Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The World on Steroids

With the holiday season(s) upon us, it has been some time since posting last. It all seems so hectic these days to have the time...or is it that the older we get, the faster time gets away from us?!
No doubt most of you have heard of or read excerpts from the Mitchell Report. The report exposes certain of our baseball heroes, past and present, to the use of steroids and HGH (human growth hormones) in order to gain an athletic advantage. Some of the players named have admitted the use of these banned substances, some have emphatically denied it. To those who deny their use, I say show patience and allow the rest of the process to unfold. All should be deemed innocent until proven guilty....that is the American way.
However.....and a big however it is.....since this is the Christmas season, what about Santa Claus and his reindeer?! Have you ever seen a real reindeer? They are shaggy looking beasts and not near as cute as all the media hype at this time of year happens to show. can these un-cute creatures pull Santa's sled and make it fly? Steroids, I say! How else can they get that high for that long, and cover the entire earth in a single night? Not being the speediest of animals, these reindeer of Santa's would have to be traveling several thousand miles per hour to get the job done. If one of our revered athletes were to show this kind of performance enhancement, they would be surely crucified by the media and be the headline topic in the next Mitchell Report!
And what about this Rudolph reindeer with his nose so bright? When was the last time you saw a nose so red, when your partner had too much to drink after the Christmas party? So is Rudolph not only on steroids, but has a drinking problem, too? That may explain why I didn't get what I wanted last year.
But as I said, we have to be tolerant and give the benefit of the doubt until proven guilty. It may be time to form our own Mitchell report, set up a committee and begin mandatory testing for these super athletes called reindeer. Let them 'do their thing into the urine cup.' Then we would know for sure.
Flying around, indeed! Steroids, I say!
Happy Holidays!!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Kudos...and a Boo

By now, you know I like to read about sports. It is part of my morning routine. Not that I was ever a good athlete.....hardly!I just made it by to participate. My brother was the athlete of the family, I was the bookworm. But today there was something in the sports section I thought interesting.
The kudos: As inflation and greed continue to drive up prices for tickets at sporting events, The Pittsburgh Pirates are standing pat, keeping ticket prices the same for next season. They have not raised ticket prices since 2001, and their ticket prices average $17.07, among the lowest in baseball.
Now the Boos: Apparently, 15 consecutive losing seasons are enough to make even baseball executives feel guilty. "We will at some point need to raise ticket prices to stay competitive, but the focus this season has been and will be on changing the culture of this organization to one in which our fans will again be proud," team spokesman Brian Warecki said.
Be careful who you root for and how well you want your team to do during the season and into the playoffs. Rooting for a winning team will apparently cost you more! Especially if they raise those already exorbitant salaries we talked about before in order to keep the winning players.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

December, A New Month

Well. we are in the first throws of the month that ends our year and our holiday season. What a year it has been, for most of us anyway!
Most of us have routines that we follow on a day to day basis, and I am no different. My particular routine gets me up aroung 6 AM and I grab a quick cup of coffee and the newspaper. If it is a nice morning outside, I go sit on the back patio to drink and read. But I don't just begin reading. Even that has a routine. I first start out with the Sports page. After all, I have to check to see if the same teams I rooted for yesterday still won and there were no changes!....;-)
After the Sports comes the Comics, Dear Abby, the Bridge column......even though I don't play bridge, I just love to read about the strategies. I actually prefer Cribbage, a dying game if there ever was one.
Our paper is the Las Vegas Review Journal, and with all the sports betting going on in this state, the sports section is a good one. Check it out if you ever get the chance. The Bridge column is great, because not only do you get lessons on strategy, but the author, Philip Alder, loves to throw in a few quotes during the week that are very profound at times. Here are a couple of his included quotes from the past couple of days:
Charles Caleb Colton, an English cleric, writer and collector well known for his eccentricities, said, "When we are in doubt and puzzle out the truth by our own exertions, we have gained something that will stay by us and will serve us again."
Here is another: Thomas Mann, German novelist and Nobel laureate, wrote, "A great truth is a truth whose opposite is also a truth." Pretty profound stuff coming from a bridge column, don't you think?!
Oh, and don't forget the crossword puzzles. After the sports, bridge, etc., the crosswords finish up my first morning routine with a second cup of coffee. I only do the crosswords to bone up and give me fuel for my evening routine of watching Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, and to help me kick some serious booty against my competitve wife!
What could be better? Fresh coffee and the newspaper to start, and a couple of good rounds of game shows to keep the mind sharp. That leaves the rest of the day in between to fill in with other mundane finding the truth.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Two Down, Two to Go

Well, we have 2 holidays 'down' (Halloween and Thanksgiving) and two to go. I don't know about you, but hearing Christmas carols before Thanksgiving is a bit tedious!. It's not just this year, but for every year I can remember in recent history.
With all the holiday activities, family, friends, parties, galas, etc., we probably will not be posting as often as we would like. But that doesn't mean we are short of opinions. Heavens, no! We are just going to take the time to enjoy this holiday as best we can.
The Dancing With the Stars show is done for the season, ending last night with Helio winning the whole pot. Although I love the guy, his effort and his magnetism, I felt that he was the 3rd best dancer on the show this year. In my opinion, Helio was behind in talent to Mel B. and Sabrina, who got knocked of a couple of weeks ago through a real voting goof up. If you read my previous post (NOv. 7th) about Sabrina getting kicked off and my suggestions about how to possibly change the judging, I have not changed my opinion.
Take for example Marie Osmond, who had no right and not enough dancing talent to even be in the semi-finals, much less the finals! Granted, Marie is a good entertainer with a good sense of humor that she readily displayed for us all during the past weeks. But, her audience/supporters kept her in the game way too long. Another example of the popularity contest that needs to be changed.
Even Helio benefitted from the popularity thing. I would guess that few people knew who he was when the season's show began, or even knew he has won 2 Indy 500 races, a tribute to the skills and talent he has as a driver. Here is a guy who won the entire contest last night without never having danced before!
How did he do it? Yes, through a lot of hard work and determination, but come on......8 weeks and he is a champion dancer?! If you look back at the talents of Mel B. and Sabrina, Helio won on popularity. If you watched Monday night, let me prove my point: Each team danced two dances that night, the last night of the competition that the audience would have a vote in the outcome. Mel's score for the 2 dances was 55, Helio had 54 and Marie had 48. What made the difference, in my opinion, was that Helio had the last dance. It was a good one, scoring 10's across the board and exciting the audience. Even though his total score was less than Mel, he left a lasting impression, and obviously, by popular vote, he won the competition.
Don't get me wrong. I love the show, watch it every week, both nights. Helio won, and good for him and his effort. But the best one did not win. The judging rules need to be modified to make it more fair for the dancers who are really good, but maybe do not quite have the following of some other popular stars. Set the playing field level and we can all enjoy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What Is The World Coming To?

After a 2-week 'vacation', we are ready to get back at it. It was nice to take some time for remeberances on Veteran's Day, and to begin preparations for the holidays beginning with Thanksgiving. But all that did really was to store up a few gripes......
First, our Veteran's day parade in our little home town was pathetic. Only one town official actually showed up to march in the parade. The whole parade passed in 10-15 minutes. There were no marching bands (where was the high school band?), very little substance at all. In this time when our troops sorely need our support, out little town failed. Hey, Town Officials, you missed it! Shame on you!
Now, another pet peeve. Athletics. We all revere our athletes, college or pros. We love to see them run faster, jump higher, hit it further. But what about those that are stars, then fail in their position as role models? Michael Vick kills dogs and is going to jail, rightfully so. Barry Bonds is indicted for steroid use and likely will also go to jail. He lied to us, and will deserve what he gets. He also should be forced to change his name to "Bail" Bonds.
Ray Lewis has been in jail. College kids are getting kicked off teams for violating rules and felony charges of all kinds. What is going on? Sadly, although there are some athletes out there who are good people, it seems that the majority of the time we hear about the bad apples.
What is really frustrating about this is the amount of money these athletes make, good or bad. Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod) from the New York Yankees bailed out of the last two years of his contract, then opts back in (without his agent) to a 10-year, $275 million contract. Folks, that is $27.5 million per year! To put that in perspective, NY City school teachers make on average $60,000 per year. A-Rod's salary for one year could hire 458 teachers for NY for the same year.
I'm not just singling out A-Rod. This is rampant throughout sports. Just today you can pick up the paper and see the new signings for some of the fee agents or soon-to-be free agents from this past baseball season. Mariano Rivera, also with the Yankees, re-signed a 3-year deal for $45 million, $15 million per year. People! He is a 38-year old relief pitcher. His salary will be per year will be $4 million above what every other relief pitcher currently makes. Compare that to Greg Maddox who just signed a new contract with the San Diego Padres for a 0ne-year contract of $10 million. All Maddox has ever done is win over 300 games, 3 Cy Young awards and several Gold Glove awards for his fielding of his position from the mound. Luis Castillo just signed with the Mets for $25 million over a 4-year deal. The list goes on .....and on.
What does this say about us? Some of the current athletes can't even spell 'baseball' or 'football', yet they are paid millions. Our real heroes, our firefighters, police officers and soldiers don't get paid what theses athletes do, yet they risk their lives every day for us.
By the way, as of this writing no published report has been released outlining the income of our college athletics stars...................

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Fall Has Been Cancelled today reported the following: "WASHINGTON, D.C. - Fall, the long-running series of shorter days and cooler nights, was cancelled earlier this week after nearly 3 billion seasons on Earth, sources reported Tuesday. The classic period of the year which once occupied a coveted slot between summer and winter, will be replaced by new, stifling humidity levels, near-constant sunshine, and almost no precipitation for months." is a satirical news web site that you should check out....if your sense of humor runs to the satirical side. Anyway, they can't be too far wrong if you have been following the news lately.
What has been reported, in reality, is that the unseasonably warm weather can be attributed to the possiblity of La Nina which affects ocean currents. Or could it be that Al Gore is right and we are seeing the effects of global warming? If I had known that Al Gore could actually be right once in a while, I may have voted for him instead of Bush. At least Al can spell 'global warming', unlike Bush who now spells it global warring!
Speaking of Bush, there is a new ritual out now that you may want to participate in. You get an effigy of Bush and place it on the ground. Then you take a big stick and thrash the ground around the doll until you have no stength left. The new ritual is called "Beating Around the Bush".

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

"Stars" Finally Got It Right

Well.....last night, Dancing With The Stars finally got it right after the fiasco of last week when Sabrina was voted off by the combined scores of the judges and the audience! After watching this Monday's contestants perform two dances each, it was my opinion that Jane Seymour was the next to go. As lovely as she still is at her age (can you believe that figure at 50+?), she still lacked the skills others have shown. More true to form, she was voted off the show last night.
In my opinion, Sabrina was one of the top dancers in this season's show, if not the top. The format that they use for judging on the show is more than a little lacking. With the 3 judges scores accounting for only half of the scores, the other half of the combined scores are voted by the public. The terrible thing is that the judges get one vote, the audience gets to vote as many times as there are contestants remaining. In other words, if there are 8 contestants still remaining, each audience member gets 8 votes for each e-mail address, text account they have and phone number they have! What impact does this have? I have a cell phone, a house phone and a fax phone that can be used for regular calls and has a different telephone number. My wife has a personal cell phone and a business cell phone, each with different numbers. I have 3 e-mail addresses, my wife has two. That makes 5 phone numbers and 5 e-mails addresses, or a total of 10 times we can vote. If, as in the above example, we have 8 votes per line, we could vote for one person 80 times!! Judges get one vote each, my wife and I get 80! Now you don't have a legit contest, you have a popularity contest.
What has happened in the past seasons really took its toll last week with Sabrina. The judges had her at or near the top, and all of them said she should be in the finals, if not win the whole thing. The audience exercised their 'popular' vote for the others and Sabrina lost out. What a travesty!
Solution? Here's mine: Keep the current panel of judges....they are very good and very knowledgable, even if we do not agree when they do not vote highly enough for our favorite. Form another panel of 8-10 judges drawn for a pool of previous contestants who made it at least half way through the contest. Give each of the panels one vote, and each panel's votes make up 1/3 of the total combined score. Let the audience participate in the other 1/3 of the vote, but instead of giving them multitudes of votes as they do now, give them only one vote per line. Make them make their vote account for something, but not the power they have now!
With 2/3 of the votes coming from judges and panels, and only 1/3 of the scores coming from the audience, this would be less of a popularity contest and more in line with a 'real' contest to find the best overall dancer for the season's series. If this format for judging had been in place last week, we would not have had to endure the shock of seeing Sabrina voted off and we would be in the midst of a good contest. What a concept!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A Legend Lost

Being from the desert just outside of Las Vegas, it is noteworthy (to us) to note the passing of one of Vegas' legends this past week. I am, of course, referring to the great Robert Goulet. Like most of you, I grew up listening to the velvet tones of Robert Goulet. He had one of the richest voices I have ever heard.
Unfortunatley for all of us, Robert lost his battle to a lung disease (fibrosis) this past week while waiting for a match for a lung transplant. He was only 72 years old, but to those who knew him, he was much younger at heart.
I never knew Robert Goulet personally, but my wife did. She worked for many years in the casino/gaming industry before we met and married. She had the occasion to meet Robert Goulet many times. According to my wife, he was as nice in person as he appeared to be on stage and in front of an audience. Not only was Robert a great entertainer, but he was a great man.
Some legends are made, some are born. Robert Goulet was born to be a star and a legend. For those of us who loved his performances here in the Vegas area, he will be missed.
So with a heavy heart, we say goodbye to a great singer, a great man and a great legend of show business. So Long, Robert. You gave us great pleasure, and you will be missed. Peace be with you on your new journey.