Sunday, May 30, 2010

Robin Hood

I have pretty much covered everything that pisses me off, so I need to press on and discover new things that piss me off.  Typically, this can be achieved by purchasing a ticket to see pretty much any given new movie that the entertainment industry passes off as a quality product.  The Pacific is an excellent product (it's good because it's from HBO), and my review of it is incomplete, as I am more motivated about things I dislike than things that please me.  I was yet again duped into spending ten dollars of my hard earned money (and not to mention over 2 hours of my life) on viddying the new Robin Hood film starring Russell Crowe. What a dull movie this was.  What it lacked in crisp meaningful dialogue, it overly compensated for with sword fights, action, and a shallow romance.  As far as I am concerned, Mel Brooks' Robin Hood: Men in Tights is still the greatest Robin Hood movie ever made.  The latest attempt falls very short.
The dialogue was sparse, the shreds of humor were forced and ineffective, and the characters were uninteresting.  Robin Hood's sidekicks were particularly boring.   They had nothing interesting to say, never made me laugh, and as characters they were vacant.  Cate Blanchett carried her weight.  Max Von Sydow was about the only performer who delivered any sort of effort.
The plot was horribly predictable.  Braveheart is often imitated but never duplicated.  Robin Hood basically ripped off the plot and premise of Braveheart and made a lame effort of repackaging the movie to the public.  Russell Crowe's character becomes an outlaw, steals from the rich, defends against an invasion, has awkward romance, kills his nemesis and blah blah blah.  Essentially, the film turned into a politically charged movie that bashes America and capitalism.  The movie ends with Robin Hood establishing a hippy commune in the woods with Maid Marian.  I want my money back.  My advice to those considering seeing Robin Hood is to save your money, stay home, and put your Braveheart DVD into your state of the art home entertainment system.  Braveheart has basically the same plot and premise but the film was executed with much more depth.  Take my word for it.

The Pacific

HBO's World War II miniseries came to a conclusion recently. There is alot more to this series than just explosions, graphics, and gore.  I feel as if reading at least one of the two memoirs upon which the series is based should be a prerequisite to viewing the show.  Personally, I read Eugene Sledge's memoir With The Old Breed while I was in college.  Aside from fighting for my freedom, Eugene Sledge also made college worthwhile to me, as his memoir is without question the most compelling aspect of my higher education experience.  Had I not gone to college, I truly doubt I would have been exposed to Sledge's work.  I strongly encourage those who follow this blog to give The Pacific a look.  At least read about  Eugene Sledge, Robert Leckie, or John Basilone  (**spoiler alert**). 
The series is a triumph in my opinion.  There are human stories behind the content of our history textbooks from high school.  America is certainly not perfect but where would you rather be.  These men endured hardship and terror beyond my comprehension.  The very least we can do for them is know their names and attempt to understand their story.  I enjoyed this series so much because it does not glorify war and violence.  Instead, it turns the audience off to violence.  The show makes you take a step back and reevaluate your outlook.  Personally, I read With The Old Breed before I saw The Pacific, and I feel it enhanced my appreciation and enjoyment of the show because I had a greater understanding of the characters.  The show is hard to follow early on, and reading the books first will make watching the series more worthwhile. 
I sleep comfortably in bed every night because great people than I sacrificed greatly for my well being.  They stood in harm's way so pussies like me don't have to.  However, I am sure they do not want me to be in harm's way.  I would imagine they would like for me to recognize their sacrifice and lead a life of purpose.  If one does not want to lead a life of purpose, then please acknowledge what others have done for you.  Memorial Day does exist for a reason beyond getting stinking drunk at the shore.  I certainly encourage people to enjoy their weekend, but don't lose sight of why the holiday exists.
I do not want to divulge any details of the show, so I will not get into detail.  There is something to be said for television of this caliber. It has significance.   I strongly encourage everyone to give the show a chance.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sh*t I Don't Understand: Bumper Stickers

Let me first say that I have no problem with self-expression, as long as it doesn't encroach on those who are simply minding their own business. After all, this isn't Russia. Is this Russia? This isn't Russia. But that being said, there are numerous opportunities to express oneself among all the ins and outs of our lives, so why do so many people feel compelled to adorn the back of their cars with bumper stickers? Is it some form of illicit obligation to let everyone who drives behind you get to know you a little bit? Or is it the feeling that your hobbies, habits, and viewpoints are so cool and/or unique that you must, MUST share them with the world?

There are three things I care about and absolutely need to know when it comes to the driver of the car in front of me: if they are intent on turning left or getting over to the left, if they are intent on turning right or getting over to the right, and if they are on their brakes. That's all I ever need or want to know, and there happen to be these fancy blinking lights on the back of cars that indicate these very facts. Anything else is superfluous and an outright waste of my concentration.

I don't care what teams you root for. I don't care what bands you like. I don't care what radio station you listen to. I don't care who you plan to vote for in an upcoming election. I don't care who you voted for in any past election (a hot-air gun and a sharp thumbnail are all you need to take down that Kerry/Edwards 2004 sticker, folks). I don't care what your religion is. I don't care what nationality you are. I don't care that you'd rather be fishing. I don't care that your other car is a broomstick, so you say. I don't care if someone has dubbed you the "World's Greatest Dad." I don't care if you are a "Jersey Girl." I don't care that you love your bullmastiff. I don't care that there's a baby on board. I don't care if your car climbed Mt. Washington. I don't care if you ran a half-marathon or a full marathon. I don't care that you've been to OBX. I don't care what shore you go to. I don't care what college you attended or presently attend. I don't care what school your children attended or presently attend. And I absolutely, positively, do not give one rat's ass if your kid is an honor student.

I'm not saying not to be proud of who you are and what you're about. I'm just saying to scale it back a bit. Loading your car up with bumper stickers makes you look like a sitar-playing hipster in addition to potentially hurting the car's value. Allow your actions, words, attitudes, and (to an extent) your sense of style paint the picture of exactly who you are. Shoving your persona into everyone's face via the back of your vehicle is the human-interaction equivalent of force feeding, and I, for one, would like to feel like less of a veal calf when I'm out there navigating our lovely roads.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Inconvenience of Convenience

Technology is a great thing isn't it? Our culture, and especially our generation, is just enamored with it. And no matter what facet of life you're dealing with, chances are there has been some sort of technological development in the past 20 years that revolutionized it. We have so many nicnaks and doodads designed to make every little step of our days that much more convenient. But I wonder, at what point do these added conveniences become counter-productive?

For instance, a few weeks ago I got a text from my sister, saying "Just read in People magazine that Feces Finding has a single out......thought you may be interested since you set up her stage." She was referring to a singer named Fefe Dobson who did a show at the day camp we both worked at back in the day (and yes, I did work on her stage). But did you catch that little error up there? I'm pretty sure if the actual name of the group were Feces Finding, they'd be targeting a whole different segment of the market. Alas, what happened was that her phone has an autocorrect texting feature that will change words it doesn't recognize (which is bound to happen with a lot of names) into words it does recognize. So "Fefe" became "Feces," a chuckle-worthy text blunder caused by a feature designed to make things more convenient.

These things are all over the place. Most colleges these days have an online file sharing system where professors can post assignments, grades, etc. and students can submit papers and homework electronically via a dropbox feature. This is all great, but is it really worth saving the trip to physically hand stuff in? And you don't even want to know what happens if the internet goes down and you can't get your assignments or submit your work before the built-in deadline. It's a shitstorm in a snow globe.

This is the world in which we trudge about our lives. You can't type a word on a computer anymore without spell check having a seizure on your screen. That supremely annoying Microsoft Office paperclip above has managed to gain the wrath of everyone born after 1970. It's great that we have cell phones with email capabilities, but isn't a by-product of those luxuries the fact that you are now accessible in many situations where you really don't want to be accessible (especially in regards to work)? Go into any public bathroom, and you have those automatic-flushing toilets, automatic sinks, and motion-detecting paper towel dispensers. How unreliable are these things? Don't you just love having to wave your hand in front of those things like a jackass to try to get them to serve their function in life? Half the time they're broken anyway, leaving a foul-smelling bathroom with no paper towels to be had.

There's nothing wrong with most uses of technology in an effort to make things more user-friendly. The problem occurs when all of a sudden we are relying on overly involved or complicated systems to do simple and mundane tasks. And why have such elaborate developments been made in some of the seemingly least necessary areas? To counteract human ineptitude, of course!

There is no need for a motion-detection system wired to flush a toilet. There is no need for a laser-powered viewfinder to tell to a golfer exactly how far he is from the hole. Nor is there a real need for an autopilot mode built into new cars to essentially parallel park themselves. But somewhere along the line, laziness and ignorance won out. Auto-flush toilets became necessary because enough people thought it was OK to not flush. Bad golfers with money to burn never grasped the concept of playing by sight, and decided that a handheld surveying system would somehow offset their terrible swing and lack of instincts. A demand for parallel-park assist developed out of the apparent staggering decline in humanity's ability to operate a motor vehicle. The examples go on, but I'd like to think I've made my point.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

When is Segregation Ok?

The answer is not always but rather at sporting events.  Stay with me here.  This is not a white and black issue.  This is a home and away issue.  It is rather annoying to spend your time and money to go to a home game only to find that someone in your section has "sold out" and given their tickets to an away fan.  This can ruin your game experience when the away supporter is boisterous about his team and yours is losing.   When you travel to an away game you know what your getting into. However if you go to an Eagles game at the Linc, you don't expect to be sitting next to a Cowboys fan.  Nor should you have to.  It happens though and far too often.

Fights break out, visiting fans minding their own business are abused, beer is poured on little kids, and 13 year old girls are called sluts.  This is not ok. Drunk or not.  I propose that a percentage of tickets are made for away fans and away fans only.  Set aside a couple of sections for the away fans and have them passionately root for their team.  No home team colors are allowed in the section and no away team colors are allowed outside the section.  Prepare a separate entrance and concourse for the away fans and surround them with security.  This will limit the amount of incidents at games and make the experience better for home and away fans.

For those who don't want to be segregated to one section you can sit amongst the masses if you can behave.  You cannot wear away colors, You will keep you mouth shut when the away team scores and you will not start any trouble or your gone.

Nearly this whole concept is taken from my experience in London where opposing fans have separate entrances and exits.  It's also based on my experiences in sitting in away seats where I've had alot more fun cheering with my fans despite my seats being worse because of it.  I've also been to home games and sat next to opposing fans and if they didn't trash talk it was real annoying sitting near them while they cheered against you.  I would never invite a Duke Fan to my house to watch a game no matter how much I liked the guy.

You Don't Look Like Anyone

Ever had someone say to you, Hey you look like____? Sure you have.  We all have.  Don't ever do this because almost always the person is offended.  If they are not offended you have likely compared them to someone who is way better looking and your kissing ass so stop. 

Over the years I have been compared to Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber, Greg Dobbs, and Joey Ryan (for the record Ryan was befuddled too) to name a few.  So being compared to a retard, a pinch hitter, and a wrestler with a 70s pornstar gimmick doesn't really sing my praises.  Surely you have been compared to random people in public or had people saw I thought you were someone else.  Most people have high opinions of themselves because they think of the one time they attracted someone out of their league is their standard.  However, if you going to compare to people its ok to do this behind their backs because its funnier this way and they wouldn't want to know anyways. 

Being compared to another person that you regard as below you is the same feeling you have when you see who your ex is with.  Your dating him? Really?  He's better than me?  So don't say you look like so and so unless you want to annoy someone.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sh*t I Don't Understand: Celebrity Gossip

Tonight, at 7:30, on The Insider, we discuss the brand of sneakers Kate Gosselin wears to the gym, don't miss it! And later, at 11:30 on TMZ, it's Lindsay Lohan getting drunk and pissing herself in a limo, followed by Clint Howard getting into a cab at LAX! It's guaranteed to be the sixty most mind-stimulating minutes of your day!

Why, people, why? Why is celebrity gossip such a big business? You can't go through the checkout aisle in the food store or surf TV channels for 3 minutes without being slapped in the face by celebrity magazines and celebrity TV shows, every one of them making a pitch at the lowest part of our minds. Oh, look, shocking news, Sandra Bullock's tatted-up biker husband who has a pornstar ex-wife was cheating on her! Oh man, I really had hope for those two, it was such a storybook romance.

When did we become such a voyeuristic society obsessed with other peoples' business? 40 years ago, were people crooning for photos of a doped-up Jim Morrison, or did they care who Jack Nicholson was dating? And it's one thing for a bunch of chatterbox wives down at the country club to be spread rumors about who in the neighborhood has a kid that eats glue. It's another thing to immerse yourself in the goings-on of people that you don't know, haven't ever met, and most likely will never meet.

Case in point: magazines paying millions of dollars for the right to be the first to publish pictures of a newborn celebrity baby. Who the hell cares? Babies all look alike, for one, and they also hardly look anything like what they will eventually grow up to be. For all you know that could be someone else's baby on the cover of OK!. You can't tell the difference, and you're never going to meet or know that kid anyway, so what on earth is the obsession?

Western culture loves to put its rich and famous in a fishbowl. They're living a life that most of us will never even sniff, but that doesn't mean we can't observe, observe, observe. I think the obsession is that we like to scrutinize every waking second of these important people's lives, hoping upon hope that an unfortunate moment gets caught on camera or, if we're really lucky, someone gets arrested, hooked on drugs or booze, involved in some sort of cheating scandal, or all of the above. Ever notice the proportion of negative news to positive news when it comes to celebrities? Some doctor could cure AIDS, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, and the common cold all in the same week and if People had the interview with the guy, they'd stick it on page 26 because pages 2-25 would already be dedicated to what Elin Woods had for lunch last week and how that possibly indicates the imminent divorce of her and Tiger.

Apparently what really makes common people feel good about themselves is the ability to poke fun at celebrities for being human. Let me ask you this - how do you think any of us would look if we had cameras in our face 20 hours a day? That's what cracks me up when I see people gasping and chuckling whenever US Weekly or one of those other esteemed journalistic outlets runs a "Stars Without Makeup" issue. Yeah, I'm sure the average US Weekly reader looks better than Rihanna when they roll out of bed, so they must have all the right to point and laugh.

Hell, I'll admit that I'm not above using celebrities as an occasional punchline, but there's a fine line to draw between lighthearted mockery and full-out obsession. Value these people as entertainers and (hopefully) conveyors of otherwordly talent. Admire their accomplishments and applaud if they do things the right way, but leave it at that. I guarantee there are many important things in your own life that could use the additional attention.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Accidental Text Message Leads to Transfer

Shawn Lemon has decided to transfer from Akron University after receiving a text message from his coach that was not intended for him.   Lemon had been considering transferring when head coach Rob Ianello had been letting underclassmen take reps from the seniors in an effort to rebuild. Going into his senior season Lemon saw the writing on the wall and was mulling his future when he received a message from Ianelleo stating that he had tried to transfer before and may be doing it for attention.  The text message was obviously not intended to go to Lemon, but rather Athletic Director Tom Wistcrill.  Lemon was not happy to have received the message and went from considering transferring to transferring officially.

Surely some of you have sent accidental test messages before but probably not as bad as this.  I have.  I just purchased a new phone and was getting accustomed to using it.  I was texting a girl I had been seeing late at night and things were fine.  I woke up in the morning and regretted doing so.  A friend texted me and said how's (name redacted) doing?  I accidentally texted the girl thinking I was responding to my friend; "I texted her in a drunken text messaging rampage last night"  She responded "I guess its a good thing I didddnnnttt come overrr" because girls think its cute to text this way.  I apologized even though I didn't say anything too bad but needless to say we haven't hung out since.

Volunteer Work


Why do we do it?  Who is it serving?  My skepticism of volunteer work started while in high school.  I attended a Catholic high school so community service and other such volunteer work was stressed heavily.  On the surface, volunteer work appears wholesome and innocent, but leave it to us at Not As Good As You Think to shed light on the truth of the matter.  In my experience, the driving force behind most volunteers is self-serving, and the practicality of most volunteer work is questionable.

While in high school, it was impressed upon me that it is important to give back to the community.  My personal understanding of volunteer work is that it should entail donating time and effort for the benefit of others in return for NOTHING.  As I entered into my upperclass high school years (college application time), I noticed this was not the case with the abundance of volunteer work going on.  First of all, community service was mandated by my learning institution.  Technically, my community service was not volunteer work as it was not voluntary.  Let's be honest, high school students do not give a crap about giving back to the community or curing any diseases, they want that "Accepted" letter from their reach school.  Those are the letters that come in the big envelopes, as opposed to the "Rejected" letters (which tell you to fuck off in the upmost fashion) which come in standard envelopes.  High school students volunteer so they can put their work on a college application.  College students volunteer so they can pad their resume.  Most people in the workforce volunteer so they can sell themselves or their company.  You know what, I am guilty as charged.

My problem with all this volunteer work is that most of it has nil effect on the cause promoted.  If you are volunteering with the hopes of promoting yourself to some extent, that is fine as long as what you are doing yields tangible benefits to someone besides yourself.  Two old ladies sitting in lawn chairs under a tree at a par 3 of some charity event handing out sleeves of balls to players that get on the green in regulation are not helping anyone.  I have a lot of ill will towards these "volunteers" from my caddying days.  I would be sweating my glands out on a hot day, arrive at a par 3 and commence with small talk with these middle-aged petitzers who would yammer about how hot it is outside.  Typically, these women were over-privileged stay-in-bed moms married to wealthy guys.  Simply donating your time and showing up is not enough.   Look at the picture below, how many of these people are simply there taking up space?

I admit I do volunteer work for self-advancement. However, the work I do yields tanible benefits to others. Fair enough.  Don't be a walky-talky at some event.  Make sure you are doing something practical.  Build something, fix something, raise money, or give your blood.  If your volunteer work does not entail one of the above, what would you say you do here?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Where the Big 4 Fail

If your not completely satisified, please let us know. This a pharse used often is business but rarely taken seriously when a customer has a complaint.  Well the Seattle Sounders got the doors blown off them this weekend when then lost 4-0 to the L.A. Galaxy.  The Sounders probably have the best fans in the Major League Soccer and even outdrew the Seattle Mariners in average attnedence last season.  The ownership group apperciates their support and decided the fans would be refunded for the match.  Great business decsion and something I doubt we'd see in any of the four major sports in this country (Hawks Playoff Guarantee not withstanding).  Can you imagine the Sixers doing this? I wonder what they did for those who ponied up there money when AI came back only to see him play in a handful of games.  The Sixers made more money off ticket sales the the day AI was signed than what AI's salary was. But I'm guessing customers who complained where given the card subject to change line. (It's not the Sixers fault he didn't play but they can do something for the fans when a player goes AWOL. It is there fault for hiring Eddie Jordan.)

Major League Soccer is still growning and the publicity of a positive customer service decision helps the league.  Its also a quality thing to do for your loyal customers who have provided sellout after sellout.

Earlier in the English Premier League season, Wigan Athletic players personally refunded their fans who traveled to an away game. Wigan were defeated 9-1 by Tottenham and the players were so embarrassed by there performance they contributed roughly 1,000 pounds a piece to refund the fans.  Aren't things so much nicer when the players and ownership care even a little bit about their customers.  It's nice to know that some people still remember who their customers are and who is ultimately responsible for their salary. I'm looking at you Daniel Snyder, how about throwing some cash back to your loyal fan base instead of watching it burn in free agency.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

That's Your Mayor

Now that we're on the topic of ill-informed politicians when it comes to sports, I can't pass up this chance to take a little jab at that city in Massachusetts where pronouncing the letter "R" is optional, but obnoxious sports fandom is mandatory. The above video is from a ceremony in Boston to unveil a new Bobby Orr statue outside of TD Garden. The man speaking (and I use that term loosely, since he sounds like he has rubber cement in his mouth) is, remarkably, Mayor Thomas Menino. That's right, the Mayor of Boston managed to confuse Adam Vinatieri with Jason Varitek at the end of that little speech, which also included him labeling some of the city's great athletes and moments as "ionic" as opposed to "iconic." I guess he means that Boston athletes are so great, not only are their accomplishments celebrated for generations, but they are also able to form non-metal/metal compounds.

So apparently, it was Jason Varitek kicking the field goals that provided the winning margins in Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII, and XXXIX. And I guess that means Adam Vinatieri is actually the switch-hitting catcher who sports a garish eyesore of a captain's "C" on his jersey. Could have fooled me. Although, in a certain respect, I can see how Mr. Menino can get the two of them confused these days. Considering how bad the Sawks have been at stopping base stealers, they might as well have Adam Vinatieri back there behind the plate. But alas, don't fret dear Chowderheads. This tidbit of embarrassment will be gone shortly, when something else becomes the story du jour, at which point we'll simply go back to disliking your city for the usual offenses, i.e. bestowing the Dropkick Murphys upon the world and being the reason that ESPN is 80% unwatchable on a good day.

Hope You Wave the White One

You know Daniel Snyder as a man willing to spend whatever it takes to have a successful Washington Redskins franchise. You laugh at him when he can't buy a championship and his team is usually last in the NFC East. After reading this story I think you will find even more schadenfreude when his team tanks.

Snyder helped run Six Flags into the ground after taking over in 2005. When Snyder became the primary shareholder Six Flags was trading at nearly $12 per share. Last week the share price was under 2 cents when Snyder was ousted as chairman by the board of directors. Running the business into the ground is one thing, but some of the business practices that Snyder employed lacked business ethics and a care for his customers.

Snyder hired his cronies such as CEO Mark Shapiro (former head ESPN responsible for shows such as Cold Pizza). Shapiro proceeded to falsely testify in order to line Snyder’s pockets. "In 2007, Snyder sent Mark Shapiro to lobby the Agawam mayor and the town council into banning visitors from parking at the non-Six Flags-owned lots. Shapiro testified at a public hearing that it was unsafe for pedestrians to walk to Six Flags from anywhere but its own lots. The local politicians banned the satellite lots after Shapiro's appearance."

This is bullshit of course. Snyder just wanted to force the customers to park in his lots and charge you and arm and a leg to park (as much as $30). Fortunately the ruling was later overturned.

Snyder promoted the Flash Pass at Six Flags park which grants VIP status to everyone who forked over a ticket premium as much as $112.  The Flash Pass enables customers to jump to the front of the line because they paid nearly double the price of admission.  This is essentially a way to make a day in the park at Six Flags more tolerbable and a way to say fuck you to people who paid full admission price.  For anyone whose been to theme parks you know the lines are the worst part of the experience.  Of course Six Flags is not the only theme park to implement this price gouging scam but Snyder loves ripping his customers off so much that he implemented Fast Lane Card to bypass security lines at Redskins FedEx Field.  $100 a season allows season ticket holders to bypass security lines. Synder also intends to capitalize an a fans desire to support his team at all costs.

Those not even yet on the aledgedly 200,000 plus waiting listing could jump to the front of the line if they had a few extra thousand dollars lying around to join a premium club.  One of the premium clubs, called the "touchdown club,"  allows for the purchase of lower level season tickets if you pump about $7,000 into the club.  This is similar to Personal Seat Liscenses that have been put in place across the country, but varies from donation programs applied in collegiate atheltics.  Money there goes directly to funding athletic programs including those bleeding the school in the red (insert Title IX jab here). Snyder is not alone though so its somewhat unfair to just pick on him but he is part of the problem. The money from the touchdown club may go to building a team but it also goes towards fattening Snyder's wallet.

Speaking on fattening, Snyder has come under fire for placing many the companies he owns in Six Flags, such as Johnny Rockets.  "So even as he ran a public company into the ground, Snyder managed to keep money flowing into his wallet via pacts with private business he controlled.  That makes Snyder a personal-interest savant, but not a business genius." (Slate article)  As you might guess majority shareholders are pissed off and are contesting that Snyder should be held accountable.

Snyder like many other businesses and businessmen forgot or don't care about customer service.  He is more concerned with driving profits in the short run that he fails to realize what could happen in the long run.  I'm willing to bet that some people stopped going to Six Flags all together when they were charged $30 for parking or that their price of admission still put them at a disadvantage for those who paid for the "Flash Pass".  The "skip the security line" should be criminal, even if the primary reason for the searches are to prevent people from bringing their own food and negative signs into the games.  Snyder can make his money capitalizing on the loyal Redskins fan base, but he won't be winning any awards for owner of the year.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Say Anyone

Needless to say Barack Obama is a fraud fan. I'm surprised no one asked him before. The commentator put the ball on the tee and Obama fanned.

Obama may try to hand the ball to the catcher next time or contact Benny the Jet Rodriguez. His throw to the catcher is barely better than Smalls throw from the outfield.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Bring in The Bobs

What would you say you do here?  Now THAT is a pointed question that needs to be asked more often.  The movie Office Space depicts two personnel consultants (The Bobs) that are brought in my Initech to weed out uneccessary cooks in the proverbial kitchen.  There are only two categories of people that belong in the workplace: 1. those who solve problems and 2. those who sell.  If you aren't doing one of the aforementioned, I have only one question...what would you say you do here? 

Working in the golf industry for many years has given me insight into the effect of dead weight personnel on an organization.  Take something as simple as simple as a charity golf outing.  I can't even count the number of these things that I have assisted in over the years.  I certainly cannot count the vast number of unnecessary volunteers and employees who breathed my air at these functions.  I call these people "walky talkies", because the are often frantically scurrying around with a clipboard and a walky talky accomplishing absolutely fucking nothing.  They show up in their freshly pressed pants, shiny shoes, and new shirt with the sponsoring logo all over it and they act like they are in mission control during the Apollo 13 crisis, when in fact all they are doing is making sure there are water bottles in the golf carts.  I will save my rant on volunteering for my next post.

The purpose of this post is to explore all the bitching going on about the lack of jobs out there.  Bullshit.  What do these people bring to the table?  Just because you have kids and your mommy told you that you're special when you were a kid does not entitle you to anything.  Get out there and grind.  Take what you can.  I know a CPA that shoveled snow for money this summer, AND is currently employed.  If you are under 45-50 years of age, get the image of the easy life out of your head.  Nobody wants to hear you bitch, and most likely nobody wants to hear ANYTHING from you period.  Like Kevin discussed in his recent post, you have to HUSTLE.  There is no magical tit of a job that you can suckle the golden milk from.  You are most likely replaceable, as discussed in Lou's post regarding why athletes are so highly paid.
Why do lawyers and doctors get paid well?  They solve problems.  People outsource their thinking to a trained professional for a fee, because people want their legal or medical problem solved.  People don't want to think, so they pay others to do it for them.  Why are athletes paid so handsomely?  They sell.  The recent economic squeeze is purging the American workforce of unnecessary positions.  Gone are the assistants of the assistants. Gone are the smiling faces of PR and the VP's of (insert bogus function).  My advice to the graduating class of 2010 is that you better be willing to take on a shitload of stress, be a pro athlete (good luck), or be extremely good looking (good luck again).   There is no hiding in the cracks anymore.   You better bring some value to the table. 

Saturday, May 8, 2010

It's a League Game, Smokey

As we go further and further into the chasm of adulthood, many of us will try to find any way that we can to give ourselves a taste of being a kid. One of those ways to rekindle the good old days is signing up for recreational sports leagues, either an interoffice league at work or a weekend league with friends. When you get down to it, we're all there to try to recapture the time when our little league games where the highlights of the week, when being the guy who batted third or played shortstop was the most important thing in the world. Of course, nowadays it's just beer-league type stuff, a diversion from the routine, a few hours out of the week to scale back the hastiness of everyday life. And while above all else the name of the game (no matter what game you're playing) is having fun, that does not make it OK to blatantly suck and bear no regard for winning.

There's a few people like this on every team, whether it's softball, basketball, volleyball, you name it. They are there "just to have fun" and will remind everyone of that fact with a goofy smile and a shrug of the shoulders every time a botched play draws their teammates' glare. I'm sorry, but "just wanting to have fun" is not a blanket excuse for habitually poor play and/or disregard for fundamentals and strategy. You don't hear people say "wow, look at that, Joe out there has misplayed 3 fly balls this inning and somehow managed to strike out in slow pitch, but he's just here to have fun so it's OK." No, it's not OK. If you put the uniform on and step onto the field/court/rink, your job is to help your team. Fun is a by-product. You know what's fun? Playing well is fun. Winning is fun. Watching your team lose because a mongo wearing the same uniform as you forgot how many outs there were? That, my friends, is not fun.

I'm not saying to treat winning or losing like life or death, because that extreme is even worse than not caring. But just have a clue and take things somewhat seriously. If you fail to do that, you're wasting the time of others who actually care. You're probably the same guy who plays blackjack and doesn't hit a 14 when the dealer is showing a face card. Not to mention, playing on a company team can be politic city, so you can even be damaging your career. I think that's what grinds my gears the most about this matter - why do you sign up for something where you are, in essence, voluntarily embarrassing yourself in front of people whose opinions may matter? On the scale of office unpopularity, being that guy who everyone hopes isn't up to bat next or doesn't get the ball hit to him is only slightly better than being the smelly guy. That's right, the smelly guy. (this is where you nod your head and chuckle in agreement)

Bottom line? If it were just about fun we wouldn't keep score or standings. I'm not saying you have to be an A+ athlete to be on the field, because honestly if any of us were all that good we wouldn't be playing in a simple rec league. What I am saying is to know your limitations - I played intramural basketball in college and my only real value to the team was giving breathers to the guys who were actually good. So when it was a tight situation late in a game, I took myself out. If we lost, at least it wasn't going to be because I traveled. So if you are admittedly not that great a player (and being able to admit it is 90% of the battle), don't trot yourself out to left field in a tie game in the 7th inning, because the ball is going to find you, and odds are, you are not going to catch it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Go Ahead and Tase Him, Bro

Did he deserve it, or was it excessive force? That's been the big question for the past 24 hours or so, with the explosion of the story of a kid running onto the field at Citizens Bank Park during Monday night's Phillies/Cardinals game and proceeding to be given a torso full of taser by the cops. Media outlets of all shapes, sizes, locations, affiliations, and genres have since run with this issue in one way or another. Naturally, it is our obligation to weigh in while this story is apparently such a hot-button issue (or at least before the news cycle renders it an afterthought, likely by week's end).

The jackass deserved it. I don't want to hear crying from him, from his friends, his mom, the ACLU, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, or whoever the hell else has an opinion. I don't want to hear it. It is made abundantly clear from the time you're about 4 years old that you don't belong out on the field during a game, and if you're stupid enough to run out there, then you have it coming to you. Above all else, there is a practical issue here, a matter of safety. Players, coaches, and officials stand out on the field in front of thousands of (possibly inebriated) spectators. To say they're somewhat exposed and/or vulnerable is not a stretch. Don't believe me? In recent years there have been not one, but two incidents of fans leaving the stands and attacking on-field participants, not to mention the famous Rick Monday incident in 1976. I don't care if everyone says this 17-year-old douche in Philly last night was just a harmless class clown. I'm sure that's all he is. But there's no way of knowing that when he comes charging out of his seat and darting around the outfield, resisting the apprehension of the cops.

There's more to it than the "protect the players, coaches, and umps from lunatics" angle. What gets me so riled up when someone pulls a such a stunt is that they refuse to understand it's not about them. There were nearly 45,000 people in the stadium that night, and they paid to see a game between arguably the two best teams in the National League, not to see a skinny kid with a gigantic nose run around. Sure, we all laugh and cheer if we're at a game and an idiot runs onto the field, but at least with me I get enjoyment out of seeing the guy get caught. Just like the "Don't tase me, bro!" moron that gained national fame a few years ago, anyone who runs out onto the field like that is trying to make themselves the spectacle instead of just minding their business and being a spectator. You want to be a spectacle? Then make a nice catch of a foul ball, or something, anything else that doesn't interfere with the game.

So, until next time, don't cry police brutality on this one. It's not like this guy was an innocent bystander that got the voltage from some asshole cop on a power trip, nor did they keep tasing the kid until his heart stopped. Once he was down, that was the end of it. He made the decision to run out onto the field, so let the consequences be what they may.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tough Guy Mentality

Enough with the tough guy routine.  We get it, you're tough and bad ass and so on. I am particularly fed up with this mentality in hockey.  Back in the day, helmets were not required.  Let's be honest, the checking that went on in during the 1970's and prior was nearly as violent as it is today. Nonetheless, a Bobby Hull slapshot could do a number on anyone in any era.  But I don't understand this mentality in sports (hockey in particular) to constantly prove how tough one is by being underequipped. 

For example, hockey players not wearing visors.  What an awful idea.  A professional athletes job is to help his team win.  That is their aim, at least it should be.  Why not wear a visor?  It does not take away the athlete's ability to help his team outscore the opponent in 60 minutes or beyond.  What good is the athlete when they are injured and not cleared to participate?  I have always wondered this, and the recent Ian Lapierre incident has set me off on the matter. 

It takes tremendous courage to step onto the ice in an NHL playoff game.  However, even more courage is required to lay out in front of a professional slapshot. Why not wear a facemask though?  The object of hockey is not to prove how tough you are, it's about winning games.  Brain contusions don't win Stanley Cups.  Laperriere's injury is only the most recent in a long line of unnecessary injuries.  Imagine NASCAR drivers not wearing seatbelts, or baseball players not using gloves.  It's a good thing the NHL mandated visors for all incoming players a few years back.  If I'm the owner of a team, my players are investments, and they damn well better be wearing a visor.  Cut the macho crap and play the game.  No one thinks any less of a player for wearing a visor.  The game is more violent and dangerous than ever, but it is also faster and more interesting to watch (if you give it chance at playoff time).  If you're interested in seeing guys get cut up and bruised then watch ultimate fighting.  I watch hockey to see athleticism, skill, and action.  Seeing some guy with a gaping head wound is not my cup of tea. 

Ian Laperriere is a  tough hockey player.  Unfortunately, he is now a spectator for the duration of the Flyers playoff run.  Is that worth not wearing a visor?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I Like A Da YouTubes, Volume II

As promised, we are back with a few YouTube gems submitted for your approval.

This first one is watchable on many levels. Come for the comedy of bad draft picks, stay for Mel Kiper's hair and the fan reactions.

Our second video needs little introduction. It's The Big Lebowski in 30 seconds:

(Side note - there are a ton of hilarious "Movies in 5 Seconds" on YouTube, where they show you pretty much all you need to see to get what the movie is about. Do yourself a favor and watch Titanic in 5 seconds if you need any further illustration).

I leave you today with a bit of Brian Regan, aka the comedian whose stuff you need to get into. Dane Cook couldn't shine this guy's shoes.