#7. Hello, *I* am the Great Satan. A redder shade of neck on a whiter shade of trash.
--Number of songs on Pavement's Terror Twilight with football references: 3 of 11
--I decided to skip the IRL race at the TMS. I just was not up for it. I can't imagine a bigger snoozer of a race than an IRL giant oval night race with crappy seats. And IRL cars suck compared to CART and F1. Quote me on that.
--I can't believe there's a movie called 'Divine Secrets of Ya Ya Sisterhood'. I love (hate) things that are like charicatures of themselves. Having to sit through that film would probably be very effective torture.
--That freak Tyson got his face ripped open by Lennox Lewis last night. He used to be good... fourteen years ago! Lewis is just so big! Seven inches of reach on Tyson. Lewis just punished the hell out of him over and over. Tyson had bleeding cuts over both eyes and a gushing nose. I haven't seen any film yet, but Tyson scarcely landed any punches and none after about the fourth or fifth round. Lennox could have gone for a shower and then attended a dinner party after the fight, that's how undamaged he was. Lewis proves a boxer needn't be some inarticulate buffoon, as he's relatively well-spoken. It's impressive that Tyson got through the fight with no shenanigans. Who knows what's to follow though? His entire self-worth is tied up in his fighting ability and he was clearly embarrassed. The guy had a horrible childhood and was brutally raped and beaten dozens of times as a boy, but he's made some terrible choices in life (rape, assault, cannibalism).
--Check this out. I looked up the very bottom model Honda, the Civic DX Coupe. It has the manual transmission, little tiny wheels and tires, no options, power nothing, no CD or tape, etc. Bare bones--doesn't even have a tach. So it's $13,270. MSRP before tax, title, license. So I added that stuff and then figured out what it would cost each month. I used 10% for an annual finance rate (might be optimistic, I know), no downpayment, and a 36 month term. That comes to $531 per month. I then went and got an online quote for full coverage insurance (required when financing) for that car. $282 per month. So that's $813 per month so far and I haven't even started with gasoline, oil, scheduled maintenance, repairs, washes, registration, and inspection. It comes to over $900 per month for the least expensive Honda. So then roughly $6.50 per hour (before the government's cut) of whatever I make would go to paying for the privelege of having what is a very utilitarian (read: not fun) car. Honda Civics aren't that bad.
It's even worse for a modern sportbike. Say, a Honda CBR954RR. Interest rate is going to be worse although it'll cost a couple thousand less. Might even out with the car in the end. The insurance is the kicker though. My quote for a modern sportbike is $4000-$5000 or more right now, and for the 12R it's a staggering $8000. Per year. I think I'd pay $850 per month for the 954 before gas and maintenance and all that other stuff, and I'd have to have one to three sets of gear and replace tires ($250) every four thousand miles to boot. Put the car and the bike together and we're talking $1900 or so every month.
Wouldn't it be more elegant to work less/make less/need less? If I'm paying $900 per month for a car to get me to my job so I can pay for a car (which doesn't excite me in any way, shape, or form), what if I instead settled for a job that paid $900 per month less that I could get to by walking or using the bicycle? Economically, the result is very similar. And I end up with more dependable transportation, more liquidity, and less liability.
--I start my online (enhanced irc) role-playing game this week.
--The future of the NBA: 7'5" 320 pound Chinese guy and LeBron James, who just turned 17 and is expected to be drafted #1.
--A dude on SBN is buying a true beater car, a Pacer or Gremlin or something, for the purpose of slamming on the brakes when stupid ricers in Civics and Eclipses and Celicas come up right up to his bumper six inches away before making a wild lane change. "Oops, had to slam the brakes for that dog in the road."
--I'm thinking about putting up a tarantula tank. I've been talking to a guy who's an entomologist. He keeps them and referred me to THIS website. There are dozens of varieties of tarantulas. I like THIS ONE, Avicularia minatrix, because they're attractive, rare, not so big, tree-climbers, not timid, and they generally don't bite.
--Well, the US dollar is in freefall. It weakens every day. The market is down EVERY DAY. I can't believe what my once proud trust fund is down to. At one point it was up to three Corvettes. Now it's not even good for ONE Corvette.
--Meanwhile, I don't think people realize, but this world is pretty much on the brink of a nuclear war. India and Pakistan are like immature children waving their new toys in the air. The chances are actually great that they'll launch their nukes in the next few years. This ain't the Cold War. They aren't *rational* the way the US and the USSR were. Between them they have over one hundred pretty good size nukes (and by that I mean each one absolutely dwarfs Hiroshima).
--The Democrats are using 9-11 as a means to pry open our wallets and suck a bunch of money out. It amazes me how power-mad and downright greedy and slimy are the really hard left Dems in Washington. They think in terms of *their* money when discussing funding and tax breaks. "Don't take away our money." Arrogant, fascist bastards. It is so clear to me that these people like Barbara Lee, Daschle, Clinton, Schumer, and Gephardt are terrible for this country.
--Of course, we also have President Bush suddenly reversing his position on Kyoto!! He didn't even bother to make beeping noises! I mean, his tough stance on Kyoto was one of the things I liked best about his early administration. It's nearly unconscionable that he'd take this position. Remember, the Senate voted to reject Kyoto in 1997 in a 99-0 vote.
--We still have three hundred thousand people of arab or middle-eastern descent loose in this country who've been ordered deported. We can't find them. Are all of them terrorists? No, of course not. Do some of them have ties to terrorist organizations? Of course. Of these, can it be said that for some their greatest goal is to die while killing as many Americans as possible? Almost certainly.
--I don't understand why people have adopted this attitude that 'it' will never happen again. If I had told you (or, if the government had told us), on September 10th, that a group of crazed religious fanatics were going to hijack four jetliners using little tiny boxcutters and then fly them into the Pentagon and World Trade Center, would you have called me a stark raving loon? Why is the suggestion that terrorism could happen again, and worse, such a difficult concept to grasp all of a sudden? Why are people who discuss possible fringe groups of fundamentalist terrorists looked at as whackos?
--I heard a recording of Chris Rock trying to 'guilt' people into seeing his new movie. This is pathetic playing of the race card. "You can make it up to me white people, go see my movie." I think not.
--Why are there so many posing people? People who want to be seen or want to be seen in a certain way? Why are there so many non-conformists with obligatory noserings and tonguerings and vaguely individualized tats? And maddeningly predictable attitudes?
--Hugh Hefner's ex-wife and kids live right next door to the Playboy Mansion. There's an underground tunnel so the kids can visit their father whenever they want. All divorces should be so cordial.
--You can skip the final few paragraphs if you want, but I just want to get this down. Remember a few days ago when I was talking about Jordan? Well, it just so happens I own a magazine from Summer 1998 (after he won his sixth championship) which pays tribute to his career. So I dug it out. They have every game he ever played listed with his stats from college, preseason, playoffs, regular season, Olympics, All Star games, and pro baseball. Oh my gauud. Sometimes you need a reminder, when you start thinking Shaq or Kobe or McGrady or Nowitzki or Kidd or Garnett or Webber or Iverson or Duncan is up there. Sometimes you need a reminder when you think the 01 Lakers or 02 Kings are up there. It's not true. The sheer number of 40 point, 50 point, 60 point, near 70 point games Jordan had is staggering. And his moves on the court were like performance art. But what's SO great is this beautiful progression. He won the NCAA championship on the final shot of his college career. In his first three seasons with the Bulls (84-85 to 86-87), they only made it to the first round of the playoffs before being eliminated.
He was a circus these first few years. In 87 he had a stretch of eleven games where he scored 40 or more, than another stretch of five games with 40+, then he ended the season with three 50+ games. The next season (87-88), the Bulls made it to the second round but were eliminated. In 88-89 they got to the third round (Conference Finals) but couldn't get by Detroit's notoriously dirty 'foul everyone, they can only call one foul' defense. Things were a little different in 89-90: Phil Jackson, the Zen Master (and current Lakers coach) became head coach, but they still lost to Detroit in the seventh game of the Conference Finals. Each year Jordan's Bulls were winning a few more games and getting a little closer to the Finals. He was 'paying his dues' big time.
There's a definite change in the little graphs that accompany the number of points scored each game in 90-91 (and from then on to the end of his career). The points for Jordan are down. Still un-freaking-believable but he only had fourteen games over 40. But a couple things were happening. Jordan got a great supporting cast in Pippen, Horace Grant, BJ Armstrong, and others. And Phil Jackson was doing a masterful job of designing a new 'triangle offense' for his team where every player moved without the ball. They also had a suffocating defense. Phil talked to Jordan and asked him what he wanted to be remembered for: did he want to continue to be a one-man circus or did he actually want to win. The result of this was that the Bulls finished with their best record ever and finally got to the Finals and won. There's an awesome picture of Jordan's eyes closed and his forehead up against the giant trophy with the caption "AT LAST: The crowning of a champion--seven seasons of sweat and struggle. That's the price Michael paid for this trophy, and he's not about to give it up". Almost gives me shivers and a lump in the throat.
91-92 and 92-93 are more of the same amazing domination with the end result being a Finals victory each year. Jordan also played in the Olympic games in 92, pretty much proving he could take on a team of the world's pros single-handedly. He won his second gold medal (he'd also gone to the games in 83). After 93, of course, Jordan retired. His father had been murdered as a result of his fame and he needed to get away from the game. He tried his hand at baseball, but was only a mediocre AAA player. He couldn't hit a major league fastball. So at the end of 94-95 he returned to the game and team he loved for seventeen games and two playoff rounds. Would he be able to compete? The Bulls had Toni Kukoc, Dennis Rodman, and Ron Harper. These Bulls won THREE MORE CHAMPIONSHIPS, 95-96, 96-97, and 97-98. The 'threepeat repeat' they called it. The 95-96 season was the best in NBA history, as they tallied 72 wins and 10 losses (and the losses were all close and at one point they were 41 and 3). In the 97 Finals, Jordan had one of his most amazing games. He was very ill with the flu in Game Five but still scored 38 points and won the game at the buzzer with a three-pointer. I remember this game very well. Then in the 98 Finals, the Bulls pulled off the largest margin of victory ever in a Finals game, beating Utah 96-54. I remember that one too. It was the only NBA game M ever watched with me. I also remember the last game of the series: Jordan won the game on the last play of the game with an outside jump shot at the buzzer. The final shot of his career and it won him his final trophy. The most amazing way for it to end. Who could EVER forget???
So that was number six and he entered retirement number two. It was the perfect way for the greatest champion in the history of the world (arguably) to end his career. And he took three complete years off (98-99 to 00-01) before he came back AGAIN. This time, he joined a truly pathetic, mediocre team. And he was six or seven years older than the last time he came back. Surely he wouldn't even be a shadow of his old self after years of taking it easy? Well, he wasn't the old Jordan, but I watched that game against my Mavericks where he was Mr. Efficient and could still fly and work magic and he beat my Mavs with equal parts mental and physical powers. I just got the sense he was playing the game, but was also sort of *watching* the game from afar, with an amused look on his face, knowing it was in the palm of his hand. He still had two 50+ point games and a 40+ pointer. But his knees had problems and had to be drained every day. He couldn't make it down the stretch of the season and his team was useless without him. I truly believe if his knees hadn't betrayed him, he'd still be playing today, in the Finals. The man is simply SUPERhuman. But now he's in retirement number three and I think there he will stay.
I s'pose I wrote a bit more than I intended to. I dun care. It was a very cool trip down memory lane, reading this magazine and all the quotes from other players and the pictures and stats. I love the way Jordan didn't have it handed to him right away--he had to struggle for six whole years before even making it to the Finals but getting a little closer each time. He had to put in thousands of hours of work improving all aspects of his game. He had to have the input and guidance (and later, respectful delegation) of the best coach of our time. He had to have the benefit of a great supporting cast of players who knew their roles. But once he and the Bulls were good enough to be champions they did it SIX times in a row (not counting the two years Jordan was absent). It just boggles my mind. Dang, now I wish I could go back to 1993 or 1997 and watch him play again.
And there's such a lesson to be learned from our greatest sports star ever. You succeed at things through hard work, determination, mental toughness, and perseverence. Not by hoping you'll get lucky, waiting for your day to come, being bitter about those who HAVE succeeded, or accepting that you'll never succeed.