Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Road to the Final Four

The Setting: Friday night. Two NCAA tournament games are being played at the local Verizon Center in DC, GMU v. Witchita State and Connecticut v. Washington. The wife and I meet up with some friends to catch a bit of the action at the ESPN Zone downtown.

The Plan: Earlier in the week, we had tried getting tickets to the game, but local interest was high because of GMU. With the games sold out and prices online simply astronomical, it was the ESPN Zone for us. While waiting to be seated (the wait for our table was over 2 hours), we decided that it couldn't hurt to see what scalped tickets were selling for.

The Scalper: While walking the three blocks to the arena, my friend Taylor and I were approached by a wheelin' and dealin' scalper offering tickets at $200 a pop. He fit the scalper profile. Slightly chunky, a little short (around 5'10”), and wrapped in a massive winter coat, he had that shifty scalper look in his eye that made you certain he’d be willing to lie to his grandmother to close a deal.

Us: "$200? That's way too steep for us."

Scalper: "What's the best you can do?"

Us: "$50 a ticket, tops."

Scalper: "$70."

Us: "We said $50 was our max."

Scalper: "$60."

Us: "Nah," as we turned to walk away.

Scalper: "Okay... $200 for all four."

After mulling it over for a minute, we decided to take him up on the offer. The scalper only had three of the tickets on him so he had to run and grab the rest from a partner. I stayed on the corner and waited for him while Taylor ran to an ATM to withdraw the money.

Taylor returned quickly, but our scalper was no where to be found. We waited around ten minutes and lost hope. We walked around the corner to the arena and started approaching other scalpers.

Other Scalper: "You got any tickets?"

Us: "We're actually looking for some."

Other Scalper: "I got you covered for one at $200."

Us: "Well... that's too much... plus we need four tickets anyway."

Other Scalper: "I don't think any of us have four tickets."

At this point our old scalper friend whistled to us from across the street. We hustled over and he pulled out his tickets. Taylor got the money out, but we asked to look at the tickets first. Gripping them tightly, the scalper showed them to us. They looked legit. Right times, right game, right arena. We made the exchange and turned to walk back to the restaurant and retrieve our wives. Feeling entrepreneurial though, Taylor sent me back alone and went to see what prices we might be able to fetch for the tickets ourselves... hey, if the price was right maybe we'd just pocket the difference and watch the game from the restaurant afterall.

The Kicker: When I got to the ESPN Zone, Taylor's wife Jennifer (sitting patiently with our table pager) handed me her cell phone.

Taylor on the other end: "Dude, the tickets are counterfeit." It was like a bad dream. Apparently, one of the other scalpers had agreed to pay us $100 bucks a ticket... until he caught sight of them. They were decent replicas, only they weren't glossy and the NCAA tournament emblem on them was duller than it should have been. Someone had had fun with a copying machine and some stock paper. We couldn't believe how dumb we'd been. A scalper selling tickets off of the main scalping drag for what seemed like reasonable prices when other scalpers were short tickets. We shoulda' known... we shoulda' known.

The Attempt: Stuck with counterfeit tickets, we figured we had nothing to lose in trying to use them. So I dropped Melbo and Jennifer off at the Verizon Center and waited in the car at the curb while they met up with Taylor. The wives were to try first. If they got in, I'd pay for parking and then Taylor and I would give it a go.

Melbo and Jennifer approached the ticket-taker nonchalantly, handing her the counterfeits they casually tried to chit-chat. We knew the gig was up when the ticket-taker began shaking her head though. She called over her supervisor who confiscated the fakes and smiled as he turned another pair of suckers away.

We got scammed, duped, hoodwinked... royally screwed. Out $200 with no hope of getting into the games, our wives were now officially starving and we weren't even sure if we still had a place in line at the ESPN Zone (the pager was out of range... we'd taken it "just in case"). It was a dangerous situation.

The Moral: God never leaves you when you're down and out. In those moments when you're feeling heavy laden, when the burden is more than you can bear, when you’ve done something so stupid you’re going to kick yourself for years to come over it, he's always there to lift you up. You see, as we left the arena, we bumped into a few guys who had paid $200 bucks a ticket for their counterfeits. Funny how meeting someone stupider than you can make you feel that much better about a crappy situation.

The Epilogue: Unbelievably, we still managed to get back in time to claim our table at the ESPN Zone (our pager had been next in line to go off when we returned). We finished off the night watching the 2nd half of the GMU game and a some of Villanova, Georgetown and UConn games on the big screen (they basically all overlapped). With the frenzied hometown crowd going bonkers as GMU pulled it out against Wichita, it ended up being a pretty good night… or at least a salvaged one.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

R.I.P. Fair Use

Biggie, P.Diddy and why super strict copyright enforcement is a bad, bad thing.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

LDS Statement on Political Participation

The First Presidency has added a new line to the statement on political participation that they instruct local leaders to read each year before elections and primaries:

"Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in the platforms of all major political parties."

No "Big Love" For Romney

So apparently Mitt's not a fan of the new HBO series Big Love, but his favorite T.V. shows do include My Name is Earl, 24 and Lost.

The Ragin' Cajun

So President Bush came and spoke at George Washington University yesterday. Seats were available for the first 100 law students to RSVP by email... problem is the announcement was emailed out last Thursday while I was airborne over Kansas. I think most of the law school had probably responded by the time I got around to it. Lucky for me there was a consolation prize. For those of us slow on the draw, the Ragin' Cajun himself, Mister James Carville was on campus to offer an alternative view of the world. Behind in all my classes and fresh off an unproductive Spring Break, I figured I had nothing better to do so I went.

Entertaining as usual, Carville spoke off the cuff about being "just a damn Democrat" and what exactly he felt the party needed to do to regain power. He pushed the idea of "progressive patriotism" as an alternative to the reflexive protectionism some are embracing in reaction to the Iraq war (Here's a good synopsis on Carville's views). He also took questions for good 1/2 hour. Interestingly, Carville isn't the idealogue many would have you believe. His responses on everything from the Patriot Act to our obligations abroad were all measured. I actually found him quite pragmatic. This shouldn't be suprising though, you figure he has to be to have had a working marriage with Mary Matalin for the past 13 years.

All in all it was an enlightening morning. And, as it turns out, I didn't really miss all that much on the George W. Bush front. Apparently he just talked about how well the war in Iraq is going. I hear it was a pretty short speech.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Sons & Daughters

When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.

~ A.G. Bell

For those of you still mourning the loss of Arrested Development, I come bearing glad tidings of great joy. No... AD has not been resurrected, but ABC has managed to fill the void that AD left in its wake with a stellar new show called Sons & Daughters. It has been sent to save us from the dreary sitcom hell that has plagued the land since Seinfeld left the air. Now, along with a few other stalwart holdouts like The Simpsons, The Family Guy, and maybe The Office, it joins the uphill battle for the soul of the prime time comedy.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Flatulence in Sedona

Some things are just inherently funny. Like self-evident truths, they require no justification and need no explanation. They, in themselves, are simply hilarious, and everyone innately recognizes them as such. Examples could include the questioning of TFB's sexuality, the collected works of Michael Bolton, or anything involving David Hasslehof, Gargantus, or flatulence.

This past week while on vacation in Arizona, me and the wife had occasion to laugh at just such a profound little truth. I guess you could call it a religious experience. You see, it all happened at the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona (a crazy church designed by a Frank Lloyd Wright protege that is built right into the Sedona red rock).

After taking in the view and wandering about for a few minutes (it really is pretty breathtaking), we decided to go. In leaving, we followed a woman and her two daughters out of the chapel and down toward the winding path leading up to the shrine. Just as we got outside of the building, it came. A great big scorcher, ripping through the desert air and shattering the reverent silence on those hallowed grounds. As is often the case, it wasn't difficult to peg the culprit. The mother in front of us awkwardly tried to walk as though nothing were wrong while her daughters laughed uncontrollably. She tried to quiet them, but it was fruitless.

Naturally amused, I whispered to Melbo, "Did you hear that?" All I got has an elbow to the gut and an under-her-breath "Stop It!" It temporarily called into question one of the clarion truths I identified earlier: Isn't flatulence supposed to be funny to everyone?

The woman, meanwhile, began walking faster.

I again whispered to Melbo, "I think she's running from us." But Melbo wasn't convinced. So I pulled her alongside me and lengthened our stride.

The woman was ambling even faster now, leaving the giggling daughters in her wake. We broke into a healthy trot after her and passed her daughters. She responded with a gallop.

We continued to keep pace at a respectful distance (you see Melbo still doubted). But when so pressed, the woman abandoned all dignity with a full blown sprint toward her extended cab Ford F150. Her fleeting over-the-shoulder glances were enough to finally convert Melissa Melbo that she was, indeed, on the lam.

At that point we gave up the chase. Melbo was now conflicted though. She wanted to scold me for tormenting this woman, but she couldn't because she was trying too hard not to laugh. Serving only to prove my broader point here, that flatulence is funny, even at a sacred Arizonan Church and even by a mother (in fact, especially by a mother). I know the woman's daughters would agree, and I suspect that even she might.

I say this because as we drove away from the Chuch and passed her parked truck, I waved. And, although the woman's red face was buried deep within her cupped hands, I'm pretty sure I saw a big grin cracking through those fingers. Even the perpetrators can't help themselves.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Quite the Arrangement

As some of you may know, I'm a pretty devoted Utah Jazz fan (I even confess to believing that the Jazz are on the cusp of doing well this season when they've hovered at .500 for most of it). Fan that I am, I often poke around the internet for updates since the team doesn't get much press in the DC Metro area. This week I didn't have to poke around far before bumping into something pretty startling:

Soft-spoken, hard-working, and all-around good guy Andrei Kirilenko and his wife Masha revealed to ESPN the Magazine recently that Masha gives him an "allowance" to be unfaithful with one woman during each basketball season. The biggest shock of all is that the permission was unsolicited; apparently Masha just dropped the bombshell. Kirilenko said it came as a complete surprise to him personally. Her rationale? "What's forbidden is always desirable. And athletes, particularly men, are susceptible to all the things they are offered... It's the same way raising children - If I tell my child, 'No pizza, no pizza, no pizza,' what does he want more than anything? Pizza."

The admission has, not suprisingly, garnered a healthy bit of press. The Washington Post's Michael Wilbon dubbed Ms. Kirilenko "the coolest wife in the world." Me... I'm personally dumbfounded. It just comes off as so carnal and unseemly. I'm really not sure what to make of it since I've always admired AK. True to form, however, he did temper this news in my view by making it clear that he doesn't plan on exercising this "allowance." His wife simply said "If you want to do it, you can do it."

With that in mind, one might argue that Masha's "no pizza" rationale seems to be working. I'm still a big skeptic however. While I take the man at his word about the "allowance," I say that Kirilenko is not your average "child." I like to think that he'd be faithful regardless. I could be wrong though. Who knows, maybe Kiri's enjoying a slice of thick-crust deep dish pizza topped with pepperoni and extra cheese right now, all with the permission of his loving wife.

Begrudgingly Tagged

So I'm caving in...

Four Jobs I've Had in My Life:
Nach-O Fast Employee
Research Assistant (Professor Holzapfel; Professor Taylor)
Trade Show I&D Manager (Coastal; ASI)
Waiter (Los Hermanos; Tree Room; Nobhill)

Four Places I've Lived:
Orem, Utah
G├╝mligen, Switzerland
Las Vegas, Nevada
Washington, D.C.

Four Good Movies:
The Shawshank Redemption
The Royal Tenenbaums
Office Space
Garden State

Shows I Love to Watch:
The Daily Show

Four Websites I Visit Often:
My Blog
Washington Post

Four Favorite Foods:
Philly Cheesesteak
Brownie Ice Cream
Whipping Cream (Nitrous Oxide)

Four Places I Would Like to Visit:
New Zealand

Four places I'd rather be:
Cuddling up to a Movie with the Wife
Skiing in the Mountain West
Playing Pool in Nate Davis’s Basement
Kicking back in Lugano, Switzerland

Four albums I can't live without:
Ben Folds – Any and All
Ray Lamontagne – Trouble
Matisyahu – Live at Stubbs
Guns n’Roses – Use Your Illusion II

Four People I am Tagging:
I abstain -

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Choice Quote of the Day

George W. Bush, August 29, 2005
(after being warned of "grave concerns" that the New Orleans levees might break)