Other Things That Might Interest You...

January 2009

Fed is a man of constant sorrow...

Welcome to the first Ten happy Things of 2009! So, I know this is a couple of days late but there have been some things going on that I had to give a couple of days' leeway to just to see how they'd turn out. That being said, hold on to your cupcakes because here we go...

10. You all know that I watch lots of sports. Lots and lots of all kinds of sports. Most of what you lot hear about from me is golf and tennis and baseball with some football thrown in for good measure. That’s far from all I follow though. A couple of weeks ago, the US Figure Skating Association held Nationals. Some years more than others, Nationals are a big deal. This year, as it is with all years, Nationals determine what skaters get to go on to the World Championship……however, this year, Worlds determines who gets on the Olympic team for 2010 in Vancouver……so Nationals are a bigger deal than usual. Okay, so, here’s the thing: I used to follow figure skating just about as closely as I follow golf. I could tell you everyone and everything and everywhere in the Skating world. Then skating started its downfall. For the women, the sport just kept getting younger and younger and younger, and the jumps got so much more important than the artistry, and skaters like the 15-year old Tara Lipinski were winning gold medals over the older, more mature, more elegant Michelle Kwan. For the men, it got even worse. Everything became about the quad. Who has the quad and who doesn’t. You don’t have to skate well. You just have to be able to do that quad. The rules became really unfair, the judging got almost totally corrupt, and the requirements to win got so out of hand that it wasn’t worth watching anymore. I still watch the major events but I don’t follow it nearly as closely as I used to. The US figure skating community has caught on that they lost a lot of fans so they’re trying to make a turn around. This year at Nationals, evidence of a real turn around made itself clear. Alissa Czisny was the winner by a fairly hefty margin. Alissa Czisny is 21 years old, ancient for the skating world these days (as a means of comparison to help put it into the perspective, the first and second place winners last year weren’t old enough to compete at Worlds). Her jumps were not 100% clean – she even had a fall. Her technical components were not as difficult as many of the other girls competing. Nevertheless, she performed as a complete skater. Her presence was elegant and mature. Her artistry was abundantly evident. She was a graceful woman owning the ice as opposed to a little girl adding some dance movements between jump sequences. The artistry and elegance and minutia of her skating (like spin positioning and pointed toes) were rewarded and it was really a great thing to see if you’re into figure skating at all. For the first time in ages and ages and ages, it wasn’t just about the jumps. It was about the total performance. And it was brilliant.

9. For those of you out there who, like me, are step-kids, you will fully understand why this shirt made me laugh so hard, it warranted a place on this month’s list:

Needless to say, I have ordered this shirt from www.clutchtees.com and plan on wearing it next Father’s Day. Ha!

8. There is this new phenomenon that has taken the world by storm on the heels of the Wii craze, which has also taken the world by storm. If you have a Wii and you have friends that have a Wii, you can have Wii play dates. This is like the best fun ever. I’m 32 years old and I have play dates. We get together and we eat some food and drink some beverages and play Wii. I did this a couple of weekends ago. Let me just tell you, after a few cocktails, Mario Kart is way trippier than it is while you’re sober. I highly recommend this activity. If you don’t have a Wii, go get yourself one…and then you can have friends over to play Wii like you did 20 years ago when you got your first Nintendo and would stay up with friends until all hours playing Zelda. You know you want to.

7. It’s too early for me to think about baseball. I know pitchers and catchers are reporting soon but it’s still too early for me to think about baseball. Nevertheless, I try to stay somewhat up to date on what’s going on in Red Sox Nation and Mets Hell while play is on hiatus. Much to my very great joy and relief, the Red Sox signed Jason Varitek to another year with a one-year option. I understand that trades and whatnot are just part of the business of baseball. I totally get it. I just get really sick of seeing my favorite players leave. Varitek is my favorite, for lack of a better term, Red Sock. He’s my favorite Sock. I can’t not chuckle at that phrase. I digress. It was looking really iffy for a couple of months but Varitek is officially back with the team and all is well in my baseball world….for the time being anyway.

6. Ladies and gentlemen, the 2009 PGA and USTA seasons have officially started. Oh yes, they have. There is golf and there is tennis and there is jubilation in Merland.

5. Speaking of tennis, the Australian Open – the first slam of the season – just finished up its 2009 run yesterday. When there are Grand Slams happening, I am grateful that I am a DirecTV subscriber. DirecTV gave me six channels of Australian Open coverage complete with interactive menus and a mix channel that allowed me to watch six matches at once. The best thing about it this year, though, was that it was ALL in HD. In previous years, I’d get the same kind of coverage but only one or two channels would be in HD. This year, EVERYTHING was in HD, even the mix channel. It was glorious. It was kind of like being in Australian Open heaven. The only thing I can think of that would have been better would fall under the category of actually being present at the Australian Open itself (which, by the way, is a goal for my 2010). I love my television and I love HD and I love DirecTV, and I love tennis…….and I love when all those things culminate in me on my couch watching six simultaneous Australian Open tennis matches in HD. Booyah.

4. Still speaking of tennis, and the Australian Open specifically……well, it was a damn fine Australian Open. Serena won on the womens side, which is cool. It’s nice to see Serena kicking ass again. She’d kind of fallen off of the planet for awhile…but she’s back and she’s fit and she’s damn frightening as ever. Andy Roddick also had a really good Open, making it to the semis. That’s good for him. I was starting to think that Andy’s time had really come and gone but he’s got a new coach and a new look and his game is as good as it’s been since 2003. He won the US Open in 2003 so, you know, having his game back at that level is a very good thing. The final was Federer/Nadal….again. I’m getting kind of tired of Federer/Nadal finals, truth be told. But this final was beyond any other Federer/Nadal final I’ve yet seen. It was an absolutely insane level of tennis. Just off the charts, freak of nature tennis. At one point, commentator Justin Gimmelstob even called Rafa a freak of nature because, well, he is. All around, though, it was a really spectacular start to the 2009 Slam season (despite the fact that stupid Nadal won…again…and made Fed cry…again). It was a joy to watch. Well, not the Fed crying part...but you get what I mean.

3. In between all the tennis watching, I was able to get some good golf watching in as well. God bless TiVo. It really is a godsend to people who like to watch a lot of sports. Anyway, the golf watching gave me another one of those things that made me laugh so hard, it warranted a spot on the list. Being a fan of predominantly European golfers (don’t get yourselves all in a tizzy….I like a few American golfers too), I’ve grown used to rather “interesting” fashion choices on the golf course. When you’re a fan of Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia, you kind of have to overlook these kinds of things. I mean, Sergio has been known to wear some color combinations that could put you into a seizure if you stare at him too long and Ian Poulter…well…Ian Poulter is just the Liberace of professional golf. The man wears things that just should not be allowed on a golf course. He wears things that just shouldn't be allowed period, golf course or otherwise. It’s one of the main reasons why I love him so much. He’s so damn flamboyant. He’s like the gayest straight man alive. He’s a Brit so he can pull it off. But, again, I’m used to these things from them. I’m used to Sergio’s crazy colors and Ian’s crazy everything and Camilo’s painters hats and Jesper Parnevik’s fedoras. Then there’s Henrik Stenson. As they go, Henrik is pretty subdued. His clothing sponsor is Hugo Boss, so he’s fairly trendy for a golfer but outside of the occasional all-purple outfit or the occasional bright peach golf shirt, Henrik doesn’t really make you feel like you need to adjust your television. This past weekend at the Dubai Desert Classic, however, he made me just totally crack up at the sight of him. Ian Poulter has been out for a couple of weeks recovering from eye surgery so he hasn’t been playing the Middle Eastern tournaments per usual. Apparently, in Ian’s absence, Henrik felt the need to pick up the fashion slack. Ian Poulter has his own fashion company that specializes in the silly plaid pants and shirts that Ian is known for. Here’s an example (and let me tell you, this is a REALLY toned down example for Ian):

Pretty standard, if not muted, fare for Ian Poulter. On Friday, however, Henrik Stenson walked his silly Swedish self out onto the golf course wearing this:

Okay, just what the hell is he doing? That’s an Ian outfit. Henrik Stenson should not be wearing Ian outfits. For some reason, Ian looks totally normal in stuff way more outrageous than this…but Henrik just looks friggin’ ridiculous. First of all, if you’re going to try and dress like Captain Fashion, you have to cover all your bases. You can’t wear a tan palette with a white hat and white shoes. It doesn’t go. Ian would slap him if he saw Henrik in this mess. Secondly, his golf bag just clashes with everything. You’re wearing that outfit with that hat and those shoes and you let yourself be photographed leaning on a bright red golf bag? Come on, man! I think the point is that if you’re going to go this far, you’ve got to go all the way. You can’t half ass it. Henrik is half assing it….and it’s just too damn funny. Mind you, it’s entirely endearing…but it just cracked me up. I laughed for a good ten minutes and then couldn’t suppress at least a chuckle every time he popped back on the screen. He needs to go have a little Swedish chat with Jesper Parnevik. Jesper knows how to take a ridiculous outfit all the way. They’re both from Sweden so maybe Jesper can help a brother out, you know? Give him a pointer or two before Ian gets back and bitch slaps the hell out of Henrik for looking like such a dweeb.

2. Sergio is coming. He’s coming. Here. He’ll be within a half hour from my house. He’s not the only one, either. They’re ALL coming. The BMW Championships – one of the four FedEx Cup Playoff tournaments – is being played at Cog Hill in Lemont during the first week of September. Provided no one I’m interested in seeing has a completely awful year and doesn’t rank high enough to qualify, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter and Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas and Mike Weir and Jim Furyk are all coming, among others. They’re COMING! And you know what? Mer has tickets. Oh yes, Mer has tickets. Mer has a full week’s pass to the whole shebang. Practice rounds and Pro-Am Rounds and Tournament Rounds….all of it. I haven’t been to a golf tournament in ten years. I am SO jazzed. I don’t care if my knees fully fall off of my body after a week’s worth of walking around Cog Hill. They’re coming and I’m going to see them live and in person. If God really loves me, I’ll get to see Sergio in green and white live and in person. I may not survive it……and it may be the sweetest demise EVER. Ha!

1. Dudes, I live with The Beagle and The Beagle is just the best. I’ve written about the ever glorious Sammy before. He’s the foster Beagle that lives at my house and brings me endless joy. He’s just the best dog ever. For Christmas, I got a waffle iron. Any of you that own a waffle iron can attest to the fact that the first couple of times you use it, it’s just a damn mess. It takes a couple of two three tries to really get the hang of the thing. A couple of weeks ago, I was making my second attempt at the waffle iron. The first attempt, by the way, was like a complete disaster. Anyway, the second go went pretty well, all things considered. The trick to using a waffle iron is knowing how much batter to put in the damn thing. I have not yet mastered this level of measuring skill. So, I pour some batter in the thing and close the lid and wait. Of course, there was too much batter and it started to seep out of one side of the waffle iron, onto the counter, and then onto the floor. Sammy, being the complete and utter glutton that he is, saw the small pool of batter on the floor and beelined for it like a starving Armenian. He dove in like a bat out of hell and started frantically licking the batter off the floor before the other dog could notice what was going on. The other dog, Riley, could have cared less but Sammy had apparently struck Beagle gold and was lapping it up with a quickness. What Sammy failed to notice was that the batter that had caused the pool he was currently licking up with fury was continuing to drip down….right onto his head. There was like 86 gallons of waffle batter dripping all over his little Beagle head and he was totally oblivious to it. When he finally finished licking the floor, he looked up at me in expectation with his face and head just totally covered in waffle batter. It was too hilarious. He was like that toddler in the high chair with a bowl of chocolate ice cream all over his face. He was just sitting there looking up at me like “what’s so funny?” while covered in waffle batter. I wish I would have had a camera handy because it was an absolute riot. Just when I thought it couldn’t possibly get any better, Riley noticed the mess on Sammy’s head and proceeded to clean it off. When you have two dogs, it’s like having a mop and a washcloth on hand all the time. Sammy cleaned the floor and Riley cleaned Sammy. It was fantastic stuff.

Mission accomplished. I apologize for the two-day delay but, you know, I had to hang around and wait for Jason Varitek and Roger Federer and all that. I guess I could have waited until next month…but by then, it would have been like yesterday’s news. We can’t have yesterday’s news. Not here anyway. ;-) Happy trails until next month. Luckily, February is a short month so you won’t have to wait all that long. Toodaloo!

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