Saturday, October 24, 2009

More new technology.

That clanging noise you heard today was me succumbing to social pressure and trading in my cable box for one of those DVR cable boxes so I could record programs that I wasn't able to watch. Because of social obligations and baseball games, I haven't been able to see one episode of The Office, and I missed the last episode of The New Adventures of Old Christine and FlashForward. I know, your heart bleeds for me.
So I bit down hard and decided to cough-up the $15.95 a month and go after the DVR box. Being new technology, there's a slight learning curve involved, but I'm able to adapt.
For instance, catching up on The Office costs me 99 cents per episode, while Christine episodes are free. What's up with that? So, I'm out another six bucks because I like Pam.
The plus side is that I can watch those programs sans commercials, except for the network ads, which, in the case of the CBS show, hyped up the ridiculous Survivor program that I have managed to avoid for over 10 years.
VOICEOVER: Jeff Probst is an Emmy winner for outstanding reality host.
JEFF: The tribe has spoken!
Really. Outstanding Reality Host is an Emmy category, and he's actually proud of that accomplishment. That's like being voted the best ballet dancer in Camden, New Jersey.
Then, I notice that there are a spate of movies available for a fee. All sorts, like 1st Time Twinks, Hung & Drill Bill and Hungry Ass Studs. Those are in the "adult" category, subset "Gay" folder. The one that the cable guide doesn't tell you about. Ten bucks. I don't know what a twink is, but I'm guessing it isn't about the first time someone tried a fried cake. Although, there may be cream in the middle, but I don't want to know about that.
Your first reaction might be one of horror, that regular cable outlets could be selling gay porn, but my first reaction was that there has to be money in it, otherwise they wouldn't bother. It's all about that 'privacy of your home' stuff that the Bill of Rights guaranteed us. They didn't say anything about ten bucks a throw, so that's for you to work out. They also didn't say anything about charging us to watch TV, so there ya go.
Otherwise, there's Quizzo, hosted by Johnny Goodtimes (not his real name) who asks absurdly easy questions; presumably to make us all feel better about being smarter than people who watch regular television or wouldn't be caught dead paying ten bucks for gay pornography - or at least wouldn't want it showing up on our cable bill.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Keep your hands and feet away from the cage at all times.

OCTOBER 23 - CNN - A bear on ice skates attacked two people during rehearsals at a circus in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, killing one of them, Kyrgyz officials said Friday.In the incident, which happened Thursday, the 5-year-old animal killed the circus administrator, Dmitry Potapov, and mauled an animal trainer, who was attempting to rescue him. "The incident occurred during a rehearsal by the Russian state circus company troupe which was performing in Bishkek with the program, Bears on Ice," Ministry of Culture and Information director Kurmangazy Isanayev told reporters.
It is unclear what caused the bear to attack Potapov.
Really? Well, it's clear to me. It's a bear.
I've never seen a bear in the wild, but I'd guess that if I did, he wouldn't be smoking a cigar, wearing a top hat and ice skating. That's just a guess.
Here's your Word of the Day...

Attribution of human motivation, characteristics or behavior to inanimate objects, animals or natural phenomena.
Every so often an elephant escapes his cell at the circus and tramples people, a bear attacks or some other animal gets fed up with his human-like living conditions and resorts to his natural instincts - and we act surprised. "Oh God, I don't know why that pet shark bit his leg off. We named him Flappy." Flappy the shark.
The sad part (other than keeping an animal captive and making him ice skate) is that they shot and killed it after the attack, as though that was their best option of animal control - other than the ice skates, top hat and a big chain.
If you took one of us and dropped us into the woods, we'd spend days looking for a road so we could find a McDonald's or Starbucks, eat something and make a phone call. Those are our instincts.
If you dress-up a bear and make him skate around in a circle he'll eventually find a way to kill you.
Why is that so shocking?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Phils Win!

It's after 1:00am and although I got home from the Phillies game about 30 minutes ago, I find it difficult to sleep - even though the alarm will go off at 5:30 this morning. This morning. Geez.
It was a four-hour party at the ballpark last night, and save for a tense moment or two, it was a breeze. The Dodgers were never up to the challenge and even though they got to starter Cole Hamels, the middle of the lineup and the bullpen were too much for the guys from southern California.
It's hard to describe why we get so worked up over the success of our sports teams, but we do. Maybe we think it represents us as a people or maybe we think that the team is a part of our identity? I don't know and don't particularly care, since the emotion is the only thing that matters. I think we just like to be right about something, and we've been right about this baseball team for a while now.
I was there when the ballpark opened in 2004, when they won the division in 2007, for the playoffs the past two years including Sabathia's meltdown last year and game 4 of the World Series and the parade last year; but last night was probably my best night at the ballpark in a long string of great nights at the ballpark. It was made all the more sweet because they beat the Dodgers, a team I hate more than a case of herpes or an itchy rash on my scrotum.
Did I mention that I hate the Dodgers?
It looks like it will be Phillies vs. Yankees (a.k.a. The Evil Empire) in the World Series, but that won't be until Wednesday, so for now I'm going to try to get some sleep.
Phillies in 7.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Real reality television

I guess I can understand why some people don't like sports. Sports aren't for everyone. Some people consider football too violent, hockey too confusing, basketball too ethnic and baseball too dull. I beg to differ on baseball at least.
Baseball requires thought and consideration, two attributes lacking in today's "give it to me quickly" world of product induced satisfaction. Microwave ovens and cell phones have replaced home-cooked meals and delayed communication as staples of life, for better or worse.
That attitude has permeated sports, and baseball in particular. Baseball is seen by many as slow and ponderous, and a few years ago the powers that be considered several ways to speed up the game to make it more appealing to our short attention spans. Evolution is not a friend to the thinking mind, it seems. But I digress.
Baseball games have become events and ballparks have become amusement parks. Every new one that is built has more distractions than the last, and the between-innings nonsense rivals the minor leagues in its ridiculous entertainment value. We have hot dog cannons, dugout dances and numerous other forms of distraction to provide fans with something to think about that doesn't directly involve baseball. I get a lot of the same treatment from the Wilmington Blue Rocks games that I get from the Phillies, but the excuse the Blue Rocks have is that their audience largely consists of 10 year-old's, and as such, they require constant entertainment. Adults, one would assume, would be content with content - but alas, they are not.
However, when a game reaches epic proportions, as Monday night's ninth inning come-from-behind Phillies victory did, we are reminded of the beauty of the game and its fervent grip on us as Americans. The drama that unfolded before and during Jimmy Rollins' game-winning hit made us realize why baseball is such a great game and why sports in general serves to bring people together; either to complain or celebrate. But either way, we are together, and that speaks volumes for the effort.
Nowhere but in the world of sports can thousands of people witness the unfolding of some previously unknown conclusion. Whether it is failure or success, the anticipation is often as exciting as the outcome. In the case of the game on Monday night, the outcome was swift and complete. After all hope was seemingly lost, two minor events (a walk to Stairs and the hit batsmen of Ruiz) conspired to set up Rollins' heroics and send thousands of Phillies fans (both in person and on late-night television) into euphoria and hundreds of Dodgers fans back to their wine cellars to drown their sorrows in what would seem to be their weapon of choice.
Sports is the ultimate in reality television and maybe the only place where real human emotions can be seen on display - both on the field and in the stands. We relish in their joy and they feed on our enthusiasm. A truly cathartic relationship.
It doesn't get much more real than that, and I can't help but wonder what else people could be looking for in some contrived talent show or a made-for-TV event. With baseball, it's all there on the field.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

364 in dog years.

I had a birthday on Friday. Not a big deal, or so I figured. Birthdays are big deals when we're kids and bigger deals when we're in our 80s. In mid-life, they're numbered occasions remembered by loved ones and retailers who send me coupons for 10-percent off a purchase this week. How nice. It's my birthday, so spend some money on myself. Thanks.
To mark the occasion, I went home and got drunk, although I failed to drink 52 beers, but I did manage to consume more than my age in ounces, so I have that going for me.
On Saturday, I treated myself to a Doug Stanhope show in Philly. He's a funny fuck, and I marked the occasion with shots of Jägermeister, stopping short of the fabled Jägerbomb, although it sounds good. Maybe next year. Or next week. The following is in need of German/English translation from my friend in Germania:
Das ist des Jägers Ehrenschild,
Daß er beschützt und hegt sein Wild,
Weidmännisch jagt, wie sich’s gehört,
Den Schöpfer im Geschöpfe ehrt.
Jägermeister was originally marketed as a medicinal product. It was suggested as a cure for everything from coughing to digestive problems. It was used in World War II as a field anesthetic. I can attest to that. I didn't cough the entire night, and most of my wounds have healed.
Happy birthday to me.