Saturday, August 22, 2009

Us versus the World.

In the ultimate in Golf meets Jingoism, the Solheim Cup is going on in the Chicago suburbs. At the end of two days, it's All Square, as they say, with the United States and Europe tied at 8 points each going into Sunday's play.
It's a little hard to follow sometimes, but the first two days consist of something they call 4-ball; where two players on each team play and the best ball is the score. Then, there's alternate ball, where two players from each team alternate shots. It all sounds like fun to do, but on the TV it's hard to follow.
Since I've been semi-laid up with a foot infection over the past two days, (long story) I've been tuned into most, if not all of the action so far. It remains to be seen if I can sustain sitting around long enough to stay tuned for Sunday's action. As it is, Saturday's play ran from 9 am until almost 9 pm EST. I guess you could say I'm a fan.
I'm hoping to be healed by Monday, when a friend and I are making a field trip to the Mets new dump in Queens to see them lose to the Phillies. This is the first time I've been able to "hook somebody up" as a result of some workplace connection, so it's pretty cool. Cliff Lee will be pitching for the Phils.
OK, so since you have to know, the foot deal is an ancillary effect of the poison ivy I was exposed to a couple of weeks ago. Apparently, the drug store junk was ineffective, and some legions got infected, and now I have a minor case of cellulitis, e.g. a fat foot. I got a cream and some pills that should alleviate the fatfootitis.
Hopefully I can get it cleared up before Obama's health care reform kicks in.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hot Air Show.

Usually, when I struggle with the heat, I notice people around me going about their everyday lives seemingly oblivious and I wonder if I'm having a stroke or maybe I'm making too much out of how hot it is. Today at the Atlantic City Air Show however, was an exception. I noticed several others struggling and complaining, so for once I didn't feel alone in the darkness. Once.
The company I work for (toil for) gets an annual invitation to the Atlantic City Air Show. Until today, those invitations had bypassed me. This year, my name came up on the "invited" list, and until recently I felt privileged. Obviously a corporate oversight. When I arrived in Atlantic City amidst the 90-degree heat, I felt tortured. Lucky for me they fed us lunch and had bottled water available, but even at that it was barely bearable.
It was Africa Hot today in Atlantic City. It was so hot that I may as well have been drunk, because I couldn't think straight. Fighter jets were flying overhead, World War 2 planes were doing acrobatic maneuvers and Army guys were parachuting in from high above. All I could think about was how firkin hot it was and how long I was obliged to stay in order to fulfill my corporate obligation to the people who invited (tortured) me today. The show was scheduled to run until 3:30. I lasted until 2:05, which included one trip to Trump Plaza's lobby to just stand around and envelop the air conditioning.
That's pretty good, considering.
Sadly, I didn't stay long enough to see the Thunderbirds, but I did stay long enough to see some fighter planes - F-15, F-18, F-something - once you've seen one F you've seen them all, some helicopters and other noise-making aircraft. The jets make a lot of noise and generally scare the BeJesuz out of you before the guy with the microphone tells you they're coming. Hey dude, it might be nice to know that a large jet-powered aircraft is within a thousand feet of my head. Then, we find out that they're not doing all that they can because if they did, the resulting sound barrier blast would shatter windows.
That, I'd like to see.

So, tomorrow it's back to work.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

We're all gonna die! But who will pay for it?

Hurricane Bill is spinning in the South Atlantic. The local news stations proclaim, "Will Hurricane Bill spoil our weekend? Find out at 11." If they really cared about us, they'd tell us now. My guess is no, it won't spoil the weekend. Don't stay up.
Congress and the president are fighting over health care reform which has no chance of either reforming or caring for our health, but that's just my cynical nature and 51 years of experience talking. Living in New Jersey has exposed me to property tax reform, auto insurance reform and something they call Pay to Play, whatever that is. None of it has done anything to enhance our way of life or make it easier to pay for our auto insurance or our property taxes. All one has to do is step outside and look around to see that we aren't any better off now than we were 20 years ago.
Make our beds and lie there, take your chance.
- "Waste Not, Want Not" Pretenders
I hearken back to my Halcyon days. 1975. I was working my first job, making $2.10 an hour. I had a car (insured) and I was working part-time with a band making maybe $10 a week running the sound board and loading equipment into a large van.
That 94 bucks seemed to go a lot further then than five times that much would now. Now, there are cell phones, Internet and cable TV to pay for. Then, we had none of that. Were our lives unfulfilled and empty? No. We called each other on the telephone and watched network television - for free. If we wanted to know something, we went to the library and looked it up. Another skill set for nothing.
We didn't need tax reform or health care reform because we didn't know what that meant. If I had come blasting in from some 21st Century time machine to warn people about the high cost of television, health care and something called The Internet, they would have locked me up as some kind of Heretic. A relic from a lost civilization.
But it was only 34 years ago. A grain of sand in the time hourglass. How quickly our lives have changed. I would have warned the 1975 commoners about something I called "Credit Card Debt" and they would have asked, "What is this credit card you speak of?" If I could have explained it before the local police came, maybe some of them could have been spared our fate.
But our fate is ours, and we have no one but ourselves to blame. We (most of us) lived through that late-70s era where life was comparatively simple, much as we thought life in the 1950s was before air conditioning and color TV.
We may be screwed, economically speaking, but our screwing is on us. We did it. We saw the Internet, the Cable and the mobile communication and thought we should bow to it, but little did we know that we would be sucking at its teat - economically speaking.
I only wish that someone from 2040 would come here in some time machine contraption and tell me what fools we are.
I'd listen.
Take, take, take, taking what you don't need.
You'll get, get, getting what you don't need.
Stand back, take a look and take heed.
All the children in god's kingdom bleed.
See the networks of concrete and steel.
They've no mystery but what they reveal.
Tells a story of a future that's void
of the beauty and the majesty that life on
Earth is meant to be.
"Waste Not, Want Not" Pretenders

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Something about nothing.

One of my favorite movie lines comes from the 1979 film "The Jerk." When Navin R. Johnson finds his name in the new phone book, he runs around screaming, "The new phone book's here!" His boss, Harry Hartounian looks puzzled and exclaims, "I wish I could get that excited about nothing."
That's the way I'm starting to feel about the outrage directed at the Eagles over the Michael Vick signing. We're in day 4 of the non-stop call-in talk show banter and it's enough already. Although, when Brian Dawkins left the team for Denver, the banter went on for over a week, so I guess I'll have to pull out the CD collection for my rides to and from work.
If he were the captain of a dog sled team, I suppose the outrage would be justified. But it's a football team, which almost qualifies as nothing. It isn't necessary to watch, participate or pay attention. Callers are saying, "I'm never rooting for the Eagles again." I'm sure that's breaking their hearts over at Lincoln Financial Field. I'm guessing that they don't particularly care. Besides, it doesn't matter whether you root or not. Your feelings have nothing to do with what happens on the field.
60 Minutes ran an interview they did with Vick, but I didn't watch it. I did notice that they sent James Brown to do the interview and ran a story about Coldplay that Steve Kroft reported. I think we would have come a long way in race relations if Brown did the Coldplay story and Kroft did the Vick interview. I'm rooting for that.
I did grin a little, however, when Y.E. Yang beat that brat Tiger Woods on Sunday. "He's never lost a tournament when he's had a 54-hole lead" they told us. Until Sunday. There's something strange in me that enjoys watching him lose. And it didn't matter that I was rooting against him.
The commentators also told us that Yang's victory would "be felt around the world" since he is from South Korea and is the first PGA golfer to win a major championship. Women golfers from South Korea have been winning major championships on the LPGA tour for years, but I guess it suddenly matters because it's a man.
We almost missed the signature moment of the win, when Yang lifted his bag over his head. The CBS cameras were busy following Woods' in his post-tournament sulk-walk off the course. Fortunately, Yang did it again, after Woods had left the course. They pay a little too much attention to Tiger. My guess is that the headlines in Monday's sports sections will read, "Woods Loses PGA" not "Yang Wins PGA."
I do wonder, though, why we root for people or things. We feign happiness for others' success, even though it has nothing to do with us or anything we wish to happen - as though wishing could make it so. Thousands of people jammed the golf course to watch two guys earn more money than most of them earn in three years. They cheered for the winner and felt badly (except me) for the loser. Why, I wonder?
Maybe it has something to do with wanting to back a winner? Maybe it's because we like to be right, and rooting for a winner makes us feel as though we're right? Maybe we think that we have something to do with it? The happiness part does get a little out of control, though. Sports is great entertainment. It's the ultimate "reality show," and maybe the only real one on TV. There's plenty of drama, and we enjoy not knowing the outcome of things.
But we do get excited. We get more excited over sports than we get over things in our personal life, like your kid bringing home an "A" or a clean colonoscopy. Maybe a little too excited.
About nothing.