a jim jividen blog

Here's the thing. I'm watching one of these shows on the Cooking Channel featuring food trucks. There's a Scottish expat making fish and chips; in a thick brogue he somewhat wearily explains his irritation with Americans who habitually order a side of tartar sauce: "tartar sauce is basically gherkins." That's this blog. I claim no particular insight, no revelation. If you enjoy the flavor, great, but this blog is basically gherkins.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

1st and Ten: The Weekly Tendown, August 1-7 2010

Dear Internet:

My first and most enduring memory of Jerry Springer is from his running for the Democratic Party's nomination for Governor of Ohio in..let's say '82, if it turns out to be a year or two away from that, don't hold it against me.  Springer had to pull out of the race after a prostitution scandal, and either made a campaign ad or had a press conference that included a line that (except for the number I'll use in the quote, which I've forgotten) I remember verbatim, "About 9 years ago I spent time with a woman I shouldn't have.  I paid her with a check."  It was probably six months before I stopped saying that virtually every day.  That was probably the same time period where all I ate was canned chili.  My brain gets stuck in certain grooves. 

Today, Jerry Springer hosts a game show, Baggage; it's a Dating Game variant; a contestant picks from among 3 potential suitors.  The twist is they all reveal increasingly embarrassing details about themselves (hence - Baggage) that causes their eliminations until we have the winner.  One round contains blind baggage, where we are told the embarrassing detail (like, "I have never had sex, and I don't plan to" or "I spent 90 days in a Canadian prison..") but have to wait for the reveal of to whom it belongs.  That's the best moment of the show, where the potential suitors walk around the now opened briefcases, teasing to which they might be attached ("I slept with my landlord for cheaper rent." or "I have 8,000 Star Wars action figures") and every episode, they pull the What's My Line style fake out, standing momentarily next to what will turn out to be another contestant's briefcase before then moving to the correct one ("I shave all my body hair" or "I'm the new backup center for the Boston Celtics.")

Why it's the best moment is the audience (I don't know that there's an audience, it could be entirely a canned effect) always gasps when the fake out occurs ("wait...no...NO!  Do you see what they did?  The guy who was standing next to the "I live with 8 other guys" briefcase just switched places with the "I've paid for sex." guy!  Craziness!").

I enjoy that gasp.  I heard it this week.

In explaining the concept of negative liberty to my American Government class, I talked about my taking this course as an undergrad and recalling that my midterm contained the question "What are the first five words of the Bill of Rights?"

Don't cheat. 

The answer is "Congress shall make no law" and, while I don't recall if it was contextualized in this way when I took the course, why it matters is the Bill of Rights were designed to put restraints on the power of government (yes, positive liberty exists as well, one doesn't preclude the other). I don't much like trick questions, but I do ask one on my midterm exam, "What constitutional amendment gives you freedom of speech.  This is a trick question." The answer is none of them - the Bill of Rights doesn't give you freedom - the United States government doesn't give you freedom - the Bill of Rights says the government can't take away your freedom of speech, "Congress shall make no law" - you have freedom of speech just because you're alive.

I took that American Government class the first quarter of my sophomore year, which was the fall of 1989.

And when I said that year, 1989, like a walking Public Enemy song, that's when I got the Baggage gasp.

I'm from the past.  I am a man from the past.

This week, I watched Hot Tub Time Machine.  It's not a particularly good movie, and Craig Robinson's Black Eyed Peas performance looked to me less like a Back to the Future homage and more like a lift, but what I did enjoy was that the 1980s were framed as Back to the Future framed the 50s - they are the past - the clothes, the music, the feeling of living in 1986 is as close to today as the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance felt to me when I was 15.

I come from the past!  Where we danced the Charleston and killed Injuns and sailed on Columbus's 4th ship that disappeared off the edge of the earth.  Welcome.

Let's do Tendown 38.

First:  The GOAT Goes to the Hall of Fame
At some point, I'll do a list of the Greatest Bay Area Athletes of all time; both for amateur and professional performances - so Bill Russell's college career would count, for example.

Spoiler alert - Jerry Rice is gonna win.

Aw, hell - off the top of my head:

1. Jerry
2. Barry
3. Willie
4. Joe
5. Rickey

I'll need to do more work on that; the point is that if you make me choose, just based on what they did in the Bay Area; I think it's Rice.  Sooner than later, I'll run the new numbers on the career value of the SFGiants, but I'd expect, even taking his Pittsburgh work out, that Bonds will come out ahead of Mays; obviously both are ahead of Henderson (I'm wrong, Barry is solidly ahead in WARP, but Mays is enough ahead in WAR to get past Bonds - flip them in the rankings)  I've got Jerry as the top WR ever by a distance that pretty significantly exceeds any of my other NFL positional rankings, which would slide him ahead of Montana. 

(Who else would be on the list - Niners...Tittle and Brodie and Steve; Cross and St. Clair.  BY, Haley, Wilcox, Nomellini. Ronnie. TO.  Dwight.  Jimmy Johnson, John Henry Johnson, Joe Perry, Hugh McElhenny, Roger...that's 19...Gene Washington. Done.  I'll do Giants and A's more systmatically.  I finished my look at every SFG team ever this week. GSW...Rick Barry, Mullin, Thurmond, Hardaway, Larry Smith, Purvis Short..Al Attles..Baron Davis..Jeff Mullins....Wilt.  Let's say that's the top 10.  Raiders, but not LA....Stabler, Plunkett, Upshaw, Shell, Otto, Tim Brown, Branch, Biletnikoff, Hendricks, Willie Brown, Casper, Lester Hayes, Lamonica, Guy, Dalby, Tatum, Lechler, Van Eeghan, Asomugha...let's say Blanda for 20).

But ahead of them all (and Mark Spitz and McEnroe, and Elway and everyone else you got) would be Rice.

Here's a ranking of the ten best moments of his career..  Here's some never before seen practice footage.

My baseball life has been largely solitary.  Baseball cards, Bill James Abstracts, scrambling to find out of town radio broadcasts - WLW in Cincinnati, maybe even KMOX in St. Louis - The Baseball Encyclopedia - keeping score during almost every game - I have always felt the very most like who I am when I am immersed completely in my head, and baseball has been the easiest delivery system for my solipsism. 

But football was different - most of my football memories are watching the Niners with my parents; if I spent 90% of the 1980s isolated, the other 10% was in one of our various living rooms watching the 49ers.  Those games are the very best memories of my childhood. 

Missed my dad yesterday.  Hard to be a person from the past some days. 

After the jump - the rest of the Tendown