Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This Vince Young Kool-Aid Tastes Even Better Than It Did Three Years Ago!

>> A very belated congrats to Ike and Andrea on the birth of their first child. The only thing that sucks was that as soon as I heard they named their son Beckett James, I was like "Sweet, that's awesome, congrats......dammit! I should've thought of that!" Taking my own first name and one of my favorite athletes and making a good-sounding combination out of it.....just like Ike to one-up my hypothetical son's name. Well-played, sir. As retaliation, my future son will be named Andrew Shawn Kemp Hammen. (Ike hasn't cared much about sports since the mid-90's Seattle SuperSonics.)

>> I haven't really gotten into the whole Twitter craze yet, although I've restrained myself from ripping on it at every opportunity (finally learning the lesson that maybe I shouldn't mercilessly bash things that I have a 80% chance of joining, four years after it's popular.) I feel like Twitter is a decent idea in the right hands; I read a few different celeb 'tweets' when I'm bored on the interwebs, and they're sometimes good for a few chuckles- I died laughing when Shaq pwned Oprah on her first twitter experience:


Shaq's reply: yo oprah, ur caps r on, btw

Can you picture Shaq's face as he types that response? I can. It's pretty awesome.

Anyway, I heard the other day that the incomparable NPH (Neil Patrick Harris to the layperson) had joined Twitter, and it's hilarious. He immediately started a running gag where he talks about how the 140 character limit is tough to get used to, and 'accidentally' cuts himself off (I'll refrain from putting up some samples, just click the link and read it. Start from the bottom of the page. It won't take long, he's got less than a week under his Twitter belt.)

And that's what Twitter should be about. Don't take yourself so seriously, just make me giggle. I don't care how bad traffic is on the way to the gym, or how there is currently a totally annoying person on the rowing machine next to you at the gym, or how you can't wait to watch some Entourage when you get home from the gym. Just jokes.

>> I hope everyone is watching The League (Thursday nights on FX, 10:30/9:30 central.) I've developed a bad rap in some circles (cough, Stephanie, cough) of only liking TV shows, movies, books, etc. that I find myself, and not the ones that are recommended to me. So I would like to take this opportunity to point out that I didn't start catching up on this show on Hulu until I received the recco from Jon-Jon. So there's that.

Also, I feel like this show has the potential to become sort of a Sex and the City for dudes, in the respect that every guy in his mid-20's to late-30's will compare the characters on the show to his own friend group (we're already guilty of this.) Give it a few months, and we'll be sitting around bullshitting with each other like chicks.......

"That is such a Ruxin thing to say!"

"OMG, you're such a Kevin it's redonk!"

"No way, I'm totally Andre and you know it! You're the Kevin, you slut!"

And so on.

>> Tomorrow morning I'm on my way back up to the Great White North for Thanksgiving. I'm excited for some good home-cooking and some good home-boozing. Everybody have a happy holiday, let's keep it real while keepin' it safe.

And I just realized that if I named my imaginary son Neil Patrick Hammen, I could call him NPH. Legend....wait for it.....dary!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dear ESPN Classic,

Please stop your marathon of college basketball games from the 1990's. You know that watching old games from my childhood is my soft spot- and normally I'd be appreciative of it- but we've got a brand-new season going on here! How am I supposed to pay attention to the current season when you're throwing this at me at the same time? I'm supposed to be researching games for gambling purposes- how will I know if UCLA really is this terrible this year if I'm too busy watching Allen Iverson and Georgetown vs. Jason Terry and Arizona in the 1996 preseason NIT championship? I can't tell if Gonzaga is for real, or if Michigan St. just played shitty, because I missed half the game when I realized that I could be watching the 1995 Duke/North Carolina game at Cameron Indoor. Jeff Capel hits a half-courter to send it to double overtime! Like I'm flicking away from that. Were all of Kentucky's freshmen just nervous for their first game, and is that why they almost lost to Miami of Ohio (sans Wally Sczerbiak)? I'm not sure, but I'll tell you what, look out for Michigan's 1992 freshman class. Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King, Juwan Howard, Ray Jackson? Lot of talent there.

I should give you some props; you did help me out one way. You quickly took my mind off how KU's shitfest against Memphis the other night was the worst-played KU game since 2005. Didn't take long for me to remember how much I hate having the preseason #1 ranking.

But still- if skipping the second half of the Liberty/Clemson game because I didn't want to risk missing Darvin Ham shattering the backboard against Carolina in the NCAA tournament ends up costing me money later in the season, I'm gonna blame you. (Yeah, I could've just watched it online, but it's so much better live.)


Your Boy

{Happy Friday. There is a very real possibility that I'm still hungover from last Saturday's 8am-2am drinking clinic that Gangel and I put on (apparently we didn't get the memo that it wasn't Springfest) so you can find me at home all weekend. Watching college basketball.}

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Top 5. Volume 11.

I hadn't watched the movie Fargo in about 12 years, except for bits and pieces on TV here and there. I hated it when it first came out, because I hated how it portrayed everybody from our area of the country as complete idiots. Whenever someone asked me about that movie, I gave my standard line: "I hated that movie. It set North Dakotans and Minnesotans back 50 years."

It was on TV the other day, and I decided that since I was older, presumably wiser, and could maybe enjoy the inherent comedy of ridiculing Norwegians now, I would give it another shot. Turns out my opinion had been wrong all these years. This movie actually sets us back 75 years, not 50. And it's not even really that funny anyway- I can't believe how much praise it receives and how many awards it was nominated for. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

However, the silver lining is that I watched it on TV, and every time they used the word "fucking" they replaced it with "frozen"- as in, "You've got your stupid little frozen uniform, huh buddy? Clip-on tie, big frozen man, huh?" Which for me goes right into the 5 spot on my top 5 TV versions of swear words in movies. Sometimes it's incredibly annoying to watch a movie on TV when they edit everything out- half the jokes in raunchy comedies become worthless (as Gangel and I found out during our hungover Sunday when we tried to watch Grandma's Boy on TV during football commercials) and how can you watch a movie like Goodfellas or Casino on TV? Half the time you're not even hearing De Niro or Pesci's voice, you're hearing the weird-sounding dubbed-in guy (and by the way, how do you get that job? What a resume-builder.)

But sometimes, just sometimes, whatever crap line they decide to throw in there in place of the offensive language actually upgrades the movie, due to its unintentional comedy. My top 4:

4. Scarface- the scene where Tony Montana is telling Manolo his plans for becoming a big player in the drug world.

Real line: "This town is just a great big pussy, waiting to get fucked."

Edited line: "This town is just a great big chicken, waiting to get plucked."

3. Snakes on a Plane- Samuel Jackson's iconic line that led to approximately one hundred million internet memes and made this movie popular months before it was released.

Real line: "That is it! I have had it with these mother fuckin' snakes on this mother fuckin' plane!"

Edited line: "That is it! I have had it with these monkey fightin' snakes on this Monday to Friday plane!"

2. Big Lebowski, when Walter is taking a baseball bat to what he thinks is Larry Sellers' car.

Real line: "You see what happens, Larry? Do you see what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass?!?!"

Edited line: "You see what happens, Larry? Do you see what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps?!?!"

1. Major League, during the last inning when Roger Dorn comes to the mound to talk to Wild Thing.

Real line: "Just do one thing for me. Strike this mother fucker out."

Edited line: "Just do one thing for me. Strike this guyyyyyyyyyy out." (with 'guyyyyyyy' being said in the weirdest dubbed-in voice I've ever heard.)

Other examples?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Time To Get Ill

>> Here's my pledge to you guys: every time that Tyler Hansbrough makes another shitty commercial, I will bring it to you. Every time. This one doesn't have any pedophile undertones, but it's at least 10 times dumber. (Also, someone please tell Psycho T to stop putting up 12 shots a game. Not only is he cutting into Brandon Rush's shots, but I've got a $20 bet** that he won't finish in the top 5 in the Rookie of the Year voting, and Hansbrough isn't helping me by jacking up shots like he's dying. He's not supposed to shoot except for putbacks and whatever free throws the ACC refs who followed him to the pros bail him out with.)

**The guy I have the bet with is a "huge" North Carolina fan, despite the fact that he was born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas, in the middle of one of the biggest basketball hotbeds in America. This scenario screams one of two things: "Baaaaaaandwagon!" or "I'm desperately trying to be different than everyone else!" It's like when I was in elementary school, and went through a year-long phase where I started cheering for Central High School sports, despite not having a parent who went to school there; having multiple friends with older brothers and sisters playing sports at Red River; and not having a single friend who even lived in the entire Central school district. Basically, I did it because a) I wanted to be different from all my friends, and b) there was a black guy who played for Central's basketball team who wore one knee-high sock and one low sock, and I thought it was the coolest thing on the planet. What was his name again?

I don't have anything to add here, this is just awesome. If anyone was wondering what to get me for Christmas....this blanket will do fine, just fine.

>> The Gangel Express rolls into town tonight for the Nebraska game (not really the game, per se, just the tailgating) and Ashley and a bunch of girls arrive tomorrow morning. For those of you who have been to our apartment, you know that it does NOT sleep 8 people comfortably. I'm pretty sure it's against our fire code, in fact. I think the plan is that Gangel and I are having a dudes-only slumber party in the living room, I'm giving up my half of the bed for a girl to share with Alex (that's hot) and then the Fortress of Solitude is gonna be invaded by girls. Should be interesting. In the category of 'going to the bathroom at 5 a.m., and then "accidentally" stumbling into the wrong room and climbing into a bed full of girls' Vegas has me at 4-1 and Gangel at 2-5. For my money, the safe bet is that at some point Ashley ends up rolling around in the backseat of the Element (I tried like seven different ways to type that sentence without making it sound dirty, and that's the best I could do. She really does enjoy taking full advantage of the extensive floor space in the backseat of the Element.)

In any event, we're gonna get Tyler Durden-drunk on Saturday (because we won't have any recollection of what we do from the hours of midnight-7 a.m.) The first rule in Project Mayhem is YOU DON'T ASK QUESTIONS.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Trip Down Mario Lane

So my most recent purchase (as some of my friends are busy buying houses and baby clothes) was a Super Nintendo. I hadn't officially owned one since like middle school, when I routinely played the "trading back-and-forth between SNES and Sega Genesis" game with Tiger Play, the used video game store in Grand Forks at the time.

(Tangent #1: that strip mall across the bike path from our 'hood- with Tiger Play, Gold & Silver Exchange (baseball cards) and Scheels (sporting goods)....that was all we needed as kids. The Bergman brothers and I probably spent 60% of our free time and 98% of our allowances in that strip mall. Just fantastic. Tangent #2: the shenanigans I pulled on stores when I was a kid were ridiculous. I would trade in my Genesis for a SNES, get bored and switch back a few months later, then switch again a few months after that, rinse and repeat, etc. etc., never paying a cent. Same thing with basketball jerseys at Scheels. During the 6th grade school year, off the top of my head, I had all these jerseys at one point, each one for no more than a few weeks at a time: Jerry Stackhouse, Anfernee Hardaway, Patrick Ewing, Jalen Rose, Nick Van Exel, Chris Webber, Jason Kidd, Jamal Mashburn, Larry Johnson, and my personal favorite: a Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf Denver Nuggets jersey. I was like a girl who keeps the tag on a fancy dress so she can return it after her gala event. What can I say, it pays to keep your receipts. End tangents.)

And yes, on days where I would wear the Abdul-Rauf jersey, I would pull this little routine during the Pledge of Allegiance in the morning, until my teacher realized what I was doing and shut me down. I just thought it looked cool, and didn't really understand that he was insulting America. I was, um, easily influenced at that age.

All through high school Fundy and I would occasionally trade each other SNES for Genesis, and then we lived together all through college, so I always had an SNES at my disposal. But the other day I woke up and realized I hadn't played one in a couple years, and that I really missed Super MarioKart. 4 hours later that problem was taken care of, and I've been rocking MarioKart pretty steadily again. I was quickly reminded that it's probably the most re-playable video game in human history, and how MarioKart had a starring role in two events that were instrumental in shaping the Hammen you know today:

1. The summer after our junior year of high school, ADawg (a notorious perfectionist) and I were signed up to take the ACTs on the same day. It was ADawg's second go-round, since he wasn't happy with his score the first time. In a situation that couldn't be more indicative of our respective personalities, he spent the days leading up to the exam taking and re-taking practice tests and generally just freaking out, while I spent it golfing and rocking out on MarioKart time trials, trying to wipe out all of Fundy's times before I returned his SNES (dick move, I know.) The night before the test, ADawg called to admonish me for not taking the test seriously enough (I wasn't worried, UND had already offered me a full ride on an intramural basketball scholarship) and I basically told him not to worry about it, and if he would ever stop nagging me, I could break the 1:45 barrier on Bowser's Castle. I eventually stayed up until 5 in the morning doing time trials, grabbed a two-hour nap, and dragged myself to the test looking like death. ADawg, fresh as a daisy as he aligned his sharpened #2 pencils at the top of his desk, tsk-tsked me and told me I deserved exactly what I got.

What I got was a 30, and as a result, an actual scholarship to UND that took care of most of my tuition (I turned down the intramural basketball scholarship because it just feels better to earn it academically rather than athletically, you know?) Once again it played out exactly like our personalities: upon learning my score, he went absolutely ballistic and didn't talk to me for a few weeks, which was mostly because every time we talked, I told him I was going to make a self-help video called "How to Succeed on the ACTs" and it was just going to be hours and hours of footage of me eating logs of cookie dough and doing MarioKart time trials, and did he want dibs on the first copy? To this day, if I bring up the ACTs around ADawg, he'll get pissed. Love it.

2. The first time I ever puked from drinking (what guys have to do at some point before we can call ourselves men- I like to call it our beermitzvah) was due to MarioKart. It was shortly after we moved into the dorms freshman year, at a get-together at Ike & Jake's apartment. Warning sign #1 that it was going to be a rough night was my buyer decided to ignore my request for Bud Light and picked me up a 30-pack of Schmidt and pocketed the change for herself. Classic case of a smoking hot 23-year-old taking advantage of a wet behind the ears freshman. She knew I wouldn't stay mad at her cause she was hot. Oh you girls.

The brew that grew with the great Northwest. Does anyone else have goosebumps right now? Maybe it's just me.

The second warning was when my idiot friends and I invented Drinking MarioKart that night. As most things with my friends do, it started with arguing; MarioKart is one of those things that every dude on the planet thinks he's the best at (along with Flippy Cup, and badminton. In high school, our "I'm awesome at badminton" arguments used to get so heated that we had no other choice but to sneak into the gym during our free hour and settle it on the court.)

Pretty soon we were racing each other in a 150cc GP, and whoever finished in a better place at the end of a race would chug half a beer; the loser shotgunned a full one. Considering that each race was only about a minute and a half long, things got ugly quick. Yada yada yada, I ended up dropping my controller in the middle of Rainbow Road and sprinting to the front lawn because I was about to become a man RIGHT THAT MOMENT. After I was done puking and passing out right there on the lawn, I came back inside to the party like three hours later and nobody even realized I had been missing. My friends are dicks, but in their defense, there was a pretty intense Battle Mode tournament going on. Also, I ended up drinking Schmidt's religiously for about two years after that, and it was a small miracle that I ever hooked up with girls at parties. That stuff made my breath smell like the inside of a prosthetic leg.

I feel sorry for the kids who are growing up now, in the era of PS3 and XBox, and online Madden and headsets and Halo and Call of Duty and all that jazz. That stuff is all well and good, but they'll never enjoy the classics like we do.

Suck it, Yoshi. Chug your beer, you dinosaur bitch.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bad Mood Today.

You know that Saved By the Bell episode, where in order for Zack to join the Rigmas, he has to sell out all his friends in front of the entire lunchroom? And things escalate, so eventually he gets sent to the principal's office, and Miss Bliss hands him back his new Rigma jacket (which had been confiscated during the chaos) and tells him, as only Miss Bliss can: "You better take care of that jacket. It was very expensive. Cost you four friends."

Today I can relate to what Miss Bliss was feeling.

Take care of that trophy, Yankees. It was very expensive. Cost you 208 million dollars.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Here We Go

Another college basketball season is upon us, and for the third time in my life, KU holds the preseason #1 ranking. So why haven't you been hearing me brag and talk a bunch of shit about it? Because I am older, wiser, and scarred from past experiences. The first time KU was preseason #1 ('96-'97) they rolled through the regular season with just loss, only to get stunned by Arizona in the Sweet 16- leaving me catatonic on my bedroom floor in my Jacque Vaughn jersey. The second time ('04-05) they started out the year crushing everybody, stumbled down the stretch, had some injuries, and lost in the first round to fucking Bucknell- leaving me passed out amidst a pile of empty beer cans on a bridge in downtown Indianapolis like a homeless guy. So needless to say, this scenario hasn't exactly led to good things in the past. Now I know that the preseason #1 ranking is completely worthless. All that being said....

....holy hell am I excited for this season to get started. While I would take the 2008 starting five (Robinson, Chalmers, Rush, Jackson, Arthur) over this starting five (probably Collins, Taylor, Henry, Mc Morris, Aldrich) I've never seen a KU team as deep as this one, top to bottom. They have 14 guys who could play legitimate minutes for any team in the country. 14.

Off the court, it's been one of the worst offseasons in KU history, between the brawl with the football team, Brady's DUI, and the local media jumping into the mix and basically making up stories in order to fuel the fire (probably should've researched the story behind Pollard's car for longer than three minutes before you released it, dipshits.....no big deal though.) But from a basketball standpoint, things couldn't have gone better. Both Collins and Aldrich decided to come back for one more year. The Henry brothers ditched Memphis and brought their crazy talent (and equally crazy dad) to Lawrence. Tyshawn Taylor improved in leaps and bounds, and was the MVP of the Under-19 Team USA that won gold this summer. The Morris twins, the biggest source of frustration for KU fans last year, bulked up 20-30 pounds each, rediscovered an old shot they had in their high school aresenal called a 'slam dunk', and didn't shoot anybody with a BB gun from their dorm room window. Freshman Thomas Robinson, recruited mostly for his rebounding and hustling abilities, has already rubbed off on the entire team and created a whole new mindset during practice.

The biggest concerns I have are all trivial:

Being so deep, there simply aren't enough minutes to go around. As a result, a couple of really solid players are going to have to redshirt (Travis Releford and Mario Little?) Can those guys accept that, or will there be bad attitudes and/or transfers?

Once Brady comes back from suspension, will all his minutes be taken by Xavier Henry? Brady's jersey was well on his way to making my Wall of Fame, but that could be in jeopardy now. One of the funniest sentences I've ever read on ESPN was just a couple days ago, when some writer penned the line "The Jayhawks hope that Xavier Henry can fill Brady Morningstar's minutes while he serves his suspension." Really? They HOPE that the #3 recruit in the entire country can make up for the absence of a white kid from Lawrence who takes 4 shots per game? Good research.

Why did Robinson have to choose #0 as his jersey number? The only thing lamer than that is the dreaded #00. Why do otherwise good KU players continue to choose these stupid numbers? Ostertag, Gooden, Arthur, now Robinson. Brutal.

Why did Bill Self institute a no facial hair rule? I mean, it's not quite Johnny Damon having to cut his Jesus-esque haircut-and-beard combo when he signed with the Yankees, but still....Sherron's chin strap beard was pretty sweet, and the Morris twins' goatees and sideburns were kinda baller. Give Brady a couple of months without a razor, and I bet he grows a mean 'stache, too. I blame the football team for instigating that brawl that led to this punishment.

Plus, facial hair was the only discernible way to tell the Morris twins apart. P.S. is it really necessary for both of you to get the exact same tattoos? You're already identical twins. Is this the Parent Trap?

So it's time to strap in and enjoy the ride, something that I'm much more well equipped to do since the title in '08. Old Hammen would already be on edge, hoping that this was the year KU finally won the title, yet waiting for the guillotine to drop and my heart to be crushed yet again. But New Hammen...New Hammen has a bunch of championship game DVDs and memorabilia in his pocket, and now he just wants to watch basketball and be happy.

Remember I said this when it's the second round of the NCAA tournament, and KU is down 10 to an 8-seeded team from the Big East at the under-8 TV timeout in the second half, with Collins battling cramps and Aldrich on the bench with four fouls.

Seriously, remind me.