1) Life in limbo city
I’ve been neglecting this here blog recently. Last week, my excuse was that I worked all week, but this week has been much slower in that regard, so I should have been posting up a storm. Certainly, there is no shortage of topics: Michael Phels smokes pot, Alex Rodriguez was/is a juicer, hubby and I finally made it to some Oscar nominated movies that are begging to be reviewed and North Carolina’s class of 2009 just completed a perfect 4-0 run on the soon-to-be-renamed Danny G Court at Hansbrough Indoor Stadium, or HIS. Perfect acronym, don’t you think?
Nevertheless, it’s a hard time to get or remain motivated. Hubby and I still are waiting patiently to find out what will become of our employer, the travails of which, along with those of its competitor, seem to have become a veritable soap opera. We both like the newspaper too much to leave if we don’t have to, and there aren’t a whole lot of other jobs out there to be had anyway. (I’m looking at something else but don’t want to mention it quite yet, lest I jinx myself.) So we wait. Despite efforts to the contrary, everything else takes a dimmer tone as a result, and writing just doesn’t feel like a top priority. But enough about that because the only way to get past this funk is to put your head down and push through. Just like the Tar Heels did after starting conference play 0-2. Now, they are at the top of the ACC standings and not looking back. Let’s see how many times I can reference the team in this post. Onward!
2) 30 really does Rock
When Tina Fey’s 30 Rock premiered, another show-within-a-show about an SNL-clone was getting all the hype. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, written by West Wing wonder Aaron Sorkin and starring some of his absolute favorites (Bradley Whitford, Matthew Perry, Timothy Busfield), was a surprising bust. Surely, if you consider the pedigree, you’d have to believe it was an a Emmy-winning hit waiting to happen right? Sorkin does have his haters and many critics didn’t like the show from the start, but few would have guessed that it would fail so thoroughly, not even making it to a second season. Tina Fey’s show did — though barely — and has been racking up the awards — if not viewers — ever since. I watched the first episode of 30 Rock and found it funny, but not nearly enticing enough to return. Part of the initial problem were the rumors about the retooling of the show by NBC before it actually came on the air. Namely, the recasting of SNL alumna Rachel Dratch, whose role was taken over by the prettier, blonder and less funny Jane Krakowski. Krakowski is fine on the show, and she can garner a laugh, but the change in Fey’s vision in such an obvious Hollywood way just didn’t sit right with me. And why Dratch didn’t go back to SNL, where she was hilarious, remains a mystery to me. So even as Studio 60 died its slow death, I watched. But even as 30 Rock got more and more critics to jump on its bandwagon, I didn’t.
One bandwagon I did jump on and enthusiastically was the one for Mad Men, which I adore. When I heard that star Jon Hamm was doing a three-episode run on 30 Rock, I had to tune in. And wouldn’t you know, it was awesome! Hansbrough-hitting-a-late-three-at-Duke awesome! Hamm is playing a love interest for Liz Lemmon, Fey’s character, but the true star of the show is Alec Baldwin and his storyline was Latino-aided hilarity. Currently courting a nurse played by Salma Hayek, Baldwin’s NBC-ish owning exec, Jack Donaghy, is unable to win over her Puerto Rican abuela. Her favorite telenovela stars an evil Baldwin clone (played, naturally, by a tanner, mustacchioed Alec). Jack buys the network and tries to fire his doppleganger, who in turn tries to foil Jack before offering to seduce a Latina woman of a certain age to win over the granny. Great stuff. Don’t know if I’ll keep watching once Hamm is gone, but at least I will agree that the critics are on to something.
3) Baseball has never been perfect, neither are the records
When it comes to steroids, everyone has an opinion. There are those who say, “The hell with it! Everybody juices! Just let them play.” There are those who say, “Ban those cheaters for life.” My opinion lies somewhere in the middle. I believe that before Major League Baseball pulled its head out of the sand, a majority of players in the 1990s juiced and that most of them were doing it not to get an edge, but simply so they wouldn’t get left behind. A soft view on the issue perhaps, but it’s true. For every Barry Bonds or Alex Rodriguez there were probably two dozen players just trying to get a job, keep a job, stay on the average. Is theirs less of a crime because they aren’t household names? No. It takes more than an single player to stain a sport. The masses, not the individuals, are who made the “steroids era” what it was. Bonds and A-Rod are merely two of many. They get the brunt of the anger because of the record books, but honestly, that’s the least of the issue for me. Those who urge the preservation of the purity of the records and rail against the lost sanctity of the game are naive.
There has never been “sanctity” in baseball. Beautiful though the game is, nothing about it — save maybe the starchy white uniforms on opening day — has ever been pure. Babe Ruth hit 714 homeruns, not a single one against a black pitcher. If the baseball of today is tainted by steriods, the baseball of the first half of the 20th century was tainted by racism, just like the baseball of the 1980s was tainted by cocaine use. I could go on. It’s a game played by humans, which means it’s never going to be perfect. Do I think it’s unfair for a player to use an illegal substance to make himself stronger? Sure, but I also think it’s unfair to compare millionaire athletes who train year-round and who live and breathe baseball and only baseball from childhood to the journeymen of the ’50s and ’60s who actually worked for a living in the off season, who took the subway in to the stadium along with fans, who didn’t have an army of trainers and coaches and massage therapists rubbing their every itch. Is it fair to compare Tyler Hansbrough’s all-time scoring record to the stats put up by the UNC greats who played before freshmen were allowed on the varsity? Times change, players change, expectations change. I don’t know what baseball should do with its records, but throwing out a person’s achievements because he played in a certain era seems wrong. We are nothing if not a product of our times. So why don’t we simply call the era what it was — add the asterix if we must — and move on.
4) Apologizing for being a kid
So much of greatness in sports is about projection, a desire to see someone achieve greatness and feel enveloped by the moment simply for having gotten to se it. “I was there” isn’t just about witnessing something — although that word, “witness,” has taken on added significance in sports thanks to Nike and LeBron — but validating it. Michael Phelps isn’t great merely because of his feats as an individual athlete. He is made great by the millions who watched him achieve those feats. The proverbial tree falling in the forest of sports. So what happens when the greats do something not so? Well, same principle applies. If the masses don’t see you. It didn’t happen, but if they do — as was the case with Mike and his now world infamous bong hit — they will let you know just how not great it was.
On SNL, Seth Meyers asked on Weekend Update what kind of a person it took to see Michael Phelps at a party and think “Ka-ching” instead of “Cool, I get to party with Michael Phelps!” A dick, he concluded, and he’s probably right. Mike, however, should have known better. Not about the pot-smoking (marijuana is less bad for you than tobacco), but about doing it in public. He’s been down this road before, having gotten a DUI (a much worse offense, if you ask me, given the dangers of driving drunk) after the Olympics in Athens. That he didn’t learn his lesson the first time shouldn’t really surprise. Being a great swimmer doesn’t make you any smarter than the rest of us. Mike’s problem is that he’s done all these amazing things — he’s a 14-time Olympic champion for goodness’ sake — but he’s still just a kid. He could retire now, at 23, and probably not live to see some of his records broken. To malign his achievements over a night of youthful indiscretion is just silly. Yeah, we all think that if we were that great at anything, we’d be smart enough not to be stupid. Yeah, right.
Maybe something good will come out of all of this for him. After Tar Heel point guard Ty Lawson got a DUI last summer (he wasn’t over the limit, but he was underage at the time, so any alcohol in the system was a no-no), he ended up dropping out of the NBA draft and coming back for his junior year. Now, he’s playing better than ever and, given the weaker class, will likely go higher in the draft than he would have last year. So hang in there, Mike. Win a few more medals in 2012, and the world will love you again.
5) The not-so-well-behaved college basketball fan
Hubby doesn’t like watching UNC games with me. I have stopped pointing out that I turned myself into a Broncos fan, sat through all those interminable games this season, for him. He seems unlikely ever to reciprocate. He says that I don’t seem to enjoy the games, what with my yelling at the TV and on rare occasion throwing the remote across the room. (I’ve actually only done this once, but it seems to have left a big impression.) Hubby has obviously never watched a game with my dad, who I get all this from. We are passionate people — Colombians, Obregons — so it can’t be helped. I certainly don’t enjoy watching the Tar Heels lose, but I do love to watch the games. And I love this particular team so much, I wish the season would just keep going and going. It can’t though, so I am trying to take hubby’s words to heart and enjoy every bit, even the stretches of terrible defense, the missed lay-ups, the stupid fouls, all of it.
I don’t even want to think about what might happen in March (except for the awesomeness of a Billy Packer-less NCAA Tournament) because then I’ll go back to being ornery. For now, I’ll say that the Heels have until Senior Night against Duke to get whatever losses they feel are necessary out of the way. After that all of them will be heartbreaking.