Monthly Archives: April 2011

Chinga tu beeeep: Spanish soccer gets angry

Soccer — football, futbol, whatever — is a year-round sport. If you’re in the mood to watch a game, you’re bound to find something, anything. It may take a little digging and a subscription to an obscure television channel. But if you’re intrepid enough, there’s always something to land on between pre-season games, season games, playoff games, friendlies, international exhibitions, leagues, cups and high school clubs… Luckily for us, we have DRAMA in the spotlight now.

Why?

Because it’s Champions League, baby! (oh, and also something about Real Salt Lake missing out on a historic opp to play in some America’s something)

To be fair, only one current match-up is worth all the hype. The other one isn’t ho-hum, it’s just that Manchester United (with Chicharito (yay!), Rooney, Berbatov, et al) is a sure bet to make it to the finals. They won their first of two semi-final matches 2-0 against Schalke. It was Real Madrid vs. Barcelona that had everyone’s tails wagging before, during and after the game. And why wouldn’t it? It’s a veritable who’s who of 2010 World Cup. It should be with the amount of money each team has spent on their rosters.

BEFORE:

  • Barcelona — a powerhouse — is coming into the semifinals as an underdog.
  • Real Madrid just came off an exhilarating and exhausting victory over Barca for the Copa del Rey. It ended in extra time with a header from Ronaldo.
  • Cup gets run over by a bus. Falls from bus first.
  • Both coaches trade verbal blows.

DURING:

  • Physical match-up
  • Barca’s Alves goes down.
  • RM’s Pepe is ejected.
  • RM’s coach is sent to the stands after red card where he proceeds to pass notes to his people.
  • Messi scores for Barca.
  • Messi scores again. (Where’s the golden glove, Iker?)
  • Barca back on top with 2-0 victory
  • Not impossible — but most definitely unlikely — that RM can pull a 3-0 win in 2nd semifinal out of its ass.

AFTER:

And so, we wait with bated breath for the rest of the drama to unfold before these teams meet again next week. This is way better than a novela!!

PHOTO: Pepe of Real Madrid receives red card during 2-0 loss against Barcelona.

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Oh what a beautiful morning!

The sun is shining.

The birds are singing.

Alright, presently as I write from the Los Angeles area, neither of those things are happening. It’s wet and overcast outside my window. But it’s still a beautiful morning because today—on this glorious Easter morning—marks the end of my bacon fast.

Oh happy day!

Where to begin? Should I drive to Denny’s for their maple bacon sundae? Should I track down that food truck that serves bacon-shelled tacos? Should I join the Bacon-of-the-Month club?

Or should I just go old-school and serve up some bacon on the side of my breakfast?

Oh the possibilities!

PHOTO: That’s not me eating a baco from Lardon’s. It soon will be.

Why not judge book by its cover?

I usually love hearing when Hollywood has taken an interest in an amazing book and decided to make it into a movie. Though they’re not coming up with original content, at least they’re not rehashing some tried and tired plotlines.

And yet, I get really protective of the books they choose to make into movies. Will it be awesome? Will it suck? Are they invested in the entire series? I mean, just remember the disastrous rendition of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials

That would have been an amazing series to see on the wide screen with all the fantastical elements — animal daemons, parallel universes, soul-eaters, angels, witches, gypsies, armored bears, oh my! What we got instead was the sorry, halfhearted Golden Compass that bombed so badly, future efforts to film the trilogy were immediately abandoned. That was not the kind of treatment that Pullman’s award-winning allegory on religion and philosophy deserved.

Which brings me to the upcoming release of Water for Elephants. I’m already unimpressed by the trailers and the cast (Robert Pattinson, really?!). But that’s not what bugs me the most. What kills me is that when Hollywood takes an interest, the publishing companies revamp the books and pander with new covers. No offense to Reese, but I don’t want to read a book with her and Pattinson embracing on the cover. When I read this book, the love story was the least compelling aspect. To me, it was more about the other circus characters, life in the Depression, reinvention and the human-animal bond.

Exhibit A is the photo on the left. Otherwise known as a ridiculous cover for Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants. I got bombarded with it when I walked into Border’s this weekend and I assume most other big-chain bookstores (those that remain) have similar displays. Exhibit B is the previous cover. It’s simple and understated and evokes the mysteries behind the circus curtains. That’s what the book is more about.

Ok, I’m over my rant. Full disclosure… if it were anyone other than RPatz, I probably wouldn’t have cared. Sorry dude.

The Tragedy of SPARE-Ta: Act 3

Act 3

Scene 1

(THE ONEDER, TUMULTY, and MERRITT hold a team pow-wow to strategize for the second game.)

THE ONEDER                        Alright, guys. This last game sucked for both of us. We were outright robbed. Our new plan of action is simple and straight-forward: Bowl our averages!

(Turns to give MERRITT a look that should be interpreted as… you’re the reason we lost the first game!!)

TUMULTY                        “Bowl our averages.” Got it.

MERRITT                        Ok, Captain. We’ll follow your lead.

THE ONEDER                        (mumbles to herself) Ugh!

THE INTERNATIONAL            You first.

(THE ONEDER bowls. Nothing special. No strike, but enough to be on track for her average. THE INTERNATIONAL bowls. Hits a strike. TUMULTY bowls… average. OL’ REICHY goes and does far better.)

THE ONEDER                        (to TUMULTY) Wow, it may be time to rethink that strategy.

TUMULTY                        What? Already? We’re barely in the first frame.

(MERRITT bowls shittily.)

THE ONEDER                        Yeah, now!

Scene 2

(Halfway through the second game, each member of WPS has picked up their pace. They’re not that far ahead of their averages, but they’re killing SPARE-TA. It’s not looking that great.)

THE ONEDER                        What are you laughing at?

OL’ REICHY                        Oh, nothing.

THE ONEDER                        I call bullshit. You’re laughing at us.

OL’ REICHY                        No, not at all.

THE ONEDER                        Look, dude. We’re a force to be reckoned with. Maybe my whole team cannot at the moment take you down, but individually, I’ll beat you.

OL’ REICHY                        hahaha I’m not worried about you. I’m more worried about her. (motioning to TUMULTY) That series-high 130 is impressive.

THE ONEDER                        You should be impressed by that! (Points to her name on the Season-High scoresheet for handicap series.)

OL’ REICHY                        Do your best, then.

THE ONEDER                        Challenge accepted.

(OL’ REICHY gets up and picks up a spare. THE ONEDER follows and knocks down nine pins, leaving the No. 10 pin in the far left corner up.)

THE ONEDER                        Don’t worry. That’s my favorite pin.

MERRITT                        It’s true. That’s her favorite.

(THE ONEDER approaches, bowls and misses by yards, miles even.) 

THE ONEDER                        I didn’t like it that much. Next frame… it’s on!

(The competition continues between OL’ REICHY and THE ONEDER, but SPARE-TA is all talk at this point. MERRITT has been flailing the whole game.

At this point, NICOLE comes down with another round of drinks for WPS.)

OL’ REICHY                        (to THE ONEDER) What? What are you thinking about?

THE ONEDER                        My evil genius plan to win.

OL’ REICHY                        Care to share…

THE ONEDER                        Getting you drunk.

OL’ REICHY                        hahaha We’re alcoholics. The more we drink, the better we do. If you want to actually make us play bad, we’ll have to drink, like, 20 whiskey shots.

THE ONEDER                        20?! Sheesh… how many have you had already?

OL’ REICHY                        I dunno. Maybe three.

THE ONEDER                        Look, all I need is for one of you to fall and my money is on HIP CHIMP. I’m sure another shot will bring her down.

Hey, NICOLE!

Scene 3

 

THE ONEDER                        We want to order some shots.

NICOLE                        Sure, what do you want?

THE ONEDER                        I guess, whiskey is drink of choice. Let’s see… (She turns around and starts counting four for WPS plus their cheerleader RAINMAKER, one for her and one for TUMULTY. and MERRITT….?)

                                    It’s going to be six whiskey shots and a lemon drop for MERRITT.

            (to MERRITT) That’s what you said, right?

MERRITT                        I didn’t say anything.

THE ONEDER                        OK, then six shots, please.

MERRITT                        (quickly realizing he’s about to lose out on free booze) Wait, HIP CHIMP wanted the lemon drop.

THE ONEDER                        Ok, then. Like I first said… six whiskey shots and a lemon drop. On my tab, please.

TUMULTY                        Whoa… are we really doing this?

THE ONEDER                        Yes, suck it up for the team!

TUMULTY                        Ok, then I’m going to need a Coke chaser.

*****

NICOLE has returned and placed six large whiskey shots on the counter… and a lemon drop.

BRANDIFER                        Oh, what’s going on over here?

THE ONEDER                        War

TUMULTY                        Wait! Where’s my chaser?

THE ONEDER                        Sacriice, woman. This is for our place in the league!

Everyone toasts and drinks.

End of Act 3

PREVIOUSLY ON The Tragedy of Spare-Ta!: A comedy of errors: Act 2

UP NEXT: Game 3, will Spare-Ta! get a win? Will MERRITT survive the night?

The Tragedy of SPARE-Ta!: Act 2

ACT 2

Scene 1

(All teams have paired off and gone to their respective lanes. THIS IS SPARE-TA! and WPS PAY ROLL have set up on the far right side. There’s about seven minutes left of practice before the games begin.)

MERRITT                        Motions with a stupid little bow to THE ONEDER

THE ONEDER                You want me to take some practice bowls?

MERRITT                        That’s what this time’s for.

THE ONEDER               (Still putting on her shoes) Bowl for me, then. I’ll be ready soon.

Team players have been bowling in both lanes a couple times already. THE ONEDER finally gets up to join them. Takes a 9lb ball and chucks it down the lane, knocking all 10 pins down.

MERRITT                        Nice. See that’s why you practice.

THE ONEDER                It’s wasted in practice.

Scene 2

HIP CHIMP gets up to bowl. She knocks down nine pins. THE INTERNATIONAL follows suit with a spare. All this is still practice time. Everyone takes this time to introduce themselves.

TUMULTY                          Those are cool nicknames. Who came up with them?

OL’ REICHY                        She did. (motioning to HIP CHIMP)

HIP CHIMP                        His was supposed to be SCOTCH N BURN… but he changed it.

THE ONEDER                   Why didn’t you like that name? It’s awesome.

OL’ REICHY                        I dunno. (bursts into laughter)

THE ONEDER                    Why’s his name THE INTERNATIONAL?

HIP CHIMP                        He speaks Mandarin. And his wife’s in China.

Enter NICOLE

NICOLE                                Hey guys, here’s your Blue Moon. That’s 5 bucks each.

(She proceeds to set down three shots and a couple beers in front of the other team.)

Do you guys want to keep a tab open?

Scene 3

[Game 1 is about to start. At this point, it’s necessary to stray from the play format and delve into some narrative.]

THE ONEDER is looking over the stat sheet and mining for any clues to the weaknesses of the WPS PAY ROLL team. It doesn’t look good. There is a reason why this team has been in the No. 1 spot since the league began. No one has gotten close to dethroning them. Even seated comfortably in second place, THIS IS SPARE-TA is still a few games behind. In order to take the lead, THIS IS SPARE-TA will have to win two of the three games.

It’s time to start bowling. THE ONEDER and THE INTERNATIONAL are the first members up for each team. Still unsure which is the best course of action, THE ONEDER quickly looks at her average — 79 and aims for at least eight pins in the first frame. She gets up to bowl, hits her mark and hurries back to her homework.

The Area 15 league works with a 210-point handicap. Every week the players bowl their three games. At the end of the night, their individual game points are averaged and the difference is the handicap. Wins and losses are based off that 210 points, not the individual frames. That’s the only way a team with a member that averages 79 points can still hold on to second place.

The realization THE ONEDER came to was heavy. WPS was good, yes, but more than that, they were consistent. They didn’t have a star bowler on the team, but rather all three of them fluctuated around the 100-point margin.

On the other hand, THIS IS SPARE-TA did have an obviously more experienced bowler in MERRITT. Unfortunately, he’d been hitting a wall the last few games and the recent wins have come from surprises from THE ONEDER and TUMULTY, who just came off a week where she bowled a 130, or a 257 with handicap.

The two top-scoring teams last week were WPS with 1994 points (over three games) and SPARE-TA with 1949 points. Both teams swept their competition. WPS peaked in the second game with 698 points among the three bowlers. SPARE-TA likewise peaked with 680.

THE ONEDER knew it would be close and that the best chance they had was to bowl their averages. She was off to a good start. TUMULTY, whose average was 87, was similarly doing well. But MERRITT, that black sheep with a 147 average, he still couldn’t get out of his bowling funk. Perhaps someone should have taken a few more practice bowls.

The game stayed fairly close between the two teams. One would be up in one frame, and then the next would be up in the other frame. Because WPS was so closely matched, it was hard to tell who would be the standout bowler. Late in the first game, however, it became clear that THE INTERNATIONAL would carry the team. On SPARE-TA’s side, no such leader emerged. What did emerge was the bane of the team…

It came down to the last bowler in the last frame. SPARE-TA was up by a few pins and up strolls HIP CHIMP. She bowls and quickly turns around. That’s her M.O. refusing to watch the ball hit the pins or fly into the gutter. She knocks down just enough to put them over the edge.

Five points! They took the game by five measly points! 607 to 602.

THE ONEDER couldn’t believe their luck. It was such a low-scoring game on both sides. How could this have happened? She beat her average by 2 points. TUMULTY beat hers by 10. MERRITT, oh MERRITT, he bowled a 107…. yuck… on anyone else that would be decent. On him, that’s 30 points below his average and grounds for some ancient Greek discipline.

[and back to play format…]

THE ONEDER                        Son of a #%*#!

OL’ REICHY                           hahahahaha

TUMULTY                              We have to take the next two games for first place.

 

end of Act 2

PREVIOUSLY ON The Tragedy of SPARE-Ta!: A comedy of errors: Act I

UP NEXT: Game 2, guerilla warfare, a sinking ship

Bacon Watch OVERDOSE Days 31 and 33 and 34

It’s a bacon palooza! Aren’t you happy??!! Ok, I’ve been awful at keeping up with the daily bacon onslaught this weekend. To make amends, I’m throwing everything at you today.

Starting with Bacon Watch Day 31 aka Friday

I got an email from my colleague about the Bacon Calculator. In essence, it breaks down how many calories and grams of saturated fat are in one single slice of bacon. Here’s the rub: you think that bacon’s so bad for you which is why you won’t touch more than a slice at a time. But, in fact, some of the things you are looking at stuffing in your face are far worse. Consider the above Chili’s bbq ribs = 26 bacons.

Read the piece here on the HuffPo.

Bacon Watch Day 33 aka Sunday

Nothing rings more true than when the hunky Old Spice Guy tells you so half-naked in a towel. And what he tells me here, via @GeorgeGSmithJr is that the destruction of a bacon factory is VERY bad news.

Bacon Watch Day 34 aka Monday

Another present from a colleague: The ultimate pheromone. Those Taco Bell commercials had it right… There’s no sweeter smell than the salty, savory bacon… MMMM…

I wonder, if I buy this and wear it, will people notice I’m wearing bacon perfume or just that awesome that I naturally exude the scent??

PHOTOS: chili’s equals how many bacon strips? Old Spice Dude and bacon fragrance

The Tragedy of SPARE-TA: Act I

ACT I

Scene 1

(Enter THE ONEDER and E. BAGGESEY. All other characters already present.)

TUMULTY                        Hey, we’re all wearing black tank tops!

E. BAGGESEY                  What? (realizes what she’s wearing) Oh, yeah.

BRANDIFER                    Me too! See I’m wearing it under my shirt (pulls up her bowling shirt to reveal, yes, there is a black tank top on underneath)

THE ONEDER                  (rolls her eyes a little as she realizes the little things that amuse her bowling mates) Ummm… so where’s Nicole?

Scene 2

(THE ONEDER walks over to her lane assignment where she sees MERRITT, HIP CHIMP, OL’ REICHY and THE INTERNATIONAL)

THE ONEDER                  to MERRITT Hey, how’s it going?

MERRITT                           Alright. Did you practice?

THE ONEDER                  Is that always going to be your first question?

MERRITT                           Yeah. So did you?

THE ONEDER                   No, but we did make up the three games from that other week (motioning to TUMULTY who has joined the lanes)

MERRITT                           How did you do?

THE ONEDER                  Not great.

TUMULTY                         But it’s OK. It should bring down our averages. That’ll help against this team (motioning to WPS Pay Roll)

THE ONEDER                  It wasn’t my fault though. Listen up. First, they stuck us in lanes 1 and 2. Those over there (points to the far end of the bowling alley) We’re bowling right against the wall in one lane and then, if that’s not enough, we have gum on the other. Gum!

MERRITT                          Gum?

THE ONEDER                  Yeah, gum! Right in the path. It messed with my walk and got in my head.

MERRITT                           looks at TUMULTY for some clarification

TUMULTY                         (shrugs) Yeah, but at least it’ll bring our averages down.

OL’ REICHY                      (starts laughing) Where’s Nicole?

Scene 3

(All characters are gathered around lane as CHRIS starts dropping the bowling wisdom. He’s standing in an awkwardly balanced position, swinging his arm up and down.)

CHRIS                                I’ve noticed that some of you have terrible form. If you manage to knock anything down, it’s based on pure luck. (Grabs a ball and approaches nearest lane)

Here, let me show you how it’s supposed to look.

{Takes a few steps. Plants foot. Sweeps other foot behind. Swings arm forward. Releases ball and follows through. Bowling ball curves and spins its way down the lane until it knocks down EVERY pin. Applause}

Do you see how I’m standing? I could be here all day. I’m centered and balanced. Some of you are falling over the second you release the ball.

{His ball has returned. He picks it up and repeats the exact same motion as before with exact same results.}

Let’s work on that today.

(Enter Nicole)

OL’ REICHY                       to Nicole… whiskey shots, please.

HIP CHIMP                        A lemon drop

THE INTERNATIONAL            Corona

TUMULTY                           Blue Moon

Chorus of other bowlers makes the requests indistinguishable. People are shouting beer names, brands, and bar food.

NICOLE                                (to herself) I need another cigarette break.

 

End of Act I

PREVIOUSLY ON The Tragedy of Spare-Ta!: A comedy of errors: Cast of characters

UP NEXT: A cruel realization, a close call and a time of desperation in Act 2

The Tragedy of SPARE-TA: Who’s who?

As announced earlier, The Tragedy of Spare-Ta!: A comedy of errors will be published here in installments. The begin, we have the cast of characters and setting.

 

CAST OF CHARACTERS

THE ONEDER       Unofficial leader of the This is Spare-Ta! bowling team. Always surprised to find team in second place and willing to do just about anything to keep them from falling from grace.

TUMULTY              Member of This is Spare-Ta! Though bowling with one of the lightest balls, has steadily become the “one to watch” on the team.

MERRITT               Member of This is Spare-Ta! Older than the rest, awkward and has no previous ties to them. They were grouped together in the second week and has realized that the only reason THE ONEDER and TUMULTY let him live is because he’s an above-average bowler.

HIP CHIMP            Leader of WPS Pay Roll, a rival bowling team.

OL’ REICHY           Member of WPS Pay Roll. He’s prone to sauntering up to the lanes and fits of laughter for no apparent reason.

THE INTERNATIONAL    Member of WPS Pay Roll. The tall, silent type who will surprise others (and himself) with knocked-out frames.

RAINMAKER         Cheerleader for WPS Pay Roll.

BRANDIFER          Member of Strike Specialists, a bowling team. She has bowling in her genes and recently got a 185.

E. BAGGESEY        Member of Strike Specialists. Currently shy of a 100-point average, her biggest fumbles are foot faults.

CHRIS                    The Dude at the alley who talks about form and balance and reading books on bowling. He also collects the money.

NICOLE                 Most important character in the play. She provides alcohol.

 

SETTING

AMF Lanes, Mar Vista, Wednesday night (April 6, 2011 to be precise) The following action takes place in three and a half hours during the weekly rookie bowling league. Eight teams have been competing since late February. Some just go for the good times. Some are there to perfect their form and take down their better-skilled progenitor. Some are out for blood.

 

UP NEXT: The battle lines are drawn between two rival teams. . .

Coming Soon: The Tragedy of SPARE-TA

I am proud to announce the upcoming release of The Tragedy of Spare-TA!: A comedy of errors.

The new work by promising playwright Claudia Bustachops captures in a few short acts the drama and despair that often runs rampant in America’s bowling alleys.

By micro-focusing on one night at one alley, Bustachops has successfully captured the existential angst that unfolds when top-tiered athletes compete for the biggest slice of pizza.

“A tour de force!” raved Michiko Kakutani. “Irresistably real. I felt the pain just as much as they must have,” said some other critic.

The Tragedy of Spare-Ta!: A comedy of errors, based on real events, will be published in pieces on this site. Keep a weather eye for new installments. We’ll begin immediately with the cast of characters.

Bacon Watch Day 30

Today I got some amazing news that leads me to believe I’ve been holding Denny’s in a harsh light for too many years.

Yes, I said ‘Denny’s.’

Denny’s — that land of the American Slam and Chicken Fried Steak — is now the proud home of the Baconalia!!!

I’m going to give the people of Denny’s marketing a thumbs-way-up for coming up with such an ingenious name for a full-on feast of bacon.  My assumption is that it’s a direct play on the Bacchanalia, the Roman feast of Bacchus, of Dionyssus, god of wine, ritual madness and ecstasy. All terms that I can too-closely relate to bacon, a delectable byproduct of the centerstage pig-on-platter.

Oooh, maybe that’s how people first discovered bacon?? Picture it:  During an all-night, raging Bacchanalia, the people dig into their pig and promptly pass out for days. When they wake, they find the remaining meat has been cured into bacon. It’s a Dionysian miracle!!!

Back to the Baconalia. They have nine items on their menu. Some are obvious breakfast items with an extra side of bacon, but they also pepper some bacon in pancakes, on meatloaf and — the grand finale — on top of an ice cream sundae.

Oh, please, dear Dionysus, keep the Baconalia alive and well until April 24!! Lent can’t end fast enough.

PHOTO: The Bacon Pyramid at Denny’s