Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Atlantic City: Way Harder To Get To Than Pun City

Before Pun City begins: Highly Recommended Reading: "Can I Keep My Jersey?" by Paul Shirley. This blog bought it last Thursday night and is almost done with it already. Double bonus points for a mention of Kaspars Kambala, a former Homestead High School and UNLV product that ends up on Shirley's Russian League team. This blog's connection to Kambala was watching the behemoth break the hometown backboard with a thunderous slam dunk back in 1998 or so.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled trip recap...

Trip Recap #7 - March 7th, 6th day of the trip. Longest day of the trip as far as dragging on. Started very early, getting back to Richmond from Raleigh around 1:30 AM. Caught some sleep, checked out and took off at about 7:00 AM. In theory, this would get Pun City to Atlantic City at right around noon for the start of the Dayton-Charlotte game. This is because Mapquest lists the Richmond-to-Atlantic City drive as 5 hours and 20 minutes, and this blog consistently takes less time than the Mapquest estimates.

Not this time. This blog got to enjoy one 16-mile stretch near Washington, DC for one hour and fifteen minutes! This was after stopping in a Burger King that refused to serve burgers for breakfast, a trend that this blog has repeatedly encountered lately, much to its chagrin. Also, Mapquest, in its infinite wisdom, decided that a 60-mile stretch to cap off the journey was best spent on a 2-lane road featuring a maximum speed limit of 45 mph. While this blog was all for listening to the Villanova radio network on the drive in, Pun City hadn't really expected to be doing so during the Dayton game that this blog had tickets to.

Also, the last 10 miles of the trip were exceedingly slow due to an ocean-effect snowstorm grinding traffic to a halt. However - this blog did manage to make it to the game before it ended. Barely. Two minutes remained in Dayton's runaway victory. This was not ideal, as this blog had worn a Dayton jersey for the occasion. Fortunately, at least they won so Pun City would be able to wear a winning jersey for the rest of the day, even if this site only saw the last 2 minutes of the game.

Oh, and by the way, did this blog mention that its seats were in the 2nd row at halfcourt? And that historic Boardwalk Hall is a really awesome venue? For all of the trouble that it took to get there, the Atlantic 10 Tournament was pretty awesome. Later in the day, Fordham took out Richmond in a bigtime heartbreaker for Pun City. Because of the prior day's visit to Richmond's campus and practice, this blog was rooting for them.

This blog had some time to kill and looked for a McDonald's or something on the Boardwalk. As far as this blog can tell, there's no fast food on the Boardwalk. This was a major bummer. This blog settled for a Johnny Rockets on the Boardwalk, which was a poor substitute mainly due to price. This blog did get mistaken for a Dayton player though, by a Fordham player's parents no less. Figuring that going along with the idea would probably lead to less conversation, or at least more interesting conversation, this blog just let them believe that Pun City was a Dayton player.

The conversation basically amounted to "You guys had a nice game," at which point the father shook Pun City's hand. This blog replied with "Thanks, you guys too."

So this blog supposes that was pretty cool actually. Other Dayton fans discovered that the guy's son (this blog believes it was Bryant Dunston) wasn't recruited by Dayton or really too many other D-1 schools.

In the evening games, Saint Louis beat Duquesne and Temple beat Duquesne. Extremely hot cheerleader with Saint Louis, this girl is probably 6'3". Very good subplot to the tournament.

Once the games ended, this blog got to check out its roach hotel in an Atlantic City suburb. This blog knew it was going to suck, mainly because any hotel worth its salt in the Atlantic City area charges higher rates over the weekend, and this particular one did not. This blog was not aware that it would be in for some really low-class service and accomodations though, and the next trip recap will detail these.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

MEAC Attack

Yes, a day late, oops. Crazy week at the Pun City HQ.

Trip Recap #6 - March 6th, 5th day of the trip. This would be the longest planned day of the trip, starting in Richmond, proceeding to Durham (to visit Duke University), Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill), and eventually Raleigh (NC State's home stadium, hosting the MEAC); then heading back up to Richmond for the night (so I wouldn't need to change hotels and the drive to Atlantic City on March 7th would be manageable).

The drive from Richmond to North Carolina is pretty cool actually. Lots of wooded areas, relaxing drive for the morning.

This blog first headed to Durham, which was awesome. Really a cool campus to visit. School was in session, and the place was pretty full. Krzyzewskiville was not full of students though, since Duke didn't have any more home games remaining. This blog, as a huge fan of the Duke program, was in awe for the whole Durham visit. Of course, the best part was walking around Cameron Indoor Stadium. Certainly the coolest college hoops venue this blog has ever visited, and this blog can't really imagine finding a better spot. The only arenas that would even be in the ballpark might be Philadelphia's Palestra or Oregon's McArthur Court.

Throughout Cameron Indoor, entrances to the seating bowl were blocked with drawn shades declaring "Closed Practice". This blog was able to see through a couple of the gaps between the shade and wall, and noticed one player was wearing a jersey that said "Howard" on the front. This blog figured that it was Duke practicing, but because it was fairly late in the season, they were letting players wear their high school jerseys to practice. Upon further review, this blog noticed that all of the players were wearing Howard jerseys. This blog racked its brain for a while, eventually realizing that Durham is very close to Raleigh, and this blog was going to be watching a Howard game later that day. This blog had stumbled across Howard's final walk-through before their postseason began.

The Duke team shop was awesome too, Pun City got itself a tie there. It was around lunchtime, so this blog grabbed McDonald's at the Duke student union. Very cool union, the McDonald's was decorated with an old basketball floor, signed by members of maybe the 2003? men's and women's teams. Also, Daniel Ewing's McDonald's All-American Game jersey, autographed by the entire high school All-American team, hung in a display next to the counter. Awesome McDonald's.

Was able to watch some ESPN in the union, it was good to get a national perspective in the middle of the trip, this blog occasionally will lose sight of the rest of the country when it's in the midst of a specific tournament or three.

After the Durham visit, on to Chapel Hill. This blog parked in a remote lot, for visitors, which was fine except it ended up being on about the exact opposite end of campus from the Dean Dome. After an exceedingly long walk in the relatively warm North Carolina sun. Fortunately the UNC Bookstore was on the way, but this blog wasn't really in the market for any UNC gear, and they didn't have any really cool items that this blog had to have.

The Dean Dome was a good building. Large (probably 3' by 5') team pictures of every NCAA, NIT champion, or nationally ranked team were posted around the entire concourse. This blog couldn't get onto the court, since they fold up the first 10 rows of bleachers when the court isn't in use. Normally this wouldn't be enough to stop Pun City, but there was a crew working on the floor when this blog stopped in, so the combination kept this site off the court.

On to the evening and back to some games. This blog went to the RBC Center to watch the opening few games of the MEAC tournament. There were going to be 2 sessions this day, the first of which featured women's games, and the later session featuring men's games. This blog had tried to order tickets ahead of time but was dubious of Ticketmaster's claims that one would only need 1 ticket for both sessions. This blog was suspect of the claim because most tournaments don't work that way, and even the MEAC was charging separate admission for different sessions after this group of games. For this reason, (and this blog's belief that the games weren't hot sellers - online this blog could have gotten 3rd row seats only a week before the game), Pun City planned to walk up and buy tickets.

This blog pulled in to the RBC lot, and asked the attendants if Pun City could park until the end of the night session without having to leave and come back. The attendants were at first confused, but after Pun City assured them this blog's wasn't trying to park it overnight, they were cool and said to "Have fun." They seemed a little surprised that this blog was there at all. This blog soon found out what the strange encounter was about.

This blog walked up to buy tickets, and indeed you could buy one ticket for both sessions that day. The first session was about halfway over, but that was fine with Pun City since it was women's games. A ticket was 8 bucks. That was stunning, 8 bucks for 4 games. Oh yeah, and it was a 3rd row seat at halfcourt. This was a very good start.

This blog walked into the seating bowl, checked out the NC State and Carolina Hurricanes banners, and found its seat. The place was fairly empty, about like the Mid-Con during its women's games in 2006, except this arena was much larger so it seemed even more sparse than it was. This blog thinks that the strange reaction from the parking attendants was for the following reason: Pun City appeared to be the only white guy there that wasn't either working or playing. Pun City didn't think it was that big of a deal, and realistically there should have been a lot more people there in general, but sort of a cool experience.

RBC Center's food was pretty expensive, and this blog had a very difficult time finding a MEAC shirt. After about 3 walks around the whole concourse, this blog finally noticed a vendor setting out some MEAC shirts, and this was a great relief since this blog really likes to "prove" its attendance at each tournament by getting a shirt to commemorate the stop.

Some interesting notes from the two men's games:

1. The in-house DJ played a remix of Ashlee Simpson's "Pieces of Me," which was danced to by each cheerleading squad.

2. Hampton's band played the theme song from "The Family Guy," and "Glory Hallelujah"

3. Hampton was up 19 with 18:38 left and ended up winning big over Howard.

4. Bethune Cookman played Coppin State in the nightcap, and Bethune Cookman had a really scary mascot.

5. Coppin State had a player named Ethan Kennedy. Unlike his college, Kennedy was not historically black.

6. Coppin State was up 8 with 6:20 left. This blog decided to take off mainly based on the dwindling sleep window and the long drive ahead the next morning. Luckily, the rule held and Coppin pulled out the win.

7. Unfortunately, everyone's favorite conference mascot, Meackie, was not on hand.

A long drive back to Richmond at night concluded the night. The Atlantic 10 was on tap for the next day, and a long drive from Richmond to Atlantic City preceeding it.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Mid-Continent Conference is The Summit League

Some huge news this week, The Mid-Continent Conference has announced that they will be re-naming themselves The Summit League as of June 1st.

This coincides with the addition of Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne, North Dakota State, and South Dakota State (and the loss of Valparaiso to the Horizon League).

What this blog thought was really amazing though, was this information released on the conference's website. Let's break it down:

  • The Summit League provides a mental image to reach for the top

Pun City: Well, yeah, this blog supposes. It also provides a mental image of a mountain. And Summit Credit Union.

  • Aspirations of greatness

PC: True. They really want to be great again, especially since their last winner in the NCAAs (Valparaiso in 1998) just bailed for the Horizon League.

  • Summit is a word that describes looking up, moving up, striving to go up, and reaching for the top.

PC: Uh, not sure on that one. This doesn't really mention those. Summit actually seems to describe the literal top of something, such as a mountain. It's more of a noun.

  • Reach the Summit in academics and athletics.

PC: Sir, yes sir!

  • Quick and easy to say.

PC: Yeah, I guess the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference didn't really factor this in during their decision-making process.

  • Provides a sense of movement forward.

PC: Alright, seriously, could they get any more "markety?" Couldn't they just combine the last few statements into something like "Focus Groups Love It!" or "Buzzwords!"

  • Visionary and contemporary.

PC: In Pun City's estimation, The Summit League begins as the 4th-best "League" in the NCAA. (Behind the Horizon, Patriot, and Ivy. There are no others). This is actually fairly visionary since the Mid-Con used to be the 19th-best "Conference" (out of 27).

  • Summit is what lies ahead. It embodies vision and purpose and represents the possibility of creation, innovation and opportunity.

PC: I really can't imagine anyone writing that other than this woman:

  • Embraces the potential of a vibrant future.

PC: But, the Mid-Con's old sunrise logo was already vibrant though!

  • Positive direction, conveys momentum.

PC: This blog would have preferred "The Inertia League" for this point.

  • On first reference, refer to it as The Summit League. Future references may be shortened to The Summit.

PC: If this blog is going to talk about The Summit, it's going to call The Summit League whatever it wants.

  • Do not refer to the league as TSL or SL.

PC: This blog wasn't really thinking about that, but now that you mention it...

  • A student-athlete who is voted to the conference's first team is referred to as first-team All-Summit (or an All-Summit League selection).

PC: Really a lot of housekeeping you have to take care of when you make it a "League" instead of a "Conference."

  • Do not refer to a student-athlete as a member of the All-"The" Summit team or first-team All-"The" Summit.

PC: This blog isn't sure who its picks for All-TSL are going to be, but this blog's sure that the All-SL team is going to have the same members.

  • It is acceptable to refer to a student-athlete as an all-league or all-conference selection.

PC: This blog doesn't know about that, they don't sound too enthused.

So basically the Mid-Con hired a consultant and they told them that losing Valparaiso and Chicago State in the last 2 years and replacing them with some Independents didn't look great. Changing the logo will definitely go along with the whole "fresh start" theme and all, and the Mid-Con's logo was pretty old school. (Although charmingly so, in this blog's opinion).

Pun City does like the new name and logo though. The key points with the logo are that they didn't choose trendy colors that would look tired in a couple years, and the logo is basic enough that anyone could draw it. (This blog is a fan of basic logos, when kids can draw a logo it makes it more fun for everyone).

The change presents an interesting quandry for this blog though. Since this blog has already been to the Mid-Con tournament in 2005 when Chicago State and Valpo were still around, it technically could make a case that it needs to add The Summit League back onto its conference tournament checklist, especially with the new name and all.

This blog isn't really going to sweat it though. The Big XII, Missouri Valley, and Conference USA each have tournaments near The Summit League's Tulsa venue, and Tulsa's within feasible driving distance from Pun City's home office, so this blog will probably get there even without making it a priority. Given the cool logo, this blog will want to get there eventually anyway. But since the Mid-Con explicitly became the Summit League, this blog considers them the same conference. Still 16 tournaments to go. Any thoughts? Leave a comment.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Backfield in Traction

Hmm, today was Tuesday, wasn't it?

Alright, here's what Pun City's got for you.

First off, this has been out there for a long time, but Pun City wasn't aware of it until yesterday, so let this blog say that it highly recommends the following 2 links. The first one starts very slow, but the payoff - in this blog's opinion - is well worth it.



Aside from this, Pun City was distracted tonight with resurrecting the Tecmo Super Bowl Cleveland Browns.

In the previous 19 seasons this blog had played (none with Cleveland), the Browns had a league-worst record of 71-232-1, never making the playoffs. Under Pun City's leadership, the Browns went 15-1 and won the Super Bowl 30-14 over what probably would have been heavy favorites in the San Francisco 49ers. All this while having to deal with Bernie Kosar (QB Browns) getting injured in the 2nd Quarter, then Kevin Mack and Eric Metcalf getting injured in the 3rd Quarter.

So the entire starting backfield got injured in the Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl Champion had the following backfield to end the season:

QB Mike Pagel
RB Leroy Hoard (Yes, Pun City knows, fairly competent)
RB Brent Fullwood (Completely incompetent, makes up for Hoard)

Good night, trip recaps continue later in the week.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Richmond Basketball: Dunk You Very Much

Trip Recap #5, March 5th, 4th day of the trip. CAA Finals, the last full day in Richmond. George Mason set to take on Virginia Commonwealth in the final. At this point, ESPN had picked up on the potential return of Mason to the NCAA tournament. This was a fairly big story at the time, in part because there were only 3 tourney finals in the nation that day; and also because Mason's head coach Jim Larranaga had become a media darling during their Final Four run last season.

In any case, pretty cool to have the nation's attention focused on the game Pun City was going to be at. Also pretty cool was that these two schools had brought in the largest fan bases through the tournament, meaning that attendance would be great even though most tournaments have a dropoff from the semis to the final given that only 2 fan bases attend instead of 4.

After 10 games in 3 days, this blog also was happy that it would have the majority of the day to kill time around Richmond. A full slate of activities came to mind: Going to the University of Richmond to check out their campus, heading over to VCU's bookstore to turn in a 25% off coupon and get some Rams gear, grab some lunch, kill any remaining time, and head to the game.

This blog went to the University of Richmond first, and went to the bookstore, eventually getting a spider hat. It's a badass spider hat, with 8 legs protruding from the sides and a spider head in front. Probably the kind of hat gang members might wear. From there, got directions from the friendly bookstore staff and went to their basketball arena, the Robins Center. It's a pretty nice facility, housing most if not all of their sports offices. When this blog arrived, a basketball practice was in session, and there wasn't an easy way to get to "higher ground" without practically walking on the court. So this blog just searched in the concourses, which were really carpeted hallways housing the offices. Despite being seen by numerous employees, this blog didn't get stopped. That was cool.

Eventually this blog just decided to walk in on floor level to the court, practice be darned. It was decent timing though, as the practice was just concluding. At this point, hilarity ensued....

While the main practice had ended, there were a few players that were scheduled for a smaller workout session also being run by Coach Chris Mooney. During the time where the floor had to be cleared, the players waiting for the workout session had started up an impromptu dunk session. This was going a little long though, and Mooney said over to the group, "Alright, come on guys, let's go."

At this point, the ringleader of the dunking group, David Gonzalvez, spoke up: "Hold up coach, just one more here. I'm gonna rock the cradle, then reverse it for a backhand slam." Another player chimed in, "He's nice wit it coach."

Given that one dunk is pretty harmless and also not time-consuming, Mooney reluctantly "agreed" by rolling his eyes.

Gonzalvez readied himself, getting a grip on the ball and saying "Rock-a-bye baybee!" He then strided toward the basket, loading up for a rocking windup, and......

Stopped in mid-air. He had his steps wrong, no dunk was really even attempted. It all looked very silly. Mooney punctuated the moment by saying in a perfect deadpan "That's nice."

Of course, all of the players wanted another shot at it, and Mooney reluctantly agreed to Gonzalvez's plea of "Hold up coach, just one more!" At that point he dunked it as he had described, and it was a pretty cool jam.

After that, Pun City still had plenty of time to get to the bookstore since it was only around lunchtime, the game started at 6:00, and the bookstore was within walking distance of the Coliseum. Fortunately, this blog had seen a Fuddrucker's near the hotel this blog was staying at, so it went over there. Fuddrucker's always was one of this blog's favorites as a kid, but lately it comes across as sort of a ripoff. Good burgers, but expensive. This blog's table was near a man and woman that were talking about the ACC tournament, which was kind of a cool thing to see. This blog rarely if ever overhears college basketball conversations outside of arenas or sports bars, so it was cool to hear.

The main point of their conversation was that the ACC Tournament shouldn't be in Tampa, FL. The woman smartly brought up, well, where should it be? The male UNC fan eventually settled on the Dean Dome, but said "Well, that wouldn't be very fair to everyone else." (They had ruled out the Georgia Dome since the SEC had it, thought Greensboro Coliseum was too small, and didn't like the idea of it going to the MCI Center in Washington, DC again).
"Well, that wouldn't be very fair."

After lunch, caught a screening of "Reno 911" in a theatre, the movie was good, and about as you'd expect from that movie.

VCU's Bookstore was up next, and it was a pretty cool bookstore. A Quizno's and a Starbucks were inside, and it was a very large bookstore for this size of a school. This blog got a Virginia Commonwealth ringer t-shirt, with the 25% off it was only about 10 bucks.

Inside the Coliseum, this blog saw George Mason keep a lead on VCU for most of the game, including a slim lead with 2:00 remaining. From that point though, VCU point guard Eric Maynor took over the game, single-handedly willing the Rams to victory and an NCAA automatic bid (this blog thinks they were in anyway, but that's hard to say given they were an 11-seed with the win). A fond farewell to Richmond, this blog was headed to Duke, North Carolina, and Raleigh for some campus tours and the first round of the MEAC Tournament next.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Coolest Value Matrix This Side of a Toyota Plant

This blog recently created a "value matrix" of potential conference trips for next year. It is Pun City's hope to reel of a number of trip recaps in the near future so that the whole trip from last year is laid out and we can jump to new topics, including next year's potential trip. However, right now, a brief intermission where we jump ahead.

So here's the rankings for the remaining 16 conferences this blog hasn't been to as yet. Points were given for the following categories: Quality of basketball; Ticket Cost/Availability; Proximity/Accessibility to other conference tournaments; Ancillary Costs; Weather; "Planability," based on when the site of the game is set; and any potential bonuses. 5 points in a category was the highest grade, 1 was the lowest.

Big East - This blog was surprised by where the Big East finished. However, the proof is in the pudding. They do get high marks for quality of play and planability, both are 5s since the Big East is perennially one of the top 4 conferences in the country and they play their tournament in Madison Square Garden every year. The problem is low marks in every other category. As a season ticket holder for a Big East school last year, Pun City wasn't even given an order form for Big East Tourney tickets. Ebay shows tickets usually in the $1000.00 range for all session passes. Ticket score: 1. New York is probably one of the most expensive cities in the country, primarily for hotels and transportation. Ancillary Cost score: 1. While proximate to other tournaments, given the costs mentioned earlier, along with the difficulty of driving in New York, it would not be smart to miss Big East games for lesser conferences. This aside from the fact that no nearby tournaments are being played immediately before the Big East tournament puts the Proximity score at 1. This blog didn't want to have weather be a major factor in outcomes, so it bottomed weather scores out at 2. New York in March is probably similar to Atlantic City in March, which had a snowstorm while Pun City visited this year. Big East weather score: 2. Total score: 15.

14T. Big Sky - Quality of play - 3. Montana did get an NCAA win in 2006 so not a bad deal there. Big Sky teams can consistently keep up with the major conferences if not come out with too many wins. Ticket availability: 5. This blog is sure that tickets wouldn't be a problem, primarily since the tournament location isn't announced until late February. The Big Sky's Proximity score comes in at a 2. While Sacramento State and Northern Arizona, if hosting tournament games, would be close to a couple other tournaments, the other 7 schools are too far to get to from any other conference. Planability is a 1 for the Big Sky. 9 schools canvassing practically one-third the area of the contiguous United States does not make flying into a "central location" viable. Also, the tournament sites aren't announced until late February, making travel arrangements for the early March trip nightmarish. Given this planability, this blog had to dock points for Ancillary Costs, which came in at a 2. Depending on the tourney site, weather could be great or lousy and anywhere in between. Weather points a 3. 1 bonus point was awarded since this blog has never visited the Pacific Northwest, and there's a good chance the Big Sky site would be there. Total points: 17.

14T. Northeast - Quality of play: 2. This conference sucks. As a result, ticket availability is undoubtedly easy, 5. A lot of potential sites close to other conferences' set and potential locations, although given the unpredictable sites, this blog doesn't think it would be too easy to lock in a route. Proximity's a 3. Northeastern US strikes this blog as being expensive, so Other Costs come in at a 3. Another late-determined site, although at least within reasonable driving distance, so Planability is a 2. Weather similar to Big East, another 2. Total points: 17.

13. Patriot - Carbon copy of NEC, but slightly better quality of play (3). Total points: 18.

11T. America East - Bonus for having a set site (Boston), 5 points on Planability. Proximity (4) good because Boston not the rental car black hole that NY is. Other costs 3, Weather 2, Ticket availability 5, and bonus points because this blog knows a friend in Massachusetts and might be able to hang out (maybe). Total points 22.

11T. Big South - Quality 3, Tickets 5, Proximity 3, Other Costs 4, Weather 5, Planability 2. Site undetermined until final standings. Total points: 22.

9T. Atlantic Coast - Great quality (5), Tickets very cost-prohibitive (i.e. at least $1000.00), (1). Fairly proximate to some other conferences (4). Other costs average (3), Weather (5), Planability (5). Like the Big East, but much improved since the trip can be combined with other tournaments (beforehand), and no New York expenses involved. Total points: 23.

9T. Southern - Quality (3), Tickets (5), Proximity (3), Other costs (4), Weather (5), Planability (2). Bonus of 1 given some new locations this blog could visit. Total points: 23.

6T. SWAC - Quality (2), Ticket (5), Proximity (2), since nothing's really close to Birmingham. Other Costs (5), Weather (5), Planability (5). Total Points: 24.

6T. Metro Atlantic - Quality (3), Ticket (5), Planability (4) - since the tournament has started in one location, then moved to higher seeds' home locations in the past. Last year it was all in Bridgeport, CT, so that score could improve if repeated. Other costs (4) given the possibility of having to drive elsewhere. Bonus of 2 since this blog has friends near Connecticut and prior site Vestal, NY. Total points: 24.

6T. SEC - Quality (5), Ticket (2), tickets could be expensive but there's a chance they're available to the public if it's in a big facility. Proximity a (4) since some stops possible before it, Other Costs (3), Weather and Planability both (5)s. Total points: 24.

5. Big XII - Quality (5), Tickets (2), this blog isn't too hopeful on a ticket in a 17000-seat arena, but maybe it's easier than Pun City thinks. Proximity a (4) since Mid-Con and Missouri Valley in the vicinity. Other costs a (4), Kansas City's affordable. Weather (4), Planability (5) and a bonus given that this blog hasn't been to Kansas City and could potentially tour Kaufman Stadium.

3T. MAC - Quality (4), Tickets (5), Proximity (2), it's unlikely that anything's within striking distance of Cleveland. Maybe some Horizon League options or Patriot League are possible. Other costs (5), Weather (2), Planability (5), 3 bonus points given this blog knows Michigan and Columbus residents, so visits from or to them might be possible. Total points: 26.

3T. Southland - Quality (3), Tickets (5), Proximity (2), probably only Birmingham even within striking distance, also possible Sun Belt destinations. Other costs (5), Weather (5), Planability (5), and a bonus point for a possible Houston Rockets game plus the conference logo being cool.

2. West Coast - Quality (4), Tickets (3?) - this blog doesn't know what their deal is. Theoretically, having spoken to a conference official last year, the conference is going to be in a larger venue this season. Their website says that they'll be in Southern California, which isn't too specific. This blog is hoping that it's the Staples Center or some huge spot where they couldn't possibly sell it out, even with all the Gonzaga fans. However, this blog is also ready for a giant letdown since the last 2 years when the tournament was in Spokane and Portland, there were no tickets available to the general public. This despite the arenas being virtually empty every non-Gonzaga game, much to this blog's chagrin. Pun City is keeping an eye on the situation and hopes to see a huge venue with tons of extra tickets available. Proximity a (5), Other Costs a (3) since LA is expensive but flights there aren't. Weather (5), Planability (5) for now since this blog assumes they'll have a specific site chosen before the season begins. That could fall. Given a couple friends in LA, this blog is awarding 3 bonus points to the WCC. Total points: 28.

And, #1 is....

Mountain West - Mountain West? Actually yeah. Quality (4), Tickets (5), has to be one of the easiest tickets in the country. This blog was able to find 3rd-row seats as late as December last year. Proximity (5), can get to some L.A. tournaments and possibly the Big Sky if it's in Northern Arizona or Sacramento. Even the WAC isn't out of the question in Las Cruces, NM. Other costs (3), Weather (5), Planability (5), and 3 bonus for being close enough for LA friends to visit and being in Las Vegas where this blog hasn't yet been. Could be pretty cool. This blog is thinking the ideal trip would be WCC and MWC, but we'll see what happens with the WCC location and ticket availability.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Phonograph Lifts Its Needle, Pun City Reports

In a move that sent shockwaves throughout the blogging community, Phonograph founder Aaron "A.J." "Ronk" Romens decided to hang up the keyboard this week and posted his last Phonograph update. This means that both Ronk and wife Sarah will be ambling off into the big blogocube sunset. Pun City was fortunate enough to get an interview with each of the two equally important parts of Phonograph. These are their stories. (And by the way, some punk blogs might split this into a 2-part series. Pun City don't play that. If you want it in 2 parts, just read one interview and come back later).

Part I - Sarah

Pun City: First off, aside from your comment on Phonograph, anything you'd like to say to Phonograph readers?

Sarah Romens: Yes, I'd like to reiterate a big "thanks" for reading and for talking to us about specific posts. Aaron unfortunately couldn't keep up with comments on the actual blog, but it was always so fun to hear from friends and family about posts they liked.

Pun City: Word. Most readers are fairly familiar that you filled in for Ronk on multiple occasions. Do you consider that a stepping stone to one day entering the blogosphere on your own?

Sarah Romens: I really enjoyed manning the blog while he was away, but I don't think I would want to do it long term. Too much pressure!

Pun City: Understandable. This seems like a situation where Ronk's retirement, in a manner, also forces you into a retirement of your own. Can you think of any parallels this might have with any other real-world situation?

Sarah Romens: Oh, man, what a set up. And yet, I can't think of anything. Help?

Pun City: Actually, Pun City couldn't think of any itself. (This blog) was trying to leave this to the professionals. Um, Steve Irwin getting killed maybe?

Sarah Romens: Oh sad...too soon, man.

Pun City: Ah yes. (This blog) will have to replace that with some War of 1812 humor when (it) goes to print.

Sarah Romens: Ha ha, yes, I think we might be emotionally ready for that.

Pun City: (take 2): Those crazy Canadians, thinking they can run all amok with their muskets and such, what a bunch of buffoons, eh?

Sarah Romens: Tell me about it! Although, those Brits really smoked us with the whole burning down our capitol thing, eh?

Pun City: Bitches

Pun City: But good pun though

Pun City: That plays well with our demographic

Sarah Romens: I would imagine it would have to!

Pun City: What would be your favorite Phonograph moment, and specifically (if it differs) your favorite Phonograph moment while you were writing?

Sarah Romens: Oh, that is very difficult. I think my favorite is Aaron's Halloween adventure story, with pictures.

Pun City: That was a good one, very Civil of him.

Sarah Romens: And when I was writing? I just don't know. I think I'm too close to it.

Pun City: Ah, so none of your posts were pranks where you had everyone going for a minute, no palindromes you tried to sneak past everyone?

Sarah Romens: Unforunately, I am not a citizen of Pun City, so I do not share that gift.

Pun City: Well, wouldn't be a gift if we all shared it. By the way, that was a good plug earlier (with the link and all) too. Will the Romenses be raking in royalties from Phonograph-related merchandise or Google Ads in the future?

Sarah Romens: We are in the design stage of limited edition Phonograph-brand phonographs - we think they'll be a hot selling item. You know, for kids.

Pun City: Sounds phon-tastic. Any spawn of Pun City will need to have one of these!

Pun City: One last question before Pun City lets you go here....

Sarah Romens: Serve it up!

Pun City: If you were a club sandwich, how much guff would you take from two punk mail packages?

Sarah Romens: Very little guff. I'd say maybe two, two and a half guffs. After all, I'm delicious, aren't I?

Pun City: No question about that, sandwhich brings us to our conclusion. Thanks a lot for your help, and best of luck in "retirement." See you on the shuffleboard court!

Sarah Romens: No problem! Expect Aaron's pants to migrate up to the armpits shortly.

Pun City: Hahaha, moreso than usual?

Sarah Romens: Well, there is a bit of a ceiling effect . But now the pants can be polyester!

Pun City: Haha, ah yes, definitely looking forward to that one. The April shower of Phonograph going offline brings the May flower of Ronk in polyester pants, phenomenal!

Part II - Ronk

Pun City: Well, first off, anything you'd like to say to your readers that you or the bulldogs didn't already say?

Ronk Romens: No, I think the bulldogs and I made everything pretty clear.

Pun City: Yeah, we get it, you won't negotiate with terrorists, enough already.

Ronk Romens: Ha ha ha ha. Exactly.

Pun City: What would you describe as your favorite "Phonograph moment"?

Ronk Romens: Being quoted in and linked to a Slate article, while my law school professor was quoted in the same article, and not linked. She went on to whine about it. That was pretty cool.

Pun City: At this point, do you think she has come-uppance, now that she has a better case for calling Phonograph a "Fly-by-night" blog?

Ronk Romens: Hold on one sec

(At this point, Pun City waited 2 hours and 31 minutes, and Ronk Romens pre-screened Spiderman 3)

Ronk Romens: Thomas Hayden Church was excellent.

Pun City: On that note, did the great power Phonograph provided you also come with great responsibility?

Ronk Romens: No. Surprisingly, it came with very, very little responsibility. Probably because the great power was mostly delusional.

Pun City: Very cool. That could never apply to Pun City, (this blog has) nothing to learn from that. Do you have any plans for Phonograph-related merchandise in the future, other than the limited-edition Phonograph brand Phonographs that Sarah told me about?

Ronk Romens: I am not sure, there will probably be merchandizing if I can get a Hollywood deal for "Phonograph: The Movie," but probably not until then.

Pun City: Fair enough. Given your choice, who would play the lead in that one?

Ronk Romens: Clearly, Thomas Hayden Church.

Pun City: Good choice, (this blog) heard he was excellent in Spiderman 3.

Ronk Romens: Indeed.

Pun City: My next question relates a little to the Pun City demographic. What would be your coolest fast-food experience? And, are you planning to repeat this type of experience more often now that you're riding off into the sunset?

Ronk Romens: Oh my, I have quite a few. First, there used to be an A & W drive-in in a town ten minutes away from my house. I loved going there as a kid. That was probably my favorite. Also near the top is eating something called the Octoburger, which was constructed out of eight double cheesburgers from Wendy's. I hope to never repeat that again.

Pun City: Hahaha, alright, (this blog) could see that. (Pun City is) not sure you're totally aware of this, but your retirement effectively pushes Sarah into retirement as well. Have you ever forced anyone else into retirement before, for instance, the inventor of the Octoburger?

Ronk Romens: Well, a long time ago, there was this really awful band, and I'd like to think I forced them into retirement... it's a long story.

Pun City: Hahahahaha. That story is something Pun City would thoroughly enjoy revisiting some time with you, if you get the chance between shuffleboard matches and shopping for polyester pants.

Ronk Romens: Yes, no problem. There will be time. One can buy only so many pairs of polyester pants on a fixed income.

Pun City: Isn't that the truth. Well, one last question before (this blog lets) you go....If you were a shrimp sensation at Applebee's, would you be sautéed, crisp fried, or fire grilled?

Ronk Romens: Hmmm,,, I don't care, as long as they are served on a handy skewer.

Pun City: (This blog thinks) that's a good outlook to have. Given that response, you're free to freelance on Pun City any time you'd like.

Ronk Romens: Well, thank you very much. Perhaps I will sometime. I have always wanted to refer to my self in third-person-blog.

So there you have it folks, hard-hitting reporting, a staple of the Pun City experience, and hard-hitting answers from the creators of Phonograph.

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