Archive for Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Fly Route

July 5, 2007

Every so often I come across a sports related item or service and the mind numbing question without answer pops up: should I spend one of my few hard-earned dollars on this product?
Really, I hate those decisions, so I want to do everything in my power to save you, my loyal readers, the worry. This week, I'm dedicating the Fly Route to several items I've recently purchased.

Can I Keep My Jersey?
By Paul Shirley
If you know who Paul Shirley is and know why his first book might be something worth having, shame on you. You should already have it.
For the rest of you, Shirley is a wise-cracking professional basketball player. The sub-title to his book, "11 Teams, 5 Countries, and 4 Years in My Life as a Basketball Vagabond," tells it all. He's traveled the world playing ball, bouncing from one gig to another, one team to the next. The book is basically a collection of diary entries or letters home from his first four years out of college.
Therein lies the first problem. Shirley first gained fame by blogging about the NBA on ESPN and in other places. I never read his stuff, but a quick glance around the Internet today and I found large sections of the book that were simply reprinted with very minor changes.
Shirley is a Kansas kid -- from Meriden, near Topeka -- and he played at Iowa State, both facts that help the book out. I'm roughly his same age and came from a town not much different than Meriden, so as different as our lives are, we've shared plenty of experiences. Being a devoted Big 12 fan during his time at ISU made reading his thoughts on those days interesting as well.
He's a funny guy, and it's a funny book. It doesn't read too fast and isn't difficult either. He's not necessarily a funny writer, however. There's a difference. He rambles on at times, breaking away from potentially funny stories, then peppers everything with random comments and self-acknowledging static. The clutter is at times impossible to see through.
The book also has a tremendous potential to offend, especially to the religious, and that proved to be another of its problems. It wasn't that I was offended -- I found plenty to laugh about in his tirades on hypocritical super-Christian basketball players. But he never really explains his stance on religion outside of flat out making fun of the religious. He just goes on and on, writing as if we're all in on the inside joke. Him clarifying his stance wouldn't be necessary if he didn't mention religion so often, or write with such a presumed authority on the topic. It doesn't take away from the excellent commentary on professional basketball players, nor does it detract from Shirley's constant and hilarious self-effacing humor. It does crop up enough to demand more of an explanation, however.
I recommend the book for basketball fans, especially those wanting a window into NBA. Kids should probably wait a bit, however. There's plenty in there to leave them asking mom and dad awkward questions, and little reasoning to back up some absurd statements.

Kansas City T-Bones Salsa
Yeah, I bought T-Bones salsa. I usually buy the kind with an old-fashioned label and a sweet-looking old lady on it, but when I saw T-Bones salsa, I couldn't resist.
You should. It was terrible. Scratch that -- it is terrible. It's still rotting in my refrigerator.
I found the salsa at my local grocery store in Lenexa, and it was available in hot and mild. Without my go-to of medium, I went safe, picking mild but still hoping to find at least a little spice.
I found nothing. It tastes like rather than drop in a single pepper, they unloaded a thermos of Kool-Aid. It is so sweet the only resemblance it has to regular salsa is the inclusion of tomatoes and the red coloring.
The jar included an offer for tickets to an upcoming T-Bones game, which may be reason enough to purchase it if you are absolutely positive you are going to the game and need something to feed people you absolutely do not care about.
It's not for me, though. I've never been to a T-Bones game, and I'm sad to say attending one just dropped from No. 3 on my list of things to do down to about No. 87.

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