Dispatches from Stu: The Hold Steady, autographs, Adrian Peterson, the Internet and a cacti-pocked hellscape

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

i-prefer-yanni.JPGWe don’t really know what to say except to reiterate that we enjoy Stu’s excellence. Stu, you have the floor:


Pictured: Stu’s daughter Piper, 4, finding out that Dad is talking about the Hold Steady yet again.

With Michael “RandBall” Rand now being the toast of the internet for his interview with Erin Andrews, it stands to reason that I, RandBall’s Stu, would benefit from my association with this web concern. I had to go all the way to Tucson, Ariz., for it to happen, but it by God did.

I was visiting my brother Tim, who lives in Tempe, home to Arizona State University and an average August temperature of OHMYGODIAMGOINGTODIE. The motivation for visiting this cacti-pocked hellscape was the Hold Steady, playing Saturday night at Tucson’s Rialto Theatre. Plenty of virtual ink has been spilled here about this band, their old band, their love of the Minnesota Twins, etc., so I’ll keep the concert review short: sheer euphoria. I’ve maybe seen one or two better shows in my life, and even then, I can’t remember being so overwhelmingly giddy. Drew Magary wrote a fantastic piece for Deadspin last year about another “one of us” musician and his being completely caught up in the moment and totally [redacted] into it. That’s exactly what I felt Saturday night. It’s exactly what I felt when Adrian Peterson turned into Superman, Green Lantern and Thor combined at Soldier Field last year. It’s exactly what Piper feels when there’s a Wonder Pets marathon on. Whoever’s in charge of doling these moments out, more like this, please.

Tim and I attended the show with a group of his friends. One of them, Trevor, is a LeSeuer Le Sueur native, and mentioned that he was an avid reader of sports blogs and liked the work I did on RandBall (my brother had revealed my secret identity). After the show, as the rest of stood outside the venue catching our breath, Trevor emerged from the front door with a flyer for the show that he’d “appropriated” from the lobby wall. “Here you go,” he said. Apparently it was a gift for the Luc Longley Hunt Down. Thanks, fella.

We went across the street to our hotel, which is also where the band was staying. Of course, since they’re not the Rolling Stones, they hung out in the kind of awesome lobby bar with the rest of the rabble. We shook hands with Franz and admired his mustache, expedited guitar god Tad’s Jagermeister purchase and speculated about Favre, and tried not to bother Craig too much.

However, I did have a flyer for the show in my hand, and the guy who writes the lyrics for the band that just blew my mind was sitting 15 feet from me in his BC Law t-shirt. I was conflicted on the question of getting him to sign it, because I’m 37, and asking someone for his or her autograph at my age just seems goofy. I don’t bring my glove to the Metrodome, I don’t have a Facebook page and I don’t ask people I’ve never met to sign things because I think they’re awesome. Fortunately, my brother had no such concerns, and he led me over to Craig’s table, apologized for bothering him, and asked if he’d sign the flyer. He graciously assented, made some small talk about the Twins and Liriano, and we were on our way.

To sum up: I have a suitable-for-framing poster of my favorite band with “Stay Positive!” scrawled on it by the lead singer. All thanks to the Internet.

Topics for further discussion:
· Do you still ask for autographs and bring your glove to the park, or have you put away those childish things?
· Concert notes: they played “Chillout Tent” (which went right into “Hornets! Hornets!” which was AWESOME), “Lord, I’m Discouraged” will make them a pile of money if there is any justice in this world, and they closed with “How A Resurrection Really Feels.”
· Arizona RandBallers past and present: why are all the central air units mounted on the roof of a house, rather than on the ground like in Minnesota? No one could tell me.
· Share your most recent moment of sheer euphoria that’s suitable for a family newspaper.

Dispatches: Coyotes in March? Let’s not pretend

Monday, March 19th, 2007

1grumpy.jpgWe were having a conversation with Rocket last night, and the subject turned to attending sporting events in which absolutely nothing is on the line. He was getting pretty bent out of shape about his experience at Saturday’s Coyotes/Avalanche game in Phoenix, and even though we know Rocket is curmudgeonly in general, way beyond his 31 years, we had to agree with him to a certain extent. So we invited him to revive “Dispatches,” a feature in which you, the RandBall reader, attend a sporting event in a distant place and then offer a critique/analysis of your experience. Here is what he had to say (any bold type has been added by us at moments where we thought he might be shouting, had he been speaking rather than typing):

We need to institute a new rule in pro sports. There is a serious problem and we need a real solution. The severity of the problem became clear to me when I attended Saturday’s Coyotes/Avalanche game in Phoenix. If you have a passing knowledge of hockey you know that the Coyotes are out of the playoffs. While Colorado still has a chance of making the playoffs, that particular window is closing rapidly.

It was, essentially, a game between two non-playoff teams. It was still a hard-fought and enjoyable contest. But it was what it was. Nonetheless, Coyotes management decided to go through the whole useless production. The lights were dimmed for player introductions. An excessively loud disembodied voice demanded to know if we were, “Ready for Coyotes hockey!” Every break in the action was filled with snippets of music. The scoreboard displayed the usual panoply of mindless drivel: The decibel meter imploring us to “make some noise”, the obligatory “race” of some sponsored object, and the “kiss cam.”

I understand that, if a team is in the playoff hunt, then the team will do whatever is necessary to create energy within its building. I also understand that the minor leagues need this kind of stuff because the game is only part of the attraction in that setting.

However, this is the rule: If a team is out of the playoff race, they are not allowed to go through these ridiculous motions. If you attend a home game involving a non-playoff team then you should not have to subjected to this lunacy. It should be good enough that you are going to a game under those conditions; they should not be allowed to insult you by pretending that the game is anything more than what it is. No exceptions.

Dispatches from Lambeau: They urinate where?

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

A favorite RandBall correspondent made the trek to last night’s Vikings/Packers game and provides some behind-the-scenes details on the big night. We’d like to thank him, even if his details are appaling:

First of all, the tailgating really is second-to-none. It was raining like crazy, but that didn’t stop anybody. However, when we got to the bathrooms, there were two full lines waiting. Both are pretty deep, so I just pick one. I get up to to the front, and I realize there were lines for both the urinals and the sinks, and that everybody is peeing in the sinks. There are about an equal number of both, like maybe 15, and people just think this is the natural thing to do. Every once in a while someone would say, “Hey, I want to wash my hands,” and people in camoflauge would think it was the funniest thing ever.

In the stands, there is a lot of Vikings-Packers smack talk. I’m talking about the least original stuff you can imagine. One time, this Packers fan stands up and says to a Vikings fan, “Hey, I bet you $5 that the Vikings will go 3-and-out here.” At the time, that seemed like a pretty good bet. But he picked the time the Vikings actually got a first down, so the Vikings fan won $5. And instead of doing the honorable thing and betting him again, the fan took the money to get beer.

Overally, it was really tough to watch when the only thing you were hoping for is that Dave Rayner is going to slip again. But the place was packed, and nobody left early. I also devoured a gi-normous bratwurst. It was the circumference of a can of soda. I guess they have varying degrees of bratwurst there.

Dispatches: New Year’s Eve in Boise?

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

The Gophers aren’t the only ones giving tickets away. Thanks to a kind sir at the University of Miami — we’ll just call him The Wolf. Yeah, we’re sending in The Wolf — we now know that students at that school can get a free ticket to watch their ‘Canes take on Nevada in the MPC Computers Bowl.

Um, and there’s only one catch, really: It would involve spending New Year’s Eve in Boise, Idaho, instead of Miami. (In other bad news, for those too lazy to follow the link, you already missed the final Gifford Arboretum Meeting of 2006, where you could have learned about Florida’s native plants). As for the game: True, you might be trading real gunplay for potato gunplay, but still. Free ticket or not, we might have to pass.

(By the way, “Dispatches” will be a semi-regular installment here containing far-away tales of your brushes with sports. Come one, come all).