Saturday, July 31, 2010

In Defence of Trash TV

I may sound like I'm contradicting many of the things I've written in this space, but hear me out. As Jersey Shore's second season has premiered this week, the venom spewed last winter from atop many a pulpit and high horse across the land has been renewed as well. I can't say that the opinions of the show's detractors are exactly unfounded. I get why people scowl at the show. Many people who know me are probably surprised that I am a pretty big fan of it. So allow me to play a little devil's advocate and present my defence of Jersey Shore (yes, I used the British spelling of the word there and in the title, just for fun),

When I turn the TV on these days, probably 80% of the time it's either to watch sports or to laugh. To take something like Jersey Shore past face value is like asking for the nutrition facts of that 1/4 lb hot dog you just got from 7-Eleven. You really shouldn't do it. Being from New Jersey my whole life, I get a kick out of the show. Even though the trashiness of some of the characters is played up as the show's biggest asset (or, on second thought, maybe it doesn't need to be played up), it doesn't offend me. I've never been concerned that I may meet someone from another part of the country and they'll automatically associate me with Ronnie or Mike "The Situation" just because I live in New Jersey. Why should they? I don't have half a can of wax in my hair, I don't have any tattoos, my sunglasses only cost about $20, and (despite being an avid weightlifter) I don't own a wifebeater.

What I don't get about the outrage over Jersey Shore is that the show isn't a lie or a gross embellishment. If you put cameras in any random house in Seaside Heights even without MTV selecting a cast, the end result would not be terribly different from what we got in Season One. I know it may piss people off that Jersey Shore makes it look like the only things in Jersey are guidos, blowouts, and gold chains. But the fact that some of the finer parts of the shore and the state in general are downplayed and/or ignored on the show, that doesn't make it any less true about what does go on in Seaside. The place is a summer-resort version of Hamsterdam and has been for a while.

Here is what my main case for Trash TV boils down to - we all need some sort of outlet from our daily grind, a chance to turn our minds off for a while. Deep down, everyone has the same facets and angles to their personalities, it's just a question of which sides we let out the most often. Some choose to feed the intellectual side more, some choose to feed the humorous side more, and some choose to feed the crude and base side more. So even though I've hated on shows like Oprah, The Bachelor, and The Bachelorette, as well as celebrity gossip of all shapes and sizes, what my annoyance really comes from is when people treat such things as their most worthwhile form of entertainment. It's not the worst thing in the world to watch Trash TV, as long as you're able to admit how stupid it is. So go ahead and feed the crude and base side of your mind for a little bit. Just keep the appetite within reason.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

It's the age-old question presented on a pretty regular basis to anyone under the age of 13. What do you want to be when you grow up? It's quite possibly the first real thought-provoking moment of a kid's life when he or she gives the question an honest answer. What do you want to be when you grow up? Ironically, in many ways the answer to the question does more to define the person you are at that instant than it does to define the person you will ultimately become. What do you want to be when you grow up? The answers to that question often define a generation. What do you want to be when you grow up? In post-WWII America the popular answer has gone from firefighter or policeman, to astronaut or President, to actor or ballplayer, to rock star or comedian. What do you want to be when you grow up? You find the answers to this question often without even asking it; all you need to do is look at the posters that line a kid's bedroom walls. What do you want to be when you grow up? In the '50s and '60s it was Mickey Mantle, JFK, and Jim Morrison. In the '70s and '80s it was Mick Jagger, Joe Montana, and Farrah Fawcett. In the '90s and '00s we had Michael Jordan, Britney Spears, and Mike Myers. But I wonder, who's tacked up on the bedroom walls of young people today? What do they want to be when they grow up?

Before I get too deep and/or nostalgic here, allow me to tell you what my point is. Look at the handful of names I threw out off the top of my head in the previous paragraph. All of those people were, at one point or another, at the top of the line in their professions. Not all of them were saints; in fact, many of them either had some questionable habits or found themselves immersed in some sort of controversy. But at the very least, they earned their keep. They did their jobs and did them extremely well. Compare that to today - how many people do we see being richly compensated for what frankly amounts to a job poorly done? And (this is slightly tongue-in-cheek), is it close to reaching the point where making a fortune for either doing nothing, or merely doing nothing well, becomes the new American dream?

It wouldn't shock me to hear kids today say "I want to be the CEO of a failing corporation when I grow up!" I'm writing this partially in light of the news that BP CEO Tony Hayward is headed out the door, and is still in line to collect the the equivalent of nearly $18 million in salary and pension. Funny thing is, the loot that Hayward will receive is a pittance compared to champs like ex-Merrill Lynch CEO Stan O'Neal ($161.5 million including securities and benefits as a thanks for driving Merrill straight into the teeth of the 2008 credit crunch) and ex-AIG boss Martin Sullivan (a package valued anywhere from $35 million to $60 million). The list of similar golden parachutes goes on and on. These guys make JaMarcus Russell (sorry Kevin) look like a lunch pail-toting, hard hat-wearing union laborer.

Although I could go on about the severances given to Wall Street bigwigs who did nothing but make bad decisions and lose money, we've all heard enough about it by now. It's not limited to inept CEO's and NFL draft busts. Remember Anucha Browne Sanders? If the name sounds familiar, it's because in 2007 she got over $11 million from the New York Knicks in a sexual harassment suit. Let me make it clear that I'm not condoning harassment of any kind, but still, being talked to inappropriately by Isaiah Thomas for a few years is not worth $11 million. Take also, for instance, the recent case in Sea Isle City, NJ, where a family was awarded over $500,000 from the police department alone in a racial-bias lawsuit involving the school's treatment of one of their children. I'm sorry, but unless the details of this case come to light and are shockingly beyond what they sound like, whatever happened can not be worth over half a million dollars. $100k I can see, but once you get into the $500k range you're likely going to cost several township employees their jobs so the lawsuit can be paid.

The maxim in this country used to be an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. More and more, the maxim is shifting to getting something for nothing, or at least getting way more than you deserve for doing relatively little. We're heading toward people's goal in life being to get paid handsomely to suck at their job, or to be somehow wronged by a well-heeled party that warrants a big lawsuit. So, I ask, what do you want to be when you grow up?

Build It Right

I received the Ipod Shuffle this past Christmas. Great product.  It's small, simple to operate, and delivers music to my ears as I exercise.  If I wanted to walk around the city in my skinny jeans and natural fibers shirt, I could also employ my Ipod Shuffle.  However, I did encounter one issue, and it has spurred this post.  The headphones are NOT built to last.  They are built to work for a few months until they crap out and it costs John Q. Consumer $30 to get new ones.  The problem is the clicker on the wire that controls the volume, stop/pause, FF/REW, and so on is as flimsy as can be.  Christmas morning when I opened up my Ipod and played with it, it became immediately apparent to me that the clicker is built to break.  That pisses me off.  It's no secret that consumer products are built to break.  But make an effort, those Shuffle headphones are so poorly built.  And $30 for a new pair??? GET REAL!  A whole new Shuffle with headphones and all is only $60.  Just because were consumers, DOESN"T MEAN WE'RE SAPS!!!! Tonight I was forced to purchase new headphones for my shuffle.  There was not a Ralph's nearby.

Summer Heights High

It's been awhile since I have posted...Appy Polly Logies.  My time was filled with enriching activities such as watching and becoming well versed in the hit Australian comedic mockumentary "Summer Heights High".  The show highlights the dysfunction of high school.  Apparently, Australian schools have similar issues to those of American schools. The show addresses the two key issues plaguing both public and private education: socioeconomic differences and behavioral problems.

The Ja'mie King character is a well-to-do snobby private school bitch that is participating in an exchange program with a public school.  This entails her attending a public school for a semester.  Ja'mie is in her junior year of high school, the height of social competition.  Having attended a prestigious private high school, it was gratifying to see the striving, snobby, stuck-up, bitch types lampooned without mercy.  I'm also glad I didn't attend a crap public high school, no offense.  Ja'mie had the world thinking she was a good person with good intentions with all of her self-promoting speeches and bogus extra-curricular involvement.  We all knew the party animals in high school that participated in S.A.D.D., campus ministry, and such clubs and activites that had their good intentions sullied by unsavory characters.

The highly prevalent behavioral issues in both public and private schools is embodied by the character Jonah Takalua.  Yes, Jonah was hilarious but he is an exaggerated example of poor behavior. Yet, it goes on.  Public schools need to categorize their student bodies into two factions.  The first being students that are in school to learn.  These would be students actually interested in their academic pursuits.  It's not for everyone.  Education is not one size fits all.  Students that are interested in learning need to be educated in an environment that is separate from the non-academic types.  The second group are those who are not interested in pursuing academics beyond age 16.  Teach them a trade.  We have so much damn unemployment and high taxes because so much money and effort is put towards educating kids with crap they don't need or want.  They then graduate with toilet paper diplomas and no job skills.  Give all kids in the country an aptitude test at certain points in their academic career.  If they want to push a pencil for a living, pass the aptitude test. Otherwise, learn an essential skill. 

Anyway, I think this post was supposed to be about a comedy show.  Summer Heights High is unapologetic and scathing in its indictment of the education system.  It is good to know it is not only America's school systems that are totally haywire.  Chris Lilley, you're a legend, sir!!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Calling Bull$hit

Bob Huggins broke 7 ribs.

Huggins, 56, was in his Las Vegas hotel room packing to leave for the airport Friday when he tripped on "something" on the floor and slammed into the coffee table. 

Let's take a guess as to what that "something" might be.
Was it (to be read in Keith Jackson voice)...
A) $160,000 to use to sway kids to come to West Virginia
B) 5-2 110 lbs platinum blond haired hooker with double D's
C) His Vomit of Bankers Club Vodka and Mountain Dew.
D) DeSean Butler

If you answered D then you win and get to have Billy Hann's job. 

Huggins has a history of alcohol related issues including a DUI and I would not at all be surprised if he fell ala Chris Farley on a coffee table, but I'd bet he was drunk when he did it.  All in all, no one really cares because it doesn't affect his ability to perform his job like it would an athletes.  Mostly, it is just humorous because he has no reason to tell the truth and we can only imagine what really happened.  Bottom line is, as always you cannot trust this man

Monday, July 26, 2010

I Graduated From....

Fill in the Blank.  I've had a wild thought recently that I believe could be pulled off successfully by a few individuals with street smarts and survivalist instincts. 

The idea:  Just say you went to college even though you didn't, to get a job.

Think about the worst case scenario is you are embarrassed in the interview process and called a liar.  O well you are back where you started.

Why it might work:  If you study your ass off online as sites like this and this, read the Wall Street journal are you really that far off from some entry level people. Now don't get offended because your college education is serving you well o reader, even in ways we don't realize.  But for the sake of argument, imagine someone who can't afford to go to college but refuses to submit to a remedial line of work.  This person would have to be self motivated but you can study a great deal and try to get a sales job.  You might get lucky and they don't check for your transcript, or maybe you could doctor it. 

After you get your first job and hold it for a few years, your not likely to get asked for this information again (correct me if I'm wrong).  In essence if you can "fake it till you make it" perhaps you can save yourself some serious cash or the 600 LBS Squat that are student loans.

I do believe their is a behavioral difference between those who went to school and those that did not, but I do think some people could make this work.  When you start a new job you are learning immense new material anyways and if you brush up on the basics you can blend it.

Who wants to take a chance and test the waters?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Dusting off the Nintendo

Tecmo Super Bowl
Played it first at a neighbors house and was constantly visting to play the game.  I didn't have a NES system at the time.  When Sega Genesis came out I inherited my Unlce's NES system and held it past the turn of the century. I rented Tecmo Super Bowl muliple times at RX place until I got it for Christmas a couple years later when NES games were barely made anymore.

I think there were 4 running plays and 4 passing plays per side per side although maybe it was 5 each.  I remember how easy it was to block extra points by going straight down the middle and you couldn't go for 2 in these days.

Who could forget the best player in the game and a major reason why I am a Raiders fan.

Bo Jackson Baseball-  Many people liked RBI, Bases Loaded, or some legends game I recall but I played this.  Bo Jackson was the only true liscened player in the game and he would hit a home run like 1-3.5 ABs it was cool. The fake names were done well enough to realize who each person was.  Dykstra was Nailz, Cal Ripken was KenRip. 

Zelda- Your mission was to collect the Triforce of wisdom in this Zelda original.  This series actually lives on to this day.  It was my main non sports game that I played along with another further down the page.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles- Some of the turtles games sucked but this acarde version was a blast to play with friends.  I always swore you could catch Shreder in level 1 but alas its impossible.  The game is remembered so foundly by me I forked over $5 bucks on XBox Live to buy the repacked version of this game.  

One thing that I realize from doing this list is how lucky we are to have memory cards, hard drive and the internet instead of writing down passwords on the pack of the intrustion manual.

A Day in The Life of Liberal Hippie Douche

I have compiled all my experiences with liberal hippie douche bags to create the ultimate liberal hippie douche experience.

Garet (spelled with 1 T just to be different) wakes up bright and early at 9 AM.  He resides in a one bedroom studio in Washington D.C because one should not live beyond his means. Garet picks up his Jansport backpack hes had for like forever and heads downstairs.  He steps outside in his bright green t-shirt rocking the phrase "Support the ACPP movement" (No one knows what it means but he is begging you to ask him about it).  He gets on his bike that he got from a bike repair shop for free because he knows the owner.  Garet tricked the bike out by adding some Obama bumper stickers.  He heads to Starbucks for breakfast wherever he can enjoy his free Internet, grande cappachino, and scone.  After finishing breakfast at 12 PM., Garet takes the Metro to Monument Park for a rally (he can't remember which one he is joining today), he's counting on fitting in with his bright colored shirt and flip flops.  Of course he brings his bike on the Metro and throws on his ipod to listen some Black Eyed Peas while inconveniencing all those around him. 

Alas he arrives in monument park and realizes its a rally against "Rupert Murdoch and Faux News", his favorite protest of course.  He proceeds to bother working people on their lunch breaks by informing them of the hypocritical coverage on Fox News.  After taking a few signatures for a petition and handing out some brochures he heads to the pub to watch favorite soccer team.

Garet heads to a pub called Lucky's because there is no cover and he refuses to pay extra for Fox Soccer Channel at his house.  He even brings his bike into the bar.  Garet is the only one in the bar without a beer in his hand, naturally free loading.  At half time he holds a discussion with some fellow fans.  Garet states " I hope soccer does not become real big in this country, it will totally kill my street cred." The gentleman who has been hopelessly thrust into this conversation just looks at him funny and turns away.

After the match its time to do some actual work or as much work as someone on Unemployment can do. It's Green Peace Time!  Garet continues to harass the working people on their way home from work asking them pointless questions and trying to guilt trip everyone that walks by. 

Garet rides down to the park to score some dope and heads to his friends house to jam on some tunes.  Garet discussed why the George Bush ruined the country and how Obama going to change things.  He describes how evil the Government is despite the fact that they help pay his rent while he is "looking" for work.  His friend suggest they watch a Michael Moore movie on a "critical issue".  Garet pulls out his computer because his friend is taking a break from using electricity for the day. Garet decides to crash at his friends house because the couch looks alot better then the options at his apartment.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sh*t I Don't Understand: The "Fun Size" Edition

In an effort to keep the "Sh*t I Don't Understand" series from dominating my posts, I'd like to offer an abbreviated, capsule-like version of several things, practices, or ways of thinking that have perturbed me lately. So, without further ado, it's "Sh*t I Don't Understand," the "Fun Size" edition.

-If the title and accompanying picture remind you of the mounds of Halloween candy you'd collect as a kid, then you are not alone. But what is it with the whole "Fun Size" charade? That's the universal candy code word for "f*ing tiny?" There is nothing fun about the size of a Nestlé Crunch bar when it's about 1/8 the size of a normal Nestlé Crunch bar. To me, a "Fun Size" candy bar is one that's about two feet long and weighs 3 lbs. That's a true fun size.

-The X Games

-People walking around with iPods in situations that do not call for iPods. Unless you're working out or studying, why do you find it necessary to listen to your iPod? I used to only see it from hipsters that live in the city and want everyone to know how unique they are, but lately this practice is starting to spread. Unless you're Alex from A Clockwork Orange and you have some unquenchable desire to listen to music, take the headphones out. Is it some sort of enjoyment you take in feeling antisocial and inaccessible? Well, let me save you the trouble and say it's no skin off my ass if you don't want to talk to me. And allow the record to show that I don't want to talk to you either.

-Baseball managers who are slaves to the save statistic. It might just be an effort to keep their big-money closers happy, but it really bothers me when the pursuit of stats play too big a role in how a game is managed or coached. How many times do you see something like this: a team enters the 9th with a 4 run lead, they refrain from bringing the closer in, the guy they do bring in gives up a soft 2-out run without bringing the tying run to the plate, and the manager immediately goes to the closer because it is now technically a save situation? The closer, in turn, gets to try his hand at a cheap one-out save and likely doesn't even face the prospect of giving up the tying run. You're up 6-3 with 2 out in the 9th and a guy on first? Leave the closer in the bullpen and don't waste his arm, please. Even if the reliever you have in there gives up a 500-foot bomb, you still have the lead and now you can go to the closer. If you were that hell-bent on having your big guy slam the door in the 9th, then why didn't you bring him in to start the inning? Broadcasters fuel the fire on this annoying trend, seemingly always defending a manager when he does this with a reflex-like "well, it is a save situation now" response.

-Wearing a tattered hat, or even worse, leaving the sticker(s) on a hat after you buy the thing. But, to be fair, it accents your earrings and wifebeater very well.

-Going to a club because there is a celebrity appearance there that night. You see this garbage down in AC a lot. So let me get this straight - Kim Kardashian is going to be at Mur Mur at the Borgata on a given night, and you want me to pay $25 just to get in (after waiting in line) and then pay ballpark prices for drinks (if I'm lucky) once I actually get to the bar? And this is all so I can get a glimpse at a celebrity from 40 feet away for 10 minutes? I'm a sucker for more things than I'd like to be, but even I'm not a sucker for that crap. I just could never figure out what these dudes think is in it for them when they go to one of these places. You really think Kim Kardashian is going to spot you out of the crowd and think to herself "Damn, I wanna hook up with that guy right there. What the hell am I doing dating professional football players anyway?" I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you're a dude in that club on that night, all you're getting is an unclear picture on your phone and the sad first-hand proof that yes, magazines do airbrush the hell out of those photo shoots. Now, if it were someone like Snooki appearing at the club, I could almost understand it because I don't think there's a male on this Earth that doesn't have a chance with her....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Secret Message (Delayed)

Without any further delay, here is the secret message.  Find somewhere private to decode.  Remember, I am counting on you!

25-38 / 31-33-79-38 / 70-75 / 79-38-4-2 / 70-20-38 / 25-68-75-9

All For One, One From All?

Mercifully, the NBA free agency whirlwind has subsided, and while certainly all the folks in Cleveland are still pretty steamed (see what I did there? OK Lou you can act your age any minute now) about the public-perception suicide that LeBron James committed, the country now focuses the brunt of its attention on baseball, and specifically for this week, the All-Star Game. One of the time-honored debates that begins the moment the All-Star rosters are announced is the "every team gets represented by at least one player" rule. It used to be that people would only be annoyed at this rule because it would deny a more-deserving player or two a spot on the team, that spot instead going to someone merely having a decent year on a bad team. But since 2003, when Bud Selig found it necessary to inject meaning into a mid-season exhibition game by having its winner determine which league got home field advantage in the World Series, the debate has grown larger and larger. Fortunately, o my brothers, I am here today to solve that debate, in the way that all of our middle school English teachers taught us to - with a bit of the old pro and con.

Mandating that every team be represented in the All-Star Game is one of the few egalitarian things left in a sport that has become the ultimate caste system over the past 15 years. From a visual perspective, the All-Star Game is unlike anything else, in that you will see 30 different uniforms on the field over the course of the game. Since all of the other sports - football, basketball, hockey, etc. - are nearly impossible to play unless the two teams are wearing distinctly different colors, baseball is the one sport that can pull this off. I, for one, take great enjoyment in seeing every single major league uniform on the field during the Midsummer Classic, and sacrificing a Royal or an Oriole just to get yet another Yankee in there does not seem to go along with the way it was originally drawn up. Not to mention, don't you think much of America is sick of seeing the same 7-8 teams on national television all the time? By mid-July we've all had plenty of Pujols, Jeter, and Halladay. It's a nice change of pace, not to mention a fandom-enriching experience, to see guys like Corey Hart, Heath Bell, and Joakim Soria play on a big stage. It's a spectacle that should put the whole league on display, not just the 4 or 5 biggest markets.

Let's start with the name. "All-Star Game." That kind of implies that every participant should be a star, yes? If that's the case, then good luck convincing me that such players as Michael Bourn (hitting .255 for the sad-sack Astros, albeit with 28 steals), Evan Meek (he does have some nice numbers, but he's a setup guy on the Pirates, give me a break), and Ty Wigginton (sporting a sweet .334 on-base percentage for the 29-win Orioles) really belong on that field. You're selling me on a game where I am just as likely to see a matchup of John Buck vs. Matt Capps (the 23 saves are nice, the 49 hits allowed in 39 innings aren't) as I am to see Cliff Lee against Albert Pujols (Editor's Note: Cliff Lee blew Albert away on 3 pitches in the 4th inning. So I at least got that one.)? And what's worse, the deeper the game goes, how much more likely is it that the average fan will not even have heard of many of the guys on the field at crunch time? Under this system, a guy hitting .260 for a last place team can potentially have the at-bat that decides whether the AL or NL gets home field come late October? Has the whole world gone crazy? Do you get what I'm driving at? Did I just end 5 straight sentences with question marks?

The Verdict
Believe it or not, I'm steadfastly in favor of having every team represented in the All-Star Game. It's bad enough that the owners in cities like Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Kansas City act like they're trying to kill baseball in their respective towns. The least MLB can do to avoid twisting the knife in those beleaguered fan bases is throw them the bone of being able to root for one of their own guys in the Midsummer Classic. What about all the stuff I just said in the last paragraph, about the every-team rule dragging down the talent level? Well, I really don't think that's the issue.

The issue is with how the game is treated. You can't contrive meaning for an exhibition game. Our parents' generation loves to talk about the days when the All-Star Game was a bitter rivalry and meant just as much or more than any regular season game. They croon about Pete Rose running over Ray Fosse in 1970 to illustrate that point. Well I'm sorry, but everyone is going to have to accept the fact that those days are over. There is too much money invested in the players on the field for the All-Star Game to be treated as anything more than an exhibition. Ray Fosse's career was severely derailed after getting decked by Pete Rose. Can you imagine the backlash if that happened today? And it doesn't even have to involve rough play. For instance, if Charlie Manuel were truly managing to win this All-Star Game, don't you think he'd keep Ubaldo Jimenez in there for a lot more than two innings? I don't think they've even invented the words that the Rockies would have for ol' Cholly if he made their ace throw 100 pitches in an All-Star Game. And that's not even considering the issue of everyone not getting into the game, which pisses people off just as much. You can't ask a manager to try his hardest to win a game while at the same time making sure that everyone gets to play. It's a candle burning at both ends.

You could make the All-Star Game count for whatever you want, but guys from opposing teams are still going to be slapping each other on the back during batting practice and chatting while being held on at first base. It's just the way the game is played now. The new every-year DH and re-entry rules are a much-needed safeguard against running out of players, so the issue of repeating the 2002 tie is moot. Instituting those rules is the league saying "there's no reason that everyone can't get into the game," which stamps "EXHIBITION" in big red letters all over the thing. For those reasons, the best of both worlds is to allow the game to remain an exhibition, and simply award home field advantage in the World Series to the team with the better record. Now, can we simply let some of the most talented men on the face of the planet play a game of baseball, and leave it at that?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Oh Sh*t Moments at the Bar

Your hanging out with your friends at the bar and meet a girl.  The conversation is going real smooth and the girl seems great.  She is cute, has a good job, and seems to have a good personality.  Then it happens.  Dave Matthews is played in the bar and her eyes light up.  "I love this song!" She jumps up and down and the notices your lack of excitement.  "What you don't like Dave?"

If I loved music like I love sports this would be a dealbreaker for me.  Because it isn't, I can muster to say, "He's alright."  The problem is my face looks like someone has just kicked me in the nuts.  She can see right through to my true feelings.  Suddenly the momentum you two have been building reaches a screeching halt, "Cliffhangers on the Price is Right Style."

Somehow Dave Matthews has inflitrated youth in this society and has been deemed socially acceptable music in all venues.  If this moment happens to you go grab a beer and reset.  You can move past this.  Many people who listen to Dave Matthews do it because they want to fit in.  This is probably the case in this situation as well.  Pick up the pieces and save the night.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Unofficial Sports Holidays

We love our Holidays in America. It's a time to eat, drink, be merry, see family and friends, and take extra days off from work so you end up screwing all the people you work with who didn't take off and have to cover for you (ok, this post is going in the wrong direction. Recalculating route. Please wait one moment.)


So like I was saying before, there are certain days out of the year that universally ring out as sacred on the sports fan's calendar. Super Bowl Sunday. New Year's Day. Thanksgiving. The first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. The Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May. Memorial Day Sunday and the Indianapolis 500. Baseball's Opening Day in April. Even the NFL Draft has gotten big enough to warrant a mention in this conversation. Surely there are more, but you understand what I'm getting at. But there are several other, slightly less ballyhooed days or weeks out of the year that provide a comparable amount of intrigue and action. In this piece I'll offer my 7 Unofficial Sports Holidays, events that you really look forward to or take enjoyment out of, sometimes without even really knowing it. (Why 7? Because it's Mickey Mantle's number. And it could also be a great name for a boy - or a girl.) And before any of you fans of the Ryder Cup or any other periodic international competitions object, only events that happen once per year were eligible.

7. NFL Schedule Release
I must first say that I'm not the biggest fan of this day myself, because it's become way too much of an event in recent years. What used to make for an interesting, break-up-the-boredom conversation piece in the newspaper (remember those?) is now Exhibit 1A in how ESPN can ruin anything by turning it into an hour-long prime time special (see "James, LeBron"). Nevertheless, there is a certain magnitude to the NFL schedule release. It provides a road map through the autumn and winter months for many Americans. Vacations and road trips are planned immediately thereafter for specific weekends to get out and see your favorite team. Conversely, you cross your fingers that weddings, family reunions, and other certain events fall on your team's bye week. StubHub sees traffic that would crash many a website. And, last but not least, we all play the asinine game of "ok, Kansas City at home - that's a win. Minnesota on the road - that's probably a loss" trying to predict our team's final record 3 months before training camp even opens. Honestly, none of us can resist doing it, but I learned to take any April predictions with a shaker of salt way back when I predicted the 1997 Cowboys to go 13-3, only for them to come in slightly under that at 6-10.

6. The Day of Nothing
Also known as the day after the MLB All-Star Game, this Wednesday in mid-July is the answer to the popular trivia question of "what is the only day out of the year when none of the major American professional sports are in action?" I've always taken some sort of solace in the Day of Nothing. Being a sports fan can be a bit of a grind sometimes, especially if you're a day-in, day-out baseball seamhead like me and the pennant races are just starting to bubble. The Day of Nothing offers a nice little chance to recharge your mental batteries, especially after staying up the night before to see the end of the All-Star Game because MLB is still trying to pull off the gimmick of having it decide home field in the World Series about 4 years after the novelty of it wore off, but I digress. A big part of being a sports fan is maintaining perspective on the rest of life, and the Day of Nothing is a day to remind yourself of all the other crap there is to do out there in the world.

5. Big East Tournament
I've spoken several times in this space about how I despise the period of time from early February to mid-March. The regular season in the NBA and NHL are lost on me, and I'm not enough of a college basketball fan to even try to really sink my teeth into it until well after Presidents' Day. While the Big East Tournament is not the official end to the Winter Doldrums, it is something of a wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee moment. It's probably the first sporting event after the Super Bowl that I make it a point to watch. Of course, it does help that in the past few years the Big East has become the premier conference in college basketball, so its tournament is now a clash of titans who are very likely to be making hay in the Big Dance, all under the bright lights of the Garden.

4. Michigan/Ohio State - the Saturday before Thanksgiving
For Kevin, it's quite possible that this day supersedes Christmas, New Year's, and July 4 put together. But I put the annual Michigan/Ohio State football game on here because even the casual college football fan makes it a point to tune in, and the fact that it takes place on the same day every year can really give it holiday status. The tradition and history surrounding this rivalry is college football at its best, and for my money it's still the best rivalry out there despite the downturn that the Big Ten has taken in the past few years. For years, this game would not only decide who the Big Ten would send to the Rose Bowl, but it would also considerably narrow down the National Championship picture, given that the Wolverines and Buckeyes would very often be two of the top 3, 4, or 5 teams in the country when they'd line up across from each other in Ann Arbor or Columbus. Add in the unfortunate fact that this game now also marks the approximate anniversary of Bo Schembechler's passing on the eve of the 2006 matchup, and you have a day that remains significant regardless of the two teams' records.

3. Saturday at Augusta

They call it "Moving Day." The third round of The Masters is obviously not as big as the fourth round, but it is arguably more compelling because Saturday is the real chance for those in contention to make their run at the green jacket. Why Saturday and not Sunday, you ask? Because the traditional pin placements for the third round are much more conducive to scoring than they are in the fourth round. If you're behind in The Masters on Sunday and need some birdies, you're going to have to make some of the trickiest approaches and most delicate putts of your life. To come from more than a few shots down on Sunday essentially requires either turning the back nine into a video game the way Phil Mickelson did in 2004, or having the extreme fortune of the guy you're chasing being Greg Norman. The M.O. for Sunday is mostly to play for pars and not implode. However, Saturday is the day. Saturday is the day when a guy barely above the cut line can fire a 66 and find himself within 3 of the leaders. It's also the day when any two-round flukes get put to bed, because you can't handle Augusta on luck alone for 72 holes. In addition, Saturday's round is also the first chance that many of the working population get to sit down and watch a full round, when you consider that the first two rounds are mostly over by the time the average person gets out of the office on Thursday and Friday.

2. MLB Trading Deadline
You may be a bit surprised that I have the MLB trading deadline so high on the list, given how much we have all spoken out against the overload of hype, rumors, and speculation. But baseball's trading deadline has a bit more to it. I thoroughly enjoy the "should we go for it this year, or build for the future?" dilemma faced by teams teetering around .500 in late July. In a certain respect, the trading deadline is where seasons can really get started (see the 2004 Astros and Carlos Beltran) or end in a hurry (see the infamous 1997 "White Flag Trade" executed by a White Sox team that was only 3.5 games out of first). It's also where one team can trade for a veteran player and be giddy that they've just found their missing link to the World Series, only to look back years later and lament the fact that they traded away a future Hall of Famer. My favorite example of this is the 1990 trade where the Red Sox got reliever Larry Andersen (yes, that Larry Andersen) for the stretch run, and all they had to give up was some first baseman with a weird batting stance named Jeff Bagwell. Oops. Since baseball in so many aspects is an individual sport, a player switching teams midseason has much, much less to learn in order to be a productive member of his new team. Unlike football or basketball where a new player needs to be taught a ton of plays and progressions, baseball is little more than "ok, pal, here's the bunt sign, here's the take sign, here's the steal sign, and Eddie the clubhouse guy over there will tell you where the best places are to eat. Go get 'em." This, plus the absence of a salary cap, is why baseball is the only sport whose in-season trade deadline consistently provides meaningful trades.

1. FCS Semifinals and Finals
There is a big part of me that likes to call these two weekends the most enjoyable football you'll watch all year. Taking place around the third and fourth weeks of December, they fill that void between the end of the FBS regular season and the beginning of the bowl season. Obviously the talent is not at a BCS level, but as recent I-AA triumphs over high-profile Division I programs have illustrated (sorry Kevin), it's not garbage either. Guys playing I-AA ball (as the FCS was formerly known) are mostly tough SOB's who lack either the size or the 40 time to play at the top level, so what you end up getting is pure football played by evenly matched teams. And not to mention, some of these games turn into absolute beauties, the kind of 31-28 battles that have plenty of scoring but enough defense to keeps it from taking on a video-game cheapness. Watching these two rounds was especially a highlight during college, since they'd coincide with reading days (aka sit around and not study) right before finals.

Honorable Mention: Pitchers and Catchers, National Signing Day for college football and basketball, the Army-Navy game in December, Wild Card Weekend, the NBA Slam Dunk Contest (when the best players participated), the Home Run Derby (ditto), and the Mike and the Mad Dog Super Bowl Trivia Contest (it's not nearly the same since Mike and Dog split) the week immediately following the NFL Conference Championship games.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What Would You Do if You Found 3 Tickets?

I'm in One Liberty Place today working at (name redacted).  In an effort to kill some time at work I proceeded to the rest room.  I spotted 3 tickets face down on the floor with a 10% off model's on the back.  Naturally I assumed someone was too lazy to throw the used tickets away.  I paused for a second, then said what the hell maybe they are for a future game.  I picked the tickets up and turned them over to notice a July 9th date and Jayson Werth's picture on the ticket.  I thought for a second wait, what day is today.  My wildest thoughts were realized when it occurred to me the tickets were still valid.

Ok so what do I do? What would you do?

My gut reaction said return the tickets.  But how?  I don't really know anyone who works here and all I could think of was give them to the secretary.  That wasn't really comforting because someone who never had the tickets in their sights could steal the purse. 

I texted a reader of the blog a photo of the tickets and explained the situation.  He said that it was a once in a lifetime situation and didn't know what to do.  I was hoping for a more definitive answer as I was sorta on the fence.  I was hoping for the little devil to speak into my ear.

Would it change your mind if I told you the seats were lower level and 3 rows back? 

I would easily get away with using the tickets.  But what if this person got access to the game and remembered exactly where he would have been sitting.  Was he a season ticket holder? I'd have to sell the tickets to be safe.

How did the tickets end up face down in the men's room to begin with?  It seems quite strange that someone could lose the tickets in the bathroom and not know it.  Where could they have been stored to fall out?

Alas a CCD education won out and I returned the tickets to the secretary who said she would send out a vague email.  It wasn't too comforting a feeling though because I can't be sure what she put in that email. 

The tickets were scooped up in less than 10 minutes I was told but I have not yet met the thankful party.  I must say that I'm disappointed that they weren't made aware of who returned the tickets.  The least I could get is a sincere thank you and a belief that I gave the tickets back to the original owner.  O well at least one one the more attractive females at this company got wind of this. One more day to close the deal.

Will Lebron Turn Heel?

Lebron James "Decision" is tonight at 9.  Everyone has been fawning over him.  Will he sign with us?  Lebron loves every part of this and created this by himself.  He never had the press conference to decide between UNC, OSU, Kansas, and Memphis.  Everyone knew he was going to the NBA and he was going to go #1.  So this is Lebron's chance to act like a kid have 4 different hats lined up and put on a show.  Except instead of 50,000 Michigan fans crashing MGOBlog at 2 PM on a work day on the decision of a 17 year kid,  Millions will be tuning in, in primetime, on some network.  I don't know what Lebron is going to do.  I do know that he is playing with you all, and loving every second of it.  Who could blame him? 

Speculation of his decision has dominated the airwaves even prior to the Cavs elimination.  Its not just sports talk either, Lebron was on Larry King, and has been on discussed on all morning and nightly news shows.  Today he has the worlds attention, and when given so much power he would like to take you for a ride.  He has made a decison.  You and I do not know what it is.  Reports of him doing the TV special in Greenwhich, Connecticut had people thinking Knicks.  His close personal friends say he won't leave Cleveland.  Today reports having him joining Miami creating a Big 3 of epic proportions.  In news cycles moving as quick as this misreporting reaches its peak so don't really believe anything until you hear it from Lebron.  In a day an age where there are few surprises its actually refreshing seeing people guessing this late until the end.  I hope we are truly surprised when he finally announces.

If  Lebron does leave Cleveland it will feel something like this for the city.

I hoped you watched the clip, because its the reason I did this post (I recommend the extended clip for further similarities) .  Millions of little kids had their world's rocked when their hero became a villian.  Hogan had been the reason so many kids feel in love with wrestling, and he was an American hero until he turned on his fans.  Everything they believed in was turned upside down in one of the most shocking moments in wrestling history. 

Lebron can have a similar effect.  He has meant everything to city.  He is home grown and in his prime.  Yet he has not delivered on what must have felt like Manifest Destiny (God given right) to the suffering city of Cleveland.  If he leaves Cleveland without ever winning a title and delivering on what once seemed like certainty he can probably never go back home. Hogan would return to his roots nearly 6 years later and become good again but something tells me Lebron can never make things right if he leaves.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

How Important is the Approval of Your Friends?

When you meet a new girl its common to ask for the approval of your friends. Can they get along with your friends? Do they handle themselves well in a group? The friends are a litmus test to see if the guy or girl you have been seeing is as cool as you think they are. Girls want to know if their friends think their new man is hot. For guys its the same. Your friends can provide a stamp of approval.

If your blinded by the fact that your getting laid and can't see the big picture your friends can help you out.  They are not getting the action so they can provide an unclouded judgement of the situation.  If your in a relationship and you want your friends advice, you need to open the door for it.  Most people will not come out and say so and so is a bitch at risk of damaging the friendship.  Ask what do you think of her and you will likely receive a canned answer to some degree.  The friend still is unlikely tell you his true feelings.  Tell him considering breaking up with her and the friend will likely step in an give his honest assessment while covering his ass if she comes back.

For some reason I seek the approval of my friends for not just how a girl may act but how she looks.  As if it mattered because they aren't making out with her.  I puzzle myself with this, but I want to know that I'm not the only one who finds the girl attractive.  The judging of her character is something I can figure out, but even still you want your friends to say she's cool. And I mean the exact phrase "she's cool", because that's what I always hear or say when someone is approved.

Your girlfriend or boyfriend are battling for the same hang out time as your long time friends. Except they can offer you an orgasm that your friends cannot.  So the friends may naturally feel slighted at times.  You and your new special friend have to try to smooth things over.  Hang out together and all but don't always be attached the hip.  You can't have the same conversations with a girlfriend in toe.  That would be like expecting me to act the same way in front of my parents as I do in front of my friends.

If you listen to your friends all the time you will inevitably be single. You should trust your own thoughts and feelings above all else. Its understandable to give in to the girlfriend more than your friends.  Usually they won't go anywhere.  However, your happiness in the long run is key, and if this means ditching the boyfriend or girlfriend everywhere once in awhile then do it.  They can survive a few nights by themselves.  Not everynight is a need to hang out night.  When your girlfriend or boyfriend needs you, trump your friends. When its not a pertinent event though, have your friends back if its and important event.

Finally this blog post is all over the place.  This is part of the reason it has been sitting in the que since March.  Perhaps that shows how complicated this stuff can be, and how much more complicated it gets when your free time shrinks.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Blog Secret Decoder Ring

I have a very important message to relate to the blog readers.  Only blog readers can receive my message.  What I will transmit is of the highest importance, I AM DEPENDING ON YOU, READERS!!!  The fate of the world is at stake.  Be sure to tune in on July 11th for my top secret message.  Please retain this decoder, as it will be used to decode my secret message.  Remember, John is depending on YOU!

A - 4
B - 25
C - 82
D - 2
E - 38
F - 51
G - 9
H - 20
I - 46
J - 87
K - 19
L - 68
M - 12
N - 94
O- 75
P - 32
Q - 49
R - 79
S - 31
T - 70
U - 33
V - 8
W - 3
X - 11
Y - 52
Z  - 5

The Pothead That Never Was

I have never smoked or consumed marijuana or any other recreational drug aside from alcohol.  It will never happen.  However, I am not against it.  I have a Bunny Colvin stance on drug use.  Legalize it all, people who do it will get their hands on it one way or another.  In any event, I have realized I am the pothead that never was.  I have many pothead tendencies, interests, and tastes.  However, I have never touched the stuff.  Yet, those who smoke have often urged me to join them.  I do believe there is a large faction in the pothead community that is committed to recruiting me to their ranks. Throughout high school and college, I was badgered more than once to light up, but I refused.   However, I will continue to support their cause while I refrain from use.

As I mentioned, I do exhibit many pothead tendencies.  First of all, I love food.  I like me some munchies.  I have been known to crush entire boxes of Wheaties 'n Raisins.  I put peanut butter on my peanut butter.  I once ate 30 wings at Hooters (these are not the chincy Wing Bowl wings), and asked for a glass of milk. 

Music is not that important to me, but the stuff I most often listen to is well embraced in the pothead community.  Classic rock such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd (not that Education song), Jimi Hendrix, Creedence.  But, I hate the fuckin Eagles, man.  I will even dabble in reggae from time to time.  Feel-good music is OK with me. 

My stance on the legality of marijuana and other narcotics is obviously in sync with the burnouts.  I believe all drugs should be legal and made readily available at a low price.  Imagine brand name pot and generic brand pot in the aisles at the grocery store.  Will the Equate pot work the same as the brand name stuff from Johnson & Johnson?  People will continue to do drugs, there is no stopping it. We are exhausting precious resources trying to do so.  As long as it is curtailed in our society as alcohol is, what is the problem?  There are no laws stopping people from going to McDonald's every day and pigging out on 15,000 calories of pure crap.  Why is it then illegal for that same person to smoke a joint or shoot up some H?  They are destroying their health in both instances.  Imaging if the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) cracked down on junk food the same way they crack down on drugs.  Scenes of massive junk food busts would litter the news.  Picture a room filled with depressed housewives sitting around on a weekday watching Oprah stuffing their faces with M&M's, chips, ice cream, boxes of gourmet chocolates, pizza, and consuming massive sugar-laden alcoholic drinks like Hurricanes and Margaritas.  Next thing you know, a SWAT team kicks down the door and arrests everyone.  Imagine that scene.

I love to chill.  I like to sit around in my boxers with the A/C cranking while watching some SportsCenter with a spoonful of peanut butter.  Another favorite pastime of mine is sitting at the computer while listening to music real loud, reading crazy shit on Wikipedia that will blow your mind.  I like having my mind blown, and it is blown quite often, **insert generic fellatio joke**.  I like discussing minute details of random shit.  Movies in particular.  When I really get into a movie, I split every hair and weigh every angle in my analysis.  Pothead movies that I enjoy include The Big Lebowski, Clockwork Orange (questionable, not a stoner movie per se, but has alot to digest), most Stanley Kubrick stuff, and Willy Wonka all come to mind.

Alas, I do not smoke pot, nor will I ever.  But if smoking pot is your thing, then by all means knock yourself out.  There are greater problems in society than people smoking marijuana.  As much as the pothead community wants me to partake in their rite of passage, I will have to respectfully decline.