Saturday, November 18, 2006

ESPN Motion Sickness

I need to vent.

Is there anyway to disable that stupid-ass ESPN Motion player on the homepage?

You know what I'm talking about - that little video screen in the upper right hand corner of the page they use to replay sports clips and commercials they presume I am interested in watching. I'm not.

I don't want it. I don't use it. I don't like it. Every time I visit that site, I get down to the third or fourth headline and the stupid player kicks in. It's distracting. It's annoying. Sometimes it's very loud. I hate it. And I immediately have to go up and click on the stop button to make the madness end.

I like to be in control my browsing expoerience, and ESPN won't let me. They keep forcing that audio/vidio shit down my throat. I'd boycott the site if it weren't the gold standard in sports news. Looks like I'm stuck with it. Just wish they'd let me OPT IN to the movie player instead of forcing me to opt out every single time.

Give me a dramamine - I've got ESPNMotion Sickness.

Friday, November 17, 2006


I was headed to the Bears game with my dad last month and, stuck in traffic en route to Soldier Field, we tuned in to some pre-game AM talk radio to get us fired up in advance of kick-off. The analysts and broadcasters were mercilessly criticizing someone's performance from the week prior, drilling down to the minutest details in offering explanations for why that player was under-delivering on the field. As the headless talking heads went back and forth, my dad offered up some food for thought.

"Imagine," he said, "if there were people in this world whose jobs were to analyze and criticize your work performance every day."

"Right," I said, catching his drift immediately. "And they'd question your salary, and your work ethic, and your desire. Every single day."

"Exactly. And then they'd do it over the radio so that millions of people could hear about how you messed up. And how you should have done something differently. And how you're not trying hard enough. Imagine being under the microscope like that."

It all seemed kind of absurd when we thought about it. These sports radio guys get paid to pick apart player performances day in and day out. They question absolutely everything. They orchestrate call-in programs where fans can get in on the bashing. They openly discuss details considered private in most employment agreements, like medical information and salaries. And they're constantly stirring up controversy by questioning commitment, dedication, intentions, and motivation. And, in many ways, high-profile sports figures are demonized by members of the media who don't know them personally - but who presume to for the sake of making a point.

Many of these folks say it comes with the territory - that professional sports figures are fair game because they're in the public eye. And because they make a LOT of money.

Then I imagined how I would feel if I turned on the radio this evening on my way home from work and heard people talking about ME.

"...that's exactly what I'm talking about, Mike. He clearly lacks focus. Let's go back to the conference call he had this morning. Completely unprepared. Hardly said a word. Mentally absent."

"No, you're right. But maybe that's because he's just not ready yet. He's too young."

"Too young? He's not a rookie anymore. By now, this kid needs to know how to handle a simple client call."

"But even the best have bad days. He's still learning the ropes. And let's give that conference call some props - those clients threw some real zingers at him today. Estimates? Schedules? I can guarantee you he wasn't prepared to handle those. Whose fault is that? The director."

"I agree. But he's got to have better instincts when he's under the gun. Period. But aside from the conference call. That's just one example. I'm talking about a pattern of behavior here that forces us to have to ask the question - maybe there's someone better out there. Maybe the agency should consider waiving him and re-staffing that position with some more proven talent."

"It always comes back to this. Keep him. Get rid of him. I still think he's going to be spectacular one day."

"One day, yes. But when? And how long is this agency willing to sit on his potential. He spends half his morning checking fantasy sports online. He spends another hour every day checking personal e-mail. And then there are the long coffee breaks. This is a guy who doesn't have the passion that is required to become great. Tons of natural talent - but no motivation."

"Well, we disagree again. Although I think he's overpaid, too. I'll agree with you there. They spent a ton of green when they went out and nabbed this guy. Signed him to a lucrative deal and have yet to see the investment pay off."

"Unless they figure out a way to bill clients for trips to the coffee machine."

"Right. That's right. Although he'll tell you he needs it to take his morning dump. Okay. Let's take a break. But when we come back we want to know what YOU think about AYNtK. Revenue-raising star or water cooler bust? We'll talk about the day he came in late because he couldn't find parking, the long lunch he had last Friday, his bad breath, and more. Stay tuned!"

"Oh man, the breath. That alone is grounds for dismissal. We'll be right back."

And then I'd flip the station and there'd be two more jackasses talking about me.

"What was with that sweater he wore to work yesterday? Did you see that?"

"It wasn't the sweater so much as it was the pants. I've never seen such a random dresser in my life. Different colors, styles, patterns. It's like he's dressing out of one of those Salvation Army bins behind the grocery store."

"Did you hear what his co-worker said about his breath the other day?"


Most of these sports dudes are pretty tough to begin with, but they must have skin of steel to deal with some of the crap these motormouths are belching out during the morning drive. I don't know how they do it - but I'm glad I don't have to deal with that kind of public criticism.

Anyone have a breath mint?


Pirate Brad sent me this link as explanation for his walking the porcelain plank at our Halloween Party a couple weeks ago. It does seem to explain a lot. Not the site itself, but the fact that Pirate Brad says it's one of his favorites.

The Night Train is leaving the station...all aboard! This link is actually a pretty good resource for college kids looking to drink on a dime. And busy professionals. The only "bumwine" I've ever had, that I know of, is Mad Dog 20/20. The name sends a mixed message of sorts. While I was foaming at the mouth by evening's end, my eyesight was no where near 20/20. I'm thinking it ought to be Mad Dog 20/400 or something like that.


Screw the Playstation 3.

Here's a fun helicopter game that will keep you occupied for hours.

Or at least several minutes.


I am old. Old and out of touch. I keep seeing these news stories all over the internet about the debut of a new gaming console called the Playstation 3. Apparently there have been long lines across the country, and a number of heated altercations, as people fight to be the first to own one. And here I am, oblivious to this nation's insatiable hunger for cutting-edge electronic entertainment. I just don't understand the hype at all. It's a GAME box - I'm pretty sure Sony is going to be making more of them. Are these collectors editions? What does this demand for hand-eye stimulation come from?

When I was a kid, we had Atari. 2600, baby. And that was a pretty big deal when it first came out. But it was revolutionary because you no longer had to trek out to the J.J. Peppers convenience mart around the corner from the park to play Space Invaders. For the first time you could play arcade games on your television in your home. It was breakthrough technology that shaped the way we live and interact. The medium, as you know, is the message. Instead of gathering in public places every once in a while to share in the gaming experience, people could now enjoy the same games at home on their own. And these machines soon became an appliance staple, like a toaster or a can opener. Every home had one.

Today, a lot of homes have multiple gaming machines, from multiple makers - in addition to personal computers, which are also chipped and equipped to accommodate a massive PC gaming industry. Where personal gaming had once been an entertainment novelty, it is now deeply woven into our nation's social fabric. Children are often born with them already in the house, and grow up devoting countless hours developing post-modern maladies like "Nintendo Thumb" and "Playstation Posture." And a lot of parents don't mind because, as every parent knows, Nintendo is a relatively cheap babysitter.

I understand the dazzling allure of modern gaming consoles - the graphics are so real they stop me sometimes when I'm doing laps at Best Buy. But when I see people lined up outside of buildings in the cold, willing to fight over an appliance that will still be available tomorrow and next week, I have to wonder what's happening to us as a people.

But then, our parents used to fight over Cabbage Patch Dolls in the aisles of Toys 'R' Us. So maybe it's less about an addiction to new technology and more about a competitive sense of entitlement that comes with life in culture of mass consumption.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have a high score of Tetris to beat.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


There’s been a lot of talk for years now (not just by me!) about getting a third major party established in this country – someone to give those Republicans and Democrats a run for their money. The Libertarians and Green and Reform Parties have all fielded candidates in past elections, but they just don’t get the media attention or the widespread public support they need to prove viable come Election Day.

So here’s my idea: a television show on FOX called America’s Top Politician. Why FOX? Because they're crazy enough to do something sensational like that.

Simon Cowell and Mark Burnett will team up to produce it…a weekly show on which ordinary people like you and me (who also meet the Constitutional requirements for becoming President) line up outside of auditoriums nationwide to audition in front of a panel of judges for a shot at becoming El Presidente. I know it sounds ludicrous – but I bet it would result in one hell of a candidate…and the press coverage he/she would get from week to week would make him/her a formidable opponent in the General Election!

This is how I imagine it would be done.

The show would last a full year and start with several months of broad auditioning to weed out the religious zealots, criminally stupid, car salesmen, and facially uninteresting. Can you imagine how hilarious the auditions would be? Our panel of judges would ask average people to provide practical solutions to real problems and then vote based on the quality of the responses. Who would judge? Could be anybody! I'm thinking my mom, Gary Coleman, and Bruce Willis for starters. People would learn pretty quick how difficult it is being a politician as they struggle to offer viable solutions that won’t offend SOME group of people. I'm guessing most folks would sound like complete idiots. I know I would!

“Mr. AYNtK – okay. Welcome.”

“Thanks for having me.”

“So you’d like to be President?”


“Sure? That doesn’t sounds very convincing. Why are you here?”

“I heard the job pays more than the one I have, and I could use the extra coin.”

“So you’re here for the money?”

“It’s all about the Benjamins. And having access to that private jet would be pretty sweet, too. Par-tay!”

“Fantastic. So let’s see. How would you propose the U.S. government address the troublesome flow of illegal immigrants from south of the border?”

“That’s a great question. And I have a great answer. First, I would offer them all jobs.”

“Did you say jobs? How would that help solve the problem?”

“I’m not finished. The jobs would be digging trenches. I propose we pay the largest workforce in American history minimum wage to dig a 20-foot deep, half-mile wide trench from California to the Gulf Coast. Then I’d have them it with oil and light it on fire like that kick ass scene at the end of the Beastmaster. Did you see that scene? You know which one I’m talking about? Maybe it was Beastmaster 2.”

“Let me get this straight. You’d pay a massive foreign labor team to dig a gargantuan petroleum moat and ignite a permanent barrier of flames between Mexico and the U.S.?”

“Yes, sir, I would. It’d be a real life the ones that protect computers from viruses and stuff. Except it would be a REAL firewall protecting our lower-class jobs from foreigners, thereby preserving the rich, cultural traditions of our nation’s NASCAR class.”

“That is a completely asinine suggestion…and yet also very brilliant in a way. I like how you think and I’m going to vote you through to the next round!”

This kind of Q&A would go on all over the nation until our list of viable candidates is narrowed down to 16 finalists. These 16 presidential hopefuls would then compete in a series of mock challenges in a format more like the Apprentice. Donald Trump would preside over phase 2 ensuring that the candidates not only have good ideas, but possess strong leadership skills as well. They’d be split up into teams and given a number of tasks to muddle through. Then the losing team would be sent to the board room where Trump would send one of them home: “You’re impeached!”

Phase 2 would last several more months until the list of candidates is narrowed down to 8. The remaining 8 would have to learn how to dance with the help of a professional partner and America would vote on their dance routines every week until the field is narrowed to 4.

The final 4 would then participate in a series of debates, after which America would vote, eliminating two of the candidates. The final two would then have a foot race, arm wrestling match, and ro-sham-bo for the right to run for president. The runner-up would become the VP candidate on the same ticket. It's brilliant!

I think America’s Top Politician would give the major party candidates a real scare, too. He/She would be a strong, sensitive, smart leader with a textbook tango. I know – this is all beyond genius. And here’s the best part. All those .99 cent calls to vote for your favorite politician add up in the winning candidate’s advertising fund so they are able mount a serious media challenge in the weeks leading up to the election. Gotta hit those airwaves!

So what do you think, Simon? Are you game? Let's do this!!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


If you're looking for Enlightenment, start with a matchbook.

Monday, November 13, 2006


As you must be aware by now, Borat is a not really an Eastern European bigot with a knack for making people uncomfortable. He's a British comedian who's made a killing at the box office by pulling off one of the grandest candid camera pranks of all time. Sacha Baron Cohen's character Borat has been the top draw for two weeks in a row now - and the appeal of his cinematic charade is simple: the film is one long practical joke on America and, we the people are in on it.

Have you seen it yet? Lucky you. And have you heard how all of the "real" characters from Borat's motion picture are coming out of the woodwork to say they had no idea the entire thing was a ruse? There were definitely some moments where I was thinking: "This HAS to be staged." But as it turns out, the scenes were actually more real than anyone thought - including the people appearing in them, many of whom are now seeking legal recourse for the way they were portrayed.

Producers allegedly told participants they would be appearing in a foreign-made documentary on American life. Some were even liquored up before their appearance. All of them signed documents agreeing to the use of their likenesses. What these people didn't know was that the ignorant, backward filmmaker from Khazakhstan wasn't really an ignorant, backward filmmaker from Khazakhstan. He was a British comedian filming what would amount to a feature length episode of Punk'd. They just didn't realize they'd been Punk'd until the movie was playing in theaters nationwide.

My review? It's everything you may have heard it was: irreverent, crass, outrageous, juvenile, and loaded with toilet humor - literally at times. But it wasn't offensive in a gratutious way - like, say, Porky's or American Pie. It was genuinely offensive, which, strangely, was probably what made it so entertaining. The film shows real people interacting with Borat, reacting to his disgusting, obnoxious comments and behavior, clearly uncomfortable, and completely unscripted. You actually feel a little bad for them at times - but worse for the conscience of America. And that was the depressing genius of the film, in my opinion.

In exaggerating the fictional prejudices of an unrefined, underdeveloped culture, Borat actually exposes the real prejudices of a culturally advanced and presumably more "enlightened" people. Some of the things uttered by the real particpants in this film will make you sicker than the twisted crap that comes out of Borat's mustached mouth. Sad, really, that in 2006 there were people willing to make such hateful, appalling remarks about minorities, homosexuals, and women - entirely aware that the camera is rolling. It's hilarious to watch the reactions of other people when Borat makes such remarks. It hurts when real people make similarly offensive remarks right back at him.

Still, despite these depressing cultural revelations, I enjoyed the film immensely. Laughed myself to tears in a couple of spots, I am almost embarrassed to admit. I do feel obliged to caution that the movie is not for everyone. Some of the scenes may be a little over the top in relentless pursuit of indecency. If you're looking for wholesome family entertainment, this is definitely not it. But if you're looking for something wildly outrageous, Borat says it best:

You like!