Sunday, February 08, 2009

Bucks: Exceeding Expectations

Honestly, I wasn't expecting the Bucks to do much last night against Detroit. Without Redd, I would have expected a good game. WIthout Bogut, hmmmm. Maybe a chance. Without Luke R using the force? C'mon Sammy, let's go to a game and just have a mother-son date, because time at the Bradley Center with a 5-year-old doesn't have to be about the game.

It was anyway. Sammy got right into it from the get go! "Woo, that was a close one," he'd say at various shots. He'd yell when everybody else yelled, and of course he got a little tired now and then, but we had a good time snacking together. He dutifully took off the free hat he got as fan swag for the anthem, which was rendered by the Oshkosh Middle School Boy's Choir. Another one of those subdued, Andy Williams Show-style arrangements, like it was almost barbershop. Except it didn't work. This choir wasn't strong enough to pull it off, (Geez, they're only middle school boys!) and further, I don't think that many choirs could. It's the just wrong kind of arrangement for the National Anthem. It was the kind of thing you could picture the family settling down to watch, with "Dad" sticking a pipe in his mouth and nodding appreciatively. Then we get a new intro sequence. They probably realized, "Oh shoot, half the people we feature in our current sequence with their newspaper clips are out for the season! We need to make this a bit more generic." And it's actually better: it uses this hip-hop take on "In A Gadda-Da-Vida," with its meanacing bassline, to bring on the team. Then, right before tipoff, there's some better music than they had before, but unfortunately the Energee girls aren't used to a slower, syncopated beat and they seem kind of lost. I'm just not impressed with Energee this season: they seem to be choosing sluttieness over precision. About a year ago, I'd talked to a former Energee dancer who confirmed what I'd suspected - the NBA is really leaning on local dance squads to be more sex-ay. And you know my response -- there's a difference between sexiness and sluttieness. The former still has precision. The former is still tight. Boys, if you want to see strippers, there's always the Airport Lounge.

By the second quarter, I was actually quite impressed with the fact that the Bucks weren't down by, like, 30. Ramon Sessions, as @bucksdotcom later tweeted, was on fire (and he ended up scoring his career high that night.) We were treated to the debut of a new squad, the Bucks Wild Drumline. Good debut performance, but they didn't blow me away -- yet. They're not quite "wild" yet, but as opposed to Energee, they are tight and they have their fundamentals down. My understanding is that they're fairly new, and so they need to play together a lot, develop a voice/style, and they'll be ready for competition soon. But here's the thing. Who thought it was a good idea to have them debut on the same night when the halftime entertainment was The Bucket Boys? As I wrote back when I first saw those guys from Chicago:
Ah, but the non-basketball highlight of the evening was definitely Chicago's The Bucket Boys, the halftime entertainment. Great stuff. Brian nailed the description: "The Drummers of Burundi on a Budget." Four guys sitting on stools, with, between them, about 6 of those five gallon white plastic buckets that bulk paint or fast food pickles come in, each guy holding a pair of standard drumsticks that probably cost more than the buckets. You can just picture the leader of this group, on break during his day job, thinking to himself, "There has got to be a better way of making money with these buckets than slogging pickles," while tapping out a rhythm with some paint mixing sticks or wooden spoons, remembering that tour of STOMP he'd seen a few years back on a high school field trip. The light bulb goes on, and now they're performing at halftime shows and getting standing ovations. These guys were as tight as any drumline James Brown would hire.

Since I'd written that, they've expanded their ranks to 6, and they've gotten even more amazing, drawing a standing ovation from the halftime crowd. I can just picture the Wild Drumline backstage, half in awe of what they should be aiming for, and half totally deflated after what was a solid and probably nervewracking debut. Worse yet, if I were Wild Drumline sponsor Cascio Interstate Music, I'd be pissed. Here they go and outfit Wild Drumline with top of the line Pearl gear that looked and sounded great (and I'd guess totaled in the five figure range for all of it!), but then out come these dudes from Chicago with nothing but some (and clearly worn from use) buckets. They blow everybody away, and make a point that a music store sponsor doesn't necessarily want made: "You don't need top of the line gear to be great! All you need are some old paint buckets that Home Depot has for five bucks!"
Sammy did plenty of percussion on his own: as our seats are behind the basket, we got some of those thunder sticks to bang together whenever the opposing team attempts a free throw. Too bad there weren't too many opportunities to do that in the second half -- seemed like the Bucks were the only team getting fouled for a while there. And then suddenly, it's a game. Nobody in the Bradley Center, least of all me, expected this! Sessions misses a crucial free throw, and within a couple of minutes, it's overtime time. But I've got a five year old with me, and a cranky, up past his bedtime, one at that. We head to the car and listen to the rest of the heartbreaking loss on the way home, but even the announcers and the call-in guys are still picking up their jaws from the floor. With three starters out, nobody expected this. It's like Sessions was the evil understudy who finally gets his chance when the divastars suddenly took ill. (OK, maybe he's not evil, but I still like the concept of the evil understudy.) If anything good comes of this whole mess, it's going to force the bench to step it up, and there's nothing like a team with a deep, experienced bench.
Babysitting duties were handed over to me, and as I put the kids to bed, Brian headed over to the Cactus Club to see Couch Flambeau open up for Chicago's Cheer:Accident. He reports:
  • Rockhaus Rusty is doing well. Things are cleaning up from the fire and he hopes to re-open soon.

  • Flambeau, it goes without saying, turned in a typically excellent performance. There's nothing like a band that's consistently great to count on.

  • Cheer: Accident was very good. "Kind of rock, punk jazz, lots of different instruments and different arrangements, very experiemental, overall very interesting band that holds your attention." Coming from Brian, that's hard to do. He got home fairly late, which means there was plenty of musical goings on to hold his attention.

Right now, my lower back is achy -- today was another terrific day to head out to the rink at Red Arrow Park for some ice skating with the kids. Wow, was it sunny -- almost to the point of being blinded on the white rink, but the sun dipped behind the Milwaukee Center tower and we were able to see. It wasn't really packed, but since it was so warm, we didn't get much Zamboni action. But we didn't really expect it anyway.

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