Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Momentarily Idol

The guys were back giving it another try on American Idol last night. The theme was "dedications"; songs dedicated to the performers' loved ones.

Some of the guys had their girlfriends or wives with them in the studios, and while the contestants were performing, they'd do those camera "cutaways" to the ladies.

That smile on their faces kinda says it all.

I have so gotta get me one of those smiles.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Look At Us

I distinctly remember the day in 1972. It was basketball tryouts day, 3:00 PM sharp in the school gym. I thought the school day would never end.

I spent the whole summer of 1971, as well as a good part of autumn, working toward my goal of making the team. I practiced on my own, joined in every pickup game that I could. I gave it my all. I sweated and grunted, bumped and bruised my way to what I saw was a sure spot on the team. I was fairly tall for my age, so it seemed I was destined for a place on the starting lineup.

So the day had come. I suited up in the locker room, and headed out onto the court. We ran laps, did shooting drills, and short scrimmage drills. We spent two hours showing our best stuff under the watchful eye of the team coach and his assistants.

5 o'clock PM: The Cutting Hour. It was time to line up and find out which of us were going to make it to the next round of tryouts. One by one, the hopefuls reached the front of the line. Those that went to the right had successfully moved on, those who walked to the left were heading to the locker room to dress, go home and call it a day. I made it to the front of the line, and heard the words I dreaded. I was sent to the left. No Hoops Glory for me that season.

When I went home, my family was sitting down to dinner. When I joined them, my Mom asked how it went. I didn't say much, but my parents both knew, from the look on my face, that it hadn't gone well. Not ones to make a big deal out of something at the wrong time, my parents simply tried to make me feel a little better. My mother reminded me that I'd only been at it since the summer, and that with more work and practice, maybe I could try out again the next season. My father echoed the sentiment, noting how much I'd improved since just last May. These things take time, was the consensus.

And that was that. I survived. In fact, through my father's guidance, I took a shot at baseball and football, the latter being the game I grew to become somewhat successful at. My Hoops Dreams faded quietly, as I was 11 years old, and it didn't take much more than some accomplishments on a gridiron to change my direction.

Now, take the same events, but place them in 2007.

The way things are now, I'd have come home for dinner. My parents would have been waiting by the front door, anxious to get the news immediately. Upon being informed of my failure to make the team, they would no doubt launch into a tirade, letting me know that the coach and his assistants were incompetent people who obviously didn't recognize exceptional talent. They might even go so far as to march immediately down to the ongoing tryouts and confront the coach. There was no logical explanation for me not making the team other than the fact that the coach simply didn't know what he was doing, or perhaps the tryouts were "fixed", with spots on the team going only to the kids whose parents were friendly with the coach. A ballplayer like me simply couldn't be overlooked, and my parents wouldn't want me playing under an idiot like this anyway. We'd just have to seek out a team that was being run by a "real" coach.

Now, truth be told, you might as well have sent me out onto the basketball court with a cinderblock in my hands. I played and practiced for years beyond 1971. I worked out with excellent players, joined a couple of rec leagues that didn't require tryouts, and gave it my all. But it didn't matter: I just wasn't a good basketball player. I even tried out again in High School, only to be met with the same results. No Varsity letters for me in hoops.

I enjoyed the game, so I played recreationally. I accepted the fact that I was not destined for the NBA and moved on. Because of the attitude of my parents, I didn't dwell on that failure, and happily discovered a modicum of talent on the football field, but even then, the NFL was not in my future.

Yet, again, somehow I survived. I remember the classic Clint Eastwood one-liner: "A man's got to know his limitations." Now, a cops & robbers "shoot 'em up" movie is not typically a source of life guidance or inspiration, but that line is so true. I recognized my limitations pertaining to athletics and dealt with them. I did manage to enjoy the sports nonetheless, but I wonder what might have become of me if I had simply fought the reality, and refused to accept the truth. How many other life opportunities would I have missed if I stood my ground in the belief that my talent was simply going unrecognized, and that I was due a rightful place on those teams?

That seems to be the way to go, these days, however. And it's not only the kids of this day and age who are deluding themselves. For any of you who saw the preliminary rounds of the television show American Idol, it is quite obvious that there is much more than a handful of people out there in the world who have unrealistic opinions of their own talents. Quite a number of the hopefuls, upon meeting with rejection, did not recognize their failures as a result of their own lack of talent and ability, but rather, they questioned (not so gently, in some cases) the competency of the judges. It wasn't a poor voice that brought the dream to an end, it was the ears of the panel members that needed scrutiny.

I'm a parent myself, and I've fallen victim to some of these traps when it came to my children. I've caught myself numerous times on the verge of emotional, rather than logical, reactions to situations where my own kids did not come out on top. It's easy to blame everyone else for my kids' shortcomings. It takes the onus off of the children as well as myself. It's very easy to distort reality when it suits our purposes. But it doesn't change the fact that the reality is, indeed, distorted.

Next: American Narcissism

Rebel Yell

I always remember the people who stood out by rebelling against society's norms. Growing up, my first taste of "different" was The Beatles, with their shaggy hair and pointy boots. (I actually saw their 1st appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show...and not on a re-run. I really am old!)

They were not the first rebels, of course. Elvis stood out, gyrating his hips and belting out that NOISE! James Dean, brooding and morose... well, they were a little before my time. (Yes, they were before my time, wiseguys). A lot of young people wanted to emulate these guys because of the attention they got. Of course a whole lot of people wanted them to go away. Eventually, the stars faded, partially because the novelty would wear off, and partially because their styles became mainstream. It was time to find new ways to "stand out".

Got me to thinking. Look at what's popular now...outrageous behavior, loud-mouthed attitudes, in-your-face styles. Everyone's loud. Everyone's off the charts. Tattoos covering a whole lot of body surface, piercings, barely-there clothing. But if you look around, who the heck is standing out today? Music is pushing the envelope, the Censors heads are spinning, but who is really unique any more, you know? The "outrageous behavior" is really becoming mainstream. Who are you going to shock if you go out and get a tattoo? No one will burn you at the stake if you add a piercing or two, right? If you put on a belly shirt and head to the mall, you'll blend in with 1000 other people wearing belly shirts, right?

So what's next?

What is going to be the next wave of "Rebel behavior?"

Maybe you'll begin to see upstarts out there, waving around Graduate Degrees...extensive vocabularies...musical talent? Would someone be so bold as to show up at a party and begin reciting Shakespeare?

The next thing you know, some hot-shot will show up for dinner wearing a suit and tie! And shoes!

Imagine that...

Saturday, February 24, 2007

K F ...

Uh oh...

Check this story out: click

Out of the Depths...

Well, I managed to stay alive. I'm home, recuperating since last Friday. Surgery didn't go as planned, but that's for another time.

I've watched a lot of TV, while I convalesced, naturally. I've always thought that a culture's entertainment said a lot about that culture. And it's been pretty eye-opening.

What I've learned: I may be missing the boat.


I'm not deep.

At least not by the standards by which "deep" seems to be defined these days. I'm missing way too many opportunities, it appears.

I don't have "issues". I've looked everywhere, and I can't find them.

So I need to go get me some "issues"! Let's see...

One of my biggest flaws is "forgiveness". I'm one of those people who is very slow to anger. You can push and push, but once I get shoved across the line, I shut down and find it near impossible to cross back over. Considering, however, that I was forgiven by the best person I have ever known for something I did to her, I always thought my "flaw" just meant I was a hypocritical jerk. But I see an opportunity here to work on this and turn it into something I could blame on my parents! My "forgiveness" issue!

And how about this: I say what I mean. For example, I like blueberry pie. Very much. When I say that, I'm not saying that I hate apple pie, or that anyone who doesn't like blueberry pie is an idiot. But from now on, I should make it appear that there is a cryptic message hidden in every sentence I utter. My "hidden meanings" issue!

Or what could we do with this? A few of the women I'm friends with like a foot massage. I've always liked well-cared for feet, because it's a sign of good grooming, and I've studied massage therapy, so I thought it was a good fit! But, we can go all Freudian with this it my "foot fetish" issue!

And in the past, if someone left the milk out, I'd say, "don't leave the milk out, ok?" I didn't brood about it for weeks, abusing everyone around me while I sorted it out. Hey, the milk would be spoiled by then, right? But this is a good time for "anger management" issues! "The milk's out again...get me Oprah Winfrey on the hop!"

When I was little, kids would tease me and call me "Lippy". It made me so mad! (I have funny lips!) Now my best friends call me "Lippy" and it's a term of endearment! I like you better if you call me that! They also call me "Loser" cause I stink at "UNO", chess and other games, but I love the trash talk! They call me "Jerk" and "Stupid" when I'm smart assy with them. Those, up till now, were "terms of endearment", and I loved it. Guess this could be my "self-esteem" issue!

And now, I can't walk without crutches. I also have a nifty leg brace to help keep me off the ground. I figured, give me my handicapped parking sticker, a couple of "Run, Forrest, run!" jokes, and life would go on. But, not any more. I need to have the world make this up to me now, ok? We'll call it my "entitlement" issues!

I can go out and drink, say foul things, behave horribly, and then check into rehab, instead of just admitting I'm an idiot! Britney and I could become BFF's!

Ahh yes. I can see it all fitting nicely. A couple of months down the line, you'll watch me on Dr. Phil. Yayyy!

But one thing though. I love when women wear boots. Uggs, Jimmy Choo's, Nine West, Manolo's, bring 'em on. I think it's so hot. We ain't touching that one, hear?

Good to be back. Issues and all!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Mack The Knife

I looked at all my medical insurance records, and since 1998, I've undergone what qualifies as surgery 11 times. Tomorrow morning we go for the even dozen. The Doc, aka Mack the Knife, is going to make another attempt at putting Humpty together again.

I've not taken to being jittery or nervous or psychotic about surgery before, but tonight I'm a bag of nerves. There's a lot at stake here, kind of a "make or break" kind of thing. It's midnight here, and no more food or drink, so I really need to sleep. I'm rarely morbid, but it's gotten to me a little, and sleep has definitely been at a premium.

I also rarely have dreams related to anything "real world" but I had a dream earlier today while napping, and "they" were getting ready to hit my chest with those cardiac paddles, only I was awake, just couldn't tell them I was fine. Too weird.

It's inconvenient, at worst, and fairly risk free. But I'm uncharacteristically spooked tonight.

So, just in case the paddles don't work ( insert smart-ass grin here ) I want my "last" entry to say:

Thank you for sharing your worlds with me. Thank you for showing me intelligence, class, elegance, and some serious writing talent. Thanks for showing me that there are people out there in the world who are not insane. And thank you for a much-needed diversion tonight.

Love ya all. You know who you are. (Oh and, ly. :) Thanks for always being my friend.)

Friday, February 09, 2007

A Pressing Issue

I know that a great many people have been looking for my take on this,
so to set the record straight:

I like UGGS. Yep, I do. Not every single style, but
overall, I do favor the look.

Knew you couldn't live without knowing that.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I Had One of Those Idiot Thoughts Circling My Brain Again...

So, occasionally I actually pay attention to what's on the radio when I'm driving. Tonight, there was a radio spot for a local pet breeder. They went through their list of offers, and added, "Of course, as always, our puppies come with a lifetime health guarantee."

What exactly do you think that's supposed to mean? The pups won't die? Or they'll die perfectly healthy? If your dog passes on, do you get a new one?

It's late. Humor me...

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Two Times Only, Part II

To continue with equal time, it's time to talk about the Republican field in the 2008 Presidential race.

I get the impression that this group is coming very slowly out of the gate. I'm not sure that they've even brought forth the most serious candidates as yet. I think, and somewhat hope, that the best is yet to come. But here's the review of the most current group:

Sam Brownback - this Senator from Kansas has already formally announced his candidacy. He's little-known outside of Kansas, it seems, and I really don't have a complete feel for his platform. I think he's going to be an also-ran, simply because he doesn't have the appeal it takes to get the "buzz" going.

John Cox - Nope.

Duncan Hunter - I think a hard-liner is going to face a very difficult road to the White House. He supports a lot of very unpopular ideas at the moment, and I get the impression his affiliation is ultra-conservative, and I just don't think that's going to make him a viable candidate.

Mike Huckabee I can see it now: "I Heart Huckabee". But no, I think this guy deserves a look. He's big in the area of education reform, which I believe is becoming more and more of a vital issue in this country every year, particularly when illiteracy and substandard performance are becoming part of the national focus. He was the third longest serving Arkansas governor (not too sure about that qualification :) ). The only thing that concerns me might be his religious ties; he was the youngest president ever of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, of course, I'm just not sure how the religious aspects might stand with potential cross-over voters.

Micheal Charles SmithNope. Not sure what he's up to, but I won't worry about too much detail here. I don't see him as a viable candidate.

John McCain I personally find John McCain to be likeable and respectable. I think he's a good man, a nice man. He is a believer and smaller government, and he's actually tried a few things over the years. They call him "The Sheriff" around Capitol Hill because he's always pushing the Government around trying to get it out of people's lives.
I'm not sure how well he would fare against the Democrats, though. He's very thorough, he's very experienced, but I'm not sure about his charisma. He's not blessed with a personality that jumps out at you, he's very matter of fact, and I'm not sure his war heroism has any appeal to the current population of voters, which is a shame. I think he could do a good job, but a lot of the voters still treat elections as a popularity contest.

Here are a few names I don't think we're going to need to remember:
Representative Ron Paul of Texas
Former Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts
Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado
Former Governor Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin

Of course, when it comes to these races, nothing is a lock, nothing is guaranteed, but I don't see those gents as presidential material.

There's a man who hasn't entered the race yet, but I think I'd like to close this out with his name. I think he's a formidable force, and a name to be reckoned with.

Rudy Giuliani This man would get my vote if he decided to run. I trust him. I think he's honorable and respectable, I believe I've seen the man demonstate grace under pressure, through the most extreme of circumstances. I believe that we're going to need someone who knows how to defend the nation, and this man is a clear thinker who will chose the right path. The world has changed, the enemy is not away, and I feel as though this man would make good choices in face of adversity. The last thing we need in the White House is a wimp, but I don't think we need a complete war-monger either.

Just one Stupid's take on things for the night!

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Urge To Cough

I spent a lot of time watching the news. You know, the show that used to come on and share current events, local news, national news? You know, important stuff?

The News has become The Gossip.

I'll deal with it. Whatever.

This week I watched a lot of the news. Not CNN, local-market stuff. It's all about celebrities: Angelina and Brad, Britney and ahole Kevin, and Jennifer Hudson.

I kept feeling this tickle in my throat. I thought it might be a cold coming on because every day it got worse and worse. But then I did something. After Jennifer Hudson complained about American Idol, aka the show that took her from nowhere to Hollywood, I screamed:


I did that with one breath.

The tickle in my throat was gone. Fancy that.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Under the Microscope

We sit, two nights a week, and watch American Idol. A whole lot of people are watching American Idol, like it or not.

The show itself is a pretty good microcosm of what seems to be happening to American society as a whole: There are people you'll like, those you'll dislike; there are some real lunatics appearing on those auditions, and every one of them is convinced that they've got what it takes. But with one problem: who decides who is the greatest?

Now I believe that having a positive self-image is a good thing, of course. And I guess it's ok to think that you're really as great as you'd like to believe you are. But I think this show gives a great example of an underlying problem that's really taken root in this country.

However, the problem, as I see it, is that no one can admit that maybe they're not good at something, or maybe they didn't try as hard as they could have. If every one of us was an accomplished athlete, or amazingly talented recording artist, there'd be no room on the music store shelves or the playing fields. Reality is, some of us have to be good at other things. While I do concede, again, that a positive self-image is a good thing, part of fitting into society is the realization that everyone is entitled to an opinion, and not everyone is going to agree with our assessment of ourselves. We don't seem to be very willing to accept reality. We don't do well with criticism, even when it's constructive.

The American Way seems to be, "I'm The Greatest, and if you don't agree, well then, you're an idiot."

We don't face facts.

How many contestants have we seen who, once rejected, launch into tirades, condemning the judging abilities of the folks in charge? It seems to have become a major facet of our social personality in this country. We don't accept our own limitations, or the consequences of our actions.

Look how parents react to their children's accomplishments or lack thereof. Kid comes home with straight "F"'s, it has to be the school's fault. Never mind that Little Johnny prefers to spend every waking moment playing with his X-Box, and Little Johnny's mommy and daddy have never figured out who is supposed to be in charge in the household. Nope. He failed History, Mrs. Teacher, you must be doing something wrong.

We have lunatics, disguised as parents, wreaking havoc on the fields of children's sports. Imagine: every one of these kids is as good as Peyton Manning, but the damned coach is too stupid to realize it. And the fact that Peyton Jr. can't throw the football farther than 4 feet just goes to prove how bad Coach is.

And it's not just parents-kids. A US Congressman gets caught sending sexually explicit emails to an underage Aide, and blames substance abuse for his actions. Hollywood "celebrities" try and compensate for a lack of talent by engaging in completely idiotic behavior, then check into rehab. And we're then told that this is admirable behavior, and that these folks are heroes for combatting their issues. What issues? The fact that one might just be a complete idiot? In my world, maturity is the solution to the problem, not a fancy Rehabilitation Center.

We always had a national pride in our Underdogs. Willie Loman was a hero of sorts, because he toiled on, day after day, despite the reality that he would never be great. Cinderella stories inspire us, but Cinderella overcame the odds, struggled against seemingly insurmountable adversity, and emerged victorious. She didn't tell us to kiss her ass and just give her what she wanted.

Failure is ok. It really is. It should either inspire us to try harder to get it right, or accept our limitations and go in a new direction to achieve greatness. But the key point is to accept that maybe we aren't the best, and need to work on things a little, rather than attacking everyone around us who doesn't see it our way.

You get to be "The Greatest" by being "The Greatest", not simply by deciding you are, and berating others into accepting it.

Deal with it, and move on to your next level of greatness.

A Very Happy Stupid

I got an email from a friend tonight, and she had a nice surprise for me. Her daughter has decided to pursue a singing career, and after watching the latest edition of American Idol Trainwreck, I was very happy and proud to go to the young Lady's "MySpace" page.

Please, if you have a minute, go and have a quick look at her page, and sample her music. My personal favorite is the track that's currently listed second on the page, one called "Try".

Gave me goosebumps.

I'm going to shamelessly promote this young Lady's talent, so please indulge me and don't yell at me, ok?

Oh and, here's the page address: