Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cat Calls

I joined a sand volleyball team even though my skills are rudimentary at best. Yes I was captain of my high school volleyball team…but we were horrible and only won one game the entire season. Oh and that ONE win came when we played a freshman level team…and we were Varsity!
So it was a safe bet that the other members of my sand volleyball team were better players than me. Don’t get the wrong impression; even though they were better than me skill wise, the team as a whole still was pretty below average…even for our league which was basically the Special Olympics of volleyball. Yes I did go there…the recreational league was a minor hand-eye coordination away from foam helmets and bibs.
Our strategy was to hit the ball the least amount of times. Other teams would try to pass, set, spike and we were content to just pass it back over to their side on the first contact. This way they touched the balls three times more often than us. Since we were in the “just for fun” league, more often than not, the ball would drop due to lack of skill (hitting it in the net, out of bounds, or just plain dropping the…ball) and not due to actual kills. If a team could perform an actual pass, set, spike successfully, then they had no right to be in our league of cheerleaders and dwarfs.
Our “let the other team have the ball and mess up” strategy worked well enough to land in the playoffs. We were ranked 18th out of 20 teams. Our first opponent was another shitty team like us, and the winner would play the #2 seed. Yay! Well we won the first game, and moved on to take down the powerhouse. Seriously, they could seriously spike and do trick sets…I mean what the fuck, you are basically in a children’s league…does signing up for an inferior league just so you can dominate make you feel good asshats? We just sat back, braced ourselves, and took the punishment. Who needs to block when you have six people waiting to receive the rancid spike and bump it right back over. Sure enough, the super team would get all fancy and acted as their own worst enemy. After a few spikes to the net, they started bickering and got all frustrated because hey we were not the better team yet we were winning…as expected, their performance plummeted.
So after the first week of playoffs, and knocking off the #2 seed (which we considered a fluke because we frankly suck), we continued to dominate opponents. We were the true Cinderella team. The #6 and #4 ranked teams came and went, and finally we faced the #1 seed in the championship game. Okay for the record, their guys were like 6’-100” tall and all of their girls had junior college level volleyball experience. The first spike rocketed down into the front row like a shame seeking missile and nearly took my head off. I whined to the other team “don’t do that!” which they found humorous…but I was totally serious (who actually enjoys getting their ass handed to them). Well we applied our one pass policy which made the other team really cocky…then irritated. Yep, sure enough, all their tricks and perfect skill did let them down because they touched the ball three times more than us (and we were scrappy…and short like Scrappy Doo). At one point, one of their frustrated super athletes yelled at the team “come on, they aren’t even good, Jesus!” We ended up beating them in three very close matches (or games, or sets, whatever, that is how little I know about volleyball now). Yep the Cinderella found her slipper that night and it didn’t sink in until they handed us our championship t-shirts (see it is a retarded league…they can’t give out trophies because someone may loose an eye).

Now to the funny story…
One of the guys on my team told us all about his cat…that he loves…and buys presents for on its birthday. Oh yeah, we gave him so much shit for this. I mean how can you love a cat so much when it doesn’t even acknowledge you are alive (unless it is feeding time). He seriously does wrap up presents for the cat on the cat’s birthday, even makes a special cat food cake treat. He has even cut short vacations because it pisses off the cat when he is away for too long. Well another team member saw the guy post on his facebook wall “Happy Birthday Clark, looking forward to presents tonight”. It was like a land mine of fodder for us. So the team secretly kicked around ideas about what we can do to the guy to torment him. One person suggested sending him thank you cards “signed” by Clark (the cat). We could send flowers or a fruit basket, but that didn’t seem funny enough. Sure enough, we settled on creating an email account for his cat. Yes you read right...the cat now has email. The email name is “Clark The Cat”. The cat will randomly write to his owner about barfing in his shoe, ideas for their “date night”, and how he passes the day silently judging people outside his window. The emails are so random because six different people write them which is really throwing him off (especially if we purposely send one while he is physically in front of the latest suspects and therefore immediately disqualified). Maybe after a few months the email will dwindle down to just one or two a week…until Clark sends him an e-vite for a Christmas party.
Here is one of my favorite “Clark” emails (I am not the author and totally did laugh out loud to the point of tears)
first, thanks for leaving the TV on for me before you left for work I was watching 'The Price is Right' reruns, I heard Barney's dad telling everyone to get their pets Spayed or Neutered...which reminded me of when I got Spayed and you told me that it meant that I would have better eye vision know what, I looked it up on Wikipedia and that is NOT what it f**king a-hole...what If I did that to you? Would you like that??!! I would...we'd get to see each other more on weekend evenings. That would be like someone locking the doors at a 7/11. It just doesn't make sense??!! you owe me bitch.

p.s. now I want Lasik eye surgery

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ava's first visit to Chicago

Back in July (yes another seriously late post), my niece Ava visited Chicago for the first time. I think it was her first HUGE city experience because she had that look of wonder when she rolled out of the train station. Seriously, she was sitting in her stroller, looking/turning all around at the buildings, the hundreds of people, the river, etc.

We started off at the Millennium Park “face” fountain. The plaza is covered in a thin layer of water that children can run around in and on either end are giant blocks where faces are projected on to them. Occasionally the “face” will pucker its mouth and a jet of water will shoot out…sort of like it is spitting on you.

Well Ava loved running around and we practically had to drag her away after an hour. I also noticed that she runs like a dinosaur. Granted she wasn’t quiet two yet, but it sort of looked like a T-Rex with the arms tucked in and the butt sort of jutting out. You had to see it I guess.

I even have an action shot where her mom (my sister) is running with her and Ava didn’t realize that even though she is in the air, she could stop running too.

Next we chilled at the “bean” where Ava entertained herself by throwing a quarter against the sculpture and then picking it up over and over again. Eventually she went over to the railing and absently threw the coin overboard. Here is the after shot (no, we did not go down after it).

My niece is fearless because she would just approach and hang out with any child around. She even sat down to some amateur artist sketching the crowd. The artist started to get uncomfortable thinking an Amber alert was about to be issued, so we moved on.

Thankfully all of the playing tired her out so my sister and I could go shopping with her asleep in the stroller. When she did wake up, we kept her busy eating cheerios in the dressing room. Food = happy clam.

We ended the day outside the Children’s Museum which has another water play fountain which shoots jets of water up from the floor.

The next day, the whole family spent it at the beach. I don’t have any pictures of me in a swimsuit because I am whitey mc whiterson pale! Seriously, day-glo doesn’t begin to describe it. I bought a sand castle making kit for Ava, but she had no interest in playing with it. My sister and I actually had fun making elaborate castles with moats with it, and Ava would come bounding over and destroy the creation Godzilla style.

The Lincoln Park Zoo was our afternoon stop. For a free zoo, it is pretty impressive. Granted nothing beats the Omaha kickass zoo, but then again it is far from free. Being a hot July afternoon, the animals were predictably comatose except for a pacing Siberian (aka big ass) Tiger that gave the crowd a show. The “farm” area cracked me up. I will never look at the cows the same way again.

Also, what they hell are they making there?

Ava’s dad took advantage of my whirlpool tub to create the world’s most awesome bubble bath. At one point, Ava plunged below the foam and we momentarily lost her. She somehow wasn’t took keen on me trying to give her a bubble beard AND pompadour.

Here is how she lets me know she wants something out of reach...point and pout with the most adorable sad face ever. Also with doggie and blanket in tow.

The movie Transformers 3 was in town filming this entire summer, so I took the family down to the set. We tried to sneak into some awesome fake rubble piles, but the security Nazi’s were really hell bent on keeping some Nebraskan tourists out.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Not stupid, just disabled

I am reading a book for a book club I newly joined. Granted it is more of a cocktail party than a book club, but it has introduced me to some very interesting and random reads that I never would have discovered on my own. This book opens up with a woman who explains her learning disabilities. She has a severe one-side brain function meaning she can maintain a magnificent vocabulary but has no sense of direction and gets lost easily (and frequently). Other symptoms of her disability are that she cannot tell time or discern left from right. Boy does this sound like someone I know…ME! Okay I do have a fabulous sense of direction and don’t excel at the creative arts like she does, so we are not entirely alike. However, the pains she describes about being embarrassed about not being able to reply to a simple “what time is it” query are spot on. Seriously, I wear a digital Velcro watch for a reason (well that and because I can wash it because watches are smelly). I remember being utterly confused growing up when someone would say “turn left” or “it is on your right”. To this day I still ball up my hands and look down to see which one makes the “L” in order to figure out Left. Thank God I now have an excuse for being less developed than a kindergartener.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Catching up

Okay, recaps from July…JULY! I know! I couldn’t overlook a concert from one of my top three favorite bands…Against Me! When I say this, people often ask what the other two are, and I can easily say The Offspring and whatever other band I fancy at the time. Sometimes it is Counting Crows, sometimes Green Day, sometimes Our Lady Peace.
The concert was at the Aragon which is one of the old school old glamour theaters in my neighborhood. Actually, my neighborhood had three of these theaters (the Riv and the Uptown) which shows what a swinging place my hood used to be. Al Capone’s old speakeasy even is right around the corner. Too bad the neighborhood is total shit now.
The Aragon looks like medieval times on the inside…little village houses with a blue starry sky. The bands playing were Silversun Pickups and Against Me! so the audience was a mix of indie and punk. I found a Nirvana super fan with a Jesus = Cobain tattoo (now that is anice blend of commitment and blasphemy).

Warning strobes will be used “extensively”.

Below are links to VIDEOS of Against Me. Not their best show mostly because the enclosed space isn’t the best way to enjoy their loud music.

Thrash Unreal Video

New Wave Video

Stop Video

Here are pictures of Silversun Pickups. They jammed with a little psyadelic feel. Much better than when I saw them a lollapalooza last year.

The show was also the first date for "Jewed Law" and me. Admittedly, I need to come up with a better nickname (I was going for a Jude Law reference). We stopped at a nearby bar after the concert and played supersized jenga. Granted, I am surprised how well we did considering we were both drunk and partially deaf. More about him in a later post.