Tag Archives: lists

How I Make the Team Win

When people ask me if I’m superstitious, I answer assuredly, “Nope!”

I played NCAA Division I soccer, and a lot of competitive soccer to get there. (And no, I’m not going to get tired of bringing that up.) Throughout my career, if I didn’t have the right shirt, the right bra, stepped on the sideline or not, whatever, I was ok; I never thought about what order I put my gear on, which shoes I tied first.

And yet, as a fan? I get so idiotic following my temporary, impulsive, newly imagined superstitions. They’re not even legit, consistent game-to-game superstitions; they’re just what occurs to me during the course of a single game. I compulsively follow whatever idea suddenly pops into my had as good luck—and those impulses must be having an effect, otherwise I would’ve learned from logic and stopped trying right?

I think I’m going to call it Helpless Fan Syndrome: You can’t be on the field, so you invent ways to be proactive.

Is anyone else so…Mormon with their superstitions? Just top-of-the-head, “It came to mind, therefore it must be God’s law”? I make fun of it, and then my brain goes all, “For the Bolts to win, you have to wear the same underwear that you wore while eating that really great sandwich you had last Wednesday, and take out your left earring, ’cause it’s an away game,” and I’m like, “OH, SHIT, DUH.” […* dutifully changes underwear, removes earring.]

While it’s obvious that my techniques are still being developed (as of the Bolts/Rays results in the last 24 hours, and the Bucs…well, pretty much all the time), here are some things I did right to cause the Rays to win Wednesday: (And it’s not at all a coincidence, then, that I did none of these things today–hence the blowout.)

  1. Drank out of the same glass I used during Monday’s win. (Unwashed. Duh.)
  2. Refused to let that glass go empty.
  3. Did not wear any of my Rays gear. (One of my longer-standing superstitions deems that wearing team gear—or even using team-branded items like cozies and whatnot—is bad luck.)
  4. Nor did I wear anything blue or yellow or green.
  5. Answered only “yes yes” and “woo” to any IMs I got in support of the Rays during the final two innings.
  6. Kept my phone plugged in throughout the ninth inning, even though it was fully charged midway through.
  7. Knocked twice on my head, wooden TV tray and wooden coffee table (in a random order) with my right hand, then on my head and coffee table (random order) with my left hand every time an announcer said something jinxy.
  8. Made this list eight items long, ‘cause eight is a good number.

When in doubt and your team is down, you can always go to the time-tested and proven “rally shot.” In the best circumstances, this involves the cheapest tequila available at the bar (see: El Toro, Pepe Lopez)*. Among many success stories, this shot’s greatest achievement? The USWNT comeback win over Brazil, during which CCB, the Deelios and I, in an unparalleled moment of patriotism, took one (apiece) for the team. And then this happened:

 

 

In a pinch, you can use whatever somehow detestable shot you have on-hand that you can suffer through without ruining your experience for the rest of the game.

But lastly, a few words of warning for wielding the power of the rally shot:

  1. Never take a rally shot when your team is up or tied. (That means it’s rallying for the other team.)
  2. Be very, very careful taking a second rally shot—you never know if the first one is still working, and you may counteract it and/or die.
  3. And speaking of: Never take a rally shot after midnight. I dunno if it’s bad luck, but I’m pretty sure it’s just straight-up a bad idea.

 

*Holy god with those websites. Now I see where they get their power…

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What I Did on My Summer Vacation

scooter

San Diego transportation, in style.

I don’t mean to brag, but I just got an 18-pack of Bud Light for $13.69 and BOGO parmesan cheese—I feel a sense of accomplishment. (Also, on Thursday I finished my book just in time for PTI—talk about vacation, right?)

Oh, yeah, and I got my cast off yesterday. (Woooooooo…ew, my body is vile.)

But the biggest accomplishments of this vacation—indeed, the whole point of it—centered on my trip to San Diego. Here are some of the things I did:

  • Sat next to a guy who was even more freaked out about the choppy-droppy flight than I was. (Seriously, he was shaking and twitching.)
  • Negotiated a two-minute layover in ATL. On crutches.
  • Learned  how to use a knee scooter like a skilled, responsible pedestrian.
  • …and then rode it bicycle-style down a hill before Thing 2 pushed me across the street.
Wore a basket.

Wore a basket.

  • Diagnosed the difference between a heat wave in Florida and one in SD. (AC is, apparently, optional in SoCal.)
  • Bought additional shorts and tank tops at Target.
  • Shopped for sugar skulls and socks and shot glasses in Seaport Village, Spanish Art Village, Hillcrest and Ocean Beach.
  • Saw sandcastles!
beaver

Took awesome pictures.

  • Slept with the door open.
  • Did my fantasy football draft in a dark, cool bar at 4 p.m. (Verdict so far? Fuck yeah Wes Welker.)
  • Witnessed a plethora of bananas.
  • Bonded with Thing 2’s friends over football, beer and Intervention.
  • Caught up on My Drunk Kitchen.
Hell yeah dancing bananas.

Hell yeah dancing bananas.

  • Got coffee at five different coffee shops and drinks at 10 different bars in six days.
  • Ate burgers, carbonara, pizza, pigs in blankets, homemade salsa and five different kinds of tacos.
  • Played “Boy Named Sue,” “Doin’ It” and “Brave” with a single jukebox dollar.
  • Danced in a stranger’s apartment.
Wore a pig.

Wore a pig.

    • Skyped with Thing 1 in Raleigh. (With special guest appearance by Captain Slack!)
    • Spent an afternoon/evening brewery-hopping for three different San Diego samplers and some home brew nightcaps.

And now? At long last, wrote a blog.

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The Year in Books

“It is a lovely oddity of human nature that a person is more inclined to interrupt two people in conversation than one person alone with a book.”–Rules of Civility

I didn’t want to do another retrospective of the Year of the Blah (which I’m celebrating/eulogizing/hoping to incinerate with a trip to San Diego in a couple days). So instead I give you a rundown of the books I’ve read since establishing the Banana Bunker by the Beach Fortress of Solitude out here. (Subject to editing if I realize I’ve forgotten anything.)

In estimated chronological order of reading:

El Sicario: A real life former enforcer for a Mexican drug cartel tells the story of his career, complete with details from the writer about how careful the guy was in setting up meetings and disguising his identity now that he’s out of the game.

These sicko subculture obsessions of mine, I’m learning, aren’t best served in book form. A good longform binge is great; I enjoy the books, too, but chapter after chapter, day after day, they don’t deliver the same kind of binge-worthy satisfaction. It reminds me of one random family dinner when I was…who knows…10? And I declared that I could eat 20 servings of Ma’s spaghetti carbonara. I barely got through three, my sisters gleefully challenging me to keep my promise. It wasn’t that it stopped tasting good; I just got full.

The Art of Fielding: A sheltered and wimpy but graceful devotee of a legendary shortstop earns a spot on the baseball team for a small liberal arts college in Wisconsin.

When three fellow editors and our publisher simultaneously enthused about this book, it became one of the rare occasions when I went into a novel with faith and high expectations. (Yes, usually I dread that I’m getting into something horrible.) Beautiful, poetic descriptions of athletic things; personal drama that doesn’t involve saving the world or triumphing over aliens or any other try-too-hard melodramatic bullshit.

This is Where I Leave You: A middle-age guy catches his wife cheating and then goes home to sit shiva for his father, reexamining family relationships in the process.

Loaner from Ma. Aside from a far-too-graphic (-for-no-good-reason) early scene, I enjoyed it, for the most part. It’s not particularly profound, but it’s funny and heartfelt in parts. Still, it’s not much of a base to build off of, and it falls apart a bit in the last quarter. (This is, I’m finding, a common issue.)

Tenth of December: Short stories.

Quite simply, the most impressively varied collection of depressing stories in the history of words.

Damn Few: Memoir of a Navy Seal.

Fantastic look into the Navy Seal subculture. The author is very smart and well read and well spoken, so it’s a fun, balanced, charismatic description of crazy-extreme physical tasks, not to mention the ethical issues involved in war and the military.

Water for Elephants: An old man in a nursing home recounts his days as a young man working for a traveling circus.

A great example of why I begin reading novels with such resigned caution. I went into this, for some strange reason, expecting something thoughtful and literary, and it really didn’t deliver—especially not in its mass-napalming of a denouement. (Also, did I miss the explanation of the narrator’s fit about the geezer claiming he carried water for elephants? It’s such a total hissy, not to mention it’s the name of the damn book, that I thought, “Ooh, there’s going to be a story behind this!” And then, it becomes one of a dozen or so would-be teasers that never amount to anything.)

Wherever I Wind Up: Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey’s memoir involving his Southern upbringing and journeyman career.

Meh. It’s fine. I can’t believe I spent the entire book expecting it to climax with a no-hitter. (Spoiler alert: It doesn’t.)

Rules of Civility: A year in the life of a young woman making friends and finding her way in 1930s Manhattan.

I did not have high expectations for this, and I was more than pleasantly surprised. Should give Ma due credit for recommending this one, too—halfway through, I was fervently recommending it to other people. It’s smart and reserved in its writing, while at the same time witty and biting. Alas, while it’s not a complete shark-jumper, the ending doesn’t amount to much. (This isn’t the worst example of a disappointing ending, but seriously with people thinking their novels need to climax with insane character twists and fist-fights and spontaneous lesbianism.)

A favorite quote: “As a quick aside, let me observe that in moments of high emotion, if the next thing you’re going to say makes you feel better, then it’s probably the wrong thing to say. This is one of the finer maxims that I’ve discovered in life. And you can have it, since it’s been of no use to me.”

The Shipping News: A sad-sack New York widower rediscovers his magical, mythical family roots in a small town in Newfoundland.

Well, first of all, it’s like the eighth time I’ve read it, and it’s not much of a stretch to call it my favorite book. It’s beautiful, word-to-word and sentence-to-sentence, and then the story itself is…not quite magical realism, but lovely and stylized. One of those stories that takes place “now” but is also elevated and otherworldly. Almost a parable.

The Academy: Game On: Monica Seles’ first foray into the world of YA fiction, about a girl’s first semester or so at an academy for elite athletes.

I had to read it for work. (Seles trained at the local IMG Academy as a child.) It’s harmless, for the most part, but also bound to kill brain cells.

Gone Girl: Alternating narrators—a husband being investigated for the potential murder of his missing wife, and the wife’s diary entries from throughout their relationship. (There’s a wrinkle in that structure halfway through, but I won’t spoil it.)

It’s not going to enhance your worldview or anything—it’s plot-driven, but the plot is solid and detailed. Most notably, the descriptions of (most of) the characters’ emotional responses and motivations are interesting and insightful. I’ve called it “a really, really well-written Lifetime movie.”

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Fantasy Thursday: My Last Meal

mcdonalds-Cheeseburger

Where’s my nuggets, yo?

For my third and final (and possibly favorite) fantasy this week, I gave much thought to assembling the best spread ever.

Have you ever seen some of the things people order for their last meal on death row? Granted it’s kind of a morbid topic, but if you just think about the food—it’s these incredible lists, more than many people could ever eat in a single sitting. Not a “meal” in the sense of a single composition, but just a big pile of your favorite things to eat, ever.  I tried to limit myself a top-10, all-time favorite and/or transcendent indulgences (plus beverages)–and while I think this is pretty darn good, I feel like this list is going to be an ongoing project…

  1. Ma’s Spaghetti carbonara. Pasta, eggs, bacon, cream, butter, cheese. Can’t beat it.
  2. McDonald’s cheeseburger and chicken nuggets. They count as a single item because I put the nuggets on top like a condiment.
  3. Oreos.
  4. The Beach Bistro “White Castle slider.” Seared foie gras, tenderloin, demi-glace and béarnaise on a garlic bun.
  5. Mashed potatoes with lots of butter and some real brown gravy on the side.
  6. Eggs Benedict. Cook the eggs just barely firmer than normal, real back bacon (Hi, Canadians!) and lemony Hollandaise with a little bit of cayenne or hot paprika kick. And real, well-done home fries to sop up the extra.
  7. Snow crab legs with drawn butter.
  8. Granny’s baked mac ‘n cheese.
  9. Cheetos.
  10. A hunk of brie.

For beverages? Three Bud Lights, a Mountain Dew, Van Winkle Special Reserve 12-yo, and some whole milk (for the Oreos).

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Fantasy Wednesday: $10,000

neon-dinosaur-planters-2

$10,000

My hump-day fantasy theme is money. This actually came to me a few weeks ago–how I can’t bring myself to fantasize about Power Ball millions, but what a relief a slightly more modest fortune could be.

However, after modestly fantasizing about debt-repayment and responsible saving (and trust me, those are powerful fantasies), I can’t seem to prioritize any indulgences–there aren’t any big purchases I long for, and while a variety of experiences would be nice (a trip to wherever, season tickets, a bunch of fancy dinners), nothing jumps up to the top.

So, basically, I turned this into a modest shopping blog in honor of one of my favorite gift sites. These days, more than half of the 10 grand would go straight to pay off my credit card and car. After that, I decided I’d use the leftover to purchase 10 vaguely useful, occasionally overpriced and exceptionally awesome tchotchkes from Uncommon Goods:*

  1. Rawr.
  2. Classiest rally shots ever.
  3. A polar bear that vomits ice cubes!
  4. The coastal region of Southwest Florida: a place to lay my head.
  5. I’m too flabby for the mitts these days, but I still want a boxer’s robe—and it’s good for the environment!
  6. Yay for letters.
  7. I’ve failed at making compost for some time now (which is pretty sad, if you think about it).
  8. I can’t tell if this would improve my grilling or my stick-handling (or neither). Also I wonder if they have different brands.
  9. Perty skirt. (This one, too.)
  10. And, well, duh.

*And these are just things for me; shopping for other people on that site is almost as much fun.

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What I am currently…

Reading: The Shipping News; longform.org; text messages regarding Boucher’s firing.

Listening to: Broken Bells; Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins; the goddamn motherfucking peacocks.

Watching; The Wire season three; the fog roll in; my bracket die.

Eating: SPAM and eggs; raw broccoli and homemade blue cheese dip (sour cream, mayo, blue cheese, Worcestershire and celery salt.)

Wearing: horsey pajama bottoms and a tore-up grey t-shirt.

Pondering: a bike ride, a jog, or a game of Wii golf.

Bemoaning: the destructive tendencies of my new Target shoes; my decision to play Wii golf instead of exercise.

Remembering: a dream about feeding pretty chickens; a dream about stepping off the dock into dark water.

Regretting: Drinking Mama Brown’s Bud Light “Platinum”; putting Gonzaga in my final four.

Yelling at: the peacocks; the squirrels; the cat; Wii golf.

Feeling: a humid-cool breeze;  a sandspur splinter in my foot; a dangerous craving for chicken parm.

Celebrating: an eagle on 18; a blog in the books; a foggy and unaccounted for Sunday afternoon.

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Money-Saving Tips

Some of the ways I’m making $80 last two weeks this pay period.

Food:

Starbuck’s tasty Greek yogurt breakfast parfait with honey and the special no-sog packet of granola and slivers of toasted coconut? Easy enough: a big container of Greek yogurt, some honey (or agave nectar you have lying around after your homemade margaritas adventure), box of granola cereal and some shaved coconut. Mix the yogurt and honey in a Tupperware container, then lay some cellophane on top and put the granola and coconut in there.

yogurt

Put the lid on, and everything’s ready to go for whenever you wanna mix it all together.

Find things that are awesome and appetizing when reheated, and cook a shit-ton of them: Black beans and rice, brandied chicken breasts, spaghetti carbonara, stroganoff. The kicker for me is that they have to be super-appetizing, otherwise after-work dining out wins. Which tends to mean they’re pretty fattening, too. This is where money-saving runs headlong into calorie-saving. Money wins. As does my tummy.

Volunteer for food contest judging.

meatloaf

Gourmet lamb meat loaf with roasted tomato jam, goat cheese and asparagus risotto. For? Free.

We’ve got weekly contests for finding various local food “bests,” and week before last, it was meatloaf. I’m not saying it’s the healthiest thing to do, but traveling all over town to sample four different kinds of meatloaf saves you money on dinner, that’s for sure.

Likewise, embrace the work luncheons you’re obligated to attend.

chicken

Any time you’re getting free risotto, you’re doing something right.

I wasn’t exactly psyched about today’s cancer luncheon, but teriyaki chicken on creamy risotto with asparagus from the Ritz? Yeah, that’s a deal.

choc cake…oh, and there was chocolate cake.

Biking to the grocery store encourages limited and lightweight purchases. I am not a motivated enough beer-drinker to ride 4.5 miles with a case of Bud Light on my back. Plus, this works in favor of calorie-consumption, too.

Booze:

Invite considerate, lightweight friends over who will bring a 12-pack, drink one, and leave the rest for you.

Take a chance on a $2 hockey raffle ticket.

raffle beer

Hoptical Illusion alone is worth the $2. Plus: bonus mugs!

The key here is that “improving my chances” was too close to “throwing my money away,” so I took a single, low-risk chance and got myself eight fancy beers. Win.

And lastly, obey these booze-buying words of wisdom: “You should always think about cost per ounce vs. credit card interest.” In other words, don’t buy the smaller bottle just because you’re short on cash; put the handle on the Visa and congratulate yourself for being a smart shopper.

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