Curling After Dark

February 27, 2010

MSNBC stands for: Minimal Sleep: Nothing But Curling!

I’m glad curling doesn’t have its own network. Because I’ve watched MSNBC’s Curling After Dark for eight straight days, and I’m not fazed or feeling abnormal that it’s 4:05 am CT. It doesn’t even feel late.

And yes, I do have a DVR, and the 2 am match is taped from earlier in the day anyway, but I don’t care.

Normally, when you watch late night TV, you go to bed when the paid programs and infomercials come on. On Monday, with no “late” hockey game starting at 11 p.m. (CT), Curling After Dark came on AFTER a paid program.  We’re talking the only things on TV are paid programs, curling and soft-core porn movies (if I had those channels).

England’s Eve Muirhead leads a cast of curling hotties

Actually, the curling commentary is so full of double entendres that it sounds like play by play of a soft-core porn movie:

“He just needs to slide it in there, nice and tight.”

“A full 12 inches would really do some damage to Debbie McCormick and the Americas”

“She wants to rub it off right there and slide it right onto the button.”

“Johnson delivers the money shot!”

(I swear those are real. Maybe not verbatim, but paraphrased. It probably wasn’t Johnson.) But you get the idea.

I was at happy hour with friends Thursday, and we put curling on the TV at the bar. While explaining it to people around me, I realized just how much I know about curling compared to everyone else on the planet who’s not Canadian.


Curling’s Two Weeks of Popularity

February 24, 2010

Once every four years, the Winter Olympics come and people talk about curling for two weeks as this cute little quirky sport with brooms and commentators with funny Canadian accents. The popularity of it has grown, and I know tons of people who enjoy watching it during the Olympics.

But what kind of ticks me off (as a long-time curling fan who watches it online every chance I get) is how people can view it as this quirky, niche semi-sport (more like a bar game) and then rip the US team to shreds for sucking in Vancouver the last week.

You can’t have it both ways: It looks easy, but it’s not. And these aren’t like the hockey players, who’s full time job is their sport. Rip Canada Hockey, who’s STACKED and should win the gold because the NHL salaries of their team is $130 million, more than the bottom eight teams in the tournament COMBINED.

The curlers aren’t even like Shawn White, who has sponsorships, endorsements and gets paid to appear in TV events like the X-Games on ESPN.

There’s very little sponsorship money out there for curlers. The women’s team is wearing Nike uniforms at the 2010 Olympics, like these blue ones:

USA in Blue

They are Nike’s women’s volleyball uniforms…and they are their 2008 line:

Same Thing

The US team is basically self-funded by its members. US Skip (that’s captain, strategist and most often, last thrower) John Shuster is a bartender. One member of the team is quitting because he has a family to support and can’t afford to pay his own way to the big events the team needs to participate in to be good.

One of their fundraising methods was playing at a Curling Club in Minnesota, against anyone willing to walk up and fork out $40 to take them on.

So yes, John Shuster and USA men’s and women’s teams had a crappy showing among the top 10 teams in the world in a sport they participate in part time as a hobby. China’s teams are government funded (like the USSR hockey teams of the 70s and 80s).

Of course, the popularity of curling right now is really something the USCA has failed to capitalize on. Why they didn’t come out with a series of witty and awesome t-shirts/gear people can purchase online to help fund the program is beyond me. The commentary of curling (I’ll have a post on that later) is borderline dirty and full of potential double-entendres.

You can find curling t-shirts online at random places, why can’t USA Curling sell some cool shirts with slogans on them like:

Curling Rocks
Rock On
Rock The House
I Throw Rocks at Houses
Hurry! Hard!
Curling Takes Stones
Wanna Get Stoned?
Rock Star
Rock N’ Roll
Throw The Heater
If Hell Freezes Over We’ll Curl There
On The Button
Freeze!
My Other House is 24 Feet Wide
I Sweep But I Don’t Do Windows
Cute as a Button
The Hammer

Curling is only in people’s consciousness once every four years, and with they quasi-annual cult-following the have during the Olympics, now is the  the perfect time to get more money for their program with cool merchandise.


Missed Connections

February 23, 2010

The other night, I was at this bar with a couple friends of mine. And one of them had a couple friends with her. Now, one trait I’ve noticed about women here in the South (and Midwest for that matter), is that when a girl is being harassed by some guy, they need to be rescued. Very few have the confidence to say “get the hell away from me” to some creep.

So while I’m talking to one friend of a friend, who’s a cute girl, funny and can carry on a conversation. I think I will attempt to get to know her better.

But then some d-bag comes up and interrupts our table, trying to make friends. The girls roll their eyes, and the guy scampers off, but comes back in about five minutes to harass everyone again. I am about to pull the guy aside at tell him to back off, but before I can, my new friend tells the guy to get lost.

Kev-Fu like.

Of course, the guy comes back, but this time, I tell the guy “hey, I’m working here, how about a little professional courtesy? Give me some time,” and he apologizes to me and stays away.

Back to the cute blonde, we’re talking and having a good time. Turns out we’re both from New York (which explains her eagerness to tell jerks to get lost).

Jay-Z’s Empire State of Mind comes on and she says “I was at the World Series when they sang this live.”  I stare at her as the magnitude of the statement sets in. Then she adds “You know, the World Series?” because I’m staring blankly at her like I don’t know what the World Series is. She’s probably thinking I’m some guy who doesn’t like sports. I reply with “sorry, the World Series was…”

And she says “oh, it was hard for me, because my family is from Philadelphia and are all Phillies fans.  I’m the only one who broke rank and is a Yankee fan.”

I don’t think I reacted well. My friend asked me later what we were talking about. She said my face fell like someone told me my favorite puppy just died.  Too bad because the girl had a lot of potential.


Things I Learned During Mardi Gras

February 19, 2010
  1. I’m grateful I learned to dress in layers up north, as it is a skill that comes in handy during Mardi Gras.
  2. Likewise, if you include a pair of warm-up pants underneath baggy jeans as part of your layer system, you have something to sleep in no matter where you have to crash following a day of drinking.
  3. I am a very economical packer and drinker: Gloves, extra sweat shirt, flash of Crown Royal. End of list.
  4. Various hand gestures and techniques can be employed to attract float riders to throw you beads/throws. However, it doesn’t really matter, because the tall, hot chicks are getting all the good stuff.
  5. You can overcome #4 by having a tall, hot chick who knows how to share in your group
  6. Inexplicable soccer losses/draws are easier to tolerate when they occur during a week of parades with no open container laws.
  7. Defensive Backs have the best time on a parade float of any positional group.
  8. Cell phones aren’t reliable when the population of city limits quadruples for parades.
  9. Mid-City parade crowds are territorial
  10. Uptown parade crowds are full of friends you haven’t met yet.
  11. Sending the women of your group to a burrito stand with a guy you just met is okay. They’ll find their way back eventually.
  12. All the recipes for drinks I’ve ever tried myself have tasted awful, but all the recipes someone else suggests are delicious.
  13. Mimosas are delicious.
  14. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
  15. However, you can drink yourself sober
  16. Racing to get across the parade route before they close the street should be an Olympic sport.
  17. I thought figure skating shouldn’t be an Olympic sport until the Figure Skating Drinking Game
  18. Romantic day dreams about greasy breakfast meats may or may not be a cause for alarm.
  19. The lyrics to the Late Late Show theme are a great anthem for drinking and life.

Mardi (and Lombardi) Gras

February 18, 2010

Sorry for the lack of posts. But it was, after all Mardi Gras.

Now, for those of you who haven’t experienced New Orleans Mardi Gras, it’s really not what most people think it is. It’s not a girls gone wild photo shoot. Those shenanigans are virtually all tourists on Bourbon Street.

For the locals, Mardi Gras is a season of parades and public consumption. Picture your local park for the Fourth of July: Tons of people, showing up early, vying for a good spot to watch from.  Now, combine that with Spring Break trips to the beach, where everyone has coolers. There are no laws against open containers or public consumption, so everyone is drinking and heavily lubricated.

People are dressed in crazy outfits, and then the parades roll by. The floats throw beads – mostly plastic, mostly ordinary. Some Krewes customize their beads with their name on them. There’s other highly-sought trinkets like beer cozies, spears (which are good for hooking beads), doubloons, and the famous Zulu Coconut.

We started Tuesday with the Lombardi Gras parade. I use that phrase because it was no “Championship Parade” like other cities have. This was a Mardi Gras parade for the New Orleans Saints. They should have called themselves the Krewe of Champions. Lombardi Gras is the prefect phrase for it. And Drew Brees is the ultimate bead thrower, with pin-point accuracy.

That parade might have been the best, because while the throws were very, very mediocre, the intensity of the crowd and the joy of the players had everyone going completely insane.

On Friday, we headed to the parade route on St. Charles (at Felicity) using our friend Heather’s prime real estate four blocks away as a base camp. We rolled her faithful cooler Charley behind us and found a spot and hang out.

Saturday, after watching a horrible Manchester City tie with Stoke at our football pub, we headed to a friends place in Mid-City for the Endyimon parade. Our pre-game at Rob’s house was very good, but the scene at Mid-City was obnoxious. People were salty because they’d been sitting out since 10 a.m. for a 5 p.m. parade. They had stretched out a massive tarp for a few people, and the crowd was walking on it. I image those people have the same Mardi Gras experience every year.

Sunday featured four more parades, back on Felicity and St. Charles, and that was probably the most enjoyable of the week. The weather was much better than Friday and Saturday, and the Uptown people were more pleasant to be around than Saturday’s crowd. We made all kinds of friends and enjoyed the company of a naïve first-timer visiting from the Bronx. He was highly entertaining and his wide-eyed wonderment for it all made us all realize what a unique experience it is.

All that standing in the cold for three days had worn us out, so Monday (Lundi Gras) we made a change of pace and decided to sleep in then hang out at restaurants and bars in the evening. This decision was aided by the fact that Heather was out of commission for Monday’s activities.

After dinner and drinks, we hit up a Magazine Street bar. The music was great sing-a-long songs from the late 90s, early 2000s, and the TVs were showing the Olympics. Which caused Justin and I to break out the Figure Skating Drinking Game:

  1. Social when they go into long spins.
  2. Sip when they grab their skate.
  3. Chug for five seconds when a skater stumbles.
  4. Finish your drink if they fall on their ass.
  5. Drink when you see an emotionless Asian (they kept showing stoic people from the Far East. It was uncanny. This rule quickly transferred from the TV to the bar, and Tuesday’s parade route. It might be the thing I’m most proud of in my life).

Other people in the bar caught on to what we were doing because so many people fell in whatever round/competition that was.

We wrapped up the party and went home at 1 a.m., agreeing to meet for the Zulu and Rex parades at 7 a.m.  The pre-sun portion of the day was pretty miserable, and some of us were drunk from the night before, and we lost a second member of our krewe (who had to drive home).  Around noon, I was beginning to have romantic day dreams about greasy breakfast meats.  My compatriots had reached their limits mid-way through the 10th parade of the week for us, so we tapped out to go watch the USA hockey game in the Olympics. Then home to nap.

There was some really funny moments, and a plethora of good times. But since I can’t recall specific dates and details of these incidents, we’ll save those for another time.


Crazy Dream Part (Whatever)

February 12, 2010

The other night, I had a dream where my friend was engaged, and I wanted to talk her out of marrying the guy because I thought he was some clown. So I went and confronted my friend. But obviously, she got mad and there was a fight.

When I woke up, I remembered this and there’s zero reason for me to ever share that with anyone ever, lest you all think I’m in love or obsessed with my friend, whom we’ll call Stephanie. So I went on with my life for about six hours. Then I was watching the Simpsons and remembered the rest of the dream:

After that, I was at my friend Amanda’s house. She was serving me coffee and/or tea and asked me how it went with Stephanie, while she had a slew of papers and files in front of her on her kitchen table.

Now, Amanda and Stephanie are unaware of each other’s existence in real life. And I actually fell out of touch with Amanda after we graduated from college, but just recently caught up with her. She’s married with  six kids, who were quite well behaved in my dream.

So as I’m filling her in, she’s telling me that I probably should have expected that reaction, and that I shouldn’t expect my friend to believe me over the man she wants to marry without proof.

She continues to sift through her slew of files and finally finds what she’s looking for: A picture of one of her kids’ birthday party, featuring Stephanie’s fiancé, entertaining the children as a clown.

When I said, clown, I didn’t just mean “the guy was a tool.” The guy was a freaking clown. And an evil one at that. Not only did he not share his  obsessive need to dress up as a clown with his fiancé, who he knew was terrified of clowns, but he also had a fiendish plot to torture and kill Stephanie.

And that’s why I have my doubts about the whole dream symbolism thing. That says “To see a clown in you dream, symbolizes absurdity, light-heartedness, and a childish side to your own character.” And would clearly suggest I’ve got a thing for Stephanie.

But that ignores that (a) We all know Stephanie is terrified of clowns in real life. It’s a running joke among our friends. (b) I asked Stephanie if she saw the commercial with the family on the porch, staring inside at the clown doll the family got for Christmas and showed her the video. (c) just before going to bed that night, I saw that commercial (d) during the Simpson’s episode where the talking Krusty the Clown doll was trying to kill Homer.


Say it ‘Aints So! Oh The Insanity.

February 8, 2010

The Saints are the Super Bowl Champions.

You know the sound at a sporting event when everyone goes nuts? Well, walking towards downtown, you could hear the French Quarter from two miles away. And there was no “moment,” to instigate it. There was no focal point. It was just the noise and sounds of a city beside itself with joy. It was beautiful.

Getting closer, the street party was in full effect. This is the scene about a mile from the Quarter.

When we got to Canal Street, it was a mass of humanity. And it was just getting started. They were just closing Canal Street  — for the first time in the history of the City — while we hopped inside a store and grabbed a six-pack of beer (the plastic cup rule was out the window).

Once in the Quarter, after randomly running into two groups of people we knew, we all took the time to soak it in and enjoy the view of a packed street of jubilant fans. Strangers high fiving and hugging, people dancing in the streets, Mardi Gras and Saints music blasting.  Imagine you and 200,000 of your closest friends having a block party. This was Fat Tuesday times ten (complete with the public urination).

And of course, once someone’s cameras (WVUE, I think) were rolling on the balcony, they were pelted with beads while the crowd struck up the familiar chant of Who Dat?

Earlier, and with better quality, NOLA.com captured about three blocks further down. You can see the packed street about 30 seconds in.

It was amazing. I’m sorry I left at about 1 a.m. If not for the fact that I’d have to walk four miles, I could have stayed until daybreak.