Monthly Archives: December 2013

A Gameday Portrait – Kansas Freshman Joel Embiid

There’s a factoid about Joel Embiid that is existentially surprising and expressively tired. In every KU game, it has been mentioned, and that won’t change. No announcer all year will be able to stop himself from saying it. Here it is: Joel Embiid only started playing basketball three years ago. “Three years, can you believe it? Some of his opponents have played college basketball longer than that.” You’ve been told this before, and you will be told 100 more times. You’ll definitely hear it when Kansas plays Toledo tonight on ESPN. This theme will be ongoing and annoying.

And yet who can blame any announcer? Every now and then, an athlete’s background narrative perfectly explains the fan experience of watching that athlete. Embiid’s relative infancy in the game of basketball clarifies what you think you’re seeing. He’s not a step slow on his help defense, he’s a step faster than you’d expect him to be. You’re not seeing inconsistent post production, you’re seeing a pivot ballerino on his first night of rehearsal. Like an eyases testing its wings or a tiger cub wrestling, you process the tangible potential of natural power and grace as much as the clumsiness of new movements.

Even at the moment of publishing, that last paragraph is probably outdated, at least as a description of performance. Bleacher Report describes Embiid’s true basketball childhood from high school, “In the same game, Embiid got hit in the stomach by a guard’s pass, tripped and fell coming off a screen, and had the ball bounce off his foot when he was trying to dribble past a defender.” His teammates laughed at him. Only three years later, he is producing as a freshman starter at one of the nation’s premier programs. It is clear that Embiid will be a top five pick in the NBA Draft whenever he chooses to go. And that unanimously accepted valuation of his talent will inevitably re-center conversation around the inexperience, because we rarely get to witness the becoming of a genius.

When you hear announcers tell you that Embiid just started doing this thing called basketball, the realization of genius is the idea they’re daring you to think. The natural precedent for Embiid’s becoming is Hakeem Olajuwon, since they’re both foreign seven-footers who didn’t start playing until after their 15th birthday. Yet as it is with precedents in most any field, we don’t have established expectations to serve as framework for proper appreciation. Hakeem existed as a nice “coming to America” story that was suddenly great. He averaged eight points and six rebounds as a freshman at Houston and then a double-double for the next 11 years of his career. Nobody cared much about Hakeem as a freshman and so he went unnoticed. It’s like if you caught a Mumford & Sons performance at some West London dive in 2008 and you didn’t even take so much as a picture. Nobody believes your hipster boasting. Now you take pictures at every concert.

And that’s what makes Embiid so enjoyable to watch. You can be just as invested in the evolution as the realization. While other players tinker with nuances to a game practiced for over a decade, Embiid is making adjustments on a macro scale. Every game could be that moment when possibly great becomes factually great, when talent is actualized into skill. Maybe Embiid isn’t a late-blooming basketball savant. Perhaps he’s just a very athletic 7-footer who will plateau faster and flatter than we expect. Everything we’ve seen up until now begs to differ. Especially if you consider that he’s only been playing for three years. Three years! Can you believe that?

Telling you again in case you hadn’t heard,
Dusty “3 Years, guys!” Riedesel

Hand Sanitizer Is Bad For You. Stop Using It Immediately

A friend of mine recently shared a basic fact like it was news. He said it turns out that hand sanitizer doesn’t do any better at preventing germs than soap and water.

I nearly slapped him for wasting my time.

I love when I see someone using hand sanitizer because it’s the ultimate tell that I’m dealing with a putz (doofus, sucker, goon, lemming, etc). Putting on hand sanitizer is a subconscious form of self loathing. “Hey self, did you know you can’t withstand a handshake?” Literal millennia went by without hand sanitizer, and people got along just fine. And trust me, when the real killers like HIV or the bubonic plague hit, a little Purel wasn’t the answer.

We’re built to take some abuse. It makes us better. Want stronger muscles? Train them by pressing against more resistance than your everyday life requires. Don’t want to get sick during the winter? Don’t guard yourself against every myopic interaction. Doorknobs, coffee pots, that folder your colleague handed you, they’re all germ battleships. You’ve probably indirectly touched 12 penises today alone.

You’re better off for it. It means you’re immune system won’t fold life an origami crane the moment a seven year old brushes your trousers. This is my official warning to the world. I’ve bitten my tongue too long. If I see you using hand sanitizer, you will be mocked. And if you see me licking doorknobs, don’t worry about it. My immune system is in Wolverine training.

Daring you to shake my hand,
Dusty “White Blood” Riedesel

Worth A Visit? The Point, Raleigh, NC

Located in the Five Points area of Raleigh off of Glenwood and Fairview street, The Point is weirdly aloof about just which of the Five Points it represents, and, frankly, being THE Point comes off a little haughty. The logo above the door is a star, and that doesn’t effing explain anything. Normally I’m the type that will immediately dismiss a restaurant/bar for not having enough clarity in their branding, but because I am self-tasked with providing you ALL the necessary information for you to decide whether or not this place is WORTH A VISIT, I went there.

Are you the kind of person who thinks “worth a visit” is a pretty low stakes gamble?

So maybe now that we’re on our fourth installment, you’re starting to believe that EVERY PLACE IS WORTH A VISIT. Well you’d be wrong. There’s a bathroom in a Taco John’s in Olathe, KS that may have been worth visiting once upon a time, and I’m certain that I was the first person to enter after some patron forever vanquished worthiness from its visit-ability status. So drop the attitude. NOT EVERY PLACE IS WORTH A VISIT. Let’s just move on.

Have you enjoyed going to restaurants in the past?

You bet your ass you have. In fact if you’re being honest with yourself, visiting restaurants is right up there with watching movies and talking to friends as a premier activity in your life. Well The Point checks all of your restaurant boxes. Food? Yep. Beverages? Yep. Service? Yep. Comfortable AC settings? Yep. What more do you want?….VISIT. The fact that it is a restaurant and you like those should be enough. But let’s dive deeper.

Are you the kind of person that likes a diversified menu?

Sometimes you’re not sure what you’re in the mood for. Sometimes you want pizza and your darling girlfriend wants a damn Sesame Crusted Tuna Caesar Salad. No need to turn this gaping difference in specificity into an argument about emotional neediness, just take her to The Point….VISIT. They’ve got a strong gourmet presentation on various classics like burgers and tacos, but they also throw in some fancy salads and hoity-toity apps. There’s definitely something on that menu for you.

Do you like places that turn into raging boozehalls after 10pm?

This place DOES THAT! And if you’re the type of person that reads this blog and likes that atmosphere, then I’ll bet YOU’VE ALREADY VISITED. And you know the main pitfall of the post 10pm crowd.

Are you offended by raging frat-stars?

This is one of the heavyweight frat bars in all of Raleigh. The Thursday night crowd is famously frat-tastic with swoops for days. Natural Light is actually a featured beer at The Point. If you don’t know what that means, then this probably isn’t the place for you….NOT WORTH IT. Stick to the lunch and dinner times.

Are you into cultural diversity?

This is really just a more heavy-handed variation on the question above. Let me put it this way: I think I may have seen one black guy there one time for about 10 seconds….NOT WORTH IT if you’re not a WASP, but you should definitely VISIT if you’re a non-WASP trying to make a statement.

Is a black guy eating a burger at a restaurant that one blogger call “fratty” really a ridiculous idea of a stand, and how could that possibly be a helpful piece of information in deciding whether or not a place is worth visiting?

Hey, why is this getting so heavy? Maybe you should just VISIT so you can be part of the convo.

Do you like $2 Bud Light drafts after work on Friday.

That’s better. Let’s keep the main thing the main thing and keep the mood light. You love affordable domestic beer, so YOU’RE VISITING. And that’s The Point.

Maybe starting to get it,
Dustin “What’s the point?” Riedesel

Worth a Visit? J. Betski’s, Raleigh, NC

I didn’t know what to expect from J. Betski’s, I just went for Schnitz ‘n’ giggles. A little German food humor for you there. You’re welcome. But on a serious note, I’ve been there, so I consider it my duty to answer your burning questions on whether or not a visit is worth your time.

Do you like the delicious cuisine and fine beverages of Central and Eastern Europe?

While adjectives like “delicious” and “fine” would seem to be opinionated, they are, in fact, factual. The quality of J. Betski’s food is not to be called into question. The real question is if you have a regional bias against Central and Eastern Europe, and since most J. Betski’s patrons are WWII victorious Americans that got over the Cold War with Sly Stallone’s help, you’re fine with Central and Eastern Europe. So YOU’RE COMFORTABLE VISITING.

Do you like the idea of a local businesses where J. Betski himself is the owner/operator of J. Betski’s?

Of course YOU WOULD, but the actual owner of J. Betski’s is John F. Korzekwinski, so THAT’S NOT WHAT YOU’RE GETTING here. It’s almost like Korzekwinski realized that Mike Kryzewyzkewskiy (nailed it) goes by “Coach K” to make it easy on everybody, and took that simplification as a Polish(?)-American marketing keystone. If that “it’s not about me” mentality isn’t a good sign for you, the all-important consumer, then I don’t know what is. You can say the restaurant name, maybe YOU’LL EVEN INVITE OTHERS TO VISIT.

Where do you stand on Pierogies?

Even if you have no idea what a pierogi is, YOU LOVE PIEROGIES! Trust me. It’s baked/fried dough wrapping any combination of ingredients before being drizzled or lambasted in some luxurious sauce like sage brown butter. Say that topping. “Sage Brown Butter.”  It has incredible imagery, like it’s the wisest, smoothest condiment ever. The Morgan Freeman of condiments probably. Point is, that’s the kind of culinary detail that makes these the BEST PIEROGIES IN TOWN, so you should DEFINITELY VISIT.

Are you a connoisseur of fancy beers?

You’re not French, if that’s what I’m asking. So, MAYBE? J. Betski’s proudly present some fine beverages (remember?). But where the deft logic of simplification drives pierogi fiends through the door, it cannot bridge you to an exotic beer menu. You can’t order an “Aecht Schlenkerla Weizen Rauchbier” with any sort of confidence, and even if you could, you’d sound really pissed off doing it. Plus, most beers are coming in at the $8-$10 price. Stick to the Crafty Beer Shop to expand the pallet, and if a beer is all you’re looking for, YOU SHOULDN’T VISIT.

That said, where’s your patriotism?

Maybe some people think of Americans as ignorant and rich. And maybe that does piss you off a little bit. Mispronounce the name of that overpriced drink in the harsh constants of Eastern European dialect. You’re proud to be an overindulgent American. And that’s a GOOD ENOUGH REASON TO VISIT.

Do you have an opinion about great deals on top notch sausage at lunch?

Duh, and/or hello!? You, like everyone should, LOVE TOP NOTCH SAUSAGE. The lunch menu at J. Betski’s is really the hallmark of the restaurant. Everything comes in at $10 or under, and it’s still a healthy hearty portion of their best foods, from Bratwurst to Kielbasa to Schnitzel. At that price, HOW CAN YOU NOT VISIT?

In summation, I’d give J. Betski’s 4.5 out of 5 sausages, and WORTH A VISIT. Consider yourself informed.

Wishing I had a cool condiment comparison,
Dusty “Tangy Horseradish Drizzle” Riedesel

Why A Picture Is Definitely Not Worth 1,000 Words (and other thoughts)

Every now and then you have a week that doesn’t foster a single idea worth 1,000 words of your time. Out of that unsubstantial thought space is born a lot of dumb notes. I don’t usually post these, but because I find motivation can often be born of mechanics, they’re already typed out. Besides, it’s been a slow week. Let’s get random.

-If time is money, then a picture can’t possibly be worth 1,000 words. Unless we haven’t adjusted fiscal-chronal conversion rates since the 1800s. Apparently you had to sit for a long time for old timey photographs. Which is also why no one smiled. [Now you get why this didn’t turn into a longer post]

-Wipe front to back. Everyone know this. Also, sitting really is superior. I’m a convert, so I know.

-If I learned one thing from Hunger Games: Catching Fire, it’s that Jennifer Lawrence sees huge swings in her looks based upon makeup. If I learned two things, it’s that Sam Claflin easily executed the best audition for Aquaman that we’ll ever see. Sorry Vincent Chase.

-Not everything fits on Twitter. This thought would’ve fit on Twitter.

-Why don’t more people use the phrase, “Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things”? If asked to give my best piece of advice, this is almost certainly my answer. Either this or wiping directions.

-Do people find feminists or vegans more annoying? I wonder how many people will assume that I find feminists and vegans annoying simply by posing the question?

-Deciding to follow Rob Delaney on Twitter after his book publishing was a disappointing decision. All I’m getting is book announcements. I missed all the funny. It’s like getting into Jim Carey movies after Y2K.

-Some people think it’s important to dress well. I think it’s more important to dress to your personality. Actually, I believe it so much that I can get 500+ words out of this idea. And that’s enough of this drivel. Sometimes you just have to pound keys until you find something to say. Well, two more thoughts:

-@tcook6strings Twitter feed is so stale. #loveleave

-I wish that I could think of more things to say about turtlenecks and goatees. This is what came out instead.

Wishing Americans had cool familial titles,
Dusty “Duke of Shrimp” Riedesel