The Afternoon After: Paint it black

As evidenced by my relative lack of activity here, November didn’t turn out to be as placid as I would have liked. I make my living in baseball, and it seems to never really shut down at this point between awards, transactions and the new CBA being announced. In addition, my fiancée has moved into my apartment, so a lot of my time has been spent making sure this place is inhabitable for someone other than me. I’d characterize all of this as the good kind of busy.

Scene of the crimes

After Thanksgiving dinner, my fiancée dozed off at around 10 p.m. while I watched episodes of The Walking Dead – pretty standard.

Amazingly, she still insists she intends to marry me after I woke her up at 11:30 to drag her to Wal-Mart.

Most holidays, to me, just seem like a waste of time. Everyone knows I’m a big fan of Halloween, and I do like New Year’s Eve, but everything else is pretty much nonsense, including Thanksgiving. I think this is the bah humbug stance you end up with when you grow up as one of two Jews in your entire high school.

Black Friday, however, holds appeal to me. I like that if you happen to need something, it’s probably being sold at a discount. I like that my New Jersey suburb runs a fairly ridiculous parade down Main Street right outside my window.

But the main reason I like Black Friday is the same reason I usually head out shopping at midnight with a bunch of maniacs instead of simply placing orders from the safety of my bed: Like the Joker, I enjoy a healthy dose of chaos. Provided you can stay above the fray, as I detailed last year, Black Friday is pretty awesome to watch unfold, as entire families camp out for hours and jockey for position in an effort to secure a $200 laptop.

I have two televisions and I’m fine with computers, so I had no desire to battle for the majority of the more coveted doorbusters. But I wanted a blu-ray player, and my fiancée also wanted one to give to her boss for Christmas. I put on a Barry Bonds jersey and headed out to get a first-hand look at the grand fiasco.

The police were out in droves. True to form, most of them had coffee and mustaches.

Police presence

We went to the back of a sizable line, which nonetheless moved pretty well for the first 20 minutes until the electronics doorbusters went on sale at midnight. At that point, we stopped dead like Lincoln Tunnel traffic while the police presumably readied their pepper spray.

Hello

The people we were on line with seemed mostly sane, huddled together to ward off the wind and discuss their plan of attack. The guy ahead of us — who had his much younger brother and sister in tow — badly wanted a computer of any sort, and moaned his disapproval every time someone swaggered by with an enormous box in a shopping cart. Twitter told me that inside the store, two people staged a fight over a blender. Unless that blender also cleans your house, I can’t picture brawling about it.

So close

We got inside, and it was a post-apocalyptic wasteland as people stormed through Wal-Mart like many bulls in one china shop, knocking over store displays and each other. Here, a group of women sift through “supplies limited” baby clothing.

Supplies limited on baby clothing, apparently

At the discount DVD rack, I was greeted with a variety of The Rock’s hits, including “The Tooth Fairy” and “Walking Tall,” all on sale for two dollars. We purchased a copy of “The Illusionist” because my fiancée likes Ed Norton. I somehow resisted buying a $2 blu-ray of “Super Troopers,” one of the greatest movies of all time.

John Cena would approve

There were various balloons hovering throughout the store, letting you know what treasure you were standing on line for. Luckily, there was no line for the blu-ray players we coveted. Perhaps the allure of blenders was too great.

Hot air

Me: “So, uh… how’s it going?”

Guy at register: (Long pause) … “Great.”

Ring 'em up

Here’s our haul, including the ingredients for Black Friday survival celebratory s’mores.

Good haul here

The next day, we went to Ikea to shop for an armoire, and then at my behest to Toys “R” Us, where we saw these adorable dolls of Eli Manning and Mark Sanchez. I think they truly captured the essence of both cuddly quarterbacks. Check out that grin on Eli!

Spitting images

We finished the day by having a few friends over to watch the holiday parade from my apartment.After partaking in all Black Friday had to offer, I’d say watching my high school shop teacher wear a Santa suit while riding by my window on a float for the 1,000th year in a row actually seemed to make perfect sense.

And that’s the great thing about Black Friday: We have to play it rank and file so much, that provided you play it relatively safe and stay out of the line of pepper spray, it’s great once in a while to immerse yourself in complete and total retail-fueled insanity.

Especially when s’mores are involved.

*****

I wrote this for Dime a couple days before the lockout ended about whether fans would willingly embrace the NBA, given that it took them an entire decade to recover from the last lockout. But starting the NBA season on Christmas is a masterstroke.

John Tesh’s one incredible contribution

One way to get people to come back is to give them something they really want. After a long day of Christmas festivities with their families, the NBA games are a welcome respite. As a Jew, I work every year from home on Christmas Day – kind of like taking one for the team – and I was pleased to hear the NBA would have games for me to watch.

Christmas games are always something of an event; game aside, the NBC intro to Bulls-Knicks on the right is stupendous. But the fact that these are the first games after a brutal lockout not only provide satiety to those fans who craved NBA basketball, but they add a healthy bit of spectacle to the proceedings with what likely will be the only time we ever see the Christmas games mark the start of the season.

With the shortened attention spans cultivated by a Twitter-borne society and the added buzz of starting the season on Christmas, when it comes to restoring momentum after a terrible and unjustifiable lockout – difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week.

*****

WEEK 13 PICKS
Season record: 14-13-3
2 weeks ago: 1-2. Hit on Chicago, missed on Giants and Cowboys.

Broncos +1 at Vikings – I see no reason to pick against Tebow until he loses.

Chiefs +7 at Bears – Kansas City played Pittsburgh tough last week, and Caleb Hanie isn’t much to call home about. Neither is Tyler Palko, but I expect a close game.

Ravens -6.5 at Browns – I ‘d expect Ray Rice and the Baltimore defense to completely dominate.

Esoteric

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