Thursday, May 13, 2004

A Visit to Phat Camp, I mean Fat Camp

Not too long ago I ordered a pizza. I know, shocking news to many of you that know my diet. To my surprise there was a flyer for a pizza-eating contest that weekend. Now besides a contest for tallest person that can’t dunk, I figure this competition that was made for me. I managed to draw my roommates to the event as spectators. Yes, spectators. Gluttony is not just an individual activity anymore.

Now when I signed up for this I had to be one of the first fifty people to call. I ripped that flyer off the box and called like I was the last future fatty wanting to chomp my way to infamy. “Hi, yeah I am just calling to see if there is still space available to be in the contest. Is there room?” Just for a visual effect imagine a six foot five inch guy hovering over the phone just waiting for his big break to becoming an official loser. Believe it or not, there was still space available on the list, phew.

I get to the venue/carryout parking lot and sign in. Apparently my competition is not as large as originally thought. There was speculation that I would be a contender that lost to either a 300-pound man or a 100-pound Asian girl. That was not the case this time.

For those youth sympathizers you should be pleased and worried that there in fact was an “under 12” division. Parents actually brought there eleven, ten, eight, six and even four year olds to compete in this event. I don’t know if I ever have witnessed one specific event that can cause such a psychological complex like urging a little four-year-old girl to “eat as much as you can sweetie.”

Two rows ahead of little Suzy, there was Peter and Omar. These two kids were almost as entertaining as their parents. See these boys were at the age where they can actually hold onto a piece of pizza, sorry Suzy. Omar’s dad was chanting at him to eat as much as he can before the sunsets. Dad was reminding him, “free pizza for a year, chew, chew swallow.” Apparently the father did not have a large enough opportunity to heckle his own son in little league. Li’l Omar brought home the title of junior pizza king of the Washington area. Moments like that should keep us all striving for parental acceptance.

Now by the time the heavy weights came to rumble, my roommates were persuaded to compete. A major reason for this was when the store manager told us “I need all of you to play. I don’t care if you win. Just beat Habib. He has been here for two hours and keeps demanding a chair. Really, you have to beat him, please.”

Let me introduce you to Habib (no joke it was his name). He was about sixty years old, gray hair, big frame glasses with the librarian rope around his neck, maroon pants, and a blue-gray shirt. If that doesn’t paint a picture, let me give the rest. Habib has a brown tie that stops a third short of the belt buckle. In his ears he had orange earplugs as to muffle the words people said when they commented on the two overflowing suitcases he carried every step he walked. It is very possible that he is the quintessential grand opening contestant that goes from contest to contest scavenging on whatever is free.

When the whistled blew I had three minutes to eat as much cheese pizza I could. The first minute I was nearly choking due to Habib sitting down with six cokes and opening three immediately to wash the pizza down. My roommates then turn on me and demand me to eat faster, I quickly reminded them that I was sober I could not eat just cheese pizza so quickly.

The end tally had me at four pieces in three minutes, which is respectable in some bloated circles around the globe. It turns out that my roommate actually won. He tied this portly man that could floss with a drinking straw. The title was shared because both chose to not go for an “eat off.” I totally understand, don’t want people thinking you’re a pig (which my roommate is definitely not). Two champions were named, the title belt under joint custody with elastic band.

In a world where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, this stayed true here. Everyone got to walk home with their pizza that was left over and also one free pizza voucher. So the losers kept slim with a pizza, and the winner stays another diet coke away from Atkins by getting twenty-six pizzas.

When it comes to free food in the American society there is no happy medium, just an extra large with a side of wings.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

The Five Senses of Spring

The snow is long gone and now we are on the verge of nights in the beer gardens and days at the ball game. Spring tells us a lot about ourselves. Take the first time you put your shorts on. Wow, I guess eggnog is really fattening, or I did not think it was possible to get any paler. Regardless, its time to roll down the windows and embrace the tell tale signs that embody how our five senses know its spring.

Close your eyes. Well metaphorically, I still would like you to read on. It is only a matter of time before we all give each of our sentences the precursor of “what?” Until then the sounds of spring can lift one’s spirits like saline implants. In the middle of winter we hear nothing, maybe the sloshing of snow onto the curb. Come spring, we have the birds chirping, children without court supervision laughing, and of course some yahoo blasting his car stereo from five blocks away.

It really does not matter when the birds chirp, it is when Raul slows down and you can hear the bass from his Ford Festiva reverberate over the tactfully sexual lyrics. The neighborhood is going to hell in a low riding bike’s hand basket.

The sounds perhaps are ever-present but it is when we roll down our windows or ride our bikes. I can fondly recall the time when I heard some children laughing uncontrollably in a front yard. I looked over my shoulder to witness their joy only for it to end abruptly when attempted my first unintentional summersault from a bike over a parked car. It was a failure.

Contrary to popular belief, the feeling of spring is not love. Spring is not the season of monogamy. The way the flowers solicit their pistils to the bees, well let’s not talk about that. The feeling of spring is irritation.

There is nothing better than breathing through one nostril for ten weeks. Allergies are fascinating to me. How is it that I can be sick yet still go out and socialize? I always find it funny how people walking down the street, sneeze into their hand (don’t spread the germs) and inconspicuously brush their hip.

Snot aside, rubbing one’s eyes is another tell tale sign of irritation. How does something called ragweed control so many people? Allergies are getting out of control nowadays. I am allergic to hay fever. I don’t think it is right for one to be effected by something they cannot explain.

I grew up with one of my friends being allergic to everything. Whenever we had a cub scout outing we had a laundry list of things that Greg couldn’t do. It basically came to us making him unofficial photographer. The kid was allergic to egg, milk, bees, work, but when I heard he was allergic to grass that baffled me. “How can that be possible? You walk to school. You walk to school by walking on grass. How long does it take you to get down the driveway and pass the hedges? Are you really allergic or do you just not want to dive for the ball in the outfield?”

The scent of a freshly mowed lawn is very refreshing, to many folk except the aforementioned allergy king. Before the lawn is mowed, there is other work to do. Spring-cleaning outside is one of the biggest chores for a kid. Never will you see a kid negotiate for either money or extended curfew more than at this time. Parents know too, that these tasks smell horrendously, that is why for twenty bucks and two movie tickets they hire out their migrant children.

No longer than ten minutes into it I grab underneath some dead leaves and discover a “missing” toy. “Oh, that’s where my baseball went. Why does it smell like death?” It really is strange how the dead leaves of last fall make for a coffin to anything beneath it. I never have gone grave robbing but raking the back yard is close enough.

I always knew it was springtime when mom would come back from the grocery store with some Popsicles. Those things were like gold on a stick for kids. Remember the day you had your first dreamsicle? The name alone, dreamsicle just embodies the attitude of the youth. “What’s in a dreamsicle?” I said. “Well Mike, its an orange Popsicle (score) with vanilla ice cream inside.” “WHAT?!! You can do that? Who was this person to make my dreams into a tasty smooth confectionary treat? I would like to meet them and proclaim them to be the greatest person to walk this green, rash causing grass.

There is only one way for spring to get better than a dreamsicle, women’s fashion. No, I don’t wear it, sober. Once I hit adolescence, dreamsicles where a thing of the past. I now had noticed the ever so wonderful, sundress. People always say bad things only happen to good people. Hello, there is not an article of clothing that better shows the ease and relaxation of the spring season like a sundress. Now for the not so philosophical truth. I think girls in sundresses are so so so attractive.

It’s the little things in life that are important. During these months it is how it should be metaphorically, impossible to sweat the small stuff.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Selling Your Soul to the Devil/Michael Eisner

Believe it or not the majority of young Americans get their news from two sources; Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” and “Sportcenter.” ESPN, which apparently stands for “everything sports network” has fallen further from greatness than the Chicago Bulls. However, both are laughing stocks that think they are doing the right thing for their fans.

In the late 90’s (I think) ESPN merged with Disney and the rest is history. Sportcenter went from a solid newscast with entertaining anchors to a broadcast for flunky comics who like a sport.

During a broadcast you can watch such segments as “fact or fiction.” This segment is where the so-called analyst/washed up athlete gives insight that any half sober mind could derive. They spend about five to eight minutes speculating everything that could possibly happen while dropping cliché sports metaphor after metaphor. “They are just going to have to play this series one at a time.” Can you play more than one at a time? Take your University of Georgia sprots degree back home bucko.

What is the most frustrating thing is that the analyst many times just doesn’t know which to pick, fact or fiction. Say either fact or fiction. The longer you take the more you perpetuate your dumb jock stereotype. If ESPN knew anything (ha!) they would realize the audience already knows that the analysts are only reading what someone wrote for them.

Our broadcasting talent is at the stage of passing the torch. Tom Brokaw is leaving the nightly news and whom is he passing off to, Brian Williams (an appropriate name for a monotone generic fill in). The same goes for Sportcenter. Dan Patrick and Keith Olberman were the Smothers Brothers of sports. They were smart, passionate, and tactful with their humor. Who do they leave us with? John Kruk, John Clayton (Perdue chicken man), and some other nameless yaps neither of whom probably own a pair of shoes that tie.

In a society where the only people on a newscast that actually demonstrate a personality is the weather and sports anchor these chaps have overlooked moderation like a freshman at their first party. The news desk has turned into that lunch table next to the cool kids. Saying any and everything to fit in and be liked by the rest of us. Think about it, why else would they say “Shaq-Daddy?”

Recently on SC they had the “sportcenter final exam.” For those uninformed this is where some athlete are asked tough questions about current events with the catch being all different types of sports. I am sure some charity gets money out of this because if they were being lame for the sake of being lame well that would be rather Disney now wouldn’t it?

Apparently Mickey Mouse likes to kick back with a cold one now and again. A beer maker sponsors just about every segment in Sportcenter. I have two favorite spots. The Coors Silver Bullet – Six-pack of questions. Wow, I don’t know who was the savvy mind that drew the connection between beer and a six-pack. I am glad somebody in the advertising world has the gall to direct market to the sororities across our nation.

My other favorite segment on the show is the Budweiser Hot Seat. Remember the adage of being in the hot seat meaning you were basically going to be verbally crucified? Well a journalist with integrity would ask tough questions and since there are none at ESPN they ask a handful of high school level questions. I could be wrong, maybe some athletes dread someone asking them “do you think the Cubs will go all the way this year?” Excuse me Troy Wingo do you have a towel? That question just made me sweat my fellas off.

Maybe I should not blame the journalists; maybe they are a direct reflection of the sports world. Born upon the principles of honor, integrity, and pure, bloody, tearful, joyous competition we have soiled all prosperity with ties of tragedy, scandal, and arrogance. There comes a transition in which we grow young to old, ignorant to wise, and in this case a transition from sport to business.

Sports have not been simply a game for quite some time. We used to let the game speak for itself and there was really no point to post game interviews. Fortunately Michael Eisner has given the sports world his herpetic touch to the industry. From here on out we’ll have our champions acquitted from all charges, brought to you by a frothy beer, and the understudy for Goofy will tell it only like the high glam diva of the sports world could.

We could only hope that the next malfunction at a sport broadcast involves the microphones.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Ahh, Twins

Twins are the biological redo of our species and for many reasons we are fascinated by the way they really look alike in the same outfit (but different color). It all became cuter than all heck with Patty Duke. Then we got a special treat called the Olsen twins.

Their big breaks came when they were only nine months old. How does a set of nine-month-old infants look/act the part more than any other set of twins? Was the audition more than a session at Olen Mills photography studio? “Smile for the birdie.” “I think she grinned. Now, that’s our baby.”

Having a baby on a show makes as much as owning fish, as much as you would like they really do nothing besides take up space waiting for you to feed or change them. When the Olsen twins actually were able to speak (not have a voice dubbed over them) they were the icons of sugar substitutes.

I wonder this. At the age of nine months why do you need a set of twins? What exactly could Ashley do that made Mary-Kate a third down kind of twin? Could only one of them say “way to go dude!”? I am surprised that there was no complex to come from this. On the set of a family show not only does the show end perfectly but also so does the lives of all within…Blehh.

Mary-Kate and Ashley were so perfect for the era of family programming. When ABC gave them the start they were on TGIF (Tipper Gore’s Installation of Family values). Who else was on? Well, Urckle in “Family Matters.” That show took no more than a couple seasons to immortalize an American ideal- writing off a child. If you recall there was another daughter but ABC already had the ugly card with Urckle and he got laughs.

Full House brought many ideals back to the home. Many of those ideals were already mentioned, written, and played out in “The Brady Bunch”, “Family Ties” and even “The Cosby Show.”
I thank the Olsen’s for being the lone set of child stars not to be waking up and washing their faces in the gutter. They are reportedly worth almost a billion dollars. That is fascinating how they fleeced America’s allowances on such lame straight to video movies fluffy magazines, and wearing Osh Kosh B’Gosh for seven years. In a world of hard core, these two are the anti-viagra; they keep our lives soft and our ideals flirting with actual morals. Until they turn eighteen.

Here’s the issue with America talking about these girls in a sexual manner. Legally, it soon will be acceptable. Ethically, still wrong. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are making the nation talk like they were on “Girls Gone Wild.” I am disappointed in us. This case alone makes America a bunch of hillbillies. Can a child not grow up before we have the urge to go R. Kelly on them? We watched them grow up. It is like raising a calf, naming and nurturing it only to send it to slaughter instead of milking the wholesomeness it provides.

There are a select group of horn balls that vocalize their inner thoughts as one (usually a girl) turns eighteen. “Man, I can’t wait until she is eighteen, finally legal.” Yeah, I am sure the only benefit of her turning legal is now that you will only be classified as a sex offender not a sex offender and a pedophile, creep.

On a brighter note, the twins got their star on the Hollywood walk of fame. The stars are actually bought by the stars proving that only in California are people dumb enough to pay for millions of people to walk all over them, well there is also the presidency.
I used to think took a lot of time and success to get on the walk of fame (Bob Hope, Humphrey Bogart, Lucile Ball) but I guess in the weeks between another comic book movie opening Hollywood needed something to waste our time with.

Mary Kate and Ashley are doing to greatest thing, going to college. Maybe then they will finally “find themselves” and stop mooching off their parents. I understand they are looking to study business and fashion. If all goes well for them they will be the first child stars to be thirty that can afford Applebees and not look like fallen GAP models.

Good luck girls, I’ll give you a call sometime before my morals return.