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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A long, rambling, piece of sh*t that likely won't be replaced for at least a week!

It's day two back at the office after what was for me a four day weekend. I usually try to take some kind of a trip during those big ones, but having recently honored the reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr by skiing and drinking and gambling at Lake Tahoe and with a big trip coming up to Vegas for the opening week of the great American tournament of amateurs next month, it was best for me to stay put. Deep in the country's stateless nether region, bitch. I don't need to be in a state to have a good time.

Although there were several sporting events of note that took place last week, my focus was on the left-turnathon in Daytona Beach, FL. For weeks I had planned on driving to the Buffalo Wild Wings in Fredericksburg, VA to watch the race as it was meant to be watched outside of a racetrack - with delicious hot wings, tall glasses cold light American beer, and alongside some of the finest rednecks that the mid-Atlantic region has to offer. Last year I ventured down with my buddies Keith Jenkins and the Battleship. Keith Jenkins had called down to make sure they would have the race on and the manager laughed at him over the phone before assuring that it wouldn't be a problem. We understood his reaction when we walked up to the spot in the strip mall parking lot and saw the local country station's van outside and every screen in the place on the pre-race coverage.

Unfortunately, a perfect repeat of last year was not possible for this 50th Daytoner Favre Hunnert. Battleship: In Michigan. Keith Jenkins: Work bullshit. I guess I must be one of about 1% of NASCAR fans without a car, which poses a problem when you're trying to make it to a wing purveyor fifty miles away. After consulting my life coach, I decided to not rent a car or hitch, and keep it local.

It turned out that a sports bar next to the Washington Convention Center would be featuring the race. I was a little bit surprised to find any bar in DC that would be featuring a NASCAR event, but it was the Favre Hunnert. And good for them, because there happened to be a boat show in the convention center last weekend (Oh baby, that's synergy you're feeling!) so the bar was quite busy. While this experience did not come close to approaching the cromulence of the Fredericksburg B-dubz, it was pretty damn fun. I watched the race in its entirety at the bar, mostly by myself, with a personal three liter tower of beer on the bar to my left, which seemed to really impress the other race-ists. About an hour into the tower the bartender asked if everything was alright.
"How's the beer tasting?"
"Oh, great. Thanks."
"I'm just asking because I just really like my beer cold."
"Yeah, it's not quite what it was, but it's still pretty cold. Not a problem at all."
"You know, I can throw some ice in there if you want."
"Nah, I'm good for now. Thanks."
I appreciated this genuine concern, but I guess I have a higher tolerance for warm shitty beer, and probably other shitty things, than the bartender. By the end of the race the beer was room temperature and was just awful tasting, but it was finished.

The main difference in my bar experience from the prior year was in the race fan commentary. I'm by no means an expert in NASCAR strategy, but I understand the importance of drafting and the risks of fuel-only and two tire vs four tire stops late in the race. I even sort of understand the whole loose vs. tight thing. Scratch that - I don't really think I have a good grasp on what it means to be runnin' tight other than it's not as fast as runnin' a little loose = "rear-endy" = back end having a tendancy to slide towards the outside during a turn. I better look that up at some point. Anyway, the boat show fans would pop in for a beer or two, then leave. While they were there, they really seemed to have a need to vocalize the race analysis going on in their outboard brains. About twenty-five laps in one of the boat guys would be freaking out about their favorite driver dropping from first to say fifth place. "What's he doing? He's falling back! Damn it, where are his teammates? Something's up with his engine, I just know it. Look at how he fell off there. Did you see that?", the guy will whine to his wife and brother-in-law. A more seasoned redneck, or any asshole paying the slightest bit of attention could grasp that early in a long race like the Favre Hunnert the strong cars basically take turns holding the lead for a lap in order to pick up the bonus points, and the holding the lead in lap twenty-five or one hundred fifty-five in a restrictor plate race like Daytoner means jack-T-shit. All you have to do is be in the main swarm of cars at lap 195 and you have as good of a chance as anyone else.

The race was entertaining for the most part, and I have no problem with "the Numerator" (credit: the Battleship) winning, although I would have preferred Kyle Busch holding on. At some point last year I declared Kyle Busch my favorite driver due to the following:

1) He's talented and his driving appears to be borderline reckless

and more importantly...

2) The year I came out of the NASCAR closet, Kyle was with Roush Racing - which is based between Ann Arbor and Detroit - and he declared himself a Lions fan. Now that's what I call a bold move, the kind of bold move only a Ford Driver could make. And yes, Roush cars are all Fords as far as I know. You may think Kyle Busch was just being good to his sponsor since William Clay Ford is the Lions owner, but I say that adopting the Lions is a giant step beyond any reasonable sponsor loyalty expectations. I mean, for goodness sakes, this is the Lions we're talking about! I just can't imagine what would draw a person to being a Lions fan. I've heard some hard-luck stories (note: the post in the link is not so good. Just skip to the bottom to read the quote) about how a person ended up a Lions fan, but it never has involved free will. Kyle Busch, a Las Vegas native, grew up without a hometown team so he could have chosen any NFL team to follow. He chose the Lions, and that is so insane - so "outside-the-bun" - that I just had to return the favor when I was picking a driver to support.

Around the same time that I started to follow NASCAR, I also started following professional soccer, especially the English Premier League. I was faced with a similar decision, picking a team to support in my adult life. And for that I chose Arsenal because I enjoy their style of play more than any other team, which I realized can be attributed to having the best manager in the league and possibly the world, in Arsene Wenger. Like a great college coach, Wenger not only institutes a winning system on the field, but is smart enough to know which of the great young players around the world will develop in his system, and he is ballsy enough to start an extremely young side if he feels they are prepared, when lesser managers would cave to criticism from the fans and media and pressure from ownership.

I mention Arsenal because today is the first leg of their round-of-sixteen match with defending Champions League winners AC Milan. What does AC stand for? Associazione Calcio. What does that mean? Association something, probably having to do with sports. Whatever it is, it's totally Italian, like a 40-year old bachelor still living in his parents' basement. Anyway, I went ahead and put in the sick leave papers for this afternoon so that I could catch the action on ESPN2. Is that irresponsible? Of course. Unprofessional? Shit yes. But is it any more unprofessional than writing a long rambling post during working hours?

One of the reasons why this isn't that great of a blog, other than the usually poor writing, is the lack of focus on a particular theme. This post is a great example of that. What the hell am I trying to say here? It started out as a partial long weekend recap and drifted into speculation on the meaning of certain Italian proper nouns. That's just not good writing. To get back to where I thought I was going, I'll just mention that I didn't shave at all during my long weekend, and faced a decision of what to do about that yesterday. Never in my facial hair growing life have I gone more than about five days without shaving, and for good reason. No one is going to come up to me and say "Sweet 'stache, man.", to which I would reply, "Thanks bro." But what the hell. So in a move that would have moved Kyle Orton to tears, I shaved my neck and showered and left for work. This morning I again shaved the neck area and used the beard trimmer thingy on my razor to mow it all down a bit. I look like such a toolbox that it's kind of fun. And best of all, at any moment someone is going to pop into my office doorway with a big camera to take my picture for the office intranet, a picture that will probably represent me for at least the next five years. I've got a perfect Bryant Gumbel Real Sports pose ready too. Too bad I can't get Kyle Busch's #18 shaved into the side of my head to really let 'em know I'm about bold moves.

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