Monday, September 28, 2009

Another Low Point

We have reached another low point in television history. This weekend, Saturday Night Live aired several utterances of the "F-word" during a sketch about biker women. We here in the central time zone heard it--whereas those in the mountain and pacific time zones had the word edited out when the show aired on tape delay.

I've said before that I am all for freedom of speech and artistic expression as protected under the First Amendment--but can't we try to keep it clean? To the actress involved--Jenny Slate (whom I have never heard of until this weekend)--the use of the word was probably second nature. She likely peppers her everyday conversations with the word--to the point where its as common as "the" or "like"--and as she recited her lines Saturday night, it just comfortably slipped right out. That is why I try to avoid using George Carlin's "Seven Dirty Words" in casual conversation--because the more you say it off the air--the more likely you are to say it on the air.

And to hear the old "F-bomb" come from a woman on broadcast TV is no real surprise either. Having been on college campuses quite a bit--I can tell you that there are few people who can swear better than co-eds. Of course, they hear so much of it from college guys that you would think profanity is the official language of higher learning nowadays.

I'll be interested to see if the FCC comes down hard on NBC and levies the same kind of fine against them as they did CBS for Janet Jackson's staged "wardrobe malfunction" at the Super Bowl--which was just as artistically unnecessary and inappropriate as the SNL sketch. If the fine is big enough, maybe other networks will continue the already too low standards they currently have. But if NBC is allowed to skate on this, get ready for the "F-word" and more in Prime Time Television as well--because the actors and writers on every other show will be thinking "well if they get to say that--then we should be allowed to say that!"

Of course, if this incident is allowed to go without punishment, perhaps the networks can go back to truly "live" broadcasts of sports again--instead of the stupid seven-second delay meant to give censors a chance to bleep out profanity captured on the field or coming from Tiger Woods.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mind if I Smoke, Dude?

I will never understand marijuana smokers. I've never smoked pot in my life--never inhaled (which I guess disqualifies me from ever running as President as a Democrat)--so I have no idea what compels people to do it. I just bring it up because of two incidents over the weekend.

The first was Saturday night at the U2 concert in Chicago. Someone in our section decided they would light up during the show. We were downwind of this person--so the smoke kept wafting over us. All I could think about was how the odor might be sticking to my clothes and what people are going to think when they could smell it on me during the bus and train ride home after the show. "Did you smell that guy with the Wisconsin Badgers gear on?" they would say to one another. "He must have been totally baked."

I know I shouldn't be surprised that someone was smoking marijunana at a rock concert--but nearly everyone in our section was old. I mean thirty-five and up. Don't you eventually give up on the teenage rebellion of getting high and move on to more mature things--like seven dollar cups of beer? Can any of these middle-aged stoners tell me anything great they have done while high? Was the music somehow better after you lit up? It's time to give up the weed and join the rest of us at the adult table now.

I also am curious as to why at every Packers home game someone is arrested for possession of marijuana inside Lambeau Field. Pot at a concert I can sort of understand--but at a professional football game? I wonder what the game starts looking like after the second or third joint. Maybe the stress of a close pre-season game with the Cleveland Browns is too much for those fans to handle. And how do you think that you can get away with smoking that without anyone noticing? I guess it makes those six-dollar hot dogs taste better--as you eat three of them to "cure" the munchies.

The real problem lieswithin the pot culture itself. I've been at a court hearing where a witness on the stand got into an argument with an attorney about the legality of smoking marijuana. The man had witnessed a murder. The defense attorney asked him if he had been lighting up that night--and the witness admitted he had been. The attorney asked him if he knew that was illegal. The guy said smoking pot isn't illegal. The attorney said "It's not?"--to which the witness replied "Possession of pot is illegal--and selling pot is illegal--but smoking it isn't illegal." As you might expect in a room full of legal experts--the laughter was difficult to stifle.

So smoke 'em if you got 'em pothead--apparently you think it's legal and acceptable anywhere. Just don't do it anywhere around me, please.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Appreciate What You've Got

I hope Packers fans appreciate what they have in Lambeau Field. My wife and I visited Soldier Field over the weekend for the U2 concert and let me tell you I was less than impressed. Soldier Field was renovated just a few years after Lambeau--but the work done there was the exact opposite of what was done in Green Bay. Where Lambeau got a brand new atrium and facade--while maintaining the historic interior "bowl"--Soldier Field got a new interior squeezed inside the historic concrete colonades.

Having finally seen the place in person--I can tell you it stinks. To get to our seats, we had to climb a couple of narrow staircases outside the stadium with those "little" steps that are a real trip hazard. You may have heard that it looks like a spaceship landed inside the old stadium. Well I can tell you that is true--as the upper decks hang over the top of the concrete colonades clad in some kind of shiny metal finish that has nothing to do with the original design.

Inside, the design is even more ugly. All of the skyboxes are on the lake side of the stadium--with a huge upper deck on the other side--so there is no symmetry. Everything is "swoopy" and angled and totally disjointed--like different parts of the stadium were designed seperately from each other and then just fitted together like a Legos kit.

And did I mention that to park at the stadium it would have set us back 45-dollars. Yes, 45-dollars to park at the stadium. That would be why my wife took the train and the bus on Saturday.

There are some things that are better at Soldier Field. It's all individual seats--meaning the average-sized Packers fan isn't taking up half of your seat on the aluminum benches--and there are plenty of bathrooms all around the stadium. But I just don't see how Bears fans can feel excited about their home field--and I doubt that the remodeled Soldier Field will ever be considered a "classic" sports venue. Of course, Chicagoans already have Wrigley Field to remind them of what was great about the old-time sports experience (i.e.--no blasting rock music and commericals on the Jumbotron between innings).

That must be why there were so many vehicles with Illinois plates blowing past us on northbound Highway 41 Sunday afternoon. A trip to Lambeau must be a real treat for those who have to put up with that "Mistake on the Lake".

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bold Packer Predictions

It's time for everyone's favorite My Two Cents of the year--the one where I make my bold predictions for the upcoming Packers season. Last year, I thought the Packers were going to go 9-7 and make the Playoffs as a wild card. They ended up going 6-10 and not getting a whiff of the postseason. So you have to ask yourself Packers Fan: How optimistic do you want me to be?

The Pack kicks off the season with a Sunday Nighter at home against the Bears. Chicago thinks they have a real quarterback for the first time since Sid Luckman with Jay Cutler. He probably won't have alienated his coaches and fellow players in Week One--but I'm still going with the Packers to take a tough one at Lambeau.

In week Two, the pathetic Cincinnati Bengals come to Green Bay. Chad Ochocinco is promising a record year for receptions and touchdowns--but the Packers secondary shuts him down (and shuts him up) as the Green and Gold move to 2-0.

Green Bay giddiness reaches a crescendo as the Packers travel to Saint Louis in week three to face the even more pathetic Rams. Three and oh for the Pack as fans start booking their Super Bowl hotels.

AND THEN COME WEEK FOUR: ARMAGEDDON WEEK!!!!! AS THE PACKERS FACE THEIR WORST NIGHTMARE: BRETT FAVRE IN A MINNESOTA VIKINGS UNIFORM ON MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL IN THE HUMPTY DUMP!!!!! The real star will turn out to be Adrian Peterson as he gashes the Packers' D for 200-yards rushing and Vikings get the win.

After a bye week, the Packers get back on the winning track, crushing the pathetic Lions at Lambeau to move to 4-1.

Make it 5-1 the next week--as the Packers go on the road to beat the pathetic Cleveland Browns (nice schedule this year Green Bay). Five and one and fan hopes are riding high again.

AND THEN COMES WEEK EIGHT: ARMAGEDDON WEEK TWO!!! AS THE PACKERS FACE THEIR WORST NIGHTMARE: BRETT FAVRE IN A MINNESOTA VIKINGS UNIFORM IN LAMBEAU FIELD!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This time, in a poetic turn of justice, the Packers return a Favre interception for a touchdown in overtime to pull out the win--and to draw even with the Vikes for first in the division.

Then comes the trap game. After an emotion win at home over the Minnesota Favre's, the Pack travels to Tampa Bay. Despite the letdown, I think Green Bay guts out a win to move to 7-1.

In week ten the Packers will host America's Team--the Dallas Cowboys. C'mon, you really think I'm going to pick against my Boys?

Aaron Rodgers and company get back on the winning track the next week, beating the pathetic San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau to get to 9-2.

Thanksgiving Day is saved by a comeback win over the pathetic Detroit Lions. Turducken for everyone!!

Despite two interceptions by former Badger Jimmy Leonhard, the Packers beat the Baltimore Ravens at Lambeau to improve to 11-2. Super Bowl talk is all you hear at work and on the radio.

Reality strikes again in Week 14--as the Defending Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers crush the Pack on the road. Super Bowl talk in Green Bay comes to a grinding halt.

Restart that bandwagon as the Packers crush the pathetic Seattle Seahawks in week 16.

The season will wrap up with an easy win over the pathetic Arizona Cardinals in week 17. The Green and Gold finish the regular season at 13-3--but amazingly don't win the NFC Central--finishing a game behind the Minnesota Favres (have you seen their outrageously easy schedule this year?)

That means the Packers will open the playoffs at home in the Wild Card round--edging the Philadelphia Eagles.

AND THEN COMES ARMAGEDDON WEEK THREE, AS THE PACKERS FACE THEIR WORST NIGHTMARE: BRETT FAVRE IN A MINNESOTA VIKINGS UNIFORM IN A PLAYOFF GAME AT THE HUMPTY DUMP. But in yet another ironic twist of fate, a Favre interception is returned for a touchdown in overtime as the Packers advance to the NFC Championship Game AGAINST THE DALLAS COWBOYS IN DALLAS!!!!!!!!!!!

You really think I'm going to pick against Dallas against Green Bay in a playoff game???

Enjoy that Cowboys-Steelers Super Bowl. Just the way it should be.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

This Is Why We Have Ears

I picked up the remastered versions of Revolver and Abbey Road by The Beatles yesterday.

I am a Beatles geek. I have been since I was a teenager and found out that their music--already twenty years old--was far better than anything hitting the top 40 in the late 1980's. And I am one of those geeks who believes that the original recordings and album order are sacred--not to be tampered with, changed or over-commercialized in any way. That is why I was a little leery a few years ago when I heard that the master recordings were going to be "cleaned up" and repackaged. But I am here today to tell you that those fears were completely unfounded.

I'm such a geek that I was getting a little teary eyed listening to the "new" albums yesterday afternoon. The clarity of each individual voice and instrument is outstanding. The string quartet on Elanor Rigby is so crisp now it's like you are inside the cello. The tape hiss is no longer as loud as the piano intro to Good Day Sunshine and you can finally decipher all of the little sound effects in the background of Yellow Submarine. And don't even get me started on what the Abbey Road Medley sounds like now.

It's taking all of my Dave-Ramsey-inspired-financial-willpower to keep from rushing out and buying all 14 of the remastered versions--and the 290-dollar mono box set--right now. Let me tell you it is worth it.

However, I am going to discourage you from going out to get The Beatles: Rock Band video game. Sure the graphics are great and the remastered songs are featured on that as well--but if you really want to experience the Beatles music, why not just go out and buy a guitar and learn how to play the songs for real!! How did we get to the point where "pretending" to be world class at something is good enough for us? If I hear one more person tell me how great they are at "Tiger Woods Golf on the Wii" I'm going to take out my four iron and beat them with it. This especially goes for parents--buy the kids the real instruments and let them enjoy the satisfaction of learing to play for real. It does their brains a lot more good as well.

I am also issuing a plea to the remaining Beatles: Do not agree to put you music on ITunes for digital downloading!! We finally get these beautiful cleaned up recordings and your going to make them mp3s? I will never understand why kids today are so obsessed with listening to versions of music that are only 1/10th as rich as the original recordings (and yes I can tell the difference immediately). So why rob everyone of the hard work that was put into restoring the original recordings? SAY NO TO MP3S.

So now I've got my remastered Beatles CD's--and documentary DVD's as well. Nothing left to do but just sit back and wait for the Blu-Ray versions--mixed in what will probably be 7.1 stereo by the time that happens. I mean, this has to be why evolution gave us ears.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Baby On Board--Everywhere

So what do you think is more ridiculous: the Green Bay Packers charging 50-bucks to bring a nine-month old boy into Lambeau Field for a game...or someone wanting to bring a baby to a professional football game?

As far as I'm concerned, the Packers are well within their rights to charge every person passing through the gate some kind of admission fee. This goofball grandfather from West Allis raising a stink about how he had to buy a ticket for his grandson--even though he would be sitting on his lap--says the boy wasn't taking up a seat, so he shouldn't have to pay. What the grandfather is missing here is that when you go to Lambeau, you aren't paying for real estate--you are paying for the privilege of witnessing the game itself. Why do you think they have standing room only tickets at many venues? Now, to keep order within the arena, you are assigned a seat--usually with better sight angles the more you are willing to pay.

The real issue that I have in this entire debate is why you would even consider bringing an infant to a Packers game. I suspect the reason this grandfather did it is so that twenty years from now everybody in the family could brag that "Little Tommy went to his first Packers game when he was just nine months old." So Little Tommy, what do you remember about that game? Nothing? Really?? I thought that would be such a momentus occasion for you that your still-developing brain would store away every single thing that happened from the moment you pulled into the parking lot for the three hours of tailgaiting beforehand. Given that this was a night game--the child was probably asleep by the middle of the first quarter. If you can sleep with people shouting profanities all around you and spilling beer on you.

This Lambeau Baby case really sums up a growing problem in our society--parents taking their kids where they really don't belong. I have seen babies at R-rated movies, kids running around in bars and I have had dinners at very expensive restaurants ruined by crying toddlers. Somewhere along the line it became acceptable to take children everywhere--and to expect everyone else to cater to them.

I grew up in the '70's and I can tell you that my sister and I hardly went anywhere with our parents. Out for dinner was McDonalds or Pizza Hut. We went to Brewers games on Kids and Senior Citizens days. Shopping was a quick run into Shopko and if my parents wanted to go somewhere nice, they got a babysitter. Maybe there is a severe shortage of teenage girls wanting to make some extra cash by watching other people's kids for a few hours. Or maybe today's parents fear they can't be away from their kids for more than ten minutes without the children suffering some kind of irrepairable mental harm.

My wife and I don't have kids yet, but we are in total agreement that when we do we will only take them place where having children is appropriate. If that means we have to give up a few things--that is a sacrifice we are willing to make for society.