Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Just be cause


Look, I get that there's a uniform dress code in the NFL, and that rules is rules. But in this particular circumstance, pushing pink gear throughout certain weeks of October to raise breast cancer awareness, then banning it every other time, looks particularly awful. Especially considering that a player genuinely affected by breast cancer (or domestic violence, etc.), and who lives their life working to help its victims, is about as an effective a beacon as the league could want if they were truly devoted to the cause.

"But if they're allowed, everyone else would want exceptions ..."

Personally, I wouldn't mind if that happened. The fact that everyone's socks are on exactly right isn't why I watch football. But OK. Even if such an exception is a slippery slope to full-on uniform anarchy, it's the league itself that gave the first push down that slope by involving itself in such causes. If nothing else, it could let its players choose to extend its involvement with officially sanctioned organizations. That would please the players and organizations, and make the league's part-time promotion look more genuine.

I know as a fan, I wouldn't be offended. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Market irritation

Yesterday, Fox Sports cut off the Saints-Colts game outside of the New Orleans market during the third quarter. Curt Menefee announced the change by saying something to the effect of, "The Saints are up 27-0. Let's face it, you don't care unless you're into fantasy or are a Saints fan living far away. So we're going to switch you to a more competitive game." 

LIES!
As a Saints fan living far away who has seen maybe 2.5 games all season (1.5 good), that was an unpleasant surprise and a bit of a diss. Miffed, I took to Twitter, where I learned many people closer to the area also couldn't see the game — because it had been offered on Fox, NFL Sunday Ticket had blocked it out, so for a while it was off the airwaves altogether for most of the nation. 

And naturally, that 27-0 blowout nearly turned into Heidi Game II as the Colts rapidly roared back with 21 unanswered points. All many of us could do to stay up to date was frantically refresh Twitter (which is faster than NFL.com's game tracker, NFL RedZone and pretty much anything else). 

RedZone, meanwhile, remained fixated almost entirely on the Bucs-Washington game for much of that period, meaning I had two channels full of a game I (and arguably most of the West Coast) cared even less about (though admittedly it did have a gripping ending). Granted, it was cool to flip from RedZone to Fox and feel like I traveled two seconds into the future. (NFL Sunday Ticket did put the game on after the outcry, I'm told. So people with lots of money got it back. That's something, I guess.)

For reasons that may remain forever unknown, the Saints-Colts game dragged on well past its typical time frame, outlasting the game that replaced it by several minutes. But, of course, Fox never switched back to it.

I suppose one could argue that Fox was operating as it often does, switching a non-market blowout to a more enticing non-market game for ratings purposes. But yesterday, it bit them in the butt and left an entire fan base irritated.

At least we got to see the best part.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Saints-Colts analysis

A good game in which Delvin Breaux slipped twice but didn't many, many more times.

Also, Fox Sports shouldn't have cut off the game in faraway markets. I blame every bad thing in the second half on that.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The future is almost yesterday

In honor of Back to the Future day, I was going to post my Wikipedia summary of Back to the Future IV (which I started from scratch this morning and which escalated quickly). The movie would star Christopher Lloyd (with Michael J. Fox in two cameos) and would explain the difference between the 2015 of BTTF II and the real 2015 (hint: this is the bad 2015). It's a plot line I've had in my head for years.

But of course, it became a full treatment thing and I've found and addressed a million holes (which in turn created a million more holes), and rewatching all three films today makes it seem rudderless by comparison, so I guess my treatment will need more ... dare I say it ... time. Huh-huh.

In lieu of that, have fun with this.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

When kids enjoy playing with toys


My kind of kid. And dad.

When I was a small child, I also wanted a kitchen playset (mostly the refrigerator, but that counts). I didn't get one, but mainly because they were expensive. Several times during my childhood, most recently for Christmas when I was 9, I was given fake-grocery playsets that I wanted. 

I also had at least one each of Rainbow Brite and Care Bear toys, and watched My Little Pony and Friends during the Hasbro morning block.

I don't know what these said about my gender-normitude. That I liked appliances? That I enjoyed eating and/or playing shopkeep? Whatever it was, the worst fears of people with awful beliefs didn't come true. Because toys don't control that. Even if they did, so what? Who cares? Live and let live!

It's worth noting that I also played with action figures, Transformers and other dude stuff. The boy in the link does too, apparently.

Could it be that I, just like this boy, just really liked playing with toys?

Probably.

Well, it's official

Today at Dulles Airport, I had to go through a full-body scan twice.

The reason was that I was first scanned as a female and didn't do so well.

The second time, they put in that I was male. That led to a giant "OK!" from the machine's monitor.

I've suspected my manliness for at least the past few years, but now it's confirmed.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

It's past time for baseball to flip its script


Chris Rock said it best: Major League Baseball is far too reserved. Actually, what he said was way more awesome, and I recommend checking out his video. I'll wait.

Pro baseball needs personality much more than it needs unspoken rules. The sanctity of the game is all well and good, but in an age where fans decry the far-more-animated NFL for being the "No Fun League," aggressive adherence to a players-as-robots philosophy threatens to kill the sport within a generation or two.

From a business standpoint, you want marketable players. The NFL, NBA and NHL have those in droves. Each league makes efforts to clamp down on offenders, but otherwise like when a player is well-known, even if notoriously. With the major leagues, on the other hand, you often get the feeling that having names on the backs of jerseys is an indulgence.

From a fan's perspective, the game needs to be more human, just like it used to be at its cultural peak.

Baseball has some of the most memorable athletes in any sport — men who surged beyond iconic status — and it wasn't just for their play. But in today's MLB climate, Babe Ruth's famous point would be seen as a breach of etiquette. Ten years from now, celebrating the World Series with a team pileup might be considered gauche.

The fact that a bat flip is heresy in baseball speaks to how conservative the game has become. Is a bat flip the classiest move? Perhaps not. But any celebration in any sport is going to offend someone, because half the people watching would rather not have such an outcome. 

But for me, at least, I like seeing personality in sports. It's a game. Entertainment. Let's see players love it. Let's see opposing fans hate it. Stir up some emotion. Maybe then, baseball can stir up a whole new fan base. This is a prime opportunity.

And GO CUBS!!

When to replace your smartphone

When you see a newer version in a museum.

Pictured: A pretty clear clue.

Saints-Falcons analysis

Beating the Cowboys and the Falcons sounds like a winning season to me.

The end of an erotica


This is one of those things where you think, WTF? Nude pictorials made Playboy!

That is correct. But in 2015, those pictorials are the most antiquated thing about the magazine, so it makes perfect sense to take them out.

The Internet has won porn. There is no question about that. If it became illegal right this minute to post one more pornographic picture online, there would still be enough nudity on the Internet for a dozen eternities. It’s easy to find. Scratch that — even many innocuous search terms pull up porn, and most engines have a safe-search option, so you actively have to opt out of finding it.

This is a far, far cry from print erotica’s appeal. There was a thrill to buying, or finding, nudie magazines in an age where salacious JPEGs weren’t nanoseconds away. Porn’s coy status in those days, the relative tameness of movies and TV, and limited home technology meant that, in their heyday, the magazines were your best avenue to seeing it all.

For decades, the biggest mental block to buying an issue of Playboy was that the cashier knew you were angling to ogle. These days, the block lies in purchasing something that is so aggressively free online. Which is why Playboy’s decision makes perfect sense — the magazine has long been so much more than its steamier side, and it’s reached a point where the pics are becoming a liability.

Playboy has long offered some of the sharpest writing and the most in-depth interviews of any magazine. Hugh Hefner sought to create a legitimate think book for the sophisticated gentleman (or gentlewoman). The more immediate and obvious allure aside, he did that.

The problem in this day and age is that Playboy, like all media outlets, is looking to expand its audience. Online, this requires articles that are sharable to a wide audience. Playboy has, and has always had, those. But if people think clicking on a Playboy link is going to inundate their screen with nudity, they’re not going to bother. Nor will they want to share said link for the same reason. Likewise, if someone would theoretically purchase a print Playboy magazine for the articles but is turned off by the prospect of buying porn, then the magazine does itself a disservice.

In recent weeks, I’ve seen an uptick in shared articles from Playboy on social media. The site recently separated its content from its pics, so that might be the reason. Playboy has remembered that it has articles, too, and wants to be part of the conversation in which we all engage every day.

The magazine is getting smart about its audience, its reputation and its reality. Just as it did 62 years ago, it’s once again breaking ground.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Saints-Eagles analysis

Ugh.

Literally reinventing the millennial pledge

One of my hobbies is hate-reading bash pieces on millennials. So you can imagine how I took Millennials, you literally cannot call yourselves adults until you take this pledge. OMG. It literally made my day, you guys!

The pledge that every millennial needs to take because it’s soooo good for you can be divided into a handful of categories. It can also be rewritten into a condensed version that you can totally text on the way to somewhere that isn’t work. Don’t worry — I’ll handle that part. You just call in dead or whatever.

IRONIC GENERATIONAL CONDESCENSION

These refer to actions and attitudes that are endemic across all ages, but get pegged as millennial problems because baby boomers would never text while driving or feel entitled and they’re the ones writing history.

• I am entitled to nothing.
• I will show up on time.
• Just once, I will try driving without texting.
• Just once, I will try eating without texting.
• I promise not to misuse the word "literally." As in "I am literally dying of hunger" or "You are literally being so rude."
• At holiday dinners, I will leave my phone in my room.
• All those T-shirts? I will wash them.
• I will force myself to finally make a phone call.
• I promise not to text anything of life-changing significance: a marriage proposal, a divorce decree, a positive result.
• When I get my way, I will be grateful and not assume that I will always get my way.
• I will live each day./I will sleep each night./I am entitled to nothing but that.

Let’s just blow past these. They’re silly.

BIZARRELY SPECIFIC CURMUDGEONRY

The writer apparently met the worst millennial ever and that was that. If this millennial drove a green Smart car with a “Kill Your TV” bumper sticker, one of these points would have been, “I will not drive a green Smart car with a ‘Kill Your TV’ bumper sticker.”

• I will not shun comedians or college commencement speakers just because I don't agree with them. 
• I will not consider the cilantro on my taco to be a vegetable.
• I will not go on a job interview in shorts and flip-flops, even if "this job is so beneath me."
• When I finally move out of my parents' home, I will not take all their vodka and half their towels.
• I will not use crowd-funding to pay for my first car.
• If I can't afford car insurance, I won't spend $20 a day on coffee.
• If my first-born is a boy, I promise not to name him Uber.
• I won't sneak texts during funerals even if it's "totally boring and the dead guy is just lying there anyway.”
• I will not use pepper spray to season a burrito.
• If I hate my new job, I will not fake my own death. I will give a full two weeks' notice like grown-ups usually do.

More pointless pledge pablum. Poof.

THE EMILY POST FAN CLUB

These favor ritual over intent and/or deal with smut.

• I will (mostly) swear off smut.

If he's referring to the word “smut,” I agree. Totally unappetizing term. As for smut itself, well, I’d say that’s better than a lifetime of sexual repression and everything awful that brings about. So let’s toss this one.

• Each year, I will pen at least one thank-you note, using what's left of my cursive writing skills.
• I won't give only gift cards for Christmas.

I think we can rewrite these two as, “I will make every effort to keep in touch with those I care about, and give them tailored and thoughtful gifts.”

OK, we’re at one!

HUH?

Granted, most of the following are set up by previous points. That doesn’t mean they make any more sense in context.

• I will not burn overpasses.
• I will not be smut.
• I will not spend an entire weekend exploring my own mouth with a coffee straw.

Hmmm. “I will not be stupid.” I guess? Let’s go with that. And we’re at two.

WHAT THE HELL?

•  I will learn all my siblings' names (even the younger ones).

This is in a class by itself, just for being so weird. Seems like someone not knowing their siblings’ names is more the parents’ bad. And indicative of problems much more serious than, say, a coffee-straw fixation.

I can tell you at what minutes my brother and sister were born. And their names too! Then again, I’m on the edge of X and millennial. Maybe knowing your siblings’ names went out of style with the class of 1999.

Still at two.

WHAT MIGHT HAVE MERIT

OK, so the advice isn’t all ridiculous. These points of his are sensible for all generations:

• Nothing is beneath me.
• In high school or college, I will get a part-time job. Even if it's beneath me.
• Again, nothing is beneath me.
• I will learn to laugh at everything, especially myself.
• When meeting someone for the first time, I will always look him or her in the eye.
• I will not burn bridges.
• I will be resourceful, creative and authentic.
• I will vote. Always.
• I will learn to pick my battles.
• When I don't get my way, I will learn to roll with it.
• I will not run up my credit cards.
• I will save 10% of everything I earn.
• I will always remember Aristotle's quote: "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
• At least once a week, I will hug my mom the way I hug my friends every single time I see them.
• I will do nice things just because.

Those are worth a couple of rewrites.

So here is the more relevant and economical pledge, just the way millennials like it:

• I will be a decent, loving and responsible person who will try to leave the world in better shape than I found it.
• I will never let anyone discourage me from realistic dreams.
• I will be self-aware in my critique of others, always considering that I might have shaped that which I critique.
• I will make every effort to keep in touch with those I care about, and give them tailored and thoughtful gifts.
• I will not be stupid.

Say it with me, kids of all ages.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Please stop doing this

Can we stop derisively referring to the Dallas Cowboys as the Cowgirls?

Girls are awesome and so are cowgirls. This year's Cowboys are so beset with injuries that they're increasingly hard to watch. Calling them the Cowgirls only makes them sound cooler, which I doubt is the point of anyone hurling the "epithet."

Stop it! And everything else like it.

When "glorification" isn't

I have written many, many times about this before (because, unfortunately, I’ve had so many occasions to do so). But Slate has outdone me here: 


Key sentence: “Journalists are not supposed to elide relevant facts when reporting a news story just because reporting those facts might strike some people as offensive or wrong.”

This is perhaps the most common refrain that journalists hear in the aftermath of tragedies. Why glorify the guy? Why upset people with details?

First question first.

Mentioning the suspect’s name and story isn’t glorifying anyone. It’s reporting the truth, which is (ideally) the point of journalism. It has a purpose — aside from simply disseminating the facts (which will always be needed in a world where conjecture would otherwise swirl in a vacuum), it can possibly start a conversation as to why he did it and how to thwart such ills in the future.

“But you’re giving the killer the notoriety he wanted!”

Instead of complaining that disclosing a shooter’s name will inspire copycats, maybe we should ask why, in the supposedly richest and most prosperous nation the world, we have so many people inspired to damage society. Where does that nihilistic feeling of nothing to lose come from? Is it the economy? Is it mental illness? Both? Neither? All of the above and more? Maybe confront those ills first. People who are mentally sound and happy with their lives don’t massacre others.

Second question: “Why upset people with details?”

This conveys a profound misunderstanding of what journalism is and what it does. Playing to the most sensitive sensibilities would barely let the weather report get out.

Journalists constantly exercise discretion based on their audience, beat, relevance of information and other numerous factors. But the primary standard is the truth. If something is known and there is no pressing reason to keep it under wraps (such as lack of official confirmation or that it’s an unreleased, sensitive detail in an investigation), then it must get out there. It’s not always what we want to see or hear, but that (as I’ve said so many times before) is the nature of news. How we absorb it (or not) is up to our discretion as individuals.

The primary hallmark of democracy is an open flow of information. Censoring news, however supposedly noble the intent, violates that standard. In a free world, we have the freedom to turn away. Those who want to know deserve to know.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

And 2015 has its representative headline


As Oct. 21, 2015 and a trillion viewings of Back to the Future II loom, we now know what that iconic film got the most wrong — specifically, the glaring lack of beards that look straight out of 1885. 

But if you look carefully (or read the Scholastic book based on the screenplay, which delves more into what businesses populate Courthouse Square), you'll see that there are clinics for all kinds of health needs — things that seemed downright wacky in 1989, but aren't much of a stretch today. 

Just off-screen in 2015 Hill Valley, there's probably a beard-transplant store. And it's more true to life than the Pontiac dealership. 

The article says that recent advances have made beard transplants possible in a non-doll-head sense. So we're in a moment where technology and trends have collided in the perfect storm of white hipsters having too much money to burn.

Too bad this convergence didn't happen 25 years ago, because then we would have had this for mullets. Mullets are eternal.

Funny what guys want. I grow lots of facial hair and consequently shave often. Razors are expensive. Meanwhile, there are men perfectly willing to shell out the price of a new car for the privilege of looking like they have lots of testosterone. That is, until the day they decide their scruff is out of style, then they have to keep shaving for the rest of their lives. Razors are expensive.

Though, all things considered, a beard is a more frugal way to look older than a lifetime of heavy smoking.

54 words about 27 manly ways

The New York Times has gracefully contributed to my collection of absurd men's lists with 27 Ways to Be a Modern Man. Here, I rebut each point in two words. Because that's what John Wayne would do.

1) Weirdly specific
2) Fair enough
3) Mouth closed?
4) Gross. GROSS.
5) Hell yes
6) Weirdly patriarchic
7) Marketing snobbery
8) Word snobbery
9) Breeder snobbery
10) Overly anal
11) Arbitrary machismo
12) That’s manly?
13) Musical snobbery
14) Or, memorize
15) Obviously satire … ?
16) Redneck fantasy
17) Fruit snobbery
18) That’s shoehorning
19) I suppose
20) Truth, misstated
21) Hopefully not!
22) Everyone should
23) Film snobbery
24) Just strange
25) Poignantly brilliant
26) Describes me
27) Paramount: fun