a much better looking ranch just up north. Well, north Atlanta. North inside the perimeter Atlanta, not North northern Atlanta. It's complicated. And the transition has got me all twisted. But then, who is used to change?

To be honest, my old ranch was a place to do what I needed to do. Basically a stable, a pasture and the work. (Okay, I'm using metaphors off and on here, work with me - this ain't really no ranch but I'm keeping is nice and vague. For like, legal reasons.) But, I'd gotten used to the setup, as one does when one has been a place a touch too long. Traffic patterns for arrival, when the coffee was fresh, what time the bathroom was clear, you know, the basics. Then whoosh, just like that we get, um, the call to head north.

Now, let's be honest here, this new 'ranch' has all the amenities - free snacks, gourmet coffee, ergonomic chairs, A WINDOW, and more than the same four lunch restaurants which had fallen into a weird shifting rotation which could have me eating pasta three days in row. This place has an actual CHEF at the restaurant in the lobby. I stopped eating at the place near the old ranch because I just couldn't deal with 'guess today's price' style of running the joint. I will miss the brownies from that one spot though up the street though. Mind you this new place there is a Chipotle right there! But, the new ranch is however, as I said, further north...and therein lies the rub.

Not quite this, but for the Keurig machine the do have Stabucks cups. 

Atlanta traffic you may have heard, is a bit an odd duck. I'm fairly certain that the Marquis de Sade Traffic Commission was the principal architect of most of the city's thoroughfares. One fender bender can change a 10 minute drive into an hour wasted. The bit of I-285 between I-75 and I-85, which will eventually be known as Spaghetti Junction East and West, is commonly regarded as one of the worst stretches of roadway in the country. And all of that vehicular fever dream is directed towards or halfway funnels into and out of the area where I work now. It's a hot area. Which takes some of the shine off all the aforementioned niceties.

Given my druthers I'd much rather go in a little later and work a little later to avoid the peaks of rush hour traffic. Doing just that was an option at the old ranch, as the hours were flexible, but it isn't the case at the new one. Now that I have to deal with Atlanta traffic at its naturally occurring intersections of chaos, I have to have my track shoes on a lot earlier than I previously did, which is annoying to the say the least. It shifts my prep time and thus my whole evening schedule, which changes essentially my life. But change happens, so this is isn't the end of the world. The ride home however is a different story.

I used to have one of those unbelievable commutes, but I got deeply downgraded, to like steerage.  I live inside the perimeter, so my previous commute was 20 mins both ways. Seriously. People who live in Atlanta might scoff at the insanity of that, but from parking garage to driveway in medium just off peak traffic it was less than a half hour. I might get through five or six songs on a album. That five to ten minutes difference depended on one intersection and just how backed up the cross street was. That was the whole of my issue. Now, my commute home after a hard day of ranching is, well, unknown. I think it's 45 mins to an hour? Maybe more? All I know is that I get home at the same time or later than I used to, although I leave as much as an hour or more earlier.  

And while I get home around the same time, I now have to go to bed much, much earlier to get enough sleep. Which means my evenings just got smushed. My writing is suffering, my studying for the "cooking" school is suffering - metaphor people - and I just realized if I want to cook I need to start as soon as I walk in the door. I'm about to become one of those people who rushes to everything on Saturday because during the rest of the week I have no time.

So suddenly, I'm like normal people? What the hell?

Barkeep, I'm gonna need a tall drink of ...wait, I got to get early in the damn morning. Just an ice tea. Thanks.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

And they done done it again...

Ramblings Post #334
There is something about sport. After games where my team won I've hugged people I don't know, bought drinks for people I can't stand and once got kissed by this girl who was in the moment. I felt used, but in a good way. Sport brings us together. But then I've also stopped speaking to people because I found out their Patriot fans. Or Steeler fans. Or one of those anybody versus the Cowboys fans. Grrrrr. And this is from people who don't even play. Imagine how the players feel. 

I didn't really watch much basketball this year, as my Lakers are still at the low end of their pendulum swing and the rise of the player initiated "super team" is upon us. Which is great when it gets to the very end, but really means the season is watching two wrecking balls slowly gravitate towards one another over 82 games. The storyline is straight from the old hero series style action novels I used to read, where it's not IF the hero will when but HOW? Will they when by 10 points or 30 points? Can the star get a triple double? Will they spend an entire quarter just shooting threes? It gets for lack of better way of putting it ...unexciting. 

Glad Golden State Warriors won it all though.

Not because I am necessarily a Curry fan, if you know anything by now with my persistent affection for the Cowboys, I am anything but a bandwagon fan. It's because I am not a fan of LeBron James, and the legend thereof. There, I said it. Although he is a good player, blessed with a deft touch, great shooting skill and a fantastic knowledge of the game, I think that he's not as good as his fan boys want to make him out to be. He's like an Apple product, in that if you listen to his fan club he's the greatest thing ever, but if you take him in context he's just very, very good. Now, keep in mind that when people start screaming that MJ is the GOAT I like to remind them that MJ couldn't even get out of the East until Bird's back caught up with him and Isiah Thomas (the first one) lost a step. My money is still on Magic Johnson, a point guard who could even play center at the championship level - and did when Kareem got hurt. LeBron is good, maybe the best playing right now, but still.
The current league is built from this matchup. Yet neither is in the GOAT convo?
What bugs me most about Bron-Bron is his incessant need to work the officials, as though they won't notice if something bad happens to him. Trust me, the league is looking out for him every moment of every game including halftime bathroom breaks. The way LeBron is always looking for something, if you took a shot every time he looked at the ref as if pleading for him to call the defensive player for looking at ole #23 too hard, you'd be drunk by the end of the first quarter. And it is this incessant need, this victim role, this...greed for even more, that cheapens his actual really good abilities, at least to me. He can shoot the three, knows tendencies, bang shoulders down low, so why is he looking for cheap fouls like he's playing 2K? Nobody like a whiner. And right now, he's a whiner. I wonder how many players aren't playing him tough, thus inflating his stats, because they know not is he getting that primo "Superstar foul leeway" he's also "crying for a call every time a stiff breeze ruffles his jersey?"

And for those who ask, NO, he doesn't stack up the old players. MJ, Barkely, Reggie Miller and others in their prime would dominate this current offensive minded league. No hand checks? All that space to shoot? The old school would have a field day every day. And going the other way, the current stars would be heavily hampered by the defensive allowances of old. I say this after just watching ESPN's documentary on the Lakers - Celtics where Kevin McHale literally clotheslines Kurt Rambis during a layup and wasn't even ejected. Today we're talking about throwing people out for flexing their are at the wrong moment and those guys were suplexing each other and giving up "and ones."
"Personal foul, two shots."
That and then, forgetting he left with Wade and Bosh to go play with Irving and Love, LeBron had the audacity to say he'd never played on a "super team." Even when he's the best there is, he pretends like he's some kind of victim, some kind of underdog. And so what if he is? it happens to all of us. Get over it. Go out, work harder. Geez.

I guess this really wasn't a article about Golden State, and how much Durant earned what he got. But I just had some things to say. And it is my blog.

Barkeep. I heard them Warriors ain't even thinking about going to DC. Get them a round on me. But beer only. Nothing imported!

Monday, June 5, 2017

But it's not...

This is a political post. 

Sometimes I envy those whose who work in meme. They're quick jabs of statement that get a point across. Quick jab, jab. Because of their brevity, they rarely do they possess nuance, but when they do, they are one hell of a statement.

I can't settle of how I would mine to look just yet, maybe caricatures of Cheeto and Spicer doing a convoluted "Whose on First" routine using the term "travel ban." Or maybe Spicer as a bad ventriloquist dummy. All I know is that I would not want to be a lawyer for this thing, as the courts have already indicated they're going to use what are considered contemporary statements to determine the intent behind this retread legislation. And Cheeto put them out there again Monday morning. He did not mince words.

The really weird part? He wants those listening to think the Department of Justice is undermining him, when what they're working with is the LEGISLATION HE SIGNED. After his first couple of tries got kicked back. 

And while the White House Communications office would have you believe he's just talking here (a NY concept), the idea that that what Cheeto tweets and what he means are two different things as an explanation is laughable. People have gotten fired for tweets. On more than one occasion. These contemporary statements  mean that while the actual legislation may be neutral on its face, the intent is discriminatory. And it it is, or it's execution is discriminatory, then the legislation is  unconstitutional, just as the lower courts have already determined. And let's be clear, no man - no administration - no President, is above the law.

Letting this legislation happen is us laughing in the faces of the founding fathers we supposedly revere and lays the groundwork for a return to monarchy.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Death of a Mr. Bond

Roger Moore was MY James Bond, in by that I mean he's the Bond I grew up with.

My introduction to the character James Bond was a suave, just on the high side of cool, just shy of silly gadget carrying world hopping spy who always had a bit of quick wit when the situation called for it. It wasn't until college that I really had a chance to get into the character and realize that Connery's more bare bones and ruthless Bond was closer to the how the character was written. But by then it was too late, because in my mind Bond had gone to space, jumped off a mountain and had car that turned into a submarine. Roger Moore's Bond was a character of it's time, although I'm hard pressed to look back at most it and think it's still cool. The submarine car though.

I realize now that the movie scene I wanted to shoot with all the Bond actors is now NEVER really going to happen for real. Although, they are doing wonderful things with CGI. But that would be cheating.

And although he soured a bit at the end, with the spurious reasoning as to why Idris Elba shouldn't play Bond, I liked him. Moore's spoofs of himself, both in Cannonball run and playing the bumbling Inspector Clouseau in Curse of the Pink Panther after Peter Sellers died, where quite funny, even for a kid from the sticks like me. I thought he made a good action hero in ffolkes ( also known as North Sea Hijack). I even liked him Boat Trip, a film which I'm still not sure why I watched, although I'm fairly certain Roselyn Sánchez had something to do with it.

To a degree I miss his Bond. Maybe that's what Daniel Craig is missing.