The Wounded Mosquito

"Blogging your world for a little while now."

June 29, 2005

ANYONE ELSE FEEL A DRAFT IN HERE?

Fun times on ESPN last night. The Jazz pulled off a good trade, and landed what should be a good point guard. The Utes pulled off a major coup by becoming the first college to claim the first picks of both the NBA and NFL drafts in the same year. Plus I got to hear thousands of drunken New York fans taunt NBA Commissioner David Stern until they got bored about five minutes later.

But the best part came somewhere after Toronto picked Charlie Villanueva with the #7 spot, and ESPN revealed what I had figured the whole time: that the draft picks could hear the analyst's commentaries over the Madison Square Garden PA system. Basically, while Charlie was trying to enjoy his moment of triumph, walking up to the podium to shake Stern's hand, he had to listen to "This is a shocking pick!" and "What is the Toronto GM thinking?" over the PA.

Now, I don't have a whole lot of sympathy for professional athletes these days. Stuff like this pretty much goes with the territory. But it would be interesting if people in other lines of work had to endure the same kind of public criticism "in the moment", so to speak.

Imagine, for instance, at a JOB INTERVIEW:

"Hank, I can't believe Jones is actually interviewing this guy. He clearly doesn't have the experience for this position, and rumor is he's only talking to him to fill a quota. Benson is a bright young guy that might develop into a decent mid-level manager someday, but to consider him here is a big mistake."

Or, maybe during a COLLEGE GRADUATION:

"Al, this is really surprising to me. I mean, I realize that colleges in recent years have been adapting curriculum requirements to suit the needs of a wide variety of students, but Miller had to spend four additional semesters retaking gen-ed courses just to pull a passing GPA. I'm sure a lot of college students spend their first two years drunk and passed out in the dorms, but Miller's first employer is in for a big disappointment. If he can even get an interview in this economy, that is."

It might not be such a bad idea, though, at the ACADEMY AWARDS:

"Well Dave, the crowd is sure making some noise, but deep down you know a lot of people were disappointed in this year's choice for Best Actor. As good as the role may have been, the best you can really say is that this was a decent performance in a mediocre year. And compared to his performances in years past, it is clear that Mike's abilities are continuing to diminish at an accelerated rate."

THE LESSER OF THREE EVILS

While on the topic of Hollywood, it's high time I bring to light a concept that my old buddy and writing partner Spence Wixom and I developed several years ago. We originally planned on using it in one of our "Men on the Moon" columns back at The Century, but the elements never quite came together.

We call it "The Busey Factor". Essentially it holds that regardless of health conditioning and diet, all men eventually evolve into one of three types. The first is the Gary Busey/Nick Nolte type: tall blonde guy with gut. This is the destination of most jock-types.

The second is the George Costanza type: short, bald, heavy-set. Perhaps the most heavily populated of the types, running somewhere around 50/50 odds.

The last type is for wiry guys that either have high metabolism rates or serious drug problems. This is the Keith Richards/Bob Dylan type. Lanky, frazzled, incoherent. Throw Ozzy and Lou Reed in here, too. While it doesn't require a lifetime of Rock and Roll to get there, it does explain why nowadays Keith Richards and Bob Dylan look like the same person.

THEY'RE PLAYING OUR SONG…IN THE PRODUCE SECTION?

On the way in to class this morning, I noticed a MUZAC van on I-15. One of these days I'm going to spend some time figuring out the genesis of this idea. Was someone listening to Rod Stewart in the car one day when the thought came, "You know, Rod's OK and all, but what would this sound like if I ditched the vocals and made all of the instruments sound like they were programmed by Kenny G?"

I'm assuming it has something to do with publishing rights; MUZAC has to be cheaper than the real recordings. But really, does anyone ever smile when listening to a synthesized processed version of their favorite song as they ride the elevator? About a year ago I heard the un-sexiest version of an Al Green song ever at my local grocery store, but that wasn't even the worst violation. Several years before that, the same grocer played a MUZAC version of "Stairway to Heaven".

Public Enemy's gotta be next.

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June 27, 2005

LAST SPORTS TIDBIT FOR 2,500 MILES…

Here's hoping tomorrow's NBA draft will be more interesting and fulfilling for Jazz fans than the Draft Lottery was. At the time of writing, they're still sitting on the 6th pick, with rumors flying about them trying to move up and assure the acquisition of a decent point guard. I usually don't get very interested in the draft, but number one, the Jazz have a relatively high pick and relatively high needs, and two, once this is done I have until August until there is anything interesting to watch in the sports world again. With all due respect to the baseball contingency, until September, the best use for baseball is as a backdrop for a decent date.

(It is also, as my old U of U professor Keith Henschen pointed out, the only sport where the offense sits down.)

FOR THOSE OF YOU ABOUT TO ROCK

It's time to coin a phrase: "The Rush Factor". This concept has come to me gradually over an extended period of time, as I have noticed a strange tendency when it comes to certain rock bands. There are groups that I would never bother to listen to at normal volume. To be bluntly honest, I consider late 70's Classic Rock kings Rush to be one of them (with the exception of that fine tune "Bastille Day"). However, the same bands sound much better when played at obscenely loud volumes. For example, years ago my Wherehouse manager Chad put a copy of Rush's "2112" on the store stereo after hours. I had never been a big fan of the band, but at mind-numbing volume, "2112" sounded quite good. Over the years, this tendency has held true for a number of bands, but sad to say, the "Rush Factor" does not apply to all bands. I still hate the Dave Matthews Band.

To my knowledge, the "Rush Factor" does not carry over into other media. "Weekend At Bernie's II" is still a tremendously bad film even with the benefit of Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound, and no matter how loud it is played, Reality Television remains a blight on the sad posterior of today's popular culture, an unforgivable fusion of Jerry Springer-style exploitation and creative laziness.

MEMORIES OF SANPETE COUNTY

Last weekend my student ward made it's semi-traditional excursion to Manti, Utah for the Mormon Miracle Pageant. In years past, this was a day trip, but due to the abandonment of our historic St. George temple trips, this years event became an overnighter; a veritable hybrid of the two events.

Trips to Manti, or anywhere in Sanpete County, are always interesting, as all jaunts into sparsely settled vistas of the rural kingdom often are. What's fun about Manti, though, is that it sits at the heart of one of the biggest concentrations of traditional LDS offshoot churches outside of the Colorado/Utah border. It's almost as if Brigham Young sent a dozen pioneer settler groups there back in the 1850's, but they never bothered to go back to Salt Lake and report. Consequently, the annual Miracle Pageant becomes, like General Conference in Salt Lake City every April/October, an epicenter clash of mainstream LDS culture and a variety of non-Mormon and Mormon-esque protestors.

While pageant goers mill about the temple grounds, laying out blankets at the foot of the hill where the big event is performed, protestors wander around with signs, pamphlets and acoustic guitars on the surrounding streets, trying to get anyone around to listen to their insidious accusations.

My favorites are the anti-abortion protestors. These folks always turn up at LDS events, but I can never figure out why. Don't they know the Church is by and large Pro-Life? Why are you shocking people with photos of aborted fetuses when they already agree with you?

The majority, though, are the folks that want to Bible-Bash and generally tear down the faith of mainstream church members. I don't fault their dedication, or their right to believe and proselytize within proper legal parameters, but I do wonder about the conversations they have on the way to and from these events. What are they really hoping for here?

"Only ten miles to Manti, Bob. Then we'll show 'em!"

"Yep, they'll probably shut down the whole pageant when they see us!"

(Three hours later)

"So how'd you do, Bob?"

"Well, I argued with an RM for a half-hour."

"Did you convert him?"

"No."

"Did you give him a pamphlet?"

"Yeah. He threw it in the trash with all the others."

The ones I really can't figure out are the people that nicely ask you if you'd like some reading material to browse over before the pageant. It's like they're expecting random readers to throw up their hands five minutes into the pageant and run off the grounds yelling, "It's wrong! It's all wrong! Now I have to forsake my former beliefs and hang out with these four guys in Mount Pleasant!" Again, as an RM myself, it would be hypocritical for me to criticize someone for speaking their religious mind. But I don't look too kindly on people who's mission in life is to try to undermine someone else's faith.

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June 23, 2005

IT COULD HAVE BEEN THE SHOES

I've been a fan of ESPN's Page 2 web site for a while now, but I don't think I've ever been happier to log on than yesterday when I saw the set up for the Best Basketball Shoe Bracket. For about two years in Jr. High, I could identify any guy in school simply by walking the halls with my head down and pointing out the shoes they were wearing. (Oh, yes, that is sad; but then again, we are talking Jr. High here).

I've always felt that my generation has been quite privileged in terms of material high points. As kids we had Star Wars, GI Joe, and He-Man (among others). Then in Jr. High, we were given a veritable "Golden Age" in terms of footwear. After the brief "Chuck Taylor" fad of 1987, the basketball shoe began to evolve at an exponential pace, and for the next six years, Nike et al put out a finer line than would ever be seen again. Today's shoes? Crap. And not just crap, but crap without ankle support.

Since ESPN managed to omit my favorites, here are my candidates for Greatest Basketball Shoe Ever:

  1. AIR JORDAN IV: My adolescent adulation of Jordan has long since faded, but my love of his shoes is quite intact. This was the mid-top model Jordan wore when he came of age and hit that shot over Craig Ehlo to take the first round series against Cleveland in 89'. Still out of my price range in those days ($110), but my favorite model nonetheless. The black version was the only acceptable option.
  2. AIR FLIGHT 89': Another model I never actually had, though I did have them on order at the old Village Sports Den on Main Street in Bountiful for some time. (The pitch was that you could pick them up for $65 on order instead of $90 at Foot Locker. But they were always on back order.) Had to have the black/gray version.
  3. AIR JORDAN VI: This was the first pair of Air Jordan's I ever had (in black, of course). The VI was a big model for Mike and I. It was the pair he used to lift the Bulls to their first NBA title in 91', plus it was the model I wore for my greatest single season of Jr. Jazz Basketball (more on that another time when I'm feeling really bad about myself). This was the one with the pull loop in the back and the two holes in the rubber tongue. I just can't believe how far the Jordan's have gone to pot since then.

I could go on, but these three are the cream of the crop for sure. Some other time I might write a whole BST column on this topic, since enigmatic shoes like the rare Nike Pump and the LA Gear Catapult (worn by at least five people, myself included) bear mentioning. I'm actually in a rare phase where I've got column ideas backing up, so we'll have to see what happens.

THE JINX FACTOR

I'm wondering if it's a bad idea for me to mention certain topics on my site. Ever since I praised I-215, traffic has been miserable, and after I posted that list column on driver types, I have encountered an unprecedented number of rotten drivers (I still think there is some sort of Bat Signal that goes off whenever I pull out of my driveway…"CALLING ALL INBREDS…HIT THE ROAD NOW!!!"). Over the last couple of days, my Otter Pop intake has averaged six or seven a day. It begs the "Art imitating Life vs. Life imitating Art" question, I suppose. At any rate, now that the Pistons have redeemed themselves for Sunday night's debacle by winning Game 6, the last thing I'm going to do is mention them in my blog the morning of Game 7. I mean, that would be as stupid as spending six years in the same Single's Ward…

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June 20, 2005

(INSERT SOUND OF OPEN HAND SLAPPING FOREHEAD)

I'm no genius when it comes to basketball. I've had some good moments on the court, but I would never pretend to be any kind of authority when it comes to late-game strategy. I especially wouldn't question a guy like Larry Brown.

Still, as I sat there watching Game 5 as San Antonio was about to inbound the ball down by two with fifteen-odd seconds left, I had what I figured was a reliable no-brainer thought:

"Well, you'd better watch Horry."

Larry had to have told them. The thought had to have occurred to them. Yet there he was, just beyond the three-point arc, no Piston within fifteen feet of him.

Tayshaun Prince dived at him, but he may as well have tried to talk him down. "No, Bob, it's OK. You have--I mean we have--too much to live for!" You can't let Horry get a clean look like that. If you haven't learned that by now…

I think it was my fault. I was just wrapping up a marvelously lousy day, and it's possible that my karma (or lack thereof) rubbed off. Now that the Jazz are done for a while, I guess Detroit got it by default.

Sorry, Big Ben. I didn't mean anything by it. I really do want you to lift up the trophy over that cool fro of yours.

But really, you had to have known to cover that guy…

REVENGE OF SIR ISSAC LIME

On a more positive note, I have spent the last several weeks enjoying a resurgence of a childhood favorite: the Otter Pop. For the unindocrinated, the Otter Pop is a narrow stickless mini-popsicle arrayed in one of a variety of tasty flavors and colors and packaged in an 8 by 1 inch plastic sleeve. They're typically assigned a colorful cartoon character as well. Katie and I picked some up at Dick's Market a few weeks ago, and got a reload box on Saturday.

Sad to say, the pop's these days don’t have the cartoon character packages; instead, three of the classic characters have tribute busts on the south end of the new packages. I'm really not sure why. Luckily the pop's themselves still taste the same.

Since the pop's are completely enclosed in plastic, I have developed a unique technique of consuming them. I give them a few minutes out of the freezer to thaw, since I don't like biting off frozen chunks. Once warm enough to squish, I crush the pop in it's entirety while still completely enclosed. Then I cut of the end and take the thing down slurpee-style.

I was happy to see that the Otter Pop was the refreshment of choice at an FHE activity a couple of weeks back. It is good to know that others appreciate some of the finer things as well. In a day when many of my favorite items and even entire restaurants are defunct, the Otter Pop is a welcome connection to my childhood in the Reagan Era.

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June 14, 2005

JACKSON VERDICT IMPACTS GAS PRICES!

This Jacko verdict seems to be having an impact in far-off places. I was astonished to see gas prices coming down two cents a gallon from yesterday's pre-verdict prices. If they let Phil Spector off, we may finally get back under a dollar a gallon again. Plus, this morning on Yahoo I learned that Paris Hilton plans to retire from public life. The good news keeps rolling in. If only we could get Carl's Jr. to retire from making lousy burgers…all the controversy about the car wash ad make me think about was about the tremendous quality gap between the ad burgers and the flat things you actually get at the drive-thru. I mean, I know as well as anyone that the ad people use all sorts of tricks to make the food look better than reality, but Carl's Jr. flat-out offends me. We're talking about a 3-to-1 size ratio, for Pete's sake.

STAR WARS VS. STAR TREK COLUMN INDEFINITELY POSTPONED

For the last week I've been reflecting on the rather annoying D-News column I read by an author I refuse to name. You remember, the one that claims Star Trek is superior to Star Wars? Well, my original intent was to break down a point by point rebuttal by writing an entire column of my own, but I'm not sure I want to give the original column that much credence. Let me just make the following points:

  1. I can't justifiably use most of the same original criteria, since comparing subjective items like heroes and villains will only create vast circles of never-ending debate. (Star Wars still wins, by the way).
  2. I really think the only way you can honestly compare the two franchises is in terms of impact. Impact on society, on industry, on culture. This is not merely a popularity comparison, since our culture has proven again and again through some of the most rotten fads and trends imaginable that anyone and anything can achieve public recognition for Andy Worhol's requisite fifteen minutes.

What I'm talking about is long-term integration. Which of these two franchises has become more convincingly ingrained in popular culture, in our speech, in our references, through merchandising, and even through subsequent films/TV, etc.?

But instead of weigh each of these factors individually, eliminating those that cancel each other out (Such as Social Significance: Star Trek may have had the first interracial kiss, but Star Wars restored mythic hope in the wake of Watergate), there's really only one statement I can make that will correctly demonstrate which of the two franchises has made the most total impact:

When a "Star Trek" movie comes out, "Star Trek" fans (not just Trekkies, but still fans) go to see it. When a "Star Wars" movie comes out, EVERYONE goes to see it.

And that's really all I have to say about it.

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June 13, 2005

THE VERDICT IS IN: MICHAEL AND JANET NOT SAME PERSON

I really don't know where to start on the fact that Jacko went 10-for-10 Not Guilty about an hour ago. For the last week I've been trying to convince myself that the real Michael Jackson was replaced by an evil clone sometime in 1985. All I can say is that after the verdict was read, as I watched Jacko make his way out of the courthouse, I found myself wishing he'd rip off his wig and pull off a rubber mask to reveal the 1983 jeri-curl version of the King of Pop. Then Mesero would hand him a red leather jacket with lots of zippers, he'd jump up on top of the Escalade, pull a moonwalk or two, and yell, "A-Hee-Hee! Jacko's back! A-CAUSE THIS IS THRILL-AAAH…!!!"

John Mayer is on to something. Sometimes I wish it was still 1983, too.

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June 8, 2005

JUST THE GAS, MA'AM

Just got back from getting gas. For all of my non-Bountiful readers, there's a great spot called Common Cents on the NE corner of 4th South and 5th West that keeps its prices low enough to pull down the rates at the other two stations on the block. These days, that basically means you just get robbed instead of robbed and beaten, but every little bit helps, I suppose.

I only have one complaint about Common Cents, though. About four months ago they started letting these guys from an auto glass company start wandering around offering to wash people's windows. That's fine if it's just a complimentary service, but they always try to sell you wipers or something afterwards.

I already dodge enough ads during the day, I don't need any more sales pitches. I'm already using my debit card at the pump so I don't have to bother going inside the station, why do I want to bother with another salesman at the pump?

HAMILTON LEADS ALL SCORERS WITH 6…

So the NBA Finals are set: Spurs vs. Pistons. I liked both Phoenix and Miami, but I have to admit I was kind of pulling for San Antonio and Detroit to get there. I like the blue-collar attitude both teams have. Miami and Phoenix are exciting, but I love the fact that Detroit is completely constructed of almost-stars that just play like a solid team. Besides, why does Shaq need another title, other than to spite Kobe?

Lots of people are wondering if this is going to be the ultimate defensive matchup, and therefore a boring series. I don't know about boring, but I do think it will be a defensive masterpiece. The Wallace boys block like they're playing on stilts, and Bowen acts like he's trying to take out all his frustrations on all the times in the past opponents deliberately fouled him because of his lousy free-throw percentage.

Of course, there's one big reason to get behind Detroit: that magic image of Ben Wallace hoisting the trophy over his monster afro. You gotta love it, baby.

ELAINE! ELAINE! ELAINE!

Anne Bancroft died yesterday. Most people my age just go, "huh"? until you ask them if they remember "The Graduate" or the Simon and Garfunkel song "Mrs. Robinson". A few interesting points:

-"Mrs. Robinson" isn't really about Bancroft's character in "The Graduate". It's about putting an old lady in a mental institution. Go ahead and listen.

-In the movie, Bancroft is supposed to be playing a woman twice the age of Dustin Hoffman's character. She's his dad's best friend's wife. In reality, she was like 36, and he was 32. Now that's some great acting.

-Talking about "The Graduate" always reminds me of my running list of favorite movie endings of all time. "The Graduate" is a pretty weird movie as you go along, I really didn't know what to make of it until the last five minutes. I couldn’t figure out why Dustin Hoffman would ever go for Anne Bancroft over Katherine Ross. But the wedding scene at the end, topped by the looks on Hoffman and Ross's faces on the bus afterward (right as "Sounds of Silence" started playing) was more than worth all the weirdness.

Other favorite movie endings…

"Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid": Sure, the good/bad guys don't ride off into the sunset, but it's hard to think of a more classic way to wrap up that story. It's sudden, harsh, memorable, and fitting.

"Tootsie": One of the best-written movies I've ever watched. It's even worth putting up with the sappy 80's adult contemporary montage in the middle (which is really weird if you think about it, if you consider that one of the main characters is in drag at the time). The scenes between Hoffman (again!) and Sidney Pollack (director and the guy playing Hoffman's agent) are brilliant. The climactic scene is the ultimate payoff for a story that is all over the board until the final credits. The fact that they could pull the thing off with Hoffman playing a woman the whole time still amazes me. It's also one of my all-time favorite Bill Murray films.

"Easy Rider": It took forever for me to finally see this movie, and when I finally did, I have to admit I was kind of disappointed. People think of it as the ultimate banner-waving film for the nomadic hippie/biker lifestyle, but in my mind it demonstrated the flaws in the philosophy pretty clearly. Maybe they were trying to show the conflict, I don't know. All I know is the classic scenes of them on the open road are great, and the ending is the hippie-era equivalent of Butch and Sundance.

"Night of the Living Dead": This was the first great "slasher"-style horror movie, not in that it involved a mass-murderer, but that the movie was pretty much a bunch of people getting killed. Unfortunately, every horror movie since has blown it. They should have paid closer attention to "Living Dead". At the end of the movie, EVERYONE is supposed to be dead.

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June 6, 2005

WILL THEY PLAY "ZOOROPA", TOO?

I realize that popular music is a tough place to nail down specific genres, but I can't figure out why I keep hearing U2 on Classic Rock stations nowadays. Last Saturday I was driving on I-215 listening to a three-song U2 block on Arrow 103.5. The first song they played was "With Or Without You". Great song. Great band. But Classic Rock? How can you transition from "Kashmir" to "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"?

2005'S MOST UNAPPRECIATED INTERSTATE

Speaking of 215, I think it's high time I mentioned how much I love that road. It has its occasional jam-up, as all Interstates do, but man, sometimes driving that road feels like Charleton Heston at the beginning of "Omega Man".

EAT MY SHORTS, H2 WEENIES

That Saturday 215 run was on the way to the Freightliner garage out near Magna, where my buddy Aaron Pack had offered to replace my sister's cracked manifold. The Freightliner garage specializes in heavy duty trucks, as in semis, firetrucks, and other large equipment. Some dude had a motorhome in there too. Just looking at what Aaron works on made all other auto mechanics look like Girlie-Men. There was one truck--a plow from Park City built by Mercedes--that looked like it had enough clearance to drive over a Hummer. The real Arnold Edition Hummer too, not those wanna-be H2's. It was almost enough to make me feel better about my own gas costs.

Almost.

COMING SOON TO BST: STAR WARS VS. STAR TREK

Yesterday I did a rare thing: I read the Deseret News movie column. Usually I skip it because I get sick of reading rumors about comic book movies, but yesterday's topic intrigued me: Star Wars vs. Star Trek.

I should have skipped it.

Everyone's entitled to their opinion, and I'm not going to write a whiny letter to the author, either. I'm just going to do my own comparison. In the words of former President George H. W. Bush, via Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski, "This aggression will not stand, man!"

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Past Wounded Mosquito!

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