Tag Archives: serena williams

Lame Adventure 386: US Open Tennis TV Watching Strategy

In July, my thieving cable provider, Time Warner, increased the price of my service $4, raising the monthly cost to $109 including taxes and fees. This was for digital TV with no premium channels and “lite” Internet i.e., Internet so cheap and slow it could easily be mistaken for dial up’s Tai Chi practicing spawn following hip replacement surgery. That $109 tab brought me to my breaking point with these professional swindlers. I canceled my TV service, returned both the cable box and leased modem, and purchased my own modem to cease paying the Time Warner leasing fee ‑— which increased this month from $3.95 to $5.99. Next, I spent $9.04 to upgrade my Internet to Standard grade. My TV is a pre-digital era set, rendering it obsolete, so until I figure out a way to unload it, it is now an 86-pound paperweight. I signed up for Aereo, a streaming TV service where I can watch all the major broadcast networks on my computer to the tune of $8 a month. Now I spend less than $45 including taxes and fees for both Internet and TV. The $64 in savings will be applied toward my upcoming $54 rent increase October 1, so until then, I will party hard with this extra ten dollars in my pocket.  Maybe apply it toward something whimsical like a curling stone.

I seldom watch TV so I cannot say I miss it. At the moment, my most pressing TV programming concern has been accessing US Open Tennis. By upgrading my Internet, I am streaming the entire event for free via USTA.org. Sweet! Over the Labor Day weekend, I streamed CBS’s coverage via Aereo. I felt so thrilled with my cost-effective decisions, I did a happy dance, but I immediately twisted an ankle when I got images like this.

All you can watch buffering here.

All you can watch buffering.

The buffering went on so long that I completely missed the rest of that tiebreaker. So, I had a brainstorm. While watching a match on my computer via CBS, I would simultaneously stream it on my iPhone via the app for USTA!

Desperate times calling for desperate measures.

Desperate times calling for desperate measures.

Pure genius, if only my eyes could swivel like Marty Feldman’s.

Ironically, whenever a TV commercial played on CBS, there would not be any buffering at all.

Happy Hump Day from Geico.

Happy Hump Day from Geico.

I called Time Warner to investigate if my Internet upgrade was working properly.

Me: Or is Standard service supposed to work like a geriatric hamster drawing its final breaths?

Time Warner: It looks like your Internet is a bit problematic. We’re putting a 24-hour watch on it.

I wondered:

Me: Like a dying hamster deathwatch?

I asked:

Me: What exactly does that mean?

Time Warner: Every five minutes over the course of the next 24 hours, we’re going to monitor it. You can also run a speed test yourself.

I did that, too. Pictured here is my result.

Huh?

Huh?

I have no idea what this test is supposed to be telling me, but it streamed well.

Much of Monday’s day session got rained out.  During the rain delay my streaming was perfect. Both picture and sound were clear as a bell.

Streaming pride or the middle finger of streams?

Streaming pride or the middle finger of streams?

To take my mind off my combined Internet frustration and tennis accessing anxiety, my pal, Coco, texted me after walking past the Chobani Greek-style yogurt store in lower Manhattan.

Add this to the bulging file of useless factoids.

Add this to the bulging file of useless factoids.

When play resumed, my streaming also resumed hanging. It has occurred to me that the problem with my Internet could be that the USTA site is  globally accessible, so I am competing for my drip of stream with the entire world. I am already anticipating that when I try to stream the finals over the weekend, I will be subject to more hanging, crashing and rebooting. It seems that I just can’t win. But I suppose my pain could be worse; I could find myself subject to a lightening fast return serve from Serena Williams aimed straight at my person — as she did to Sloane Steven. Broadcaster Al Trautwig called Serena, “The Lamborghini of women’s tennis.” Speed test her, Time Warner.

Serena delivering a pain in the ego.

Serena delivering a direct hit at Sloane.

Lame Adventure 228: Blowhards and Underdogs

As much of the nation, or at least the nation’s media, focused on the ten-year anniversary of 9/11,  I primarily focused my weekend TV-watching on US Open Tennis played here in New York City, specifically Flushing Meadows, Queens.  The women’s final between three-time US Open champion, Serena Williams and Samantha Stosur, the 27-year-old underdog from Australia who had yet to win a women’s singles Grand Slam tournament (as opposed to Serena’s thirteen singles titles), was played Sunday afternoon.

I like both players very much.

Serena, who turns 30 in a few weeks, and was ranked a very deceiving 28, has made a remarkable comeback from a lacerated foot injury suffered in June 2010, and this past February she was hospitalized with a very scary sounding blood clot in her lung.  Couple her physical ills with her sister, Venus, having to withdraw from this tournament after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, Sjögren’s syndrome, Serena won a double dose of sympathy points from me by default.  Yet, my close pal, Milton, who is still in a recovery of his own from Novak Djokovic defeating Roger Federer in a heartbreaking men’s five set semi-final has loathed Serena for years.  What he loathes most is her personality.  He thinks she’s a jerk and it infuriates him when people assume that Venus, who is always gracious, is the same way.  When Serena last won the Open in 2008, as she was exuberantly jumping up and down, Milton called.

Thrill of victory Serena-style on September 7, 2008.

Milton:  My TV’s shaking.

The following year, 2009, during the second set of the Open’s women’s semi-final against Kim Clijsters, Serena displayed one of her notorious fits of bad temper.  She was already down a set, and the second set score was 5-6.  Serena was serving to stay in the match at 15-30.  Then, the lineswoman called her on a foot fault twice and the score was now 15-40; Clijsters had two match points.  Enraged, Serena profanely threatened to shove a tennis ball down that lineswoman’s throat.

Serena not making nice at line judge in 2009

This display of ugly antics awarded me another Milton phone call.

Milton:  Do you believe this?  She deserves to lose!

Just as he said that, she was smacked with a one-point penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.  The victory went to a baffled Clijsters.

Fast forward to the present.  Throughout the entire 2011 US Open Serena has been the model of poise and power dominating opponent after opponent.  She had not dropped a set in her entire comeback run leading to the final.  Prior to the start of the match, Serena the Magnanimous announced that she was playing for her country in honor of 9/11.

I had been feeling neutral over who should win.  I’ve always had a soft (or maybe it’s a wet) spot for scrappy underdog Stosur, who has a powerful serve and a wicked forehand.  Her matches, all brilliantly played (including a riveting 32-point tiebreaker against Maria Kirilenko), received second billing.  None of her matches leading to the final rated network TV coverage. Only snippets of her semi-final were broadcast live since her match conflicted with the men’s semi-final where Rafael Nadal defeated Andy Murray.

Milton can recognize Stosur’s athleticism but he has issues with her highly toned arms; arms that make me drool.

Female Thor.

Milton insists that they look like a man’s.

Milton:  They make Rafa’s look wimpy.

Wimpy? Really?

When it came down to Serena playing Sam in the women’s final, the pressure was on heavily favored Serena to win her 14th title.  Since she was vocal about playing for her country on this historic date, the fans were fully on her side to make mincemeat out of the Aussie.  Even I, a rare American Stosur fan, assumed that Stosur’s luck was about to run out, so I was rooting more for my country(wo)man due to the symbolism of this day in history.  Then, the match got underway …

Serena served first and won her game, Stosur did the same during her serve, but then when it was Serena’s serve again, the unthinkable began, Stosur broke her.  When the score was 4-2, Stosur broke her again, and then she served for the first set, a set she won impressively at 6-2 in 31 minutes.  I thought:

Me (thinking):  Holy crap!

Stosur had all the momentum, but when Serena was facing break point on her serve in the first game of the second set, she flubbed.  She hit an obvious forehand winner but made the relatively innocent mistake of shouting at the ball, “Come on!”  Everyone knew why she had shouted at the ball.  She’s an aggressive competitor and was feeling frustrated with her game, which was sluggish.  I felt bad for Stosur was actually making mincemeat out of her.  Yet, according to an arcane rule, a player is not supposed to scream before the opponent makes contact with the ball.  The chair umpire, Eva Asderaki, correctly called the error on Serena and that gave Stosur both the point and the break.

Serena detonated.

Steamed Serena.

She berated Asderaki, and the crowd booed in her favor, rattling Stosur.  During the changeover, fuming Serena continued her tirade against Asderaki:

Serena: If you ever see me walking down the hall, look the other way,

[Serena confused Asderaki with another chair umpire she locked horns with over a controversial call back in 2004.]

Serena:  Because you’re out of control, you’re out of control.  You’re not only out of control, you’re a hater, and you’re just unattractive inside.  Who would do such a thing?  And I never complain!  Wow.

My full allegiance instantly shifted to Stosur as soon as Serena declared, “And I never complain!”  I am sure that gaining my positive vibes was all Sam needed to regain her focus and convincingly defeat Serena in two sets 6-2, 6-3.

Samantha Stosur's thrill of victory moment.

After her loss, in another display of no class, Serena refused to shake Asderaki’s hand.

Milton did not call, a sign that he resisted tuning in.  I considered calling him, but I thought better of it not wanting to raise his blood pressure.  If Serena was truly intent on being a sports hero and honoring her country with a victory on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, she should have suppressed her inner jerk, shut her pie-hole and played her guts out.

Lame Adventure 94: Foot-faulting Through Life

Once again, a foot-fault call at US Open tennis was in the spotlight when ninth seed Andy Roddick blew a gasket at a line judge for (correctly) calling this error on him during his loss Wednesday night to his Serbian opponent, Janko Tipsarevic.

Andy Roddick not asking, "What time is it?"

When the line judge explained her call to Roddick, she suffered an ill-timed brain-freeze and mistakenly said it was his right foot, when she meant to say it was his left.  Therefore, he detonated, but his outburst was Sesame Street worthy when compared to the $82,500 fine-incurring profane meltdown that Serena Williams exhibited at last year’s Open.  The New York Times recounted Serena’s outburst of hysteric proportion as follows:

“[Roddick’s] tempest was nothing compared with the most remembered match of the 2009 Open, between the powerful Serena Williams and a diminutive Japanese woman named Shino Tsurubuchi. After Tsurubuchi called Williams for a second-service foot fault, landing her a point from defeat in the women’s final against Kim Clijsters, Williams angrily confronted Tsurubuchi at her post outside the lines, threatening to asphyxiate her with the aid of the ball in her hand.”

Translation: Williams said, while clutching a tennis ball for emphasis, “I am going to shove this fucking ball down your fucking throat.”

Composed Serena three days after outburst at book signing on 9/15/09 where no one had the guts to joke, "Foot-fault."

Tsurubuchi was not the line judge that incurred Roddick’s wrath.  Roddick’s loss sent him packing with his stunning Sports Illustrated swimsuit model wife, Brooklyn Decker, calling to mind the Fur Fish and Game assistant document shredder, Staten Island Plotnick, that I dated some years back, proving the new adage that we mate (or date) what we rate.

Mrs. Roddick

US Open Tennis and Wimbledon are my two favorite sporting events, but I do follow the other Grand Slam tennis tournaments as well, the Opens in Australia and France.  Even though her personality is deficient, I admire Serena’s athleticism, but as a human being, I prefer her sister, Venus, approximately one million times more.  I would love to see Venus, at age 30, win this year’s women’s singles final.  The fact that Serena withdrew claiming a suspicious foot injury increases Venus’s chances of capturing this top prize once again.

Ironically, the highest paid female athlete today is not the top seed, Serena, but number fourteen, Maria Sharapova.  In January she signed an eight-year contract with Nike worth $70 million.  Milton and I find this mind-blowing since she last won a Grand Slam in 2008.  Serena’s won five Grand Slam titles in the last two years.  Unlike Serena, Sharapova has a winning personality, and coincidentally, she looks like a model.  Sharapova easily won her match Thursday against Iveta Benesova.  If Sharapova reaches the finals against Venus, that would be exciting.  Neither of them has won a Grand Slam since 2008.

Without Serena playing, the women’s draw overall is much less exciting this year, but even without Roddick, the men’s draw remains very competitive.  The final I would love to see is Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal.  They have played each other 21 times, but never at the US Open, the only Grand Slam tournament Nadal has yet to win.  If this match happens, my allegiance will be with Rafa, but if Federer wins, and it is not because of a foot-fault call, I will be okay with it since I like him very much, too.

About Federer … what to make of this video?  Did he really knock the can off this guy’s head twice?  He will not confirm or deny it.  Hm.

Shoes are also news in the US Open.  Federer is wearing ones decorated with the New York skyline, which I much prefer over the pompous Federer crest blazer he wore in 2006 at Wimbledon.

Federer's New York State of mind tennis shoes.

Last year, the teenage upstart from Marietta, Georgia, Melanie Oudin, got very lucky when she somehow managed to beat three far superior players, including Sharapova, while wearing shoes inscribed “Believe,” until Caroline Wozniacki, wearing shoes invisibly inscribed, “Reality bites,” knocked her out of the running.  Yet, Oudin, a spunky blonde, was last year’s media darling.

Melanie Oudin's 2009 Believe tennis shoes

While serving as play-by-play announcer for CBS Sports during weekend coverage of the Open last year, Dick Enberg gushed that Oudin “is the kind of kid you wish lived next door.”

Oh, you really think that, Dick?  Clearly, you don’t know me.

This year Oudin wore tennis shoes inscribed “Courage.”

Melanie Oudin's 2010 Courage tennis shoe

She got knocked out in the second round.  I don’t think foot-faulting was a significant factor.  I do think if she let go of the shoe inscribing, and focused more on her serve, that might take her game in a more winning direction.  Of course, this is easy for me to say as I foot-fault my way through life.

Lame Adventures Woman Disgruntled Jack Purcell sneaker

Lame Adventure 87: Chump Change

Whenever I have extra pennies, nickels or dimes, I deposit them into my change jar and note the amount on the blank side of one of my yet to be published literary masterpieces since I am a staunch believer in recycling the trash.  When I calculate that I’ve crossed the $35 threshold, and my change jar rivals the weight of Milton’s right foot, I haul it over to my bank’s penny saver machine to cash it out.

Milton's right foot playing the diva.

35 bucks in a jar.

Earlier this month, when I last accomplished this task, I stood in line behind a kindred spirit approximately one-tenth my age that was carrying her change in a Dora the Explorer bank.  Ah, my peer!

My change jar should now contain $2.10, but at this moment, it only holds $2.04 because when I was recently going to deposit 44 cents into it, I noticed that one of my nickels was minted in 1939 and a penny was from Canada.  I wondered, “Wow, what are the odds of that?”  My mind was more focused on the 1939 nickel when that thought crossed it.

$2 and four cents.

The penny I would later recycle at my grocery store, Fairway, in a smooth as gravel transaction.

Penny in question.

Surly Cashier:  This isn’t American.  It’s from Canada.

Me:  Actually, like the US, Canada is in North America.  You know, the other day, I got this penny in my change from one of your colleagues.

In evident appreciation of my geography lesson, Surly Cashier tossed my Canadian penny into her change drawer with a flick of her wrist worthy of Serena Williams.  The clink it made sounded remarkably similar to, “Fuck you.”

Returning to the topic of my 1939 nickel, according to Wikipedia 1939 was indeed a banner year for the Jefferson profile nickel for only a mere 120,615,000 were minted without a Philadelphia “P” mint mark – just like mine!  The world’s population back then was approximately 2.3 billion, so this further puts into perspective just how rare indeed that nickel was.  For example, I am sure that very few goat herders in Tibet had a 1939 nickel in those days, but here I am, 71 years later, residing in the heart of Manhattan, and one just falls into my wallet.

What are the odds?

After conducting further research I learned something intriguing, 1939 was one of the dates that counterfeiter Francis Leroy Henning of Erial, New Jersey used on the nickels he produced.  He minted approximately half a million and 100,000 Henning nickels entered circulation in 1954.  He was arrested the following year, served three years in prison, and fined $5000.  It is believed that he dumped many of his nickels in Copper Creek and the Schuylkill River in New Jersey, but they were never recovered.  Even if he was tempted, I doubt that he pressed his luck with the authorities and paid his fine in Jefferson profile coins.  Although it is technically illegal to own a counterfeit, Henning nickels dated 1939, 1944, 1946, 1947 and 1953, with one more date still undiscovered, are worth between $20 and $30.  The telltale signs of a Henning nickel are a hole in the “R” in Pluribus and the lack of a P mintmark in the ones dated 1944.

Henning nickel -- see hole in R in Pluribus.

With this warehouse of knowledge filling my head, I grabbed my magnifying glass and checked out my 1939 nickel.  I did not see a hole in the R in Pluribus.  Undaunted, I then went online and found the Coin Values Guide for Jefferson Nickels in About.com.  A chart declared that a 1939 nickel minus a mintmark is worth 25 cents.  The site also said that if a coin is “fairly worn” it’s “worth much less than the coin prices given.”

Therefore, it appears that seventy-one years later, my 1939 nickel is worth all of five cents.  Hence, the title of this post.