Friday, September 17, 2004

Fuck You!

The FCC is cracking down on cursing. In the wake of Janet and Justin’s wardrobe malfunction the FCC has been handing out fines and tightening their previous rulings on curse words. One recent example is the FCC’s ruling regarding Bono’s call of “Fucking brilliant!” at a recent awards show. The FCC’s position is that cursing is not only offensive in that it “invariably conjures up a graphic sexual image” but that exposing children to cursing is morally detrimental. The radio program “This American Life” recently did a story on cursing in which they interviewed a psychologist who has been studying the effects of cursing on children, and a lawyer for the FCC. The psychologist concluded that cursing on TV or radio does not have a detrimental effect on children, and that most children know and repeat curse words at a very early age (as young as two) even if they do not grasp the full meaning. During my own research into idioms and the use of figurative and idiomatic language I came across studies that showed that when people encounter figurative language they usually produce the connotative meaning first and may not ever think of the denotative meaning at all. That is, when people hear the words “kick the bucket” they rarely think of a foot striking a pail. Applied to cursing, this theory is borne out during the “This American Life” story when the interviewer asks several children of various ages what they think of when they hear the phrase “Fucking brilliant” in context. Invariably the children failed to mention sex of any kind, let alone graphic sexual imagery as the FCC suggests.

All this got me thinking about the role of cursing in my own life. The curse word and I have had a long and bountiful relationship that has evolved over time. By the time I was six years old I could curse like a long shore man. I’m fairly certain that I picked up my four-letter vocabulary from peers and family rather than the media. I think I picked up on swearing because it had such a great effect, it truly expressed how I felt as a child who was by no means as smart as I thought I was, but far smarter than I felt anyone gave me credit for. I quickly learned that I could get a stronger reaction by swearing at adults than by being “good.” Telling your second grade teacher “That makes me unhappy, I don’t think that’s fair” gets a kid fairly well ignored, after all, life isn’t fair and kids don’t get what they want etc. However, telling the same teacher that, “This is some fucking bullshit and if you don’t change it I’ll sue yer sorry ass you bitch” gets a much different reaction. And, though I still didn’t always get what I wanted, at least it opened up a dialogue.

As time went on my sense of when to swear evolved, though I still gave a good fuck about where I was when I decided to let one fly. To me it was always about emphasis, if I felt that a four-letter blast best expressed my point I let fly. It was proud day for me when my friend Ben, himself an accomplished master of the four-letter tirade, said that I uttered the best “Fuck you” he had ever heard, “Dude, when you say it, people know you really mean it.” But a funny thing happened when I got to college. I started to care. I tried not to curse in front of my grandmother, or my brother’s friends, or girls I liked. It was weird, the first time I realized I was holding back, searching for a different word.

There were a few things that went into the transformation. First, my major was populated by religious types, and despite my caring fuck all about they’re perception of God, I didn’t want to offend or alienate them. This became particularly important when I ran for a small student government post representing my major. Second, as time went on I realized the benefits of appearing educated, which often meant cutting back on the casual swearing. Conjoined with this is the fact that actually being educated often results in having people be less inclined to dismiss you out of hand. As I progressed through school I no longer had to shock people in order to open up a dialogue, all I had to do was talk.

And thus I have developed a new theory, a radical new para-dig-em: children need cursing far more than adults do. By the time we reach adulthood most of us have a myriad of ways to express ourselves. Not that we need to, or should abandon “adult” vocabulary, but the fact is that if we need to curse in order to be recognized or stand out then we have far deeper problems and should probably just be ignored. (Case in point, when the reins of TV, radio, or a script are strapped on, Jay Mohr is a funny man. Left to his own devices he loses his wit to a deluge of anal sex jokes.) But kids, kids need to curse just to avoid being ignored. This is not unlike Dogbert’s strategy of corporate yelling, if you are loud and belligerent enough people will be shocked and give you whatever you want. Don’t just be the squeaky wheel; be the wheel that says, “You better grease me or I won’t just squeak, I’ll wait ‘til yer doing 90 on the interstate, then I’ll jump off, roll away, and cause you to crash into that bus full of nuns and invalids.” I say we should teach our kids how to curse strategically in order to move ahead in the world. I know I will.

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Dot Freaking Dot

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Well, I never thought I’d have to write a lame ass “dot dot dot” column but too much has happened in the month or so since computer went down for me to cover it all. Some things are long past resolved, others I just don’t care enough about to go back and really hash them out. Anyway, here goes, in no particular order.

The NCAA vs. money-grubbing kids:

Yeah, I’m old enough now that I call people who are still in college “kids.” Here’s the deal, mike Williams declared for the draft and took money from an agent even though the NCAA and the NFL told him that if they won their appeal he would not regain his eligibility. Now everyone seems shocked that he’s not being allowed to play. Yes, he paid back the money. Yes, he disassociated himself from the agent. Yes, he went summer school so he could be academically eligible. It doesn’t matter. Now talk show hosts and columnists are bitching about how the NCAA is abusing this kid and ruining his life. Bullshit. Mike Williams still has more opportunity in his life right now than most people in the world. Boohoo, he can’t play for USC, so let’s look at what he can do…he can play in the CFL…he can play in the AL or A2…he can play for a JC…he can get a job as an analyst or sideline reporter…he can go to school and work towards his degree…he can get an agent to give him a loan, buy an Escalade and do cameos in Snoop Dogg videos…(“My name is Willie, Willie Beeeaman”). Don’t cry for Mike Williams, he’ll be fine, and next April he’ll make more money than all of us combined.

Which brings us to Jeremy Bloom. Bloom is…was…a WR for the University of Colorado. He’s also an Olympic skier. He wanted to take endorsement money to pay for his ski training, which is against NCAA rules. NCAA rules state that you can take a salary in another sport and still play football, but you cannot take endorsement money. That’s why guys like Ricky Williams and Chris Wienke could play in the minors and then come back and play football. Bloom took the money, then lost his appeal for reinstatement for football. Again, the anti-NCAA media has been crowing about how unfair that is. Again, they’re wrong. Bloom made a choice, the options were: be an Olympic skier, or be a college football player. He wanted both, he got skiing. He chose to take the money. Fuck him. Again, there is no law or amendment, commandment that says you get to have everything you want just because you’re good at stuff.

The 49ers will not be the worst team in football this year; no matter what ESPN says…TO will rip Philly up, can they even make the playoffs?…Dorsey Levens again benefits from another guy’s injury…As much as I hate to say it, Barry’s the MVP…Didn’t The Governator learn from the last time he used the “girly man” line?…How bad were the Bush twins at the RNC? The blonde one’s cute though right? Like a poor man’s Kirsten Dunst…I don’t know if he did it or not, my guess is the truth lies somewhere in between, still Kobe’s case does bring up issues about the rights of the accused…just for fun, Misty May, Amanda Bush, Kerry Walsh, and Jenny Finch…Why is it always us and South Korea having controversy in the Olympics?…I am not a rube. I have heard the church bells at Notre Dame. I have climbed the towers of the Sagrada Familia. I believe that Fenway Park is the most beautiful building I have ever seen….Fenway also has the best hot dogs, perhaps the best food, in all of baseball. My friends were shocked when I threw down three Fenway Franks in four innings…The last four sentences include the word “Fenway”…

Saturday, September 4, 2004

It's an Outrage!

Wrap your mind around this foolishness: (SR sez: Those who can, do. Those who could, but can’t anymore make lists about those who did it better than them.)

If you ever wanted proof that NFL analysts are almost all blowhards, this is it. Who the fuck cares what Sean Salsibury has to say about Jerry Rice when he ranked Rice 6th?

If Jim Brown is so great for having compiled huge numbers for so short a career, why isn't Jerry Rice acknowledged as better for having shattered all meaningful records for receiving in a career that has lasted twice as long? Why is career longevity penalized, but walking away from the game at an early age is rewarded? Why is it assumed that Brown would have automatically had better stats if he had continued his career? Let's face it, if you come down on Jim's side of the debate, you should admit to yourself that it's at least partially based on the assumption that Brown's numbers would have been even gaudier if he had a longer career. If that's possible, what's stopping me from using Ricky Williams' college career stats to claim that he was capable of a career comeback that would have catapulted him past Brown if he hadn't retired? (SR sez: Ricky could come back. Right? Please say yes.)

If Jim Brown is so great, why did Barry Sanders get only 5 points, collectively, from these knuckleheads? I'm not saying that Sanders should have been voted #1 over Brown, but if we're accepting the "what a career he could have had if he hadn't walked away" argument is fair game, why the disparity between the two? Let's see--Barry had 3,000 more career yards, was All-NFL all 10 years of his career, missed leading the league in rushing his rookie year by only 10 yards, led it two other times, and gained 2,058 yards in the 1997 season. And again, before you bring your tired generational arguments, let's remember that Barry played in the era of 350-pound defensive tackles who could run a sub-5 second 40 and bench press 450 pounds.

I'm tired of hearing arguments about older players playing in a 12-game season. As far as I'm concerned, the shortening of the average players' productive years caused by the wear and tear of four extra weeks of play, coupled with the huge gap in athleticism between the "old" game and today's, are more than enough to make up for the career difference in stats.

(SR sez: Not only that, but no one seems to factor injuries or bad teams into the equation. A lot is made of the fact that Brown never missed game. Brown played for nine years at a time when a season lasted 12 games. That’s 108 games without getting hurt. Yahoo. Rice didn’t miss a game until 1997 at a time when the season was expanded to 16 games. Rice was drafted in 1985, which means he played 209 games without missing one. Rice beat Brown in that regard by 101 games. This may seem to hurt my argument but here’s the point, Rice got hurt, twice. He missed time, it could happen to anyone at any time (ask Gayle Sayers). Brown may have come back the next year and tore an ACL, which was a career ending injury back then. If that had happened would he still be surrounded by the same aura? I doubt it. Also, what if the Browns had started to suck like the post Young pre mature-Garcia 49ers did? How many more catches would Rice have had if he didn’t go through the Garcia-learning-on-the-job years? Brown was a great player, but the fact that he quit on his own has inflated his legend. Jerry beats Brown across the board in terms of career achievement.)

Joe Theismann's ballot should have been thrown out--he didn't even vote for LT, fer chrissake. Joe--in addition to totally redefining his position and being the best ever at it, he KNOCKED YOUR ASS OUT OF THE GAME FOREVER! You don't have to like it, you pussy, but you have to respect it!

Mark Schlereth made Elway #1 and didn't include Montana! Uh--Montana led 3 different groups of men to 4 Super Bowls and won them all, taking two MVPs in the process, whereas Elway, after a career of getting close but never there, rode Terrell Davis all the way to the Big Game (and an MVP trophy that will always look to me like a sympathy vote) and got his vibrating musical lollipop and heartburn medication ad deals. (SR sez: I’m also sick of hearing about Unitas. How many titles did he win? Was he really better than Jim Otto or Sammy Baugh? Yeah? Prove it! Well he has more passing yards than yer mom too!)

That is all.