Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tipping Tiger

Tiger Woods will deliver a statement tomorrow about something. He'll apologize about that something, along with other things, that I don't really care about. He's the one who will forever have to fear his wife's wrath and his children's scorn. Not me. He's the one losing sponsor money. No company has ever expressed interest in me being their whore, and none ever will. He's so good at golf though, I might even go back to wanting to watch him destroy every field he's up against. My two other favorites won't ever rise up to keep my attention: Duval's back and psyche are too shot to come back long term; and Rocco, well Rocco will never amount to much more than Mr. Fun Guy on the tour. Heck, if Tiger can tear apart a certain fat lefty in his first couple of tournaments back, I might climb right back on that bus like I never got off.
There's really only one thing about the legend that is Woods that can never be undone. It's not the cheating (again, not my problem or care). Not the lying. I never paid enough attention to his life outside the game to have an opinion that could be shattered. I don't care if he's a nice guy or an asshole. I don't require character when I pick a horse to back. My role models are already retired or dead, and I'm not concerned about what the damn kids who did elevate him to that status think either. Their parents can shoulder that burden, or not.
Nope, the only thing that I will not forget or forgive might, in fact, just be hearsay. But the notion will linger just the same. You see, Tiger is a bad tipper. Or so it has been reported by a couple of sluts, I mean, women he doinked. To have someone actually think that of you crosses over into the unacceptable. The perception of being a bad tipper is enough, in my opinion. I can safely say that this is not true of me. If someone were to ever say that of me, it would be an outright lie and they could not, therefore truly mean it. It is nearly impossible to convince me that this is not true of Woods. Yet he will never address this accusation, even while gushing his heartfelt apologies to the poor family folk he's misled and the corporate barons he's misrepresented.
I've had service that was despicable at some places, but still tipped the minimum. I just made sure that person suffered via my mouthiness, or by being a pain in the ass some other way. That way, they get to earn a proper tip without otherwise deserving it. It's important to me to tip decent, if not very well, regardless of the quality of service rendered. In fact, from what I can gather, my tipping at buffets is up to the level of Tiger's tipping at a full service upscale restaurant. That is just pathetic. Short of him denouncing this accusation and having the whores, um, ladies in question recant their statements with proof that they did not ever mean it, I can find no way to let slide this egregious flaw in character. He might be able to tune out what the galleries are blurting in his back swings, but an accusation like 'bad tipper' I hope will gnaw on that brain forever.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Thus Spake Ponyboy

" As I walked out into the bright sunlight from the darkened movie theater, I had two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home." So began S.E. Hinton's THE OUTSIDER'S. I wonder if the original copy I had still exists somewhere, all torn and muddied, leaf eared and note strewn. Just how many readings did I give that great book before finally thinking I'd had enough? Sometime early in the ninth grade was when we two parted. I had grown up by then. Ha. On to other things. Basketball team. Steady girl. Real love this time. No time to be running wild, haunting the home town streets late at night. Time to meet the future. Become a civic minded asset. Sure.
THE OUSIDER'S, with it's cast of hoodlums, was once my opus. It's illuminuos story line of urban teenscape kept my imagination fired. I was pure 'greaser', man. Or, we were, that is. Me and Kurt. Two jd's embodying the characters of Ponyboy, Johnny Cake, Dally, Darry and Sodapop at once and together. We had no real or imagined enemies, like the Greasers had in the Socs, though we often practiced breaking long-necks into jagged street weapons, you know, in case we got jumped. Everything seemed to happen late at night. Our rivals were uneven sidewalks and the slipping of time.
Poorly lit and rutted Warner Street and west side alleys we canvassed with expert footing, meeting his older brother, with his scary buddies, at the backdoor of a college building. An easily pried door gave entranced to the pitch black gymnasium, which, when lit, we'd all attended countless times with our parents and siblings, and countless families, gleefully cheering on the Wildcats in gymnastics, basketball, or even the rare boxing meet, we being one of only three colleges to have a team back then. But by the time one of the older guys hit the lights on, a rush of adrenaline and realization kicked in and let us know that the glee was gone. We weren't laughing anymore. Kurt and I were playing with the big boys.
Soon, a screeching noise brought a folded trampoline across the thickly lacquered floor. A wheel had cinched, so now a deep gash was left in a sweeping arc, ending underneath one of the raised baskets. Deep trouble, juvy time for certain. No time to care. Two more trampolines are brought over and set up. Must get it set up pronto, while someone scouts for balls and another the switch that lowered those damn hoops.
At just past midnight five fierce delinquents in drunken reverie, were lobbing alley-oops to one another, catching a ball high after a backward flip, dunking the rock home. No need for intoxicants then. Pubescent hormonal jolts of energy, the likes of which no performance enhancing drugs of today could hope to match, gave us wings to soar for hours. If only we'd never get caught.
The excitement of the perfect pass and the following slam dunk was immediately replaced by a fear that you might have just got your last shot off. It was your turn to give the alley oop. Or maybe shag the errant miss. Perhaps to take a turn at the play by play. All was emotionally charged intensity. Exciting and fleeting. We sailed through the air knowing full well our sins as we bounced about and tried our best to stifle wild laughter. The danger grew. More noises heard. And pretty soon, the inevitable shout out, "RUN"!
Once out the doors it was five different swaths cut through the campus. From five directions we'd meet back up, panting, heart thumping, down into the basement bedroom of Kurt's oldest brother. He, away from college, gave over this room to us in these times. To gather our breaths and share some good laughs. That book we loved brought home all those thrills, and also the quickly disappearing nature of our youthful escapades. Like Johnny says to Pony: "Nothing gold can stay." From floor to ceiling on the wall opposite me, a life-sized poster of another teenage hero, Alice Cooper. A black and white image of his nightly gallows swing. Stay gold...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Existential Fandomonium

Let's face it, rooting for our favorite sports teams is not akin to something as extreme as, say, rooting for our country in a war. We want our country's military to fare well for reasons of actual survival and security, at whatever expense, be it national debt repayment(virtual or real), public opinion from without, or heaven forbid, a change in borders. [let's not address a flag change at this time] Being a diehard, win or die, fan of a given sports team doesn't come with these caveats. Nevertheless, people will still wear their team badge & their country's honor on the same sleeve. Not good. One is very real. The other, completely artificial.
I'm guilty of this at times, all year. My love for the Boston Celtics feels real about six months of every year. Their record number of NBA titles (many over the rival Lakers) and the feel good storied history of this great organization becomes very embraceable (first black-american drafted; first black-american coach; supplemental draft and paying of contract to Landon Turner, a college great who was crippled in a car accident during his senior year; or the paying of a rookie salary to the family of Lenny Bias, who died tragically the day after getting drafted #1 by the Celts). Green and white glory seems never far away... Loyalty to Cardinal Nation comes seemingly natural, almost organic, when I bask in their glory of being the Yankees of the National League, a proud member of this great nation's national pastime (again artificial & downright incorrect if one considers attendance, revenues & TV market share). Plus we've got, I believe, the greatest player in history on our current roster, Albert Pujols. In fact, my Card love sanctions my Cubbie hate, and that is plainly wrong-o jock-o (theories of how raising a child as a Cub fan constitutes child abuse, notwithstanding). My L.A., er, St Louis Rams, well ... we did win a Super Bowl with Kurt Warner, and he is one of the bestest(sic) people on the planet.
When it comes down to it though, all this amounts to is a gathering of stories and snippets that tenuously meld together a base for wanting. I could take my major 'rivals', the Cubs, the Lakers, the 'Niners, etc. and develop fantastic backstories and very palpable reasons to back their plight. Who can deny the inspirational play of Jerry West, Jerry Rice, or Ryne Sandberg, ad ugh nausea? I could have myself gushing tears of understanding in presenting a case for being a fan of any team out there. In any sport. Take me to a sports bar, or dive, and I'll prove it. Please.
I'm trying real hard, in fact, to find justification for throwing my backing to the San Jose Earthquakes. I really do want, at least the part of me that's willing to lie to itself, to have a semi, local team to root for. And I really have convinced myself that I love this game, an exercise that has given me so much participatory joy over a lifetime. Though I must ultimately admit that this too is illusionary. Plus, their on field performance doesn't make it easy.
In a similar vein, I can't conjure up a diehard attitude even for the U.S. national team, which represents my beloved U.S of A in South Africa this summer. Why? Existentialism, man. Can you believe it? My country's own team. We've got Howard at 'keeper and Davies. We've got Altidore, Landon freakin' Donovan and Carlos. We've got the Red, White & Blue baby! And yet, at the end of the day I can't help myself. My heart, my gut, and the chianti-in-a-basket riddled part of my brain, is 100% behind the Arruzzi. That's right, team Italia. Buffon, Cannavaro, Grosso, Pirlo, Zambrotta...
Oh, if only soccer was war...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"Buy the ticket..."

(Voice of Ronald Reagan) "Well... there you go again." No, here I am now. Soaring out into the blogosphere. A test for echo, if you will, just to see if this musing thing can grow some legs. I'm fairly convinced that it'll mostly be a series of occasional grunts and ahems. But maybe a shiny new thought or two will surface through the muck, like fungi through the forest floor.

I mostly want to use this forum to flex my creativity a bit, outside the confines of other social networking I participate in. (I've gathered an interesting base of 'friends', a quaint tribe so to speak, on Facebook, and I'd kinda like to NOT see that list begin to recede because of some of the comments I am often want to make). I tend to be very social in spurts with an almost 'can't-help-myself' instinct to drop in barrier pushing bombs, only to slink away to a virtual shut-in type existence. It is hoped that I can now sling my verbal artillery across the social battlefield while nestled safely outside of punching distance and 'he didn't really just say that' hearing range.

So here's to that bunker mentality of free thought and inquiry.