Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Dead of Winter

I spent most of the last two Januarys in Melbourne, Australia. I like to think of Melbourne as my third home after Boulder and Vegas and always say I’d like to go down there for the Aussie Millions every year the rest of my life. But this year nobody I knew really wanted to go down there so plans were never made.

Trying to get through January here in Colorado, it’s easy to remember why I went to Melbourne the last couple years. I watch the Australian Open on TV and think about what it’s like to be in that city right now. It’s summer, and it’s sweltering – far hotter this year than it’s ever been while I’ve been there. I watch the tennis, which will likely feature another epic final between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, while the wind whistles through the trees and snow blows past my windows.

There hasn’t been a football game in ten days, and after the Super Bowl there won’t be another one that matters for seven months. College basketball season is heating up, but the Colorado Buffaloes aren’t. They might be the worst team in the Big XII. I cheat on the Buffs with the Pitt Panthers, who break my heart every March by never exceeding their tournament expectations. This year the expectations are higher than ever before – they’ve spent a couple weeks atop the polls and are looking to snag a #1 seed for the Dance.

The internet is not affected by the cold. It works just fine in January. I skim more blogs than Julian Silvain, check out Facebook, Bracketology, The National Football Post, and peruse the fares of OkCupid.

Since I read so much online, I hardly ever read books. Most of my book reading takes place in the bathroom, where I very slowly chip away at George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. Martin weaves an epic fantasy about a land preparing for the return of Winter – a season which could last decades.

Oasis and the Killers, two of my favorite bands, both released new albums late in 2008. Both are abysmal – career lowpoints for sure. So I listen to a lot of Travis, a band seemingly tailored for a glum January morning.

The wind and cold eliminate outdoor recreation from consideration, except for broomball – a poor replacement but sporting fodder nonetheless. So I go to the gym and lift – not my favorite pursuit but always satisfying and always indoors. On the warmer days I go for a run or walk in the foothills equipped with gloves, a podcast, and a nine month-old black lab named Daisy.

Comcast has an intriguing assortment of free movies On Demand. I checked a couple classics, The Last of the Mohicans and Hoosiers, off the I’ve never seen before list. Both fell short of expectations. Deep into the coldest night of the month, I dialed up a wild old Charles Bronson flick called Breakheart Pass. Billed as a “western mystery suspense thriller”, Breakheart Pass would have normally been a ludicrous choice but on that frigid night it was just the ticket.

The Office has been slowly deteriorating since Season II, inspiring me to search for a new Best Show On Television. Lost Season III fell a little short of the standard set the first two years. The problem with Arrested Development is that you miss most of the best jokes if you aren’t paying close attention, and people usually watch comedies when they don’t feel like heavy mental lifting.

When I am prepared to watch something that requires brain function, I put on The Wire. This is one show that has lived up to the hype. Every hour-long episode is jam-packed full of plot and character development details so dense I frequently have to rewind and rewatch key scenes. It’s a gigantic canvas, every scene adding another shade of grey to the palette. It’s all about these shades of grey, as The Wire shows you the Baltimore drug dealing scene from every perspective. No one is completely innocent or guilty. Rather, everyone has motivation for every action. There are heroes and villains, but their roles are determined more by circumstance than disposition. Should the crescendo reach the heights hinted at in the first five episodes, The Wire just might become my favorite television show.

Outdoor gaming might be restricted by the snow and cold, but the indoor variety is enhanced. I can never turn down a game of Settlers of Catan, and now we have Puerto Rico as well. But the game I have played the most this January has been no limit hold em. I’m reinvigorated. I get excited to play once again. I considered my options very carefully and came to the conclusion that in 2009, poker is my best bet. GnightMoon is back.


Blogger 81trucolors said...

Great Post. I am 100% dreading the NFL season's end.

4:14 PM  
Blogger Hoedeman said...

Dude, you just started watching The Wire?

Shame on you! And lol at "If it lives up to the crescendo hinted at in the first five episodes..."

Boy, you've got 55 hours of impossibly good television ahead of you.

I always hype up The Wire so much to people--well beyond even my trademark hyperbolic enthusiasm for things.

And I always say "As much as I'm trying to explain to you how good this show is, it's actually much, much better than I could ever verbalize."

"Best Show Ever" is a drastic understatement.

Also, where's the super bowl post? Where is your money going? (Hint: Santonio Holmes, Willie Parker, Troy Polamalu, and James Harrsion mvp bets)

5:27 PM  
Blogger Zach said...

wow, after you and Dave I think I need to watch the Wire or fear Dave's scorn. I would throw out Friday Night Lights, not for Best Ever, but for very solid entertainment that won't let you down. I'm halfway through season 2, good stuff.

Also, for a quick Melbourne replacement, i just got back from Austin, TX, where I've been 3 times over the last two winters. Terrific place, one of my favorites in the U.S. along with San Diego.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Spencetron said...

I'm sure you saw the Tsonga loss, and I'm not convinced that the Fed/Nadal final will be that good. Nadal in four.

10:31 PM  
Blogger TheGraveWolf said...

What is going on here??

An enjoyably substantive post about actual happenings in your life?!

Insightful comments on the Wolf blog.

The promise of possible poker posts in '09.

And, best of all, the return of the blog links!!!


12:12 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I'm definitely excited you're getting into The Wire. That's always on my top three list. I usually have to tell people to make it through season one before passing judgment, due to the sheer number of characters and the subtle play between them, but the fact that you're into it after the first five is a good sign. It only gets better.

You should check out Deadwood.

12:20 AM  
Anonymous BlueFlare said...

i second wolfs statement

2:05 PM  
Blogger Nappy said...

I hope this is the return to respectability. It's only one post, but a good start. Keep it up hombre.

9:18 PM  
Blogger Brad said...

WOAH, WOAH! The Office and LOST both rule. Big time. Let's just make this understood.

6:49 PM  

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