Friday, November 27, 2015

First off, I had a wonderful Thanksgiving at my house with my mother, my brother, my sister-in-law, my nephew and of course my wife and Nyles. . We watched the parade, we told jokes, we watched the kids do crazy things, we cooked (by we I mean my mother and my wife), we ate, we drank (by we I mean my brother, my wife and I), and by 11pm everyone had left and I was sleep. The only two people I did not talk to were my son Carlton (who is in Marine boot camp) and my father who most likely did not want to call or return my call, because my mother was at my house, and he knew that she would find a way to get him on the phone. My mother is still pressed for my father like that, and it is painfully awkward to watch and listen to at times.

I love seeing my family, and I loved the 5-mile run I did before dinner yesterday, which helped me feel guilt-free about the copious amounts of food I ate at dinner. I stayed off social media yesterday too (except to send this ironic picture up on Instagram), and I just decided to enjoy my family, the football and stay in the moment. That is refreshing to do sometimes.

But what I DON'T like to do is to come to work the day after, and listen to other folks tell me about their bullshit Thanksgiving. I don't care about your family, I don't care that you want to know how good (or bad) my day was, I don't care about the baller-ass spread of food your old ass mom or grandmom cooked for you and your 34 family members, and I damn sure don't care how full you got (like you were just SO shocked that you ate lots of food on Thanksgiving like that day does not come every f**king year). Just come to work, put your head down and power through the work that is on your desk.. The advantage of coming to work on the Friday after Thanksgiving, is to enjoy the quiet, the peace, the solitude, and the ability to accomplish more while the attendance is sparse. If you're all up in my face for 20 minutes with Thanksgiving tales of joy and woe, it directly impedes my ability to maximize work productivity and blog creation--I have been trying to write this blog for 45 minutes now, and I keep getting interrupted with some variation of the same questions:

How was your Thanksgiving?
Did you eat a lot?
Did you see lots of family?
Did you see the games yesterday? (of course I did motherf**ker, everyone saw the same three games)

My apologies for being so crotchety so early, but I felt this warranted a good rant. And now, I present a song full of Ghostface rants:

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

As I have alluded to many times on this blog, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is my main man, my second hero behind my dad, and I am in absolute awe of his accomplishments on and off the basketball court. When I found out via his publicist Deborah Morales (yeah I'm name dropping someone you've never heard of) two years ago that Kareem would have an HBO documentary based on his life, I nearly begged her and HBO to either a) let me be involved or b) let me get an advance screening. They only obliged on the latter, and but that was still enough to assuage the angst of not being more involved. That being said...

The documentary, which I highly suggest you watch two times if you have not already, was a supreme disappointment to me. Most of what was covered in the documentary was already covered in great detail in his autobiography Giant Steps, which came out in 1983. Yes there were interviews from Billy Crystal, Bob Ryan, his longtime friends, Herbie Hancock and even the great Quincy Jones, but they were merely pontificating on details I already knew about.

In fact the only detail that was discussed in the documentary that I was previously in the dark about was regarding his scratched cornea in the great Game-of-the-Century matchup against Elvin Hayes in 1968. I always thought Kareem was simply outplayed, but his eye hampered him, and he later avenged that loss in the NCAA tournament. Hearing that made me smile and re-affirm Kareem's greatness, but it was not enough pacify me. Not even close.

I called my father the next day to get his take on the documentary, and before I could bait him with a question, he also had complaints about the regurgitation of common Kareem knowledge. We both did a little pontification of our own about the omission of what makes Kareem unique--his post-basketball career. Kareem has written history books, children's books, he's written reviews on jazz and movies, he's had columns with Time and ESPN magazine, he's started a foundation, he's been very vocal about his fight with leukemia, and as recently as two months ago he had a public spat with Presidential candidate, Donald Trump. Yes Kareem was a great ball player (I'd argue one of the five greatest ever to play the game) and that should be celebrated but a documentary (in my opinion) should be a little more thorough, and appeal to a broader audience--not just basketball fans. HBO is known for their sprawling documentaries, but they fell short this time. Perhaps I need to start begging folks to let me do the sequel.

I highly suggest you go on over to my main man Sabin's blog, and read the series of entries he wrote on OutKast (pronounced OutKast). He nailed it.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

My son Nyles and I walked to school this morning, which was about 10-percent annoying and 90-percent gratifying. Yesterday, as we got ready to drive to work, Nyles expressed an interest in walking to school, and I shut his ass down. It was Monday morning, I was tired, and he wasn't exactly doing the best job of being a good listener, which would have turned a 15-minute walk into 3-hour affair. This morning he was good, and aside from him being distracted by the acorns, garbage trucks, and red/green lights, we had a nice time. That was only the second time we've done that walk, but I may start doing this every day. It saves gas, I don't have to find parking, and I'm sure as he gets older the quality of our conversations will only improve.

The walk was also mildly therapeutic for me. I have been struggling with my emotions since Saturday night--the night before my son Carlton left Marine boot camp. It is funny leading up to the day, I wasn't very emotional at all. I would talk about the occasion like it was just another day in the park. I helped Carlton get ready, we joked about him having to cut his hair, and it never dawned on me that there is an emotional component to all of this.

Saturday I tried to call him via FaceTime and he didn't answer, so I headed to the Wizards/Knicks game, hoping to catch him later. As I was halfway there my wife told me that Carlton tried to call back via FaceTime, so I turned around, came back home and had a 20-minute conversation with him which was excellent. I covered the game, did my journalistic duties, came home, got ready to go to bed, and then it hit me like a Mike Tyson uppercut. I cried and cried and I had to call my father at 2am (he's in Phoenix so thankfully he was wide awake) and he temporarily calmed me down. But all day Sunday and yesterday, I had these 5-10 minute crying fits. Finally last night, Carlton called me to say he had arrived, and that he'd only be able to write (not call) between now and late January. That conversation made me smile, not cry, and I think I will be ok.

Back to the therapeutic part of the walk...walking with Nyles--as well as playing and talking with him, make me appreciate the little day-to-day operations of raising a 3-soon-to-be-4 year old. I didn't have that with Carlton, and judging by how quickly things have gone with young Nyles, he'll start shunning me for girls or sports in no time. So the innocence of this morning's walk was very calming. Carlton's innocence will be beat and dragged out of him during boot camp--just like it would have been in college, although in a slightly less harsh way. That's what happens between 18 and 22 right? That's a bitter pill to swallow, but I'm doing it slowly (pause). As I told my wife the other day, being an adult is difficult. It's rewarding, fun and better than being a minor, but man it is difficult sometimes.

My main man Sabin, in our discussion about the demise of Grantland, told me to step up and do more with writing in the sports department, beyond my normal Wizards-related duties. He's stepped up and developed a website and written a new book of fiction. The last time he challenged me, I learned how to swim in 3 months. I already know how to write, I just have to take that leap, or as Herbie Hancock said to Questlove, "walk that stage".