Monday, September 29, 2014

BISCUTBALL PREVIEW #4: DENVER NUGGETS

Once, you bought a rose and planted it in your garden. It grew to be beautiful and large. So beautiful and large, that people came calling; this was a new heirloom rose, a chance genetic mutation that took a venerable plant to a new aesthetic place, and it would need to be replanted in a professional rose garden, somewhere else.


So you make the deal, and you’re left with a garden bed that is a little… hodgepodgey. But then something strange happens; the sun and the water make it all run together. It’s even more beautiful than it was when you had the rose; not that anyone cares anymore. Your gardeners are regarded as geniuses and win awards from Sunset Magazine.

But then something happens. Your hydrangea, a showy multi coloured piece that is one of the main attraction in your garden, get a broken stem. Then, Steph Curry shows up and throws a firecracker in your garden and steals your ground cover. Fans of your garden start moaning. Balance doesn't work for them! They needed a rose! One of your gardeners, so acclaimed not three weeks ago, a big, fat pink slip. The other one leaves for more money than you’re willing to pay. You panic. 

You put a miniature cactus in the garden. That makes sense, right? Tom made it work in his garden, why can't you? You pay WAY too much for a maple even though you already had a maple and your maple was a little smaller, but that meant that your plants didn't lose sun on its account. You hire a new gardener, who seems perpetually put upon and annoyed about gardening in this altitude. Hey, remember that shrub we had a while ago, the one we got rid of for the ground cover? It’s back! Do you see how it makes everything seem like it works, maybe?  The garden can still be good, the gardener says we just need to yank out these weeds! Sure, he said that fern was a weed, but who cares!? Can we get some fertilizer in here? The bamboo tree is all, I’m sure it’s going to FINALLY start working in the garden concept! God, the gardens around here are so nice, how are we going to compete!? All we need to do is tread water and I’m sure… mulch! More mulch! Keep the weeds out! This used to be so easy!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

BISCUTBALL PREVIEWS #3: UTAH JAZZ

Using my extensive knowledge of Jazz + American Music history, I determined what musician every member of the current Utah Jazz roster most resembles.

TREVOR BOOKER: Clyde Jefferson, a journeyman bass player who played in a variety of combos from 1975-1997. Teaches at Berklee now.


DEE BOST: Papa Mack Bracey, 1920s bluesman, primarily notable for his song, documented on a Paramount 78, “Tired of Heavin’ My Body on You.” No known copies exist.


TREY BURKE: “Scrubs” Mackley, a trumpet player player in Duke Ellington’s band. A box full of half finished compositions was found in his attic after he died. The academic who had access to these papers called them “Proto-Mingus-y, but not on purpose.”


ALEC BURKS: Michael Sparks, a 1970’s fusion guitarist known for immaculate wah-pedal tone. Wore a lot of scarves.


IAN CLARK: Cliff Markley, an Atlanta busker who plays solo improvised compositions using his dog’s heartbeat as a rhythm track. Looks like this:




The pieces goes faster or slower if the dog gets scared or starts sleeping or gets excited. Cliff designed and built the stethoscope amp himself; he is an engineer in his everyday life. Fascinating stuff.


JACK COOLEY: Jared Sturdy, second chair trumpet on the Ridgefield High School Jazz Band.


JEREMY EVANS: Mark Clifton, a contemporary drummer in a professional combo that mostly works at weddings in the Bay Area. Most frequent note given is “Play a little quieter, Mark.” As he gets older, he finds himself drawn more to painting fantasy scenes; one particularly expressionistic tableau features a female elf running a black dagger through the belly of a cruel king.


DANTE EXUM: Jeffrey Ronson, a contemporary of Steve Reich who refused to allow his performances to be recorded. Amiri Baraka wrote about one in 1975, described it as “Beautiful for one second, then the world is pulled out from underneath you; among the most horrifying musical performances I have ever witnessed.”


DERRICK FAVORS: “Clown Crusher,” (Real name unknown; always dressed in clown makeup at performances. Was suspected to have a day job at a conservative-leaning lobbying firm.), a Hardcore-Era DC area punk drummer who played on an unmarked 7-Inch that sort of vaguely aped Jazz tradition; Gregg Ginn was said to have been a big fan. The identity of the guitarist on that record is a matter of profound dispute; some have suggested it was a 17-Year old Janet Mitchelson, who would go on to be the first chair viola player at the New York Metropolitan Orchestra.


CARRICK FELIX: Rich Freeman. He plays in a funk fusion-y band on weekends. Nice guy, always smiling when he plays. His tone is unnervingly uniform and he gets to slapping the fret a little too readily.


RUDY GOBERT: Alain Bellerose, a 1960’s French lounge singer best known for his song “Quel âge avez-vous? Attendez, s'il vous plaît ne me dites pas.” Roughly translates to “How Old are you? Wait, Please do not Tell me.”


GORDON HAYWARD: “Admiral” Dave Martin, a Big Band era bandleader and clarinetist known for always wearing a white cape and a sailor’s hat. Weird rumors about his personal life I won’t get into here.


RODNEY HOOD: Isaiah Hobson, 1970’s LA Guitarist who played in a Chic knockoff. Currently a smooth jazz producer for hire.


DAHNTAY JONES: Rick Marcellus, a smooth jazz bassist. Broke Kenny G’s finger twice.


ENES KANTER: Cliff Mitchell, known professionally as “Jazz-O-Bot,” performs as a one man band at county and state fairs across America. Embraces a robot theme, dishes out lots of robot puns. Very silly, of course, but occasionally his work transcends both his milieu and modest technical ability and becomes very poignant.


BROCK MOTOM: “SLATE,” a one man avant garde “Jazz” act. He walks on stage wearing a giant white robe and pounds on a MASSIVE drum at a fixed tempo for nearly two hours while vaporwave samples he put together play over a kind of supercharged laptop speaker. I talked to him after a show once: REALLY into SEC Football.


KEVIN MURPHY: Jacob Martins, solo acoustic jazz guitarist. Plays primarily at restaurants in Miami. Actually makes very beautiful music if you stop eating and listen for a second.


TOURE MURPHY: Trey Anastasio.

STEVE NOVAK: Steve’s dad, Cliff Novak, is the “WISCONSIN KING OF THE JAZZ BANJO.” Might be a little easy, but I think that’s a good parallel.

Friday, September 26, 2014

BISCASTBALL NUMBER ONE



The first Episode of Biscastball: the Biscutball Biscast exists, please listen to it or download it. Seth Partnow, a Statman over at Nylon Calculus and DOZENS of other places, is our guest. His daughter hammers a piano, America says "Awww."

BISCUTBALL PREVIEWS #2: Oklahoma City Thunder

Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott “Lil’ Hair” Brooks coaches an effective offense. The team has ranked 12th, 5th, 2nd, 1st and 7th in Offensive Rating in the seasons he has coached full time. But many people are unsatisfied with his offensive system. “It’s unsustainable,” they say, “You can’t just lean on Durant and Westbrook to create all the offense! There are consequences!


Think about an NBA game as a rocky deposit you trying to get point out of, deep underground. The Thunder use Westbrook as a sort of “Drill” that plunges “Deep into” the paint and "Breaks apart" opposing defenses, “Shale deposits” that contain precious points for powering an offense:





Westbrook draws in the defense, breaks up the rocks. Then Kevin Durant functions like a sort of, oh, I am a thinking a Sand/Water/Chemical mixture that gets injected into the shale deposits and releases even more precious, precious points.



See the fluidity of movement, moving all over the court. Seeping into the cracks Westbrook creates. Drilling every possible point out of the opposition.


But is this an effective long term strategy? The Thunder use force and power to get points out of the Earth. But all of the teams that out performed them offensively last year (Clippers, Blazers, Mavericks, Rockets, Heat, Spurs) used offensive systems (Spread screen and roll for Clips, Rockets, motion for Blazers and Mavs, a sort of freaky-unstoppable hybrid for the Spurs and Heat) that don’t depend as completely on the talents of two players. They’re more into letting the sustainable energy inherent in Basketball; the sun and the wind of the game, if you will.


Durant and Westbrook’s command over the team’s usage might be stunting the growth of any young players the team acquires. Poisoning the water they need to drink to grow. If you will.


“Chesapeake?” What’s that? How did this video get here

It is worth mentioning that even if Durant and Westbrook have off nights, they have Serge Ibaka, one of the league’s best rim protectors, Lobbying on the team’s behalf, influencing opposing offenses to help the team succeed in spite of an offense that occasionally stagnates against elite Progressive Defensive Opposition like Tony Allen, who can single cover Durant with questions like “Is Natural Gas seriously worth poisoning groundwater, one of the miracles on Earth that helps keep us alive? Not to mention possibly causing Earthquakes in your home state? I mean, you went to all that trouble to steal the team from a bigger market, it’s not even going to be worth it when the stadium is consumed by a giant fucking crack in the ground that opened up because your thirst for money that you won’t even spend was so unquenchable that you stuck your middle finger so deep in the Earth that it decided it needed to fight back in some way.” Or Gasol, protecting the paint from Westbrook with his patented “Shut up McLendon, you Tax Cheating Libertarian Clown” pick and roll coverage.

I can't wait for 2016.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

BISCUTBALL PREVIEW NUMBER ONE: Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves have not been very good. Here is proof:




(Grabs shirt collar) Oy vey! Not good! Maybe moving the team to a proper city instead of “Minnesota, Minnesota” would help.


The Timberwolves might be good someday. Wiggins has superstar potential if he can learn to focus his chi, Anthony Bennett is at least not as bad as he was last year and Zach LeVIne can jump very high in the air. Gorgui Dieng tore apart the FIBA World Championships. Rubio is already useful on the strength of his defense and playmaking and could theoretically learn to shoot a basketball like an NBA guard sooner or later.


But they won’t be good this year. Mediocrity is probably the best case scenario. BUT: I am proposing a radical solution:


COMPLETELY BAIL ON WINNING, EVEN AS A PRETENSE, AND JUST TRY TO PLAY THE MOST FLUID POSSIBLE FORM OF BASKETBALL


The roster is almost there! You are going to have to unload Pekovic (No postups!), Kevin Martin (That jump shot doesn’t fit, it’s all wobbly! Also we’re trying to avoid foul shots here.), Mo Williams (Given.) Shabbaz can probably get out of town, too, he doesn’t run enough for what we’re trying to accomplish here. EVERYONE ELSE PLAYS BY THESE RULES:


  1. THE ONLY DEFENSE IS A MATCHUP ZONE WHERE YOU ARE TRYING TO EITHER GET A BLOCKED SHOT OR A STEAL


Here is an example of what that might look like. The top guard tries to strip the primary ballhandler for a fast break. The two forwards look to pick passes to the mostly open corners for fast breaks. The bottom guard tries to pick off any post entry pass to the center. Don't foul, ever. The center just walks in and out of the paint, waiting for a shot at the rim, which he tries to block the shot towards the lower guard, who then dribbles or passes forward to a wing to make a fast break.  DON'T FOUL, EVER. NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO FOUL.


2. ONLY USE ONE PLAY ON INBOUND SITUATIONS

If they concede a basket, which they might, who knows!? You run a long bomb inbounds play every time, just like every NFL team should probably do. Football s way more complicated than basketball, but statistics suggest throwing downfield is the best move like 95% of the time or something. Is there any reason to think it won’t work in basketball!?




The ideal lineup for this system, WHOSE ONLY PURPOSE IS CREATING A FLUID BASKETBALL, is Rubio/LeVine/Brewer/Wiggins/Dieng. If it turns out to be a winning basketball strategy, they will become known as the Globetimbers because of how much they clown on fools. Also because Rubio will take to carrying handfuls of confetti around in his pockets and throwing it at opponents and the refs.



Dieng’s first options is to throw to Brewer, Wiggins, or LaVine, shown here outrunning their defenders with ease. If, for some reason, they are covered, he throws to a trailing Rubio, who makes the play from there. (An oop to a cutting LeVine, for instance.)


This system might deprive Dieng of any scoring chances and that may upset his agents. If it gets to be too hot of a situation, just slot Dieng in at one of the guard spots and watch the buckets come in for a game or two. Then put him back where he belongs, in the quarterback’s seat, fat and happy and filled with points..

Some teams may resist this form of basketball. Those nefarious Pacers, in particular, will seek to destroy this basketball utopia. But one team won’t be able to resist. And when that team comes into town, we’ll have what we’ve always dreamed of: A 200 possession NBA game. Basketball scientists the world over rejoice! "We have not split the atom, no, but I believe we not have the tools to do it!" The discoveries made in this season will fuel research for dozens, maybe HUNDREDS of years! Earth's basketball will be unstoppable! All the planets of the universe bowing at our feet!

All because the Timberwolves took a 13 win season in service for the greater good. Do the right thing, Flip; become the basketball Hadron Collider.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014

NBA MEDIA DAY PREVIEW

My Favorite NBA Days of the Year:

  1. The first day of the rookie combine. I love watching drills and learning shit from drills.

  1. Free Agency. I LIVE FOR FREE AGENCY

  1. Power. Rankings. Any day with a power ranking that day is the fucking shit. That’s usually Monday. I also see my therapist on Monday and I think she is a little annoyed that I always spend 40 minutes talking about various power rankings at the top of out session but fuck her, I pay good money so she has to listen to me talk about what is important to ME.


  1. Media. Day.

My favorite thing about media day is everything. I like when my favorite athletes answer questions and I like seeing pictures of them that will appear in promotional materials all year. I fucking love promotional materials. Look at me with my favorite promotional material:


Don’t worry, I put it back in its vacuum sealed bag (I get them on the cheap by using my lungs to suck the air out of Ziplocs).

The good shit is when an athlete answers silly questions by either
  1. Having a very direct answer that lets you know they are tuned into the culture at large
  2. Seeming pretty weirded out in a way that mimics my own alienation from things that don’t conform to straight maleness.

The hot questions this year is “Hey, you hear that Superbass song” and the hot answers are “Yeah!” then they sing the chorus a little or “Uhh, no?” all incredulous like “I seem like I like girl shit to you.” Oh man when I round those answers up in a post I am going to get 200-500 hits on that shit.

I don’t need to extol the virtues of platitudes to you. They are great. The Bible is made of platitudes. Someday there will be a second Bible called Bible 2 with all the best platitudes and stories about good athletes in it. There will also be some Iraq War whitewashing.

Can’t wait for “We’re here to win this year” proclamations. I will believe everyone. My dream NBA is everyone going 41-41 so that the playoffs are decided using arcane strength of schedule determinations.

But this is all prelude. The best shit in media day is portraits. When I was a kid I used to get my yearbook and look at that thing for hours and hours. So imagine my hard-on when I saw that even after I graduated from school, the NBA continue to give me that rush year after year.

I have collected some of my favorite NBA portrait day standards below. I am wearing my jersey I wear with my Vancouver Parks and Recreation team, the Hazel Dell Hot Dads. (Most of the men on our have children. Me and my wife, Claudia Richards, are too focused on our careers as a Professors of Women’s Studies and a Famous Basketball Blogger, respectively. I am not crazy about the name because it doesn’t properly represent me but I suppose that I am closer to a Hot Dad than Anthony Davis to a big-ass sea bird.)


This is the “Two hand ball grip” pose. You take the ball and hold it with both hands. This is a fundamental basketball pose, because you can’t turn over the ball if you have two vice grips on either side. It shows that you are the master of the ball.


Look guys, face it. When you are selling basketball, you’re not just selling dribbling and shooting, You selling Sex, capital S, the Sex Brand. This pose shows off your bicep, which is a very Sex centric muscle you need to dominate on the basketball and Sex courts.


You’re a casual guy! Is that a beer over there? We’re having a good time, I can drink one of those cold ones responsibility! Not so many that I can’t get a few shots up before bed!


Action pose. GUARDS AND WINGS ONLY. If your big man is going this pose, you need to be worried for the season ahead. Call your team’s front office and proclaim that you aren’t comfortable with the direction of the franchise. If they don’t listen, send them a PHYSICAL LETTER voicing your concerns for six months. If they still don’t address their dribbling big man problem, call a sports radio show and calmly voice your complaint in public. There is a process for these things if you want change to happen. DO NOT SKIP ANY OF THE STEPS.


Action pose, acceptable for all players. The player is looking for a good pass, so their team can make 2 points on the board.


I have some sources in the NBA and they’re all saying that the hot new trend in NBA Portraits this year is pictures with cats. Adam Silver loves cats and he wields a lot of power. He thinks this will take Media Day's viralality from 70 to 120 I’m not sure what SPECIFICALLY is going to happen with the Cats, but I think this is a reasonable ballpark.

I hope this post has whetted your appetite for Media Day. I know an appetizer like this can’t feed you and your family’s cravings for shit to write about the way Media Day NEVER fails to do, but I hope I have at least prepared you for the deluge of cat pictures on the way.

ONE MAN REDESIGNED EVERY NBA UNIFORM AS AN APPLE: WHAT DOES YOUR TEAM'S APPLE LOOK LIKE?

American designer Rob Designman decided to imagine every NBA uniform as an apple.

Unsurprisingly, the results were tremendous.






















Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A SNEAK PREVIEW OF CARMELO ANTHONY'S NEW APP!

As a part of Carmelo Anthony's ambition to become the world's foremost 'Digital Athlete,' Melo Industries, INC. has developed a new IPhone/Android app that will be released later this month. Biscutball has obtained an EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW, which we will share with you right now:








(I got that GIF here)






THE BISCUTBALL LITERARY CORNER, SEPTEMBER 10th, 2014

(About a week ago, Joe Swide, a writer for VICE Sports and my editor over at Portland Roundball Society, asked me if I wanted to review a book for the site. I said “Sure” and he said “It’s on it’s way!” But in the week since then, panic has set in. I haven’t written about a book since I studied literature in college! I needed practice. So I went to My Local Library and picked up some books about basketball and read them. Here is my very important writing about those books.)




Glen Macnow’s book about Charles Barkley is a myth-making undertaking. Barkley crawls from the sludge of Leeds, Alabama, Six-Four if he was a foot, dominating his opponents and enemies and never looking back at the trail of destruction he sewed. When he was a young boy, he spent whole afternoons trying to leap over a four foot tall fence. He wrecked Bobby Lee Young, a Seven foot tall young man who was the best player in Alabama before Young Barkley’s 25 point, 20 performance turned him into a muttering catatonic. His appetite for victory was only rivaled by his craving for food; a list of buffets he put out of business takes up three pages in the middle of the book. Only the sage advice of Julius “Dr. J” Erving* got him to but down the turkey leg and pick up the medicine ball. A computer that tried to track his production broke. He picked up a 200 pound weight and used it to scratch his head. He hosted a beloved Philadelphia area radio show that helped to dismantle that city's political machinery in 1989:



Taken with what we know about Barkley that they wouldn’t write about in a book for children his proclivities for gambling, drinking, being amongst the people and occasionally throwing them through plate glass windows, this book makes Barkley into the Robert Baratheon of basketball. Wielding the hammer and winning the hearts of the people.


There were THREE WHOLE BOOKS about Jeremy Lin at the library. There is a cottage industry around books about Jeremy Lin written for children.


THis one was written by Marty Gitlin for the “Playmakers” series, which also includes volumes about Kevin Durant, Eli Manning and Timothy “Tim” Tebow. It is not a good book. It has a lot of unnerving sentences in it. Here are some:


“The new superstar of the New York Knicks glared at Toronto Raptors defender Jose Calderon”


“His parents were both 5-foot-6. Most NBA players have tall parents.”


“Shirley would arrive early for his games. She also would study the statistics of his opponents.”


“But he did not catch the attention of many Division I college basketball programs. Division I is the highest level of college sports.”


“His website received 20,000 views the day he signed.”


The book goes out of its way to not mention Carmelo Anthony. When nearly all books and internet are consumed by dragonfire and this book is the only remaining document of Jeremy Lin’s time as a New York Knick, people will be deeply confused as to why the Knicks fell apart at the end of that season and D’Antoni got fired. It is an incomplete history at best. Do not read this book.




I thought this book was about the Minnesota TImberwolves, because it was filed with the other basketball books. It was not, it was about actual wolves. It is a complete failure as a basketball book, but I did learn cool stuff about wolves and saw a picture of the world’s most fucked buffalo:


You can’t see it, but the guy on the top right there’s mouth is covered in blood. She means business. Look, Buffalo. Your life is about to end, and that sucks, but take solace in the knowledge that life is an ordeal, and death might be a blessing when you are reborn in livestock heaven.




This is a book about the Utah Jazz. It describes John Stockton has having a “Boy next door smile.” I don’t think I have ever seen John Stockton smile. There are picture of Stockton smiling in the book, but I honestly don’t believe them, they are too disassociating, I think they are photoshop trickery. There is also a whole chapter about the team’s then recently dead owner Larry Miller. If your kid is reading this book and gets super amped for reading about Larry Miller, you need to give him a skateboard and tell him to go outside and hurt himself, because he is terminally uncool. He might actually die from uncoolness. He’s not even the best Larry Miller! I skimmed this one, it was a little too long and boring and I don’t care about the Utah Jazz so much.




If you feel like your child is still a little young for the Undisputed Guide, I think this book is probably a good stopgap. It has lots of words and information about great historical teams. “There weren’t any jokes in this one.” Yeah, well, sometimes life doesn’t have jokes. Joe Giglio: I tip my hat to you and your good book.




This book is barely a book. It is a collection of pictures. It purports to tell its readers how to play basketball.




“Basketball is a fun game.” SURE, RIGHT. Let’s just IGNORE all of the social and aesthetic angles of basketball. This breeds ignorance into the mind of every people who reads this book. When you start from that place, “Basketball is supposed to be fun!” you will always get dragged back, kicking and screaming. What if you’re trying to derive MEANING from something or explore the outer edges of basketball as a statistical construct!? If, as a child, you were tethered to the pole of “Fun” it is going to yank on your chain when start to stroll into “Basketball in an IMPORTANT game.” Also, does basketball really need to be played with a round ball!? You could play basketball with a football. It would be interesting! Maybe not “FUN” but maybe “INTERESTING” is more valuable than fun!




That is obviously a basketball shaped bong. Look at those longhairs with their stony grins.




It’s “Occam’s Razor” not “Occam’s Boil Everything Down So Much That It Barely Even Exists.”




THis book definitely needed an index. I mean, it had, what, 25 words in it?


DANTON STONE, AND I KNOW THIS POPPED UP IN YOUR GOOGLE ALERT, I REJECT YOUR BOOK AND EVERYTHING ABOUT IT. IT IS DESTROYING THE MINDS OF THIS NATION’S CHILDREN AND DIGGING A HOLE IN THEIR HEADS THAT THEY WILL NEVER MARCH OUT OF. IT ALSO SUBLIMINALLY ENCOURAGES THEM TO SMOKE MARIJUANA, AND I AM NOT OKAY WITH THAT.

*The book gives credit to Dr. J for teaching Barkley professional habits. Barkley has given that credit to Moses Malone. It was pretty weird.