An American Autumn

September 25, 2008

Welcome to the fall! Some enjoy the fall because of the weather, the atmosphere, and the seasons. Others dislike it for the fact that that means winter is fast approaching. It’s one of my favorite seasons for a variety of reasons, not the least of which it is the season I most closely associate with my birthday. Of course, fall brings with it a multitude of different experiences for different people. Such as:

The Fall Television Lineup: Each year, the televisions networks reveal their fall television lineup. Nervousness fills studio executives, producers, writers, and budding actors as viewers are now going to be the ones choosing which programs survive and which ones get cancelled after two episodes even though the television critics are required by law to change their pants on an hourly basis because it’s so ridiculously orgasmic to watch but has to be chopped off the schedule because it drew in .04% fewer viewers in the 18-34 age range than Kansas City Prostitutes Drive Big Rigs in the Arctic. So while there is plenty of hope, there’s an awful lot of disappointment, especially as one considers the fact that we live in a world where someone is contractually obligated to actually give Jay Mohr some work.

Football Season: This year is nothing like last year, when entire franchises were being rounded up and sent to Gitmo and Michael Vick was wandering the nation shooting at feral kittens with buckshot. It’s actually quite sedate this year; despite the upset of the Giants over the Patriots, New England was expected to steamroll over all the competition. However, the only drama during week one of the season—aside from whether Baltimore and Cincinnati would actually both slide into negative points—was that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was injured and will be out for the rest of the season, giving him plenty of time to fight for messiahship with Barack Obama and Steve Jobs. Aside from some incredibly arcane disputes about renegotiating the collective bargaining agreement, the entire drama manufactures for this season pretty much boils down to variations of Chad Johnson’s legal name and the concept of Jessica Simpson.

School Starts: Or, in other words, school buses suck. In some ways, the start of school is a wonderful thing. I don’t like too many things in this world, but one of the things I am terrifyingly irritated by are children of the age four through eighteen. And when they are in a building learning the cosine and making closed circuits out of a bunch of C batteries and some old crusty wires from the Nixon era, they are notably not at the mall or in front of me at the checkout counter at the local department store. So carting the kids off to school is a remarkably wonderful thing, if nothing more than the fact that since I’m forced to pay for it anyway I might as well get some peace and enjoyment out of the deal by not having to be made to feel old every time I have to go to the grocery store.

Election Time: While there is a lot of justifiably intense media focus on the presidential campaign, it’s also election time for countless local elections, as many people are fully aware of given the what seems to be approximately sixty thousand road signs you will ignore over the next two months. Everything from comptrollers to commissioners to ward council seats, everyone is trying to get a piece of the sweet participatory democracy pie. And, living in Pennsylvania, we get a super special treat of pretty much election any damn fool to any absurd position, most notably the prothonotary, a completely artificially conceived lie of a position cooked up by the Greeks or the Catholic church or somesuch and forced upon us by a progressive movement hell bent on electing everyone’s dinner every day.

A Lot More Pumpkin Crap On The Shelves At the Grocery Store: Now, don’t get me wrong, I like pumpkin stuff. I like pumpkin pies and cookies and bread and roasted pumpkin seeds and all sorts of things that make me quite capable of supply an embarrassingly large percentage of our natural gas needs. But every so many years—and this one looks likely to be one—there are multitudes of ridiculously-conceived items that are pumpkin-themed. I’ve even seen some monstrosity called pumpkin soup, something I suspect is very much so like finding something called watermelon broil or turkey cupcakes. (And please don’t write telling me that these things actually exist. I want to tread water for the remainder of my life assuming those things do not exist in a sane world.)

A Whole Mess Of Deadly Boring Movies Aimed At Scraping Up An Oscar Nomination:
Let’s face it, people are getting over the action-packed summer blockbusters, and are winding down now that the kids are on a regular schedule of not bothering me at the movie theater. The good news is that I can actually enjoy a movie without having to worry about contracting STDs from the approximately 14,000 teenaged sexual encounters that appear to occur once the lights dim down every time I venture into the theater after four in the afternoon. The bad news is that a boatload of period pieces, self-righteous historical epics, and a two-for-one sale at the Oscar Contender auction gets shoveled into the studio schedules, provided not entertainment but boredom packaged in sanctimoniousness. I don’t see why the movie industry needs to do this; the presidential campaign is fulfilling that need this year.

The Long, Winding Road to Glendale

February 2, 2008

It’s been a crazy year for the National Football League. Granted, every year has its own special sort of insanity, but this year seemed to be just short of Britney-Spears crazy. Maybe it was the history-making New England Patriots. Maybe it was the unintended aftereffects of Roger Goodell’s personal conduct policy. Maybe it was just Michele Tafoya’s dazzling, hypnotic eyes.

Anyway, the road to Glendale was bumpy indeed, unless you were Randy Moss. Then it was pretty smooth until you got within the radius of the restraining order. There are, indeed, many stories in this year’s NFL. Here are just a few.

Who Let The Dogs Out? And Let Them Fight Each Other To The Bloody Death?
Last summer, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was charged with dogfighting, which is a federal crime in those jurisdictions that have more dentists than ammo shops. Vick tried to mount a fairy solid defense, claiming that it was friends and relatives that were using his property without his knowledge for the fights. Yet everyone on the face of the earth knows exactly how the conversation went:

Agent: Okay, Mike, the new personal conduct policy is in effect, so you don’t want to do anything that would look poorly against the NFL. Watch what you do and say and, if there is one thing I can emphasize above all else, whatever you do, do not purchase a pit bull. It has connotations of urban violence and will bring unwanted attention to yourself. Do NOT get a pit bull.
Vick: No problem.

[Two hours later, at his house]

Vick: Hey, guys, check it out. I just bought a pit bull.

Cheaters Never Win. For the Most Part. The season started out normally enough, except for the fact that one of the league’s best teams got caught cheating, pretty much the pure definition of a Nixonesque activity if there ever was one. It was a fairly blatant cheating, too, with a staff member videotaping the sideline action to get information from the opposition. Presumably, this was done to unlock the secret and masterfully complex code that is the defense of the Jets. Still, in a professional sports league that prides itself as being above the board for the sake of the fans and, more importantly, the Nevada Gaming Commission, any hint of cheating is frowned upon. In this case, that particular frown was worth about $750,000 and a first round draft pick.

Fans look at the effects of this scandal in one of two ways: 1) The Patriots, aghast at being labeled cheaters about a simple misunderstanding, have something to prove and so start being the ragged piss out of every other team they come up against in the season, running up the score on purpose to shove the middle finger of spite at the other 31 teams in the league; or 2) the Patriots used the information gleaned from their first game to springboard a poisoned well of regular season victories, their perfect season a flawed product of unethically prying open the prize plum of…the crack defense of the Jets. I guess.

The Miami Dolphins Suck at 15:1 odds: Seriously, they do. I mean, every season has their dog, but this year the Dolphins just sucked in a magnitude unparalleled in modern times. Each day, the members of the Dolphins staff should thank their lucky stars for the mere existence of the occasional suck-even-worsedness of the Baltimore Ravens.

Adrian Peterson Becomes Breakout Star: Peterson was the rookie sensation, much like Reggie Bush was last year. Reggie Bush had the help of being part of the Feel-Good Story of the Year, the New Orleans Saints rising from the wet, messy ashes of Louisiana and serve as a bright and inspirational icon for all the poor and downtrodden who one day aspire to earn $300,000 as a college athlete in a bright and inspirational violation of NCAA rules. Peterson, of course, could use his nimbleness and speed on the field to run as far away from Minnesota as soon as free agency comes around.

Jessica Simpson Goes Home, Cries Softly To Herself, Still Has A Better Playoff Passer Rating Than Her Boyfriend:
Football fans are a superstitious lot, and often latch onto small, insignificant items in the daily lives of themselves and their team as portents of victory or defeat. Some people decided to hang the mantle of harbinger on one Jessica Simpson, who was the girlfriend of Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Last season, Romo became an effective quarterback throughout the season only to blow it on a botched field goal attempt, dashing any hopes of a Superbowl game. This year, of course, things were different. He blew a last-drive pass and converted a sure touchdown into a sloppy interception, thus dashing any hopes of a Superbowl game. Most fans blamed sometime actress and sometime singer Simpson as “distracting” the young quarterback, who replied, quite correctly, “Yeah? So what? Have you seen the size of those things?” To which all fans silently nodded and agreed, and Tom Brady told Gisele Bundchen not to wait up for him tonight.

The Undefeated New England Patriots Meet…the New York Giants? Sure, why not? The Giants weren’t exactly the expected victors in the NFC this year. That honor would probably go to the Dallas Cowboys or the Green Bay Packers or about ten of the other teams in the conference. Eli Manning is looking to do what his brother did last year and secure a Super Bowl ring, as well as earn the respect of his peers, not act like a hillbilly in front of the slick Arizona city folk, not star in any commercials during the coming year, and cure cancer, all of which have about an equal chance of actually occurring.