Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cause For New Alarm

I bought my alarm clock in 1997 before I went off to college. On the first day of class, the alarm went off early. I turned it off and went back to sleep. Shawn, my roommate, never heard it, and therefore overslept and missed his first collegiate class.

A few weeks ago, the power blinked, and ol' Clocky went haywire.

I think it was turning into a Predator?

RIP, Clocky the clock. Your alarm may not have been used in years, but your nightlight was still a pretty neat feature, and knowing the time in the middle of the night remains a very important role of Clockies everywhere.

Monday, December 16, 2013

2013 Soundtrack

I do this every year. These songs are what I loved this year, or what reminds me of this year, and are arranged in my preferred listening order. The playlist fits on an 80-minute CD.

Download the zipped folder here. If the songs get lost in your media library, just search for the ones with the genre labeled "Dan2013".

As I was putting this together, I grew concerned that my station in life had led to a rather predictable playlist. I felt like I discovered fewer new artists this year than previous years, and I was simply listening to new albums from bands I already liked. (It would help if I was able to access music streams other than from work.) While that’s certainly accurate, it hasn’t impacted this year’s year-end soundtrack too terribly. Less than half are songs from bands that appeared in previous years! But, uh, more than half are from bands that have either appeared in previous years or peaked in the ‘90s and no longer exist.

INXS - “Disappear”

Yes, 2013 was the year of INXS for all of us, was it not? No? Okay, how about I saw their greatest hits album for $5 and I grabbed it? And I heard “Disappear” for the first time since, well, maybe since it was regularly played on the radio? If you’re listening on bad speakers, you may hear a clicking sound during the chorus, so get some good headphones and turn it up.

Chromatics - “Kill for Love”

I don’t know how I came upon this song, some music blog I guess, but repeated listenings confirm it’s good.

Chvrches - “Gun”

Originally, the Chvrches selection was “Now is not the Time” from their EP, then it was “Lungs” from their album. I probably overplayed “Lungs” in my car, leading to a lot of “By the Throat” and “Gun”. What I’m trying to say is, this album is fantastic.

Caveman - “In the City”

Another music blog discovery, this rounds out the 2013 soundtrack’s synth suite.

Alpine - “In the Wild”

I was excited for the album from these Aussies after hearing this lead single, but it was a little heavy on the dream and a little light on the pop. Check out “Villages” and “Hands” if you like this track.

Third Eye Blind - “Narcolepsy”

So, we drove to Cincinnati in August. In ye olde blog times, that trip would have been documented in a lengthy writeup. You would have heard all about the benefits of Missouri’s lax open container laws to road trips, and how Terre Haute’s highest-rated attractions read very unimpressively on Yelp, and how delicious our lunch was in Bloomington. And while we drove through Indiana, yes, of course we listened to John Mellencamp’s greatest hits. We’re no fools. But through another stretch of the Hoosier state, Gavin played Third Eye Blind’s debut album from front to back, and I sang along with Stephen Jenkins the whole damn time. “It would be funny to have a band and perform this entire album to an unsuspecting bar. They’d start out thinking ‘Oh neat, a Third Eye Blind song,’ and then eventually realize that we were playing the whole album in order,” Gavin mused. “If we’re opening with ‘Losing a Whole Year’ and transitioning directly to ‘Narcolepsy,’ I think they’d catch on pretty quick,” I said.

Lorde - “Royals”

Shawn paid a dollar or whatever to hear this at the final bar we visited in Cincinnati on Friday night, though he was wrestling with his disbelief that a New Zealand teen recorded a song he liked this much. At least, I think he played this song, it’s a little hazy. I remember (but do not really remember) having a good conversation about Nirvana with our host at that bar.

Blackstreet - “No Diggity”

The other day, I was listening to the lyrics to “Royals”, and I guess it’s about, like, whatever dude, you can have your diamonds and gold chains, all you rappers, and we don’t care, because we’re really real. And then I listened to Death Row’s Greatest Hits, and it sounded awesome, and I was like, diamonds and gold chains and blood stains are the coolest. SING THAT SHIT, DRE! For reasons unknown, probably some divine intervention or some music blog post, “No Diggity” was on heavy rotation in the latter half of my year. It holds up even more than Third Eye Blind, if that’s even possible. So it made the soundtrack instead of “Ain’t No Fun” or “No Vaseline”, which is good because it will keep that Parental Advisory sticker off the front cover.

Haim - “The Wire”

I am not the first person to say this, but it really does sound like Shania Twain covering The Eagles’ “Heartache Tonight”. When they played on SNL, the staccato lyric delivery prompted my wife to ask if they were singing in English.

Dr. Dog - “These Days”

We probably don’t need any more songs titled “These Days”, but that’s my only complaint. I also enjoyed “That Old Black Hole” from the same album.

Franz Ferdinand - “Evil Eye”

This concert was everything that I wanted it to be: extremely high energy, crowd shout-alongs, extended jams and alternate versions of their hits, and the opening yell from “Evil Eye” was delivered rambunctiously by the neck-tattooed drummer. Frankly, the fact that it took Scottish band this long to write a song where “Ya Bastard!” was exclaimed repeatedly is a dark mark on their legacy.

Icona Pop - “I Love It”

The benefits of listening to Top 40 radio every now and then in the carpool: I can now identify a Drake song with 13% accuracy (up from zero percent), and, for one sweet week during its peak popularity, hearing “I Love It” twice a day.

Phoenix - “Entertainment”

That little percussion that accompanies the opening notes! The crowd of “OH”s in the middle! All the unintelligible words? Everything else?

Frightened Rabbit - “The Oil Slick”

I usually don’t like it when a singer sings about writing a song, but these lyrics good enough to overcome that bias. The way this album (and the Neko Case album, and the Okkervil River album) is mixed or mastered or whatever makes it sound hollow to me, like the mid-level sounds aren’t coming through, and I don’t know the technical term for what’s happening, and I wish I did.

Neko Case - “Calling Cards”

The Pitch called the Liberty Hall crowd that attended the Neko Case show in October “reverent”, which is quite accurate. The ambient noise was nice and quiet during “Calling Cards”, which made the song as affecting as listening on headphones in your dark bedroom. If you’re like me, you live through moments that feel so nice that you close your eyes and literally breathe it in. I did that during “Calling Cards”, and it made a lot more sense then compared to when I did it at the visually stunning foreign locations of Iguazu Falls and the Cliffs of Moher.

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down - “We the Common”

I loved this song off of her new album, and I super loved her version of INXS’ “Need You Tonight” performed for the A.V. Club

The Vaccines - “I Always Knew”

This seems like a song that Alipete should be telling ME about, but I had to discover it myself. I only heard about it because someone on the internet was like, “I’m glad they used this on the New Girl season finale.”

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - “Despair”

Watching this song’s music video made me like it more, much like watching YYY’s performance of “Sacrilege” on Letterman made me want to buy the album in the first place. If my daughter grows up to be the next Karen O (Karen 2.O?) I will be proud. Of myself.

Vampire Weekend - “Ya Hey”

I have already professed my love for Ya Hey earlier this year.If you’re wondering what my coworker/longrunning carpool partner thinks of it, she likes the Paul Simony songs on the album better. And she told her hip, young adult daughter that she was digging the “Weekend Vampires” record.

Okkervil River - “Lido Pier Suicide Car”

I much prefer the second half of this song to the first, but if the first half was shorter or otherwise different, maybe the whole thing would turn to shit? I also wish that I comprehended any of the lyrics on this album.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Meeting Santa

Well, my section got moved to the basement and funding gets cut every year, but they'll never be able to take away the joy I get from merging an image from a "meeting" clip art search with an image from a "santa" search. Next week's staff meeting agenda is gonna be the best ever!

* * *

I had to call 911 in October. I was driving on the interstate, and two dumbass horses climbed up from the ditch and onto the right lanes. This was the second time I ever called 911. The first time is when there was a coyote on the interstate.

* * *

I am mortified that the "glowing rectangles" Onion article was written in 2009, because it feels like smartphone usage has become even more prevalent.

* * *

I was riding in my carpool the other day, on the interstate, and looking at drivers we passed. There was a dude in a Hyundai fiddling with his phone. So that's not good. Then he looked over at me, his phone still in his raised right hand, and our eyes met for a moment. That's even worse.

* * *

I cannot remember the last time I bought a non-wedding, non-T-shirt article of clothing.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Baby Talk

If you replace the references to David Letterman and being funny with various comments about how difficult parenting twins will be, this very first Conan sketch accurately represents my life for the past 5 months.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Getting Chippy

Man, IT'S BEEN nearly a month since I've last update the ol' blog. Here's some of that classic text that you yearn for:


One of the fun things I do to spice up my work lunches and distract myself from the unbearable lightness of being is purchase and consume different varieties of chips and crackers! Here's what's new!

Sun Chips Sweet BBQ

Sun Chips has a barbeque flavor! It's pretty terrible, especially when the Garden Salsa flavor is so good. And being Sun Chips, they are terribly more expensive than other chips. Plus their bag size keeps shrinking - it's down to SEVEN OUNCES now!!! People are going crazy on its corporate Facebook page, as if Sun Chips owes them for years of brand loyalty.

Lay's Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo flavored potato chips?! The folks at Lays have done it! Except it tastes more like spicy tomato potatoes, which is to say, not very good. And the after-lunch taste in your mouth is terrible, and must be washed away with a handful of altoids.

Doritos JACKED Stacked Enchilada

These Doritos are thicker than normal, and have extra flavoring on the chip, so you get even more of the Dorito dust on your fingers as you eat it. Have you ever craved a Dorito that was harder and thicker? Me neither. The taste is vaguely Mexican, and not nearly as good as

Doritos Salsa Verde

This is the premier Dorito chip in the world right now. Very delicious.

Wheat Thins Spicy Buffalo

Soak a box of Wheat Thins in Tabasco brand sauce and eat it. Eat the whole box, because you paid like two dollars for it and it's a waste not to. Bleh!

Wheat Thins Chili Cheese

Better, but not great. Wheat Thins just don't take to flavors very well.

Cheez-It Zingz Queso Fundido

"These bold crackers are made with corn masa flour for maximum crunchiness and seasoned perfectly to spice things up! That's why they're The Snacking Crunch with a Punch! Inspired by a popular Mexican cheese dish, Queso Fundido features 100% Real White Cheddar cheese, combined with a bold blend of peppers, herbs and spices for a zesty hit of flavor!"

I don't know about this maximum crunch claim, but the flavor is very good! Plus the name has all those Z's in it, which makes it really fun!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Broke Bad

I've mentioned About a Boy before. It was my first exposure to Nick Hornby, and it was also the first book I ever read within a 24-hour period, thanks to a summer by myself in my college apartment.

In the novel, one of Hornby's characters talked about why he could never commit suicide -- there was always at least one thing he was looking forward to. The example I remember given was the excitement over what would happen in the next episode of NYPD Blue.

Now Breaking Bad is over. I loved it, I looked forward to it every Sunday night for years, and it's over.

And you could say that's one less reason to live, but it's not. It's such a good feeling to arrive at the end, and it's life-affirming when art affects you like this. And it's exciting to know that one day there could be another great show or movie or album that you love this much.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Nothing Better Than Ezra

So, I emailed Alipete about the new Vampire Weekend album, Modern Vampires of the City, secretly hoping to find another soul who didn't grasp the fact that "Diane Young" equaled "Dying Young". To my surprise, she was up for another tandem track-by-track review!

Let's begin! Thanks for having me back.

1. Obvious Bicycle
Pretty simple and a little sleepy; it's a nice start to the album. They jump right into this song, almost mid-word. It's like VW never left us!  "You ought to spare your face the razor, because no one's gonna spare the time for you" is just a dagger. I love it.

This is one of those songs that I hear 20 times before I realize I have no idea what the lyrics are, and then I try to hear what it's about and I get distracted 30 seconds in. It's a nice song that's just "there", you know? I don't like how "razor" sounds like "raisin" to my ears. (Why is this guy singing about a raisin? First horchata and now raisins? Get this foodie outta here!) But I like the lead vocal and the bridge and the way the background vocals come in at the end. 

2. Unbelievers
This is a song I was introduced to WHILE SITTING IN THE AUDIENCE OF "SNL." Ezra K was wearing a great suit and is a real looker. Anyway, I'm a big fan of this one. It's a needed shot of energy after the slowish start, and in a different, twee-er world, it could be a Song of the Summer. What's the instrument that kicks in at the 2:30 mark? Organ? I like whatever is happening there. We're talking religious non-believers, right? With the holy water and the fire and whatnot? I feel like this is a "thanks, but no thanks" to religion. "I want a little grace, but who's gonna say a little grace for me?" Maybe the girl he loves wants him to try to believe in something, but he decides it's not for him. And he seems OK with it.
So good. According to a Pitchfork interview:
He tells me about the lyrics to the song “Unbelievers”, which some have pegged as some kind of atheist anthem. But to Koenig, it’s a more nuanced piece about how confusing it can be to make decisions about what to believe in as a young person today, and how people with conflicting beliefs about the world interact with one another. “Even when you’re pretty confident in some things, like loving somebody,” he says, “there are still a million other things that contribute to anxiety about the future and the choices you’re making.” We settle on an encapsulation: millennial unease. "I like that phrase," he says, with a little exasperated laugh. "It's a concise way to describe a lot of the feelings on the album."
3. Step
AC Newman said this may be VW's best song to date. Some days I really like it, and other days I skip it. The rhymes are top notch, especially Alameda/Communist Reader.

My immediate impression was that this sounds like Mark Mothersbaugh's "Tenenbaums" score meets Vitamin C's "Graduation." I can't shake that initial feeling, but I still really like this song. Most articles I had read about this album highlighted the lyrics "Wisdom's a gift, but you'd trade it for youth. Age is an honor; it's still not the truth." And they were right to; it's a terrific line. 
4. Diane Young
I love it when rock songs feature brass. I love it when things sound like Buddy Holly. I love "you got the luck of a Kennedy". The voice modulation? I don't love it. BUT I LIKE IT. I find when I think I'm getting sick of this song, all I need to do is pump up the volume and I once again am psyched. The "Dying Young" thing is NOT obvious to SOME OF US.
Before this album came out I had decided I was done with VW, and then I heard this on "All Songs Considered" and was completely won over. VW channeling Buddy Holly > VW channeling Paul Simon. Another candidate for Twee Hipster Song of the Summer.
5. Don't Lie
The word that comes to mind is "pleasant." Slightly anthemic at times, but it stays pretty mellow. I'm a big fan of the drums and the organ/harpsichord. Five tracks in, and he's really not letting go of the aging theme. "Ticking clocks"? "Headstone right in front of you"?? WE GET IT. We're all getting old.
Yeah, quite a bit of millennial unease on this one. The way he sings "Don't lie" makes it sound like a love song, or at least a song about a girl, but then you see that the song is not about some sexy relationship and it's like, "Whoa, dude. Stop yelling at me about this." Good song, though.
6. Hannah Hunt
I like the way he sings it, but not the words in the chorus. "Though we live on the U.S. dollar" really rubs me the wrong way, because who says "U.S. dollar"? That is a forced phrase. But I gather this song is about a road trip with a lady, so it makes me think of Simon & Garfunkel's "America". Also, for some reason I think that some teens are hearing this song and thinking it's really profound and romantic, and that bothers me for some reason.
When this album first came out, some reviewer noted that the name "Hannah Hunt" was similar to "Hannah Horvath" from "Girls," so when I hear this I think of going on a road trip with Lena Dunham. Which is fine, I suppose. I'm not sure if this song is profound, but I do think it's a little romantic. And any song that name drops The New York Times is OK in my book, even if Hannah/Lena is tearing it to pieces.
Hannah Hunt is a real person Ezra is friends with, if that helps your enjoyment of the song.
7. Everlasting Arms
Oh, here it is. Here's VW at its Paul Simony best. It's certainly fun and poppy, but I almost always end up skipping this one.  Also, is this song about God? 
I would be very surprised if this song was not about God. That's one negative about this album - it has at least three songs that are fun to bounce and sing along to, but only when you disregard the fact your singing about agnosticism or millennial unease or whatever.
8. Finger Back
Aside from the part when Ezra starts breaking it down about Jerusalem and a falafel shop, I don't have a damn clue what he's saying. Also Jerusalem at 103rd and Broadway? I Google mapped that intersection, and it is home to a bank and a Starbucks. I don't know enough about the history of Jerusalem to understand what kind of metaphor might be happening here. That said, I do like this song.
I do not like the way he sings these lyrics, whatever they are. You probably just like it because he sings "hit me like a Yankee" and you have misplaced loyalties for that club. I also do not enjoy the spoken word bit about the falafel shop. If I rate a song 5 out of 10, it means I am 50/50 on its existence. I would rather this song did not exist.
9. Worship You
Dislike the yodeling verses, don't hate the chorus. Whatevs.
"Whatevs" is a good reaction to this song. I could take it or leave it, but I guess leave it since I usually skip it. Again, I have no idea what he's saying though I will assume this is religious in nature.

10. Ya Hey
People have noted that this is "Hey Ya" backward and may be some sort of weird nod to Outkast. To those people I say, "Guys, he's saying YAHWEH." Anyway, there is a lot of religion happening here -- "I am that I am" and all that -- and I LIKE it, weird computerized voices aside.
I love "Ya Hey". It's slightly dark, has great bass, and the Ya Hey / Yahweh lyric is the sort of cleverness that makes VW worth following. The voice modulation works best here. "You won't even say your name," Yahweh being an unpronounceable name -- it's terribly smart. But beyond the tricks and winks, I simply love the way it sounds.
11. Hudson
After I finish rocking along to "Ya Hey", I don't love sitting through this dirge. It's fine.
There is literally a TICKING CLOCK in this song. And he sings "the clock is such a drag"! So not only is this song a real snooze, but it is also hitting me over the head with the metaphor. No thanks. I will continue to skip this one.

12. Young Lion
I am always fooled into thinking that "Hudson" is the last song on the record, so this song usually comes as a surprise. Not much too it, but it's a sweet little coda.
I don't really consider Young Lion a song. It's a minute and 45 seconds.

Good call. Take away my points for Young Lion. I don't want to inflate the overall score.

Alipete total = 61 / 110
dn total = 64 / 110


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Whiny Willie

Ol' Willie Nelson popped up on my shuffled playlist the other day.

Since then, I've listened to a podcast featuring Okkervil River's Will Sheff, and he made a good argument against the shuffle function. He thinks it kind of messes with your brain and causes you to skip over songs you actually like, but aren't prepared for? Kind of? And I may decide to go back to shuffling among all artists in the future, but for now it's been nice to stick within a genre for extended listens.

So, Willie Nelson. "The Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning".

Wikipedia tells us that he didn't write this song, so I will aim my complaints away from Mr. Nelson and toward Gary P. Nunn and Donna Farar.

That first verse, you guys. It's a list of bad things that happened the first thing this morning.

1. A past due bill notice was received. Well, that's on you, bro! You gotta pay them bills! The chain of events that led to this started long ago; don't get bent out of shape because the postman happened to deliver it today! And frankly, you should be pretty amazed that you get your mail the first thing in the morning.

2. The alarm clock rang two hours late. That thing is a machine, and it will ring when you tell it to. Let's not blame an inanimate object for doing its job.

3. The garbageman left trash on sidewalk. Okay, okay - this one seems pretty legitimate! Nobody would like that. Do your job, municipal worker! I bet the garbage truck was really loud, too.

4. The hinges fell off the front gate. They just fell off? Was there a strong breeze? Did that jerk garbageman tear it off? This one's probably not your fault. I'm guessing a guy with a past due bill notice is renting his home. You'll have to call the landlord - it's a small pain, but at least you don't have to fix it!

5. Spilled all the coffee. Hey, it's the morning, you're clumsier than usual - we've all been there. Spilling ALL of the coffee seems out of the ordinary. I mean, if you've got a drip coffee maker, you'd have to turn the glass carafe all the way over to accomplish that. How the heck did the entire pot spill?

6. Hit my knee when I opened the door. Jesus, man, you are a Grade A klutz! Poor little country singer got a boo boo?

7. "The last thing I needed the first thing this morning was to have you walk out on me." Here's a guess: maybe she thought you were a whiny pussy who couldn't support her financially and who blamed the world for his "problems"?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Foot Wear And Tear

This is going to look like I'm grasping at blogging straws, but bear with me for a moment.

This is a pair of shoes I bought from American Eagle (I didn't even know they sold shoes! My girlfriend thought we should check it out.) in a Minnesota mall in 2002:

Kinda gross, right? The inner lining is falling apart. There is a small stain on the top of the left one due to some rogue raw egg that spilled out of a trash bag. Both heels have cuts, and small bits of gravel often find there way inside there, causing my shoe to sound like a rattle until I pry them out. The left one has an additional huge hole busted out, and some tar or something hardened in the treads. Both soles are heavily worn.

I still wear this pair of shoes to work once or twice a week.

I have nicer brown shoes, but these are more comfortable. Remember my toe spasms? They are gone, but I still have some issues with that leg. For one thing, my right calf muscle twitches more or less constantly. But the more relevant part of the nerve damage makes my right foot is a bit numb, and it doesn't like being confined in a tight sock or shoe.

My American Eagle faux Doc Marten shoes are kinda wide, so my foot tolerates them a little better.

And you thought this post wasn't going to be interesting. Heh heh, you idiot.

So I don't love any of my shoes right now, from a comfort standpoint. And I haven't purchased any new shoes since cancer, because it feels pretty unsatisfying to drop $50 on footwear that feels bad.

Monday, July 29, 2013


If you search instagram or twitter right now for "Mates of State", you'll see me in the background of many photos and videos.

The free, intimate "rehearsal" show they played in the basement of Frank's North Star Tavern was well attended and VERY well documented. Look at all these jokers -- snapping chats and vining their facebooks! Within moments, I felt a strong camaraderie with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

(For the record, I took one picture before the show and two back-to-back pictures during the show. I am perfect.)

I'm glad I chose to stand directly behind them. Sure, I couldn't hear the vocals too well, but this was the closest perspective I will ever have to being in the band. Beyond understanding how rocker could get annoyed by overuse of technology, I was struck by how disinterested many attendees looked. I understand if you don't bop your head or mouth the lyrics, but to stand still without even a smile on your face? That would mess with my head if I were a performer for anything more significant than karaoke. Cheer up, buds! This is fun! This was fun! Good show!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Getting Taipei'd for This!

*this post is written by Gav as a guest blogger. Any complaints can be forwarded to DN.

For most everyone I know, I think there are a handful of things that make them feel alive: skydiving, a child’s laugh, relishing in the last sentence of a good book, completing a marathon… Last week, I had the opportunity to have one of those feelings for myself: navigating my way to a scenic place in a foreign country.

Last Saturday, I woke up, ate some breakfast and took off around 9-9:30 to head to Yangmingshan National Park, which is northwest of Taipei, Taiwan and was my first venture using the bus system. I had to get to Jiantan station to catch Red Bus 5, which would take me straight to the park. This is where the above statement about feeling alive comes into play. I like small international adventures like this. There’s really no real danger, as I’m very capable of handling a map, and it’s a little out of my comfort zone, but not like I’m going Seal-Team 6 and repelling from a chopper into enemy territory. So that morning I looked at a map of how to get to Jiantan and noticed it was a bit of a pain to take the brown line (which Huzhou station is on, which is my stop) to the blue line, to the red line (which Jiantan was on). – There was a stop on the brown line that was about a mile and a half from Jiantan, and not only that, but there was a hiking trail along the way. Cool. Two hikes today. Let’s do it!

The first (smaller) hiking trail was basically a kind of outdoor sports park called Jiantanshan Hiking Trail, and it was super-unique. As I was following the path (there are tons of stone paths in Taiwan that serve as the trails, and I often wonder how many man hours it took to lay them because they are almost perfectly laid and Taiwan is pretty mountainous.) So, as I was walking I saw a little white thingy ascend and descend quickly and discretely through the trees up ahead. As I got closer, I saw it was a shuttlecock. – Flashback: I played quite a bit of badminton as a kid. My parents house had a pretty large yard and every spring-through-fall, we had a badminton court set up. My old-man is pretty salty at the sport, having won intramurals at KU – bear in mind; I know nothing about the competition. – So when I got closer, I climbed a flight of stairs and perched along the mountainside was a large flat rock clearing with two badminton courts and two games going. It was awesome to see. These are the types of things that I love about exploring, and finding: sights totally out of the ordinary to see it in such a cool location.

So with only about three double-backs and sign-checks to confirm I was headed in the right direction, this hiking path it its purpose well and spit me out right next to Jiantan Station.


I completely forgot to tell you about passing Martyrs’ Shrine.

This was by-far the luckiest part of the day, as I had no idea it was there. But along the walk from my stop on the brown line to Jiantanshan Hiking Trail, I passed a heavily military area with guards at every gate (maybe 4 gates total) and up ahead I saw about 7-8 tour buses, so I glanced at my map and saw ‘Martyrs’ Shrine’. When I approached, the shrine looked similar to much of the traditional Asian architecture with the pointy colorful rooftop-looking things and so I went into the courtyard. There were probably 75-100 Chinese tourists lining up along two sides of a red roped area that extended on both sides of two very well-decorated soldiers in white perched completely still on platforms. I looked at my watch and it was 9:57 – At 10:00 there was a changing of the guard. There were 5 (also well-decorated soldiers in white) that came out of an archway off to the side and slowly marched all the way down the courtyard, which was probably 100 meters. I completely lucked into it, and it turned out being one of my favorite photos I think I’ve ever taken. As a friend of mine agreed later; no matter where you are, a changing of the guard is always neat.

So, after locating the metro station, I found the small line of people to board Red Bus 5 and easily got to Yingmingshan Park.

I hiked and hiked to the tune of about 4-5 miles. Had lunch in a small hut like area (water and a clif bar.)

While the changing of the guard was the best photo, I think the highlight of the hike was one of the lizards I saw (out of probably 9. I tried to get a photo of the one with an electric blue tail, but was too slow when trying to grab my camera.) As I was descending a flight of stairs, a family was looking at a lizard that was crossing their path – maybe 5 inches long nose to tail, so not very big – and they were laughing, taking photos, and a boy was yelling ‘Lizard! Lizard!’ Then he saw your’s truly – a white man – approaching behind them and he got so excited when I walked by and was pointing, looking at me, and yelling ‘Lizard! Lizard!’ in English. I gave him the A-OK sign and said ‘That’s Right! Lizard!’

A while ago, a friend of mine once described what she loves about New York City, and it is a slight inconvenience involved with getting through daily life. Not to the point that you would move away, but a feeling that you have to put in a little effort for things. I liked that. – Personally, I enjoy those times I have to use the knowledge I have, a simple tool like a map, and some self-reliance to know that whatever the task or venture, it will probably turn out OK. If I had stuck to the metro system last Saturday, I never would have snapped the photos above.

If given the opportunity to take yourself out of your comfort zone this weekend, or anytime actually, I highly suggest it. If it's in Taipei, I highly suggest taking a hike.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

8th Grade Basketball Championship - Overtime

We are tied at 43. The overtime period is 3 minutes.

Keith wins the second jump ball of the day.

After much patience on offense, Jarod finds Ryan in the lane for a jumper. The shot is blocked by Andale #4.

Andale #53 tries a deep two over Ryan on the right wing, which bounces long. Rebound Andale #54, who misses a challenged putback. Rebound is tipped and secured by me.

Justin barely gets an entry pass past Andale #53, and Keith's short turnaround jumper in the lane bounces in.

Andale #42 passes into #51 to post against Ryan, but he's well-guarded. He passes back out to #42 on the right wing, who makes a jumper.

We give it to Jarod on the baseline, and before I can cut through to the other side of the lane, he drives to the basket. I stop my cut, and watch him perform a nifty step-through reverse layup without using the backboard. Some in the crowd want a traveling call, and I'm surprised these Luddite refs allow it. 1:35 remaining, St Mark up 2.

Andale #42 lobs it into #53 at the right block, and he is surrounded by 3 defenders. Keith is called for a foul from behind on #53's shot, his first foul of the entire game.

First free throw is missed short.

Second free throw spins out, rebound by Jarod.

After a lot of ball movement, Ryan misses a mid-range jumper from the right wing. Jarod has his man boxed out, and comes up with the rebound, which he dribbles out to the corner. Everyone goes nuts because he may have carried the ball while doing so. His second dribble certainly got away from him a bit; again, I'm shocked that these refs didn't make the call, considering their conservative nature. Maybe they are fatigued by the extra period and want to wrap this thing up.

Our offense works it to Jarod in the right corner, and we stand around and watch him. This is probably what we should have been doing the entire game - at the very least, I should have been passing it to him and then running the opposite direction so as not to screw up another possession. Anyway, somewhat remarkably, Jarod steps through a doubleteam, gets a very useful but mostly unintentional screen by Keith on #53, and hits a wide open shot a few feet from the basket. After the bucket, Andale #53 makes the "carrying" motion to the nearest ref.

Andale #51 again gets it on the right wing and drives against Ryan - maybe the coaches like the height differential in that matchup? Fine by me, I'm not getting scored on much anymore. Anyway, his drive is cut off by Keith's help at the right block. He pivots, considers a pass across the lane, decides against it and passes back to #4 at the top of the key. In the process, he drags his foot and is called for traveling. Everyone is now convinced of a referee conspiracy, I'm sure. I clap for too long again like an asshole.

St Mark calls a timeout.

Our timeout allows Andale to set up a press. Inbound pass to Jarod, back to me, dribbling up the right side and passing to Keith at mid-court. The pass isn't secured, and Andale #51 gets the ball. Since the camera is swinging right to see the pass hit Keith, I can't quite tell if the pass is bad or the catch is bad. Keith seems to be jumping toward me to make a catch, and the ball goes too far to his right. I'm scoring it as a bad pass by me - what's one more for me at this point?

In the chaos after the steal, Andale #53 gets a shot in the lane after a power dribble. It bounces off to the left, and is rebounded by Andale #54. Jarod is called for a foul going after the rebound.

As Andale readies to inbound from the baseline, I look extremely disinterested in the overtime period of the tournament championship, final basketball game of my 8th grade career, up by 4 with very little time left.

We are playing zone. The ball is lobbed over me to Andale #4. I make little effort to get around #42 and reach him at the three point line, where he launches a shot. It misses short, and #42, who I finally got past, is able to get the long rebound. He passes to #4, still in the same spot, who puts up another three that misses long and bounces out of bounds. It's a two-possession game, so Andale didn't need a three there. They were both open shots, though.

I knew this was coming; I remember it well. In practice against the press, I'd do this thing where I faked pass toward the sideline, then lob to Jarod toward the middle of the court. Jarod and I never discussed it, but we were always on the same page and it always worked. In practice. On this occasion, I lob it directly to #53, who dribbles straight in for a layup. It's my 10th turnover. Andale's entire team has 13 turnovers.

We have a 2 point lead. Tensions are high. Can we hold on? I've just committed my TENTH turnover, and must inbound again against the Andale press. I look up at the scoreboard. The ref bounces the ball to me. I consider passing to Justin, but why? The clock is still running. The buzzer sounds. St Mark wins as time expires as I am holding the ball out of bounds. This is quite unorthodox, and I have no idea if this is how the clock is supposed to work in our league, or if the person working the scoreboard screwed up by not stopping it after the made basket. The camera is stopped almost immediately, which is unfortunate, because we can't see if the Andale coaches are mad (scoreboard error) or not (no scoreboard error). I assume I would remember a big argument, so maybe that's just how our crappy little league did things.

"Hi, future self!"

Speaking of coaches, our coach was not very pleased with our play. In the locker room, he told us that he wasn't happy with the close game. I think he wanted to crush them, because when we beat them earlier in the year, people (?) claimed it was because they were missing their point guard due to an injury. He did say that he'd get over it soon, and sure enough, by the time we saw him at school that week he was genial.

Instead of recording traditional basketball stats, I marked them the same way we used to back then, with the same turnover categories.

Andale committed 13 fouls to our 11, but shot 9 free throws to our 1. No players fouled out, despite early foul trouble for Andale. Andale only hit 3 of 9 free throws; Keith missed our only free throw attempt.

The stats might be off, but I only credited Andale with 9 steals. That means many of our 19 turnover passes went out of bounds.

I had 10 of our team's 25 turnovers. Justin was the next highest, with 7, but he had 9 assists.

Andale dominated the offensive glass, 13 to 5. All of #53's 5 rebounds were on offense. Total rebounds were close - St Mark had 23 and Andale had 20. Jarod led all players with 8 rebounds.

We were able to stay in the game despite turnovers because of our high shot percentage. We were 20 for 35 (57%) through four quarters, and were 3-5 (including Ryan's blocked attempt) in overtime.

Justin was 1 for 2 on threes. Andale shot 42%, including 0-3 for three, but did get 13 of those misses back on offensive rebounds.

St Mark had 17 assists on 24 field goals. Andale had 13 assists on 22 shots.

*  *  *

So that was the end of my run as a starting basketball player. I went to a different high school than all of my teammates, and I did make the freshman team there. I got a bit of playing time here and there, mostly as a punishment for whatever player (Phil) screwed up, because I wasn't very good. I improved most, I think, in the couple years after that, when I regularly played pickup games with other high school kids on Sundays. I hadn't been exposed to many 5 on 5 games prior to that, simply because all of my grade school classmates lived in rural areas, and it was hard to get everybody together for a game. Then in college, playing constantly at the rec center really improved my basketball knowledge and skills. My intramural league team won its division, and lost the tournament final. I wasn't a big part of that, but I was on the team as a 6th or 7th man, depending on how many of our studs showed up for the game. We won a T-shirt. Which was more than we won for this 8th grade game -- we only got one trophy for the school, not individual ones for each of us.

Monday, July 08, 2013

8th Grade Basketball Championship - 4th Quarter

Start of the 4th quarter. Andale ball. #53 is back in the game with 4 fouls. Matt is in for Ryan.

Andale #42 finds #51 under the basket for an open layup. I'm pretty sure it's my fault. We might be in 1-3-1, so he'd be my responsibility.

Jarod drives baseline, dishes to me while eveyone yells for traveling, I get a shot blocked but it doesn't matter, because Keith or I was called for a 3 second violation. I'm guessing Keith, because my 3 seconds should have reset when I got Jarod's pass. No shot attempt recorded.

Andale #51 misses the same shot he made last time. Keith was there this time to adjust his shot, and Keith gets the rebound.

Jarod shoots from the right wing before the offense or defense is settled. Sweet J.

Andale #4 passes to #51, posting me up on the left block. Turnaround/baby hook is good. Looks like we're in a 2-1-2, not a 1-3-1.

Matt's pass is stolen by Andale #51, then I get it right back when he tries to pass upcourt. I wisely decide not to drive, and wait to reset the offense.

Hey, fuck that noise, I'm going to take this pass and drive past my man, then take an awkward runner that airballs over the hoop. Rebound Andale #54.

These bad shots are contagious. Everyone wants to take over the game, I guess. Andale #53 misses a deep baseline jumper. Offensive rebound by #42, who is fouled on the putback. We're going to have free throws! I think the foul is called on Matt. Ryan subs in for him - he's been waiting to sub in for a few plays.

First free throw missed. You can see me bending over, uncomfortable. I recall having some phlegm or something. All the bench players drank all our water, so we had nothing to drink. I was parched.

Second free throw made.

Extreme close up on me. Lord knows how, but I now have possession of the ball.

Keith hot streak ends, as he only hits backboard on his jumper from the lane. Rebound Andale #42.

Andale #51 misses one shot in the lane, then gets the rebound and makes his second attempt. They are find a spot in our zone, and that spot seems to be me. I can't tell you how fun it is to watch myself get dismantled like this.

We are actually patient on offense, and I make an open shot on the right wing. Assist Justin. Both point guards have 6 assists.

Andale #53 misses from the right elbow. Keith rebounds.

Keith makes a bad pass while driving, Ryan can't catch it. Out of bounds to Andale.

My aunt decides to focus on me and narrate, not realizing this would be embarrasing when seen on YouTube in 20 years.

Andale #42 throws a bad lob that is luckily retrieved by #54, who sinks a mid-range jumper from the left wing.

We are again patient, and I get fouled when grabbing a pass by Andale #42. Timeout St Mark. Andale has cut the lead to 37-33.

I miss an open baseline jumper, rebound Andale #42.

Andale pushes it upcourt, and #54 is fouled by Ryan on a shot attempt. #53 is very pumped. Emotions are high. Ryan has 4 fouls.

This guy is left handed! And he misses his first attempt.

Second free throw made.

Again, I decide I'm the best, and take it toward the lane where I promptly turn it over when trying to pass to Keith. #53 takes it coast to coast and sinks a short jumper.

AGAIN, I lose the ball driving toward the lane. Andale is playing zone, and I am dribbling straight into 3 dudes. I am the worst. #42 comes up with the ball, so I score a steal for him, although #51 may have poked it away.

Jarod is called for a block as #51 tries a layup.

First free throw is good. Tie game. They are pumped.

Second free throw missed, rebound Ryan.

I actually pass! The ball is worked into Keith for 2. Assist Justin.

Andale #4, bringing the ball up, decides to drive down the middle, takes a contested shot at the free throw line over Ryan, and sinks it. It's his first points of the day.

I give it to Keith again, he scores again. The kid knows how to post up. He's 7 of 8.

We're in man defense. Andale #4 throws a deep lob to #51, who pump fakes to get Jarod up, then makes a layup over him. Tie again. About one minute left.

Justin fakes to me, and I slip behind the zone defender who came out to intercept the pass. Then Justin hits me on the right wing, and I somehow have the indecency to take another shot. It may seem like I was some kind of me-first, Sam Marbury type player who only cared about his own stats. This may look like a play from a kid with big brass balls that wanted the game on his shoulers. This is not accurate. I was always timid, in basketball and in all other aspects, until I was 27 or so years old. Still, for some reason I shoot with confidence here, and I am open. Swish. We go up by 2 points.

Andale #42 is kind of isolated against Justin at the free throw line, drives right, and airballs the layup long. Rebound to Jarod, who dribbles a bit and is fouled by Andale #51, his fourth foul. Both #51 and #53 have four fouls. They account for 30 of Andale's 41 points.

Press! But we inbound ok.

After some back-and-forth passing, Keith is fouled by Andale #42. The crowd seems very pro-Andale and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because they're the underdog, maybe more of their fans/parents showed up, or maybe it's just where the camera is situated.

Timeout Andale. 23 seconds left, free throws coming for Keith. Their coach looks kinda like Danny McBride.

I mean, some girls are doing the R E B O U N D cheer for Andale! Where's our cheer section?

Keith misses the 1-and-1, but there's a whistle. Andale #4 came in the lane early. Redo.

Keith misses again, rebound Andale #51, just as the girls predicted/wished. Timeout Andale, 18 seconds left.

Andale is inbounding from the backcourt sideline. We have Jarod guarding the inbound passer, and Justin is there to defend the two guards. Out of frame, Ryan is also up to provide pressure. I can't see the inbound passer, but he must fake a pass back toward their own basket, because both Justin and Ryan start in that direction. #4 gets the inbound pass heading the right direction, with 3 St Mark defenders behind him. Keith and I are left to defend the 3-on-2 break. Every indoor recess, we practiced 3-on-2, and Keith and I were great as the two defenders. He's play back, I'd play up, and we'd often prevent a score despite the disadvantage. Here, though, Keith is caught playing the ball, and I'm caught toward the left sideline, struggling to run back under the basket. #4 drives and dishes to #53, who puts in the layup. Tie game.

Jarod is triple teamed, and misses a buzzer-beater short from the left wing. Overtime!

8th Grade Basketball Championship - 3rd Quarter

Our ball to start the second half! I take a dribble on the right wing and put up a not wet jumper. Rebound Andale #4. A foul is called on Ryan, who fell down trying to get that board. I don't know. It really seems like these refs would prefer only two people try to rebound - one from the offense, one from the defense, each on a different side of the lane, just wait for the ball to roll toward you please. That's 3 fouls on Ryan.

I think we're still trying a 1-3-1. I remember practicing this defense once, but I thought it was so that we'd know what to do when someone sprung it on us, not so we could use it. Andale #4 takes a shot from the free throw line and misses; I get the rebound.

After they knock the ball out on the sideline, I inbound to Keith, who dishes to Jarod in the corner. Jarod casually dribbles between his legs to get past his man, shoots at the block, swish.

Andale #53 can't handle a pass, and the ball is dribbled off his foot and out of bounds. I'm scoring it as a misc. turnover for #53.

Justin's lob pass over the half-court trap is grabbed by Andale #53. He dribbles right all the way in for a 2. Very sportsmanlike of Keith not to use a flagrant foul there.

Foul called on Andale #51 as Justin crosses midcourt

Travel on Justin after the inbound. He started to pass, decided not to, and dragged his foot.

Andale #4 gets it to #51 inside the free throw line, his turnaround J is bounces in.

We swing it around to me, and I'm allowed to drive baseline. Reverse layup is good. If you're hoping to see any more instances of me behaving like a competent sportsman, I have bad news for you.

They dump it off to #51, who can't make a contested shot under the hoop. Rebound by Jarod.

The first three-point attempt of the night, and possibly all season, is good. Justin drains it. Assist by Jarod. We have a 9-point lead, and are shooting 65%

Why are they passing to their huge center in the left corner? He's bracketed by me and Jarod, and is called for the charge as he tries to get past Jarod going baseline. That's 4 fouls on #53, who has 14 points. I clap enthusiastically like a really cool guy would. He is benched. My brother is working the camera now, providing sarcastic comments and the occasional look at the scoreboard, which shows that we are the home team. The quality of this VHS is not great, but it seems there is no apostrophe on our "SAINT MARKS" banner, which outrages me. It's St Mark. It's casually called St Mark's, because nothing is in the town except for the church and the school. "I'm heading to St Mark's," is correct usage, if and only if you are heading to the school or church. If you are just going to the (unincorporated) city limits, you should say, "I'm going to St Mark."

Justin's heat check from 3 is no good. Rebound Andale #4, who drives but pulls it out to run offense.

Andale #51 hits a short baseline jumper over Jarod. Assist by #44, who does not look comfortable with the rock. We've almost played 3 quarters with zero free throws. Strange.

Jarod is triple teamed, and overthrows Ryan on the other side of the court. Someone, I assume St Mark, calls timeout.

Ball knocked out of bounds by Keith, Andale inbounds from the baseline.

The ball hits #44's foot after a bad pass from a teammate, so the ref calls kicking. Kicking is supposed to be called on intentional kicks by the defense, not accidental foot contact by the offense. I guess that's a passing turnover on #4? He's now tied with me for the lead in turnovers (6), a hollow triumph considering this last turnover was bunk. St Mark ball.

Keith tries to get it to Jarod under the basket, but it's tipped by Andale, then by Jarod before going out. Andale ball.

Andale #4 picks up his dribble at the top of the key, so Justin and Jarod back off him. He does this weird move and sticks the ball out in front of him, as if to say, "Look how far I can stick this ball out in my hands. No one is around me."

Andale #42's jumper from the right baseline bounces in, his first bucket of the night (he had been 0-5). Assist #4.

I squeeze a pass in to Jarod under the basket. He misses, gets his own rebound, and is shockingly not called for a foul, because there are three defenders in front and around him. Instead, Andale #51 is called for a foul.

Jarod is inbounding it? Where am I going to get my assists? He lobs it to Justin, who immediately sends it to Keith posting in the lane. Turnaround is good. "Good play, excellent," says my aunt in the background. Not sure if the "excellent" is a Wayne's World reference, but this is February 12, 1993, so I'm gonna lean toward yes.

Andale #4 misses a jumper from the right baseline. I should have just made a macro for the word baseline -- maybe I still should. There's still a quarter left. Rebound #42. #4 tries the same shot again, no dice. He's 0-5. Rebound Keith. That's the first rebound I have scored for our 6'2" center. Over-the-back called on Andale #51, which might be the first correct rebounding foul call. Three fouls on #51.

Andale hasn't tried the half court trap much this half. Maybe no one on their bench was counting how many turnovers I was giving them. Anyway, we're back to our standard offense, which runs smoothly here. Point to wing to baseline, back to point, in to center for a short turnaround 2. Andale is really missing their post presence, and you can see how teams in our league without the benefit of tall athletes suffered. Keith has not missed a shot - he's a Christian Laettner-like 5-5. That is the most precise reference, since the Duke/Kentucky game was about 10 months prior to this game.

Kicking is correctly called when I kick a pass. Or so it seems - they call kicking on Andale #51, whose foot was next to mine. I can't tell. Neither of us seem to argue it, but you can hear my dad saying I kicked it. Turnover marked for Andale #54, who threw the pass.

Justin throws it behind me on the wing as we're setting up our offense. Out of bounds to Andale. I'm scoring it as a turnover by Justin; I don't know why we were mixed up there.

Andale #42 misses a three, but it's thrilling to see another one attempted. Rebound me.

Jarod tries to start a break, and his pass in the lane is deflected out of bounds. He gets to pass it in again.

Inbound to me, right back to Jarod, whose turnaround at the block bounces out. The rebound is tipped by many and Jarod recovers it. His baseline jumper at the buzzer is no good. St Mark leads 33-24 going into the final quarter.

8th Grade Basketball Championship - 2nd Quarter

Andale #51 misses a turnaround in the lane. Another offensive rebound to #53, who sticks it in.

Andale #42 tips a Justin pass out of bounds. Our ball on the baseline.

I inbound to Justin at the elbow, who sinks an unguarded J.

We're in man-to-man! This might have been the first time we ever got out of our zone defense the entire season. They set a pick on Ryan for #4, who misses a baseline jumper long. #53 gets yet another offensive rebound thanks to the long miss. #51 hits the side of the backboard on his shot attempt, but Andale gets another offensive rebound. #4 takes the rebound and goes back up, but misses. Rebound to #51, another put-back miss. He is 1-for-6 now. Rebound Jerod.

Jarod misses a layup but gets his own rebound.

Jarod causally dribbles between his legs, even though it's basically the equivalent of dunking to his peers in this game.

Jarod throws it over my head. Turnover. We have 9 turnovers to Andale's 4. We have 7 shot attempts to Andale's 19.

Andale #4 can't lob it over Keith, who snatches it from the air.

They call a carry on Jarod as he is driving toward the rack. It's probably to teach him a lesson for his fancy dribbling skills. Well, he actually calls traveling, even though it's a carry, and it's also closer to a double dribble than traveling. I'm marking it as traveling.

A very quick whistle for a jump ball, which goes to us. I'm scoring it as a miscellaneous turnover for Andale #42.

Jarod misses a reverse baseline layup. The rebound is knocked around before it's handled by Justin, who dishes to Keith for a turnaround J in the post. This ends what feels like a very long scoring drought.

Keith swats a shot by Andale #51

Keith creates a fast break from his own block, but is about to lose his dribble, which is unfortunate because he had a clear path to the basket. He passes to Ryan, who is bumped. Foul on #54, his third. #44 comes in for him. Andale timeout.

I throw it directly to Andale #53 on the inbound. It looks pathetic.

#42 misses a baseline jumper coming off a pick. Rebound goes long again, to #53 again, but he's whistled for a foul. The ref says it's a push (against Keith I assume), but it seems to me the ref had a bad angle. Sucks for them, because that's the third foul on #53, who has 10 points and 5 rebounds (all offensive) with 3:15 left in the 2nd quarter. He stays in the game.

Our new offense works great, but those crisp passes go for naught when Jarod misses a short baseline shot. He's 2 for 7 so far. Rebound out of bounds, Andale ball.

Justin denies #4 the ball on the inbound, the first time St Mark has shown any kind of full court pressure. Whoever is working the videocamera uses zoom for the first time. Andale #44 misses a shot from the elbow, rebound to Justin.

Justin is doubleteamed under the opponent's basket after his rebound, and throws it to Andale #51, who puts in an easy layup. Justin now has 4 bad passes, but he will have to keep working to surpass my 5.

We execute the same play as the last possession, and this time Jarod scores from the same spot on the floor. Assist by Ryan.

Andale #51 loses the ball on a drive, but the resulting jump ball stays with Andale. No turnover recorded.

Andale #51 throws it over #4's head and out of bounds. It looks like he was trying to go in the paint with his inbound pass, changed his mind at the last second and made an off-target heave to the wing instead.

Again, we carve up the half-court trap. Keith with the assist to Jarod, whose shot is good from the right block. This is the first time we've been tied since 0-0.

After more full court pressure, Andale #53 gets free on the right side and drives to the hoop. Ryan is called for a block, his second foul. Maybe this time there will actually be free throws?

Nope! These refs don't like fighting for rebounds, fancy dribblin', or the act of shooting. Andale #42 misses off the inbound from the left block, Justin gets the rebound. Our point guard is now our leading rebounder, with 3 defensive and 1 offensive board. #42 is 0-5 from the field.

I look so awkward dribbling. I mean, I am only helping bring the ball up because of this half-court trap. Normally I ran the baseline, tossed it into Keith, and watched him score. Now I'm in the backcourt and I'm terrified. Andale should have been forcing me to my left - it looks like I'm not even aware I have a left hand. But that could be said for most every right-handed kid on the court

Jarod gets a pass too far under the basket, and kicks it out to me for a shot from the left wing. My J is so wet. First lead of the game for St Mark.

Ryan was subbed in because he improved a lot during that season, and he is looking tenacious so far. He gets picked, switches men with Justin, and swats a pass from #4. He gains possession, outruns #42 to the rack and makes a contested layup. He continues the streak of players using their right hands on the left side. St Mark is on an 8-0 run.

Andale #4 dribbles too far down, and gets trapped by Ryan and Keith in the corner. Keith gets a hand on the ball as #4 tries to pass, and as Jarod starts to control it, Keith comes up with it and drives down the left sideline. (I award the steal to Keith.)

Keith rises to shoot the layup with each hand on the ball, and then he kinda shuffles it slightly and banks it in with his right hand. Reminds me of a volleyball player who set up his own spike.

Timeout Andale. St. Mark is on a 10-0 run and now leads 20-14.

It looks like we came out in a 1-3-1 zone. I am more shocked at this than Andale was, as they calmly work the ball in to #53, who makes a jumper a few feet inside the free throw line. Assist #4.

Justin completes a long, arcing pass to Jarod in the left corner. Andale #44 just misses getting a hand on it, Jarod gets by him, challenges #53 in the lane with a hanging shot, and gets the bucket. Assist Justin.

Confusing sequence. Andale #42 loses it, Ryan comes up with it, passes to Justin, and the whistle comes in to call a travel. I assume they're calling it on Ryan? I'm marking a turnover for #42, steal for Ryan, and travel for Ryan. I just don't see how it could be a travel on Justin, so I have to assume it was a travel on Ryan while the camera's view of him was obstructed by the Mennonite lady.

Andale #53 misses a buzzer-beating half-court heave off the inbound. End of half. St Mark up 22-16. There was a three-point shooting contest at halftime. Kent participated from our school; I think he beat me out for it. It's just as well, because I usually sucked at 3's, plus I had to strategize with the coach and whatnot. I think a Menonnite girl won the women's competition. Those ladies were also great at softball.