Friday, April 30, 2010

Seattle SuperCivics

There is a point in the Kate Bush song, “And Dream of Sheep,” where she says with ultimate longing, “I wish I had my radio.”  This line is followed by her singing, with equal melancholy, “I’d turn it to some friendly voices/talking about stupid things.”  This line has felt poignant to me, not only recently with my newfound focus on podcasts and showcasing the stupid/enlightening things the people I know have to say, but for many years, when I think about the concern I have for ideas and notions that may very well be called “stupid things.” Now, do not take this post to be a “woe is me” piece.  Instead, I want to explore some of the meandering thoughts and insecurities I have had over the years about the balance between civic concerns and how, if at all possible, one may balance both.

Last night I attended a round table discussion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which was hosted by the PEN/Faulkner organization.  The discussion featured some of the best minds of the world (Jostein Gaarder, James Hansen, Frederic Hauge, Bjørn Lomborg, Bill McKibben, Andrew Revkin, and Cynthia Rosenzweig; moderated by Robert Silvers) discussing the issues of climate control and what measures can be taken to prevent future global warming and to decrease carbon emissions.  I didn’t know who each of the speakers were, but I did some research when I returned home and found out just how prestigious and highly regarded they each are – especially Bjorn Lomborg.  However, at the time of the discussion, it seemed to me, after spending four years working for a humanities quarterly, that they had collected each intellectual character necessary for a round table discussion on any topic: the eccentric foreigner with a thick accent who is impossible to understand but speaks with passion; the brooding foreigner with an easier to understand accent; the young foreigner (not necessary that he be foreign) who is opinionated and who really stirs the pot of the discussion and riles the other participants up; the woman who usually, unfortunately, seems to be too liberal; the old guy (approx. age  65-80) who is not totally involved in the discussion because he is somewhat tired of participating in such events, but towards whom everyone shows deference; the other less older guy (approx. age 50-55) who is sensitive and gets visibly upset by the young upstart and who references his wife and kid in order to make the young upstart see that one day he will have a family too and can’t be so energetic in his pursuits; and finally, my personal favorite, the middle-aged slickster.

Now, I make these stereotypes of course because they are true and I have seen these types of speakers at conferences too many times. But I also make these stereotypes because I, like anyone else who makes a stereotype, feel jealous and insecure by these people?  Why am I jealous? Because they have established their names and work hard for a cause they is certainly outside of themselves and is more concerned with the world at large. Why am I insecure?  Because my soul is not drawn to the same focus and the same concern over these very civic matters.  Civic in my mind means anything concerned outwardly with great causes in the world at large. My soul has always been drawn to matters that concern the immediate emotions and passions of the individual.  I am concerned with the everyday, the miniscule (non-scientific, well some are, say the way light looks, but not in the way that global warming is scientific) phenomena that make people question their ambitions or their identities – those moments of doubt and joy that are able to so completely engross us that at the moment of delirium or fatigue, we must think back to remember what the cause of our fervor was; we must remember who exactly we are.

This inclination may be due to my age.  However, at 24, I believe and have long felt that it is time to move beyond yourself into that greater realm of the world at large – considering that we do live and work in it.  Yet, this blog and the podcasts that I do, which I obviously believe in and devote much of my time to, seem to fall under what you might call “stupid things” rather than the kind of attention and discussion that was paid to a topic like global warming and climate control last night.

The conflict between these two realms and how to properly navigate each, or rather transition from one to the other, has led me to think about some of my favorite artists of all time.  When I say artists, I mean writers, because writing has always been my strong suit and my passion, and because above all it is indisputably the highest form of art that exists, when it is properly executed due to its synthesis of the auditory, the visual and the mental facilities of our senses and imaginations.  The writers that I think of are Leo Tolstoy and James Joyce.  The other day, over GChat, my friend Alex Ramsdell was discussing an Isiah Berlin essay he was reading that referenced Tolstoy and his desire to break the study of history down from a metaphysical procession of time and events – large sweeping motions of nations and movements with ideologies – to the actual interaction between one person and another person.  The quote that Alex gave to me was: “only the sum of the concrete events in time and space - the sum of the actual experience of actual men and women in their relation to one another and to an actual, three-dimensional, empirically experienced, physical environment - this alone contained the truth, the material out of which genuine answers might be constructed." This quote was Berlin summing up Tolstoy’s take on history and basically on how to perceive existence.  The great merit to Tolstoy’s writing was not only his ability to control many different characters, perspectives and storylines in an epic breadth of human existence, it was his ability to sit above all of this action without an obvious judgment towards those who were acting and interacting.  But, as the quote says, what was most important about his work and his approach was that the world was made of human interaction at all levels and in varying degrees of meaning and poignancy and that all of these moments must be rendered with a certain equality, because each action occurred within a three dimensional world, made of empirical objects. What often loses people is that our actions and interactions are not merely two dimensional (one person to one person), they are three dimensional, there is an other, whether an individual observer, a group of friends, a community, or a country that is in relation to the interaction between two people.  Our relationships are also objects that must be seen from a distance in order to be seen and fully understood and appreciated.

Joyce too followed this model. Ulysses is celebrated for its focus on the mundane, daily occurrences that people go through in order to leave their home in the morning and return to it at night, hopefully alive, hopefully in one piece, and perhaps maybe happy.  In “The Oxen of the Sun” Episode of Ulysses there is a point where the narrative (for the narrative has taken over at this point, as it shifts styles throughout the ages of the English language) says, “any object when intensely regarded may serve as a passage of access to the incorruptible eon of the gods.” This quote exemplifies one of the main precepts of modernism, which I have always been drawn to as a “style.” This main precept is the fact that through any one object (an object being an interaction as well, if you have been following this out of the blue rant) a person may have access to that which is eternal, that is to say, elements of life and existence that have existed forever on some universal level.  It is only through keen observation and the consideration of an object in repose that we can truly understand it, its significance and also our own significance. This is the idea or rather the phenomenon that my soul has always been inextricably drawn to.  I can’t help myself from thinking about this concept and what it means to each individual and as you might imagine, that certainly leads one away from actively participating and reaching out to the concerns of a civic life and existence.

However, Joyce and Tolstoy also exceeded in reaching out to that civic world and to the concerns of their respective countries at the times in which they wrote. War and Peace is obviously focused on the Napoleonic Wars and the effect they had on the individual characters within Russia.  Anna Karenina, meanwhile, explores the relations between landowners and the serfs that worked the land.  Levin is equally concerned with his own faith and notions of the divine as well as with the most efficient way to organize the peasants into a work force in order to create a well-organized farming infrastructure within Russia. At other ends of the novel, Oblonsky and Karenin navigate the bureaucratic world of the Russian government and find the different levels of its deceit and disappointment. Ulysses not only follows Mr. Bloom and Stephen Dedalus on their respective paths through Dublin on June 16, 1904, but also touches on the hoof and mouth issue sweeping the country, the fallout from Parnell’s death, the fledgling Dublin literary movement, and other news stories that preoccupied Dubliners at the time.  There is a straddling of both the civic world and the intensely personal world of the individual that both Joyce and Tolstoy are able to accomplish, which is not only an important lesson for any artist, but for any person trying to be a human being in this world.

What do we do then? No one likes a singer who only sings about the corruption of the government.  When Pearl Jam put on poses of protest during the G.W. Bush years, it seemed phony and forced – no one truly cared.  One can’t force themselves, whether as an artist or a regular person, to be part of the civic world.  You can only gradually transition yourself.  Because even as I was listening to the lectures yesterday evening, I thought that someone put as much thought into the ergonomic, reclining theatre seat I was sitting in as one might put into solving the problem of global warming.  Underneath our civic duties and world missions, there lie the mundane problems that also must be solved as well.  It is moving past the mundane problems that allows us to embrace those greater problems of the world, for if we live only in the civic world, then we return to a personal world that is left in shambles.  However, in the end, we all want to eventually become bored with our own egos in order to move forward to a world where most of our concerns are located outside of ourselves and our immediate spheres of influence. That is when we all become the President of the United States (follow that joke? No? OK, good.)

**This leads me to a quick note on how one becomes better as an artist. In writing, when you start to achieve a level of competency in your craft, you begin to recognize the ability to form a cogent thought or feeling about an interaction or about any given object and instead of filtering it through your own consciousness, history and opinions, you decide to throw that idea or inclination outward to an other who then thinks the thought through to another conclusion that is completely foreign to you.  That idea, is then given light outside of you, so you can then observe it and try to glean what type of truth lies within it.  When this idea is observed, you are able to record it, to render it as it might appear in life. This how the artist who has begun to understand his or her craft will begin to operate and create.  Your ideas should never come from without you – they are always borne within based upon your experiences, your research and your observations.  However, the art comes in expelling those urges, those kernels of an idea outward where it can then form on its own, through the guise of a character.  You say, “That is an interesting idea, but I don’t care how I feel about it.  How would he or she feel about it? How would they think it through?”  Then, once that has become an object, it is concrete and renderable in your work.  So, again, there is a three dimensionality as Tolstoy had suggested.  There is not just the one dimension of your own thought or the two-dimensions of you and then your experience with an object – there is the third dimension of expulsion, which allows return, which finally allows creation of an art; a successful art**

So, what does a good artist do? A good artist renders the mundane and deeply personal issues in the same light as those pressing civic issues and puts no value judgment on either, like Tolstoy would have done.  It is up to the viewer to create their own idea of what is more important than the other. The best the artist can do is to render the object, the interaction as it would be in life and allow the inner light of that object to show itself.

What does a good person do? A good person learns how to grow up and make more time to read the New York Times and try to volunteer their time to do good in that civic world.  That person hones in on their interests, what they are good at and makes sure they can do that the best, while always making time for something outside themselves.

What does a 24 year old do?  Keeping tuning that radio and talking about stupid things. Get bored with yourself as fast as you can so you can move on to more important matters.  Forget accumlating choices in your life and make a decision.

And that, ladies and gentleman, concludes Matt Domino’s “How to Be a Pompous Ass Without Really Trying” seminar for the month of April.  Admittance Fee: five years from your life, and slight loss of soul.  Profit Gain: $0.39 from advertising revenue in the month of April.

Puddles of Myself couldn’t do it without you!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Podcast of Myself Episode 8

Give me a hoo ha two times Thursday all my Puddlers out there. This is the podcast that I am sure many of you were dreading, but here it is nonetheless.  In this Episode 8 of the Podcast of Myself aka Puddles of My Podcast, I welcome budding stand-up comic, guitarist and lead singer for the Sanctuaries, the fifth Beastie Boy, Mr. David Aaron Stern (not to be confused with NBA Commissioner David Lawrence Stern).  In this episode, Mr. Stern and I (with the help of Producer Erik Gundel and Sanctuaries drummer Brian Indig) discuss A-Rod running across the pitcher's mound, baseball predictions, the deaths of Mark Linkous and Alex Chilton, the Sanctuaries, if there is a "Manhattan" sound, future ambitions and last but not least, The State.  Please put both seatbelts on for this one and because as Kate Bush says, you will be tuned to "some friendly voices talking about stupid things."

One more thing, there is a poll located on the sidebar of the blog now where you can vote for your favorite podcast.  Please place a vote so I can gauge where the conversations have gone right and wrong. Remember, it's anonymous. Thanks.

Your pal,

Matt "Puddles of Myself" Domino

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wha Hoppon?

After taping a terrific podcast on the New York technology scene with my friend Andrew Hage, watching the fascinating 30 for 30 Documentary about Ricky Williams, Run Ricky Run, painfully watching the Cavs get the benefit of some shaky officiating in eliminating the Bulls from the playoffs and watching the Heat not even trying to help Dwyane Wade stay in their series against the Celtics, I was hoping to cap the night off with another terrific installment in the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder First Round Playoff series.  However, Game 5 played out like the opposite of Game 4 and turned into an absolute blowout. I tried to remain strong and provide my play-by play commentary, however, I had to concede to the priorities of other projects once the Lakers' lead hovered around 30 points in the third quarter. So, here is the abbreviated play-by-play from the disappointing Game 5 of the Oklahoma City vs. Los Angeles Lakers First Round Playoff series:

Tip-off at 10:52 EST.

First Quarter:

12:00 - Lakers win the tip.

11:47 - The Lakers throw the ball away early.  Maybe they will be pressing a little too much tonight now that the Thunder have given them some push back.

11:35 - Durant misses his first shot.  He has been starting slow.

11:16 - Gasol makes an easy baseline hook. He makes it look so effortless. 2-0 LAL.

11:02 - Durant misses another jumper and Sefalosha misses the tip-in opportunity.  The Thunder can't come out and have a poor shooting night.  They need to get in this game early if they want to win.  The L.A. crowd wants a win and Kobe will make sure to deliver.

10:47 - Westbrook drives and gets tied up by Artest. Jump ball.  OKC fouls on the tip and L.A. gets the ball.  Kobe throws the ball away on the other end.  Sloppy start for both teams.

10:00  - OKC misses another shot.  They have started 0-6 from the field.

9:52 - Fischer drives and shows some youth in his legs.  Nice lay-in.  Fischer looking like its 2002.

9:30 - Kristic misses a baseline jumper for OKC.

9:20 - Kobe with an alley-oop to Bynum.  6-0 LAL.  The crowd at the Staples Center are getting into it now. The Thunder are just ice cold.

8:41 - OKC misses yet another shot as Westbrook tries to make a sloppy layup.  How many shots have they missed already?

8:27 - Bynum fights his way through traffic and makes a lay up.  8-0 LAL. There is definitely blood in the water.

8:07 - Kobe with a steal from Durant  and feeds Bynum for an alley-oop at the other end.  The crowd is going crazy, they love seeing Big Boy Bynum dunk. 10-0 LAL.

7:41 - OKC misses their 20th shot, but luckily the rebound bounces off the Lakers.  On the inbound, Westbrook drives and gets fouled.  He makes one of two free throws.  10-1 LAL. Ugh.

7:00 - Gasol draws the defense and makes a pretty dish to Bynum. Dunk.  When those two are passing like that, its hard to stop. Gasol on the other end makes a sweet 10 footer. 14-1 LAL.

6:16 - Westbrook drives and is blocked by Bynum.  Kobe travels.  That's his third turnover.

5:47 - Durant finally hits one. 14-3 LAL.

5:36 - Fischer with a long two.  16-3 LAL.  Durant comes back and draws a foul on Gasol.  He only makes one of two free throws. 16-4 LAL. Keep that lead manageable!

4:36 - Westbrook with a drive and a bank.  20-6 LAL.

3:59 - Green with a nice hook shot.  Maybe his involvement can drag them out of this hole.  20-8 LAL.

3:34 - Odom with a layup.  22-8. LAL.  Lakers are executing everything efficiently (how is that for alliteration!).  OKC has dug themselves a deep hole tonight.  I don't know if they can fight back from this. They look terrible.

3:10 - OKC with a 24-second violation. No, really?

2:58 - Kobe with a fadeaway jumper.  24-8 LAL.

2:04 - Collison with a put back.  26-12 LAL.

1:03 - Westbrook drives, dishes to Ibaka for a lay-in.  LAL 26-14.

32.0 - After Kobe finishes off a three point play, Harden is fouled and makes two free throws.  Can he possibly help them?  28-16 LAL.

13.2 - Artest nails a three to close out the quarter.  31-16 LAL.  They shoot 78% in the first quarter. 

Second Quarter:

9:14 - Farmar steals a bad pass from Ibaka and makes the lay-in. 35-17 LAL.

8:16 - Green gets a jumper to fall. 35-19 LAL.  Keep that lead manageable!

7:53 - Offensive foul on Shannon Brown.  Maybe the Thunder can build something here.

7:17 - Beautiful pivot move by Kobe as he leaves Durant in his dust.  37-19 LAL.  That was just perfectly done.

6:58 - Green draws a foul on Odom.

6:41 - Durant takes another terrible three pointer and misses.  But Fischer throws the ball away.

6:20 - Ibaka nails an 18 footer.  37-21 LAL. If he makes that a bread and butter shot then he is going to be a very dangerous and valuable player.

5:57 - Bynum just dunks right on Ibaka.  No one in the game can stop him.  39-21 LAL.

5:49 - Durant at the line.  He makes both free throws.  39-23 LAL.

4:02 - OKC can't make a shot and LA can't miss.  43-25 LAL after an Odom layup.

3:44 - Artest with a nice move, explodes to the hoop for a dunk.  Vintage Artest.  I recently heard some war stories about Artest when he was a kid.  Tough upbringing.  I love Ron.

3:20 - Durant nails a three.  45-30 LAL.  Odom answers with a three of his own.  48-30 LAL.

1:53 - Westbrook with a steal and dunk.  50-32 LAL.

1:19 - Gasol with a short jumper.  52-32 LAL.

53.0 - Westbrook is fouled.  He makes both.  52-34 LAL.

07.7 - Kobe sinks a floater and Westbrook misses at the other end.  What else is new?  55-34 Lakers at half time.  Normally I would give the Thunder the benefit of the doubt, but based on how they played, this game is over.

Third Quarter:

11:44 - Kristic opens the quarter with two free throws.  55-36 LAL.  Lakers miss and OKC brings the ball back down. They move it with some really nice ball movement, but Kristic drops the ball.  He had an open look.  Kobe drives on the other end and is fouled.  Kobe makes both. 57-36.

10:33 - Kobe drives again.  Misses.  Bynum follows and misses but he is fouled.  He makes both. 59-36 LAL.

9:48 - Gasol turnaround jumper, fades, drills it and gets fouled.  That was a smooth 16 footer.  Gasol makes the and one.  62-36 LAL.

8:15 - Kristic with a baseline jumper.  67-41 LAL.  Big deal.  I feel like Bob Uecker in Major League 2.  Take over Monty...I'm in the bag.

And that's where I dropped off on the play-by-play. Basically, the Thunder continued their dangerous tendancies: they were cold shooting, they got behind early and no one really helped Westbrook and Durant.  The main difference in this game was that the Lakers put Kobe on Westbrook and his defense and size made the difference.  Westbrook had a problem with him and if you saw Kobe, he looked insanely determined.  At one point in the third quarter, the camera stayed on Kobe for about thirty seconds and he had a look on his face that said "there is no way that these kids are going to beat us tonight." We'll see how the Thunder adjust in Oklahoma City on Friday night.  It is an elimination game and that crowd will be wild.  They will have to come out fast and Westbrook will have to go right at Kobe.  Kobe isn't young enough to stick with Westbrook for two complete straight games in a row.  Kobe has mastered his pivot game, but he is looking his age for the first time this whole year and is working extremely hard for his points. Anyway, despite the back to back blowouts in Games 4 and 5 this series still remains interesting.  Stick with me as I continue to cover the series.

Tomorrow we have the David Stern (not the NBA Commissioner) podcast and on Friday I may just put up a rant all about writing.  A friend of mine piqued my interest today when he mentioned a theory of Tolstoy's and I may just want to run with that.  We'll see what I can come up with.  I've got a few projects in the works and I will keep you all updated.

Until Podcast Thursday...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Podcast of Myself Episode 7

For Episode Seven of Podcast of Myself (soon to be formally renamed Puddles of My Podcast), I welcome the good Professor Jon Ellowitz.  In this episode, the Professor and I discuss Orthodox Jewish basketball players, Franz Kafka, the personal life of R.L. Stine, teaching methods, Simco Ball, the pleasure of baseball, and the history of the Dominican Republic. Now, can you get any more diverse than that? As always, strap yourself in and enjoy the power of the podcast of myself.

Monday, April 26, 2010

What Goes On

Alright all my Puddlers, I am back to do one of my standard roundups for the week.  These roundups come on random days, so don't expect them on specific days.  However, what you can start expecting is to look on this blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays and find a new Podcast of Myself, which will now actually be called PUDDLES OF MY PODCAST. So, please be sure to update your iTunes updates and feeds.  The rest of this blog will be updated accordingly.

This was an action packed weekend with things that caught my interest as well as occurances in the NBA.  I know that I have been sort of deluging (word?) you all with the NBA content over the past week or so, but once I finish my coverage of the Lakers/Thunder series, you will be seeing a lot more music coverage.  However, I will get to all that in my bullet points.

One last word, the title of this post comes from the Velvet Underground song "What Goes On," not the Beatles song by the same name.  Just wanted to be clear on that.

Brass tax:

- Now that I am out of my office job, I am trying to piece together my life as a freelance writer.  One of my jobs will be articles coming out in the soon to be launched, Trashcan Magazine. The website is only a prototype for now, however, the hard issues of the magazine will be in a subway station near you starting this June 2010.  In the next few weeks or so, you can start looking for short articles of mine about the NBA and teaching your girlfriend how to understand football at the website, Made Man. Now, you might say, "Oh, Domino. You wrote for that website because it is like Mad Men." And that would be totally wrong.  I am contributing to that website because they pay me.

- Speaking of blogs, I just found a gem of a blog that has led me to find some gems of albums that have really bulked out my music catalogue.  I will provide you with some reviews of specific albums (as well as my musings) in the near future.  However, the blog can be found here.  I was even able to find an album by my main man Jesse "Ed" Davis.

- On the topic of music with a lot of soul and also some testosterone, Treme. This show is absolutely fantastic so far.  The season is only three episodes in and I have been enjoying it thoroughly.  I have not watched much of the Wire and I know that makes me an idiot.  However, I am going to compile them all in some manner so I can watch them all at one time - or I can just wait until they cycle through the whole series again on HBO On Demand.  The acting is fantastic (even Steve Zahn's annoying character) and the breadth of the characters that the narrative covers seems to be in the same Tolstoyan vein that got the literary scholars so in favor of the Wire.  Plus it features basketball star Jamal Wallace from Finding Forester.

- Now for some other links and places I have enjoyed stumbling across in the past week.  First up is the new Brooklyn blog, Brooklyn Exposed.  I had a chance to speak to the owner of this site, Sharon Beason, and she is trying to provide information that links up all of the neighborhoods in Brooklyn so that there is a reliable and consolidated source that can point you in different directions and means of navigating Brooklyn by neighborhood, whether it is by events, restaurants, museum exhibits, or spaces of outdoor enjoyment.  Ms. Beason owns her own Brooklyn-based business as well, the Brooklyn Concierge.

- The second link that was given to me was the blog of one Juliet Train Totten.  Her blog was passed to me by Janelle Sing and the name of Juliet's blog is rosiebegosi.  Juliet Train Totten is also part of Poppies and Posies, which Janelle and I discussed on her podcast episode.

- Ah, yes, speaking of podcasts.  Tomorrow, I will be putting up a podcast with my good friend, Professor Jon Ellowitz.  This episode may be my favorite so far.  The topics get a little heady, but we do get to talk about R.L. Stine.  Thursday, I will be putting up a podcast with my former college roommate and the current lead singer of The Sanctuaries, Mr. David Aaron Stern. Those of you who read this blog and know both David and myself have most likely been either looking forward to this episode or dreading it more than life itself.  However, the question you have to ask yourself is, why are you already listening to it?

- This week I will be recording two or three new podcasts.  One is with my friend Andrew Hage where we will be discussing the current New York technology scene as detailed in New York Magazine.  The second should be with the lead singer of Tony Castles, Paul Sicilian, and that will be completely devoted to the NBA.  The third will be with a friend of mine, Jenna Morse, and we will be discussing film in general as well as a film she recently finished.

- Tonight, I am going to start on the recent Pultizer Prize winning novel, Tinkers by Paul Harding, who studied at the New York State Summer Writer's Institute at Skidmore College - as did I. You can read an interview with Mr. Harding here or a New York Times article about him, here. I sent him an e-mail to congratulate him on his success - I'll let you know if I hear back.

- On Saturday, I spent the day wandering around in Cobble Hill.  Fantastic neighborhood.  You should really just go there when the weather is nice. At night, I got a chance to eat at the restaurant Prime Meats, which was pretty damn good and gave me a bit of a food hangover because I ate so  much.  Being there also caused me to miss my coverage of Game 4 of the Thunder/Lakers series, which brings me to..

- The NBA.  What can I say? Many of the first round series are not as close as one would have hoped. It looks like the Spurs and Jazz may run away with their respective series and it seems like the Cavaliers will dispatch of the Bulls tomorrow night.  However, a few points:

1. Lebron did have a terrific game on Sunday.  That three pointer he casually made from just inside halfcourt was pretty special.  It looked just like a regular jump shot. Lebron gained my respect on Sunday because for the first time in his career, he looked less like a little kid and more like someone who really cared about winning a championship. Don't get me wrong, infectious joy is terrific, but it usually doesn't make you a champion.  Joy only takes you halfway there.

2.  A man that has already been there is Dwyane Wade and he showed why on Sunday. Wade submitted one of the top "take over the game" performances in NBA Playoff history.  After the Heat blew a 21 point lead the let the Celtics take a six point lead going into the fourth quarter, Wade single handedly delayed Miami's elimination by scoring 20 points in the fourth quarter and 46 points for the game.  He paired that with 5 rebounds and 5 assists.  Wade was 5 of 7 from three point range and just reminded everyone why he is so dangerous.  Wade is averaging 30 points for the series and shooting over 50% and they are down 3-1 to the Celtics.  If you give Wade one other competent player, and if he puts up the same numbers that he is right now, the Heat are sweeping any team they play. I stand by that. People love to talk about Lebron, but Wade already won a title.  When you play with bad teams, it is easy for the public to forget.

3. Lakers/Thunder.  The Thunder absolutely stomped on the Lakers on Saturday night.  What interests me is the fact that the Lakers have not outrightly beat the Thunder in any game so far in the series, wheras the Thunder beat the Lakers on Saturday night.  We'll see how Kobe is going to rally his team for Game 5 in L.A. tomorrow night.  No one on Los Angeles can cover Westbrook and as much as this series will rest in Kevin Durant's capable hands, so much of it will come down to Westbrook.  If the Thunder let Westbrook control the game for them, then they can definitely beat the Lakers.  This series is starting to have a Golden State Warriors vs. Dallas Mavericks feel from 2007. That is what I expected and if Oklahoma City pulls out the win tomorrow night, then things will get very interesting.

Ok, that is the roundup for today. Stick with me this week as I have tons of stuff to throw your way.

Now, the next installment of From Here to the Last Mound of Dirt. This is the last installment from Section Two of Part Two of the novel.  After this section, we move on to the perspective of two grave diggers at the funeral of Rose O'Donnell, the matriarch of the family.  However, enjoy this installment you are about to read:

High towered signs for Best Buy and Home Depot passed by Mr. Kosciuzko’s window.  Through the highway trees, Peter could see the humble and blue sided homes of the town of Centerreach with their chain linked fences.  They were nothing like the homes from the Three Villages.  Their town had remained snug and sheltered from the influence of strip malls and hastily built homes.  Their town progenated an old Long Island – fishing villages, established families of many generations with homes on bluffs and colonial sign posts, horse farms and the stink of salt.  It was a place where a family like the O’Donnells could exist.  Peter wondered if there were still many places like it in America.  Maybe that was what this generation saw around them.  There was no orange tinted America left for these kids, there were only the rapid flashing images of the world – dead bodies in Iraq, grim Muslims in Afghanistan, the gleam of Japan, and the red shroud of China.  And why would you want to stop to create a family in that world of possibility and death?  Mr. Kosciuzko looked in the rearview mirror at Ben O’Donnell and his poised jaw.  Why would you risk loving someone to see them die, to engage in these ageless rituals of burial and mourning? 

Peter felt his heart throb or skip a beat.  This sensation with the sun shining and the passing of trees and homes in the heat made him feel as though he were on to some great truth.  If only he could stop the car to write it down.  These kids were smart, they knew the risks of love and death.  Mr. Kosciuzko thought of the funerals of his mother and father.  His father had died when Chris was a baby, so he did not have to explain it to him, did not have to explain that “Grampa was dead.”  Peter could still wallow in his grief then, in the fact that his father had died and that he was now the patriach of his family.  That thought was a burden - something he did not want then, but a role he had since, he felt, grown into.  The thought that there would be no more consults for advice about being a husband, no more phone calls asking his father about his knee or his golf game.  He’d cradled his father’s sapphire tie pin when they lowered the coffin – his mother crying on his shoulder.  Then his mother too had passed.  Chis was ten or so and Sonya had been five or six.  It was harder then to explain that they would not be going to grandma’s to sleep over anymore, that grandma wouldn’t be making them a little blanket nest of the floor of her bedroom for them to sleep on so they wouldn’t be scared. 

Mr. Kosciuzko sighed.  He put his right signal on, turned his head back to check his blind spot and merged lanes. He itched his right armpit.  You missed the people you loved terribly – there was no escaping that.  When the children were little and Peter’s parents would come to visit, Chris and Sonya would grab onto their grandparents’ legs when it was time for them to leave.  It was that same sensation that lived in and was shared by all people – the desire to hold on, to not let someone go.  Because it wasn’t the phantoms in horror stories with red faces and claws that were scary, it was the real live ghosts of someone who was there and not there – that was the fear you truly felt.

The divider rolled down and Ben O’Donnell put his head up to the space.

“Hey, Pete,” he said softly.

“How’re you holding up, Ben?” Mr. Kosciuzko asked.

“Oh, we’re just fine back here. Fine. Smooth ride.”

“I’m glad.”

“Would you mind turning the air up a bit?”

“No problem at all. Thanks for asking.”

Ben O’Donnell nodded.  He reached his hand through the space.

“Sorry about keeping this thing up.” He paused. “It just feels right.”

Peter was moved by the sentiment.  Ben O’Donnell was a good man.

“Of course. By all means. I get it all the time.”

Ben  O’Donnell laughed softly.   He patted Mr. Kosciuzko with his fingertips and rolled the divider back up. Signs for the L.I.E. appeared on the right.  Ben O’Donnell was a good man.  Mr. Kosciuzko remembered how Ben had held himself with dignity when his son Tom had tried to drown himself in the creek by the train tracks.  He showed no sorrow, but never seemed hard.  Everyone expected Ben to turn back to his drinking then, but he surprised them all.  Ben had stayed away from the bars once Rose made him quick drinking.  However, he had come into the Country Corner after it happened.  He ordered a club soda.  He had come in “just to get a breath of fresh air.”  And he sipped at the club soda and looked at the NBA highlights on the TV. To lose a child would be the ultimate loneliness.  Mr. Kosciuzko could barely wrap his mind around the thought.  He wondered what terror or loneliness Tom O’Donnell had felt to throw himself into the frozen creek to die.  What question was he looking to answer?  What question had he failed to answer?

Mr. Kosciuzko merged onto the access road for the L.I.E.  He passed Pete’s nursery on the right.  He signalled left and merged onto the interstate.  You had to forgive your children.  He knew that he would eventually forgive  Sonya for what she had done; for all she had done.  For maybe she did understand the importance of moving through life and loving.  Maybe she had loved Lee and the fact that she had gotten pregnant was just bad timing – she wasn’t ready to take that risk, to put her stakes down with him.  But if she moved to San Francisco to live, wasn’t that love?  And if it was, then how could you turn your back on it?  When was true love supposed to occur? How could you give it a sell by date?  Maybe that was what the youth were victims of.  An internet that let you Google, “When am I supposed to fall in love?”

Peter pushed the gas and moved into the left lane heading east.  He passed a truck.  He wished he could tell it all in a story.  Why it was important to love and to risk it all by having a family and investing yourself in another person. Mr. Kosciuzko thought himself a smart man, maybe as smart as Sonya or Maggie O’Donnell, and had bought into love.  He remembered seeing Ellen on their first date.  They had gone to one of the college bars in Oneonta. It was called the Rat.  He’d been nervous to ask her out for months in their European History class, but he had to do it.  Then she showed up at the bar, wearing a red blouse that made her skin especially tan and the freckles on her face seem so – impossible.  He had to excuse himself to vomit in the bathroom.  After he frantically chewed gum, he went back out and asked if he could kiss her. It was the boldest thing he had perhaps done in his entire life  before or since.  And she obliged.  It was over then.

Mr.  Kosciuzko accelerated eastward into the sun.  That was what life was for, he felt it strongly. It was love, it was family.  If you weren’t tugged in a million directions by people you loved, then you weren’t experiencing life.  He knew the universe was made of light and love; books had taught him that much and he felt that much.  Highway trees and exit signs flew past.  He felt, too, that Ben O’Donnell believed the same thing deeply.  That was what they shared, or what Peter felt they shared when he saw Ben’s jaw working and the character behind it.  Their children would learn someday.  All children would learn someday.  Although he’d been a teacher, he could not teach that.  Mr. Kosciuzko gripped the steering wheel tight and looked at another car he passed – a Subaru.  Perhaps he had been a failure.  He’d underachieved and been prone to inaction.  But he’d loved and tried his best to be loved.  He’d fished with his father and made love to his wife, he’d bathed his children and drunken a beer.  Peter felt his heart flutter in the glare of the sun.  It was like white flowers and the pull of an eloquent sentence.  He pitied and envied the O’Donnells.  All he could do was to put his foot on the gas.  If only he could write it all down in a story – to put word to it all.  But he couldn’t pull over now.  He had to bring the O’Donnells to their funeral.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Must See TV?

This post is a document of my TV watching experience last night from the time of 9:34 PM to 11:50 PM.  This features commentary on 30 Rock as well as continuing my series of covering the First Round NBA Playoff Series between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Lakers.  Last night was a riveting Game 3.  Let's get to the remote control action:

- I am in crisis mode tonight.  I have to cover Game 3 of the Oklahoma City and L.A. series because I implosed this deadline and task on myself and also because I believe in the intriguing storylines that are inherent in the series and are developing as the games go along.  However, after about two months of reruns and laziness, 30 Rock has come back with two new episodes, the second of which will conflict with the beginning of the game.  So, beginning coverage of the Lakers/Thunder game may be shaky as I switch back and forth, but I will include some bonus 30 Rock commentary.

9:34 PM -30 Rock.  Great entrance by Tracey onto the episode as he is about to spray something up his nose.  This is followed by a classic Tracey and Kenneth non sequitor interaction.

9:35 PM - Souri with a nonsensica story about her fiancee being abducted by pirates.  I think they should just take her off the show.  She's not even that hot.

9:36 PM - Liz Lemon trying to prove she is fun, which is a somewhat repetitive storyline at this point, but you have to like a line like, "Ain't no party like a Liz Lemon Party, because a Liz Lemon Party is mandatory."

9:40 PM - Conan vs. Leno parody storyline with the Indian janitor Khonani. It is so blatant it is ridiculous.  "The Tonight Shift."

9:43 PM - 30 Rock is cracking hilarious lines at a rapid pace that is too hard to document.  Everything is working.  Tracey claims that everyone now say, "Surf Party, USA!" Also, Tracey's line about throwing a party is like throwing a frisbee is just perfect.  He tops it by calling Kenneth "K-Pax."


First Quarter

11:56 - Lakers win tip for first time in series.  Artest opens up by nailing an 18 footer.  He follows that up with a steal and then lays it in.  Quick 4-0 LAL lead.


9:50 PM - Jack Donaghy says that he is "innoventing."  Tracey's dog, Tracey Sr., gets out of the house, which causes Tracey to say, "Tracey Sr. took off fast.  He didn't want to live here."  Kenneth has to go as Tracey's proxy to save Liz Lemon's party.

9:52 PM - Conan/Khonani joke has turned even more heavy-handed. Kenneth with a classic line on the phone to Tracey: "Mr. Jordan, its Kenneth Parcell from work and friendship."


First Quarter

7:39 -OKC is in some early trouble.  The Lakers lead 15-6.  It seems like the Thunder are continuing their first quarter issues.  Kristic makes one of two free throws.  15-7 LAL.

6:57 - I am really liking the crowd in Oklahoma City. They are all dressed in blue, which is an effect and color I haven't really seen at a game.  The arena has a definite Golden State in 2007 feel.  But OKC continues to shoot poorly.

6:28 - Durant is missing all kinds of shots and so is Westbrook. They are both amped up for this game and are playing a little too fast.

6:04 - Durant glides down court with the ball and draws the foul on his shot.  He makes two free throws. 15-9 LAL.

5:42 - Fischer makes a three pointer.  He has been hitting pain in the ass shots like that all series. 18-9 LAL.

5:18 - Gasol drives in for a dunk - blocked.  He gets the rebound and dunks anyway. 20-9 LAL.

5:05 - Another wild shot by Westbrook on the other end. The whole team is really just too excited and they are pressing everything.

4:34 - OKC pushes the ball  (which seems to be their strategy tonight) and Westbrook flies for almost a second and finishes a huge dunk.  The crowd goes insane.  I go insane! What a dunk!  The Lakers answer immediately with a layup. However, Westbrook is immediately back down the court for a layup of his own.  22-13 LAL.  The Thunder are down, but this place is going crazy.

3:44 - Harden hits a three. That's exactly what the Thunder need.  22-16 LAL.

3:27 - Durant commits his second foul already.  He will have to come out of the game.  We'll see how this storyline develops.

3:12 - Fischer nails another three.  25-16 LAL.  You know how I feel about him.

2:34 - Shannon Brown with a nice shot. 27-16.  The Lakers are shooting well.

2:05 - Doug Collins is talking about how L.A. is trying to take away Jeff Green away in order to make just Durant and Westbrook beat them.  That seems to make sense as a strategy, because if Green is having a good game that means that the Thunder are usually winning. In the meantime, Harden hits another big three! 27-20 LAL.

49.9 - Harden with a drive and a lay-in.  He has 8 points already.  27-22 LAL.  Harden follows up the layup with a steal, drives the ball and is fouled before he shoots.

17.1 - OKC can't convert after the turnover and Odom gets the last shot of the quarter for L.A.  Not a good look from Lamar (Khloe? Her?). 27-22 after one quarter. OKC is making a run. Exciting first quarter and the building is just rocking.

Second Quarter

11:05 - Durant forces another shot.  He is 0-6 from the floor.  The rest of the team is doing fine, he does not need to force his offense.

10:37 - Harden drives and misses a layup.  Ibaka follows up with a dunk.  The crowd loves it.  If OKC makes a run here, this crowd may even top the G-State 2007 Effect. 27-24 LAL.

9:52 - Offensive foul on Farmar.  LA is out of synch.

9:35 - Durant posts and takes a fadeaway.  He misses again.  Farmar makes makes a shot on the other end.  29-24 LAL.

9:05 - Maynor misses a three and Ibaka can't save the rebound..

8:25 - Durant raises over Artest and makes his first shot. 29-26.  LA answers with a three from Artest.  32-26 LAL. OKC takes a timeout.

7:43 - LA forces Collison to take a terrible shot from the outside.  Gasol comes back and makes a nice little hook shot.  34-26.

6:49 - Harden drives, misses layup, but is fouled. He makes both free throws. 34-28. LAL.

6:35 - Odom makes a quick baseline hook.  36-28 LAL.

6:10 - Durant with an impressive drive, lays the ball up, misses, but is fouled. Makes two free throws. 36-30 LA.

5:39 - Harden at the line after a Kobe foul.  He makes one of two free throws.

5:13 - Westbrook steals a bad pass from Kobe and drives down court for a one handed exclamation dunk. 36-33 LAL.  The crowd is getting read to explode (oh, wait, not in OKC. I need an editor).

4:52 - Kobe nails a 25-foot three pointer to answer for his mistake.  39-33.  Gasol fouls Harden who has really gotten involved in this game.  Harden makes both free throws. 39-35 LAL.

4:31 - Kobe nails another three pointer.  42-35 LAL.  Westbrook comes back with a pullup jumper.  42-37 LAL.

3:56 - Ibaka with a block on Odom.  LA is in fastbreak mode.  Durant lays it in 42-39. LAL.

3:42 - Kobe with another three pointer.  He just has an answer every time OKC looks like they are going to take control of the game. 45-39 LAL.

3:00 - Durant stupidly commits an offensive foul.  That's his third.  We'll see him in the third quarter.

2:37 - Brown fouls Harden.  Harden makes two free throws. 45-41 LAL.  Harden has 14 points.

1:48 - Harden with a bad foul on Fischer who was shooting a three.  Fischer steps to the line and calmly makes all three foul shots.  48-41 LAL.

36.4 - Westbrook drives in and lays it up.  He has 10 points.  50-43 LA.

17.7 - Kobe misses a shot and OKC has a last shot opportunity.  Unfortunately, Kristic wastes it by taking a long two, which is of course misses. 

A very strange first half.  Besides the Lakers' hot start, both teams shot poorly. The crowd was just waiting to go crazy on an Oklahoma City lead, but the team was too excited to start the game.  Durant will adjust at the half and stop forcing his game so much. However, we will have to see if anyone can stop Kobe from making threes and having an answer for every OKC run.

Third Quarter

11:43 - Green drives in and takes an off balance shot.  Westbrook with the put back and is fouled.  He makes two free throws.  50-45 LAL.

11:14 - Kobe misses a runner and the long rebound goes to OKC.  They start the break and Jeff Green finishes with a smooth layup. 50-47 LAL.

10:43 - Sefalosha with an open three to tie! Nope.  He missed.

10:04 - Gasol knocks down a 16 footer in classic Gasol style. He just puts himself in the right spot and executes the way he is supposed to. 52-47 LAL.

9:19 - Kobe with a nice looking fadeaway.  54-47.

9:08 - Durant misses another shot and Kobe makes another fadeaway. 56-47.

8:43 - Kristic makes a long two.  He always provides a decent chip in.  Not the perfect center for this team, but he does the job for now.  56-49 OKC.

7:48 - Sefalosha knocks down a corner three.  That is absolutely huge for them.  56-52  LAL.

7:27 - Kobe to Gasol. Dunk. Elementary.

6:55 - Green misses a three.  At the other end, Gasol gets position on the post and makes a soft tip in.  60-52 LAL.

6:27 - Kobe with a wild shot, but Bynum is there to bail him out with the put back.  62-52 LAL.  I want to say at this point, that OKC looks like they are out of this game and that the Lakers are taking control, but so far in this series they always fight back once the Lakers try to put them away in the second half.

6:12 - Durant at the line and makes one of two free throws.  62-53 LAL.

5:51 - Gasol with a beautiful tear drop floater.  It was just perfect.  64-53 LAL.  But at the other end Sefalosha makes another corner three!  64-56.  If he is making that shot then OKC can win this game.  That is about my a millionth "if (blank player) does this, then OKC can win." They just need a third scorer!  They have Harden tonight if Durant gets hot.

5:19 - Kobe with a frame for frame Jordan jumper.  66-56 LAL. Durant comes back and gets a backdoor layup to go in.  He is fouled as well.  He makes the and one.  66-59 LAL.

4:36 - Westbrook drives to the basket and is fouled. I repeat, no one can guard him. Westbrook makes one of two free throws.  66-60 LAL.

4:00 - After an Artest miss, OKC goes to Durant.  Durant fights for a shot but misses.  However, Collison is there for the put back. KANSAS CLASS OF 2003 PRIDE!  66-62 LAL.

3:46 - Fischer nails a three. How many times is he going to answer back?  69-62 LAL.  But Westbrook is able to answer with a lightning fast layup. Of course.  69-64 LAL.

3:11 - Odom at the line.  Makes one of two free throws.  70-64 LAL.

2:56 - Westbrook fouls Brown who goes to the line and makes two free throws.  72-64 LAL.

2:44 - The game has hit a sloppy period.  Whistles are being blown a little too easily.  Artest fouls Durant and Durant goes to the line and makes both free throws.  72-66 LAL.

2:17 - Laker and Thunder exchange offensive fouls. Boo.

1:59 - Ibaka gets called for a bum goaltending violation, but Westbrook comes back with a nasty jam that we don't actually get to see live.  (When it is shown on instant replay, it is an absolute facial on Odom.)

1:18 - Lakers airball on their end and Harden comes back and nails a three.  He is coming up big for them tonight.  74-71 LAL.  The crowd is going nuts.  Fischer misses a three and Durant comes back, puts up the three...crowd waiting to lose it...he NAILS it!  Tie game.  The arena is literally out of control.  74-74.

39.1 - Gasol is at the line. Makes one of two free throws.  75-74 LAL.

16.8 - OKC is forcing the action at their end and Durant and Westbrook each put up a bad shot.  Odom misses a long three to end the quarter.  The fourth quarter is going to be terrific.

Fourth Quarter

11:35 - Kobe opens up and misses a 16 footer.  Westbrook drives and hits an open Ibaka from 17 feer.  He sinks it.  76-75 OKC.

11:01 - Offensive foul on Odom.  The crowd is losing it! I'm losing it!  We have possibly surpassed G-State 2007 levels here. Kobe fouls Durant! Sorry, sorry, I'll compose myself.

10:38 - Westbrook and Collison execute a nice give and go, but Westbrook misses the layup. Ibaka is there for the monster dunk to follow.  The crowd loves it.  78-75 OKC.  Kobe answers with an amazing shot.  78-77 OKC.

9:28 - Westbrook splits the defense and makes a tough banker.  80-77 OKC.

8:54 - Sloppy play from both teams and the loose ball ends up in Bynum's hands.  Bynum basically throws the ball in the basket and Collison fouls him. Bynum makes the and one.  80-80.

8:41 - Durant with an unorthodox shot. Nails it. 82-80 OKC.

8:20 - Kobe throws the ball away/ Harden on the break, dishes to Durant. Dunk!  84-80 OKC.

7:45 - Kobe with another bad shot.  Now he is pressing.  OKC brings the ball down, but Durant travels.

7:20 - Gasol with a 15 footer. Smooth as usual.  84-82 OKC.

6:21 - Westbrook with a laser pass inside to Collison underneath who is fouled by Gasol. Seriously, how did Westbrook actually make that pass?  Collison chokes both free throws though.

5:57 - Kobe bricks another three pointer.  He is the best closer in the game!  (I know, I'll cut him some slack.) Westbrook makes a long two.  86-82 OKC.

5:26 - Durant blocks Kobe.  Other end, Durant posts up Kobe and  hits a pretty baseline floater.  88-82 OKC.

4:44 - Kobe misses another shot.  He has fallen apart in this quarter.  Very strange to see. Reverting back to 2005-2006 Kobe.  Harden gets the rebound and he pushes it to Durant who makes an 18 footer that epitomizes "smooth."  90-82 OKC. Durant has 25 points and 19 rebounds. The Lakers are crumbling.

3:44 - Harden with a nice drive, but he misses the shot.  I like his confidence to make that move and take that shot in crunch time.

3:25 - Fischer with a big three.  90-85. I know I don't need to say anything.

3:03 - Westbrook answers with a HUGE three pointer.  93-85 OKC.

2:47 - Artest with a 21 footer.  93-87 OKC.

2:15 - Durant has to force a bad 3 that bounces off LA and OKC players.  The refs disagree about who it last touched and finally, the ball is going to the Lakers.  Odom nails a wide open three pointer.  93-90 OKC.

1:40 - Westbrook with a pull-up jumper and he is fouled by Derek Fischer.  He makes both free throws.  96-90 OKC. Didn't I tell you that he is the key? He leads all scorers with 26 points.

1:32 - Artest hits another long two.  96-92 OKC.

1:13 - Ibaka with a 16-18 footer and misses. That is not the shot they wanted.  At the other end, Ibaka fouls Gasol to stop him from making a layup.  We go to Craig Sager who shows us a noise meter that has reached level 109. I don't know what that means, but this place is loud!  Gasol makes two free throws.  96-94 OKC.

58.7 - Durant is fouled and makes both free throws. Clutch. 98-94 OKC.

39.0 - Kobe shoots a three and misses.  OKC gets the rebound and LA is not fouling.  Westbrook misses a pull-up jumper and Kobe takes the ball coast to coast for the lay-up.  Phil was right to not have them foul.  98-96 LA.

13.2 - Durant is fouled and goes to the line.  He makes both shots again.  That is absolutely clutch for a young player.  100-96 OKC.

01.5 - Hectic sequence with Farmar chucking a three pointer and then Artest chucking a three pointer.  Both shots miss and OKC wins the game. 

The arena is absolutely going crazy and we may definitely have ourselves a series here, although we can't say that until OKC ties it up.  We'll see if the Thunder learn from tonight (especially Durant and Westbrook) and start the next game without forcing their shots so much.  They have to control their energy and the crowd's excitment in order to play with composure to beat the Lakers.  They can definitely continue to try to run the Lakers out of the gym and that is most likely the way they are going to beat them - young legs.  Also, if both Green and Harden wake up, then this game is definitely going to seven games and the Thunder may even pull off the upset.

See, the storylines are there.  I can't wait unil Sunday.

Tonight or tomorrow I will be putting up a post with miscellaneous thoughts and some links as well as upcoming podcast schedule and description.

Stick with me, I will not let you down.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Podcast of Myself EPIC Episode 6

As you can see, there is a double post today.  Technically, that Lakers/Thunder writeup should have come out yesterday, but I had all kinds of contract negotiations to go through and other podcasts to tape so I got sidetracked.  Anyway, you are in luck, because today we are putting up the Exile on Main Street of podcasts.  In this epic Episode 6 of Podcast of Myself, I welcome musical journeyman, hopeful entrepreneur and current lead singer of the band Forest City, Nick Mencia.  We are also joined by our Producer, as well as multi-instrumentalist for Motel Motel, Erik Gundel.  Over a near hour and a half, we discuss touring with Vampire Weekend, The Guess Who, Nick's musical career, the forthcoming Forest City album, the Yankee most like a country singer, who Tony Wayne is, the possibility of distributing live recordings, Ulysses, what makes a good country song, and division by division predications for the Major League Baseball season.  Strap yourself in a pour yourself a highball, turn up the thunder and lightning and take a listen to this podcast.

Final note, you can always download a podcast by clicking on the title of that post.  You will be taken to the storage site for all of the audio files and can download each one.  I am also putting links in the Podcast of Myself section.

Enjoy and I will be back tomorrow with some links, random thoughts and more From Here to the Last Mound of Dirt.

Lakers vs. Thunder - Game 2

This post will continue the series that I will be putting up here as I follow the First Round NBA Playoff Series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder.  The first game saw the Thunder overcome a poor shooting night and perhaps slight jitters to give the Lakers a close game.  We will see how the Thunder respond from that loss and we'll see if the Lakers can show the same defensive focus they did in Game 1.  Let's get to the play-by-play:

First Quarter:

11:42 - Thunder win the tip again. Jeff Green misses an early three. He will need to get involved early if the Thunder are going to win this game.

11:22 - Kobe makes a long two pointer over Thabo Sefalosha.  Kobe will make those shots, but Sefalosha has to keep him from getting hot.

11:11 - Sefalosha answers with a drive and a lay-in.  He is fouled as well.  He converts the and 1.  3-2 OKC.

11:03 - Artest misses from three. Durant takes it the other way, dishes to Sefalosha for a three.  He misses as well.  If he can make those open shots from the wing, that will be huge for Oklahoma City.

10:18 - Kobe goes for another long shot over Sefalosha but he misses this time.

10:07 - Derek Fischer rewinds the clock as he makes a terrific and aggressive drive and puts up a twisting layup.  He misses, but Kobe follows up. 4-3 LAL.

9:43 - Durant misses two shots in a row.  He is already having a tough night shooting.  The next time down the floor he draws a foul on Derek Fischer and, after the ensuing inbounds, finally nails a three. 6-4 Oklahoma City.

9:14 - Kristic blocks a Fischer shot, but Fischer grabs the loose ball and makes a tough jumper. 6-6.

8:47 - Westbrook makes a banked-in three pointer. Let's all say it again, "Westbrook will be the key to this game and the series."  9-6 OKC.

8:26 - Durant with a beautiful drive, but he misses the layup.  He can't let these misses get in his head.  If he is going to have a tough shooting series, he has to keep putting them up and trying to get fouled to help the team.  They need his scoring.

8:25 - Wait a second.  This is the same organ setlist from last night "House of the Rising Sun"->; "Let's Go Lakers."  That is ridiculous.

7:51 - Gasol throws the ball away. The Lakers don't look sharp tonight and the Thunder seem to be playing  a little bit looser than they were on Sunday. Kristic drives and Bynum knocks his shot out of bounds.  OKC inbounds to Jeff Green who tries another three - miss.  He has got to get involved with the scoring.

7:21 - Kobe makes a jumper. 9-8 OKC.

7:07 - Kristic misses a layup, but OKC gets the rebound.  Westbrook drives (he can get in the lane whenever he wants to), dishes to Kristic and Kristic misses another layup! The shooting woes seem to be continuing for the Thunder.  Luckily, Kristic was fouled and he makes both free throws.  11-8 OKC.

6:42 - Kobe drives through the lane, kicks it to Artest who nails a three pointer from the wing.  11-11.

6:01 - Durant hits a sixteen footer that rattles in. 13-11 OKC.

5:31 -Westbrook gets a bad offensive foul called on him.  He has two early fouls and will have to sit down.  As I have said before, they need him to win this game.

5:13 - Bryant makes a tough fadeaway over Sefalosha.  Kobe has eight points already, but Sefalosha is making him work for them.

5:01 - Durant makes a quick layup underneath.  15-13 OKC.

4:40 - Gasol works his way in for a baby hook.  That's bread and Spanish butter.  La Mantequilla is what they call Gasol back home.  15-15. Nah, I'm just kidding; they actually call him Paul.

4:12 - Kobe with a fantastic gliding move, misses the layup but Bynum tips it in. 17-15 LAL.

3:42 - Durant misses a soaring dunk.  We'll see how he responds to the miss. He is definitely having shooting issues again, which he hasn't truly faced all years.

3:20 - Farmar nails a three. 20-15 Lakers.  OKC calls a timeout. Smart move. The Lakers are starting to gain momentum.

2:46 - Both teams are looking sloppy and missing shots.  However, there is definitely a high level of intensity.

1:51 - Durant rises up against Gasol and makes a 12 footer.  He has 9 points. OKC steals from LAL and Farmar fouls. After the foul, Durant makes a nice feed into Collison.  Collison misses the layup but is fouled.  The Thunder need to make some shots.  Collison makes both free throws. 20-17 LAL.

1:06 - Gasol drives on Collison and gets the foul call.  He makes both of his free throws. 22-17 LAL.

50.8 - Eric "Pride of VCU" Maynor misses a three pointer and Shannon Brown brings the ball down and buries a jumper.  24-17 LAL.  Maynor tries to answer but misses a layup attempt.  The ball is knocked out of bounds and stays with OKC. The ball is inbounded to Durant and he is fouled as he attempts a shot.  Durant makes one of two free throws.  24-18.

34.2 - Serge Ibaka and Odom get double technicals just for talking to each other.  You have to love the intensity of Playoff basketball!

20.6 - OKC should have the last shot here, but Durant makes a bad pass that is tipped by the Lakers. The ball goes off Maynor and out of bounds. L.A. comes back down the court and Gasol makes a 15 footer right before the buzzer.  26-18 LAL.  The Lakers are playing sloppy but tough.  Their defense has been active once again.

Second Quarter

11:35 - The Lakers open with a three pointer from Shannon Brown.  29-18 LAL.

11:10 - The Lakers are just focusing their defense on Durant because no one else is making a shot.  They are crowding him whenever he gets the ball.  OKC passes the ball around and Collison has to take a three as the shot clock winds down. Did he miss? Of course. Terrible.  Wait, this is supposed to be objective?

10:47 - James Harden misses a three for OKC.  He has been underwhelming so far, although I think he will fit this team well going forward.  Ibaka blocks an Odom lay-in at the other end.  OKC in transition and Jeff Green is fouled on a dunk attempt.  He makes both free throws. 29-20 LAL.

10:05 - Brown with a drive, misses the layup, but Bynum james it in.  Back down the court and Collison hits a long two. 31-22 LAL.

9:31 - Bynum travels again and OKC lucks out.  They can cut the lead down a little further now that Westbrook has just reentered the game.  However, Ibaka takes a dumb outside shot and Bynum makes an easy shot on the other end.  33-22 LAL.

8:58 - The Thunder take a timeout.  They need some kind of offensive gameplan.  The plan should consist of Westbrook driving and kicking.  The rest of the team will have to step up and make shots.

8:58 - We come back from timeout and Craig Sager, sideline reporter, interviews Scott Brooks, Thunder head coach, who says that his team is playing good basketball and that their shots will fall.

8:48 - Westbrook hits an 18 footer.  33-24 LAL. Again, he is the key to the game and series.

8:26 - Kobe with a terrific bank shot from about fifteen feet.   He just has an answer.  35-24 LAL.

7:58 - Artest makes a steal on Durant, passes the ball to Fischer who botches the alley-oop attempt to Kobe.  These two are both getting old.

7:48 - Westbook hits a shot from the elbow.  35-26 LAL.

7:20 - OKC misses three layup attempts in the paint. The Lakers come back and Odom makes a tip-in. 37-26 LAL.

6:34 - Kobe and Westbrook exchange travel no calls and Ibaka makes a running hook for OKC.  The Thunder are fighting but it is tough to fight when you don't see the shots fall.

6:06 - Ibaka blocks Gasol's baby hook. Ibaka is extremely impressive and he is one of 18 children from a  family in Congo.  However, after his block Westbrook is called for a foul on Derek Fischer.  Westbrook has 3 fouls and will have to sit the rest of the half.

5:20 - Durant with a nice 16 foot jump shot.  37-30 LAL.  OKC is sticking around. That is a bad sign for L.A.

4:58 - Gasol makes a nice spin move and misses a hook shot.  The ball goes out of bounds and stays with L.A.  Jeff Green drives baseline on the other end and is fouled by Bynum.  Green makes both free throws. 37-32 LAL.

4:31 - Bryant with some hesitatation moves.  Fouled.  He makes both free throws.  39-32 LAL.

4:16 - Durant gets space when Artest tries to oversell Durant giving him body.  Durant makes a 16 footer despite Artest's acting skill. 39-34.

3:15 - Great ball movement by OKC and Green hits a corner three.  39-37 LAL. How are the Thunder in this game?  They stay calm and composed.  If Green makes those shots then OKC will win this game.

3:04 - Gasol makes one of two free throws.  40-37. LAL.

2:42 - Maynor takes an ill-advised shot and Gasol blocks it easily.

2:26 - Fischer with a laser pass to Gasol who catches the ball in stride and glides to an emphatic dunk. 42-37 LAL.

2:14 - Durant hits a long three pointer.  42-40 LAL.  Durant has 17 points and 5 assists.

1:50 - The Lakers throw the ball away.  OKC can tie the game here. Green headfakes a three, dribble in and misses a 16 footer.  Foul on Kristic on the rebound.  The Lakers are in the bonus.

1:06 - LA with great defense on OKC. They have to force another bad shot, but luckily they steal the ball back on the other end.  Maynor leads the break and dishes to Durant.  Dunk.

39.4 - After a Laker miss, Sefalosha drives, draws a foul on Kobe and makes the layup.  44-43 OKC.  He makes the and one.  45-43 OKC.

29.2 - Kobe with a 20 footer - gets the friendly bounce.  45-45.

5.4 - Maynor nails a fadeaway baseline jumper. Pretty shot.  47-45 OKC.

0.0 - Kobe takes the ball down the court, tries to get Sefalosha to bite on two excellent shot fakes, but Sefalosha doesn't budge or foul.  Kobe has to hoist up a three that he barely misses.  47-45 OKC at the half. Excellent game so far.

Third Quarter

11:07 - Gasol opens up the scoring with a tip in after a Fischer miss. 47-47.

10:40 - OKC with some nice ball movement. Durant gets an open look, but misses the three.  The Lakers come back down the court.  Bynum with a nice pass from the foul line to Gasol down low. Dunk. 49-47 LAL.

10:05 - Kristic sinks a bucket. 49-49.

9:39 - Kobe rises up for a 24 footer and nails the three.  52-49 LAL.  Kobe is slowly putting up some big scoring numbers.

9:12 - Durant posts up on Artest and nails a "slinky smooth fadeway," according to Kevin Harlan.

8:42 - Off a Westbrook miss, Fischer hits Artest with a long outlet pass for a lay-up.  54-51 LAL.  Kristic answers quickly on the other end with an 18 footer.  Nice range on the big Serbian.  However, "Big Paella" Pau Gasol immidiately sinks a 17 footer.  56-53 LAL.

7:48 - Westbrook with a 15 foot pull up jumper. Sinks it.  Remember for them to win the game he has too...OK, OK you get it. 56-55 LAL.

7:18 - Kobe misses a jumper, but Artest gets the rebound and gets it to Kobe who hits another three. Kristic makes a long two on the other end. 59-57 LAL.

6:31 - Gasol drives on Green as the shot clock winds down and makes a lay-in.  Just your average Gasol move.  61-57 LAL.

6:00 - The Lakers looked locked in right now.  There is some great interior passing between Bynum and Gasol, but Durant blocks Bynum's dunk attempt. Gasol gets the loose ball and is fouled.  He makes both free throws.  63-57 LAL.

5:51 - Westbrook drives with authority. He rises for the dunk and gets fouled by Bynum.  Love the idea for a statement play.  Westbrook makes both free throws.  63-59 LAL.

5:36 - Kobe with a vintage MJ spin-move on Sefalosha, goes baseline, absorbs contact and barely misses a fantastic layup. Kobe makes both free throws.  65-59.

5:24 - Artest with another steal on Durant.  Durant may get his points, but Artest is really bothering him.  There is a loose ball. Tie-up.  Jump ball.  OKC wins it and Durant airballs a three pointer.

5:02 - The game is getting chippy now.  Just what I wanted to see.  Gasol picks up a stupid foul away from the ball.  Green passes up an open three, dishes for Sefalosha in the corner who misses a three.  Kristic dives for the loose ball, Sefalosha joins in and tries to fight for it but is called for the foul.

4:06 - OKC has gone cold again as the quarter begins to wind down.

3:37 - Sloppy play as Westbrook drives, gets the ball tapped away, Collison grabs it and goes for the lay-in.  He misses the shot but there is a foul called away from the ball.  We are reverting back to the ugly play from earlier in the game after the rest of the 3rd quarter had been very smooth.

- There is a baffling House of Payne commercial followed by the Double Down KFC Double Chicken Sandwich commercial.  Hmm, gotta wonder about that product placement. "Colonel, you the man" - KFC.  "Conan, you the man." - TBS, April 2010.

- A charismatic Indian man stars in a mesmerizing but, again, baffling commercial about something I didn't even understand.

- We come back to the game and get look-in from during the OKC timeout at Scott Brooks telling his team to, "play basketball, play tough basketball."  The 2010 NBA Coach of the Year.

3:20 - OKC comes out of the timeout with great ball movement.  They get the ball to Durant who swishes a three. 65-62 LAL.  Westbrook follows that up with a steal and a dunk. 65-64. The Oklahoma City Thunder: "Play basketball, play tough basketball."

2:34 - Fischer nails a three again. Seriously, we know you're a good guy, but just go away already. 68-64 LAL.

2:11 - Durant with a bad pass out of bounds. Laker ball.  A frantic sequence follows that features three blocks by OKC on Laker shots right under the basket, Durant then tries to drive in transition but the ball is stolen by the Lakers. Gasol then loses the ball and Sefalosha drives in transition and is fouled by Fischer. Sefalosha makes one of two free throws.  68-65 LAL.

1:23 - Foul on Kobe away from the ball. Westbrook with some tight moves but he commits an offensive foul.  That is four on him.

1:04 - Kobe makes two free throws.  70-65 LAL.

49.1 - Durant posts up and takes an ill-advised fadeaway, which he misses.  Gasol takes the ball in on the other end and is fouled by Collison.  Pau already has 20 points and 10 rebounds.  He makes one of two free throws.  71-67 LAL.

00.7 - Maynor drives to end the quarter but is fouled. Dumb play by the Lakers.  Kevin Harlan oversells a joke that Doug Collins makes about plays like that giving Phil Jackson even more grey hair.  That's what you want in an on-air partner damnit.  Maynor makes both free throws. 73-69 LAL as we head to what should be an entertaining fourth quarter.

Fourth Quarter:

- There is excitement as we open up the fourth quarter because some guy made a halfcourt shot during the break and won $235,000.  You know the Knicks are on hard times when the most they give out for their contests is $500.

11:36 - Harden with a drive and a layup for OKC. Signs of life from the rookie.  73-71 LAL.

11:18 - Kobe misses a fadeaway and Kristic gets the rebound.  OKC comes the other way and Kobe fouls.

10:57 - Ibaka drives in and makes a fall-away jumper.  Nice shot. 73-73.

10:37 - Kobe drives and has his shot blocked by Jeff Green.  Kobe fouls him afterwards out of frustration.  Four fouls on Kobe.  Green gets the ball in the corner for OKC.  He tries to work himself into position for a shot, but misses and Ibaka is called for an over the back foul.

9:41 - OKC is playing stifling defense. Everyone is moving in synch and covering for each other. However, they are sloppy on offense and lose the ball. The Lakers come back down and Shannon Brown tosses a long lob that is broken up by OKC.  After the inbounds, Odom drives and makes a layin.  75-73 LAL.

- The TBS ads for Conan's new show are very tasteful.  They are really trying to improve on the high bar they set for FrankTV, Tyler Perry's World of Insanity and the Frightening Show with George Lopez.

8:47 - Green is having trouble shooting but he keeps plugging away.  He gets fouled on a shot and goes to the line.  He makes both free throws.  76-75 LAL. 

7:33 - Kobe is working on Maynor and he nails a jumper.  15 footer with the foul.  This is right after he nailed another bank shot.  Kobe makes the and one. 80-75 LAL.

7:19 - Durant nails an impeccable looking three pointer. When he makes them, man does he make them.  80-78 LAL.

6:56 - Kobe uses some more head fakes and hesitations and draws a Jeff Green foul.  Kobe makes one of two free throws. 81-78 LAL.

6:45 - Westbrook drives, dishes to Green who misses another wide open three.  C'mon "Mr. Complimentary."

6:16 - Sloppy sequence: Odom misses a layup, Westbrook with a bad pass, Kobe with a bad pass.

6:03 - Durant misses a three pointer but Ibaka gets the rebound and is fouled on the putback.  He makes both free throws.  81-80 LAL.

5:46 - Kobe nails a cool, calm three pointer.  84-80 LAL.

5:25 - Durant comes back the other way and makes a 20 footer.  84-82 LAL. Durant has 30.  I smell a scoring duel.

4:40 - Kristic is called for an over the back foul.  The Lakers are in the bonus. Bynum misses both free throws. As Verne Lundquist would say, "Oh my!"

4:28 - Artest fouls Durant.  Now OKC is in the bonus as well.  Durant makes both free throws.  84-84.

4:15 - Gasol of course answers with a nice pick and roll with Fischer.  He gets fouled on the lay-in and makes the free throw. 87-84 LAL.

3:41 - Fischer misses an open three pointer and OKC comes down and Durant takes a terrible fadeaway, but Fischer fouls Westbrook on the rebound. Westbrook makes both free throws.  87-86.

3:07 - Artest misses a three pointer. OKC calls a timeout.  We come back from timeout and Kobe's three pointer from earlier was actually ruled a two pointer so the game is tied 86-86.  OKC has the ball.  Westbrook drives and takes an 18 footer.  Fischer fouls him lightly and fouls out.  Westbrook makes both shots. 88-86 OKC.

2:35 - Kobe takes a three and misses.  LAL get the rebound and Kobe takes a fading, baseline jumper.  He is fouled.  Kobe makes both shots. 88-88 LAL.

2:10 - Westbrook drives and shoots a pull-up jumper.  He misses.  Ibaka taps it in but is called for basket interference.

2:00 - Kobe makes a 12 footer. "THE BEST CLOSER IN THE GAME!!"  90-88 LAL.

1:48 - Durant makes a stupid play as he pushes Gasol while trying to get open.  He is of course called for the foul.

1:31 - Kobe drives and is fouled on the other end.  He makes both free throws. 92-88 LAL.

1:18 - Artest steals the ball from Durant.  Brown picks up the loose ball, drives and is fouled hard by Collison.  Good foul.  Brown makes one of two free throws.  93-88 LAL.

1:09 - Westbrook drives and is fouled by Brown.  No one can really guard him.  Westbrook makes both free throws.  93-90 LAL.

30.3 - Westbrook blocks a Brown three pointer and OKC gets the loose ball.  They call timeout.  They have to go for two and then foul. Not time to panic with a three.

22.7 - Green makes a crazy hook shot. "MR COMPLIMENTARY!" 93-92 LAL.

15.1 - OKC with a big mistake by letting Kobe get the ball back after the Laker inbounds. They foul him to stop the clock.  Kobe only makes one of two.  94-92 LAL.  Timeout OKC.

-It's funny to see Kobe's dad in the crowd. I knew that he always had a mom and a former NBA player dad (Joe "Jellybean" Bryant), but for some reason it never seemed like they actually existed. It always felt like Kobe was either: a) hatched from an egg, b) from another planet, or c) raised by wolves.

07.7 - OKC draws up a baffling play. Durant shoots a contested three at the top of the key and misses.  OKC fouls Gasol. Why not go for two again and then execute the foul correctly and put a worse free throw shooter at the line?  Gasol misses the first free throw. SEE!  He makes the second.  95-92 LAL.  OKC has no timeouts left.

00.0 - OKC brings the ball down.  Green gets a solid look at the basket but misses the three. "MR COMPLIMENTARY" NOOO! That was the story of the game.

Oklahoma City showed a lot in Game 2.  They fought through another bad shooting night (although Durant played better) and played the Lakers tough again.  They didn't execute correctly with their fouling at the end and made some mental mistakes throughout the fourth quarter.  I have feeling that they go back to Oklahoma City and feed off the crowd, the shoot better and I think that the series gets a little chippier.  They know that they can beat the Lakers, they just have to execute better.  These teams are both athletic and tough.  I want to see more of this series and I expect it to go to at least 6 games.  We haven't even seen a game that features a true Durant vs. Kobe scoring duel yet.  And we have to see that.  Game 3 is Thursday Night (tonight, as of this posting) and I will be keeping track of it once again for your enjoyment. 

Stay with me here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Podcast of Myself Episode 5

We've got another action packed podcast for you on this Tuesday afternoon.  On Episode 5, Podcast of Myself, welcomes professional nice guy and the lead singer of Motel Motel, Eric Engel.  In this rambler, we dabble on such topics as Date Night, the radio station Z100, the history of Motel Motel, the benefits of playing live against the benefits of studio recording, Paul McCartney's Ram, and memorable U.S. presidents.  Dive in and make yourself at home. Parental discretion is advised.