Archive for the ‘PLife’ Category

Baseball Doubleheader

Monday, August 10th, 2009

I am the player/co-founder/manager/part owner of a new semi-pro men’s league baseball team in the DFW metroplex. The team is named the Colt .45s, and yes we plan on jamming that Afroman song before every game. We are registered to play in the D.A.B.A. 25+ fall league that plays seven-inning games with wood bats. Yesterday we had our first preseason game against the Mud Cats.

The team’s debut was a rollicking 10-5 victory. I contributed a line of 1-2, HBP, 2 SB, 2 R (including the first run in the franchise’s history), and I also pitched a scoreless seventh with 1 K, 1 hit allowed, and no walks. The 2 steals were more a result of the Cats not exactly having their pitching/catching battery fine-tuned at this point than of any newfound blazing speed on my part.

We participated in the league draft two weeks ago and so today was the first time we really got to see all our guys playing together. The draft itself was a neat process as the other members of our ownership group and I watched the free agents try out while we made notes and rated their abilities before convening with owners of other teams and the commissioner to commence the draft. As it turns out, we got some good players, and thankfully we assembled a squadron of good-natured dudes that seem to get along quite well also. Definitely looking forward to contending for the crown in our inaugural season.

What was that I mentioned about a doubleheader? It was awfully nice to return home and see that Derek Holland hurled a three-hit shutout against the Angels. I don’t think the Rangers will be letting go of him anytime soon, so if the 45’s decide to make a roster addition we may just have to settle for Padilla.

” … and two zig zags, baby that’s all we need.”

Concert Atmosphere

Friday, August 7th, 2009

Concerts aren’t entirely about the music.  Other factors are often at least as important in determining how noteworthy the night is.

A friend and I went and saw Atmosphere last night at Dallas’ House of Blues. It is a great venue and it was my first time to see a show there.  The sound quality was superb.  I would rate the concert very high in many categories, although I will say Atmosphere has a big enough catalog that they could have hung around long enough to play an extra four or five classics.

But for some reason, it didn’t feel “special” like some other shows have.  So I started wondering why.  I came up with ten criteria that make a show speical.

1.  Sheer star quality of the artists.  Imagine attending a Beatles show.

2.  The intense energy generated by the passion of the artists.  Seeing Rage Against the Machine in 8th grade taught me plenty about this one.

3.  Musical virtuosity.  Watching Phish jam for hours would be hard to forget.  If you were sober that is.

4.  Happiness.  It doesn’t matter whether its some frilly pop music or Bob Marley.  Any show that makes you want to hug and be best friends with everyone around you is special.

5.  The show that’s so good you wonder how there can be so few people there.  Guru at the Granada Theater in Dallas was excellent in this regard – I walked out feeling lucky that I got to take part in something so awesome in such an intimate performance with the artist, and yet I was astonished that I was one of less than 500 people in Dallas who realized that this show was going to be the shit. A corollary to this is when the small attendance is a result of catching the band before it catches its “break.” My brother rarely misses the opportunity to remind me that 25 years ago he saw U2 play a wet t-shirt contest at a Dallas hole-in-the-wall.

6.  Seeing one of your favorite songs (of all time, not the jam of the month) performed live for the first time.  Seeing Nas crank out “If I Ruled the World” at Rock the Bells brought this one to light for me.

7.  The artist does something crazy.  I will never forget Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace climbing up a 25-foot speaker tower at Stubb’s in Austin, TX, turning his back to the crowd, raising his arms by his sides, and falling backwards into the crowd with no warning before being crowd-surfed back to the stage.  That fool just expected people to catch him, and, well, they did.

8.  You do something baller or something cool happens for you.  Hooking up with a good-looking girl or going backstage to hang with the artist makes for a memorable evening.

9.  Setting/circumstances.  Musically, the Insane Clown Posse don’t blow my socks off.  But going to Detroit with my best friend when I was 16 to see them rock their hometown for three days at the first annual “Gathering of the Juggalos” convention?  That was tight.  So was catching Bone Thugs-n-Harmony at a private party they played at my friend’s frat house in college.

10.  Seeing somebody before he/she dies young.  I didn’t see Tupac or Nirvana and I often lament this.  I can’t really blame myself for missing Jimi Hendrix or Mozart.

Atmosphere is a great storyteller.  His songs are a personal journey into his relationships and what a wonderful odyssey many of them are.  But it is a personal experience.  His strength does not lie in being an amazing entertainer of mass groups.

Working in TieLand

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

That’s right, I don a tie and dress shoes every day now. A couple of you have asked where I’ve run off to – well, I’ve not only been busy as hell the last couple of weeks but I also got sick for about a week. Honestly, I couldn’t even tell you if I picked up some germs on the metro or if my lungs simply got infected from the pollution here.

So two days ago I finished teaching the first course I accepted here (a GRE test prep course). 12 sessions in all, pretty smart kids, and they spoke good English (now I just hope their scores actually go up on the test!). The other classes I am teaching now are 3 sections of Business English at Padaeng Industry (a zinc mining company, operating the only zinc smelter in southeast Asia! How do you like them apples?), 3 sections of Sales English at Pfizer Corporation, and then I am also teaching this one homeschooled, half-Thai, half-American girl some of her school subjects (math and current event critical thinking right now). So up until now, with the GRE deal winding up and my having needed to finish up my “training,” I have been working entirely too much, but things look a bit better moving forward.

So, was that Pfizer I mentioned earlier? As in Viagra? You got it. My company that assigns me to these courses reuses their business materials for just about everything (rather than making new ones each time, obviously a logical plan), so they handed me the standard packet and I took it along for day one. So there I am, reading from the page: “Okay Gift (yes that was her name by the way. The others in this particular class: Cherry, Bee, Ooi, Yok, Kig, Tho, and Meaw. Tho was the only dude.), can you please introduce yourself to me according to the instructions as if you were going to sell me your product?”

Gift (standing up facing me from about two feet away): “Hi. I’m Gift. I work for Pfizer Thailand. I am here today to sell Viagra. I would like to tell you more information about how it can fix your pee-pee problems. [Giggling.] I can give you stage 1, [something in broken English about stage 2], [giggling], I can personally administer you stage 3, [half giggles, half broken English about stage 4]. [Explosive giggling followed by breaking face and looking around at her classmates causing them to join in the giggling.]”

Me: “Uh, thank you Gift. That will do.”

In other words, a very professional start. Now some of the other girls did sell like Celebrex and other Pfizer products, but yeah I just wasn’t prepared for that to be the initial demonstration for the class.

My second “section” with Pfizer peeps is right after that one (these are on Saturday morning). This time, 11 girls and 1 dude. Only this group has weaker English skills and are clearly less confident in their speaking skills. So the first girl goes and not much is accomplished (I’m totally ready for Viagra saleswomen this time around). Then the guy goes. After I have critiqued his speaking, I notice he is wearing a Rolling Stones shirt. Now, I don’t care too much about the Stones, but I feel like the opportunity is there to be really positive and seem like a nice guy to try and get everybody to say a little more during their respective turns. So I tack on to my comments, “And I like your shirt.”

The up-until-that-point silent room erupts into “OOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” (including the guy himself).

Oh no. What just happened?

Upon closer inspection, first of all this section is made up of people who signed up to be with their friends. That is, 11 girls and 1 guy.
His Stones shirt is pink.

Got it – my class of otherwise 100% girls is under the impression I just hit on the gay guy. Nice.

Things have gotten back on track a bit since that inauspicious start, and some of the girls are good-looking which is a nice bonus. But I do find it really tough to slow down enough for some of the weaker students to understand me. I’m a natural blabbermouth.

As for Bangkok, I’m adjusting in some ways and not so much in others. I still find it difficult to navigate the sidewalks when people cruise up onto them on their motorbikes to avoid the traffic in the actual ROAD (this happens constantly). And sitting in traffic in a taxi in one lane and looking out the window to see someone on top of an elephant halted in the adjacent lane is not something that really ever becomes normal I don’t think. I’ve found a lot of food that I do like (soups, pad thai, seafood, street cooked chicken, smoothies, sushi), but unfortunately I’m still struggling to get my fiber and veggies. Okay, no more details from that department.

I just bought some pretty decent computer speakers for $8 at Tesco Lotus (think Wal-Mart X 6 or 7 then add even more to the food court as well as a skyway connecting directly to the metro station and you have some idea) so I’m jamming out on those. Oh yeah, I also went to the And1 Streetball Asian Invasion Tour last week. Among the big And1 names taking the court (I feel like I’m forgetting one good one): Hot Sauce, 50, Alimoe, High Rizer, Circus, Air Bama, and 13th Floor. The alley-oop dunks and Hot Sauce’s ability to embarrass defenders were especially cool. The level of basketball play was not too impressive in person though and there were several near-fights between the players (they bring the whole streetball experience, including the lack of professionalism and focus).

And as for weather-related stuff, the tremors of the China earthquake were felt here, and Myanmar (Burma) is still a huge deal cuz its a direct neighbor, but Bangkok is just hot and sweaty. However, we have entered the monsoon season so it just rains out of nowhere for hours. Not always convenient.

Okay so like I said I’ve been working a lot so nothing too exciting, just wanted to get back to those of you that asked that yes I’m good. Let me know what’s up y’all!

Guru, Rock the Bells go down as highlights of Summer

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

A friend and I took in Guru’s Jazzmatazz on August 2 at the Granada Theater in Dallas. Bavu Blakes and Clever Monkeys opened. Guru brought a seven-piece jazz band with him that made the set. AmongJazzmatazz favorites such as “Hustlin’ Daze” and a heavy selection of cuts from the project’s latest release, Vol. 4, Baldhead Slick brought the house down with plenty of GangStarr classics. With Solar also on stage providing the backup vocals, Guru delivered “Ex Girl to Next Girl,” “Royalty, “You Know My Steez,” and others accompanied by all-new (for the crowd at least), seemingly impromptu music from the jazz ensemble. The Dallas turnout may have been small in number (Big J. of the Clever Monkeys even had to pause to laugh at himself at one point while trying to hype up a room of less than fifty fans), but for a rescheduled, Thursday night show, this frenzied crowd was above the clouds.

Five days later, the Rock the Bells Festival rolled into the Smirnoff Music Center. The acts varied on each date of this tour, but there was nothing wrong with the Dallas lineup: Jedi Mind Tricks, Immortal Technique, Pharoahe Monch, Talib Kweli, Nas, & the Wu-Tang Clan made the trip. Supernatural hosted the event, incorporating jabs at conspicuous audience members in his freestyling between sets.

Vinnie Paz was not too enthused by the small quantity of fans present during Jedi Mind Tricks’ set, but the crowd grew as the day wore on and, hey, it was a Tuesday in the Dallas summer heat. Immortal Technique handed out autographs after his brief yet aggressive set, and Nas probably put on the musical apex of the event with anIllmatic medley followed by “If I Ruled the World” (Dallasite Erykah Badu was on hand for the event and sang on stage at one point during the day but, alas, didn’t come out to fill Lauryn Hill’s shoes). Short of Rage Against the Machine showing up for a surprise set, Rock the Bells 2007-Dallas left little to be desired. After all, the same friend and I were at Smirnoff ten years ago when Rage electrified a mob of fans. Wu-Tang was also supposed to play at that show, but The Roots (who happen to be on the bill for other dates of this year’s Rock the Bells tour) filled in at the last minute.