Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sympathy for the Devil?

I'm still a bit taken aback by this, because I never thought I'd read anything that sympathizes with pedophiles. Is "To Catch a Predator" overzealous? Sensationalized? Makes a mockery of the people they catch? Honestly, I can't even entertain those possibilities because my mind keeps coming back to the fact that the show catches pedophiles, and in my mind any collateral damage done can't possibly outweigh the benefits...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Fort Worth Major Zone.

This weekend I played in the Fort Worth Major Zone, in Men's 5.0. Note that I made the switch from 4.5 to 5.0 for the first time this year. Ultimately my goal is to win a 5.0 Major Zone tournament, so I felt like the time was right to make the switch since I've been playing well in the 4.5s, winning the last tournament I played in that division.

My first round match was yesterday at 8:00 a.m. I've been training a lot for the heat, and surprisingly, it wasn't excessively hot at first, but it was hellishly humid. My clothes were entirely soaked by the second game. The requisite first-round nerves certainly didn't help either. Nevertheless, I came out hitting pretty well and I was fortunate to have an opponent first round whose game I was fairly well-suited to beat. He had a fairly big slice serve, but it was sporadic - and that applied to virtually every aspect of his game. Although he had the ability to hit some effective slice shots down the line at times (I even got passed by slice a couple times - that was surprising), he didn't have the consistency to nor the drive to deal with my refusal to chase after his shots. (Note that "The Badger" also largely applies to my tennis game.) Plus, although I'm a religious baseliner, almost every point I won in this match was won at the net. Shockingly, I'd guess I won about 20/30 points at the net (which is good for me). A few of the points I missed at net were on overheads, interestingly enough, because when I served and volleyed, he sometimes threw up a skyball that would land somewhere between the service and base lines, and although I was often able to hit a good overhead back, sometimes another skyball came back deep again, and inevitably I started missing some because I was physically tired from hitting an abnormal amount of overheads.

Ultimately I wrapped up round 1 6-1, 6-3. In my 1:15 between matches, I ate a banana, a bag of cereal, a can of Gatorade, and a lot of water. Note that I did not consume a large tuna sandwich, which a friend of mine did in his 45-minute break between matches on Friday, leading him to the pleasant experience of hurling in his mouth during his next match. Yummy!

Round 2 was a much-anticipated match between me and another guy from around here. We actually were league teammates back in 2003, where we had a miracle comeback in a doubles match. However, for all the time we were on the same league team, and have seen each other in tournaments around town for a long time, we've actually never played. It's an interesting matchup, because he's a mostly a serve-and-volleyer, and I'm mostly a baseliner. Beyond our general type of games, I knew going in that I literally do have better ground-strokes and that he has better serves and volleys - so the trick would be how those interact with each other.

I jumped out to a4-0 lead in the first set by serving well on my end, and my opponent missed a lot of first serves. Almost without exception, I'm going to tee off on a second serve no matter who it's from. The trick with this guy is that his second serve to the ad side has NASTY kick on it. It tends to land halfway between the net and the service line and then kicks out to the fence, while bouncing about a foot over your head. At the beginning of the match, I was dealing pretty well with these. More on that later.

At 4-0 I was serving and my opponent passed me on a couple serve-and-volleys and came up with a couple more big winners, and broke me at love. At him serving 1-4, the serve went "ON." This is where I started to watch the aces fly by. Then I served at 4-2, and just flat-out didn't bring enough heat on the serve. I saw a couple more winners and busted out a couple sloppy unforced errors, and just like that, we were back on serve.

The first set wound up in a tiebreaker. I opened with a service winner. My opponent rocked a couple more service winners, then "mini-broke" me twice on my next two serves, followed by two more gigantic serves on his part. Yes, that's 6-1, or "quadruple set point" for him. I never give up, though, and won my next two service points, and his next service point, but at 6-4 he hit yet another monster serve that shut me down for the first set.

My opponent opened the second set on serve, and I broke him. He broke me right back. We then remained on serve for a couple more games before he broke me again. Up a break serving at 5-3, my opponent had match point serving 40-30, and I held off. Two or three more match points went by that I fought off - I was leaving everything on the court, and ferociously wanted to take the 2nd set to another tiebreaker. On his 4th match point, my opponent cracked another service winner to close it out.

After the match we had a little bit of chit-chat and I wished him luck - hopefully he's doing well today - he's a great guy. A friend of mine who came to watch me came up to talk to me after the match, and oddly- when I was talking to him, my ears felt like they were intermittently clogged and kept popping on and off. It was almost like I had been clenching so hard at the end of that match to play as hard as I could, it sort of messed with my sinuses. Weird.

Overall, I'm happy with the way I played. And let's be serious: like my friend told me - "no matter how you slice it, 4-0 is 4-0 - it doesn't matter what your opponent does, you've got to find a way to close that out. And then it's a totally different match from there." Amen.

The good news is, I almost never make the same mistake twice. :)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Miles' Balls: 2006-2007.

Today Miles got neutered. He's currently at home, extremely disgruntled.

Before we dropped him off at the vet, the Dr. told us "if he acts uninterested toward the wound, he should be basically normal. If he's acting like he wants to lick it, we'll have to put a cone on him." I knew immediately that he'd need a cone. Sure enough, we picked up our new lampshade-enhanced dog and he's not pleased about it. Additionally, as time has worn on, the original anesthesia he was given must be wearing out, because he's acting like it's very painful to walk. This seems logical since I can't imagine it would be comfortable to walk if my balls had been lopped off. However, the Dr. seemed to indicate that he'd want to run around like normal, which certainly isn't the case thus far (and most highly-scientific research I've conducted on internet message forums indicates that they are typically out of it for a couple days).

It should be interesting trying to sleep tonight with the whining-puppy-factor in full force. Hopefully he'll feel better tomorrow.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Even Prisoners Hate Child Molesters...

...so hopefully they will deliver some extra-special-ass-beatings to this piece of human filth.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Beaten Down by a 13-Year-Old.

Today I met with my hitting partner at 3 p.m. for our usual Sunday heat-fest. We had an absolute killer of a first set that I lost in a tiebreaker, but the real story here is that I was just incredibly tired toward the end of the set. I'm in pretty good shape these days, so that was the first time I've felt tired in a first set in a long time. Afterward, we were sitting on the bench, resting before heading to round two, and a couple guys walked to the court next to us that I had seen before - a father/son combo, where the son appeared to be fairly young but incredibly talented. I asked them if they wanted to play doubles, and we commenced.

It turns out that the son was 13, and he was ridiculously awesome. My partner and I were soundly beaten by him and his dad, which wasn't really surprising since I play doubles once per year or so (and I don't really like doubles). But man - the kid was just incredible for 13 years old. When my partner or I would fire a 100-mph rocket at him, he would yawn, take a nap, then stand up and guide the ball with laser precision wherever he wanted to hit it. He didn't have much power on any of his shots, but then again - he was 13.

Afterward I got details from his father on what I had already noticed, that the son is sponsored by Adidas. These days when the big companies see a lot of potential in a prospect, they lock them down as soon as possible because they might be the next Andy Roddick. (Apparently Nike had a shot at Andy when he was 16 or so, but they passed on it. He got huge, Nike regretted not grabbing him - now all the companies are getting in earlier.) Once the son signed with Adidas, they sent him a shipment of clothes in various styles and sizes to try on and see what he liked. So what came in the boxes? 80 shirts, 40 pairs of shorts, and 15 pairs of shoes. And his dad gets free stuff as well for coaching him. Wow.

So, I'd like to publicly announce that I'm not currently sponsored. For those of you from Nike reading this (no one), leave me a comment with your contact information so I can begin the bidding war between you and the other companies that couldn't care less about me. Actually, it would be pretty detrimental to Nike's revenue streams to sponsor me since I currently drop ridiculous amounts of money on their stuff each year. Damn you, new products that demand color coordination!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Simpsons Avatar-Fest Continues!

My friend Nando sent me avatars he made of the high school versions of us. This is the best movie marketing tool EVER. (although I would have seen it regardless)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Oprah is Packing Heat.

I couldn't help but read the headline "Oprah Brings Out Big Guns for Obama" and think of this:

Side-Note to Yesterday's Simpsons Avatar.

Feel free to formulate your own avatar of me and send it to my way (I predict approximately zero people will actually do this). It's always fascinating to see the difference between your residual self-image (thanks to The Matrix for that one) and the one others see.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I Couldn't Resist Either.

I just saw this on TWM and had to make one for myself. Say hello to Badger, the Simpsons character:

Spanking It.

Earlier I was reading one of my favorite forums, and encountered a thread about whether it’s “good” to spank your kids. It took 10 seconds or so for the discussion to turn into a pissing contest between self-righteous jackasses who believe their child is enlightened and hence they don’t need to resort to “Neanderthal punishments” and those who think that under various conditions, their child needs “a good ass-whooppin’.” I’ll call the first group “The Elitists” – it goes without saying that of the latter group, any parents that actually inflict real physical harm on their kids need to be shot.

It’s unfortunate that my informal (and hence totally inaccurate) “internet data” observations tell me that a large handful of people land in one of those two buckets, and only under rare circumstances do you encounter comments from someone that concedes that punishments depend on a unique harmony of circumstances and characteristics of a person’s child, and everyone is different. Growing up, I definitely had moments where I needed to be informed assertively and swiftly that my actions were wrong, and I got a spanking. Note that this is where the Elitists say, “people who spank their child are *hitting* them.” The Elitist also thinks that people who spank their kids are “uneducated, mullet-wearing, redneck idiots.” To these assertions, I say 1) there are times when busting out the dictionary definition of a word is appropriate and relvant, but this is not one of those times since a spanking is more of a symbolic measure than an actual physical “strike,” so 2) The Elitist is the idiot for having such an unrelenting, myopic view on the subject. Clearly every child is different – and hey, I’ll bet there are some kids that don’t need to be spanked – but Elitist comes across sounding like an ignorant prick most of the time. Whatever happened to the days of the well-formed, non-condescending opinion? How about “I don’t believe in spanking my kids, and I disagree that what you’re doing is necessary.” Here’s an actual quote from an Elitist: “my [two-year old] son is smart enough to realize the hypocrisy in teaching them not to hit, but then hitting them yourself.” What an asshole!

The grand irony of the Elitist’s forms of punishment is that “taking away toys” and “time out” can be effective like spanking, but are they really that much better? (Just to play devil’s advocate for a second here.) Your child does something bad, so instead of spanking them, you take away their favorite stuffed animal. Their Hobbes, their companion, their partner – he’s gone – for them, what might as well be eternity. So when they do something bad, they’re not going to be punished, then return to normalcy, but they are going to be psychologically damaged by the prospect that life may never be the same because of what they did. Time out? A little bit of isolation is always nice for the child who yearns for attention, to taunt them with the prospect that they are going to be alone forever (as far as they are concerned).

Again, not that I believe any of this is true, but as I mentioned previously, it seems to me that the correct disciplinary measures are a byproduct of the child’s personality, circumstances, and past results about what has worked for the parents through their experiences.

Thank God my parents had the insight to understand how their kids reacted to different type of discipline (including SPANKING – WATCH OUT) as we were growing up, because we sure turned out better for it. Well, at least I did – I’m not too sure about my brother (I kid, I kid!).

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Tennis Robot.

I'm making fairly good progress on becoming a tennis robot. What does that mean? Any of you that saw the French and Wimbledon finals knows that Rafael Nadal is a (virtually) unconquerable machine. He absolutely gets to everything, and pounds ground strokes with not necessarily the same force or frequency of winners as someone like Federer, but with the steadfast consistency and predictability of a robot. At the end of this day, what this means is that he'll beat you, but he'll also make you beat yourself. That's more or less what I'm shooting for these days.

I was discussing with a friend the other day - what shots do I have? Well, I can hit aces, and winners of both the forehand and backhand side. My volleys are half-decent. But I don't have *the* shot anywhere, like my friend who has a monster forehand, or others that have monster serves. Generically, I lack "a weapon." It's more like my general shots are "sort of weapons" all-around, which isn't exactly a bad place to be, but that can typically be trumped by real weapons. To defeat this, I'm trying to get in monster shape. If there is one area where I believe I do have a true weapon, it's that I'll grind longer than almost any other guy I know. Want to beat me? You're going to have to take it from me, because I'm not going to give it to you. Note that I still encounter guys that can out-grind me on occasion, like the league tennis playoffs a few weeks ago where a guy I had beaten previously beat me into submission after a 20-deuce game on his serve. I had nothing left.

The tank is getting bigger, though. I've been running in the heat to get used to it, and I think my fitness is coming along nicely. I have a tournament coming up in a couple weeks where I'm signed up for 5.0 - note the shift from 4.5 to 5.0. My ultimate tennis goal is to win a 5.0 major zone, and I think it's time for me to start playing 5.0 tournaments to see where I stand, since I've been faring pretty well in 4.5 tourneys.

I'll keep you updated...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Wear an iPod, Sign Your Death Certificate.

It’s okay iPod, I know that they’re just being mean to you because you’re the most popular music player. They even point out that “any” electronic device is going to conduct electricity, although the title of the article is “Experts warn of lightning-strike injuries with iPods,” with the sub-heading “Wear an iPod, sign your death certificate.” (not really).

It's too bad it's not storming in DFW right now, because I have an itch to run out there wearing some electronic devices, especially my iPod. I've always wanted to see what lightning looks like up close!

Friday, July 06, 2007

New Music Coming Soon.

Coming next week, two mandatory purchases for you: Interpol has reached myth-and-legend status with me, cranking out basically-perfect albums #1 and #2, and "Our Love to Admire" is supposed to be the 3rd. I look forward to this with anticipation only exceeded by Radiohead releases, and that's saying a lot. I also might add this is one of the coolest albums covers I've seen:

Then, of course, there's my beloved Smashing Pumpkins, back from hiatus. Their wretched 3-album-tracklist-configuration I've lambasted in a past post is massively annoying, but that certainly won't keep me from buying one of 'em.

Support good music! Get to your local record store next Tuesday!

Tennis News.

Nothing. It’s been !#)%&!)%&*!# raining in DFW for THREE WEEKS.

It's too bad I don't have a ground crew up here, Wimbledon-style, so that I can sneak in hits in the 8 or 11 minutes that it's not raining (Nadal's 3rd round match).


//End Rant

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Hello? Hold On. Hello? Bah, Hold On. Hello?

Today at ballroom dancing class with my lovely wife, we saw a man wearing not one, not two, but three cell phones on his belt. Sometimes, it helps to have two spare cell phones in case of a double-emergency: