Saturday, February 2, 2008

Modern technology versus a rodent from Pennsylvania.

Today, unlike yesterday, is Groundhog Day. To anyone outside the civilized world, it's virtually meaningless. However, to high-thinking, industrialized, technologically competent Americans, it's a veritable scientific festival. And why wouldn't it be? It's a large rodent predicting the weather. Substantially more accurate than the powerful weather gizmos that TV stations tell us are accurate. Who needs Doppeler radar when we have a whistlepig - a rodent of the family Sciuridae, belonging to the group of large ground squirrels known as marmots. It beats the Hell out of Hurricane Schwartz or that Bolaris guy.
Today, the large ground squirrel in Pennsylvania said we were going to have six more weeks of winter because he didn't see his shadow, which, every scientist knows, is like a barometric reading in the kiester.
I'm not sure what it all means, since it's 50 degrees in Philadelphia today and will be again tomorrow. Tuesday, it's going to 62. We have barely had a flake of snow. We already had the early spring, and six more weeks of winter would mean that we'd finally have winter, so I don't know the point of it all.
Maybe, what it means is that we're never going to be intelligent or sophisticated enough as a race of people that we could ever let go of stupid superstitions or odd belief systems, since they seem to bring in money and feed into our great wish that we can somehow influence events over which we have no control. It's hard to figure sometimes, how the same people writing macros in Excel and programming their cell phone can be sitting in front of a TV watching a football game, wearing their "lucky jersey" because the team never loses when he's wearing it. I'm sorry, but I think things like Groundhog Day make us look childish and stupid.
Shadow, schmadow. I wonder what marmot stew tastes like?

Friday, February 1, 2008

Finally, I knew what I was missing.

It dawned on me, after 250-something page hits today, that I should have written something about The Wing Bowl, Philadelphia's annual Slob Festival. However, I ascribe to the old saying, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything." But that was yesterday.
Most (almost all) of the "unique visitors" linked to the essay I wrote last year about Wing Bowl 15, titled "Food as Sport". I didn't write about Wing Bowl 16 because everything I said last year still applies, plus one. I didn't get one hit from yesterday's Super Bowl post. That's me, always picking the wrong bowl.
Although they keep promising that each one is "the last one", the gang at WIP's morning show put on another Wing Bowl today. It's such nonsense, that on Thursday night I patrolled the house changing my radios to WXPN so that my alarm wouldn't wake me to the screaming nonsense as it has the previous 15 years. There's nothing like a good night's sleep. Here's a special Sick Mind "thank you" to Michaela Majoun and Bob Bumbera for a pleasant morning wake-up and drive to work. Perhaps it should be a habit?
I can proudly say that I avoided the eating contest altogether, and if you live outside the Philadelphia metropolitan area, don't feel as though you missed anything - unless your idea of entertainment is listening to people eat and listening to host Angelo Cataldi scream himself hoarse over women in various stages of undress (on the radio, shouting, "Look at these women!") while 20,000 early drunkards howl their approval. At least that's how the previous ones went, so I can only assume it was more of the same today.
There, see - I violated another old saying. Of course, my favorite one is, "Nobody ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American public."
That one, we know is true.
Times 16.

Thursday, January 31, 2008


Super Bowl.
There, I said it.
I didn't say "The Big Game" or whatever other pseudonym they make advertisers use. The NFL has copyrighted Super Bowl and Super Sunday, just so you know. You might accidentally ask someone what they're doing for "Super Bowl Sunday" (which may be two violations) and that person might be working for the NFL (also copyrighted) and sue your ass for ... something. I don't know.
There are plenty of ads for stuff to do on Sunday. I think you're still allowed to call it Sunday, unless the Catholics have copyrighted that one. They have to disguise it as The Big Game or The Big Day - something big, that's for sure.
They like to use the Roman numerals too. It looks manly I guess. I think the one I'm using has too many letters. It won't fit on a hat or T-shirt. I can't wait for Super Bowl L. That just won't look right, but hey, they made their bed. In case you're keeping track, Super Bowl L will be in MMXVI, so mark your sundial.
They try to make it out to be a game, but it doesn't remotely resemble a football game. Too many people watch it to make it real football. Of course, if you couldn't gamble, most of us probably wouldn't bother. And there's a lot of gambling. Millions of dollars just in office pools. Ours says "Super Bowl Pool" so I guess if I win, I have to give the NFL a cut?
I checked the ticket scalping sites. A single ticket goes from $2,300 for an upper level end-zone seat to as much as $10,000 for one of those suites. Jesus, do you want to see a game that badly that you'd pay Mexican farm worker wages to go? That's why I bought a hi-def TV. Is TV Roman numbers for anything?
There's a big half-time show featuring Tom Petty. I can pretty much guarantee that he won't be showing us his nipples, like that girl did a few years ago. Nobody wants to see that. The game is on Fox, and their pre-game show starts at 9 Saturday morning. Seriously, it's a 33-hour pre-game show. We start by watching them paint the field.
It's at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Confused? Sure you are. First, there really isn't a University of Phoenix. It's a cyber-college, so maybe the game should be played on an X-Box? They paid a lot of money to name a stadium in Glendale after an Internet college in Phoenix. I wonder if I could get a cyber-scholarship to play Madden Football there? What's their mascot? Right, they don't have one.
Sorry to be so irreverant, but as I age, the nonsense seems to grow on me. When the Eagles went to the Super Bowl a few years ago, fans took out second mortgages on their homes to buy ticket packages and spend a week in Jacksonville, Florida. Really. It's the first time in history that anyone went into debt to leave their house to visit Jacksonville. It's a football game. Kind of.
People and corporations spend a shitload of money on this game. It's a shame that most of them can't even use the Super Bowl name or logo, but we're smart enough to know that they're talking about the Super Bowl, even though they call it something else.
Since the first one, which wasn't called the Super Bowl (it was called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game), it has grown into a cottage industry to the point that this Sunday is the biggest secular holiday in America. The cost of a 30-second commercial in 1967 was $40,000. Today, 30-seconds will cost you $2.7 million. Think about that the next time you're picking up a six-pack of Pepsi products.
Come to think of it, the commercials might be better than the game.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What now, America?

I'm a little sad today. OK, maybe a lot sad, but for now, I think a little will suffice.
Perhaps it doesn't equate on the level of a great disaster or a major event in the history of America, but it makes me a little sad.
Mostly, it makes me sad because I'm a cynic, and I'm pretty sure of two things. 1 - That the romanticism that has been attributed to Barack Obama is misplaced and 2 - That the Hillary Clinton campaign is much like a freight train that can only be stopped by someone placing themselves directly in the tracks.
I'm not going to sit here and tell you that John Edwards was some sort of savior to the nation or the perfect political candidate, but I will sit here and tell you that it's symptomatic of the political system in America that Edwards had to drop out of the race today, mostly because a major event is coming up on Tuesday, and the Democrats need to plow the road (or, in Edwards' words, "so that history can blaze its path") and America can best decide whom they will run against the Republicans in November.
I'm not sure who is the best qualified to be president. I know that in the last two elections, America didn't know either, or else we wouldn't be saddled with the man who sits in the chair today. My sadness is compounded by the fact that we repeated our mistake from 8 years ago 4 years ago and proved that history does indeed repeat itself.
Whomever we place in that chair next January isn't guaranteed to be any better than the man they are replacing - that I do know. Mostly, I think, Americans place too much emphasis on form over substance and often get the two confused, to the extent that John Edwards was referred to as the "Breck Girl" or some other appellation, merely because he appeared polished or perhaps too much so to be placed on a political stage. That notwithstanding, we refuse sometimes to look inside a candidate and prefer to look at the exterior, which is an all too easy sell.
My inherent cynicism is telling me that we are being sold a bill of goods with Mr. Obama and an old bill of goods with Mrs. Rodham-Clinton, and that perhaps neither one of them is overly qualified to inherit the office from a man who clearly isn't qualified to hold it.
But America, being what it is, will surely cling to one of them and perch them high on a pedestal until one of them does something that knocks them down, at which point the hue and cry will be "I told you so!"
Perhaps the best qualified have already abandoned the race, fighting either lack of funds or lack of popularity. Whatever, the race has come down to four - Obama, Clinton, McCain and Romney - one of which will occupy the office in less than 12 months.
As for me, I wish us all Godspeed.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Why bother playing the game?

They already know it's going to be 128 pages. They know it's being published on February 11, 2008. They even have an ISBN number. What surprises me is that they don't have a cover yet. C'mon, gang; get it together!
For the conspiracy theorists among us, here it is:
19-0: The Historic Championship Season of New England's Unbeatable Patriots
by The Boston Globe (Author)
Available for pre-order now on $14.95 plus shipping.
Really. Click here and get yours today. Gift wrap available.

Monday, January 28, 2008

I'd rather stare out the window than listen to the President.

He's giving the State of the Union Address tonight. Do I want to watch?
"I'd rather stick needles in my eyes."
- Garrett Breedlove ("Terms of Endearment")
The snow has melted but it's still cold. The stars are out and the trees are aglow in artificial light. So, what is there to do? Let's do some star gazing. The photo above is looking to the south. Can you find Orion's belt? Sirius, the dog star? Canis Major? Check the chart below.
That's Lepus, right above the glowing tree. See. You learned something. Say Betelgeuse three times and see what happens.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

What's on TV?

Imagine my surprise. They held the Miss America pageant at some point over the weekend. Was it on TV? Maybe it was on that Country Music Channel? I only know because I happened to stumble across an article on page A8 of the local newspaper. I remember a time when the result was front page news, with a big color photo. Now, there's barely a blurb and I couldn't tell you the name of the winner, except that I think she is from Michigan. The times are changing for the better. Maybe next year I can write that they skipped the stupid thing altogether.
Meanwhile, some men are figure skating in Minnesota tonight. Men figure skating. Any competition that involves the words "men" and "choreography" are great reasons to tune away. I watched long enough for the commentator (a woman) to spout something about the next skater doing a "Quad jump", and how he nailed it in practice, so we'd better be sure to watch carefully. He fell on his skinny ass. Next.
The NHL All-Star game is on Versus, which is second to the Country Music Channel for exciting broadcasts. This one involves men skating, but the only choreography is in the fact that they don't hit each other. It's hockey, sanitized for your protection. They scored 8 goals in two periods, which is about 6 more than they score in regular games. I think the blue team was ahead, but I don't know who was on the blue team, so I'm skipping it.
The Screen Actors Guild was giving out some awards over on TBS. I know that, because all day the little dancing icon that disturbs my viewing said, "SAG Awards Tonight at 8". From the looks of the first three awards, it was becoming a Sopranos tribute show. I've never seen an episode of The Sopranos, so the luster was lost on me. They've won for best actor, best actress and best ensemble cast so far. If they win for best Comedy, I'm writing a letter to somebody.
Can I get a refund from my cable company?