Winning & Musing…..Volume 5.13

Today we go off the beaten path just a bit, with golf, the NBA, and a marathon. And I honestly wish I was addressing the sports aspect of the latter, but as you can probably guess that’s not the case.

 

 

 

The whole Tiger Woods controversy at The Masters was fascinating. First of all, I have no issue with him being assessed a two shot penalty versus being outright disqualified. New rules were put in place a few years ago for these exact kinds of circumstances. I’m not sure who is more obnoxious…golf purists or baseball purists. Anyone who was calling for Tiger Woods to DQ himself is an idiot. Secondly, tigerI’m not sure why a rules official wasn’t on hand to direct the situation on the course. Part of the blame there has to go to Tiger himself, as he should have ask for guidance rather than being cocky and assuming he knew the proper protocol. I have an issue as well with the fact that officials did review the incident while Tiger was still on the course and said everything was kosher only to reverse themselves after he’d signed his scorecard and left the premises. That is squarely on them…not him. And let’s talk about why they reversed their initial decision. The reversal was based on two things: a interview in which Woods inadvertently & unknowingly “told on himself” after the round, and a phone call in which a television viewer ratted Tiger out. In the future anyone in serious contention at The Masters or any other golf tournament should absolutely refuse all interviews based on what happened here lest they say something to incriminate themselves. And how exactly does one simply pick up the phone and call the Augusta National Golf Club in the midst of the sport’s premier event?? Is the number in the yellow pages?? I think some regrettable precedents were set at the 2013 Masters that may someday come back to haunt the PGA.

 

 

nbaOkay NBA…now is your time to shine. Citizens of the Manoverse know that I don’t pay close attention to pro basketball until the playoffs begin, and that occurs this weekend. In the east the matchups look like this:

 

           

            1 Miami Heat           vs.       8 Milwaukee Bucks

            2 New York Knicks vs.       7 Boston Celtics

            3 Indiana Pacers     vs.       6 Atlanta Hawks

            4 Brooklyn Nets      vs.       5 Chicago Bulls

There’s no way Milwaukee beats Miami. I’ll be surprised if that series isn’t an easy sweep for the Heat. I’d like to think Boston can give the Knicks a good run but I think they’re just too old. I don’t think Indiana will have much of a problem beating Atlanta. The 4/5 series might stand a good chance of going seven games, but even if Derrick Rose doesn’t return to the court I think the Bulls will win. Ultimately I think it’ll come down to a Heat-Pacers conference finals, with Miami winning in 5 games.

 

The west looks like this:

 

            1 Oklahoma City Thunder vs.     8 Houston Rockets

            2 San Antonio Spurs          vs.       7 Los Angeles Lakers

            3 Denver Nuggets            vs.       6 Golden State Warriors

            4 Los Angeles Clippers      vs.       5 Memphis Grizzlies

The west feels like it’ll be infinitely more entertaining & unpredictable than the east. I could see all of these series going 6 or 7 games. The Lakers seem to be a popular pick to pull an upset, but that ain’t happening without Kobe Bryant and he’s out with an injury. At the end of the day I gotta go straight chalk in the first round. I think it all boils down to a Spurs-Clippers conference finals, with San Antonio pulling it out in 7 games.

That means an NBA Finals pitting the Miami Heat vs. the San Antonio Spurs, and as much as I would love to see Tim Duncan ride off into the sunset with another ring after defeating the despicable Heat I just can’t go there. It looks like another ring for that assclown Lebron James and his posse. My apologies to the fine citizens of Cleveland, OH.

 

 

To call the bombing at the annual Boston Marathon regrettable would be a huge understatement. As a lifelong sports fanatic I find it appalling when any such event is marred by tragedy. Sports are supposed to be an escape. They are supposed to be fun. Sure there is a lot of money on the line for everyone involved in any sport (especially the professional leagues for the big three…football, baseball, & basketball), and certainly there are fans who take things a Boston-Marathon-bombing-screenshotbit too seriously and are far more emotionally invested than might be healthy, but at the end of the day I think most people understand the difference between whatever the sports story du jour may be and “real” life. When that line is blurred, as it has been with this bombing in Boston, I as a fan feel violated on multiple levels. We don’t yet know if this act of terror was perpetrated by a group like Al Qaeda or a lone individual with some serious psychological issues, and it has yet to be determined if it was done as a political or religious statement or simply because the person(s) were angry about a less significant yet more personal issue, but I am sure the wheels of justice will eventually provide answers. However, after all is said & done the damage is irreversible. Three people (including a small child) are dead. Nearly 200 people were injured, some catastrophically so. Their lives will never be the same. The Boston Marathon will never be the same. And we seem to have segued into an age in 21st century New America where we can no longer gather in large groups and enjoy something as innocent & pleasurable as a sporting event without having to take precautions, consider possible consequences, and ponder potentially negative outcomes that we never would have fathomed just a decade or two ago, which is a damn shame.

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 6.13

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..

 

 

 

I rarely comment on the deaths of various celebrities. I have a rather pragmatic view that comes directly from my father, who always says that death is part of life.  I also don’t think most celebrities are worth wasting much time & effort on, plus I believe that my RIP tribute that traditionally ends the annual Sammy Awards is an elegantly understated way to honor siskel-and-ebertthe passing of public figures who have meant something to me personally as well as the world in general. However, I want to take a moment to mention the loss of film critic Roger Ebert. The older I get the less likely I am to really care all that much about the opinions of others, but Ebert and his partner Gene Siskel (who died in 1999) were the gold standard of movie punditry when I was growing up. Now we have The Internet, with sites like Rotten Tomatoes where there is no shortage of opinions about everything that hits the theater. But in the 80’s and even into the 90’s Siskel & Ebert were pretty much it. I always enjoyed their show. They were smart, entertaining, and persuasive. They couldn’t get me to go see a movie that I had absolutely no interest in or dissuade me from seeing something I really wanted to, but if I was on the fence and not necessarily sure how I felt about a particular film then two thumbs up or two thumbs down could be quite influential. Mr. Ebert was a raging liberal who I disagreed with on many issues, but that’s par for the course and I have had to learn to put aside such differences and enjoy the talents & contributions of many who see the world differently than me. With the death of Roger Ebert I feel as if another little piece of my childhood is gone and that makes me sad.

 

So I was out & about on a lovely spring weekend and went to the mall for no apparent reason other than to get some exercise & check out the bookstore. I might have seen a movie but I was just a few minutes too late for the only one I was interested in seeing and the next showing wasn’t for four hours and I knew I wouldn’t hang out there that long. I decided hcto get a haircut even though I didn’t necessarily need one just yet. The place was packed because there were a couple of local proms that night and several young ladies were getting all curled & styled. I signed in and left for a bit then came back. As I sat there I kept wondering how far down the list they’d gotten and was struck with another million dollar idea. Big hairstyling places need to be like the DMV where you are issued a number and when that number comes up it shows on a digital board along with a voiceover that says ‘Now serving number…”. When my time finally came (after a half hour of waiting once I’d returned) I was conversing with my stylist about how busy they were and she informed me that eventually they would be getting a system wherein you could go traipsing about the mall and they’d text you when it was your turn, which I think is an even better idea than mine. I suppose they might have that technology in some big cities already, which means it may arrive here in West Virginia sometime in the next couple of decades.

 

God help me, but I have been unsubscribing from friends on Facebook who do nothing but post about their wonderful hbspouse or significant other. I know that is awful. But when I am sitting at home every night without so much as a phone call from anyone outside of my Dad I just can’t seem to get jazzed about the love lives of people far less lonely than me.

 

One of the things I do on a daily basis is check out various news sites…CNN, FoxNews, Drudge, USA Today, etc….to, as I tell Rocco, see what’s going on in the world. During one of those recent online expeditions I was kind of surprised but not really (if that makes any sense) to see it trumpeted as newsworthy that NBC Today reporterette Jenna Wolfe is “having a baby” with her lesbian lover (also an NBC news “journalist”). First of all, who cares?? Millions of people have babies every day. It’s not news. And neither bridegroom-aisleWolfe nor her “partner” are famous enough for anyone to give a damn. But more interestingly to me was the fact that two lesbians “having a baby” (I’m sure there is sperm involved in this somehow but of course the story conveniently left that part out) is seen as something to celebrate in 21st century New America. Look, do your thing. Live your life. Sleep with whomever you please. Wallow in whatever kind of deviant lifestyle you choose. But if people are going to constantly berate Christians for trying to “shove our beliefs down other peoples’ throats” then please do not be so hypocritical as to publically rejoice in your sinful choices that go directly against the Word of God. I am not easily offended but I get a little sick & tired not just of the wayward path America is following but the fact that so many are so brazenly, gleefully, boldly taking that path while looking at those of us who embrace traditional, Godly principles as if we are the crazy ones.

 

The suits at NBC have confirmed the rumors. Next year Jimmy Fallon will take over The Tonight Show. I do like the factJimmy Fallon-SGY-008669 that they are keeping Fallon in New York. They aren’t retiring The Tonight Show name as I suggested, but I didn’t really expect that to happen. I am sure that Leno will land on his feet, whether that means fading into obscurity or getting a show on another network. Word on the street is that SNL’s Seth Myers will get the 12:30am Late Night gig and I suppose that is a safe if uninspired choice. Now CBS…it’s your turn. David Letterman hasn’t been funny for a few years now and it may be time to give him a gentle nudge out the door.

 

I like cereal. I’m not quite on the Seinfeld level yet where I have a dozen or more boxes in my kitchen, but I usually have 2 or 3 atleast. I have been trying to eat a bit healthier so I lean toward high fiber, low fat varieties, although being the minimalist that I am my favorite…as it has been since I was a kid…is Rice Krispies. Anyway, I was fixing myself a bowl one day and began pondering packaging. The package that several products come in has evolved over the course of my lifetime. Not only is milk no longer delivered straight to one’s door but it also doesn’t come in glass bottles anymore. Ditto for glass bottles of cereal cola. The beloved silver foil that Ho-Ho’s used to come in disappeared decades before Ho-Ho’s themselves vanished from supermarket shelves. McDonald’s…bowing to pressure from environmentalist wackos…eliminated Styrofoam in favor of simple paper or cardboard years ago. When I was a kid we had to drink water from the faucet, but now it comes in handy dandy bottles. I remember my mom coming home from the store with big ol’ brown paper bags. Now all your groceries are packed in plastic bags at the checkout counter, although once again the environmentalists are trying to persuade everyone to convert to permanent cloth bags. At any rate, what I am wondering is why cereal packaging hasn’t advanced?? Cereal comes in a transparent plastic bag which is then placed inside of a rectangular cardboard box. If one doesn’t tear open the cardboard just right (and I never do) the little tabs they put in place to enable one to reclose the box is useless. And if one doesn’t tear open the inner plastic correctly then the cereal doesn’t pour out right and can potentially end up all over the place. I find this troubling and am calling upon some enterprising soul to fix the problem. Yet another million dollar idea I am offering up free of charge.

 

 

 

Happy 4th Birthday Manoverse!!

On April 5, 2009 I published my first entry here at The Manofesto. I had actually been blogging since July 17, 2007, but seo-scoop-4th-birthdaythe first couple of years the blog was part of my MySpace page.

 

My my how things have changed over the years.

 

When I look at the things I wrote on MySpace and even in the early days here at The Manofesto I have to chuckle just a bit. No one will ever mistake me for Steinbeck, Twain, Hemingway, or Bradbury, but I do think that my writing skills have improved over the years. I suppose a large part of that is a function of the old “practice makes perfect” philosophy, but there are other factors as well. Certainly there is a maturation process. I began putting a lot more thought & effort into everything once I had my own domain. The MySpace thing was more of a journal with lots of free association and not much kvetching about form & style. I was going through some things personally back in 2007-08, and writing in many ways was my deliverance. It gave me a purpose. This blog still serves in that capacity, albeit less so than in those dark days.

 

I have to give a shout out to two dear friends who The Manoverse has seen me mention a few times over the years. It was slackmy buddy Slack who urged me to start a MySpace page in 2007. I had thought MySpace was the territory of teenage girls, and as a 30-something man I was hesitant to go there. But Slack assured me that it was the thing to do and I am glad I did. bowlMySpace has long since gone the way of 8-tracks, landlines, & VCRs, but for a couple of years it was not only a good way to stay connected with friends & family but also a decent enough creative outlet. Eventually though I began to crave more and tire of what I perceived as the limitations of the MySpace blogging feature and it was my brother The Owl who gently nudged me in the direction of starting an actual standalone blog with its own domain. That has proven to be one of the best decisions I have made in the past decade.

 

I still experience moments of frustration. There are stretches when I have what isn’t quite writer’s block but more of a general malaise where I have ideas but just become lazy. I am a notorious procrastinator and waste way too much time on pointless activities. I would be far better off if I spent more time reading & writing. During the past 4 years I have written 256 little ditties here, which averages out to 5.3 posts per month, meaning I am posting about once a week. I’d feel better the-writer-writing-3647594-640-428about my efforts if it were more like 2 or 3 times per week. I’d also like very much to see The Manoverse expand. There are currently 50 citizens subscribed, which I’d love to get into triple digits. If I may be arrogant for just a minute I must admit that I sometimes become frustrated when I read other blogs that are far less interesting or well-written than what is produced here yet notice that they have hundreds of followers and a plethora of comments on each post. Perhaps I am doing something wrong in the PR department. However, having said all that I still get immense pleasure out of the writing process even if I might be the only person on the planet reading my stuff.

 

So that’s it. I just wanted to mark the occasion and celebrate a bit. I sincerely appreciate anyone who does visit the site and especially those who take a moment to comment on the things they read. It has been a fun journey, one that I do not intend to end anytime soon. As a matter of fact I’m just getting started.

Reality TV vs. The Pursuit of Excellence

Out of the two dozen couples who have gotten together on The roseBachelor and The Bachelorette in the past decade only 4 are still together. That’s a less than 17% success rate.

 

kcThere have been 11 winners of American Idol. Only two of them…Kelly Clarkson & Carrie Underwood…have achieved what one could subjectively define as a sustained level of prominence & achievement. That’s an 18% success rate, although to be fair when one throws in non-victors such as Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson, rocker carrie-underwood-606011928Chris Daughtry, television actress Katherine McPhee, & (since I’m feeling generous) Clay Aiken and considers the fact that Phillip Phillips is fresh out of the starting gate the accomplishments of Idol alums looks a bit better. 

I am not ambitious enough to research the relative successes from programs like America’s Got Talent, The Voice, Last Comic Standing, America’s Next Top Model, The X Factor, Top Chef, The Biggest Loser, or So You Think You Can Dance, but who really cares anyway??  And we haven’t even mentioned shows where the winner merely receives a cash prize like Survivor, Big Brother, The Amazing Race, or Fear Factor.

I could belabor the point, but I’ll just cut right to the chase. Reality TV is, for the most part, stupid. It in no way reflects actual reality and really only serves two purposes…it entertains the dumbed-down masses and makes a lot of people famous who A) did nothing to earn it, and B) aren’t prepared to handle it. My low opinion of reality television is nothing new to citizens of The Manoverse, but as the old saying goes “it’s all fun & games until someone gets hurt”. Well now someone has gotten hurt. In fact someone has died.

Back in January I stated my intention to not watch MTV’s new show Buckwild, which is just another way for Hollywood to laugh at my home state of West Virginia. I must admit that I did end up watching it once…for about 15 minutes…several weeks ago. As I suspected it was idiotic and not worth my time. I also saw two Buckwild cast members being interviewed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon right before the show premiered. The young lady was articulate and quite lovely. The bwyoung man was the quintessential redneck hillbilly and embodied just about every negative Appalachian stereotype. That young man was Shain Gandee. A few days ago Shain Gandee along with his uncle and a friend, were found dead. Reportedly the men had been at a bar at 3am then decided to “go muddin’”. No one knows for sure what occurred, but the theory being floated around is that their truck got stuck in the mud with the tailpipe submerged and the three men sat there revving the engine until the fumes overtook them. It’s the kind of freak accident that one might see in those Final Destination movies, only this was all too real.

The reaction here in West Virginia has been mixed. No one is happy that these people are dead. Everyone agrees that the situation is sad & tragic. But some are acting as if it is a calamity on par with The Day the Music Died or when Dale Earnhardt got killed, while others have the “well that was predictable” attitude. Personally I come down somewhere in the middle, and it is precisely because Mr. Gandee was on an asinine reality television show that I feel the way I do.

My feelings about the whole thing were encapsulated perfectly by something I saw on Facebook and decided to repost (which I rarely bookdo). Essentially what was said in this meme was that we have become a nation that is entertained by watching people act like idiots. There are people that have figured out…as someone always does…how to make money from that fact. Thus the proliferation of TV shows about nothing but people acting like idiots. It laments the fact that we have gone from a nation that “used to celebrate brilliance & seek wisdom” muddinto a populace that makes Honey Boo Boo a star and enables the antics of drunken morons on Jersey Shore. One wonders how many people could tell you anything you need to know about Duck Dynasty or the adventures of the Kardashian clan but have never read Hemingway, enjoyed Shakespeare, or spent quality time with Chopin, Mozart, & Gershwin. The point is not that MTV or Buckwild killed Shain Gandee. He may or may not have died like this anyway. Only God knows the answer to that. The point is not that Gandee or the other two men deserved to die because they were dumb rednecks. Maybe there are some folks out there that feel that way but not me. The point is that the mere fact that this is a national story is a sad reflection of our society. These deaths should be properly mourned by the families & friends and their community of Sissonville, WV, but the fact that musicanyone outside of that town even knows about the situation is a direct result of our diminishing appreciation for excellence. The little ditty I saw on Facebook mentions the poor state of education in the United States in comparison to other more studious nations and assumes that in countries like Japan children aren’t “blowing off their homework” for the kind of idiocy of which we Americans have grown so fond. I don’t know if that is true or not because I don’t know what kids (or adults) in other nations do for fun, but it is likely a valid point. It also asks a rhetorical question about our lack of familiarity or concern for soldiers killed every day in the line of duty as opposed to our intimate knowledge of the most minute celebrity trivia. I didn’t take that inquiry to be a commentary on the relative value of one human life versus another, but rather an astute observation about skewed priorities.

Was this thing that I read, agreed with, & reposted a little harsh?? Maybe. Maybe not. Death is a sensitive topic, and the circumstances of this particular situation are so full of questions that no one will ever karknow what really happened. Is it proper to seize upon such a tragedy to rail against an ancillary issue?? In this case I believe it is to a degree. Two cast members of Buckwild have ended up in jail and now one is dead. The show has only been on the air a few months. Maybe it is time that we ask ourselves what is happening to our society. When did we become so voyeuristic?? The suits in Hollywood understandably like reality television because it is cheaper to produce and requires less effort & creativity. But when did we as a society segue from being entertained by professional actors who have been properly trained, work hard, and are well compensated to utilize their talent to portray characters in fictional stories that make us laugh, cry, and think to getting our kicks by watching a bunch of actual people that have allowed cameras into their “real” lives to capture their most intimate, embarrassing, and vulnerable moments?? I don’t know how much money reality stars Duck Dynasty  560make, but you can be sure that it’s a whole lot less than what your average actor in a sitcom or one hour drama is paid. And many of these “real” people aren’t mentally & emotionally equipped for the sudden fame & fortune…even though it is probably the whole reason they signed up in the first place. I admittedly cannot relate to that thought process because I make a concerted effort in my own life to keep to myself, fly under the radar, and not draw any unnecessary attention. The mere thought of cameras following me around makes me cringe. Your mileage may vary.

At any rate, regardless of whether or not there is any direct correlation between the existence of Buckwild and the sad death of Shain Gandee, I believe it is time to pull the plug. I did read that MTV is paying the young man’s funeral expenses and they deserve kudos for doing the right thing. But they need to take the next logical step and end this ridiculous show. Furthermore, we all need to reassess our priorities and possibly invest our time in better hobbies. There’s nothing wrong with a little harmless fun. We all need to chill out occasionally. I just think there are better ways to approach that task.