Sunday, May 25, 2014

May's Musical Musings

Four words, out of the 12 total words in the whole song.  But man do those four words stick in your head.  I first heard this song at the UFC event I attended here in Cincinnati, played between fights over the incredible U.S. Bank Arena sound system.  I leaned over to my friend Chris and asked "What is he saying in this song?"  He had to repeat it several times before I understood it.  Then I noted it in my cell phone so I could look it up to download when I got home.

The video for it is partially obscene and partially hilarious.  You absolutely MUST listen to this song with a system that has good bass, otherwise it just doesn't do it justice.  I had to look up the lyrics though, to understand what the heck Lil Jon is singing/rapping about.  You can read the complete lyrics here, but the 12 total words consist of:

Fire up that loud
Another round of shots...
Turn down for what?

"Fire up that loud" means to light a joint.
The meaning of "Another round of shots" is pretty obvious.
And "turn down for what" means this.

It's a great song musically (man is that beat catchy), but the lyrics basically mean to get drunk and high, and let absolutely nothing stop you from continuing to do so.  From a Christian (or even responsible adult) perspective, I wrestle with whether to turn it up and just enjoy it (just party music at its finest, and therefore OK to listen to?), or to avoid it because it's morally corrupt garbage?  My tendency is to crank it up, but not without at least a little deliberation/hesitation.

UFC fighter Chris Cariaso walked out to the ring to this song.  It had hard hitting bass and a catchy hypnotic rhythm.  The chorus sounded like it could be a Christian song, but it was hard to tell in the short duration that it played during his walkout.  When I looked it up and downloaded it, I was surprised to learn that it was DMX who wrote it.  Not only that, but the lytics quite accurately captured the spiritual walk, struggles, and theology of Christianity.  Now this is music I can crank up without question - a sound I can fully enjoy and lyrics I can fully appreciate.

I can't help but think this song is catchy and sexy.  It's also a bit ironic though, if you think about the lyrics.  Here is the chorus:
So you wanna play with magic
Boy, you should know what you're falling for
Baby do you dare to do this?
Cause I’m coming at you like a dark horse
Are you ready for, ready for
A perfect storm, perfect storm
Cause once you’re mine, once you’re mine
There’s no going back

Wait a minute though, isn't Katy Perry in an unofficial competition with Taylor Swift for the largest number of guys dated or in a serious relationship with?  So how does the whole "once you're mine there's no going back" statement work?  Was she just expressing wishful thinking, or maybe threatening the next guy who ponders leaving her with drastic action if he should become the next on the list?  Either way it seems ironic to me.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Fight Fan's Fulfillment

I've been a fan of mixed martial arts for over 20 years.  Ever since my friend and then-roommate Giovanni and I discovered the early Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) videos at a VHS rental store.  Whenever we noticed a new release we would rent it and gorge on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (2 at a time) while watching.

Since those days I've had trusty UFC viewing partners in every place that I lived.  After Giovanni moved away it was Rob Hughes and/or Andrew Hass.  In Sacramento it was Mike O'Brien.  Now, here in Cincinnati it's Chris Waklatsi.  But through all this time of being a fan and enjoying the events I've never actually attended a live UFC production, until now.

When I learned that the UFC was coming to Cincinnati for a "Fight Night", I marked the date on my calendar that the tickets would be available.  The first day I could purchase them I reserved pretty decent seats, along with Chris and another co-worker.
When the night finally arrive, the other co-worker (not Chris) had a stomach bug of some sort and had to cancel his attendance.  Chris and I both tried to find someone to fill his seat, but had no luck with it being so last minute.

Chris and I were originally supposed to meet at a bar called The Yard House at 7pm, but parking downtown was scarce due to (according to one of the parking lot attendants) four events going on at the same time that night.  I don't know what the other two were, but in addition to the UFC there were plenty of fans walking around headed to Reds' baseball game.  So after 20 frustrating minutes of driving around the city in circles I finally found parking and texted Chris to let him know I'd be late.  I was equally relieved and annoyed when he responded that he was just then leaving his house, especially since my cell phone battery was rapidly depleting (the display was yellow).

So with a sigh I walked to The Yard House and sat down to have a beer.  The bartender mentioned a local IPA called PsycHOPathy, so I gave it a try.  It was an excellent tasting brew.  So there I sat, at the corner of the bar, in my "Jesus Didn't Tap" t-shirt.  After finishing my beer I walked outside and stood by the door waiting for Chris.  While it was kind of a bummer that I had to wait an hour and a half for my friend to arrive, it was also kind of nice to just hang out, people watch, and to unexpectedly be a human billboard for Jesus.
After Chris arrived we made it to the U.S. Bank Arena sometime after 9pm, but the preliminary bouts were proceeding until 10pm, so I didn't mind getting there a little later than originally planned.  As we made our way to the seats I realized that our view was pretty freaking good.  We were right on the aisle seats, just one section away from being directly in front of the octagon and in the first section up from the floor.  the picture above was taken right from my seat.

This event was a "UFC Fight Night", so the caliber and name recognition of the fighters wasn't as high as a pay-per-view event.  The arena was far from full too, with the entire upper section being empty and a surprising number of seats in the lower section still vacant too.  I had to wonder if the attendance was smaller because it was only a "Fight Night", or if the UFC didn't make this a pay-per-view event because Cincinnati doesn't typically have the high attendance that would make it worth using their higher quality fighters.

Either way, I was still giddy to be there.  It was interesting to see the production aspect of the event - the fighters walking out through the crowd, the camera men standing around the cage, the press sitting ringside, and familiar faces walking around like Bruce Buffer, Herb Dean, and Dana White.  It was exciting to hear the booming walkout music, Bruce Buffer's voice, and the smacking of leather gloves on skin.  The main event was a phenomenal fight too, with Matt Brown (who fights right here out of Cincinnati) decisively winning it.

This was only the 2nd time that the UFC has been to Cincinnati, with the first time being back in 2007 for UFC 77.  If/when they come back for a 3rd event though, then I will definitely plan on attending it live again.  As a long-time MMA and UFC fan, to me it's money and time well spent.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Bruises, Bumps, and Basketball

I played basketball during lunch today, for the 2nd time in 10 days.  I like to play a pretty physical game too - not dirty (throwing elbows or fouling excessively), but I'm just not afraid to battle for the rebound, attempt to block a shot, or stand in the way of a drive.  Unfortunately, my shot still needs a lot of work though.

The last time I played I jammed my left ring finger.  It wasn't disgustingly swollen, but didn't seem to be healing very quickly either.  I think it's because my wedding ring is on the finger, and it's irritating the swelling by constricting it.  I tried to take it off (I normally leave it on 24/7), but no matter what I tried - soap, hand lotion, my swollen knuckle was too big for it to slip over.  So on it stays.

Although my knuckle wasn't fully healed yet, I decided to play again today.  As expected, I smacked my swollen finger numerous times during the games (I played for 2 total).  In addition to that though, I backed into someone who was running and their knee nailed my calf, bruising it pretty good.  I also got smacked or elbowed in the outside lower corner of my right eye, creating a bruise there.  And finally, I stood in the path of a big guy who liked to power his way under the basket and took what I think was one of his elbows to my nose as a consequence, which cut it (slightly visible in the above picture).  It was bleeding a decent amount, which necessitated someone else to substitute in for me on the last play of the game (I was willing to play, but no one wanted my blood all over them or the court).  At least I got a "good defense" comment out of the guy whose drive I blocked though.

As the icing on the cake of injuries, a couple of weeks ago I dropped a weight bench on my right big toe at the gym.  So now I have a blackened toenail too.  But here's the thing - I don't mind any of it.  Not one bit.  As long as the injuries can heal without any permanent damage, I would rather live a life with bumps, bruises, and cuts if that's the necessary consequence for being active and physical, for playing sports with determined aggression, and for feeling fit and manly.
counter stats