Thursday, March 29, 2012

Breaking Records

I saw a post by Uncle Crappy yesterday about his long-time love affair with record stores.  As I was considering my comment to his post, I realized that writing about records and record stores has been on my Blog Idea List since forever.  This was the perfect opportunity to have at it.

I know I’ve written extensively about my time working in record stores and for my record retailer’s home office.  (See my “Brushes with the Great and Near Great,” a series in 10 parts about meeting various famous people, posted in March of 2010.)  But long before I ever got paid to work in a record store, I would haunt them like Tony Siragusa haunts the Fox Sports buffet table.

Even before I could buy my own albums, I’d hang out at my local mall record store and spend a couple hours browsing through the records.  At the time, (mid 70s), that was my primary source of information on the bands I’d hear on the radio.  To me, it was a “win” if the band’s picture was on the album cover, because otherwise, I’d have no idea what they looked like.  (Remember… no MTV, no Internet, no YouTube, etc.)  And if there were lyrics on the back, that was the holy grail.  Then, just like now, it was often impossible to figure out what the singer was saying.

Eventually, my little weekly allowance would afford me the means to buy a 45-rpm single or two, if I hadn’t already blown my dough on candy at the drug store.  So after I’d peruse the records, I’d hit the 45s bin and prowl for favorite songs.

The most trying part of the experience was that so many of the 45s I’d buy would skip.  A lot of that had to do with the fact that we had a really crappy home stereo.  Sometimes I could jerry-rig it so that the song would play if I put a quarter on top of the needle, but that solution was iffy, at best.

So I would go through every copy of a 45 that I wanted and peer intently at the grooves, trying to avoid anything that looked like a possible skip.  Unfortunately, that process was as iffy as the quarter on the needle.  So consequently, I’d just get used to the skip being there.  It got so that years later, when I’d acquire the song on a CD, it would sound weird to me without the skip.  35 years later, I still expect a skip when I play certain Stevie Wonder or Ringo Starr songs.  Once the skip is in your head, it’s in there for life.

It was always such a cool atmosphere to me in the record stores, especially once I got a bit older and got out of the malls and began frequenting the smaller chains or independent stores.  Those were the ones with the cool posters, buttons, sheet music and other music paraphernalia.   (In other words, just like my current apartment d├ęcor.)

I never really dealt with the people that worked there.  Then, as now, I just wanted store clerks to leave me alone, but be available in case I had a question or couldn’t find something.

Once we moved up to Toledo, it was like I was surrounded by record stores (once I drove the 15 miles into town).  At the mall, we had a Camelot and a National Record Mart.  Nearby, there was Boogie Records, the Head Shed, and my favorite, the enormous Peaches Records.  Peaches was a 64,000 square foot record store that could have easily housed a bowling alley.  I could hang out in there forever, and of course, I did just that, especially once I got a job there while I was in college.

When I started at Peaches, they still actually sold 8-tracks, albeit at cut-out prices.  Cassette tapes were still pretty new and they had them on a giant tape counter, under glass.  You’d have to get a clerk to get them out for you.  Unfortunately, they no longer sold concert tickets there.  I don’t know if word ever spread about that, because for as long as I worked at that location, (which was about 3 years), people were always coming in for tickets and would look crestfallen when we told them we didn’t sell tickets any longer.

The best part about working there was the employee discount!  Between that and the free promotional albums (or “promos”), my album collection exploded.  It seemed like every other month, I’d have to buy a new Peach Crate to house them. 

I remember being there the first day we ever got a shipment of CDs.  They seemed so exotic.  There was so much debate about whether CDs could ever sound as warm and inviting as LPs did.  I never had any problem jumping from LPs to CDs.  To me, the sound quality was perfect and the odds of the CD skipping were almost nil.  That alone was enough to make me a believer.

But as much as I’ve loved amassing CDs since 1986, I still miss the immersive experience of the LPs.  There was just so much more going on.  I miss the excitement of sitting down in the living room and slitting the cellophane at the open end of the album jacket.  Usually inner sleeve was packed with pictures, song lyrics, credits, liner notes and special thank you’s. 

I’d get the record on the turntable, gently ease the needle down, (I always did it by hand, never using the automated startup), and as the record would play, I’d pore over every detail the album sleeve and jacket provided.  I always wondered what someone would have to do to get mentioned inside an album jacket.  (You can read about how I actually accomplished this feat, in Brushes with the Great and Near Great, Part 8.)

Sometimes the album contents were a disappointment, like with ZZ Top albums. They rarely had more than just the names of the band members and the producer… no pictures, no lyrics, no notes… nada. 

But other times, the album would be packed with goodies.  Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellowbrick Road” comes to mind.  That was a double-album that had a “duel-fold” jacket.  On the inner surfaces, they had the lyrics to each song, along with the musician credits and a small graphic artwork inspired by the song.
The Yellowbrick Road album versus the CD.  Because the CD is very old too, (one of the first I ever bought) the fold-out booklet is generous. Suffice to say, if you buy it now, you get diddley-squat in the jewel case.

CDs just don’t compete with that.  If you’re lucky, it will come with a booklet but more and more, the extras are fading away.  (Also, with my aging eyesight, I wouldn’t be able to see the freakin’ print that size anyway.)

I remember in the mid-70s when I was really into KC and the Sunshine Band, (don’t judge, it was the disco era), I would arrange the floor speakers and lay down on the floor with my head in between them like they were giant headphones.  (I’d do this because we didn’t have any real headphones.)  I’d put on their album that had “Shake Your Booty” and “I’m Your Boogie Man,” open up the gatefold album jacket and stare at all the “live in concert” pictures contained inside and imagine I was seeing a live performance.  Boy, was I ever glad when they invented MTV.  It made things so much easier.

The other great thing about LPs is that they are perfect for getting autographed.  Granted, even though you have to have access to a rock star, it’s much easier to get a CD booklet signed then an LP jacket.  But after that, what are you going to do with it?  If you’re like me, they just end up in the CD rack with all the others.  But signed album jackets?  That’s art.  That’s something you can put up on your wall.  And I know from which I speak…
My “Wall of Fame,” of autographed album covers, which also includes a couple of picture discs.  I’ve had a version of this ever since my record store days.

When I moved to Cleveland in 1986, to manage my own record store, I learned that there was a hall nearby where a couple times a year, they’d have Album Swap Meets.  This was where record dealers would set up tables full of used albums, picture discs, bootlegs and all kinds of music memorabilia.  God, I loved those.  I used to drop WAY too much cash there, but I’d always come away with treasure, like AC/DC bootlegs, Joan Jett picture discs, or out-of-print albums for which I’d been searching.
This is a small selection of the picture discs I’ve managed to acquire over the years.

Later, as CDs became the dominant medium, used record stores began popping up all over the place.  I loved those too… they were like permanent swap meets.  Any time I’d go to visit a new place, I’d try to get my host to help me scope out some used record stores.  Always looking for a score, I was.  Used records were the perfect way to pick up that album that you never bought because you only liked one song.

Anyway, time marches on.  Like I said, I totally appreciate the upgrade in sound quality and the ease provided by technology.  I love that I can download individual songs so that I don’t have to lay out more money just to get stuck with a bunch of songs I don’t particularly like.  Sometimes I’ll still buy the physical CD, like when there’s a new one out by an artist that I know I like and want to support.  The new Meat Loaf CD comes to mind… I bought that from Amazon when it came out two weeks ago.  But you better believe that I listened to snippets of all the songs first.  If there had only been one or two that I liked, I’d have just downloaded them.

As soon as the CD comes, I rip the tracks I like to my PC and then load them onto my MP3 player.  That is now my primary method of listening to music.  Then I just have to wait for the tracks to surface via “Shuffle-play Mode.”

Downloads are fine but they’ll never replace having that physical entity in your hands.  But for all the convenience and efficiency, I still miss the old LP ritual. 

The skips… not so much.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

An Instant Lottery Post

I was working on a post subject I’ve wanted to write about for some time, but I’m giving you this today instead.  First off, the Penguins play tonight at 7:00 so that won’t leave me enough time to do the post justice.  Secondly, I bought $5 worth of Mega Millions lottery tickets this afternoon, ahead of the $363 million dollar drawing tonight.  That means I’ll also be busy composing my resignation letter, which may or may not include a scan of my nether regions.

To do so, I’ll probably have to remove my printer/scanner from its place on my desk and set it up on the floor, because I’m not sure if the desk will hold my weight.  I can probably do this during the 1st period intermission. 

Also, what kind of cleaner is good to get butt prints off the scanner glass?

I saw an article online today about lottery strategy tips from an “expert.”  I only note it here because it just seems like so much bullshit.  I mean, you have to remember that the odds are exactly the same for any arrangement of number combinations.  (Those odds being “astronomical.”)  There is no “momentum” or odds against a repeated drawing of the same number.  It’s just hard, cold math: one in a bazillion every time. 

Be that as it may, here are the “tips” from a lottery “expert.”

1. Pick your own numbers, as opposed to using the machine to do the “quick picks.”  This is completely irrelevant.  As I stated above, the odds are the same for every combination of numbers.  The source does not matter in the least, unless there is some kind of nefarious programming plot at work, which keeps machine-picked numbers from ever coming up.

(I love the word, “nefarious.”  I feel the need to twirl my moustache every time I type it.)

2. Do your homework to see if your numbers have ever come up before.  Also bullshit.  Same odds, all the time.  If the numbers were taken out of play, it would be another story.  But they aren’t.

3. Stick with your strategy.  More bullshit.  It still doesn’t matter what strategy you use.  Same odds every time. 

4. Avoid Lottery Fever, i.e. don’t spend more than you can afford to lose.  OK, this one is bang-on.  Let’s not get crazy.  You have to acknowledge that you’re throwing your cash into a black hole.  All you’re buying is a night’s happy dreams and possibly a cheap blog post.

Now before you start crying foul about the apparent disconnect between my well-documented support for game jersey mojo and its affect on game outcomes, versus any kind of lottery mojo,  let me just say this… Mojo is about the “vibe” created by fans’ rituals and superstitions, and people… namely athletes… can be affected by a vibe.  Call it being In The Zone, or coming down with a case of The Yips; it’s the human element.  There is no human element with a lottery drawing; it’s random by nature and therefore immune to outside “forces.”

Last year, I went into considerable detail regarding what I’d do if I actually hit a huge jackpot like this.  (Exactly one year ago today, oddly enough.)  If you’re a new reader, you can check out that fascinating post by clicking here.  So now you get a full post chocked full of my customary brilliance, and I can make sure I have time to select the proper Pens jersey and then embed myself in my easy chair by the opening face-off.  Win/win.

Director’s DVD Commentary: I was going to run the old lottery post here in its entirety and just add a short intro, but then the intro grew to where it was long enough to be a short (by my standards) post that could stand on its own.  To add it all now would just seem like piling on.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Search for Reality - The Spring Edition

First off, I’d like to thank everyone that participated in the Great “Argument” Argument of 2012.  I knew I could count on you to come across with the spirit, wisdom and insight.  Now I’m off to not touch that subject again with a ten-foot pole.

I’ve again been collecting the weird searches that have landed people here and I figured I’d trot a few of them out for your amusement.  And in light of the previous post, I must appear sexist to the search engines too.  I still think it’s a bad rap.

But first I’ll go with just the strange ones.

“Vandalism of Darwinfish” – Arlington VA.  Wow… someone else has this problem?  I got the Darwinfish on my car ripped in half last year in a WalMart parking lot.  Either someone else had that happen too, or someone is looking to enter the field of heathen car-emblem destruction.

“Did all the drunks make it home on St Patty’s Day” – Manteca, CA.  This has to be a “thing”… who could possibly ever answer that question?  As far as I know, there is no National Drunk Retrieval Toteboard, from which to tally the safe return of holiday drunks.

“Terrorists throwing horseshoes” – Baton Rouge LA.  This person landed on an old post that showed a picture of some Texans pitching horseshoe-shaped toilet seats, but they’re not necessarily terrorists.  I just wonder if the person was searching for the recreational habits of terrorists, or looking for a good way to weaponize a horseshoe.

“God is a dumbass” – Czech Republic.  And this was an Image Search, too (like most of the searches I’m listing today).  But I’m not touching this one… I may have issues with formal religion but I never referred to the Big Guy as a dumbass.  This is what I get for using Red Forman quotes.

“Which direction to put in a tampon” – Thousand Oaks, CA.  Now we’re leading up to the sexist stuff.  Believe it or not, I see this search a lot, but I have no idea why.  I wonder how they mean it… like, do you have to keep the tampon facing north?  Do they not know which end is the front of the tampon?  Are they wondering if they’re supposed to come straight in the front door, or use the reach-around?  No idea… But how anyone could land here on that search is way beyond me.  There must be dozens of legitimate health sites that could be of use, but here?  The Google works in mysterious ways. 

“Junior high school whore” – North Las Vegas, NV.  I think someone didn’t get a date to the prom.  I wonder if they were looking for someone in particular.  This reminds me of the old joke…

Q: What’s the difference between a slut and a bitch?
A: A slut sleeps with everyone; a bitch sleeps with everyone but you.

Come on, that’s not sexist… it’s making fun of men’s insecurity-ridden thought processes.

Now we come to a cluster of “ass” searches:
“Big ass woman” – Black Mountanin NC
“Hermione ass” – Wichita KS and also the UK
“Hot mom’s ass” – Romeo MI
“Smokin hot ass” – Vero Beach FL.

All of these were Image Searches, but to my knowledge, I’ve never posted a single picture of a hot ass, other than maybe a donkey.  I may have USED the expression a number of times, but mostly it’s as an adjective, like, “I went to Pittsburgh and ordered this big-assed fish sandwich.

I get a LOT of searches regarding Hermione (from Harry Potter.)  I don’t recall ever writing anything about her bum though, small and cute as it may be.  (I think… not sure I’ve ever had a good look.  Darned robes…) But all the Hermione searches (plus searches for the picture of the Twilight Moms) have put a post from last November in my #1 slot of Most Popular Dfish Post from the last 30 days.  You can see the top 5 referenced on the right-hand side bar.  And to think, all I did was write that Hermione (Emma Watson) is smokin’ hot.

Director’s DVD Commentary: The previous #1 has been there since I installed the widget; my post on Delayed Pressure Urticaria (or contact hives).  In that case, I feel most gratified that so many people from around the world have landed here to read about this malady (because it’s probably affecting them).  If they were like me at all, they felt like they were the only ones in the world with this weird-ass condition.

Great, now I’ve done it.  Bring on the searches for “weird asses.”

“Budweiser frog tittites” – Hudson FL.  “Tittites?”  What are those, pointy boob-like things that hang down from the top of a cave?  Or are “Tittites” the followers of some new sexist religion?  And what in the hell do they have to do with the Budweiser Frogs?  This one is just so strange… (and I’ve actually seen it twice… same spelling and all.  It had to have been the same person.) 

And now for the grand finale…

“Poon sammich” – San Francisco CA.  This could be my new punk band name.  First of all, as seen in prior posts, you know how much I love the term, “poon.”  It just sounds so cute and friendly.  So not only does the idea of a ‘poon sandwich’ crack me up, they actually spelled it as “sammich,” which makes it all the more colloquial, like the bread is a resting place for working-class poon.  Poon of the People! 

You know how they have those Twitter memes, like #ReplaceSongTitlesWithPizza and the like?  They should do one for poon.  Like #ReplaceWordsWithPoon.  I’m all in.

Poon River.
Poon Over Miami.
Fly Me to the Poon.
Name that Poon.
Daniel Poone and his poonskin cap.  (ew)
High Poon.
Sci-Fi epic “Pune”.
Benny and Poon
Winnie the Poon.
Pepe Le Poon
Driving a Poonbuggy on the beach
James Bond classic Poonraker (I think that was a porno.)
The Poonies (I know that was a porno.)
The scourge of modern pop radio: Auto-Poon.
The age of Aquarius, where the Poon is in the seventh house…

I wonder how many “poon” searches I’m going to land now…

Monday, March 19, 2012

Argument Clinic

This is either going to be a great discussion or going to get everyone mad at me again.  I hope it generates good discussion because I really need to know what I’m dealing with. 

What I want to know is: do women all argue the same way, or just every one I’ve been with?

I swear, I really try to understand and argue fairly but sometimes I have to wonder if there are any rules of logic that apply.  I’m not just talking about Pinky here, I’ve seen this from everyone with whom I’ve been in a relationship.  It doesn’t matter what the argument is about, or whether it’s trivial or life-changing. 

Here’s what I see:

Get out of jail free card.  It comes out like: “Because I was the one that did the job, it doesn’t matter that I did part of it wrong… Example: “I just did all the shopping.  So what if I didn’t get the one thing you put on the list?” 

I don’t see why it’s an argument.  She’s shopping anyway, I put it on the shopping list, I mentioned it, and then she either forgets it or gets the wrong variation.  I don’t care about the zillion other things that I won’t eat or use, I needed the one thing.  But I’m the shit for mentioning it because she did the shopping?

Litany of side issues.  Starts when I disagree with an idea or notion.  I can expect a whole list of issues and statements to be brought up, none of which have anything to do with the situation at hand.  These usually come up right around the time I begin to win the argument on facts.  Once penned in by logic, change the subject.

Twisting my words to suit her needs.  This is when she takes what she thinks I’m saying, changes it into some unholy perversion of what I actually said, then attacks that.  (In other words, the “Fox News Defense.”  Also known as the “Straw Man” technique.)

Claiming personal attack when there is none.  Haven’t we all been taught not to attack the person, just the argument?  I try to do that but it doesn’t really matter.

Me: That’s a ridiculous statement.
Her: Don’t call me ridiculous!

Now for the rest of the argument, I get to hear how I called her stupid.  It doesn’t matter if I literally say, “Honey, I don’t think you’re stupid, but that idea is just not right (and list the provable reasons,)” all I hear back is the “you called me stupid” refrain.

List of Grievances.  Pretty much every argument I’ve ever had with a female devolves into a list of perceived slights, errors, grievances and everything I’ve ever done wrong since the moment we met.  In almost all cases, none of it has anything to do with the case at hand.  The Ex-Wife was particularly adept at this one, in fact, it was her specialty.  It guaranteed that we would be having the same argument in perpetuity, any time we disagreed over anything.

Do ladies really keep all those transgressions ready to use at a moment’s notice?  Or is there a sacred list that you keep somewhere so that when you get together with your girlfriends in the restroom, you can compare notes on how awful your husband or boyfriend is?

As far as I’m concerned, anything that happened 2 months ago is inadmissible.  There has to be a statute of limitations in there somewhere.  This also goes for anything I’ve ever said.

I honestly don’t know how women do it.  When I have a conversation, I pretty much consider it a transient event and when it’s done, it’s gone from my head and I move onto the next thing.  I’m constantly amazed when a partner can trot out something I said 6-months ago, although it’s not necessarily something I said, but something she heard.  (See the “that’s ridiculous/you’re ridiculous” effect.)  But I can’t prove that because I don’t really remember the conversation.  I only know it’s inaccurate because it’s some wingnut statement that I would never make, without the influence of hallucinogens.

Seriously, can you remember a conversation you had with your mate 2 weeks ago?  I can’t.  That shit would take up too much room in my head.  I might run out of space to put the cast members of MASH or what year Bat Out of Hell came out.

Constant interruptions.  This one drives me berserk because it usually happens when I’m making a solid point.  Apparently, the best defense is to not let the complete thought be expressed, so loud interruptions (usually on side points) are the natural defense.  Works on talk radio…

Raging generalizations or over-simplifications.  I hate them.  I should have a T-shirt made that says “Generalizations are Always Wrong.”  (See, that’s a joke, but I kind of mean it.)  The ones that start the most arguments are like “All [these people] are…” because I can’t stand such broad-based swipes.  If all I have to do is come up with one instance where the claim is not true, then why make such a claim? 

The one I so frequently hear during the quarrel is the accusation of “Yeah, you’re always right,” or “You’re always perfect.”

To which I answer, “So there, was that so hard?” 

Naturally, that rarely ends the conversation.  So I say, “Of course I’m not always right, no one is… but I am this time.”

No, that doesn’t end things either, but it’s so hard to turn off the Smartass Button.

Is all this really just an inbred difference in the way men and women think?  Is it as simple as men needing things to make sense but women are not so encumbered?  Please tell me that there are women that can have an argument in a rational manner, without throwing everything in the warehouse against the wall to see what sticks.  (I know that my Mom is one.)  I would be so happy to know that logic and reason still have a place in domestic disagreements.

I should note here that I’m only talking about disagreements at home.  All but a very few women with whom I’ve worked make their points during a disagreement or discussion at work in a completely logical and rational manner.  I have to assume that domestic issues with a loved one trigger a different set of impulses.

I also fully acknowledge that my choices of companionship may have a lot to do with it.  I tend to seek out feisty, high-spirited types.  Could be I’m just getting what I’m asking for.

I know that the obvious answer, the one that’s been passed from Father to Son for generations, is to just drop it and let her win.  And you know, I used to do that, a lot… and not just with women but with everyone.  But the older I get, the less I’m content with letting things go.

Is that just a natural consequence of getting older? 

Or am I just becoming a more of an asshole?

I know there are some points I should not even start with but sometimes I can’t help myself.  And most of the time, I’m perfectly content to just let the point drop.  But unfortunately that rarely stops the argument; it just means it continues one-sidedly.

Please weigh in… I really want other women’s opinions on this.  Do you go batshit crazy during an argument, or do you calmly and rationally work out your differences of opinion?  Be truthful… how many of those things I listed do you do?  The last thing I want to do is labor under a raging generalization of my own.

Meanwhile, the clip below demonstrates the Male Argument at its best… one of the all-time great Monty Python sketches.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sick and Tired

That’s me this week… sick and tired.  I apologize for missing my usual Tuesday post but I’ve been sick this week.  OK, I still am.

After missing my annual cold in 2011, I started getting a crappy throat last weekend, which blew up into a cold by Monday.  I came home from work early and called in for Tuesday.  I went in for a half day Wednesday before coming back home after lunch and today I already had a scheduled day off.  I hope to make it in tomorrow for a full day.

The thing with my colds is that they make me feel so removed from reality… like I’m not really a part of what’s going on around me.  It’s like a haze over my brain.  I’m not sure if it’s the cold or the cold medicine but I can never be quite sure when I’m going to fish hop under blixen snodgrass.  Fealty!

It’s times like this when I read my completed crossword puzzle and it looks like poetry.

Marc clasp eked
Ohio ounce vino
Wellington I Win
Smelts ecol tired
Watchmen layoff
Moan cello
Edda bake
So ever zippered.

I’m going to break that out at my next poetry slam.

Another thing I discovered this week was naps.  Oh my, the naps!  Had a decent one in my bed Monday afternoon, but the best was on Tuesday.  No one was home so I took a 3-hour nap on the couch.  Napping just seems better on a couch.  If you’re in bed, it’s like a short night’s sleep, but a couch nap is a real nap.  Then again, it could be the cold medicine talking again.  Praxis!

You shouldn’t be allowed to go on E-bay when you’re sick.  They tricked me by sending me an email saying that I hadn’t logged in for, like, years, and they were going to suspend my account.  So I logged in (using my own link, and not clicking anything in the email, in case it was a phishing scam), intending to log right back out.  But then I thought I might as well see if they had any Penguins jerseys for sale.  I haven’t gotten a new jersey in a couple of years, so I figure I’m due.  Big mistake.

There was lots of stuff to choose from.  I ended up buying an authentic Evgeni Malkin black jersey for $65.00 and bid on an authentic James Neal white jersey, which I won for $71.00.  True authentic jerseys sell for upwards of $300, so if they’re legit, I got quite a deal.  Worst case, they’re the Chinese knockoffs, but as the owner of several, if they’re good ones, they’ll be fine.  From the detail in the E-Bay pictures, they looked solid.

Then while I was in there, I remembered that I’ve always wanted an Orioles game jersey.  For as many O’s games as I attend, I really ought to have something better than the cheap give-away tee shirts from the park.  So I ordered a Matt Weiters home white jersey, for $50.00.  That one has already been delivered and I’ll tell you that it’s “fiiiiine.”

It also occurred to me to look and see if there were any deals on the DVD of the Penguins/Capitals 24/7 series from last year’s run-up to the Winter Classic.  I saw some for sale but figured I’d better check Amazon first to establish a good base price.  There, I saw that Amazon had everyone on E-Bay beat, so I ordered one from Amazon.

And wouldn’t you know it, there was a thoughtful message, based on my purchasing history, that there was a new Meat Loaf album coming out.  Well, obviously I have to have THAT, so I ordered it as well.

I don’t know why I feel guilty about ordering all that crap for myself… It’s not like I’m always out there buying myself stupid shit.  I hardly ever shop for myself.  Usually it’s when I’m shopping online for someone else, I see something I like and order it for me.

But I’ll get over it, especially once those jerseys arrive.  However, now I’ll have to worry about upsetting the delicate balance of game jersey mojo.  I’ve got a pretty good system going right now which has resulted in a 9-game winning streak for my Penguins. 

I wonder if E-Bay will take returns on account of bad mojo?

I can just take a couple more hits of cold medicine, call them up and confuse them to with a fever-induced combination of jibberish and circular logic.  (Just like Fox “News”.)


Now it’s time for a nap.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Game Change

Last night was the premiere of the HBO drama, Game Change, based on the 2008 McCain/Palin presidential campaign.  I watched it and thought they did a fine job; the acting was top-notch.  Julianne Moore and Ed Harris were spot-on as Sarah Palin and John McCain.  The rest of the cast were good too, although I can’t say as to how accurately they portray characters with whom I’m not familiar.  I can tell you that they were believable.

Let me talk about the movie in 2 parts: Production and Story. 

As you may recall, I posted about the movie production that took place here in Baltimore last May.  On my way into work, I saw the movie production trucks lining the streets on which I make my daily walk from the subway station to my office building.  When I went to lunch that day, I brought my camera and snapped a few pictures.  As it turned out, that route that I walked was used for an important scene in the movie.

The scene is where Palin’s prep person/former White House press secretary is arguing with Palin on her cell and then telling Woody Harrelson’s campaign manager character that he can blame the Couric interview debacle on her if he wants, but she will not work another day with Sarah Palin.

The route she walks is the exact route I took when coming back from my lunch at Burger King that day.

She starts by walking down this sidewalk, (above, across from the buses) toward the camera, right where that red brick building is (which is a Walgreen's). 

Then she makes a left at the corner and walks up this street, past the fountain on the left.  Again, she walks toward the camera, and you can see Walgreen's directly behind her.

At this point, I was babbling excitedly to Pinky, “That’s my Walgreen's! That’s my Walgreen's!  I shop there all the time.”

When she’s by the fountain, the perspective changes and they show her with the street behind her and you can see the Baltimore City courthouse, which is where I served my last 2 stints of jury duty.

(“There’s the courthouse!  There’s the courthouse!”)

What can I say, I’m easily amused.  It’s cool to see a place that you go all the time show up on national television.  We were also able to spot a local restaurant out in the ‘burbs that served as a campaign bus stop.  And because I know that they were filming inside the hotel right beside my office building, I’m pretty sure they were using one of the conference rooms there to film a campaign strategy-meeting scene.

They also filmed another hotel scene that I’m pretty sure they shot at the Hilton by Camden Yards.  It wasn’t that I recognized any signage; there was no mistaking this hallway.
AKA: “The Shining” hallway.  This is from when Pinky and I stayed at the Hilton for New Years Eve, 2010.

Then again, maybe all Hiltons have this ugly-assed carpeting, so I could be wrong.  It could be a Hilton in L.A., for all I know. 

The Story
Like I said earlier, the movie itself was quite enjoyable, albeit frightening.  I think the only one that comes across as sympathetic is McCain.  He appeared to be a good man trying to run a decent, positive campaign.

I know that the Palin camp has been trying to paint the production as untruthful and biased, (before actually seeing the whole movie), even though it’s based on a book that was sourced by people inside the campaign.  They claim that the sources are just disgruntled former employees with an ax to grind.

The thing with that is, just because a person has an ax to grind, that doesn’t make them wrong.  They just get more pleasure out of telling the truth.

I believe what I saw from the movie.  I believe that they have sources for most everything that is shown, and have made good-faith efforts to deduce the things to which there were no witnesses.

That said, we should thank our lucky stars that Sarah Palin is nowhere near the White House.  Her shaky temperament and complete lack of awareness of the world outside our country’s borders (or Alaska’s borders, for that matter) is appalling.  She has a world-view that is a mile wide and an inch deep.  The fact is, she’s just not very bright.  One might be able to get elected on charisma, but if there’s nothing underneath, it will make for a very trying time.

They made it clear that the only reason she was on the ticket is because they didn’t have enough time to vet her properly.  In the brief time they had to check her out, all they saw was an attractive, staunchly pro-life governor that gave an engaging speech.  They never got around to asking her any questions about what she knew.  The Republicans were going for a high-risk, high-reward stunt nomination to combat the charismatic Democratic nominee and they got burned.

I’m sure HBO will be running the movie throughout the next month, so if you missed it last night, you will have many chances to catch it and make up your own mind.  (If you have HBO, that is.  Otherwise, you’ll have to wait for the DVD or Netflix.)  It was definitely worth the two hours.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Le Magnifique

In Pittsburgh, yesterday, the Penguins organization unveiled a 10-foot statue of their owner/Hall of Fame captain/2-time* Stanley Cup winner/3-time Savior, Mario Lemieux.  The statue is located outside their new arena, the Consol Energy Center.  (* As a player.  Mario won a third Cup, as an Owner.)

You have to give it to Pittsburgh… they know statues and they do them right.  Downtown is practically littered with giant bronze statues of hometown icons.  You’ll find 4 statues of former Pittsburgh Pirates outside PNC Park: Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and Bill Mazeroski.  Outside the Steelers’ Heinz Field, you’ll see a statue of founder Art Rooney Sr., sitting on a bench, smoking a fat cigar.  Heck, even Mister Rogers has a statue in Pittsburgh.

Baltimore is just catching on to the statue thing.  There’s a statue of Johnny Unitas outside the Raven’s stadium and one of Babe Ruth outside Camden Yards, but that’s it.  I took them to task last summer for commemorating their baseball players thusly:
This “tribute” has all the warmth and humanity of Morse Code.

But by the end of the baseball season last year, they finally unveiled a statue for Orioles 3rd baseman Brooks Robinson.  Later, I read that they have plans to likewise celebrate their other Hall of Famers.  Presumably, they will have the “numbers” retired.

I would like to have been there for the unveiling of Mario’s statue, but of course, I have a life and it’s not in Pittsburgh, so I had to wait for the reports to filter onto the Internet.  So let’s have a look:
Entitled “Le Magnifique,” the statue captures a moment from a 1988 game against the NY Islanders, where Mario took a pass at the blue line, split 2 defenders (who ran into each other) and skated in to bury a shot behind the goalie.

The Pensblog, reacting to some behind-the-scenes tweets, had video up on this goal before the statue was even uncovered.

I love the fact that this statue has the 2 “other” dudes in it, Jeff Norton and Rich Pilon, who basically function as pylons.  Right after I saw it, I wondered what those guys thought of being sculpted into the scene.  At least one of them, Pilon, took it in stride, saying, “If you’re going to get beat on a play and it’s there for everyone to see forever, it might as well be Mario.  He did that to a lot of defensemen.”

As with the other statues in town, (not including Mister Rogers, whose likeness is more “impressionistic”), the detail was impressive.
Yep, that’s Mario.

If you’re reading this from Pittsburgh or are a big Penguins fan, you already know all about Mario, so you’re forgiven if you skip to the end.  But if you don’t know anything about him, let me try to explain why this guy from Montreal merits a statue in Pittsburgh.

At the end of the 1983-84 season, the Pittsburgh Penguins were atrocious, winning only 16 games all season.  Their horrid record earned them the right to pick first in the next draft and they selected the can’t-miss 18-year old French-Canadian kid.  The Penguins were on shaky ground and desperately needed something or someone to draw butts to the rink.  When Mario came to town, he was not fluent in English.  Nevertheless, he took the town by storm.  He scored a goal in his first game, on his first shift, and never looked back.  The kid was a human highlight reel.  Rejuvenating the city’s passion for hockey was the first time he saved the team.  Even his name was perfect, as the literal French translation for “Lemieux” is: The Best.

He was big, for a goal-scorer, standing 6’4” and going about 230 lbs.  He had speed, power, quick feet and brilliant hands.  The guy made 50-goal scorers out of a series of average players around him.  All they had to do was keep their stick on the ice and he would find it with a precision, tape-to-tape pass.

He led the Pens to their first Stanley Cup in 1991; their second in 1992.  They had a line on Number 3 the next year but were upset in the 2nd round by the Islanders.

It’s not a stretch to name Mario and Wayne Gretzky as the two greatest hockey players ever.  Gretzky put up far better total numbers, but he had two things in his favor: he played most of his career with far more talented teammates than Mario did for his first 5-6 years in the league.  Also, Mario’s career was plagued with injury and illness.

He had chronic back problems, which turned into a herniated disk that kept him from being able to lace up his own skates on many nights.  Then late in that ill-fated Cup run of ’93, he announced that he had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  He then endured 2 months of energy-draining radiation treatments, which beat the cancer into remission.

On the day he took his last radiation treatment, he flew to Philadelphia to play in a game against the Flyers.  Even the rabid Philly fans had to give him a standing O for that kind of toughness.  With Mario back the Penguins reeled off 17 straight wins and Mario won the league scoring title.

By the end of the 1996-97 season, with his back taking a toll and as the league’s inability to eliminate the clutching and grabbing sapped the game of its excitement, Mario announced that he was retiring from hockey.  He was the first (and only) player to retire while averaging over 2 points per game for his career. (A “point” is either a goal or an assist.)

During his retirement, the Penguins teetered on the edge of financial disaster.  Several poor business decisions by ownership resulted in the team having to file for bankruptcy.  That meant players like Lemieux that had “deferred” their salaries in order to help the team stay competitive, were not going to get paid.  The Penguins owed Mario over $30 million.

Mario sought to recover his money by forming an ownership group of his own and converting his $30 mil into an ownership stake, and with that, he bought the team (which was the 2nd time he saved hockey in Pittsburgh.)  With his ownership team, they formed a plan not just to make the team solvent again, but to pay back everyone to whom they owed money.  By 2005, all bankruptcy debts were paid off.

He came out of retirement in 2000 to play for the Penguins again.  He still had the skills and the hands, but his back was a recurring problem.  Regardless, it was great to see him on the ice again, making dazzling moves, setting up his awe-struck teammates and even throwing his body around when the need arose.

Remember, Mario was a big guy.  When he wanted to hit someone, he made it count.  I’ll never forget those games where you could see that he’d had enough, either with the opponent taking liberties, or the lack of effort from his own squad.  You’d see his eyes narrow and turn into icy blue chips, then the next thing you know, [BANG] there’s The Captain, mashing some guy into the glass.  Then [BAM], he’s knocking some other defenseman flying.  That never failed to jump-start his teammates (and the crowd).

In January of 2006, the year after the NHL lockout, the year after the lockout, Mario announced his final retirement.  By then he was also experiencing atrial fibrillation that caused an irregular heartbeat.  Between that, the faster pace of the league, and his being, you know… 40 years old, it was time to hang’em up.

The Penguins were still in trouble though.  Mellon Arena, their home ice, was the oldest rink in the league.  Without the revenues that a new arena would bring, the Penguins would be unable to stay financially competitive.  With the team for sale, there was a very real chance that the Pens would be sold and moved out of state.  In fact, they were close to being moved to Kansas City, who had a state of the art arena just waiting for a team to occupy it.

It took some real doing, but the city, state and team eventually came together to produce the finance package it took to build the Consol Energy Center and keep the Pens in the ‘Burgh.  In March of 2007, they announced that the deal was done and the team would stay put.  I practically passed out from the news.  I was a nervous wreck at the prospect of their being no more Penguins hockey.  (Chalk up the 3rd time Mario saved hockey in Pittsburgh.)

It’s really tough to encapsulate this guy in just a few pages.  Heaven knows there are dozens more storylines and highlights I could write about… the amazing goals, the Canada Cup, the Olympic gold medal and the Stanley Cups… but you can find all that on Wikipedia.  Or look up some Mario highlights on YouTube.  Sometimes I get lost for hours, watching Mario highlights.

To me, the biggest one was always that last game in Pittsburgh before his first retirement.  They were playing the Flyers in the first round of the playoffs.  Mario had already announced his retirement and the Flyers were having their way with the Pens in that series.  With the Flyers up 3-0, they played Game 4 in Pittsburgh.  Everyone knew that barring a miracle, this would be Mario’s last home game.  I remember watching the game by myself, in my apartment in Albany NY.  (It was about 6 months before I’d move to Baltimore.) 

The Pens were winning this one but it was unlikely that they were going to win in Philly.  Late in the game, Mario took a pass at the red line and began chugging up the left-side boards, leaving everyone on the other team behind him.  You could hear the crowd going insane; or maybe that was just me.

Gary Thorne, the network announcer was right on it, his voice rising with anticipation… “Here he comes… here he comes… Mario Lemieux… hang on… HE SCORES!  Ya gotta love it!”

Mario had cut into the middle and ripped a wrist shot past the goalie and into the net.  The Igloo proceeded to go berserk.  This was like Cal Ripken homering in the game where he tied Lou Gehrig, or in his last All Star game.  It was the perfect moment for the history books, as Mario skated around to the boards, arms outstretched to the crowd.

I tell you, I still get chills just thinking about that goal.  I know I had tears welling in my eyes up in Albany.  The Big Guy came through again.

Mario went on to found the Mario Lemieux Foundation, which raise money to fight cancer and also funds “Austin’s Playroom,” which sets up play areas and gaming units in children’s hospitals around town.

So now, the next time I visit the ‘Burgh, I’m going to have to find time to go and see Mario’s statue.  There, he will remain for all time, as simply: The Best.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

One More Step

Last Thursday, our state government made Maryland the 8th state to allow same-sex marriage.  Not that anyone should get their hopes up or anything… No one can actually have a same-sex marriage until January of 2013… maybe.

The bill’s passage is only a stepping-stone to full marital freedom for gay couples.  One of the reasons the bill passed this year, after failing last year, is the cover provided by the referendum process.  Legislators that were on the fence were able to take the position that “The People” should be able to decide.  (Much like NJ Governor Chris Christie did when vetoing the gay marriage bill passed by the NJ legislature.)

This will truly be an incremental process.  Once the referendum has been fought, recounted and decided, then it will be the Courts’ turn.  No way that either side is going quit without seeking the Court to either overturn the law or determine the legality of the referendum.  In other words, people seeking a same-sex marriage in Maryland should probably wait a while before booking the hall.

When I wrote about the issue last year, (and again), the bill had passed the state Senate and was being sent to the House of Delegates.  It landed there with a bang as people crawled out of the woodwork to testify against it.  The bill never made it out of Committee because the House leaders couldn’t confirm enough votes for passage.

This year, Governor Martin O’Malley spearheaded the effort.  Last year, he made no such effort, saying only that he would sign the bill if it reached his desk.  This time, he wielded his considerable influence to shake out some votes and generally promote the issue.

Key in this was securing a couple of church leaders to come out in favor of the bill.  It wasn’t that their churches were going to be conducting any gay-marriage services, but they felt that was their right and others had their own rights to pursue the issue.  (Another difference between last year’s bill and this year’s bill was a strengthening of protections for churches so they wouldn’t be sued or forced to conduct services that they regarded as sinful.  I believe the wording was made similar to the bill that passed in New York.)

Unfortunately, these few churches are in the minority; the rest seem to be massing for a full-on assault to overturn the law in the referendum.  The black and Catholic churches are spearheading the movement. 

This is where it gets ugly.  The advertising blitz here is going to be off the charts.  With this being a presidential election coming up, and with our black President running for re-election, turnout is expected to be large in the metro-Baltimore area.  While that’s good for the President’s odds of carrying Maryland, it’s bad news for the gay marriage.  Historically, the black, church-going voters will vote against any gay marriage law.  I’m just hopeful that some more reasonable pastors and church leaders will step forward and accept the idea that others who don’t ascribe to those particular churches, should be allowed to pursue their own happiness.

As I’ve often said here in the past, I don’t see how gay people getting married “over there” has any impact on what happens “over here.”  The churches are permitted to continue discriminating against gay couples and the gay couples are permitted to attend other churches that accept them.  Win/win, so what’s the problem?

The problem is with the people that aren’t happy unless everyone else looks, acts and thinks just like they do.  Is it really that hard to just mind your own damn business?  There are gay people living and loving together no matter what happens.  Is their “title” really going to affect other people’s lives?

I further maintain that human rights should never be put to public vote.  If that were necessary in the 1960’s, we would never have gotten the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in effect across the country.  Human civil rights surpass mob rule.

In the United States of America, it is freedom for all, not freedom for some.  Opponents continue to bring up ridiculous red herrings, selective biblical references and ludicrous slippery slope arguments but none pass the smell test.  All one has to do is look at the states that already have same-sex marriage.  Are they falling apart?  Is there panic in the streets?  Are “The Children” being given lessons on how to have gay sex?

Nope.  Nothing’s happening, except that now there are a few more people with strong, legal bonds and the rights that go with them.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Rush Job

I had no intention of writing this post when the story first broke.  I figured it would be the usual drill… Overfed blowhard Rush Limbaugh would cause a stir by saying something stupid, get some press and then backtrack by saying he was an entertainer and was just kidding.

But the longer this storyline played out this week, the madder I got, until here I am; angrily pounding out a screed about this degenerate attention whore.

I don’t want to go into a blow by blow of this story; I’m sure everyone knows who did and said what.  (Or you can click here for a fairly complete synopsis.)  But suffice to say; in commenting about Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown student that the Democrats asked to testify about the cost of contraception (and was refused permission to do so by the Republicans), he literally called her a slut and a prostitute.  As the outrage began to build among thinking, rational people across the country, rather that reeling it back, he doubled down, continuing his verbal assault on the young woman’s character and morality.

Normally I still wouldn’t be writing about it because he is just so obviously and provably wrong.  And I’m sure even HE knows he’s wrong on the facts.

Even a cursory search of the story will tell you that Ms. Fluke was taking birth control pills for a medical reason involving hormones.  It had nothing to do with sexual activity.  She was to testify about the prohibitive cost of the prescription relative to her meager income as a grad student. 

Limbaugh knew this, but made it about sex anyway.  Sex sells, and it’s red meat for his overwhelmingly white, male, under-educated followers.  (OR, white, male, filthy rich and willing to justify anything in order to keep it that way.)

In pushing the sex angle, he went on about how much sex she must have had in order to justify so much birth control.  Obviously, it doesn’t matter how much sex one has for the pill to work.  You take one a day for as long as you need it.  It doesn’t matter if you have sex every hour, once a day, once a month or once a year.  The cost of being one the birth control pill is the same. 

Rush knows this too.  Hell, he’s been married four times; he knows how birth control works.  (Although I will allow that with him, birth control may merely consist of him taking his clothes off.)
What do they mean, “in 2014?”

Why would he labor a point that’s so off the mark that a junior-high school kid could pick it apart?  (You know, IF he were allowed to attend his health class that cover sex ed.) 

At the moment, public pressure has resulted in a number of sponsors cutting their advertising with his show.  I guarantee that he is not worried about that.  Those sponsors will be right back as soon as the heat dies down.  And in the meantime, other advertisers have stepped in. I wouldn’t mind knowing who is still advertising there, but not so much that I’d actually listen to his show.  I wouldn’t listen to that horse’s ass if a $20 bill sprung, ATM-like from the radio, for every minute I was tuned in.  What good is money if you keel over because your brain exploded?

Some Republicans have issued half-hearted rebukes, but nothing with teeth.  Boehner’s flak tied in a mention about how it is also wrong for the Dems to be using this issue to raise funds.


Right.  Like the Republicans aren’t issuing email after email, pleading for funds because the Democrats are trying to steal our religious liberty by making everyone wear condoms.  “The Sluts are coming!  The Sluts are coming!

So what’s Limbaugh’s game here, besides getting himself talked about all over the media? Perhaps he has a “Trading Places” type bet with Dick Cheney.  Maybe Rush bet that he could make a juicy but ridiculous assertion, double and triple-down on it and come out none the worse for wear on the other side.  And if some girl’s life gets turned upside down as a result, who gives a rip?  As far as he’s concerned, she’d deserve it for having the audacity to try to testify on birth control and be female at the same time.

I really feel for Ms. Fluke.  I mean, here she was, trying to do what’s right for her country and her gender, fighting against a stacked deck just to be allowed to testify, which she was asked to do!  Then out of nowhere comes this jowly attack dog slinging mud at her with ludicrous accusations and smears.

That’s why I’m so happy that President Obama made it his business to call her and offer words of encouragement.  It’s the very least he could do for a woman that just gift-wrapped a can’t-lose campaign issue for him.  If I were Obama, I’d find her a job with Kathleen Sebelius in the Department of Health and Human Services.  Or as a campaign spokesperson.

Whore?  Slut?  I don’t think so. 

And I can line up some expert testimony on that, for the next Senate hearing.
Former Steelers kicker, Jeff Reed, who knows a thing or two about sluts.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Blunts, Bloggers, Pens and Hines 86

Let’s see what’s going on…

“Hey Bluz, what do you think about…

…the Blunt Amendment being defeated in the Senate?”  You’d think that something called the Blunt Amendment would have something to do with Snoop Dogg’s recreational proclivities, but in fact, it was an amendment to a transportation bill sponsored by Sen. Roy Blount (R-MO).  The goal was to provide a loophole so that any employer that didn’t agree with birth control would not have to provide it via insurance coverage for his employees.

The amendment, which would essentially gut the birth control mandate, was rejected in a vote that was way closer than it should have been.  The entire point of the mandate was to make sure that everyone had easy access to birth control.  It doesn’t work if there are thousands of loopholes and exceptions for every jagoff that wants to substitute his own morality for that of every one of his employees. 

The accommodation that was agreed to that exempted Catholic church organizations (to have insurance companies pick up the tab) seemed to me to cover the important bases, leaving everyone with most of what they wanted.  But leave it to the Republicans to want more, especially since accepting the accommodation would leave the President with the perception of a victory.  Can’t have that in an election year now, can we?

The fact that we’re still even arguing about birth control in 2012 is very, very disappointing.  I think the Republicans are going to regret stirring up this issue, come November.  (I know I’m going to do MY part…)

…the death of Andrew Breitbart?”   Good riddance.  OK, I don’t really wish death on anyone, but I won’t spend any time mourning the passing of this shyster. 

After the hatchet job he did on former US Dept. of Agriculture employee, Shirley Sherrod, I can’t believe anyone ever took him seriously.  You remember that debacle, right?  Breitbart took a video of Sherrod making a speech and reassembled some quotes to completely misrepresent what she was talking about, then pressured the White House to have her fired, (which they did, before doing any further investigation, to my utter disappointment).  Once the full video came out, it was clear that it was nothing but a mean-spirited and intentional smear job. 

I have no use for people like that.  People say enough stupid things on their own… they needn’t be manufactured from an outside hand.

This was also the guy that sponsored that bozo that made those ridiculous ACORN and Planned Parenthood “sting” videos.  The trap there is that they blow up the one case where they talk to someone that’s not bright enough to toss them out, and bury the film of the dozens of others that were.

People like this don’t warrant public attention or respect.  He didn’t get that from me when alive and he sure as hell won’t now.

…the Pens coming to Baltimore!”  Hot damn, I was excited when I saw the headline in the paper.  My Pittsburgh Penguins coming here??

Upon closer examination, I found that my joy was premature.  It wasn’t those Pens coming here; it was these:

I’m considerably less happy now.  But I do wonder what it is that it takes to become a Nib Meister.  (See the arrow, above.)  If I were a Nib Meister, I’d always be like,

Then I smile again because “Mrs. Nibbs” is a nickname I made up for my sister, many years ago, when I thought she was liable to become “a crazy old cat-lady down the street, named Mrs. Nibbs.”  Ever since, I’ve called her most every variation of the word… Nibbs, Nibbles, Nibblet, Nibboletta, Mrs. Nibblesworth…

Wait, now where was I?  Oh yeah, the Pens… the real Pens… Last night, while on hiatus from Sitcom Kelly’s Silence of the Lambs pit, Pens defenseman Kris Letang got rocked in the chops halfway through the first period and left the game. 

He already missed 21 games this year with a concussion, so it’s not really a good time to absorb another head shot.  But I think I know how to cure him.

All the Penguins have to do is bring him back to Pittsburgh and put him out on a platform downtown.  Once word gets out to the Penguins’ lady fans, they will gather around.  I’m betting the resulting cloud of estrogen will have amazing recuperative powers and Tanger will be back on his skates in no time.

(Late Note: Letang did indeed suffer another concussion and is on his way back to Pittsburgh.  Ladies, the rest is up to you.)

…the Steelers releasing Hines Ward?”  Aw crap.  I hate this.  I understand that it’s a business, the Steelers figure to have 4 receivers that will outperform Ward on the field and you can’t just hand out roster spots out of pure sentimentality.  But damn.

I was really hoping that Hines would just walk away into the sunset and retire, but he says he feels like he still has a couple more good years in him.  I’ll hate to see him in any other uniform, that’s for sure.  Oh please, Hines, if you have to keep playing, let it be with an NFC team, so I can root for you to have a good season with a clear conscience.  I couldn’t bear to see him with someone like the Browns…  Gah!

Hines was the epitome of what it means to be a Pittsburgh Steeler.  He played hard and he hit hard.  In fact, he redefined what it means to be a blocking wide receiver.  He didn’t just block, he knocked dudes out

That explains the total animosity that other teams felt toward him.  He was lighting up their tough-guys and smiling at them afterwards.  They were embarrassed because it was they who were supposed to be racking up the receivers.  And they hated even more that when they were able to get a good shot on him, he just got up smiling, thus depriving them of their kill-shot ego boost.  So what does any ego-driven athlete do when someone gets the best of them?  They claim he cheated or took cheap shots.

Bullshit.  Hines hit him straight on, right on the button.  Just watch the video.  So what if he might not have been looking?  Makes no difference. 

The league eventually came up with what is informally known as the Hines Ward Rule, which outlaws blindside hits downfield.  Also, the receivers have to wear little bells around their necks and are required to yell, “Look out, here I come,” whenever attempting a downfield block.

Hines Ward was a warrior.  He played the game with great spirit and all heart.  He wasn’t the tallest or fastest, but he was always open and rarely dropped a ball.  I still have his jersey and I plan to have it on when he’s inducted into the Hall of Fame, whenever that may be.