Friday, March 20, 2009

NCAA March Madness: Fouls are for pansies

(Yes, this picture is entirely irrelevant)

Not surprisingly I'm going to go a little counter culture today.

March madness is pretty fun. Yeah, it's crazy to see all the upsets and tons of basketball with really amazing feats of athleticism and drama. However, on the other side, I hate to break it to all of you, but basketball is not a manly sport. At least at the NCAA and pro level. It's a sport for pansies. I hope there are a lot of people up in arms about that comment. But really, when you think about it, there are few other sports where the entire game gets put on hold for some egalitarian fairness rule where some guy who brushes by some other guy gets called for a "foul". Game stoppage every 3 seconds is not fun to watch, and, it doesn't encourage competitive physicality but instead encourages competitive acting. 
You've probably all heard about "flopping" in the NBA. That's where some guy drives to the hoop and the center or whoever is trying to stop him falls to the floor in some melodramatic effort that looks like he's been shot point blank by a tank. Generally, the guy driving doesn't even touch him. The aim is to get take a charge and get the offensive "foul". Well they've tightened things up a little bit in the NBA, and the refs are now calling bluffs. That means spectators (like me) get to watch a real freaking game instead of a Shakespearian play. Unfortunately however, college basketball has not been so liberal with their acceptance of physical play. Honestly, I don't care which team the call favors, I just want to watch the game.
But, let's just put it into its larger context. Yes, I called basketball a sport for pansies. I will stick with that. It's not manly (unless we're talking Shaq or KG). I mean, imagine if they called fouls like they do in basketball in soccer. They'd have a penalty kick every other change of possession. Imagine if, instead of giving yardage penalties every time some guy grabbed a jersey or was called for pass interference in football, they instead gave the other team the chance to make a 30 yard field goal. Or, on the most extreme end, imagine if every time some UFC fighter drew a little blood they stopped the fight, bandaged him up and let him hit the other guy two times in the face. Yeah, then all sports would begin to suck. So basketball leaves something to be desired. I mean if I wanted to watch competitive acting, I'd go to a thespian tournament. I came to watch a sports game.
(And Yes, you may have noticed the theme. I'm calling Manu Ginobli a HUGE pansy.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Nothing Happened!

Today, shocker of all shockers, nothing happened. While you probably find it hard to believe, nothing finally happened. Some will argue that it is not possible for "nothing" to "happen", but defiantly it did. For at least today nothing defied the odds and did something. Something however, is not married to nothing, and they are not dating, or plan to date in the future. In fact, it is hard to explain, much less understand how nothing was able to do something, given that nothing has no gender, and neither does something. It is also interesting to note that 'to happen' is also something, so it might be fair to say that nothing did something and happen as well, or that something and happen are the same thing but for some reason have a split personality.
Nothing happened. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"What's up?"

“How’re things?”
“Pretty good. You?”
“Pretty good.”
Sound familiar? In no exact words, I’ve had this exact exchange hundreds of times. Thoughtless? Often. Meaningless? Maybe. Intellectually stimulating? Never.
Pick your opener: What’s up? How’ve you been? What’s happenin’? How’s it hangin’? These questions have almost become rhetorical. You can answer them with a nod, smile or wave…or my favorite, another question.
“How’s it going?”
“How’s it going?”
With the right inflection and lack of eye contact, this is a completely legitimate, plausible, greeting scenario. My responses to these sorts of questions at a time were far too automatic (and perhaps they still are). I would sometimes answer the wrong question…or answer a question that wasn’t asked:
“Hey man, what’s up?
“Good, you?”
“Hey, Jimbo!”
“Not bad, yourself?”

To force myself away from using the same old responses, I’ve introduced new automatic responses. Let’s face it: you have to say “hi” to so many people that you inevitably end up saying the same things (even when how you’re actually “doing” may vary quite a bit). However, if you choose to say something people aren’t used to hearing, suddenly everyone is paying a little closer attention. Who knows? You might even have a real conversation or even learn something! Here are a few I like:

When asked “What’s up?”
Instead of “Not much” or “Same old, same old” I prefer to ecstatically exclaim “Just enough!” or “So much rockology!” You might choose to go the pun route and stare upwards for a few pensive moments, then finally reply “I’m not really sure… I s’pose some foam ceiling tiles and ventilation ducts…but beyond that, the sky is the limit…of my personal experience. Never really thought about it. Why do you ask?”

Or when asked “What’s new?”
I might get philosophical. “Interesting question. Is anything really new? Or is matter simply recycled and reorganized?”

Or in response to "How are you?"
"Delightfully tangy, yet robust. With perhaps a hint of something sweet and exotic."

Or one of my favorites, when asked “How’s it going?”
You might pretend that the pronoun “it” is referring to something complicated and specific, which you were discussing at length with this person in a prior meeting, and are now reporting on “its” progress. “Oh, it’s lost a certain critical appeal, but the lawsuit is ongoing, so there’s no guarantee that it’ll be cleared up without some serious action by some committed advocates. I almost can’t stand it anymore. Fingers crossed!”

You can swap things up from the other end, as well. Instead of asking all the same questions such as “Anything interesting happen lately?” you might ask “Anything awesome, decent, or mediocre happen lately?” I like to give people the whole range, because the chances are, if they haven’t been cryogenically frozen or in a coma lately, something they’ve done recently fits one of those adjectives. (Wait, I think either of those things would be "awesome"...or at least "decent." Can't imagine what cryogenic freezer burn has got to be like...)

Now I’m not saying that every exchange needs to delve into some profoundism of human experience, but if you feel like you have too many empty salutations… try mixing things up! It may feel goofy, but so does the word “salutations” when not accompanied by a firm militaristic salute (which is now one of my frequent alternatives to “hello”). If you don’t have time, don’t feel obligated…but if you do, you can certainly spice things up!

Brian Regan knows a similar feeling...

Chronic Smelly Feet Syndrome

What is the truth about smelly feet? Do they come from nasty bacteria and other microbial BO-ridden organisms that live in your rarely if ever unwashed shoes? Or, are smelly feet just an innate quality that makes you who you are, just as your blue eyes, or brown hair, or six fingers and webbed feet do? Either way, what should be done?
I write this as I am currently experiencing nausea by smelly feet. But while I admit that they are gross, just as they say in the Hair Club for Men commercials, "I'm not just the founder, but also a member." For me there are certain shoes that are naturally smellier. They tend to contain more leather, and are generally well-aged. Unlike wine, I have discovered that aged shoes get nastier with time. Yet, for some reason I hang on to them. That probably is because I'd feel guilty giving them to good will, and because I'll still wear them from time to time. Sick I know.
That being said, although I'd like to think I could blame smelly feet entirely on the shoes (at least for me), I also know that some people suffer from chronic smelly feet syndrome (CSFS). Upon birth, people who suffer from this illness exude foul odors from their feet. Often times they are not held as often as other newborns. They are sometimes secluded from the rest of the children and left in the attic or basement. They sometimes have a habit of being very good at video games or reading fantasy novels in which the hero is an ogre or hobbit with grotesquely inhuman feet and body odor. While this life might sound sad, they understand why it must be this way. Smelly feet are just one thing that doesn't gel with civilized democratic society. Sure, we've made huge strides with racial equality, gender equality, and civil rights in general, but when it comes to smelly feet, those who suffer from CSFS are swept under the rug (Or to use a better euphemism, they are left to tread the mire). But why?

Well naturally the mire, bogs, or dank mucky places are more suitable for smelly feet. However, even so, few cranberry bog owners want smelly footed workers. It is commonly believed that those who suffer from CSFS are even boggier and danker than the mucky places with which their feet are equated. While this is unfair, unfortunately that's life. You can take as many showers as you want, use odor eaters, or coat your feet in honey and/or turpentine, but maybe you should just give in to your feet. Your defining characteristic isn't your intellect, your looks, or your gamer skills. You are your feet. They own you.

Monday, March 16, 2009


There are a few words in the english language that have a habit of not making much sense. By that I mean, they look, sound, or just seem to mean something entirely different from what they actually turn out to mean. The prime example for today is the word 'unflappable.'

Here's what one might think 'unflappable' means:

1. One who cannot be flapped
2. The opposite of flappable (without flaps)
3. Not origami friendly

But no, unflappable has to mean something seemingly unrelated to its root:

Pronunciation: \-ˈfla-pə-bəl\
Function: adjective
Etymology: 1un- + 1flap (state of excitement) + -able
Date: 1954
: marked by assurance and self-control
Of course, unflappability has to do with assurance and self-control. Because everyone knows ducks, geese, and most waterfowl and other winged animals have absolutely no assurance of themselves, much less self-control. But what does that say for Cupid?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Whales and Manatees: 'Protective layer of Blubber' a Cop Out

There are many creatures in the animal kingdom who have been given a free pass for far too long. Creative wording has hidden the truth and kept many of them in unhealthy conditions. Quite often, when referring to manatees, whales, and even hippos, scientists have used the phrase "layer of protective blubber." Well, it's time to stop the sugar coating and enabling. Quite simply, these animals are fat.

For years now Europeans and Americans have been concerned about obesity among its citizenry, but they have forgotten about their even heavier mammal neighbors. The most poorly treated has been the manatee. Slow, docile, and for all intents and purposes, a stupid aquatic cow, the manatee as a species has taken several hits. Some quite literally (from speedboats), but some more indirectly by scientists who insidiously refer to their slowness and weight problem as "natural". 
Manatee activist Charles Bruthaumer, visibly upset said, "They are being hit by speed boats, and we are supposed to not help them lose weight and become faster? Where is the Richard Simmons of the sea world? Why don't they get Jenny Craig diet plans? Where are their banana nut smoothies?"

The problem has reached pandemic proportions, with 100% of the manatee population affected by obesity. And, unfortunately most whale species, from the western Pacific to the Atlantic are suffering from the politically correct and severely enabling diagnosis of a "healthy layer of blubber."
"It saddens me. So many activists say 'Save the whales' and 'We care about sea life' but then turn a blind eye to this obesity problem," said Dr. Zhivago of the Aquatic Obesity Institute in eastern Russia.
But, while some nations do not even know there is a problem, others have been trying to fix the problem for years now. As it turns out, Japanese whale hunting fleets have not been merely killing whales for their meat, but in fact have developed an effective program that captures whales and gives them state of the art marine mammal liposuction. Dr. Kurimaku, lead plastic surgeon for operation "Thin Whale" had this to say:

"Everybody gets so mad at my country for whale fishing. If only the government would let us tell the world what we are doing. We aren't killing the whales. We are saving them."
If only more nations of the world could be as proactive as the Japanese. Unfortunately the future looks grim for most aquatic mammals. The rate of diabetes and number of cases of heart diseases for whales and manatees has sky-rocketed in the past 5 years. Most dolphins, the trim and healthy of the aquatic mammal world, don't seem to mind. Former star of the '60s TV show 'Flipper', had this to say:

"Those stupid whales and manatees just need to stop feeding on krill and seaweed all day and get some exercise. They could take up surfing, or water acrobatics. I hear that the killer whales have even developed treadmills on some of the northern ice flows. The fat ones just need to reclaim their lives. It's doable. Just look at me."