Friday, May 1, 2009

Around the World with the HSL

No "Strings" Attached

Fruit by the Foot...a few Girl Scout cookies...or even the sticky, slightly overrated, but always there for you Fruit Roll-Up: all highly acceptable elementary school lunchtime treats. What you brought as an entree or main course, whether it be a sandwich or a cold piece of chicken, was secondary to the all-important snack. Most people understood this process. You wolfed down the PB & J or turkey sangwich so you could finally get to something sweet. The cafeteria by-laws were in perfect order. Until one "snack" came along and started wreaking havoc. Our sacred lunch room would never be the same. Meet "String Cheese."

The product itself was very mysterious to me. At the age of 9, you're used to seeing cheese in its melted form only. I could identify with grilled cheese. Macaroni and cheese I connected with. Pizza was a dear friend. Even mozzarella sticks, while still in their infancy before bursting onto the national stage in '96, were something I could wrap my arms around. But seeing someone pull out an unclothed, unmelted log of cheese from their brown bag for snack-time was inconceivable. As Tom Hanks perfectly stated in Big, "What's fun about that?" You got me. But somehow, it started catching on. You couldn't get through one peaceful afternoon at Forest Elementary without encountering String Cheese.

A couple things have always confused me about Sir Strings. Exactly what kind of cheese was this guy? Back in the day, I just assumed he was "String." But maybe 10-12 years later, I discovered that this was indeed not a real faction of the cheese family and that it belonged to a different group. But which one? Even now, the answer is unclear. Some speculated that it was Swiss, but that's never been documented, and the lack of holes in Strings makes that theory highly unlikely.

And why were people so obsessed with eating it in stringed segments? Yeah, I understand that it might be more fun this way, but just do us all a favor and take a normal bite out of the thing like a civilized human being. I probably saw somewhere between 500-1,000 string cheese consumptions in my school years, and not once can I remember someone just pickin' the bad boy up and attacking it. With its appearance much resembling a stick of butter, I guess some kids were hesitant to take a big ole chomp for fear of looking like a complete savage. While that might have been the case, at least they would have preserved some level of personal pride.

If there is one thing you can take away from this hard-hitting piece of journalism, it is this. The next time a friend offers you a slice of their String Cheese, just follow these three simple steps. First, let that person know his or her friendship will no longer be welcomed. Second, just say NO. You will be sparing yourself a lifetime of regret, while contributing in some small way to the eventual elimination of String Cheese and the cruel game it has been playing with us for the last 15 years. And lastly, go grab yourself a celebratory snack consisting of a sugar cookie and a mini-carton of chocolate milk...because you just made the best decision of your life.

NBA Playoff Thoughts

-When Latrell Sprewell put the choke hold on P.J. Carleismo back in the day, he did more than just leave a nasty scar on the coach's neck. He also did some major damage to the man's voice box. If you've heard P.J. do any color commentary on TNT for this year's playoffs, you can't help but feel like you're listening to Super Dave Osborne. But once you get past that, he has actually been very enjoyable behind the mic. I always enjoy color guys that were recently coaching in the league, and Carlesimo fits the bill having just spent a couple years with the Sonics/Thunder organization. He does a nice job of focusing his attention on all of the players on the floor, not just the superstars as some color guys are prone to do. As proof of this, Carlesimo spent a good 8-10 minutes on Tuesday night gushing about Spurs veteran forward Kurt Thomas and the effectiveness of his cross-screens to get Tim Duncan open. By the time he had finished with the verbal massage, you half expected P.J. to ditch the headset and go hop onto Thomas for a little cross-screening action of his own.

-I'm fairly confident that if Steve Blake went without shaving for the next four or five years in hopes of growing a real man's beard, he would still just end up with a few cat-like whiskers on his chin and along the side of his face. It always looks like Blake is trying to get some legitimate facial hair workin', but he just does not have the capability. Perhaps he could learn a thing or two from longtime professional beard grower P.J. Carlesimo.

A Good Bit Never Gets Old

Me and my Dad have had a running joke for years about the NHL. When we see a team leading in the 3rd period, we always try and figure out what that lead would translate to in a basketball game. For instance, if the Red Wings were up 3-2 with ten minutes to go, that would be about a 15-point margin. If they were able to tack on a goal to make it 4-2, the lead is now somewhere in the 30-40 point territory. If we ever flip on a game and see a team ahead by three goals, that would mean a comeback would be akin to a basketball team storming back from down about 80 points. It's just a fun, little dig at hockey by intimating that scoring goals is near impossible and that even 1-2 goal leads are basically insurmountable. Turns out this "bit" carries much more truth than originally thought. The Carolina Hurricanes scored two late goals in last night's Game 7 to steal the series from the New Jersey Devils. But get this. Prior to that comeback, teams that had a lead going into the 3rd period in this year's playoffs were an astounding 29-0. You might think our routine is silly, but next time you see a team carrying any kind of advantage into the final 20 minutes, just go ahead and turn the channel. That team is down by 50 points...and they're not coming back.

An Unsolved Mystery on the Diamond

The Tigers signed Adam Everett in the off-season to stabilize the shortstop position with his reliable glove and semi-occasionally frisky bat. However, the early returns are in, and the comparison that keeps coming to mind is that of Jeff Blauser for the 1998 Cubs. The Cubbies were set to make a big run that year (they wound up winning the wild card) and they felt that Blauser, despite his advanced age, was the perfect fit. At least it sounded like a good idea at the time. Blauser wound up hovering around the .200 mark for most of the year while his range in the field started resembling that of Roger Dorn in Major League. By the time the playoffs came around, the Cubs were scrambling for production at short, shuffling between strikeout machine Jose Hernandez and known steroid abuser Manny Alexander. Blauser had just turned 32 that year in Chicago, the exact same age of his current version in Detroit, Mr. Everett. If the Tigers end up making a run late in the season, look for the younger Ramon Santiago to see more and more time up the middle. The more I think about it, with Blauser and Everett's facial features eerily similar, I'm not totally convinced that they are even two separate people. Is it so inconceivable that Blauser hung it up in 1999, took a year off, decided he still had an itch, and started back up again in 2001 under the name "Adam Everett"?? I think not. In one final, almost chilling twist to this bizarre saga, we come to find out that "Adam" isn't even Everett's real first name. It's Jeff. This just got very interesting...

If you've seen Jeff Blauser or have heard anything of his whereabouts, call your local law enforcement agency or e-mail me at


Anonymous said...

the picture actually seems to be showing a string cheese that has been "attacked"! how novel!
sir vajj

BShoke said...

Mozzarella...A Pizza and cheesestick connoisseur of your ilk should be well aware of this.

Anonymous said...

I Love the comparison of point lead or deficit comparison from basketball to hockey, however playing both sports growing up I would make a ratio comparison like 1 goal would equal 10 pts only because a game can turn around very quickly in hockey and in basketball your battle the clock more???