Saturday, October 1

Ran Into Luke and Chewie at the Cantina

SUPERSONICSOUL Cub reporter gets all Geraldo with Frodo
in this harrowing first-person account



Me and the boys meet Luke Ridnour. My oldest was clearly disappointed that this Luke didn't have a lightsaber.


by Rafael "Chunkstyle" Calonzo
SuperSonicSoul Cub Reporter

[Note: It has been called to our attention that if the editorial staff had only been keeping an eye on the society pages of the Bellingham Daily Bugle, we would have known that the woman referred to as Mr. Ridnour's "girlfriend" in this article is, in fact, his wife. The management of this site regrets this error.

The author has since been demoted from Cub Reporter to Lil' Bear Fetus Reporter, 3rd class, and re-assigned to cover 4th grade girls field hockey. --Ed.]
So I had lunch with Luke Ridnour and Squatch at Quizno's today. Nice guys, but I had to pay for my own food.

...Ooooor something like that. The barely one-week old sandwich shop in my neighborhood was having its official grand opening celebration, complete with a radio station promo, balloons, and the chance to get the Sonics point man's autograph while waiting for your Turkey Bacon Club to emerge from the patented Quizno toastification process.

When I found out yesterday that Ridnour was going to be in the neighborhood, I have to admit that I vacillated about coming out. I came up with a zillion reasons not to go: I'm gonna look like some stupid geek/fanboy/loser/stalker (especially when I mention the website)... I'm gonna say something really stupid... How lame would I feel about going to see a SuperSonic at a local samwich joint--or worse, how lame would Ridnour feel about being a SuperSonic at a local samwich joint, and do I really want to be a part of that?

In the end I went against my tendency to be a recluse and decided to go. I talked myself into it once I realized that:
1) I totally am a geek/fanboy/loser with a website (I'm too lazy to be a stalker);
2) I can't help but say stupid stuff in my everyday life--why would today be any different? Plus, I would have to say something off-the-charts ignorant for him to even remember me, since
3) a dude like that probably gets paid to do some 300 restaurant/gas station/dry cleaner grand openings a year--shoot, if that's lame, I wish to GOD I could be that kind of lame instead of my usual kind of lame for free.

At any rate, I made sure that I dragged my family along so I didn't look like a complete basement-dwelling shut-in ("Look! I have a wife and kids! That's gotta prove I've kissed a girl!") I also guilted my brother and his son into going, especially since bro had the only unworn SSS shirt in the clan.

So we get there, and Squatch is in the somewhat bustling parking lot, clowning around and shooting free-throws on the bumper-mounted hoop of the Squatch Mobile with some kids. The line to meet Ridnour was out the door... which seemed impressive until I realized the line to order a sandwich was actually longer (hey, cats in the burbs loves them some toasty subs). He was dressed like any other dude his age might be on an overcast Seattle day: backwards hat, t-shirt over long sleeve T, jeans, sneakers. If the line hadn't led right up to his table, he easily could've been mistaken for some kid filling out a job application with a Sharpie. [NOT a diss on his appearance or youth at all--more like, I was impressed that a professional athlete could come across as such a regular guy. His "posse" consisted of his girlfriend and some Sonics PR flacks. How un-celebrity-like can you get?]

Arriving at the front of the line, I gave Ridnour a SUPERSONICSOUL t-shirt and explained that I help run a little fan website where we write dumb stuff about the team. He seemed somewhat amused by that. Then he signed my grimy Sonics hat and posed for some pictures, after which I was promptly hustled into the sandwich line.

I did manage to ask him some stupid questions later when the autograph line dwindled. I asked who he thought was the toughest guy to guard in the NBA. He said "I dunno, it's a new season... But Iverson's pretty tough."

When I asked him if he liked any of the nicknames he's been given, he said, no he doesn't know of any.

"You know, how some folks call you 'Frodo,' or 'The Disciple.'"
"The Disciple?"
"Yeah, some ESPN writer called you that."
"Huh, that's not bad."
His girlfriend giggled and offered "What about 'Lukey'?" He didn't seem to dig that one.

[Note: this hard-hitting line of questioning should put to rest any second-guessing about my decision to switch majors from journalism to art.]

As I waited for my brother to get his food (dude bailed on the whole autograph thing... chicken!), I stood back and watched as the line trickled down to almost nothing. When a few folks wandered in looking for Ridnour, they almost always walked right past him. If he wasn't signing a stack of posters for the Quizno's staff, I'm not sure how folks would've spotted him otherwise.

Later we went out and my brother and nephew shot free throws with Squatch to get free swag. Ridnour came out when his autograph hour was up and showed off his underhand freethrow skills. His lady stood nearby, clutching the SSS t-shirt in her arms.

It struck me then that he probably will never wear that shirt. At best, maybe he'll buff his Hummer with it. I was okay with that. I was comforted with the thought that, someday, when he's polishing up the chromed-out frame around his 'DISCIPL' vanity plate, perhaps he'll see the URL, remember that dorky guy at the Quizno's with his kids, and maybe, just maybe visit the site on his Sidekick or Blackberry out of curiosity.

Maybe then he can read this post, and in the unlikely event that he reads 'til the end, he may answer the one burning question I meant to ask but only remembered after we left:

"Hey Luke, you gonna grow out your fro again?"

Photos: Carrie "Croppin'" Calonzo, Ravenal "Baby Deer" Calonzo

20 comments:

Dub V.2 said...

Good show Chunkstyle, but you should have dropped one of those Ehlo is Mint shirts on him as a sort of pass along. I can just imagine the pregame interview now! Craigers in his mint T asking Frodo (in his SSS T) about life without AD.

chunkstyle23 said...

Thanks, HNK! I was fresh out of those "EIM" shirts, unfortunately. C-Eh really should own the shirt that he inspired. Paulie, have the sweat shop crank out a Big 'N' Tall shirt, stat!

Lance Uppercut said...

Good stuff, but there's one question that wasn't answered: Is Luke's girlfriend hot?
BTW, he's lying if he said that he's never heard the nickname "Frodo", as people called him that at Univ. of Oregon all the time. Mac Court was refured to as "The Shire" during the years when every white kid on the team (including Luke "oh, my back!" Jackson) was rocking the shaggy fro. If you ever get another "interview" ask him how he felt about the homo-erotic "Luke to Luke" billboards in Eugene.

Nuss said...

Nice job, Chunk. I'm looking forward to when Clemon Johnson opens up an adult video store at Four Corners.

asdf said...

I have a different comment. How do you get the little comments under your pictures. Do you use tables or something?

chunkstyle23 said...

Re: hotness of Mr. Ridnour's lady friend: Uh, I'll let my brother field that one.

Anonymous said...

very impressive piece of journalistic work. using the word 'harrowing' (whatever that means) gives you some "maybe this guy was homeschooled and took at least a bronze medal at the local spelling bee" credibity.

b. soto

chunks brother said...

she's pretty freakin' hot...oh, and I DIDN'T CHICKEN OUT on the autograph...who was the one that suggested you give him a SSS T-Shirt...only you forgot to have him hold it up while taking the picture.

Paul Merrill said...

DS- To get those small photo captions, we use only the finest imported child labor - it takes tiny fingers to make tiny fonts!

(Or, you could just use the Blogger font-size button in "compose" mode. Or, you can can use html tags (font size=1)

Carl said...

Anyone with an ESPN insider account want to paste the contents of the Sonics camp preview?

http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/trainingcamp05/news/story?page=overview05/sonics&action=login&appRedirect=http%3a%2f%2finsider.espn.go.com%2fnba%2ftrainingcamp05%2fnews%2fstory%3fpage%3doverview05%2fsonics

The one part they have open to the public questions how much gas Ray has in the tank. I'd rather not ponder that question. Maybe there are happier thoughts inside however?

Carl

Zachary Geballe said...

Carl, I aim to please:

Courtesy of John Hollinger

1. How much is left in Ray Allen's tank?

In the offseason, the Sonics committed a massive $85 million to Allen over the next five years, taking a big risk that the 30-year-old star can play at a high level for several more seasons.

What's more, this isn't a team like the Knicks that has money to burn. The Sonics have one of the worst financial situations of any NBA team, which obviously curbs their spending power. Despite a decent fan base, the team controls few of the revenue streams at Key Arena, and the arena itself is an antique that lacks the money-making muscle of more modern buildings.

As a result, the Sonics have limited ability to correct their course should Allen's play begin to diminish. And pulling an Isiah and taking on more bad contracts is simply out of the question.

The good news is that thus far Allen has held off the effects of aging. In his two full seasons in Seattle, Allen has posted the two highest scoring averages of his career, and he demonstrated in the playoffs against Sacramento that his jumper is as deadly as ever.

However, few guards can play at a high level into their mid-30s and Allen has a history of knee pain, so Seattle needs to monitor the situation closely.

2. How does the frontcourt rotation shake out?

Seattle reshaped its frontcourt in the offseason, leaving new coach Bob Weiss with several important decisions regarding his playing rotation.

Last year the Sonics started Jerome James at center and Reggie Evans at power forward for most of the season, but James signed with the Knicks over the summer and Evans still is unsigned.

That leaves a host of players competing for minutes at the two positions.

Seattle's last two first-round picks, Robert Swift and Johan Petro, are centers and will be angling for some of James' minutes. Nick Collison, though naturally a power forward, also could start at center after playing well a year ago, and human wrecking ball Vitaly Potapenko should figure in the rotation as well.

A similar crowd remains at power forward. Sharpshooter Vladimir Radmanovic is openly campaigning for more minutes, but Evans (if he returns), board beast Danny Fortson and free-agent addition Mikki Moore also are worthy of playing time.

The smart money says the two kids and Moore ride the pine while the other five split the minutes, but the eight players are close enough in ability that no outcome would be surprising.

3. Can Luke handle the point?

The Sonics suffered only two free-agent defections from last year's division champs, but one was a major loss.

Stellar sixth man Antonio Daniels left to sign as a free agent with the Wizards, leaving Luke Ridnour all alone as the Sonics' starter. Ridnour started last year, too, but he rarely was on the court at the finish. Daniels was Nate McMillan's security blanket, averaging nearly as many minutes as Ridnour despite being a reserve. He was extremely effective, as he was one of the few Sonics who could consistently break down defenses.

With Daniels gone, the Sonics no longer have the luxury of yanking Ridnour when his shot isn't falling or his defense isn't up to snuff. The third-year guard will need to improve on his 40.5 percent shooting mark from a year ago, as well as step up his scoring average.

More importantly, he can't get hurt. Seattle's backup plan is basketball vagabond Rick Brunson, whose shooting woes and inability to penetrate will crimp the Sonics' otherwise superlative offense.

b_con said...

Jerome doesn't get to start in NY! Eddy Curry was signed by them. WOW! He is seriously the luckiest man in the universe. 4 good games and he gets 30 million to sit courtside at MSG for the next 5 years. Bless you Isiah! How happy Larry Brown must be! Two of the most motivated and consistent centers in the league!

Carl said...

Zachary,

Thanks man! I guess nothing too surprising in there, but it does scare me that we've only got Brunson and *shudder* Murray behind Luke. I'm a little more optimistic about Luke than a lot of people here, but thats a pretty sharp dropoff.

Also, does anyone know if Moore can block shots? One of James's few positives was being a big-body in the center and making up for some of the defensive deficincies of the rest of our roster.

And yes, I'm sure Brown is creaming in his pants at the prospects of motivating James with Curry and vice versa. Although I still think we should have made a run at Curry.

Carl

Anonymous said...

no info on the mateen signing?

Zachary Geballe said...

Moore really isn't a shot blocker, he averaged just .4 BPG last year with the Clippers. Even his per 40 minute stats aren't impressive, just 1.1 B/40 last year and 1.7 on his career. What he can do for the Supes is provide a semblance of scoring and rebounding as Potapenko's backup, as well as some athleticism.

A Duck fan said...

Does Luke's wife know about this "girlfriend?"

Luke was married in August

chunkstyle23 said...

Wow, they look so much alike. Maybe he's having an affair with her twin sister... That's messed up.

Hey, is it my fault that homeboy wasn't wearing a ring? Everyone here at SSS HQ are all pretty hurt we didn't get invited to the wedding.

August said...

In the pictures...looks like he's wearing it around his neck. Maybe not.

Anyway, nice job on the story...I laughed out loud several times.

Anonymous said...

I went to the wedding and have got to their house many times i am also really good friends with his wifes sister who is not his girlfriend but was just asking him if he liked the nickname that Kate (his wife) had given him DUH!!!

传奇 said...

The Sweetest New Bridal Gowns
All of the top designers have just shown their latest collections of bridal gowns for next spring. Many of the styles were outrageous and dramatic, but there were also some wedding gowns that were unabashedly pretty and feminine. For more on the sweetest new bridal gowns, read on...

It seems as though many of the gown designers this season were so crazy about trying interesting new techniques to rucsh, gather, and ruffle fabric that they forgot about making dresses that a bride would actually feel pretty wearing. Some of the more adventurous styles might make a woman feel chic or bold, or even glamorous, but many of the new gowns bear little resemblance to the timeless bridal gowns that every young girl dreams of one day wearing. In other words, they are so of the moment that they are not timeless.