Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Baby Einstein Snake Oil

So it turns out all those Baby Einstein videos we parents have been showing our infants aren't the panacea we thought them to be. New studies show that children under the age of two should not be watching any video at all, and certainly not those inane puppets set to Mozart and brought to us by the fine folks at Disney. Turns out the videos might even lead to a worsened attention span as children reach school age. Doh!

Threatened by the possibility of a class action lawsuit brought by a group called Campaign For a Commercial-free Childhood, Disney is now offering refunds to parents who have purchased these videos in droves. Parents must be apoplectic, wondering if they have ruined their child's life by force-feeding to them sock puppets set to classical music. What's next? Will studies show that those mechanical mobiles we hung over their crib gives them vertigo? Does allowing them to have a binky make them overly dependent? What is a parent to do?

All I can say is that the one person laughing all the way to the bank is the lady who first thought up the Baby Einstein idea and then sold it to Disney for millions. And for all the parents out there wringing their hands, all I can say is if it's too good to be true, it probably is.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

NFL To Rush: No Thanks

I wrote the other day about Rush Limbaugh's bid to become part owner of my beloved Rams. The next day Dave Checketts, owner of the St. Louis Blues hockey franchise and head of the prospective ownership group, unceremoniously dropped Limbaugh from the group. The hue and cry from fans, active players, NFL Commissioner Goodell, and other owners about Limbaugh's involvement had risen to a fever pitch, and Checketts really had no choice.

What I find interesting about the whole matter is Rush's predictable response. He seems to think this is another example of the "liberal media" and liberals attacking the conservative movement. He thinks some sort of liberal miasma is somehow seeping into the NFL.

On his radio show yesterday, Limbaugh called the NFL "a collection of unhappy, angry, agitated people." He went further, saying "Obama's America is quite possibly going to include the National Football League, and pressure from Obama, the Congressional Black Caucus and other places might be brought to bear on the owners."

Sorry to be the one to point this out Rush, but NFL owners are quite possibly the most conservative collection of men in America. They broadcast their games on Fox Sports, for crying out loud, not exactly a shining example of American liberalism, if you catch my drift.

No, Rush, I don't think the NFL is rife with liberals. In fact, the very reason NFL owners dumped you is their extreme conservatism. They are straight-laced and careful by nature. They don't want anybody rocking the boat. Commentators joke that NFL stands for "No Fun League."

Indeed, Rush, I think most of us see this entire episode for what it is: a shameless attempt to boost your ratings during October sweeps nothing more, nothing less. Go back to your radio show, preaching your vile, racist rants to the converted.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat . . . NFL Owner?

As a card-carrying self-avowed liberal as well as long standing Rams fan, I was naturally aghast at the news noted fat blowhard (and Hillbilly Heroin addict) Rush Limbaugh is heading a prospective ownership group trying to buy the Rams.

Good God. Haven't we Rams fans suffered enough? The Rams this year, quite possibly, are fielding the worst NFL team in history. We have no hope of winning, our players merely trying to get out of the stadium each Sunday with a modicum of dignity still intact. The Vikings, whom we play today, are averaging more points per game than we've scored all season. Moreover, other than that short, glorious period when we were known as The Greatest Show On Turf, the Rams have been the laughingstock of the league for over two decades.

Much of that ineptitude, of course, sprang from the wretched ownership of one Georgia Frontiere. Through her penny-pinching ways and inability -- or unwillingness -- to hire good football people to run the team she oversaw a franchise truly remarkable in its ineptitude. Indeed, the Rams are just 5 - 31 since the beginning of the 2007 season. I doubt we could beat USC.

But Frontiere died in January 2008, thereby giving the Ram's legion of long-suffering fans reason for hope. Her children, Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez, inherited controlling interest in the team. They proceeded to shock Ram's fans everywhere by actually hiring experienced football people to remake the front office. Then they lured respected defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo away from the Giants to run the team. Spagnuolo cut a lot of dead weight and came up with a respectable first college draft. Yeah, we're still awful, but we're one of the youngest teams in the league, and the guys are playing hard; for the first time in years there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel.

Alas, it appears that light is an oncoming train in the form of Mr. Limbaugh, a fat, reactionary racist who has been paid far too much money to spew his mindless venom over the airwaves all these years. We have a tough time attracting free agents as it is, yet dozens of players have already said they would never consider playing for a team with Limbaugh as owner.

And what of the fans? Could I in good conscience continue to support a team with Mr. Hillbilly Heroin as its titular leader? Politically, I am diametrically opposed to everything for which this soulless man stands. The thought of rooting for this Neanderthal to succeed in anything fills me with a self-loathing that makes my physically ill. Please Mr. Commissioner Goodell, tell me it's not so. Tell me you won't let this happen. Is it too late for me to become a Charger's fan?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

So I went to my thirtieth high school reunion last Saturday. The good news is that I got to laugh at all the guys with whom I went to school who got fat. The bad news is that they got to laugh at me for losing my hair.

In all seriousness, I had a great time. Facebook may be great for reconnecting with old friends and flames, but nothing beats personal contact. The only problem was that the music was too damned loud. I could hardly converse with anyone, and because the shindig was in the low desert near Palm Springs it was too damned hot (even at 10:00 P.M.), to go outside to talk.

I've aged so much the only people who recognized me were friends with whom I've stayed close and people who know me on Facebook (in fact, even a couple of Facebook friends couldn't figure out who I was without reading my name-tag). I found that a tad disconcerting -- after all, I recognized almost everybody, but then I'm a salesman by trade and have learned to read and recognize people.

I think a total of fourteen of my classmates had died (their names and photos on an "In Memoriam" board at the front of the ballroom). I suspect quite a few more of us will be on that board in ten years -- hopefully I won't be one of them.

Friday, September 11, 2009

We Have a New Dove Hunter Among Us

So I just got back from my annual Arizona dove hunt. My eight-year old son joined us for the first time, and, I must say, the apple certainly hasn't fallen far from the tree.

I was a bit worried about taking him. No other children would be there, so he'd have nobody with whom to play. It usually takes us about an hour or so to get our limits; the remainder of our days are filled with naps, beer drinking and lounging around the pool, not exactly fun and games to a tow-headed energetic young man. I waited with a sense of dread for the three words every parent hates to hear: Daddy, I'm bored.

The words were never uttered. Turns out he enjoyed every aspect of the hunt. The first morning he squealed with glee when I knocked down my first bird. He marveled at the dog's amazing ability to locate birds, and was awed when she tracked down a fluttering cripple. He liked helping us clean the doves, and was surprised by the kick of the old 20 gauge single-shot Stevens we let him shoot. He swam for hours, played cards and Yahtzee, and just hung out with us. He seemed pleased we accepted him as one of us, an equal, one of the guys.

I had him call his Mom Monday afternoon. He told her his favorite part was cleaning the doves. "I could see their intestines and heart and lungs, and got blood all over my hands," he said (probably a little more information than his Mom needed). He told her about the beer cans he obliterated with the 20 gauge (his Mom was not pleased, thinking him too young to be handling a gun). He said he really liked eating the deep-fried dove nuggets we had made the night before. He told her how he dispatched cripples by pulling off their heads. I have never been so proud. My ex-wife told me, again, how happy she is we are divorced.

So I've recruited another hunter. My son can't wait to go duck hunting with me in November, and wants to walk the fields with me when we chase peasants and quail this fall. I feel I've passed the torch to the next generation. I didn't think it possible, but my ex-wife is even more unhappy with me than before. All in all, a very successful outing.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Some Football Predictions

Another football season is upon us, so it's time for some predictions:

Brett Favre will fail miserably. The Vikings not only will fail to make the Super Bowl, they will fail to make the playoffs. Countless articles will be written detailing the tarnishing of Farvre's legacy, but most of us won't care, because -- if he wants to -- it's his legacy to tarnish.

The Raiders will be better. They may even make the playoffs, despite Al Davis and his dementia.

The Broncos will be a laughingstock. They may have the worst defense in league history, they have no quarterback, and their best wide receiver is a head case.

The Chargers are the biggest shoo-in for a divisional championship ever. If they don't make the playoffs, Norv Turner will get fired and be hung in effigy at Qualcom Stadium.

If Tom Brady stays healthy (and it pains me to write this), the Patriots are a lock to win the Super Bowl.

The Cardinals will repeat as NFC West champions. Kurt Warner is not a fluke; he's going to the Hall of Fame. Look it up: he's won two MVP's, and he's taken three teams to the Super Bowl. They may well go again this year. The Cardinal's defense is underrated, and Larry Fitzgerald is a freak of nature.

The Rams won't make the playoffs, but they will no longer be the weak sisters of the NFC. They have a revamped offensive line, a monster of a tailback, a serviceable defensive backfield, and a new coach who means business. Look for them to win seven or eight games, and become perennial playoff contenders by next season.

The Giants won't make the playoffs, either. Eli Manning winning the Super Bowl a couple of years ago was the biggest fluke in the history of the league.

Seven different punters will hit the scoreboard in Jerry Jones' new stadium, forcing the league to institute the "Jerry Jones rule," mandating a minimum height for Jumbotrons. The Cowboys will again fail to make the postseason, and Tony Romo will start dating Jessica Alba.

I will continue to despise the San Francisco 49'rs, despite the fact they are aweful, are of no consequence and mean nothing at all to the league.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Great American Dove Hunt

It's that time of year, when all thoughts (for me) turn to hunting. Come Saturday afternoon I'll again be making the trek to beautiful Dateland Arizona for our annual dove hunt.

In a new twist, I'll be dragging my eight-year old along for his first experience at a hunting camp. He seems to be excited, and looking forward to finding out what this "hunting" thing is all about. Of course, he doesn't yet realize it entails waking at crazy-thirty and venturing out in the dark to reach the dove fields. He doesn't yet understand that, despite unseasonably "cool" weather, the low for this weekend's forecast is 80, and that we'll spend every waking moment we're not in the field in a swimming pool so warm it feels like a bath. He certainly doesn't yet comprehend his days could well be filled with interminable boredom. I don't care. I want to hunt, so I'm taking him anyway.

I'm guessing he'll find the actual hunt exciting. The staccato of the shotgun blasts, the dogs racing for the retrieves, my friend Chris swearing as he misses another crossing shot at the zig-zagging, dive-bombing doves. That part will be fine. It's the hours afterward about which I worry.

I'm bringing his bow and his BB gun, and we'll let him shoot Chris' Remington 1100 20 gauge (I sure hope my son's Mom hasn't found this blog), a sweet-shooting, forgiving gun. He'll have his video game to play, and I'm sure we'll have some spirited card games and some Yahtzee tournaments. I hope he likes the flavor of dove; some find it gamey after a life-long diet of the pablum most supermarkets pass off as meat.

I do know I've never looked forward to a dove camp so much. I hope my son has a good time, and a good remembrance. I hope he doesn't tell his Mom his Dad drinks too much beer. And I hope he doesn't melt in the heat.