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Monday, February 27, 2006

Ramping Up The Bullshit

I always get a kick out of political language, the purpose of which, George Orwell once opined, "is to make lies sound truthful, and murder respectable."

I once worked at a television station whose general manager was quite charismatic ... until you were no longer in the room. It's amazing how different one can be from his fellow man. He was the type of guy who often said things like, "as we move forward" at the end of a sentence. I'll always be the kind of guy to just end the sentence.

Certainly I tell some seemingly never-ending stories. Just ask Gatsby; I can talk forever without a point in mind. But when it comes to simple conversation, who needs the bullshit? Why not just be honest so people have only what you're saying to be pissed about? When you lie, you're telling people you think they're dumb enough to believe you.

So it's all about the spin, then. To wit:

Here in Louisville, Ky., just a few weeks ago, the head honcho of Churchill Downs said the Kentucky Derby, more than a century old, finally reached a sponsorship that will now require broadcasters to say something like, "Yum! Brands presents the 132nd running of the Kentucky Derby." Of course, when a deal like this is not "a predicate of money," as Churchill CEO Tom Meeker claims, the terms of the agreement always seem to be left private.

"We haven't sold out to Yum! Brands," Meeker alleged. "We're trying to create a relationship that is a win-win relationship at various levels for the sport, for the community and for brand extension."

1) Maybe the sport wins because there's now more money in it. Well, that's almost accurate. Despite the presumably several-million dollar windfall, the purse for the actual race does not increase.

2) How does the Louisville community win? I seriously would like to know.

3) And brand extension? Isn't that poli-speak for "this IS, indeed, about money?

This rant is nothing new. For some reason this afternoon, I just can't shake the thought of that charismatic general manager who made sure to remember everyone's first name when he began his job. It was as if he was saying, "They'll like me," but once he got a taste of the aristocracy, he reverted to his nature and the proletariat saw right through it, just as it usually does with the liars who call themselves politicans.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Review: Coldplay/Fiona Apple

Thursday night was the second Coldplay concert I've seen on its current tour, and while I missed opening act Black Mountain in Cincinnati in August, I made sure to arrive on time for Fiona Apple in Louisville Thursday night.

Glad I did, though I missed "Get Him Back," the top single on her new-ish CD that's been getting some turns on public radio.

Anyway, in case you were wondering what condition I was in shortly after my arrival to Freedom Hall last night, this might give you a little insight.

(Seated for about 15 minutes, three songs in)

Me: "Oh, has she been there in the middle of the stage this whole time?"
Jennifer: "I think so."
Tom: "What?"
Margie: "Who?"

And ya know how many of Fiona Apple's songs have a booming, at-times dark piano sequence? I can't remember which song it was, but I recall thinking to myself how much I enjoyed the piano portion underneath her lyrics, but here's how the thought came out into words to Jennifer:

Me: "Don't you like the piona in this song?"

That's not a typo. I pronounced it that way.

So now that you're aware of my state of mind at about 8ish last night, you might be interested to know that I did in fact run into two co-workers at the concert. Ouch.

On to Coldplay, which again rocked, but my group afterward couldn't determine if the August show (outdoors at Riverbend) was better than last night's concert (indoors at Freedom Hall). Who cares? Both occasions were splendid, and Thursday we had pretty hot seats.

The band's first real popular song, "Yellow," once again produced a dozen or so big yellow balloon-balls that bounced around above thousands of Freedom Hall fingertips. Two popped right in our section, spilling confetti into the drink of a gal right in front of us.

"Fix You" got a nice ovation as Chris Martin's heart-rendering encore said goodnight to thousands of adoring fans. Coldplay's 90-minute set followed nearly an hour of Fiona, and altogether, the music never once disappointed.

Oh, and at some point, look for a post that I'll call The Friendship Dollar. Actually, look for it as a scene in a movie sometime soon.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Funny Like A Fox

Don't confuse Fox Sports with Fox News. The former actually has some entertaining promos, especially for those who live abroad.

Anyway, I stumbled across an old funny one.

Click here to have a laugh.

While I'm at it, here are a couple more funny old clips:

+ News Streaker -- I don't know why this defaults to such a small screen, but if you right click on the screen once the video begins, drag down to Zoom and then choose Full Screen . . .

+ Click Here to get your patriotism on. Danger: Foul language ahead!

+ Metacafe has some pretty interesting videos, including one that goes against conventional advertising in that the woman is the idiot here, not the dude. Enjoy . . .

Monday, February 20, 2006

Every Office Has One

I'm surprised that my favorite show right now -- NBC's "The Office" -- doesn't have a character who does this. Every real-life office seems to have one of these idiots.

"Hey, John, how are you?"
"Pretty good, how about you?"
"Oh, it's Monday."

Oh, really? I didn't know that. I thought it was 3 o'clock in the afternoon on Friday. I was getting ready to call Jennifer and find out what we were doing later tonight. Or maybe I would call the fellas to see if they felt like running downtown for an excess of beverages. Thanks for telling me it's Monday, fucko. Sheesh, I hope I run into you tomorrow morning. Same time? Same place? I'll try not to be sporting a Saturday-ish hangover with a boner poking through my boxers as I make my way into the office.

But on Wednesday, they like to spice it up some:

"Hey, John, how are you?"
"Pretty good, how about you?"
"Oh, it's Wednesday. Happy Humpday!"

Yay, let's celebrate the fact that we're now in the middle of the work week. That's huuuuuuuge news. Let's give it the queerest name available, too. Humpday. Nice. And since my mood is always dependent on what the day of the week the calendar tells me it is, I think I'll rejoice in the fact that I only have three days left in the work week until I can, I don't know, sit on my ass and watch college basketball. Terrific! Hopefully I can get that TPS report done in time.

And I just love this one:

(geeky co-worker wearing baseball cap 'cuz it's Friday)
"Hey, John, how are you?"
"Pretty good, how are you?"
"It's Friday," with the crescendo on the FRI portion of the sentence for extra emphasis.

Hmm. That's weird, I thought Friday was four days ago. I KNOW IT'S FUCKING FRIDAY! Don't tell me the day of the week unless you hear me ask, "Hey, what day is it today?" Until then, just say you're doing fine and be on with yourself.

If you don't have a co-worker who engages you in such conversations, you can reach similar annoyance levels in the following at-work exchanges:

You: "What's up, Bob?"
A-hole Bob: "Taxes, my blood pressure, the ceiling."

You're a fucking comedian, Bob.


You: "How's it going today, Maxwell?"
Maxwell: "I'm here."

You know what? I know you're here. I'm here too, and it's not the end of the world so get over your non-drama and slap a smile on your face and do your job and wake me up the next time you hear Steve say, "It's Thursday," so I can page him to the back conference room, then go piss in his coffee when he leaves his cubicle.

Other Tedious Workplace Conversations?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Who Needs Tickets?

Cincinnati Reds Opening Day tickets went on sale at a grocery store in my neighborhood here in Louisville Saturday morning. The plan was to wake up earlier than I normally would on a Saturday morning, creep over to Meijer and get some tickets to sell on eBay. But at least nine -- maybe 11 -- snowflakes fell on Greater Louisville overnight, meaning one couldn't travel on a five-mile stretch of highway without encountering a handful of wrecks and the subsequent delays that follow.

Most of my friends know my middle initial is P, because I use it in my byline, but I'll reveal today that it surely does not stand for punctual. If there's a chance to make some money, however, count me in for being on time.

Saturday was a different story. I took the phone book with me in case I had questions about directions, time of sale, etc. And after being delayed by two accidents, a detour that took my off my only familiar path and fielding a phone call from a like-minded friend in Cincinnati wanting to inquire about my ticket-purchasing plans, I arrived 11 minutes late, at 9:11 a.m., which should have been a sign in itself. Keep in mind that Opening Day tickets sold out in 12 minutes last year.

By the time I got to the counter, they only had singles available, so I didn't purchase any. But as I turned to leave, one nice man saw my disappointment and offered to sell me two of his six. I grabbed them pretty quickly, and will soon have them on eBay.

All that just to make a couple dollars. I think I'll just start a foundation or something. I'd never have to be on time, would I?

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Sweet Spot

Do you know where the sweet spot is? Have you found it? Every office has one. Mine is located just to the right of the assignment desk in the newsroom. Most people assume there's a water cooler around which co-workers gather to gossip.

But our area is the table near the assignment desk. Around the holidays, you can't even see the brown formica table-top because it's hidden underneath donuts, salty snacks and other treats.

For some reason, this Valentine's Day week, I've spent lots of time over there. I simply cannot say no to the sweets. Cakes, cookies, candies, pies -- you name it; we've had it.

Which brings me to my next point. My best original pickup line went something like this: "Well, good lookin', I wish I could hang around and keep talking to you, but my dentist tells me to stay away from sweets."

Such an effort did have a purpose back in the day. A gal who laughed at how awful that was but knew I was expressing merely a sense of humor clearly was someone worth talking to, cavity creeps be damned! Unfortunately, those gals were largely outnumbered by others who truly thought I was hoping to gain my way inside a woman's heart with such a weak line. You'll find a lot of those women in angry and judgmental Cincinnati, where there truly are very few sweet spots.

If you want to pass along a pickup line to a friend or lover, do it online by clicking here.

Best Pickup Line You've Used Or Heard?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Thanks For Your Honesty, Dick

Wow, Vee Pee Dick Cheney told Fox News (shocker) Wednesday afternoon that he accepts full responsibility for shooting his hunting buddy the other day.

This is far from a scandal. I truly appreciate that it was an honest -- certainly terrible -- but honest mistake and accident. But why do the people who are supposed to be the sharpest in our country seem to fumble every time they have a chance to score a touchdown?

It took a full day before the accident was made public. It took four days before Cheney spoke publicly, and I hesitate to call the Fox interview public. When you're Dick Cheney, the longer you wait to answer questions the worse it smells.

So I guess if it sounds like a Dick, and it smells like a Dick, it must be a Dick.

Cock Ring

So I came fairly close to proposing to my disaster of a girlfriend several years ago. I had an engagement ring custom-ordered, then less than two months before I'd planned to take her away and ask her to marry me on a far-away beach, I was laid off from a job and separated from a reliable paycheck. Knowing I wouldn't be able to finish the payments before the trip to Mexico seven weeks later, I postponed the trip as well as the proposal.

Four years later, I'm more thankful for being laid off than one can ever know. I'm fortunately no longer with that gal, but I still have this ring that's mostly paid for and just last week decided to put it on eBay.

I've gotten some bites, but all potential buyers are from overseas, so they're asking about escrow services and what not. I've sold a couple of smaller things on eBay for some chump change, and just stuffed the junk in a padded envelope and it was over and done with.

But this effort understandably -- but annoyingly -- is much more involved. Shoot, I just want to sell this dang thing and get it over with. And now that I'm being introduced to escrow services from potential crooks thousands of miles away, I'm fearing getting ripped off.

Got any advice for Big Primpin'?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Lowdown On The High Five

I'll never forget scoring my first basket in a varsity high school basketball game in front of the home crowd. I was a sophomore on an awful team and a senior named Jeff DeWerth, bless his heart, was so excited for me that when we retreated back to the defensive end, and the other team was bringing the ball back up pretty slowly, DeWerth thought we had time to give each other a high ten.

So we're getting settled into our 2-3 zone defense, where DeWerth and I were sure to get burned around the top of the key, when he said, "Yo, Wise, congrats dude," and jumped as high as he could, kicking his heels up toward his ass, and stretching both arms up toward the leaky ceiling of our broke-ass gym. Jeff was kind of a neighborhood friend when we were kids, and I guess we grew apart when we got into high school. But he was still an incredibly nice guy who came from a great family. So I obliged, and returned the airborn high ten.

This was around the time when Wham was popularizing those bold-lettered CHOOSE LIFE T-shirts, but I still don't think the high-ten's gayness quotient could have been surpassed.

And still to this day, almost exactly 20 years later, I'm still fairly averse to the more-casual but still embarrassing high five. Here and there, a socially awkward co-worker will offer it up to celebrate beating the other stations on yet another non-story (I work in news). Or perhaps a beer buddy out at a bar wants to acknowledge the big game on the big screen or the fact that he'd do the girl who just walked by but will never talk to. "Dude, did you see those tits?" He'll ask.

Regardless of the reason, however, you should never, ever high-five your friend. If your friend is cool, he won't return your overture and he definitely won't initiate it. And if he's not cool, then neither of you will get the hot girl with the tits who just walked by, so what possibly could there be to high-five about anyway?

Do You, Uh, High-Five?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

You Have One New Massage

If you don't live in Okinawa, Japan, but your town has an Okinawa Health Club or something similarly named, chances are that that's one of those places where you can get a massage that culminates in a happy ending.

But if you buy a pair of massages for you and your girlfriend for Valentine's Day, and you head over to Apex Massage in Louisville, Ky., you'll find after only a few minutes with Roy and Justin that Okinawa this surely was not.

There was indeed a happy ending, but not the kind that was so popularized by that mediocre Sex-In-The-City-for-men that HBO tried to push called Mind Of The Married Man a couple of years ago.

The happy ending I experienced was simply that my body felt great afterward. (Jennifer's, meanwhile, feels great all the time. Ha ha ha ha) Honestly, tho, we got some great massages, and I was so relaxed that shortly after we left, the girlfriend had to inquire why I was driving 20 mph on a major roadway where 40 is the norm. My body simply lacked the strength to push farther down on the gas pedal. What relaxation, I tell ya.

But things didn't necessarily get off to a great start. I don't know if Roy is just a physical guy or perhaps he was disappointed that Justin got the girl, but there seemed to be a little anger there. Clearly he was just doing his job and offering a deep-tissue massage, but I almost felt like he'd much rather be pushing on Jennifer's brown skin than on my pasty body, which in my mid-30s now includes an unruly thatch of hair on the backs of each of my upper arms. Getting old = getting ugly.

Down With The Happy Ending?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A $5,000 Coin ... Toss?

"Hey Janet, show us your debts!" The hottest gambling addict ever apparently can't hide behind her married name.

Janet Jones Gretzky (sound familiar?) bet five grand on the coin toss of the Super Bowl Sunday, according to reports coming out of the alleged Rick Tocchet/NHL gambling and money laundering ring.

And her total tab reached half a mil in recent weeks, including $75,000 just on the Super Bowl. Now, I've heard Detroit isn't the most exciting city, especially in February, but surely there's got to be some legal stuff on which to spend your money.

I wish I could say something insightful like, "Stay tuned; this should get real interesting," but not only would that be overly understating the obvious, but you really don't have a choice about whether you'll stay tuned. If you own a television or have access to the Internet -- which, by the way, is going to catch on, if I do say so myself -- be prepared for the overkill. This story will be on or near A1s across the country for a long time to come.

And now that the overkill is officially overkill, I'm thinking about something I've thought about before when there's a scandal involving a big enough sports icon to prompt this type of media coverage: Do you think in the history of sportswriters a reporter has actually told an editor, "Hey, boss, I can't cover this story because I myself have a (gambling, drinking, porn, etc.) problem, and it would be quite hypocritical of me to ask the hard questions as if I'm above such behavior" ? I don't think so, but then again, that kind of shit wouldn't get reported.

So in closing, here's the Dummy's Guide to the 2006 NHL gambling scandal: Janet Jones Gretzky placed bets for her Hall of Fame husband and now Wayne is throwing her under the bus. You can go to sleep now.

Thoughts On The Gambling Scandal?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Dropping A Deuce

I think the year was 1990. 1991 at the latest. I was a highly skilled sports writer for a very bad college newspaper at the University of Cincinnati. I had tremendous talent and was destined to be Sports Illustrated's next great writer. I got all the great sportswriting gigs that you'd assume a 20-year-old undersexed college smartass would get.

The world was my rooster.

So there I was in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, late spring, hot as hell. I drove in a university-issued Chevy Lumina with my photographer, Matt. Let me explain the dynamic. The writer here is the talent, the photog is the grunt. White collar and blue collar. Air-conditioned trailer with an endless supply of fresh fruit and bottled water vs. a sweaty-browed sucker with dirty fingernails.

Quite obviously, an exaggeration. If anything, Matt was the hard worker who cared; I was just there for the free trip to Hattiesburg. I bet you've heard that one a million times.

Anyway, we were there to cover the Metro Conference (remember that?) Baseball Tournament, at which the University of Cincinnati was a poor seed because it was a weak team. Surprisingly, the Bearcats weren't eliminated quickly, so Matt and I were there for longer than expected. Long enough for me to start experiencing major stomach discomfort from all the stadium-provided hot dogs and pretzels, delivered no doubt by a truck whose signage told passersby "Hauled In Fresh Monthly" or some such crap.

Anyway, on the third or fourth evening of the trip, I really had to drop a deuce, and I'm not talking curveballs. Matt, the more organized college student of this pair, was in charge of pretty much everything. He did all the driving, took care of the hotel and restaurant bills and receipts and figured out a way for us to finagle our late-night beer purchases without a dime ever coming out of our pocket (thanks for the generous per diem, Jim Devlin!).

On this night, I asked Matt for the keys to the car, because I'd just seen what the men's room looked like. My plan was to drive to Georgia or West Virginia or wherever Deliverance was filmed so I could take care of business in the woods there. ANYTHING would have been safer than the men's room at what I think was called Pete Taylor Park.

After 20 questions from my date, er, photographer, I got the keys and hustled down some service road after turning out of the stadium. It was dark, I was lost and figured to be nowhere near a gas station, let alone a clean one. But off in the distance there appeared to be a sign for a Clark station. Not all five of the letters were lit, but I was desperate and C*ARK was good enough for me. Plus, my legs were about as straight as Peter North after dropping a Viagra before a scene with Jenna Jameson, trying to hold between my cheeks what felt like King Kong's big brother.

I sped up to the C*ARK station, turned left into the lot there and saw hanging in the window a neon sign with an arrow, pointing me to the RES*RO*MS. In one fluid motion, I slammed the car into park, pulled the lever to open the door and pushed it wide open with my unmuscular left shoulder.

You ever heard the expression "the bottom dropped out" ? Well, I think that's exactly what happened. I lost about five pounds the moment my left Nike hit the pavement. Every digested hot dog, soft pretzel, peanut (yes, peanut), nacho and cherry licorice string from the previous 12 hours spilled out of me the way a fine custard swirls perfectly into the eagerly awaiting cone below at your local Baskin-Robbins location. I believe they serve 32 flavors there, but in Hattiesburg that night, I served myself only a heaping dose of humiliation.

I then wobbled to the men's room, where, bent over and sweating like hell, I placed my hands below the boxer shorts and tried to push the deposit from out of the underwear and into the toilet. It was a lot like conditioning your hair because I had to repeat the steps numerous times. These acts, however, yield distinctly different aromas. I was about halfway into this scooping procedure when a knock on the door preceded a man asking if anyone was in there. Fortunately, the slide-lock kept me safe from a very awkward conversation.

I cleaned up the mess as best I could, got in the Lumina and hustled back to the hotel. I left the boxers in a garbage can outside our room, jumped in the shower and was starting to feel refreshed when Matt barged in, apparently the recipient of a ride back from one of the baseball parents. Fortunately, I knew he was cool enough not to freak out right then and there, but the notes and gag gifts adorning my desk on arrival back to Cincinnati were indeed a result of his habit to gossip.

Got An Embarrassing Story Like This One?

That Funeral Was Off The Hook

Two rants today: the Coretta Scott King funeral and the overusage of "Off The Hook."

With apologies to the millions of Mrs. King's mourners worldwide, I just don't get the way media covers death. The way local news is all over a bloody and fatal tractor accident is actually fine with me. But when an icon like Mrs. King dies, I'm not fully comfortable with how it's visible all over the place at 24-7 speed. When President Reagan died last year, I really didn't need the round-the-clock coverage of the moments immediately after his death, the round-the-clock coverage of the dignitaries offering their two cents, rtc coverage of Air Force One taking off here and landing there, lying in state, more dignitaries arriving in limousines and walking with heads down to the big church and blah blah blah. Of course, the low-voice narration by news presenters makes me feel like I'm watching golf. So to answer the age-old question, yes, there really is something more boring on television than the freaking Buick Open.

Even a lesser-known person like a police officer killed in the line of duty, say, for example, often times gets maximum exposure. Certainly allow people to grieve, but does someone's death really call for all that coverage?

And now that television commercials seem to be front of mind for many this week, could that annoying Taco Bell ad be, um, any more annoying? First, TB is trying too hard to turn "Good To Go" into a T-shirt slogan for college spring breakers next month (See: Gettin' Lucky In Kentucky and other played-out shite). And (b), after much pop-culture discussion with someone far more hip than I, I still disagree with her that "Off The Hook" can be used to describe an object. My preference is to hear it (ahem, I seldom use it myself) used to describe an occasion or an event, something you can't readily see. For example, "Dude, you should have been at ****'s crib the other night. That party was off the hook." I don't think the Taco Bell scripters use it themselves, because no one pulls up to someone in traffic and says, "That car is off the hook."

And oh my, how far has our culture come? It used to be that the Bill Cosby Jell-O commercials would incorporate a white boy, a red-headed girl, an Asian dude, a black girl, a Hispanic child and so on and so on. Nowadays, they just get one kid who looks like he might satisfy two or three demographics simultaneously. Is commercial talent really becoming that high-priced?

Thoughts On How Media Covers Funerals?