Friday, May 5, 2006

Stinko de Mayo

On Thursday, the Kansas House voted 119-0 to approve a bill that would prohibit anyone under the age of 15 from marrying in Kansas, and would set strict limits for would-be brides or grooms under the age of 18. The Senate approved it a day earlier by a vote of 36-4.
Four? Who would vote against this thing? People of Kansas: Find those four Senators and have them severly beaten.
WASHINGTON: Angry conservatives are driving the approval ratings of President Bush and the GOP-led Congress to dismal new lows, according to an AP-Ipsos poll that underscores why Republicans fear an Election Day massacre.
Finally, the party is seeing the backlash from their association with people like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly. While it is doubtful that supporters have seen the error of their ways (since they are steadfast in their beliefs) it is nevertheless nice to see that maybe now the party will have to take steps to distance themselves from those so-called pundits. Or not.
President Bush's job approval rating inches up to 38 percent this week, a slight increase from last month, according to the latest FOX News Poll. A 53 percent majority of Americans disapproves of the president’s job performance. Even fewer Americans approve of the job Democrats and Republicans in Congress are doing, and over half say they are either extremely or very interested in the upcoming midterm election.
So, I guess there isn't anything that the jerks at Fox cannot spin to make their boy look as good as possible. I think we should petition the FCC to make Fox News take the "News" out of the name.
INCHEON, SOUTH KOREA - Michelle Wie made her first cut in a professional men's tournament Friday after shooting a 3-under-par 69 in the Asian Tour's SK Telecom Open.
Maybe one of the lesser lights on the men's tour should try to qualify for an LPGA event? It will never happen, because:
1 - If he didn't make the cut, he would never live it down.
2 - If he didn't win the tournament he would have been beaten by a bunch of women.
3 - If he did win, it wouldn't accomplish anything because all he would have done is beat a bunch of women.
I love the LPGA. I like Michelle, and I love watching women play golf. There's something noble about it. I wish they were secure in their standing as women, and not so desirous of playing with men. They're special on their own, but attempting to play with men lessens the dignity of the LPGA - and there is a lot of dignity there. If someone at the LPGA had the guts, they would ban the women from playing with the men. But, that will never happen either.
Finally, today is Cinco de Mayo, which prompted this anecdote from KVII - Your 24/7 source for everything in the panhandle. The Texas Panhandle, I assume, although there are others. They tell us: Friday is Cinco de Mayo, a celebration to be enjoyed by all Americans.
What? Why would Americans enjoy a celebration for a battle won by the Mexicans, beating the crap out of France after their Civil War? Oh ... I forgot - there's drinking involved. It's the same reason Americans are supposed to enjoy St. Patrick's Day. If there wasn't drinking involved, who gives a fat rat's ass about the Mexicans and their Civil War? So, we gather up all the co-workers we can stand and waddle our fat asses to the nearest Irish Pub or some all-American commercial establishment with yard sale junk hanging on the wall, and knock a few down in honor of those brave Mexicans.
Way to Go Mexico! I'll have another Corona, and a Chalupa for my little dog.

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Grasping at Straws

Barry Bonds and his rotund head are coming to Philadelphia this weekend to play the Phillies. Barry is a couple of home runs away from Babe Ruth's 714, and 40-something shy of Hank Aaron's all-time record of 755.
For some reason, Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas told us tonight, to come to the ballpark this weekend "for Barry Bonds' record setting feat." What record, exactly? Since when is second place a record? If he hits home run number 714 and/or 715 here in Citizens Bank Ballpark, will they stop the game and celebrate ... second? It sounds a lot like Little League to me. Will Barry get a little trophy, CONGRATULATIONS FOR ALMOST BEING THE BEST. Complete with a little batter with a disproportionate head.
It strikes me as another example of baseball shamelessly promoting itself for their own glory, drawing attention to something that really does not deserve our attention. Baseball is no stranger to this kind of treatment, and since its popularity has waned over the years, they will grab onto anything they can to stir up fan interest. And, it doesn't hurt that Sunday's game is on ESPN. What better vehicle than the all-mighty TV to grasp onto the pomp and circumstance of something that they will tell us is full of pomp and circumstance. We will believe it. Why? Because it is on TV.
Opinions about Barry aside, what's the point of making a big deal out of this? For a sport that is so consumed with the pursuit of numbers, somehow Hank Aaron's feat has never received the attention that Babe Ruth has gotten. It seems as though baseball is stuck on 714, and fails to recognize Aaron much at all. Even that august symbol of journalism, The Philadelphia Inquirer has bought into this nonsense, with a countdown to 714 right there next to the baseball standings. Babe Ruth is not the home run King anymore, and hasn't been since 1974.
So, go to the ballpark this weekend if you wish. It's a great place, and lately the baseball has been pretty good, but don't get too wrapped up over this almost-accomplishment.
Wake me up when Bonds gets to 754.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Those Endearing Young Charms

While I was peddling my bicycle through the neighborhood, a young girl, probably 6 or 7 years old, waved at me and shouted out, “My birthday is in the summertime!”

What an interesting thing to say, I thought, at least as far as a six-year old is concerned. Children can get away with such oddities, and we write it off as just a kid being charming. At some point in our lives, the mysterious properties of youth sadly disappear into adulthood, and we are expected to act sensibly. If the roles were reversed, and I hollered some non sequitur to a kid, it might seem peculiar. (“I like apples!”)
Nevertheless, I waved back, the way we wave at people we don’t know, just to be polite. Even so, it did make me smile, and isn’t that one of the duties of a child? “Just doing my job, sir!”

With the advent of the Bluetooth headset, the public non sequitur is becoming commonplace, although it doesn’t sound quite as endearing coming from an adult, but more on the order of a mental patient wandering out in public. Occasionally, I’ll see someone in profile and they appear to be answering some Pentecostal voice in their head, but alas, they are merely talking on the phone. Are they receiving instructions from their God? No, just a grocery list.
Come to think of it, maybe what I heard on the street was not the exuberance of youth – merely another kid with a cell phone.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

The Best Laid Plans

News Item:
New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine has shelved his plan to allow self-serve gasoline pumps, saying Tuesday that while he believes it could reduce gas costs, the idea isn't worth the fight against overwhelming opposition. Corzine said he had received some 1,400 e-mails to his office on the self-serve proposal. By comparison, his plan to increase the state sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent has drawn only 200 e-mails. Corzine said the self-service plan was just an "idea" that he wanted to see tested in a pilot program. He said it would save drivers $5 for every 100 gallons of gasoline.
Obviously, since it was a hairbrained scheme, it is now labeled merely an "idea". If it was more popular, it would have been a "great idea". I understand that, unless you are reading this in Oregon, you have no idea the level of angst that was created here in the Garden State. Gasoline is a product that is best served by others. We're a fat, bloated country of convenience, and pumping our own gas is in direct contrast to all we hold dear.
We want to sit in our car for the maximum amount of time. Whether it is gasoline, the bank, fast food, drug stores or (in the great state of Ohio) liquor stores. We will even spin around the mall parking lot in increasingly larger circles in search of the ultimate parking space, when it would have been faster to park in the first one we see and waddle our fat asses to the food court. God forbid we walk an extra ten feet. If you're one of those vultures that stalks me as I walk out to my car, I didn't forget where I parked by mistake.
Where I work, perfectly healthy people use an elevator to go up one floor. The elevator is right next to the stairs, and the building is only two stories. The elevator was put there for deliveries and bulky packages, but apparently, a folder full of paper qualifies as a "package". Elevators have maximum weight limits, but they should have minimums too. If you get in and you're under 300 pounds, your fat ass is walking.
A bit harsh? Maybe, but we're spoon-fed almost everything. We don't have to get up to answer the phone, since it's clipped to our ever-expanding belt ... we have remote controls for every entertainment outlet in the house, and if we misplace it, we'll watch Telemundo rather than get off the chair to change the channel - remember the good old days when you had to get up? ... we would rather sit in our cars at a bank that is empty on the inside and use the pneumatic tube instead of parking and walking in ... I've known people to get in their cars and drive across the street to the convenience store (how's that for a name?) rather than walk ... most people would rather play a video game than participate in the actual game ... need I continue?
Not to mention the fact that our vehicles have more junk in them than some people have in their homes. Video screens, CD players and satellite radios, more cup holders than seats, navigation systems, climate control and power windows/seats/mirrors/door locks. If we didn't have to steer, we wouldn't have to move at all. Something tells me they're working on that, too.
We love our conveniences so much that we would rather pay an extra 1% sales tax than have to leave our car to pump gas - by a 7 to 1 margin, if we are to believe the numbers, but I don't think it has anything to do with money. We see the self-serve deal as another assault on our idleness, and like a lot of other things, we won't stand for it.

Monday, May 1, 2006

An Idol Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Let's get back to this American Idol subject, since my surpressed rage over the present state of our government is spinning so far out of control that perhaps a light-hearted look at American culture will be just the thing to soothe my savage breast. Or not.
As we know by now, there is a celebrity shortage. There must be, otherwise, why would shows like Idol be so popular? Apparently, there is a dearth of CDs for people to buy, so it naturally falls on television to fill the gaps in your collection. Meanwhile, there are thousands of discs at your local Tower Records store, several of which are in the $9.99 New Artist rack, but I know how difficult it is for Americans to latch onto anything new, so we will allow television the freedom to shape our opinions for us - and what could be quicker and easier than that?
From what I see and (unfortunately) hear, the people who "win" on this show - or even the ones who lose and still "win" - are so AOR-Middle of the Road, that no one in their right-Christian-Politically-Correct mind would dare object to the clean, white-bread image that is projected.
Let's play a little game. Imagine a television talent show where the contestants are (in no particular order): Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Melissa Etheridge, Kate Bush and Bruce Springsteen. Chances are, the typical Idol voter, or even the sainted Simon and his crew, would declare them vocally inept and have them tossed off the show in favor of some Clay Aiken-sound-alike whose voice would offend no one, and even though he hits the notes, the notes have no emotive power. Put a bag over Melissa's head and call her Jamie, and she gets tossed, guaranteed.
However, I would guess that the six artists I mentioned have sold about sixteen billion records, so one wonders, what is the point of American Idol? I would call every one of those artists "idols" in their own right, and yet, they accomplished all that they have without benefit of a hokey television show.
Can you tell that I don't like American Idol?
Perhaps, one day, there will come a situation where the search will commence for a distinctively-voiced, quirky musician with exceptional songwriting talent. We will find you, and thrust you into society where you will prosper, not because you are the same, but because you are different. Your skill, personality and talent will win over legions of fans and you will have a long and prosperous career.
SURPRISE - There already is such a situation. It's called your local record store. Get out from in front of your television, and find a CD that looks interesting, with music you may like, and buy it. The CD may even cost less than the hundreds of text-message votes you've been casting, or intrinsically less than the time you have wasted in front of the TV. Stop allowing popular culture to shape your opinion. Instead - here's a radical concept - shape your own opinion, and regardless of what your friends, relatives or (God forbid) the general public thinks, you will enjoy the music because you picked it out yourself, and not because somebody sent a text message to the largest media outlet in the world.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Do You Feel a Draft?

All weekend (or at least it seemed like all weekend) otherwise healthy adults were held captive indoors by ESPN's televised coverage of the NFL draft. From noon on Saturday until 6pm on Sunday, we were treated to Chris Berman and his pals debating whether or not the Seattle Seahawks made a mistake drafting a fullback from USC with the 163rd pick. Oy.
Meanwhile, the Houston Texans surprized the so-called experts by not taking Reggie Bush with the first pick, thereby rendering their expert opinions worthless. If they could not figure out who would be the first overall pick, what is the point of listening to them at all? They should be made to donate their paychecks to charity.
I suspect that the reason the draft coverage wound up on television at all is the need to provide programming. After all, most of us with cable TV have at least 80 channels from which to choose, and providing programming for everything from the Animal Channel to MTV is difficult. And, there's only so much poker we can watch. So, what better to fill 12 hours of programming on a major cable outlet than to have a bunch of pundits debating and reflecting on draft picks? Especially if people will watch. But, as we know, people will watch. Why? Because it's on TV.
Now, we will be subjected to more analysis of how each team did, with grades assigned to each draft, based on the experts - the same ones who didn't know that Bush wouldn't be the first overall pick. Valuable info, I'm sure.
Meanwhile, kids who are barely old enough to drink (legally) will be given more money than most of us will earn in a lifetime. Why? Because football is on TV.
It was sunny and 70 all weekend in Philly. As for me, I prefer to read the results in the newspaper today, rather than waste my time listening to forgettable opinions on players whom we will forget about after their third knee operation. I hope they spend their money wisely.

History Repeats Itself

Nero Fiddles While Rome Burns
President Bush, left, and Steve Bridges, a comedian and President Bush look alike, speak during the White House Correspondents' Association's 92nd annual awards dinner, Saturday, April 29, 2006, in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
Personally, I think the country might be better off if Bridges took over.