Monday, July 30, 2007

Road Trip

We were driving from L.A. to Portland, OR. Big Head, Paddy and Me in my sporty new Acura, so new that the round-trip would double the mileage on its engine. It was a two-day roader, a late-night start and sleepy pit-stop in Sacramento, then a straight shot to the Rose City bright and early. Our soccer game ran late on Wednesday night, so we were behind schedule and didn't clear The Grapevine--the serpentine descent out of the Los Padres National Forest that marks the figurative end of Southern Callifornia--until almost 2 a.m.

We very nearly missed Last Call.

We secured a half-rack of Budweiser from a gas station just under the real witching hour and settled in for the long, straight and flat drive through the Central Valley. The Buds didn't last that long. Good thing for us Paddy brought along a bottle of Jack. Another gas station and a couple bottles of Coke rounded out the ensemble. Big Head emptied the bottles of half their contents, filled 'em back up with Jack and we started passing 'em around.

In the back seat, Big Head started calling out shot times, one every 15 minutes, complete with a Rain Man-esque countdown. "Two minutes to Wapner."

The sun was not yet up when we turned away from the Coast and headed toward Stockton, but the early commuters were out and our lonely road got crowded in a hurry. We planned on bunking at my friend Schotty's place in Sacramento for a few hours, but we were way past the point when he expected us to arrive. I was tired, impatient, drunk and hungry and the only solution I could find for those afflictions was to drive fast and eat the sole food we had in the car: pretzels.

I had a fleeting hope the police lights behind me were for some other car, but no such luck. We sprang to evasive action. No, not that kind. Just hiding the Jack bottle. I pulled over, shaking and anxious, but also suddenly sharp of senses. We did have a few things working in our favor. One, by mixing the Jack into the coke bottles, we limited the smell. Two, it was 6 a.m., as opposed to 2 a.m., so the CHP wasn't going to immediately assume drunkeness. In fact, I wasn't swerving at all. But I was allegedly going 90, which was news to me.

The cop appeared at the window--which I'd rolled down even before I'd stopped so any stench that was present didn't escape right under his nose. He asked for my license and registration, ran his flashlight over the faces of the others and the car, then went back to his cruiser. We were talking in low tones. "Be calm. We're cool." I then got the bright idea to eat a couple pretzels to disguise my breath, just in case.

I was still trying to chew them when he came back to the window. I had been robbed of all saliva and could not get the pretzels down.

"Get out of the car, sir, and come with me," the cop said. This was it. So much for our weekend in Portland. So much for my spotless record. So much for these goddamn pretzels, which were like a big ball of sand in my mouth. I used my hand to stealthly wrench the undigested snack out from between my gums as I got out of the car and followed the cop back to his.

He leaned on the hood and spread out my papers and his citation book. "We got a problem here, son," he said, and started jabbing his fingers at the documents. "Your license has one address, your insurance has another and the goddamn registration has a third!"

Nervous laugher leapt from my mouth. "I'm sorry, officer. I JUST moved. The address on the insurance is the right one. I only got it yesterday."

"Alright," he said, and began writing. "Where you boys headed anyway?"

"Portland. We're going up to see a soccer game. US versus Costa Rica."

"You're driving straight through from L.A.?"

"No sir, we're stopping in Sacramento at a friend's place."

"Good. You look tired," he stared at me pointedly, like he knew, like he fucking knew, but was going to let it go. He handed me my info and my ticket. "Try to stay within the speed limit the rest of the way."

"Yes sir."

I got back to the car and sat there a few minutes, totally silent. Had to regulate my breathing. Back on the road, I stayed right at 70 mph, all the way into Sacramento. The sun rose, we grabbed a couple burritos from a Taco Bell drive-thru and pounded on Schotty's door, waking him up. Made it. I was relieved. I was grateful. I was pissed.

Getting pulled over made me lose a really good buzz.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Wil He?

Because Wheaton needs the press. And it's bound to get funny over there.

Which "Star Trek" character would you choose to babysit your kids?

Join "The Playground."

Monday, July 09, 2007

Folding Rags

I'd forgotten all about Tom and Gwen. They're back. I've missed them.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four


"Dinner?" he cried when she called.
"Why not?"
"Sounds like a date."
"You've already fucked me, Tom. Is a date so out of order?" she growled through the phone.
"I haven't thought about dating yet."
"Forget it then."
"No. Where?"
At the restaurant, they stared at each other.
"I'll have a glass of Cabernet," she told the waitress. "Get him something. Fast."
"Jameson. Rocks."
"Bring the bottle."
"You're a three-ring circus, yourself."
"You say that a lot don't you?"
He chewed on his lip, mulling an answer.
"It's not a date, okay?" she said. "Jesus, lighten up."
"How are the kids?"
"I'm gonna stab myself with this butter knife, Tom. You want to go?"
"Can't get away fast enough?"
"That's not it."
"No time to waste?"
"Come on, Gwen. You know my situation. I'm neck-deep in shit."
"Got it." She slammed a twenty on the table. "I'm on your side. Fucker," she hissed on her way out.
"No one is for long," he muttered, absently stirring the whiskey with his finger. Then he drank.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Four Wide Ones

If you like playing fantasy sports and you like money, you're really missing out if not playing frequently over at Fantasy Sports Live. We've gotten great feedback from players used to long fantasy seasons with little payoff. At FSL, the daily contests give you an opportunity to draft and win every day. Even multiple times a day.

It's high comedy to be in a room with people watching box scores and MLB Extra Innings, begging for their player to do something with the fantasy contest--if not necessarily the actual game--in the balance. Like a football game well out of hand but with the point spread stil in play. And my girlie chat box has been filled with similar sentiment.

Don't believe it in the abstract? Then let me tell you about tonight. I was in a $5 contest and mired in 5th or so with most games completed. Pitching is key and though my starter pitched well, he did not get a win, which is worth 10 big points. So I trailed opponents whose pitchers had better outings. I did have a live player, though. Vernon Wells. Who went single, HR, out, HR, single in his first 5 ABs, good for 14 points. I leap-frogged three players and was deadlocked for first, as the Jays-A's went to the 9th. And Wells was up 3rd.

Anything positive (walk or hit) and I get a point for the win, since the guy I was tied with had no more active players. But a strikeout, which takes away a point, and I fall into a tie for second.

So Wells comes up with one out and a runer on second, lugging his huge 4-5 evening and the A's, already down four, walk him. Intentionally.

ONE POINT! And a winner.

You can't re-create that kind of excitement. Unless you re-write the rules. Get in the game. Bonus code: Speaker.