Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Next Commecial Dominion for Queen James: Beerwater!
While making the rounds of the Verizon Center dumpsters looking for discarded Papa John's pizza crusts (hey, it's the recession), we came upon this intriguing script for a new LeBron commercial. Though it was covered with Old Bay and grease, it was easy enough to make out the words:
[A basketball court, hoop to the right. Queen James enters the frame from the left, dribbling a basketball, then picks it up and walks into the center of the frame before turning to and addressing the camera.]
LbJ: Hi, I'm LeBron James. In between playing myself in commercials and spraying baby powder all over the place, I sometimes play basketball.
[Montage of LeBron drives to the basket.]
LbJ[voiceover]: And my experience playing basketball has taught me the value of taking three steps.
[Back to LeBron on the court, addressing the camera.]
LbJ: That's why, when I'm off the court, I enjoy the clean, crisp taste of Miller Lite. You see, the makers of Miller Lite take the time to add hops at three different steps during the brewing process.
LbJ: That's what gives Miller Lite its great Pilsner feel. In fact, I'm thinking about adding hops to every step I take!
[Bizarre drive to the basket on the right featuring a bunch of bunny hops and no dribbling, followed by a thunderous dunk.]
LbJ: Miller Lite. It's less filling when you drink it, so I can spend more time filling up the basket.
[Replay of the end of bizarre drive]
LbJ: And that's the power of three steps.
[Show Miller Lite graphic]
Voiceover: Miller Lite. It's somehow distinguishable from its competitors.
[Back to LeBron, grinning, with a bib on, dining on crustaceans. A little mallet is poised to unlock the sweet leg meat. He looks up and smiles.]
LbJ: Try it with crabs!
The Post-It on the front of this document says:
Should there be a ref patting LeBron on the butt in affection?
Or not in affection?
Maybe bring back Grandpa LeBron for an intergenerational hops thing?
Need to develop LeBron character more. What motivates him?
There's also a huge "REJECTED" stamp with a silhouette of Sideshow Varejao. But LeBron-Miller Lite is an intriguing pairing, like Spam and E. coli. What do you think LeBron's next endorsement move should be?
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Cleveland, Vous Ne Gagnerez Rien
At Wizznutzz HQ (well, at the Wizznutzz HQ auxiliary, since Darvin won't let me into the loading dock of the Circuit City at Wheaton Plaza anymore), we subscribe to the Washington Post both to have newsprint on which to cool cookies after they come out of the oven and to ensure that we are fully up to date on the latest doings of Washington sports teams. You know, because the paper has the word "Washington" in the name.
Imagine my horror when I picked up the "Outlook" section (there was a steak on the front of it) and found an article by some joker named Dan Chaon titled "Cleveland, Je T'Aime," propounding the unappreciated greatness of the Mistake by the Lake and hymning the emergence of the Queen and his royal retinue on the bright stage of the NBA Finals.
You read that right: The Washington Post, which supposedly serves a city that has a basketball team that has been eliminated from the playoffs two years in a row by the basketball team from Cleveland, today published an article extolling the basketball team from Cleveland.
I have often defended Washington's reputation as a sports town from those who would malign it by pointing out the fanatical devotion of Redskins fans, by citing the big crowds the Nationals drew before Stan Kasten implemented his "Operation: Suck Mightily" long-term plan, and especially by showing the many examples of the happy, fervent affection we feel for the Wizards. But the Post isn't doing D.C.'s reputation any favors by publishing this trash. What are we going to see next? "Theocracy, Je T'Aime" by Moqtada al-Sadr?
In proper blog style, I am going to quote especially red-meaty chunks of Chaon's article and then deride them mercilessly. Please also note that Chaon's latest book has a sales rank of 209,753 on Amazon.
I come into my younger son's room, where he is supposed to be studying for a test, and find him looking at Cavs center Zydrunas Ilgauskas's MySpace page instead. "Did you know," Paul says, "that Zydrunas has Michael Jordan in his top friends?"
Somehow this does not surprise me. After all, Salieri always welcomes a new project in breaking down young egos and sowing doubt and perversity. That he's using the Internet to extend his reach, like some common pedophile, is just more cause for concern.
Laugh if you like, but I'd venture that my quality of life here in Cleveland is much better than yours.
I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you over the sound of the Cuyahoga River catching on fire. Could you repeat that one? Thanks.
If you're from Cleveland, you always have the vague sense that all the other cities are laughing at you.
If you only have a vague sense that we're all laughing at you, you're not paying enough attention.
Faced with national and international scorn, Clevelanders frequently harbor deep-seated fantasies of acclaim and honor. We can be unreasonably thrilled by even the vaguest contact with celebrity. (A teensy portion of "Spider-Man 3" filmed on downtown streets! Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus spotted at a Cavs game!)
When I told my son Paul that I was writing an essay for The Washington Post, he narrowed his eyes. "Make sure you write in there somewhere that the Wizards suck," he said, vengefully.
Big Dan Chaon, putting his thoughts in his son's mouth. (Is that legal?) Let me just make one thing clear: This year, the Cavs beat the Wizards only because Gil and Tough Juice were injured. What do you think would have happened if a healthy Wizards team had faced the Cavs sans LeBron and Ilgauskas? Sweep, and Gil would have spend the last half of the fourth game breakdancing at center court and trying to steal G-Wiz's trampoline. So don't get a swelled head, "Dan Chaon's son."
"I'll tell you something," my friend Peggy says. "I don't think it's possible for Cleveland to win anything. Ever."
This is the only genuinely perceptive statement in the whole article.
Down the block from me, a church advertises its sermon: "How We Play the Game Really Does Matter!" And maybe that will be true. But then I see my son and his friends, avidly reading stats and comparing notes on players, all of them wearing that T-shirt with the Cav's Psalm-like motto: "Rise Up!" All of them waiting ardently, eagerly -- as if their hearts can never be broken.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Spurs in four. Everybody better go to church.
In case Cleveland fans get bored at halftime tonight, I recommend they watch this to buck up their spirits:
--posted by intern Rex Immensae Majestatis Chapman
Connie had been watching at home, in the den she and Wes watched the games in when the Wiz were on the road, wearing a cream-colored pantsuit that complemented the earth tones of the brown leather sofa and teak furniture. She had a glass of scotch in her right hand. It caught a glint of the light from the plasma screen, as did a gold bracelet she was wearing. In such a circumstance, the plan caved before her eyes.
She didn't bother calling; she knew Awvee would. Connie hadn't anticipated this, true, but she knew how to buy herself a little time to make it look like she had. She estimated she had just enough time to sigh, which she did. Then the little phone on the coffee table rang. She transferred the scotch to her left hand and flipped the phone open with her right.
"Ms. Unseld?" Awvee was breathless. "I'm so sorry. I broke it. I broke it. It burned up and I broke it. The statue. It burned up and I broke it."
"What happened, Awvee?" She managed to sound genuinely surprised at the catastrophe, without laying it on too thick.
"Ms. Unseld?" At least she had trained him well in how to address her. "I was minding the sphere and watching the bacon, but there was some fat dripping out and it pooled around the power cord. But I didn't see it. Then I guess the sphere got hot and the fat lit on fire and I threw water on it but the fire got bigger." Because it had burned through the casing on the cord, Connie thought. "Then I went and got the fire extinguisher, but when I shot it at the sphere, it knocked the sphere over and now the sphere's broken."
"I see, Awvee." As banal as expected. When Arenas had gone down, she had felt a giant shock run down her spine, one that made her stiffen and straighten up on the couch, that seemed to make her nerves tingle; then the electricity went away just as quickly, and she felt weary and vaguely anxious in a composed way, just as she had before the injury. Why wasn't Wes here? She could feel things when Wes was with her. Instead, she was talking to this very dedicated moron who had done her bidding for the past six months for a pittance.
"Ms. Unseld?" Here was the pleading. "Will you still pay for the apartment?"
"Of course. But there's nothing we can do for Gilbert now. We have to direct our attentions elsewhere. We were making Gil better to make the Wizards better. There are still things we can do to make the Wizards better."
"Is the fire out?"
"Yes. Everything's covered in dust from the extinguisher." Awvee had made sure to buy a C-rated extinguisher, just as she had insisted. He was dumb, but he was smart enough to know to follow orders. There were far words kinds of dumbness loose in the world.
Wes was at Verizon, doubtless in Mr. Pollin's suite. She could almost hear them consoling each other right now. Connie sipped from the glass. "Awvee, clean everything up, first of all. Then get a night's sleep. I'll call you tomorrow."
"Yes yes okay Mrs. Unseld."
She flipped the phone closed and set it down on the coffee table. She sighed again. On the screen, tall men in bright baggy clothes ran around chasing an orange ball.
She braced herself for the greeting she knew she would hear, whether the man picked up or the voicemail message played. It was a greeting that, in its cheerfulness, obliviousness and fatuity, summarized the man precisely.
He did, in fact, pick up. "Hello, I'm Mike Wise!"
"This is Connie Unseld, Mr. Wise. Wes's wife. We've met before."
"Yes! Sure! I'm Mike Wise!"
"Mr. Wise, I've come into possession of some information regarding the fact that DeShawn Stevenson can't feel his face."
"Hey! That's big news!"
"Yes. It may be traceable to a substance, called 'Mister Fifty' in the trade, that makes the basket look as big as a hula hoop. Optical distortion that nonetheless results in deadeye accuracy in shooting. Of course, there are side effects, such as a temporary craniofacial numbness."
"In layman's terms, he can't feel his face."
"I see!" Then, in a lower voice: "Note to Mike Wise: Look up big words later!"
Connie paused for a second to gather herself. "Look, I know you're the Post's top investigative sports journalist."
"What we need to do is establish a control situation. Stevenson apparently intakes Mister Fifty through specially treated bottles of Vitamin Water. What we need to do is to supply Stevenson with unadulterated bottles of the water, then see if he plays any differently. With luck, his play will stay the same, or improve" - Connie allowed herself a little smile here - "and there's no story. But if he plays worse, we'll know he had been using the drug. You see?"
"The advantage to this for you," she said, bringing the discussion where she knew it needed to go, "is that you merely have to observe DeShawn before determining whether you need to undertake a full-scale investigation. This could save you valuable time that you can use to craft new catchy phrases in your columns, or bumrush the stage at charity events, or all of the other important, meaningful things with which you fill up your life."
"If you're free Tuesday morning at 10 am, you can meet Awvee Storey at the loading dock at Verizon. He'll have a pallet full of unadulterated Vitamin Water for Stevenson. You and he can go to the locker room, and Awvee can substitute the new Vitamin Water."
"Let me know if this poses any difficulties. I am happy to help."
And then Wise ended the call, secure in the blithe assumption that everyone sat around all day waiting to give him things or let him into places. Connie shook her head. She had one man she liked - Awvee wasn't a bad man at all, regardless of how incompetent he often was - and one she didn't doing her work for her. That was the safe way to do things.
Wes was now meeting with Mr. Pollin at the Palm, the two sharing big slabs of ribeye, Wes doubtless trowelling on horseradish as if the Palm had secured the last supply of horseradish in the Western world. Connie was nibbling at a salad in the kitchen of the home she and Wes shared. The big windows facing west were flooded with light as the late afternoon blazed before the inevitable slip into the blue evening.
--posted by intern Rex Immensae Majestatis Chapman
Slightly slumped in a sitting chair whose wooden arms and legs were carved in curlicues and sworls, Connie Unseld raised a tumbler of Scotch to her lips, then set it down on an equally baroque side table. The click as she set down the tumbler - there was no coaster to cushion its impact - echoed through the wood-paneled sitting room. The last few rays of sunlight entered through a set of tall, narrow windows and lay long across the floor. Connie's right hand held onto the tumbler, ready to reraise when the impulse struck, which it would. Her left hand massaged her left temple.
Wes was out. Mr. Pollin - Abe - whatever - had called him in to discuss the team's struggles. Doubtless Wes was sitting across the big wooden desk from Mr. Pollin right now, sharing a cigar, pushing aside papers so they could talk more intimately about defensive intensity and offensive spacing and pace and psychological minutiae of the players and whatever else they talked about. They had talked about all of it, all day, every day, when Wes had been GM. Of course, then, much of it was Wes' doing.
Connie was dressed in a white sweater and navy pencil skirt. She could still pull it off. She crossed her ankles and slumped toward the right ever so slightly. She gazed out the window at the paling day.
Connie loved her husband. A simple statement to make, but one with consequences. When Wes went away, Connie had a lot of time to think, and she didn't like that. The job provided motivation and fulfillment, but you have to have more than a job. There's a home to come to.
She watched the games, of course, but Steve and Phil just made her brood more. Books provided some distraction, but lately, every few pages she just looked up and sighed. She took up knitting once, and dropped it, the pastime feeling ridiculous, playing with bright-colored yarn and shiny needles. Lately she'd been watching that callow Steinbog fellow on Comcast yammer Internet catchphrases in his reticent countertenor, hiding under a man's hat. It had not yet proved compelling.
It wasn't necessarily that she and Wes had long talks about Schopenhauer or took strolls in the moonlight with the wind whistling through the pines when he wasn't sitting at Mr. Pollin's desk strategizing. It was simple: He was with her. And she loved him. Any room felt happily full with they both were in it, at least for Connie. Even before middle age had made him fill every room a bit more, she had felt this way.
The thing was, when Wes had been GM, they had either been winning or losing, and either way he had to be out all the time. Connie understood this. But now that he wasn't GM, Mr. Pollin only wanted to talk to Wes when he couldn't figure out what to do, and needed a sounding board. Or a commiserator. The best way to keep Wes home was to keep the team winning.
And that was doubtless how she had gotten into this thing with that Storey kid and his voodoo bacon head that coincidentally worked when Arenas was playing well and didn't when he wasn't. Storey could watch the bacon change colors or whatever all he wanted. Arenas wasn't going to be great like Wes had been. Too frivolous. No - that wasn't what was holding him back. He desperately wanted to step behind the arc of fate and shoot the seed of talent into the basket of greatness. He was serious about his desire. But he didn't have to, in the way that the ones who became great did.
Admittedly, she thought - jumping back to Storey - the voodoo bacon head was well-supported by a certain type of literature that would forever remain beyond the ken of the casually inquisitive. A Xerox here, a story you heard there. That memorable episode of "Oprah." Being the wife of an NBA player gave you a lot of time to learn things. Storey had nothing but time to watch the bacon, and she knew it had created a kind of background resonance that had elevated Arenas to a new level this year, however halting his advance sometimes seemed. But still - something had to impel Arenas. Waiting on it wasn't going to help.
She knew some ways. But she needed deniability, which comes when you get someone stupid to do the risky but necessary thing you want done. Storey couldn't hang around Verizon anymore without raising suspicions, and obviously Wes needed to be safe from any possible blowback.
Suddenly: Wise, from the Post. She took another sip from the glass, then bent down to retrieve her purse. Wise was who to call. Blithe yet resourceful idiocy. Why hadn't she thought of this before?
She took out her cell phone and began dialing.
--posted by intern Rex Immensae Majestatis Chapman
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
The Awvee Storey continues...
In a basement apartment in Richmond, Awvee Storey sits on a wooden fruit crate, his back leaning against the dirty wall. He is wearing a sleeveless white T and plain boxers. A pair of flip-flops lies a few feet to the side. He stares placidly across the room at a a massive rotating sculpture of Gilbert Arenas's head, cast from frosted glass and lit from within with a diffuse, bright light, like the sun as it rises on a winter day. The features are rendered imprecisely in glass, but Storey has laid strips of bacon cooked just to the point at which the fat becomes translucent on the sphere, in a way that renders an uncanny level of detail. It is the Gilsphere that we last saw at Arenas' 25th birthday party.
Despite the bitter winter tang of the day, the air inside is humid and close, and Awvee is sweating a bit. He drinks from a tumbler that he had set down on the crate. The drink - Vitamin Water and grain alcohol, with a couple drops of orange extract for flavor - is called a Hibachi, but Storey has given up on getting the local bartender to make it. The sphere is steady. He had to lay his initiates off after the incident (though he brought them back special for the gig at Love). To compensate, he has refined his technique, layering his bacon and adjusting the wattage of the Gilsphere to extend the delicious moment of translucency for hours.
Storey takes another sip of the Hibachi and remembers the incident that has driven all incidents since: the thing in Miami. Since when does the superstar stand up for the NBDL player? He still can't get over it. Everything happening that day was bullshit, and Gil walked right into it trying to pull him out.
The bacon turns so slowly that the very imperceptibility of the process has become magnetic. Awvee's eyes lock from across the room on a strip of bacon that forms the upper part of Gil's ear. It will be the next to go, in a few minutes. Still leaning back, he tracks it with the avid attention and confidence of a predator toying with game.
Awvee and the Gilsphere had some rough weeks, true, right after 'Twan got injured and the local 7-Eleven stopped carrying Hormel Black Label. (What better bacon to fulfill a destiny begun during Miami Beach Week than the Black Label?) But while the Gilsphere had been shaky for the last week, it had stayed intact, and Awvee had seen how Gil became bold, driving and dishing, shooting with his customary calculated recklessness. At a perfect moment, when everything glowed so powerfully that the dingy room had filled with light and Awvee could barely see the 20-inch TV/VCR combo in the corner, Gil had leaned into two Golden State defenders and turned back time, to 0.1 seconds on the clock.
That was when Awvee knew his labors had not been in vain.
He ponders this for a moment before getting up to remove the one bacon strip. It is then that his cell phone, laid on top of the TV/VCR, beeps. Awvee removes the strip, gets a new one from the fridge, replaces it with atomic exactitude, and checks the display on the phone.
Connie again. What does she want? No message, so it can wait.
Awvee settles in again. Beads of water collect on the glass and running down its side. He sips and watches, aware of everything in the room and yet feeling nothing specific about it. There are no more distractions. All can thrive here. All there is to hope for is that it can continue.
--posted by intern Rex Immensae Majestatis Chapman
I wrote this rhyme in 1998, but could not find a beat to put it to. Now, thanks to the miracle of home computer technology, song-crafting capabilities are Logitech desktop microphone. I give it to the Internets because, as Bob Marley sang, 'In this great [Washington basketball] future, you can't forget your past.' Plus I get a Get Out of Mothering Hut Free! Card for such unabashed suck-uppery. Right, Darvin?
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Their English grammar came down like a hammer!
Left in Brendan Haywood's locker, February 8, 2007:
Brendan Todd Haywood, clod. Hey - good God, This beef you're on With me, Etan, Needs to be ending. Your selfish ways are rending the fabric of the locker room 'till, like a Strange-love Doctor, "boom" - our conflict scorches the earth. Who made your playing time into a dearth of minutes? Not me. Coming back from injury, trying to see whether my ankle bothers me as we lose 110 to 83. You should be incensed by your defense. Not me. I take no responsibility. Yet able will I be if ere I see your elbow flying heedlessly. A pacifist, yes, but that's overseas. You trying to step? B.T., please. First I'll yawn, then I'll sneeze. You haven't seen the likes of these fisticuffs.
I never seem to have enough. I'm an angry man. Babies thirsting for their own self-worth while first-string players labor just to muff offensive rebounds, rather than stuff them down. Why do those babies cry? They want to see the Wizards win. That's the only skin I'm in. Get it to fit comfortably. Haywood, you just let me be the shot denier, rebound supplier, always on fire, taking it higher, the NBA's best versifier, E.
Left in Etan Thomas' locker, the morning of February 9, 2007:
The poet-forward once more dips his pen In inkwells of deep thought - and comes up dry. Why must we fight this battle once again? The only Wizard who cannot see why I get more minutes than you do is you. You play hard about every fifth game. The rest, you try to conjure apercus That will make all the poets speak your name, Head in the clouds, eyes far from the ball, An indecisive shot and subpar D. I reign supreme, and yet you want to brawl. You and your pen know where to find me: In the paint, on the run, or off the glass, Believe me: I am going to kick your ass.
--posted by intern Rex Immensae Majestatis Chapman
Brad Generico: Hi, everyone, I'm Brad Generico, and with me is Dick Vitale. Here at Cameron Indoor Stadium, possibly the most unusual basketball exhibition match in college basketball history is about to take place.. Tonight, Gilbert Arenas, the starting point guard for the Washington Wizards and one of the most prolific scorers in the professional game today, is taking on the entire Duke Blue Devils college basketball team. He's not doing it alone, though - he's got four former Washington Wizards with him, but they're playing unusual roles.
Dick Vitale: Yeah, Brad. Arenas has four other guys with him - Mike Smith, Michael Smith, LaBradford Smith, and Clinton Smith. They're playing under these rules [graphic appears onscreen, DV reads text]:
Players other than Arenas cannot shoot unless they're unguarded
If a player other than Arenas has the ball and is guarded, he must either pass to Arenas or pass to an unguarded player, if one is available
All baskets by players other than Arenas only count for one point, and their free throws count for half a point
BG: But they can play normally on defense. They still have no substitutes, though.
DV: Yeah. And this all came from when Gilbert was trying to make the U.S. men's basketball team, coached, as we know, by Coach K, Mike Krzyzewski, from Durham, North Carolina, baybee! One of the finest coaches in the college game today and a great choice to lead the U.S. men into international competition.
BG: Where they finished third.
BG: Yes. Gilbert was not selected for that team, and he's been taking his revenge by scoring at least 50 points when he plays against the teams that are coached by the assistant coaches for the U.S. squad - Mike D'Antoni of the Phoenix Suns and Nate McMillan for the Portland Trail Blazers. Gilbert wrote on his blog, "One college game...that's five fouls, right? ... 40-minute game ... at Duke, they got soft rims ... I'd probably score 84 or 85. I wouldn't pass the ball. I wouldn't even think about passing it. It would be like a NBA Live or an NBA 2K7 game, you just shoot with one person."
DV: And the NBA and the NCAA said, "Hey! I wanna see that! Arenas versus Coach K! A clash of the titans!"
BG: So they came up with this game, and these rules, that are an attempt to translate NBA Live to the real world.
DV: You know, Brad, I really think this game and everything surrounding it is a travesty of the highest order.
BG: You mean like when you got fired from coaching the University of Detroit?
DV: Hey, that was deserved, baybee! I'm no Coach K! No, this game is an insult to everyone involved besides Gilbert Arenas.
BG: And it's coming to you live on ESPN after these messages.
15:34 left, first half
BG: And I think the question you have to ask yourself is, "Why is Mike Krzyzewski leaving Greg Paulus to guard Gilbert Arenas one-on-one?"
DV: Well, you take a look at these replays, here's Arenas driving around Paulus for the easy lay-in, here's Arenas shooting a three-ball over Paulus, here's a midrange pull-up J from Arenas. Clearly Paulus is challenged stopping Arenas. Arenas has a lot of lateral moveability and strength and a great touch on his jumper.
BG: And that is the reason why Gilbert's team is up 18-4 at this point. Because every point so far has been scored by Gilbert.
DV: Well, the former Wizards have also done a nice job shutting down Duke's offense with their athaleticism. I can't believe Michael and Mike Smith weren't forces in the pros! They're defensive stalwarts! These Dukies, they can't handle the inside presence, the leaping, which means these Smith guys must be real standouts.
But I think you're going to see Duke go to a double-team on Gilbert soon. They don't call him Coach K for nothing, baybee!
BG: I thought it was because the first letter of his last name was K.
DV: Hey, you might be right, Mister Generica! Hey, Mr. IQ over here! But this is just a time where Duke will have to adjust and see if they can get back in the game.
BG: And now the Cameron Crazies are chanting "ZERO HERO," as Arenas pops his Wizards jersey at them.
DV: And that's just classless from Gilbert and typical of this travesty. The Cameron Crazies have it right - Arenas has zero heroism. Zero. Hey, Gil, pick on some basketball players your own size, baybee!
BG: Arenas with the 27-foot 3-pointer, and it goes down smooth. 21-4, Arenas.
5:11 left, first half
BG: Who would have predicted the offensive explosion from Mike and Michael Smith?
DV: That's what has to happen when you throw three guys at Gilbert, baybee! The other players have to make you pay!
BG: And another turnover by Josh McRoberts, as Michael Smith paws at the ball and strips it from him...and it's an unguarded layup for LaBradford Smith on the other end.
DV: This is one group of Smiths that don't sing lovelorn tales of alienation leavened with mordant humor!
BG: And Arenas with the strip, then splitting the double team. The layup puts Arenas's team up 37-19.
Kelly Sidelinea: Coach K, you're down 17 and your team can't stop Arenas unless Josh McRoberts, Greg Paulus, and DeMarcus Nelson orbit him like flies buzzing around spilled Coke. What's your strategy going into the second half?
Krzyzewski: Well, obviously we've got to execute better. Our halfcourt offense has really been disrupted. We've got to make stops on defense and get out in transition. I'm going to have to be a leader who just happens to coach basketball.
KS: Any thought to going back to single coverage on Arenas?
Krzyzewski: No, Kelly. I think we're simply going to have to get every one of our players to play sound fundamental basketball.
11:32 left, second half
BG: And Arenas steps to the line for the and-1.
Krzyzewski's "Hack-A-Smith" defense has brought the Blue Devils back within 3.5, since each of those free throws by the non-Arenas players are worth half a point. But most of his team has four fouls now, and McRoberts' arm is kind of hanging funny in its socket after that last foul attempt on Arenas as he drove to the rim.
DV: This just goes to really show you the leadership of Coach K.
BG: Arenas sinks the free throw.
DV: These players, they have the winning feeling! They're Dukies, they bleed Duke blue! They've come roaring back! They're down four and a half with plenty of time left to play!
BG: And Cameron is rocking with chants of "LE-BRON JAAAAMES!"
DV: Boy, can you imagine what the world would be like if LeBron had gone to Duke and stayed all four years? He'd be dominant at the college level and well-prepared to succeed in the NBA. That's the way it's supposed to be, baybee!
BG: Arenas deflects the pass, Calvin Smith grabs it and heaves it downcourt to the streaking Arenas, who dribbles backward to make the three as Greg Paulus hacks him on the arm. And that'll be the fifth on Gren Paulus, and he's out of the game.
DV: What great hustle from Greg Paulus, to not give Arenas the uncontested three-pointer after Arenas caught it in the paint! But Coach K didn't teach Paulus to foul there, no sir!
3:21 left, second half
BG: At this point, with Gilbert Arenas needing only 6 more points to reach his goal of 84 against a Duke team that currently has three players on the floor due to fouls, and with Arenas's team up 27 points, I think it's fair to ask, "What did we learn today?"
DV: Brad, I think one thing is clear: There is no God. Unless Coach K is Job, and God is visiting unto him all these punishments.
BG: No, I think it's just Gilbert.
DV: DAMN YOU, ARENAS! DAMN LUTE OLSON FOR RECRUITING YOU IN THE FIRST PLACE! HE DESERVED WHAT HE GOT IN 2001!
DV: Well, let's see if the refs have something to say about the way this game goes in the closing minutes. You never know with these Dukies!
--posted by intern Rex Immensae Majestatis Chapman
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Reminiscing Over Sticky Bacon Days of Yore, or, Getting Caught Up in the Webb
Watching the Wizards in those K-Tel Solid Gold Uniforms flailing awa Friday night against the NOK Hornets, one thought kept returning to my mind: Chris Webber is a free man! As part of their ongoing plan to shed all their good players while getting squadoosh in return, the Sixers bought out C-Webb's contract, and he's now enjoying a penalty-free timeout while assessing his options.
Sure, C-Webb appears headed back to Detroit, where he will attempt to win an NBA title in the face of unremitting enmity from every University of Michigan basketball fan, since his dalliances with booster Ed Martin basically destroyed their program to the point where a Dookie is coaching it.
And sure, like the song says, we don't need Chris Webber; we've got plenty of players, even if the one with actual post moves, Darius "I'm Like A Bird" Songaila, is chilling in the PR with Party John while his disc gets unherniated. So maybe we could use a premium version of the Songbird in our mighty sweep to the playoffs.
But the real reason to bring C-Webb back is redemption. Not for him; the offenses he committed against the law were petty crimes compared to the big-boy felonies now being thrown down by our giants of the hardwood. (By the way, Eddie Griffin crashed his SUV into a parked car because he was ballhandling while watching a porn DVD while driving drunk. Not that this is news, but the fact that it happened continues to delight me.) No, the redemption would be for us. The fans. And specifically, deez nutzz.
The last good Bullets team was that 1997-98 team with C-Webb, and Juwan, and Calbert Cheaney, and of course Darvin and Rod and Ledell and other players with whom we are all on a first-name basis. And what happened after that? The team got scattered to the four winds, and everyone started thinking it would be a good idea to bring in Salieri, and we signed a lot of players named Mike Smith. The attachments we formed with that team, rather than deepening as the then-Bullets ascended into their rightful place in the NBA pantheon, were shattered like so many Grant Hill ankles, and became just as useless.
Yet one of the strongest of those attachments could be rekindled by bringing C-Webb back. The past and the present, joined to lead us into the future! A future full of wins and bacon and arrests for possession!
Plus there are other benefits:
Since Webs is now a hip-hop producer, having laid down the track for "Blunt Ashes" off Nas' Hip Hop Is Dead, he can doubtless lay down some Last Poets-style backing for Etan's various slam opuses, as well as turning in some less lyrically dense cameos
If Chris returns to Washington, perhaps he'll have another date with this chick
Mitch Albom could write a column about Webber returning to Detroit anyway, 'cause that's how he rolls
What are you waiting for, Grunz?
--posted by intern Rex Immensae Majestatis Chapman
Saturday, January 06, 2007
Exclusive Arenas Express Soiree Incites!!
PRELUDE A LA NUIT D'UN INTERNE The invitiation turned up at Wizznutzz Central a couple days before the party. Like a good intern, I swiped it. Strindberg can have his own shindig with a black silk handkerchief and an album of Grieg's Lyric Pieces, I reasoned - this was Rex Immensae Majestatis Chapman's time to step out and shine. Little did I imagine.
I took the bus over from 9th and I, just as the website prescribed, and spent an awkward fifteen minutes trying not to make eye contact with Susan O'Malley, who had already started recruiting for her "G-Wiz Speed Dating" thing. I managed to shake her off as the bus pulled up to Love.
"I never leave home without it," I replied, whipping it out in one smooth motion.
"Congratulations," the bouncer replied. "Being the hundredth person to make that joke tonight allows you to upgrade to another level of security assurance. Please step behind the curtain."
After a half-hour of security-guard mothering, I was walking funny as I stepped into the club to celebrate a quarter-century of the world's most famous Arenas.
CHILLIN IN THE BACK LIKE CALVIN BOOTH The vibe on the first floor was: crowded. Ike Austin and Jahidi White towered over a crowd at the buffet table. Alana Beard towered over a persistent Muggsey Bogues. As I drifted to the bar, Ludacris chatted with Chris Webber about the forward's abortive hip-hop career. "So, as a rapper, you took a timeouuuuut?" Luda cackled. C-Webb looked hurt. (Later I saw him trading twos with Nas for a brief while. "Truly, hip-hop is dead," Nas muttered as he strolled to the bathroom. "Cop the album.")
The bartender rebuffed my vodka-and-tonic order: "Naw, man. All we got tonight is Giltinis. Tequila, PowerAde and a splash of cranberry." I drank it down, swore, and got in line for the buffet.
Two hours and one plate of lukewarm sweet potatoes later, I drained another Giltini and headed up to the second floor, where the stage was set up. T.I. was being introduced by Diddy, our host for the evening. "Big up to Biggie Smalls," Diddy shouted into his mic, as the spotlight wandered off T.I. "Every beat I jack, I jack for you! R.I.P., playa!"
An audience of scantily clad women and tall men nodded appreciatively or continued their conversations. I think I saw Michelle Tafoya trying to get Bambale Osby's number. Rod Strickland worked game on some women toting trays of hors d'oeuvres in the back of the room. Christian Laettner was leaning close to the Reliable Source, trying to shove some pamphlets in her purse while his hands attempted to wander. Alex Ovechkin and his girl tried to dance a little.
Eventually T.I. managed to wrest the mic from Sean Combs. I had a third and fourth Giltini, served to me by (I think) LaBradford Smith. The synths of "What You Know" rolled mighty like a river across the room, with occasion-appropriate lyrics over top:
What you know about Gil I know all about Gil
Gil, shrinking as much as a man of his size can, came onto the stage to accept the accolades.
CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES C'MON As the song ended, a birthday cake began descending slowly from the ceiling, in the shape of a "0" and twenty feet in diameter. People ran to get out from underneath while men in Arenas masks and G-Wiz-style blue spandex swarmed the cake with spatulas, plates and napkins, cubing and serving it almost as it fell. A replica of the ring of advertising at the base of the Verizon Center's upper deck lit up with revolving chaos-theory paisley blobs, running at top speed around the room and chasing instructions to "Wish Gilbert a Happy Birthday."
Everyone who had been on the first floor had now crowded into the second. Strickland was forcing his way towards the cake, with Kevin Duckworth in tow. Agent Zero somehow emerged in the center of the cake and got a giant piece. He held it up for us to see. It was chocolate with chocolate frosting. After downing the whole thing in three giant mouthfuls, he threw the empty plate 35 feet towards the corner of the room, where it crashed into a trash can. "Swag!" Gil yelled, and the crowd exploded.
Diddy held up a finger that cued a massive organ note. The ring of advertising suddenly showed the lyrics to "Happy Birthday," and we all sang as best we could. "I though I told you that we don't stop!" Diddy proclaimed when we were done. "Unh. Unh. Bad Boy. Unh. Yeah. Come with me. You can hate Gil now, but Gil won't stop now. Me either. Unh." On stage, The Game tapped his foot impatiently.
The Gil-masked, spandexed waiters were remarkably efficient and somehow managed to get a piece of cake and a glass of champagne in everyone's hands. The cake was good. A little too good. Clinton Portis spent the next fifteen minutes going around to various thin women telling them there was no way they'd want to ruin their figures by eating cake like this, so give it to him.
I didn't react quite so positively, suddenly becoming very afraid of the ring of advertising, which now showed an animation of Gil riding Bambi through a forest. I sidled towards the nearest stairs I could find, using Peter John Ramos' dirigible-like head as a beacon. As I left, Gil was gathering plates from the guests and using them to make even more ludicrous shots into the trash can. Everything was going in, just like it had been earlier that night.
STRANGE BUT APPETIZING INTERLUDE Midway between the third and fourth floor on the security staircase, a hand tugged on my sleeve. "Would you like to come into the VIP room?" a honeyed female voice said. Nodding reflexively, I was yanked into a yard-high hole in the wall, which led to a chute that in turn led to a pillow-covered floor. Thankfully, it was a soft landing.
In the center of the room was a massive rotating sculpture of Arenas's head, a luminous ovoid on which his features were rendered using strips of bacon that had been cooked just to the point where the fat becomes translucent. Two men in monk's cowls replaced individual strips when they began to slip off or turn brown. Tyra Banks sat on a nearby ottoman, staring blankly at the structure. "How does Gilbert glow?" she said in a dazed tone. "How does Gilbert glow? How does Gilbert glow. How does Gilbert glow."
The walls shimmered, reflecting the light of the Gilsphere. It was tough to tell whether there was anyone else in the room.
Awvee Storey emerged from the shadows and sauntered over, wearing a smoking jacket and brown leather sandals. "Welcome to the VIP room," he said. "Bacon?" He pulled off a strip and proffered it.
"It's not done," I said.
"Nothing ever is," he replied. "Nothing ever is." He then scooped a handful of bacon off the sculpture and shoved it all in his mouth, chewing ferally. The monks assiduously replaced the strips, looking at the floor the whole time.
"Which VIP room is this?" I asked.
"All will become clear later," he said, and wandered into a dark corner.
I suddenly saw a tray of pills to my right. I looked up to see Connie Unseld holding the tray. "Take one," she said. It was the same honeyed voice I'd heard in the stairwell. The pills were labeled "Hibachi" and "Quality Shots".
"One pill makes you hot," she said, her fixed smile and even voice betraying no emotion whatsoever. "One pill makes you small."
It didn't seem like a good idea to disobey her, though I spent a moment thinking about whether I could. I couldn't spot the aperture through which I had entered the room. The tray didn't waver. Her smile didn't either. I took the "Quality Shots" pill and gulped it down.
"An excellent choice," Connie said. Then her lower body seemed to dissolve, and she floated up to the ceiling, and then away. The light from the Gilsphere became brighter until it flooded the room.
CODA The next thing I remember is being poked in the ribs with a broom handle. "You! New noodle boy! Make the noodles!" I was on a kitchen floor. It turned out I was in Chinatown Express on 6th Street - apparently I had been promised to do a day of indentured servitude. Also, I was wearing a potato sack. This was disorienting, but I snuck out an hour later and took the 70 bus back to Wizznutzz HQ, from which I write this.
Overall, it was definitely the second-best party I've been to as a Wizznutzz intern, right next to Ledell Eackles' going-away party at Cluck-U. Those scars will never heal. Anyway: Happy 25, Agent Zero!
--posted by intern Rex Immensae Majestatis Chapman