!st and Ten - The Weekly Tendown: Nov 29-Dec 5 2009

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Welcome to issue 4 of the Tendown, my Countdown of the very best things that happened in the culture this week; last week, I talked about Sam sending Diane a telegram on the last epsiode of Cheers 16 1/2 years ago, so I'm clearly trying to keep things current.  Let me put my Bell Biv Devoe cassette in my boom box (I don't ever trust a big butt and a smile.  Ronald Bivens is very wise) and start the Tendown!

1st....Kirk Hiner Hates Madonna

Not more than a couple years after Sam wrote that telegram, I began my fruitless internet writing career; one of my very first essays was entitled Kirk Hiner Hates Madonna, explaining (with benefit of an X/Y axis) that it wasn't jealousy or shadenfreude which leads to our sometimes seemingly outsized dislike of particular public figures, that instead it's the distance of the level of acclaim they receive from the level of acclaim we perceive they deserve.  Kirk Hiner had a passionate dislike of Madonna twenty years ago; mentioning her in his presence would have brought forth a torrent of furious invective.  Today, I'm guessing he views her the way all right thinking people do.  As the finest, sexiest, most talented woman who ever lived. 

Last night, the biggest roar during the SEC Championship game took place when the above screen capture was shown on the jumbo video board - the moment when Tim Tebow cried. 

That roar was matched by the one coming from my house.  And that's because Jim Jividen Hates Tim Tebow.

Scott Van Pelt and Michael Wilbon, in their separate ESPN platforms, considered the issue of the Tebow backlash this week; SVP (talented, but exposed in the daily radio format) concluded that the reason people (like me) dislike Tebow is because there's no reason to dislike him, and that drives people crazy; Wilbon (more talented and less exposed) with the PTI topic clock ticking, said if you meet Tebow for 30 seconds you can't help but love the guy and any other opinion is not worth considering.

They're wrong.  I hate Tim Tebow because as opposed to looking at him as Chris Weinke or Gino Torretta or Tommie Frazier or Charlie Ward - the discussion about Tebow has been "is he the greatest college football player who ever lived" and is he the finest man alive?

A year ago, in the national title game that Florida won't be returning to, Fox play-by-play man Thom Brennaman not only said "if you're fortunate enough to spend five minutes or 20 minutes around Tim Tebow, your life is better for it," but followed that up by saying that a prior claim by an Oklahoma cornerback that Tebow would be the 4th best QB in the Big 12 was "probably the most ridiculous thing ever said," and that a subsequent unsportsmanlike conduct penalty given to Tebow was "the first thing he's ever done wrong."  Last night, even as Florida was taking a terrific beating from the Crimson Tide (and more importantly for my purposes, was far away from covering that pretty clearly Tebow-inflated 5 1/2 pt spread) the game narrative focused on the guts and glory and heart and determination and all that's masculine and right about America in a Tim Tebow shaped box.  With 11 minutes left and trailing by three scores, Gary Danielson noted that if Tebow could muster up the fortitude to bring his team back (Tebow had, after all, been giving his defense a stirring sideline speech not long before, and as the sports media decided a year ago, the power of his words alone can move men to greatness) he would be the slam dunk Heisman winner (my Heisman ballot (1) Ndamukong Suh (2) Toby Gerhart (3) Mark Ingram).  The thrust and effect of the game story was entirely wrapped up in how it impacts Tebow, not unlike the way every Brett Favre game has been analyzed since 1998, and it always reminds me of a Kids in the Hall sketch in which Scott played a French whore, constantly rhapsodizing about an unseen man named Tony "wondering where he could be, who is he with, what is he thinking, is he thinking of me, and whether he'll ever return someday."  I expect there will be a Florida Gator game next season where the announcer will approximate something along those lines and then shudder with orgasm.

The Sports Media Industrial Complex wants to remove from Tim Tebow the burden of his self-confessed virginity is my point.  He's had a terrific career, probably isn't much of a pro prospect, and likes to talk about Jesus a whole lot; everything beyond that is excessive, and it's everything beyond that which is why his tears got cheers.  Especially from my house. 

After the jump - the Rest of the Best Things to Happen This Week.

And the rest...the next Ten Best things This Week:

1. Jesus, The Ugandan Giant

A primary reason for the Tebow-fellating by the Sports Media Industrial Complex is that he is vocally evangelically Christian (my lady type friend, she who made the sweet potato souffle referenced in last week's Tendown, refers to Tebow as Jump Passing for Jesus).  I've written before that professing ones Christianity is the easiest way to earn that coveted "good guy" designation by sports media - which is the most important thing that can happen to an athlete interested in public perception.  Get labeled a good guy and then all your behaviors will be seen through the good guy lens, a lens you really have to work to have replaced (see Holyfield, Evander).  It doesn't work for other belief systems; a Horus Came First eyeblack message isn't going to get the ceremonial blogs created.

Tebow's legend was enhanced by his performing missionary circumcision at a Filipino orphanage (it being a medically unneeded procedure escaped the interest of an uncritical sports media).  For years, a focus of the conservative Christian community has been Uganda; the influence of "the Family" that group of prosperity gospel preaching fudamentalists in whose DC house have lived conservative Governors Sanford, Ensign, and Coburn.  But it's not just sex scandals, stopping real health reform, and claiming global warming is a hoax that have come out of the Family in 2009, it's a bipartisan commitment to Christianity above all things, as public option killing, pro war Democrat Mark Prior said, "Jesus didn't come to take sides. He came to take over."

One of those places Jesus has been, through help of the Family, taking over is Uganda - and this week, Uganda took up legislation that would impose criminal penalties (up to the death penalty) for homosexuality (and like the Fugitive Slave Act, criminal penalties for not turning in those suspected of homosexual activity to the authorites) - this is the culmination of years of conservative Christian inroads into Uganda, as it appears that a proxy government has sprouted to advance the sort of anti-gay legislation that conservatives can't enact here. 

Rick Warren's response to a challenge if he would condemn this legislation (for example, the death penalty for gay sex with a minor or a person with a disability) was the following:

Because any opportunity to claim victimhood must be taken.

Actually, why this is number two in my favorite things this week is neither the proposed genocide or the Warren tweet - it's because the Uganda story led me to my favorite article this week, the piece in The Atlantic talking about the role the prosperity gospel (such as preached by the Family) played in the economic meltdown, and that led me to this website,  and finally to my favorite movie of the week - Letting Go of God, a one-woman show from 2008 by Julia Sweeney, describing her step-by-step realization that, well, you can probably guess what it is she realized.  I tend to get locked in on particular topics.  A month from now all I'll be writing about in Tendown will be frosting. 

2. When You Make Love to a Woman, You Get Revenge for All the Things that Defeated You In Life.
-that's my favorite line from another good movie I saw this week - Elegy with Ben Kingsley and an often naked Penelope Cruz.  An often naked Penelope Cruz is probably a good bet to find its way into the top ten, particularly in a week where a snapped timing belt left me stranded on the interstate and 1800 bucks in the red.  Merry Christmas to me. 

3. The Return of Burning
-Where I was headed when my car blew out was my brother's house, a little over an hour north, to watch our customary puroresu (coming soon, my ranking of the 100 best wrestlers in the world) - on the docket was the summer, 2009 reuniting of Burning, the Kobashi/Akiyama tag team.  It was super - just when you think Kobashi (the greatest professional wrestler who ever lived) was running on fumes, he surges - and joins Akiyama (who has always been great - his omission from the WON HOF is its largest; the bar for workrate can't be that anyone less than the very greatest wrestlers who ever lived can't get votes based on workrate; Akiyama wasn't Misawa or Kobashi or Jumbo or Kawada - but that can't be the requirement) for what looked like the beginning of another terrific run.  Now, Akiyama is gone and maybe not coming back and all my fun is gone.  Gone!

Yes, I know I've lost most of you now with the wrestling talk.  It's your loss.  Graps = good times.  Coming by year's end: the 100 Best Wrestlers in the World Today!

4.The Power of Anecdote
My favorite column this week (no, I didn't get a book read - I have Simmons's 700 page NBA book taunting me on my coffee table; it's going to have to wait until my holiday break, and since it's queued up next in my head, I'm sort of stuck) was Nick Kristof's from last Sunday.  He writes about a sawmill worker in Oregon who is going to die without health insurance; it's the type of anecdote that Obama should have used to aggressively promote a public option; the type of anecdote that helps Republicans win the rhetorical battle (anecdote is all the right has; the evidence is also on the side of the left; that's the Harvard study, referenced by Kristof in his piece, that 45,000 Americans die each year because of lack of insurance).

If you can couple easily understandable statistics like that - with powerful personal stories - and just keep, in every possible way, trying to drive that message through the wall of noise - that's how you move public opinion.  The Hitler moustaches and Bible waving in opposition won't stop - but there are ways to move public opinion in favorable directions.

5. 96.8  
-That's Alex Smith's passer rating from last Sunday. 

In the first half, Smith ran 25 of 38 plays from the shotgun and finished the game 27/41, 232 yds, 2 scores, no picks and no sacks. 

At the time of this writing, the Niners are thisclose to getting into the playoff race.  A win over Seattle (certainly could happen) coupled with a Cardinal loss to the Vikings (should happen) puts the Niners at 6-6 and a game behind Arizona (who we play next week).  Niners have the head-to-head tiebreak if they win that game; so the season is on our racket.  Normally, I am opposed to playing for .500 - I'm a strong believer that unless you are a double digit winner in the NFL it's far better to be a double digit loser than anywhere in between.  If you're not contending, you need to be rebuilding.  But goddammit - I want to go to the playoffs!  A home playoff game, say as the 4 seed against the top WC team (Dallas?  Green Bay?) how much fun is that? 

Stay in the shotgun.  Throw the ball. 

6. A Very Sunny Christmas
Thursday is a helluva night for sitcoms, and it doesn't stop with 30 Rock ( a super joke this week was Tracey's getting that EGOT medallion; I remember the TV Guide article where Phillip Michael Thomas talked about EGOT, and his plan to win an Emmy/Grammy/Oscar/Tony in his career; that is a helluva reference a quarter century later).  On FX, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The League, are both jumbo funny without pandering to sitcom cathartic convention.  Late last night, I watched the DVD only It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Christmas - which included a plotline where Mac realized that his childhood Christmases involved stealing other kids' presents (Charlie's realization was that his mother turned tricks for Johns dressed as Santa) and went to the toy store to purchase a robot for one of the former victims.  Upon being told by the clerk that that toy was sold out - Mac angrily said he knew that VIPs could walk in and get the toys they keep in the back, which led to this line, "Von Hayes walks in here, you got one for Von Hayes!"

Anytime you can get a Von Hayes joke and the line "those Santas were running a train on your mom" - you get a place in the Tendown. 

7. Criss-Cross
Do you know Mark Maron?  He's a comic; he now has a podcast.  Everyone has a podcast.  The episode with David Cross was particularly funny.

His brother got divorced and married another woman, who was also married when she took up with the brother.  The two ex's then also wound up getting married. 

It wasn't a wife swap like those Yankees pitchers in the 70s; it was straight out of Genoa City; you start with two couples:

Mark Maron's brother + Mark Maron's brother's wife
Mark Maron's brother's mistress + Mark Maron's brother's mistress's cuckolded husband

Then, following two divorces:

Mark Maron's brother + Mark Maron's brother's new wife who used to be his mistress
Mark Maron's brother's ex-wife +Mark Maron's brother's current wife's ex-husband.

The kicker - they have a total of 7 kids - now, will those kids stay in their original houses - or will they just swap out entirely - ooh, will there be a draft?  Yeah, say, the two couples will as part of the multiple divorce settlements get to settle upon a draft order and then in some sort of public setting just pick the 7 kids.  That would mean someone wouldn't get a second pick - let's pretend there's one pet - and the pet is draftable also.

We need more drafts in our family life.  That would allow the intrigue of fantasy sports to be infused to the soul crushing despair that is domestic relations law.  I know I would much more like teaching it if, in the middle of discussing simplified dissolution, I could just toss in the First Born/Last Born draft strategy that is favored by most arbitration magistrates.  My main piece of advice - spend a high pick on Josh Smith; I don't know what kind of son he'd be; but dude can fill the stat sheets.  In an 8 cat league, you've got to sacrifice a couple of your daughters to make sure you pick up J-Smooth. 

8. My Fantasy Football Team
-Next year, I'm going to call one of my fantasy teams Munchausens-by-Proxy. 

This year, I got off to a rocky start, but last Sunday all 3 of my teams won - and one of my teams enters today a game out of first place. 

9. Pollo Tropical's Grilled Wings
-This week, I enjoyed Grilled Wings and yellow rice at Pollo Tropical.  If you're going, get the wings.  Hey, good place to hold your Fantasy Divorce Draft.  "In the third round, the former Mrs. Johnson takes...the flat screen TV!" 

10. The Swell Season on Craig Ferguson
-The Swell Season did a shot on Ferguson this week; their new album is worth listening to (go right to the 4th track, listen through the 8th) even if it can't follow up the Once soundtrack, the best movie soundtrack there ever was.  Once made Michael Phillips's decade ending top ten countdown on At the Movies this week; AO Scott, his co-host is maybe my favorite film critic, and he said the biggest problem he had with Once is he doesn't particularly like that type of music.  Which is way more of a shock than I was ready for at 7 in the morning on a Saturday when I don't have a car and caused me to re-evaluate much of my life in a way which would be appreciated by Julia Sweeney and probably by Von Hayes too.

That's it.  Tendown #4 is in the books.  See you next time...if there is a next time...

1 comment

Kirk said...

These days, I'm slightly in Madonna's corner. Her popularity has subsided to the point that she's desperate to reclaim it, so we get a 50-year-old woman pretending to make out with Lady Gaga on SNL. That's sad to the point of raising it as a prayer request at church. I can't hate a woman that sad.

And Christianity aside, I just can't stand football players who cry, unless they're Gale Sayers outside Brian Piccolo's hospital room. I got no time for Tim Tebow, so let's all quit talking about bringing him to Seattle, okay, Seahawks forum I visit?

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