Where's Nate?

living large in the four-oh-eight. wicked large.


more choppin' suey.

I'm in awe. Here comes the latest from System of a Down. These guys can stutter-step with the best of 'em. It's the kind of killer toonage that makes you want to jump in the pit and bang your head. Where do I sign?


use me.

I can't get enough of The Used. I love this screamo stuff. In particular, "Sound Effects and Overdramatics" and "Listening" make me all warm and tingly. It's called In Love and Death.

Go buy it.


what a bum(mer) knee.

So Barry Bonds might be out for the season to nurse his bum knee, detox from the cream and the clear, and dodge allegations of infidelity and tax evasion. Did Hank Aaron ever have to dodge this kind of crap? Pedro (Feliz) for President.

Hosted the (counting on my fingers) 7th annual El Guapo Baseball Association* draft last night. What a mess. CBS kept crapping out every fifteen minutes, so we ran the bulk of the draft over the phone. Talk about old school. The audio highlight of the night actually came in the form of a flushing toilet, as one of the managers (whose name I will withhold) brought multi-tasking to a new level.

Send your positive karma to the once-mighty Green Mountain Boys. With a solid offense and total shiite for pitching, we're going to need a leprechaun (or five) in the dugout.

*"wasting time since 1999"


pedro for president.

In what seems to be a new trend, flash-based movie quote boards have been popping up all over the net. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when I found this. And I'm not even a huge "Office Space" fan.

But these guys kicked things up a notch (Emeril, c. 1998). Can you believe that Preston, Idaho, is becoming a tourist destination? Thanking my lucky stars for that one...and my nunchuck (sp?) skills.

Still looking for the holy grail quote board. Which would, of course, be the Holy Grail Quote Board.


good news, bad news.

So the good news is, after day one, I correctly picked 13 of 16 March Madness games. The bad news is, after day two, I'll most certainly be kicking myself for picking Vermont and St. Mary's. Vermont's screwed.

So the good news is, with two weeks to go, the Giants are in better shape this Spring than in the last few years. The bad news is, with two weeks to go, Barry and his bum knee are warming up their Miss April impersonation. Barry's screwed.

So the good news is the seventh consecutive season of El Guapo Baseball is closing in on draft day. The bad news is, with less than a week to go, I've spent a grand total of two hours on draft prep. I'm screwed.


vegas, baby (redux).

Huge party in Vegas! Lost a bit of coin on roulette, drank a bunch of martinis, saw the new Cirque Du Soleil insanity ("Ka"). Can't wait to go back in April.


(click to see Vegas pix)



As I sit here staring at my NCAA bracket, I can't help but ponder how the explosion of the Internet has revolutionized fantasy sports. I can't help pondering this because I can't really begin to make sense of this year's seedings and matchups.

Back in the day, I used to sit in front of the TV with a blank bracket on Selection Sunday. The only fantasy baseball I played was Strat-O-Matic. And I didn't dream of rooting for any players on any team outside of San Francisco (and Philly, a long story). The Internet changed all that.

Now it's too easy. At the blink of an eye, I'm in a half dozen March Madness pools with hundreds (if not thousands) of other anonymous souls. I set my teams and check back for live updates. And I'm not alone. Millions upon millions of casual fans are lining up to play every fantasy sport from baseball to football, NASCAR to golf.

But the drama isn't gone. In a sense, it's only beginning.


vegas, baby.

Off to Las Vegas this weekend for a Johnson Family party. We'll be staying at Paris Las Vegas with my folks, my bro, and his fiancee. I'll be spending a fair amount of time at the roulette table (where my money will hopefully last more than a few minutes) and at the sports bar (where I can bet on college basketball teams of which I have little expertise).

The city is like Disneyland for adults. And it has changed dramatically since I first visited in the late 80s. I'm looking forward to seeing the new Cirque du Soleil show, Ka. I also can't wait to drink gourmet vodka at the Red Square Bar down at the Mandalay Bay.

No doubt we shall return with a slightly dented bank account. But this trip should provide a plethora of new memories for the Johnson Family.

Wish me luck. I'll need it.


conscription from 60' 6".

Here I am ten years removed from my eighteenth birthday. And yet, over the next few weeks, I have no less than three drafts staring me in the face. I'm not prepared for any of them.

Giants Draft. Pac Bell Park is the most beautiful new stadium in the United States. The Giants have been the best team in the National League this decade. Big Barry is about to pass the Big Babe and the Big Hank on the Big Bomb list. All of the above adds up to a very tough ticket.

So there are workarounds. One of the best is to hook up with a season ticket holder. This is the only way you can enjoy the game without suffering a nosebleed. One such season ticket holder is particularly ambitious. He has asked a consortium of individuals to "rank" the home games, #1-81. Then he will run a draft and notify us of our games. Works for me.

Here's a sneak preview: Dodger games rank, #1-12. Beat LA.

March Madness. OK, so it's not a draft. But it might as well be. I spend six months ignoring college basketball and then pretend to be an expert in the office pool du jour. Fortunately, I'm not alone.

Personally, I think a really interesting bracket would be one that pits mascots against each other. My brother-in-law and his law school buddies "ran" a mascot bracket a few years back that featured such intriguing matchups as:
    UMass Minutemen v. Xavier Musketeers (who has the straighter shot?)
    Stanford Cardinal v. Dartmouth Big Green (can a color beat a tree? what about a BIG color?)
    Arizona Wildcats v. Kentucky Wildcats (a draw, eh?)
The Final that year came down to the Tulsa Golden Hurricane versus the Miami Hurricanes. After all, not even a Blue Devil or Demon Deacon can kick Mother Nature's ass.

Who wins this year? It's hard to pick against Illinois and UNC. So I'm going with Old Dominion.

El Guapo. The grandaddy of them all, my seventh annual rotisserie baseball draft takes place in two weeks. And I haven't even begun to strategize.

Here's what happens. Everyone "keeps" four players, so I have a good sense of who I'll go after in the first few rounds. The problem is this: I have a lot of time between picks. Which means I drink beer(s).

As you can imagine, Gentle Reader, by the time we hit the tenth round I'm having difficulty choosing between left field and left out. By the fifteenth round, my insults-to-opposing-manager ratio is better than Bonds' on-base percentage. By the twentieth round, a quick perusal of my roster reveals four solid players, a bunch of AAA posers, Danny Ainge, and Marge Schott. It's fun.

So wish me luck. They're about to call my number.


where the sidewalk ends.

Found a new emo-screamo-hardcore band named Silverstein. For a free download of their rippin' tune "Smashed Into Pieces" go here. Now.

california love.

Today was one of those days. Breakfast at Hobee's with some good friends from back in the high school era. Wandering around the De Anza flea market in the sunshine. Eighteen holes at The Ranch with my padre. And BBQ chicken at The Coop.

Just another day in the Bay Area.

The first week of March and it's going to be in the seventies all week. It's why we live here (and don't mind sharing it with 39,999,999 of our closest friends).


why you volunteer.

I can't help but be inspired by my friend Pam, who is spending a two week vacation volunteering in Romania.
"During my 2 week stay, I'll be caring for small children in a Failure-to-Thrive clinic. The children arrive when they are about 3 months old, and are either brought in by their families or a nearby hospital. They are usually underweight because of malnutrition, but can return to the families when they are healthy again. If the family can not afford to raise the children, they are either adopted or taken in by a foster family."

You can read more about Pam's Romanian adventures here.


open your eyes.

Once in a rare while, I read a book that forces introspection. It encourages me to take a deeper look in the mirror, a longer glance into my soul. It backs up an aggressive premise with compelling and skillful arguments.

Malcom Gladwell's Blink is such a book.

Gladwell is a masterful story teller. His discourse on snap judgements uses a foundation of vignettes that appear, at first glance, to be completely disconnected. I suspect this is intentional. Because, of course, nothing Gladwell writes is without purpose. Call it manipulation, call it propaganda. It just works.

It's as if Gladwell has a devoted army of researchers able to dig up examples ranging from a Greek statue's arrival in LA to a marriage counselor's session in Seattle. It's an endless array of stories that push his point forward. It is, simply, the best non-fiction writing on the market today. Go get it.


frances the mute.

The Mars Volta is the band you've been waiting to hear. And Frances the Mute, released today, is the album to prove it.


Take the better half of At the Drive-In, add a heavy dose of Latin flavor, shake, and stir. Then shake it again. I spent the better part of this evening deconstructing this five-song opus as it twists and turns from radio-friendly balladry ("The Widow") to Santana-on-crack prog rock ("L'Via L'Viaquez"). I waded through a fifteen-minute jam only to be followed by a jam twice that long. I cowered in the long shadow of the pretentiousness of a band that creates it's own vocabulary, sings half the album in Spanish, and builds intros and outros that sound like a scratched version of OK Computer.

I didn't get it.

Until I heard the epic, 32-minute "Cassandra Geminni". And it all made sense.

This is the kind of album you listen to in the dark and without interruption. The kind of album that makes you reach for CDs you haven't listened to in years, to find the influences, to trace the lyrical and musical path to the present.

Frances the Mute isn't for everyone. And it's certainly nothing like the for-the-masses single, "The Widow". But it is the latest effort from a group of Afro-coiffed risk-takers and I guarantee it's like nothing you've ever heard.

Try it. You've been waiting for this.