1st and Ten: The Weekly Tendown: April 4-10 2010

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dear Internet:

This is how they get me. 

Among the matters I mentioned Last Week, in Tendown 21 (the great Russell takedown of Boston Rob; Domino's 6 fingered pizza box; the retirement of Shawn Michaels; and a terrific website on television tropes) I noted my plan not to purchase the MLB Extra Innings package this year.  This is an extreme, extreme rarity for me; I left the San Francisco Bay Area when I was 11 and, except for a few years in my 20s, I've been an ex-pat ever since.  In the fall of 1994, I began my third year of law school (law school's three years) on the first day of a class in Corporations, we were assigned campus email addresses.  I know for many the internet was a rolled out enterprise; you - yes, you - may have had Prodigy message board access prior to '94 - but for me, it was not just like one day in 1947 Dad came home with a DuMont RA 102 and I finally got to watch Kukla, Fran and Ollie - it was like I was heretofore unaware that such magical images flew through the air.  The experience of being alive transformed for me in a way I had never anticipated.

My very first search was for all matters San Francisco sports (wrestling was second, Elisabeth Shue, third) - and as the media technology advanced; my desire to live as if I was still within driving distance of Candlestick Park increased (My subscription is part of the reason for Mark Cuban making a billion dollars - and I'm still a member of the KNBR fan club).

What that has meant this century is the MLB Extra Innings package, for the past several years through digital cable.  I've seen more Giants games in the past decade than the rest of my life combined, and by a significant factor.  This year, however, I am planning on moving by the All-Star Break, and perhaps switching cable companies - therefore, I made a strategic decision not to purchase the package, giving up Krukow and Kuiper and the Comcast Bay Area commercials - and just utilize the range of my other technological options to follow the progress of my ballclub. 

And then this week happened.  And it's the best thing from the past 7 days.

First:  Everytime I Think I'm Out - They Pull Me Back In.

At the time of this writing, the Giants are 4-1 and have the best record in the National League.

Here's what those opium pushers at the cable company do - they offer that first week for free; just a little taste - a little taste of baseball; my Giants, on for free, everyday.  

Monday - Lincecum whips the Astros
Tuesday - Zito shuts out the Astros
Wednesday - We get 19 hits.  I would have gone under on 19 hits as our total for the whole series had I made such a prediction.
Friday - A Bottom of the 9th comeback and a 4 hour 13 inning win.  I decide to name my first born son Renteria.  If he were to hit that same homer in October, I'll make it my first born daughter. 
Saturday - Okay, this didn't go that well.  We're only going to play .800 ball this year. 

How do you quit that?  How? 

I mean, I know it's just one week - and later on today, the 10th anniversary of Pac Bell Park (Barry returns!  Bar-ry!  Bar-ry!) the rest of the sports world will be watching Tiger - me, I'll be charting Lincecum's curveballs - later on today, my guess is we lose - and then by April's end we're .500 on our way to my predicted 81-81 finish, and, as I've said before, we will never win a Series in my lifetime, and I'm just setting myself up for another season (or half a season, until I move) of devastating late inning losses that I watch at 5 in the morning on my DVR before heading off to my demoralizing work schedule.

But - I mean - come on!  Come on!  I've seen every game this year and we're 4-1 - if I stop watching the games and we start losing - WHOSE FAULT IS THAT? WHOSE?  WHOSE? 


Hey, I said I didn't believe there was some sort of omnipotent monotheistic divine figure - I never said I didn't believe in the Baseball Gods - I've seen Bull Durham - you have to respect the streak.  Respect the Streak! 

So, thanks, 4-1 San Francisco Giants.  It's your fault I'm out 180 bucks and a couple hours every day between now and the All-Star Break.  Thanks.  Thanks a lot.

4-1!  Madness.  After the jump - the rest of the Tendown.

1. Dead People Buy Sneakers Too
Tiger's on the leader board today; it's unlikely he wins (gun to my head, I'll pick Westwood) but it would make a helluva story and I'm rooting for him. 

The commercial (parodies of which are here) was simultaneously creepy and, from Nike's perspective, inspired - but my thought this week was it revealed a similarity among Tiger, Glenn Beck, and Cher. 

Cher's more plastic than person at that this point; we've built her, we have the technology - Tiger got hit this week, and not unreasonably so, for commodifying his infidelity; for using what he (I think correctly) calls a private shame to sell product, and doubling down by doing it on the back of his dead father's coffin.  I don't really dispute that criticism, and were one to tie that criticism into prior critique of Tiger's apology as overly planned, less coming "from the heart" and instead a constructed public relations ploy, that seems an entirely consistent position.

Mine would be slightly different.  My "defense", I guess, of the commerical would be the same as my defense to the infidelity.  That being - of course billionaire athlete sleeps with every Perkins waitress he can get his hands on; it's axiomatic.  If Tiger wasn't sleeping around that would be the more surprising, less precedented, outcome.

And the commercial - Tiger's a commodity; less person than product.  Like my discussion about the Hills last week, it's less that Tiger gets a Nike script and says "can you believe what they're having me do this week" - it's that his reality, his existence, is shaped by the corporation.  Maybe MTV tells Audrina Patridge who she's going to date this week, or maybe she consciously dates someone to maximize exposure or maybe she has just so internalized the needs of the corporation that who she actually finds interesting is always going to be the type of person that will bring about the type of conflict MTV needs to sell her as a character (Tiger totally should have banged Audrina). 

Tiger was born under a money tree; he was on the Mike Douglas show when he was three years old; I started reading about him when he was in high school.  Maybe Nike tells Tiger Woods "hey, we're still paying you big, big cash, stand there while we pretend your dead Dad is chastizing you over getting some freaky on your hanglow", but I'd guess it doesn't have to tell him too many times.  The most important scoreboard in Tiger's life is the Dow having hit 11,000 this week; how could it be otherwise?  His name is Tiger for goodness sake; in a previous day and age he'd be a Saturday morning cartoon character and literally not a single executive would care about his affairs as long as they could still do a Frosted Flakes tie-in.  "Porn stars.  They're grrrr-eattt!"

Does he believe it when he expresses sorrow at his actions?  Is he sincere when he gives his public apology to his fans?  Did Mike Tyson believe it when he said he wanted to eat Lennox Lewis's children "praise be to Allah!"  Sure.  Was he knowingly working the public in order to build the next fight?  Sure.  It was who he was.  Mike Tyson's brain was formed by Cus D'Amato - he was a student not just of throwing a protective left jab but of always working the crowd for the next fight.  Hucksterism mixed with mania in his brain and created the most compelling athlete of his generation.  Remember those two kids from the 90s who sold sponsorship in themselves to Bank One to get college tuition? (One of them has the patent on these stickers to teach kids which shoes go on which feet.) This isn't that - they knowingly decided to transform who they were into a product - Tiger was created to be a commodity; his public life is a construct beyond his control, I'm not sure how it could be any other way.

2. Another Republican Tells the Truth
Recall David Frum from a couple of weeks ago after the passage of the health care bill admitting that demonizing a bill that leaves the architecture of the insurance industry completely in place (and provides it with millions of additional customers) as communism was entirely political in nature - the Republicans made a calculation that they could rev up the portion of their base made up of Know-Nothings by labeling literally any Obama proposal, regardless of its Heritage Foundations origins, as part of a radical desire to destroy the fabric of America.  It also shifts the conversation in the mainstream media - instead of the health care debate being (as I would have had it) - of the benefits and burdens of a single payer system replacing a for profit model of health care - our national conversation was about imaginary death panels and the need to take to the streets in armed resistance to protect the Wellpoint stock price.

Frum followed that conversation by saying that the needs of Fox News were driving the train - after all, nuanced political debate doesn't draw the same quarter hour rating as being the only institution left which can prevent its viewers from being interned in secular humanist concentration camps.  Red state churches turned into 24 hour a day re-education screening rooms of the Michael Moore filmography.

The only question for me then is to what extent the Fox personalities are Tiger Woods - corporate products themselves, without the ability to distinguish when they're working the rubes - and when they are Heidi Montag, choosing to throw away the plain, nondistinguishable from every other girl in introductory fashion design class, version of herself in favor of a girl who could comfortably sit at Dave Attell's table at the AVN Awards.

Glenn Beck gave us that answer this week in a Forbes piece that revealed his talk of Maoist conspiracy, calls for revolution, and occasional red white and blue colored emotional breakdowns earned him 32 million bucks last year:

       I could give a flying crap about the political process. We're an entertainment company.

And there you go.  Clearly, I should stop (but I won't) calling him Simple Jack.

Fox News isn't the top rated cable news channel because it, you know, delivers the news.  Fox News is the top rated cable news channel because it delivers big, heaping buckets of deep fried crazy to an audience which will eat every spoonful until it explodes.  And if there's collateral damage in that explosion - hey, the tree of liberty has to be watered sometimes with the blood of temporary census workers.

3. What We're Not Talking About Is This
That the accepted continuum of political discussion in our country runs now from center-right to far right means there isn't a way to talk about video showing the American military massacring civilians. Or that Obama has authorized the assassination of an American citizen.

John Paul Stevens announced this week he's retiring this summer.  And there is no chance his replacement will not be more conservative than he is (play the game - who was the last justice appointed who moved the Court to the left?  Go ahead.  I've got time).  And there is also no chance that the Republicans, with the media complicit in allowing them to do this, will do anything but frame the discussion as if that prospective justice is too liberal, too "activist".  No matter what the Democrats do - it definitionally becomes the definition of liberal thought in America - if a Democratic President ignores civil liberties, if a Democratic President refuses to endorse a single payer health care plan, if a Democratic President refuses to go to bat for his own nominee for Office of Legal Counsel because her committment to the rule of law as outlined in the Constitution marks her as too far left in the 21st century then that's as far left as legitimate political thought is allowed to travel. Dawn Johnsen walked the plank this week - a Senate leadership source saying the White House:

                                              didn't have the stomach for the debate

The ironic element of course - is who they would be debating are people who claim fidelity to the written word of the Constitution.  When that "activist" (probably Kagan, who you don't want - who you want is Koh, you can settle for Wood - you won't get either) goes through confirmation hearings, the conservatives will say he/she isn't enough of a "strict constructionist" - meanwhile, demanding that that Justice construe executive power in a way the language of the document they are supposed to be strictly reading in no colorable way contemplates.  The more Democrats are faithful to the Constitution - the more Republicans call them terrorist sympathizers.  Heck, one might argue that the more Democrats are faithful to the New Testament - the more the Republicans call them communists, but that's a field on which I don't play.

4. 'Member that One Happy Days?
Are you like me, did you watch the 77th Episode of Happy Days and decide, much like Fonzie's cousin Angie from Kenosha that you were going to make the Guiness Book of World Records by flipping quarters off your elbow and catching them in mid-air?

It was a rerun when I was in, let's say 7th grade, on WGN when I decided that my way to reach immortality and date a hot-to-trot girl like Kitty LeBeau was to break Angie's record for flipping quarters.  I have no memory of how many I did, but I spent a full day throwing change all over my living room.

40 is apparently not the World Record any longer - 33 years later after that episode, a man named Mike Turber in Rancho Cucamonga had the video camera rolling this week and 70 quarters on his elbow. 

Then this happened.

5. This Does Not Appeal To Me
-I had Chinese food Friday night.

On the menu was "Crispy Sweet and Sour Fish"

This does not appeal to me. 

It gets progressively worse with every word; like a superhot woman who tells you about how the Jew controlled media has manipulated the minds of many whites such that they were duped into installing a Muslim as President - and now he's using health care as a form of reparations for slavery while ensuring that good, normal, regular Americans won't be able to see their doctors.  He's weakening us from within!  Don't you see that!  Don't you see that!  You should really watch Glenn Beck - he's a very, very smart man.  I'm going to see Sarah Palin speak at Wine and Spirits Wholesellers convention this weekend; I sure hope she runs for President in 2012; did you see Leno last night?  He sure is a hoot and a half.  How ' bout them Cowboys?

Like that.

When I was single a few years ago and dating a fair amount, I met a woman one night who would have been more attractive had she not been so willing to share her incredible racism with me, a total stranger who had purchased her a beverage (or three).  I faced the ethical conundrum - how racist does a woman have to be before you are not willing to sleep with her.  Like if you could plot it on a scale - if she were say an 8 in physical appearance, would you be willing to overlook her clear comfort with princples of eugenics?

I faced this very choice one night.   Sure, you'd like the crispy (mmmm) and maybe even the crispy sweet ( and sour sure, yeah, absolutely, gimme the crispy, I'll put up with the sweet and sour to get me a little crispy tonight). 

But I don't so much want crispy sweet and sour fish.  This does not appeal to me.

I also don't want a 3D television.   How could I flip my quarters with those glasses on?

6. Jerseylicious
I'm no longer single, happily coupled up for two years now, and we didn't meet through my largely inefficient, shoe leather based method of searching for women to hook up with; we met in a very modern technologically forward Web 2.0 method.  Had you, in the fall of 1994 when I received that first email address, told me that not only would I one day be making half my living teaching college courses on the internet but it was the mechanism through which I would meet the woman with whom I was about to share a house at some point before the All-Star break, I would - well, I would probably have believed you, because I enjoy technology that doesn't involve ugly 150 dollar glasses that literally no one will wear in their living rooms more than once.

People use the internets to meet romantic partners.  But as I learned on an episode of Jerseylicious this week, it's also how people uncover infidelity.  A not any brighter than you'd expect makeup stylist in training at a New Jersey hair salon discussed pulling a To Catch a Predator sting on her boyfriend; she set up a fake My Space (I'm assuming) profile of a woman, then hit on her boyfriend beneath the identity of that fake profile - he, being a dude, bit all the way, and when he showed up at their designed rendezvous location, she Chris Hansened him. 

Technology takes and it gives away.

7. I Watch Things Besides Shows on the Style Network About Hair Salons in Jersey
The best SNL of the season, Tina Fey hosting, was last night.  I rewatched the the first halves of the first seasons of two sitcoms I enjoy which will soon be returning - Party Down and Eastbound and Down.    There was lots of good free wrestling this week; Hero and Jay were 3 1/4 on ROH Monday; the Angle/Kennedy ladder match on Impact was 3 stars; WWF had three 3 star matches - 2 of them on Superstars, Sydal/Tatsu v. Chavo/Ryder and MVP v. Carlito and then Edge/Jericho, despite the non-finish, on Smackdown.  Both Swagger matches were good enough TV matches this week - and I'm glad he's getting a push.  I saw the most recent DGUSA PPV and the January PWG show; I went 3 1/2-3 3/4 on 6 matches between those two shows - but nothing more than that - I saw the Dragon's Gate title switch from Doi to Yamato and went 4 stars...and then, then I watched the first Evolve show - and the main event for the first Evolve show was a 4 3/4 star Davey v. Ibushi, that is currently the best match I have seen thusfar in 2010. 

8. I'm the Only One Who Sees the Whole Picture, That's What They Mean by Genius
That's the last line from Whatever Works, which I saw this week - it's the Woody Allen movie from last year where Larry David married Evan Rachel Wood.

It's really only for Woody Allen completionists; it's neither funny nor insightful enough to see on its own.  What it is though is subversive - and I really enjoyed that quality of it and if you are of a similar mind then I'd recommend the film to you as well - the Christians are yokels who throw away their conventional conservative worldviews pretty readily upon arriving in New York City - Larry David is a misanthropic atheist/socialist with an existentialist sensibility at the beginning of the movie - and essentially, by movie's end, everyone has converted to his worldview (outside of the misanthropic part - the film is light in tone) which is "whatever works" - a pretty clearly existentialist response to the possible dread of a godless universe - that once one realizes there just aren't any sort of universal rules of behavior; that the values that constrain us are social constructs entirely - we're animals - born, live, die - that's it - literally nothing else larger than that (and the film doesn't argue that point - which is why it's subversive - it assumes that point - the David character laughs off any attempts to suggest otherwise - and those who make those attempts quickly drop them; the film not only dismisses the most deeply held god/country/capitalism worldview that most Americans have - it does so with a shrug of the shoulders as if they are too trivial, too flimsy to even consider, and that's a response that I believe I am nearing more quickly than is professionally useful) that pragmatism "whatever works" becomes a reasonable life strategy.  Yes, David says, I married a girl 40 years younger than I am  - and eventually she wound up leaving for someone younger - but that's okay - I met a psychic - and sure, psychics are bullshit but so what?  And the girl's mom is with two dudes and her dad is with a dude too.  And here we all are and so what? Whatever works.

And you know - I can't say I disagree.  Woody Allen married his step-daughter (yes, I know, not quite, but go with me).  And what?  And what?  Yes, it hurt Mia Farrow and yes your respect for Woody diminished and...and what?  We're born - we live - we die - that's it.  Life's over and there's nothing else coming.  You get this and nothing else.  Make this as good as you can make it.  There's no scoreboard, no points at the end of the game.  There's just this and nothing else.  Do what works for you.  Whatever that might be. 

It's a subversive argument.  And it's worth seeing on that basis.

I saw Up In the Air - I liked it because I like Clooney but it largely uses the economic collapse as backdrop for Clooney's bildungsroman, and I'd get why people would find that offensive; I feel about it the way I felt about the Hurt Locker - they're both less about the conditions in which they're set than that they use those conditions as background noise.  They frame the shots - but they aren't the movie.  In fact, if there are any ideas in Up in the Air - they might be that there are worse things than being unemployed, because jobs grind you down and your relatively brief life is slipping away (the Larry David character also didn't have a job, he was an occasional chess tutor).  Which is fine and again, I don't disagree - but if you're the one without a job (which also, cause it's the United States) still means not only no income but no health insurance and probably no prospects, the bleakness of your picture really isn't helped because Clooney's able to find himself by film's end. 

I saw the remake of The Taking of Pelham 123, only worth seeing because you like the leads; it's strictly a star turn (I'm assuming that's Travolta's real hair) and nothing else.  I saw Duplicity, which is gobbledygook.  I saw W, which is unwatchable. 

9. Donovan McNabb Got Traded for a 2.

I thought a lot about football this week; I did some research for a coming post about the "Real" Super Bowl MVPs that will involve my discussing, briefly, but discussing, each of the 44 Super Bowls that have been played and looking at some players overlooked historically for their performances - I also thought a lot about football because I am waiting, breathlessly, for my Mel Kiper bluebook, which I purchase every year in preparation for the NFL Draft - it's the last piece of draft prep - during my too brief break between quarters I poured through as much material as I could, such that, were the draft to spontaneously break out today, I'm prepared.  More importantly from my perspective is that, last Sunday night - the Eagles traded Donovan McNabb, within their own division, for a 2nd round pick and a conditional 3rd. 

I'm guessing my Niners - who are close to taking that next step - could have gotten it done for a 2nd round pick and a conditional 3rd.

That failure, I think, might wind up the reason for our not going to the SB in the next 3 years.  It's extra speculative, but I absolutely see a scenario where a late career McNabb - playing with Gore and Crabtree, with our having 2 first round picks this year to add another OL and an impact DB - could wind up in a hotshot to the big game in this stretch.  It's a high leverage move - but man, oh, man - I think if we had a firmer hand running the club that's a move we make. 


And, for you basketball fans, note that the coach for my team, Don Nelson, broke the record for most NBA wins this week and it did not make Tendown.  Screw that guy. 

10. Casey~
I am full on Team Bowersox, as you know - and if you missed this week's Idol but happened to see Casey sing Heart of Rock-n-Roll a few weeks ago and you're shaking your head quizzically at me now - look, I didn't see this coming either; there's been absolutely never a moment since his audition that I've given Casey a second thought - but his rendition of Lennon's "Jealous Guy" this week was blisterin', easy - easy the best non-Bowersox performance of the season.  Credit where it's due.

That's Tendown 22.  I'll see you next time...if there is a next time...

Your pal,



Blog said...

Wouldn't a subscription be more cost efficient?

And I think that Renteria makes a better name for a girl anyway...

Tiger Woods finished up at the Masters with a 69 today. His golf was pretty good too. (rimshot) Thank you, thank you. I'm here every night until Thursday. Enjoy the shrimp!

Anonymous said...

shut the hell up, your so stupid ...

Blog said...

Hey! Don't talk to Jim like that!

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