04.27.10 – A Tuesday

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word

extirpate [ek-ster-peyt, ik-stur-peyt] v. used w/ obj. 1. to remove or destroy totally; do away with; exterminate 2. to pull up by or as if by the roots; root up: to extirpate an unwanted hair

birthday

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759), Samuel F. B. Morse (1791), Ulysses S. Grant (1822), Jack Klugman (1922), Casey Kasem (1932), Frank William Abagnale, Jr. (1948), Kate Pierson (1948), Ace Frehley (1951), Sheena Easton (1959)

standpoint

This past weekend, the NFL conducted its annual draft and it was all anyone could talk about. I didn’t really pay much attention. The only time I care about football is when it’s actually being played. To me, the draft seems to be just another reason for NFL fans, most of whom I regard as whiners, to bitch and moan, ask each other why their particular team took one guy and not another, failed to draft a player at one position and not another, and so on and so forth.

For the past several years the relationship between the NFL and its fans has fascinated me. Football enthusiasts are mostly fanatics, highly devoted folks who expect a lot from their chosen organization. Curiously, though, the same expectations do not extend to the individual athletes. And here’s why I think that’s so.

First and foremost, I’m a hockey fan. Training camp for the NHL begins at the end of each summer and the Stanley Cup Finals usually wrap up sometime in early summer of the next year. By comparison, NFL training camps start in early August and the Super Bowl is usually played the first week of February. In addition, football teams play once a week while hockey (and basketball and baseball) teams might play several times in the same amount of time. Bottom line, football fans feel an urgency, a need to do as much as they can with the little time afforded them. It’s the reason fall/winter Sunday afternoons and, to a slightly lesser extent, Monday nights have been bestowed with an almost venerable aura. There’s an almost obligatory sense to watch football when it’s on. You didn’t watch the game yesterday afternoon? Why not? You’d better have a bulletproof alibi.

The brevity of the NFL season also has an impact on its players. It provides them more time to pursue other interests with the massive amounts of cash they accumulate over the year. The majority of the athletes go home to their families, maybe investing in a hometown restaurant or contributing their time in a charitable fashion. But there are those who don’t make the best choices when it comes to how they spend their money and time in the offseason, getting in trouble with the law in a variety of ways. It seems you can’t turn on SportsCenter without seeing a new feature on some NFL knucklehead being brought up some kind of charges. Their actions are part bad decision making, part too much time and money on their hands. Someone’s bound to get into trouble.

When these stories come out, there’s always a heavy dose of public outrage by NFL fans and pundits. But it’s never sustained. The player always pays the fine or, less often, does the time and then it’s back to business as usual. An odd thing about the NFL is that, despite its massive fanbase, most of its teams flat-out suck, which means there’s always teams out there willing to take a chance on a skilled player. Even if that player beats his girlfriends, or fires guns at nightclubs, or recently completed yet another stint of drug rehab. When a team signs a guy like that, its fans, more concerned with a Super Bowl parade than a strong sense of morality, always jump on board.

In the weeks after Michael Vick was paroled, rumors surfaced about Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones tinkering with the idea of signing him. Every football fan in Philadelphia was laughing, shaking their heads and telling each other how perfect Vick would fit in with the rest of the criminals the Cowboys have gained a reputation for bringing aboard. Then the Eagles signed Vick. For a day or two, people seemed a little put off the organization would sign a convicted animal abuser. But within a week, no one was talking about dogs, but about another animal: the wildcat. As in the “Wildcat Offense” and how Vick would flourish in it. Nowadays, if you bring up the fact the guy used to beat dogs to death people roll their eyes and tell you to give it a rest. No wants to hear it. In essence, he’s been exonerated in the public eye because he puts on an Eagles’ uniform every Sunday (and the occasional Monday) for a few months out of the year.

And Vick’s not even a close to be the only one. He’s a member of a rather large club. Ray Lewis may have been acquitted of his murder charge but everyone knows he at least had something to with the deaths of those people. Baltimore Ravens fans don’t care. Adam “Pacman” Jones has a criminal record detailing a wide array of offenses. Detroit Lions fans won’t care if the team signs him. Ben Roethlisberger most definitely has a problem with sexually assaulting women, although he escaped formal charges. After he serves his upcoming six-game suspension and leads the team down the field for a touchdown, Pittsburgh Steelers fans won’t care. These are guys you wouldn’t want working in your office building, but if they’re playing football, fans will rationalize why it’s okay to forgive, and even cheer, for him.

Sometimes, guys wake up and take advantage of a second (or third) chance like Cris Carter. But, unfortunately, most of them will end up like Rae Carruth.

For the record, I don’t hold the NFL owners in any contempt for signing or retaining criminals. They’re running a business. In terms of dollars and cents, it makes sense for them to take the chances they do and, sometimes, as in the Roethlisberger situation, they have no other choice.

But what’s the fans excuse? How can the rationality of all this be explained? If these guys weren’t playing football, they’d be in jail and no one would give a rat’s ass what they were up to. Lucky for them, that’s not the case. They continue to get the love and respect of millions of people despite the fact, outside playing a game, they’ve done nothing to deserve it.

It’s comical and pathetic.

quotation

Whenever I hear people talking about liberal ideas, I am always astounded that men should love to fool themselves with empty sounds. An idea should never be liberal; it must be vigorous, positive, and without loose ends so that it may fulfill its divine mission and be productive. The proper place for liberality is in the realm of the emotions. Johann von Goethe

tune

I’ve shared this before but I’m going to do it again because, well, I do what I want. I’m of the opinion Chuck D is a pretty solid dude. I present Public Enemy‘s “Harder Than You Think.”

gallimaufry

→ I think Stephen Hawking might be watching Independence Day a little too much. And who can blame him? It’s a good movie mostly. But he may not be completely wrong here.

→ Sometimes something as simple as a sandwich can be a strong indicator of where we’re headed as a society. People, we’re driving in the wrong direction here.

→ My favorite show on ESPN? It’s SportsNation. I’m sure some of you out there now think a little less of me.

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07.21.09 – Tuesday

Word: blithe [blahyth, blahyth] adj. 1. joyous, merry, or gay in disposition; glad; cheerful: Everyone loved her for her blithe spirit 2. without thought or regard; carefree; heedless: a blithe indifference to anyone’s feelings

Birthday: Philip Neri (1515), Jean Picard (1620), Sam Bass (1851), Ernest Hemingway (1899), Don Knotts (1924), John Gardner (1933), Janet Reno (1938), Kenneth Starr (1946), Cat Stevens/Yusaf Islam (1948), Garry Trudeau (1948), Robin Williams (1951), Howie Epstein (1955), Jon Lovitz (1957), Charlotte Gainsbourg (1971), Josh Hartnett (1978), Damian Marley (1978), Rory Culkin (1989)

Quotation: The unforgivable crime is soft hitting.  Do not hit at all if it can be avoided; but never hit softly.Theodore Roosevelt

Tune: Brakes (sometimes known as brakesbrakesbrakes) is an English band best known for its short song, “Cheyney, Cheyney, Cheyney, Stop Being Such a Dick,” credits itself, in the words of lead vocalist Eamon Hamilton, with being “fundamentally responsible for the election of Barack Obama as President of The United States of America.” Hamilton further explains, that without the song, “…it is without a doubt that McCain would’ve won, and died, and Sarah Palin would have become President and Ruler of the Known Universe by April 2009. We would’ve been releasing our new album ‘Touchdown’ into a world in the grip of a nuclear winter, with no electricity for people to listen to the CD, and no Internet for them to download it from. We would still have toured it, though.” Those words may or may not be true, but I’m reasonably sure I’m happy we didn’t have to find out. My favorite offering from the band? “Beatific Visions” off the album The Beatific Visions.

Gallimaufry: We may be witnessing the beginning of the end. As is the case with all popular and profitable pop culture offerings these days, American Idol is involved in troubles involving slighted egos demanding overinflated financial compensation. It all started when Ryan Seacrest, host of the FOX show, received a contract extension for three years to the tune of $45 million dollars. It grew larger when the show’s most visible (and biggest asshole), Simon Cowell began negotiations to make him richer than about 99% of the rest of world’s population. It became a problem when Paula Abdul, the judge most known for emotional breakdows and once upon a time starring in a music video with Keanu Reeves, began feeling slighted from a lack of a big money offer, declared she’s thinking of not coming back to the show for the next season. Everyone better wise up because, while Idol is a big money ticket, it can’t afford to start paying everyone oil executive salaries. Alternatively, despite the fact Abdul might be one of the most annoying people on TV, someone needs to step in get a deal working with the former Laker girl because the truth of the matter is people do tune into the show to see if she will freak out. Bottom line, Abdul’s a bit of a draw. “One weapon of this kind that went off over Omaha would eliminate most of the electrical production in the United States. And we are not today hardened against this. It is an enormous catastrophic threat.” Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said that yesterday during a speech at the Heritage Foundation. You’re probably wondering what he was talking about. Nuclear weapons? Biological? Nope. The man who is trying his best to become the predominant GOP mouthpiece was talking about EMPs. Electromagnetic pulses. He’s pretty sure it’s the weapon our enemies will soon be using to take us out. His proof? A fictional novel by his “co-author and good friend Bill Forstchen,” a novelist who, ” has written a remarkable novel called One Second After, in which he takes a town in North Carolina and shows you what would happen with a successful electro-magnetic pulse attack.” If we’re going to start defending ourselves from fictional attacks, I’d rather start with something more inevetable, like Independence Day. Those aliens were completely out of their fucking extra-terrestrial minds. For all of you out there who think Facebook might be creepy and weird, read the romantic tale of Kelly Hildebrandt and, um, Kelly Hildebrandt. One is a 20-year old woman from Florida. The other is a 24-year old male from Texas. They met when the female Kelly Hildebrandt plugged her own name into the Facebook search engine. It produced one result – the male Kelly Hildebrandt. After a gradual process that started with email exchanges and ended with the male Kelly visiting the female Kelly in South Florida, the couple fell in love. See? That’s not creepy or weird at all. Right? (I’m fully aware some of you are going to find their story insanely adorable.)