Friday, June 20, 2014

ANOTHER SCENE 6 - THE STICK

Another Scene 6
The Stick

     
     Just south of the red brick apartment building past a few other very generic Los Angeles apartment buildings there was a grocery store which changed owners every few years, but the employees were always the same, and the produce was excellent.  Outside it said “Carniceria” and most of the advertisements were in Spanish.  Everyone just called it the Rancho market.  Only the hipper residents of the street actually admitted to shopping there.  Most everyone else still shopped there occasionally, they just didn’t admit to it.
            Leonard shuffled down the main aisle of the market, back towards the meat counter, which was already closed.  In the front of the store his sister Leticia was chatting with the cashier in Spanglish, that curious mix of Spanish and English that quite a few Latinos spoke more fluently than they spoke either of it’s parent languages.  He grabbed a can of Corned Beef Hash, the kind with the maroon label.  Brought it up to the counter and reached into the bollillo bin and out two in a bag.  He put it down on the register next to his sister’s items.
            “This’ll do for tonight.”  He told his sister.  “I’m not too hungry.”  She looked down at his pitiful addition to the counter. 
            “You gotta eat more Leo.   I’ll cook you something.”
            “Nah, don’t worry.  I’m fine. Mikey’s coming to pick me up anyway.”
            “Why’d you come with me then?” He didn’t have an immediate answer.  He just shrugged his shoulders and shuffled out the door pausing by the kiddie-toy vending machines to buy a gumball for a quarter.  Lettie met him outside the market and walked back to the apartment building with him.
            “I don’t understand you Leo.” She started in on him again.
            “What’s not to understand Lettie?  I’m pretty simple you know, day in and day out, it’s the same old shit.  You got a smoke for me?”  She fished in her purse and pulled out a half crumpled pack of Newports.  She drew the last two out and began the ritual of lighting them both.
            “You’re so fucking smart mi hermano.  You could be so much better than this.”  She waved her hands up and down indicating that she was referring to his entire existence.  They reached the front of their building.
“It all comes back to Tennessee Williams.”  He said cryptically.
“What the fuck does that mean?”  She took a drag off her menthol.  Before he could answer Michael pulled up and honked the horn of ’73 Maroon Gran Torino.  It was the same make and model as the car Starskey and Hutch drove only a couple of years early. 
“Later Hermana.”  Leo said as he opened the door and sat down.  “Don’t wait up.  Hey Mikey what’s happening?”  She could hear him say while they drove off into the dusky twilight.


            “Looked like you were getting into it with your sis.  She bugging you again bro?”  Mike asked after a few minutes.  Leo took the last drag of his smoke and stubbed it out in the overflowing ashtray.  He coughed twice and spit the result out the window.
“Yeah, same old shit man.  She doesn’t understand me.”
“Do you understand you?”

“Fuck you.  Where we goin?”
“You wanna throw some darts or play pool?”
“I dunno you want somewhere that has both?”
“Yeah.  Whattya think?”
“The Red-Head Lounge in Culver City.  Next to the toy store, they got three tables and a couple of dart boards.”
“Let’s go see a red-headed woman then.”

The Stones were playing on the jukebox, Mick wailing on about not being a Beast of Burden.  The bar was a dive.  It was Seven o’clock in the evening and only a couple of barflies were to be seen.  Despite the name of the place, the bartender was a brunette in her late fifties with a beehive that hadn’t been in style for at least 30 years.  Her uniform top said "Beatrice" but that wasn't her given name.  She pulled a drag on her Winston and greeted Leo and Mikey.
“What can I get you boys?”
“Whatcha got on tap?”  Leo elbowed Mike.
“Dude, don’t be a beer snob.  Two Cuba Libres please.”  He took off his glasses and cleaned them on his t-shirt. 
            “You wanna throw or shoot stick?” Mike motioned to the pair of empty pool tables then to the dartboard.  The bar had a real Bristol board, unlike most dives that had the electronic darts with the safety plastic tips. They wouldn’t have wasted money on one of those machines anyway; they felt like they had some standards. 
            Leo didn’t reply as the bartender who was mixing their drinks entranced him.  It wasn't that a Cuba Libre was all that difficult, it was Rum and Coke and a lime.  She wasn't taking her time either, but she was giving Leo a bit of a show.
            “Leo, whatchoo wanna play man?” 
            “Hunh?  I don’t care man.  Whatever.” 
            “Five bucks boys.”  She said as she presented the two glasses.  Leo proffered a crumbled up ten that he conjured from somewhere on his person. 
            “Keep the change.”  He creaked.           
“Thanks sugah.” She smiled broadly at him.  Leo stepped lightly over to the pool table with a drink in each hand.  Mike had already picked out two cue-sticks and exchanged one for his beverage. 
“Rack ‘em son.”  Mike said with a draw.  He had lined up several quarters on the edge of the table.  Leo picked up two of them and slotted them into the level, then pushed it in releasing the balls from within the table.  Leo had loved the sound of the spheres rolling down the chutes towards the ball return ever since he was a little boy and was allowed to play with the pool table in his Great-Uncles game room.  
He pulled out the triangle rack and spun it with a flourish then set it gently on the table.  After he filled it the rack with the balls he quickly rearranged them so that the one-ball was at the top of the pyramid, the eight ball was in the center and the other balls were neatly patterned stripes and solids intermixed.  He removed the rack with the same twirl and slammed it back into its slot in the end of the table. 
“Maestro, if you please, the break.”  He gestured broadly imitating a great showman.  
“What’s with the act Leo?”  Mike said before he shattered the rack with a thundering boom of a break, a break that sank exactly zero balls and simply pushed the balls in chaotic mess across the table.
Leo mused as he chalked the end of his cue-stick and eyed his shot.  He just smiled.  Then he sank the two ball in the side pocket.  He re-chalked the cue as he stood over the table confidently.  Reaching over to take a sip of his drink he paused. 
“Ahh,” he said after his slurp, “that was a great break there Mike.  Left me perfect for a nice long run.”  He looked over to the bartender who he had noticed was watching their game.  He thought he saw a sparkle in her eye and that emboldened him further.  “Four in the corner.”  He pointed with his stick and struck the cue ball perfectly, which pushed the purple ball slowly to the corner where it dropped softly.  Leo swung around the table and lined up the six, which was now in a "can’t miss" position.
“I got this one too.”  Leo said with a little bit of arrogance, though sink it he did.  He sunk the next three as well leaving him with just the five and the eight.  “You’re gonna owe me another drink.”  He boasted.  The standing bet was whenever either of them ran the table; the other had to buy the next round.  “Make it a couple of Long Islands,” he hollered over to the bartender, and then he sank the orange ball.  Seconds later he potted the eight and snapped his fingers. 
“Just like that buddy, rack ‘em.  Sometimes life is streaky.  One minute you’re eating corned beef hash on shitty bread, the next you’re drinking Long Islands next to a pretty lady.”  He said that last part as he accepted the highball glass from the woman whose hair had definitely added four inches to her height.  She’d come out from the bar to serve their drinks because she was bored.
“Name’s Millie.”  She said.
“Leonard Jesus Velazquez at your service my dear.”  He actually bowed and kissed her hand.
Mike rolled his eyes as he whipped out a twenty from his wallet.  He paid Millie and smiled at her.  It’s going to be a long night, he thought to himself.




Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Daily WiLL - Thursday June whatever, 2014

I have no idea what day it is.  It's Thursday.  That much I know.

June 10, 1987 my father Gene David Noetling passed away.  That date really sucks for me.  I've had a lot of weird and bad things happen since then on June 10.

On the first anniversary in 1988 it was Prom Night.  I didn't go because my Father's best friend Don DeLlamas  was having an art gallery opening that night, and I guess it was more important to me to spend time with his friends and my family, who all attended.  I recall drinking quite heavily, yes I was only 17, but hey champagne and wine you know.  Then I attended the After-Prom on a boat in San Diego Bay, which I don't remember at all.

In 2003 I almost got into a fist-fight with my colleague at work and subsequently quit that job on the spot.  It wasn't a really exciting job to begin with, and I had pretty much had it with them anyway.  The particulars aren't very interesting either.

This year we were camping by the ocean up at El Capitan State Beach.  It was awesome.  They call that campground "glamping" as in glamour camping.  I don't think it's all that, but it's pretty darn nice.

My Dad's been gone now for 27 years.  That number is really starting to hit home as there are fewer and fewer people alive who knew him.  It's only going to get worse too.  Perhaps it's time I started working on my own legacy, though I think I have somewhat of a larger footprint than he did, that's merely because I'm older now than he ever was, but three years.  Or maybe not.  Bah

`=1=`

We went to the LA Kings Rally and Parade on Monday for their second Stanley Cup win.  It's incredible that the team I've been following for a long time has finally broken through and is the dominant force in the NHL at the moment.  Who knows how long that will last?  However long it is, I'm in for the long haul.

`=2=`

Looking for a job.  Need to make some dough.  That sort of thing.

Starting to ramble.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Daily WiLL - Tuesday, June 17 2014 - Stanley Cup Edition

Me and Melissa and the Stanley Cup
I recall watching Hockey for the first time really in the late 70's and early 80's, mostly on the USA Network and ESPN as their fledgling cable channels started to reach national status.  Back then the New York Islanders were in the midst of winning four straight Stanley Cups, and suddenly names like Dennis Potvin, Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, Bob Nystrom and Billy Smith entered my favorite players lists.  Hockey cards started showing up in my bedroom.  After the Oilers supplanted the Isles as the decade's most dominant team other sports were more important, after all, this was the 80's and my hometown San Diego Padres were tearing up their leagues.  This was also the era of Dan Fouts and Air Coryell, so Hockey wasn't really tops on my radar, until the Kings managed to make the greatest trade in NHL history to get Wayne Gretzky in 1988.

More Hockey cards flowed into my bedroom.  The Kings supplanted the Isles as my all-time favorite, and as I'm wont to do, when I latch onto something I go whole-heartedly.  I always maintained that I LIKED the Kings prior to 1988, and that's the truth.  I remember watching the Triple-Crown line, and Rogie Vachon.  I remember the Miracle on Manchester.  And I'd been to a game or two at the Forum.

During the magical 1993 cup-run I was a die-hard fan, attending watch-parties at local bars and dreaming of that elusive Stanley Cup victory.  An intense loathing of the Montreal Canadiens was born the night that Jacques Demers called out Marty McSorley's stick.  Was it illegal?  That's not the point, the point was Demers pulled a classless, desperation move and it paid off.  Enough ink has been spilled about that night, so I'll move on, but I'll never forget or forgive the Canadiens.  IN fact, I think that they've been cursed by the Hockey Gods for that bad sportsmanship, I mean they haven't even come close to Lord Stanley's Mug since.

Then it was the Dark Times, the post-final appearance honeymoon didn't last.   Instead of being able to build momentum from their playoff run, the Kings were locked-out by owners, and there wasn't an 1994-1995 NHL season until January of that year and it was only 48 games long.  The Kings missed the playoffs for the first time in 8 seasons, and would continue to miss the post-season for another four seasons.  By the time the Kings would have another multiple year run in the playoffs they'd be in a new building and Gretzky would be long gone.

So sure, they made the post-season with core players like Ziggy Palffy, Luc Robitaille (on his second of three stints with the Kings), Adam Deadmarsh and goalies-by-committee Stephane Fiset, Felix Potvin and Jaime Storr.  But they only made it out of the first round once in three years.  The Kings drafted Dustin Brown with the #13 pick in the 2003 draft, and he was the first stepping stone on the road to the Stanley Cup.

Despite adding proven vets like Jeremy Roenick, Jason Allison and budding young stars like Mike Cammaller and Alexander Frolov the Kings would continue to falter through the 2000's, but bad seasons gave the Kings great draft picks.  In the '05 draft the Kings grabbed Anze Kopitar with the 11th pick and Jonathan Quick with the 72nd pick.

In 2006 the Kings drafted Trevor Lewis with the 17th pick after Jonathan Bernier with the #11 pick.  '07 brought Alex Martinez and Dwight King in the fourth round.  In '08 the Kings used the 2nd pick in the draft to take Drew Doughty, and with this core of young players and some key trades including Jarrett Stoll in 08 and Justin Williams in 09 they finally broke through and made the playoffs again in 09-10 and 10-11 but lost in the first round both times, winning a total of 4 post-season games over two seasons.

Of course the playoff run in 2012 would be unprecedented on so many levels.  A team firing a coach midseason has won the cup before, that's not so rare actually.  What was rare is that the Kings were the #8 seed ending the season with 95 points, 5 points more than the #9 seed.  Up to that point #8 seeds had rarely beaten the #1 seed, but it had happened, and the Kings would do just that to the poor Canuckleheads by taking a 3-0 lead in the series with a +5 goal differential.  3-0 would be a theme for the Kings.  They took 3-0 leads on ALL of their post-season opponents in 2012, including the #2 seed St. Louis Blues and the #3 seed Phoenix Coyotes.  Those 2012 Kings were magic in the post-season.  That gaudy 16-4 record in the playoffs won't be seen again any time soon.  Jonathan Quick earned his Conn Smythe with a 1.41 GAA and a .946 Save percentage.  He gave up only 29 goals in 20 games.

Once again the NHL wouldn't play right away after a Kings Stanley Cup Final appearance.  Just like in 1994, there was a lockout in 2012 and the season was shorted to 48 games, just as before.  At least they didn't lose the entire season and playoffs as in 2004-2005.  The Kings still had a great season, coming in second in the Pacific and making it to the Western Conference Finals for the second straight season and third time in history before losing to the eventual SC Champion Blackhawks.

Enjoy the rest of the pics from the 2002 All Star Fan Fest













Monday, June 9, 2014

The Daily WiLL - June 9, 2014 - Bad Broadway Musicals from Movies

My former English Professor Joe Dimuro questioned why they made a Broadway Musical out of the 1976 film "Rocky" - I responded "because like Hollywood, Broadway has run out of original ideas and thus will make a musical out of anything."

To that end, here are some upcoming musicals you can expect to see in New York soon:


#badbroadwaymusicalsfrommovies

Miracle - The Story of the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team - Featured Song: We're Going to Lake Placid

On The Waterfront The Musical - Featuring the lyrics: "I Coulda been a contender/He coulda been a contender...but he was a NOBODY...Nobody..."

To Kill a Mockingbird The Musical

Schindler's List - The Musical - "The List, The List, it's SCHINDLER's LIST"

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

America's Cup 35 Protocol Established

I am unabashedly a fan of America's Cup racing.  In general I love sailing and the ocean and I enjoy every single moment I get on the water.  IN hindsight I probably should have joined the Navy.  In any case, being able to be in San Francisco for some of the festivities of the last America's Cup in July of last year was an amazing experience, though it wasn't my first with the AC.

Set the wayback machine to 1992 and the location device to San Diego.  Twenty-one year old William Noetling was working at the Dana Inn and Marina and we were lucky enough to play host to the French media covering Le Defi France the Marc Pajot led team from the Union Nationale pour la Course au Large Yacht Club.  Prior to this I had paid attention to the Cup, it was pretty hard to ignore in San Diego as Dennis Conner was representing our city's yacht club and had been the Cup Defender for the previous defense, the 1988 "Catamaran" Challenge.  I really caught the bug being so close to the action.  I watched it every day on ESPN, followed the articles in the Los Angeles Times which had a special "San Diego" local and sports sections during that time period, and even put together a daily newsletter for the hotel guests as to the various goings on during the Cup Qualifying and Louis Vuitton Cup races.

Let's flash forward to the 2010 Cup, the 33rd Regatta in Valencia Spain.  The Challenger, Team Oracle owned by Larry Ellison defeated the Swiss Defenders Alinghi in a deed of gift match (which means it was basically two races and done).  Once Oracle took hold of the Cup that meant the next challenge would be held in San Francisco, and once we got the dates we decided on taking a family vacation to the Bay Area during the finals.  We didn't get a chance to actually see the races, but as you may know I followed them quite closely.  It was still great to peruse the venue, check out the gift stores and what not.

So all of that leads to this:  The protocol for the 35th America's Cup has been released.  It's actually pretty standard stuff, the legal mumbo-jumbo is all online as well if you want to be bored.  The exciting thing is that the boats used for AC35 will be called AC62 Class, basically 62 feet long, and slightly shorter fixed wings.  It's going to be awesome.

Now we just need to know where it's going to be held.



Monday, June 2, 2014

The Daily WiLL - Monday - June 2, 2014

My voice is still a bit hoarse from screaming so much yesterday.  The Kings are going back to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second time in three years.

Other than that I don't have much to say currently.  Not here.  I have a post brewing for The Budget Collector