Sunday, September 27, 2009

Big Hitters

I was the Kirby Puckett of intramural baseball in college; I was Jose Canseco, man. The memory of how I astounded everyone on the field came back to me while I was mowing the lawn.

I was never very good at sports as a kid in grade school. Most lousy players are relegated to right field but I wasn’t good enough for that; when I lobbed the dropped flies back to the infield as hard as I could, the runner usually was around third base before my second bounce brought the ball to the shortstop. Eventually, though, the PE teacher discovered I could play first base. I could catch a thrown ball nearly every time, I had a talent for tagging the base and I was tall enough to stop some hard line drives with my face and then pick it up (the ball) and tag that base. Canseco and Puckett were never first basemen but fielding position wasn’t where I equaled their prowess.

The memories came back while I was mowing the lawn. I think a lot while mowing. I’ve written comedy bits and honed routines while mowing. I’ve never solved accounting problems while mowing but I’ve solved economic and political controversies – well, really, I just created biting satire. Today I wasn’t creating, I was thinking about how worthless a suburban lawn is.

Everyone who has ever mowed a lawn has thought this. Why do we spend time and money and destroy the earth with chemicals, pesticides and gas-powered equipment just to grow a lawn? The only reason is that it provides an ideal place for kids to play ball. You also have to grow a bush for first base and a tree for second and live near a street light to serve as third, but the lawn is the main thing.

I had a lot more fun playing ball on the lawn with the neighbor kids than I ever did sitting in a stadium watching Canseco or Puckett or even Steve Garvey. I played wiffle ball on the lawn with my daughter. She, like her parents, was not great at sports. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, particularly if the tree was never very good at falling. The only way the fruit ever grows anywhere off beyond the root system of the tree it sprang from is when some creature ingests the fruit and poops the seeds out someplace farther down the road. In sports, this is referred to as coaching.

And that’s where sport has gone these days. Little kids don’t play on the lawn; they are pushed into organized sports with coaches to mold them in hopes that they will one day support their parents with their sports income. Every sport evolves from fun street ball or lawn game into a tedious profession. Even Cornhole. Then we pay to watch other people play, when the most fun we ever had was in our own game on our own suburban lawn.

The memories came back to me while I was mowing. I had fun in intramural baseball in college. We played in a big grass field, not a stadium. We had coed teams; each team had to have at least 3 women, so that it was more social camaraderie and less testosterone induced competition. I was at first base. Up to bat was a petite young woman who happened to be my H.R.’s girlfriend. She popped the ball up about half the distance between home plate and first base.

Keep your eye on the ball. That’s what they tell hitters, but it is just as important for fielding, right? Watch the ball into your glove. When I saw that little popup, I sprinted down the first base line, glove extended. The ball was dropping, so I bent forward as I ran and managed to snag the ball, just before it hit the turf.

I had my eye on the ball. I don’t know what the petite young woman was looking at. She ran straight down the line toward first base just as I was running straight down the line toward the ball and her. In the middle, I leaned over and caught the ball just as she ran her stomach right into my shoulder. My shoulder connecting with her stomach caused her to bend over a good deal, with her face coming down toward my back. That was unexpected. I stood up in surprise. Which caused her to be lifted off the ground. Whereupon she continued forward, performing a somersault (albeit involuntarily) six feet off the ground, landing flat on her back behind me.

For some reason this was seen by everyone, especially her boyfriend the H.R., to be my fault. The fact that I had caught the ball and she was OUT was completely overlooked and this petite little wuss was awarded first base. I was looked on as a violent offender, abusing a woman as if I was Jose Canseco or Kirby Puckett.

That memory came back to me while I was mowing the lawn. Maybe it explains why I spent little time teaching my daughter baseball and more time playing things like driveway kickball which had made up rules more like Calvinball than any organized sport.

PS – domestic violence is not funny but, too often, we look the other way when sports figures do it. Michael Vick made big news when he went to jail for abusing dogs and Plaxico Burress is in headlines and in jail for shooting himself in the leg, but how many sports stars make big news and get comparable jail time for abusing a spouse or girlfriend?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Simple Procedure

Watching hospital shows on television sets up too many wrong and undesirable expectations

The instructions they sent said I should arrive at the hospital at 8:30 A.M., but I got there at 8:10 because that’s just how anal I am about appointments. A sign on the door said that firearms were prohibited in the building. That was comforting.

I’d been to see the Amorous Doctor’s Husband and he was going to remove the fatty nodule from my breast. It was only because of the location that they wanted to take it out and check it. It would be a simple procedure.

It wasn’t an emergency so I was not expecting E.R. And I didn’t have a bizarre, undiagnosed malady so I wasn’t expecting House. All that was left was Grey’s Anatomy and I didn’t really want that. My surgeon seemed like a nice enough guy but I had no desire for an inappropriate doctor/patient relationship like Izzie and Denny.

Especially because Izzie killed Denny. It was unintentional, but he was still dead. A lot of patients die on Grey’s Anatomy. I was just having a simple procedure. I would be in and out. “Right. Remember when Meredith’s step-mom went in for hiccups and ended up dead?” I’m not sure who asked me that. My wife? Maybe I just asked myself. That’s the kind of out-loud internal dialog that happens on Grey’s Anatomy.

The doctor was just going to remove this small, fatty nodule from my breast. A tiny, benign cyst. When did it show up? A few years ago?. I think I finally went in to see the doctor because I really wanted to find out about it. How did it form there? Was it from Thanksgiving 2005 when I ate that big hunk of crispy turkey skin? Was it from inadvertantly swallowing a blob of gristle off the 2004 Passover Lamb?

It didn’t matter. It would soon be gone. A simple procedure. “Right. Remember when Meredith’s step-mom went in for hiccups and ended up dead?” Maybe that was the blobby nodule talking. That’s the kind of out-of-body hallucination Meredith would have on Grey’s Anatomy. “Shut up!” I told it. "You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!"

A sign on the door said that firearms were prohibited in the building. I went through the door to the registration desk. The woman signed me in and I sat in the waiting area. There was a flat screen TV for my family to monitor when I was “In Prep”, “In OR”, “In recovery”, “Having an affair with the doctor" or “Dead”.

I didn’t have anyone with me. It was just a simple procedure. My name came up on the screen. I was “In Prep” and yet I was sitting there in the waiting room. That was the kind of out-of-body hallucination Meredith would have on Grey’s Anatomy.

There was a sign in the waiting room that said, “Please don’t leave bags or briefcases unattended.” Isn’t that admonishing the wrong parties? Shouldn’t it say, “Please don’t take bags or briefcases that aren’t yours.” After all, the sign on the door doesn’t say, “Please don’t get shot by someone who brings a firearm into the building.”

The nurse came and took me to the prep room. She took my vital signs. She fastened a heart monitor clip on my finger. There was a single, continuous tone. I was dead. I had flat-lined and I was sitting there listening to it BEEEEEEEEP. That was the kind of out-of-body hallucination Meredith would have on Grey’s Anatomy. The nurse adjusted the clip and it went “beep, beep, beep …”

They took me down a hall and down an elevator and down more halls, going across the building. About two blocks away, we got to the OR. Three nurses were needed to get me ready. I was just having a simple procedure. They kept asking me if I was cold. People on hospital shows are always cold right before they die. I was warm. I was warm. I was warm… wasn’t I?

They had music on in the room. It was country music. Seriously? Wrong soundtrack!

The doctor came in and numbed my breast and cut out the cyst and sewed me up. The ride down the hall had taken longer. It was a simple procedure.

Now I have an ugly scar and a bruise. My breast is like that of a pregnant woman, nicely swollen and curvy, but too tender to play with. So, when I go back to the doctor for follow-up, I hope he doesn’t fondle it overly much like Mark Sloan would do on Grey’s Anatomy.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Too Much To Figure Out

The story you are about to read is true. Only the facts have been changed.

I don’t even write this blog. Well, I do, but do you know who “I” am? No. I might not be real.

When you meet someone, you don’t even know if you met them. Fake hair, fake hair color, fake boobs, fake Rolex, false teeth, false smile, faux fur.

Anything you think is real could be fake. Funny “Fail” picture on Probably Photoshopped. Funny quote on “Overheard in New York”? Probably made up. Funny Cake on “Cake Wrecks”? Probably cooked up by some faker. Why do I pretend to care? Because it is not as funny if you are trying to figure out whether it’s fake.

And yet, some things are faked in order to make them funny. Reality is scary and we try to escape through humor. The real news is dark humor, but fake news is satire and creativity. That’s why 75% of young people 18 – 35 get their news from the Daily Show, a “fake” news show. 75%. That’s what I’m told. By me.

Daily Show fake news doesn’t bother me because The Daily Show bills itself as fake news. Fox News, CNN, MSNBC are billed as legitimate but they create fake real news. They intentionally distort facts to tell the story they want to tell. They make totally unfounded statements just to stir things up.

I don’t really believe anything anymore, except when it comes to politicians, in which case I don’t believe anyone anymore.

It used to be harder to fake things. To convince their moms they were sick, some of my friends had to chew up oatmeal cookies and spit them in the toilet to simulate vomit. I’m not saying I did that, just making the point the fakery wasn’t always so easy as just getting the Apple Swine Flu app and downloading it.

The government spent millions putting together the whole Moon landing hoax. Now, with Windows 7, you can create a Moon landing on your computer and upload it to Youtube. The fact is that nearly half of virtually everything on Youtube is literally fake.

To make this blog seem more interesting to me I created some readers, like “Cali”, the girl who supposedly comments here from time to time. This will be a great disappointment to her family, especially her husband, but Cali does not exist and is totally Photoshopped into the comments. All my commenters are fake, except for Anonymous, who is merely insincere.

My point is that I don’t believe I like Michael Moore. Michael Moore found a market for a film about how the free market system is screwed up and Mr. Moore is profiting from it because that’s how capitalism works. I believe everything in “Capitalism, A Love Story” is true in the same way I believed everything in “Borat”. Unless I’m lying just to stir things up.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Football Players Don't Go Out On a Limb

This is what the announcers tell me:

Good receivers make plays in space. They are a flighty bunch.

A good running back runs north and south. They are more grounded than receivers (see Chad Ochocinco).

A bad running back runs east and west. Are all the fields oriented the same direction?

A good running back runs vertically. That's north, right?

A good quarterback can see the field. He also has "touch". Taste and smell are not critical senses for a quarterback. Though I imagine that Tom Brady has taste and Rothlisberger smells.

A good quarterback has an arm. One is apparently enough.

Legs are good to have, though more than one is required to make plays with, unless you are a kicker.

Some quarterbacks used to be "mobile".
Now these quarterbacks are "athletic". That means they can run. With their legs.

Having legs to make plays with seems to have replaced footspeed as a positive attribute.

An arm is good, legs are good, a foot is good. Joints are not good to have. If a player has "a knee" or "an ankle" or "a shoulder", he is either out with it or bothered by it. Neither one is good for his game.

The same goes for Jessica Simpson.

If Wishes Were Women...

Reality is a major buzzkill; my mom proved that to me.

When I was a teenager, my friend next door used to sell his older brother's stash of Playboy magazines to get money for ... for what? What could have been more valuable at that stage of life (post-pubescent and pre-internet) than a treasure chest of naked women? Maybe MacDonald's. 13/14-year-old boys are driven by many basic hungers.

I'm not saying that I ever bought any of the magazines but I looked at many of them. So many times that I even took breaks to read a few. One article I remember was about sexual fantasies. It said that fantasies were less likely to recur the more unreachable they became. If "I Dream of Jeanie" was cancelled, your recurring fantasy of Barbara Eden stepping out of the TV and dropping her harem pants would go away with it.

If you have an active fantasy life, you can preserve your sexual ones. I can imagine multiple scenarios where I might be in North Carolina and run into Andie MacDowell; in each one she is so aroused that she invites me immediately to her bed as she did Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral. I'm not saying I know she lives in North Carolina or her exact address or that I would stalk her if I lived closer to NC (say, in Kentucky instead of Ohio). But Andie is the only fantasy that I spend much time with now. I mean besides Jennifer Aniston.

As a teen I had no real life, so I held on tight to my fantasies. There was some doctor I went to; I can't recall the reason but, when I need a go to image, I can still dredge up a vision of the nurse, or receptionist or whatever she was. Her role doesn't matter, it was her body, her face and her smile that filled the days when I was without the Playboy supply.

I was not yet 16, so, for whatever reason I had to see this doctor, my mother had to drive me there. As a father, I now understand Mom's desire to know what was happening to her child. At the time, however, when The Nurse was taking me in for some procedure and Mom asked, "Can I go in to be with him?" I knew only that my mother would do whatever she could to destroy my life, which, as I said, was entirely comprised of fantasies.

The Nurse told her, no, no one was allowed to be in there with me, which temporarily made things okay. Then, on the way out of the exam room, as I stopped by the front desk, The Nurse shot me that smile and said, "See, you didn't need your mom in there with you." She thought that was my idea. I suddenly saw her for what she truly was, an adult woman being nice me as an insecure, awkward adolescent because it was her job. That reality destroyed my fantasy of myself. Thanks, Mom.

The Playboy article was right. Yes, I can still call up an image of the seductive Nurse, but the fantasy of what she and I would do in my room disappeared. No, it was there, but damaged. What happened is that each time I visualized myself in my room with The Nurse, my mother would come through the fantasy door with some pie and tell me dinner was ready and my little friend had to go home.

Okay, so the pie always satisfied another hunger, but reality is still a major buzzkill.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sports Shorts

Serena Williams verbally abused a line judge who called a foot fault on her at a crucial time in her match. Serena reportedly said either ``You better be [expletive] right! You don't [expletive] know me! You're lucky I'm not shoving this ball down your throat!'' or,``If I could, I would take this [expletive] ball and shove it down your [expletive] throat!''

After the match Serena said, "She says she felt threatened? I've never been in a fight in my whole life, so I don't know why she would have felt threatened.'' Serena went on to say, "She thought I was serving the ball when I stepped on the line? I don't know why she would have thought I was serving. She thought I stepped on the line with my foot? I don't even have feet." And how the woman didn't know the details of Serena's life of non-violence, I'll never understand.

You know the movie "The Soloist", where Jamie Foxx plays a brilliant musician whose mental challenges unfortunately prevent him from reaching success with his talents. In his next movie, Foxx could portray the Bengals who had great plays today on both sides of the ball but, as always, ran away from opportunity and lost it completely.

This isn't sports related but it seemed to go with outrageous, unreasonable responses and with mental challenges.
If you are ironically correct for the wrong reason because you didn't pass History ("More Czars than the USSR") or you are careless and/or ironically ignorant ("Thanks Fox News for keeping us infromed") or just spouting meaningless psychotic delusions (Obama is the Anti-Christ) how can you expect rational people to even listen, much less agree with you?

Because McCarthyism is a shining example of our government staying out of people's personal lives.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Stick It Where The Sun Don't Shine

"There is not a thing you can come up with that the G.O.P. is for. Sunshine in the morning? Harry Reid couldn’t persuade a single Senate Republican to vote yes."

My sister pointed me to this statement, which I initially took to be a joke. However this debate actually took place in the Senate on Monday.

The impetus of the controversy was when some senator remarked that "the Redskins will probably get blown out in the opener against the Giants" Harry Reid (D - NV) shrugged and said, whatever happens, I guarantee the sun will come up the next day."

At this point Senator Levon Delight (R - MS) stood and objected to "Senator Reid's proposal for government controlled sunshine. I do not want some bureaucrat standing between me and my sunshine," he said.

Senator Reid attempted to respond but Senator Joe Goebbels (R - GDR) took the floor. "President Obama and the Democrats are turning America into a totalitarian state where the supreme leader is believed to control the sunrise and expects the people to worship him."

A great hubbub and grumbling arose which captured the attention of the cable news paparazzi. Within minutes Bill O'Reilly was reporting that "the axis of socialism, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, are trying to take away the people's right to determine when the sun comes up for them or if they even want sunshine."

Former Alaskan Governor, Sarah Palin, held a press conference in her home, standing before the stretched and tanned hide of Levi Johnston. "This bill introduced by the Democrats is very dangerous and frightens me as the mother of teen girls. This law would establish Solar Panels to determine who is hot and who is not."

Fox news polls show that 55% of Americans now object to sunshine reform. Meanwhile a viral status update spread across the Facebook pages of millions of Democrats: "I agree that Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy, sunshine in my eyes can make me cry, sunshine on the water looks so lovely, sunshine almost always makes me high. If you agree, post this as your status for the rest of the day."

Citizens at town hall meetings are opining that they deserve the same access to sunshine that Congressman John Boehner (R - OH) enjoys.

Several sunshine bills have now been introduced in Congress. Speaking on "Hardball" on MSNBC, Harry Reid, in the one second left after Chris Matthews spent ten minutes asking and clarifying his own question, could promise only that "the sun'll come out tomorrow, if the Joint Committee can hammer out a compromise."

Monday, September 7, 2009

I Just Saved a Bunch of Time On My Car Insurance Commercials

I’m not the only one searching for a picture of Kim Clijsters’ husband, Brian Lynch. “Searches for ‘Kim Clijsters husband’ rank(ed) fourth on Google Trends” on Monday Morning.

I watched part of Clijsters’ win over Venus Williams yesterday and they showed Kim’s husband in the stands. He had longish, unkempt hair and a scraggly beard and mustache, which caused me to involuntarily say, “ So easy a caveman could do it.” That’s why I hate him.

Sporting events last at least 2 hours and seem to have no more than two sponsors, so you see the same commercials over and over, ad nauseum. The US Open is sponsored by Geico. Geico seems to have tired of their gecko mascot and they are sticking with the Hipster Cavemen, wrongly assumed to mentally primitive, and the Sesame Street reject character, Money Wad. I would rather spend two hours with an actual insurance salesman than watch these commercials. Geico, if you are reading this, I will never buy your products. Ever. Because of how you have defiled my sports watching experience.

I know I don’t have to watch the commercials. For one, I can leave the room. I tried getting up to get a beer every time Cavemen came on. Pretty soon I was alternating that with trips to the bathroom. By the end of a football game, I couldn’t even get up off the couch anymore and the drunken insults I shouted at Money Wad just angered my wife.

Speaking of football, ESPN college football seems to have only one sponsor, Drunk Driving Arrests, Inc.,who have had only one commercial for the past 17 years: “Over the Limit, Under Arrest”. The scenes of alcohol filled cars make me think I want to have another beer and when the booze flows out of the car I have the urge to go pee again.

The best solution to the commercial annoyance is to DVR the game and start watching an hour into it. You have to not answer the phone and shut off Facebook and twitter to prevent getting updates from friends or fan pages before you see the action on TV.

But it’s all worth it when you hit the fast forward button and watch blurred cavemen seemingly being drowned in beer flowing out of a truck as you whiz past all the commercials.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

What's The News, Across the Nation?

80% of U.S. schoolchildren can NOT identify our President. We lead the world in school-child ignorance about who our leaders are. Let's not blow that; keep us Number One! Don't let President Obama address our students.

Many think that investigating top officials of our government for involvement in torture and other war crimes would be too distracting when we have so many other challenges facing this country. After all, those officials are now out of office, they can't unilaterally start any more unjustified wars and spend all our money on them. This makes sense to me. There's a guy in Georgia who just killed 7 family members. They're all dead now and I am sure Georgia has more important things to deal with. Let's leave that poor man alone.

Cincinnati City Council made a last-minute save that prevented huge pay cuts threatened for members of Cincinnati City Council. By offering police officers the opportunity to work their essential, dangerous, full-time jobs for lower pay, Council avoided slashing the part-time, self-promoting, frivolous jobs the City Council members.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Do You Follow Me?

Michael Vick cleared to play in week 3 :: Dow Jones jumps over 60 points.
Is that twitter worthy? I don't know.

I got an email from twitter a couple weeks ago notifying me that I was now activated on twitter. Only it wasn't me, it was someone with a similar name and, I'm guessing, a similar email address. I never wanted a twitter account.

Now that Disney owns Marvel, will Spiderman save Pooh from the heffalumps? twitter worthy?

I went onto "my" new twitter account and told customer service about their error. I even changed "my" password so I could log in to do that. I got an email saying that they are a frees service and don't have enough resources to deal with problems. They asked if my problem was really important. They wanted to know if I could just delete their email response and forget the whole thing.

I learned that twitter customer service is more of a theory than a tangible item. Is that worth tweeting?

Ultimately I changed "my" email address on "my" twitter account and then signed up my real self with a new twitter account with my email.

So now I'm on twitter. You can follow me at, I mean, if you want. But why would you? I can tweet my blog entries or I might have amusing thoughts that I can't wait to impart to you.

The problem I have with twitter is the name "twitter", the function "tweets" and the cute bubble=letter fonts, the pastel colors and the stars and clouds. twitter looks like a Polly Pocket accessory. Now that's probably to long for a tweet.

I realized that twitter might be useful at work. But the things I would tweet related to a humor blog are different from I would do for business. So I opened another twitter account.

So I've gone from having one unwelcome twitter account to having two by choice.

What can I say ... er, tweet?

PS - whaling picture is from here

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"Off" "Broadway"

Back in May, when we went to California, I spotted the sign below, posted outside a little theater on the pier in Monterey, California. I am not sure if they are staging a production called "Broadway" or if they are holding "Broadway" style "auditions". And what is it that is like an audition but not actually an audition? Casting couch?
Also, I don't know what year they are holding the auditions if not "2009".
But wait... there's more!
It looks like the "auditions" were going to be in MARCH, which has now been overwritten with
Love the random quotation marks!
Finally, they attached the tel #s as an after thought post-it note, but I guess they don't really want you to call.
I sent it to The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks and it is posted there now with a little less commentary.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Engorged Ego Suspected in NFL Injury

Bengals first-round draft pick, Andre Smith broke his foot today while trying to get his helmet on.

Smith was getting ready for practice when he found he could not get his helmet down past his ears. Smith went immediately to the equipment manager but was told he had to see Coach Marvin Lewis.

Lewis, who was surprised to learn that owner Mike Brown had selected Smith, let alone signed him, told Smith that all personnel decisions, all equipment purchases, all hall passes to go to the bathroom and pretty much every thing else has to be cleared through owner Mike Brown.

Mike Brown told Smith he could buy himself a new helmet "Out of the $28 million I just gave you." Smith then decided to hold his breath and began stomping his feet. His left foot, weakened by lack of use, gave way and broke, shattering the fans' remaining positive expectations once again before the season even starts.

Some of Andre's entourage stated that his head seemed to begin swelling a few weeks ago just before he began his holdout. Doctors speculated that ego may have been involved. A source close to the team, because he owns it, said "He probably just got fat sitting around stuffing his face while he plotted to get MY money."

It is not known how long it will take to deflate Smith's head to the point he will be able to put on his equipment and get in a game.