Wednesday, May 8, 2019

My Top 5 Most Hated NBA Players


With a title and premise like this, it’s unnecessary to write an introduction. I’m just gonna let my hate flow.

5. Clint Capela

Okay, so before I plunge deep into this list, let me be clear about one commonality with each player on this list: the better they are, the more likely I hate them. Take Clint Capela, who used to be a late-round nobody drafted by the Rockets. Early in his career, I didn’t dislike him. I had no reason to. In fact, I kind of liked him because I delighted in laughing at him when he would snatch an offensive rebound against my beloved Warriors, miss the putback, and then inevitably brick the subsequent free throws when he shot less than 40% from the charity line.

But he’s gotten better over the years. A lot better. Earlier this season, his stats looked like All-Star material. But I can’t stand Capela because he’s basically a volleyball player playing basketball. On offense, his only two talents are crashing the offensive boards with his size and length and rolling or hanging around the basket for alley-oops. Capela is basically an oversized pogo stick with long arms adept at grabbing a ball in mid-air and throwing it through a hoop when it is spoonfed to him by players who have honed far greater basketball skills than him. As a 5’8 has-been with average athletic ability at best, I find it deplorable to watch a player like Capela with his uncanny combination of size, strength, agility, and speed excel at a simplistic skill that is akin to the soaring slam dunks I can throw down on my toddler’s goddamn fucking toy basketball hoop.

And one last note on Capela: it looks like he got shit on by a pigeon with a nacho cheese diet. It’s a bad look, guy. Bad look. Makes you look stupid. (Oh wait, you probably are.)

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Let’s Get the Band Back Together (One Last Time)! (or My 2018-2019 NBA Playoff Preview)


We have finally arrived at the NBA playoffs.

This season, my beloved Golden State Warriors are again the heavy favorites to seize and take home the Larry O’Brien Trophy. But the 2018-2019 NBA Playoffs will undoubtedly play out differently than recent postseasons. For one, with LeBronto’s move to the Western Conference, the Eastern Conference will send a team other than the Cavs to the Finals for the first time in four seasons. The Eastern Conference is relatively wide open with their top four teams—Milwaukee, Toronto, Philadelphia, and Boston—having a legitimate chance to emerge.

In another anomaly, I think this NBA season is also markedly different because I think the only teams who have a puncher’s chance of beating the Warriors are out east, not within the Western Conference. Milwaukee is a long, athletic, sharp-shooting prototype similar to the dynastic Warriors. With superstar Kawhi Leonard, an emerging two-way star in Pascal Siakam and a deep bench, the Raptors can play a number of lineups, including small-ball lineups, with the very best. The Sixers traded for Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris to form the most potent starting five outside of Golden State. And Boston added Warriors-killer Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward to their already-talented roster. (And if you’re the gambling type, holy shit, I think Boston would be the team with the most bang-for-buck upside to bet on, given how low their current odds are of winning the title.)

Here’s my picks for the opening round matchups:

Friday, January 4, 2019

Kids


Since he’s nearly twenty-one months old and almost three feet in height, Miguelito recently outgrew his plastic baby tub. He has graduated to our adult-sized bathtub. Compared to his baby tub, we use a large amount of water for his baths now. This has bugged me and Maria a little since we live in drought-prone California. So tonight, after we bathed Miguelito, when I was about to unplug the tub to drain the tepid water, I realized I could reuse the bath water. I had not showered this morning and thus due for one, and Miguelito had not peed during the bath (yay!) I feel a little weird and embarrassed to admit how excited I was to essentially recycle that water, but I was. To boot, it had been years—probably over a decade—since I had taken anything resembling a proper bath à la Dude.

With Maria’s go-ahead, I whipped off my clothes and slipped into the bathtub while she dried and cleaned and clothed our son. I pulled back the shower curtain and took a seat in the inch-high water. The blue whale-shaped bath rinser we use to bath Miguelito was floating in the water. I grabbed it and poured water all over my body. I giggled to myself. Miguelito likes to meditatively use the bath rinser to scoop up water and slowly pour it out, again and again and again, so it kind of made me feel like an overgrown baby to use it. But it worked quite effectively.

Soon after, Miguelito was clean as a clean whistle and dressed in his pajamas. Past the bathroom door, I could hear Maria let him loose. As I finished lathering my arms and legs with soap, I heard Miguelito open the bathroom door, then the pitter-patter of his feet. He pulled back the shower curtain as he has many times on me in the past few months. But this time, he didn’t look up at me and laugh with glee as I stood and showered. Instead, he found me at his eye level as he found me sitting in the tub where we had just bathed him. He furrowed his brow and gave me a what-the-fuck-are-you-doing!? look. I smirked. ¡Hola Miguelito!, I said, as I dipped his bath rinser into the water so I could pour the soap off of my other arm. He studied me as I went about my business. And before long, he was grinning. A look of understanding flashed over his face. Since he’s not talking much (thus far), I will never know with certitude what he was thinking at that moment, but I think he figured it out—that I was bathing, just like him. That I’m just an overgrown kid.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Your Third Haircut


Today we took you to your third haircut ever. Per your mom’s firm advice, your abuelita and I tag-teamed this effort. After taking you to your first two haircuts, your mama had her fill and said uh, uh, next time it’s your turn to take him.

We took you to Little Scissors, the kids hair salon at the Fremont Hub. (Your mom refers to their hair stylists as “haircut ninjas.”) For the past few weeks your hair has grown increasingly long. You’ve needed a trim for some time, but I’ve been hesitant to take you to the salon because I didn’t want to subject the hair stylists to your wails and cries.

Once we parked, you and I walked hand and hand all the way to the salon. Thus far, it’s the longest we have walked hand in hand together. I had a big smile inside, a faint one on the outside. I know someday you will be older and bigger and won’t want to hold my hand.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

2018-2019 NBA Season Predictions


The 2018-2019 NBA season begins in 16 days! Personally, it was kind to have a break from basketball, but I am elated to have it back. In writing this post, I realized that following the NBA is just like when my friends get excited about having a television series start up again; I don’t presently follow any TV series, but I do have basketball—and following it goes far beyond catching games on TV. For me, it’s listening to Zach Lowe’s podcasts, reading Zach’s in-depth weekly ESPN NBA pieces, watching the latest BBallBreakdown videos (I multi-task while I wash Miguelito's bottles or our dishes), watching Rachel Nichols and Amin Elhassan break down league-wide happenings on The Jump, and reading Marcus Thompson II, Tim Kawakami, Anthony Slater and Ethan Strauss’s savvy and comprehensive coverage of my beloved Warriors in The Athletic. On top of all that, I’ll sprinkle in a more-than-occasional article or podcast from The Ringer’s NBA staff, particularly pieces from Jonathan Tjarks. Over the past few years, I must admit that day-to-day normalcy entails tuning into all this coverage (and occasionally watching a Warriors game). So I kind of feel like I’m getting my life back with basketball returning to the fold.

Akin to the 2017-2018, this past offseason was brimming with drama and action. LeBron headed West to the Lakers. (I know I’ll eventually get used to it, but right now it is completely bizarre to see him in Lakers gold.) Kawhi Leonard cowardly forced his way out of San Antonio, which subsequently paved the way for Toronto trading DeMar DeRozan for Leonard after firing Dwane Casey. Paul George surprisingly stayed in Oklahoma City without even taking a meeting with the Lakers. (Bill Simmons has an interesting conspiracy theory on that.) The Rockets lost two of their 3-and-D aces: Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute. The Fellowship of the Rings in San Antonio finally disbanded with Manu’s retirement (boohoohoo) and Tony Parker’s signing with Charlotte. And now Jimmy Butler wants out of the flaming poo of a mess that is the Minnesota Timberwolves franchise. It’s a long, long season, but I can’t wait to see how this all unfolds.

I want to make it my tradition to christen each NBA season with a series of predictions, including each playoff team for both conferences. This year, I also want to chime in on Westgate’s Over/Under win total predictions for these projected playoff teams.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Classics Revisited: They Live by Night


A while back, I was in the mood for a film noir. (Honestly, with my undying fetish for femme fatales, scrappy dialogue, stylish bleakness, and a spirit of pervading doom, I am probably always game for a film noir.) Equipped with my new FilmStruck subscription, I turned to our local preeminent film noir scholar, Eddie Muller, and his list of 25 Noir Films That Will Stand the Test of Time. Surely, the good folks at the Criterion Collection would have one of these films in their limited FilmStruck plan—and they did. Described by Muller as “Film noir's version of Romeo and Juliet,” They Live by Night lived up to its billing.

Best known among cinephiles for directing James Dean in the iconic Rebel Without a Cause, They Live by Night was Nicholas Ray’s first film. Released in 1948, the film has gone down as the template for the couples-on-the-run film genre, which has given us treats such as Bonnie and Clyde, Thelma and Louise, Wild at Heart (which gifted the world with Willem Dafoe’s Bobby Peru), and Terence Malick’s gorgeously shot Badlands. Unrequited love mixed with lawlessness—yeah, I’m there. That’s my fucking jam.

Friday, June 29, 2018

My World Cup 2018 Knockout Bracket Predictions

 

We waited four years for sport’s greatest tournament, and now we’ve reached the dramatic knockout round. (And somehow or another, this is my first soccer blog post ever!)

Before I lay down my picks for the rest of the tournament—which I thought would be fun—it’s worthwhile to note who I am inclined to root for since that can reveal a bias in my picks. Now that my beloved Perú is eliminated (boohoohoohoo), this is a breakdown of who I’ll be cheering going forward, akin to what my Peruvian literary nemesis, Daniel Alarcón, put down on his Twitter:

1.    México (due to my place of birth, my undying love of mole, and the compact and obligations of marriage)
2.    Colombia & Uruguay (yes, it’s a tie)
3.    Brazil (teams that play beautifully should be rewarded, even if they’ve won the Cup five fucking times)
4.    Any team that has never won the World Cup
5.    Spain (they won the Cup in 2010; if they hadn’t, I would have them higher)
6.    Other European teams that have won the Cup (i.e. France and England)
7.    Any team other than Argentina (sorry Pulguita; nothing against you)

Even though I’m just some dude who occasionally wears a Peruvian soccer jersey, here are my picks: