Sunday, August 28, 2005

Arbitrary #1

I swear, the next person to call it "Strong Island" gets this guy crashing through their living room wall.

When did the king of piano rock become such a fucking Newsie? Carry the banner, Billy.

Sorry for the lack of postings lately. It's been a busy end-of-summer.
But I can tell you that:
- I'm a level smarter in improv, according to the UCBT Training Center.
- Water flumes are fantastic, according to Splish Spash.
- You can get a corduroy ottoman with wheels and removable top, according to Target. No, I'm not linking you to fucking Target.
- Stars, The Decemberists, and Death Cab for Cutie are amazing.
- I'm going to miss New York City. But I could've told you that weeks ago.

More substantial stuff coming soon, I promise.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Jeter Swallows

I was talking to somebody recently who had come across my myspace page. She saw that I was from New York. Being a Massachusetts native she immediately asked "Oh good lord, New York. Yankees fan?"

I told her that I was a Mets fan, and that most/all Met fans hate the Yankees. I also explained that sometimes it feels as though there are more true Mets fans in New York than true Yankee fans. I believe this is due to the "bandwagon trend" formed in 1995-1998 when the Yankees started to become a powerhouse. In a response to see if she understood what I meant, she said "No, I just hate the Yankees. HATE THEM."

I went on to explain my plight as a New Yorker going to college in Massachusetts. A University especially densely populated with Massachusetts natives and, as a result, Red Sox fans. This happens quite often. People find out I'm from New York, and then immediately form opinions about me because of their preconceived notions regarding the Yankees. Assuming I'm a Yankee fan, however, is sort of rude and ignorant in a weird Red Sox-obsessed sort of way.

She pretended to apologize, and then said "I'm just happy you don't support those ...assholes."

Many Red Sox fans seem to forget that there's another New York baseball team besides the one they stay so feverishly intent on hating with a passion. In fact, sometimes it feels like the Mets are a way more popular New York baseball team outside of Boston. I realize this isn't true, and mostly deals with the people I surround myself with. That being said, I deduce that all intelligent and somewhat creative New Yorkers are Mets fans.

My friend fired back saying that "Red Sox fans seem to forget that there are any other teams, thus the lack of riots during the actual World Series. In our eyes, we had already won." She is referring to the massive violent riots held at UMass during the ALCS when the Red Sox valiantly came from behind to beat the Yankees and win the pennant to advance to the World Series. In reality, it was truly a magical moment in baseball history. But, sadly, thats why I call them Red Sox fans, and not baseball fans. I realize this stereotypes all Bostonians as the drunk, Red Sox-lovin', and Yankee-hatin' breed they have long been associated with, and I know it to not be completely true, but sometimes it feels that way.

Yankee fans are the same way. They're Yankee fans, not baseball fans. They care about winning ALL THE TIME, just as much as Red Sox fans dream of constantly destroying the Yankees. Met fans, on the other hand, are civil teddy bears who enjoy tea and toast.

No, but really, Met fans seem to be from the same breed as people like Cub fans, who appear to be more fans of the game of baseball rather than of a specific team. Don't get me wrong, I understand that Mets fans and Cubs fans alike are both die-hard for the team of their choice, but I'm talking about a larger appreciation for the game in general.

"Did you know there are Cub fans?" I asked my Red Sox-lovin' friend, "They like a team that plays in Chicago. Chicago is a really big city in the midwest."

"Seriously?" She said in jest.

"In fact, its bigger than Boston. Uh-huh."

I imagined a glazed over look in her eye as I was broadening her horizons by the second. "I thought it was a movie" she said.

"Well, you see, the movie is actually named after the city, because it takes place there."

"Ohhhh shhhhhiiiiiiiiit."

I told her about my first visit to Fenway Park three Mays ago. I found Red Sox fans, and keep in mind that the Red Sox are the team I actively root for in the American League (so pretty much my 2nd favorite team), were the worst. She tried to argue that "Sox fans are just fine." But I told her the story of how I went to a day game in mid-May, against the Minnesota Twins, the Red Sox were desicively winning, and in the 6TH INNING, out of NOWHERE, nearly the entire crowd erupts in a "Yankees Suck" chant. It was one of the most pathetic things I've ever seen. She told me that "that's the best" and that she "grew up with it." I replied that it was horrible. It indicated such an incredible inferiority complex. There wasn't anything like that in any other city or ballpark I've ever been to. Not even "Red Sox suck" chants at Yankee Stadium. They don't care enough bother with the Red Sox when they're not playing them.

You'll never hear "Braves suck" chants in Shea Stadium. Perhaps a mocking tomahawk chant when the Braves are actually in town as the visiting team, but that's it. In all fairness, Braves/Mets isn't nearly as fierce a rivalry as Red Sox/Yankees.

Not even the Cardinals/Cubs or Giants/Dodgers rivalries (which are arguably more intense than Red Sox/Yankees), showed any animosity against each other at all in games I went to that they weren't playing each other. Remember, the Giants/Dodgers rivalry in particular dates back to when the teams were playing in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and each year battled each other for the pennant in the same city. Those were the days when Subway Series were a common occurance. People care more about the game as a whole outside of Boston, and less about simply hating the Yankees.

Disclaimer: I love many Red Sox fans, and I consider some Sox fans my best friends. Some let their love for the Sox help them be more passionate about the game in general, and that is greatly impressive. But they still hate the Yankees. A lot.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

I Love You More Than Bears Love Honey

In about an hour I'm heading down to spend the day at South Street Seaport. Besides being a great excuse to finally order a Neighborhoodie in person (they've got a retail store there), I'm also going for today's installment of the Seaport Music Festval, a free series of summer concerts. Tonight's features DeVotchka, a band I know little about. The real reason I'm going is for the opening act, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

They've gotten a lot of positive press lately, mostly from the glowing review they received from hipster indie bible, Pitchfork. Their review stated that their debut disc is "consistently, remarkably strong," and gave the album a 9 out of 10. But I've heard a bunch of their songs, and they're really excellent. As soon as I figure out how to post MP3's on this thing, I definitely will. The song, "The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth" is a not-miss.

Also, you can add Sarah Silverman's Jesus is Magic to the list of movies I've got to see.
More Trailers from My Films-to-See List:
- The Aristocrats
- Broken Flowers
- My Date with Drew
- Elizabethtown
- Little Manhattan
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
- The Baxter
- The 40 Year-Old Virgin

Monday, August 08, 2005


I feel the need to post here a sincere apology regarding my last entry. It wasn't supposed to be funny, cruel, or make anybody feel bad.. even Jessica. In retrospect, it was a very poor decision to blog about this. It wasn't my intention to write a controversial piece, or even a comedy piece for that matter. All I wanted to do was blog about an interesting experience I had, not bad or good. In fact, the time I spent with Jessica was quite pleasant for the most part. After the show, I sent her the following message on myspace:
Hi Jessica,

It was nice meeting you. It was a lot of fun doing the show. I hope you had a blast. Keep well.

And it was sincere. I really did have a lot of fun, and I hope she did too. It was not my intention to go out of my way to make Jessica feel bad in my blog. She did have many redeeming qualities. I just wanted to make an interesting blog entry to read, and this is how it came out. And for that, I apologize to Jessica for making her look bad in this public forum. It was, as Aziz pointed out, a "dick move" on my part.

When I posted a link to my blog on Aziz's website, I must've forgotten how famous and popular he's become, and I never expected anybody else to really read it, other than friends of mine. Then The Apiary, a truly fantastic blog about the NYC comedy scene, didn't help much by linking to the entry calling it a tale about a "Date From Hell." While it was somewhat cool to get a mention in The Apiary, this was not how I wanted it. Another comment on the entry was from an anonymous reader that wrote:
At 8/07/2005 3:35 PM, Anonymous said...
Zach, why would you go out of your way to try and make this girl feel dumb in your blog? All it does is replace your nice guy image with that of a prick.
That hit home hard, because it was obviously somebody who formed strong feelings afterwards, and didn't want to reveal themselves. I sort of take some pride in being a nice guy, and this post was truly out of character for me.

And so, I'd like to apologize to Jessica, for writing what must've made her feel truly terrible, and to Aziz (who seems like a true nice guy for the small amount I know him) tarnishing the integrity of his fantastic show, whatever the small amount that this blogger did.

Take care. More entries soon.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Date Test!

About a week and a half ago I participated in one of the most unique experiences of my relatively short life. One day after the Del Close Marathon ended at UCBT, I headed back to be a part of the special Date Test episode of Crash Test. Crash Test is the new free weekly show showcasing alternative standups, and the occasion sketch or short film. Each week it is hosted by Aziz Ansari and a special guest host.

Aziz has made a name for himself recently by popping up everywhere in the alt-comedy scene. I was lucky enough to tech one of his appearances at the Under St. Marks venue a few weeks ago, and I've gotta say this guy is top notch. The way he crafts his jokes is absolutely hysterical, no matter how many times you hear his bits. His co-host on this particular week was UCBT's resident Best Week Ever star, Paul Scheer. A member of long-running UCB house team Respecto Montalban, and quickly becoming more and more recognizable for his VH1 appearances, Scheer is a favorite among UCB frequenters.

About five days before the show, Aziz and Scheer began announcing that this week they were going to set up three blind dates, and invited all men and women to "apply." The application was merely to send in your name, gender, favorite movies and music, and to include your myspace profile. Little did I know that our myspace profiles would be projected on the screen for the audience's pleasure during the show.

With curiosity mostly in mind, I decided to get involved. All three dates were to happen in the UCB green room during the show. Small tables complete with tablecloths, paper goods and Aquafina were set up in three converted closets. The girls were all relatively attractive in their own way, and I was told after the show that I was "the nice guy," with the other two fellas being "hopelessly dorky" and "the suave hunk." This was the gem they set me up with:

Jessica is 24, and moved to New York City one month ago after graduating college in Arizona. We were obviously paired together because we both indicated our favorite movie was Woody Allen's Annie Hall. Well let me tell you, Jessica was no Diane Keaton. She told me her myspace profile showed evidence that she was truely pretentious, being that she listened to obscure bands that few people had heard of, and that she is a member of MENSA. What a goon.

A number of challenges went on for the "daters" throughout the show. The most notable of which was the guys running out the local bodega on 25th & 8th to buy our dates gifts for under five bucks. Jessica had told me she was employed by a health food website that was really against fast food. So I bought her $1.81 worth of sweet potato yams and jello. What's more healthy than that? Answer: Nothing. My date and I also made a tic-tac-toe board out of tongue depressers and glue. The x's and o's were supposed to have a double-meaning. Whatevs.

And the end of the show, the guys were interviewed briefly without the girls present. When asked what the weirdest thing our date said to us was, I mistakenly said that it was that she had told me her myspace is very pretentious. I completely left out the fact that among her numerous ex-boyfriend stories, she told me of one she had with a 35 year-old artist when she was 17 years old. Also absent from my interview was the fact that she had told me that when she had spent the summer a year or two prior, she used to think it was fun to walk down the street and pop blood capsules into her mouth. I think this is when I knew for sure that there would be no second date.

After meeting such an.. um.. interesting person as Jessica, I'm quite fine with being labeled by Aziz and Paul as the "guy who alphabetizes his favorite music on myspace."

Note: More creepy pictures of Jessica from her myspace available upon request.

Also, I added my Netflix queue to the sidebar on the right of the screen. Got an recommendations for me? Let me know!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Meet the Mets

At last summer's trading deadline, the struggling New York Mets, long out of the pennant race, wanted to make a splash. And so on July 30th, the Mets General Manager-at-the-time, Jim Duquette traded Scott Kazmir, their top pitching prospect to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for mediocre starting pitcher Victor Zambrano. Hailed by many as the second coming of Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, the hardthrowing Scott Kazmir was considered one of the best pitching prospects in the minors. Zambrano made three starts for the Mets, promptly got injured, and ended up on the disabled list for the rest of the year. Some splash.

The end of the season came with no playoff fanfare (big surprise), but did signal the return of former Mets Assistant-GM Omar Minaya to take over for Duquette. Minaya had left the Mets a few years prior to take over as GM for the Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals), and he is one of the main reasons that this year's Nationals team has been able to remain competitive, and even held first place for a long stretch of time. In an effort to turn things around at Shea Stadium, Minaya worked hard to land arguably the two top free agents last winter - pitching superstar Pedro Martinez, fresh off of the first Red Sox world championship in 86 years, and Carlos Beltran, widely regarded as one of the best young, all-around great baseball players. At Beltran's first New York press conference, he announced that this was to be "the New Mets." After years of disappointments since reaching the World Series in 2000, Beltran was more or less promising to fans that this year would be new and different.

New Mets GM Omar Minaya poses with 'the new Mets' - Carlos Beltran & Pedro Martinez.

This year, although noticably most vibrant and more exciting than Mets teams in recent years, is still just a mediocre ballclub, hovering around the .500 mark. With the National League as competitive as it is, however, the Mets remain in the hunt. For the most part, the pitching has been outstanding. The checks to Pedro seem to be money well-spent as he has been nothing short of spectacular. Kris Benson, also acquired in a less-disastrous trade at last year's deadline
has been a solid number two man in the rotation. The aging Tom Glavine has shown glimpses of his vintage years, and although its obvious his best years are behind him, Glavine is still tolerable. The real problem with the Mets has been the startling lack of offense. Beltran has been okay at best, certainly not the what had been hoped for. Mike Piazza, still one of the best offensive catchers in baseball, is not even a shadow of the player he once was. Even with Cliff Floyd having one of of the best year's of his career (9th in the National League with 24 home runs) , and the brilliant sophomore year of blooming superstar David Wright, the Mets are constantly struggling for runs.

This past week leading up the trading deadline on July 31st, the Mets traveled to two of baseball's best hitting parks - Coors Field in Denver, where the air is thinner than Lindsay Lohan on a good day, and Minute Maid Park in Houston, where Verne Troyer can blast home runs with ease. In five of the seven games, the Mets scored three runs or less. After being embarrassed by a terrible Rockies team in Colorado for two games, they were able to come back and plate nine runs in the series finale. The Astros series was going to be a crucial four-game set with a hot team with whom the Mets were in direct competition with for the Wild Card playoff spot. The Astros beat them three days in a row, and once again the Mets plated nine runs in the series finale to avoid the sweep.

Back in New York City, trade rumors began to swirl. Minaya, noticing an obvious need for a big bat in the Mets lineup, talked with the Texas Rangers about former Yankee Alfonso Soriano. The power-hitting second baseman would fit in perfectly with the Mets, but the talks quickly broke down after Texas reportedly asked for way too much. The real frenzy started when the Manny talk began.

For the past ten years, Manny Ramirez has been one of the best baseball players in the world. He has over 400 home runs, nearly 1400 RBI, and has a lifetime .314 batting average. So why would the Boston Red Sox ever trade the guy that helped them win a world championship? Easy. Manny asked. And he didn't just ask, Manny demanded. Manny demanded to be traded on more than one occasion. But the Red Sox had said publicly that it would be a difficult task trading a player of his stature because of contract and talent issues. That is, until July 29th. That's when the rumors of one of the biggest blockbuster trades in all of baseball history first started making rounds. It was to be a three team deal involving the Mets, Red Sox, and Tampa Bay Devil Rays. It would look like this:

New York Mets get:
- Manny Ramirez (from Boston)
- Danys Baez (from Tampa)
Boston Red Sox get:
- Mike Cameron (from Mets)
- Aubrey Huff (from Tampa)
Tampa Bay Devil Rays get:
- prospects Kelly Shoppach & Anibal Sanchez (from Boston)
- top prospects Lastings Milledge & Yusmeiro Petit (from New York)

It was all set to go, Manny would get his wish and leave Boston. He'd come to New York to hang with his best bud Pedro. But then the deal started to quickly fall apart. Tampa Bay demanded prospect Hanley Ramirez from Boston, and in turn Boston wanted more for what they were giving up, so they asked to get Milledge instead of Tampa. The deal quickly unraveled, and nothing ever materialized for real. No trades for the Mets at all.

Tonight the Mets played their first full game after the trading deadline. They were back at Shea after the disastrous road trip to Denver and Houston. They were to play the lowly Milwaukee Brewers. And who was on the mound? Our good friend Victor Zambrano. If there ever was a time for the New York ballclub to prove something, this was the time to do it. But after two innings of play, it didn't look like this would be the night. After giving up only nine home runs all season coming into tonight's game, Zambrano gave up four home runs in a span of five Milwaukee batters. Quickly, the Mets were down 6-2 after only two innings. And then someting miraculous happened: the Mets battled back. They tied the game at 7 with three runs in the 7th inning, and after the Brewers took the lead 8-7 in the top of the 9th on Geoff Jenkins' second home run of the game, it looked like the Mets were done.

But up came Mike Cameron. With one out in the bottom of the ninth, the same guy who had been the center of trade rumors for the past year, blasted a home run off red-hot Milwaukee closer Derrick Turnbow to tie the game at 8. Two innings later in the bottom of the 11th, the bases filled up for pinch-hitter Mike Piazza. Benched tonight in favor of backup catcher Ramon Castro, Piazza came off the bench and strutted to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. But Piazza didn't do what he used to be so famous for. He didn't crush the ball out of the ballpark with a monstrous swing. No, in fact, he didn't even swing at all. Piazza waited as Milwaukee's Julio Santana threw four straight balls to Piazza to walk in the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning.

Mike Cameron celebrates with teammates in the dugout after tying the game with a ninth inning home run.

The Mets pounded out 18 hits in the game, but the real story here is probably Mike Cameron, who went six-for-four including the game-tying homer in the bottom of the ninth. Cameron knows now that he's a Met, at least for this season. And at least for this season, who needs Manny?