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Category Archives: human observation

The one thing that no one seems to discuss when about the NFL referee lockout is that they are part-timers. When people talk about this, they can’t believe that the referees aren’t willing to take whatever deal the NFL gives out. After all, it is a part-time job, right?

But that is the underrated portion of what’s going on here. Most of the regular NFL officials are actually pretty successful people in their day-to-day endeavors.

Clearly, not enough of them are hurting for that NFL paycheck to the point where they are going to take any deal, like the players. If any labor union can take a principled stand, (if this really is about preserving the pension program), it’s this one! The money at their second job is, for most of them, nice, but not totally necessary.

This has to be affecting the negotiations more than is being discussed. The owners may have underestimated the resolve of the regular officials if they did not foresee this as a factor, or maybe it’s part of their impetus to break the union and possibly re-organize the officials in some sort of more dependent structure.

Either way, I hadn’t seen any analysis that mentioned this, so I was just putting that out there for consideration.

It’s amazing what can happen when older people are not afraid to look stupid. I suppose this happens for a variety of reasons, most of which come down to not caring anymore.

There appear to be two kinds of not caring anymore, though. The more common kind involves wearing comfortable, non-stylish and plain things like untucked baggy shirts or sweat pants. This is the kind of not caring anymore that comes from, for lack of a better word, a wisdom about appearances to outsiders and how that no longer matters, as if it ever did. Comfort and cost are pretty much what carries the day.

And then there are the older people who also don’t care, but it’s more like, “I don’t care what you think, I am not giving up my inimitable, unique style. Wear muu-muus and slacks you ordered from the pages of Parade magazine if you want, I’m still wearing bright colors and my rope chains. I’ve still got style, dammit.”

My curiosity lies pretty much in that fork in the road. I have some idea which of my friends will be still be clinging to the latest styles as they get old and I pretty much have some idea who will be in need of a dollar-store sweat pants intervention.

I know that I probably can’t see my 70-year old self wearing a tight multicolored t-shirt, not unless HGH is as common for old folks in the future as it is currently for desperate major leaguers looking to hang on to their careers. So, the only question now: can I stay away from buying mail-order slacks? Not pants, slacks.

I’m not an economist by any stretch of the imagination. You would think I’d be pretty handy with economics, seeing as that for someone with a political science degree, I am fairly skilled at math. On paper, it screams, or at minimum, shouts, economics. But no. Far from it, I always got C’s in most of my economics classes. I always felt there weren’t enough essays and too much multiple choice. But economics classes tended to be large at my school, and what professor wants to read 150 essays? (I mean, it’s only my parents’ tuition money. But I’m sure they had better things to do than, say, teach.)

So it’s with an ounce of trepidation that I put in my two cents about the economy, but I feel like I have to at least express my questions (that no one will read). The problem with doing this is that we are currently stuck in what I like to call the Age of Doctrine. To show you have principles and stand for something, your position has to be rooted in what is considered one of the two leading and competing philosophies of the moment. A strong point of view, a perspective. Or get out.

Well, what if the perspective of an observer is “I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m beginning to suspect most of you don’t, either”. Or “I’m not totally saying you’re wrong, but why the hell are you so sure you’re right?”

That’s pretty much where I stand on the issue of whether it’s time, as some think, for governments to move to austerity and deficit reduction, or as some others feel, the government better start spending to create jobs and other economic vehicles, because no else is.

While, like many, I do worry about government spending and debt, and what it means for our future long-term, the question that never quite seems to be answered, in my mind, is, why the blind faith in corporations to create jobs and innovation? If the government is not doing it, then who is going to? I’m not sold that today’s global corporations really can take up the slack, and really can be counted on to execute sound, long-term innovative thinking. Much like politicians making moves to get them through to the next campaign, most companies seem to be just trying to get from one shareholder’s meeting to the next, one CEO pay package to the next, and one product launch to the next.

All of which is fine, that’s what they’re supposed to be doing, for the most part. But should they really be burdened with this? And should we afford to hope that they’re willing to shoulder such burdens? I don’t know. (I know, I know, you’re not allowed to use such words when expressing an opinion. But this isn’t so much an opinion piece as an official declaration of doubt.) Most people who believe this never quite answer this question, because innovation and efficiency are supposed to flow from the private sector when left alone. Unfortunately, sometimes so do corruption, greed, and incompetence.

Which is what the anti-government crowd says is the problem with entrusting too much to government. Which is not entirely untrue, of course. The point is, though, are they also unaware of entrusting too much to corporations as well? Is that considered at any point? Because don’t kid yourselves, that’s, for the most part, who it’ll be on for job creation and growth.

Sorry, but I’m not really ready to buy that it’s small business. I keep hearing about small business and it’s role in driving the American economy, but I just don’t see it. At the end of day, small business seems to ebb and flow right along with the working people. A small business that comes up with a stunning innovation that revolutionizes the way business is done in America will become a big business. And there’s nothing wrong with that. If we’re counting on this, then shouldn’t the government and private capital be working to get more seed money than ever out there? There are certainly ideas, one would think. Because if there aren’t any out there, no amount of deficit spending or reduction will save your economy.

Like I said, I come not with answers, but with different questions, questions I’m not positive are being asked because of the “two and only two sides” way the debate is framed. I think they need to be asked, otherwise, this wacky global economy is just going to be spinning its wheels.

I have to say, I read Rick Reilly’s ESPN the Magazine article and felt that I had to write something. I’ve been too busy to write stuff over here, but this one just couldn’t wait. I’ve also been too busy if someone out there has made the same point. I hope I’m not the only one.

Reilly, in his infinite wisdom, decides to right wrongs in past baseball MVP races by “taking” them from players believed to use steroids to give them to player he knows are clean.

It makes sense, unless you realize: Who the hell knows who is actually clean?!?! You really think now’s the time, Rick, to be assuming that certain players were clean? After A-Rod, who was the steroid-free hope, got exposed, Reilly’s really willing to speculate, without hard evidence, on who was clean? What the hell is wrong with him? In short, his article encapsulates everything that is wrong with the “let’s change the record books” arguments from sanctimonious, full-of-it baseball “purists’.

His most egregious example is Luis Gonzalez in 2001, who lost out on his MVP to accused, not proven, but we all are pretty sure he did, steroid user Barry Bonds. Yay! Because we’re sure Luis Gonzalez isn’t a steroid user!  Sure that year, he came out of nowhere to hit 57 home runs, topping his previous year’s career high by 26, which followed 10 major league seasons in which he had never hit 30 home runs in a season. Yeah, we know Luis Gonzalez is clean. He’s gotta be. Right? Right?

That is, let me not hold back, fucking retarded.

Look, I’m not actually accusing Gonzalez, Mike Piazza, Carlos Delgado, or Albert Pujols of being steroid users. Would I be surprised if any of them were, though? Sadly, the answer is no. I’d love to give them the benefit of the doubt, they are all great players. (Except Gonzalez. I’m sorry. Look at those home run numbers again. Was Reilly drinking? I’m not saying Gonzalez definitely did steroids, but you just can’t assume he’s clean off that performance. I’m sorry. Not if you put any reasonable thought into it.) And as a person who has lifted weights regularly, on and off for years, I believe that tremendous strength can be gained naturally and I do believe in the benefits a weight training regimen can give elite athletes. But to assume any baseball player is clean from the Steroid Era and start taking away trophies and changing records is just a plain foolhardy exercise.

It’s time to acknowledge the Steroid Era for what it was and leave it at that. You’re not doing anything to regain any innocence or integrity for the game by revoking trophies and making a whole new set of bullcrap assumptions that are just begging to be disproven. It makes an already sad time in the game’s history even worse by throwing a layer of hypocrisy and stupidity over it so we can feel better about ourselves for having the wool pulled over our eyes.

And I thought Bud “Steroids? What Steroids?” Selig’s head was the only one up its ass on this subject.

PETA, the People For the Ethical Treatment Of Animals, is trying to get people to be vegetarians.  Really, really hard. Just look at their ad, deemed unsuitable for viewing on Super Sunday by NBC. Instead of explaining the health benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle, or the cruelty that pervades the meat industry, or making an ethical argument, they’ve got:

Sex! Studies, (not cited, of course) show that vegetarians have better sex! So, if you don’t care about the ethical treatment of animals, or your health, we still want you on board! We’re gonna lure you with pussy!

Bring your Axe bodyspray and your Jim Beam while you’re at it, and soon, you’ll see more ass than a Barnes and Noble toilet seat!

Ah, what a noble cause. I have seen men go vegetarian for pussy, so I can’t say it’s not effective. But be careful, horny dudes…you may not be able to go back once your body gets used to not meat-eating. I’ve seen it happen.

As for PETA, well, I gotta hand it to ’em…I mean why bother winning over minds when you can win over gonads?

After a couple of days of late nights at work, I finally got home at a reasonable hour and decided not to spend the time watching the news. Mostly because it reminds me that when I’m 65, my kids will ask me where I was when Obama was inaugurated, and I will tell them, “On the toilet, because I really had to finish drafting those tax certification forms, and once I was done, I couldn’t wait. Shouldn’t have put all those raisins in my oatmeal.”

Here’s what I’ve learned watching basketball and mildly surfing the internet:

1. Paul Blart: Mall Cop is the number one movie in America. I don’t regard that as some sign of the apocalypse or anything, I actually thought it didn’t look bad…as a rental. Look America, I know it was cold out, but do you think Kevin James is really an A-list movie star? Because that’s what you just made him.

2. I’ve seen none of the Oscar-nominated movies. Looks like I have to get on that if I am going to anger moviegoers with contrarian blog postings. I still get the occasionally shitty email for my reaction to “There Will Be Blood.” Although I’ll say this right now: No “Benjamin Button”. I saw “Meet Joe Black” in the theater many moons ago, and Brad Pitt, “three hour movie”, and me will never go together again.

3. If you like basketball, and you think Charles Barkley can’t be replaced, check out the comedy stylings of Chris Webber and Gary Payton on TNT while they sub for him.  Here’s a look at their little-seen NBA TV work:

We may have just found the new Wayans Brothers.

4. Jim Beam has a series of ads that are kind of jaw-droppingly sexist, basically, they represent the worst of male fantasies and thoughts, and proudly associates Jim Beam with them. In the one I saw tonight, a scantily clad, hot woman speaks of how she likes slightly fat men with back hair who go to strip clubs. It then says “the girlfriend”, and Jim Beam is “the bourbon”. Yeah, okay. You gotta be drinking a bottle of Jim Beam to think that’s going to happen. When I think sexy girls, I think Jim Beam, that’s what they drink. Yeah, sure.

What’s even worse is they’re trying to mask it as “ironic” by having a video contest where you make fun of these plodding, pathetic, and obvious ads.  So you can make fun of how impossibly sexist they are. Because you know it’s not true, right? Way not to man up, Jim Beam.

I am not much of a shopper. At all. Some people like shopping, making an event of it, a delightful way to spend the day. Some of these people are dudes. Some of these people are even straight dudes. (One of my best friends is one of these men.) I am not.

 

But sometimes, it just has to be done. Especially when you have a hole in your shoe. And everyone hates your emergency winter coat. And you need gloves. And you cut your uncombed but fascinating locks to sport a closely cropped haircut. So all these forces combined and forced me out of my office and into the streets to buy things. Oh, how I dreaded the thought. And today’s shopping experience did everything to live down to the hype.

 

My expectations, by the way, for any shopping trip are much like my expectations for hooking up with someone I know I really shouldn’t. Yeah, I need it and I want it, and I have to have it more than I care to admit, but it’s going to feel far too long, and I am going to be so relieved when it’s over and I can get the hell out of there.

 

Armed with my debit card, a grim determination that “Hey, at least I’m not at work,” and sheer necessity as it rained lightly in the streets of New York (meaning my socks were getting wet and therefore, I was possibly courting some sort of disease or newfound respiratory infection), I headed out of work and headed downtown.

 

First and foremost, the shoe situation had to be rectified, if only because nothing is worse than wet, stank socks when you take them off. I don’t like to see my feet, let alone smell them, thank you very much. So I headed to the same place where I got my last pair of shoes for work, two years ago,  DSW Shoe Warehouse on 14th Street. If you want as low-stress a shopping experience as possible when shopping shoes, this is it. No salesmen, no sullen teens in referee outfits, and waiting for someone to come back just to tell you “No, sir, we don’t have a size 13. But you can get this shoe in 12 or get these really ugly shoes that look even uglier at size 13.” The stock is right below the model, so you can register you disappointment quickly, without waiting, and move on. Eventually I settled on these

 

myshoe

 

Kenneth Cole boots that were simple, brown, and most importantly, without laces. I have never been good at tying my shoes, for whatever reason, and after three decades, I have given up. There was a short line, I paid, and other than the horrific techno song that constantly plays in the hallway, it was a pleasant shopping experience.

 

Next, it was on to Burlington Coat Factory on Sixth Avenue near 23rd Street to get a coat I could be proud of. Now I had been there a couple of weeks ago, but that was to buy a different sort of coat. This winter is shaping up to be a brutal one in the Northeast, so I thought it might be a good idea to get something simple, cheap and warm. Sure, it would definitely not be styling, but as my mom and other moms have said, “You’re not going to a fashion show.” So I bought a big gray, ugly coat with a hood. It’ll keep you warm and dry, that’s for sure. What it won’t do is get good reviews, as I had to endure shots of all sorts from many of my alleged friends.

As my friend Rod put it, “You look like you’re wearing your father’s coat.” A legitimate criticism, since it is probably two sizes too big from a fit standpoint. “He looks like he’s going to rob us,” another one, is just plain mean.

 

Well, the plan was to get a more stylish coat in a couple of weeks, as the big gray monster everyone hates is really only supposed to busted out for truly brutal winter’s days. So I went back to the scene of the crime hoping to get a reasonably priced three-quarter overcoat. I didn’t like what I saw at all; the prices seemed a bit steep, even by Burlington standards. I was about to give up on the three-quarter coats and was looking halfheartedly at the shorter ones when somehow, buried amongst the short coats was a pretty decently priced Joseph Abboud number! I couldn’t believe it was sitting there in the wrong spot; I felt lucky, as I looked around for any George Costanza-types hoping to hide the coat and get the deal. Not like I knew if there was a deal, all I knew was that I liked the coat, the style that I wanted and it was cheaper than the standard $120 most of those coats cost. I tried on my $80 find and was pleased to see that if fit perfectly. (a major mistake made with the gray coat. Yes, I hate shopping so much I don’t even like to try things on if I can avoid it, even if it makes sense.) With little time to waste, I headed for the register.

 

But here’s where you find out how much you really want to save money: the price for finding a nice bargain coat at Burlington Coat Factory is the line. No matter what time of year it is you can count on:

1.     It will be too warm. Somehow.

2.     You will be stuck behind some lady who insists on looking at the accessories like pantyhose, knockoff handbags, and cologne stolen—ahem, procured from Caesars Palace, while trying to keep her place in line.

3.     A ghetto-fabulous family full of screaming kids

4.     A couple who can’t stop kissing because the guy finally gave up and has allowed his lady to dress him

5.     Just when you get close to hearing the magic words “Please step forward to register number….”, some fool will get into a pricing dispute with the staff, and for some reason, instead of one manager handling it, all the other cashiers will slow down what they are doing to get involved and rectify the situation. I mean, it’s great that they’re unified and all, but shouldn’t someone be, you know, in charge?

 

Finally, though, I was able to get out of there. But surprisingly, they had an incredible lack of accessories, leaving me completely without a scarf, a hat, and some gloves. I could try to go without them, I guess. But years of nagging from women of all ages going “Where is your hat?” and “Where are your gloves?” may have finally gotten to me. (However, I’ll never cave in to the question, “Where is your underwar?” Never!) So, it was over to  Filene’s Basement for some accessories. I got a hat that I will use to keep warm and not to be styling. Because people don’t wear hats anymore. That was accompanied by new gloves and, a far less festive scarf than my current one.

 

This trip would not have been all that noteworthy if not for the line at Filene’s, where some kid kept ramming herself into the bag with the new shoes. Her mother kept imploring her not to be rude, yet the kid kept running into my bag, then looking up at me dumbfounded that the bag was there, as if it wasn’t the first three times she did. I told the mom that it wasn’t a big deal.

 

Only because what I really wanted to tell the mom was that maybe her kid didn’t have a politeness problem, that maybe her kid might be suffering some sort of developmental problem, and that the kid might need help. Okay, I would not have been so nice, and influenced by the movie “Tropic Thunder”, the words “full retard” might have come out. And that, kids, is why they say discretion is the better part of valor.

 

I finally escaped the child and paid for my goods and I was done. The problem was, in the course of going to these three stores, I had failed to take care of an urgent personal need. That’s right, I really, really, really needed to pee. I drink a lot of water, tea, and apple juice at work. A lot. It takes quite a desire to get shopping over with as quickly as possible for me to not pee for a solid 2 1/2 hours. I can’t sit through movies that long without being dehydrated. Holding it in whilst dealing with annoying people and carrying three bags is another matter entirely.

 

The problem with that was, when I walked out of Filene’s, I had to pee badly. I remembered that the Bed, Bath, and Beyond upstairs had a decent public restroom, but I wasn’t sure how obvious it would be that I had no intention of being a paying customer. This was a bad time to find out that the Barnes and Noble on Sixth had closed. Long a public urination staple, it was no more, as the printed word apparently continues to die. So, left with few options, I headed for the McDonald’s. I knew the bathroom would be open, and I also knew there was no way I was not going to walk out of there without eating. The convenience was too great, not to mention the obviousness of my presence with three bags of burden shuffling through the store. They knew of my existence, and they would be watchful of my exit. After all, the bathroom says “customers only.” I didn’t want my precious new shoes getting taken away as collateral for bathroom use.

 

So I had an Angus Mushroom and Swiss meal with the sweet tea.

 

So tonight, as I make frequent trips to the bathroom and occasionally wonder if that weird sensation inside my chest is either a heart attack or a stroke, I can justify my poor nutritional decision on one thing: shopping. For some people, it’s a great way to spend the day, a productive means to express their beings, their spirit, and their identity through consumerism. For the rest of us, we may like the stuff we bought and can’t wait to wear it tomorrow, but we’re so glad the process is over.

I’m sure I’m not the first person in the blogosphere to tell hockey player Sean Avery that I’m pretty sure he didn’t get with Elisha Cuthbert and Rachel Hunter when they were virgins. I’m definitely not the first to point out that he’s essentially being suspended for a long history of his winning combination of dicktasticness and asshattery.  And by no means am I a hockey expert.

But his immature comment designed to agitate, because that’s what Sean Avery does, brings to light to one of the things guys need to accept as they get older, especially as they stay single. Namely, that she’s probably not a virgin and she’s been with other guys in the past. You would think most guys do, but the fact that Avery thought this would be yet another one of his effective ways of getting under people’s skin, illustrates that they really don’t.

I had a friend drunkenly tell me one night that he had vowed not to date anyone who had been known to hit it with Derek Jeter. I joked that, “Um, I didn’t know that this is an issue,” but, apparently, it had really happened to him. His ego could not deal with it. Which made no sense to me. What’s the difference if one of the guys she hooked up before you met her some doofus who lived next door or Derek Jeter?

It’s 2008, guys. You’re probably not meeting any virgins at that bar.  So, what does it matter who came before you? (So to speak, of course.) Logically, this makes sense. In practice though, it does bug a lot of guys, especially if the guy who came before you is some dope like Sean Avery, apparently. Avery’s sin was in the horrible choice of words he used, but the fact is, he did date those women. I would hope that Dion Phaneuf and Jarrett Stoll are secure enough for it not to bother them. Especially since I’m sure probably they already knew.

And as for Sean, I’m sure these some photographer, sleazy producer, high school boyfriend, or whatever, who saw the news of that comment on SportsCenter, and yelled at the TV, “First!”

I got an email from PayPal reminding me that I have a positive balance in my account. How nice! A casual reminder that I once did actually make money from writing on the internet! What a quaint notion in these economic times.

I felt so good that I felt free to ignore all the advertising offers to spend my positive balance.

It’s been a while since I doled out a public service announcement, but on this day when Americans give thanks, I have to get a very important message off my chest. (If for nothing else, to amuse bored Canadians, people hiding from their families, and others who find their way here.)

With the leaves falling off and the holidays present, you may think that it signals the time of year where, especially if you’re single (and sometimes if you’re not), that the best way to dole out some holiday cheer is with whatever’s in your pants. No.

Look, the holidays can bring out the internal longing for human connection like no other time of year, and this is actually a very good time to get closer to people, and maybe meet someone of significance, or someone for fun. However, a bad hookup decision is still a bad hookup decision no matter what time of year it is. If it was a bad idea to bring back that ex you know is a jackass on October 7th, it’s not any more legit on November 30th. Just because it’s your last holiday season as an unmarried person, it doesn’t mean that it’s time to spread Christmas cheer, if you know what I mean, for the last time to all you can.

The overall point is that the holidays eventually end and the hard, cold reality of January will settle in. And when you’ve realized what you’ve done and you contemplate how to get out of it, it’s going to make January a series of cold, cold winter’s days, even if you live in Southern California.

So before you let that spiked egg nog make you think, “Hey, why not, who wants to spend December 13th alone?” Flash forward the clendar to the far less festive date of February March 13th, and think if a Presidents St. Patrick’s Day atmosphere would make what or who you are about to do make sense. If the answer is yes, then proceed. If the answer is no, then stop and extricate yourself from the situation. If the answer is no, and you still go through with it, you know what it makes you? A Hookup Turkey! Don’t be one, because the only people who get to feast on the carcass of a Hookup Turkey are the gossipers and friends who will be going (because they will find out, they ALWAYS find out), “What the f*** !?!?”

The more you know…

*edited with realization that Feb. 13th is the pre-Valentine’s Day Hookup Turkey post-season…