The World According To Luke: Bonner's Blog
UMass sophomore Luke Bonner gives you his spin on the world in his blog, The World According To Luke. The column will include some basketball, but also focus on the 7-footer's unique perspective on the world.
The holidays have come and gone, and we are now in the heart of the extended winter break here at UMass. I spent Christmas with my family in San Antonio, and had a great time. It was the first time I spent a Christmas outside of New England and proved to be quite an experience. I got to San Antonio in the afternoon on December 23 and returned to the Pioneer Valley Christmas night. Although my time in San Antonio was brief, I had a great time with my family.
On Christmas Eve, my brother and I went to the pet store to get some chew toys for his girlfriend's bull dog Olive. On our way back from the pet store, we could not resist the temptation to stop at the fireworks store. We stopped and purchased a few tame firecrackers. We thought it would be funny if we snuck up to his house and set them off in his backyard to scare my family. We truly believed that my parents would confuse the distinct noise of black cat firecrackers for some sort of legitimate threat. After all, it worked in Home Alone. Needless to say we set them off, and managed only to scare poor Olive. My dad came outside laughing, and my mom and sister missed out because they were freshening up for dinner.
After dinner we all watched Christmas Vacation together. Two of my brother's friends were over, and we told them about our lame firecracker ploy. They enjoyed the story and decided we should buy some more fireworks and have a celebratory display in front of my brother's house. So, at around 10:30 PM on Christmas Eve we went back to the fireworks store, and to my surprise it was open. I could not believe that it stayed open until midnight on Christmas Eve. We then proceeded to put on a very amateur fireworks display. It was a very unique way to spend Christmas Eve.
Christmas was fun as well. More exciting than receiving gifts, is giving gifts. My sister and I have a tradition of getting each other random gifts. This year was no exception. I got my sister a bonsai tree, and she got me an awesome jacket with leather elbow patches (thank you!). Past gifts exchanged between my sister and I include but are not limited to: a bug collecting kit, a Betty Boop blanket, an elephant action figure, a keyboard print tie, a Ninja Turtle wallet, My Giant DVD, etc. My sister also got my brother some flamingo lawn decorations for his house, which I was pretty jealous about. I got my brother's girlfriend a tee shirt from Unite Footwear and Apparel in Northampton (a great spot!), and an Elvis print from a local graphic designer named Nate Duval (every house needs something Elvis). I got my brother a George Clinton gig poster designed by Nate Duval as well. The other gift that I got my brother was the best gift of the year.
When I was in first grade, my brother told me all December about how he got me the best Christmas present of all time. I was so excited to open this mysterious gift come Christmas day. I was going to open it first, but my brother told me to save it for my last gift. I was so anxious to get through all of my gifts so I could end the speculation as to what the gift could possibly be. I opened it, and it was a Barbie doll. I proceeded to throw it at my brother and run up to my room. I was so upset. It was a very dirty trick, but in hindsight, quite hilarious.
Payback finally came this year. I told my brother that I got him the best record ever. I told him it was a very rare record, and he would go crazy when he got it. Instead, I got him a cowboy themed promiscuous calendar. When gift wrapped, calendars closely resemble the shape of a record. I enclosed a letter reading "BARBIE PAYBACK!" It was very funny when he unwrapped this gift. You could tell he knew he deserved it and had it coming for a long time.
It was great to have my family together even though it was for such a short time. But now, we are back to business. We are looking forward to a challenging A-10 schedule that should promise a lot of excitement. It has been a long time since the A-10 has been this strong, and 2008 should be a year to remember for our team and our conference.
Song of the Day: "Fake Empire" by The National
MY CONAN EXPERIENCE
NEW YORK -- This summer, my super-awesome-sister-who-is-the-best-person-in-the-world-ever-and-will-someday-be-ranked-by-People-Magazine-as-the-#1-overall-person-in-the-Universe got me two VIP tickets to "Late Night With Conan O'Brien." I contacted my teammate, Matt Pennie to see if he would be interested in making the road trip to NYC with me. Both of us looked up to Conan with the utmost respect. We considered Conan to be a New England hero. Pennie and I had a tradition last year on road trips of leaving Conan on until we fell asleep. We WERE big time fans of Conan, and being able to see the show filmed live seemed like an outstanding opportunity. So, Pennie and I decided to drive down to NYC for the day, catch the show, and drive back the same night. We were very excited about going to the show.
Pennie and I are both amateurs when it comes to NYC. We settled by parking in a garage that cost $7.50 per half hour. We realized this was a ridiculous amount of money, but it was worth it for Conan. After hanging around Rockefeller Plaza for a couple of hours, we made our way to the NBC building to pick up our tickets. One of my sister's college friends used to be an intern for Conan, so she was able to get us on the VIP list. We met in the lobby of the NBC building to receive our wristbands for the show. The girl that gave us our wristbands instructed us to remain in our seats after the filming, and she would give us a private tour of Saturday Night Live. We were so pumped to have the opportunity to view Conan live and tour the SNL studio.
So, we entered into the studio and happened to be seated next to the brother of one of the band members that was going to be on the show that day. We hit it off with him, and our trip was off to a great start. We did not think that the day could get any better. Unfortunately, we were right in that thought.
One of the main appeals of Conan O'Brien is that he seems like the "common man" of late night television. The crowd always cheers and hollers during Conan's introduction, and he works with them which makes the show funny. The comedian that warmed up the crowd instructed us to make sure that we were enthusiastic, and not to hold back as the show is meant to be an interactive experience.
So, Conan was introduced and everyone was cheering for him. As the cheers began to die down, I yelled out "CONAAN!!!" He responded by making some funny jokes about my enthusiasm. I thought it was funny, good intentioned, and good humored. However, as he continued I noticed that there was a group of people in suits angrily starring at me. Apparently, yelling "Conan!" is a big no-no, even though it occurs in practically every episode.
As Conan continued with his monologue, he made a joke that completely bombed. He then commented on the silent reaction of the crowd referring to us as the "British Parliament." The band member's brother who was sitting next to me responded to this comment by whistling and clapping. Conan then told him to "shut up!" and there was an uncomfortable silence (during the broadcast of the show they dubbed in laughter after Conan said "shut up"). The man was just trying to be supportive and have a good time, and Conan decided to belittle him. Conan then started a joke about Rudy Giuliani, when some guy behind us made a loud remark. It was at this point when a man in a suit proceeded to tap Matt Pennie on the shoulder and told him to "shut-up" or get kicked out. Pennie had not said a word the whole night.
Then, during the first commercial break, Conan started to walk into the crowd. He had a strange look on his face. He proceeded to walk up to where we were sitting and yelled at us in front of the whole studio. It was very embarrassing. The rest of the show was incredibly uncomfortable (there was a group of people in suits glaring at us the entire show), and when the show ended we booked it out of the studio. We had no desire to see SNL at that point; we just wanted to get out of there. The band member's brother was really uncomfortable as well and left with out seeing the band.
Pennie and I were distraught following the show. Conan was our hero, and he turned out to be very rude and disrespectful. We did nothing wrong. Even so, I would like to offer an apology to Conan. There was no malice involved when we were cheering for him. One would think that even if I was heckling him, as a comedian he would be able respond with wit and intelligence. But, he did not.
Conan grossly overreacted, and if this blog somehow reaches him, I would like to ask for an apology. It was terribly disheartening to have such a negative encounter with someone that I held in such high regard. Conan lost two of his biggest fans that day. I have not watched "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" since. I understand that Conan has recently done some great things for his staff during the writers' strike (including paying 80 staff members out of his own pocket), and this helps to restore some faith in Conan. However, I have not yet been able to get over my negative experience as a member of the studio audience. I would love to be able to watch Conan again, but I don't think I will ever be able to until I receive an apology.
Movie of the Day: Gone Baby Gone
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Greetings from Indianapolis, Indiana. I have been waiting for the appropriate time to re-introduce the blog, and I feel that now is as good of a time as any. I am currently in our makeshift study hall room in the hotel. Tony Gaffney is playing the N'Sync Christmas album, and several guys are breaking out into a spontaneous (and somehow synchronized) dance as we take a brief study break (quite an entertaining sight; I promised Tony that his actions would be blog worthy).
I hope everyone had an outstanding Thanksgiving. The whole team spent the holiday in Amherst. We all wished we could have spent the day back home with our families and friends, but we had to practice. All of the coaches' wives put together an outstanding turkey dinner for us at Coach Ford's house. You would not believe the amount of food that was prepared. There was legitimately enough food to feed an army (albeit a smaller army like the Swiss Guard). It reminded me of the feast that the Lost Boys have in Hook (only real food instead of imaginary food, and it did not end in a food-fight). This meal definitely helped to alleviate some of the homesickness we felt on that day, so the coaches' wives deserve a big thank you.
Anyway, we snagged a big road win last night at Syracuse. The Carrier Dome is an unbelievable venue to play a basketball game. It was the type of game you dream of playing in growing up, and we made the most of our experience. We played very hard and were fortunate enough to come out on top. It was a great win for our program, and we hope to continue to get better and build upon it.
Wednesday night's game marked my third and most memorable trip to Syracuse. My first trip was as a spectator in the 2000 NCAA Tournament during my brother's freshman year at Florida. Florida played Duke in the Sweet Sixteen at the Carrier Dome. During the day of the game I snuck into the Syracuse YMCA with my best friend Chris Brickley, who now plays at Southern New Hampshire University. Coach Maloney, who was then a member of the Florida coaching staff before joining the Umass staff, showed up at the YMCA while we were there. We played a game of H-O-R-S-E, and somehow he got lucky and won. To this day, winning that game of H-O-R-S-E against me when I was a gangly 8th grader was the biggest feat of Coach Maloney's life. After the debacle at the YMCA we went to the game, and Florida beat Duke to advance to the Elite 8. Brickley's dad then drove us back to New Hampshire through the night. We got back sometime between 3 and 4 AM, and had an AAU tournament the next morning in Portsmouth, N.H. at the world famous Connie Bean Gym (where the court boundaries are practically marked by the gym walls; and you can get a defensive rebound, take one dribble, and be close enough to take a pull up jump-shot on the other end). We managed to play well. Brickley still reminds me that he got the MVP award for the tournament.
My second trip to Syracuse was as a freshman on the West Virginia basketball team. I have to admit that as a freshman I was a bit awestruck at the atmosphere that surrounded a Syracuse home game. One of the biggest snow storms of the year occurred on that day. Still, thousands of rambunctious fans filled the stands before we even took the court for warm ups. We ended up losing (minor detail). We also got snowed in and had to spend an extra day at the hotel before we could fly back.
Although it was a big win on Wednesday night, we do not have time to look back. We must continue to stay focused on moving forward to our next challenge. We have a big game Saturday here in Indianapolis, and our concentration is completely on IUPUI. I feel like I am on a Florida 2000 NCAA Tournament reunion tour, traveling from Syracuse (the site of the Sweet Sixteen and Elite 8) to Indianapolis (the site of the Final Four). The juxtaposition of the two games is interesting as we are going from playing in a dome with a capacity of 33,000 to a gymnasium with a capacity of 1,215. This should make for an intense environment.
Song of the Day: "Cow" by Sparklehorse
SMORGASBORD OF SUMMER
As we approach the tail end of the summer, I feel it is appropriate to reflect upon the main happenings of summer thus far. The summer started with a trip to San Antonio for games 1 and 2 of the NBA Finals.
More entertaining than the series itself, was getting to watch my dad (Big Dave Bonner) interact with the likes of Terrence Howard, Eva Longoria, and Terry Crews. My dad hit it off well with all of them, and did not hesitate to hit up any of them with his classic New England style one-liners.
I tried to use the relationships he established with them to land a spot on MTV's "My Super Sweet Sixteen." Only, instead of it being "My Super Sweet Sixteen," I wanted to have a "Super Sweet Retirement party" for my dad. He retired after a million years of working for the United States Postal Service. He worked very hard, and put in a lot of time, alongside my mother, to help support our family. It is the hard work of my mother and father that helped mold my brother, my sister, and myself into who we are today. So I would like to thank my dad and congratulate him on his retirement (tear).
Moving forward, even more exciting than my brother winning an NBA championship was the charity concert we put on July 14. The concert was absolutely incredible. I've spoken about it several times in my blog, and it was an absolute thrill.
The two weeks prior to the show were absolute insanity. My brother's basketball camp was going on during the day, followed by workouts and promotional stuff for the show at night. We were on several radio stations which was a lots of fun. People were so receptive to our cause and it was very uplifting. There were so many small details that went into making sure that everything was going to be all set come the day of the show. It proved to be two of the busiest weeks of my life.
The day of the concert was one of the most memorable days of my life for sure. Matt Pennie and former UMass manager Dan Cutler came up to help out with everything all day which was much appreciated. In the morning we had a free basketball clinic held at the Concord Boys and Girls Club for local kids. We put the kids through a few drills and gave away a ton of Spurs gear.
Once that was over, it was non stop work until Okkervil River took the stage at 8:30. We were at the Capitol center of the Arts for the sound checks of all the bands making sure everything was perfect. We were putting posters up and finalizing the details of the schedule of the show. We had a few Segways donated for the day as well, so I had my girlfriend and Cutler's girlfriend ride around downtown for some last minute promotion. I was so excited once the show started.
Our first band, Lando, out of Savannah, GA did a phenomenal job. We received a lot of positive feedback about their performance, and I really enjoyed their stuff. They recently produced their first music video which can be viewed on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6Bl2G2Ml2U). I recommend checking it out as they are very talented with a promising future.
After Lando performed, my good friend and comedian, Patrick Earls, performed his skit "Man in the Hat." I had a cameo in this act as "Man in the Cape." I thought the skit was quite funny, and Patrick did a great job.
I was unable to see the second band (Ron Noyes Band), because I was busy back stage getting ready for the headliner. After their set was over, we rode down the aisle on the Segways throwing some Spurs championship gear into the crowd along the way. However, when I turned to wave to a friend while bombing down the aisle, my Segway wheel caught onto a seat and I went tumbling down. Luckily a nice fellow near the first row jumped up and caught me, practically saving my life. So, if that man somehow reads this, I would like to say thank you kind sir.
Anyway, after that debacle, my brother announced the raffle winners (items included Spurs autographed basketball, Tim Duncan autographed game shoes, Tony parker autographed framed poster, Robert Horry autographed shoes, Will Mo Pena autographed baseball, a case of vitamin water, etc). At this point I found my way to my seat to get ready for the Okkervil River performance.
I had been looking forward to their performance all year, and it was so rewarding to see everything come together so well. There were nearly 600 people at the show, and Okkervil River absolutely blew everyone away with their performance. Will Sheff (the lead singer) had his entire family in the first two rows as he is originally from New Hampshire. It was a great feeling seeing them look around the theater as fans of the band were singing and dancing along with every song. My personal highlight came around the fourth song of their set list, when I got to play the maracas and my brother played the tambourine for their song "The Latest Toughs." My brother told me that they wanted us to be on stage for that, but I did not believe him. When they told us before the show I was a little nervous, but I nailed my part and might even have a future in playing the maracas.
The crowd loosened up as the night went on, and by the end people were on their feet singing and dancing. There was so much energy in the building. When Okkervil finished their first encore, the crowd was going nuts. I approached Will Sheff, and told him the crowd wants another encore if it's possible. He replied that they had not rehearsed anything else, but proceeded to the stage anyway for a second encore.
It was a surreal feeling once the show was completed. I could not believe that we had pulled it off. The bands were so great and such amazing people. I am very happy I got to know all of them. I would like to especially thank Okkervil River for coming up to NH, and let them know how greatly we appreciated getting to spend some time with them. I would also like to give a special thanks to Matt Pennie and Dan Cutler, because they were the ones back stage holding it down to make sure everyone knew where to be in order for the show to adhere to the schedule. Also, I owe thanks to my brother for allowing me to have such a big part in the whole process, and to my family for helping out so much. Finally, thanks to all of the people who attended the show (if I forgot anyone, sorry, I'll make it up to you!). It was definitely the best night of my summer, and I am sure others feel as strongly as I do about it. If you were unable to make it this year, there will be another next year, and it is definitely worth the trip. If you do not believe me, just ask anyone who was at the show, and I am sure that they will tell you the same. . I expect to have even more people in attendance next year!
For now, enjoy the rest of the summer, and I will try to keep everyone posted on what is going on in the world as I continue to workout and get ready for the upcoming season.
Song of the Day: "Hellodrama" by what Made Milwaukee Famous Movie of the Day: The Devil and Daniel Johnston
P.S. Okkervil River has a new album coming out August 7 called "Stage Names," BUY IT!!! Also, Okkervil River will be performing at Pearl St. Nightclub in Northampton on Wednesday September 26. I highly recommend that you fit this date into your schedule and make the trip to check them out live. Don't miss it!!!
BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND
So, the season is over, thus I assumed the blog would be over as well. However, after several emails from readers, I have decided to continue with the blogging. Expect sporadic blogs throughout the year. Make sure you keep checking the site every now and then, because you never know when a new one will pop up.
Anyway, I cannot believe Patriots Day weekend has come and gone. Despite the weather we've been having, this weekend always proves to be relaxing and enjoyable. The quality of my weekend increased dramatically when I stumbled upon a gold mine at Hampshire Dining Hall.
I noticed a flyer on the table advertising "Acapellooza Saturday, April 14 at 8:00 PM in Bartlett Hall." I then noticed a four-letter word that made this event even more promising: "FREE!" So, I made sure I checked this event out, and it was an incredible experience. Acapella groups from UMass, BU, and Hobart performed, and I was very impressed. They performed their own renditions of hits including Gwen Stefani's "Sweet Escape," Grand Funk Railroad's "Some Kind of Wonderful," a tribute to childhood television theme songs, a tribute to hip hop, and my favorite, the Ghostbusters theme song. I highly recommend catching one of these events the next time it's on campus.
Moving on, I would like to tell everyone about a project I am currently working on. This summer, my brother and I are hosting a charity rock concert in our hometown of Concord, NH. The name of the event is "Matt Bonner Presents: Sneakers and Speakers Charity Rockfest." It will take place on Saturday July 14 at the Capitol Center for the Arts. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to the Concord Boys and Girls Club.
Two bands with local ties, Lando and the Ron Noyes Band, will be opening the show. Headlining the show is my favorite band (who I frequently mention on the blog) Okkervil River. What makes it even more special is that a couple of the guys in the band are originally from New Hampshire, and this will be their first show in their home state. Interestingly enough, this blog is actually responsible for gaining contact to Okkervil River for the show.
Earlier this year, I had emailed their tour manager and never received a response. I then wrote a blog stating that Okkervil River was the best concert I've ever seen, and the Okkervil River drummer, Travis Nelsen, left me a comment thanking me for the support. He suggested that I contact him the next time they play a show in Boston, and he'll add me to the guest list.
I was pretty excited about this prospect, but even more excited that I now had direct contact to the band. I then emailed Travis, and informed him about the concert I was working on with my brother and our great interest in them headlining the event. I let him know that if we were unable to get Okkervil River to perform at the show, we would have to turn to the next group on our band depth chart, which was Three Six Mafia.
Fortunately, he responded promptly, and gave me all of the information I needed to book them for the show. Okkervil River is based out of Austin, TX, so I gave him my brother's contact information suggesting they catch a Spurs game sometime. Since then, my brother has hung out with the guys in the band several times, and has even played cribbage with them. I am going down to San Antonio next weekend for the Spurs opening playoff game, and I am going to catch an Okkervil River show at the University of Texas while I am down there. The power of the blog is infinite.
There is a buzz around the state of New Hampshire, and this is sure to be a monumental event. This is going to be even bigger than when Otis Day and the Knights performed at Old Fashioned Bargain Days in downtown Concord a few years back.
Tickets are available online. You can get them off of our website www.sneakersandspeakers.com or directly off of the Capitol Center for the Arts website (www.ccanh.com). Again, all of the proceeds benefit the Concord Boys and Girls Club. Hope to see ya'll at the show!
Song of the Day: "Another Radio Song" by Okkervil River Movie of the Day: Live Free or Die
Cheers, Luke Bonner 31
IT'S A DOGGY DOG WORLD
Entry No. 8 - Feb. 20, 2007
Well, I am back at it again. I'm sorry for the delay, I have been extremely busy the past few weeks. School is back full swing and it is officially crunch time for the season. Don't get me wrong, the blog is very important to me, but basketball and school take priority (Nerd Alert!). Anyway, the Bonner household has recently taken in a new addition. This addition, also brought with it some controversy.
My father called me in the middle of the day Tuesday. The first thing that he said to me was that he was "going to pick up my new brother or sister." This caught me off guard big time. This is not the sort of thing you hear in daily conversation. I was kind of freaking out, and found myself jumping to the most absurd conclusions. Did my mother miraculously give birth without anyone in my family or any of my friends knowing? Did people around me know about this and keep it a secret from me so they could throw some sort of surprise baby at me like a surprise party? Are my parents adopting a child? Did Britney Spears really think shaving her head was a good career decision? (By the way, maybe it was the other way around. Maybe K-Fed was too good for Britney).
Once I snapped out of my Britney/ K-Fed trance, I asked my dad what he was talking about. It turned out that my dad was going to pick up a new puppy. I was pretty happy about this prospect. However, I like big dogs. I am not a big fan of those little dogs that can fit in a purse, and had mixed feelings when my dad informed me that we were getting a Shih Tzu. Although, I must admit that having a puppy is better than not having a puppy, so I am excited to see the little guy (actually girl). I will be open minded and not pass judgment until I spend some time with it. My mom and dad love the puppy. They had been looking for a small dog, so a big dog was out of the picture either way.
Even more important than picking out the type of dog you are going to get, is the name you are going to give that dog. My family has had some pretty awesome names for pets in the past including a dog named Skippy; gerbils named MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, Milli, and Vanilli; and a cat named Checkers. Our last dog was named Annie by my sister after the play. This was not as exciting as MC Hammer or Vanilla Ice, so it was very important to me to get back on track with this new puppy.
Initial names mentioned by my parents included Stella, Daisy, and Lilly. I refused to allow them to give the dog any of these names. All of those names were way too flowery. I told them I would brainstorm, and requested that they refrain from naming the dog until they had heard back from me. A couple of names came to mind immediately. The first two were Barsie and Krypto. I am not a big fan of people who give dogs "people" names. I prefer something fun. I decided I would not include Barsie, because I want to save that for when I have a big dog of my own someday. I thought Krypto was perfect. Krypto is a math game that all the Bonner children played in elementary school. I was a member of the 1997 Conant Elementary Krypto team as a matter of fact (Nerd Alert!). My brother and sister liked the name, but my parents felt it was too masculine and silly. So, the brainstorming continued.
After several suggestions (Zelda, Bubbles, Cookie, Google, Sneakers, Snoop, Frisbee, Smoosh, Nelly, Scooby, Avril etc.) it came down to the final two names. There was a tie between Bailey and Muggsy. Both of these names are high quality names, don't get me wrong. My parents favored Bailey, where as my sister and I favored Muggsy. The only problem with Bailey is that I think Bailey is a really cool name, and if I have a dog named Bailey, I could never have any children named Bailey. Muggsy seemed appropriate as it is a little dog just like Muggsy Bogues. So, we were stuck in a tie, and my brother would be the deciding vote. However, after several failed attempts to reach him for his tie breaking vote, my parents went ahead and made it official without his input.
My family now proudly owns a Shih Tzu named Bailey. The name has grown on me, and I am now confident that this is an appropriate name for the puppy. My dad is bringing her with him for Saturday's game against St. Louis, and I hope I make a good first impression.
Song of the Day: "Black" by Okkervil River Movie of the Day: Best in Show
BOSTON TEA PARTY
Entry No. 7 - Jan. 31, 2007
Last Monday the San Antonio Spurs made their only trip of the year up to Boston. I was lucky enough to be in attendance for the game despite the fact that my brother is currently sidelined with a knee injury. It was pretty disappointing, because both redheads (Bonner and Scalabrini) were out for the game. I drove down to Boston with Matt Pennie, Paul Kavanaugh, and my girlfriend (sorry ladies). The car ride down was filled with world class sing-a-longs to Billy Joel, Boys II Men, Oasis, Ne-Yo, etc. It is very entertaining when my brother's team plays in Boston as the entire state of New Hampshire seems to be in attendance.
As entertaining as the game was, the post game happenings were what made the night. We had our post game passes enabling us to wait for the players to come out and say hello. My brother was proudly sporting his Old Man of the Mountain tie (courtesy of my sister), with an extravagant sport coat and wrinkle-free khakis. Unfortunately, Brent Barry does not possess the sense of fashion that exists within the Bonner household wearing a clip-on tie with some Bugle Boy jeans. It was nice to see Brent anyway though. He surprised me with a gift for mentioning him in the blog. He knows that I have a legendary craftsman tool box at my apartment, and he gave me some specialty soap meant specifically for cleaning my tools. I thought it was pretty random and funny. So, I have to thank him for the thoughtful gift.
Elsewhere, Pennie and Kavanaugh were sitting down observing everything while they waited for all of the mingling to end. There was an older man in the row in front of them who was some sort of reporter talking to a small group of people. Then Bruce Bowen approached the group to speak to this reporter. The reporter apologized for something that he had written about Bowen, and Bowen assured the man that his feelings were not hurt and that it was all right. The reporter then turned to a lady that was with him and said, "Honey, I would like you to meet someone. Honey, this is Mr. `Bowman!'" Pennie and Kavanaugh did all they could from bursting out laughing. He was talking about a member of the United States Olympic basketball team! Bruce Bowen is an NBA superstar for crying out loud! Bowen took it all in stride, saying he has been called worse in his life, but it was a pretty hilarious moment.
Tim Duncan made a brief appearance. He was off to the side, so not many people noticed him. However, one man did. This random guy approached Duncan, and I witnessed the whole interaction. He caught Duncan off guard a bit. He walked up to him as though he knew him. Pennie thought that the man might be Duncan's father, but he could not have been further from the truth. When he reached Duncan, he got his attention and blurted out, "I got this plantar fasciitis, and I read that you wore some sort of boot to bed to help deal with the soreness. I've been wearing the boot, but it's not doing a thing. What should I do?" Duncan looked absolutely dumbfounded, and admitted that he did not know what to say. The guy looked extremely disappointed that Duncan did not possess some plantar fasciitis healing secret, and walked away.
But like all good things, the night had to come to an end. We all said our goodbyes and were on our way back to Amherst (no music on the way back, strictly bonding time). It was a great night with lots of memorable moments, and I am very grateful that I was allowed to go to the game. I look forward to the next Matt Bonner Vs. Celtics match up, as they never let me down.
Song of the Day: "Fake Plastic Trees" by Radiohead
WHAT IT DO?
Entry No. 6 - Jan. 16, 2007
It is the middle of January, and there is nobody around campus. We practice several hours a day, which leaves several more hours in the day after that. While basketball dominates the majority of day with lifts, practice, film, and preparation for practice, winter break is a little less hectic with no full class schedule in session. What do we do when we are not on the court or in the weight room?
I am actually taking an online course this winter which eats up most of my spare time. However, when my work is done, I have spent numerous hours sitting on the couch in Matt Pennie's apartment. This is a great place to sit. I have a theory that throughout your life you will find 3-5 great places to sit. My first legendary place to sit was on the bench in the Concord YMCA gym. After a workout you can just sit on that bench and random conversations will come and go, and, before you know it, three hours will go by. The magnificence of this bench cannot be explained with words, it must be experienced in person in order to truly be appreciated.
I feel that Matt Pennie's couch is close to being on the same level as that YMCA bench. I am officially making it my second great place to sit for my life. I owe a special thanks to Comcast for sparking up the initial couch conversation too. Pennie and I grabbed some lunch to go one day, and I decided I would just eat it at his apartment and hang out between practices. When we got to the apartment the cable was out. So, Mike Sinn, Matt Pennie, superstar manager Paul Kavanaugh, and I were stuck in Pennie's living room with no television. We were confused at first and failed at several attempts to reboot the cable. After these failed attempts, we gave in and decided to have a conversation of our own instead. Since then, I have been a regular guest at Matt Pennie's apartment for some historical conversations.
Pennie's living room is great. He has two televisions, one on top of the other. The top TV is for video game purposes, and the bottom is a vintage television souped up with cable. Jeff Viggiano's framed photograph of Matthew McConaughey remains on the living room wall. The cable has recently been fixed and back to normal which has served to boost the effectiveness of the couch. We frequently watch VH1 pop culture shows and "celebreality" shows that get replayed over and over again. I witnessed the Patriots playoff victory at San Diego while sitting on this couch too. Random guests tend to show up while I'm sitting on this couch. We had some epic battles of Mario Party this past weekend when some of Pennie's boys from Hanson made the trip up. Needless to say, Matt Pennie's couch is a great place to sit.
I have also found time to co-host a radio show on WMUA. Zack Richer and I spin some great tracks while providing commentary on his show "Rock Like Substance." I had a great time on his show, and I will continue to co-host throughout the year when I can. Expect big things from WMUA in the future.
Well, I must be going. I just received a phone call from Etienne Brower saying that they need one more player to even out the teams for a game of Taboo, and I can't let my teammates down. Wish me luck!
Song of The Day: "Take on Me" by Aha Movie of the Day: Bad News Bears
OH THANK HEAVEN FOR 2007
Entry No. 5 - Jan. 1, 2007
Happy New Year to everybody. New Year's Eve has quickly become one of the most depressing holidays for me. I have never been able to celebrate a New Year's Eve. When I was in high school we would always have practice the next morning, and I never had much interest in doing anything during those years anyway. It is very difficult to celebrate the New Year when you are a college basketball player. It is smack in the middle fo the season, and college coaches take all of the precautions to make sure that their players stay out of trouble.
When I was at West Virginia, I spent New Year's Eve with my roommate, Darris Nichols. Since it was winter break, the dorms were closed and we were staying in a Holiday Inn. There was nobody in town, and we were growing bored in our hotel room. So we decided to walk to the coliseum, and hang out in the locker room. We figured we could watch TV, play pool, and use the computers there, which was better than our options in the hotel room. Little did we know, but our student ID's did not work after a certain hour in the day, so we were locked out of the locker room. At this point, we were stuck. We decided to sit in the stands and try to think of something that we could do to rectify our situation. During the time we spent silently brainstorming for alternatives, we made a discovery. That discovery was that there is not much in this world more frightening than sitting in an empty arena with all of the lights off late at night. We started hearing noises we've never heard before, and kept coming up with absurd hypothetical scenarios and how we would react in certain situations. Eventually we made the executive decision to escape from the paranormal evils within the arena and relocate to a bench outside. It was late and cold, and we did not feel like walking all the way back to the hotel, so we called our buddy to see if we could catch a ride. While we were waiting for our friend, Kameron Law, to pick us up, the clock struck 12:00 and we brought in the new year sitting on that bench outside of the Coliseum in Morgantown, W.V. On a positive note, I am pretty sure that I was the first person to say "carnivore" that year.
My New Year's extravaganzas have not picked up since making the move over to Umass either. Last year, I spent the new year folding laundry in my bed room at my apartment while listening to my Cat Stevens record. This year was slightly more exciting. We shot free throws in the Mullins Center at 8:00 PM. I then returned to my apartment where I surfed the net for a while. After checking all of my friends away messages several times, I read a great article on Gilbert Arenas, and did some online shopping. I purchased a nice pair of khakis from a big and tall website, and also purchased a pair of black shoes. I need to step my wardrobe game up since I am required to wear a shirt and tie to class next semester as a TA for an abnormal psychology class. I also spent some time on the phone with my sister who had similar circumstances for her New Year's Eve since she was under the weather and stuck in bed. I was also flipping channels between the Seinfeld marathon, Mr. 3000 (I have no idea why), and Dick Clark's New Years Rockin' Eve. The highlight of my night was receiving a phone call from my girlfriend at 11:59 PM which allowed me to bring in the new year while talking to her (Brownie points!).
On the other end of the spectrum, my mother and brother seemed to have had an eventful New Year in San Antonio. They attended a star studded karaoke party. The party was hosted by NBA star and teen heart throb Brent Barry. From what I have heard, my brother performed an amazing rendition of "Pretty Fly for a White Guy." Along with help from his girlfriend and back up singers including Brent Barry's wife (Erin), and Eva Longoria, my brother was able to work the crowd in a manner that would make Bob Hope proud.
Song of the Day: "16 Military Wives" by The Decemberists Movie of the Day: The Big Lebowski
PS. Thanks for all of the comments. I find them very interesting, and I appreciate
Entry No. 4- Dec. 18, 2006
I apologize. I must apologize. I beg of you to please excuse the tardiness of this blog. Apology accepted? Thank you.
It has been a very busy time of year with finals, road games and the upcoming holidays. Fortunately, I finally got my priorities straight and put finals on the back burner, getting down to business with this blog. It seems as though we have been on the road for years. In the past month we've been to Pennsylvania, Alabama, Georgia, Boston, Uncasville, and Kentucky. It is interesting when I sit back and reflect upon these road trips.
Feelings of nostalgia filled me up on our first road trip to Pittsburgh. When I was at WVU we traveled out of the Pittsburgh Airport and this was the first time I had been back there since transferring. This trip was highlighted by a fire alarm in the hotel at about 2:30 AM the night before we played Northeastern. It was the strangest fire alarm I had ever heard. I swear it was James Earl Jones pleasantly asking us to exit the building due to a possible emergency. I obliged, walking down the eleven flights of stairs in my Maryland women's basketball shorts and transformers nighty. It was freezing cold when I finally got outside.
It was interesting seeing all of the people outside in the middle of the night. Some people wore bath robes, some were dressed in sweats, some brought all of their belongings with them, and others were just returning confused after a night of partying. When we were allowed back in, the elevator lines rivaled that of Splash Mountain at Disney World. Being the athletic young fellow I am, I decided I would just take the stairs back up 11 flights to my room. This proved to be a near fatal decision.
I was traveling up the stairs at an incredible rate, skipping stairs, anxious to dive back into my sheets. I was at about the eighth floor when I caught up to some people that were ahead of me. They were three slicksters returning from a night on the town. I was forced to slow down and walk at their pace. I believe the three men were brothers, the youngest of which was in the back falling all over himself. They would randomly blurt out vulgarities and laugh much too hard. I kept a close eye on the youngest in the back as he did not appear to be doing so well. One of the older brothers finally turned around and asked him if he was okay. The youngest just mumbled. He was starting to look purple. This is when I began to panic. "If this man turns around and heaves, I'm getting nailed, yet if he stays forward and heaves, I am still getting nailed as I am several stairs below him."
So I decided to go for it. I just broke into a sprint up the stairs squeezing by the men as they cursed me out. Luckily I happened to be at my floor when this happened, and able to safely reach the confines of my hotel room with Matt Pennie to protect me.
In Alabama and Georgia we had an amazing bus driver. He was no Guy (our regular Peter Pan bus driver up north) by any means, but he was still very entertaining. He had a striking resemblance to the Rich Texan who duels Homer in The Simpsons. His name was Chuck. There are two things about Chuck. Chuck frequently used the bathroom on the bus to our olfactory systems' expense, and he loved hitting those breaks. He hit the breaks hard and often. Chuck had that southern aura about him, and he just made me laugh.
The highlight of this trip was definitely the ghost tour we took in Savannah. It was hyped up to be this frightening experience, and we were all fired up to go on it. The tour was led by a guy who might as well have been Morgan Freeman's brother. He told dramatic stories of ghosts and torture as we drove the streets of Savannah. He warned us not to use tobacco (smoking or non-smoking) as the spirits do not like this and might react in an unpleasant way. I must say he won me over with how he delivered this statement. As we drove slowly down a street he warned us of a ghost named "Big Renee" who was seven feet tall when he was ten years old. He encouraged us to look down an alley as we might see his shadow. Unfortunately all we saw was an ATM and a Taco Bell. We even toured a supposed haunted house, where he scariest thing that happened was someone banging on the door while the lights were off. It was quite hilarious. One of my favorite awesomely bad experiences of late.
Road trips with Umass are amazing, and I would have to write a novel if I were to cover everything that occurred. I am quite confident that we have the most entertaining team on the planet. I just hope that our good fortune on the road continues throughout the season.
Song of the Day: "Wake Up" by The Arcade Fire
Farewell, Luke Bonner 31
LIVE FREE OR DIE TRYIN
Entry No. 3 - Dec. 3, 2006
Saturday's playoff football game is more than just football. UNH is one of the top Division I-AA programs in the country, and they will be coming into Amherst for the highly anticipated quarterfinal match up. In games like this there are many outside forces that can affect the outcome. As a native of New Hampshire, I can provide a competitive advantage for the Minutemen. I can provide a detailed scouting report of the entire state of New Hampshire. Complete knowledge of the opponent is essential to victory. This scouting report might make the difference in the ball game, giving UMass the upper hand.
Don't be fooled by the passivity of New Hampshire's state bird, the purple finch. New Hampshire is a rugged state composed entirely of granite and populated with humans, bears, moose, and all sorts of other wild animals/beasts. On the first Wednesday of every month families across the state can be found eating a hearty meal consisting of a slab of granite and pine cones washed down with gallons of maple syrup. There is an exceptional breed of toughness within the people of New Hampshire. This is particularly evident in the fact that the state motto is a threat, "Live Free or DIE!" We must be prepared to match this toughness in order to take them out on Saturday.
New Hampshire is a versatile state. This state likes to appear humble and modest on the outside, when in fact it has produced many large names within the entertainment industry. For starters, current Saturday Night Live cast member, Seth Meyers is a New Hampshire native. Seth's brother, Josh Meyers, formerly starred in Mad TV and has been in many movies. Their mother is a French teacher at a middle school in Bedford, New Hampshire. This is the same Bedford, New Hampshire that produced comedian Sarah Silverman. Perhaps the most famous New Hampshire celebrity (other than Big Brother All-Stars champion Mike Boogie) is Adam Sandler from Manchester, NH. Sandler is a dangerous weapon. He can do it all. He proved he can get it done defensively (The Waterboy), yet he possesses the uncanny ability to quarterback a team (The Longest Yard), and he even has some front office experience (Mr. Deeds). He is a stud, and we need to be cognizant of him at all times.
New Hampshire is also a very intelligent and savvy state. Poet Robert Frost provides inspiration for the people, and Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown is able to throw all sorts of twists and turns at you. J.D. Salinger even spent extensive time in New Hampshire after publishing Catcher in the Rye. Entrepreneur Dean Kamen's innovative mind provides cutting edge technological advancements that help New Hampshire people be more efficient. The current UNH helmets are modeled after the helmet Alan Shepard wore as the first American in space. New Hampshire also has a rich history of leaders including former United States' president Franklin Pierce. Expect the unexpected when New Hampshire is involved.
Finally, New Hampshire is all over the board when it comes to athleticism. Besides being known as a basketball hot bed (producing the Bonner family, the Friel family, Chris Brickley, Matt Alosa, Tunji Awajobi, Marshall Crane and many more) New Hampshire has athletes all over. New Hampshire's speed is evident through Bode Miller, the fastest man down a mountain, and Olympic gold medalist swimmer Jenny Thompson. New Hampshire's throwing ability is also displayed through former National League all-star Bob Tewksbury, and Cy Young winners Mike Flanagan (Umass alumnus) and Chris Carpenter (Trinity High Alumnus, HOLLA!) Keene, New Hampshire native Carlton Fisk exemplifies superb catching ability and clutch play New Hampshire folks are capable of.
I could go on and on about the Granite State (Aerosmith, Mandy Moore, etc.), but it all boils down to one thing: performance. Umass knows everything it needs to know about New Hampshire as a football program and as a state. No stone has been left unturned, and Umass is completely prepared to take care of business. This is the one time I have to go against my home state, but as Alice (the super-fan lady at every Umass sporting event) would say, "GO-GO-GO-GO-GO UMASS!"
Song of The Day: "West Savannah" by Outkast
Live Free or Die, Luke Bonner 31
Entry No. 2 - Nov. 21, 2006
The legendary Bob Dylan was in Amherst, Mass. last week. I was in attendance for the show, and I thoroughly enjoyed the opening performance of the Raconteurs. I'm a fan of Jack White and I was happy to see him in action. I was curious to see how Bob Dylan would sound. I'm not going to lie, I was pretty disappointed in his performance. I even left early. I was hoping to see a young exuberant Bob Dylan, but (sadly) people age. In light of the recent Bob Dylan concert at the Mullins Center, I began to reflect back on concerts I have attended. Live music is one of my favorite things in the world, so I figured I would put together the top five concerts I have attended:
5. Tom Rush: Tom Rush is a legendary folk singer. My parents are huge fans of him, and insisted I join them to attend his concert this summer in Francistown, N.H. (which I never knew existed). Tom Rush is a New Hampshire native, so he automatically receives an unfair advantage in that sense. This show was in a vintage small New England town hall. The overwhelming majority of the audience was older. I attended the show with my parents, my girlfriend and my brother. Tom Rush is quite the entertainer and very talented. The highlight of the show for me was when he dedicated "The Child Song" (one of my father's all time favorite songs) to my parents. He said, "The Bonner's seem to have a lot of kids, this one is for them." The song brought tears to my parents eyes. Be sure to catch Tom Rush on November 30 at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton.
4. The Decemberists: I am a big fan of the indie music scene, and I was able to catch The Decemberists' Halloween show this year in Northampton at the Calvin Theater. It was a great performance. The band members were dressed in Halloween costumes as ninjas. They had a great sound, and it was an early show so I was able to make it back by my bed time which was nice. Not only was it a great performance, but it was also Halloween in Northampton. Halloween in Northampton is quite the experience (it actually does not seem much different than every other day of the year in Northampton). Being the avid people watcher that I am (not creepy) it made for a very entertaining evening. I saw the best Richie Tenenbaum costume ever.
3. Pearl Jam: Fortunately for me, the Toronto Raptors were not a playoff team last year, so I was able to accompany my brother to the Pearl Jam concert last May in Hartford. It was a surprisingly cold evening, but Eddie Vedder put on a great performance. They performed many of their classics (finishing with "Yellow Ledbetter). The highlight of this concert was either watching these two die hard Pearl Jam fans behind me jump up and down and gyrate intensely through every song, or seeing a big older man swing and miss on a big time high five which caused him to lose his balance and fall down in what appeared to be slow motion taking several people down with him in his row.
2. Mr. Lif Record Release Party with guests Edan, Aesop Rock, Akrobatik, and Insight: This concert really stands out to me because it was the first real concert I attended. I was in high school and I went with my friends Nick Whitmore and Jonas Bendiks. We met my sister in Boston and attended this show at the Axis on Lansdowne St. This was an underground indie hip hop concert. We had a lot of fun at this show. At the time I was about 6'9, and I was standing right towards the front of the crowd. About half way through the show I looked back and noticed there was a divide in the crowd all the way to the back of the venue with no one standing behind me. Using my towering stature I had unintentionally cleared a direct path to the bathroom for myself.
1. Okkervil River: This was by far the best concert I've been too. Okkervil River is an incredible band (my favorite). I was able to see them at the Iron Horse in Northampton. My brother was able to see them once in Toronto, and twice in Austin, Texas at the South By Southwest music festival. He also agrees that they are by far the best live band he's ever seen. I owe a special thanks to my friend Nick Whitmore for introducing me to Okkervil River's music. My initial interest in the band was sparked when I found out that two of their founding band members are from New Hampshire. I hope to one day get them back to New Hampshire (they are based out of Austin, TX now) for a concert. Ideally I would like to get them to perform at a benefit concert that is in the making for Concord, New Hampshire this summer. I'll release more information about that as it develops.
**Honorable Mention Concerts I have attended**: G. Love and Special Sauce, Weezer, Prefuse 73, Shearwater, The Walkmen, Kanye West
Song of the Day: "Westfall" by Okkervil River
Movie of the Day: Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price
Cheers, Luke Bonner 31
GET YA-GET YA SELF BLOGGED!
Entry No. 1 - Nov. 14, 2006
You've probably seen me walking around campus. I'm pretty hard to miss. I'm the wicked tall white guy with long curly brown hair. Some people say I'm cute, yet others say I'm handsome. I say they're both wrong. I'm pretty. For those of you who don't know, my name is Luke Bonner and I love croutons. People probably wonder what it's like being seven feet tall. I don't have that problem. I live it everyday of my life.
I'm from Concord, New Hampshire, and I will represent my hometown until the day that I die. I have a loving mother and father. My mother is an elementary school teacher, and my father is a postal worker. They make a terrific couple, and they have not missed an episode of Jeopardy in the past 29 years.
I have an older brother and an older sister. My sister is a quarter century old, and my brother is 26. My brother currently plays for the San Antonio Spurs and he loves the first two seasons of Laguna Beach. My sister is on the coaching staff for the University of Maryland women's basketball team, and her goal in life is to be hit in the face with a pie by Marc Summers. I love my family dearly, and they are very important in my life.
Now that you've been introduced to my family, you are probably wondering who I am. Who is Luke Bonner? I am a member of the UMass men's basketball team and very proud of that. I am a management major here at UMass. I have a solid record collection and turn tables in my room here at school. I have never received a speeding ticket (knock on wood) and I tend to get really into random stuff. For instance last year, I got into the habit of watching Degrassi and UEFA league soccer religiously. Finally, I am aspiring to be the next Paul Shirley. This web blog is keeping me on track for that final goal.
This blog is serving as an introduction for blogs to come throughout the season. The blogs will not necessarily be about basketball. They will consist of more of my random thoughts, and funny events that occur throughout the season. I promise the upcoming blogs will be more eventful and interesting. Please continue to read my blogs in the future because knowledge is power!
(Every Blog will conclude with a song of the day and a movie of the day)
Song of the Day: "Debaser" by The Pixies (former UMass students, holla!)