Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Police Navidad

Attention, Christians!   I bear glad tidings!  Yes, this is the time when many start to worry about all these Politically Correct people who want to BAN Christmas.

Stop worrying, please. 

We see this 47 times a day; people make it their status update to mention how they respond to a retail clerk saying, "Thank you and Happy Holiday!" by loudly, proudly trumpeting, "Merry Christmas!" 

OK.  Please understand, I am a Christian, and I rate myself very highly on the list of People Who Really Love Christmas.  I myself say "Merry Christmas" all the time, especially in December.  

But please, don't take it so personally if someone says the more generic "Happy Holidays" to you.  They have what we call a "job" and they have to follow what their boss calls "the rules."

Sure, Christianity is the world's most popular faith, but consider these numbers:  Christianity claims 2.1 billion followers.  Islam, 1.5 billion.  Hinduism, 900 million.  Sikhism, 23 million.  Judaism, 14 million.  Bahaism, 7 million. 

Which means, there are people of other faiths in the same nation, state, county, zip code and mall that we currently populate.  They don't necessarily share our faith.  Growing up in the WASPiest enclave of Baltimore County, I still recall the day a new boy showed up in our fourth-grade class, and how stunned everyone was when the teacher, before his arrival, prepped us for him by saying that he was Jewish and that his parents were divorced.  This being the era of Ozzie and Harriet America, both of these statuses were unprecedented in our circle.  When the kid finally walked into the classroom, he might as well have had two heads and a tail, so closely did we stare.

And we couldn't make head nor tail out of one thing:  he was just like us.  

I hear people hollering all the time about how schools can't have "Christmas concerts" anymore.  "They have to be POLITICALLY CORRECT and say 'Holiday Concert,' " they moan.  Maybe little Akbar in 3rd grade or Levi in 7th or Akashleena in her junior year are not dreaming of sugarplums or Santas.  Why make them feel lesser by promoting one religion over another?    No one is trying to take Christmas away from us. 

I know I am treading on parlous ground here; after all, people have been fighting wars in the name of religion since the first Easter.  But this is not worth fighting over.  I humbly ask those who get so upset about an innocuous greeting to remember that others might not feel the way they do about spirituality, and that's all right too. 

And, Merry Christmas to you all!  Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

No ifs, ands or butts

I love words, which is why I like to listen to NPR, where the hosts feel comfortable, properly using words such as 'penultimate' without feeling the need to define them. And I don't think it makes one a snob to know how to use words such as that.  After all, no one was born knowing that word, so everyone who uses it had to either look it up or have it defined for them. 

That latter aspect of vocabulary building came easy for me.  All I had to do was run to the dictionary and look up the words my father used as he urged me to be less contumacious and obstreperous.

All this comes to mind because of The New Yorker, a magazine that goes with NPR like brie goes with baguettes.  In the past several years, most recently two weeks ago, articles in that storied weekly have used the word "callipygian" to refer to Kim Kardashian. 

The very fact that The New Yorker mentioned KK in an article about how America seems to be mesmerized by trivial TV reality shows about marriages that were not based in reality whatsoever says a lot.   
But they had also used the word about the same woman, saying that she liked to order a certain sort of underwear that makes one look more callipygian. 

So now it was time to do the research and find out what the darned word means, so I don't make an ass of myself by butting in and having to wag my tail.  So here is what the good people at Merriam-Webster say:

cal·li·pyg·ian : having shapely buttocks

Origin of the word: from the Greek kallipygos : kalli- (beautiful) + pygē (buttocks.) First Known Use: circa 1800.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Kissimmee, you fool

If there’s one thing Americans can’t stand, and there are many, it would be having to wait for anything.  Fast food replaced good food.  Instant-on TV, quickie divorces, Speedy Alka Seltzer, the Kwik-E-Mart: these are all signs of a nation that wants it, and wants it NOW.

Well, our traditional post-Thanksgiving shopping took a crazy turn this year in may parts of the nation.  In some town called Porter Ranch, California, a woman  who apparently thought she was a UC Davis security cop brought pepper spray to a WalMart so she could keep other shoppers at bay and grab the best of the door-buster specials for her own sweet self.  She got to the electronics department just after the WalMart opened on Thanksgiving night at 10 (since God forbid we would have to wait until Friday to celebrate Friday around here) and laid out a smokescreen of cayenne and jalapeño, which had the effect of laying out some 20 other shoppers – some of whom are children.  10 of them needed medical attention.

In case you’re wondering, the store did not close.  WalMart is not going to allow a mass assault to ruin everyone’s shopping experience, for crying out loud!

Also in sunny California, open up that Golden Gate of pain to read how a man was found shot and bleeding in the parking lot of a Bay Area Walmart just before 2 a.m. “Several” people with guns tried to take the family’s purchases by force. 

In Kissimmee, Fla., two men in search of just the right teardrop necklace for their dear sweet little lady friends fought at a jewelry counter at a WalMart. One of them was dragged away by the police, and I guess the Greeter at the front door had some pretty stern words for the other one.

Down Fayetteville, NC way, shots were fired around 2 a.m. outside Cross Creek Mall near a food court entrance. One of the people involved ran inside the mall. Then there were more shots fired, or, as it always says in the news about these things, shots “rang out.”  A good idea for mall owners would be to “beef up” security, and make sure that no “blazes” “roar” through the structure either.

Another shooting was reported at a parking lot next to a Wal-Mart in South Carolina. There was also a report of a robbery attempt at another mall there.
Retailers like the holiday shopping season.  That’s when they can make 25 to 40 percent of their annual revenue. It's expected that shoppers will spend nearly $500 billion during the holiday shopping season, or about 3 percent more than they did last year. 

I’m writing this on Friday evening, so the chances are that more mayhem will occur at our malls and WalMarts as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. 

I need to get Peggy a present.  

Cover me, will ya?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday rerun: The Ant's Pants

If you're on Facebook, you might have encountered what I guess might be known as the Disappearing Friend Syndrome, or DFS. This occurs when you suddenly realize, whilst reading everyone else's status updates or news feeds, that you haven't seen anything online from good old Ursula lately.

What to do? Do you check your friends list to see if she's not on there anymore? If you do, that only tells you that she's off your list. You then have to enter Ursula Whatchamacallit to see if she's even ON Facebook any longer. If she is, and she's not on your list, and you did not remove her from your list, well, welcome to Dumpville: Population, YOU. As Homer Simpson once said.

If you check and Ursula is NOT on Facebook anymore, then you can at least say, "Maybe she just quit Facebook, and not just me." This brief moment of relief is then tempered by apprehension. What if Ursula was run over by a trolley? Forced to move into reduced circumstances following a scandalous unsanctified congress with a traveling dry-goods salesman from Pittsburgh? Captured by left-wing insurgents from Paraguay? (thanks, Police Squad!) Died of intellectual thirst at a Tea Party?

It's really better not to have these thoughts. Make new friends, and keep the old. One is silver and the other, gold. I think Edgar A. Guest came up with that one.

And while we're scratching around looking for things, what the heck happened to all those "My Top 5 Times Tom Cruise Jumped Up On Something" polls that were all the rage in the summertime? How about those crazy gifts - virtual Berger's Cookies, handcuffs, I <3 NJ t-shirts and hands-free back massages were the ant's pants there for a while, and now you don't see them any more.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday rerun: Alice will help you, so go Cialis

Last weekend, the TODAY show interviewed some 18-year old who has just been elected mayor of Spoonlick, Wisconsin, or some other similarly-named burg. Jenna Wolfe interviewed him, and I had a bet going on with Peggy that at any moment the kid was going to answer her question with "Hyuk-hyuk!" or something else Stoogeworthy. For 18, he acted about 14, and a touch of sophistication is becoming to an elected official, for my money. Even for a little town out in middle of flyover country, you have to figure there is something important for the mayor to do, if it's only showing up at barn fires to hand out donuts to firefighters.

Do you remember the episode of Barney Miller in which Det. Harris went on vacation and brought Barney one of those corny bolo ties from Wyoming? And then Wojo is hypnotized to help him remember details of a case and starts going on about how "Harris brought one of those corny bolo ties and gave it to Barney as a joke! But Barney didn't know it was a joke, so he started wearin' it!"
I think it's much the same here. Not so long ago in Minnesota, a group of people thought they would send a significant message of their disdain with politics by voting for blockhead wrestler Jesse "The Body" Ventura to be governor of their state. Had just a couple of thousand people from the Great State of Minnesota voted for the burly grappler, perhaps everyone would have said, "Oh ha ha, that's funny; people voted for a wrestler for governor!" But no one organized the protest, and far too many people got in on the joke, and the entire state had to suffer through a term of his dunderheaded hamfisted rule until they wised up. Toward the end of his four-year reign, Ventura considered resignation so that his lieutenant governor, one Mae Schunk, could serve for a while, showing just how seriously the onetime member of the Mongols motorcycle club took his position. Next election, there were no gag candidates to be seen on the ballot, and order was restored.

I hope the good citizens of Earthworm WI are satisfied with a mayor who isn't old enough to drink with Jesse Ventura or join the police force, even if he does wear a bolo tie. Elections are serious business. Don't throw your vote away on some goofball, and be sure to call your doctor in case of an election lasting over four hours.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Slaughter Rule: Friday Rerun

I read a lot, and it's often surprising how I can be reading from two wholly different sources (e.g. the internet, and an old book, or the 1946 Farmer's Almanac...) and notice a thread of thought, a continuity between the two sources. It's like when you're reading an old book that gives you a way to make ice cream and then, later that day, you see an interesting recipe somewhere else for ice cream topping.

So, it was interesting to me to read in the Sun paper that erstwhile Raven, and current Cleveland Brown, Jamal Lewis is stomping his expensively-shod feet rather mightily because the coach of the Browns, Eric Mangini, is working the team way too hard in practice. Pressed for details about the horrid conditions of his employment, Jamal said that the team is often forced to practice three to three and one half hours per day.

Oh, the humanity.

It would be far too easy to point out here that the Browns are paying old #31 to the tune of 2.4 million semolians to play football this year, on top of shelling out 3.5 million clams to him as a bonus this past March. That comes to 5,900,000 greenbacks this year- that's a lot of smackeroos!

Jamal said the entire Browns team was all up in arms over being forced to work so hard, but he decided to speak up because he plans to retire after this season, anyway. I should imagine so! There's just so much a man can take!

And you know what I thought of at first? Those people that you always see on the TV news in August, up on the roof of some building slopping hot tar with a mop, or paving a road with hot asphalt, or working at the blast furnace, or fighting fires, or whatever. You can bet that they have to put in more than 3 1/2 hours a day at their chosen field.

No, that's not even the point here. Here's where I came across something else. There was an article about the old baseball player known as Enos "Country" Slaughter in a book of essays, and this story told of how, in the 1946 World Series, Slaughter scored from first base on a single, scoring the winning run after a delayed relay throw by the Red Sox's Johnny Pesky. This play was named #10 on the Sporting News list of Baseball's 25 Greatest Moments. The story went on to say that as a minor leaguer in Columbus, Georgia, Slaughter was dogging it running back to the dugout one day. Dogging it so much, in fact, that he was walking. His manager, Eddie Dyer, told him, "Son, if you're tired, we'll try to get you some help." Thereafter, Slaughter ran everywhere he went on a baseball field, and so goes the legend.

I just thought I'd write this to ask if there could possibly be a cooler name for a ball player than Enos "Country" Slaughter.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I feel sorry for the people who write blogs, sermons and cereal box trivia. At least, I feel sorry for those in those lines of work who, at this time of the year, sit stockstill at the keyboard and find it hard to put down on e-paper just what they are feeling thankful for.  To quote from the eminent sage Freddie Hart, "If you can't feel it, it ain't there." 

Meaning, thankfulness, for me, is not something that I have to summon up. And that's good, because I don't know that I'd have time to write all those summonses.  Thanksgiving, for me, is not just a day of stuffing turkeys and Lions and Ravens and watching Matt Lauer wear a hat at a parade.  I am a grateful guy for all that I have been given, which is more than I deserve, but is all appreciated.

I'm thankful for a good night of sleep, the nourishment of the food we share and the fellowship we also share while we gobble and guzzle, wool sox, pants and shirts made without a shred of the dreaded polyester, 4-wheel drive, friends old and new, family to love, Garrison Keillor, granola, Facebook, cell phones with good signals, digital music, kids, cable tv, Cal Ripken Sr and Jr, Sammy Davis Jr, Elvis, Bill Clinton, laughter, Cape May, Red Robin, Baskin-Robbins, good spelling, good grammar, beer, Bart, Beavis, Butt-Head, Stewie, old New Yorker magazines, new New Yorker magazines, LIFE magazine, punctuality, Norm MacDonald, and for the love of Peggy.  And you too!  

I'm a lucky man and I appreciate all the gifts I've been given.   Thank you for being part of all I love.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"He's in a meeting"

Over in the next district, their US Congressperson held a Town Hall meeting at one of the fire houses.  He would like for me to mention his name.

At 4 PM on Sunday, his staff sent out a press release to tell everyone about the meeting, as the town was in the grip of the thrilling finish of the Ravens' game against the Bengals.  Robocalls went out to certain local residents Sunday evening, letting them know about their chance to come and discuss things with their rep in DC.

The meeting was at 5 PM Monday.

The quote from the congressperson was, according to the Perry Hall PATCH, "Our feeling is that if we call people up too far ahead of time, they'll forget. 

When asked if he believed more people would have attended the meeting had they been given more notice, he said, "That's possible, but if people really have a burning desire to come out and say something, they'll come out and say something."

This whole thing reminds me of the bit Howie Mandel used to use, back when he was funny: "What's your name? What's your name? What's your name? I asked you three ----ing times!"
"Old Hickory said we could take 'em by surprise..."
The politician's staff said, "Since Gabby Giffords, we have to consider safety."  I agree. It hasn't been a year since the popular congressperson from Arizona was gunned down (and survived, thank God) by one of the gun-totin' madmen who pack certain parts of this nation.   This has long been an issue in this country, and it dates back farther than many might think.  Andrew Jackson's inaugural celebration in 1829 was marked by the rioting of a drunken mob, and they had to put out great bowls of booze and hard cider on the White House lawn to get the drunks to leave the mansion by the same windows through which they had entered. The point is, Congresspeople should be accessible to their constituents, and the constituents should meet them in an air of friendly, open, unarmed, sober exchange.

But we can't count on that happening!  Because many people regard the Second Amendment as their ticket to walking around strapped, just in case the chance to shoot at something  - anything! - might present itself.

Cynics might point out that short notice is just a way to keep away the rabble, those members of the populace who might question some of the  representative's stances on various social issues.

I can see that side of it as well.  Even though we have a constitutional right to do so, have we the right to yell about the theater that congress has become, in a crowded fire hall?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

But the White Sox still wear black socks

Following the Baltimore Orioles' lead of going back to the future and changing back to an old-style uniform, the Toronto Blue Jays have done something really radical and gone back to a BLUE color scheme.

Imagine that! The BLUE Jays wearing blue!  What a concept.

In the past few years, sports teams have gone crazy over black, teal and purple in their uniforms.   Silver and black fits the Oakland Raiders just fine, what with their pirate image.  Teal fits the Miami (formerly Florida Marlins) well, but they used to have an all-teal hat, then a teal hat with a black brim, and then an all-black hat, which must have really done a nice job soakin' up the heat of a Miami afternoon in July.  They just changed their name and their uniform (above).

Peggy loves her Ravens and her assorted Ravens clothing, all purple.  It's her favorite color.

Mine are brown and orange, which makes me the one and only person in this great nation of ours who thinks the Cleveland Browns' togs are downright groovy.
Another thing about sports:  when you move a team, even when you're a devil on earth as Robert Irsay's mom said he was,  think a little about the team name.  The Minneapolis Lakers basketball team took their name from the many lakes that dot the Minnesota landscape, like silly comments that Michelle Bachmann makes there.  When the team  moved to Los Angeles, it might have been a good idea to think of a new name, out there in a land so arid they have to bring in water.  The New Orleans Jazz played in the NBA too, but when the turnstiles stopped clicking for them down on the bayou, they moved to the Mormon (i.e. non-jazz) state of Utah.

The Brooklyn Dodgers took their name from the crazy steps that pedestrians in that borough used to do to avoid being run over by trolleys - the "trolley dodgers."  They moved to Los Angeles and found about as many trolleys as bagels in their new town.

Finally, the Cincinnati Reds, oldest of the major league teams, changed their name to the Redlegs from 1956 - 1960 to avoid being labeled Communist sympathizers.

Why was this necessary?  You'd have had to be there.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Puttin' the "G" in "Gee Whiz!"

Look at those eyes...
Well here it is Monday, and chances are that in church yesterday you did not hear about a new Jesus among us.  Yet, there are those who claim to be the new Him.  

There always are people claiming to be something. This guy who shot a high-powered rifle at the White House, this Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, sent a tape to Oprah Winfrey, in which he claims he is the “modern day Jesus Christ.”
“You see Oprah, there is still so much more that God needs me to express to the world. It’s not just a coincident that I look like Jesus. I am the modern day Jesus Christ that you all have been waiting for,” Ortega-Hernandez says in a video shown on WTTG Fox 5 in DC.

There was a time that a person wishing to be recognized as the New Jesus would have sought out the religious or spiritual leaders of the day for their stamp of approval, but this guy, even though some of the cheese has clearly fallen off his cracker, knew enough to go to Oprah.
He didn't know enough to spell "coincidence," but I guess I'm the only one bothered by that. I mean, the people around him knew that he was saying that the world was going to end soon, and that he hated the president because he thought that Mr Obama was going to implant microchips in children, but they didn't see anything wrong with him having high-powered weaponry. He comes from Idaho, where, I guess, you need an AK47 handy in case an elk crosses your path or something.  I don't know.

Meanwhile, out in Denver, Tim Tebow, the quarterback from Florida who cried when his team lost a football game to Alabama during his college days has turned pro with the Broncos.  The team started off 0-3, so they put Tebow in, wisely figuring that they couldn't do any worse.  Since then, the team is 4-1, and his most recent display took place on Thursday night, when he beat the Jets in the last minute by running for a TD.  

It's said that Tebow is a devout young man, Christian and pure.  In their idolatry, the fans in the Mile High City are ordering copies of the Broncos jersey (widely regarded as the ugliest uniform ever) with his #15, but with the name "JESUS" on the back.

As if!

Tebow told the Denver POST, "I don't know what to think about that because I don't know where people's hearts are. It's important to not judge without knowing their hearts. If their heart is to honor the Lord, then it's a good thing. Only God can judge because only God knows what's truly in a person's heart."

I would have hoped for a touch of modesty, for him to say, "What? Compare me to the Lord?  Oh come on, now!" 

I rarely get what I hope for in these matters, though.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I see London, I see France

...I see your well-worn underpants!  And worse!

One of the things I will miss someday about going to work is the endless vista that awaits my eyes on the drive to the office.  I've always liked the early shift, so I leave the Lazy 'C' Ranch by 0645, the latest.  I love wintertime because there is no thrill like driving to work in the dark.  

I know, right? 

But there is sort of a pact, unwritten for sure, but nonetheless valid, among early morning drivers and people who are outside getting their newspaper, bringing in the cat, letting out the cat, taking the garbage can out to the curb, and I don't know what-all else, but folks are out there en deshabille as they say in Marseilles.  I mean, yeah, they have clothes on, but only technically.  

In summer, you see a lot of what people sleep in, and this is information I don't need to download while driving.  Whatever people have on when they stumble down the stairs to meet the day, as Kris Kristofferson put it, is what they tend to have on when they dart outside for the paper, the cat, or the trash truck. But I am prepared to report that in warm weather, most Americans over the age of 40 sleep in a tank top and boxer shorts.   That includes a significant portion of men.   

In wintertime, when old Jack Frost runs his chilly fingers down our spines and up our thighs (now there's a visual for you!) people will don the old fleecy robe before stepping out to take care of business.  I suggest to all apparel manufacturers that they are missing out on a sure profit leader by not marketing custom-made prizefighter robes.  What man wouldn't feel more macho when wearing a silk robe with his name and nickname or home town emblazoned on the back, just like in all the Rocky movies?

As my gift to capitalists, this is my gift idea for the hard-to-think-of-what-in-blazes-he wants guy on everyone's list. Imagine the pride on the faces of Bob "The King of Dual-Entry Accounting" Schottlemeyer, or Lou "Big Noise" Hamilton when they unwrap their stylish new wraps!  

And there could be one with a lone star on it, and made of silk of bluebonnet blue, with the words Rick "OOOOOPS!" Perry on the back. 

Ooops, I did it again.

There's a pact, I was starting to say, among those flitting about the sidewalks, porches and driveways, and those of us driving to work with our coffee mugs and our Morning Edition from NPR.  The pact says, we might see you, and we for sure see you when the winds blow open your frilly peignoir and we see half of your epidermis and a peek at your Crêpes Suzette, but we won't mention it later when we see you in the dog food aisle at the Shop 'n' Go.

There might be snickering, however.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Third-grade NASCAR

Delaware is an interesting little state.  If you're reading this in, say, Idaho, well you just aren't used to little states like we have back here.  Notice how it's sort of squeezed in between Maryland and New Jersey, and the Jersey Shore seems to be poking its finger at Lower Delaware.  Yes, Delaware, the First State, as they like to be called, or The State Where They Almost Elected Christine O'Donnell to the Senate, as they like to forget, has some fun stuff going on.  As witness this from channel 16 in nearby Salisbury MD:

DOVER, Del.- A Dover woman is facing charges following accusations that she let her 9-year-old son drive her car to school. 

Tammy Oneal, 34,  was taken into custody on Wednesday by Dover police on a warrant charging her with reckless endangering and second-degree endangering the welfare of a child.

According to police, Oneal's arrest stemmed from an incident in which Oneal let her son get behind the wheel of a 1990 Toyota Corolla. Investigators said that with Oneal as the passenger, the child drove the car the quarter-mile from their home to West Reilly Brown Elementary School. 

Police said that after a witness observed Oneal's son exit the driver's seat in the parking lot, school authorities were notified and authorities were contacted.
Oneal was arrested on the aforementioned charges and later released on $1,000 unsecured bond.

OK? They live a quarter-mile from the school - 1320 feet! - and her son needs to get to school in a car?  That's my first thing.  Why is this child not walking to school?  I mean, unless Christine O'Donnell >>> and her witchy coven live along the path, he ought to be on foot on that path.  If Ms O'D does live there, yes, "Hop in the car, son; we don't want another Hansel and Gretel thing going on."

Second, Tammy, what were you thinking? WERE you thinking?  Even in a quarter of a mile, bad things can happen, and even though many drivers drive like they were nine years old, we don't need REAL nine-year-olds adding to the roadway havoc.

And one more thing...a 1990 Corolla?  Unless it has this cool patriotic color scheme, no kid wants to be seen in a ride that beat.  Tell Junior to get good grades and buy you a new machine.

I have a feeling that he's going to need good grades anyway.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thirty-minute miracles

Hal Peary as The Great Gildersleeve
I am huge fan of television (and radio!) situation comedies.  Nothing can tickle me faster than 23 minutes of boffo laffs, with seven minutes of commercials and promos.  In just 30 minutes, you've had your Minimum Adult Daily Allowance of yucks, chortles and guffaws.  From "The Great Gildersleeve" to "Ozzie and Harriet" to "Two Broke Girls," the set up has been the same for over eighty years, except there are a lot more dick jokes in the newer shows.

The show opens with a brief sketch, usually involving someone looking perplexed, and then here comes the theme song, which plays while the actors are shown spinning around, laughing and living it up.

After the commercials, the premise of the show is set up: in the old days, it was that the boss was coming for dinner and Mom burned the roast.  Today, it's that Cousin Judy is six days late and frantic.  Either way, it's a mirthfest, mirroring our own lives, in which everything is funny.  Isn't it?

Then more commercials, for cars or beer or what-have-you.  In the penultimate act, with seconds to spare, the boss walks in with a whole salami for everyone to share, or Cousin Judy's Aunt Flow arrives to the cheers of all, and just like in real life, everything works out.  

Then more commercials, and a promo or two, and then the denouement, in which Judy, her worthless boyfriend of 17 years and a couple of others sit around ruminating over life's vicissisitudes.  Boom!  Closing theme, and time for "New Girl."

And speaking of which, the other night on "New Girl," her friend CeCe played the part that has been done over and over in tv and movies, namely: the really pretty girl who loves bad boys.  One of the three great sitcom stereotypes for women, right there.  She is beautiful, all the guys want her, and would strew roses in her path for just the chance to dally with her once.  

But she only likes the guy who shows up late, and ignores her or insults her.  Him, she can't get enough of.

The other two stereotypes for women in sitcoms and movies are:
  • The beautiful woman who never gets asked out because everyone figures it's not even worth it to ask her out (to the prom, the office Christmas party, the opening of a new abattoir) because she is clearly dated up through St Patrick's Day, so they don't ask, and she sits home alone night after night, wishing that new guy in Accounts Receivable would stop mooning over her and pick up the intercom to ask her out.  This role is usually played by women such as Cindy Crawford or Candice Bergen.  In the real world, beautiful women are busier than Lindsay Lohan's lawyer, and if the guy from Accounts Receivable ever did call to ask them out, the answer would be, "Who is this, again?"
  • The beautiful woman married to a chubby, yet jocular, guy.  Think Leah Remini ("King of Queens") and Audrey Meadows ("The Honeymooners"). In the real world, guys who look like Kevin James and Jackie Gleason are strangers to the Leahs and the Audreys, and don't marry lovely women. Except for me!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cap and Trade

I for one am glad to see the Baltimore Orioles going back to the old Cartoon Bird on their hats.  This ornithologically correct bird that's been on their hat since 1989 always looked to me like something that was getting all set for a really sad Thanksgiving.  For him.

The old pigeon hat

The cartoon bird made its debut on the hats of the 1966 team, and what a year that was, when Frank Robinson came over from the Reds and put a good team over the top.  And throughout the 60s the Orioles were great, except for '67 (it's tough to repeat!).  The '69-'70-'71 teams are always mentioned when people talk of the greatest nines ever put on a field.  And even through the 70's the O's were close to the top, and wrapped up the decade by somehow losing to the Pirates in that first year of Orioles magic.

In '82 they fell one game short and said goodbye to Earl Weaver, and in '83, they put together what would be, until this year, our last world championship team. 

By 1988, the year they started off 0-21, the cartoon bird was starting to look like a plucked chicken to satirists, and so in 1989 the Oriole that really looked like an oriole got to start going around on top of heads from here to Walla Walla.  I never liked him, although I bought and wore all the various hats on which he appeared.  And the first few years were good under his cap, but as everyone knows, there are teenagers hanging around here who don't know what it is to have a winning baseball club in town.
I am superstitious enough to think that the hat first worn by Brooks and Boog and F Robby and that gang, and soon to sit atop the melons of Weiters and Hardy and Adam Jones, will bring us a return to the Good Old Days.

Here we haven't even had Thanksgiving yet, and I'm looking forward to baseball already.  Play ball! Please!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Not a care in the world

Things sure have changed from the days when Lincoln and I went to junior high school together.  Honestly, as Abe used to say.  Back in those days, the last thing any kid wanted was to have his/her mother within 100 yds. as he/she boarded the school bus, or covered wagon.  

But now, today's increasingly infantilized youth must remain in something womblike until they marry Kim Kardashian.  They don't go out to play before or after dinner.  If they do anything out in the fresh air, it's at some highly-organized soccer or lacrosse or softball or baseball Event, set up by adults, and full of adults, with better video equipment that Abraham Zapruder ever dreamed of, and clipboards. And more adults.  And decals on the family road buffalo with the kid's name and number, right next to "My honor student is clearly superior" and "Ehrlich for governor."  

The kids just can't be outside alone!  I know, there are creeps and kidnappers and bad people all around, but I'm fairly certain that it would be all right to send little Egbert or Mildred off to the bus stop without keeping them in the SUV and keeping them entertained with HD videos while they wait three minutes.

But here's what I really can't get.  There is a woman who lives on a major road leading to my work.  Let's call it "Walker Avenue."  

And now let's say that every morning she stands outside with her daughter waiting for the bus.  No need to warm up the Family Truckster; the bus stops right out front.  

And she and her daughter walk to the bus when the bus arrives, and the daughter clambers aboard, and cars are backed up in both lanes as the bus lights flash.

And, most days, the mom stands by the bus door and holds a conversation with the bus driver.  Not just the "Thanks for taking little Ursula to school" kind of thing, but an in-depth chat-a-thon, with gesticulations and vigorous headnods and rolled eyes.  One can only imagine they are discussing three things: the Greek debt crisis, Rick Perry's failed candidacy, and.........


I done forgot the third one there.  Consarn it all! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Race relations

The Beatles had that song "Please Please Me" with the interesting lyric, "I don't wanna sound complaining, but you know there's always rain in my heart..."  Well, I don't wanna sound complaining either, but this Baltimore Grand Prix still bothers me.

A couple of years ago, some promoters dreamed up the idea of turning the streets of downtown Baltimore into a race course.  They envisioned cars rolling around over a hundred miles an hour on streets where the average motorist is lucky to travel a mile in a hundred hours. 

And they sold the city on the idea, told the city that untold millions would pour into the town coffers, and businesspeople would be doing big business all weekend long, and all the businesses that did support operations for the race would benefit as well.

So, the race was held this past Labor Day weekend, and everyone basked in the glow of success as cable tv came to town to cover something besides murders.  People strained their elbows, patting themselves on the back for all the race had done in the names of culture and commerce.
The basking slowed down shortly after the roar of the engines and the smell of exhaust wafted away. When the accountants were finished totaling up everything, it seemed more apparent that the boom was really a bust.  The promoters of the race are known as Baltimore Racing Development.  They owe the city a million and a half US dollars, and they supposed to pay $470,000 on a loan from the Maryland Stadium Authority, and they owe money to several small companies, such as a female-owned cement firm that supplied several hundred thousand dollars' worth of concrete for the race structures and is still awaiting payment.

All this does not even mention the hundreds of trees, some of them forty-some years old, which got the Paul Bunyan treatment just so people could sit downtown in rented bleachers seats and watch cars go by really fast.

I don't get it; I didn't get it when they came up with the idea and I still don't see the appeal.  But if you're going to tie up the center of the city for weeks before and after the race, and use city police and fire and parking and other municipal services, and contract with private firms for services and goods, you should really pay up soon, especially since they are planning Grand Prix II for next September.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The larks, still bravely singing, fly.

Our nephew Jay married the lovely Jamie, and so we have come to be friends and kin with dozens more people, which is always good.  She comes from a huge family. I don't, and so I appreciate the difference.

Sixty-three years is how long her maternal grandparents were married, until her grandmother passed last week.  If they were married in 1948, according to my calculations, that would have meant that when they tied the knot, television was maybe one or two channels seen on a fuzzy white screen about the size of an iPad.  The poem "In Flanders Fields" was thirty years old that year, then as now recited by fourth graders on Veterans' Day.  Jamie was a fourth grade teacher for a few years, and I, well, I was a desultory fourth grade student one year.  Almost two years.

And back to 1948,  Harry Truman was president, and cokes and newspapers were a nickel, and Scrabble and Velcro both came into being.

Velcro, that hook-and-loop fastening system, was developed by a fellow from Switzerland, when he came from walking in the brush one day and noticed that the burrs stuck to the wool on his clothing.  He figured that if he made artificial burrs, and something to put them next to, he could replace buttons and zippers and shoelaces in lots of ways.

Magnets and velcro are two of the most fascinating objects that I know of.  I like the feeling that things are fastened together tightly and will stay that way.  And magnetic attractions tend to stay in place forever too, as long as the laws of physics remain in force.  People in love tend to stay together, too.

Jamie's grandparents fell in love as teenagers and that never went away.  They never lost that attraction. I loved the way at family functions they were always together, sitting nearby, sharing food, enjoying themselves and the party too. I really admired that.  Both of them always found a crowd of people talking to them, because of being so nice, and at parties as in life, they stuck together all the time.

Peggy and I are like that; if I'm away from her for more than a couple of minutes, I miss her like crazy. Jamie's grandfather is so sad now; it was so tough to see him so bereft, so disconsolate the other day at the funeral home.  To have been with someone, and have stayed together like that for sixty-three years is an accomplishment worthy of the highest admiration.  I see people all around me building skyscrapers, starting marketing ventures, building fortunes, inventing computers, and I say, yes, that's all good, for as far as skyscrapers and marketing ventures and fortunes and computers go.  You will notice that the minute someone creates something, someone else is ready to step up make it obsolete.  The original iPad is a good example: a year later, version 2 made the first one a souvenir.  The original versions of Velcro and love are still as good as they ever were at holding things together.

But how about, instead of all those other big deals, how about building a skyscraper of love, being in the business of love, building love over sixty-three years? I think that's what matters.

When the end comes, I think we'll all want to be able to say we loved and were loved, before we all lie in that Flanders Field that awaits us all somewhere. 

He is a very nice man, Andy is, loved and respected by all, and I grieve for his sadness. Please join me in a prayer that this fine man will know in his heart that the greatest thing he could have done is what he did: he loves someone well, and she loves him too, and the time they will be parted temporarily will be nothing compared to the eternity of love they will share.

This is what we believe.  It's really all we have.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

You could look it up

I'm not sure where the word "almanac" comes from, just as I'm not sure where Rick Perry is coming from, although I know where he will be on Inauguration Day 2013.

And by this time next year, shortly after the election, I'll be able to tell what the moon will look like on Inauguration Day night, that moon at which Messrs Perry, Gingrich, Cain, Romney, Huntsman and Madame Bachmann will be baying.  That's because I am a big fan of almanacs of all sorts.

As a kid, before there was an internet, I would wile away many happy hours sitting in my hollow tree, reading the World Book, the dictionary, and various almanacs.  Almanacs come out in the fall of every year, and they are little soft-bound volumes containing information on the phases of the moon, tide tables, planting dates for farmers and gardeners, and fascinating little articles with tips on how to clean any stain with baking soda and vinegar.  I always make sure to ask Santa to bring me the Hagerstown Almanac and the Old Farmers' Almanac, and then there is the one I get free for nothing from the Johnson Funeral Home on Loch Raven Boulevard.  They call that one the Farmers' Almanac, so I guess one can be of any age to enjoy it.

A lot of us old timers used to keep the Almanacs hanging on twine near the phone, in case we suddenly needed to find out if there would be a full moon right after St Swithin's Day, but now, with more people using a cordless phone, or just a cell, I guess we need to find a web-based version.  I don't know if it would be as cool to thumb through a tiny Android almanac, though. 

There are also the big jumbo almanacs - the Information Please Almanac, the World Almanac, the New York Times publishes one.  These are walloping  hearty meatloaf-sized books, full of information.  Suppose the dinnertime conversation over at your house turns to the which countries are the greatest importers of Retsyn®, the golden chemical which cures stankbreath.  Or, say, someone is interested in knowing what is the state flower of Alabama (the camellia), the real name of Red Buttons (Aaron Chwatt) or what the flag of Moldova looks like, this is the place to turn.  

Even in the faraway Retsyn fields of Moldova, the world is a better-informed place because of almanacs. Here we see some happy Moldovan farmers, preparing for the annual Harvest Festival.  The guy in the middle - what's he holding? Why, an almanac, what else!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Doctor in the House

I don't understand the jubilation being expressed by many people over the Dr Conrad Murray verdict out in Los Angeles. Sure, the doctor who gave Michael Jackson his sleep medication, apparently way beyond what's normal, outside of a hospital setting, and absent the backup gear normally in place when Propofol is used, was found guilty of manslaughter, and seems to be headed for a four-year stretch in the Big House.  But these are people hurt by the loss of a favorite performer, and sending his dreammaker to jail for four years is not going to bring Michael back.

I come at this from a slightly different perspective. ("No!", you gasp in horror.) If you've ever enjoyed a colonoscopy, you've had the pleasure of being put under with what the anesthesiologists call "Milk of Amnesia."  That's why Michael Jackson kept asking the doctor for more "milk."  This stuff puts you out for a short spell, and then when you wake up, you can't remember a thing that happened while you were "hyp-mo-tized," as Mr Letterman used to say.  My greatest worry about colonoscopies is always that while I am in the Land of Nod, the witty techs and nurses will do something to make me strut around the room doing the Chicken Dance, as cameras record every pixel for YouTube mortification. 

Michael Jackson certainly had issues, did he not?  So he couldn't sleep.  Most of us just take another Tylenol PM or watch Craig Ferguson for five minutes and we're gone. The King of Prop had the money to wave $150,000 per WEEK in front of Dr Murray, and he bought himself a physician.

And that's what troubles me.  I have the highest regard for physicians.  Just wanting to become one is a daunting challenge, and the selection process is arduous, and the schooling and internships are in place to make sure that once a man or woman is able to hang out a shingle proclaiming themselves to be a Medical Doctor, they doggone well know what they're doing and what they're talking about.  This is your guarantee that when you seek treatment for anything ranging from eczema to necrosis, they will treat you properly and accurately.
If the name of this cutman isn't "Mickey," it ought to be!

To take the brain and talent that God gives one to become a physician, and become someone on the next rung up the medical ladder from the "cut man" at a boxing match is not the best way to use that brain and talent.  Maybe the salary was an incentive.   

But do you think he will wish he had taken another path, once he's in jail?

Friday, November 11, 2011

How can you run when you know?

Well, I had thought I said enough about the Paterno mess when I hit the hay Wednesday evening.  The old coach had been fired, along with the president of the college.  Sorry, but that's the way it has to be when you're in charge.  You have to make sure that you have people in place to do the job correctly, and this man, like most other bigtime college administrators, saw the gridiron glory of Saturday afternoons more than he saw the Wednesday evening agony of a little boy, forced to perform sex acts in the football building shower area.  Mr Paterno and Graham Spanier, the college president, either knew more than they reported to the law or should have known more.  

I remember clearly the story my dad told about his Navy days.  The captain of his ship had been punished severely because the ship had run aground one night while the captain slept.  Some junior officer was in charge at the time, and the captain was held liable because he should have made sure that the junior officer was capable of piloting the ship correctly.  

The ship of decency at Penn State ran aground and now its captain has walked the plank.

And then!  to wake up and find that today's youth - Generation i-Pad - found it necessary to overturn cars and news vans, set fires, topple lampposts and generally run around acting like galoots was disappointing.  46 years ago, when Paterno first took the reins at Penn State, students across America were demonstrating their outrage over an immoral, obscene war. 

Today, students can't get too worked up over society's ills, but let a football coach get the ax because he countenanced the rape of little boys by failing to delve more deeply into the matter than mentioning it to some functionary in the next office, and they'll burn down the town.  

Kids, I ask you, what if that were your little brother or cousin in the shower with that creep Sandusky?  Would the status of the man who didn't care enough about it, once he knew about it, matter to you?  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Joe Phwwwwww

As most anyone who has had it can attest, sex can be a wonderful, thrilling experience.  It can be procreational or recreational, either way. Or both. 

But it should only be between two people who are there in the room or car or phone booth, whatever, because they want to be, because they are of age to make the decision to bop, and because there is no one else in some other room somewhere who would justly be hurt by all the hobblin' going on here. 

Which means that if you're some big business big shot and a woman comes up to you asking for help in finding work, you really need to keep your mitts off her lingerie, and that's all I am going to say about that for now.

Because I am all steamed about this Penn State football situation.  OK, straight up: I am not a fan of Penn State football, if only because their longtime coach Joe Paterno won't allow any sort of logo, decoration, name or embellishment of any sort whatsoever on their helmets, jerseys, pants and socks.  He is absolutely dead-set against any form of caparison, any trim or doo-dad of any sort.  Just a lot of blue, and white, oh and the Nike® logo, of course.  Got to pay homage to the people who supply the jerseys, pants, shoes and socks. 

That's the sort of thing I really don't like: the saying of one thing and the doing of another.  But that's a trivial matter, and it's his football team; he can dress them as he sees fit.

But when one of his assistant coaches likes having sex with little boys, and then sets up a charity group which in effect serves to supply a veritable cornucopia of young males, and then is seen having some sickening action with an underaged victim in the shower room of the state-owned football building on campus, and someone sees this and tells the beloved old coach...he ought to be able to say more than, "Well, I told my boss about it..."  Again, sex.  Had this been some linebacker and his of-age girlfriend doing it in the shower room, hey, go get a room, but no foul.  That's their business.  The defensive coordinator doing unspeakable things with boys, you hear about that, you scream long and loud until he's put away where he belongs.

It's interesting to read the opinions expressed in the Harrisburg newspaper because the sides are split cleanly.  Lots of people say that Paterno, lovingly called "JoePa" up there in Happy Valley, PA, did all that he had to by telling his boss.  Surely, there was no need to do more.  Why, calling the police would have just resulted in a lot of bad publicity, and then that would have hurt the reputation of the football team and its coach...

Just as it's doing now, only with twelve added years of shame.

If you're a regular reader and/or a friend of mine, you know how I feel about law and order, and how people ought to pay for their misdeeds.  No young boy from reduced circumstances ought to have to live in a world in which some old pervert can set up the Second Mile Foundation so that he can indulge his sickening predilection with them. 

And no true leader knows about that sort of thing going on right in his own football building and sweeps it under the rug by telling some "boss," when the truth is, JoePa himself is the boss on that campus.  He should have said something.  He chose not to, and he hung around and set records for most games coached, and most games won, and I don't know what-all else. That seemed to matter more to him than how those young little boys were feeling, being molested by this monster Sandusky.  

So many people saw this man as a great coach, leader, molder of men.  Now they find out that he placed winning the Capital One Bowl above reporting the satanic activities of his trusted assistant.   

Paterno was one phone call away from being a good man. One call from doing the right thing.  Now he says he will pray for those young men.  

Oh. NOW he's going to help.  Sorry for waiting twelve years, fellas; I had to get ready for the Outback Bowl.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Life and death on campus

Hello, college students?  I have a question I'd like to ask you, just you.  This has nothing to do with your parents, or the people in charge at your school, or "society in general," which is a catch-all phrase to blame me and my buddy when people I've never heard of do things I've never dreamed of.

Here it is:  why in the hell are you killing each other?   

from the Baltimore SUN:

Frostburg student fatally stabbed at off-campus party

Another student is charged with murder in second death on a Md. campus in two months

Kortneigh McCoy
It was a church service at which Baltimore's Kortneigh McCoy, a 19-year-old Frostburg State University physics major known for her lovely voice, was supposed to sing.

But instead, more than 500 students and faculty jammed the Lane University Center Sunday afternoon to mourn her death.

Hours earlier, the
Baltimore Polytechnic Institute graduate was fatally stabbed after a fight at an off-campus house party, police said. Police said officers arrived at about 1:30 a.m. to find her bleeding to death in the street outside the house from a wound to the head. She was declared dead at Western Maryland Hospital, police reported.

Arrested and charged with both first- and second-degree murder was Shanee Liggins, a 23-year-old senior business major from Waldorf. Liggins is having a bail review hearing at 11 a.m. Monday at the Allegany District Courthouse in Cumberland.

University officials said the party, which patrons paid money to attend, took place at Liggins' home on Maple Street in Frostburg.

McCoy was with a group of friends, one of whom got into an argument with a woman at the door who was taking money, according to charging documents. McCoy tried to break up the fight, which started in the kitchen and spilled outside, police said. Police said Liggins followed her into the street, produced a knife and stabbed her in the head

McCoy had a cut on the left side of her head and a three-inch stab wound on the front left side of her neck, charging documents state.

The suspect at first told police that someone else stabbed the victim. But detectives later identified the suspect as Liggins with testimony from witnesses interviewed at the hospitals and from a

Eyewitnesses who posted on social media sites suggested that McCoy had attempted to break up a fight.
picture that witnesses showed police.
"Kortneigh was a peacemaker and she emphasized the need for friendships with God and with others," James told the press.

In addressing the media, the Frostburg State University president stressed that Frostburg was a safe environment for students and that McCoy's death was an anomaly.

"We do whatever we can to try to educate young people about how to manage conflict in an appropriate way, using their words," he said. "Unfortunately, we don't always have control over where they are and what they do. This is still a very safe community to live in and for people to send their children to."

McCoy was a resident assistant in Simpson Hall, a freshman dorm. Gibralter said she was known as a campus leader who attempted to make learning fun for her charges.

McCoy spent last summer working as a sales associate at
Victoria's Secret in Towson Town Center Mall. Employees at the store were shocked to learn Sunday of her death.

"Kortneigh was just an amazing person," said store manager Lynda Burton. "We were looking forward to her returning for Black Friday and over the holiday."

The fatal stabbing of a Maryland college student was the second such incident in two months: In September,
Bowie State University student Dominique T. Frazier, 18, was fatally stabbed. Her dormitory mate, Alexis D. Simpson, 19, has been charged in connection with the death.

Frostburg also was the site of a student-on-student killing in April 2010 that occurred after a fight at an off-campus party. Tyrone Hall of
Glen Burnie opened fire with a 12-gauge shotgun, striking two fellow students in the abdomen. Twenty-year-old Brandon Carroll of Waldorf died; the other student survived. Hall was sentenced to a five-year prison sentence in November 2010.

Now, a lot of people are always quick to jump up and point to the evil influence of the media in these matters, and of course I can't buy that.  As a child, I watched approximately 1.5 million hours of black-and-white television images of sheriffs shooting cattle-rustlin' varmints, detectives shooting felons, cops clobbering the hell out of gangsters, and cats being outwitted by mice, with the result that the cat's entire face was extruded through a keyhole, his tail became a fuse for several megatons of TNT, or his arms became the hands of a cuckoo clock, with his tongue popping out of the little door and his eyes rolling sideways every fifteen minutes.  

Tiring of the din, our mothers would always gently encourage fresh air and recreational exercise by turning off the tv and pointing to the back door, which was our cue to take toy guns and go outside in emulation of The Rifleman, Matt Dillon or Mike Hammer.  Only the guys who wanted to be lawyers when they grew up were allowed to play Perry Mason, and then it screwed everything up when they had to run home and change into a suit.  Although, they would help plea bargain a broken bike charge into a minor matter, so that was good.

And then on Saturday, we were placed in the protective custody of the teenaged ushers at the Towson Theatre, where we could sit for six hours and watch war movies, cop movies, cowboy movies, and Three Stooges movies.  You could always tell on Monday at school if a guy had been to a Stooge-fest that Saturday.  The unaware often fell for the old "pick two" routine.

And yet, of the ragamuffins and rakehells I ran with as a child, not a one has gone up for murder or assault.  So it's not what you guys today are seeing on your tvs or Play Stations.

But then you need to tell me why a young woman about to be graduated from college and enter the real-life work force would brandish a knife while arguing with a fellow student over something trivial, and then kill that student.  

Does life mean nothing; has it become so devalued as to represent merely an impermanent sense of here today and watch out tomorrow?  

How much rage is seething in a young woman who could do that?  

Why in the hell are you killing each other?

Critical situation

Coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens had a good quote the other night to rebut those who criticize quarterback Joe Flacco.  He went to the vault and spoke the words of Teddy Roosevelt, the guy who George Bush thought he was as tough as...

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming...

Roosevelt had a thousand careers, and if you're wondering why Tom Selleck's office in the tv series "Blue Bloods" is decorated with TR's photograph, that would be because Roosevelt was the first police commissioner of New York City, and Selleck plays the current one.  Top cop, cowboy, rancher, soldier, explorer, geographer,  historian, vice president, president.  A pretty good resume for a man who only lived to be 60.  

And here is something else he once said:

"This country will not be a permanently good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a reasonably good place for all of us to live in."
Chicago, IL, June 17, 1912

As opposed to the words of Barbara Bush, who had these kind thoughts about people who were washed away from the their homes in New Orleans on the tidal wave of Katrina and her son's total insouciance, and housed in the Astrodome:

"What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas," Barbara Bush said in an interview. "Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway," she said, "so this is working very well for them."  And she was never in the arena, never the one marred by dust and sweat.  But that didn't stop her from chiming in on everything that might have gotten dust or sweat on her patrician lifestyle.

Thanks, Barbara. There is so much talk about bullying these days.  Treating the downtrodden with supercilious disdain in the midst of a terrible emergency is a form of it, when you think about it.  Standing there saying, "I've got mine, and look at these poor people...they'd better be satisfied with the remaining tattered shreds of their lives" is bullying of the sickest form. Thinking of the courage of Flacco and Roosevelt just led me to compare how events in two different athletic arenas showed what strength of conviction really means.