Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Year in Review in 100 Words


The problem with all of the Year in Review articles available right now is their length.  In our ‘Tweet and Retreat’ society, we only have time for a few choice words, and then we need to move on.  In this case, we need to get to 2012, and soon.  Can’t let too much reading and reflection slow us down. 
   
If you read my blog with any regularity, then the majority of these words will be enough for you to reflect on 2011 without delaying your preparations for 2012.  Think of these words as a crawl across the bottom of the screen of your world.  Notice the words, let them tickle your subconscious with a comfortable “ah ha”, and then start looking forward.  Here are my 100 words (57 memories) for 2011:

In no particular order:

·         Gabby
·         OWS
·         1%
·         Baby Caylee
·         Arab Spring
·         No Fly Zone
·         Muammar
·         Fukushima
·         Long form version
·         The Ryan Plan
·         “Right wing social engineering”
·         Pippa
·         Will and Kate
·         DADT
·         Abbottabad
·         Seal Team 6
·         Irene
·         Weiner’s weiner
·         Debt ceiling
·         Downgrade
·         Supercommittee
·         Drones
·         HPV
·         Tebow’ed
·         Lambeau Leap
·         The Big Three
·         David Freese
·         Concussion syndrome
·         Collective bargaining
·         “Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan”
·         9-9-9
·         Tiger Mom
·         Eurozone
·         “…what’s the third one…?”
·         Newt
·         SuperPACs
·         T-Paw
·         Tweet
·         4G
·         Solyndra
·         Privacy settings
·         Being “underwater”
·         Sandusky
·         Ah-nuld's lovechild
·         Pepper spray
·         The Donald
·         Snowmageddon
·         Harry Potter
·         Kardashian
·         Bieber Fever
·         “Winning”
·         Neutrinos
·         Fannie and Freddie
·         “Pass this bill”
·         Tablets
·         Jobs (the Apple kind)
·         Siri

We welcome 2012 with open arms and double dog dare you Mayans out there to try something.  We’ll be ready.

Let me know what I missed, and be safe out there tonight.

* for you local DC readers, I must add "Bad Rex", "Boudreau Bye-Bye" and "Riggleman Meltdown" to the list.  Oh, yeah - Earthquake.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Surging Santorum? Take an Anti-Inflammatory


There is much truth to the concept of a psychosomatic illness.  I think we have all suffered from it at one time or another.  We read about itchy skin, and all of a sudden, we begin to scratch.  Our neighbor discovers a mole that is diagnosed as skin cancer, and suddenly, every skin tag on our backs is malignant.  If we think about being sick long enough, it seems we end up sick.  The mind can be very powerful.

This is why I was not surprised that after reading online today about Surging Santorum, I started to feel a bit queasy.  Even typing the words Surging Santorum causes a lump in my throat, a dry mouth, and a sour stomach.  The prospect of Surging Santorum in my life makes me physically weak and confused.  I hope I don’t catch it. 
 
This is a relatively new disease, although there were some mild cases reported in Pennsylvania in the mid-1990s.  By 2006, scientists believed that the virus had been totally eradicated from this country.  But in early spring of this year, it reappeared on the landscape and began spreading across all 99 counties in Iowa.   According to the articles I read, Surging Santorum has been isolated in Iowa and it has virtually no chance of spreading beyond its borders.  In fact, if you believe the researchers, Surging Santorum will be gone by mid-January forever.  At this point, I am not so sure.  I can’t stop thinking that Surging Santorum could affect me and my family here in Virginia.

Reports vary, but there is some agreement about the common symptoms associated with the onset of Surging Santorum.  It begins with a painful cramping in the mid-section and headaches.  As the virus progresses, the patient begins to think that impossible things could happen, like Hell could freeze over, or that a failed Far Right politician could wrest the GOP nomination from candidates who are better funded, better known and more capable of winning an actual election with voters.  The defining symptom is a loss of all common sense and perspective.  In an odd twist, Surging Santorum does not seem to be able to take hold of those who do not accept that heterosexual marriage protects a person from poverty.  The science is unclear as to why immunity exists for this interest group.

Thankfully, reading a newspaper, thinking, and drinking plenty of 12 oz. fluids provide the most effective relief from Surging Santorum.  With a little bit of research, the Surging can be controlled and ultimately eliminated.  I should note that if you ignore Santorum, it can go away by itself in some cases.  Small amounts of Santorum are not fatal, but it is also not recommended for the young or the elderly. 
 
It’s a good thing we can survive with just a small dose of Santorum.  Actually, a little Santorum can be a good thing in moderation, as it leads to laughter and giddiness.  It is really quite harmless.  When it Surges, however, all bets are off.  Call Doctor Paul.

In rare cases, if left untreated, Surging Santorum can metastasize into Runaway Santorum, and that can be difficult to stop.  If I hear any reports of Surging Santorum being diagnosed in South Carolina or Florida, I may have to leave the country to protect my family.  In fact, just writing these words is making me sick to my stomach.  I keep telling myself that it is all is my head.  Surging Santorum will never infect ME! 
 
The mind can be very powerful.  I have to stop thinking about Surging Santorum.  It takes effort, but I can do it.  I cured myself of Acute Newt, Michelle Malaise and Communicable Cain by using my brain.  With luck and concentration, I will be cured again.  No one should have to suffer from an unexpected Santorum Surge, especially during the holidays.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Answered Prayers


At this time of the year, it is easy to find proof of God in the world around us.  He is in the Wal-Marts, paying off layaway balances for strangers.  He is dropping off food supplies at the local shelter.  He is visiting an elderly relative to provide some companionship.  He is placing that string of lights at the top of your neighbor’s 40 foot evergreen in the front yard (I mean, how else do you get lights up that high without Divine intervention?).  The Lord works in mysterious ways.

The year 2011 in sports had signs of God’s presence in our world on many occasions, and not just because of a few spectacular dunks, a couple of diving catches or physics-defying golf shots.  On the team level, miracles happened this year and for me, a major theological truth was finally confirmed.  I can now say with the certainty of physical proof that there is a God.  Faith isn’t necessary.  We need only to look at the 2011 major sports landscape.  Nothing else can adequately explain this past year’s series of spiritual events on the playing fields and courts of America this year:

·         The evil vice of gratuitous wealth was proven to be no match for the underrated Dallas Mavericks who took out LeBron and his posse in 6 games in the NBA Finals.  Rarely does watching a team lose feel better than watching a team win, but the Miami Heat was a team that we loved to watch exit the court, heads bowed in recognition that there is a God, and it is not them.

·         Neither the Yankees nor the Red Sox advanced to the World Series.  In fact, the mighty free spending Red Sox flamed out on the final day of the regular season to miss the playoffs completely.  The Yankees managed to cruise into the post-season, only to be humbled by the Tigers in the first round.  If Satan was still running the show on Earth, one of those large market, free spending juggernauts would have been playing in late October.  Instead, we were treated to…

·         The Cardinals win Game 6 of the World Series after coming back from 2 runs down and their final strike TWICE.  Yes, we knew that there were baseball gods, but only the Big Guy Himself could have engineered such a stunning comeback for a city destined to have to suffer through the loss of their greatest player two months in the future.
 
·         A small market team has the title in America’s Number One sport, pro football.  The Green Bay Packers, led by the guy who thankfully is helping commentators everywhere forget a guy named Favre, were not the best team all season, but they were the best by the end of the final game.  Only an Act of God could have pushed Brett Favre off the front pages, and an Act of God is what we got in the person of Aaron Rodgers.

·         The Stanley Cup, hockey’s greatest prize, is back in the hands of an Original 6 franchise now that the Boston Bruins are reigning champions.  The Cup is named for Lord Stanley, but it is clear that the one true Lord must have been between the pipes during Game 7 against Vancouver.  No way Tim Thomas does that all by himself.

Of course, if there is a God and this we know from sports in 2011, there must be a devil that opposes all His good works.  This is no time for rest, God, since evil still lurks in our imperfect sports world:

·         Hockey’s greatest player, Sidney Crosby, may have played his last game at the age of 24 because of concussion syndrome.

·         The Colts suffered through a dismal season without arguably the greatest quarterback of our generation, Peyton Manning, lining up under center.  His multiple neck surgeries may rob us of a few more years of greatest in Indianapolis.

·         Baseball’s greatest slugger in 2011, NL MVP Ryan Braun, will sit out the first 50 games in 2012 after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.  The scourge of PEDs will not go away for the major leagues.

·         Albert left for the money.

·         Tiger can’t win.

·         The NBA came back, and the Heat is favored.

I still believe that all the evidence from 2011 proves there is a God, but, if You are listening, please don’t give the naysayers any ammunition.  Cure Crosby, heal Manning, and for the love of God, please keep Stephen Strasburg away from Yankee pinstripes in a few years.

When it comes to sports entertainment in 2011, my prayers were answered.  For the rest of you, there’s always next year.  I’m talking to you, Cub fans.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Crucible


In Arthur Miller’s dramatic play, The Crucible, the losers of a highly publicized trial are burned at the stake, the permanent result of a campaign of rumors, innuendo, and outright lies.  It pits one person’s word against another, and a jury of peers must determine who is telling the truth and who is lying.  In a few weeks, the quadrennial primary crucible in New Hampshire will result in the presidential aspirations of several candidates being incinerated at the ballot box.  There will be spectacular flames and intense heat, and the stench will drift across the entire nation.  I don’t know who will win, but I can say with certainty that a crowd will gather to watch.

In the weeks after, by sifting through the ash heap of the first-in-the-nation primary we can find clues as to the events that provided sufficient accelerant for the various funeral pyres.  Often times in the past the candidates themselves provided the match and we discovered that their character was dry kindling ready to ignite.

In 1972, it was Edmund Muskie’s single tear that legend says combusted his candidacy.  In 1988, it was Bob Dole whose brittle character was exposed in his angry outburst, “Stop lying about my record!”  Al Gore reportedly took credit for inventing the Internet in New Hampshire, and almost allowed Bill Bradley a way forward.
 
As I write this today, the New England electoral crucible is still 3 weeks away.  Before long, the votes will have been cast, counted, and the outcome known.  The political post-mortem will be in full swing and pundits will be warming their hands over the fires.  At the risk of being spectacularly wrong, I would like to offer for the historical record what could have occurred in the New Hampshire primary 2012.  My predictions are based on available polling and a vivid imagination (the twin ‘smack’ of the Political Junkie).

Rick Perry, in a desperation move, scheduled a rally on the day before the primary to pray for a blizzard on Election Day, thereby decreasing turnout and increasing his long-shot odds of victory.  “They tell me that I don’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell of winning, so we thought we’d pray for snowballs,” Perry was quoted as drawling.  Unfortunately for the Texas governor, the only flakes in New Hampshire on Election Day were on the ballot.  Perry finished last, behind write-in votes for Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, and Alex Rodriguez.

Ron Paul did not compete in New Hampshire after he learned that the state motto was “Live Free or Die”.   He thought campaigning there might kill him.

A week before the vote, Rick Santorum was drafted as an infantryman in the War on Christmas, and he currently being held as a prisoner of that war.  He received no votes in the primary, but concerned voters signaled their support by mailing him pre-paid calling cards, used books, and leftover Halloween candy.

Jon Huntsman, in a fit of frustration, blurted out at a campaign stop that he “never even wears underwear”, and torpedoed what little chance he still had to win.  The day before his outburst, the Romney campaign leaked that Huntsman was actually a regular Sears catalog underwear model in the 1980s before starting his political career.  While the resemblance to the models in the catalog was hard to deny, it was never proven.  Huntsman withdrew before the polls opened.

Michele Bachmann was gaffe-free and surging in the tracking polls when a series of mental ‘lapses’ pushed her back into obscurity.  First, she kept referring to New Hampshire as the “Grand State” during appearances instead of the Granite State.  In a final indignity, two days before the primary, she compared herself to Harry Truman who once won a big election against the conventional wisdom.  She said she would be vindicated just as Truman was when he held up the headline, “Dewey Wins”.  She should have stopped there, because she went on to add, “Had Americans not gone to the polls that day and listened to the pundits, we might have had Scrooge McDuck’s young nephew as President and we would never have known that great leadership slogan that Truman made famous, “The Duck Stops Here.”  Bachmann was escorted to the state line, and quickly announced a new position as a Fox News contributing editor.

Mitt Romney froze in place for 10 minutes during an outdoor rally in Nashua.  Many believed that a cold driving sleet that day was to blame for his paralysis, but major media outlets reported that one voter near the stage heard the candidate mouth ever so softly, “Oil can” before a staffer quickly applied the life-saving petroleum.  Newt began taunting the mechanical Mitt with ads recorded to the tune of If I Only Had a Heart, and Romney couldn’t squeak out the victory.  He lost by 10 points.

Newt Gingrich’s actual political history and his written positions on the issues were handed out to voters one week in advance of the vote.  New Hampshire voters thought it was a prank engineered by Comedy Central, and dismissed the truth about his past and his real plans for America.  He won the state by 2 points over Undecided, but the victory was voided when it was revealed that his name on the ballot as submitted by his campaign read “Newt Grinch” instead of “Newt Gingrich”.  The former speaker blamed a radical Islamist secularist agenda, and vowed to stay positive in the face of this “organized, well-funded systematic plot against him and the very foundations of liberty, the scope of which is unparalleled in the history of mankind.”  The final allocation of delegates is still pending. 
 
One thing is for certain.  There will be (was) a spark that ignited a massive flame out for most candidates, and an acquittal by the voters of another candidate.  Even in Miller’s play, someone survived.  Whether or not a real witch capable of black magic snuck through the process, we won’t know until the summer.

Come November, the story of the GOP campaign may parallel another Arthur Miller classic:   Death of a Salesman.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Regulatory Rantings


In the fall of 2007, I traveled with my then 11 year old daughter to New Hampshire to experience the thrill of retail politicking at its roots (www.newhampshire2007.blogspot.com).  I think she took the political experience to heart, and now she has stolen a page from the GOP playbook to debate her father and mother.

Dear Mom and Dad,

As part of my education, I try to remain current on the issues of the day, and I have been reading quite a lot about how federal regulations are killing growth in this country.  If not for all the rules imposed on our economy over the past 3 years, businesses would be hiring and people everywhere across America would be happy and productive.  All this talk about rules and regulations ruining the country got me thinking about my situation.  For the past 3 years, my ability to succeed and grow and blossom has been stifled by the evil hand of a dictatorial regime that imposed burdensome rules without regard for their  negative impact.  Just like Obama has done across America, your overregulations have destroyed my ability to innovate and win my future.

I know you think my plea for decreased regulation over my daily life is just the rantings of an angst-ridden teenager.  Not true!  I know that according to the World Bank, businesses in U.S. face the 5th lightest regulatory burden among those in 183 nations.  Like those businesses, however, the regulations don’t feel so light when they are on YOUR back.  You have got loosen the restraint of rules and unleash my God-given potential.  The Invisible Hand that guides me towards the best results in life cannot function when you smother it in a glove of curfews and conditions.

I tell my friends that President Obama and my parents have one very important thing in common – they have increased regulations four-fold in a 3 year period, and it is wrongheaded and counterproductive to growth.  I know that Obama has done this terrible thing because Mitt Romney has said so many times.  You don’t believe that because Romney’s campaign has already come public and admitted that Mitt Romney “misspoke” when he made that claim.   Romney may be making up things as he goes, but that doesn’t change the fact that your regulatory oversight on my bedtime and homework completeness kills my competitive spirit.  How can I win with all these rules?

I know that you’ll come back and say that the “experts” don’t agree that overregulation is holding back me or American business.  But dear parents, can you really rely on the determinations of those pro-regulatory groups like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Federation of Independent Business, the New York Times, the AP, the Economic Policy Institute, and the Wall Street Journal?  Just because they all agreed that regulations in this country are not holding back U.S. economic growth doesn’t prove that your arbitrary “curfews” and “emphasis on grades” aren’t holding back my personal growth.  Common sense does not need independent verification.

I am tired of your argument that without constant demand, there is no growth.  Consumers demand products, and the economy grows.  You demand chores done, it does not follow that I grow as a person.  It’s not demand – it’s regulations!  I know this because I said it, repeatedly.

I have read that during Obama’s first three years, the number of regulations and the cost of those regulations is actually less than President George W. Bush’s regulations and costs at the same point in his tenure.  No one complained back then.  You have said a similar thing, that the rules on my behavior are no different than they were 3-6 years ago.  Times are different now, however.  I am a teenager with different needs to profit from my youthful irrational exuberance.  Forcing me to look both ways before crossing the street like I used to do years ago just slows me down and limits my potential to reach the other side.  Take your foot off the brake and watch me soar!
     
If these regulatory burdens are not diminished, I will be forced to consider membership in YAEGER – Youths Against Excessive Grownup Educational Regulations.  This club is dedicated to stamping out parental rules that stifle the free market of teenage ideas and youthful innovation.  I need friends that will invest in my future.  With all these regulations on my behavior, my social circle may take their time investments elsewhere, like to the Chinese kids in my AP classes.  I can’t let that happen, and hopefully you won’t let that happen either. 

I anxiously await your patriotic reply.

Your Loving Daughter

Dear Loving Daughter,
Not all regulations and rules that we have put in place for you are bad.  Some actually protect you, keep you safe, and will pay off in the long term.  If you have specific regulations on your behavior that you would like us to review, please lay them out in a coherent, logical fashion so we can discuss.  This knee jerk aversion to all regulations, and your exaggeration of their quantity and negative impact on behavior, is counterproductive and makes you look childish.


We want what is best, and if you have another plan that meets the goal of protecting you and encouraging your growth and development, please present it.  Otherwise, follow the laws we have set.  Someone has to be the adult, and I guess until you prove otherwise, it will have to be us.

Parenthood has consequences.  Tough luck.

Your Loving Parents
The Rational Ones


 


Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Sanity Claus


Claus Announces Independent Bid

Tonight a cold wind is blowing across the declared presidential field of 2012.  That’s not Jack Frost nipping at their noses.  It’s potentially the most electric candidate in recent memory nipping at their heels.

Today as expected, Santa Claus has announced his candidacy for the Presidency, and he will run as an independent.  His entry into the muddled field will surely cause a shiver throughout the electorate as voters take measure of the man’s positions and electability.

Santa Claus has been in the public eye for centuries, but much of what is known about his political leanings is culled from rumor, myth, and legend.  It is thought that he is pro-business and pro-free trade while also supporting universal health care and strict measures to combat global climate change.  In the coming weeks, he will be forced to provide the public with more specific policies to address the economy, immigration, and the stubborn gridlock on Capitol Hill.  The intense scrutiny of a national campaign will also test his famous jolly, twinkled eyed demeanor.

At a hastily arranged news conference at his North Pole workshop, surrounded by elves and reindeer and flanked by Mrs. Claus, Santa rallied the crowd with his signature battle cry, “Ho Ho Ho!”, and then launched into a full-throated rationale for his insurgent campaign.

“I’ve been checking my list, checking it twice, and I am here to report that naughty lives in Washington these days, and I think it is time for nice to rule again!”  His belly shook like a bowl full of jelly as the audience roared their approval.  He appeared fit and handsome, wearing his classic red suit with white fur trim, black boots and white gloves.  His beard was freshly trimmed.

Experts view Santa as a real wild card in the race, potentially siphoning votes away from both Obama and the GOP nominee in a general election three-way match up.

“The youth vote is no longer in Obama’s camp once Santa comes sliding in on his sleigh,” bemoaned James Carville, “But the seniors don’t tend to believe in Santa.  Those folks are gonna take so convincing before they vote for him.  This will be no holiday for Santa.”

Mary Matalin, Republican strategist, was more direct.  “This is Santa’s race to lose.  He’s got the women’s vote all but assured.  There is something about a man in uniform bearing gifts that is irresistible.”

Karl Rove offered muted praise for ol’ St. Nick.  “I supported him as a na├»ve little boy.  I am sure that many people did.  Look, the Christian Right should flock to the guy, but his peak month of popularity is December.  How that support translates in November when the chips are on the line is still left to be determined.”

Rove went even further and questioned whether Claus was up to the rigors of daily campaigning at his advanced age, some report to be as old as 410 years.  “A presidential campaign isn’t some one day sprint across the world in a sleigh.  It’s a marathon.  You have to pull your own weight and not expect reindeer with red noses to suddenly bail you out and point you in the right direction.”

The candidates themselves went on the attack to dampen any post-announcement boost for Santa in the polls.
 
“Today another ‘spread the wealth’ candidate joins Barack Obama on the side of giveaways and entitlements to those who contribute the least to society,” pontificated Newt Gingrich.  “At least, unlike the President, Santa wears his Communist Red on the outside for all to see.  I think the contrast between my vision for a plutocracy and his vision for a world of candy canes and ice cream will present a stark choice for Americans.”

Rick Perry questioned Santa’s eligibility to hold the nation’s highest office.  “I haven’t seen a birth certificate, have you?  He might as well be the Easter Bunny for all we really know about the man.”

Ron Paul portrayed Santa Claus as the ultimate enemy of freedom and liberty.  “If you want a government that knows when you’ve been sleeping and knows when you’re awake, then he is your candidate.  Frankly, I think it is un-American and threatens our way of life.  I think it IS time to pout and it IS time to cry if Santa Claus comes to the town of Washington, D.C.”

Mitt Romney was more conciliatory.  “I credit the man with creating jobs every year, and driving demand for goods.  That’s good capitalism.  I hope during the campaign we don’t find out that some of those elves running around his workshop are working illegals.  Trust me, that can be embarrassing!”

Santa enters the race with instant credibility on a number of key issues, including global climate change and international affairs.  His headquarters has been threatened by the thinning of the polar ice cap, and he has visited every country on the planet at least once every year.  He is also fluent in 185 languages, including American Sign and Occupy Wall Street hand symbols.  Combined with his status as a global icon, his run for the White House cannot be underestimated.  He is projected to be a nimble and quick adversary in the debates.

After Santa’s address, his surrogates quickly worked the assembled media to tamp down any lingering rumors that Santa once was caught kissing Mommy underneath the mistletoe, wary that stories of Herman Cain’s dalliances derailed his fledging campaign in November.

“The poor child, God bless him, was bleary eyed and tired.  He can’t be sure what he saw.  What we do know is that Mrs. Claus has vowed to stand by her man, and that should be good enough for everyone.”

His staff also dismissed questions about his rotundity, calling those inquiries “personal” and borderline discriminatory.  They assured the assembled media that his medical records would be released in the near future to quell any concerns that he is up to the job.  “If the man can circumvent the planet in one night, he can certainly handle a few meet-and-greets in the 99 counties of Iowa over a 2 week period.”

Santa also introduced his first campaign slogan, an obvious tweak at the sitting President: “Ho Ho Hope and Change”.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Bowl Season



One afternoon this week while watching TV I noticed an ad for the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.  This epic match up pits perennial powerhouse Texas Christian University against the upstart Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech.  Should be one for the ages...or for the aged.  It’s not exactly Michigan Versus Ohio State, but it will be on TV, and heck, what else is there to do over the holidays? 
 
When I see that small regional credit unions are the name sponsors for college football bowl games, I just want to throw up…which explains why I was watching TV in the middle of the afternoon during a work week.  I threw up.  More on that in a moment…

When I grew up, what made the bowl games specials was their scarcity.  Fiesta, Sugar, Rose, Orange, Gator – that’s all we needed.  Instead of 10 teams so honored with a bowl bid, 70 NCAA teams will play in a bowl game this year (74 next year).  The American culture that values quantity over quality has devalued the bowl game experience to the point of irrelevance.  30 years ago, we were thin and our televisions were fat.  Now the opposite is true.  Today I fell like blaming college football for the trend.  I am not sure more, less relevant bowl games were required to satisfy this ever-hungry nation.  In my opinion, these games have done nothing more than fill the void left by the XFL, which is to say they are as useless as an unemployed worker at  Gingrich campaign rally.
 
The winner of the 2011 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl will not be the answer to a trivia question one day.  It will be so trivial that the question will never be asked.  The San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl isn’t even the most egregious bowl on the list of 35 games scheduled this season:

·         Famous Idaho Potato Bowl – The Infamous Idaho Potato Bowl was cancelled because it was attracting a questionable crowd.
·         Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas – I like how they added “of Texas” to the name, which allows for the tantalizing possibility that Meineke will someday host a bowl game in each state of the Union (fingers crossed).
·         Pinstripe Bowl – I believe this used to be called the Seersucker Bowl, but it has been updated.
·         GoDaddy.com Bowl – To see the unedited, unrated version of the game, you have to log into their website.
·         Maaco Bowl Las Vegas – This wreck might need Maaco before it’s over.
·         Chick-fil-A Bowl – There is only one reason to watch this game.  We all want to see those cows parachuting onto the field during the 1st quarter of play.

I don’t think this is a case of “the old man can’t keep up with the changing times”.  I have plenty of those experiences, and for the most part, I recognize them when confronted.  This to me is a clear case of excess football money polluting the airwaves, infecting the gullible sports fan, and making us (me) sick.

Back to why I was sitting on the couch in the middle of the afternoon.  I got physically sick at work.  This represents the height of embarrassment in an office environment, on par with showing up in one’s pajamas or spilling hot coffee on the big presentation.  It is a humbling, humanizing experience that provides no learning lesson to the victim.  It’s just one smelly bucket of “Why me?”
 
There is something surreal about squatting on all floors in your place of employment, throwing up into your own trash can filled with discarded notes and outdated memoranda.  In a perfect world, vomiting should be confined to the privacy of your own home, or better yet, the out of doors behind a tree, where nature’s forces can effortlessly absorb the evidence back into the cycle of life.  Co-workers should never see this backside of you.  Offices are for serious matters of finance and compliance, not involuntarily odiferous bodily functions. 

We may often think about throwing up at work in the figurative sense, but the reality is something else altogether.  It is more unpleasant than an unanticipated business expense, a disgruntled employee, or an incompetent vendor.  Frankly, it stinks – figuratively and literally.
  
When you really need to vomit, the guttural sound that we humans can make is quite scary.  It is very much like the sound of an innocent man being transformed into a lycanthrope during a full moon.  Not like the uncomfortable morph as portrayed by Lon Chaney, Jr.  More like the painful metamorphosis of David Naughton in An American Werewolf in London, or Benicio Del Toro in the most recent film adaptation, The Wolfman.  It comes from a netherworld, a place rarely accessible to our voluntary selves.  The cleansing scream that expels everything within its wretch is short, violent, indiscriminant yet purposeful.   Some intruder must be expelled without regard to any collateral damage.  It was a pre-Christmas, everything must go extravaganza!  And believe me, everything went.

I will never know what caused the illness.  I have my singular theory.  It was a bad egg from that morning.  I can live with that, and my research into the cause ends there.  For my bride, however, the mystery continues unsolved.  She is the Columbo of Viruses, and the Encyclopedia Brown of Bacteria.  It is not enough to know that I am sick.  The source must be identified, marginalized, and snuffed out.  She will wipe, wash, wring, spray and otherwise overwhelm any invading germ or germs without regard for their feelings or right to existence.  When it comes to germs in the house, she is decidedly pro-choice.  I believe the Church allows for this exception.  Wasn’t it Jesus who first threw all of the viruses out of the temple in a fit of rage?  I believe he referred to the germs as vipers back then.

So that’s why I was home watching bowl game commercials, wallowing in misery and self-pity as only a man can do.  When I saw the ad for the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl, I felt the same queasy sensation building up again.  Perhaps the endless parades of meaningless football games on television are the real virus, the drug of the nation.

Bowl season makes me sick, so I am reflexively drawn to my own personal Toto bowl once more.  Excess of anything, including college football, can do more harm than good.  That’s my Christmas message to all you kids out there.

Watch It’s a Wonderful Life instead with a bowl of popcorn.  And wash your hands til they bleed. 

BTW: TCU 31- Louisiana Tech 24

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ghost of Christmas Letters Past


While I struggle to pound out the last few chords of the 2011 Sherrier Holiday Letter, here’s something to keep you busy.  Here’s a look back at one of those letters that I always enjoyed above the rest, now 7 years old.  Remember, I am a uniter, not a divider. 

SHERRIER HOLIDAY LETTER 2004

In 2004, we as a nation once again celebrated the great divisions that have defined our country by holding another bitterly contested presidential election.  For an entire year, we weren’t Americans fighting terrorists together; we were Americans terrorized by politicians and pundits fighting each other.  The holidays are a time of healing, so we’ve provided a holiday letter for you, whether you live in a Blue State (Democratic) or a Red State (Republican).  Enjoy the healing balm of a look back at the Sherriers 2004, regardless of your political leanings.

BLUE STATE VERSION:  Thanks to the Democratic Party’s war against Big Tobacco, Big Drug Companies, and Big Insurance, we can report that we enjoyed a safe and prosperous 2004.
RED STATE VERSION:  Thanks to the Republican Party’s war against the Democratic Party, we can report that we enjoyed a safe and prosperous 2004.

BLUE STATE VERSION:  In spite of the poor Bush economy, we were able to take the whole family to Disney World in February.
RED STATE VERSION:  Thanks to the Bush tax cuts, we were able to take the whole family to Disney in February.

BLUE STATE VERSION:  This summer, the family enjoyed the clean air and waters of Bethany Beach and the Chesapeake Bay, thanks to sensible government environmental regulations.
RED STATE VERSION:  This summer, the family spent too much money enjoying the waters of Bethany Beach and the Chesapeake Bay, primarily due to excessive government environmental regulatory costs.

BLUE STATE VERSION:  Cherie turned 40 in August, and is now thankfully a member of the federally protected class of individuals over 40 who may not be discriminated against in employment.
RED STATE VERSION:  Cherie turned 40 in August, one step closer to that New Deal era government entitlement trough called Social Security.

BLUE STATE VERSION:  Marra (3rd grade) and Thomas (kindergarten) are thriving in the local public school system, learning the values of diversity and inclusion.
RED STATE VERSION:  Marra (3rd grade) and Thomas (kindergarten) are making the best of their school situation while waiting for the day that school vouchers are available to send them to parochial school.

BLUE STATE VERSION:  Marra is swimming this winter, still taking art lessons, and Thomas played 2 enthusiastic seasons of soccer.
RED STATE VERSION:  Dittohead.

BLUE STATE VERSION:  This year, we decided to have another baby.
RED STATE VERSION:  This year, God decided that we should have another baby.

BLUE STATE VERSION:  We’re losing sleep because of the baby.
RED STATE VERSION:  We’re losing sleep because of Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction.

BLUE STATE VERSION:  Cherie has to stay home with one more baby because of a right wing power conspiracy continues to deny women who re-enter the workplace their rightful positions making equal pay with their male counterparts.
RED STATE VERSION:  She still has enough energy left to stay home with one more baby, and this administration encourages that strong moral choice with attractive tax breaks.

BLUE STATE VERSION:  In order to enhance Joe’s marketable job skills before the economy gets worse, Joe earned his certification as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR).
RED STATE VERSION:  In order to enhance Joe’s marketable job skills in an economy on the upswing, Joe earned his certification as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR).

BLUE STATE VERSION:  Joe took up roller hockey this summer, and really enjoyed it.  He was inspired by watching John Kerry windsurf.  He hurt his shoulder slightly, but refused to see a doctor because of the high cost of health insurance.
RED STATE VERSION:  Joe took up roller hockey this summer, and really enjoyed it. He was inspired to play such a tough sport after watching George Bush clear acres of brush on his ranch.  He hurt his shoulder slightly, but has endured the discomfort as a symbol of his self-reliant manhood. 

Whatever color your state – Red or Blue - Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and remember, Decision 2008 is right around the corner!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Seasonal Greetings Effective Disorder


There is a battle raging, and tonight I am on the front lines.  I soldier on from trench to trench, lost in the moment, my bearings thrown by the clatter and the flashing lights.  I no longer know where I am.  War is hell.

This particular war is a lonely struggle, a struggle in which the advancement of one side against the other is almost imperceptible, the creep measured over decades.  Victory of one side is not defined by the surrender or elimination of the other side; it is defined by something less dramatic – a whimper of resignation.
 
On the front lines of the War on Christmas Shopping, it is clear that the Internet is winning the hearts and minds of the people.  The simple pleasure of Christmas shopping as depicted in any number of Rockwell prints is dying.  The romance of store-to-store Christmas shopping has been eviscerated by the reality of too many choices but never what you want.  Attempts at customizing and personalizing merchandise for every potential micro-demographic that happens to wander inside of 4 walls have not led to more satisfied consumers in the malls.  It has led to clutter, and clutter should never be confused with choice.  To provide too many choices is to kill the ability to make a choice.  Down one aisle and up the next, everything looks good but nothing looks right.  I can’t decide.

Here at the front, the lines are long and the tempers are short.  Here, it is biting cold outside while oppressively hot inside.  Here, we can only buy what we can touch at the price on the sticker, instead of buying anything at all at the confirmed lowest price in the world.  Out here, the cacophony of clutter includes too many people and not enough Peace on Earth.

Yesterday, we weakly fought the War to End All Wars, the War Against the Commercialization of Christmas.  Commercialization won in a rout.  Now Commercialization is teaming up with Dehumanization to finish the job.  A Very Merry Christmas no longer needs twinkling lights, display windows filled with cottonball snowmen, and disinterested cashiers with droopy Santa hats.  All that is required is a broadband connection, a working credit card and an adult beverage for companionship.  ‘Tis the season to be jolly.  Fa la la la la to you too, buddy.  That was my parking space!

Going out of the house to Christmas shop is a messy, inefficient business.  But I will miss it when it’s gone. 
There is something special that goes into a gift that you have to struggle to find.  There is something special about a gift option that finds you.  There is something special about enduring the sharp elbows, the tired feet, and the friendly glares of the hired seasonal help as you asking them to please check in the back for another size.  There is something special about buying that perfect gift on impulse instead of checking 20 websites for an even lower price first.  I don’t mind paying more when I can experience the thrill of a successful hunt.

I’ll miss it when it’s gone, but for today, I think I’d rather be home.

Time to check out.




Friday, December 16, 2011

Monkey Business


Like all men of a certain age, I’ve seen the classic post-apocalyptic film, The Planet of the Apes, and deemed the entire premise to be plausible.  Apes developing a superior intellect and taking over the planet with their warrior philosophy – could happen, and even Charlton Heston armed with the 2nd Amendment would be powerless to stop it.  Even if at first you were incredulous about the underlying scientific probability, you were eventually convinced by watching Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, and Battle for the Planet of the Apes.  The greatest skeptics of my day held out until finally won over by the 2001 Marky Mark remake of The Planet of the Apes and the recent sequel (prequel?), The Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  If 7 movies and one day of following events on Capitol Hill can’t convince you that apes could one day rule the world, then nothing will.

Today I read an article that would have Dr. Zaius swinging from the trees with joy and anticipation:

Wild monkeys fitted with collars containing detectors and GPS transmitters will help researchers at Fukushima University measure radiation in the forests surrounding a nuclear power plant crippled last March by a powerful earthquake and tsunami.

The monkeys will wear the collars for a month and they will be remotely detached, says a team of scientists led by Professor Takayuki Takahashi.

The power of radiation mixed with apes in the wilds of Japan.  What could possibly go wrong?  Too bad the movie rights are already spoken for.  I see a fortune to be made – Godzilla Versus Cornelius and Zira, if we survive long enough.  I am pretty certain that Professor Takayuki Takahashi starred in Mothra Against the World (RKO, 1957).

Life is imitating art, and we haven’t much time.  Once, little monkeys rode bicycles at birthday parties and spit streams of water at fat comedians on stage and screen.  Now, we’re actively creating the conditions to mutate our own breed of King Kongs in the Far East.  Today, it’s Japan.  Tomorrow, will it be Los Angeles?  “Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto” indeed!

This is serious monkey business, and I hope I am not the first to sound the alarm bells.  When citizens are having their faces ripped off by their pet monkeys, it’s past time to start paying attention and keeping your bananas under wraps (fully sheathed, as it were).  Poor Charla Nash owned what she thought was a harmless little chimpanzee until the day it decided that her face was removable.  She might have tempted fate, but we should not.  Let’s face facts!

I recognize that the Far Right wing of the GOP is vehemently anti-science, but in this case, isn’t the evidence of the coming ape domination too damning to ignore?  I can almost appreciate their dismissive attitude about climate change in the face of melting glaciers and rising global temperatures.  They need more proof than their own eyes and minds.  That’s makes sense.  Never trust your physical senses or reasoned scientific study.  That’s nothing but alchemy in a lab coat!  Here, however, we have apes turning violent, and the Japanese releasing the creatures to play with radiation.  The question is no longer when, but how soon will be rounded up for experimentation by the likes of Dr. Maximus and his hairy band of primates?
 
My dear friends on the Right, can’t we at least temporarily accept the science and join together to combat the coming gorilla menace?  If not for me, do it for the children.  If we aren't careful, one day Curious George might get a little less curious and a tad more violent.  No one wins when nuclear fueled chimpanzees goes ape shit.