Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Christmas Adam!

Today is Christmas Adam, and it's the big holiday day for my family.

Let me back up and explain. Since my dad's a pastor, he works on Christmas Eve, and in the past he'd also worked on Christmas morning. That pretty much throws a wrench into the holiday family time, since he has to get to the church early and he has to be the last to leave. It mostly meant we had to wait until Christmas afternoon to have time together to eat, enjoy company, open presents, etc. And then, my sister, A., suggested we celebrate Christmas Adam. And since Adam came before Eve, that makes it today.

Mostly, we treat it like other families treat Christmas Eve. We have a nice dinner, and then we play games and get to open one present. While that was originally intended to hold us kids over until Christmas Day, sometimes it lead to a full-on excessive present opening shindig. Now that we're older, we have more control. Well, sort of.

We still eat way too much, and today we are each making a seafood appetizer to comprise the dinner. I believe there will be gumbo, lobster something-or-other, seafood pizza, and my entry, pairing two of my favorite foods in the world: crab-stuffed mushrooms. I guess we're sort of going with the dim sum approach to dinner -- lots of little bits make people full just like big plates of entrees. It should be fun, and I'm looking forward to how everyone will pull their pieces together. It helps that the family is full of good cooks. Yum!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Basketball Realization

The most recent basketball game I went to was a snorefest. A&M forgot to play about half the game (the first 10 minutes of each half) and then had to play catchup against SMU. The only redeeming quality of the evening was that SMU was still worse than us so we could still get the win.

While sitting there watching a game that I couldn't have been more detached from, I realized the player numbers were all five or less for each of the digits. I decided this is to make it easier for the referees to indicate who the foul is on. A three and a four is easier to handsign with one hand than a nine and a six. Of course, they could use sign language for the larger digits or they could use both hands, but it just doesn't appear that they do.

Does anyone know if that is an across-the-board rule, or are their basketball players with numbers above 55?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

I Have a Mouth, and I Did Scream

A set of circumstances came together giving me a free ticket to the Texas A&M men's basketball game against Arizona. And so, my arm was twisted. (Ha. Like arm-twisting is needed when it comes to basketball or the Aggies.)

The game started out much like I expected. I had also gotten to go to a game two weeks ago against Jackson State, and the team generally looked like it hadn't yet figured out how to play together. There was confusion and a lack of energy and teamwork all over the court. We won the game, but it wasn't a pretty win. So, when you go out against a team like Arizona with all their talented players, you just have to play better.

The primary threats that I noticed were Jordan Hill, who pretty much shut us down inside and could hit most anything he posted up, and Chase Budinger, who could shoot from anywhere on the court -- inside, jumpers (including the turnaround), free throws, three-pointers from well oustide the arc, etc. And so, they got out to a quick 15-2 lead. We couldn't make a shot for anything, and they got virtually every rebound, offensive and defesive alike. It was like watching my old mid-nineties team, where you just want them to find a way to pull things together for a few minutes and not look like complete buffoons. Phrases like "moral victory" started dancing in my head. We pulled ourselves together a bit, and kept the deficit generally between 9 and 12 points through to halftime, where we trailed 40-29.

Reed Arena had a decent crowd, considering it's mid-finals weekend. I think it being a later game (8:30 start) meant a few more out-of-towners could make it. We hung in there in the second half, maintaining our deficit. At the worst, we were down by 14, but we never quit. And the second half team had more energy, more fire, and absolutely no giving up in sight. We started managing to stop them on their possessions. They started missing shots. They had a starter foul out. We were closing the gap. Down by 7. A few minutes later down by 5.

The critical point in the momentum of the game came with 6:30 left in the game, and the Aggies down by 7. Hill, the previously mentioned Arizona forward, was called for a technical foul. I didn't see what happened, since I was watching another part of the floor at the time, but Russ Pennell, the Arizona coach, didn't contest it, so I'm assuming it was legit. Josh Carter, the lone senior the Aggies have this year with any playing time to speak of, nailed his free throws and the crowd was loud and crazy and into the game. Regardless of the number of timeouts called by the two teams and for commercials for the rest of the game (4), the crowd was just right back into it each time, and how couldn't we be? We kept catching up and managed to tie the game at 62 with 3:30 remaining in the game. That was the closest we'd been since the opening tipoff. We immediately trailed again, but we could taste the possiblity. And then, with 20 seconds remaining, Nate Walkup, a sophomore, came off the bench and nailed a deep three to put us up 67-66. Elation! And then the reminder that Arizona gets the (likely) last position. Budinger, who'd been particularly hot in the first half, took the off-balance shot, we controlled the rebound, and time expired! We'd managed to get our only lead of the game when it mattered, and then we managed to keep it. Wow.

This game was part of a series of non-conference matchups between the Big 12 and the Pac 10. As far as the other games in this series, we've seen the following results:
Washington (54) at Kansas (73) -- November 24th
Colorado (62) at Stanford (76) -- November 29th
USC (72) at Oklahoma (73) -- Thursday
UCLA (64) at Texas (68) -- Thursday
Oklahoma State (65) at Washington (83) -- Thursday

Several games still remain:
Oregon State at Iowa State (today)
Baylor at Washington State (today)
Nebraska at Arizona State (Sunday)
California at Missouri (Sunday)
Kansas State at Oregon (Sunday)
Stanford at Colorado State (December 14)

There have been some close games, and in those, the home team seemed to win. I know that was the case last night, and I'm sure the result would have been different if the game had been in Tucson. I'm sort of thinking the Big 12 still has some work to do to play with these guys, but it's nice to have the games on the schedule.

Today, as the title of this post suggests, I have a bit of a scratchy throat. Of course, I'll take it.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Friday Random Ten

"The Politics of Dancing" by Re-Flex on Living in Oblivion: The 80's Greatest Hits
"A Fifth of Beethoven" by Walter Murphy on Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack
"The Sad Cafe" by Lorrie Morgan on Common Thread: The Songs of The Eagles
"Andante in C Major" by Mozart on Luthern Summer Music Camp
"The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun" by Julie Brown on Dr. Demento 20th Anniversary Collection
"(Get a) Grip (on Yoursel)" by Stranglers on Living in Oblivion: The 80's Greatest Hits
"Cello Suite #2 in D Minor" by Bach, performed by Pablo Casals on The 6 Cello Suites
"Farewell Blues" on Country Cooking: 26 Bluegrass Instrumentals
"(Don't Go Back To) Rockville" by R.E.M. on Eponymous
"When You Are Old and Gray" by Tom Lehrer on Song & More Songs

Not sure what's up with the eighties music followed by classical instrumentals. And then there's that weird seventies disco adaptation of classical music. The themes that iTunes comes up with can be a little odd, but when I've been gone for so long, what can I really expect?

* Acts I've seen live