Month: February 2009 (Page 1 of 2)

Knock Knock

M. has finally mastered the Knock Knock joke. It took some help from mom, but she can now say two jokes correctly: the old stand bys “Orange” and “Boo.”

This is a big deal because since she first discovered Knock Knock jokes a year ago, she’s kind of missed the point. Here’s an example of a 2008 M. Knock-Knock joke.

M.: “Knock knock!”
Me: “Who’s there?”
M.: “Pink flower.”
Me: “Um, pink flower who?”
M.: “Pink flower silly baby underpants! HAHAHAHAHA!”

It’s impossible to recreate exactly what her final response would be, but in each case they would be utter nonsense followed by her manic guffawing. It left me scratching my head, wondering if I had dropped her on her own head in her earliest months and somehow created this weird kid who said such odd things.

I’ll gladly take five minutes of the same two jokes repeated constantly over that.

She’s very good at riddles, also. Car trips around town are easy when she’s in the mood for riddles.

Talking The Talk

“What are the girls saying these days?” you ask. I share below.

I hope I’m not giving C. a complex. She has a small group of words that she pronounces incorrectly. She also has kind of a funny little voice, so when she makes her mispronunciations, it makes me laugh. And then I repeat them back to her, in a silly voice. Something tells me this is going to come back to haunt me when we have to pay for her therapy someday.

I’m not sure if you’ll get the full effect through text (I need to try to get these on video) but here is a list of words she mispronounces right now.

Mnyah Mnyah. That, of course, is oatmeal. I’m really bad about this one. After she says it once, I’ll walk around the kitchen saying, “C.’s having mnyah mnyah! Who wants mnyah mnyah?” and so on. Usually she starts screaming, “NOOOOO!” at me, but in a playful way.

Pineyar. This is a computer. S. was working on our taxes today, and our previous years are on my computer. So she had my MacBook Pro in her lap with her Dell next to her. C. liked that a lot. “Mom, you have two pineyars. Daddy’s pineyar wit dah apple on it, and your pineyar right dere.”

Yogrit. This one comes from M.’s mispronunciation. I like it when we only have one container of yogurt left and they start fighting over who gets it. “I asked for yogrit first!” “No, I want the last yogrit!”

Girled cheese. Another one learned from M.. I’m not sure what you do to cheese when you girl it, but they both like it on a sandwich.

Beyond those, she’s in the phase where almost everything she says is unintentionally funny. It’s that very verbal kid who isn’t quite three stage. She’s losing the baby talk and having longer conversations typical of an older kid. But there are always some quirks there that remind us that she is still two.

She tends to get hung up on stuff. There’s a boy in her class that I’ll call Justin.* Apparently he hit her way back in the fall. No big deal, and knowing C., she probably took a toy from him or something to provoke it. But every freaking day when I pick her up from school, she tells me that Justin hit her. If you ask her about school. “Justin hit me. Dat not berry nice.” The worst was when she was saying this while Justin and his mom were about three feet from us. I hustled her out the door without looking back to see if the mom had heard anything.

(Not his real name.)

Her latest thing has been to talk about one of M.’s classmates constantly. M. loves to make pictures for her friends. One day she was making lots of pics for her friend Cathy Barnes.** That got stuck in C.’s head, I guess, because for the past week everything has been about Cathy Barnes. She makes her own pictures for her. She talks about things they do together. She finds a way to include her in every conversation.

M. is not a good sport about it at all. She is in a bossy phase anyway and this is just another chance for her to correct C.. She got fed up yesterday, though. “C., Cathy Barnes isn’t even your friend. Stop talking about her!” C. just said, “Oh yeah! OK!” very sweetly. And then went back to talking about Cathy Barnes. It makes me laugh.

(Again not her name. And since there are two Cathys in M.’s class, she always gets the last name attached.)

Finally, anytime C. sees a commercial for Chuck E. Cheese, she starts jumping up and down and screaming “Chuck E. Cheese!” like it’s her favorite place in the world. She’s never been there. She just heard M. talk about it after a birthday party last year and apparently thinks it is heaven on earth. I hope she hasn’t built it up too much so that she’s disappointed when she gets a turn to go.

(The childcare room in our gym has some of those tunnels that are hung from the ceiling like they have at Chuck’s. Am I the only parent totally grossed out by those? Surely they aren’t sending some adult up there to clean them out every day. Blech.)

Kickin’ It With Casey

I owe my fellow music geeks some AT40 updates. So a couple items from the last two weeks are below.

Last week’s show was from 1986. I only caught the last 15 songs or so, and it was a rather unremarkable collection of music. Sure, I loved a lot of the songs at the time, but with the exception of The Dream Academy’s “Life In A Northern Town,” none are songs I still have any fondness for.

It was an interesting show, though, because it is one I remember listening to when it originally aired. How can I be sure? Easy. Before Mike And The Mechanic’s “Silent Running,” Casey shared the story of how they decided to use that as the song’s title. It comes from an early 70s movie that Mike Rutherford apparently liked. Anyway, I remember sitting in my living room, reading for sophomore English class (in a chair that is up in our bonus room right now), listening to that same explanation 23 years ago. Wacky, wild stuff.

Casey informed us that the movie Silent Running was supposed to take place in 2008, when the earth has been ravaged by pollution. Bruce Dern is in charge of a space barge that holds plant life that is to be returned to earth when the environment can sustain it.

Thank goodness things aren’t that bad, yet. But what is crazy is that in 2008 another movie came out about an earth covered in garbage and people being sent out into space until the planet was again capable of supporting them. Serendipity!

Wall-E rocks, by the way.

This week’s show was from February 23, 1980. Think about that date for a minute. Does it seem significant to you at all? If you were anything like me, on Saturday, February 23, 1980, you woke up with a gigantic smile on your face after what had happened <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_on_Ice”>the night before</a>. Seriously, if you’re my age, a guy, and you had to click the link to remember why that date is significant, I don’t want you reading my blog anymore. I’m through with you.

Anyway, I listened to the entire countdown and was impressed with myself for being unable to place only two songs. Perhaps my favorite part of the countdown was when Michael Jackson and Prince were back-to-back in the 30s with “Off The Wall” and “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” A sign of things to come in the decade.*

(I love this blurb about “I Wanna Be Your Lover” on <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Wanna_Be_Your_Lover”>Wikipedia</a>: “The song explains that although he may not be as financially successful as other men, he will please her like no other.”)

What stuck with me about the show was Rupert Holmes. Not ringing any bells? I wouldn’t have known the name either. But if I say “The Pina Colada Song” do you know who I’m talking about?** I thought so.

(Of course the song is officially called “Escape (The Pina Colada Song),” a classic case of the subtitle overwhelming the main title. Thanks to the Wikipedia, I now know that “Escape” was the last #1 song of the 70s. Cool. I also know that the song dropped from #1, then ascended back to #1 after the New Year. Thus, Holmes is the only artist to ever hit #1 with the same song in two different decades.)

Very freaking cool.

(Jim Lampley would point out that there was no year zero, therefore decades officially begin with years ending in one, and to assert otherwise would be intellectually dishonest. One of the great Jim Rome Show rants of all-time.)

So we all know “The Pina Colada Song.” However, Holmes also had another song in that week’s countdown, the follow-up called “Him.” In “Him” he sang of his lady’s mysterious man friend who seems to be hanging around an awful lot. So in one song he sings about wanting to find a little something on the side, only to rediscover the things he has in common with his old lady. In another he sings of his old lady’s dalliances. Sounds like someone was having some relationship issues when they sat down to write their album.

Check out his <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rupert_Holmes”>Wikipedia page</a>, though. The guy has had quite a career.

Talking To A Legend

Another effect of being on Facebook: I sometimes forget to post things to the blog. I’ll do a Facebook update and think I’ve covered a topic, when all I did was offer up a blurb that demanded a more in-depth accounting here. Here’s one story I should have shared with you.

The last game I covered was a girls game two weeks ago. I made the short journey to the high school where Eric Montross, Greg Oden, and Michael Conley all played their high school ball. It was pretty cool looking around and seeing the jerseys of guys who have made it to the NBA hanging from the walls.*

(How about Raytown product Tyronn Lue still hanging around in the Association? I thought he was done then heard he got traded last week.)

I sat through the game, did a quick interview, and when I returned to the scorers’ table, all my stuff had been moved and the table put away. I found a folding table near one of the locker rooms and sat down to crank out my story.

About 30 minutes later, the boys team rolled in from their game. I was right outside their locker room, and they were just kind of milling about waiting to see what their coach wanted them to do. I was busy writing, but since they were standing right around me, I was also sneaking glances at them. A full six members of the team have already signed LOIs or committed to play D1 ball.** I was trying to pick out who was who in between sentences.

(Four of the kids are committed to Louisville. Rick Pitino’s been spending some time in Indy, I guess.)

Eventually they got the all-clear and headed out. A few moments later, someone approached me from the locker room doors and asked if I worked for the Indianapolis Star. I told him what paper I worked for, without looking up, and tried to wrap-up my story. The gentleman walked by me and sat down in the first row of bleachers, about five feet away. I forget exactly how it went from there, but we ended up having a 10 minute converstaion while I was doing my final edits and sending the story in. After we had been talking for a moment, I looked up and realized it was the coach of the boys’ team. This isn’t just any coach we’re talking about. Here are a few of his accomplishments: over 500 wins, four state championships, the longest winning streak in Indiana history at 50 games (over the final two years of the Oden-Conley era), and a member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. So one of the best coaches in state history, and he’s hanging out, talking to me!

I made a mental note not to say anything stupid.

Before the team arrived, a parent came in and asked me for the girls’ score. He told me the boys had a close game themselves. So naturally I mention this to the coach.

“I hear you had a close one tonight?”

“No, we won by 19.”

Great. Idiot.

Anyway, other than that it was a nice conversation. I felt better about it than my story. It’s not every day you get to talk to a Hall of Famer. Lord knows I would never have chatted up Bud Lathrop back in my KC days.

Speaking of Indiana hoops, some love for the girls. The #1 team in the nation is right here in Indianapolis. Another local team was ranked in the top 15 earlier this year, and a team from South Bend is currently #5. I’m not sure what it is in the water, but it’s not just the boys around here who can hoop. I better get that basket in the driveway soon.

Going Along With The Sheep

It’s been a few months since I finally became an active member of Facebook. Based on my discussions with a few of you, my odd reaction to the experience is not one unique to me. It’s just a strange thing.

First, there is the reconnecting with people you haven’t talked to in ages. Here are some of the people I’ve friended in recent weeks: A guy who was probably my closest friend from fourth through eight grades, but had not talked to since 1990 or so. Another guy who I hung out with in fourth grade, but pretty much never again after that. A girl who caused me a lot of grief over the years.* It’s weird to send a couple messages back and forth and suddenly be caught up and friendly again. I’ve developed a quick, 2-3 paragraph generic “Let’s catch up” message for use in these situations. It seems to have worked so far.

(I’m deflecting. I brought all the grief onto myself.)

I’ve been reading several articles about Facebook and another common experience on FB is the friend request that you’re not really sure what to do about. This seems to be complicated for me since my 20 year high school reunion is this summer, and a lot of classmates are popping up on Facebook. That’s fine and all, but some of these people were folks I never talked to in high school, so it seems odd to me that they would want to share what they’re doing with me, and know what’s going on in my life.

My passive-aggressive method for dealing with this has been to accept any friend requests from high school people, but then select the option to get fewer of their updates, unless we’ve talked in the last 15 years or so. In my strange world, this means no uncomfortable “Why didn’t you friend me on Facebook” conversations in August. However, if someone is just recommended as someone I might want to be friends with, I ignore them.

I know, I’m weird.

My other problem with Facebook is what to list as my status updates. I have a friend that lives in New York and has worked for a number of very cool media outlets. He’s a very funny and clever guy, and his updates are always hilarious. I feel pressure to do something even half as funny as him.

But, for now, I’ll stick with it. A few of you seem to use Facebook as your main way of connecting with the world, replacing your traditional Inbox. And when things are happening, it’s kind of fun to see what different people are saying about it. Some of the various requests are annoying, but a few are fun, too. I owned the Christmas Vacation quiz, for example.

Here are a few interesting links I’ve collected about Facebook.

First, a good primer on how you can adjust your setting to help protect your identity, updates, etc.

<a href=”http://www.allfacebook.com/2009/02/facebook-privacy/”>10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know</a>

Second, why one writer is leaving Facebook.

<a href=”http://www.newsweek.com/id/183180/page/1″>You Can’t Friend Me, I Quit</a>

And finally, a good overview of the place Facebook has claimed in our lives and people who are still holding out.

<a href=”http://www.slate.com/id/2208678/”>Everyone Else Is On Facebook. Why Aren’t You?</a>

Ending The Worrying

I was surprisingly spry Friday and Saturday. Guess those 4-5 weeks of resistance training leading up to our personal training session paid off. The abs and back muscles were sore, but the good kind of sore. I did the workout again yesterday, augmented by some time on the treadmill at a big incline. I’m sorer from the treadmill than I was Friday. I’ll be interested to see what he has in store for us Thursday.

I Need A Shower

There’s a great show on Current TV called infoMania. It’s their weekly review program; their version of E!’s The Soup or VH1’s Best Week Ever. This week was the obligatory <a href=”http://current.com/items/89810903/this_week_s_infomania_tramps_in_schoolgirl_uniforms_the_worst_of_the.htm”>Valentine’s themed-show</a>, featuring some funny segments about online dating. They threw in a reference to a site for people who are looking to have affairs. The site’s tagline is “When Divorce Isn’t An Option.”

Ummm, ok.

I’m no prude and believe people can do what they want so long as they’re willing to accept the consequences, but isn’t this stuff supposed to be hidden? Like blind ads in the weekly alternative papers, or in the backs of porn mags? Not some fancy website with well-produced commercials?

(Watch the clip for the name of the site. It comes about 8:00 into the show. I really don’t want to link to it myself.)

Being a curious lad, I did have to check out the site. You don’t get much without registering, and I didn’t think my wife would understand me registering for such a site in the name of “research for the blog.” But I can report that they offer an Affair Guarantee. That’s reassuring.

Suddenly if feels like New York, 1977 in here.

And with that, Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody!

Let The Training Begin

I better write this now, because tomorrow I expect to be in great pain.

S. and I bit the bullet and signed up for a personal trainer at our gym. We thought what better way to ensure we’re consistent in getting to the gym, are meeting our goals, and throw some more money to them each month?

Our first session was today. The pain is already kicking in.

I should have expected it to be different. I think my image of a trainer was someone who put a plan together for you that wasn’t terribly different than what you could get from doing a little research on your own, then pushing you to stick to the plan while making sure you were using proper form, etc.

Our experience was different, though. We barely touched any weights. We spent lots of time using fitness tools we’d never used before. He had us doing exercises that seemed way too easy at first glance but then had us grunting and sweating and shaking by the third set.

We did squats, but without weights. First, against a stability ball that rolled up and down the wall with our motion. Then on our own without either the support or any weights. This was to check our core strength apparently. This was a real treat for my poor sense of balance. I only tipped over twice.

Then we did some push ups. Makes sense. Good, solid, traditional exercise. But after the first set, he threw us a curve. He got one of those things that looks like a stability ball cut in half, with a flat base one one side. He placed it curvy side down and had us assume push up positions. We then had to support our weight for 30 seconds. I kept that thing steady for about 10 seconds but after that was all over the place. I felt muscles firing I’m pretty sure I had never touched, even back when I was in the best shape of my life. The second set of these was brutal. Back screaming, hamstrings quivering, arms struggling to keep the half-ball from rocking too much.

We did three more exercises at Flex Motion (I think that’s what they’re called) machines. They’re weight machines, but with cables and long arms that allow you to pull them from dozens of different angles. Again the goal was to put our bodies into unexpected positions while working with light weights to develop the core muscles. Judging from the way I’m already tightening up, I think it did the trick. And this was after working out for a month. The workout floor is on the second floor of the building, and it was tough to walk down the stairs to get back to the locker room. At least I didn’t drop a kid on the way to the van.

Now we get to repeat the workout on our own twice before we meet with him again next week. Hopefully I’ll be able to move again by Sunday and can keep to our schedule.

Forgetting To Win

That’s the best way I can describe last night’s KU-MU game. The Jayhawks just forgot to win. Of course, Mizzou had a lot to do with that, as did both Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins operating on fumes the last four minutes. There were a few dicey calls, including a classic “Horrible Call That Only Happens When KU Goes To MU.” But those didn’t cost KU the game. They pissed away a game that was in the bag in Columbia last night mostly by themselves.

But here’s the thing: my philosophy this season has been that everything is prologue for the next couple years. This year’s squad is not going to be a Final Four contender. And while I’ve been pleased with much of their play, and their improvement over the course of the season, nothing about their play right now suggests they can get hot enough to win four straight games in the NCAAs. So some lumps, speedbumps, adversity, etc. this year is just going to make them that much better next season. And the year after that.

The lesson from last night is you can’t stop playing hard just because you have a double-digit lead in the last ten minutes. Just because you’ve been handling a team’s defensive pressure well most of the game* doesn’t mean you can ease up late in the game. And no matter how good your best players are, you can’t rely on them to score on every possession.

(Despite all the turnovers in the first 3/4 of the game, I thought KU did a great job against MU’s pressure. That’s the thing good teams do against pressure defenses: accept they’re going to turn the ball over some, but try to minimize those turnovers and be sure to capitalize when they break the pressure.)

So it’s crappy to lose to a rival, especially Mizzou, especially on Big Monday, especially when MU is having a very good season and there will be a talk show or columnist idiot or 12 who puts too much stock in one game. But, it’s all about learning. Tyshawn Taylor will not suck as much next year as he did last night.**

(I hope.)

What I had planned for yesterday was a quick evaluation of where the team is at. As I opened this post with, my guiding principle for this year has been it’s all about building for the future. Throw in what happened last March and April, and I’ve been decidedly mellow about this team. I’ve even skipped a few games, expanding my New Fan Plan to not take things so seriously.*** So I’ll try to recreate some of what I was going to post yesterday.

(Just remind me of how I had to flee the house during the Davidson game anytime I get too proud of myself for taking basketball less seriously than I used to.)

Going into last night, I was very pleased with where the team was. They were still a work in progress. But they were a missed free throw against Syracuse**** and one awful possession against UMass away from being 21-2 and ranked in the top 10. Not necessarily one of the ten best teams in the country, but ranked that high. Really only in the Michigan State game were they outclassed, and they played excellent in the final ten minutes of that game to make it a real contest. So I liked where we were.

(I’ll be happy if we never play Syracuse again, because it’s always going to come down to KU missing free throws.)

The Big 12 schedule was perfect for a young team searching for its identity. The next four weeks are going to be tough, as last night showed, but I think they’ll have a better chance in most of those games than they would have had in January.

Despite last night, the conference title is still a reasonable goal. Given how they’ve improved over the season, it’s not out of the question to think they can go to Kansas City and win the Big 12 tournament for the fourth-straight year. Or win a few games in the NCAAs. But, they could also go 3-5 over the next month, lose in the opening rounds of both the Big 12 and NCAAs. What matters is they’ve put themselves in position to make this more than just a rebuilding year. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but they’re capable of doing the work.

Some bullets:

Like most, I’ve been incredibly surprised and pleased with the play of Brady Morningstar. I figured he was just a placeholder, until Mario Little got healthy and the longer he was on the court, the less the chance we had of doing anything significant this year. The kid is a legit player. A morph between Jeff Boschee and Brandon Rush, with his ability to both knock down the deep jumper and defend just about any perimeter player. In many ways, he’s KU’s most important player over the first 20+ games of the year.

Mario Little has been a pleasant surprise, too. You always take Juco guys with a grain of salt, knowing that level of basketball is completely different than D1, and Juco players often bring loads of bad habits with them. Once he got on the court and acclimated, though, he’s made the team much better and tougher. He still has a lot of rust, but he also has an innate feel for the game that makes the offense work better. Plus, he can score from anywhere on the court. If he can continue to round into shape and get more comfortable in the system, he’s the guy who can take KU to the next level, which this year means a legit Sweet 16 contender. What a freaking shot to tie the game last night!

The Morris twins. I’ve probably never been so down on new players as I am on them. I hold out hope that they can get their heads together, listen to Danny Manning in practice, and fulfill their potential. But I long ago grew tired of their petulance on the court. Strike that, it gives them too much credit. They flat out play like pussies. Soft with the ball. Throwing cheap elbows and grabbing people after the whistle. Complaining about every call. These are clearly guys who have never been asked to do anything hard in their careers, and now that they’re facing challenges both on the court and from their coaches, can’t react like men. It’s one thing to be tough and throw a well-timed elbow in the heat of battle. It’s another to throw cheap shots.

I thought the T Marcus got lat night was pretty cheap. The replays made it obvious he didn’t go out of his way to run into Scott Thornley. And Thornley was looking right at him and could have avoided the collision as well. But all Marcus has to do is either take a different path to the bench, or reach out, put his arms around Thornley, and say, “My bad.” No T, they pat each other on the butt and move on. But he wasn’t even man enough to do that. Throw in the reputation he and his brother have earned this year, and the T was inevitable. And don’t get me started on their airballs from the baseline every game, weak layup attempts in traffic, and complete inability to dunk. I’ll trust that the coaching staff can get them to play smart, tough, and clean while harnessing their natural abilities. But I’m not a fan and am kind of hoping some of next year’s recruits turn them into spot minute guys.

Finally, I like the spot-up shooting that Morningstar and Tyrel Reed give the team, but they need another deep threat. Next year’s recruiting class, as currently comprised, doesn’t appear to offer that. It’s looking like we’ll have to wait two years, until Royce Woolridge arrives, to get the deadly deep threat we had in Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush last year. I’ve seen video of Woolridge, and he appears to be a phenomenal scorer. But it would be nice to have someone on next year’s team who can do that.

So that’s the state of KU basketball, from my view. A work in progress, to say the least, but moving in the right direction.

A-Rodgate

The best thing about the scandalous revelations that A-Rod, too, has ‘roided? That many less hours ESPN has to push the Duke-Carolina game on us. I bet they were sweating it, though, and were worried A-Rod wouldn’t talk to Peter Gammons until Wednesday. No way they devote the entire 6:00 p.m. Sportscenter to the interview and reactions on the night of the <strong>BIGGEST RIVALRY IN THE HISTORY OF RIVALRIES AND PROBABLY THE UNIVERSE ITSELF</strong>.

Quick take on A-Rod: not surprised, everyone was doing it, right? Nice that he’s manning up, to a point, instead of offering up vague apologies. But it’s not like he came out and admitted this on his own. It took the report of a positive test six years ago to get him to come clean.

And can all the sports writers out there just chill on the “Wait until Player X, who is clean, wipes away all the records from the steroid era” chatter? See what it gets you? Everyone is doing something for an edge. Never forget that.

 

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