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, March 6, 2011

The Weekly Tendown February 27 -- March 5 2011

Dear Internet:



It's a halfdown this week; it was either that or fill out the balance of the article with Charlie Sheen quotes.

Here's Tendown 66.

1. FeedingTheShark


So, here was this week's idea.

The Fonz is probably dead.  I know Henry Winkler isn't dead, but Happy Days was a period piece; the most conservative analysis would place his birth in '37.  That would mean the Fonz turns 74, at the very least, this year.

If he made it.  Given the relatively high risk lifestyle (the promiscuity, shark jumping and whatnot) any manner of events could have caused a premature demise.

Wouldn't you like to know how it happened?

Wouldn't you like to know how the Fonz "fed the shark"?

Or any of your favorite fictional characters - when the book is over, or the movie, or the TV series, characters in whom you were fully emotionally invested just appear to stop.  But they don't need to.  Huck Finn, Cliff Huxtable, Elliott from E.T, they can have lives that move on; I'd like to know about them.  Does Alex P. Keaton have liberal kids?   Did TJ Hooker plant a bloody glove in OJ Simpson's yard? Did Tony Soprano get to finish those onion rings he ordered for the table?

And finally, how did they "feed the shark."  How did these characters die?

I'm a bit of a connoisseur of last episodes of long running television series; perhaps my favorite end ever is Six Feet Under's flash forward with the montage of each of the main characters dying.  That's what I want - give me a montage of the pivotal moments in the rest of Charles in Charge's life.  Right up until his prison shanking.


If you're ever in the position to talk to a creator of any iconic fictional character - that's what you should ask him.  If he thinks about his characters having lives outside of the world that was constructed.  If he thinks about their deaths.  Garry Marshall's not getting any younger.  Someone track him down and ask him how Fonzie dies.   

2. Would You Like to Play Rock-Paper-Scissors Against A Computer?
Several years ago, I wrote this piece about the world rock-paper-scissors championships.  It's more off color than my current work.  That's what happens when you turn 40.

I bring it back now because of this. Choose the veteran opponent and enjoy.

3. I'm Not Turning 41 This Year.  And You Shouldn't Either
I'm several months away from turning 41, even more, because I'm not going to.

41 is a pointless birthday; once you hit 40, there's really no reason to look up until 45.  Your loved ones will be completely disinterested in this as a milestone.

So - instead of that - skip ahead 8 months.

Because 8 months after you turn 41 - you turn 500 months old.

500 months old!  500 months old!  That might be the best trade ever - that's Christy Mathewson for Amos Rusie - you give up turning 41 and instead get to be Methuselah.

I'm willing to lead the parade on this one.  Late May, 2012, I turn 500 months old. The last birthday of my life that really interested me was when I turned 10 - double figures seemed a big deal to me, like a secular bar mitzvah, that felt like the day I was to become a man.  Since then - eh.  I failed my driver's test (hitting a parked car in the lot of the testing center is an automatic do not pass, word to the wise) so didn't have a car at 16; I was about a month into my freshman year of college at 18, so the birthday was less important than writing my political science paper; I have no memory of turning 21 and 30 and 40 are less causes for celebration than are they reminders of wasted potential.

But 500 is so crazy, such a ridiculous number - that there's no way to look at it and feel anything but conquering.  You gotta have tiger blood and Adonis DNA to turn 500 months old. 

Turn 500 with me, fellow 40 year olds.  I'm talking to you Mariah Carey.  Turn 500 with me.  Vince Vaughn and Ricky Schroder (hey, Rick - how did your Silver Spoons character die?  Overdose?  Some type of rich guy overdose?) skip your birthdays and turn 500 with me.  Matt Damon?  Turn 500.  Uma Thurman and Kelly Ripa?  500.  Tina Fey - I'll give you this one as a 30 Rock episode - you, me, and Liz Lemon, all turning 500 months old.

500 months.  That's my cause celebre.

4. Everything Wrong With America In Picture Form
Pretty much every week in Tendown (and pretty much every week since I was 160 months old) I talk about economic inequality as the root of our rotting republic.  The middle class was built after WW2 because the federal government made a specific economic choice to facilitate wealth accumulation by working Americans. Low interest loans and high top marginal tax rates gave working Americans the ability to have lives above the social margin.

30 years of right wing economics have eroded that to its nub; when the conservatives go on TV and talk about unionized public sector workers having a better deal than their non-union private sector counterparts - they're right - and the response should be that the non-union private sector workers should have a better deal.

Jon Stewart did a thing this week comparing what the conservative media said about the contracts teachers unions have collectively bargained (they're selfish, what message is this sending to the kids, they need to sacrifice) to the contracts Wall St. executives had when their firms received bailout money (they can't be forced to give up their bonuses, they were negotiated, they are inviolable contracts and only a socialist would suggest the government intrude upon a previously negotiated contract).  It was good.  The next comparison should be all the years that conservatives have said that we didn't need unions anymore, that unions didn't help workers - with right now, when all they are saying is how unionized workers have been living fat while we who don't have unions (ahem) are barely scraping by.

For as long as I can remember "we don't need unions anymore!  The unions are going to take your money!"

And now "the unionized workers have it too good!"

No, they don't.  The rest of us have it lousy.

30 years of right wing economics attempting to roll back the previous 70 years of history.

And here it is in picture form.

5. The World Champion San Francisco Giants

   It takes 11 postseason wins to become World Series Champs.  Here was our 9th.  Game 2 of the 2010 World Series.

Game 2 looked like the pitchers' duel Game 1 didn't turn out to be, Matt Cain (our best starter in 2010, with a combined WAR/WARP of 9.2) and CJ Wilson were scoreless until a Renteria fifth inning homer, followed a couple innings later by Uribe singling home a walked Ross.  2-0 Giants in the bottom of the 8th - and instead of white knuckling Game 2 onto the tarmac, we matched our Game One fifth inning by sending 11 to the plate and scoring 7 runs.

Yes, of course I'll tell you about them.  Yes.

Posey - 2 out single.
4 straight walks.
Renteria - 2 run single
Rowand - 2 run triple
Torres - run scoring double.

9-0 to the good guys.  We go to Texas up 2 games to 0.

That's all for this time.  I'll be back next time.  If there is a next time...

Your pal,

Jim