Wednesday, June 26, 2013


The countdown is finally over. Our South Africa trip is here!

Obviously I will be coming back with quite the docket of blog posts to unveil. But in the meantime, here is a quick preview of our upcoming adventure...

      -4 nights in Cape Town

      -copious amounts of food

      -copious amounts of wine

      -3 nights on safari at a private reserve

      -Julie making friends with meerkats

      -me stealing a baby elephant

      -Julie racing a cheetah (and winning)

...and yes, all of these things will happen. Twice.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

NBA Finals Game 7 - What Next?

You all knew it was only a matter of time before I posted about this year's NBA Playoffs. They have been exciting and intense, showcasing some of the best players and match-ups that the league has to offer. Now 14 teams have been eliminated, and we find ourselves in every sports fan's dream scenario...


I am so excited, I am actually counting down the hours to tip-off (just under five as I write this). This is how it should be. The two best teams in the league. Neither team winning more than one game in a row in the series. The most talented team in the world versus the best team in the world. The best player in the world versus the Hall of Famer with four rings already. The old school coach versus the young coach. This series has it all.

I could go off on a long tangent about Game 6 and how the media blows everything out of proportion. I could talk about how important free throws are. I could talk about how Gregg Popovich leads one of the most entertainingly-horrible press conference in professional sports. I could talk about Magic Johnson having the uncanny ability to somehow relate any sentence back to his days playing as a Laker. But I'm not going to. What am I going to do?

Just Watch.

I'm sure ABC will have at least eight pre-packaged highlight reels of the Spurs "Big 3", the Heat "Big 3", Ray Allen's place in history, Kawhi Leonard's free throws, flashbacks to Lebron's "Decision", and Duncan and Popovich's relationship as their run slowly fade into the sunset. But I won't even notice. I just wanna watch this game play out.

The adjustments each team has made have been unreal in this series. The role players have had good and bad moments. The stars have all had their time in the spotlight. And now it comes down to one game to decide the NBA Championship. One game.

Do you realize how insane that is? Forget for a minute that any team in the league, including Miami and San Antonio, would kill for this chance to win one game to win it all. But to reflect on an entire season, all the hours of training, lifting, practicing and shooting...and to see it all culminate into 48 minutes of frenzied glory. The defense will be frenetic. The offense will be calculated. The energy levels will be through the roof. And yet, throughout all that, these guys have to somehow channel the right amount of energy and frenzy without playing careless or with reckless abandon. The line is thin. Razor thin.

So to Lebron James and Tim Duncan - best of luck. I'm not even going to taint this post with a prediction of winner or score, or even a hint at who I'm rooting for. A lot of people would ask to see these players' best 48 minutes of basketball tonight. But not me.

I know they're gonna bring it.

I just want to watch.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

My Life...By The Numbers

I assume many of you have heard of or seen the youth art toy called Paint by Numbers? Well enjoy Livin the Dream's "Blog By Numbers", where I countdown from 11 (my favorite number), and re-tell a random story or general factoid that has some (often paper-thin) relation to that number.

Bizarre concept, I know. But hey, it'll be fun!

Marc's Blog by Numbers

11 - My Lucky Number.

10 - When I was in Little League, my baseball jersey number was #10. I wanted #11, but some other snot-nosed kid got it before I could. Anyway, while wearing #10, my single most embarrassing moment occurred. This one requires a bit of background...

During my second year of baseball, our league gave the option for kids to go to the plate wearing a batting vest. Well my cautious mother told me that if I wanted to play, I had to wear the vest. So all season I threw on the vest on my way to the batter's box. Luckily a lot of kids wore them.

However on this one particular afternoon, I ran in from the field and was up first the next inning, so I threw on my helmet, grabbed my lucky bat, took a couple practice swings, and marched off to the plate. I stared down the pitcher, dug my foot in, spit a big squirt of Big League Chew juice to the side, and bared down. And then, as the pitcher went into his windup, he heard a faint voice yelling, and he backed off the mound. What did he hear...?

My mom. Running full speed from her seat in foul territory in the outfield. Yelling at the top of her lungs. "Marc, Marc, MARC! PUT YOUR BATTING VEST ON RIGHT NOW!"

All my buddies are laughing. I'm embarrassed beyond belief as I put my head down and drag my bat back to the dugout to grab my straight-jacket. And then I didn't get a girlfriend for another few years.

Thanks Mom.

9 - The number of colleges I applied to. Talk about a random list - Stanford, Duke, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, University of Washington, University of North Carolina, Northwestern, Georgetown and UCLA. And no, there was no real reason that I applied to each one. So...Go Bruins.

8 - Ah yes, the Elite 8. In the 2005-06 college basketball season, UCLA made a run all the way to the NCAA Championship game in the March Madness tournament. Thanks to the help of some family and friends, I was able to go to all six of their games. The most amazing game of all was the Sweet 16 victory over Gonzaga in Oakland to advance to the Elite 8. In this game, UCLA was down 17 points and looking like a dead team walking. Then one of the most epic comebacks in college basketball history happened. And then this happened:

The most exciting live sporting event of my life.

7 - Years ago that I got my internship at the Holiday Bowl. SEVEN YEARS! Holy hell, seven years ago I was fresh out of college, barely of drinking age, hadn't developed my awkward patch of chest hair, and had a metabolism faster than Usain Bolt. Times have changed.

6 -"Eat 6 saltines in a minute Marc!" Everyone said it couldn't be done, and then I saw my best buddy Tom do it like a champ in another friend's garage. So I decided to go for it. I dominated the first 30 seconds, chewing and noshing the salty crackers in my mouth. And then everything turned to drywall in my mouth. And then someone cracked a joke. And then I laughed so hard that I spit dried saltines all over my friends. It looked like a real-life snow-globe. True story.

6 in a minute 

5 - The number of Olympic rings. The Olympics have a balance beam gymnastics. competition. When I was eight, I went to a week-long summer camp where each day you did a different sport (soccer, softball, basketball, gym, bowling, etc.). Well Wednesday was gymnastics day, where all the kids got to go do somersaults on the mats, try to do handstands, and walk the balance beam. Now, being an undeveloped eight year-old, the balance beam had minimal scare-factor to me. Oh geez would that change. The teachers helped us get up on the beam by a set of stairs, and then we had the option to either run or walk across. I was a little piss-ant kid, so of course I wanted to run. And that I did. For one step. And then my foot slipped, my legs fell to both sides of the beam, and I got nutted so bad that I spent the next two months being mistaken for my mom and sister whenever I answered the phone. Balance Beams - The Anti-Puberty.

 The nutter...

4 - This number reminds me of 4-Square. Which reminds me of handball. Which reminds me of the first real "fight" I ever got into. In fourth grade I was playing handball (the kind with the big red bouncy ball on the wall), and I was playing against Brandon C. Brandon was a year older and was a punk kid that no one liked, and was notorious for having a bit of a hot streak in him. Well, I was pretty hot stuff on the handball court, displaying a wide array of skills including sliceys, rainbows, and sliders, and I kicked Brandon C.'s butt. And then he said I cheated. And then I said he was a liar. And then he ran at me, I tried to elude him (also known as running away like a baby), he grabbed my shirt collar and ripped it from neck to sleeve so that the sleeve was dangling off. So I turned around and socked him in the temple. I wasn't really aiming, it's just where my fist landed. It hurt a lot. We both got sent to the Principal's office. My mom got called by the school secretary for the first time ever. The nurse gave me a "loaner" shirt, which was obviously the shirt kids get when they throw up on themselves. And I went back to class. Brandon C. was an idiot. And I destroyed him in handball.

 Damn Brandon C.

3 - This reminds me of how I wooed my wife. We met in a bowling league (yeah, I know, we're awesome), and much of our flirting and courtship stage revolved around our Tuesday night bowling nights. Well, our team made the finals, and in the final frame, we were trailing the other team, and I was the only bowler remaining. We were down so much that I needed three straight strikes to win the whole thing. So I stepped up, feeling more pressure not to bowl a gutter ball in front of Julie, and bowled a strike. I looked back, gave her that shoulder shrug that basically meant "Lucky shot", waited for my bowling ball, stood up, took a half-serious deep breath, and bowled another strike. This time I walked back, grabbed my ball, then looked at Julie with a "Uh-oh, this might happen" smirk and turned my back. Then I stared down the alley, took a very serious deep breath, and let it fly. And all those little pins fell down. A TURKEY TO WIN IT ALL! Pretending it was no big deal, I casually turned around to see all my teammates cheering and clapping, except for one. Julie just sat there, staring at me, shaking her head, giving me the "You've got to be kidding me. I'm never going to hear the end of this" look. And she was right. That my friends, is how you get the girl.

The lady-killer 

2 - Number of tickets I've received for non-speeding violations. Which reminds me of another time I was pulled over for eating a girl scout cookie. No, you didn't read that wrong. A few years back I was leaving a friends house late at night, and I was leaving, my friend gave me some girl scout cookies for the road. Being the pig I am, I tore into them as soon as I got into the car. Well, I made a turn at a stop sign, and within five seconds there were flashing lights behind me. Obviously panicking, I throw the half-eaten cookie in the center console, grab my license and registration, and wait for the cop to come up next to me...the whole time trying to figure out what the hell I did. He asked if I knew why he pulled me over, and I responded, "Honestly, I don't have a clue." He said it looked like I had been on my cell phone, and I told him I hadn't made a call in three hours, and that my phone was in my pocket. He asked to see it, and when I showed him, he then said, "Well it looked like you had your hands up to your face back at that intersection." And then this exchange happened...

ME - "Officer, that's because I was eating a Samoa Girl Scout Cookie."

OFFICER - "I'm sorry, what?"

(At this point, I reached into the center console, picked up the half-eaten cookie, and showed him.)

OFFICER - "Well, uh, be careful with your cookies and have a good night."

And then he walked back to his car. So many questions. Did he really pull me over thinking a cookie was a phone? Why did I feel the need to be an asshole and tell him the type of Girl Scout Cookie I was eating? Why did he say to "be careful with my cookies"? What is he thinking when he walks back to his car? Does he tell anyone this story?

One of the most bizarre stories of my life.

Most dangerous cookie on the roads...

1 - One is the loneliest number. That song was sung by Three Dog Night. Julie and I want three dogs (a rescue dog she can run with, a French Bulldog, and a Boxer). I know, those are some pretty specific criteria, but when you live with Julie, you learn to expect specificity when it comes to her obsession with canines.

So...did you get all that?