Monday, January 26, 2015

Deflated Balls, Inflated Egos

The president just signed historic accords with India on climate legislation and nuclear trade before making a pit stop to pay respects to the leaders of America's gas station, Saudi Arabia. Mitt Romney is considering a third run for president so the American people can finally get it right. ISIS is on the move in Syria and the government of Yemen just collapsed. Bibi Netanyahu, also known as George W. Bush in wingtips, is campaigning for re-election as Israeli Prime Minister, only in front of the U.S. Congress, without prior knowledge or approval by the White House as the guest of John Boehner. In Iowa, Sarah Palin made an  incomprehensible speech at Rep. Steve King's "Freedom Summit," then told the Washington Post that she was "seriously interested," in running for president. And a crippling blizzard is headed for the east coast that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio warned may be "one of the largest snowstorms in the history of this city." Memphis freaks out over three inches of snow- try an expected three feet, which would set records from Philadelphia to Boston and affect nearly thirty million people. Take that Al Gore. But screw all that- the NFL discovered that during their conference championship game, the New England Patriots used under-inflated footballs.

I could write four paragraphs of ball jokes, but that's far too easy. And since this has been the lead news story on every network for a week, I've heard every double entendre, smarmy testicle reference in the history of broadcast news from Rachel Maddow to Jimmy Fallon. I now know more about Bill Bellichick than I ever intended. I guess I'm as big a football fan as the next jerk, only I'm not so emotionally invested in the outcome. I enjoy watching pro football because it's a brutish and violent game played by mutants. If you asked me my favorite team, I guess it would be the Packers because the citizen/stockholders of Green Bay actually own the team. If you ask me my least favorite team, it would be those with the loudmouth owners who give high-fives in their luxury boxes while actually believing that what they say has any bearing on the game. Also, those owners that mix their personal, partisan politics with sport. The NFL is just a billionaire's playground where team owners play their own, exclusive version of fantasy football. It's become an industry that has grown like kudzu around what was once a game. Since pro football is the American substitute for gladiatorial war, it has become the perfect vessel for carpet-bombing advertisement, and no one does it better than the Superbowl. Can I use that word without sending somebody a check?

Billions of dollars will be spent in and around the Superbowl on product placement, branding, Hollywood-produced ads, entertainment galas including the world's biggest halftime show, and particularly sports betting. Only the outcome is pertinent. The game is secondary to the commerce. With record amounts of cash spent on commercials, the Superbowl serves as the quasi-Black Friday for awards season. The game will be played in Glendale, Arizona at the University of Phoenix Stadium. Of course, the University of Phoenix is a for-profit, online, kollege of knowledge with no actual campus and thus has no football team to play in their stadium. Like good corporate citizens, they merely bought the naming rights and changed it from what was Cardinals Stadium. So, the Superbowl played in the University of Phoenix stadium is like a scam within a scam. Everybody gets paid. Except for the entertainers. The Wall Street Journal reported that the NFL approached Rihanna, Coldplay, and Katy Perry to play the 2016 Superhalftime show but asked the musicians to "contribute a portion of their post-Superbowl tour income to the league," or alternately, "make some other financial contribution," in exchange for the halftime gig. Katy Perry is this year's special attraction. I sure hope she's not paying those greedy bastards to play.

In summary, the Patriots are cheaters owned by Robert Kraft of Kraft Foods, whose net worth is around four billion dollars and who has a son who worked for Bain Capital in the eighties. They have a coach with a shady reputation and a quarterback who's married to a Brazilian supermodel, makes forty million a year in salary and endorsements, is said to have a near-genius IQ, and "did not alter the ball in any way," even though he admitted he preferred them slightly deflated in a previous interview. When asked if he was a cheater, Brady said, "I don't believe so." They play the Seattle Seahawks, owned by low-key Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen, who also owns the NBA Trailblazers. According to SeatGeek, the average ticket price is going for 3,262 dollars. Wouldn't it be ironic if the monster snowstorm headed for Boston caused widespread power outages on Super Sunday? I hope by then they will have finally stopped talking about "DeflateGate." The only thing I have to add to that conversation is that Tom Brady's balls aren't as big as he thought. The Santa Ana winds are doing biblical-like, wildfire damage in California and there's a measles outbreak in Disneyland. I'll take the Seahawks and the points.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

That Darn Bug

Lord have mercy. I've taken a couple of ass-kickings in my life, but nothing like this. Whatever this bug is that's going around, I got it in spades. My wife, Melody, caught it first and although I tried to be a dutiful husband, I kept what I thought to be a safe distance. No such luck. It's a good thing I like my wife because we've been holed up over here since before Christmas. In fact, my holiday gift from Melody was the flu. I self-medicated for a New Year's Eve gig with Eddie Harrison and the Shortkuts, and then forgot the words to "Brown-Eyed Girl," which I've probably performed more times than Van Morrison. I sang some nonsense syllables until the audience began looking at me with shock and disdain. At midnight, I hid behind some equipment cases to avoid any drunken sloppy kisses, and that was just from the men. But I shook a lot of hands. The next day, I expected to be hoarse and sore from all the popping and locking I was doing on stage, but "wham." You've heard the old story about the man who was so sick, one minute he was afraid he was going to die, and the next minute he was afraid he wasn't? So, I'm assuming that if you're reading this, I must still be among the living. Of course, that's just an assumption.

I didn't mind the hallucinations. I dodged the flying monkeys, but then a leopard came into the room, leaped up on the bed and started going for my ears. It took a second to realize that it was just Nancy, the giant speckled pup. She mauled me anyway. Then I began to cough. I coughed so hard that I injured the pulmonary artery leading from my pelvis to my leg. I thought maybe I could get in on that class-action lawsuit they keep advertising about problems with pelvic mesh, but it was just my drawers. Then I was convinced that I had coughed myself into a hiatal hernia and had to check online to see where my hiatus was. I was reminded of the funeral procession that was going down Lombardy Street in San Francisco. The hearse hit a bump, the doors flew open, and the casket began toppling end over end until it crashed through a drug store window and rolled right up to the pharmacy counter. The lid sprang open, the corpse sat up and asked the druggist, "Got anything to stop this coffin?" So, in honor of Elvis' 80th birthday, Melody went out and bought some cough syrup for me. Back in the day, Elvis used to drink a little syrup. I remember sitting on the porch at Graceland, swilling cough medicine with Elvis while advising him on which direction his career should take. Wait a minute, that might have been a dream. Speaking of Elvis, what possible reason could Graceland's new owners have for selling his planes? The Memphis Belle is gone, the Zippin Pippen is in Green Bay, and the Mid-South Coliseum has a date with the wrecking ball. Please leave Elvis' air force alone. Do they need the room for another gift shop selling Elvis shot glasses? This is why we can't have nice things.

On Elvis' birthday, we tried to watch a televised medley of his movies, but they were all the crappy ones from the sixties, after the Colonel had turned over the soundtracks to his hack songwriter pals in return for kickbacks on the publishing. On the Today Show, however, they dragged Priscilla out of whatever crypt she sleeps in during the day and put her right in the foyer of Graceland as if she were the doyenne of the mansion. Maybe I'm mistaken, but didn't she move out in 1972? No wonder Elvis moved to Butte, Montana to work in a salvage-yard. But enough about Elvis- let's discuss the teaming of Kanye West and Paul McCartney for a new recording. Social media taught me that a lot of Kanye's fans didn't know who Sir Paul is, which made me want to slap their parents. One clueless soul tweeted, "Don't know who this Paul McCartney is, but thanks to Kanye, his career 'bout to blow up." Strangely enough, I agree with that assessment. Paul has all the money in the world. What could possibly possess him to record a song with Kanye? Didn't he learn his lesson from that heinous duet he did with Michael Jackson? Paul has fallen a couple of notches to my least favorite Beatle.

What was that? I thought I saw light creeping through the blinds, so it's either dusk or dawn. I've lost track. The other night, the only thing that felt good on my throat was Pepsi, so I drank three cans. The sickness still enveloped me, but I was so gacked up on caffeine, I was able to stay wide awake to enjoy every moment. Melody said to gargle, but I thought she called me a gargoyle. I've also been having wild dreams and earworms, which are songs that creep into your head and won't leave. I woke up in the middle of the night and had to go, but I was too weak to stand. So, I'm sitting there with my head in my hands when suddenly the theme from Rocky starts to play. I hate that song. All day, I'm hearing, "Feeling strong now," but the song only made me sicker. Today, Dolly Parton was singing, "9 to 5," in my brain, which wasn't quite as bad. I thought I might be getting a touch of that Eisenhower's disease. That's when you feel an unquenchable desire to go out and build interstates. The flu has been rough, but we'll continue to binge-watch episodes of Family Feud with Steve Harvey until we're better. Through all of this, I haven't lost my faith. I saw the Cowboys lose to Green Bay on a controversial last minute call, sending Johnny Jones back to his billion dollar football palace, and that horrid person, Chris Christie and his lucky orange sweater back to either Hell or New Jersey. So there is a God.