Thursday, March 22, 2007


"Dude, this contract rocks! Heh heh."

Yes, that's Sean Miller, coach of the Xavier University Musketeers through the year 2016, and also a huge fan of Skynard. Notice the contrast between Sean (who signed the contract extension today and appears to be serious about remaining X's head coach for a long time) and his predecessor Thad Matta:

Sono douchebaggio!
Me coacha Ohio Stato!
Ho detto niente leavo Xavier-O!
Ma sono come Nick Saban-O!
No Flagrento!
No Flagrento!

Ahem. So yeah, I applaud Miller's loyalty. He was in the running for the Minnesota and Michigan jobs (and it looks like Tubby Smith will coach the Gophers), but he chose X after they offered him a raise. And besides, do you really want Opera Man over here coaching your team, sweating out 2nd round and regional semifinal NCAA wins with the most talented team in the tourney? I'd much rather suffer heartbreaking losses in the 1st and 2nd round with scrappy teams that actually play well together but get no respect from the national media. I mean, wait, uhhhhhhhhh.......

This post would have been a lot cooler if Tennessee had held on and beaten the Buckeyes tonight. I could have ragged on Matta some more (hello, slow your team down in the 1st half!), and I had a great Wayne Chism joke planned. It would have totally blown your mind. It involved the words "Chism" and "Ohio State".

Monday, March 19, 2007

Satan Rejected My Soul

Satan rejected my soul
As low as he goes
He never quite goes this low

Apparently Joey Porter (no, not that Joey Porter) punched Bengals offensive lineman Levi Jones in the face after an altercation in the Palms casino. Wow, what a douche.

On first glance, it would appear that a Bengals player getting punched in the face would be a little bit of a blow to the ole' team ego. Again, I see the positive in this event for a few reasons:

1. Porter has been summoned and will have to go to court.
That's another arrest for a team that's not Cincinnati.

2. Levi said the punch didn't even hurt! (sort of, really the Enquirer said that)

3. Levi Jones lives in Las Vegas during the off season.
That's cool.

The only negative here is that Porter plays in Miami now, so we won't even get a chance to see a rematch as the Bengals don't play them next year. For some reason though, I'll never be able to separate Porter from the Steelers (and hopefully the Bengals won't either). His toxic karma is strong.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sing Your Life

Full disclosure for all seven of my intrepid readers (if you're still out there). I went on vacation. And then the computer locked up. And it's kinda boring to write about the Reds and Bengals during the offseason. Anyway, this entry can only loosely be considered as sports-related. Either way, enjoy the bonanza of posting today, I'm still not getting a MySpace page.

So the lady and I were in Miami a few weeks ago with a good friend of mine (above, pictured and pink shirted) and his wife. We got the shaft as far as weather conditions went (coldest weekend of the year) so decided to make up for the dearth of beach time by taking full advantage of our hotel's happy hour after drinking champagne in our room. After hitting a surprisingly cool club on our first night, Pink and I decided it was time to do up the karaoke bar. A little back story:

Pink was (and is) a huge music fan. When we were in high school he grew his hair out in an attempt (
futile) to look like Jim Morrison. At some point, I'm pretty sure he dyed it. I, on the other hand, was clearly working on my quiff at the time. I turned him into a Smiths fan, and on any given night we were the annoying guys singing The Boy With a Thorn In His Side around a campfire while you were drinking your Ice House trying to score. We also have similarly arranged vocal cords, and the effect of us singing together has prompted comparisons to amplified bullhorns in stereo. At Pink's bachelor party in Vegas, we bribed the KJ (karaoke jockey) to let us sing With or Without You and Blaze of Glory back to back. He responded by turning the mic completely off during both of our renditions. We really didn't need it in his defense.

South Beach isn't exactly known as karaoke central, but I remembered a certain Ufford-penned post that mentioned Paul Rudd singing at a hotel bar during the Super Bowl weekend. After a little research, we were on our way to Studio at the Shelborne Hotel to get our K fix. We walked in the door, and I was shocked to see how serious the place was. Nice big stage, a monitor showing the performance for those too far from the action, and this guy:

The KJ at Studio was a turtle shaped man who hated when people did things like swing the microphones, use the mic stand as a rock prop, or touch any of the guitars (there were many) hanging in the back of the stage that weren't designated as "prop" instruments. Needless to say these rules were broken frequently (Pink really drove the turtle crazy with the mic swinging, he kept muttering "whassa matter with you?"). All in all though, the guy was worth the over in the overpriced drinks. He had a keyboard that he would "riff" on when someone sang a song that he liked. The only time I saw him break it out was during a pretty solid rendition of "Could You Be Loved", complete with steel drum effect. Later during the 2nd night, he chased some guy off the stage for plugging in a guitar. Amazing.

So I know people's definition of sport varies widely (poker?, darts?) but let me be the first to tell you that if karaoke's not a sport, then I don't work for Darlington electronics. How can it not be a sport when so many of sports' most important cliches apply to it? For example:

1. Practice good sportmanship

The KJ's have a rough and pretty thankless job. Don't give em' shit and boo every time they call someone else to the stage because you want to sing. And if you really need to sing, slip him a fiver (in Vegas you need more). Also, don't make out on stage while someone is singing (see pic, top of post).

2: Always give 110%

If it's necessary to sell that last "She!" from Radiohead's Creep by collapsing to your knees, you fucking do it, rugburns be damned. Conversely, if you're gonna stand on stage feeling embarrassed and holding the mic seven feet away from your mouth, you need to spend some more time hustling at practice (singing in the shower) before you ever see the court again. Seriously, just stay on the bench.

3. Have confidence in your teammates

This is kind of a tricky one. Sometimes drunken idiots think it's cool to karaoke-crash when you're singing your song and run onstage with you. These people are not your teammates, they are the opposition. Don't let them upstage you; the second they arrive, start up a faux mosh pit and convince them to do a stage dive. If that doesn't work then completely ignore them. Your real teammate in karaoke is the song you pick. And song selection is key. Always go with what you feel, don't let your drunken friends convince you that it would be hilarious if you sang "Love Shack" at a hipster bar with no backup singer. The wrong song at the wrong time and/or location can lead to karaoke disaster. Trust me. Oh yeah, and that early 90's rap song that you kinda remember the words to is only going to get you in trouble. The most painful karaoke moments (other than the drunken-girls-sharing-one-mic-and-singing I Will Survive) are when someone is a verse and half behind on "Informer" and reading the teleprompter like he's hooked on phonics. If you want to do it right, pick a song that you know the lyrics to and have confidence in. Pink has this nailed. He went with The Doors and the Stones and knew every word.

4. Talent is fine, but hustle is better

The Pete Rose axiom. You can be Whitney Houston and suck at karaoke if your heart's not in it. Never mail it in. And if you can't really sing, give it your all and people will still respect you. And be very, very careful if you're going to attempt to mock the song you are singing. You may come off as a huge douche (see Shack, Love).

5. Always be prepared

Preparation is why the Patriots are in the playoffs every year. In karaoke, preparation=booze. If you aren't three sheets to the wind, you will not be able to compete in a competitive karaoke environment.
No way I attempt Prince sober (even the lady was surprised I pulled it off).
Also, booze and smoking help make your voice sound really cool.

6. Know your opponent (audience)

Already covered some of this but there's more. Never, under any circumstances, pick a song with more than 5 verses. Leave American Pie, November Rain, and Hotel California alone, unless you want everyone to hate you. And be wary of singing anything other than roots-rock or country at a country and western karaoke bar. And don't sing Broadway songs anywhere. And be careful with popular eighties songs (that weren't dance hits) in Miami if the bar isn't carding.

6. Know your limitations

The human body can only take so much. If singing on consecutive nights (and blowing your proverbial karaoke wad the 1st night), do not try a song that requires any vocal talent. Pink held up well on this front, going with Never Tear Us Apart (a true baritone ballad) on night two, while I made the mistake of attempting Beds Are Burning by Midnight Oil. In case you are from Miami (or under the age of 24), this is the song I'm referring to:

Peter Garrett's dance style (the best examples of which you can see at the 2:50 and 4:00 mark) is apparently way easier to mimic than his vocal style. I found this out the hard way and ended up sounding like Carol Channing for the last three minutes of the song. And oh yeah, no one but Pink (it was a mostly teenage crowd at this point) had any idea what the hell I was doing contorting on stage. The whole time I was busy thinking to myself "Wow, I really do a great Peter Garrett." Must be getting old.

So yeah, karaoke's a sport. And I can kick your ass at it.

By the way, still fired.

Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now

With 9 seconds left in regulation, Xavier led Ohio State 62-59. Justin Cage had just made the front end of a one-and-one. One more free throw, and the game is over. It rims out.

That's about all the reliving of the end of this game I can do right now, other than to say that I have never seen a more intentional foul in my entire life than the hit that Oden put on Cage to send him to the free throw line in the first place. I'll just have to file that one away with the Lewis Billups endzone drop from Super Bowl XXIII in the "memories that are too painful and anger-provoking to ever think of again" section of my brain. At this point, the only silver lining I can find in this cloud is that being a Bengals fan this season did help prepare me for the worst.

Just one more thing about the game. Justin Cage is one of my all-time favorite Xaver players, along with Darnell Williams, Byron Larkin, and Brian Grant. The guy did nothing but hustle his entire career and shot a perfect 8-8 from the field in the biggest game of his life while being defended by someone 6 inches taller than him. He singlehandedly took the game over in the 2nd half to give Xavier its lead. And it kills me to think that he might be remembered for missing a free throw when there were at least five or six other larger mistakes that X made down the stretch that he had nothing to do with. From all accounts, the guy is a complete class act off the court as well, and he will be graduating on time this spring. I will remember his Xavier career fondly.

Also, still fired. Unemployment sucks.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Work Is A Four Letter Word

Getting laid off from your job is usually a pretty sobering event. Especially when your job is that of a bartender/shift manager at burger bar in Brooklyn (we're not exactly talking rocket science here).

On Tuesday of this week, I met with my employer, learned of my transgressions (managerial carelessness), and was told my services wouldn't be needed for this week. Kind of a double secret probation as far as I can tell, since I was scolded for being consistently late to work last month and was told to not mention the reasons for my dismissal to fellow employees. I walked back to my apartment to my waiting girlfriend and felt for the first time what a deadbeat dad might feel like. A strange mixture of self-pity and the sense that I let myself, and possibly others, down. Lucky for me, we don't have any kids.

So in the midst of my preparation for heri-keri, it came to me. I was being laid off during the first week of March Madness. And Xavier was playing BYU on Thursday night, a night I normally work. The stars had aligned.

The game was one of the only two exciting games of the entire day, Duke-VCU of course being the other. For a complete account of the games ebbs and flows, check out the Enquirer's story. BYU played a great game, leading for most of the game's first thirty minutes. XU fought bravely, overtook BYU in the 2nd half, then repelled a late BYU comeback. Drew Lavender was the man down the stretch hitting two huge runners in the lane and sinking the clinching free throws. Josh Duncan, aka "The Gay Rock", also had a huge bucket down the stretch to put X up two.

The result was a huge win for Xavier, mostly because it sets up a second round matchup with the hated Thad Matta, former Muskie and present Buckeye coach (Matta bailed on the team after taking X to its first ever Elite 8 appearance three seasons ago). Also it hopefully annoyed everyone at the Worldwide Leader of Sports who insisted that Xavier had no business being in the tournament over Syracuse (even though they were a nine seed) and fell in line by predicting a BYU win. Seriously, not a single person on that network picked XU to win the game (that I saw at least, and I watched a lot of ESPN this week). Anyway, it was a sweet victory. And I'm sticking to my guns, I've got X beating OSU and moving on to the Elite 8 again: a prediction that has been met with nothing but laughter and condescension all week. Well, Thad and his boys better not be laughing cause from where I'm standing, XU is the most underrated squad in the tourney.

Unemployment is awesome.