Saturday, July 30, 2011

5 things i miss and other random thoughts

I had a pretty low-key start to my vacation last night: sitting around the kitchen, enjoying a BLT and a bottle of Vertikal reisling.

But it got me to thinking. (As always, if someone’s been thinking, they’ve probably been drinking.) Sitting around the kitchen, enjoying a BLT and a bottle of wine (plus some strawberry shortcake) is how I used to end every Sunday night during the summer my last couple years of high school and into college, enjoying it with my mom of all people. So, here are 5 random things I used to love doing on a regular basis that for various reasons, never happen anymore … plus some random thoughts after the mini-list.

5. Saturday night dinner on a Chiefs home weekend. There were a lot of good things back in the late 1990s and early to mid 2000s when it came to Chiefs home game weekends, but nothing made me happier than when Gregg’s folks would arrive … because we were guaranteed one incredible meal the night before. (I’m assuming this is due to the Steve Theory that “if I drive 6 hours one way for a Chiefs game, the least I can do is eat well the night before I have to drive the 6 hours back”.)

We were guaranteed something awesome, without fail. Jack Stack, Hayward’s, the late, great Copeland’s, the late, beyond great Coyote Grill (my favorite, damn I miss the Squawking Nachos), some awesome restaurant where the tab was on his folks, so live it up.

I miss that big time. With honorable mention to the Sunday brunch before a 3pm home game. First Watch is that damned good.

4. The Sunday Ticket setup. Me and “The Voice of Reason” lived together for eight years. And every NFL Sunday when the Chiefs were on the road, that meant the house was opened up for the NFL Sunday Ticket. We’d haul out up to seven TVs, cable lines running everywhere down the hallway, and put as many quality NFL games and (when still running) the NASCAR race on TV.

I remember when my college roommate Vineet came to visit us in 2002. I went with him to pick up lunch at Hayward’s, and when we got back, Gregg had the setup going … and Vineet’s jaw damned near hit the floor. “This is like a sports bar!” Yes, yes it was.

We had the old big screen parked in front of the fireplace, the HD big screen parked underneath the cheap … I mean, high-quality Sauder entertainment center*, we’d haul my console out where the chair usually went, and then start stacking TVs on milk crates, other TV’s, and kitchen chairs. It was sweet.

(*: someday I have to recap the “day we built the Sauder entertainment center / attempted to get the lighting to work on the lower deck”. Let’s just say, between me, Tim, and Gregg, we somehow managed to completely screw up the electricity to the lower deck so that only one of the three light sockets worked, it took us 5 hours to get that entertainment center built to where it looked somewhat right, and oh yeah, that was also the day we tried to get the DirecTV dish installed, and ended with Tim deciding “F*ck it, we’re draping the wiring on the roof! This is too damned difficult!” Yes, alcohol was involved. Good times!)

We’d also haul this setup out on Election Night, so that we could have every network’s coverage. Amazingly enough, there wasn’t a girl in sight for either one of us back then. Knock me over with a feather.

3. Team Trivia Night. It started as a random, “what the hell” moment – Dusty called me up and had a coupon or something for some wings at Hooters, and asked if I wanted to meet him. Uuh, yes?

So I get up there to the Hooters at 435 and Metcalf, and turns out, they’re having Team Trivia that night. Since neither one of us had anything better to do, we decide to play … and win 10 free wings for finishing 2nd. I was like “we can do better than this”, and the next week, with a bigger group, we won the deal.

We played Team Trivia pretty much every Wednesday night for the next three years, culminating with the ultimate showdown with the Rhinos in September 2008 that got us the coveted berth in the Citywide Finals. And after that … we pretty much never played again, other than every now and then. What can I say, lives change and sh*t happens, but I miss Team Trivia night. Because anytime your Trivia Night is decided in “double overtime” based on who can do that hula hoop thing the longest (Buff, you’re the best!), you have to do it.

2. Sunday nights with my mom. It’s no secret my mom and I aren’t that close, mainly because I have no use for religion of any form, and she embraces the Church despite it’s obvious flaws. But I do miss this. I’d get done doing yard work, and she’d fry up some bacon, cut up some lettuce and tomatoes, and toss a shortcake in the oven, to prep for dinner**.

(**: true story – when my mom turned 40, my dad asked her what she wanted for that milestone birthday. Her response: “I want the right to never have to cook again unless I feel like it.” Dad gave her her wish. Seriously. We’d come home from school, and dad would have left a $20 on the kitchen table for us to go somewhere for dinner. The amazing thing is, my mom is a damned good cook, she just hates to do it.)

I used to love those Sunday nights, either at the kitchen table or on the back deck table. Usually it was just her and me, Drew was off God knows where. There’s something to be said for a mom and son bonding over some BLT’s and a bottle of wine. Maybe I should offer to do that during my week and a half off …

1. “The Couch”. Oh sweet Jesus do I miss “the couch”. It was never more fun than the last few months, when there were four of us, now affectionately dubbed by Kellie as “the family”. But man, do I miss “the couch”.

Now, a few random thoughts flowing through my head this overcast Saturday morning …

* “The Voice of Reason” and I disagree about a lot, hence his designation as “the Voice of Reason”, because he’s usually right and I’m usually wr … wr … wr … possibly incorrect. But on this point, I am absolutely right. And it is this: the Tea Party needs to be deep sixed, immediately. We are now four days away from defaulting on our obligations as a nation, to not only our creditors, but to our citizens who have spent a lifetime paying into various systems for the benefits they enjoy.

Who the hell are these quacks to demand a default? Do they not know what default means? I mean, would they dare tell their credit card company in their real lives “sorry, I think you’re charging me too high a rate, so I’m not paying you”? I’d love to see that. Because we all know what happens if you don’t pay your credit card bill – they cut off your credit line and sue your ass. As well they should. You entered into a contract with them – they provided you credit, you have to pay the bill.

Furthermore, this crap about the balanced budget amendment, really? The party of bankruptcy, the party that turned a $500 billion surplus into a $1.8 trillion deficit in 8 short years, is preaching fiscal responsibility? And furthermore, going back to the credit card analogy, if you have a credit card, or a home loan, or a car loan, or a line of credit of any way, shape, or form (and most of us have many), then by definition you are “living beyond your means”. You’re purchasing stuff with money you don’t have. It’s called “full faith and credit”. It’s how our government operates as well. God forbid these quacks that believe they’re saving this country from roo-een get a lesson in common sense.

I strongly oppose a balanced budget amendment, simply because sh*t happens that you don’t plan for in September every year. It’s why we as citizens have credit cards. It’s why the government has borrowing authority. Life happens, contrary to what these well-intentioned yet mentally retarded folks that compose the Tea Party think.

* Now to be fair, they are right about one thing: the government won’t default on August 2nd. It’ll still have enough revenue to pay about 60-62% of its obligations, and clearly the debt holders, Social Security, and military benefits will get paid. But pretty much everything else won’t. And for that, don’t you dare blame the President for wisely demanding an increase in the debt ceiling that takes us through 2012, to prevent this from being a national embarrassment during the upcoming campaign. (And I say this as someone with zero intention of voting for the President at this point. I don’t think he’s demanding a raise through 2013 for political reasons, he’s doing it for practical reasons.)

* Finally, and then I’ll move on to rainbows and lollipops and happier thoughts, the idea that these people know what’s best for us, is laughable at best. We are in this fiscal crisis solely and completely because, in the mid to late 1990s, when state government (and the federal government) were running surpluses, these morons demanded we return the excess revenues to the people because they were being “overtaxed”, rather than saving the surpluses for the eventual, inevitable economic downturn that is guaranteed to happen. A capitalist economy always ebbs and flows. In the late 1990s, in the tech boom, it flowed. Smart, sensible people would have banked the surplus for when the inevitable ebb of 2001 hit. For a perfect read on how these folks created this crisis, I highly recommend you read “What’s the Matter with Kansas” by Thomas Frank. It was written 6 years ago … and it accurately predicted everything we’re enduring right now. Because where we’re at today, was obvious 12 years ago, if you saw the natural progression of “thought” these people offer.

* The Chiefs … oy, have I been disappointed so far. Losing Ron Edwards and Shaun Smith hurt. I’m not sure why the Pioli administration didn’t fight harder to keep those two. Signing Kelly Gregg this morning helps, but he’s not better than Edwards, and probably more costly.

We still need an OLB and a backup QB. Let’s get on that already.

* The firefighter flap with the Chiefs is the most ridiculous non-story I’ve ever heard. It was a stupid mistake some guy in the marketing department made, and it was fixed within an hour. Let it go media guys. This isn’t some massive “Chiefs are cheap” conspiracy. It was a stupid mistake. What can I say, sh*t happens.

* What is ridiculous, is the Chiefs withholding pay from their employees, and now refunding it with a 3% raise to boot. What, pray tell, was the reason for ever docking pay in the first place? I know I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but it seems to me the Hunt Family has been sitting on my (and thousands of other folks) season ticket money for four f*cking months! Pay your employees their fair market wage out of that, you cheap bastard. Don’t punish the innocent bystanders for your inability to negotiate with the players union.

* Finally, this is Brickyard weekend. And there are many theories flying around about why this race is nowhere near as prestigious and/or well attended as it used to be, and most of those theories have merit.

So here’s how I’d fix the Brickyard, in four simple steps:

1. Do NOT create the “Super Weekend” that is planned now for 2012. O’Reilly Raceway Park is the PERFECT venue for the Saturday night Busch race. Don’t give that up for what, 25,000 in attendance at IMS for the race on a 105 degree afternoon? I’ve been to enough Brickyards to know how f*cking hot that track gets in late July. You really think subjecting fans to two straight days of 105 degree weather on metal bleachers is going to INCREASE attendance? Really? Good God, if you buy that you’re dumb.

I mean, I’d planned to do the full NASCAR weekend here at Kansas in early June. It was 98 on Saturday for the truck race … and I damned near passed out. And I say this as someone who loves the heat. My race buddy DJ, who also loves the heat, looked awful leaving the track. When both Dusty and I can’t take it, it’s beyond awful. DJ was stuck for day two, and thankfully I wasn’t – I watched the race poolside.

To think that putting two straight races under usually 100 degree heat will draw fans? You’re nuts NASCAR. Ask the IRL how well the July 4th weekend setup at Kansas worked for a decade. Outside of me and Brett, nobody would go both days. And with good reason – it was 105 in the shade! You’re sitting on metal bleachers! It’s too damned hot!

2. Eliminate the off-week entering the current slot for the Brickyard. This is vital for my primary proposal for where to move the Brickyard in the schedule.

3. The single biggest reason why attendance has collapsed at Indy … is because you have 5 f*cking races in 8 weeks within 7 hours of Indy. Not even I can afford to attend that many. If I gotta choose, I’m taking the home race first, and Indy if I can.

Beginning the first weekend in June, through the last weekend in July, NASCAR visits Kansas, Michigan, Iowa (Nationwide and Trucks only), Kentucky, and Indy. And Chicagoland opens the Chase in six weeks. To say nothing of IndyCar and Nationwide running the Milwaukee Mile and MidAmerica in Ohio during this two month stretch. There’s too many races, in too confined a corridor, in too cramped a timeframe, for the Brickyard to work where it’s currently at. So the Brickyard needs to move. And …

4. I’d move it to Labor Day weekend, and make it the last race before the Chase. Sorry Richmond, you get bumped. Deal with it.

What doesn’t this move solve? It moves Indy nearly six weeks later, outside the crowded June / July window. It puts the race on a holiday weekend, just like the Indy 500***. It sets this up as THE biggest race of the year, the wildcard race, the “do or die” moment of the season.

(***: I still think the single biggest screwup the Brickyard ever did was moving the race from Saturday to Sunday in 2002. As someone who tries to make at least one race there every year, and usually does, you need that travel day to recover.)

By moving the Brickyard to Labor Day Weekend (the old Southern 500 slot), you move the race out of the heat of July, out of the June / July confluence of racing in the Midwest, build in a travel day (and/or a makeup day, seriously, the Cutoff Race on Labor Day? Sign me up!), and most importantly, move your Chase Cutoff race OUT of NFL Opening Weekend, giving it the primetime slot for sports news that weekend.

Somehow I think this proposal makes so much sense, even “The Voice of Reason” would sign off on it. (gregg voice) I just can’t believe you of all people thought of it …

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the third thursday thirteen ...

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