Hey Michael Phelps, Let’s Party!

Everyone does it.  Well, I didn’t.

I never thought I would be able to say that I could do anything that Michael Phelps could not, but today I realize that I can do something that he can never do.  I can say that I have never done drugs.  He, obviously, cannot.

I have made some mistakes I my life.  I remember drinking a few times when I was in high school.  I remember driving recklessly on some occasions, and regrettably I remember doing both on a couple of occasions.  I remember bullying one kid a little, and I regret that also, but for the most part I was a good kid.

I had lots of friends, and tons of acquaintances.  As a result, during my junior and senior years I was invited to several parties.  At these, there would always be alcohol, and occasionally the stakes were higher.

I remember one night several of my friends did something pretty stupid.  There were five of us.  We had just purchased food at the local Taco Bell, and we were about to get into the car to leave when a car full of hot girls pulled up and started to talk to us.  No lie.  It was like a scene out of Porky’s or something.  They were leaning and yelling out of the windows of the car, “Hey, do you guys want to go to a party?”  As God is my witness, it happened just like that.  Of course, if we had taken just a moment to analyze the situation, we would have noticed that: 1) no of us were the studs of our high school (though we were not horribly disfigured), 2) these girls were really nice looking, 3) and they looked a little older than us.  No, we did not consider any of this, because we were 16 year old boys full of hormones.

So, we hopped in the car and followed them.  We drove to an apartment out by Lewisville Lake, and followed them into it.  Several things were instantly apparent.  First, this was no sorority bash.  All of the girls had boyfriends there, and the boyfriends did look older than us.  Second, we were not prepared for a party in any way.  We had no alcohol of any kind, and the partiers were not offering any.  And third, these people were doing a lot more than drinking.  There were several couples engaging in what was sure to become sex at some point, and the smell of pot was in the air.  I was confused at first, not knowing what to do, then a girl offered me a pill.  It was ecstasy.  I was not prepared, but since I had decided long before that I did not want to ever do drugs, I was able to fall back on my default answer, “No thanks.”  A friend and I sat with our backs near the door for a while watching what was going on and feeling uncomfortable.  Finally I suggested that we leave which we did.  Honestly, these kinds of stupid decisions are how people end up in 55 gallon barrels at the bottom of a lake.  We had no idea where these girls were taking us or what would happen when we got there.

On another occasion, I went to a party with some friends at a house where a member of the quasi-successful local area band ESFM (the Electric Sheep Farming Method- no lie) had the house to himself (no parents) for the weekend.  This time I was in a place where I knew all of the people, and they liked me.  I had brought some alcohol, and was drunk before long.

There were about two dozen people at the party, and after a while, I noticed that they were all taking turns stepping out into the backyard.  They were smoking pot, and after a few minutes, one of my friends asked me if I wanted some.  This was my big opportunity, and it was the situation where most kids fall.  I was with friends, and they were having a good time.  All I had to do was say, ‘yes,’ but I was faced with my own reasons that I had determined long before that day.  I knew that some things could limit you and your future possibilities in life, and pot was one of those things.  Since I did not know exactly what I wanted to be in life, I reasoned that I shouldn’t do anything that would limit my possibilities.  So, I said, “No, that’s OK.”

I was expecting a scene out of Reefer Madness or some after school special to unfold in which they all surrounded me and ritualistically ostracized me from the group while baiting me into taking the drugs at the same time.  It did not happen.  In fact, they were extremely nice about it.  Honestly, at the time I believed that they were actually going outside to smoke for my benefit.  In retrospect, it seems more likely that they did not want pot smell to permeate the house for the parents of the guy who lived there to smell when they returned.  I stayed at the party and enjoyed myself with my friend late into the evening.

These little victories were important in a teen ager’s battle not to partake in what everyone else was doing, and they made me feel good about myself, and stronger if I should have had to face the same thing again.  I thought that I was the only one, but I still have a friend that I met about a year later who also says that he never did drugs, and I’m sure that he had opportunities (being in a band well into his late twenties).

This brings me to the Michael Phelps situation.  It’s a real shame.  Here we had a young man that could have been the poster-boy for clean, positive, American achievement, and he lost it all when he put his mouth on a bong like everyone else at the party was doing.  It can’t be undone, and the pictures can’t be unseen.  In so many ways, Michael Phelps proved how different and stronger he was that the average human being.  His discipline can probably be only matched by a few people in the world.  However, he knew what the consequences of smoking pot were for him.  His handlers had warned him over and over, but he chose to do so anyway.  He chose to be just like everyone else, average.  And now, his incredible Olympic legacy will forever be tainted by a picture of him with dumb-face toking on a bong.  Sad.

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Super Bowl XLIII Ads Reviewed

 

Every year, I watch the Super Bowl, as much for the commercials, as for the game.  And, every year a couple of my friends and I get together after the game, and discuss our opinions of the commercials that were shown that year.  This year, I decided to bring these opinions to my blog, and so I have written a list of my favorite and least favorite commercials for the year.

I will try to stay away from commercials that are not new (though I am a big DVR watcher, and it is very possible that I would have simply missed a commercial up to this point), and I will ignore commercials that do not try to be ‘Super Bowl quality’ commercials.  I also will ignore the car commercials for the most part.  To make either list (good or bad), I have to feel like the people who made the commercial were trying, and not just buying time to run the same old commercials for the same old campaign that they always do.

Let’s face it, when it comes to Super Bowl commercials, it’s all about the humor.  Most of the great Super Bowl commercials over the years have had some comedy element to them.  Sometimes there may be one that has good CG that makes it stand out, but CG is so good today that we have become used to it to the point that we just expect it.

Top 5:

5. The Carlos Boozer commercial for Overstock.com where he shows the difference between ‘bling’ and an Olympic gold medal was poignant.

4. The Pepsi Max ‘I’m Good!’ commercial was funny and had a nice use of visual humor; something that is easily abused in a commercial.

3. The Conan O’Brien Bud Light commercial where he does a freaky commercial that is only supposed to be seen in Finland was hilarious.

2. The Pepsi MacGruber/Pepsuber commercial with Will Forte was brilliant.  I loved it.

1. The Bridgestone commercial with Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head was brilliant. 

Bottom 5:

5. The obtuse Cheetos commercial with Chester, the pigeons, and the irritating lady on the cell phone was too weird, and the timing was off.

4. The 3D Sobe commercial with the dancing football players was terrible.  They must have spent all of their money on the effect.

3. All three (1, 2, 3) of the boorish, tiresome Budweiser Clydesdale commercials

2. Both, but especially the second of the two Go Daddy commercials with Danika Patrick

1. The horrible Teleflora commercial where the flowers in the box insult the lady reminded me of a horrid Jared Jewelry commercial.  It will be my worst of the Super Bowl simply because of the awful message.  They should be ashamed.

See all the Super Bowl ads here.

Before the Game:

Hit- When I saw the E-Trade commercial with the little kid, I thought, “Not these tired ads again.”  However, by the end of it, I thought it was pretty funny.  I’m sure all of the golfers will be calling each other “Shankapotumus” for the next few months.

Hit- The Samsung commercial where the guy loved the Cowboys so much that he became an usher so that he could sneak out of church an listen to the game was funny also.

Miss- The commercial with Lebron James daydreaming that he was a Cleveland Brown was a good idea but sort of fizzled.

Hit- The McDonalds Charities commercial where the girl gave the pennies out her loafers was nice.

First Quarter:

Hit- The Bud Light commercial where the guy was thrown out the window for suggesting that they could save money by not buying Bud Light for every meeting was sort of funny.

Hit- The Audi commercial that showed car chases moving through the decades was clever.

Hit- The Bob Dylan/Hip Hop commercial for Pepsi was clever and nostalgic.

Miss- The Doritos ‘Snow Globe’ commercial tried to be funny, but it was just bad.

Hit- The Conan O’Brien Bud Light commercial where he does a freaky commercial that is only supposed to be seen in Finland was hilarious.

Hit- The Bridgestone commercial with Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head was brilliant.  It was easily my favorite commercial of the first quarter.

Miss- The Castrol Edge commercial featuring a guy who had a group of monkeys become devoted to him after he used the product was weird and unfunny.

Second Quarter:

Miss- The Doritos commercial which had a guy who suddenly had powers that were associated with crunching a Doritos’ chip was better than the first one, but still nothing to write home about.

Miss- The Go Daddy commercial with a showering Danika Patrick was the same old tired thing from them.  They need a new idea.  Guys, Danika was already in Sports Illustrated.  I saw the pics.  They were OK.

Hit- The Pepsi Max ‘I’m Good!’ commercial was funny and had a nice use of visual humor; something that is easily abused in a commercial.

Miss- The Pedigree ‘Maybe you should get a dog was a good try, but a miss.

Miss- It’s time to put the Clydesdales out to pasture.  I just don’t care about them, or the fact that they can fetch.  Not funny.

Miss- Budweiser has a history of staying with a commercial idea until everyone hates it (see the fogs, lizards and the Bud Bowl– I just threw up in my mouth).  The commercial where the Clydesdale follows the white horse that he is in love with was worse than the first one.  It’s time to send this commercial to the glue factory.

Miss- The Gatorade “G” commercial gets an ‘A’ for star power and an ‘F’ for delivery and presentation.  I’ll bet it cost them a mint.

Hit- The cars.com where a guy named David Abernathy is a child prodigy but needs help buying a car was clever.

Hit- The E-Trade commercial featuring the two babies, one of which was singing, “Take These Broken Wings” was a good one.  I did not like these commercials in years past, but they seem to have stepped it up this year.

Miss- The Bud Light Drinkability commercial where the guy used the telestrator was not funny at all.

Miss- I don’t know how you can incorporate Death into a commercial and end up with an unfunny product, but H&R Block was able to do so.

Miss- The horrible Teleflora commercial where the flowers in the box insult the lady reminded me of a horrid Jared Jewelry commercial.  It will be my worst of the Super Bowl simply because of the awful message.  They should be ashamed.

Miss- The obtuse Cheetos commercial with Chester, the pigeons, and the irritating lady on the cell phone was too weird, and the timing was off.

Halftime:

Incomplete- The 3D Monsters vs. Aliens commercial looked good, but I did not have the 3d glasses, so it looked a little fuzzy.  Pixar is always great, though.

Miss- The 3D Sobe commercial with the dancing football players was terrible.  They must have spent all of their money on the effect.

Honorable mention- The Heroes commercial with John Elway was kind of funny.  I’m sure it would have been better if I had watched the show.

Miss- I just do not care about the Toyota Tundra or the commercials that they choose to run for it.

Miss- The Priceline commercial with Shatner as Cyrano De Bergerac was not bad, but the premise is too tired for the Super Bowl.

Hit- The Carlos Boozer commercial for Overstock.com where he shows the difference between ‘bling’ and an Olympic gold medal was poignant.

Hit- The ‘Milosh wants to play for…’ commercial for American Airlines made me smile.

Third Quarter:

Miss- I don’t even know what Coke was trying to do with this commercial, but obviously they spent a lot of money again this year animating a failure.

Miss- The Bridgestone commercial where the tires are stolen off the moon rover was not funny.

Hit- The mob-styled commercial for Denny’s where the guy is contemplating the fate of a rat while the waitress finishes putting a smiley face on his pancakes was surprisingly funny.

Miss- Unfortunately, Monster.com proved that comic timing can be so off, that even a guy sitting under the ass of a moose can fail to be funny.

Miss- Apparently, the only cure for the Budweiser Clydesdale commercials is the cure that is used for most horse ailments, a twelve gauge.  The Scottish one was just as tiring as the rest.

Hit- I found the 60 second Career Builder commercial to be funny, but I expected more since they had this much time to work with.

Hit- I still do not understand why Coke keeps making the Pixar-style commercials that seem to have little purpose.  That all being said, I liked the one with the insects in the third quarter of the game.

Miss- I don’t care that Kellogg’s is rebuilding fields.

Hit- The Usama Young NFL commercial was enjoyable.

Hit- I hate the Jack commercials for Jack in the Box, so I got giddy when I saw Jack’s cracked head on the pavement in front of a bus.  I thought the lines from the lacky talking on the phone were funny too.  If this is Jack in the Box’s way of getting rid of Jack, this may end up as my favorite commercial ever.  However, if this is just the start of a ‘save Jack’ campaign, I may not live through it.  I will reserve judgment.

Fourth Quarter

Hit- I generally hate the Coke Zero commercials, but this modern take on the old Mean Joe Green commercial with Polamalu was funny, except for the Coke Zero guys which, as usual, were a whip.

Hit- The Cash for Gold commercial, though funny, was a little uncomfortable with the references to all of the bankrupt celebrities.  It seemed like they were taking advantage a little.

Miss- I care even less about GE and their ‘eco-savings’ than I did about Kellogg’s building fields.

Hit- The Hulu commercial with Alec Baldwin was a little weird, but they get an ‘A’ for getting their message out and explaining their product.

Miss- GE, I just don’t care about your wind energy.

Hit- The Pepsi MacGruber/Pepsuber commercial with Will Forte was brilliant.  I loved it.

Miss- Someone needs to tell the Bud Light Lime people that the whole ‘walking around and having an effect on the world around me because of the product I am wearing or have with me’ has been done many times before, and recently, and better.

Miss- I thought the first Danika Go Daddy commercial was bad, but this one was terrible.

Jim Rice Polutes the Baseball Hall of Fame

Anyone from outside of the Northeast who likes baseball will eventually get beaten down by the Eastern media bias.  I had some feeling of this growing up, but really had it drilled home with Ken Burns’ Baseball.  You would have thought that there were only three teams in baseball as Burns waited until the last hour of the program to acknowledge the existence of any great player outside of Boston or New York.  I actually think I saw the great Nolan Ryan’s face flash past the screen in a montage, but I was not sure.

The problem is two fold.  Great players from teams outside of the Northeast have to be that much greater to even be considered for the Hall of Fame.  While it seems like Players for that Yankees and Red Sox simply have to be good for a long period, and be likable to make it into the Hall of Fame (see Wade Boggs). 

Today, we are told that Jim Rice will be in the Hall of Fame.  I don’t have any problem with a person saying that Jim Rice was a very good baseball player, but he does not deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.  Put him in your team’s Ring of Honor if you wan to, but not in the Hall of Fame.

He did not reach any of the ‘benchmarks’.  He did not have 3000 hit.   He did not even have 2500 hits (2452).  He did not have 500 home runs (382).  There is no justification for his inclusion, and it cheapens the Hall of Fame.

I looked at a few other players in comparison.  Reuben Sierra and Al Oliver are two Texas Rangers who have never sniffed the Hall of Fame, and rightly so.  Oliver had a 303 batting average, 2743 hits, 219 home runs, and 1326 RBIs in 18 seasons.  Sierra had a 268 average, 1322 RBIs, 2152 hits and 306 home runs in 20 seasons (he played less than 50 games in 11 of these).  These players are not as good as Jim Rice, but they compare with him, and the point is that they obviously do not belong in the Hall of Fame.

Ricky Henderson obviously does belong in the Hall of Fame.  He hit a benchmark with his 3055 hits while compiling the most stolen bases in history.  That’s it.  He’s in the Hall because he did what it took to get there.  Unfortunately, players like the great Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski will now have to have their names spoken in the same breath with Jim Rice.  Am I the only one that sees the wrongness of this?

New Nicknames for some of the Cowboys

Yesterday, I watched as once again, it was proved that it is more important to have heart than talent.  It was the poorest showing by a Cowboy team in the biggest game that I can remember.  The worst part is that this team is indeed very talented, and this year, the NFL is as wide open as I ever remember it.

As I sat watching the game (if you want to call it that), I cam up with some nicknames that I thought might be appropriate for several of the players that graced the Cowboy’s roster this year.  Enjoy:

Tony Romo– “Intentional Grounding Gump“-  There is so much to consider with this guy.  He can not seem to hit the broad side of a barn, and when ever teams keep him in the pocket, he has no idea what he should do.  The whole ‘golly-gee’ bit was cute at first, but he needs to realize that he is now a $60,000,000 quarterback on the biggest team in sports.  I really wonder about how bright he really is.  I keep expecting him to tell Adrea Kramer that ‘life is like a box of chocolates.’

T.O.- “Big Mouth”–  Shut up and catch the ball every now and then.

Roy Williams- “Big Nothing”- And, that’s exactly what the Cowboys got for their trade with the Lions.

Flozell Adams- “Big Early”- No one commits as many illegal motion penalties as the big guy.

Jason Witten- “Little Early”- No one, that is, except for our starting tight end.

Andre Gurode- “Surprise!”- He has the uncanny ability to surprise defenses as well as his own quarterback with his ill-timed snaps.  And, if Romo looks ready, he’ll just snap it right over his head.

Nick Folk- “90 Degrees”- Possesses the strange quality of being able to kick the ball at a right angle.  This is not so bad for Cowboy fans though, because in this case the opposing team only gets to start on the 40 yard line.

Sam Paulescu- “Minus 20”-  This name refers to the 20 yards that the Cowboys give up in field position because this guy is punting instead of Matt McBriar.

Pacman Jones- “Latitude”- He only runs East/West.

Terrence Newman- “Tunnel Vision”-  This refers to Newman’s innate ability to stick to a receiver like glue. watching his eyes intently as the ball sails over his own should and into the receiver’s arms.

Miles Austin- “What The Hell Were You Thinking On That Pitch!”

Feel free to leave any that you might think of.

A Little More Yankee Hatin’

I don’t know if it is absolutely fair to hate the Yankees for signing CC Sabathia for a record $161,000,000 over the next six years, but just can’t help it.

As a fan of the Texas Rangers, I will always remember how offended the media was when the Rangers offered A-Rod, the best player in baseball at the time, a record $150,000,000 contract.  The media beat the Rangers up and down about how ridiculous the contract was.  Because many people allow their opinions to be determined by the things that knuckleheads in the media say, the outcry was pretty loud.  Eventually, even though he was still the best player in baseball during his tenure with the Rangers, public opinion soured him on the team, and he left (to the Yankees, no less, sticking the Rangers with a good portion of his contract).

Obviously, the best position player in baseball is worth more than the best pitcher in baseball.  Why then is it OK for the Yankees to spend these sums of money, but not the Rangers?

The problem I have is with a sports media which is largely driven and controlled by Eastern press agencies who do little to mask their biases for teams like the Yankees, but never acknowledge these biases.  What I see in all of this is that it is alright for a team such as the Yankees to spend whatever they want on any player, but heaven forbid an upstart, second-tier team like the Rangers even attempt to play ball in the same marketplace that the Yankees play in.  If that were to happen, then perhaps some team other than the Red Sox and Yankees would go to the playoffs every year, and the Eastern media obviously could not deal with that.

So, because the media will not police itself in this manner, I am left with no other option but to wish failure on the Yankees.  And, I do.

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

I was reading a story today about an 89 year old lady who was arrested this week for keeping a football that had gone into her yard.  Of course, there was the requisite shaking of the head that was prompted by the words in front of me, but as I thought about it, I wondered “What was her motivation for keeping the ball?  What did she get out of it?”

I know some would like to turn this into a property rights issue.  Does she, as owner of the property, have the right to keep the ball when it comes into her yard uninvited?  Do the kids have the right to demand that she allow them onto her property to retrieve it, or do they have the right to compel her to retrieve it for them or give it back to them?  And, I’m sure the police did not go right to her house and arrest her upon receiving a complaint from a bunch of kids.  If any protocols were followed, they would have given her multiple opportunities to return the ball before she was actually arrested.  I’m sure she just refused to listen to reason or cooperate, and they were left with no choice.  Yeah, it’s pretty sad.

But the question of “Why?” still remains.  I think that I actually stumbled upon the answer on the way to work this morning.  It happened while I and everyone else on this particular road were being slowed down by unusually heavy traffic.  When the state authorities redesigned that part of the highway a few years ago, they did so with a view to the future.  There is actually room for four lanes (on each side of the road) to fit easily through this stretch of road, but unfortunately a couple of miles on either side of this stretch, there are areas that are still two lanes wide, and expansion would require massive engineering projects to ever get to the desired four lanes.  As a result, the area of the road that could hold four lanes, still has only two to keep from having a bottle-neck at the other end.  As I sat in traffic this morning, I saw two vehicles pull out into the huge shoulder area and simply drive about a mile down ahead of the other cars.  It was complete sorry-ness, and I found myself wondering “Why?” once again.  Why would they do this?  It shows a complete lack of regard for the law, and the other people who are being forced to wait their turn, and in the end, when they get to the point where they have to join the rest of the pack, they end up slowing traffic even further to let their sorry selves back in.

These people and the old lady from the first story reflect the attitude that they only care about themselves.  They have no regard for others around them or people that they might come into contact with.  Their greatest personal achievements involve elevating themselves above those around them (at least in their own minds). 

The answer is a reflection of the fact that there has been a removal of social mores, and it shows the death of the personal moral compass that has been encouraged by the cultural relativists in our land has begun to bear fruit.  People have been encouraged by schools, society, television, and psychologists to do what feels good to them regardless of how it affects other people.  There is no corporate desire to make our society a better, nicer place, and as result, it is not.

I finally got around to watching HBO’s John Adams this week.  It was great.  I noticed that there was indeed a corporate sense of honor and duty that led men to fight and to give their lives without pay, and without even being ordered or asked to.  During those times, a person could strongly disagree with another person.  He could even say that his ideas were ridiculous in print.  But, I also noticed that when they spoke face to face, they always spoke cordially to one another, and referred to the other person as ‘Sir’ even if they were skewering each other at the time.  They might question the man’s sanity or ability to reason, but they never questioned the motives of the other person because, if they did this, they might end up dead.  See Alexander Hamilton for a good example of what happened when people acted without decorum during this time.

People had expectations of other people during this time, and society reacted negatively when a person failed to live up to those expectations.  A good example of these attitudes could also be found in the Adams series.  In it he, John Adams, refused to help his son-in-law, and disowned his own son because they failed to live up to societal expectations.  Later generations still felt the pull of duty and a sense of corporate responsibility.  You only have to go back to WWII to find a time when Americans offered up their sons and themselves to fight in a war.  This was not a war where there might be a chance of getting killed by an insurgent (please do not think I am taking anything away from the bravery and sacrifices made by servicemen today).  It was a war where, if you were in the military, there was a strong likelihood of you suffering death or serious injury.  If you were able-bodied and you did not serve during WWII, you and your family were stigmatized by this decision.

During the 1940s and 1950s people were still expected to perform up to societal standards, and families that did not were also rightly stigmatized.  This corporate societal expectation motivated people to act in a way that was mutually beneficial to all.  It is not so today.  The adoption of the welfare state in cooperation with the elevation of the individual and the advocating of the ideas espoused by relativists have deprived Americans of the corporate disdain that would beneficially keep us all in line (sometimes literally).

Persons without a religion to assist them in attaining a moral compass today, often have no way of attaining any sense that they have a duty to the rest of the people around them to at least treat these people as they would like to be treated.

On this subject, I have no answers, only complaints.  Popular religions continue to cut off their collective noses to spite their faces (see the Baptists boycotting Disney for a good example, but they are not alone).  They seem to drive more people away with the self-serving rants than they bring in.  I believe many young parents would use a church as a good way to instill good morals and mores in their children if the churches would actually stay on message and not veer off to attack Miley Cyrus, for instance, whenever they get bored.  As far as society getting a handle on itself and reestablishing its own set of social mores to help encourage decorum, this would be impossible at this point.  Not only is that horse out of the barn, but that barn has long since burned down.

In the end, we are left with individual choices to do the right thing or not.  Those of us who choose to act with decorum and respect for others while teaching it to or children will be the ones that keep society from completely falling apart.

You still have a choice.  You can be the mean old lady at the end of the block that keeps the ball, and no one will mourn you when you die, or you can be the old lady who gets the ball for the kids along with a cookie.  Which one of these makes more of a mark?

I’ll bet his lifetime stats are awesome!

This is just funny.  giggle.  It hardly seems fair, though.