Welcome to the special New Year’s Eve version of Detroit Badboys Drunken Mailbag! Situated in Japan, I am uniquely positioned to report on the dawning of 2016. For 14 long hours I will be basking in the warm embrace of 2016 while you EST suckers are left languishing in the moldy and wretched cesspool that is 2015. If you don’t want to know what happens in 2016, I suggest you stop reading now, as there WILL be spoiler alerts.
As always, Drunken Mailbag provides an unfiltered look into the Detroit Pistons, basketball, and life in general while introducing you to our preferred adult beverages. Anyway, I’d better get a’typing. The current time is 11:04 pm. 56 minutes until 2016! I’d sure hate to be 14 hours and 56 minutes away from 2016 right now, but that’s all I’m going to say about that. So, anyway, you’re probably wondering what a Japanese New Year is like. Or maybe you’re not. Maybe you’re just a Pistons fan who is angry I’m talking about Japan. That’s fine. I’m drinking and am unaware of my surroundings and the desires of those in my presence. So, Japanese New Years it is.
Frankly, the Japanese New Year is pretty awesome. Christmas? Not even a holiday here. New Year’s is where it’s at. Families get together, sit under the kotatsu and eat clementines. What’s that? Speak into my sober ear. A kotatsu? You say you don’t know what a kotatsu is? You are missing out then. A kotatsu is like a coffee table with a heater on the underside and a blanket that traps the heat in. They are truly amazing. Although I might not think so if this country had properly insulated walls or central heating. Anyway, Americans are stuck with Ryan Seacrest counting down from 10, here in Japan the entire country tunes in to the greatest contribution to TV since the cathode ray tube: Gaki no Tsukai. It’s a group of Japanese comedians who do a yearly 6-hour special where they are dress up as nurses, high school students, hotel bellboys, etc. and play a game where weird crap happens nonstop and if they laugh, men in black leather suits run in and give them a spanking (Example 1 & Example 2) (elevator music as you check out the links).
Sure, there is other cultural stuff I could get into like visiting a shrine and getting your fortune on the 1st, eating Osechi Ryori, etc. but this isn’t a Japanese culture blog, damnit! This is a Detroit Pistons blog! So, let’s talk about alcohol!
What I was drinking: Mulled Wine.
Yeah, mulled wine: it’s potpourri for your esophagus. I even did it up right. I went out to the supermarket and got me some star anise, vanilla beans, nutmeg, cinnamon - I even had some tangine in my fridge and I have no idea what that is. Threw it all into a pot with some lemon rinds, sugar, wine, and spiced rum, set it ablaze, and boom! Mulled wine. Anyway, fun fact about mulled wine. Do you know how it got its name? Exactly. It was concocted by famed Red Roof Inn spokesman (alright, maybe he did some other stuff as well), Martin Mull. He tried the same process on numerous drinks (mulled beer, mulled milk, mulled antifreeze), but this is the only one that stuck. Here is the photographic evidence with Martin Mull and Stan Van Gundy atop Mt. Fuji with the first ever glass of mulled wine, tying together three of the main concepts of my drunken mailbag articles. Amazing what you learn from the inebriated if only you take the time to ask, isn’t it?
Oh yeah, there’s a mailbag, isn’t there? Well, I know you’re chomping at the bit so I’ll get to one question before going into what I’m drinking now.
Who needs to be bribed or locked in a trunk for Johnson to overtake Winslow in rookie rankings?
Well, ol’ Blue, I’m right with you on the idea that Johnson needs to be atop those rankings. I tackled both my dismay at not picking Winslow and utter delight after the fact in my first DBB article, Stanimalistic Urges. As far as who to lock in a trunk? The obvious answer is Justise Winslow. Have you ever tried to play basketball from inside a trunk? There’s little room to dribble, passes and shots just carom off the back of seats and hit you in the head, and you’re more likely to get a concussion from the bagger at Meijer throwing your Mom’s groceries in there without regard to who might be tied up and gagged back there. Now, obviously we’ll need an older car that doesn’t have the required trunk-escape lever, so if any readers out there ha [the rest has been edited out to avoid any felonies].
Wow, somewhere along the line, the sands of time have continued to scurry down that hourglass. It is now 11:49 in Japan: just 11 minutes until the New Year and here I am, sitting alone in my room with my drink and butter-soy sauce potato chips, responding to the 5 or so people who took the trouble to write in. This is my life. 2015, you can’t leave soon enough. There will be a shiny new J Parker Pool in 2016. Watch out world!
My Drink: Pomegranate juice and spiced rum.
The pomegranate juice is leftover from the ham glaze. I biked to Costco (it’s amazing how much bulk food you can fit into a bicycle basket, child seat, and backpack) and got a ham for the fam. The wife made a pomegranate maple glaze that was out of this world and I also picked up the largest container of spiced rum I’ve ever seen. With leftover pomegranate juice and spiced rum, I decided to see how they worked together and it’s been a marriage made in heaven. I just finished my first and I’m going to go make my second now.
Ok, I’m back. OH! Guys! 11:59! Wait for it…. 10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1….
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Ok, so my wife and daughter are asleep and I just typed out the countdown in the still of the night. Probably the saddest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Can Ben Gibbard or Belle and Sebastian just go ahead and write a sad and lonely song about me now? We don’t even get to hear Auld Lang Syne in Japan. That song is reserved for every freaking night whenever a supermarket or any other shop is closing for the night they play that song. I always feel like yelling "HAPPY NEW YEAR!" and kissing whoever the shop attendant may be, but so far that scenario has only played out in my mind and would probably lead to a restraining order or deportation.
Anyway, my goblet runneth over, it’s a new year, and the Pistons have a winning record. Let’s get on with the mailbag!
Supa Dupe confided in me….
My friend told me he thinks Rasheed Wallace was the best player of the Going to Work Era. While he was a great player for those teams, Chauncey and Ben were clearly better.
I feel like this could ruin our friendship because I can’t maintain being civil with someone who’s so obviously wrong.
What should I do?
Intelligence in Inkster
Dear Sup….Err, Intelligence,
While Rasheed put us over the top, do let me affirm that you ARE Correct that both Chauncey and Ben were more vital to our championship run - especially with Sheed getting into foul trouble in the first half on the reg. My suggestion to you? Doilies. Make doilies in the image of Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups making some of their signature plays and gift them to your friend. Tell him you’ve noticed the back of his chairs and couches have looked so naked and, like John Ashcroft, you just wanted to do something about it. He will look at them each time he takes a seat and be reminded of the integral part they played in helping the team to achieve greatness.
If he is averse to the usage of doilies, please apply my Winslow advice from above to him and I assure you it won’t be a month before he insists that both Billups and Big Ben were vastly superior as you open the trunk and watch him disorientedly run away as fast as he can. But do remember, this is only to be used as a last resort. Think doilies.
Is one Morris enough for the Pistons or should we go double or nothing?
Ah, the age-old question of whether two twins are better than one. To answer this question, I think we need to take a look at another team that encountered this same question: Full House. While they had two Olsens on their team, you never saw them both at once. They understood that each twin, in order to be their best as an individual, needed room away from the other to grow. What happens when you put the Olsen twins together? This monstrosity. I don’t want to see the Morris’ version of Pizza and how many additional potential felonies it would involve.
Is RJ better than John Wall (& yeah, I said it)?
No, but he’s closed the gap and made Wall’s comments on the contract Reggie Jackson signed this past summer look mighty foolish and that’s good enough for now.
Is Stan Van Gundy foolish for not benching Illy & starting SJ?
Think of Stanley Johnson as a chia pet. You don’t want to put it out on the ledge for everyone to see right after you’ve put that disgusting green coat of gook on it. No, you want to wait until that sheep has a shimmering coat of verdure. Stanley Johnson has just emerged from the gook stage and has some little sprouts. He’s not quite ready for show yet.
I also think that Ersan Ilyasova, while struggling as of late, fits in very well. As an outside shooter, he opens up the lane for Reggie to drive and shoot, oop, or kick it out. Meanwhile, Stanley’s all-around game works well when used in conjunction with the rest of the bench which is, quite honestly, all-around lousy. Soon enough SJ’s talent will demand that he starts, but we are not quite there yet.
Christopher Daniels queries:
If you could pick one current Piston to dunk on one current player from another team, who would you choose to dunk on whom and why?
Bonus: was that grammatically correct for me to just have used "whom" in that sentence?
I’ll take Things that make you go "Hmmmm…" for $600, Alex.
After some deep soul-searching and crunching of ice at the bottom of my glass, I’m going to go with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope throwing down a Deandre-on-Brandon Knight level dunk on Markieff Morris. The drama triangle that this play would produce would be amazing. KCP gets Morris back for the comments ‘Kief made last year about KCP lacking heart, Kief’s star shrivels even more in Phoenix, and Marcus initially goes "F*** Yeah! Great Dunk!" followed by "Oh no! Twin brother!" Then he realizes he’s gotta choose a side: blood or nylon. That’s drama.
As for the bonus question, I have been an English teacher for almost 12 years now and I am maintaining a 4.0 in my Master’s program in Applied Linguistics*. Still, I absolutely suck at grammar. I tend to side with the more modern notion of descriptive grammar over prescriptive grammar that deems grammar as an ever-changing organism that is not bound by iron-clad arbitrarily produced rules created by oppressive dominant cultural groups, but rather is a means of expression and that its use by different cultural groups, even when not accepted by the mainstream, is perfectly legitimate. The ‘correct’ use of whom is something I see as a gatekeeping mechanism that is meant to define who is an insider in regards to dominant mainstream educated society and thus gets to reap the rewards (justly or unjustly) that such ‘education’ provides. I do believe, though, that ‘whom’ is correctly being used as an object here.
*for one of my final papers last semester, I wrote a comparative quantitative analysis on the linguistic properties and concordance of my first Drunken Mailbag article vs. a previous academic paper I wrote.
nbasahn wants to know...
What is your favorite color of koolaid?
I’ll be honest; I never drank kool-aid growing up. The closest I came was Wyler’s Lemon-Lime powder mix. That was some pretty good **** that probably had some pretty unnatural ingredients. I think this fits well with my persona as (despite some of my overzealous articles), I consider myself to be an objective viewer of the Pistons and other sports teams that I enjoy gazing upon. Win or lose, I think I maintain perspective: as long as the boys enjoyed themselves out there, promoted the value of fitness, and got in the "good game" lineup following the game, each and every one of the players deserves to have the coach buy them an ice cream cone after the game.
Steve Hinson is dying to know…
What’s your coolest experience in Japan? I was out there last year and had some great ones – cormorant fishing (folks tie these harnesses on birds who dive to swallow fish and spit them back up…by torchlight), Tenjin matsuri (giant festival with all sorts of awesome street food), this awesome pinball arcade that had nearly 100 old retro pinball machines. It’s a neat place. So what would top your coolest experience list?
Was the cormorant fishing in the Kamogawa river in Kyoto? I’ve seen it on TV, but have yet to see it live. Tenjin Matsuryi is also very famous, but for my coolest experience, I’m going to go with a local festival that isn’t that well known outside of the area. For five years, I was lucky to be living in a city 30 minutes from Kyoto called Omihachiman. In this city, they always had the most amazing festival called Sagicho Matsuri. This festival involves the creation of giant "floats" (don’t let the term fool you, they are heavy enough to crush a man dead and are carried by a team of 10-15 drunk crossdressing men). The floats are made in the shape of whatever animal it is on the Chinese calendar and they are made out of various foodstuffs. Each neighborhood in the city makes their own float. On the first day, they parade their floats around town. On the second day, they take them all up to the temple at the foot of the mountain, bash them against each other, drink way too much sake, and set everything on fire. The festival was originally meant as a prayer to the Gods that the planting season they were about to undertake would lead to a rich and bountiful harvest. With copious amounts of alcohol, crossdressing, heavy objects, fire, fights, and festival food, the festival is always pure mayhem and delight. If you’re ever in Japan in mid-march, do not miss this.
Finally, I asked myself:
In what way has your life mirrored the Pistons season in 2015?
I have a story that might only be interesting to me, but bear with me (or press the x button in the top right corner of your screen now)... Do you remember how the Portland Trailblazers were unmercifully crushing the Pistons until Reggie Jackson went all badass and dominated the 4th quarter, leading Detroit to a mighty conquest? This holiday season, I did the EXACT SAME EFFING THING TO PORTLAND! I was down for the count, and then BOOM! Back I came with a vengeance.
Backstory: Every now and then, I like to do package exchanges with friends in the States. My wife and I have a list of things we crave, mainly from Trader Joe’s (did you know they have a bacon chocolate bar?) and in return, we send things back to friends who have either never been to Japan or lived here before and miss the stuff here. Well, this time around, my friend from Portland was up. BUT! as fate would have it, when she sent me her address, she made a typo on the last digit of the zip code. So I wrote that on the box and sent it off to Portland.
Track-a-Package aaannnnnd...Oh, Shiznat! They’re sending it back to Japan as undeliverable? How you gonna waste my $70 shipping fee, Portland? Just like the Detroit Pistons dug their own grave with their mistakes in the first 3 quarters, the zip code appeared to be my undoing. Still, that’s not fair, right? I mean the rest of the address is 100% correct. I type it in and Whoomp! There it is on Google Maps! I can see the house, I can get driving directions from the post office to the house. Yet the Portland Post Office isn’t even going to take 10 seconds to check to see if that exact same address exists in their city?
3rd quarter: I’m down, but I’m knocking on the door. Call customer service? Nope. They say it’s my fault. E-mail customer service? Same thing. BUT! A-HA! They’ve left an opening by giving me the phone number of the Portland Post Office customer service.
I call that number and immediately get put on the defensive. But just like Reggie and Andre prepared for this season by fighting in the gym, I prepared for my date with destiny by writing down every single injustice that occurred to me in script form in Microsoft Word. So once they said their peace, I went full-on Reggie Jackson on them. 3-pointers, slash down the lane, drawing fouls, they don’t know what hit them. By the end of the hour-long conversation, they were drafting the apology letter to send to the Japanese post office asking them to send the package back at no additional cost. The Japanese postal service and their continuously stellar service complied and VICTORY WAS MINE! After stumbling out of the gate, I came roaring back to dominate Portland.
So remember, folks, you may be down, but you’re not out. When things aren’t going your way, turn things around like Reggie Jackson! You’ve got that Piston-blood flowing through your veins and coagulating when needed. DO IT!
I’m now 2 hours into 2016 and SPOILER ALERT: IT’S AN AMAZING YEAR!
Yappy New Hear!