I was watching Houston play the Clippers in game seven of their playoff series, when on to the screen came Pablo Prigoni, backup guard for the Rockets.
And I started wondering: Who does Pablo look like?
This is a compulsion for me. One face invariably reminds me of another. And I have to run through the images in my mental rolodex to figure it out.
Generally, it happens during a basketball game when I have a clear view of the faces, which are unobstructed by hats or helmets.
For instance, I spent the better part of March Madness wondering: Who does Frank Kaminsky look like?
Frank’s the star center for the University of Wisconsin team that made a run all the way to the championship game. So he got a lot of TV time.
It bothered me for weeks. And then one day I was walking west on North Avenue and it hit me–Sean Dinces!
Frank looks like my old pal, Sean Dinces.
I immediately texted to break the good news. I texted Sean, that is–not Frank. I don’t know Frank. But if I did, I’d have texted him, too.
“Let me be the first to tell you that Frank Kaminski looks like you,” I texted.
“I think you meant that for someone else,” Sean texted back.
I guess he didn’t think it was a compliment.
But, Sean–Frank’s a good-looking guy.
Pablo looks like…
Sometimes a likeness is so obvious it hits me instantaneously. Like with J.J. Redick, of the Clippers
As everyone knows, he’s a dead ringer Chris Lamberti, The Third City’s outstanding baseball correspondent.
While I’m on the subject…
Yo’ Chris, hurry up and write us another post!
I even have a topic…
Has the time come for the White Sox to fire Robin Ventura and re-hire Ozzie Guillen?
Sean, feel free to weigh in with your opinion.
You, too, Frank Kaminsky.
But Pablo Prigioni? Pablo Prigioni? Hmmm….
That’s it–he looks like Matt Farmer.
In addition to being a great musician and lawyer, Matt’s another Third City correspondent.
Which reminds me–hey, Matt, hurry up and write us another post.
Now I have to figure out who Stephen Curry resembles.
I’ll let you know when it hits me.
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Sitting at the bar with D, feasting on the delights–chicken, ribs, mac & cheese–of another end-of-the year bowling night banquet.
D empties his beer into a paper coffee cup.
He says this is what he does when he goes out for a smoke and he wants to drink his beer without the cops knowing it.
Then he says: “This is the best part, Benny. And you’ll appreciate this–being a cheap Jew.”
He keeps talking, but I’m not really hearing what money-saving thing I’m supposed to be appreciating. Cause, you know, I’m still thinking about what he just said.
“Hold it,” I say. “Did you just call me a cheap Jew?”
“What makes you think it’s okay to say that to me?”
“Well, I don’t really think your cheap…”
“That’s supposed to make me feel better?”
“You’re not really upset, are you?”
“Why wouldn’t I be upset? You just made an ethnic slur.”
He pauses, like he’s assessing how to deal with this delicate situation.
“I’m sorry,” he says. “I didn’t realize you were so sensitive.”
“I’m sensitive? So there’s something wrong with me because I take exception to you making an ethnic slur?”
He says I shouldn’t take it personal. He says he’s always making ethnic slurs. But it doesn’t mean anything cause it’s just a joke.
He says I should hear the slurs he makes all the time about Indians to V, another bowler in the league, whose father comes from India.
Or the thing he said this very night to R, a black guy: “I pointed to the ribs and the chicken and said, `this is gonna be a big night for you.’”
And what did R do, I ask.
“So you think he think he likes it when a white guy makes ribs-and-chicken jokes at his expense? How do you know he’s really laughing? How do you know he’s not just sublimating his anger?”
He tells me I shouldn’t take it the wrong way. He’s got nothing against Jews. Lots of people actually think he’s Jewish, cause he has a vaguely Jewish sounding last name.
“I really didn’t mean anything, Benny.”
I figure–fuck it. Let it go.
“Forget it, man,” I say.
And we hug. And I leave. But it’s hard to let it go. It gnaws at me for awhile.
Eventually, I tell Norm what happened.
“That’s some bullshit,” he says.
“What would you have said if he said that stuff to you about the chicken and the ribs?”
“It’s hard to say. White people are always saying stupid shit. I want to come at them, but if I come too hard, they’d be like, `that crazy niggah.’ Like it’s my fault.”
“When I was younger, I wanted to fuck when them all. But you to learn to walk away.”
“It’s hard to walk away.”
“Tell me about it. Welcome to my world, Benny.”
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Being a girl, I’m sure a majority of you expect me to be writing this post all about how terrible I feel after watching the Victoria’s Secret “fashion” show last night. But, on the contrary, I am not feeling any worse about myself than I would on a normal day. For whatever reason, I was very excited for the VSFS this year.
Why, you might ask, is a extremely cynical, not all that thrilled with her midsection, girl excited for the parade of real life barbies?
My answer is: I really don’t know.
For whatever reason I spent all of yesterday getting excited about watching it. Asking people, “Are you gonna watch the VSFS tonight!?” to which they were all, “I guess? Why are you so excited right now?” Thankfully I work with babies who enjoy seeing me act like an excited crazy person and don’t fully understand what I’m saying so they enjoyed my pre-fashion show excitement. I’m also thankful that I don’t have adult coworkers who I could embarrass myself in front of by talking about VSFS with them all day.
So I get off work at 6 and much to my dismay the show doesn’t start until 9pm. What do I do with my excitement until then? Watch food network, eat a large amount of soup, and ask my friends if they’re excited about VSFS. Two of these said friends are male, and neither of them even knew the fashion show was going to be on.
After hours of Chopped, I can finally turn the TV to the VSFS.
The opening is strange, the middle is strange, and the end is strange.
Why was I so excited for this again?
I suppose I was excited to see beautiful tall women be all “Girl power!” I definitely was not excited for the costumes and the music portion of the whole thing was most likely the worst thing that’s happened to my ears.
And while I’m still amped up about tall women walking down that runway and showing off what they’ve got (and I can’t imagine how hard they worked to get it. I can barely fast walk for 20 minutes.) The end of the VSFS left me feeling like I’d just experienced a rave that I’d heard about from a random new friend who told me it was going to be a small party for a few close friends.
The close friends in this case being Lily Aldridge, Karlie Kloss, Behati Prinsloo and Jourdan Dunn.
Uh, hello, Alessandra Ambrosio who invited you?
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It’s b-ball morning, which means we’re playing basketball tonight.
And my wife and I will be wagering about who drops out first.
The key this enterprise is Cap. He has the keys to the gym. There’s no game, if he can’t make it.
Generally, Cap’s good to go. But every now and then he comes up with a creative excuse, like….
“Hey, Benny, I can’t play cause I got to take my daughter to her piano lesson.”
In the background, I hear his daughter….
“But, daddy, I don’t play the piano.”
“Shh,” Cap said. “Don’t interrupt me when I’m on the phone.”
That’s better than the excuse I got from Allen, who used to be on my bowling team.
I could use this guy on my team….
Allen once called at the last minute to say he’d miss bowling cause the pet hamster had died and the whole family was grieving. Or maybe it was a gerbil.
Hamster, gerbil, what difference does it make? Point is — who grieves over a rodent?
Norm’s usually a lock. Unless he calls to say he’s stuck in traffic coming from the south side. Then he’s not a lock.
Nick’s dependable. Except for the time he got stuck in a mall in Aurora.
That makes him more dependable than Cameron. When I see him, he says: “Benny, I’ll be there. Just text me.”
But when I text? No response.
Unable to think up an excuse, he pretends he didn’t get the text.
Which is better than Coconate. Whenever I ask him to play, he says: “Did I ever tell you I used to play football in high school.”
Translation: If I change the subject, maybe you’ll forget you asked me to play.
At least, Milo’s honest. He just tells me straight up: “Benny, there’s no fucking way I’m playing, so don’t even ask.”
True story about Milo — he used to play basketball. Way back in the `80s.
He couldn’t dribble, shoot or jump. And he spent much of his time on the sidelines smoking a cigarette.
Other than that — great basketball player!
Wait, hold it. This just in from Cap….
No game. Something about the gym being used.
Phew. Let’s be honest — it’s more fun to talk about playing basketball than to actually play it.
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In the history of Chicago, you won’t find two more dedicated followers of the Bulls than Milo & me–the geniuses behind this blogging empire.
That’s why it will probably shock many of you to learn that we didn’t watch Friday’s epic last-second triumph over the Cavaliers.
Or–those rotten bastards from Cleveland, as Milo prefers to call them.
There are several reasons–some more truthful than others.
Milo will tell you it’s cause he only has one TV in his house and the lovely Mrs. Milo was watching something else, when the Bulls came on.
In truth, he was just too chicken to watch the game. That is–he couldn’t bear to suffer the anxiety of watching his beloved Bulls possibly lose to those shitheads from Cleveland.
So he didn’t watch and he blamed it on his wife.
What a wimp.
I, on the other hand, openly admit to my cowardice.
I was doing something else when the game started, but I could have watched the second half at any nearby bar.
Instead, I followed the game on the NBA website, where they offer a sentence-by-sentence account of what’s going on.
So instead of seeing things like Mike Dunleavy replacing Nikola Mirotic with 7:33 left in the third quarter, I read the following…
“07:33 Mirotic substation replaced by Dunleavy.”
I sort of saw this happen…
It took me back to October 30, 1974, when I followed the great Ali/Foreman “rumble in the jungle” championship bout on the ticker-tape machine in the college student union.
In that case, I had no choice. The fight wasn’t shown on campus.
In the case of Friday’s Bulls game, I was just too anxiety ridden.
Why I’d find it less anguishing to follow the game sentence-by-sentence as opposed to watching it on the tube is a question only a trained clinician can answer.
I do know this…
I was alone in the basement clutching my cell phone, when Derrick Rose hit that glorious last second shot to win the game.
Or as the play-by-play transcriber put it…
“00.00.0 Rose 3pt Shot: Made (30 PTS) Assist: Dunleavy (2AST) End of 4th Quarter.”
When I read that line, I jumped so high with joy that I banged my head on the basement ceiling.
I may have to return to the basement for game four, which starts in about an hour.
I’m not saying the Bulls won because I was in the basement.
But, obviously, it didn’t hurt.
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You don’t have to be Jewish to appreciate Bad Jews– Joshua Harmon’s savagely hiliarious comedy–but it helps.
The play–now showing at the Wit–focuses much-deserved attention on that all-important issue: Do Jewish families fight differently than non-Jewish families?
I like to think that no one can top the Jews, when it comes to hurting one another. But I’m a little biased on this subject, having been Jewish all of my life.
The Jews in this play are three, 20-something-year-old cousins, who’ve mastered the art of zeroing in on each other’s vulnerabilities with radar-like precision and then stabbing hard at them till they bleed.
Actually, only two cousins–Liam and Daphna–do most of the fighting.
The third cousin, Jonah, is the highly unsuccessful peacemaker in the family, who doesn’t want to get dragged into the fray.
Right. Good luck with that.
The setting is a studio apartment in New York City in the here and now where the three have gathered after their grandfather’s funeral.
There’s also a fourth person in the show–a blond-haired, sweet-as-sugar, gentile named Melody.
In the course of the show, Daphna mercilessly rips her to pieces largely because she’s a blond-haired, sweet-as-sugar, gentile named Melody.
No one said life was fair.
The whole thing reminds of this one titanic family fight a few years back when my cousin told my father…
You know, I’d just as soon keep that wonderful family memory to myself.
And now a word about the playwright, Mr. Harmon. This dude is sensationally talented. Think Neil Simon, with bite.
He’s got the ability to give his characters these mind-blowing verbal riffs that leave you thinking–man, where did he come up with that shit?
The show’s directed by Jeremy Wechsler, another wiz kid, who directed the last play at the Wit.
That would be the so-called Simpson’s play–Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play–which I passionately loved. Even if I still don’t know what the hell was going on in the second act.
But don’t let me get distracted.
According to The New York Times, Bad Jews happens to be one of the most produced plays in the country right now.
My guess is that most of the people who see it are Jews, who take perverse delight in watching Daphna and Liam go at it.
It’s like the audience is thinking…
You know, if we’re gonna be good at something, we might as well be the best.
I can’t leave without giving a special shoutout to Laura Lapidus and Ian Paul Custer who play Daphna and Liam.
Especially, Laura. Oy, the mouth on that girl!
Plus, she’s got this outrageous mane of unruly hair that’s a key part of the show.
Bad Jews! It’s so good, I’ll have to see it it again–just to pick up a few pointers for the next big family fight.
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For the past few weeks my wife’s been telling me there’s no way–absolutely, positively, no way!–she’s watching the Big Fight.
Even if it is the Fight of the Century!
Cause boxing’s brutal, barbaric and cruel.
To seal the deal, she made alternative plans with her cousin–what up, Pam!–while I was off at Cap’s watching the Big Fight.
But you know how it goes…
The dinner plans fell through. As I learned when my wife called to say she had nothing to do.
While she talked, I watched Cap cooking heaping mounds of chicken and ribs on his backyard grill.
And, folks, let me tell you–no one cooks barbeque better than Cap.
“Just come to Cap’s,” I told my wife. “You don’t have to watch the fight. Just eat the food.”
And so over she came. And she was having one helluva time hanging with Deb–Cap’s wife–talking about whatever it is women talk about when the men are gathered around the tube watching the Big Fight.
Then a funny thing happened–she and Deb got curious.
It might have had something to do with me calling out all the ringside celebrities.
“Oh, my God, it’s Claire Danes! And Nicki Minaj. And Michael Jordan–with his wife! And Denzel. And Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi and Drew Barrymore and Robert Deniro and Ben Affleck…”
At some point, my wife and Deb joined us. Just in time to see Jamie Foxx butcher the national anthem.
We still love you, Jamie.
Then the fighters entered the ring and stood chin to chin as the referee gave them his pre-fight instructions…
“Whatever I say, you obey.”
And still my wife didn’t leave. It looked like she might actually watch her first fight.
Then she asked…
“Are they going to hit each other?”
“Until one gets knocked out…”
“I can’t watch!”
With that she was up and out of the room. Deb right along with her.
Oh, so close…
Later, after my wife had gone home, Deb snuck back. Just in time to watch Pacquiao tag Mayweather with a hook. That was it for her.
“All day long I tell my kids to leave their hands to themselves,” said Deb, who works in daycare. “What kind of message are you sending?”
Like whatever rough stuff her daycare kids is is my fault.
When I got home, my wife’s still up.
“Mayweather won,” she said.
“How do you know?”
“I looked it up on the computer.”
“Oh, I thought boxing was so barbaric.”
I think she’s hooked. For the next Fight of the Century, she’ll be watching.
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