Saturday, March 10

Back to KKXX

Front Row: JP, Me, Josh, Jamie
Back Row: Jimmy, Zac, Furf, Thorpe, Bhavin, Eugene, Kazan, Butter, TP

As mentioned previously, Kaimana was the best non-Nationals tournament yet, although this particular journey started quite inauspiciously...

The team, Philthy, was cobbled together from a group of NYU alums (Myself, Jimmy, Zac and JP) , a couple of frequent honorary NYU alums (My brother and Josh), a group from Philly (Furf, Eugene, Thorpe, Bhavin, Butter) and some late addition from Truck Stop (Kazan). Most of the players had met before, but had little experience on the field together. The most important question asked during the recruiting phase: "Are these the sort of players who will party though the night and not suck on the field?" Answer: "Fuck yes."

Back to the narrative: The first player headed out to Oahu was one John Patterson. He, for some reason, was scheduled to depart on Thursday and spend the first night in Hawaii on his own. He's a big boy, so we weren't worried about him. The plan was for him to get there and rent a car for the NY contingent. At about 11am on Thursday morning while I'm struggling to maintain any semblance of focus at work, I am given a message by a coworker:

A 'Mr. Patterson' requests that you call him back immediately.

Right on. I finish the phone call that I'm in the middle of, and call JP. He goes into some explanation, the culmination of which was that he missed his flight and wouldn't be able to get there until Sunday at the earliest. He would be flying standby from JFK with lists of over 75 people ahead of him. FUCK! I don't think he had a good explanation, and I'm not sure I was interested in one. This instance prompted me to send an this email to the two people with whom I would be traveling to the Philly airport:

With JP missing his flight today, please please please (BOTH OF YOU!) be on time... I get, as you may recall, unreasonably anxious about missing flights.

The rest of the workday passes with little of import occurring. I somehow manage to get the necessary work done before 6pm and then the travel starts. Julie and I go to pick up a rental car in NYC to drive down to Philly with Jimmy. Sweet. I can also drive to my basketball game that evening. After the game, I head back to work because, as usual, I've forgotten some things that need to be finished.

Julie and I both finish work at about 1am and head back to Jersey City to pack up and go. The plan is to pick up the inimitable Jimmy at 3:30am at the PATH station. Dawdling as always, we leave Jimmy standing out in the cold until about 4:15am. Not good. I'm under the impression that our flight leaves at 7:30, so I know we need to drive fast, but not 90 mph. We make it through the rental car return and all of that pretty quickly, and I, being the sort that shows up to airports 2-3 hours before departure time, start getting really nervous that Julie and I are about to miss our flight. Julie, being accustomed to showing up at the last possible minute and getting on the plane, is positive that we'll be fine.

We get to the counter quickly (6:25am) and the woman tells us that we may not check in. It turns out that our flight leaves at 7:05am and that they cannot let us attempt to check in 30mins before departure. Julie attempts to argue while I do my best not to start yelling at anyone in the vicinity and the woman will not budge. I'm completely flipping out at this point-- This is the first time I've ever been close to missing a flight, let alone actually missing a flight. I suppose it was unavoidable after that damn email and the day full of laughing at JP. Julie is working with the woman to try to get us on the next flight out. It appears that the next flight out will get us there on Sunday, possibly Monday (My memory is clouded by anger). Julie also talks her into putting us on a standby flight out of Newark at 2pm.

At this point, I'm a pissed off wreck after being up for 24 hours and seeing my chance to get to Kaimana slipping away. I call Jimmy to let him know the deal and to discover that he's made his flight. Jamie, the other person I called at that hour, is already on his flight as it departed at 6am.

This leads us to renting another car to get from Philly to Newark. I'm getting ready to reverse the same drive I just made down from Jersey City. 2 more hours driving, but this time I'm mad as hell. for those who don't know, I'm a very ugly person to be with in these situations and Julie did a better job dealing with me than could have been expected. She may well be ready for sainthood.

We get up to EWR with time to spare and I NEED food. All I've had thus far was coffee, beef jerky and trail mix. And more coffee. We go up to the gate and wait for standby to be called. I have absolutely ZERO faith that we will get on the plane, and I'm ready to throw in the towel. I'm trying my best to be pleasant and failing miserably.

While Julie is on the phone with her father (who lives on Maui), I go back to check on our status. I ask about the two of us, and the woman tells me that she called Julie's name. I rush back to her and let her know. She runs to the counter, I pick up our carry-ons and go back to the counter... Julie's got the golden stand-by ticket on a direct flight to Honolulu! Sweet! It then dawns on us that while I'm the next standby on the list, it is not likely that I'll be getting on the same flight. Fuck me. I realize that the power of positive thinking has really had an impact here. Or at very least the ability to talk rationally to the counter-lady in Philly put her first on the list out of the two of us.

Julie is feeling some guilt about getting on the plane. I tell her that I would leave in a heartbeat if I were her and that she should go. It doesn't help her, but at least I convince her that I won't resent her at all. I walk to the counter and pester the woman there very nicely as the plane boards and she says that I will need to wait there just in case something awesome happens.

During this time, we hatch a plan to throw some money away on a one-way ticket if one of us misses the flight while the other makes it, which seems completely likely to me. Expensive? Yes. Completely worth it if it means not missing the whole fucking tournament. That being said, considering the situation, the price was reasonable.

Julie boards last, and the woman says that there is one seat that may or may not be available as the ticket scanner was down during part of the boarding process. They send someone on to double-check for the empty seat and... no dice.


As I walk dejectedly away from the terminal, I go to a "pay-per-minute" internet connection (very sketchy) and purchase the tickets that Julie and I discussed to get me to Honolulu on Saturday afternoon. The trouble is, the flight leaves from Philly. Another two hour drive on I-95. Sweet. I've been up for 32 hours and I have to climb back into a rental car. Well, at least I can have some more coffee!

I go back down to the rental agency (Avis) who were nice enough to put our car on hold as we waited for standby tickets. This prevented me from needing to rent another car and pay a bunch more money for it. That gets a big plus in my book. I climb back into the car that I hated the first time around and start my drive. I've got the Chili Peppers Stadium Arcadium up on full blast because I need something to sing along with. It was one of the 11 actual CDs I brought with me on the trip for "Rental Car Music" on the islands. It is easily the music with the most edge as the others (Bob Marley's 4 Disc Songs of Freedom, 2 Jack Johnson discs, Neil Young's On the Beach, Damian Marley's Welcome to Jamrock and Third World's 96 Degrees in the Shade) were all specifically selected as smooth Island Cruising Music. The backup was the Damian Marley disc, but it just isn't as angry and, well, I was pissed. I was wishing that I brought De-Loused in the Comatorium by The Mars Volta, El-P's Fantastic Damage, or Nirvana's Nevermind. At very least, I wish that I had been able to find my copy of Girl Talk's Night Ripper (excellent party disc and very brisk).

I stop on the way for more coffee.

I roll into the Philly Avis rental car return and unload and start the trek to the counter. Damn am I tired. Almost 36 hours straight. I clearly look like a complete wreck as the woman behind the counter asks me if I'll be able to make it to the terminal. I'm apparently worthy of enough pity to be bumped up to First Class on the flight out to Portland. Cool. That should give me enough space to sleep. What a shame. I've been bumped up to FC once or twice before and the free booze is just a fantastic addition to the food. At this point there is just no way for me to stay awake any longer, so I'll just have to pass.

I head through security (a horrible chore, as always, in Philly) and stop by a bar for a couple of beers before the flight. I board the plane and as I settle in to watch some of The Wire on my ipod, the guy next to me starts talking to me and demanding my attention. Fine, I'll mollify him for a bit-- I don't want any enemies on the flight. We talk for a little while and somehow we get on the topic of pre-fab housing developments. I say (paraphrased, but close):

Anyone who lives in a McHouse like that should be ashamed of themselves. Just like people who read the USA Today, aka McPaper. What kind of idiot would want to live in a house that looks just like the 50 houses in the neighborhood? It completely devalues craftsmanship and individuality while eroding any meaningful sense of community. I've been tempted to start fires in developments like that. I mean, I'm no arsonist, but these sorts of things are destroying the fabric of our society bit by bit.

It then turns out that he lives in a house like that and has a copy of the USA Today with him. so much for not having any enemies. He is at a loss for words, and I return to reading Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel as we're preparing for takeoff and using my ipod at times like these may lead to a crash or some horseshit.

To my complete shock, as we get into the air, this guy starts talking to me again. Unbelievable. I stop the conversation as he asks the flight attendant for something. I bury my head in my pillow and cover up with a blanket and start to drift off. Nearing the 40 hour mark, I'm a little buzzed, still a little wired and very, very cranky. Sweet dreams (or blessed blackness) await.

Within 3 minutes he's talking to me again. He asks about the book I'm reading, why I'm going to Portland and what I was watching on my ipod. As I start describing the book, I can tell he has no interest, so I keep talking in hopes that he'll stop listening. It doesn't happen. I run out shit to say about the book as he asks for the attendant again. I shut my eyes and turn away. he says something, but I pretend I'm asleep. Soon enough, I've ignored him and I am actually asleep. No need to pretend.

We arrive at PDX at something like 2am. I'm 7 kinds of uncomfortable from that flight and all I can think about is what the hell was wrong with that fucker on the plane? This is the type of person who causes shouting matches. If he had touched me to wake me up, I would have let fly a string of obscenities seldom heard these days liberally punctuated with other vile things that you can call someone. It, of course, reminds me of a Seinfeld episode that I cannot place at the moment in which a character mentions the people who travel on airplanes with nothing to do and says "These are the people who want to talk to you on the plane" or something to that effect. I'll tell ya, if you buy me a drink or to, I'll waste my time with you. Otherwise, I come prepared. I've been traveling since I was a little kid-- I know better than to walk into a plane with nothing to do. Christ.

Anyway, I get the joy of spending the next 4 hours in the PDX airport, as my flight to Seattle leaves at 6am or somesuch. I've stolen a pillow and a thin blanket from the plane so that I can lay my head on one of those sets of seats in the airport that are specifically designed not to let you sleep on them comfortably. Blech. Listening to some dreamy Sigur Ros, I drift off.

I wake up ready to roll. I'm very sore, but nothing some stretching won't fix. I do my usual morning/airport stretching routine and hunt down some breakfast. Yipee! More coffee! I board the quick ride to Seattle, which was highlighted by the flight attendants moving some people around to "Balance the Plane" which is a terrifying thing to hear. Uneventful trip.

In SeaTac, I get to my gate with enough time to spare, give a call to the group at Kaimana and make sure that someone will be at the airport to pick me up. Julie's father, who will be seeing Julie play for the first time as well as seeing ultimate for the first time, says he will be there. Awesome. I get on the plane and immediately pass out again. We arrive at HNL a little early and I make a beeline for the agreed-upon pickup spot. Did I mention that my luggage arrived with Julie? For some reason, it was sent straight through even though I didn't get on the plane. This was sweet for me because I had only my carry-on with which to concern myself. If something had gone wrong, this would have been adding insult to injury, but it actually worked to perfection.

I get picked up and finally FINALLY we roll up to the fields. Gorgeous. The last time I was in Hawaii was before I really played ultimate and we had rolled by these fields, but seeing them through the lens of "this is where I'll be playing for the next 2.5 days" was a whole different experience. I missed our first game against the Doughboys (a 10-5 loss), but I got there just before half against the Sipping Sallys.

This game is a pretty uneventful finish as we cruised to a 14-9 victory (I throw like shit and can't run down some beautiful hucks, but I do get some nice Ds). As the Sipping Sallys made a nice run late in the game it gave me a chance to warm up a bit. The outcome was never really in doubt and we got a chance to start to mesh on the field. It turns out we added another player once we got to the fields by the name of TP. He was wandering around looking for a team to join. He, apparently, went to UC-Santa Cruz with Jamie, and we picked him up immediately. For someone with no prior knowledge of our team, he fit in perfectly. Oddly, he had actually sent Furf an email asking about a spot on the squad before the tourney. Furf did get this email... but not until we actually returned on the 27th of February or so. Kismet. This brought our numbers up to 11 as neither Kazan nor JP had yet graced us with their presence. I'm not sure if Kazan missed a flight too or if he was just coming late. You can't ever trust ultimate players. We had guys at Nationals who would roll up to the fields late. Unbelievable.

We then had a 2 round bye in which I got to go to the only fast-food joint worth visiting (Jack-in-the-Box) for some much-needed nourishment as well as stopping by the 7-11 to get some booze to add to the freely-flowing beer. I also dropped by the already set-up campsite (one of the few joys of being so late) and then hopped into the ocean for some body-surfing. Ahhh... now THIS is what I traveled all this way for!

I wander back to the fields in time for the start of our next game against the Aloha Spirit team. I think we took half at 7-2 on the way to a 15-6 victory. As the game got to the second half, we called a drinking timeout and then started playing dumb points like all-scoober, all-hammer, all-blade, all-lefty and such. It was a fun game, certainly, and I think we represented the tournament's fun spirit well in that one. Let the record show that Furf cannot catch a perfectly thrown 40 yard blade.

That first night was consumed by getting my stuff into the tent and then getting in line for food very quickly (all the while drinking the free beer of course). We also witnessed Josh getting a fantastic nickname from some ladies as he appeared to suggestively make a burrito disappear... This would come back to haunt him all weekend, much to our enjoyment. We wandered back to the campsite to shower up and get our goose on. Back to the main event! I got to catch up with some guys I hadn't seen in a while from other teams (Special shoutout to Dufort-- alway great to see you) and get righteously inebriated.

As the night carried on, we noticed that most of the Philly contingent was nowhere to be seen. It came out that those nancies had decided to take a "1 hour nap" before coming back to the party. Predictably, this one hour nap turned into a full night's rest as we didn't want to waste valuable drinking time to attempt to wake them from their golden slumbers.

Eventually, we decided to head back to the campsite, but a funny thing happened on the way to the campsite. As we tunred to walk, it became apparent that someone had taken the concept of Drive-In-Movie to another level, projecting some sort of Girls Gone Wild style porn onto the polo scoreboard. Completely twisted, Julie suggested that we stay for a while and watch. This led to her chucking discs at the scoreboard, attempting to hit various anatomically comedic portions of the screen. Porn Disc Golf was born. At some point this grew tiring and I wandered off to the tent.

We woke the next morning to pretty solid sunrise. Part 2. A slice of paradise dropped into our lives. Plans were immediately hatched to return in 08 with much the same squad plus some of the slackers who backed out.

We gathered our gear and headed to the field again, feeling hungover, but not destroyed. The breakfast of cereal, fresh fruit, smoothies and more was fantastic. For some reason, there was no hot coffee this morning which led to the discovery that I was not the only coffee-fiend on the team. good discovery as it led to a group splintering off to find some of the black stuff at a nearby eatery and retrieving it for us. Of course, the Philly crew was endlessly heckled for missing the party from the night before. A drink with a horrible horrible name was coined this morning: PAPaya-SMoothie-bEER, or PAP SMEER. Wow. Just wow. Without the combination of coffee and this new invention,we likely would not have made it to the first round game against Ono.

As we strolled up to the field, I realized that the Ono guys were almost all UCSB and/or Condors. As Kazan rolled up to the field in his drop-top 'Stang, I realized that we were likely in for a beating in this one. The wind was intense and it seemed that all they wanted to do was play zone. Eww. We had no idea how to play against a zone together as we had no established chemistry. I quickly grew tired of the team trying to swing it back and forth and resorted to blades that were dropped and hucking at any opportunity (into any type of coverage) just so we wouldn't have to waste our time working up against the zone. We were definitely plagued by drops in the wind of this game. Not that it would have affected the outcome, but it would have been a bit closer than the 12-3 drubbing we endured. Looking back, I would have expected something more like 15-9 or so, but we stunk in this one. Their blue terrycloth shirts were pretty pimp though. Big points for that style statement.

We had another two-round bye until we played Almos Pau for the third spot in our pool and a potential spot in the quarters the next morning. As our agreed-upon goal for the tourney was "Make quarters and party like rockstars," this was an important game. our very careful prep for this game consisted of drinking, going to the beach, bodysurfing and whomever felt the call rolling some disturbingly large fatties.

The game against Almost Pau was a tight one. We jumped out to a lead and then they came back into the game. We mixed up some zone and some man while continuing our trend of ripping the disc to anyone streaking deep, whether or not they had a step on their defender. I had what turned out to be, by far, my favorite play of the weekend in this game, and it came on D no less. I was the short-deep in the zone and I was sizing up their little give and go motion for a couple of points. As they near a position from which they have been throwing through the cup for the whole game, I see a handler break into the space to the right of the middle-middle and I react by telling my middle-middle to move left to open the hole. Simultaneously, I watch the thrower's eyes as he notices this shift. I know what he's going to do, and I start my 7-yard spring into that hole in the cup and bid as he releases the disc. It would have been a 4 yard completion, but instead it was a stone-cold catch-block. FUCK YES! We score the point and go on to win 13-12.

At some point either just before this game or during it we realized that, in all likelihood, we would be playing a game immediately afterward for a spot in the quarters. The format determined that the 3 teams that finish third in each of three pools are compared on cross-pool point diff. The team that has the best point diff. is given the 7 seed in the quarters. The two teams left have to play a game to 15 with no cap. We did not have the best point diff. This led to our game against Kane, led by Kaimana King, Mondo.

This was another tight game against a closely matched opponent. It went back and forth, but throughout, I was convinced that our players were a notch better than theirs, overall. Our zone was effective and we had some solid play in man D as well. We alternated between spread and stack Os as well as man and zone Ds well. Our team was very receiver-heavy (which resulted in combo players like me, Zac and Jamie handling far more often than cutting) and that hurt us from time to time. One of the positives was that the three of us who handled a lot had very similar strategic thoughts on how dumps should cut and that we had played with each other rather often. The game was an overtime win, methinks, to the tune of 16-14 or so. Hardfought and clean, is my best description.

We earned the right to matchup with Nada in the morning! Jamie and TP v their college "coach," Idris! Two Pike, one ex-Pike, one PoNY and one TSGH against all of those open club vets! Fun times were on the horizon!

More importantly, we had achieved half of our goal, now it was time to party like rockstars! This goal was definitely aided by the arrival of our very own John Patterson. We went to get our dinner of fried chicken (easily a team favorite) and refuel the beer machines. In doing so, some team members decided to challenge the team chicken-eating record to comedic delight.

This is the point in the evening, if you've ever traveled to this type of tournament with me, that I'm most vulnerable to being a cranky old bastard. Often with this sort of tournament (much like Mars, Poultry Days, PADA Mosh and the like) we bring a team of solid upper-middle class talent. In order to make the quarters we have to bust our asses. Combine this with my obsessively competitive personality, and I rarely come out of the game (for better or worse) in these situations. I'll completely wear myself out for the sake of winning these games because it makes the tournament waaay more fun for me. Then I pay the internal energy bill with early-evening performances like this.

Yikes. That was probably the most coherent I was for 4 hours or so after we finished eating. I don't think I ended up being squirted by the infamous beer gun as I likely threatened/promised righteous retribution on anyone who so dared. Eventually, I perked back up in much the same fashion as Redman being revived by Method Man to Du Hast in How High (An unexpectedly funny movie whose humor is magnified 10 fold by the commentary track from Red and Meth) to make a strong rally, going until the party shut down.

Some highlights from that evening:
  • The Demon Ice Luge
  • Our team starting no fewer than 10 brawls with itself
  • Jamie getting his nose broken by Julie in one of said brawls
  • Josh and the guy who was overseeing the Ice Luge
  • Furf v Eug
  • JP winning the Team Spirit Award after missing the first two days
  • Josh learning how to hula on stage
  • JP settling down in a tent that he thought was mine and taking the sleeping bag. When Furf entered and said "I think you're in the wrong tent." JP replied "Nah dawg, this is my tent." Leading to Furf say "I think you have my sleeping bag." Reply: "Nah dawg, this is my sleeping bag." The reality was that JP had stumbled into Furf's tent, taken his sleeping bag and refused to give it back. Perfectly played on JP's part.
  • Many Many other Insanities and Inanities.
The next morning was rough... We meandered to the fields approximately in time to get to the quarterfinals matchup with Nada. We stopped off for breakfast and were very pleased to find that there was hot coffee this morning. I also made the joyous discovery that Julie's camera had NOT been stolen and had, instead, been moved to the corner of the tent for safekeeping. The night before this had caused Julie to panic. As usual, the ultimate community doesn't steal shit, they just misplace their good intentions.

Anyway, this game was pretty good in the first half-- I think they were surprised that we didn't completely suck. We kept it close (5-8 at half) with our Grip-n-Rip offense, but they were simply more skilled and experienced. We had some drops, but so did they.

There were a couple of fantastic flick rips by Kublanza to cuts right up the sideline in this one. I also had my favorite throw of the tournament. As a swing pass was coming my way, I took a glance upfield and noticed that their deep-deep had crept in tight. On the line just before this point I mentioned to our wing/deeps that they needed to stay deep just in case this happened. As I anticipated a swing pass coming, I glanced upfield to see where he was and by the time the disc got to me on a quick swing, I had the space from the cup and ripped a huge backhand past the deep and to our deep. After this, he stayed deeper and left our wings open for blades up the line-- perfect.

It was all to no avail though as in the second half Nada pulled away to a 15-6 victory as our errors continued and theirs didn't. Yup, that's about right. First time to the tourney ends with a loss to the reigning champs. Notable oddity: Hammond was playing with his ipod shuffle on during the game. Rude and hilarious-- who would expect less?

We went on to eat far too much ahi poke and drink a bunch more beer while watching Nada go down in the finals to Ono, and then it was time to catch the flight to Maui.

Oh, and in that team picture at the top, you may notice that JP is the smallest guy on our team and that Thorpe is the biggest guy. For some reason, Thorpe and Butter joined forces to stretch out JP's XXL shirt before he showed. The sight of him standing up in that jersey is fantastic. You can get a sense of it from the team pic, but it really doesn't do it full justice.

The Philly contingent stayed on Oahu for the next week, doing things like eating and collecting citations from the police for, in Butter's words:

Officially, "disorderly conduct." Unofficially, being drunk, bored, stubborn, breaking pint glasses, not listening to mall security and inferring that some woman at the bar were very ugly.

Eventually, I may include some recollections from the week on Maui leading up to the best hat tourney I've ever been to, but that may be quite the undertaking like this entry.

In any event, the trip was a complete success. The team is planning on returning in 08 becasue we can't come up with a single valid reason not to. The fields, competition, organization, campsite, weather, people, parties, food, alcohol, scenery and all else were ideal. The only thing that could even slow us is the possibility that we would never return to the mainland. Going back to work is oh-so-difficult if you've just come back from a week in paradise.


Mackey said...

Yo, I would be a slacker if I had chosen not to go.

I happen to be a proud member of broke phi broke, I'm not holding down a job like y'all grads, instead funneling all the money I make to Dartmouth in one form or another.

Sounds like a blast though--maybe I'll have enough spare change to make it next year.

dusty.rhodes said...

Does this mean you're going to stomp the yard with your Broke-Phi brothers?

You're not the only Dartmouth chump who backed out... Tell Sandra Oh that we're slap-boxing when next we meet.