Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Happy Birthday Fox

I've been meaning to watch the newest ep of lost online for the past few days, but it doesnt look good for watching it tonight either. If they can make me wait 3 weeks between new episodes, I can put off watching it for a few days (although this just might be hurting myself on this one).... there are just too many playoff games that demand my undivided attention. there are a million thoughts racing through my head but nothing coherent enough to make into a viable statement or post so i might just spit it all out at once. i've been meaning to try to come to terms with why I want to write a blog. my friend Jolly Skartvedt made his blog private because he doesnt want to chance future employers knowing about his unhappiness with catholics. I don't know what the point of even having one is if you don't let other people read it. why not just write down your ideas into a word document that you keep tucked safely away in your computer?

I realize that this blog has no overriding direction, purpose or flow to it. I guess I never really intended to have one. My two primary inspirations to start a blog were my friend Andy's extremely entertaining and insightful page and FreeDarko. These are my top two blogs that I keep tabs on in my reader. Both are well written, and really make me wish I had more to say as a writer every time I read them. The thing is, they both have a relatively defined niche that they occupy well. CanOfBallsForTheNiceGuy ( I changed the name finally) might never be a post-a-day blog or have a consistent vision, but for right now, I'm not too worried about it.

At once i don't mind commuting bc i feel superior to every other zombie that i see along the way but scared that i could turn into them. ive narrowed it down to approximately a 70 min door-to-door journey which by all accounts isnt too terrible. the train is my favorite mass transit option because i can sit and read the paul krugman book im working my way through, which I couldn't do as well if I am standing up or sitting on a bus. Krugman is able to make himself sound like a honest-to-god seer in terms of the united states economic and political policy decisions that he suggests and the extremely intelligent, if not smarmy, way that he makes his case against the Bush administration's actions over the past 8 years.

The most depressing part of my day was cataloging interviews by the Kansas City Royals manager and 2 players done a few weeks ago. The beginning of any season gives hope to even the worst teams out there that if they work hard enough, only worry about the game directly in front of them, and a host of other tired cliches that they will have a chance. This type of world beating thinking happens at the start of any sports season and it is only through the grind of a full season that these teams become exposed to the truth about their place in the universe. I really do hope that the Royals can take all of the young talent that they have been developing/acquiring and do something with it, but logic dictates that it will only be a matter of time before they are sitting a pretty 20 games out of the playoffs.

I'm officially on the Hawks bandwagon despite having picked the Celtics to win it all a few posts ago. If they had given Salim Stoudamire more burn in place of bibby they would have taken care of those pesky celtics by now. The Warriors of 2008? Josh Smith is one of the top 5 most entertaining players in the league.

Monday, April 28, 2008


Last night I was watching the end of the New Orleans- Dallas game and that gatorade commercial with the heavy music and garnett sweating orange came on for about the 10th time in the half hour I had been tuning in. I was thinking at that moment how great it would be if I had TiVo or other DVR on that tv so I wouldn't have to deal with the same tired ads every break in the action. I realize that the proliferation of this type of technology is a huge issue in terms of the effectiveness of companies getting their message out through television commercials. Consequently this is obviously also an issue for the entire television industry since they are so dependent on advertising for revenue and if people have the ability to skip through commercial breaks the whole system would appear to be in jeopardy.

My thought here is that this could possibly serve as an impetus for companies to stop producing multitudes of shitty commercials. With the advent of YouTube, the best commercials are going to be seen millions of times though word of mouth, links, email, etc... The Kobe-Aston Martin spot for adidas has been seen at least 4 million times, if not more, just on Youtube. Viewers have the ability to watch what they want and weed out the rest. Will companies be forced to actually produce quality commercials or face getting pushed out by others who do?

I realize not every commercial can generate the interest that the Kobe one did, but I would think just as a general rule that companies would be much better served producing one or two really eye-catching, lovable commercials per year or quarter or whatever than pumping out tons of mediocre ones. I feel the Kobe spot and others like it are so successful particularly because it doesn't feel like it was all over the airwaves anytime an NBA game was on. There was this buzz that was generated without having to shove it down the throats of consumers. People were blogging, debating and watercoolering whether it was real or not and it had people talking while subconsciously having the three-stripes logo in the back of their mind.

What about the Frank Caliendo show? Sure his commercials were good at first, but having to see his face every half inning of the 2007 MLB playoffs completely turned me off to the idea of watching his show. I was much more apt to watch it a couple months earlier when there were just quick glimpses of his spot-on impersonations. I was just left over-saturated with that asshole and had no desire to watch anything else that he put out.

a) I have a hard time understanding how the television industry will operate with DVRs and YouTube gaining such ground in making our lives easier and better. I know online media and advertising are growing at phenomenal rates. I'm just not too proud to admit that I don't quite understand how it is all going to play out. Any help would be appreciated.
b)Viral marketing is where its at. Give me a taste of what you're selling but don't give me the whole thing. I think people in general are inquisitive and curious. A little mystery or intrigue is alright with me.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Walk the plank

I begin the first 'real' job of my life tomorrow. I've worked a number of other jobs( construction with my dad, temping at the Children's Home, internships, student employment, etc...) but this is going to be my first legit, 40 hour a week- permanent job. I'm going to be working at MLB Productions in Manhattan. I found out about it while reading an article about a number of Vassar alumni that work there. I started talking to one of them via email and was able to learn about what they do and it really seemed like a fun and interesting place to work.

I am going to be living with my wonderful grandparents in Cranford, NJ and taking the train into work for the foreseeable future. I am really excited for this step in my life to begin and am curious to see where it might take me. Part of me is definitely disappointed that the bike trip is not happening and I am going to be a working man instead of a cross country cyclist this summer, but this is where I'm at now and am going to embrace it. I can definitely think of worse things that I could be doing than getting to deal with MLB video footage for my living.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Playoffs Start Tomorrow!!

I don't think I've ever been this excited about the NBA Playoffs as a whole. There are just so many great matchups and such potential for classic 6-7 game series. What follows is first the opening matchups for both the West and the East followed by my humble predictions as well as my 11 year old brother William's picks. My gut feeling tells me that he will probably have more success here because he isn't hindered by an irrational belief that the Suns must make the finals at least once before the Steve Nash-era ends. There was much debate between William and myself as to whether Caron Butler could hold his own against Lebron and if Jason Kidd gave the Mavs a better chance in a loaded Western Conference. I'm disappointed G.S. isn't gonna be involved but I can't wait to see how it all plays out...

1 Lakers- 8 Nuggets
2- Hornets- 7 Mavs
3-Spurs- 6 Suns
4- Rockets- 5 Jazz

1 Celtics- 8 Hawks
2 Pistons- 7 Sixers
3 Magic- 6 Raptors
4 Wizards- 5 Cavs

Joe’s Picks

Lakers, Hornets, Suns, Jazz
Lakers, Suns

Celtics, Pistons, Magic, Cavs
Celtics, Pistons

Celtics over Suns

William’s Picks

Lakers, Mavs, Spurs, Rockets
Lakers, Mavs

Celtics, Pistons, Raptors, Wiz
Celtics, Pistons

Pistons over Lakers!!!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Ballplayer

Barack Obama has been linked numerous times to basketball. Earlier in the Primary contests he claimed he played pick-up the morning before the Iowa caucuses that he won and he did not play the morning of the New Hampshire primary which he lost. He joked later that he knew why he lost in New Hampshire and would definitely be playing every morning of a contest.

I remember reading a number of different articles earlier about his connection and love for the game. Having never actually seen him play, I was imagining today what sort of player the man is. Is he a real player or does he just have some lame, old-man politician game? When I think of a politician playing basketball, I immediately assume that they don't really know how to play the game but pretend they do. They probably hack the shit out of you and then call any bump on the other end. They would be super competitive, call for the ball to be checked every time down the court, and would try to lie about the score.

I want to give Barack the benefit of the doubt though. I I wondered what his jump shot looked like. Is it smooth to the point that you can immediately tell that even if he's a little rusty that its still legit? At 46, most athleticism usually has abandoned you so I'm not going to fault him if he does not impress in the respect. I guess what I really wanted to know was whether this Obama-Basketball story line is some sort of feel-good, connect-to-athletic-community-type or if he really is a basketball player in truth and form.

I found two videos of the big guy playing some ball.
The first is footage of him playing in high school. Supposedly he was on the state championship winning team in high school. Takes an outlet and goes the length of the floor for an uncontested lefty lay-up and then tries to poke away a steal, leading to one by a teammate. Misses a free throw with his team up 34 points but continues to play solid pressure defense on his man at the other end. Overall, he looks like a good player but you can't really make much out of this video. He did rock the #23 before Jordan made it happen, word.
The second is a stupid news clip of him shooting, and nailing, a single jumper in front of the cameras and on lookers. Not much to say about this one, kind of impressive that he made it with no warm up with all kinds of clowns watching him and wanting to talk about him playing basketball.

After some quick analysis and conferring with myself, I have decided that he is not some sap politician who suddenly decides he wants to likes basketball when he runs for office. He obviously has a lot of history with the game and is genuinely passionate about it. He obviously has some other commitments that he has to take care of before he can go look for a quick game, so he might not have as much time to play as he would like, which is understandable. You've got to do what you've got to do. I really believe that if you are a basketball player, the type of player you are conveys a lot about who you are in life. That being said, I would love to lace 'em up against Barack and see what he's like on the court.

While doing a quick search for some articles to reference here, I came across this one that has some fairly strong racial overtones in regards to white vs black players. It is interesting particularly because it comes from Obama's brother-in-law and current Head Men's Basketball Coach at Oregon State, Craig Robinson. Such binding archetypes serve to retard social understanding of the game of basketball as well as race relations more broadly. According to Obama himself, in order to move past the barriers of race we have to address them outright and without closed mindedness. The white slow shooter and the athletic black guy dunking can be just as damning as other overt generalizations on the basis of race, sex or otherwise.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Phoenix Stars

I as big a fan of the diesel as anyone. I love the man, I've loved watching him play ever since I started following the NBA. Shaq-attaq! I eat it up.

However, the acquisition of the big guy by the phoenix suns has really skewed my perception of my previous favorite team in the league to watch. Since they got Nash from Dallas, the suns have been an absolute joy to watch, with that first year with Joe Johnson and pre-Knick disaster Q-rich. Nash orchestrated the show brilliantly with the shooters spreading the floor and amare and marion sprinting straight lines up and down the court for easy dunks, the suns were easily the most enjoyable team to watch for years.

As much credit as Nash got with two straight NBA MVP awards and league-wide acclaim, there was always the feeling that without marion and amare playing out of position and being able to beat their men down the court on every play the whole dynamic of the team would be different. The suns were able to capture our attention because they didn't play like most other teams in the L, especially not like the spurs. They threw up shots quickly and played at a frantic pace because they had the pieces to do so.

I've been pulling for them every spring lately, I've wanted to believe that this type of style can win a championship in this era. You don't have to grind it down with a slow, boring an predictable offensive attack to win it all. However, with the Shaq trade, the Suns organization itself finally admitted that even they did not believe it could be done.

They conformed to the notion that a championship team is built around a steadier game plan. I will still be rooting for the suns based on how much I love Steve Nash go an entire game without making a single mistake on the basketball court and seeing Stoudemire roll to the basket and rise up on anyone in the league.

Announcers and critics have fallen in love with making claims about how the game slows down in the playoffs and defense wins championships and all that bullshit. They love pointing out in the waning seconds of the suns season that in the end their style couldn't take them all the way. Its a sad day when all the critics of a certain style get so loud that those who practice that style actually start to believe it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I don't believe in role models, but you're mine!

-Great video of Spree and C-Webb in a barbershop back in the day (stole this link from TrueHoop, it was just too good)

-I'm watching a women's college basketball game for the first time in I don't know how long tonight. I'm not gonna lie, i really just want to see Candace Parker play.

-The beard that I have been carefully cultivating for the past 2+ months is on its way out. It's been a good run but now that we're finally seeing some warm spring weather, the whiskers have got to go. I'll post some pictures soon.


So, my brain child for the past few months, Will Bike For Food, has unfortunately been put on hiatus. I have been thinking about and planning this trip since I came up with the idea last November. I am extremely disappointed that something I put so much effort and time towards is not going to happen exactly as I would like, but this isn't the first time and likely won't be the last. What is something worth if there was no struggle to obtain it? In the end, it just wasn't meant to happen this summer for a number of reasons.

1) Not enough riders.
In the beginning, the idea was that there would be about 10-15 riders who would be willing to spend the summer biking across this beautiful country in order to raise money for the hungry and impoverished. However, despite working feverishly to recruit people to join, only 3 riders, myself included, were willing to bike all the way from Poughkeepsie to Portland. A group this small would have been extremely hard pressed to accomplish the goals that we had set out.

2) Not enough support.
From potential donors, potential sponsors, and potential riders. I felt for the most part that I was trying to prop up this idea and project I had despite all kinds of negative circumstances and situations. Businesses were not willing to financially back an endeavor that had such a small following and in such a short time frame. There was definitely something missing with the whole thing. It might have been the lack of ferocity that the original organizers, Jer and I, had towards raising money for the charity.
The initial notion was to organize a x-country bike trip that would benefit a worthy charitable cause. I look back on it and can't help but feel that it would have had a much better chance if the cause was truly something that we were extremely invested in. This is not to say that I don't care about helping those in need, but after hearing about other groups who rode to raise money for cancer or heart disease research, I feel that their impetus was stronger than ours in this regard.

3) No money.
In order for the trip to happen, we needed to have some sort of financial support in the form of corporate sponsorship. I don't have enough $ right now to fund something like this to the extent that I want to take it. This wasn't happening and I don't have the time in my days to devote the time that would be necessary to make it happen.

I am still thinking of scaling down the trip into a tour of Dutchess County that would help to raise money for Dutchess Outreach and their need for a vehicle to pick up donations and make deliveries of life sustaining resources (food, clothing, water, etc...). This type of project would require very little funding while also having the potential to attract support and resources from local businesses. More people would be able to take part in a weekend ride than a 9 week journey. Dutchess County is beautiful and has an active bicycling community. I think that this is a much more realistic project and am going to be exploring the possibilities of putting it together.

In closing, this type of trip is not impossible. It does however require a number of motivated people with free time working on making it a success. If nothing else, it was a great learning experience as I was forced to teach myself a lot about fund raising, long distance bicycle touring, corporate sponsorships, local charitable organizations, and a ton of other things. I met and spoke with some incredible people and had my eyes opened to parts of the world, and Poughkeepsie, that I did not know existed.

(completely unrelated, check out the above picture. its a photograph right?)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Title Bout

Memphis-Kansas. I think a fair way to pick this game is to look at the future NBA players suiting up for each squad.

Memphis has Rose, CDR, and possibly Dozier and Dorsey. Rose is looking like a future all-star while CDR will likely be a solid scorer off the bench for an NBA team. I can see both Dozier and Dorsey finding spots on a 15 man roster as athletic defensive-minded big men.

Kansas has Rush, Arthur and possibly Kaun and Chalmers (not to mention my boy Aldrich who looked like their best player at times on Saturday). Rush and Arthur will both definitely be rotation players in the league, but I think it might be a stretch to call either of them future all-stars. Kaun and Chalmers give themselves a chance because they can meet certain needs (fairly athletic and coordinated 7footer and defensive point guard) .

Considering the fact that both teams are deep and well coached, I am going to take Memphis because of this edge in NBA impact talent.