Thursday, July 30, 2009

Moving day

Well, I'm in the process of leaving the ghetto. You could say I'm moving on up to the East Side. I guess I finally got my piece of the pie. Although technically I'm leaving a dee-luxe apartment in the sky to go into a house but it's definitely in East Lawrence. Goodbye asshole frat guys acting like they're going to fight each other every night of the week and hello hipsters and domestic disputes. I couldn't be happier about this.

In some ways I'll miss watching it all from my balcony (uh, especially the parade of skanked out girls going to the Hawk...sorry). I'll miss walking down the hill on my home from work and looking out over East Lawrence all the way past Eudora. It's nice living on my own but I'm going to have some good roommates and things like...a yard. I won't miss walking up the hill with a slight hangover or the Bull's music trying to drown out mine (although they've toned it down and actually play some stuff I like which is way different than the summer I spent hearing the same 10 songs over and over and over).

This is actually the longest I've lived anywhere except the house I grew up in. To put it in perspective when I moved in I was still dating a certain crazy ex-girlfriend and that seems like 20 years ago. I've some good stories come out of this place. "If you're with us, you'll fight." The high-speed chase that ended when the guy smashed into the 30 foot tree right outside my window. The crippled stripper (haven't told that one on here yet so I should point out that it's a PG rated story...just so people don't get the wrong idea, heh).

Having lived in college towns for way too long there's something comforting about this time of year. People moving in, moving out, moving on. It was actually almost exactly 5 years ago that I moved into the Basement of MLitB fame and started this blog. Don't go back and read the archives, please, because, not only are the entries brutal but it's painfully obvious how little they've improved. Ha.

Anyway, I've got about 20 hours before I need to have my shit out and this place somewhat clean so it's time to get busy. Thanks, 14th and Tenn, it's been real.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Tragedy strikes.
The Ames and Nevada locations of Battle’s Barbeque were forcibly closed Tuesday due to late payment and nonpayment of income taxes, according to a source from the state.

Police from both cities were asked to escort workers from the Iowa Department of Revenue as they shut both stores at around noon.

Marty McNeal, an employee at the Ames location at 218 Welch Ave. on the campus of Iowa State University, said he understood it to be a matter of finances.

“Basically, our finances went a little downhill,” he said. “I don’t know much, other than there were some bills (owner) Sherry Battle didn’t get paid off.”

Renee Mulvey, of the Iowa Department of Revenue, said Battle had been late on paying sales taxes on the two stores on 11 occasions in the last 24 months. To stay open, the state would have required the company to post a $15,100 bond against its tax liability. Battle reportedly did not pay and did not make arrangements for payment.
I...I just don't even know what to say. I guess I always thought we'd have more time. I mean, I was just driving through Ames last weekend but it was a Sunday and I knew they were closed so I stopped by Great Plains instead. I always thought I was doing my part by ordering extra meat but maybe I could have done more. Why didn't I buy a bottle of sauce last time I was there? I SHOULD HAVE DONE MORE, DAMMIT!

Is it even Ames any more if Battle's is closed? I feel like I'll be returning to a zombie town; it still pretty much looks the same outside of a few odd features but the soul is gone. Of course, there's always a chance it could return from the dead in its own zombie form. My favorite pizza place had the exact same thing happen to it last year and I thought it was gone forever but he struck a deal with the state and they let him reopen. Unfortunately he jacked up the prices and cut back on the ingredients so it wasn't nearly the same place. I'm not sure I'd want to see Battle's existing in a state like that. Plus, you might have a Pet Sematary thing where the BBQ is still good but it rips apart your intestines. Kind of a push, I guess.

I'm receiving reports that Fred Hoiberg has declared tomorrow an official Day of Mourning in Ames and that fans are leaving wreaths made from empty sauce bottles outside of the original location on Hayward. A tragic day indeed.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Way to go, Washington Post

From a chat with Ben Pershing, one of their political bloggers:
Boston: Ben, not to be a conspiracist, but how come "Birthers" and "Vince Foster" conspiracists get play on the real media while "9/11 Truthers" had to settle for posting a billion comments after articles on everything from politics to sports to dog grooming?

Ben Pershing: Perhaps because there is an actual videotape of the planes hitting the World Trade Center that billions of people around the world have seen, while there is no videotape of Obama being born in Hawaii or Vince Foster committing suicide.
Oh, that makes perfect sense. There's no video of doctors in Hawaiian shirts catching a kid wearing a lei popping out of a mom in a grass skirt next to the ocean and a volcano so clearly the birth certificate and announcements in two local papers mean there just might be something to this conspiracy.

Once again, possibly one of the dumbest stories in recent years.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I can't take it any more

Zack Greinke is having one of the best pitching seasons in the decade and in the 20 games he's pitched the Royals have a 10-10 record. Like, is that even possible? Surely even a minor league team could come up with a better record than that when your pitcher has an ERA of freaking 2.04, right?? They've scored 2 runs or fewer in 8 freaking games he's pitched! Tonight, Zack gave up 1 run in 7 innings with 10 strikeouts and still got the loss. I'm apoplectic that this team is wasting him like they are but, hey, Dayton Moore says TRUST THE PROCESS! Oh, right, the process where we overpay for people that can't get on base and can't field and lose 47 of their last 66. It's like the Simpsons episodes when Flanders gets married in Vegas.

Royals fans: Well do something. This is all your fault. You and your stupid program!
Dayton Moore: Blame me if you must, but don’t ever speak ill of the program! The Program is rock solid! The Program is sound!

Obviously. Who could possibly find a flaw in the process of trading decent relievers for crappy position players until your bullpen blows 6 straight leads and your defense is terrible and your players can't get on base?
Moore points to the club’s 18-11 start, prior to the onset of injuries to several key players, as validation of the organization’s approach.
Oh, wait, you started 18-11. Clearly that should be the benchmark we judge this team by instead of the absolute shitstorm that followed it, right?
“I go back to the same thing all of the time,” he said. “If our processes were so poor, how were we able to put together a pretty good team in the off-season? We went through the process, and most people around baseball felt we were vastly improved.

“That’s what we have tried to do in repairing some of the injuries that have occurred. That’s all I can say.”
Oh, right the injuries. Coco Crisp? Alex Gordon? Soria? Like those are the guys that are going to make the difference between a decent team and just another horrible Royals team? Even when Soria's healthy he doesn't get used! Gordon's batting below .150. Who exactly is our savior here?

Plus, you're hanging your hat on what people predicted your team to finish? Those people were morons. Your awesome offseason moves were apparently Mike Jacobs and Willie Bloomquist. Clearly a lineup that will strike fear in the rest of the AL Central.

I had a lot of hope that maybe Dayton Moore actually got it and maybe he does know baseball but this attitude that he has (and is replicated by Trey Hillman) makes me realize that if he's this unwilling to admit that mistakes may have been made that he absolutely doesn't have what it takes to win in KC. Awesome, I can't wait to cheer for more 90-100 loss teams for the foreseeable future.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Criminal Masterminds Busted in Leavenworth

A couple of criminal masterminds were busted in Leavenworth, KS for selling drugs and paraphernalia out of their ice cream truck.
Rather than stand at a barren street corner, a teenager and a young man chose to sell their drugs from an ice cream truck, Leavenworth police said today.

Chief Patrick Kitchens said a tip led to the arrest of the two — a 20-year-old from Kansas City and a 17-year-old from Lawrence —on possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

A parent tried to buy some ice cream from the truck Thursday evening.

“And in addition to buying his ice cream, the suspect offered to sell him a bong, which took him aback,” Kitchens said.
Yeah, great business model. "OK, so a couple of Chunky Monkeys for the kids and you want a bong with that?"
"Uh, no, just the ice cream."

As if that wasn't bad enough the next line really cracked me up.
The man told police about the incident, adding that the suspects had made the same offer last week.
Hilarious, not only did the guy not want to buy the bong but he didn't want to buy it last week either! Really going for the hard sell here.

Anyway, no post about selling drugs out of an ice cream truck could go by without mentioning Friday. "What's up, Big Perm?...I mean, Big Worm!"

I'm closed, fat boy!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Really?

Is there anything dumber than this supposed "controversy" over where Obama was born? We've got two wars, an economic crisis, health care reform on the table, and probably a billion other more important issues and this is what our news thinks is important. I expect the extreme right wingers to focus on BS like this because that's what they always do but why the hell to supposedly legitimate news organizations give them time? For the love of God people have seen his legitimate birth certificate and the freaking newspaper reported his birth! So, did they honestly know 48 years ago that this man might run for president and convince the local paper to fake his birth announcement just so he could fool everyone and install his top secret socialist muslim agenda? I mean, seriously? This is almost too ridiculous to believe or the absolute best conspiracy ever with more foresight than any conspiracy has ever had before. Part of me kind of enjoys this because if this is honestly the best they can do then he must be doing an OK job. Anyway, here's Jon Stewart destroying them.

Message I received in my Facebook inbox yesterday

Subject: Where are you from?
I was trying to teach some kids in Houston about the Mennonites and they have no idea that anyone could live so simply. I grew up in a town near Yoder, KS... until I moved here to Houston. Are you from Yoder or Buhler??

Umm, ok. This is from a woman I've never heard of in my life (her last name is Schmidt-McCollum) and I have no idea how she found me or knew that I was a Mennonite or what the hell would posses someone to send a message like that. Does she think I'm Amish? I guess I wasn't aware that my Mennonite lifestyle was that incredibly simple that kids from Houston would marvel at it. Is she shocked that Mennonites are on Facebook? Does she think all Mennonites live in Yoder? Coincidently I did grow up about 5 or so miles from Buhler but she doesn't know that.

So, I'm debating what to do here. I could do the nice, polite thing and tell her where I'm from and maybe go about explaining that her ideas about what Mennonites are is probably based on misconceptions and confusion with the Amish. Or I could screw with her.

Maybe I'll just make up a bunch of stuff and pretend to be Amish and I'll get in trouble if the church leaders find out I power the computer hidden in my barn with a modified butter churn. Or maybe I'll update her that the typical Mennonite lifestyle (at least of the ones I hang out with) consists of drinking beer and watching sports on TV. That'll really blow the minds of those kids in Houston.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A music post

Within the last few weeks both the Onion's AV Club and NPR's All Songs Considered have put together what they consider the best albums of 2009 so far.

Both lists feel like they could be called "Best Indie Rock Albums of 2009 So Far" but there are a few picks that stray into other genres. The Onion's list is a bit different as they asked their individual writers to pick their faves so there is a fair amount of overlapping while ASC picked a list with their readers and ask you to vote on your top 5 then on the top songs of the year so far.

Since this is my blog and I can indulge in things like this I thought I'd give my thoughts on an incomplete list of some new albums I've heard and liked over the past few months. In no particular order here are a few of them:

Neko Case - Middle Cyclone
I liked her last album and like this one even more. It's definitely got a little less of an Americana vibe to it but she can still blow me away with her unique voice. She still makes a lot of references to animals but I think these are some of the best songs she's written. I just saw her play a great show at the Uptown in KC on Sunday...definitely a performer that can fill up the arena with her voice. They did some cool stuff with a video screen behind them and they even practiced up so they end the show with "The Train from Kansas City" because the guy from the Pitch interviewing her told her someone would probably punch her in the stomach if they didn't play it. One nice bonus about that show was that Jason Lytle (lead singer of Grandady) opened for her and also put on a great performance. I had heard two of his solo songs and really liked them but I'm definitely planning on checking out the whole album now.

They did this thing while they changed/tuned instruments between songs where he threw on a recording of what he said was himself playing piano in his living room with some other stuff thrown on top of it at times. I hadn't seen anyone do something quite like that and wasn't sure how I felt about it at first but eventually decided it was kind of cool although I could tell that some people hated it. I mean, we're just standing there listening to nothing otherwise, right? Is it really that big of a deal to throw on some recorded music?

I'm getting away from the purpose of this post but we've sort of developed a routine when we go to shows at the Uptown. Before the show we'll stop by the Westport Flea Market which is, as it claims, a bar/flea market. Their burgers are phenomenal (their wall claims they were voted best burgers in KC for 22 straight years) and it's a quick drive to the venue once you're ready to go. This by itself isn't really a problem except that the best place to go after the show is a hole-in-the-wall diner called Town-Topic that is just on the outskirts of downtown. It's open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and has been for decades. There are probably a dozen or so bar stools in the entire place so no matter what time I've been there it's usually packed. The waitress' method of dealing with this is to tell newcomers that there's a 40 minute wait even though we've noticed this is a complete lie and everyone almost always gets their food within 15 minutes.

This is almost as good as her technique for answering questions wherein she meets them with one of two responses, a) complete silence followed by her either usually slowly doing what you asked or sometimes not doing it all or b) grumpily mumbling some sort of answer that is probably indiscernible (last time I was in there I listened to her talk to the cook about some bicyclists who had their helmets stolen except I didn't realize that until I asked my friend what the hell she was talking about once we were in the car. What I heard was her saying "they should know better'n ta leave their ailments lyin' around...'specially in this neighborhood." I'm thinking how can you steal an ailment but it turns out that's just how you say "helmet" if you're from Missouri.) If she chooses the latter part of a) for her response you're faced with asking again in case she didn't hear you but if she did you'll just end up pissing her off by asking her to do something twice.

I've decided she isn't actually all that mean it's just that she's probably worked this place forever (and may not actually exist outside of it, I don't know) and is constantly dealing with the drunks and dregs of society who just want a greasy burger and a cup of coffee sometime after midnight. Anyway, there's always something entertaining going on and the food is great for that time of night but we've found that doubling up on burgers can be hell on the digestive tract and lead to late-night rushes to the toilet and stomach cramps and all kinds of other horrible details we won't go into.

Where was I? Oh yeah:

Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
I've been hearing "Two Weeks" around but it must be getting more play than I thought as I just saw today that this is up to #8 in the Billboard chart. Anyway, it's well-deserved and one of my favorites so far. Just a great, well-thought out, laid-back album with some nice surprises.

The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love
Another band I saw play the Uptown this summer. Not my favorite Decemberists album but I can appreciate the effort that went into creating a concept album like this that still has some really good songs, most notably anything on which Shara Worden, of My Brightest Diamond, sings (although hearing her cover "Crazy on You" at the concert probably helps her out there). Nothing terribly surprising to me about this album and at times it seemed like ground they'd covered in the Crane Wife but I'm being picky because I like them a lot.

Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Really, really like this album and I'm kind of surprised I haven't really listened to much of their earlier stuff outside of the song on the "Lost in Translation" soundtrack. This one opens up with two super catchy songs, "Lisztomania" and "1901" that have pop song hooks but end up being pretty complex.

Awesome trivia: the term Liztomania was actually coined in the 1800's to describe the phenomena of screaming women at sold-out piano performances of Franz Liszt. From wikipedia:
After 1842 "Lisztomania" swept across Europe. The reception Liszt enjoyed as a result can only be described as hysterical. Women fought over his silk handkerchiefs and velvet gloves, which they ripped to shreds as souvenirs. Helping fuel this atmosphere was the artist's mesmeric personality and stage presence. Many witnesses later testified that Liszt's playing raised the mood of audiences to a level of mystical ecstasy.
Elvis had nothing on that guy. Plus, after he got rich he gave all of his money to charity. What's not to like?

Anyway, I'm running out of time here and there are others I wanted to write about so maybe I'll get to them eventually although I'm not much of a music critic beyond, uh, I liked it. Pitchfork won't exactly be knocking down my door some day soon. Anything I didn't mention that you want to talk about? Like I said, too many to write about and definitely too many that I want to listen to.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Buy stuff, dammit

So, my town had a giant sidewalk sale today. It's an annual event and all of the downtown businesses throw their crap on a sidewalk with ridiculous price cuts and the hordes gather at dawn to buy it. I mocked the breathless coverage provided by our local newspaper which included a live blog and constant Twitter updates of the bargains but then I ended up selling out and actually going there only to buy a pair of shoes for 20% off. It reminded me that sidewalk sales would be great if I could actually walk down the sidewalk without knocking over some clueless mom or look through the merchandise without having to dodge some asshole pushing his way through.

Sunflower, the local bike/outdoor shop had some ridiculous deals but it turns out that 40% off Patagonia and North Face is still too much for me to spend. However, if I really wanted a $250 coat that was the time to get it. Unfortunately, sales like those weren't always the norm as some store had an entire table of fur-lined Crocs. Awesome. Yeah, Crocs suck in general and I'm not sure trying to tie them to Ugg boots are going to help any but good luck selling those. According to this they're one of 14 things being killed off by the recession. Good riddance.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Yeah, Sprint Center!

Kansas City's empty arena ranked fourth in the country in total concert ticket sales and 18th worldwide. I guess it's easy to have a lot of concerts when there's pretty much nothing else going on in the arena. And, no, the numbers don't include TEN STRAIGHT SOLD OUT GARTH BROOKS SHOWS!!! However, the Boss is coming back again just 14 months after his last show. I guess when your tour brings in somewhere upwards of a $100 million you might hit up a few of the same spots twice. Can we get a banner for that? TWO SOLD OUT BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN SHOWS IN 14 MONTHS!!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sports Sports Sports Sports

I'm kind of in a sports cycle here in the Basement so bear with me but first, here's a fascinating look at how American and European views toward each other, le Tour de France, and cycling differ mainly through the lens of their attitudes toward doping (and its long, sordid history in the sport) from a 2007 Sports Illustrated article.

Lance is a pretty complicated character. His personal story can be completely engaging but at the same time he can be amazingly arrogant and flippant to anyone who doesn't buy into his mythos. I think he probably took some sort of performance enhancers but I also think the vast majority of cyclists on the race were doing the same thing. When they pose the question, "do you want to know the terrifying truth or do you want to see me sock a few dingers?" I'm generally with the kids yelling "dingers! dingers!"

Chuck Klosterman likes to bring up the point that no one cares that the Beatles were high as kites when they made some of their best albums and directly credit drugs for assisting them while we hold our athletes to a completely different standards. I suppose if you consider athletes solely as entertainers you can make a compelling case like that but for some reason it's not the same in our culture.

As far as this Tour goes I don't think anyone's going to touch Cantador based on how he looked today flying up that hill and whether that's because Lance is just "being a good teammate" or because he knows he doesn't have the legs anymore, well, I guess people can debate that all they want.

In baseball news the Royals traded for another shitty shortstop. When you have already played the horrifically bad Mike Aviles, Tony Pena Jr., Luis Hernandez (aka Tony Pena Jr. Jr.) then you may as well get Yuni Betancourt too, right? On Friday I was fortunate enough to see Hernandez (batting something like .195) and Pena (batting something like .093 (seriously)) in the same lineup. Shockingly KC was shutout that night (in a freaking Greinke game! As Joe Posnanski points out they have a pitcher who has turned in one of the best first-half performances in the last decade and their record when he pitches is 10-8). After the next day's game I realized that Trey Hillman, KC's manager, was eating lunch with his family a few tables down from us. I joked to our table that I should ask him about that lineup and then felt bad in case he heard me. After I thought about it some more I decided that doing something like that is so indefensible that maybe he should hear it.

But, the real crime is that those honestly are their best option at shortstop right now and there's no one waiting in the minors to bail them out. So, they decide to trade two minor league pitchers (only one of whom will probably pitch in the majors someday) for a sucky Mariners castoff. GM Dayton Moore like to say that the currency of baseball is pitching. Well, either that or shortstops who can't get on base and play crappy defense. Yay Royals!

Right on cue

Here's video of Mexico's manager kicking a Panamanian (that's kind of a fun word) player in last night's red card-filled 1-1 draw. Mexico needs a point from Guadeloupe (who?) in their last match to ensure they move out of the group stages of the Gold Cup. Guadeloupe currently lead the group and are assured of advancing.

Hilarious. You stay classy, Mexico.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

American Soccer Hooligan Weekly

I'm sure Gold Cup talk is going to put my audience to sleep since it's barely holding my attention. Kind of hard to go from Spain and Brazil to Grenada and Honduras, right?

But, I thought it was really hilarious that the Mexicans announced that the much-anticipated World Cup qualifier on August 12 has now been set for a 3 PM Central Time kickoff. Really? A Wednesday game and you're going to set it to the middle of the afternoon local time? My first thought was that I was pretty pissed I wouldn't be able to go to the Red Lyon and watch it but my second thought was that these guys must really be freaking out about losing this game if they're going to resort to gimmicks like this. Is it supposed to be too hot for the US or what? Are they just supposed to freak out because OMG IT'S THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY!!!

It's just lame. It reminds me of high school when we were playing our biggest rivals from 10 or so miles away. Our coach came up to us before the game and said, "there's a rumor that they're going to warm up on their own field and then bus over right before the game. If they're resorting to stuff like this we know we're in their heads. Don't worry about it and let's just blow them away."

They did exactly what he said they were going to do. I can still picture their bus pulling up and them getting off in their pads. It was just such a transparent and pointless move because we proceeded to kick their ass and held out locker room door open just so they could hear us celebrate as they walked by.

This whole moving the game time around deal is the same lame crap this pathetic high school tried to pull. Just play the game and leave your ridiculous mind games at home. We already have to play in your smog choked hell-hole of a stadium dodging urine bombs the entire time and have never won there so what are you worried about? Are you going to be bring in every crappy car in the country to try to get that extra layer of smog hovering? Sending infected pigs across the border the week before? I guess not much would really surprise me coming from a team that refuses to shake hands every time the US wins.

I know I sound like an asshole but they field a team full of thugs that refuse to give the US a modicum or credit anytime they win and eventually it just turns me into Lou Dobbs ranting about our border security or Cartman licking the tears off Scott Tenorman's face.
"It hurts us here," said Jose Luis Luviano, 21, punching his chest. "There has to be an end to this disgrace where [Americans] treat us like rats and idiots."
Umm, no.

Clearly they struggle mightily to lose to the US on US soil (or Korean for that matter) so I can only imagine what a home loss will do to their psyche. Really hope we can win this one and find out...

Umm, just to be clear because there are so many people that actually hate Mexicans as a "race", this is all in the spirit of a soccer rivalry and I don't really want to identify myself with Lou Dobbs in anything. I just want them to lose every match they play and to bathe in their tears.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Sarah Palin: Zexy Time!

Check out this hot (read: super-awkward) image of Sarah Palin doing whatever it is she's doing in this picture. Greasing up for a run while crumpling up the flag? I don't know. I used up all of my jokes in the comments section there so go check those out as well. It contains an Erotic Photo Hunt reference if that will entice you...

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords

I'd like to remind them that, as a trusted blogger, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves.

From the BBC News:
A single mega-colony of ants has colonised much of the world, scientists have discovered.

Argentine ants living in vast numbers across Europe, the US and Japan belong to the same interrelated colony, and will refuse to fight one another.

The colony may be the largest of its type ever known for any insect species, and could rival humans in the scale of its world domination.