Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Anticipating a great weekend

After that big trip to San Francisco in April which afforded me the opportunity to fulfill a dream of playing golf at arguably the greatest course in the world in Pebble Beach, I've been going strong at the office. I posted record numbers for the bank in July. August stands to be just as good. The problem is, other than a couple of days to stay home and watch the Britist Open or the PGA Championship, I've been living in my office. Even those of us with the best careers in the world get burned out from time to time. This might be one of those times for me. Thankfully, a mini vacation of sorts is coming this weekend.

There won't be any big elaborate trips this time around. Instead, my time off is going to be filled with good food, a couple of good bottles of wine, a few Blue Moons, quality time with my good friend Randolph, and the glorious beginning of college football season.

The bank already observes Labor Day as a federal holiday on this coming Monday, so I thought I'd take Friday off to make it that much sweeter (As if college football and the coeds that come included in the deal don't make it sweet enough to begin with!). For those of you not fortunate enough to attend a game between the pines in beautiful Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, let me tell you what you're missing: Coeds.

I've been fortunate enough to attend football games at colleges all over the southeast: Clemson, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Ole Miss...the list goes on. I think it's a safe bet that the University of North Carolina has the finest coeds this side of the Mississippi (Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss. is a close second). And get this, they have brains too! So while I'll be attending Saturday night's opening game against James Madison, I won't be attending just for the football, I'll be attending for the surrounding eye candy and the off chance that I "accidently" bump into one of those fine young specimens and am lucky enough to start a conversation with her. By the way, there's a reason you see all the old men bring binoculars with them to the game, and it's not because their cataracts prevent them from seeing the action on the line of scrimmage. They're checking out the coeds. With the level of technology available today, I'd be willing to bet they can see the little beads of sweat dripping down the cheeerleaders perfectly tanned, taut abdominals and pooling inside their pierced belly buttons.

Believe it or not, while this glorious event is taking place, there might actually be some football being played. Excitement is high this year for Tar Heel football, yet the bar for expectations among the masses is considerably lower. We're excited for the coming of the next Messiah, Coach Butch Davis, who for those of you are not aware, resurrected a Miami program coming off NCAA probation ( a time in which their scholarships were severely limited) in the late 90's and took them all the way to the top of the college football world within 5 seasons. The year after he left, Larry Coker won it all with Davis' players, then came within a couple of plays and a Willis McGahee broken leg of doing again the next year. Of course, Coker has since been fired. So that tells you how much of a factor his coaching was in winning a national championship, as opposed to the level of talent that Butch Davis recruited. Davis had enough players go in the first round of the NFL draft who played for him in five seasons in Miami to field an expansion team. The guy has an eye for talent, and he can coach that talent.

People are expecting big things in Chapel Hill, and I'm not referring to Roy William's hardwood Heels (Although they will be the preseason #1 team this year and the favorite to win it all with Junior big man Tyler Hansbrough's leadership). Davis is the chosen man to turn around what Carl Torbush and John Bunting ruined in the 9 seasons following Mack Brown's departure to Texas. This righting of the ship is not expected to happen right away, however. It's going to take 2 or 3 seasons. This years team is nearly half freshmen and redshirt freshmen. There's going to be a learning curve. It's inevitable. On the way to greatness, expect them to win some games they shouldn't win and lose some they should win. Regardless, it's going to be fun, because Heel fans know as long as Davis is in place, things are going to be headed in the right direction. Progress is going to be made, week by week. By the 12th and final game of the season, expect the team to look completely different than they did on that first weekend in September. They'll be better. Things like that just take time.

In the meantime, expect the ride to be a fun one. I know I'll be in Kenan Stadium Saturday night with my good friend Randolph, both of us not knowing what to expect from this young team. But it's going to be fun. Besides, if the football gets ugly, I'll borrow the binoculars of the old man seated next to me. There's always coeds!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Call me crazy, but...

I believe Michael Vick. I believe he's sorry. I believe he realized he made a mistake, and that he had to be a man about it, own up to it, and put himself out there for all to see as an example of what not to do.

Vick stood in front of that podium, and the world, for nearly 15 minutes expressing his remorse. It wasn't scripted. If it were, it would have been filled with far more legal jargon and grammatical correctness. But it wasn't. He stood there, took the time to gather his thoughts, and spoke from the heart.

He even went as far as to issue a disclaimer, saying he was just a football player, not a public speaker, and that because of this the things he was about to say weren't going to sound like a prepared statement, because they weren't. They were true, genuine thoughts and feelings of remorse that this man - who is still a human being believe it or not - was about to attempt to put into words in front of the entire world.

I give Vick credit. He could have easily had his lawyer prepare a statement to be read while he was hiding in some back room somewhere deep in the bowels of that Richmond, Virginia courthouse. But he didn't. He took it like a man. He faced the fire. He took responsibility. He pledged to redeem himself. Think of how many others didn't. You listening, Pacman Jones? How about you, Jayson Williams? Mike Tyson? Paris? Lindsay? Are you people listening?

Our athletes, musicians, and movie stars need to learn what that word means: "responsibility". Whether it's killing a limo driver accidentally and later denying it, raping a woman, or driving drunk multiple times with disregard for the lives of those around you, they need to take responsibility for their actions. They're not above the law, as much as the bottom line on their bank statement, or their athletic ability may lead them to believe they are.

Therefore, young people and celebrities alike need to let Michael Vick serve as an example of how not to act. You can be filthy rich, beautiful, or the most athletically talented person in your particular sport, but none of that matters if you don't know right from wrong.

A big factor in the numerous events that have caused the downfall of many of our celebrities and athletes in the past couple of decades has been hip-hop. It's not been the music so much as it's been the culture. Let me first issue a disclaimer of my own. I'm a white guy, and because I'm a white guy, I can't speak for the black community. What I have to say would have absolutely no credibility within the black community because of the color of my skin. However, I'm going to say it anyway.

The so-called hip-hop culture that arose in our society in the 80's and 90's ,and has since culminated into a media giant in the past 4 or 5 years should shoulder at least a portion of the blame here. I say this, having grown up listening to rap music practically from the time I could walk. I play it loud in my car, I play it loud at home. I even know all the words. However, I know the difference between talking about something and doing it.

For whatever reason, black athletes these days have become woven into the very fabric of hip-hop culture. The two almost go hand-in-hand. The trouble is, some black athletes, who have come to think they're above the law as I mentioned earlier (whether it be through ridiculous paychecks, fan worship, endorsement deals, or groupies), have started to take the things hip-hop artists talk about literally.

Adam "Pac Man" Jones of Tennessee Titan fame is perhaps the best recent example of this. During NBA All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas a couple of months ago, Jones got involved in an altercation after "making it rain" on a stripper and a brawl ensued. Shots were fired. And where do you think he got the idea to "make it rain on them hoes"? Lil' Wayne. Rap music.

Even more sickening have been the comments in the past few weeks from other athletes like Stephon Marbury and Deion Sanders. They've all but condoned dog-fighting, calling it a part of black culture and even a sport.

With athletes acting the same as rappers, there aren't too many role models left for our children. Except parents. Parents should be the front line against teaching our kids right from wrong, not athletes like Michael Vick. Sadly, we can't count on athletes to be role models these days. The Tiger Woods' and Arthur Ashe's of the world are few and far between in 2007.

It is because of this that it felt so refreshing yesterday to see Michael Vick on television, admitting, in what I believe to be a sincere manner, the error of his ways. It took a troubling matter of monumental enormity for Vick to wake up, but I belive he has. He openly rejected dog-fighting and other criminal activity. He told kids not to be like him, but be better than him. And he didn't mean Michael Vick the football player, but Michael Vick the person.

It's unfortunate it took something as horrifying as dog-fighting to set this example, but at least it's been set. For years to come, we as a society should not forget these events, but rather let them serve as a reminder of what can happen to any of us when we go astray. I just hope other athletes, celebrities, and most of all, black American youths have their eyes and ears open. Michael Vick is not only learning a tough lesson, he's teaching us all one too.

Call me crazy, but I believe Michael Vick.

Monday, August 27, 2007

So I deciced to write...

the great American novel. At this point I have no idea what it's going to be about. I've done some brainstorming but haven't come up with anything decisive as of yet. Yes, I know I'm a banker, but it's always been my belief that I should have been a writer; a belief that is shared by my the most influential person in my life, my mother. I'd probably be a sports journalist if I could do anything I wanted. However, this book probably won't be about sports. It will probably be about life, love, and the general pursuit of happiness. While this will most likely be a work of fiction, I will use parallels in my own life to shape my characters, whether it be a character who is a projection of myself, or one whose attitude and mannerisms are influenced by those around me (friends, family, co-workers).

Any ideas you may have can be directed to me at I'll keep you updated here about my chosen subject, working title, plot, etc.

An 11th random thought

11. Guys who wear the cell phones clipped on their belts really need help. Do they not realize how ridiculous they look? I think it's a safe bet they either A) are virgins, or B) rarely get laid. Stick it in your pocket man.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ten Random Thoughts

1. I really, really, really hate the people who walk around with a Bluetooth earpiece stuck to the side of their face, regardless of whether or not they're actually talking to anyone. Newsflash: This isn't Star Trek, and you're not Captain Spock.

2. Fat people disgust me. Besides the fact that they are gross to anyone that has to lay eyes on them, what really gets me is the excuse they like to use about how people should mind their own business because they're fatness isn't affecting anyone else. Riiiiight. Try telling that to my health insurance company, fat ass.

3. People who drop big words in everyday conversation, without even knowing what those words mean are poseurs. They interject them merely to project an image of being intelligent. Please. Quit feigning intelligence. You either have it or you don't.

4. While I'm on the subject of the written and spoken word, I would be remiss without mentioning people who use words that don't exist. Irregardless isn't a word, and it never will be, REGARDLESS of how many times you use it.

5. I can't stand when someone says "Can I ask you a question?" Didn't really give me much of a chance, did you?

6. Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson and Kanye West both have albums dropping on September 11th. The very public, very verbal jabs coming from both sides in the leadup to their album debuts are growing more personal every day. This could very easily become this decade's Biggie versus Tupac rivalry (hopefully without the gunfire). Rap is relevant again.

7. Speaking of September 11th, can anyone else believe this will be the 6th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon? Momma wasn't kidding when she said time flies the older you get.

8. I had the opportunity to stand in awe of that enormous abyss in lower Manhattan last October. For the first time, I truly felt the pain of all those who died on that tragic day, as well as the family and friends they left behind. We're so desensitized to tragedy as a society. My first thought was that the media is to blame. But maybe it's not the news media. Maybe it's the television. We see stories of rescuers trying to dig miners from the darkest depts of the earth, and a catastrophic hurricane leaving a path of destruction that will forever change the lives of countless human beings. Some of us even remain oblivious. Yet with the simple push of a button, we can easily escape to Grey's Anatomy or ESPN, and return to our regularly scheduled lives. We can change the channel. They can't.

9. I wonder if I'm the only one who thinks it's ridiculous to call somewhere in this country and have to press 1 to hear the options in English. Last time I checked, this is America. If you want to move here (hopefully legally), learn to speak the language. I wouldn't move to the Amazon and expect the spear toting natives in loin cloths to learn to speak my language. I'd learn the native tongue and attempt to fit in.

10. I'm very excited about the start of the college football season. I'm not so much as excited for the football, as I am for what it signals. College basketball is right around the corner!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Blogging the weekend...

First of all let me apologize to my readers (all 3 of you) for the delay in this weekend's post. It being slightly eventful, combined with my Sunday evening procrastination are to blame. Let's see, where shall I begin? I suppose chronological order makes the most sense.

Friday night my buddy Andrew, better known as Saquatch because he's something like 6'6", 240 pounds rolled into town from the dirty south, ATL to be specific. He holds the same position I do with the bank, but his market is entirely different, and makes for some interesting conversations during the work week. Let's just say I spend the majority of my time selling money to business clients, and Andrew spends the majority of his time begging, whether it be begging them to take it, or begging them to give it to him. Andrew's a very fun guy to hang out with, mostly because he and I share the same affinity for crude, offensive humor.

We met up with one of his old Raleigh girl friends, and no I don't mean girlfriend, I mean friend that happens to be a girl. However, in the car on the way there he very willingly volunteered her proficiency for metaphorically being able to suck a golf ball through a garden hose. This was the kind of girl I had to meet, I thought to myself. So we met this chick at Flying Saucer, which is one of my most favorite places in the world to consume quality fermented wheat, barley, and hops, otherwise known to Homer Simpson as "sweet, sweet beer" (the waitresses aren't bad eye candy either!). She was really cool. She was one of those chicks that likes to hang out with the guys, and that's always cool. The mood was light and fun until one of her co-workers showed up to hang out with us, after being fired from her job only hours earlier. Needless to say the mood changed drastically from that point forward. To make matters worse, it was compounded by her boyfriend's lack of consolation and concern. The guy was at home playing video games with his boys. I can't say I blamed the chick for being as upset as she was. She was a sweet girl, and she was hot. He should have been there for her. Did I mention she was hot? Anyway, as the night went on, she got angrier and angrier, more about her boyfriend than about losing her job (Which by the way, was a simple waitressing job. She acted like those aren't readily available. It's not like she got disbarred ala Mike Nifong and is going to have a hard time getting hired somewhere else).

So after a few beers, she got this idea that it would be fun to go clubbing and dance with hot guys to forget her boyfriend. Yeah, that's the ticket sister. She insisted that she and the other chick, who was much cooler, but less hotter, go change into something sexier for the club. So Andrew and I take these two chicks to one of the girls' houses and wait half an hour for them to decide on something to wear. Luckily, we did get a bit of a show out of that, but I'm not so willing to divulge that bit of information. We ended up at a few places after that, White Collar Crime, and Ess Lounge next door. Ess lounge, by the way, is the place that singer Uncle Kracker was arrested for sexual assault less than 24 hours earlier. I have since been informed that this arrest came after a female accused him of giving her a titty twister. What is this world coming to? If you can't playfully give someone a titty twister anymore without having to think about the legal consequences of the action, you're destined to live a boring, monotonous life. Both clubs were pathetically lame, unless the idea of meatheads cockblocking you all night while wearing the same shiny black shirt from Express that's two sizes too small for their steriod-enhanced biceps excites you. Much more appealing were the females in Julia Roberts Pretty Woman hooker dresses, accessorized with the best plastic ASSets money can buy. Sadly, this weekend's models did not also come equipped with brains as standard factory equipment. I'm sure some guy used them as pump and dump material Friday night, but there weren't enough $15 Grey Goose martinis to entice me to do the same.

The night ended up at Blue Martini, which wasn't quite as lame as the two previous nightspots, but still rather lame in its own right. Saturday was a bit boring (can't wait for college football to fill that void). However, Saturday night I went to a little birthday gathering for my friend Liza, who I met through my roommate Nick. Good times were had, though it's tough not to have fun playing juvenile drinking games. Note to self: How old is too old to play a drinking game? Second note to self: Probably around the same age that's too old to have a myspace page, which I'm thinking I'm rapidly approaching. We then went to Hideaway BBQ, which seemed like a nice enough place, to hear this blues trio. They were talented, but it got old a little too quick because damn it, they didn't sing, so everything started to sound the same. I did get to meet this chick Leslie that Liza was attempting to hook me up with. Unfortunately, we didn't get to talk much. I'm not sure if that was a product of the environment, which was better suited to 40 something's, or if she just wasn't feeling me in general. She was a knockout though. After the place became just a little too much to bear, I left and followed Leslie and this other guy and girl downtown to go out. However, after spending my last $5 to park, I was out of cash, because I rarely carry any to begin with. They wanted to go somewhere with a cover charge, which I can't stand to do because all you are doing is paying more money to be among meatheads and plastic Barbies. I can do that at the gym or on the toy aisle at Wal-Mart. I didn't want to spend all my time searching for an ATM, and I didn't want to borrow money from people I barely knew. So I told them to go ahead and have a fun night, and I went home. It wasn't exactly the climactic ending to the evening I was hoping for, but then again I'm not sure I care at this point.

Sunday was productive, as it was my first day working on the side with my neighborhood buddy Peter, who flips houses for a living. We are currently working on this house just off Wade Avenue near Whole Foods, that should bring a hefty profit once completed. We spent the entire afternoon cutting down trees along the property line, and powerwashing the entire oustside of the house to get it ready for painting. Nick compared me to a Mexican when I told him of this news, and I called him racist. I just think he doesn't know anything about good, hard, old-fashioned labor. It's not until you can appreciate this that you can begin to truly appreciate your everyday lifestyle and career. Besides, the scenery wasn't half-bad. Twenty-something chicks lying on the roof of the house next door in bikinis is more than enough motivation to get the job done. On top of that, I've always been the type of person who enjoys working on the sort of project where you can see what you've accomplished when the work is done. I guess it's just that sense of accomplishment.

Anyway kids, this post has been way too drawn out. Quit reading and get on with your lives.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

What to do...what to do...

OK, so I'm in this awkward position, and I'm not sure what to do about it, or even if I should do anything at all. Let me explain. I have this best friend. He's not any best friend, he's the best friend a best friend could be, if that makes sense. He's less than a month older than I, and we've been friends literally our entire lives. Our mothers were friends and they have pictures of us in cribs next to each other. In other words, I've known him my entire life, for as long as I can remember.

Now that we've got that much established, here's the situation:

He's always been the guy I could turn to when I needed anything at all...the guy I could always count on the be there, whether it's through a phone call needing advice or time spent together hanging out talking about anything and everything, especially females. Well, him being my best friend and all, I like to see him happy and see him doing well. Up until recently he had not had much success with the female gender in terms of sexual relationships. That is, until I took action to change that for him.

Back in February, I took him with me to a friend's Super Bowl party, knowing the friend whose party I was attending would have a single girlfriend of her's there I thought he'd match well with, and I could try to set him up. Hell, it was worth a shot I figured. Little did I know it worked TOO well. They more than hit it off. I think he hit it out of the ballpark the first night, but I never confirmed bit of information with him. That was six months ago, now I think they're in love. He just went with her to Pennslyvania to spend a week visiting her parents. That tells you how serious it's become.

I love seeing the dude happy, but lately it's become ridiculous. He basically has his head stuck up her ass. He rarely answers the phone when I call him, usually because he's with her. And the worst thing of all, the majority of the time I used to spend hanging out with him is gone. Since they hooked up, I'm lucky to see him once every two months, and he only lives 15 minutes away. And when I do get to see him, it can never be just me and him chilling, and talking about guy stuff. Oh no, he always has to bring her along. It's like they're conjoined twins or something. I went out to dinner with them last week and I couldn't him to pay attention to me because he was busy playing tonsil hockey with her, and this was in the restaurant.

So my question is this, do I let things continue as usual, with our friendship permanently altered for as long as they're together? which at the rate they're going could be a long time, possibly with "I do's" involved if I had to speculate. Or, do I call him out on it and tell him I'm not happy with the way he's been treating our friendship since they've been together?

It seems to me like the old adage "bros before hos" applies here. What say ye?

Major Leaguer Jose Offerman arrested for assault...on the baseball diamond!

If you haven't seen it, former major leaguer Jose Offerman attacked a catcher and a pitcher last night after being hit by a pitch. Happens all the time you say? Kind of like fighting in hockey? Well, here's the kicker. He attacked them with a bat. The catcher left on a stretcher with a concussion, and the pitcher ended up with a broken finger. Offerman left the stadium in police custody.

Here's the link to the Offerman video if you're interested:

This only adds to the horrible summer in the sports world, which has seen numerous sports tainted by the idiotic, irresponsible, often criminal, actions of its athletes - some of whom are big name guys. I'm not sure what's worse, Offerman attacking a fellow athlete and peer with the intent to seriously injure, or Michael Vick allegedly drowning and electrocuting dogs.