“Three Things Thursday On Friday” Makes a Dramatic Return!

We haven’t done this in awhile, partly because I got lazy, partly because I wasn’t thinking of good topics. But here’s one:

Your Three Favorite Olympics Memories

Since we’re in the midst of the Olympics now, it has got me thinking of the Olympics in the past and what sticks out to me the most. Not to make people feel old, but I really only remember back to the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Here are some conditions for the discussion:

1. They can’t be from this Olympics. I think everyone would put Michael Phelps or Dara Torres up there, and we can’t really appreciate this Olympics until they are gone and past. So nothing from this year.

2. They can be from either Summer or Winter Games.

3. They have to have taken place during your life time. So I can’t talk about Jesse Owens running in front of Hitler or Cassius Clay tearing apart the competition.

So with those three rules, here are my three things!

3. I’ve honestly found it difficult to get three big ones in my head. There is one overwhelming one and a bunch of lesser ones. So here, I’ll mention the lesser ones:

– Nancy Kerrigan winning the silver in 1994 after she was attacked. Watching Harding complain and cry on the ice was nice, too.

– Tommy Moe winning gold and silver in 94.

– Watching Jonny Moseley win the gold from the bar at the hotel we were staying while my sister was at a ski meet with Virginia Tech.

– Jamaican Bobsled team- I know this was in 88, but I vaguely remember all the hype. And it inspired ‘Cool Runnings’, so you have to recognize it!

-The US winning gold in baseball in 2000 and coached by Tommy Lasorda.

– Misty May and Kerri Walsh winning in Greece.

– Carl Lewis defeating all odds and winning the gold in 1996 in the Long Jump.

– Gail Devers and those nasty fingernails

– Kerri Strug’s vault in 1996.

– Bonnie Blair in 2000.

– Apollo Anton Ohno- before dancing with the stars.

– Rulon Gardner beating Karelin, who hadn’t been beaten in his 13 year career. He then did a cartwheel.

– Dan Jansen finally winning Gold in 1994. His sister died the day of his race in ’88, and he slipped. In 1992, he skated poorly. In 1994 he fell just before finishing when he was on record pace. But a few days later he finally won gold in his last chance. Actually, this is my official third choice.

Bad Moments

– Greg Louganis hitting his head

– Bode Miller’s failures, even letting down NH.

– US not getting gold in basketball.

– Dan and Dave falling flat before the Games actually began.

2. Michael Johnson and the Golden Shoes- This was one of the first great sprinters that I followed in 1996 in Atlanta. He is the only man to win the 200 and 400 and presently has the world record in both. (although Bolt from Jamaica just broke the 200 time.) He was a part of the 4×100 in Sydney that won gold (later taken away because a guy doped) and they all struck poses with the flag. A lot of people didn’t like it, but I thought it was pretty cool.

1. My all time favorite memory is really no surprise: The Dream Team in 1992. I still watch the tapes that we recorded of them destroying the competition and the other teams just being in awe of the players. (Actually, we just watched some a month ago with some College students. Here are some favorite memories:

– Charles Barkley not caring that it is practically an exhibition and just physically punishing people.

– Watching the guys try to set up Christian Laettner, who was just happy to be there.

– Pippen to Jordon on a fast break off the back board slam dunk.

– Teams taking pictures with them after the game.

– Larry Bird and Patrick Ewing transforming into ‘Larry and Harry’.

– Larry and Jordon’s McDonald’s commercial where they play H-O-R-S-E. “Through the window, off the scoreboard, nothing but net…”

– Somewhat related- Lithuania’s uniforms designed by the Grateful Dead.

– Unfortunate Memory- Larry Bird on the sideline laying on the ground because of his back.

Randomness…

This is just a compilation of a few things…

Hilarious, Painful Mistake

Check out this video.  hahahaha….

Slamball

Then I heard SlamBall is coming back.  A few years ago I was at a college retreat and became engrossed in this.  I’m happy to hear it is back for all to enjoy:

Red Sox

As most of you know, the Sox are back in Spring Training.  Yesterday, they went to the White House to visit the President as the World Series Champions.  Bush managed to make a joke about Manny not being there because his grandmother must have died again.  The first time they went to the White House after winning in 2004, Manny missed it supposedly because his grandmother was sick.  No one believed him then, and Bush managed to make light of it again.

Then I saw this picture, which is priceless:

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It totally looks photoshopped, but he rode in the side car from the White House to Walter Reed to visit some troops.  Francona apparently rode in it from the Airport to the White House, and challenged Papi to do it, himself.  Then Kyle Snyder rode in it from Walter Reed to the airport, which apparently was longer than the other two.  He said it was so cold, but he wouldn’t get out and go to the bus because he wouldn’t stop hearing it from his friends.  I like this team, and that picture is hilarious.

Celtics

Speaking of Boston sports, on Monday I went to the Celtics game against the Clippers at the Staples Center here in LA.  It was funny how many Boston fans there were.  Everyone around us were Boston fans, and the guys next to us were talking in Boston accents and spent the 4th quarter talking about Spring Training, the Sox, and the Yankees.  The place was full of green jerseys, shirts, and Red Sox hats.  It was just great.  The Celts blew  ’em out by 28, and the 4th quarter was all the young guys playing against each other.  When we walked out into the concourse after the game, it was like we were in the Garden.  I would say by the end of the game that the Celtics fans outnumbered others by 4-1.  EVERYONE was a Celtics fan.

Micah

Micah has been sick this week, but is now apparently getting better.  He was looking pretty bad at some points, with a high fever, but now he is getting better.  He lost a couple pounds, but now appears to be on the rebound.  Leah’s looking forward to getting out of the house, as she’s been trapped there quite a bit, lately.

Pet Peeve

Lately, I’ve been hearing people use the word ‘literally’ a lot, and hardly any of it is really literal.  For example, I’m watching a sporting event and someone says, “He’s literally giving 110% out there.”  That phrase ‘110%’ already is annoying because its impossible, but then you throw literal in there and its literally impossible!  Or someone may say, “It literally killed him.” Well, no.  It didn’t.  It may have brought him great pain, but it didn’t literally kill him.  I’m now going to be the ‘literal’ police, but not literally.  There will be no badge or actual penalties.

Funny Videos   

Here are a couple funny videos that the kids showed me this weekend:

Harvest Festival

Our church has an annual Harvest Festival where the school families and community families are invited to bring their kids all dressed up.  We have games for the kids, bounce houses, an inflatable obstacle course, horse rides, plenty of food like bot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, and snow cones, and then finally the ‘trunk ‘r treat’ where about 25 cars line the parking lot in front of the gym with their trunks decorated and hand out candy to the kids. (how was that for a run on sentence!)

This year we joined up with another family in the church to decorate our trunk as Red Sox Nation.  It was nice that the Sox were playing game 4 of the World Series, so we even had a TV playing the game for all to watch.  It was very popular with the fathers.  Here are a few pics from the event that brought over 700 people out!

This first one is Micah acquainting himself with Wally the Green Monster.  I’ve historically been against Wally, thinking it is just tacky and too much like the rest of baseball, but it looks like I may have to quickly change that opinion.

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These are our cars.  Notice the broom for the approaching sweep!

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Here are some other cars.  There were a few USC decorated cars, but they were a little less passioned than in the past years.  Two losses with a month to go can do that to you.

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Here’s Donny’s car.  He was Willy Wonka.

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An Interesting Sound Clip

Here’s a sound clip from a talk station out here in LA.  It’s the John Ziegler show, which I listen to pretty frequently, and it is on a kid named Johnnie MacArthur.  He’s John MacArthur’s grandson.  What’s even more odd, is that I had this kid in Awana when I went to Placerita Canyon Baptist.  He lived in the area and came with a friend.

Check it out.  Pretty cool sound clip.

Merely Odds and Ends

You’ll notice that I haven’t written anything really substantive in quite awhile, and that isn’t necessarily for lack of time.  I have been making a better effort at helping Micah update his blog, since he needs to be speaking with the rest of his family.  I’ve been trying to do some more things with the family, which means learning to schedule my job better.  My job presents an interesting situation when it comes to office hours.  My days off are Saturdays and Mondays, but since so many of the events land on Saturdays, I have to try to find time earlier in the week to get time off.  So its all a part of learning to do the job.

Ministry

I have also been busy with some philosophical issues when it comes to the ministry.
We’re changing the way we do small groups.  We’re moving to a system that doesn’t break them down by age, which is pretty unpopular with the juniors and seniors who have really grown together as a group.  We’re moving to smaller, mixed groups, purely focused on discipleship, rather than an entry level system that it had become.  My prayer is that this will help kids get to know other students not in their grade and will help them to know how to use their gifts and talents to serve the church as a whole.  So you can be praying for that.

That, and today a group is coming from The Master’s College for their Outreach Week.  That will climax on Saturday with our Battle of the Bands.  This is an event that usually brings in 200+, most of whom wouldn’t normally come to church.  This year we’re adding a promenade outside first.  This will feature some acoustic acts of kids that don’t have bands, but still want to play.  There will be a coffee bar outside, where each ticket that gets you in also gets you a free coffee drink.  And in addition, Lord willing, will be an art gallery displaying some of the high school and college student’s artwork.  Its all in an effort to get more kids there and give them the ability to show their artistic gifts.  But the gallery isn’t going too well.  We have some kids bringing stuff, but not much.  If its not enough, I’m not going to set it up, and we’ll try again next year.

Along with this is also the loss of an office mate of mine, Paul Hoover.  He’s gone to take a position at a church plant.  If you’d like to keep in touch with whats going on with him, I linked his new blog to the right.  You might even be able to see a couple pics of me and Micah there!   To add to new websites, check out our church’s new website!

Dodger Game

Last week, the family did a few things together.  We went to our first baseball game as a family, and while it wasn’t a Red Sox game, it was still fun.  We saw the dodgers play the Rockies, then saw another game later in the week against the Giants (sans Barry Bonds).   Leah and I were again marveling at the stark contrasts between games at Dodger Stadium, (which is only 15 minutes from our place, which is nice) and games at Fenway Park.  Obviously we’re both a little biased, and there is a difference between a team that has the best record in baseball and one that is wallowing in another disappointing season and have had one big win in about 20 years.

I’ve always thought that so much could be done with Dodger Stadium.  In the top levels at least, they still have troughs in the men’s rooms, instead of urinals, but I hear they are sinking millions of dollars to outfit the whole stadium with urinals.  But besides that, the stadium is just odd.  It seems like a big concrete block with no personality.  The sound system is bad, the scoreboard is outdated and not even quaint.  The stadium has the same colors as Dolphin Stadium, and looks like it hasn’t had much money put into it since the 1970’s.

When we pulled in, they make you park in a certain place near the entrance, instead of being able to drive around to the gate to the park you are entering (you used to be able to do this).  So the gate that we come in is on the complete opposite side than the place where we’re sitting.  Dodger Stadium is kind of built on a hill and if you are on the upper deck, you just walk into it, while you can do the same on the opposite side with the field level.  So that means that we had to walk around the stadium, and up too many stairs to count. Its a good workout, but annoying when you get up there and see the spots you should be able to park in.

Besides that, the only environment outside are giant sized pictures of players, regardless of their talent level.  For example, Brett Tomko is up there, but he got traded for a pile of baseballs to the Padres.  Then there are players like Jason Repko, who hasn’t played at all because of injury.  It seems like they could do a mix of good players, like Russel Martin, along with Dodgers of the past.  There is a lot of history to work with, and they should do more to push the Dodger brand, rather than individuals that are fairly poor ball players.

We walked past an empty game program stand.  At Fenway you’d have a guy yelling out to buy the program, saying who is pitching and other things.  There is little to nothing going on before the game to encourage fans to come early.  Souther California fans are notorious for showing up in the third inning, but they don’t really encourage them to come early.  Leah and I got there about twenty minutes early and got to watch 3 ‘first’ pitches.   The last being Emeril Lagasse.  There was a free gift, but they didn’t even bother handing them out to the first 20,000 fans, but handed them out when you left.

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LA County Fair

One thing I miss about not being in New England is the fair season.  It was such a huge part of my life growing up, and hasn’t been something I’ve done in awhile.  So we went out to the LA County fair, which I hear is the largest county fair in the country.  the grounds are six times bigger than Disneyland.  The thing I was most excited about was seeing the animals and I even brought my old 4H sweatshirt to represent.  But the animals were largely boring.  There was no 4H, which makes sense, due to the fact that this isn’t prime farm territory.  There was a large pen with goats and sheep that we brought Micah in, and you will be able to see those pics on Micah’s blog soon.

Most of the animals were mutts, crosses between Dorsetts and Hampshires.  There was one that I couldn’t tell if it was a goat or a Cheviot.  We eventually found the Hampshire sheep, and they were way off by themselves, in a concrete floor pen with metal bars.  it was like they were in jail.  I missed the 4H-ness of it all.  There were no signs on the breeds, wool breeds vs. meat breeds, yarn, or sheep shows.  This may sound odd to a lot of people, but there was nothing very personable about it all.  Disappointing.

There are some other differences between the LA County fair and fairs back in New England.  One is the food.  There aren’t any fried dough places, but funnel cakes.  We actually bought a Mexican Funnel Cake, which was basically strips the size of churros. Check out the link if you don’t know what those are.  They’re good stuff.  There weren’t Italian Sausage booths or any chowders, but plenty of burritos, tacos, tortas, and the like.  And about 14 Hot Dog on a Stick places.  Another interesting addition was their ability to deep fry anything.  We dined on deep fried oreos, while they also had Snicker’s bars, Twinkies, and even deep fried Coke.  I don’t know how they did that.  Here’s a couple pics of the oreos.

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Another difference was in the shopping areas.  There weren’t really many quaint mom and pop places, but mostly infomercial stuff.  We saw insurance booths, miracle mop booths, back rub places, polishing booths, vacations to wine country, wine of the month, and a mattress dealer.  They had about five huge buildings filled with these things.  We walked through, but nothing to really look at.  One thing we did see was a Ken Crane’s tent, which is a dealer that sells TVs and other electronics.  They had the 103″ plasma tv, which is the worlds largest plasma TV.  It costs a mere $69,990.  Impressive TV.  I told the man working that if he wanted to donate one to a church youth group, I would gladly take it.  He didn’t.

Here’s one last pic to enjoy:

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Garnett, Gagne, and Bonds

As most of you know, I am a pretty avid sports fan. The odd thing is that I hardly ever post about it, and I guess the reason is because I know that most of you would not care to read about my musings and thoughts in the sports world. But yesterday was too good of a day to pass up commenting on. In one day, the total landscape of Boston shifted with a couple acquisitions. A giant that has long been sleeping has been awoken, and a giant that has been lurking was given more strength. And a third, genetically aided giant was crawling to a finish line.

The Celtics

The first giant, is the Boston Celtics. Growing up, the Celtics were my first love when it came to sports. My mother raised me to cheer for the 80’s Celtics. I remember saying good night to Chief, DJ, Bird, “Armpits” McHale, and Danny, who looked down on me from a poster on my door. I distinctly remember watching the playoffs, watching games from a recliner, wedged in with my mom and using binoculars so I could see better. My friends and I would go down to the court in my dad’s warehouse and pretend to be different Celtic players.

Then Bird started falling a part before my eyes, and unfortunately, I have more memories of him lying on the side of the court, trying to stretch out his back, which betrayed him at the end of his career. But then came Reggie. Reggie was my favorite. His poster made it up on the wall, and I even remember painting a slate with his jersey for my art project at summer camp. Then the day came when my mom woke me up and had to tell my that my hero, Reggie Lewis, had died playing basketball. I just couldn’t believe it, and since then, being a Celtics fan just hasn’t been the same for me.

It seems like we’ve always been looking at potential with the likes of Paul Pierce, Antoine Walker, Joe Johnson, Ron Mercer, and Chauncy Billups, only to see most of them dealt away. Then there were the forgettable types like Eric Montross, Acie Earl, Joe Forte, Kedrick Brown, Jerome Moiso, Dino Radja, and Vitaly Potapenko. Then there were the retreads that they brought through town, hoping to capture their former glory. Dominique Wilkins, Vin Baker, Gary Payton, Raef LaFrentz, Kenny Anderson.

Throughout that time, all a Celtics fan could do was to ignore the failures, tolerate personalities like Rick Pitino, and cheer for fan favorites like Dana Barros, Rick Fox, Eddie Pinckney, the Sherm, Dee Brown, Kevin Gamble, and recently, Al Jefferson, Delonte West, and Ryan Gomes.

The period also was a time of loss. Gone was the expectation of contending for the championship. Now, we’re just happy when we can get to the playoffs, never mind out of the first round. Gone is Red Auerbach, the original Gahden, and the passionate crowds. Instead, they have been replaced by a cookie-cutter arena, mercifully renamed TD Banknorth Garden, a non-stop rotation of young players learning on the job, and ever cheerleaders.

The saddest thing is that it has probably been the cheerleaders that I’m most upset about. You knew Red was going to die. Thankfully, it was after Pitino left and he was brought back into the fold. But cheerleaders? That’s not Boston. That’s not the Celtics. This isn’t the Celtics.

Then yesterday happened. Before the draft night, Boston was listed with 100-1 odds of winning the championship in Vegas. Today, they are 5-1. That’s a turn around. Now they are three stars surrounded by riff-raff. That hasn’t worked out well for other teams, but they weren’t playing in such a bad conference as the Eastern Conference.

The greatest thing about these three guys is that they have been fighting almost by themselves for years. I’ve heard a criticism that they’ve never done it themselves and don’t make their teammates better, but there is only so much you can do with flotsam. What you can’t challenge is their heart and desire to win. Garnett plays all out no matter what the date, and Allen is a stand up guy that will be able to sink the shot that the team hasn’t been able to hit for the past few years.

So now its exciting to be a Celtics fan again. But they need to do this in the next couple of years. All three are getting older, have huge contracts, and will be getting more mileage in the next couple years because they have no bench. The dropoff when they are done will be huge. They will be back where they were a couple years ago, so they better win something before that.

The Red Sox

It has been great seeing this team win like it has, but there is still a sense of uneasiness. It’s one thing to win in the regular season, its a whole nother thing to win a 7 game series in October. They’ve had the starting pitching, and a great end of the bullpen. But Papelbon wore down last year, and if he goes, it gets real scary.

Enter Gagne.

Now we have almost limited games to 6 innings. Get your starters through 6 innings, then Manny Delcarmen, Hideki Okijima, Eric Gagne, and Papelbon. We all know that the playoffs are about pitching, and the Sox now have the pitching to win it again. They have had the hitting, and just haven’t put it all together yet, but hopes remain high that they’ll bring it around.

Bonds

Out here on the west coast, a soap opera being played out on the field where Bonds will capture what is considered the most hallowed record in American sports. I have very conflicted feelings on this.

1. we made Bonds the monster that he is. When Sosa and McGwire were slugging balls out of parks, we cheered and hailed them as heroes. They were co-sportsmen of the year that year. Bonds saw what was happening, and buffed up himself. We all cheered when it was happening and have since had a change of conviction.

2. steroids were not against the rules of baseball. They were illegal in the country, but not against baseballs rules. he never broke the rules. Now they are, but there is no way of getting a positive test from him. he pays too much money to get caught.

3. Barry Bonds has been a punk for a long time, and no one has ever liked him. The sad thing is that he was an incredible hitter before hit started hitting his prime at 38 years old. He didn’t need to do this, but felt he had to.

4. as Mark Grace said, “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’.” Cheating has been a part of the game for a long time, but not so much anatomically. Bonds has gone outside of the game to get an advantage, while others have doctored baseballs to get a little more movement, or added a little extra pine tar.

So I guess I’m against Bonds breaking the record, just because he has taken baseball to a place where it doesn’t belong, the illegal laboratory. Baseball is all about purity of the game, and while that is highly considered to be a myth.

They’ve been talking about what to do when Barry comes to bat in Dodger stadium.  He’s spoken about how he loves to be booed in Dodger stadium, because he knows it means that he is really good.  So if people want to show their displeasure towards Bonds, how about they turn their back to him when he comes to bat.  It goes quiet, and everyone is ignoring what he is doing.  If people aren’t going to consider him the home run king, why would they watch it happen?  What better way to show that you don’t approve of him than to just turn your back and be silent?  Sounds good to me.