Sunday, September 30, 2007

Drivers, Start Your Engines!!!

Sometimes in life you have opportunities to do things; things you might not necessarily list in your favorite things to do, but things that you feel like you should do anyway, just for the experience. So when Lane and Skye told us earlier this week that their neighbors Danny and Tina were going to the NASCAR race in Kansas City on Sunday and that we were welcome to sit and party at their Winnebago, I knew I was in for one of those situations.

So apparently here's how these things work: everyone who is either going to the race (roughly 95,000 people) or just tailgating (probably another few thousand) gets there by about 7 or 8 am. Then you booze until about noon, and if you are attending the race, you start making your way to the track. Pretty standard. The cast of characters:
Myself, Alex, Lane, Skye...
Danny and Tina- wonderful neighbors of the Leedahls and NASCAR enthusiasts...
Brenda and Bob the Cop- a friendly couple who like to talk shit; Bob the Cop bears a striking resemblance to Jeff Garcia...
And other various people wandering in and out of the campsite.

Here is a rough breakdown of our day:
5 am: Alarm clock goes off. Someone remind me why we are doing this again?

6:15 am: I make the first bad decision of the day when, trying to break up a chunk of ice, I puncture a can of pop and a beer and watch it spray all over the cooler. I'm climbing into the Bucket of Suck reaaaaalllll early.
7:05 am: We arrive at the campsite outside the track. Pleasantries and how-do-you-dos are exchanged.

7:08 am: First beer is cracked.

8:30 am: First call to Bergman is made. Bergman is the only person any of us know who would come remotely close to appreciating this, and we plan on capitalizing on this by calling him repeatedly to make him jealous.

9:45 am: Lane and I have each finished off six beers, and breakfast is made and eaten. I'm beginning to realize this is an awesome idea.

A common sight throughout the day: me with a beer can to my mouth, Lane clutching a rolled-up plate of chicken wings.
11 am: St. Aubyn calls, and apologizes, knowing that I like to sleep in til almost noon and then watch football on Sundays. I tell him it's ok, that I'm at the NASCAR race, and that I'm already 10 beers deep into my block heater (30 pack) of Miller Lite. To which he simply replies, "Jesus Christ." Not much else to say, really.

12:30 pm: We walk up to the track to buy shit and listen to the "Drivers, start your engines!!!!!" Which is, without a doubt, the biggest disappointment of the day. Due to the wind and the deep bowl that the track lies in, it really was not an impressive roar. Or a roar at all. However, it did lead to an encounter with one of the biggest dogs I've ever seen.

I don't care what stories those kids from the Sandlot tell, the Beast is OK with me.

2 pm: We return to the Winnebago to drink, eat, and watch the race/football/golf on TV. We're beginning to crash a little bit.

4 pm: A gigantic rainstorm hits, and we watch from inside the warm confines of the Winnebago while everyone sprints back to their respective campsites, completely drenched. This includes Danny, Tina, Brenda, and Bob the Cop.

Lane and I spend the next hour cooking hot dogs and brats, and making up fake announcements to all the stragglers returning from the track that "the dryers are on the track, clear skies are heading this way, the race is restarting in 40 minutes!" This is not going over so well with the diehards that want nothing more than that to be true. An hour later, however, as about 1/5th of the crowd is leaving the grounds, this joke becomes reality, and Lane and I soon begin peddling our hot dogs to people in exchange for their ticket stubs, so we could get in. We are only successful with two people. Two! Who wouldn't trade a shitty, wet, worthless ticket stub for a juicy, delicious hot dog?

6 pm: Everything dies down and the rain delay is over, and we decide to see if we can just get in for free. And lo and behold....

We end up sitting together, all 8 of us, in ridiculously good seats. If Future Jim would've sent me a message last week saying "At 6:30 pm next Sunday you will be in the 20th row at the Kansas City Speedway watching NASCAR" I would've told him he was crazy. Then I would've told him to find Biff Tannen and steal his book that holds the results of every sporting event for the next 50 years.

So the entire day was a great success. Beer was consumed, laughs were shared, engines were started, and horizons were expanded. I won't be actively following the chase for the Nextel Cup or anything, but I do have a newfound respect for the sport of auto racing. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go back to nursing this hangover like I'm Florence Nightingale.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Compare And Contrast

My boy.

Not my boy.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Thumbs Up!

I could sit and write all about the new job, but I won't bore you with that. I have an office, and a desk, and responsibilities. Tuesday is arms and back. It's boring,'s part of my life.

Instead, I will bore you by talking about the things I have enjoyed and not enjoyed recently.

Thumbs Up to...

...Sonic. In my first month in Lawrence, I have eaten here somewhere around 68 times, despite my effort to cut down on fast food. Oh well. I figure if God wanted me to eat healthier, he wouldn't have put a Sonic in my backyard and across the street from my office.

...Entourage. I've never been able to watch it, but now we have HBO. Just a solid show. The only drawback is that I'm nearing the point that I'll have to buy the first few seasons on DVD.

...Golden Tee. Due to the fact that nearly every bar in Grand Forks has decided that Big Buck Hunter is somehow cooler than Golden Tee, and subsequently gotten rid of virtually every Golden Tee in town, I hadn't been able to play much the last couple years. However, there is Golden Tee everywhere here, and I have enjoyed shaking off the rust the last couple weeks. Lately we have started playing alternate shot teams, a la the Ryder Cup. And even when Jud hits a hole in one on a 340 yard, surrounded by water, par-4 18th to beat me and Lane by a stroke, it's still a good time.

...Tennessee Titans on TV. I hadn't got to watch them play a game in over 3 years, because they are not televised in North Dakota unless it's the playoffs or Monday Night Football. I got to watch their game against the Colts, which was my first live look at Vince Young. I liked what I saw. A lot. Now they're on MNF this week, and I'll get to see them when they come to K.C. in December.

...Chipotle. Every Steak Fajita Burrito I purchase is the best $6.28 of my life. I break this record often.

...Used video game stores. There is a sweet one downtown, and I have made my presence felt there. I picked up a couple of Sega games I have coveted for quite some time: FIFA soccer '95 and NBA Jam T.E. At a price of $2 each, how could I not?

...Knocked Up. This doesn't actually apply until Tuesday when it comes out, but I am excited to make this puchase and wear out the DVD within a week.

...Magic Numbers. I love September baseball, when division leaders have "magic numbers." This magic number represents the combined number of wins and second place team losses needed to clinch their division. I feel like these should be applied to real life situations, such as: The magic number to my next chili cheese wrap from Sonic is 2.

Thumbs down to...

...Eric Gagne. Pronounced Gone-Yay!!! Which is what I will be saying if and when the Sox get rid of him. One could make the argument (and I am) that he is the worst trade deadline acquisition in major league history. Dunph summed it up by texting "He is a fucking Katrina-sized disaster right now." Well put.

...Taco Bell's Crunchwrap Supreme. I can't figure out this enigma of a menu item. When I am under the influence, few food items available at 2 AM have the talent to make my taste buds happier. However, when I am sober, this little guy morphs into a seven-layer crapfest. Just gross. I don't like having to deal with this inconsistency.

...Car horns. To be specific, mine. Since I bought my car almost 5 years ago, my horn has been broken. In order to get license plates in Kansas, though, I had to get it fixed. Over these last few years, I fell into the habit of hitting the horn buttons randomly, either keeping the beat with a song or for no reason at all. Needless to say this habit has not served me well since the horn became functional again. Depending on how loud my music is, I usually don't realize I'm doing it until someone flips me off or honks back. Whoops. My bad, dude.

One final thought: Don't take Claritin D right before you start drinking. You might end up blacking out after only 8 beers, and sleeping through the entire car ride home, which includes a stop at a Steak & Shake drive thru. Consider yourself warned.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

James McAllister = Martin Donovan

Pictured below (on the left) is my buddy James McAllister, who resides in Midland, Texas, and possesses one of the best moustache/basketball skill combinations this side of Adam Morrison. He is also rumored to have been present in the Vegas hotel room where O.J. and his friends held up those dudes for O.J.'s memorabilia.

Pictured below is Martin Donovan, an actor who plays a role in one of my favorite shows, "Weeds," and has played some other small roles in movies I am not familiar with. I tried to find the pics that show the most resemblance between the two, but they don't do it justice. For those of you who know James, you will most likely say "Wow!" or some other exclamatory word to express your wonder in response to the amazing similarity. To those who haven't seen him in person, the affect will be less impressive, because the pics just don't cut it. In any event, this is what James will look like in approximately 20 years. Mary, pay attention.

Friday, September 14, 2007

You May Find Yourself Behind The Wheel Of A Large Automobile

I decided to take a mini-road trip yesterday, and even though when Lane called and found out I was in Arkansas and told me, "That's weird. That's fuckin' weird. Don't tell anyone else that you're doing this" I think I will tell you. The reasons for going are simple: One of my goals is to see all 50 states, and Oklahoma and Arkansas are a couple I haven't been to, and I don't start work until Monday and I'm bored as shit.

In actuality, the drive was pretty uneventful. Southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma is ugly as hell. Tulsa was OK. To be honest, I was unenamored with the drive until just before the OK/ARK border, when I got off the turnpike and hit a 40 mile stretch of road that winded through hills, under rock, and around rivers. Definite highlight of the drive. The lowlight was a gas station in southern Missouri that was straight out of the movie Cabin Fever. The bathroom was a toilet and urinal surrounded by a huge wraparound curtain in the back of the place, among all their product that wasn't stocked yet. The guy behind the counter weighed at least 400 pounds with a shirt completely soaked through with sweat, and there was a group of creepy-looking older ladies reading bible verses to customers as they entered and exited. The last view that place had of me was of me sprinting back to my car and peeling out. Other than that, pretty boring.

And since I don't have anything else to add, and since Mighty Ducks 2 is on right now, here's my question: What happened to the kid who was both Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez in the Sandlot and Luis Mendoza in D2? I mean, was there another kid who had multiple sport roles as good as those? For that matter, was there another actor in general who did? This will be on my mind all day.

So I'm sick as a dog right now, and all 3 Red Sox/Yankee games are televised this weekend. So you know where to find me: on the couch.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

A Night At Kaufmann

Friday night Alex, Danny, Lane and I went to the Yankees/Royals game at Kaufmann. Any time you can get a hot dog, a pop, a bag of peanuts, an outfield plaza seat, and a chance to boo the Yankees in person, all for just $12, you have to take it. I decided that I would break rule #4 from the book "How Not To Be A Douchebag" which states:

"When attending a sporting event, either wear the apparel of one of the teams that are involved in said sporting event, or don't wear any apparel at all."

I knew there would be a lot of Yankee fans in attendance, so I figured I would wear my Sox hat and my Johnny Damon t-shirt jersey to spice things up. After he signed with the Yanks, I crossed out his name on the back and wrote TRAITOR, which makes for a pretty good conversation piece. This night was no different. Sure enough, our seats are in the middle of Yankee territory. The row directly behind us (about 8 Yankee fans who all came together) see my shirt immediately and begin jabbering. The beginning part of the game goes well, as the Royals overcome early homers by Gay-Rod and Posada to tie it up. Additionally, Damon was obliging my boos by going 0 for his first 3 at-bats. The shit-talking was all good-natured, because I think secretly they loved my shirt, and I feel that I held my own pretty well, considering it was 1 on at least 8 at all times. My favorite exchanges:
After a nice running catch at the wall, the Yankee fans (who, to spite me, have been giving Damon a ton of love all night) give him a standing O. To which I reply, "Great range. Great range. And a great arm, too. Look at that, that was only 4 hops to the cut-off man."

After Damon singled late in the game and received a ton of applause, I got quite a few laughs by telling them, "Yeah. That's what .250 hitters do best: go for 1 for 4."

However, the single greatest moment of the night was (like usual) courtesy of Lane. Before I tell it, let me explain our term "Video Game Voice." In sports video games, you always hear the buzz of the crowd, and every once in a while, you hear someone's voice cut through the hum and yell something, for example: "Let's get it together, Tribe!" or "Jeter doesn't suck! YOU suck!" So since we were little we have called that ability to cut through the buzz and have everyone clearly hear what you yell "Video Game Voice." Lane has always had that ability better than anyone I know, and he puts it to great use. So during a Damon at-bat in the 5th, Lane stands up, and in his best video game voice, announces: "JOHNNY DAMON!!!! YOU HURT MY FRIEND'S FEELINGS AND MADE HIM SAD, AND SO NOW I DON'T CHEER FOR YOU ANYMORE!!!" Brought the house down, especially the people in our area who were aware of my shirt. It must be a nice feeling to have rougly 1/3 of a stadium of people laughing at something you said. So kudos to you, Lane.

So, anyways, the Yanks end up winning, I share handshakes and "See you in the playoffs" with the Yankee fans behind me, and then, curiously, Kaufmann puts on a fireworks show greater than a Grand Forks 4th of July. To celebrate their loss, I guess. However, it does lead to this picture that Danny took, entitled "Lane Goes Ape-Shit Bananas Over The Fireworks." I'm not saying it's the greatest picture of all time, but I'm not saying that it isn't.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

NFL Preview

No foreplay tonight, let's just do it.

NFC East:
1. Philadelphia
2. Dallas
3. Washington
4. NY Giants

NFC North:
1. Chicago
2. Green Bay
3. Minnesota
4. Detroit

NFC South:
1. New Orleans
2. Carolina
3. Atlanta
4. Tampa Bay

NFC West:
1. Seattle
2. St. Louis
3. San Francisco
4. Arizona

Wild cards: Dallas, Green Bay
1st round: Philly over Green Bay, Seattle over Dallas
2nd round: New Orleans over Seattle, Philly over Chicago
NFC Championship: Philly over New Orleans

AFC East:
1. New England
2. NY Jets
3. Miami
4. Buffalo

AFC North:
1. Baltimore
2. Pittsburgh
3. Cincinnati
4. Cleveland

AFC South:
1. Indianapolis
2. Jacksonville
3. Houston
4. Tennessee

AFC West:
1. San Diego
2. Denver
3. Oakland
4. Kansas City

Wild Cards: Denver, Jacksonville
1st round: Baltimore over Denver, New England over Jacksonville
2nd round: Indianapolis over Baltimore, San Diego over New England
AFC Championship: San Diego over Indianapolis

Super Bowl: San Diego over Philly

The NFC is just terrible. I would take San Diego, Indy, New England, Baltimore, and maybe Denver over anyone in the NFC. New Orleans has a chance to be great, but I think Donovan McNabb will be ridiculous this year, and the Saints are one year away. I would pick Chicago to fall off this year, but look at that division. That's 6 wins right there, and they can go at least 5-5 against everyone else. Tennessee's offseason crushed my heart. They have a great finish to last year, Vince Young looks amazing, and then they lose their top rusher (Travis Henry) top receiver (Drew Bennett) and Pacman Jones, who took a few punts back for TD's and played a decent corner. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention Vince Young agreeing to be on the cover for Madden. Awesome. So it's back to sucking for them. I didn't even have the balls to pick a big sleeper in either conference because a) the top of the AFC is too good, and b) the entire NFC is too shitty. I suppose keep an eye on Washington, depending on how Jason Campbell progresses, and maybe Miami. I think Trent Green still has a little bit in him. But if you remember last year's preview, I have been known to be wrong about Miami before. At least Culpepper isn't involved this time. Which reminds me, every time I read a headline such as "Don't sleep on Culpepper and the Raiders" I want to throw up a little. If he has his comeback year one year after I invested all my credibility in him....I'm not responsible for my actions.

I'm basically flipping a four-sided coin in the AFC. San Diego is the team I like the most, but Norv Turner running things is not promising. Indy doesn't strike me as the team to suffer from the Super Bowl hangover, and now Manning finally has some postseason confidence. I almost picked Baltimore to go all the way after they acquired McGahee, but I couldn't pull the trigger. My boy Steve McNair is just a shell of himself at this point. And New England....meh. I know they were close last year, and they definitely upgraded, but not as much as everyone thinks, in my opinion. For whatever reason, I just can't get on board with the Pats. So I'm taking the Chargers, but any of those four could easily do it. Any of those four would go at least 14-2 and walk to the Super Bowl in the NFC, which is sad. It's boring when the AFC, American League, and Western Conference are way better than the NFC, National League, and Eastern Conference, all at the same time.

But one thing I do know for sure, my fantasy team sucks. Hard.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


Lots of goings on these last few days. In a span of about 40 hours, Danny and I both found jobs, a noonball game, and a team for a basketball league that starts next month. After resigning myself to the fact that I would almost certainly be making the trek into Kansas City every day in order to get a decent "big kids' job" I found one here in town that suits me better, pays more, and is a much, much, much shorter commute than the other opportunities I had. So I am certainly thankful for that. And, in an ironic twist of fate, the company I will be working at resides between the 400 and 500 block of Gateway Drive. What was the address of Culligan Manor back in G.F.???? 416 Gateway Drive. It was meant to be. So anyways, I suppose the days of playing Madden, swimming, and dunking on a small plastic hoop in our living room while listening to the Karate Kid soundtrack are just about over. It was a good run, but it will be nice to get back to working again.

It was also a fantastic sports weekend for this guy as well, between Phil finally nailing down a tournament when Tiger was in contention, and of course the no-no that Clay Bucholz threw on Saturday. French has already done a wonderful job in painting a rosy picture entitled "The Red Sox Future" so I will not belabor that point any longer. Instead, I will take this opportunity to do something I do very well: complain about my bad luck. Since I don't get to watch Sox games unless they are on ESPN, I am a giant fan of GameCast. Especially these last couple weeks, when I have had less to do (see preceding paragraph), basically, if a computer is within my reach, then I am at least tracking the Sox game on GameCast. Due to golfing in the afternoon, then going straight out to eat and then to the bars, Saturday's game was the first game in weeks that I had no clue about....until Lane called to congratulate me. This is not the way you want to hear about something of this magnitude, especially considering the way both Lane and Dunph completely and totally jinxed the Twins' near-perfect game on Friday night. Now, you might be leaning back and saying to yourself or to whomever you may be reading this with, perhaps a loved one, "Wow. Big deal. Quit complaining, you gigantic homo." To which I would reply, "F you. When every possible small break you encounter every day continually bounces the other way, see how pessimistic you become." After seeing numerous everyday examples first-hand, Jon-Jon knows all about this phenomenon. I think at this point we need to come up with a term for it. It might make me feel better.

One thing that does make me feel better, that I just touched on in the last paragraph, was the Twins/Royals game last Friday. In about the 7th or 8th inning, Danny's brother David, who was at the game, called to let us know that Baker had a perfect game going. Good to hear. Then, as the 9th was about to start, Dunph calls. "Watching the Twins game?" We are now. I put the phone down, and not 15 seconds later it rings again. Lane this time. After getting off the phone with Lane, Danny and I look at each other and laugh. Everyone who has ever watched a single baseball game in their life knows what's coming next. First batter of the inning: 5 pitch walk. Goodbye perfect game. Two batters later: pinch-hit single. Goodbye no-no. Good times. Gooood times.

NFL preview coming soon...