Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Volume 1, Number 12: Trafficking in Truffles

(Note: I posted this on December 28, 2006 on a blog I had on Yahoo! GeoCities. I am reposting them here now because Yahoo!'s blog service stinks and so I am moving the whole blog here.)

(Why the title for this entry? My mother, who works at a preschool, got two boxes of Belgian truffles for Christmas from the parents of one of the kids at that preschool. It's a large quantity--I think she said the two boxes weigh a combined 4.5 pounds, or 2 kilograms, and when I referred to "2 kilos of truffles," she said I made it sound like drugs, and my brother Sander then made the comment about Ma trafficking in truffles. I suggested she put some in my stocking as well as those of my brothers, but she said she was reluctant to risk the health of people she loves. By the way, Christmas was great--I got most of what I wanted.)

I recently realized that there are very few products I really swear by. For the most part, I'm really not loyal to any one brand for anything, be it cars, toothpaste, soda, but J-B Weld (a "cold weld" that I've used instead of stupid super glue on a number of occasions) and Degree antiperspirant are two of them. Oh, and Orange-Pineapple Tang (because one day in March 2001, I had both the flu and some really bad stomach bug, and the only food or drink I could keep down was Orange-Pineapple Tang). (Duro Master Mend Epoxy Putty used to be another one, but the last time I bought that, it seemed like they changed the formula because it neither mixed as well nor worked as well as what I had been accustomed to.)

James Brown is dead. There was a dance song from around 1991 by LA Style that said that, but it is now true. At first, I thought they were talking about the host of CBS' NFL pre-game show, The NFL Today, but I was relieved when I read that it was the "Godfather of Soul." Why relieved? Because Brown was a wife-beater, and I found it curious that one of his wives died during plastic surgery... I thought he had something to do with that, too.

Starting last year, I created a tradition of burning CDs of songs I heard throughout the year, meaning they are songs I associate with that year. Ma made an interesting note about my 2006 soundtrack: She said it seemed a lot more "promising" than the one I did last year, which she called "bleak." I couldn't help but say that 2005 WAS a bleak year, and to top it all off, I never even came up with the idea until September, after I saw the wedding music CD my friend Jared and his wife Jelaine put together). For 2006, I planned ahead, collecting songs over the course of the year. 2007 should get off to a rousing start as I plan to include a track from In The Nursery's upcoming CD, "Era."

My older brother mentioned that he and his wife had bought a talking toilet for their daughter, one that would make some sort of music when the child sat on it, but it frightened her. Anyway, it got me thinking of one that would play "S*** Bomb" by Musically Insane when a child sat on it, so that when someone sat down on it, it would go "Time to take a smash/Release Gary Coleman..."

Gerald Ford died Tuesday night at the age of 93. Since I was just a toddler when he became president, I have no real memories about him, although my father once said Ford mistakenly called Poland a free country (it was under Communist rule at that time). In any case, 10 years ago, Saturday Night Live did a skit in which Tom Brokaw (played by guest host Dana Carvey, himself an SNL veteran) did a number of stories that were meant to cover a whole range of ways in which Ford could die, as part of covering all kinds of news stories in advance so Brokaw could spend some vacation time. In it, Brokaw does reports in which Ford is shot, dies of a crack cocaine overdose, commits suicide by jumping out of an office building, is chopped up by the propellor of a commuter plane, is mauled by a circus lion (at a convenience store, no less), is strangled to death by Richard Nixon's corpse, and (here's my favorite) is eaten by wolves.

In light of the recent failure of the NBA microfiber composite basketball, Sports Illustrated writer Adam Hofstetter wrote about other failures in sports, such as the New York Islanders' "Gorton's Fisherman" logo and the XFL. I wrote back to him telling him that the column was enjoyable, but pointed out that the XFL failed in a number of ways:

About the XFL--there were many things that Vince McMahon did wrong with this league in addition to the ones that you already pointed out. In particular, McMahon failed to realize that it was going to take time for the players on each team to get on the same page with one another (this is why I call leagues like the USFL and XFL "expansion leagues": Each team basically functions like an expansion team). He should have scheduled some (non-televised) exhibition games prior to the start of the season in an effort to improve the initial quality of the "regular season" games.

More glaring, though, was that the league had teams in only eight markets. Sure, one of them was in Los Angeles, but the Midwest--home of some of the NFL's oldest teams--only had one team (the Chicago Enforcers). Did McMahon expect people from Detroit, Green Bay and Cleveland to embrace the Enforcers? Did McMahon expect people in Philadelphia and Boston--cities whose sports teams enjoy great rivalries with New York counterparts--to give a darn about a league that had a team in the Big Apple, but none in Philly or Beantown? Did McMahon expect anyone from Texas--home to two of the ten largest TV markets--to watch out-of-market games for the sake of "smashmouth football"? Dumb thinking. McMahon had considered expanding the league--yep, expanding an expansion league--to cities like Detroit and Washington, D.C. prior to pulling the plug on the league, but it was way too late.

The XFL attempted to do two things--to entertain and to present hard-hitting, exciting football--but it was a jack of both, and far from a master of either. As entertainment, it was cheesy; as football, it had no credibility, particularly when (as you pointed out) it kept changing rules in the course of the season (those changes, incidentally, might have been implemented much earlier had there been a couple of exhibition games).

(In 2002, I bought a book called Long Bomb: How the XFL Became TV's Biggest Fiasco. The parts of the book I liked best are those that deal with the business aspect of the league (I never cared much for the vignettes about certain XFL players and their backgrounds). These parts documented the errors that were made, and the lengths that the XFL and its owners (WWE, headed by McMahon, and NBC Sports, headed by Dick Ebersol) went to in order to get ratings... that was so messed up.

Next year's not far away now... just four more days.

I usually say every year seems to pass by faster than the last, but maybe this year went by at about the same speed as 2005 did. But that's still really fast.

I suspect that I will have more to look forward to in 2007 than I had to look forward to in 2006. A year ago, I already had the suspicion that ZF would not hire me in (owing to the change in bosses in my department). By contrast, there's still hope that Grainger will hire me in (they have not promised me anything, but I will be there for the foreseeable future, at least).

2006 had no new In The Nursery CDs, and for the first time in years, neither a new Harry Potter film nor a new HP book came out. In The Nursery's next CD comes out late next month (I already reserved my copy on Borders.com); the next HP film comes out on July 13; and the seventh (and last) HP book is likely to come out later in 2007 (my guess is late October, to coincide with the Halloween season; incidentally, I should point out that the book is to be called Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows).

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