Thursday, July 20, 2006 

Bluff City excerpt: The GFE

While I finish out a deadline for the Chicago Sports Review, here's a little nugget from Bluff City, my novel-equivalent of "Chinese Democracy." More news on BC coming very soon; for now, here's a little chapter involving Kevin Madden, a soon-to-be-former reporter for the local paper, and, "date," concluding matters on Kevin's last night in Memphis. Enjoy.

“You seen my panties?”
Mandy was rooting around in the corners of Kevin’s bedroom, overturning books, CDs, and the occasional pizza slice, and Kevin had to marvel at how he could watch a hot naked woman do anything.
“I think they’re somewhere out on Union Avenue,” Kevin murmured. “Hey, careful with those books. They’re in a very precise order.”
“Uh-huh. And I’m Oprah Winfrey.”
“Then you should know the value of fine literature, ma’am,” Kevin said, rolling to sit on the edge of the bed. “You know, you could come to New York with me. You’d love it there.”
“Sure. And you’re going to set me up in the lap of luxury, right? Diamonds and pearls and all that?”
“Well…I’ve got a studio apartment. I could spring for a venti latte every so often, though.”
“Pass. Do you know how many men come through my club looking to take me away? I was almost Mrs. Michael Jordan, did you know that?”
“I did not. I’m honored to be in your presence, ma’am.”
“And well you should be.” She wiggled into her jeans and t-shirt, laced up her high heels, then stood up and extended a hand. “Moment of truth.”
Kevin slapped her open palm. “Been awhile since I’ve given five for loving, but hey—it was pretty good, wasn’t it?”
“It was. And now it’s time to pay for it.”
Kevin scowled. “Pay? You have got to be kidding.”
Mandy smiled. “Come on, player. You’re good, but you aren’t that good. Nobody picks up a stripper in fifteen minutes. This is a fee-based arrangement, plain and simple.”
Kevin pulled on his boxers—it didn’t seem right to negotiate business in the altogether—and stood up. “But we were—you know, kissing and holding hands and stuff.” Kevin almost reverted to thirteen and said, “I thought you liked me,” but caught himself just in time.
“Aw, sweetie,” Mandy said, pinching his cheek. “You didn’t pick up on the whole GFE deal?”
“Girlfriend Experience. You know, kissing you on the lips, holding hands, talking nice about you to your friends…”
“Take all my stuff and call my mother to tell her what a bastard she raised?”
“That comes later. Now, though—pay up.”
Kevin sighed. “And here I thought I was the friggin’ mack. Okay, how much?”
“Usually a home visit with full GFE runs three hundred. But since you were so good—and since you’re leaving town—” Mandy said, leaning in close to give him a full kiss—“it’ll be five hundred.”
“Eh. Still cheaper than being married.” He reached for his pants—which had been flung over the screen of his laptop—and found them disturbingly light. He looked around his desk—nothing. And then an image came to him, surfacing from the alcoholic mire of his memory—himself and Mandy fumbling around on his desk at the newspaper, planting her fine ass right on top of yesterday’s edition—and laughing at the picture of the mayor that smeared onto her left cheek. And somewhere in the course of the workplace gymnastics, he remembered his wallet popping out of his pants—and remembered thinking that he needed to remember to grab it—and then not remembering to remember.
Kevin smiled a sickly grin.
“Take a check?”

Wednesday, July 19, 2006 

On Teh MYSPACE :) :) :)

OMG! I'm on Myspace now!

Go. Add me to your Friends list. Make me offers to meet at a local library. I promise I won't tell my parents.


A.I. in the ATL

From Marc Stein's NBA offseason notebook on the perils and possibilities of Allen Iverson leaving Philly over at "Atlanta continues to stand out as the most ideal Iverson destination on this scorecard, especially after A.I. moved his family there this summer. Iverson makes basketball and business sense at Philips Arena -- maybe more than anywhere else on the NBA map. The Hawks need a ticket seller, have room for a dynamic star to pair with Joe Johnson and possess several quality youngsters to assemble into a quality trade package. Ongoing ownership uncertainty with the Hawks, however, keeps them on the periphery."

AI is the walking embodiment of everything that's wrong with the white-suburbanites-vs.-the-NBA dynamic. While Iverson looks like a thug nightmare come to life--tats on every square inch of his body, cornrows, more bling on his wrist and around his neck than you could buy in ten years, sinister gravel voice--he's also hands-down the toughest guy in the NBA, and probably all of sports. And while he's got the typical street-survivor's paper-thin skin when it comes to "disrespect," he could really thrive in Atlanta--and the city would absolutely embrace him if he shows the kind of loyalty to the town that he's capable of.

A.I. and Mike Vick in the same town, playing 100 yards from each other--it's too perfect to even dream about.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 

Stuff For You And Me Both To Avoid Doing Actual Work

--This will make you check with a ninja before going to the movies: Ask A Ninja Reviews Pirates of the Caribbean II. (By the way, is it "care-uh-BEE-uhn" or "cuh-RIB-ee-uhn"?)

--This will melt your brain: They're Taking The Hobbits to Isengard (Courtesy of The Beat.)

--This will make you rethink penalties against road rage: saw a dude today driving a gleaming-black BMW 745i. License plate? ILLSUEU. So I ran him off the road. (Not the best lesson to teach the kids on their way to Vacation Bible School, I grant you.)

Monday, July 17, 2006 

Southern Lit--Tim Dorsey's The Big Bamboo

There's a certain genre in novel-writing that's gaining a lot of traction but not a lot of understanding. Crime and comedy are natural partners to anybody who's spent any time studying the masters of either genre. (For instance, the deadly-dull CSI series would be immensely improved with a joke or two. It's what makes Rescue Me the best show on television now. Deal with it, Deadwood.) Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah--a book review. So crime + humor is an easily recognizable genre--Carl Hiaasen is the alpha dog here--but it's a tough one to classify. Are they mysteries? Not really. Are they thrillers? Not exactly. Are they "literary fiction"? Absolutely not, thank God. They're sometimes called "crimedys," a horrible afterbirth of a word that nonetheless comes the closest to hitting the mark.

Hiaasen may be the most recognizable name, but Tampa's Tim Dorsey is fast (in publishing terms) becoming a household industry himself. I've dug Dorsey ever since his first book, Florida Roadkill, and not just because he was kind enough to give me a good blurb for Bluff City. He's witty, with a vaudevillian's sense of comedic timing and a teenager's sense of humor--throw enough beer, violence and sex on the page and everyone's gonna be pleased.

Dorsey's mouthpiece is a semi-lucid, Florida-history-obsessed, ferretlike lunatic by the name of Serge Storms. Serge began existence as an inventive, agenda-minded serial killer--he once barbecued a Bubba the Love Sponge stand-in by basting him in butter and deep-frying him in tinfoil on the beach, if I recall correctly--but now serves as id run wild. Dorsey injects Serge into a given situation--politics, Key West, suburbia--and basically lets him Blow Shit Up with abandon. In The Big Bamboo, the premise is simple--Serge and his drunk/stoner buddy Coleman hit Hollywood and, yep, Blow Shit Up.

Dorsey's prose is manic, his jokes of the throw-everything-at-the-wall variety. And though it often goes up on two wheels, the narrative never tumbles off the track. If you've never read Dorsey before, I'd start with Florida Roadkill, then cycle your way through the next five novels before Bamboo. But it's well worth it--if nothing else, you'll learn some inventive new ways to dust that pesky co-worker.


Insert Subtly Race-Baiting Joke Here

You're gonna love the name of the new New Zealand basketball team--click here to find out.

I predict the t-shirts start showing up on these shores within days.

Sunday, July 16, 2006 

Just A Smidge Of Hope

So the Braves just swept the NL West-leading Padres like it was 1996 all over again. Chipper's smacking the ball like it owes him money, McCann continues to make everyone question his birth certificate, Renteria continues to make the Red Sox look like chumps, and Betemit's filling in capably enough at leadoff for Giles. Of course, the bullpen still ought to be demoted en masse to tee-ball league, but as long as the Braves can score, oh, 14 runs a night, we should be fine.

Mid-July, 5.5 games out of the wild card spot. Playoffs aren't unreachable, but we've still got a huge problem, namely this--several of the teams ahead of us lost today. Problem was, they lost to OTHER teams ahead of us today. But if we can start picking off the weak and slow-footed--you're next, Milwaukee--we should be able to get within a couple games of the wild card by the end of the month. From there, it's gravy, baby.

Friday, July 14, 2006 

My Entry In The Snarky Bush Baby Photo Comment Contest

Vice President Cheney had neglected to tell Dubya that you're supposed to cook the babies before trying to dine on their blood.

Thank you! I'll be here all week!


Suburbanites At War

In Georgia County, Divisions of North and South Play Out in Drives to Form New Cities - New York Times

Hey! My home turf made the New York Times! And no leaks were necessary. (Performed, yes, but not needed.)

When suburbanites do battle over a cause, it's an often-hysterical exercise in unintentional humiliation. Something about carpools, happy meals, and soccer practice (full disclosure: all of which I participate in) doesn't exactly breed you for the all-in life of a hardscrabble hard-liner. So when these poor well-meaning but politically naive saps run up against professional bureacrats, there's always fun. Case in point--the article above. I live in one of the most demographically wack-ass counties in the state of Georgia, if not the nation--it's shaped like a vertical bow-tie, with affluent whites (and mucho development) up north, affluent minorities (and mucho greenspace ripe for development) down south, and the city of Atlanta representing the knot, in more ways than one, sitting like a giant bloodsucking tick right in the middle of the whole thing. Now, up near me, many of the folks who've seen their taxes get vacuumed out of their wallets and houses and sent down to places like Grady Hospital (best place in the city to get a gunshot wound treated--practice makes perfect) gets them a mite riled up. Naturally, the bureaucrats down Capital City way don't much want to lose the tax revenue from the suburbs, and spent the last 40 years mocking suburbanites' efforts to cut loose. That is, until Republicans (the preferred party hereabouts) took over the state Legislature and the governor's mansion--for the first time since Recon-freaking-struction--and declared that things were gonna change.

Emboldened by the idea of members of their foursomes now watching their backs in the Capitol, several locales have proposed the idea of cutting ties with the county altogether and forming their own little cities--the legislative equivalent of taking their balls and going home, so to speak. What's funny is how the ground war has progressed. The proposed city of "Johns Creek," as referenced in the article, has as its city center a Circle K and a Brewster's Ice Cream, and is still seeking the right of self-governance. Bully for them--they can look forward to inspiring Fourth of July celebrations on the steps of Moe's Southwest Grill. But anti-incorporation foes are spray-painting, knocking over, stealing, and--in one instance--apparently chewing the Johns Creek signs that dot the area, leading to no end of irate letter-writing to the local weekly suburban newspaper. It's like Israel v. Hezbollah, only structured around carpool times.

That's not to say I disagree with the folks seeking secession. But there ain't much funnier than a soccer mom screaming "No Justice! No Peace!" into a megaphone while her two kids sit in the minivan, absorbed in GameBoys and wishing mom would just shut up.

So endeth the political lesson for today. Take notes, there'll be a quiz at the end of the year.

Thursday, July 13, 2006 

Minor League Baseball RULES!

A few weeks back, I had the pleasure of seeing a ballgame in the beautiful AutoZone Park in Memphis, perhaps the finest minor-league park in the country. Perfect weather, great sight lines, cold beer, and even free peanut butter, courtesy of a strange fellow dressed up in a Peter Pan peanut butter jar costume. (At least he wasn't dressed as Peter Pan himself.) Truly, it was one of those nights that reminds you why baseball is indeed the finest sport ever created.

Tonight, though, I think things are going to be somewhat different in Altoona--um, Pennsylvania, I think. (Hey, I've GOT a major league team in my town. I don't need to remember where all the little minor league teams are.)

From a series on Deadspin on strange little minor league promotions (click the link for more): "Awful Night IV -- Beating A Dead Horse (Altoona Curve, Eastern League). Thursday. The Curve will stage 'awful' competitions all night, including dunking for onions, the dead fish slingshot catch and autograph sessions with non-celebrities. This year, the first 1,000 fans will receive a photo of General Manager Todd Parnell's gall bladder, and one lucky fan will actually win the real thing. That is not a joke."

Awesome. I hear gall bladders are delicious with a little ballpark pretzel mustard.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006 

Two Outs. Two Strikes. Hoffman On The Hill. Game Over, Right? Right...?

I like Trevor Hoffman. He seems like a decent enough fellow. Probably calls his momma every now and then, and doesn't actively look to kick puppies or throw rocks at kids. Plus, he's the second-best closer in major league history, and if I'm not mistaken, he started the whole relievers-marching-in-to-theme-music-like-pro-wrestlers craze when he entered a game to the strains of "Hell's Bells."

That said, there's a part of me that hopes that during this year's World Series, he's standing on the mound during a Game 7 in Chicago or Detroit, up one run but with the bases full behind him, and he thinks, "Damn...this probably would have been easier if it was happening in San Diego."

Background: last night was the All-Star Game, which the National League (home of my Atlanta Braves) has not won since 1996. Fine, the AL's lumber tends to overwhelm the NL's pitching year after year. But a few years back, Major League Baseball made the asinine decision to allow these allegedly "exhibition" games to count--they would determine home-field advantage in the World Series. It's an inherently flawed idea, though the previous one--alternating home-field based on the year--wasn't that much better.

Still, what you end up with is something like last night, where the Nats were one freakin' strike away from a win, and Hoffman--Mister Second-Greatest Closer In The History of the Game, remember--gave up three two-out hits, capped by a two-run triple to Michael Young, the most anonymous batting leader in the history of the majors. Urk.

It's yet another reason why I (and probably most major league GMs) get queasy at the thought of closers. They're not as bad as field goal kickers--at least a closer is continuing the established pattern of the game, not coming in to dink (or miss) three points with his foot after 59 minutes of a running and passing game. But still--every closer eventually fails, and like your car breaking down, it tends to be at the worst possible time. Even Mariano Rivera--pretty much hands down the best big-game closer ever--has a couple notable collapses (the 2001 World Series, where he blew Game 7; the 2004 playoffs, where he was the last straw to break when the Yankees gave up a 3-games-to-none lead to lose the series to the Red Sox). I still get nightmares over Mark Wohlers' hanging slider to Jim Leyritz in the 1996 World Series, where the Braves coughed up a 2-0 game lead and a 6-0 lead in Game 4. Leyritz hit the ball halfway to Alpharetta, and the Braves haven't won a single World Series game since.

So, for all the woes the Braves' bullpen is having--more blown saves this year than anybody in the game--I take some small schadenfreude-esque comfort in knowing that we're not alone...and for some poor fans out there, it's going to get worse this season. Much worse.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006 

Speaking of Sports

Sports roundup for the day:

--Paul Katcher has a very funny piece over at ESPN entitled "Your Jersey is Talking," about the messages your $300 sports jersey is sending out without you even knowing it. (Hint: it probably ain't "Say, is that Derek Jeter? Damn, he's fatter and whiter in real life.") Credit too to Katcher for coining a new term: "Skankees," for the sleazy chicks that wear torn A-Rod and Jeter jerseys. Katcher's a good writer, and a solid guy--when I pestered him a year ago about how to break in at, he was kind enough to write back. Didn't give me the key, mind you, but told me how to find it myself. Which I did.

--A shout-out to the best Braves blog site on the web, Rowland's Office. Run by a couple of my co-contributors to ChopTalk, the official Braves magazine, it's got the kind of loving-yet-honest analysis only true fans can create.

--Tonight's the All-Star Game, always one of my favorite events and, now, one of the best reasons for owning a DVR so I can skip right past all the vacuous sponsor-pleasing bullshit and get right to the game on the field. Bonus: the Braves' Brian McCann, all of 22 years old, will be making his All-Star debut tonight. I just finished up a profile of McCann for ChopTalk; he's one of the best pure hitters in the NL but is already showing a dangerous proclivity for nagging injuries. Let's hope his luck turns around but his swing doesn't.

Bonus pic of the day: Here's McCann with my kids and a family friend (my two are the blond goofballs):

Sunday, July 02, 2006 


My latest piece for the Chicago Sports Review is now posted--this one's on how the Duke lacrosse scandal is staining the image of a sport right as it's on a serious upslope--and how the sport can recover from the Blue Devil smear. Check it out by clicking on the sample quote right'chere:

"Of all the many sins that Duke has inflicted upon the sports landscape--the Cameron Crazies, Mike Krzyzewski's whining-as-art-form, Christian Laettner--blackening the image of an entire sport with what may or may not have happened at a lacrosse team party in March could be the worst."

And it gets better from there. Go, read.


Jay Busbee runs Yahoo! Sports' NASCAR Blog From The Marbles, Atlanta Magazine's Atlanta sports blog Right Down Peachtree, and the Southern sports/humor blog Sports Gone South. He also writes for damn near anybody who'll throw him a buck and a byline, and he's at work on the books The Quiet Dynasty: The History Of The Atlanta Braves' Championship Run (2009, Sports Publishing LLC) and God Is A Bulldog: Georgia, Florida, And The Greatest Play In College Football History (2010, Sports Publishing LLC). Click below for more info on his novels, articles, and comics.
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