Monday, March 29, 2010

It’s hard to argue when you won’t stop making sense – Volume 1

Sometimes I over-analyze things. Sometimes I’m just left with a misunderstanding. Sometimes it leaves me thinking, “What. Were. They. Thinking?” This is the first of a mini-series of completely random things that make me go “hmmm…” in no particular ranking or order.


One of the most famous companies in the world got their start making soles for shoes with a waffle iron. That company started out as Blue Ribbon Sports, but then changed to an oddly-pronounced “Nike.” Why is it pronounced ni-KEE? So weird. Nike is actually the Greek goddess of victory…kinda awesome I think. So in the end, Nike (the shoe/clothing company) had no say in how it was pronounced or spelled! Blame it on the ancestry of those that inhabit the debt-ridden peninsula in Europe.

this video has nothing to do with my rant, I just love it
Octopi have what?

So a while back I read an article about octopi and how marine biologists are still studying them for all sorts of reasons. I would’ve figured they’d moved on to something more interesting, like figuring out how to make huge tanks more affordable for the average consumer so I can own a sweet family of octopi. The scientists discovery? These guys have elbows. What. The year before, UC-Berkeley students recorded a Indonesian octopus that could run! What. That’s awesome! But really? Let’s get some cancer knocked out first and then we can put your scientific minds back to discovering something else useless.

Kings of Leon’s “Soft”

The talented but polarizing brothers from Nashville have a song on their 2005 release Aha Shake Heartbreak called “Soft” that’s an eyebrow raiser. The chorus is so blatantly obvious that you can’t help but laugh like a teenage boy when you listen to the song. (Warning: do not click this link to the lyrics if you’re easily offended!) Sure—lots of bands write sexually explicit songs, but the father of these guys is a Pentecostal preacher! Awkward… What would drive Caleb to do this? What are his evangelistic dad’s thoughts? Talk about a rebellious preacher’s child!

Kings of Leon 
Leather name belts

This needs no further explanation. Every time I see these belts I crack up. What goes through these guys heads when they buy these custom-designed belts? “Yeah, that them there looks like ah mighty fine tooled belt! Wait, let me get ‘er to slap a ‘Bubba’ on there too! Hope they can have it done by tonight so I can git ‘er done at Billy Bob’s!” Why? This one really just hurts my brain to think about…

leather name belt

…more hmmm’s to come soon!

So my running has been slacking lately. I think I only got in 8 miles last week leading up to Saturday’s 5k in the Texas Medical Center area with the lovely and multi-talented Ashley (of NICU to the Rescue fame). We rocked a pretty decent pace, doing our part to fight colon cancer! They had a six-foot tall colon play-tube that you could run through and touch polyps and other colonic issues! So freakin’ awesome! (Small tangent: Speaking of colonics, you guys should watch Bored to Death on HBO with Jason Schwartzman, Zach Galifianakis, and Ted Danson! For some reason, the guys love to talk about (and get) colonics…hilariously dry-humor type stuff, but hilarious nonetheless!) I ran a nice-and-easy 5-miler this evening after the horribly-officiated Duke-Baylor game. The weather was beautiful, but I’d much rather run in cooler temperatures! Guess I’ve got to get up a little earlier now to hit the trails or move to colder climate!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

SXSW Day 3

Saturday we woke up and it was cold. Not OMG it’s snowing cold, but colder temperatures mixed with 25-35 mph winds. The early morning rain had brought in a pesky cold front. We made our way downtown a little before lunch time and had Cain & Abel’s again. Then we ended up at the Austin Convention Center to see Flatstock, a flea-market style exhibition where concert poster artists get together and sell their work.

Each year, the American Poster Institute throws together two exhibitions. Austin’s SXSW event gets the spring event and Seattle’s Bumbershoot gets the fall. With there only being two main events each year, it’s definitely an honor for Austin to host.

My brother has always raved about how great the artwork is at this event, so I was excited to join him this year in a quest to find another beautifully rare concert poster—preferably from a performance we’d been to! We said hi to his friend Clint, who had just sold a piece to Val Kilmer not 15 minutes before we showed up (Yes, SXSW brings in tons of movie stars, not just people from the music industry! Good ol’ Texas boy Matthew McConaughey was seen around town quite a bit too. Hell, Brad even saw Joey Fatone Thursday night just walking around 6th street.)

Clint with Val Kilmer Clint with Val Kilmer
Brad was able to find a pretty sweet non-concert poster at the Daniel Danger booth, which was over-flowing with eager customers.

daniel danger booth 
He got one of the famous Driskoll Hotel in Austin at nighttime with a body floating lifelessly over it in the sky. Pretty creepy, but definitely awesome work.

Afterwards we walked south half a dozen blocks to the American Apparel tent sale where items were advertised as “85% OFF!” I don’t exactly pull off the American Apparel look too well, but we wanted to see what was there anyway.

american apparel tent
The place was a madhouse. Narrow walkways split clothing rack after clothing rack. The floors were mud-soaked broken-down cardboard boxes, placed on the ground to create a make-shift floor to “protect” people from the mud. There wasn’t anything good, so we didn’t stick around long before heading back.

Later we made our way to Auditorium Shores so that Brad could get as close as he’ll ever be able to get to his dream girl, Zooey Deschanel.

Auditorium Shores
As you can see in the map, the venue is right off of Town Lake. (Non-locals: please know that Town Lake is not actually a lake, but a portion of the Colorado River that flows through the city. I guess because it’s so wide through downtown, the water flow seems slower, giving the appearance of a lake? Honestly, I dunno why. Go resurrect Paul Harvey for the rest of the story.) With temperatures hovering over the 40-degree mark and 25-35 mph winds gusting, being right off the water amplified everything. It was miserable! I figured the cute little actress would have no part in this. I mean, she was probably doing the show for free. And she’s hot. Hot chicks don’t do this kind of insanity, right?

terrible picture, i know Auditorium Shores
I kid. Headliners sometimes get paid a bit, but the supporting acts are paid in SXSW badges—typically worth anywhere from $600-$750 apiece, depending on when you buy them. The badges have the band member’s (or purchaser’s) name on them so you can’t resell them. Badges get you access to just about every music venue (or maybe all of them?) for free, plus a whole slew of other perks. You also get to enter a different “VIP” line instead of waiting in line with people wanting to get in without badges. These lines are usually shorter and can get you into the venue much quicker. Miike Snow’s Friday performance would’ve been a lot easier to get into if we’d had one of these wrapped around our neck.

SXSW badge
So Zooey eventually came out, an hour and 20 minutes later than their originally scheduled time slot, all bundled up with a red hat covering most of her face. After some sound board fiascos during the first song, they eventually started sounding like a real band. She & Him was definitely a teenage girl draw. Many of the girls surrounding us knew all the words to their songs, while the guys around us were our age and would shout stuff like “WHY ARE YOU SO BEAUTIFUL?!” and “WILL YOU MARRY ME?” in between tunes.

zooey deschanel Zooey Deschanel, of She & Him, at Auditorium Shores
After I couldn’t feel my toes (or the rest of my feet, for that matter) any longer from the freezing temperatures, we decided to make our way over to The Belmont to see this “Indiana Jane” group play. I have to note that earlier in the day we’d done our research as to who was playing that night and we didn’t see an “Indiana Jane.” We did, however, see a Beth Jean in the line-up for 11. Hmm. Maybe that’s what she said…Beth Jean is kinda close to Indiana Jane. So I pulled up Beth Jean’s website, which is currently her myspace page. Hmm. This lady doesn’t look like the one I met last night at Chuggin Monkey. Maybe the one I met is in her band?

Immediately after showing up at The Belmont, Brad and I both recognize a lonely blonde in the corner as Beth Jean. I strike up a conversation with her (shocking, right?) and eventually find out that it’s singer-songwriter night (score!) and that they’re all just playing by themselves. We move a little closer to the stage and I recognize the girl from the night before sitting opposite us. I walk up and clumsily discover her name is Lee Anna James! Lee Anna James…Indiana Jane…close enough, yeah? Cut me some slack! It was really loud during AutoVaughn’s performance the night before!

As nice and sweet as Beth Jean was, she wasn’t up for socializing too much and so when Lee Anna asked if Brad and I wanted to head over to another venue to meet some of her friends we were on it! Lucky Lounge is where we ended up—we met her friend Casey who the night before had introduced me to Lee Anna.

Lee Anna James and Casey
@ Lucky Loungewith Lee Anna James
After a quick drink, we made our way back over to The Belmont to see the Wisconsin girl perform a handful of songs. (For those of you who will ask, no this is not a color-accented photograph! These really were the colors of the walls and Beth Jean’s jacket and stockings and the lights shining on her.)

Beth Jean Beth Jean at The Belmont
After she played, we did the math and discovered that with all the performances pushed back, Lee Anna’s performance was probably going to be right at closing if not altogether cut. It had been a long day of drinking, so we left after Beth Jean. But not without seeing Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine fame!!! He was sitting in the back at a private booth with a woman chatting it up while a bouncer stood guard in front of their table. Nuts. Nuts I tell you! He had played the night before at The Belmont with his group Street Sweeper Social Club! (Brad and I saw this on a banner somewhere, but figured it would be way too crowded to try to get in and see them.) I pulled a ‘Nashville’ and left him alone, instead of getting a picture with him like I wanted!

tom morello Tom Morello
To clarify what I mean by a ‘Nashville,’ just about every time I’ve been to Nashville (aka Nashvegas, aka the ‘ville) I’ve seen someone famous…either of music or television or film or sport fame. And I always think “These guys don’t want to be bothered by fans wanting to take pictures…I’ll just play it cool like it’s no big deal I’m hanging out with ______ and then they’ll think I’m cool!” (Idiot. I know.) I’ve only broken this mentality once, and that was when I saw Julianne Hough at George Strait’s private after-party last year in Houston. I’m going to stick to it because I want the ‘star’ to feel comfortable around me, but in the end I have no pictures to prove I got to hang out with them! It’s a win-lose situation for sure.

Julianne Hough with Julianne Hough in Houston
blake shelton Blake Shelton singing karaoke in Houston
See! This was the only picture I got of Blake because I feared maybe he didn’t like his picture taken. So I popped a quick photo and then hid my camera! Don’t ask how I got in. But being in a tent surrounded by George, Blake, Julianne and more? Incredible. I don’t even know how to put it into words. My good buddy knows I fully appreciate his efforts into getting me inside this party! And it was a good one, I might add!

Now that I’ve fully digressed, I’ll wrap this puppy up. I felt like I needed to explain my ‘Nashville’ thing though! So. SXSW. Awesome. Definitely a must-do, especially if you love indie music or up-and-coming stars/bands. It’s such a unique experience, because it’s so different from a typical music festival. Instead of it being out in an open field, it’s spread throughout the great city of Austin…forcing you to get to know the town. I more than regret not having gotten my butt over here years ago!

Even though I didn’t get to see Miike Snow, I got to see and meet a lot of really great bands and singer-songwriters over the entirety of the weekend; something you don’t always get to do and something a lot of people never get to experience in their life. Next year…I’m saving up for that $600 badge!

Monday, March 22, 2010

SXSW Day 2

So after a pretty successful day one, I was hoping for a little more of the same on day two! For some reason I thought of my buddy Matt’s friend’s band AutoVaughn from Nashville and decided to ‘Become a Fan’ on facebook. Their fan page status said something about a Thursday afternoon show and a Friday night show! I talked Brad in to maybe passing on Band of Horses at a church so we could try to see the Nash-vegas boys.

We grabbed dinner in the little mini-Chinatown part of Austin at a place called TC Noodle House. It was good, but had some weird dishes.

porridge with 1000-year old egg?!
Then we made our way downtown to the Chuggin Monkey to get in early enough for a spot to see AutoVaughn. Like most Austin bars, Chuggin Monkey is a long narrow corridor that’s about the width of an alleyway…with one side as the bar and a loft-style “deck” on top and the other side open for people to pass through. You could say it’s an ‘intimate’ setting, but only because it’s so crowded you’re basically dancing/feeling on any and every person that strolls through.

AutoVaughn Darren Edwards, guitar; Ben Graham, bass; Andy Grooms, drums

Darren Edwards owned the tiny stage like a Woodstock-era rocker, with his flannel pearl-snap and red corduroy pants. The crowd that had gathered were not ready. They had no idea what to expect from this band. But thanks to my Nashville connection, I was a little more privy than others. These guys were legit…from their sound, to their look, to their talent, to the guitar-thrashing after the performance.

AutoVaughn @ Chuggin Monkey Stephen Wilson, lead guitar (on left)

They played music from their new EP and finished up with their classic “Hell of a Place.” It was ridiculous! They jammed out so hard and long (that’s what she said) they blew the circuit breaker! Stephen Wilson absolutely shredded it on his solo, leaving you satisfied but still wanting more.

stephen wilson  darren edwards  ben graham

The crowd started booing at CM’s lackadaisical response in getting the issue fixed…the masses wanted more! Not an abrupt cessation to Stephen’s solo! I thought maybe they’d ‘pulled the plug’ on them because they’d gone over their time-slot. They’d been playing this song for probably 15 minutes! haha Amazing. So fun to see a band garner new, non-local fans.

They’re a signed band. They tour. But have you heard of them? Probably not. That’s what makes SXSW so special and sooo sweet! During the final song, the girls in front of me recognized I was singing along and were excited to think I knew the band. Not because they wanted to meet them, but because one of their Nashville friends knew the guys too! So they introduced me to her…a girl who I thought misunderstood me when I asked her her name. The band was playing so loud, I thought she said “Indiana Jane…playing at Fairmont tomorrow…after 11!” Okay, so she told me her band’s name. Sweet! It was too loud to try to get more info from her so I figured I’d just look it up. (We later figured out it was The Belmont!)

Know what’s not so sweet? Getting too late to the next venue and seeing this:

the mohawk
The wait was retarded long at The Mohawk. We waited like kindergarteners in line at the water fountain…patiently and orderly. Except not. One by one people were bailing from the line as the starting time for Miike Snow crept up quicker and quicker. I was hopeful! Then a large-pupilled girl with credentials let us know that we probably weren’t going to be able to get in if we wanted to try to find another venue instead. What. Huh. Noo! Miike Snow was the main reason I’d actually decided to go to SXSW this year! And I wasn’t going to be able to see him?! Boo. Boo to the nth degree! Times a zillion. (The Mohawk had three of the top 13 SXSW parties!)

So we left and went toward the west side of 6th street. We walked up to The Belmont and it was bumpin! We stepped in to try to see Saturday night’s lineup and found that it was a free Red Bull sponsored event.

Red Bull's Big Tune
Red Bull was having a producer battle event called Big Tune. Brad and I, being the white East-Texas boys we are, had no clue what was going on. It just looked like guys were playing a CD and dancing to it and the crowd was going wild.

We later kinda guessed that they’d produced the beats beforehand and were battling the other producer with their pre-packaged music. It was fun! Up on the rooftop, surrounded by west coast people, east coast people, and everyone in between, Brad and I blended in like we were supposed to be there. If only we could’ve had our go-to drink: Red Bull margaritas!

We didn’t complain though. Somehow this night trumped the night before. We’d had a blast. This weekend was getting awesome and we didn’t even realize it was about to get awesomer.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

SXSW Day 1

My day one was actually day two of the music portion of SXSW. Meh, semantics. My day one was awesome. Brad and I started off the night at our favorite place.


After savoring my fish tacos we made our way over to The Phoenix early enough to get a good spot for We Are Scientists’ show around midnight. En route we saw a huge crowd gathered around a band of nomad-looking-gypsies playing some festive folk music on the bustling streets of Austin. For free. For the fun of it.(Well, maybe they were taking tips…but they didn’t have a gig at an established venue!) This is what SXSW is about! An onset of music and fun and togetherness; sharing the love; peace, man. It’s the Austin way!

folksy gypsies

The venue we arrived at was pretty sweet—very west-coastish. With rich crimson fabric walls and plush seating, we definitely felt like we weren’t in Kansas anymore. They even had really awesome Renaissance-like art that Brad enjoyed.

this painting looks like Dexter!

The first group we saw was The Click Clack Boom.


These guys were pretty fun, but sadly it was still too early before We Are Scientists so the crowd was a little thin. The next two bands were so-so… I won’t waste my word limit on them. Then the comedic Chris Cain and Keith Murray made their way on to the stage and the crowd erupted.

we are scientists

The guys were hilarious—just as we’d hoped. Their playful banter in between songs kept everyone lively and laughing, which made for a highly entertaining show. They didn’t need to keep us any more entertained than we already were though, because their music did enough talking on it’s own. They started off with “Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt” and finished with “After Hours.” And they did a lot of cheek-to-cheek singing, even though there were plenty of mic’s, just for laughs…pushing that always-funny, teasing-man-kiss awkward moment envelope.

WAS cheek to cheek

Like I said, the streets of Austin were bustling. A word that describes the entire city of Austin during the music portion of SXSW…and maybe even the entire festival! It was Austin, but better. Amplified to the fullest. It definitely didn’t feel like Texas. It was L.A. or New York. It was elsewhere. It was a vacation away from home, without leaving home. Just what I needed from a hectic few weeks of work.

We got home around 1:30 or 2 a.m. and passed out. Brad was a trooper and went to work at 7 a.m., while I slept for the next 12 hours. Ahhh…sleep. Mi verdadero amore. I was recharging for another great night to come…

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hello SXSW! It’s nice to finally meet you.

Every year I have to hear it from my brother: “Dude. You have to take off work this year and come to south-by-southwest. Seriously. No, seriously. Quit saying ‘next year!’”

Well this year I finally did it. I head out tomorrow after work for the ATX. What changed my mind finally this year? A little group from Stockholm called Miike Snow. A friend of mine suggested their self-titled album to me last summer and I was hyped immediately! It’s indie pop, I think; trendy and catchy, but you won’t find it on your top 40 radio station…at least not yet! Their beats and synth’s and keyboards are great for working out and perfect for running. This was the first single, I think:

Yes, I realize that was weird. I’m just hoping the lead singer isn’t as boring live Friday night as he is in this “Animal” video. Tracks I love for running: Cult Logic and Plastic Jungle. Tracks I love for the sake of loving music: Animal, Burial, and Silvia. Ahhhhh, Silvia. This was the one that got me hook, line and sinker. It’s so hypnotic and trancelike and just awesome. I’m not even entirely sure what it’s about, but if I had to guess…it’s about a guy who misses his ex. A lot though, so I’m thinking the split is still very fresh. I could be totally wrong. Who cares, the way the song is structured you can’t help but want to bust a move. Or maybe I just can’t help it.

This video is much less weird, but I’m not entirely sure what a post-apocalyptic storyline has to do with Silvia. And then they set fire to a giant taxidermied jackalope? Hmm. I do like how the one guy is carrying a torch. Get it? He’s carrying a torch for Silvia, his lost flame. I know, I know…you’re such a sap, David. (A little bit of runner’s insight for tonight’s post: at the 2:24 mark watch for a kid running down the street…he’s got a bad case of over-pronation!) If you do like their stuff, you should definitely check out this remix site where you can download some of songs for free, or can just stream them.

Another group I’m looking forward to seeing is We Are Scientists on Thursday. I discovered these guys on Alt Nation-21 back when I had Sirius (I really miss it! I wish they could provide a free service…) last year. The song was Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt…a fast-paced track that is ALSO great for running! Stupid youtube won’t let me embed the video for some reason, so click on the link to see their fairly low-budget video for the song. Another song I’m excited to hear tomorrow night is Chick Lit! If you like Weezer, you’ll like this one! The video is pretty funny, so I’m hoping it’s reflective of their live performances. I like bands who crack jokes during concerts and have a good time on stage. After Hours is another great song with a funny video. And It’s a Hit is another good one to run to.

We Are Scientists

Both of their CDs (With Love and Squalor and Brain Thrust Mastery) are pretty spectacular, so I’m betting I won’t be the only one lining up at The Phoenix for their midnight show! I’ve never been to this venue, nor do I even know where it is in Austin…but I’m excited nonetheless.

Another group on the docket for the weekend is She & Him. My brother is completely in love with the singer of the two-person outfit. Her name is Zooey Deschanel and you might have seen her acting in last summer’s hit indie-flick (500) Days of Summer or in Yes Man or The Happening or Elf or a few episodes of Weeds.

She’s an actress. Turned singer-songwriter. Trying to do what so many others have tried to do (see Kevin Bacon, Keanu Reeves, Billy Bob Thornton, Russell Crowe and the only successful ones: Jared Leto, Jason Schwartzman and Jamie Foxx), she’s using her acting success to help boost a singing career. Only she’s good. Not great…but her adorableness helps her mezzo-soprano voice. (I have no idea what that means, but wikipedia says she’s mezzo-soprano…so it’s gotta be the truth, right?) Wikipedia also says she’s known for her deadpan supporting roles, and after looking up the definition of deadpan I’d have to agree: a form of comic delivery in which humor is presented without a change in emotion or body language, usually speaking in a casual, monotone or very serious, solemn, matter-of-fact voice. Yup, that’s Zooey Deschanel’s style of acting!

The type of music they play seems like something your grandmother would love—meaning it sounds like it would fit in nicely with the always-bubbly 1950s. But it’s catchy enough to have not scared fans away. Plus I’m sure her big, beautiful blue eyes have not hurt ticket sales either.

Wish us luck on being able to get into these venues. Should be a pretty awesome weekend!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Running with your favorite tunes…deadly?

The great debate about the safety of wearing headphones while running rages on… You always see it in the runner’s guide for big races: “Headphones are strongly discouraged.” Why?! That’s just silly to tell me I can’t wear headphones in something I paid for…a charity running event. If I want to wear old beer cans as a coat with an awesome green vest and scarf, I should be able to.

check out that guy back there!

If I want to wear a beard and a wig in an attempt to emulate Forrest Gump, I should be able to.



I think the theme here is clear: when I run, I’ll do (just about) whatever I want!

Last week one of my favorite blog writers wrote about the pros and cons of listening to music when running. Like Joe, I almost never run without some good music to motivate me. It’s pretty much a must. I’ve made a few runs without my ZuneHD and it’s just not as fun. I find it harder to “zone out” and escape. I can see how others would feel conversely, but for me…running with my favorite indie tunes (and the occasional hip-hop) is a must!

Then today another of my favorite blogs wrote up a post in regards to a California lady runner who jumps off a cliff to evade this dude:

creepy suspect with chicken pox on his cheeks
I won’t try to summarize his post, because he’s pretty crafty with his words in his own right and I want my small flock to go check out his hilariously great work. I will, however, summarize the horrifying story: a chick was running in broad daylight when a guy tried to sexually assault her, she was able to break free from the creep, and then jumped off a cliff. Nuts!?

Then on my commute home this afternoon, my USA Today app had an article about a male runner who was getting his daily strut on alongside the beach in South Carolina, (the Hilton Head Island area, near a beautiful golf course and host to the Verizon Heritage Classic next month) rocking out to his iPod when a 4-seater Lancair IV-P plane hits him from behind. He was killed instantly because he couldn’t hear the crashing airplane…what?!

lancair iv-p

I know we’ve all been in this guys shoes (only we’ve all come out on the more livelier side, thankfully). Who hasn’t been running down the street and been caught off guard by something you probably would’ve recognized without the diversion of music. I’ll be the first to admit, music is a distraction. But it’s a distraction I crave and love. It’s how I zone out and clear my head of workload pressure, bills, debts, girls (ha!), life. Everyone needs a little break once in a while; some more often than others. Music pushes me into the greatest mood of the day…but is this worth it? Do I want to be clipped by a freak plane accident while running down Lake Woodlands Drive bustin’ a move to some Miike Snow? Or do I run without so that I have a chance at escaping a serial rapist via cliff-diving? Hmm. Decisions, decisions.

All goofiness aside, prayers go out to the family of the killed runner—a father of two. And the lady runner who jumped off a Malibu cliff was taken to the hospital for cuts and bruises. Both horrifying events involving runners…that were or were not wearing headphones. My point? If it’s your time to go, you don’t really have any say in it. But if you turn down your iPod/Zune just a tad, you may be able stick around a little longer. Be safe out there!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Impromptu weekend plans are the spice of life

This weekend was a fun one. I decided Friday afternoon I wanted to wake up early Saturday to buy some basketball tickets. Not just any basketball tickets…the men’s 4A championship game between the Lancaster Tigers and the infamous Jack Yates Lions from Houston’s 3rd ward. This Yates team won the 4A championship last year and were looking to repeat this year, trying to emulate those wonderful ‘94-‘95 Rockets championship teams we all love. These guys even wear the same red and gold!

Yates has been in the news all season; not just for their undefeated record, but for destroying other school’s teams by such large deficits as 135 points (Lee), 115 points (Davis), and 99 points (twice: Kashmere and Lee). They passed the century mark in over three quarters of their games…simply ridiculous.

They’re known for their full-court press the entire game—even when the game is far out of reach for the opposing team. If you’re a new-age parent, you might be thinking: they’re a mean team! so hateful! how could they demoralize those other kids like that?! …right? Well, the coach is the one who’s been getting most of the heat and criticism from sports radio and sports writers…and after seeing them Saturday, rightfully so. The players seemed like good kids, so you’d have to put it on Coach Wise for pushing the entire-game-full-court-press approach.

Coach Wise

Tickets for the championship game went on sale 7:30 a.m. Saturday morning. I woke up, got my nose-bleed seats for the hopeful-dunkfest, and made my trip to the state capital. I met up with my dad and we grabbed our seats a little early. I was glad I got my tickets early, because the game was sold out! At will call, there was a guy to my right trying to get tickets to the Session 8 games. All I heard him say was “Two for Session 8, please.” “What do you mean?” “I don’t want tickets to session 9 [5A championship game later that night].” “I don’t understand!” “You’re telling me there’s no way of getting into this game?” “Okay…thanks.” Haha! Uh, dude…you’re trying to get tickets to see the #1 team in the nation play, just 30 minutes before their game starts? Idiot.

sold out!

My dad made a funny observation: of the four teams we saw (the 2A championship and the 4A championship), team mascots were Wildcats, Lions, and Tigers. The Panthera genus was well represented in Session 8. My brother met us there a little later. Again, we’d all heard about this team in the news but didn’t know what to expect. I can tell you I did hope to see a blowout with tons of dunking. That’s not what we got! We got a great game instead, which happened to probably be Yates’ worst game of the season. At one point they were 19-61 on field goals…which is terrible (they ended the game 30-83, 36%). They missed so many lay-ups and at one point, Lancaster was leading 5-0 in dunks. Were the tigers about to get an upset?!

Erwin Center

At half-time, Yates was up 44-40. Not 100-12 like the Lee game earlier in the season. Lancaster was actually hanging with them and had started to take control of the game in the 2nd quarter, outscoring Yates 23-21! The second half continued Lancaster’s momentum as they held Yates to just 17 points!?!? How is that Lancaster was not ranked in the national top 10 if Yates is ranked #1?! After three quarters, Lancaster was up 65-61. Their biggest lead was 6 points over the defending state champs, halfway through the third period! This game wasn’t the blowout dunkfest I’d traveled two and a half hours to see…but it was AWESOME nonetheless! Especially in the fourth when Yates was finally able to slam the door shut on Lancaster. Their defense finally came alive at the same time as their offense, as they beat Lancaster 31-8 in the final period. Two or three dunks by Yates kids (including an alley-oop) were just sick. Get-up-out-of-your seat, fist-pumping, “YEAH!”-yelling sick! THIS was what I came to see!

Player to watch at the collegiate level: Brandon Peters, who has given a verbal commitment to Western Kentucky and is ranked #58 among shooting guards on ESPN’s high school prospects. We didn’t stick around for the trophy ceremony, but we’re pretty sure he received Tournament MVP honors. This kid was amazing in the championship game, scoring 37 freaking points. He was a beast! Another kid to watch is Michael Young’s (of Phi Slama Jama fame) son, Joseph Young. This kid was lights-out from three point range, shooting 43% (6-14) from beyond the arc and ending the game as the second leading scorer with 24 points. He’s signed with Providence University and is ranked #99 on ESPN’s top 100.

I’m glad the game was amazing—made the trip to Austin more than worth it! After the game, Brad and I moseyed over to Cain & Abel’s to watch the second half of the Big 12 championship game. I’m a huge Kansas Jayhawk fan, so watching this game was a must! They ended up beating K-State by 8, picking up the school’s 2,001st win. I love seeing Sherron Collins playing at his full potential, something he hasn’t done too well the past few weeks, and he was able to pick up Big 12 tournament MVP. The Big 12 regular season and tournament champs made them a lock for the #1 seed in the midwest portion of the tournament bracket. (And YES I’ll be choosing them to win it all when I fill out my brackets this week! Rock chalk all the way!)

This was my first trip to Cain & Abel’s, an Austin bar near the UT campus my brother enjoys to visit…simply for the scenery. I noticed a few tables were drinking this yellowey-brown stuff in huge mason jars and had to ask our server what it was:

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Wow. “Oh that’s Texas Tea! Like a Long Island, but with an extra shot of tequila.” Mmmm…I’ll take two! It was definitely worth going back for in the future. Their food was good too—I had the Cali Chicken sandwich. This naturally led to calling it an early night, because two will have you feeling pretty great!

Sunday we were treated to Conan’s Pizza. This place looks super weird, or as my brother puts it: a time-warp back to the ‘80s.  But the pizza was pretty darn good. They don’t claim Chicago-style on their deep dish, but that’s what it is! I got a small 10” Savage and somehow ate the whole thing. No bueno. I mean it was good! But an entire pizza? Yikes. I made sure I ran a quick 4-miler (7:25 pace) when I got back to Houston to (somewhat) offset the onset of calories and unsaturated fat that will take weeks to rid my body of!

It was another beautiful day in Austin, so we got a frisbee and found the nearest park to soak in the sun. Afterwards we drove by the kite festival and it looked crazy-packed at Zilker Park! It was definitely a great day to be in a jeep, and my dad’s was just the ticket.
I’m not really looking forward to working this week, but it’ll be a short one as I head to Austin again Thursday night for SXSW! Hopefully I’ll get a post up of the bands I anticipate seeing before I head that way.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Jokers running for strokers

I signed up to run with a friend’s Stride4Stroke team this past weekend in a run/walk 5k through Rice University. Our team name was NICU to the Rescue (neurosurgical, not neonatal!) and we dressed up in capes as superheroes. We had a cape designing party Friday night that turned out to just be a laugh-fest while episodes of Arrest Development played on the TV. I’m kidding; it was a successful evening as Ashley kicked butt on the sewing machine making my sweet red cape!

Afterward I met up with some other friends at Sam Houston Race Park for 50-cent beers. Yes, 50-cent beers the first Friday of the month. In this day and age…and in Houston? No way! Sounds like a fun idea, right? (Great find, Shanda!) Only I didn’t drink because of the race the next morning. You might think: “But David, it’s only a 5k. You can have a couple!” The thought did cross my mind! But I tried to be a responsible runner and instead used my drinking money on making thoroughbred bets. We had a blast betting on horses! Can’t wait to do that again soon.

I will say I’m not a fan of greyhound races, which were being shown (and bet on) via simulcast. It breaks my heart seeing them race, knowing that as recently as a couple years ago these beautiful dogs were being slaughtered and their bodies dumped in fields after their racing days were over. Nowadays, there are numerous greyhound (and Italian greyhound!) rescue groups that help these dogs find new homes and owners who will love them for their non-racing qualities…something their previous owners didn’t do. What makes horses okay to race and bet on, but not greyhounds? I don’t know. I guess it makes me hypocritical.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’ve never heard anything about this happening to horses after their racing days are finished. Or maybe it’s because I’m an avid dog-lover and have never really been around a horse.

Saturday morning I woke up bright and early at 6:30 a.m. to make my way downtown to meet up with my Team NICU friends: Ashley, Amanda and Jason. Everyone really seemed to love our capes and the enthusiasm we put into this fundraising event!

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The race started a little after 9 and I took off on a much-too-fast pace, leaving my teammates behind who wanted to walk the first part of the race with the rest of the team. I had told myself this was just going to be for fun so I wasn’t going to push myself and I’d just run with friends. But as we walked up to the starting line on this incredible Saturday morning, my overly-competitive side kicked in. Darn.

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As the tiny group of serious runners broke away from the casual runners, I found a 50ish year old lady who was running a pace I liked and had great footwork. I made it a point to try to keep pace with her to see where it took me. Well…it took me too fast! I started to feel tired and looked down at my Nike+ Sportband: 1.52 miles. Ugh! I had nothing left in the gas tank! What was I doing?! I’d taken a Hammer Gel right before the race started (to experiment the effects of taking one before a short race) and it had given me the energy to run this pace to this point, but now I was running on fumes. My unofficial pacer lady was starting to leave me. I kept pushing though, thanks to a pride that doesn’t like to be shattered by quitting. I somehow caught back up with her and hung with her all the way to the final straightaway, at which point I passed her and crossed the finish line 5 feet in front of her. Yeah…I wasn’t about a lady of this age beat me!!! (My apologies for the obvious ageism!)

I did find her afterward and thanked her for pacing me and keeping me honest. She laughed and said she was honored. Ha! Runners are awesome. Oh yeah, want to know what our time was? 21:01… “I’m sorry, what?!?!?” 21:01?! This 50ish year old lady led me to a new 5k PR?! AWESOME!!! I’m not even sure what my previous 5k PR was, but I know a 6:46 pace shatters it. haha Sounds like my 7-year-old days when I would just sprint the whole thing and heave my dinner at the finish line. Absurdness I tell you! Simply ridiculous. Back-to-back weekends of new PR’s…you can’t ask for much more than that!

After finishing I stuck around the finish line to see Team NICU come through. Ashley had a great time, for someone who said they didn’t train much! Check out her awesome pink cape!

look at her go!

Here comes her sister Amanda, right behind Jason who was running so fast I wasn’t able to get a picture of him!


Later I found Patrick and Brant walking with Brant’s two gold labs!

Patrick and Brant

Congrats to everyone who helped raise money and compete!  Next race for me? I don’t know! Anyone have any suggestions? I’m kinda tempted to do the Long Beach, CA Marathon in October. Who’s with me?! If you’re interested, friend them on Facebook for updates!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Give us a change we can actually believe in

Sometimes people like to annoy people, just for shear enjoyment. Sometimes government agencies join in on this bonanza of head-messing in order to make their boring government jobs a little more interesting. The Texas government approved a new drivers license last April (in secrecy apparently, as I’ve not heard of anyone who has this) and it’s umm…different. I recently moved to another part of Houston and so by law I had to get a new ID. This is what I got in the mail today:

What I think is funny, is that they’ve got what looks to be the Austin skyline along the top and in the top right it says “USA TX” in case you forget where the state of Texas is located. What if you’re a hardcore Texas A&M Aggie? I guess that’s a dumb question—all Aggies are hardcore Aggies. And hardcore Aggies hate UT, burnt orange, Bevo, and the city of Austin (for the most part). I’m sure these hardcore Aggies are not going to be happy with this new background scenery. A UT alumni definitely had something to do with this!


Something else funny…not sure what END means on your license, but if you have brown eyes you get a ‘NONE BRO’ in huge letters on your ID! On past ID’s, END was always left blank. Another new feature is on the chin of your mug shot is your birthday embossed in a mmddyy format. A feature Texas has retained is the missing dot on the first i of “Directive” on the back of the card. I find all this stuff interesting because I used to be a door guy for a local bar in Rice Village. Catching fake ID’s and real ID’s in the hands of minors was always a fun part of the night because we rarely had kids wanting to come into das bierhaus. We had no liquor, only hundreds of over-priced beers from all over the world. Most kids don’t want expensive non-light beer…they want shots!

I like change, when it’s for the better. I don’t like change for change-sake. The old one was classic Texas; the new one doesn’t even have the Texas flag on it! I mean c’mon…Texans love that flag. How many other states have flags as large as Texas’ flags? Some of the ones you see waving over car dealerships in this great state are bigger than you and your neighbor’s house put together! We take pride in being Texans, so put our flag back on the ID! Somewhere. Anywhere. Please! Thanks a mil.

texas flag

So if you see me on the trails and ask me how much I like the new Texas ID, I’d just give a simple “None, bro.”

Got in a quick little 3-miler this evening after my abs workout in preparation for this weekend’s Stride4Stroke 5k. This race will just be for fun so I’m not too worried about being ready for it.


The name of the team I’m on is NICU to the Rescue (made up of mostly nurses! yesssssss!) and if you’d like to donate to the cause you can do so here. We’re having a cape-designing party tomorrow night so that we can dress up as super heroes Saturday morning! I can’t wait!