Monday, December 18, 2006

The Most Dangerous Games

Check out this article about the most dangerous toys of all-time. It's good for some LOLs and some nice nostalgia. Back in my day, we didn't have any fancy product safety laws. Yes, we did throw lawn darts over the house...and we liked it.

Radar Magazine's Top Ten Most Dangerous Toys

Friday, December 15, 2006

We Have Prevailed

On an unseasonably warm night at the legendary Krieg Field kickball grounds, the Ball Busters made history. We won the first annual adult recreational co-ed kickball league championship 5 to 2.

This year we've all faced down adversity. We've fought through challenging traffic jams on the way to far, far south Austin. We may not have been the sleekest team or the most ambidextrous. We simply had the heart of a champion.

I remember hearing from Chris about our first game. Shannon and I were on our honeymoon, so we did not play. Our team lost 21-1 in a brutal exhibition game. Lesser teams would have taken this defeat, and gone off somewhere to die in the woods. Instead, we rose from the ashes and built an impermeable membrane that we like to call a defense.

The league was definitely worth the soul-crushing traffic jams, the strained quadriceps, and the ludicrously cold night games. We done good. We done good.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Two Sides to Every Story

Home Slice Pizza Contest Recap

Valuable Life Lessons

Perhaps the recent kickball updates were too exuberant. Maybe we grew a little too fond of our vaunted defense. Possibly, some of us were looking past our game to the post-game happy hour.

Maybe we were just due for a loss.

Whatever the reason, fate dealt us a wake-up call on Friday night. The Ball-Busters were kicked to the curb via a melt-down of Houston Oilers versus Buffalo Bills'ian proportions.

On yet another frosty evening in the majestic Krieg Kickball Grounds of far South Austin, we struggled to capture the magic that had been with us all year. Something was missing. It was like Siskel without Ebert. It was like sleeping in a bed without a pillow. It was like chicken strips without any dipping sauce.

The game started out normally enough. We built a 5-1 lead and played good defense. As the clock on the dilapidated scorecard began to approach its lightbulb/electrical problem-addled approximation of 0 minutes, a cold wind began to blow from the south.

All we needed was 3 outs to close out the game. Suddenly, we were less effective than the Iraqi provisional government. On a series of flukish infield singles, walks, and throwing errors, the Commandos erased our lead and stormed ahead. We were vanquished, 7 to 5. Strength had become weakness. Joy had become sorrow.

Our only consolation was that our opponents are probably the nicest people in the league. They are jovial graduate students who field a whole fleet of mascot dogs. I've never seen a basset hound wearing a UT orange sweater quite so impressively.

We posed for a few team photos and headed off to the traditional post-game, a little-disappointed but glad to be with friends'y hour.

A few photos will be posted tonight.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Periodic Table of Geek Happiness

Interactive periodic table

There's just something about the periodic table of elements that summons up pleasant geekly nostalgia. I remember my first real brush with The Table back in 10th grade chemistry. I had always wondered about this mysterious poster that adorned most science classrooms I had ever seen.

This poster had it all: Mysterious numbers in various corners, each one hinting at some deeper esoteric scientific purpose. It had a comforting structure and order, somehow arranging the chaotic diversity of elements from neon to uranium into a regimented array of perfect little squares.

The periodic table was also a fertile source for memory-based flashcard learning around. Memorizing the elements is a rite of passage and a fun one at that. Pb = lead, H = hydrogen, Ne = neon, Am = "!"

It was a gateway to the exotic. I was always most fascinated by the bad-boy, outlaw elements in the bottom rows of the table. Sure, the noble gasses had a certainly regal glow about them, but the crazy radioactive, recently discovered elements really got the mind going. I always imagined them pulsing with a soft green glow of deadly, insect-enlarging radiation.

But, alas, the periodic table fades to irrelevance for adults. Like the history of the pilgrims or of the laundry list of the presidents, it is pretty much exclusively used by school children, then quickly forgotten. Take a few minutes to get acquainted with your old friend the periodic table.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Free Slice-O-Meter

As documented here, Chris F. recently won a pizza eating contest. The prize is free pizza for one whole year. We are going to track the free slices he cashes in here with the Slice-O-Meter.

Total Slices Year-To-Date: 19 free slices, ~2.5 pizzas
Estimated Value: $43
Recent Toppings: spinach, roasted red peppers, green olives, and onions; meatball and mushroom

Cashing in the prize has been somewhat challenging. We've had to fight the crowds to get in. This is a popular Austin spot in a trendy district. According to a recent Austin Chronicle review:

"From the moment Home Slice opened its doors, it has been packed. As you walk in (assuming you aren't just grabbing a slice from the convenient sidewalk "slice window"), you are hit by a wall of warm, pizza-redolent air and noise. Servers whisk by carrying pitchers of beer as they weave through the waiting crowd. Behind the counter, the pizza bakers toss wheels of dough overhead, and the red-toned interior causes an almost instant sense of familiarity and relaxation."

The Greatest Football Finish Ever

Watch in disbelief

I remember listening to this game on the radio at the Sants. When each of the two miraculously unbelievable plays happened, there was an impromptu dogpile. There has never been another football game quite like this one. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Dynasty Begins

We bundled and trundled our way out to the icy expanses of the Krieg Field 5 on Friday night. What kind of maniac schedules a recreational adult sports league game at 9:30 pm in the dead of winter? I wonder if the City of Austin gets a kickback for ever quadricep, hamstring, or pneumonia case that gets referred to a local doctor.

With some help from the Floyd-boy cavalry and a teacher friend of Shannon's, we fielded a full roster for the first time all year. This would be one of our best overall performances against a decent foe, Bust-n-Ballz.

Pitchin' Dirty:
I thought we had a monopoly on 'dirty pitching' until this week. Their pitcher was throwing some nasty, unpredictable bouncing rolls at us. This is the toughest pitch to hit, because striking the ball on its underside will lead to a sure out by way shamefully floating pop-up.

Despite facing a Phil Niekro-esque pitcher, we put a solid 4 runs on the board. The runs trickled in like customers cautiously approaching a poorly-advertised garage sale, thanks to our solid baseball fundamentals and aggressive baserunning. Special thanks to the Commish for teaching us so well in the Dawgs and Screenball days.

Good Fences Make Good Victories:
It was our defense that carried the day yet again. Following last game's shutout performance, we only allowed one run this week. A typical kickball defense is about as porous as Spongebob, but we are basically an Iron Curtain of unbreakable defensive fortitude.

It's been a good year in a surprisingly fun sport. At 5-1, we have secured the regular season championship with one final game to go. As a rapidly deteriorating, almost 30 year-old, it's great to get the old competitive juices flowing. And, it's great to win (and have a post-game pint of good cheer to celebrate.)

Some highlights:
The opposing pitcher tried a pick-off move to first base. Squisher, non-plussed as baserunner, caught the ball and tossed it back. This seemed to be vaguely illegal somehow, but nobody coud prove anything.

Patrick made a spectacular "diving" catch late in the game. I personally think the fall/dive was a bit of showmanship. As a member of the Olde School, Patrick probably believes that if you don't get your uniform dirty, you didn't play hard enough.

Our team was bundled up like crazy. We have to be one of the only athletic teams to win a championship while wearing bright blue fuzzy mittens.

I'll try to post some team photos and action shots from next week's game.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Home Slice-O-Rama

This weekend, good friend and prodigious eater, Chris Floyd competed in a high profile eating contest. A popular new pizza joint in the trendy South Congress district (SoCo for short), hosted the Home Slice-O-Rama.

This was essentially a pizza carnival with events including a dough tossing challenge, a "hands on an eggplant sandwich" endurance contest, raffles, cheap local microbrews, and, most importantly, a serious pizza eating contest.

For those who don't know Chris, he is a world-class eater. I've seen this guy eat two pounds of chicken fried steak and gravy in 8 minutes. He's beaten ranked professional eaters. And, more than one pizza buffet has had a profitable month crash into red ink after a visit from Chris.

So, it was crucial to get Chris into this eating contest, especially since the prize had been announced as free pizza for a year. More importantly, this would be another notch in Chris's belt as a professional-caliber gustatorial athlete.

The Slice-O-Rama was jumping and crawling with hipsters and the types of folks who help to Keep Austin Weird on a daily basis. There was an electricity in the air building up to the clash of the eaters.

The contest was a brutal war of mastication fortitude, owing to an unexpectedly dense, leathery crust. All nine competitors struggled mightily, especially at the crusty ends of each piece. In a sadistic twist, the contest organizers had added a rule, "No wetting or dunking the crust in water."

Chris led for most of 30 minutes, employing a savage ripping technique to counter the uncooperative rock of gibraltar-like crust. He only paused briefly to play to the standing room only crowd which included a large contingent of his own fans.

In a photo finish, thanks to a last-second mouth cram, Chris took home the prize. We all win with this one. For the next year, he gets a free large pizza any time he visits Home Slice. Bringing friends along is encouraged.

Overall, it was a great event. Congratulations, Big Chompy.

More photos are here:
Slice-O-Rama Album

Friday, December 01, 2006

It's Cold

Winter weather blasted into Texas this week. We went from balmy 80 degree weather, to "Holy cow, where is that extra blanket? Can you turn the heat a little warmer? Come on, I'm cold, and our last electricity bill was not that bad!"

It's winter, and everyone is cold. I know. But how many of you will be playing in a kickball game tonight at 9:30 p.m.? We will be braving the frozen tundras of Krieg Field 5 in Far South Austin.

Will we let this hold us back?
Did Hannibal balk at the foothills of the Alps?
Did Pyrrhus hesitate before the Battle of Asculum?
Did Sir Ernest Shackleton cancel his Endurance expedition to Antarctica?
No! And neither will the Ball-Busters. We shall kick our way to glory.

Yes, I would like a brandy between innings, good sir.