Thursday, October 28, 2010

Two Oh Oh

Welcome to post number 200. Quite a milestone there, 200. It’s a good number when referring to rushing yards in an individual football game, not so good a number regarding batting average. It’s the ideal number, in dollars, to withdraw from the ATM. Less, and it means you’re nickel and dime-ing it and making constant ATM runs. More, and it means you’re probably paying rent in cash, rarely a sign that things are going well. Under most circumstances, it’s a good weight to bench press and a bad weight to be. Does 200 mean that I’m going to go nostalgic and that I’m going to throw out a bunch of meaningless statistics? After all these posts, you should already know the answer to that.

This blog started in September of 2007. Oh, how things have changed since back then. Back then, The US was in two wars and North Korea was a crazed though starving threat near me that occasionally rattled the sabre. France was on strike. Indonesia was rife with natural disasters. Phillies slugger Ryan Howard was known for strike-outs. The Denver Broncos were heading toward a post-season free from the stresses of playing football.

Hmm, that all sounds familiar. Things must have been quite different for me personally. In fact, they were. Back then, I lived two buildings away from where I do now. My commute has gone from 7 minutes on foot to 3 minutes. Back then I bought pizza every Monday and a hot dog every Tuesday, whereas now I buy a hot dog every Tuesday and pizza every Monday. Since those long-ago days, I’ve probably met dozen of new people. I daresay I have made ones of new friends since then.

The first post on this blog was by my esteemed colleague and brother Dr. Kickass. It was about sports failures. The 199th post was by me, and the topic was similar. My first post was this blog’s third overall post, and it was a one-paragraph response to Dr, Kickass’s prior post. Like my old Myspace blog and pretentious poetry, it was written in all lowercase.

This blog’s most prolific month was its second, October of 2007 with a whopping 18 entries. The first posts that we wrote that actually garnered some comments were Kickass’s “For Title’s Sake,” which was about good and evil college teams; and my “Eighth Grade Man,” which was a post focused on making fun of my friend Don.

Three years in, I’m proud that no other space on the internets matches NES/NAS in our ability to preach the sanctity or profanity of certain sports teams. Also, certainly no other site manages so much success in the field of making fun of Don.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Football update

Now how's that for a title?

I’m surprised my last post got so much Big Red love based on my tangential introduction. I’ve never cared for Nebraska myself. Of the 46 states that I’ve been to, I’ve spent the least amount of time in Nebraska despite the fact that I lived under 100 miles away from it for 20 years. I’ve spent less than one hour in that state, and 97% of that time I was asleep. In fact, I’ve spent much more time in North Carolina’s airports and South Carolina and Alaska’s airspace, 3 of the 4 states that I haven’t been to, then I have in Nebraska. One of my favorite jokes - What does the “N” on Nebraska’s helmet stand for? (K)Nowledge.

Though Nebraska was always the regional football power when I was growing up, I don’t think I ever liked them. The pre-1994 teams were always the dominant midwest force, beating KU 77-0 or so every year. Then they would go to the Orange Bowl to either lose a close game or to be murdered by a Florida school. In 1994 and 1995, they finally found their way. They stopped being a national embarrassment on the field and instead became one off it, thanks to Lawrence Phillips on both accounts. Of course, by this point, Notre Dame had begun their long hibernation, KU’s resurgence was a long way off, and I had discovered drugs, so college football went on without me.

The NFL, however, I’ve always kept up on.

It turns out, as per usual, that most all of my pre-season NFL predictions were wrong. Everything I said about the Jets looks laughable. They’re for real. The Chiefs seem at least 60% for real as well, and in the AFC West this year, a 60% winning percentage should result in a home playoff game. Granted, that home playoff game the Chiefs may earn will find them hosting Baltimore, Pittsburgh, New England, the Jets, or Tennessee, ie, they will definitely lose by a lot. Still, should they make the post-season coming after a 2-14 season, that’s more than I signed up for, and I’ll be happy. I know it’s still early to speculate, but the Chiefs should beat the Rams, Cardinals, and Jaguars, and they should sweep either the Broncos or Raiders while splitting with the other. That’s 9 wins, which should be enough to take this crappy division. Strangely, I’m most frightened of the Rams. They’ve been frisky, and Bradford looks like the most interesting rookie QB in years. Then again, so did Matt Ryan. The Bears, on the other hand, may be a simply atrocious football team that will be lucky to win another game. Enjoy being a DC in, say, Houston next season Lovie.

I will now delight you with a fantasy football tale. If you don’t care about such matters (and how could you not?) then you should stop here. I won’t mind. I’ll see you in a couple days to talk TV.

All 3 of my fantasy teams this year, somehow, are horrible. I’ve had horrible luck to start with, from the early rounds (Ryan Grant, DeAngelo Williams, Shonn Green, Randy Moss) to the “utility” middle rounders (Joe Flacco, Mike Simms-Walker, Jermichael Finley, now Dallas Clark too) to later round crafty veterans (Clinton Portis, Thomas Jones). Even my kickers and defenses were lame, and I’ve changed both so many times in all 3 leagues that I no longer have any idea who my kickers and defenses are. I’ve been shrewd in free agency and trades since then though, and I still think all of my teams, even my 1-5 one should be in the playoff hunt. Last week, as I began my comebacks, fantasy football really hurt. Turns out instead of coming back, I went 0-3.

I basically lost 2 games on the same mundane play.  In one game, my opponent had the Tennessee defense, and in the other, my opponent had Jacksonville’s kicker Josh Scobee. On Monday Night, Jacksonville had the ball on the Tennessee 3, 3rd and goal, and down 20-0 in the 3rd quarter.  It was obvious 4 down territory, as a touchdown would make it a 2 score semi-competitive game. Tennessee, of course, sacked Jacksonville quarterback Trent Edwards for a 12 yard loss. Ballgames. See, a fantasy defense scores 2 points off a sack, so my opponent who owned the Tennessee D scored 2 points off that sack - and beat me by one point. This sack also forced Jacksonville to kick a field goal, as it was now 4th and 15 instead of 4th and 3.  I lead by 1.5 in my other game but Josh Scobee trotted out and kicked the chip-shot field goal, putting me down by 1.5.  2 losses, 2.5 points.  D’oh. And Stupid Jacksonville still lost to Tennessee 30-3. Tennessee covered the spread by a mile. I may have been the only person in America affected by Scobee’s meaningless kick, and I’m not even in America.

Kyle-toast stays in 1st place in that league, even though he didn’t even draft his own team or autodraft. No, another buddy in the league, Jed, drafted for him. Jed ended up getting him AP. Roddy White, Miles Austin, Shady McCoy, Phil Rivers, and Arian Foster. Jed literally picked the best possible player he could have gotten in each round. At least Jed got his karmic come-upance for drafting 2 teams in the same draft - his own team is 1-5 and in last place.

TV party coming soon.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Baseball Gods still hate me

A girl in class the other day wore a sweatshirt with a football on it, and the shirt read “Michigan: 1997 Natural Champions.” Konglish (ie, Korean English based in mistakes) actually kinda worked here. In the 1997 college football debate, I always felt that co-champ Michigan was the natural champion, and that co-champ Nebraska was more the man-made, false champion. Then again, what do I know? Michigan’s victory over Ryan Leaf - led Washington State in the Rose Bowl doesn’t exactly hold up so well in College football lore anymore.

I have less to say about the current incarnation of college football. The less said, the better, given the performances of the Kansas football Jayhawks and Notre Dame.

I can’t say that I’m particularly happy with the Baseball Gods either. I suppose I never am, given that each season’s playoffs are generally just another boot in the face. This year, I mean that for both the MLB and the KBO (Korean Baseball).

Kia, my beloved, defending champion Kia, shat the bed this season. They didn’t make the playoffs. It’s an 8 team league and 4 make the post-season, so it’s not hard to do. This year’s Korea series involves the Samsung (Daegu) Lions and the SK (Incheon) Wyverns. I don’t care for either team. In fact, they are likely my two least-favorite Korean teams. Samsung is the richest team, as they are sponsored by the biggest company. SK have been in the finals every year that I’ve been here, and they’ve won it twice. Also, Incheon is probably the least interesting KBO town. SK also has basically zero out of town fans, like the Jacksonville Jaguars or the San Diego Padres. I don’t care who wins. I lose.

In the American baseball playoffs, I was pulling for the Devil Rays given that I worked for them, but they made a quick exit. The remaining four teams are, in my book, a pretty contemptible bunch. Not as bad as previous years, don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to avoid dealing with Rocky Fan or Nelly Fan or, god help us, Pink Hat Fan. However, I really don’t like:

The Yankees. Who does?

The Rangers. I still hate George Bush. I always will. Speaking of long seeded grudges -

The Giants. They beat the Cubs in the 1989 NLDS. I know I should be over it. They have a great stadium, play in a great city, and Willie Mays played for them. I’ll still never like them, just like I’ll never like the Miami Dolphins after they beat the Bears in 1985 and I’ll never like the Knicks for taking the ’92 Bulls to 7 games and I’ll never like Duke, UCLA, UTEP, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Virginia, Syracuse, Arizona, Rhode Island, Kentucky, Illinois, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Bucknell, Bradley, and Northern Iowa for having the audacity to beat KU in the NCAA tournament.

I guess that means I’m cheering for the Phillies. I’m pretty sick of de-facto cheering for Philadelphia teams simply because none of them have ever done anything particularly offensive to any of my teams. Yes, I’m aware that Philly beat the Royals in the 1980 World Series, but that’s before my time really. Also, the Eagles beat the Bears in the 2001 playoffs, but everyone knew that the 2001 Bears were crazy lucky and likely the worst 13-3 team of all time, so no hard feelings. Speaking of weak 13-3 teams, I also hold no particular grudge toward the Indianapolis Colts. The 13-3 Chiefs teams that lost to the Colts at home in 1995 and 2003 pretty much worked as hard as they could to lose those games. Stupid Chiefs. ’95 defense plus ’03 offense = ’85 Bears. ’95 offense plus ’03 defense = ’08 Lions.

Later this week - yayhooing about the NFL.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Eating cake that I also have

You didn’t really think it would be a clean, smooth, flawless break, did you? That’s just not how life works. Not real life at least.

Yes, I’m talking about the quitting smoking again. It’s still a big ball of un-fun.

According to my mother, her father quit smoking cold turkey, no questions asked, in like 1957 because there was an article in Life or Harpers or something that indicated that smoking may lead to consumption or typhoid fever. From what I understood, he finished the article, put out his Camel Shortie, crushed the remainder of his pack like it was the skull of a communist sympathizer, and never gave a second thought to the evils of tobacco for the rest of his days.

I’m not as hard core as my grandpa, either grandpa, or your grandpa come to think of it. No, I come from the latter end of the generation that determined that $800 is a fair price to pay for a stroller, and that their offspring will thus be stroller-bound until they are 11. If I ever have kids, I’d like to day I’d push them around in a shopping cart. Good thing I won’t have too. Right now, as we speak, some hipster mom in Brooklyn is spending nearly a grand on a stroller. Realistically, the soonest point in which I’ll need a stroller is 5 years from now, in which case I can buy that very stroller from said hipster for 38 bucks.

I digress. I don’t care about strollers. They don’t exist in Korea, which is another thing I like about living here. Kids who are old enough to not be carried fucking walk.

My first day not smoking was horrible. I reached for cigs that weren’t there every five minutes. Break times at work seemed pointless. Honestly, I even enjoyed work, because work is a time in which I’m used to not smoking (outside of breaks.) My first week didn’t get much better. Out of principle, I went 2 whole weeks before I bought some bullshit non-tobacco (but still bad for you) flavorless herbal cigs, and 3 weeks before I bothered to bum a real cigarette. It was all I thought about. It was, as I so often framed it, a break up.

I couldn’t go on like that forever. I started degrading, just a little. I’d bum one, maybe two smokes every Saturday night. My America trip drew closer. I knew that I couldn’t avoid smoking at all in Lawrence. Knowing this, I got a little sloppier here, bumming smokes on a Wednesday night.

Imagine that you had been married for 17 years, only the wife never aged that whole time. You divorced. You and the wife’s song was, say, “Everlong”. Your movie was “Casablanca”. Your honeymoon was in Paris. Imagine you then went to Paris on business. While walking around Paris, “Casablanca” was projected onto the side of every building. At the same time, “Everlong” was being piped onto every square inch of the city. Would you call her? For me, that’s like smoking at the airport. The airport is me and Madame Tobacco’s song. It’s our movie. It’s our town. On my flight from Seoul to Tokyo, I didn’t smoke at the Seoul airport to prove a point. I did smoke at the Tokyo counterpart to prove another. On my next layover, in Minneapolis, I was happy I quit, because I didn’t have the option to smoke without fantastic inconvenience, so I opted not to. Trust me, had this flight been in June, I would have smoked there. After all, I once smoked in the customs area of O’hare before going through immigration, which I’m pretty sure is a federal offense. Upon landing at KCI, I still didn’t, maybe to prove another point.

I spent 3 nights in Lawrence. Smokes were had.

I spent the rest of my American vacation in Florida. On most days there, I had zero cigarettes. On only two or three occasions, I bummed one, and each time I was delighted to discover that it was a Newport.

I flew back to Korea. I bummed a smoke in Tampa, another Newport. I had a layover in Detroit, and again smoking would have been near-impossible, but I totally would have done it in June. I got on the longest flight of my life - DTW-ICN. I spent over 14 hours on the plane, over 13 hours of which was in the air. While a flight of this magnitude was hardly a day at Disney World (something I had recent experience in) it was far easier to deal with than my much shorter Seoul-Kuala Lumpur flight a few months ago. Did I bum a smoke when I landed? 14 hours yo, 14 hours. C Everett Coop would have done the same.

Upon my return to Korea, I’ve found a weird kind of peace. I’ve suddenly become the impossible, the “smoke what I drink” guy, the Eric or Wiley style of smoking. I smoked too much last Friday. I was embarrassed. My shirt reeked, which was something I’d never noticed before. Still, I didn’t smoke all day on Saturday, even though I drank all day on Saturday. No cigs until the sun went down. Once it was dark, I smoked even more than I did on Friday. Horrible. Obviously, I’d crossed a line, and I was back in the full time smoker fold.

Only I wasn’t. I didn’t smoke on Sunday. Or Monday. Or at all, until once while writing this very post. I also didn’t crave cigarettes to any important degree at work, or while watching TV, or at any point during the week.

This arrangement is perfect.

I have 17 years of smoking karma. I’ve bummed out 10-fold more cigarettes than I’ve bummed.

I don’t expect it to last. Like any friends with benefits situation, something will have to eventually give. I hope it’s later rather than sooner though. I love being a smoker at the bar and a straight non-smoker at work. It’s awesome to play video games and watch TV at home smoke-free while enjoying the occasional blog-writing cig. Least relevant but most powerful, it’s amazing to avoid the worst part of flying (the rabid desire for cigarettes) while enjoying the payoff smoke at the airport.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Another half-assed last minute effort

Oy vey, I’ve gotten to be so lazy lately. I was totally going to write a post on my America trip this week, I have a lot to talk about. I suppose I can try to be productive next week.

Writing wasn’t going to happen on Monday. I arrived back in Korea on Sunday evening after 23 hours of travel and 14 (!) hours in seat 36-C (no accident on that seat choice) on a Delta 777 between Detroit and Seoul. After all that, I woke up at 6 a.m. on Monday after passing out early Sunday night. Fortunately, there was plenty of football to watch between 6 a.m. and work time. After work Monday, I was wiped, definitely no writing.

I woke up at 9 a.m. on Tuesday. Still residual jet-lag effects. On the plus side, I was up in time to watch the horrible Bears-Giants Monday night game. After work, I had to start catching up on TV. Strangely, being in America left me far behind on American television. I found myself 2 or 3 episodes behind on Mad Men, Dexter, Modern Family, How I Met Your Mother, The Simpsons, Family Guy, Boardwalk Empire (which I haven’t started yet) and sadly The Apprentice, which is the only show that I watch that I actively hope will be cancelled so that I can stop watching it. I was caught up on 30 Rock and the Office, but I was also several episodes behind on The Daily Show and Colbert. I think It’s Always Sunny, South Park, and Eastbound and Down will have to wait until these other shows go to reruns this winter. I think only I could leave the country and end up watching even more TV.

I planned to write on Wednesday. This did not go according to plan. Like certain St Louis academics, I began the evening with a nice glass, then bottle, of wine with dinner. I dined on grilled chicken sauteed with onions, bell pepper, and chilies. It was lovely. Next, I brought my computer outside with the intention of writing at the convenience store patio. This area was populated by foreigners that I vaguely knew, so it would have been uncouth for me to turn my back on them without joining them for at least one beer. Two Korean guys that spoke next to no English were at the other table, and they bought us a large bottle of beer. We invited them to join us. They did. We went to a bar. The Korean dudes picked up the tab. Long story short, we ended up in environs that were not exactly East St Louis sketchy. but certainly not the most wholesome of locales that one could find oneself at 5 a.m. on a Wednesday night. At least adventure and daring are alive and well in Seoul.

I planned to write on Thursday. Thing is, it’s tough to get it together after an unexpected late-night boozefest. I was still well behind on TV, so it was TV party and sleep time.

That brings us to now. I’m at work. Time is short. As this is my first Friday back in town in some time, I’m certainly going out, leaving no time to put anything together about the America trip. I’ll try harder next week.