Friday, February 8, 2008

An Awesome Website

If you liked that article, then that has nothing to do with this one. Unfortunately, there won't be any lyrical miracles here. This is just a shout out to a site that has really seen a boom in viewers in the last month. It's a reputable site that has been referred to by multiple national sources (such as ESPN) for information and its insightful commentary.

Are you interested yet? I certainly hope so. Dugout Central is a site that certainly won't let you down. It's got all sorts of baseball talk, even though it's the offseason. Then again, spring training starts in a week, so that doesn't even matter. The point is that there's some great material there, whether it's scouting reports, moneyball/other stats, GM scenarios, or general interest articles, Dugout Central dabbles all over the diamond. Visit it sometime. You won't regret it. I promise, or your money back. Wait. I haven't gotten it yet... Anyway, go there. *End shameless plug/terrible attempt at joke and even worse attempt at begging people for money*

Another Popcorn Guy

This story isn't necessarily funny, but it's entertaining nonetheless. It is still about popcorn, so I got you there. Check it out.

The Popcorn Man

Every time I made my way to my internship at ESPN Radio, I saw him, standing behind his cart, spreading cheer to the people around him. Inside the Downtown Crossing T Stop, he sold all sorts of snacks and drinks to the passengers. He sold pretzels, sodas, roasted nuts, hot dogs, and popcorn. Most of the time, I stopped by and bought something, whether it was a hot dog, pretzel, or some nuts. My favorite of all the items he had to offer was the popcorn.

Whenever I went up to order, the Popcorn Man greeted me with a smile and a “How are you today, my friend?” in his Middle Eastern accent. And every time, he shoveled more than enough popcorn into the paper bag, which he put into a bigger plastic one so he could fit more in. He only charged $1.75, but I always paid two dollars, being sure to toss the extra quarter into the tip jar. It seemed like he needed it more than I did. I never shared more than a sentence or two with him, but I was polite, and he treated me accordingly.

“Thank you very much. Have a nice day,” he would say as he handed me whatever I bought. He was always smiling and had a jolly air about him. I didn’t think very much about him as more than a street vendor until one day that he wasn’t so happy.

I walked up to the cart, and a lady was standing in line in front of me, child at hand. “Gimme a pretzel,” she said abruptly. As the popcorn man handed her the pretzel, she snatched it out of his hands.

“No. That is not how we live in this country,” he said with a look of disgust on his face. “We use manners.”

“Well I’m from Puerto Rico,” the lady answered, as if that was an excuse.

“That does not matter. If you are in this country, you should act properly. Use your manners. I don’t know about you, but I came here to learn, consider this a lesson.” He paused briefly, shifting his right hand from his hip to the counter in front of him. “You can go back to Puerto Rico and act that way, but if you are here, treat everyone well. That is what America is all about.”

The lady stared at the popcorn man and walked away.

“People have no respect anymore,” he said to me as I stepped up to the cart. “I’m sorry you had to see that.”

I assured the popcorn man that I did not mind, and that I agreed. People are very rude. I ordered a popcorn, and as he scooped it into the bag, I wondered why such a man was relegated to being a vendor. He was friendly. He was polite. He appeared to be smart as well. He was not your typical street vendor. As he gave me the popcorn, I put the bills into his hand and waited for the quarter. He dropped the quarter into my hand, which I had positioned right above the tip jar. I let the coin slip down into the jar, and made my way for the train.

The last time that I saw the popcorn man was near the end of my internship. It was mid-December, a time when many people are in high spirits. “How are you today, my friend?” He asked me as I approached the counter. He did not have the same energy as usual. I told him that I was doing well. I ordered a popcorn, and he shoveled it into the bag. He charged me the regular $1.75, and I handed him three dollars. “You gave me an extra dollar,” he said.

“No I didn’t. Happy Holidays,” I answered.

“Thank you very much, and Merry Christmas.” I stepped away from the cart as he finished the sentence, and a smile slipped onto his face.

Isaiah Thomas: The Jack of All Trades

Okay, so it’s not exactly a timely issue. Shoot me. It’s a fact that people have known for quite a while. Isaiah Thomas is bad at a lot of things: being a general manager, being a coach, and being a respectful person in general. He was a great player in his day, but ever since he left the court, it’s been a downhill ride for him. Not that I would really want to talk to him, but if I did, I could give him a few words of encouragement. No, I’m not saying I agree with the way he’s run the Knicks into the ground, coached them like crap, or sexually harassed his coworkers. But, not everything is bad in his life right now.

“Chin up, buttercup,” I would say, to poke a little fun at his prior mistakes both on the court and on the rear of the lady he groped. Then, I would remind him that he is quite the business man. I’m sure the idea he’s marketing right now is a golden egg that’s about to hatch. Any day now, those sales will shoot up like a heroin addict into his arm. I’m not making this up. Believe it or not, Isaiah Thomas is a salesman, and I’m not talking about the drastic measures I’m sure he’s had to take for his job (or the ones he’s had to blow off). He owns a real money maker: he sells popcorn. You thought I was being sarcastic, didn’t you?

That’s right. Dale & Thomas Popcorn, the multi-million dollar popcorn franchise, is partially owned by Isaiah Thomas. I’ve put money in the Knicks coach’s pocket myself. I love the Hall of Fame Kettle Corn they sell in Faneuil Hall. They have plenty of other intriguing flavors to choose from, and other snacks too. I’m not really a fan of Isaiah the GM, Isaiah the coach, or Isaiah the person, but Isaiah the popcorn guy is pretty tight.

Thomas, the popcorn connoisseur, started the company up from scratch with one other guy, and now he’s rolling in the dough. He doesn’t really need any of his positions with the Knicks anymore. The Knicks fans and media have already made him assume the position enough. His pride may be totally gone, but he’ll always have a bucket of fresh Cinnamon Crème Drizzlecorn to munch on. Yum.