Tag Archives: us open tennis

Lame Adventure 432: Chia What?

Over the course of the past two weeks, I watched a fair amount of US Open Tennis. I’ll come clean: I anesthetized myself on US Open Tennis. Even though I would sooner go elk hunting with a peashooter than ever attempt to swing a tennis racket myself, I derive great pleasure watching elite athletes play that game for steamer trunks of money. Tennis is my favorite reality TV programming.

Something I noticed throughout the entirety of my Open viewing was an orange Chia Pod cooler that was on center court at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Orange Chia Pod cooler on display in center court.

Orange Chia Pod cooler on display in center court.

Watching this product placement for days on end made me wonder:

Me (wondering): What is Chia Pod?

According to the US Open’s web site:

“Chia Pods are the perfect option for ready to eat nutrition, containing a full serve of chia mixed with real fruit and coconut milk. Vegan and gluten free, Chia Pods deliver 25% of your daily fiber and 100% of your daily omega-3 ALA.”

As the entire Lame Adventures readership knows as well as quantum physics, ALA is alpha-linolenic acid, but what everyone who reads Lame Adventures is likely wondering:

All Lame Adventures Readers (wondering): Are Chia Pets made out of chia?

The story of chia.

The story of chia.

Yes, chia seeds are spread all over Chia Pets.

Shortly before Serena Williams steamrolled Caroline Wozniacki in the women’s final, I was in my supermarket, Fairway. I was pondering extending my self-loathing by purchasing a sweet potato flavored organic yogurt when I noticed an array of Chia Pods in the shelf below. I thought the price, $2.99 for a six-ounce cup, redefined extortion. What an outrage; they’re charging fifty cents an ounce for a cup of seeds that can grow mossy poodles out of terracotta? Is this stuff made out of platinum or chia? Then, I noticed that it came with a charming  little orange spoon, so I changed my tune and considered purchasing an entire case. But, I decided that it might behoove me to first try a single cup of this concoction. There were so many flavors to choose from even though all I can remember is blueberry. I gravitated straight to vanilla.

Cup of Chia Pod.

Cup of Chia Pod.

Deal making chia spoon.

Deal making chia spoon.

I returned home, watched Serena annihilate Caroline and win her eighteenth grand slam tournament. Even though I stared dully at that orange Chia Pod cooler during every changeover of the match, I completely forgot to eat my edible Chia Pet, my cup of vanilla Chia Pod.

The next day, Monday, I took my Chia Pod with me to The Grind to eat for breakfast. Actually, I chased a banana with my cup of Chia Pod.

The vanilla flavor Chia Pod looked like taupe colored tapioca pudding, or if strewn across a second grader’s desk just so, vomit.

See for yourself: tapioca meets barf.

See for yourself: tapioca meets barf.

It had no discernible scent and as I ate it, I realized that it lacked any discernible flavor. The texture held a certain fascination for me. It didn’t stick to the sides of the cup and it made my mind wander in the direction of edible Teflon.

Dig in.

Dig in.

Back to the taste, it was not sweet, sour or offensive. Digging deep into my limited vocabulary, I pronounce the vanilla flavor Chia Pod a bland blob of innocuous glop. Now that we know what the Chia Pet’s first cousin tastes like, here’s the video that my colleague and collaborator, Godsend, shot of my cup of vanilla Chia Pod not exactly running over.

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.



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 229: Superman vs. Super Duperman

I was pleased that the US Open Men’s Tennis Final was played on Monday allowing Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic a deserved day of rest in preparation for this climactic match in this year’s tournament.  Yet, I was practically spitting blood when I heard that the start time would be 4 pm.

May I join you in your primal scream, guys?

Since I am a working stiff making ends meet in a get-rich-slow job, I still had to put in another 90 minutes at the grind before quitting time, and I had to invest another half hour in the commute home from TriBeCa to the Upper West Side.  I considered begging my boss, Elsbeth, to let me exit early, but she would ask:

Elsbeth:  Why?

Me:  I’m dying to watch the US Open Men’s Final.

Elsbeth:  You’re into golf now? [snarky] That’s a new development.

Elsbeth is not a sports fan, and for the record, I loathe golf.  Masochist that I am, I decide it would be best to avoid conflict with my superior about my urgency to kneel at the altar of bouncing balls and swinging rackets.  Therefore, I stick out the workday, a day I spend adhered to my desk crunching numbers with glazed eyeballs.  I encounter one Elsbethian interruption:

Elsbeth:  How do you spell Agnes?

When I am sprung at 5:30 I am aware that my beloved Rafa has lost the first set to Djokovic 6-2.  I could not have rocket-launched myself faster out the door than if my Jack Purcell badminton shoes were manufactured by NASA.  Emitting a trail of smoke all the way to the Chambers Street subway station, I deftly side-step two waist-high demon seeds pummeling each other with balloon bats but that maneuver makes me bounce off their mother’s heavily cushioned left hip.  Fortunately, she is immune to hyperactivity and the resulting G-force allows me to sail down the station’s staircase at warp-speed — just as an uptown express train arrives.  I emerge from the 72nd Street subway station at 5:51 where I’m greeted with a text from my buddy, Coco:

Coco’s text: Nadal needs to focus on his game not his wedgie.

My text back: Maybe u should b his coach.

Coco’s text:  Or at least take him shopping for briefs that fit.

When I reach my sanctum sanctorum, Nadal is trailing in the second set 4-3.  No sooner do I settle down than Rafa breaks Djokovic and the score is tied 4-4.  Yet, before I can emit a sigh of relief, Djokovic breaks back, the sixth time he’s broken Rafa thus far in the match.

Djokovic returning serve.

As Djokovic serves for the second set Rafa looks discombobulated.  Djokovic wins the set 6-4.  I stare at my TV in disbelief.

In the third set, Rafa seems to have rediscovered his game.  The points are long and the shot-making extraordinary.  Nadal fights back hard and breaks Djokovic’s serve at love.  The score is 4-3 Nadal.  Yet, Djokovic, who’s possibly playing the best tennis of his life, elevates his game, too.  Following a multi-stroke rally where Nadal brilliantly saves at least four Djokovic winners, Djokovic wins the game, looks towards his box with his family and friends and spreads his arms in a gesture of relief or maybe it’s winged victory.

Mr. Momentum.

Nadal might be thinking what I’m thinking (but in Spanish):

Me:  Djokovic looks invincible!  What do I have to do to beat this guy?

Rafa does exactly what he has to do, he gets the game to reach a tie-break, he never falls behind, and he finally wins a set.  Hola!

Psyched Superman.

I want to pray to someone that this match will go the five set distance and Rafa’s game will continue to improve but I’m an atheist.  Who do I pray to?  My long-dead mother, who, even if I had fallen down a well she’d shout at me:

My Dead Mom:  God helps those that help themselves.

Count her out.

What about my favorite Beatles, John Lennon and George Harrison, conveniently in this instance, also both dead?  I’d feel like such a jerk asking them for a favor that has nothing to do with world peace or the sitar.

"I can't believe she'd ask us to do this."

Franz Kafka has always been one of my favorite writers.

Franz K.

A voice in my head that sounds exactly like Coco’s shrieks:

Coco:  Franz Kafka, who’s been dead what, 85 years, that wrote that weird story about the giant waterbug I was forced to read in high school?  Really?  Why the hell don’t you pray to someone practical like Arthur Ashe?

American tennis icon Arthur Ashe.

Imaginary Coco is right!  I should pray to Arthur Ashe.  Right now, Djokovic and Rafa are beating each other to a near-pulp in a stadium named in his honor!  Just as suddenly, I come to my senses and wonder why would a legendary sportsman take sides?  Arthur Ashe, who was integrity incarnate, would never do that.  I quit my pursuit of channeling divine intervention in Rafa’s behalf.

After winning his first game in the fourth set and leading Nadal 1-0, Djokovic is granted a medical time out to have his sore lower back massaged.  When they resume play, Djokovic breaks Nadal.  Then he proceeds to win his serve and Nadal sinks into a very deep 3-0 hole that he is incapable of escaping.

Super Duperman in flight.

Barely fifteen minutes later, Djokovic decisively wins the set and the match at 6-2, 6-4, 7-6, 6-1.  It was not the outcome I wanted, but the guy that played better deserved the victory.

Okay, Novak, you earned your trophy.

As dismayed as I was, Rafa, as always, was gracious in defeat.  I text Coco:

My text:  I love Rafa, class act.

Coco’s text:  Ass picking and all.

That’s the real Coco.

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 99: Ole!

This was not exactly the US Open men’s tennis final I had dreamed of watching when the tournament began two weeks ago when it still felt like summer in New York.  Back then, I longed to see Rafael Nadal battle Roger Federer.  Unfortunately, Federer fell to Novak Djokovic during a thrilling five set men’s semi-final on Saturday.  Yet, I was extremely pleased with Rafa’s victorious outcome in the exciting men’s final on Monday.

Pumped up Rafa.

I also welcomed the drama when Djokovic won the second set following the two-hour rain delay.  As much as I hate rain delays, I appreciated this one since it allowed me to see most of the match live on TV after work – one of the advantages of living on the East Coast that is right up there with superiority of the New York bagel.

After losing the second set, it seemed to me that Djokovic regained some sorely needed confidence he lost after dropping the first set, but Nadal quickly transformed into the Rafa Express subjecting his opponent to punishing endurance test rallies.  Rafa was practically spitting fire in his determination to win this contest.  Throughout these two weeks, he came equipped with both a radically improved serve and a level of focus that was so intense he all but beat the stuffing out of Djokovic with his laser beam mind.  As I watched them smash powerful backhand and forehand returns while emitting animal call-type grunts, I needed to pop an Aleve during a commercial break where Don Draper was once again hawking the gull winged Mercedes Benz.

In the fourth set, when Djokovic was down 3-1 and serving at 0-40, commentator John McEnroe wryly observed, “You have to endure the mental pain we’re watching Djokovic go through right now.”  Physically, he was looking pretty spent, too.  Yet, it is evident that Djokovic is an elite athlete and I agree with Rafa that Djokovic has what it takes to soon win another Grand Slam final – possibly while playing opposite Roger or Rafa.

After the match, ardent Roger fan Milton called to congratulate me on Rafa’s victory.  I asked if he watched.  He said that the rain delay was so prolonged he grew impatient and went to the gym, but he did catch some of the match there.  He thought it was an impressive final.  With Roger’s Grand Slam tennis season over for the year, I knew that Milton’s enthusiasm for this final was half-hearted.  It did not take long before he changed the subject.

Milton:  My brother broke my cast iron skillet.

Me:  How did he do that?

Milton:  I asked him that same question.

Me:  What did he say?

Milton:  He didn’t explain how it happened.

Me:  That’s really amazing.  How do you break a heavy cast iron skillet?

Milton:  I don’t know.  It’s not like a light bulb.

Maybe he smashed it in frustration like Djokovic did his racket?  Skillet abuse, anyone?

Lame Adventure 98: Postponed by Rain

Since my plum seat assignment at the stage play that I idiotically volunteer ushered on Saturday was a choice between sitting next to the production’s director or an extremely intimidating theater critic, I decided that it was wise that I resisted the urge to tape a bulky radio to my person so I could discreetly listen to the men’s US Open tennis semi-final that was being played at that exact moment between Rafael Nadal and Mikhail Youzhny.

I also made the wise choice of sitting next to the director.

Fifteen minutes into the first act, I suffered an uncontrollable coughing fit that lasted about a minute, but seemed more like an hour.  If I could have pressed a  button that would have sent my seat freefalling through the floor, I would have done so in a heartbeat.  Had I experienced that embarrassing display of hacking next to the sour critic, he surely would have thrown me through the wall.

Afterward, I apologized profusely to the director.  To her credit, she was gracious about my disruption.  I was relieved that she did not ask me my opinion of the play.  This was probably due to the fact that I applauded it with the level of enthusiasm I would reserve for attending a taping of the Late Show with David Letterman if Jesus Christ were the guest; this zeal probably led her to believe that I thought this play was pure genius.  In actuality, what I was applauding with gusto was the fact that this painfully underwritten jumble of pointless scenes had finally come to an end and I was free to bolt and watch tennis.

Since Rafa had annihilated Youzhny in straight sets that took a little over two hours, by the time I was once again planted in front of my TV, Roger Federer was already halfway through his five set losing battle against Novak Djokovic.  Although I was disappointed with the end result, Novak played his heart out, and Roger fell short.  The guy that played better won, but it is depressing that the long anticipated showdown between Roger and Rafa has yet to happen in the US.  I imagine that some members of the GOP will blame Obama for that, too.

That evening, Milton and I were on the phone throughout the women’s final, the boring rout between Kim Clijsters and Vera Zvonareva, since Zvonareva failed to attend the match with her game.  Milton dryly observed that Zvonareva looks like the Grinch.

Vera Zvonareva flaunting her tan lines.

Vera Zvonareva's doppelgänger per Milton.

On Sunday, Milton and I were on the phone again, waiting for the men’s final, but CBS continued to broadcast football well past the scheduled 4 pm start time since it was raining steadily over in Flushing Meadow, the home of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.  It would be a sadistic two hours before the USTA would announce that the match had been postponed.

Therefore, Milton and I were on the phone watching football and waiting in vain for tennis.  Milton hates football.  He thinks it’s the sport that epitomizes everything that is stupid about members of his own gender.  I grew up watching it, so I can easily get into it, but if you have never been a follower of this sport, it can appear to be twenty-two beefy guys crashing into each other all over the place as the ball is flung in the air or squirting around on the field.

Since the game we were watching was the Jacksonville Jaguars playing the Denver Broncos, Milton had a meltdown over a few Jacksonville players, specifically the cornerback Rashean Mathis and the guard Uche Nwaneri.  Both players have very long hair spilling out of their helmets.  Milton thinks it’s hypocritical that in a sport so macho that so many players have hair extensions that require primping.  Until that moment, I never put any thought into any NFL player’s hair other than that of Pittsburgh Steeler’s safety Troy Polamalu.  Since he’s insured his hair for a million dollars, I’m confident that his mane, which he has not cut since 2000, is genuine.

Don't touch the hair.

As for whether the crowning glory of Rashean Mathis and Uche Nwaneri is real or fake, considering how big and strong they are if I ever met them I doubt I’d pop that question.  I’d applaud them both with gusto and continue to hope for clear skies for Monday’s men’s tennis final.

Lame Adventure 97: Dilemma

Following the very disappointing US Open women’s tennis semi-finals where the two players I had been rooting for, Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki, were both eliminated by their opponents, Kim Clijsters and Vera Zvonareva, the resulting women’s final is one where I feel indifferent over the outcome.  Yet, I will tune in Saturday night and I will reluctantly cheer for Clijsters solely because I find Zvonareva’s attention-grabbing towel-head antics during breaks irritating.

Seriously, go to your room.

The entirety of my focus has shifted to the remaining members of the men’s draw – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Mikhail Youzhny, but there is a wrench in my focus.

This Saturday I long to be in two places at once.  Although I am in general a very good anticipator, my crystal ball was fog-filled last July when I agreed to volunteer usher a Saturday matinee performance of an off-Broadway play staged by a name-brand theater company.  This theater company has been extremely generous to me these cash-strapped times.  In exchange for handing out Playbills and flipping up seats they allow me to see their productions for free.

Unfortunately, this commitment conflicts with the men’s semi-finals and I also long to watch tennis.  First up is my guy, Rafa, playing Youzhny, the last obstacle between the Nadal-Federer showdown I have been obsessing over almost as much as thought provoking sex acts I would deny ever thinking about to my family, but this falsehood might give them hope that I will end my career as an oversleeping underachiever and enter politics.  I expect to be home in time to catch the second match between Fed and Novak.  Novak is a player I like, but not when he’s playing Fed – especially if Rafa can get past Youzhny to the final.

If I had access to an iPad or iPhone those gadgets would allow me to watch this crucial match on the Open’s live Internet feed.  Considering that this theater company always gifts me with a terrific seat, my watching a tennis match during the play could appear remarkably unappreciative.  Furthermore, I am the one urging the audience members to please turn off their cell phones.

Since my dumb phone cannot play video, my mind has wandered in the direction of radio.  Last Christmas, my brother, Axel, gave me an emergency preparedness radio endorsed by the Red Cross.  Axel probably had 9/11 on his mind when he purchased this radio for me, but it offers a solution to today’s pickle provided I do not throw out my arm hand-cranking it half a million times.

How do you define emergency?

This device is bulky, but I could tape it securely to my mid-section.  If this rectangle-shaped protrusion raises questions, I would confidentially white lie that it’s a state of the art colostomy bag.

Once the lights lower, I will activate my emergency preparedness radio and discreetly slip in my ear buds.  When the lights raise I will attentively stare at the actors on stage as my head is filled with play by play tennis commentary.  The challenge will be to suppress cheering if Rafa breaks Youzhny’s serve.  What if that occurs when an actor is delivering an emotionally wrought soliloquy about being abused by her father at age six; the benevolent patriarch she adored who transformed into a diabolical stranger after her mother went blind following a diagnosis of brain cancer?

Whooping aloud with gusto at that moment might be construed as inappropriate.

What if this play, a play I know little about, is a hilarious comedy and I am surrounded by hysterically laughing audience members while Youzhny manages to make mincemeat out of Rafa?  This prompts me to emit a groan worthy of a dying antelope followed with tears of frustration as my gladiator falls.  How do I explain that outburst to the House Manager?  Do I claim I suffered a flashback of my benevolent father abusing me at age six after my mother went blind following a diagnosis of brain cancer?

What if this pack-of-lies explanation somehow gets back to my dear old dad?  I can imagine the fallout:

Dad:  What compelled you to say something so ridiculous about me and your poor dead mother?

Me:  Tennis!

Fortunately, my father is a sports fiend, with life-long ADD whenever we converse.

Dad:  Wasn’t that one helluva match between your fella, Nadal, and that Russian, Use-its?  I don’t follow tennis much, but that match was a nail-biter!  You must have gone out of your mind!

If Dad only knew …

Lame Adventure 96: Brilliant, but fashion-challenged

Milton and I have both been glued to US Open Tennis.  He is a die-hard Roger Federer fan; “Fed” to Milton.  My guy is Rafael Nadel; “Rafa” to me.  We are both hoping that they will meet in the men’s final this weekend but in general, we do root for each other’s guy.  I am very aware that Fed is a sensational player, possibly the greatest player of all-time, a style icon, and overall, a class act.  It bothers me when he loses to anyone … but Rafa.

Milton is not blind to Rafa’s greatness, either, and he appreciates his athletic prowess, but when it comes to Rafa’s style or his trademark jock strap adjustment, Milton detonates.  Milton is certain that Rafa is incapable of ordering a glass of wine without tugging at whatever’s wedged in-between his butt-cheeks.  I am not a fan of this habit, but I pointed out to Milton that this quirk is an element ingrained in Rafa’s style of play.  What completely drives Milton over the edge is Rafa’s history of dreadful wardrobe choices.  Unlike my ability to defend the constant wedgie tugging I have to agree that pink shirts, plaid shorts, muscle tees, etc., are indefensible.

"I'll have the pinot grigio."

This year at the US Open, Rafa has introduced some serious improvements.  He’s added a powerful serve to his game, and he has also made some welcome style adjustments.  He has a new haircut, and a basic black outfit trimmed in yellow.  Milton, in fashion police mode, has been pregnant with comment about Rafa’s makeover.  Recently, we shared this email exchange:

Milton: I know your boy is still trying, and in some ways, the black works.  But what’s with the yellow, boat-like sneakers? Is he dating Sweet Caroline?

Caroline "Sunshine" Wozniacki wearing Stella McCartney designed black & yellow.

Milton: With the slimming black, and the oversized sneaks, Rafa was reminding me of someone, but I couldn’t figure out who. Then it came to me. See comparison below.

Rafa serving at the US Open.

Marvin the Martian -- Rafa's doppelgänger?

Me: Did you know that those Nikes he wears are inscribed Rafa in the back of the heel?  They are ghastly.

Nadal's Rafa sneakers.

Milton: He’s earned the right to have his name everywhere.  But the yellow.  He looks like a bumble bee on the Atkin’s diet.

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