Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dear Sports, you are losing me.....

It seems that over the past few years, I have started drifting away from being a "sports junky". It just doesn't hold my interest as much as it used to. Yes, I have moved toward other things, but sports has always been a big part of my life.

I started playing baseball in Little League when I was 8 years old and fell in love with the game and the major leagues. I followed the Reds, Red Sox, and pretty much every other team religiously. Steve Garvey, Dale Murphy, Johnny Bench...these were heroes of mine. I also had an interest in football at the pro level, settling on the Cowboys as my favorite team and Roger Staubach as my favorite player. Later, I started following the NBA, but it was never a passion. What turned out to be my biggest passion, was Louisville Cardinal athletics. I also was into UK basketball for a period, but was cured of that after the Final Four loss to Georgetown, back in 1984. Sucked the life out of my caring anything about the Cats. The Cards started being my biggest sports passion, and that has lasted up until the last few months.

Sports has been evolving for decades, and I don't think that evolution has been for the better, from a fans standpoint. Professional players have become increasingly inaccessible and "god like", as they seem to operate many times, outside the life rules that the rest of us follow. There isn't a week goes by that we don't hear about a player getting locked up for carrying illegal weapons, abusing hard drugs, animal abuse, drunk driving, rape, or physical assault. Those things are sports news now. The scores are relegated to second and third page status (for those who still read a newspaper). Most of us watch sports to enjoy the competition, the athleticism, and that strange camaraderie that comes out of gathering with like minded folks and cheering for your common interests. In today's sports, it's all about personality and headlines.

College athletics is following suit. Many of the top players, don't really want to be where they are, they are ready to "get paid". Many of the coaches don't really care about where they are, they are looking constantly to the next job and next big pay day. In Kentucky, we have had the most disgusting stories as of late. Rick Pitino and his marital infidelity is front page news, as is John Calipari's second Final Four being stripped from his former employer. It makes you wonder why you should care at all. Neither of these men, seem like they are steeped in integrity. Why do I worry about Louisville or the Red Sox winning or losing so much? What do I have to gain, other than some bragging rights and a short euphoric feeling after a win? It's time for me to get right with my life and start taking some joy out of things that I can do or things that I can appreciate without having to worry about cheating, jail time, court dates and other ordeals that sports figures seem to dwell in these days.

I do realize that media exposure has a lot to do with my feelings. A couple of decades ago, we didn't have 200 channels, the NFL Network, four or five different ESPN channels, FOX Sports, the internet, satellite radio, 24 hour sports talk, message forums, and Twitter. The news was mostly limited to on field activity. But, as sports grew in popularity, it also grew into a part of pop culture. Celebrities used to be actors, comedians, and musicians. Now, everyone is a celebrity. Everyone knows everyone else's personal business, and for some reason people care deeply about it. It's the ultimate in reality TV. Not only do you get to watch an athlete play, you get to know how he or she conducts their life off the field.

I think I'll move back towards music and film for my hobby time. I enjoy writing. I enjoy reading. Honestly, I never thought I'd get to this point with sports. I'm at take it or leave it. For the first time in well over a decade I don't have Louisville football or basketball season tickets. And I'm not worried about it at all. I simply don't care like I did.

"Now my old friend, The Bachelor,Well, he swore he was the Oklahoma Kid.And Cookie played hooky,To go and see the Duke.And me, I always loved Willie Mays,Those were the days!"

Talkin' Baseball---Terry Cashman

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Something You Should Know: Part 1

Just thinking about some things while working yesterday. Have you ever heard someone say something that you knew was wrong or heard a person use a word incorrectly and just didn't have the heart to say something about it? I almost get embarrassed FOR those people. Not that they are necessarily dumb, it's just that they have went their entire lives with everyone just nodding and not saying a thing to them when they so blatantly bungle up a word, phrase, or fact.

So, here is part one (not sure there will be a part two, so we'll see) of a list of things that you should know. Even if it's just to start a conversation (or to keep a dying one going).

  • It's lose, not loose. The Yankees did not "loose" a game. Cubs lose, Cubs lose!!!!
  • The water on the west side of our continent is the Pacific Ocean. Not the "specific" ocean.
  • Charlie Chaplin once came in third in a Charlie Chaplin look alike contest. Just a fun fact for you.
  • The most commonly misspelled word on internet search engines is "restaurant". So if you need to write that word on a job application or resume', make sure you have it right.
  • Karl Marx was not the "lost" brother. He was no close relation to Harpo, Chico, Zeppo, Gummo, or Groucho.
  • The word is "especially" not "expecially" or "ecspecially". That's a common mistake and a dead give away that you have not gotten a grip on the language yet.
  • Benjamin Franklin was not a president.
  • You can't get a cold from getting wet or being cold.
  • Finally, chickens really don't make good house pets. I think the reasons are obvious.

And as someone very famous said once (or thousands of times) ".....good day."

" learns to crawl, watching daddy's skin.."

"Baby Learns To Crawl"---Paul Westerberg

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The King is gone but not forgotten!

This is one I wrote some time back, but with the recent passing of Michael Jackson, I think it is a topic that needs to be revisited.
Ding Dong, the King is dead!! That's right folks, Elvis Presley is dead. No, he's not at a swap meet in Kalamazoo, he's not playing bass for a Metallica cover band, he wasn't in the movie "Bubba Ho-tep" and he didn't play Dan on "Roseanne" (that was John Goodman...or was it John Candy?).
Elvis was a very proud man. He was the most recognizable figure on the planet at one time and the idol of millions of adoring ladies. He probably slept with more women than Wilt Chamberlain claims. Sure, Elvis couldn't go out in public and have a good time. He wasn't able to roll into the White Castle parking lot at 10 pm on a Friday and order a sack of 20 with cheese, hold the pickles and onions. Stardom has its' trappings and can be a lonely experience, but it's not so bad that one of the most famous, proud men to have ever walked the earth, would find it so awful that he would fake his own death while........pooping.
Stay with me here. This leaves so much to the imagination and it's repulsive enough that even I want to believe he's alive. Who wants to die while pounding one out? I suppose the King sat on the throne a lot, that's what kings do, but I don't think he said "Hmmmm, this would be a nice place to die....thank ya, thank ya very much."It's well known that Elvis loved pain pills. He was fighting the war on drugs long before Nancy and Ron asked us to "Just Say No". Yep, Ole Elvis loved us so much, he ate all the pills he could, just to keep them off the streets of America. Now, not that I know, but I have "heard" that pain pills can stop you up. Render your sphincter useless for quite some time. Bind up the bunghole. You know what I'm saying. Elvis' last words were probably something like this "Ohhh....come on...come on outta there. Gotta drop off these kids at the pool." He'd probably been perched there for a couple of hours and lost feelings in his legs. Push, Push!! Bam, there goes his heart and he tumbles onto the floor all sweaty and frustrated. Then, he dies. He died trying to give birth to a brown baby. He tried to take the Browns to the Super Bowl and like Brian Sipe, Tim Couch, and Bernie Kosar before him, could not deliver. But at least he died tryin'!
That's all you need. Elvis is dead. Believe me, dying in a male hookers bed, while 3 midgets were eating peanut butter off of him would have been more appealing for the King than to go to heaven while seeing a man about a dog!
"You're kisses lift me higher, than the sweet sounds of a choir..."
Burning Love--Elvis Presley

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Almost Famous: A "blu" review

OK, I really love movies....or if you are a So, from time to time I will be reviewing movies that I like in hopes that I can turn someone else on to a film that perhaps they may not have seen. I'm also a strong proponent of blu-ray. If you have an HDTV and you are NOT watching your movies on a blu-ray player, you are selling your television and your own senses short.
"Almost Famous" is a coming of age film. Cameron Crowe wrote and directed this masterpiece. Most of the film is based on things that happened to Crowe as a youth. Crowe was writing for rock magazines such as Cream and Rolling Stone. So, when it comes to doing a film about a mid-major rock and roll band trying to climb the ladder of success, he was in his comfort zone.
"Almost Famous" begins with young William Miller watching his older sister and mother at odds with one another over how the teenage girls life should be lived. William is kind of indifferent until he finds out that he is younger....much younger than all the other kids he goes to school with. He uses this as leverage for getting what he wants as he gets older. And what William wants to do is be a writer. And he wants to write about rock and roll.
William meets Cream magazine editor Lester Bangs and garners a writing assignment on Black Sabbath. At the show, he meets up with the opening act, Stillwater, and from there his life changes. Rolling Stone gives him a call, under the impression that this kid is a savvy and experienced adult rock critic. Sight unseen, they send young William out on the road with Stillwater and from there, the film takes off. William is exposed to a world that he has always been protected from. Drugs, alcohol, sex, and true friendship. A groupie.....errr...."band aide" (named Penny Lane) for Stillwater takes William under her wing (although she is roughly the same age) and teaches him the ropes. What he finds is that it's not all fun and glamour. He sees human nature at work. He is befriended, betrayed, loved, and used by the members of the band, for the furthering of their own careers.
In the end, of course, things work out for Crowe.....I mean, William Miller. But what we found out along with him, is that rock and roll can be a dirty business. The kid comes out of the experience world weary, but with open eyes. He was a fan and he became the enemy. Being honest about what you see and experience is what separates the critic from the artist.
"Almost Famous" has a cast full of stars and great character actors that anyone who owns a TV or a DVD player will recognize. Actors like Jason Lee, Frances McDormand, Kate Hudson, Billy Crudup (no, he is not blue and does not show his penis), Patrick Fugite, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Zooey Deschanel, are all at the top of their game, as well as Jimmy Fallon as a fast talking super agent. Also look for brief appearances by Mitch Hedberg, Jay Baruchel, Jann Wenner, and rock great Peter Frampton. Really, this is a top notch cast.
Cameron Crowe has also written and or directed other great films, such as; Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Vanilla Sky, Jerry Maguire and Elizabethtown. Crowe's wife happens to be Nancy Wilson (from Heart), and she helps out with the writing and production of the original music.
The DVD has been out for years and the blu-ray disc is coming. The blu-ray version is available only in the United Kingdom right now, but can be found on the web at various sites if you are interested. The blu-ray picture is an upgrade over the standard DVD and it features TrueHD 5.1 surround sound.
If you have not seen this movie, you should go rent it, or better yet, buy it. It stands up to repeated viewing and has a kick ass soundtrack that includes Yes, Elton John, Simon & Garfunkel, The Who, Black Sabbath, Neil Young, Led Zeppelin and many other rock and roll legends! Treat yourself to one of the great films about the rock and roll lifestyle.
If you are interested, take a look at these links;
"Fever dog. Scratching at my back door."
"Fever Dog" by Stillwater