Friday, November 25, 2011


When I worked at the theater, holidays were a nightmare. The days that everybody else had off were our busiest days of the year. Thanksgiving was particularly bad. People would try to escape their families for a couple of hours, or if they didn't have any other plans, we were the only thing open. The Friday after Thanksgiving was the worst. After people had been shopping for hours on their feet, they would come into the theater tired, irritable, and loaded down with bags of crap. They would buy tickets to whatever Hollywood piece of shit was released for the holidays, and shuffle with all the other sheeple into an overcrowded and overheated theater. On top of that, a ton of employees would call out sick for that day. We had them sign a contract when they were hired that they would be available and would work on the holidays, but firing them didn't help the day we were short staffed. After a grueling day of selling tickets, selling concessions, running around and putting out fires, and dealing with complaints, all the employees would go out drinking once their shift was over. That's why we started calling it "Blackout Friday."
Recently I heard Black Friday referred to as "the Special Olympics of capitalism" and I really can't think of a more appropriate description. At a time that we should be relaxing, enjoying food and family, corporate America has decided to turn it into a materialistic feeding frenzy. I'm not saying it's all their fault. If nobody showed up for their stupid sales, they wouldn't have them. Over the past few years the whole scenario has gotten absolutely ridiculous. The time that the sales start has moved back gradually, with every store trying to outdo the other one, until now some of the sales start on Thursday afternoon. What better way to spend your holiday than standing in line in front of a big box store in a parking lot with thousands of other mouth breathing greedy pathetic consumer feedbacks, waiting to buy whatever crap Madison Avenue says we desperately need. Well, enjoy it sheeple, but be careful out there because some people are getting violent about their consumerism as evidenced by this story. It's only a matter of time before we get our first Black Friday shooting.
On the other hand, tomorrow is "Small Business Saturday," so go out and support your local independent, mom-and-pop, neighborhood businesses. They are the ones that deserve your support. Now, a promotion like that is something I can get behind...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


It seems like I'm always defending my love of football. I understand that it's a violent, brutal sport. I understand that it receives an inappropriate amount of attention in our society. I understand that athletes get away with a lot of things that other people wouldn't, simply because of a hero worship mentality. Just because millions of people look up to them, that doesn't make them good role models. However, I have a love of the game itself. The mechanics of the plays, the competition and strategy, and above all the teamwork and comeraderie that can only come from battling in the trenches together to accomplish a goal.
The scandal which has unfolded at Penn State over the past week has once again cast an ugly light on football. Penn State has long been considered the pinnacle of college football morality. They have never been charged with any recruiting violations, a majority of their players graduate with a good education, and up until now they have had no other scandals. All of that was shattered in the past 48 hours. The incredibly sordid details that have emerged will erase the legacy of the winningest coach in college football history, and tarnish the image of the cleanest cut NCAA program.
If you're not familiar with this case, then you're probably not a football fan…or don't read newspapers… or don't watch TV… or don't have the Internet (how are you even reading this???). Everyone in America is innocent until proven guilty, but the details of this case are more about moral convictions then legal convictions. Edmund Burke famously said "All that evil needs to triumph is for good men to do nothing." That is precisely what seems to have happened here. But first a little background:
Jerry Sandusky played defensive end for Penn State in the 60s. After graduating, he became an assistant coach, eventually working his way up to linebacker coach and then being promoted to defensive coordinator in 1977. Under his defensive leadership, Penn State gained the nickname "Linebacker U," and stunned Miami University in the 1984 Orange bowl by defensively shutting down the Hurricanes high-powered offense. It was assumed that Sandusky would succeed Joe Paterno as the head coach of Penn State, but when it became obvious that Paterno had no intentions of leaving any time soon, Sandusky retired in 1999 after a shutout win in the Alamo bowl, and the players carried him off the field on their shoulders. He went on to found The Second Mile, a community organization to help disadvantaged children.
Pretty amazing career, right? Well, it turns out that Sandusky was the worst kind of monster. A Monster that outwardly looks like a successful, well respected, pillar of the community, but who uses that disguise to commit acts of pure evil. He is an American nightmare. The kind, grandfatherly, coach who is secretly destroying children's lives. In 1998, Sandusky admitted to the mother of a child he was mentoring that he had inappropriately showered with her son. No legal action was taken at the time. In 2002, a graduate assistant coach at Penn State walked in on Sandusky raping a boy in the Penn State locker room showers. The graduate assistant returned to his office and called his father for advice. His father told him to leave the building. The next day, the graduate assistant told coach Paterno what he had seen. The day after that, Paterno told school officials about the incident. The police were never contacted, no attempt was made to find out who the child was, and the only action the University took was to tell Sandusky that he couldn't bring children on campus anymore. Clearly they knew something terribly wrong was going on for them to ban him from bringing children on campus, but I guess they felt he could do whatever he wanted as long as it didn't happen on their property. Everyone involved simply wanted to keep it quiet and not do anything that would harm the sterling reputation of Penn State. Apparently, nobody had the best interests of the child, or future children, at heart. Nothing was done, and Sandusky was free for the next nine years to continue abusing little boys. Both school officials have since been indicted for perjury for lying about their knowledge of this incident.
Sandusky has been charged with multiple counts of sexual assault to children, ranging from 1994 to 2009. Nine victims have come forward, and undoubtedly there will be more since a man like this is an un-repentant predator. In a horrifying irony, his autobiography published in 2001 is called Touched: The Jerry Sandusky Story.
I know there is a presumption of innocence, but the evidence in this case is overwhelming. Joe Paterno has insisted that Sandusky is innocent, but in the same breath he said that he and his wife will pray for the victim's families. If Sandusky is innocent, what victims? More importantly, how could somebody walk into a shower where a child was being raped and do nothing? How could a head coach find out that a child had been molested in his locker room by a man he had coached and worked with for 30 years, and not do anything about it? How could University officials find out about a molestation on their campus and not involve the police? How can all of this be swept under the rug for at least nine years allowing a hideous monster to pray on their community? For the same reasons that the Catholic Church protected, hid, and shuffled around pedophile priests for years. To protect the reputation of "important" men. To shelter a venerable and powerful institution. To not jeopardize a money making machine.
Joe Paterno announced today that he will retire at the end of the season. How noble of him. How nice of him to not force the University to make a tough decision about firing him. I saw an ESPN report today saying how "devastated" Paterno is by all of this. Like "raped in the shower" devastated, or "my precious reputation is tarnished" devastated? Some idiotic Penn State students and fans are rallying around coach Paterno. In their warped and distorted fanaticism, they value football victories, glory, and image over the well-being of countless children.
And that's why I always have to defend my love of football.
Because some crazy fans, overzealous media, corporate sponsors, and big business get their priorities way out of whack and give the game a bad name. I wish our modern culture would stop forgiving or covering up bad (and in some cases despicable) behavior simply because someone can throw a ball or coach their team to a victory, but don't blame the game of football itself for the actions of bad people. As evidenced throughout history, scandals and cover ups are a human condition, not just a sports condition.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Did you ever notice…...that when a person dies who was annoying, obnoxious, pretentious, self-centered, and humorless, we're supposed to be sad just because they were famous?  Why is that?  It seems to me that the sensible thing is that if we don't know somebody, and they didn't know us, then why should we care if they died?  Especially if that person was a grouchy pompous know-it-all who didn't give a shit about anyone but themselves?  It always amazes me when there's a big outpouring of sentiment after someone dies just because they were rich and/or famous.  Why is that?  It doesn't make sense to me.  You might say that's heartless, but maybe I'm just an old curmudgeon…
I once saw Andy Rooney talk about the cotton balls in aspirin bottles for 2 minutes.   Some people might find that amusing, but I found it incredibly annoying and useless.  I never liked his little "comic relief" nuggets at the end of 60 Minutes.  The whole "I'm a cantankerous old man who bitches about everything" routine got old after the first 10 seconds or so.
I had a friend who grew up in Fairfield Connecticut.  His father work for  Con-Edison repairing telephone lines, and rode into Manhattan every day on the same commuter rail as Andy Rooney.  He said that Rooney sat in the same seat every day and read the papers.  If anybody ever approached him  to say they were a fan or to talk to him at all, he was incredibly rude and told them to leave him alone.  As if he was so important preparing his stupid fucking routine for 60 Minutes that he did have time to say hi to somebody who actually liked his inane bullshit!  I firmly believe that a person's true character is defined by how they behave in the small moments when they think nobody is watching.
One of the funniest things I've ever seen is Ali G's "interview" with Andy Rooney.  One of my favorite lines is when Rooney says that he has " 50 books on the English language if you'd like to read one."  Eventually Ali G asks him if he is ending the interview "because I is black?" and then accuses him of being "racialist." Andy Rooney says that's not even a word , but the jokes on him because it really is a word.  It's a Brittish variation of racism, and was used correctly by Ali G.  Maybe you should've opened one of those 50 books Andy.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011


The world population reached 7 billion people this Halloween weekend.  If that's not scary, I don't know what is.  I found out that the number of people on Earth has doubled since I was born.  Humans are the worst plague that God has ever sent down.  We make locusts look like child's play.  If this planet had a landlord, he would've called Orkin a long time ago.  Apparently all the wrong people are spawning too.  That's why my dad hated Mother Teresa.  Let me just pause for a minute to let that sink in.  Okay, here's why.  She advocated no birth control in areas that desperately needed it.  But that's a story for another post. 
I finally bought the Dragon voice recognition software that I've been thinking of getting for a couple years.  My weak typing skills will no longer hold me back, and this may mean a rebirth of this blog!  As a happy accident, it also turns out that the headphones and microphone that came with the Dragon software are better than my old headphones, so as I "write" this I'm listening to Pandora, and life is good.  Unfortunately, I look like Kathy, the Time-Life operator in those old ads, and my roommates probably think I'm losing my mind, talking to myself in my room.  I also sound like that old Molly Shannon skit on Saturday Night Live, yelling out punctuation.  Remember that character?  She was a grammar teacher who would say "Correct punctuation is important  EXCLAMATI ON  POINT  Without it COMMA we are like animals PERIOD"  I had to spell all that out.  Otherwise, the voice recognition software would just put in !  , and.  Ha ha ha ha (that's how it actually types out my laugh) 
As I was walking home last night, eager to try out my new toy, the goblins and ghouls and zombies and princesses were all out in force trick-or-treating.  My neighborhood, apparently, is a hotbed of Halloween activity, and the neighbor directly behind my house actually set up a fancy tent that stretched out from his porch.  It was called Fred's Garage, and drew quite a crowd.  Spooky sounds and music were emanating from it all night.  When I got home, I could still hear Fred's Garage through the trees behind my house.  He was playing The Devil Went Down to Georgia by the Charlie Daniels band, which I thought was pretty funny Halloween music.  I've always had a bone to pick with that song.  The devil clearly wins the showdown!  Everything about his solo is better than the human's.  Just another case of the devil getting a raw deal.  Maybe that's why I like Halloween so much, it's the one day where the devil gets his due. 
Well, that's it for now, but hopefully I'll be back soon with some more ramblings now that I'm not constrained by my suspect typography skills…