Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Playoffs? Who Said Anything About Playoffs? (Reprise)

The times they are a changing, Mr. Jones, in our favorite professional sport: College Football. Big Time, Division One BCS-FBS Football will be coming to your city with a playoff system to determine its champion starting in 2014. In sports news terms, this is like Nixon going to China and landing on the moon on the same day in O.J. Simpson’s Bronco. This is HUGE, almost bigger than Kim Kardashian, Snooki and Justin Beiber combined.

Big Time College Football has used various methods in the past to crown a season’s champion. They used to use The UPI poll and The AP poll. Whoever was voted number one at the end of the bowl season would be the champion of that year. Even though one was voted on by college coaches who could not watch the various games because they were coaching (duh!) and the other was voted on by sports writers who were usually drinking, this was thought to be a very good method by almost nobody and usually led to Notre Dame being in at least the Top Five.

This led to the creation of The BCS (The Bowl Championship Series). The BCS relies on a combination of polls, computer selection, darts, coin tosses, whims, Kirk Heibstreit and other methods to determine relative team rankings and to narrow the field to two teams to play in The Pepsi Sears Tostitios Long John Silver’s Viagra BCS National Big Time Mythical Championship Game presented by Jiffy Lube held after the other college bowl games, on the night before you have to go back to work after the holidays, starting at 9:00 Eastern Standard Time. Of course, this pleased nobody.

Then somebody up North (figures) realized that the BCS National Championship Game was being won by teams of the Southeastern Conference. If it wasn’t LSU winning, it was Florida. If it wasn’t Florida, it was Alabama. If it wasn’t Bama, it was Auburn. Last year’s champion, Alabama, didn’t even win its conference or division.

The Old Men of College Football and the College Presidents got together and came up with a four team playoff system that will serve the academic calendar. I know I laughed when I read that the College Presidents were really concerned with academic careers of people that don’t go to class. The four teams will be chosen by a selection committee to play in games on New Year’s Eve or Day. The winners will meet on the first Monday in January that is at least six days after the last semi-final game is played or Ground Hog’s Day.

Nobody knows who will be on the selection committee or what standards they would use to determine the top four teams. The best guess it will have something to do with “wins”, so don’t look for any teams with 6-5 records, but with Notre Dame out there you never know. They may also look at the “strength of schedule” and “cheerleader hotness”

Reaction to this has been positive, sort of like finding out that your Kate Upton look-a-like fiancĂ© cooks like Paula Dean. Most sports fans were pleasantly surprised because common sense doesn’t always flow in the sports pages. My feeling is that it sounds good , but, let’s see how it plays out. We’ll have plenty of time to learn to hate it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pastor Punk'd

I have been writing a blog for almost three years. Recently, I have been paying attention to how many people read my blog since I discovered that Blogger (my free blogging service) actually keeps statistics on my readership.

I do not have the readership of Roddy Freeman, a fellow Blogspotter, who writes a blog called Atlanta Airwave Action. He’s connected to the local Atlanta radio industry and his blog has over 6,500 pages views a month. My page views are, ahem, somewhat south of that figure. To put a really bad 70’s analogy on it, Atlanta Airwave Action is Kareem Abdul Jabbar while Humor Me is Herve Villechaize.

Paying attention to the statistics can be a bit depressing. Some of the posts I thought were brilliant, worthy of a Nobel Prize, had low readership. However, the most second viewed post in the history of Humor Me is a post titled, “Not Your Father’s Church Camp” (July 5, 2010). It was about when I was part of the “adult help” at church camp. It was a fun camp and I think the kids got a lot out of it, but, as Paul Harvey used to say, here’s the rest of the story.

Before the first evening’s worship service, I was sitting with my pal, Bobby. I have a lot in common with Bobby-my son and his daughter were born on the same day at the same hospital and his dad was the principal of my high school. Out of the blue Bobby said, “Hey, let’s text the Pastor and pretend we’re David Platt and that he wants to meet him”. It sounded like a good idea at the time. (Yes, I was over 50 years old when this happened, why do you ask?)

David Platt was the Preacher for this camp and he is just about as hot as you can get, preacher-wise. He’s written a New York Times best selling book (Radical). In fact, he’s had a positive column written about him in the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times, which has to be the first for a Southern Baptist. He has an earned doctorate and was born in 1979. Doesn’t that make you sick?

I told Bobby okay and we decided that I would be the one to text our Pastor because Bobby is always texting the Pastor with great sermon ideas (“Do a series on sex. For a friend”) and he would recognize Bobby's number. I wrote, “Heard you were here, would like to meet you. David Platt” and sent it to the Pastor who was a couple of rows down from us.

It was not a minute before I got a response: “Sure! Where?” This caused the mother of all muffled laughs because we didn’t want to blow our cover. As we were congratulating ourselves on a great practical joke, we began discussing how we were going to let the Pastor know that this wasn’t David Platt. I voted against walking up and saying, "I sent you a text and pretended I was David Platt”. Me and the Pastor work out at the same gym and I didn’t want him to throw a kettle bell at me.

I responded to the Pastor’s text: “Up near the stage, just be sure to bring Bobby with you”. Next text from the Pastor: “Who is this?” By this time, Bobby and I were laughing so hard that I think the Pastor figured it out. Bobby walked up and confessed that it was all “Alan’s idea” and that he tried to talk Alan out of it but you know what a low-down- dirty-dog-sinner Alan can be and that while Alan doesn't care if the Pastor is upset, he does. The Pastor said he wasn’t and seemed to take it all in stride.

Bobby kept worrying that the Pastor was miffed and at the end of the first evening worship service, walked up to the Pastor and said, ‘We were just having fun with you Preacher...”. The Pastor stopped him in mid-sentence, “Don’t worry Bobby, I’m not going to get you back. I’m going to get your lil' friend”. (For those of you that don’t know, I am a vertically challenged American. It could be worse. I could be from Texas.)

When I got home from camp, I called my college roommate, Bill and let him know of the prank. Bill has been immortalized in story and song for his practical jokes over the years. He was impressed with my joke. I must admit I was very proud of myself.

Fast forward to about two weeks later: my wife and I are at the gym. One of the worker’s walks up to me and says I’m two months behind on my gym fees. This makes me almost instantly mad because I know we have been paying our fees. As I’m sitting there wondering how to explode and not look like an idiot, which is impossible for me because when I get mad I look like a Chihuahua chasing a squirrel. Then the worker said, “That man over there told me to tell you this” and pointed to a man doing some curls with hand weights.

It was the Pastor-smiling like a Cheshire cat. I walked up to him and begged for a truce. He said, “Always remember, the Pastor has the last word”.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Big Soda

A few weeks ago, the Mayor of New York decided since all of the problems of New York have been conquered, he needed to focus his laser beam like attention to something very very serious: obesity. It is not known if he was in the company of Gov Chris Christie at the time. The Mayor’s solution: a ban of sugary drinks sold over 16 ounces at the city’s restaurants, delis, food trucks, movie theaters, and sporting arenas. Beer and milkshakes are exempt.

Of course, there has been a backlash because: 1) It is stupid and 2) It is really dumb and 3) It is unconstitutional. We have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and sometimes that pursuit takes 16.5 ounces of Pepsi.

To be fair, there have been those who think this idea is nifty. One is Mika Brzezinski, who is on MSNBC but is almost FOX News hot. She referred to sugary soft drinks as “poison”. I guess you can say it is not her cup of Joe. (Humor Alert: She is the co-host of “Morning Joe” on MSNBC. I know it is not funny if you have to explain a joke, but you pretty much have to explain everything when it comes to MSNBC.)

David Frum, who is a house conservative at The Daily Beast (when did news organizations start coming up with such terrible names?) called The Mayor “visionary” for trying to do something about these awful fat people and the awful diseases they have and how awful they look in the summer. Everyone knows that the fattest guy at the ballpark will be the first one to take off his shirt.

To those of us who think that this is an assault on personal freedom, Frum says, “Some object that the mayor's proposal to restrict serving sizes will restrict liberty. But the liberty restricted is not the liberty of the soda-drinker. If they wish, soda drinkers can buy a 2-liter bottle of soda at the grocery for about $1.70 and pour as much of it down their throats as they wish. The liberty that is being restricted is the liberty of the soda seller to manipulate known human weaknesses to the seller's advantage and the buyer's detriment.” Those people at Sterling,Cooper,Draper, Pryce, Humphrey and Muskie sure know how to manipulate the known human weakness to be a Pepper too.

The most hilarious support for the soda restrictions came from Neil McDonald of The Canadian Broadcasting System in an “analysis” titled “The Sacred American Right To Overeat”. In it he says, “Americans are really, really fat. Walk down any street here in any state, but most particularly in any southern state, and you'll see what I mean. He admits that sometimes it is a thyroid condition that causes this fatness. But, “In the vast majority of cases, the cause is over-consumption of over-processed, high-sugar, ultimately toxic food.” He does not add how he came to this conclusion so I can only speculate that it was due to his being a highly trained Canadian journalist.

He says “efforts by U.S. President Barack Obama's wife, Michelle, to fight childhood obesity by encouraging healthier eating have been widely ridiculed by conservatives here, many of whom are plenty fat themselves. Step right up, Rush Limbaugh.” McDonald then deconstructs Limbaugh’s position (Nanny State, Obama drinks beer, etc) by stating that the fat people cost us a lot of money in medical costs through Medicare and Medicaid due to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and just plain grossness. Oh yeah, they have to make toilets stronger now in the US now to accommodate all of our fat rear ends.

If McDonald could not resist the Limbaugh angle (Limbaugh’s Fat!) you know he couldn’t resist the obvious conspiracy: BIG SODA. “The ones that make enormous profits marketing unhealthy food to adults and children and fight hard to keep school food vending machines stocked with sugary garbage. They make a fortune by combining syrup with carbonated water and charging markups of several hundred per cent. (Such drinks account for more than 10 per cent of the added sugar in Americans’ diets)”. McDonald makes Coke and Pepsi seem like drug pushers. The nerve of these companies to combine syrup with carbonated water to make money-it is simply outrageous! Next thing you’ll, they will “claim” they will like to teach the world to sing when all they really want to do is give you Type 2 diabetes.

My favorite sentence is this: “Try to buy a diet soda at a service station south of the Mason-Dixon Line and you’ll have to search through the wall cooler.” The nicest word to describe this sentence is hyperbole. If McDonald was Dave Barry, I would have thought he was just being funny. Nope, this is serious Canadian analysis. Therefore, a more apt description of this sentence is: bigoted bull feces. I have lived “south of the Mason-Dixon” 24-7 for almost 53 years. I have never had to “search” for a Diet Coke.

First, they came for soda, but I am an iced tea drinker and I did nothing. Then, they came for chocolate, and I did nothing because I’ve out grown chocolate. Then, they came after cheeseburgers and there was nobody left.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Never To Late To Know You Are Loved

Ah, 1974, what a year! It was the year Nixon resigned (on my birthday, no less). Aaron broke Ruth’s home run record. Young people took to the streets running around “nekkid” in something called “streaking”. No matter how many times we told Ethel not to look, she did. It was also the year of the Famous Graduation of the Wheeler High School Class of 1974, which I might add, included a future first round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys (Robert Shaw, you can look it up).
The class of ’74 was some class. In fact it was probably the last class of its kind at Wheeler, where most of the kids were born on the second floor of Kennestone Hospital. East Cobb was under going a nuclear population explosion back then. People were moving in from exotic places like Minnesota and Indiana. When I was in the 8th grade a new girl was introduced to a class I was in and she was from Massachusetts of all places! Her last name ended in a vowel! She was always “pahkin’ the cah’ in Havahd yahd’. You can imagine how hilarious that sounded coming out of our Southern accents.

For some reason, some schools like to hold graduation exercises outdoors. In Georgia, this does not make any sense. For one thing, June in Georgia is miserably hot just like it is July, August, and September. For another there is always the possibility of a killer electrical storm that pops up out of nowhere just to let us know what God can do. In 1974, Wheeler decided to hold its graduation outdoors on the football field which was then known as “The Football Field”.

The metal football bleachers, which had been in the sun all day, was filled to capacity with Moms, Dads, Brothers and Sisters. The ceremony began when The Class of 1974 marched out. Then just before the first speaker the mother of all electrical storms hit. It was not a light midst. It was a gully washer. It was a frog choker. Todd Nixon said “They told us beforehand that if it started raining, don’t start running across the field like a bunch of little old ladies.” Of all things to tell somebody: don’t run when it is raining. That’s public education for you.

In true Wheeler fashion, the graduates ignored what they were told to do and ran off of the football field as if they were running from Godzilla in Tokyo while wearing caps and gowns. Meanwhile, the Moms, Dads, Brothers and Sisters were still in the metal bleachers, in the middle of an electrical storm, getting soaking wet. My wife was one of those sisters.

The powers that be, (the ones that went to school to work in education and suddenly realized there was never a college course about what to do when there is storm of Biblical proportions at an outdoor graduation), decided to hold separate but equal ceremonies. The Lady Wildcats’ gowns had become transparent and there has never been anything as randy as a Mid-70’s Male Wildcat. It should not surprise you that the Lady Wildcats held their ceremony in the Library (better known as “The Lie Berry” as one Vice Principal would call it) and it was done in a dignified manner as possible with a room full of wet girls, teachers, and family. A teacher stood on top of a table and read the student’s name, the student walked up, received her diploma, and walked back to where she either standing or sitting.

It is also no surprise that the Wildcat men’s diploma ceremony was held in the cafeteria and that it was complete chaos. The students had their names read out and then the diploma was flipped to them “like a Frisbee”. One student said, “I wound up getting my diploma tossed to me by the wrestling coach. I will remember that till the day I die.”

Last year, current principal Dr. David Chiprany heard about this day and decided to give this class their due. He held a “re-graduation” at the school for The Class of ’74 last week. These now middle aged men and women, dressed in their high school caps and gowns, entered the auditorium to the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” and got to listen to a couple of speakers. One was Judge Tain Kell, whose father was the legendary football coach at Wheeler. The other was Roger Hines, one of those rare teachers that actually cared. He told a great joke: “You might be a redneck if your children and grandchildren attend your graduation.” He also said, “We might have slung your diplomas at you like hamburgers on the Fourth of July, but you are loved.”

That was really the lesson. Sometimes circumstances conspire against you, but the people who love you will always try to do the best they can.