Tuesday, September 28, 2004

A Homer's Odyssey

Saw a great bumper sticker in Portland last week: "Re-defeat George W. Bush." Now that's funny. Even if you were, like me, part of the victorious minority who voted for the President four years ago, you gotta admit that's clever. And it's certainly superior to "My child is an honor student at Ritalin Elementary."

I am an avowed homer. But I think I'm pretty good at keeping my allegiance to team/school/candidate from clouding my sense of reality. For example, two weeks ago against the University of Florida, my beloved Tennessee Volunteers were the grateful beneficiaries of not one, but two egregious blunders by the officiating crew, which the Big Orange resourcefully parlayed into a last-second victory. I shed no tears for Gator Nation. If UF (or do they prefer FU?) never wins another game, it'll be way too many for me. But my devotion doesn't supersede the reality that the refs helped my team win...and that the forces of evil are occasionally thwarted in this life.

I get the feeling this Chief Executive election - and maybe a bunch more before - is more about whether our guy wins than what really results from the outcome. It's so much easier that way, no? If we win, we gloat and all is Right (or Left) with the world. If we lose, we politely declare the imminent arrival of the gates of hell prevailing upon us. Neither outcome, if we're really honest, prevents us from nor encourages us toward that to which the prophet Micah called the people of God 3000 years ago: "to live justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly" with God. If we so choose, we can live that way regardless of how many chads are dangled.

Think of the worst that could happen if the guy you're not voting for wins. Elephants, even if a Kerry administration gives homosexuals the right to be contiguous with one another in the contiguous 48 states and beyond, that hardly impedes your ability to treat everyone in your circle of influence with dignity. Donkeys, the swashbuckling Bush could slash millionaires' taxes like Errol Flynn - who, it should be pointed out, would be allowed to marry in a Kerry administration - and it still wouldn't preclude you from seeing to it that those in need near you are accounted for.

I don't think America gets better from the top down. I'd say it's the other way around. So whoever graduates from this year's Electoral College with top honors, maybe we should all concede the truth of another popular bumper sticker, however scatological and septic its message may be. That way when "**it happens" to those around us as **it invariably does, we'll be more prepared to grab a mop than point a finger.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Washing My Hands Of The Weekend

I'm not sure which is more execrable: the unique grime in which one marinates during an all-night flight and the ensuing, early-morning airport layover; or the almost audible objections your body raises when you are so indescribably tired on such occasions. (Vote now to win either a Plasma TV or the opportunity to donate plasma while watching TV.)

I'm pondering that question and other mysteries of the universe in the wee hours of Monday morning at DFW airport after a redeye from Portland, haphazardly pecking away at a public computer keyboard that no doubt doubles as a bacterial buffet. (Please use a new petri dish for return trips.)

I've always found Portland to be very similar to Abilene in that it's inhabitable by humans. There are a few differences, such as Kerry-Edwards bumper stickers in church parking lots. And golf courses that aren't irrigated with non-potable water.

It was great to be back on the air for The Golf Channel broadcasting the LPGA Safeway Classic, knowing we were at the epicenter of the sports weekend. As you know from watching our exciting, tape delayed coverage, Hee-Won Han of South Korea was declared the Safeway winner when Canadian Lorie Kane was disqualified for having too many items in the express checkout line.

Buried on the back pages of your local paper, you might notice the Ryder Cup was also contested this weekend. The American team staged a furious rally on Sunday and ultimately succeeded in preventing Europe from doubling its point total. The final tally was 18 1/2 to 9 1/2 in favor of the Euros, though the U.S. team could have its margin of defeat reduced because of good behavior and a favorable exchange rate.

Despite Europe's seventh victory lap in the last ten Cups, the golf cognoscenti is again agog at the outcome. What's the next bombshell?

"Democrats Promise To Make Wealthy Pay Their Fair Share!"

"Taxes Again Due April 15!"

"Bush Dangles Participle!"

"Biologists Find Germs on Public Computer Keyboards!"

Monday, September 13, 2004

Does anyone else feel just a little naughty when asking the Starbucks' barista for Sumatra? I didn't think so.

(And, yes, barista is the most unintentionally hiliarious euphemism for a fast food worker since Subway tried to pass off its employees as "sandwich artists.")

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

High In The '80s

King Solomon, he of unparalleled wisdom and insatiable libido, once said, "There's nothing new under the sun." Even though TiVo wouldn't be invented until years after his death, I think he may have been foreshadowing today's TV fare. The only stuff worth watching is the reheated leftovers from my youth. To wit:

ESPN selected the U.S. hockey team's victory over the Soviets in the 1980 Olympic games as the greatest sports moment of the last 25 years. No matter how many times I see it, I still can't believe how long Al Michaels' shirt collar is coming out of his standard-issue, light blue ABC sweater. And, yes, I still get misty when I hear, "Do you believe in miracles?" That moment made me want to become a sportscaster. I'll never forgive him. ("Do you believe in 60 hours a week at $14,000 a year? Yes!!!")

Has there been a better commercial this year than the Starbucks' spot featuring a flabbier but still spunky Survivor providing audio inspiration to the businessman en route to work to the tune of their hit, "Eye of the Tiger?"

"Glen's the man. Goin' to work. Got his tie. Got ambition..."

When Glen exits the office elevator, the band spots the next guy coming in and sings, "Roy! Roy, Roy, Roy!"

Priceless. Am I the only one who - as far back as age 6 and as recently as, say, this morning at 9:30 - has imagined key moments in life being played out perfectly against the backdrop of a particular song? Yes? That's what I thought. I'm sure growing up in the MTV generation had nothing to do with this particular neurosis.

It's like my own personal mental video vault of songs playing over scenes of my life, usually in slow motion and including multiple close-ups of me grimacing or agonizing over a key situation. "At This Moment" by Billy Vera and the Beaters was well-used. I built several scenarios around "The Search Is Over" by the aforementioned Survivor. All of these episodes involved girls, who in real life only knew I existed because I weighed slightly less than a Fiat at the time, ending up in my arms forever.


I almost forgot about that one. Kenny Loggins absolutely owned the '80s, thanks in part to this ditty in which he whines about losing his woman. Not that she left him for another guy. He literally couldn't find her. Whatever. The chicks totally fell for it.

I didn't date much.

Flipping around trying to find that Starbucks commercial again, I stumbled on to the climactic scene from the original Karate Kid with Ralph Macchio and Billy Zabka, the blond-haired punk who seemed to show up as the villain in every movie of import in the '80s: Karate Kid, Back to School, possibly Gandhi, though I'm not 100% sure on that one.

I got to the movie just as Macchio was mounting a rally, prompting the mean guy's sensei to sen-say, "Sweep the leg." (It was at that point that Amy asked, "Is that Patrick Swayze?" I was like, "Are you kidding? The big screen couldn't have contained a single movie with the star power of Swayze, Ralph Macchio, a highly nubile Elisabeth Shue, and Pat Morita, shaking off those last embarrassing years as Arnold in Happy Days to turn in the performance of a lifetime as Mr. Miyagi." She responded with her trademark rolling of the eyes and leaving of the room. I did concede that Martin Kove looked like what Swayze might have after three or four straight months of heavy steroid usage. Judge for yourself.)

Well, anyway you know what happens from there. Bad guy sweeps leg. Good guy uses remaining good leg to assume crane-like position (a position employed many times in my mental music videos, by the way). Good guy kicks bad guy in face. Tournament over. Penitent bad guy presents good guy, whose leg by all rights would've in real life been irreparably damaged and possibly gangrenous by bad guy's low blow, with championship trophy.

Two important things resulted from this viewing: first, I began using the word "dojo" again. It's a good word that I'd let get away. Say the word right now wherever you are. "Dojo." It just feels good. Maybe not as good as "cuppagumbo" but right up there. Second, I was swept back to the whole Karate Kid phenomenon and the epic sequel, which featured former Chicago front man Peter Cetera - The Chipmunks' singing falsetto were a full octave lower - belting out, "I am a man who will fight for your honor. I'll be the hero you've been dreaming of. We'll live forever, knowin' together that we did it all for the glory of love." (It's imperative that you not try to visualize all 117 pounds of Peter Cetera fighting anyone for anything. Stay with me.) What I'm saying is that there's an entire quadrant of my mental video vault dedicated to the montages I concocted using this song, most of which involved my rescuing a cute girl from her loser boyfriend, then furiously making out with her as the music fades and I continue to grimace.

I know I'm not the only one who did this. In fact, if the old wise king was correct and there really is nothing new under the sun, maybe he had a video vault, too. It would certainly explain Song of Solomon.

Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Uh Oh'Reilly: Bill Blows His Cover

Since Bill O'Reilly's looking out for me, I figure the least I can do is occasionally look back at him. Last night, as he interviewed the husband-wife team of NFL defensive back Jason Sehorn and actress Angie Harmon from Law and Order, O'Reilly's pride came before a fall, or at least a Freudian slip.

Talking about Sehorn's pigskin peers, Mr. O smugly asserted that most professional football players are Republicans because "they love me." The words were barely out of his mouth before he began explaining how he had misquoted himself. (The speed at which he retreated must've been impressive to Sehorn, who's made a living running backwards.) The smirk now gone, he said, "Of course, I'm not a Republican; I'm an independent." Right. I kept waiting for him to say, "And you, Ms. Harmon, are not the least bit attractive."

His defense was almost as effective as when I tell people I've never been drunk. Some think I'm lying. Others think I'm self-righteous. (Most think I'm both.)

It reminds me of a friend of mine whose father for many years strategically manipulated his extant wisps of hair into a follicular tapestry that my buddy and his sisters began calling "the flap." When the time came for an intervention and the kids suggested their dad cut what was left of his hair, he said, "I can't do that. I'd be bald," to which his progeny replied loudly and in unison, "Dad, you ARE bald!!!"

What was I even talking about. Oh, yes. O'Reilly. If a largely conservative audience makes a political commentator rich and famous, there's a pretty good chance said commentator shares similar views on most issues. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Yet only by accident will O'Reilly say it. So I will.

Bill, you're bald. And it's time for a haircut. Until then, there'll continue to be a really bad combover on top of your talking head.