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Posted by doktakra on May 29, 2012 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

When two die-hard sports fans get married, you can bet their wedding ends up being anything but typical. From the Sacramento Kings and Miami Dolphins-themed groom's cake to my purple-and-black yarmulke and Michelle's aqua-and-orange garter to our tables being named after mascots, we had plenty of unique and (somewhat) subtle nods to our favorite teams.



Perhaps no part of the wedding encapsulated our love of sports more than our surprise-filled rehearsal dinner video, which our guests still ask us about a year later.

It took a lot of work and required calling in plenty of favors, but the end result was all worth it. In addition to being hosted by one of the TV's most recognizable sportscasters, the nearly-17-minute clip featured special appearances from several past and present NBA and NFL stars, interspersed with photos of our families and friends. Making it even more fun, all of the cameos were unscripted, which led to some fantastic improvising that caught everyone – ourselves included – by surprise.


Before I give away too much, check out the shortened version below, sans the embarrassing baby pictures and shots of relatives you'll probably never meet. If you're so inclined, feel free to watch the extended original HD video – looking back, the nerdy glasses I wore in middle school would probably be considered stylish by today's professional athletes.

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A special thanks to all of the wonderful team media departments, players and broadcasters, as well as our awesome friends, who helped make this possible.

Happy anniversary to my wife, Michelle!

When a Woman Loves

Posted by doktakra on September 16, 2011 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

On May 29, Michelle and I were married.  As special and amazing as the day was, I won't bore you with too many of the wedding details.  My beatiful bride looked amazing, of course, and I also received quite a few compliments on my R. Kelly-inspired white jacket.


But without question, the most unforgettable and incredible highlight came during Michelle's speech.  All I'll say is, I had absolutely no idea this was coming, and Michelle rocked it, as only she can.  Enjoy my new favorite video of all-time.

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Euro Tripping

Posted by doktakra on July 7, 2010 at 11:43 AM Comments comments (2)

If you're wondering why I haven't posted anything here in two months, it's not just because I've been lazy (though that's certainly a part of it). In between covering the NBA Draft and several other Sacramento Kings-related events -- I've actually written 13 NBA articles in the last two months -- Michelle and I were also out of the country for two weeks in early June.  We traveled through Germany and England, and I've finally found the time and motivation to bring you some stories, random observations, and anecdotes from our trip.  Though if you want to skip straight to the photo album, I won't blame you one bit. 

 

Wedding in Bavaria

 

 


Instead of a "Just Married" sign, the bride and groom had a Star Trek starship and a Spock figurine on the hood of their card.  Considering that Michelle and I met at a sports bloggers' happy-hour, I'm really in no position to pass any judgement here.


During the wedding, several guests competed to see who could crow the loudest, which is apparently some kind of German tradition.  The winner then had to stand up and crow at the top of his lungs once an hour, and buy dinner for the bride and groom each time he'd forget.  I don't get it either, but you'd better believe Michelle and I will be holding some kind of equally-awesome contest to get people to do funny things at our wedding.


Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

  


The castle itself is amazingly beautiful, though, as we were constantly reminded, incomplete because King Ludwig II and his psychiatrist mysteriously drowned in a nearby lake during construction (there should really be a movie about this).  If I didn't have an irrational fear of stairs, especially narrow ones atop gigantic rocks, I probably would've enjoyed the hike down the scenic path above a waterfall a little more (many more pictures in the album).


Tour of Munich


Since we were there a month ago, neither of us remembers exactly what we saw from the bus.  I've captioned most of the photos as, "something on our tour of Munich" -- very helpful and informative, I know.

  


From what I do remember, on the left is The Glockenspiel (I love the sound of German), which has chimes, bells, and moving figures that re-enact some kind of very long story, in the Marienplatz city center; in the middle is the fantastic view (and I don't mean just us) from the top of the Olympic Tower; and on the right, you'll find Michelle posing like Athena the Goddess in Nymphenburg Palace.


The Beer and Food

 

 


Yep, nothing like getting beer served by the liter.  Did I finish it?  Not even close.  Did it get me a just tad tipsy?  Perhaps...and mine was actually half-lemonade.

 

Of course, Germany is extremely pro-vegetarian -- just look at all of those ripe tomatoes next to the globs of cured meat!  My typical dinner consisted of four pretzels and this zucchini schnitzel that tastes as good as it looks (which is surprisingly awesome).

 

Kings of Germany

 

 


Perhaps the highlight of the trip (at least for me) came during our walk through in the English Gardens, which, confusingly enough, is in Munich and contains the Chinese Garden (above). We stopped to watch a drum circle in the park, and noticed a familiar sight.  Yep, one of the drummers was wearing a vintage Sacramento Kings jacket.  I mean, honestly, of all teams and in all places, what are the odds of this happening?


Petting Zoo in Bavaria

   


My other favorite part was the petting zoo, where sheep, goats, llamas, and pigs walk around freely and eat out of your hand.  We tried to get the baby goat's attention, but he clearly wasn't interested in what I had to offer him (that's him dissing me by walking away in the background).


And amongst the crowd of pigs on the right, of course, is the infamous, overanxious one that bit Michelle, who then tried to convince me to eat bacon to defend her honor...

Quick Views of London

   

 

We spent a few days doing some of the touristy things in London, all of which were fun but none of which are all that exciting to discuss in much detail.  Let's just go through these from left to right: standing in front of Buckingham Palace after the changing of the guard; the view from the London Eye (basically an enormous Ferris wheel); and outside of the Tower of London. 

 

 

  

 

Michelle and her friend Phil rocked American flag capes during the United States vs. England World Cup game. I figured no one would pick a fight with Phil because he's 12 feet tall or Michelle because she's so cute, but I stayed out of the patriotic displays for my own safety. U-S-A!

 

Also, I Tweeted this at the time, but it's worth mentioning again -- this was in the men's room at one of the London pubs, and doesn't cease to make me laugh.

 

And finally, we have Michelle looking beautiful at Kensington Gardens, and me, doing what I do best after an exhausting two weeks.

Matrimony: Maybe You

Posted by doktakra on January 26, 2010 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (6)

It seems like only six months ago, I was single and hating on everyone in a happy relationship. Oh, right, that's because that was six moths ago, and not too long before I met Michelle.  I knew she was the one for me soon after our first date, and I'm proud to say that as of January 9, she's gone from being my girlfriend to my fiancée. But, of course, that doesn't mean everything went smoothly or just as I had planned -- here's the engaging story (see what I did there?) of how it all went down.


I went to Michael C. Fina and picked out a beautiful Tacori ring in early December with the help of one of Michelle's best friends (according to Wikipedia, it's the same kind of ring that Chandler proposed with to Monica on Friends, though that wasn't my primary reason for choosing it...or so you'd think). As luck would have it, Paul Tacorian, who I later found out is that guy from The Bachelor, along with several other multi-millionaire company owners were in the store at the time and congratulated me on giving them a sh*tload of money my decision (notice that I'm standing credit card-in-hand).


The ring was supposed to be ready on December 28, and I originally planned on proposing at some point during our New Year's trip to California.  But unbeknownst to Michael C. Fina, Tacori was closed for two weeks in December, since, you know, no one ever decides to propose over the holidays. They assured me it would be ready by Friday, January 8, the day before our six-month anniversary.  So what happened on January 8?   A huge snowstorm hit the east coast, delaying all UPS shipments and leaving my ring stuck on a Newark Airport tarmac. Despite my outrage, it was out of the company's hands -- the ring wouldn't get to the store until Monday, January 11.  I begrudgingly agreed to have the jeweler temporarily fuse my diamond with the stock setting so that I could at least propose on our anniversary date.


My new plan was to put the ring inside a Miami Dolphins lunch box for the biggest Fins fan I know, which I had shipped to my parents' house in New Jersey so she wouldn't see it. The only problem, of course, was that as of Saturday morning, it was also yet to arrive due to that damned snowstorm.  But just as I started thinking of yet another backup plan, my dad called me to say that the lunch box had just come in and they were on their way into the city.


The next problem was getting Michelle out of the apartment to get everything in order. Unfortunately for her, but very fortunately for me, she had to work in the afternoon, giving me a two-hour window to pick up the ring and the lunch box. When I arrived at Michael C. Fina, the store clerk happily informed me that my ring -- the real one that I'd picked out -- had just come in 20 minutes ago. The off-duty UPS delivery man who brought it in had already changed into jeans and was on his way home when he received a call about a package in Newark, and only went back to get it on his own time because he wanted to go to Michael C. Fina to buy a ring for his girlfriend.   What are the odds? I must've been wearing that lucky deodorant. I ran back home after getting the lunch box from my parents and picking up a bouquet of flowers, and patiently waited for Michelle to come home.


The lunch box ended up being a huge hit. In fact, Michelle was SO excited about it, that it took what felt like an hour for her to finally open it.  When she saw the jewelry box inside, I got down on one knee and tried my best not to hyperventillate as I blurted out that magical four-word question. A dozen "yeses" later, we were engaged and on our way celebrate over a candlelit dinner in Rockefeller Center.


 


And then, as if things couldn't get any better, this happened last week on Twitter.  

doktakra @Candace_Parker Hey, Candace. I got engaged over the weekend & my new fiancee made me take down your poster off my wall. You okay with this?
Candace_Parker @doktakra LOL! congrats! :) aww its okay i forgive you

That's right, after all this time, the (former) dream girl finally acknowledged me, and it wouldn't be possible without (the current dream girl) Michelle. I guess that's the way love goes...

California Love: Deleted Scenes

Posted by doktakra on January 12, 2010 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Coming Soon: A major announcement that you might already know if (a) we're actual or online friends; (b) you follow my Twitter; or (c) you listen to this Jagged Edge classic...


You know how CSI and CSI: Miami will have those occasional crossover episodes to make you tune in to each show to get the entire story, even though don't really need to watch both episodes to get the scoop on everything anyway?  That's kind of what's going on here.  By now I'm sure you've read all about my gloriously entertaining first visit to Sacramento (and shame on you if you haven't), but here are some other highlights from my three-day trip to the Westside (do people still say, "Westside" or am I living in 1996?).


Santa Monica Pier:  I've got a long-running streak that goes back all the way to my summer camp days at the Green Lane "Y" in New Jersey -- I've never gone home empty-handed from a boardwalk basketball hoop.  In fact, I used to be so good at hitting those tricky shots, that other campers would ask me to shoot for them just to get the prize.  You'll be glad to know the streak lives on -- I won a stuffed animal shark for Michelle after eight attempts on my first try, which is now promptly sitting in a box in our storage unit.  Good times.




Someone So Unforgettable:  We were on five flights with three different airlines over the weekend, and despite Virgin Airlines' free in-air TV and WiFi and Jet Blue's timely NFL package, my hands-down favorite was Southwest Airlines.  As we prepared for landing, one of the flight attendants announced that we'd be treated to some entertainment -- Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable."  That would've been fine and all, but she then proceed to sing the entire song herself over the PA system.  Look, you just had to be there...it was like being trapped at an "American Idol" audition 10,000 feet up in the air.


Just Win, Baby:  It would've been far too easy had we boarded our flight out of Sacramento early Sunday morning and been back in New York by eight o'clock at night.  But of course, our plane was diverted to Oakland due to heavy fog, so we missed our connecting flight out of Long Beach.  Fortunately, Jet Blue gave us the option of leaving out of Las Vegas, complete with a three-hour layover in Sin City, which no rational person could possibly be mad about or decline.  Things got even more interesting when an earlier flight to Vegas was held up in Long Beach just as we arrived, and the security people inexplicably let us on board without even checking our IDs (gotta love the way they've stepped their game up after those recent scares).



Long story short, we rented a cheap hotel room and spent a solid six hours gambling at the Flamingo and Caesar's Palace .  I wasn't old enough to enter the casinos the last time I was in Vegas on a family vacation in high school (thanks, mom), but I more than compensated this time around.  I won't disclose how much money I lost, but let's just say that it was roughly three times more than what Michelle gambled away.  Note to self:  the roulette tables are not your friends.

 

By far the greatest moment was when a woman won $1,000 in the "Wheel of Fortune" slot game in front of us, and then told me, "now it's your turn" before walking away.  She left $20 worth of credits in the machine, which I went on to lose in about three minutes, but still, that type of thing just doesn't happen every day.  Or hell, maybe it does in Vegas...I should go back more often.

Second Round K.O.

Posted by doktakra on November 5, 2009 at 12:45 PM Comments comments (2)

I was never a big Halloween fan.  Even as a kid, the first and only time I ever put a hint of effort into my costume was in fourth grade, when I convinced my parents to buy me a horror movie mask that I wore to school with my normal clothes.  For the nine years that followed, I went the cheap cop-out easy route by putting on my trusty Mitch Richmond jersey and "dressing up" as a Sacramento Kings fan.  During my freshman year of college, one of my roommates and I snuck into the New York City Halloween Parade.  There I was, marching among the most creative and interesting costumes around -- including a man wearing a suit made entirely of MetroCards -- in (what else?) a replica Chris Webber jersey.  I decided that was the last time I'd celebrate Halloween.


But of course, in a year filled with changes, I came out of my semi-retirement.  Since I'm (we're?) obsessed with the Rocky movies, Michelle and I ended up going to the Halloween Masquerade Ball at Bryant Park Grill dressed as the Italian Stallion and Adrian, after also giving some consideration to Mickey and Ivan Drago.  We went the distance, spending weeks planning out our costumes and applying a few final touches on fight night (check out the shiner she gave me).  If you're wondering, we kept track of the number of times people yelled out, "Hey, Rocky!" or challenged me to a fight versus the number of times Michelle heard, "Yo, Adrian!"  After taking an early three to one lead, I ended up losing by a split decision, most likely because "Yo, Adrian!" is just so much more fun to say.  


And as you might know, if I can change, and you can change, then everybody can change.  Click here for the full album.


Dear Mama

Posted by doktakra on September 2, 2009 at 11:33 AM Comments comments (9)

My family is weird. I know, everyone thinks their family's crazy and embarrassing, but I've always been terrified of bringing people over to meet my relatives. For one, they take the Russian drinking stereotype to the extreme, toasting everyone from long-lost cousins to deceased pets with shot after shot of Stolichnaya vodka.  They get into heated arguments about things that allegedly happened 30 years ago or about some senseless rumor they heard on Russian radio, occasionaly leading to someone storming out in a profane huff. My 85-year-old grandparents make embarrassing comments without even realizing it (more on this later). And then there's my great-uncle, who not only reads his fantastic Russian poetry at the dinner table, but sees nothing wrong with bursting into song regardless of where we are or who's present. He's probably the main reason why we no longer celebrate birthdays in restaurants or any other public places.  And they're also secret spies for the KGB. Okay, I made up that last part...or so you think.


You can probably guess where this is headed.  Yep, I brought Michelle to meet my folks and suffer though enjoy a glorious family birthday celebration, where she was treated to an hour and half of my parents' vacation stories and my childhood pictures (thankfully not the naked ones this time).  The undeniable highlights were the following photos of me when I was 16, decked out in an ill-fitting Dan Marino jersey and a pair of size 36 Boss jeans that were almost as big as those glasses, and living out my life dream by rocking an awesome 'fro that made me look like a rejected "Semi-Pro" extra.


 

Fortunately, most of my relatives were on their best behavior once we made it to my grandparents' apartment for dinner. My great-aunt kept conversation to minimum by making sure the guests had enough food, while my great-uncle read a half-dozen poems, but thankfully refrained from singing. Towards the end, he gave an impromptu toast for Michelle, which I attempted to loosely translate, and my grandmother chimed in to call her a "young beauty. " But because that wasn't awkward enough, after confirming that Michelle is Jewish, she suggested that the two of us should (wait for it) get married.  Sigh.  And I came so close to going an entire evening without wishing I was adopted.


When I was alone in my apartment later on that night (somehow still sober), I remembered that my mom gave me an envelope on my way out the door.  When I finally peeked inside, I found a $100 bill along with a three-word note: "Don't be cheap."  What can I say?  You gotta love family...sometimes.

Fan Mail, Part III

Posted by doktakra on August 12, 2009 at 1:55 PM Comments comments (10)

It's been a long time, I shouldn't have left you, without a mailbag to step to....okay, that made no sense, but you get the point.  I've received a few inquiring emails from people who've visited this site (all two dozen of them), and I'm here to set the record straight on a variety of topics, and maybe even share some unexpected developments.


Previous reader mailbags:  December 6  |  October 16


Q:  So how are things going with the new woman and have you converted her to hip hop/R&B yet?


Ha, I'll answer the second part first.  The hip-hop hasn't really been an issue, especially when she can show off those dancing skills.  R&B?  Not so much.  In fact, I almost gave up on that endeavor entirely when she called my man Maxwell "a woman." I'm still trying to recover from that vicious blow.  To her credit, she's a fan of Motown, but has no appreciation for cheesy smooth '90's soul (and if anyone knows a thing about soul, it's a white guy from the suburbs).

 

All that aside, we're doing all right.  We've now passed the one-month hurdle, the highlight of which was undoubtedly watching terrible Color Me Badd and MC Hammer videos on YouTube last weekend.  I think we look ridiculously cute, if I may say so myself, and at one point, she forced me out of the pool to do my fantasy football draft. You know what, I'll just let Luther take it from here...

 



Q:  I recently read that soy "has the power to undermine everything it means to be male." Given that your diet is 70% soy, 20% cheese [Ed. note: 90% soy] does this article worry you?


Huh, well, I guess that explains why I'm so in touch with my feminine side then, doesn't it?  But on a more serious note -- ***Breaking News*** (because honestly, doesn't everything sound a little more exciting when it has "breaking news" in front of it?) -- I've been looking for a reason to start eating fish again, and I think this one's as good as any.  So yes, I'm once again becoming a dreaded person I hate, a "pescatarian," or more commonly referred to as a "hypocrite."  Sigh.


Q:  I'd like to know what your favorite animal is and why.


I have two.  As a kid, I collected toy pigs (no idea why, but I'm guessing toy stores in Russia had very limited selection), and annoyed the hell out of my grandfather by burying them in the backyard, hoping they'd grow bigger and reproduce.  I was a brilliant child.  I later discovered the awesomeness of monkeys swinging by their tails at the Bronx Zoo when I was 12, and became instantly hooked.  In fact, I may or may not have a stuffed animal monkey on my bed right now.  Um, let's move on...


Q:  Are you worried about your girlfriend leaving you for Dan Marino?

I can say with 100% certainty that I'm not concerned about losing my girlfriend (or as I like to call her, "gf" for short) to Dan Marino.  I wish I could say as much for a couple of other Miami Dolphins who are on her "cheat list."  Yep, like every other couple in a happy relationship, we've allowed each other five exceptions.  For the record, mine are Candace Parker (shocker, I know), Beyonce, Rihanna, Mary-Louise Parker, and Christina Hendricks (what? I had to fill the white woman quota).


Q:  How about those Lakers, baby!!


And...that's where the mailbag shall come to a close.  Thanks to everyone who submitted a question!

So Far To Go

Posted by doktakra on July 14, 2009 at 9:05 PM Comments comments (12)

It was that magical time of the year last Thursday  -- the one and only day when the dream girl, Candace Parker, came to New York to play at Madison Square Garden. Much like last time, there was a bit of uncertainty over her playing status (she'd been out with a uterus for the entire season), and I didn't think I'd go in the days leading up to game night.  Somehow, it all worked out when I miraculously bribed convinced Michelle, who as we previously established, is much cooler than me, to go to the game.  I woke up early on Thursday morning, put on my lucky deodorant (that's right, I have a lucky deodorant), and tried my best to stay calm.


Right off the bat, I discovered there's a thin line between showing your devotion as a fan and coming off as a creepy stalker, especially when you're with a girl who you're attempting to impress with your sense of humor and irresistible charm.  Michelle took a few pictures of Candace shooting around before the game (my own picture-taking skills leave much to be desired), as well as a couple of me against the Garden backdrop.  As much as I want to say that she had to convince me to take a picture with Maddie, the Liberty mascot, I thought it would be kinda cute and jumped in the photo.  Turns out I was right.



A few other in-game highlights:

  • I wondered out loud whether Shelden Williams was in the building, and Michelle replied that he was in the mascot costume.  There's no way I can ever top that one.

  • Michelle's favorite player became Tina Thompson, when she saw that Thompson played basketball in full make-up.  More on this later.

  • We watched fantastic performances from the Timeless Torches, the Liberty's elderly dance squad, and Air Shelden Maddie, who somehow earned a standing ovation for what started out as an embarrassingly bad dance routine.

  • Oh, and the Sparks won or something.


We waited for Candace by the team bus after the game with a large group of fans.  She stood 30 feet away, holding her baby and chatting with her husband for 40 minutes, and eventually waived and boarded the bus.  We (or I), however, managed get autographs from Michael Cooper, the first and hopefully only Laker signature I'll ever have, and Tina Thompson, who Michelle said should've signed her name in lipstick (high comedy).


Michelle and I exchanged stories about meeting our favorite athletes on the way back (her Dan Marino one trumps any of my Kings encounters).  As we made our way down 6th Avenue, I couldn't help but feel disappointed, much less about the Candace snub than about whether Michelle would ever want to see me again after my craziness was on full display.  We reached her apartment and started to say our goodbyes.  And well...I'm a gentleman, but let's just say that my questions were answered, despite my best efforts to make the situation as awkward as humanly possible (my area of expertise).  Good times.


I walked home smiling the entire way, realizing that should've known all along -- the lucky deodorant never fails.

Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)

Posted by doktakra on June 6, 2009 at 7:07 PM Comments comments (2)

What's this, two straight posts of me hanging out with attractive ladies?  I'm as shocked as you are.  I haven't been this cool since...um, ever.  Actually, no, I take that back -- in summer camp, I once played this guy one-on-one for his girlfriend, in front of her and a huge crowd on on-lookers.  I beat him on a lucky fadeaway three and walked off the court with my arm around his girl (the first and only black chick I've dated).  Ah, good times, even if it was like 10 years ago...but I digress.


Last night, I went out for drinks with a few fellow bloggers: Midwest Coast Bias, one of the Michelle's from 2 Michelles and miamidolphins.com, and Kristine, who did video-editing for Fanhouse and now writes hip-hop gossip for a living (I know!).  Anyways, here are some pictures -- the last three are supposed to be of us trying to out-gangsta each other.  Needless to say, I failed.  Oh, and yes, the subject of my second (technically third) Deadspin ban came up, but no, I won't get into that here.  Who needs them?


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