Category Archives: Sports

The Ultimate List

Funny_Fantasy-football-namesPumpkin spice surrounds us once again, and it is as inescapable as a crowded checkout line at Target. The kiddos are starting (or in the case of Florida, where IDROS lives, have already started) school. Halloween decorations, costumes and candies have flooded retail hubs across America. And so, by the transitive property, we can safely assume that FOOTBALL SEASON is upon us. And with it, Fantasy drafts have hijacked the productivity of at least 60% of society and have added stress and resentment to marriages across the land.  Polls and power rankings are honed and proliferated by pedigreed dart-throwers at major sports media outlets all over the nation.

Why? Because everyone loves lists. All things in life are better when boiled down to an ordered, unordered, random or deliberate list…especially when it’s ranked. Some of these rankings are serious, and help inform people’s choices for colleges, grad schools, private schools, mutual funds, new cars, doctors, lawyers, and a host of other products and professionals we are free to choose. Some are less serious, but nonetheless drive the music we listen to, the movies we see, the Fantasy players we draft, the “top” answers on a certain Game Show and more importantly, the relevancy regarding certain arcana such as the best songs from certain decades, the best movie roles for certain actors, the best quarterbacks of all time, etc.

IDROS enjoys a good list as much as anyone, and so what better way to “kick off” American football season (see what I did there?) than to proffer a very special list…the ultimate list.

Behold, the IDROS ULTIMATE LIST OF LISTS (top 25 answers on the board…revealed in descending order for the reader’s pleasure). As always, if you have any suggestions or additions, feel free to contribute in the comments:

25) To Do

24) Do Not Call

23) Endangered Species

22) Reading

21) Play

20) Wait

19) Christmas (Holiday)

18) Check

17) No Fly

16) Hit

15) Wish

14) Guest

13) Mailing/Contact

12) Most Wanted

11) Punch

10) A

9) Hurricane (Apocalypse) Prep

8) Shopping/Grocery

7) B

6) Sh*t

5) Wine

4) Bucket

3) Set

2) My (…of the best things in life…yes, the one your kiss is on)

1) Franz

Others receiving votes: Top 10, Phone/Contact, C, Short, Packing, Watch, Price, Honey-Do, Luke, Ingredients, UVA, Inventory, Results, Santa’s, D, Answer, Florida State, Drink, Song, Signature, Donor, Passenger, Thank You, Call/Emergency Call

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Escaping the Frustration of the upcoming Election With…More Frustration, From the NFL of All Places

So who’s frustrated?

America is suffering right now in more ways than anyone cares to admit. Unemployment is rampant, the housing market hasn’t rebounded in a meaningful way, it has been reported that nearly two thirds of mortgages are upside down, our national debt is skyrocketing out of control, entitlement programs are verging on bankruptcy, mass murders and hostage crises dominate our news every other day, we still live in a country where every citizen does not share the same rights as their fellow Americans, our young brothers and sisters are forced to continue to fight wars (by their hawkish politicians who somehow are not mandated to sacrifice their own progeny in these never-ending, meaningless and frustratingly ill-conceived bloodbaths) in remote corners of the globe with disturbing accounts of lost American lives seemingly every day, and perhaps most telling, some pudgy redneck child named Honey Boo Boo and her troglodyte mother have a frighteningly large following (and the phenomenon that is her rise to “fame” has surprisingly made its way to people like me, and I can tell you I am shaking my head this very second as I type this).

You would think that the fact this is an election year would be good news for millions of frustrated and struggling Americans. At last, the greatest benefit of living in a democratic society is within reach, appearing almost from nowhere, like a posh oasis in the middle of the scariest desert imaginable. Yay. We can vote out the scourge that got us into this mess, OR…Alright! We can keep this regime, which has nobly tried to help a horrible situation in the face of an unimaginably horrific starting point and starkly uncooperative opposition across the aisle.  Either way, unfortunately, our recourse at the polls in five weeks will inevitably reveal that oasis to be a mirage.

Why? Because the ridiculous emergence of a dominant farcical two-party system relegates every American to literally elect the worst party-influenced caricature imaginable into office every two, four and six years. I am not sure why we only ever have two realistic choices in any political race, and also why those two candidates have to represent both the best AND worst of their respective parties (I would rather cast my vote for an actual elephant or donkey than the human candidates). It ensures every voter has to make some awful choices come election time, basically subrogating rationality in order to choose what they hope will be “the lesser of two evils.” At least that’s how I envision educated people pulling their respective levers. And don’t get me started on the millions of…let’s just say educationally challenged…people.

Why can’t I walk into a voting booth and attempt to elect a candidate who is liberal socially but somewhat conservative fiscally? Why can’t I manage to find a candidate that has a non-hawkish outlook on foreign policy, and who guarantees good relations with Israel, America’s only true ally in the Middle East? Why can’t I ever find a candidate who swears to end America’s dependence on oil and fossil fuels…and MEANS IT?

The real issue boils down to money, as usual. And that is the essence of what really grinds my gears. Our political system has been hijacked by the highest bidders, and what’s worse, those bidders aren’t even allowed to vote. Why not? Because they are corporations, not people. And all of us (or at least the overwhelming majority), the voting public, suffer as a result. Perhaps worst of all is the brash manner in which billions of dollars are flushed down the toilet, mocking all of us – particularly those in need – as ridiculous party venom is spewed all over our homes and neighborhoods through every media outlet imaginable.

The democratic system, designed to help the common man shape (or at least have a say in) the world around him or her, has become a game dominated by mercenaries, where policy and policy makers are sold to the highest bidder(s), leaving all of us worse off.

We have no recourse as voters. And the politicians and the two parties know this. So they play the game that has emerged, benefitting from it however they can no matter what the consequences are for their constituents, as only opportunist politicians can. They all have us by the short hairs. But like lemmings, we all continue the charade that we actually have power, that we still live in a democratic society and that we can affect change through the polls. The thing is, until campaign finance reform is amended and until the two nausea-inducing parties are eliminated from a position of influence, we will all suffer increased polarization of our populace and leaders as well as the whims and fiscal agendas of the most powerful companies in the world.

Despite a crippled economy and growing political unrest, however, if you ask most men (and to be fair, some women too) in America right now what their biggest gripe is, and their answer might just surprise you – though after last night’s debacle, all bets are off. Unfortunately, I am referring to the current NFL lockout of its referees.  The mega-billion dollar monopolistic behemoth that is the National Football League, or “the shield” as it is referred to by its most loving fans, is playing hard ball right now with its crew of 120 well-trained officials over pension funds, back-up officials and a few other negotiable points, and insodoing, is jeopardizing the health and safety of its players as well as the integrity of the game that has become the de facto American pastime, with all due respect to baseball.

As frustrating as this is for fans, both die-hard and casual, to stomach, there is virtually nothing any of us can do about it. And the owners and commissioner of the league know this. They have us by the proverbial short hairs: television ratings are as strong as ever as is attendance at most stadia. And that despite the folly that unfolds on most fields with what amounts to replacement officials seemingly qualified for nothing more than middle school or peewee league football. Some of these replacements have been caught with Facebook pictures openly showcasing their NFL team allegiance, and at least one scab official was reported by an NFL player to have approached said player pleading for a good performance to “aid his fantasy team.” I couldn’t make this stuff up. Nobody could. Well maybe Orwell, but nobody else.

Our only recourse is to not watch and not go to games. But we love our football so much that this really isn’t an option, right? NFL brass knows this. And we all suffer. Hmmm. Sound familiar? Well it should. This exact scenario is playing out concurrently in our nation’s toxic political atmosphere.

Oh well. At least we live in America, right? Greatest nation on the planet…in many ways, I suppose. I am too young to be so frustrated. So I won’t be.

Plus, I (and most of you…actually, all of you. Who am I kidding?) don’t live in Green Bay. You know what goes really well with that sour taste you have in your mouth? Cheese. So at least you have that going for you.

Happy New Year everyone.



Filed under Current Events, Politics, Sports

A Few Final Thoughts on the Penn State Fiasco…

For my more thorough analysis, please refer to my post “Eight Year Olds, Dude,” which I wrote when the story first broke (albeit 13 years too late) back in November, 2011.

But with Joe Pa’s statue being removed and the NCAA penalties handed down today, I would be remiss if I didn’t add a few important notes, thoughts and relevant links after having time to reflect, vomit a few times, shake my head enough that I may have damaged a few vertebrae, digest Lucifer Satandusky’s trial and its analysis, digest the Freeh report and its analysis and fallout, vomit a few more times, nod my head with disdain and disgust because I knew back in November that evidence of a massive cover up was all but certainly forthcoming, and control my anger at the rhetoric of Joe Pa’s family members (who may be the only people on earth who are entitled to defend the man on any grounds, but still, in my opinion, have gone too far in confusing/confounding the issues with the facts)… and I continue to shake my head in utter disbelief as I type this….

1)      Joe Pa’s statue should have remained standing…not only for his achievements as a coach on the field and in the Penn State community, but more as a constant reminder of how he failed…failed his recruits, his fellow coaches, his beloved University, the NCAA and the entire sporting world, but most of all, how he failed those kids abused by Satandusky…all of them, those who had the courage to come forward and the countless others (and I am certain there are countless others) who have either not yet mustered that courage, never will, or are no longer around to be counted.

One huge caveat: The statue should be turned around to face the wall behind it, because as great as Joe Pa was as a football coach, he was clearly even better at LOOKING THE OTHER WAY!

2)      I am not entirely sure all of the players in this cover up have been identified at this point. In fact, I am fairly certain there are others, even if they aren’t ever identified or indicted for their involvement. For starters, please do yourselves a favor and read this well-written piece that questions the participation of Pennsylvania’s current Governor, Tom Corbett. Though his side of the story deserves to be told before eviscerating him, I am sure there are myriad State, County and City officials that played a role in the cover up, even if their action (or inaction) was just looking the other way, not following up on a lead or warning or failing to act in a noble way at some point when they otherwise might have.

There are also potential complicit parties throughout college football. Remember, Satandusky was widely regarded as one of if not the top defensive mind in all of college football, and the heir apparent to Joe Pa. So when Satandusky left PSU in 1999 to “spend more time with his charity, The Second Mile,” in the prime of a head coach’s career (55 years old is about the average age of all head coaches in football)…one serious question to ponder is why he wasn’t seriously pursued by other college programs. My bet is he was, and that somewhere along their vetting process, they caught wind of Satandusky’s proclivities and potential legal problems. So the large, unanswered questions are: which other college ADs knew, when did they know and why didn’t THEY follow up with this in any way?

3)      The punishment handed down today by Mark Emmert and the NCAA was swift and fair. Sure, it may have been based solely on the Freeh report and Satandusky verdict, without fully vetting the back-story and true extent of criminal activity, but at this point, it is clear there was an egregious and soulless series of crimes committed, and an even more egregious and soulless cover up that made it all the way up the PSU hierarchy to the highest levels. No matter how this all shakes out in the end, there was basis for levying the most severe punitive repercussions ever to PSU and their football program, and there was also an opportunity to preemptively warn all other schools and athletic programs overseen by the NCAA that institutional corruption of any kind will not be tolerated and will be dealt with swiftly, severely and to the fullest extent of the powers entrusted to the NCAA. Cannon fire was blasted across the bows of all collegiate athletic programs today, and was done so appropriately, before the start of the 20012-13 athletic season, allowing innocent members of the PSU team to leave if they desire and ample time to land on their feet elsewhere.

Oh, and to all of those who believe the NCAA has no jurisdiction here, that PSU’s transgressions did not give the school or team a competitive advantage…I say in my best Jimmy Fallon/Amy Poehler voice, “REALLY?!?!” The cover up was orchestrated for one reason…so BIG FOOTBALL could continue unfettered in Happy Valley and the money machine could keep churning…which in turn, served to give PSU the greatest competitive advantage ever…had this story broke in 1998 or in 2001 without any cover up, the school would probably not have been given the de facto “Death Penalty,” or worse, as they were today. But they would certainly have suffered in reputation, lost recruits, and by being sued by the families of those victims, albeit fewer of them, who came forward at that time. I cannot calculate how much all of that would have diminished the strength of the football program or for how many years, but I can guarantee it would have…I can also guarantee Joe Pa would have had to retire earlier than he did, and that the program would have gone through a rebuilding era from the top down. So to argue no competitive advantage was gained by covering up the Satandusky affair and thus the NCAA had no jurisdiction to penalize PSU is akin to arguing that Tito was the most talented Jackson, or that the Godfather Part III was the best in the series.

4)      To all those who think the penalties were too harsh, particularly for the athletes who had nothing to do with this scandal: Football players had a choice to go to PSU over other schools, and due to the early ruling as well as unprecedented loophole allowing all players to transfer this year with no time lost AND any school who claims a PSU player to add a roster spot and scholarship beyond the NCAA cap to do so…they will all have a choice to leave if they so desire.


5)      There is a serious problem in our society today stemming from the stigma associated with certain crimes, most notably sexual abuse. Victims often remain silent from shame and personal guilt, allowing perpetrators free reign to victimize others. Furthermore, as evidenced by McQueary’s and the janitors’ cowardly reactions to what they witnessed, even those peripheral to the crimes, who weren’t victims themselves, are often so disgusted, shocked and confused by what they see that they fail to act in a way others would hope they should. Case in point: If a man sees another man kick or punch a child, I am certain that man would intervene. And if the aggressor was much larger than the witness, I am certain the witness would call the authorities and MAKE SURE the perpetrator was brought to justice and the child was out of harm’s way. But in the case of sexual abuse, more often than not, witnesses fail to act as they would for violent acts.  Sure, perhaps McQueary’s reaction (telling Joe Pa and his father) would have succeeded if it weren’t for the larger efforts to cover up Satandusky’s acts by McQueary’s boss and PSU’s “leadership.” But in the moment, when McQueary actually witnessed the abuse, I am almost certain his reaction would have been different had he seen Satandusky beating the child and not raping the child.

6)      It has been said that “the cover up is always worse than the crime.” In this case, I am not sure that is 100% true, but it is pretty friggin’ close. And the fact that the cover up allowed further abuse to occur…the innocence of additional children to be stripped from them…may just pull this cover up even with, in my opinion, the worst atrocity that can be committed by one human being against another in the annals of all sins, from envy all the way down to murder.

7)      No matter how awful things are at Penn State right now, and how horribly their football team and other athletic programs are affected as a result of these near crippling penalties; and no matter how much worse it gets when the civil cases begin and the Brinks trucks are backed into the driveways of all of the plaintiffs’ homes, THE VICTIMS ARE AND ALWAYS SHOULD BE OUR NUMBER ONE CONCERN…please, never lose sight of that fact.





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Karma’s a B for TT (You Can’t Drink That Bitches Bru Without A Cup)

Karma’s a B for TT (You Can’t Drink That Bitches Bru Without A Cup).

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Karma’s a B for TT (You Can’t Drink That Bitches Bru Without A Cup)


It seems like only yesterday that 2011 NHL playoff MVP and “noted” Republican Tim Thomas declined an invitation to visit the world’s most famous black man in his house in our nation’s capital where he was to be congratulated for winning the most coveted trophy in sports…on the grounds that Thomas “believes the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People

It was, in fact, yesterday that a relatively unknown black man who resides in our nation’s capital made the most of his invitation into Thomas’ house in Boston, and ensured that Mr. Holier Than Thou “Free Citizen” would not continue to drink from Lord Stanley’s sterling silver chalice for another year…on the grounds that TT’s ego has grown out of control, threatening his ability to limit rebounds and game winning goals by third string forwards on eighth-seeded teams, despite being the goalie of the defending champions, and the reigning winner of both the Vezina (league’s best goaltender) and Conn Smythe (MVP of the playoffs) Trophies.  

Oh, and P.S. – Way to keep it classy Boston – a barrage of racist comments, both verbal and written posts to social media sites followed last night’s spectacle

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Onions! And Other Musings on the Madness of March…

Most of us who work in an office love this time of year. Even if we didn’t attend a college with a competing interest in the NCAA tournament, we all have a favorite or two. And gambling makes sure this is true. Hard core fans (read: gamblers) suddenly come down with some rare strain of influenza or Montezuma’s revenge or laryngitis that renders them incapable of making it into the office for the first Thursday and Friday of the big dance, and they sit on their couches or head out to the local sports bar and medicate their “ailments” with beer and chips and wings as they devour twelve hours of hoops each day in absolute heaven.

OR, for those less fortunate (read: those who have too much responsibility to bail on work, those who frivolously used up their personal/vacation days in the first two months of the year, or those who fear getting fired in such a bad economy), millions of other fans of college hoops sit in their cubicles or offices, glued to their computer screens, toggling between their work and every sporting website their office firewall allows them to open, following the action as best they can, counting down the hours till five, when they too can join the throngs in front of the boob tube.

That time of year has arrived when productivity hits a wall, where focus is completely lost and a lack of effort likely erases whatever progress or momentum had been achieved in January and February. Even the most anti-sports and/or unknowledgeable or ambivalent about anything sports related has a fighting chance, or more accurately, is among the favorites to win their respective office pools. They pick based on uniform colors or school mascots, or let their six year old children fill out their brackets…and invariably, much to the testosterone-fueled sports nuts’ chagrin in every office across the USA, they win the pool. (Read this recent article about How to Intelligently Talk About March Madness – Even If You Sort of Don’t Care)

I remember during my time in a past life, working in a Wall Street office that loved to gamble on anything and everything. We had a pool for every sporting event, including golf. We had pools for office eating contests, including one horrific Friday where the brass bought like a thousand White Castle sliders and the winner of the bacchanalia (whoever ate the most) took half of the pot…the other half went to those who bet on the correct “victor.” We even had pools within pools, or allegorical pools as I fondly recall christening them.

One day, one of the elevators in our building got stuck during lunch time. Two of our staff were on board during the mishap. This was before cell phones, mind you. We got a call from the lobby that an elevator lost power between the 15th and 16th floors, and that they believed two of our employees were among the stranded (they got a call from the elevator phone relaying the info). Anyway, of course this bit of bad luck for the two on the elevator quickly morphed into opportunity for the rest of us. We started a pool for picking the precise time the elevator would be fixed and our colleagues would make it back into the office…Price Is Right rules, closest to the time either of our men stepped into the office without going over would win the pot. I did not win. They finally emerged, together, three hours and 23 minutes later, at 3:36pm. I had wagered on 2:50. Oh well.

(This article highlights some other humorous office pools some have participated in over the years)

But I digress. I love March Madness. It’s a great sporting event that truly mimics the entropy of real life. Anything can and does happen. Every year, millions root for one of many underdogs, and we all get rewarded. And every year we get amazing match ups with heart-stopping finishes. And we get to gamble…and lose…to a person we know in our office that has no business winning.

So, in honor of March Madness, please find my unofficial list of all things that evoke images of Madness from the annals (two “n”s for the sick-minded) of pop culture, sports, politics and general trivia. I wanted to make a bracket so you all could pick match ups and crown an eventual winner, but alas, I am a simple blogger with very little technical know-how. So I give you a list, ranked from least madness inspiring to most. Feel free to make your own brackets. Or print it out and use it as kindling. Or completely ignore it. As usual, the order of our entries is debatable, and I welcome friendly discourse:

26) Mad Cow Disease – A horrifying scourge worthy of the most pessimistic writers of Hollywood and fiction novels alike, it gave us quite a scare back in 2001 and still lurks in the darkest corners of civilization as some of the best fodder for the anti-carnivorous set and even companies like Chick-Fil-A.  So awful, in fact, that it couldn’t make the top 25 of this list;

25) Mad Dog – that awful vomit-inducing budget pseudo liquor some of us were unfortunately introduced to in our college days, and a staple of many a homeless drunk;

24) Reefer Madness – 1936 film which dramatized the evils of Mary Jane. But what about the evils of this film, or those hypocritical politicians who continue to hide behind the Constitution when it comes to guns, but fail to recognize that our forefathers, the same brilliant men who wrote and fought for that very document, also grew and smoked chronic themselves?

23) This blog article called Lent Madness from 2010 (you need to scroll down a little);

22) Or this one about My Little Pony Madness  – actually, some of the inventions captured here are pretty cool;

21) It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World – 1963 star-studded comedy not unlike the Cannonball Run/Gumball Rally movies about a race for a large sum of money – in this case, stolen money.  It features Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, Buster Keaton, Peter Falk, Jimmy Durante, and many more;

20) Space Madness;

19) Mad Love – 1995 film starring Chris O’Donnell (fresh off his Scent of a Woman acclaim) and Drew Barrymore. Not a bad account of mental illness wrapped up in a love story if you are into that sort of thing.

18) Mad Dog and Glory – 1993 film starring Bill Murray, Robert DeNiro and Uma Thurman. Underrated, in my opinion, but still, not in the respective top five films of any of the principles.

17) Mad Money, now in its eighth season, is a finance television program featuring the frenetic histrionics of Jim Cramer. I am not a big fan, but realize some of you might be and thus this ranking is up for debate;

16) Madmortigan – Val Kilmer’s warrior in the notable George Lucas semi-flop Willow. Love hearing the eponymous dwarf’s genuine awestruck giddiness as he says, “Madmortigan, you are great!”

15) Mad About You – One of very few successful tunes a drugged out Belinda Carlisle was able to muster without her other Go-Go girls (from her first solo album, Belinda, released in 1986, and topping out at #3 on the Billboard charts).

Also, a moderately successful if over-hyped sit-com featuring Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt. I prefer Carlisle’s tune to this schlock, but judging from its 7-year run during NBC’s glory years, millions would probably disagree.

Finally, Mad About You is a lesser known track off of Sting’s album, The Soul Cages;

14) This blog entry on top movie descents into madness, even though it fails to mention Apocalypse Now, Barton Fink and Falling Down….so wrong. It’s a good list, but greatness eludes it for what it fails to recognize. Omitting those three films on a list of descents into madness is the very definition of madness;

13) Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters – Elton John song from 1972 Honky Chateau, in which Bernie Taupin lyrically recalls his first visit to New York City, during which he hears a gun go off near his hotel window, and responds to a Ben E. King song called “Spanish Harlem” with a negative bent;

12) The oddity that is the Mad Martian Museum of Modern Madness;

11) Madness, the 1980s British band that brought us “Our House” (and fittingly, also had an album named Mad Not Mad);

10) This collection of journal entries, “March Mad-NESS,” from Funny or Die;

9) The Madness of King George, another of 1994’s incredibly rich stable of films, starring Nigel Hawthorne and Helen Mirren, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. The film also won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay;

8) M.A.D.D. – Big ups for mothers who care. Hard not to side with moms on this one. As a one-time member of S.A.D.D. myself, I debated putting this one higher on this list. So yes, this was a hard-eight;

7) Mad Max – Mel Gibson is a douche. But in 1979 we didn’t know that. So if you can take yourself back to that simpler time, pre-anti-Semitic meltdown, and marvel at the genius of the character, you have to admit Mad Max was a post-apocalyptic bad-ass;

6) Mad World – Perhaps my favorite Tears for Fears song, chillingly remade by Gary Jules for the movie Donny Darko, and also covered most recently by surprise phenomenon Susan Boyle;

5) Mad Dogs and Englishmen – Joe Cocker’s 1970 live album of mostly cover songs, including The Rolling Stones (Honky Tonk Women), Traffic (Feelin’ Alright), The Beatles (She Came in Through the Bathroom Window), Leonard Cohen, Isaac Hayes and Otis Redding;

4) Mad scientists: Portrayed in hundreds of books, movies and television shows, from Dr. Frankenstein to Dr. Jekyll to Dr. Moreau to Jeff Goldblum’s Brundle in The Fly (check out this link…and this one);

3) Mad Men;

2) The Mad Hatter – One of Lewis Carroll’s most frighteningly awesome characters, Carroll never actually dubs The Hatter with the crazy modifier. Rather, both the Hatter and March Hare are referred to as “both mad” by the Cheshire Cat. Both characters first appear in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, in the seventh chapter titled “A Mad Tea Party.” The phrase “mad as a hatter” pre-dates Carroll’s works; and,

1) MAD Magazine – Always a reminder of my care-free youth, this ad-free humor mag featuring Alfred E. Newman, Spy vs. Spy, celebrity lampooning at its infantile best AND…my first foray into centerfolds, takes me back to days at summer camp, when a care package filled with candy and a few issues of MAD proved just how lucky I was to have the best parents ever.

See you in April,



Filed under Entertainment, Humor, Movies, Music, Sports

Eight Year Olds Dude

That classic quote from the character that spawned my blog’s name is one of many lines of dialogue and images born in the hilarious and off-center minds of the Coen Brothers for their opus, The Big Lebowski. Somehow, they even found a way to make pedophilia and perversion funny by creating and perfectly humanizing a grotesque, slimy, purple jumpsuit and hair-net wearing caricature named Jesus Quintana. And we all know now that “nobody fucks with the Jesus.”

But let me be clear: John Turturro’s Oscar-worthy performance notwithstanding, THERE IS NOTHING FUNNY ABOUT PEDOPHILIA, CHILD MOLESTATION AND CHILD ABUSE. EVER.

I feel a great number of awful adjectives today, and have ever since this story broke over the weekend. I am disgusted, disheartened, disappointed, frustrated, bewildered, angry and sad. But mostly I am sick. Fall to my knees, grab the sides of the bowl and turn my insides out sick about this whole tragedy currently gripping “Happy Valley,” and shocking the world around it.

I am not entirely sure where or how to begin, but for crying out loud, I know all of this should begin with the victims, however many there were, of this horrific and despicable crime and subsequent cover-up (and/or at the very least, lack of action and responsibility that allowed such heinous crimes to continue for nearly a decade and to affect and ruin the lives of countless other precious and innocent children and their families).

Imagine if you will the most shame and embarrassment you have ever felt (in a singular moment or for an extended period of time) in your entire life. Then do the same for the most frightened or fearful you have ever been. Then take those feelings and multiply their intensity by ten, or a hundred, or a million. Still, you have likely fallen short of the mark. I am not sure, if you have never been physically assaulted, violated nor had your innocence stolen from you at an early age (or any age, frankly), that you could possibly understand the intense shame, fear and self-loathing you would feel in the aftermath of such a traumatic event.

For some, that feeling might be able to be quashed, or at least tempered, gradually, with good therapy, loving friends and family, a strong foundation and sense of self and most importantly, with the passing of time. Those are the “lucky” few. For most, the nightmares will never ever end. The self-hatred, shame, fear and general depression will remain through the years, possibly even intensify, and certainly negatively affect their lives in every way imaginable, from performance in school and later work, to relationships with friends, family, boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses and possibly even their own progeny. Sexual abuse and trauma often creates or intensifies a number of mental health issues, including but not limited to depression, aggression, OCD, problems with authority, control issues (including eating, cutting and behavioral disorders), and certainly suicidal and even homicidal thoughts and tendencies.

Not only do we not know how many other young lives were affected and derailed by the perpetrator of these crimes (Mr. Sandusky), both before and after he was witnessed in the shower with a ten year old, but unfortunately we never will. Because one thing is for certain in situations such as this: For every brave child who comes forward, there are two, or three, or four or twenty, who can never muster the strength to do so. Furthermore, and this may be difficult to even process, but there may unfortunately be a few people who were abused and who are no longer with us today to come forward at all. These may have been the weakest of those victimized, and subsequently could not continue to live with the shame, guilt and fear. Their parents, god help them, probably wondered what could possibly have driven their precious children to such a horrible and “selfish” demise, not even realizing that a scenario as awful as this scandal may have stacked the deck unfairly against their children living a normal life, or living a life at all.  But also consider that Sandusky was 58 when he was “caught in the act” nine years ago. Predators of this nature rarely begin these deviant behaviors so late in life. It is certainly possible, and in fact, probable, that Sandusky was committing similar treacherous acts for decades prior to being seen in the showers in 2002. So it stands to reason that there may have been victims of his perversity who would be in their 50s today, or at least close to 50. Some of them, unfortunately, who lived with that kind of pain, shame and fear for so long, may simply have passed on rather “naturally” by now as well.

I realize that is awful to read about or even think about, but to me, the victims, all of them, at any age, whether dead or alive, must be remembered here and more to the point, measures need to be put into place to prevent similar predators from hurting more innocent children in the future. This is true in Athletic departments from little leagues all the way up through the NCAA system. It is also true in our religious organizations, our public and private schools, summer camps, scout troops and any other institution or organization where adults have unlimited and unsupervised access to children.

Casting blame here seems premature. There are an overwhelming number of people who deserve some serious blame and who have a great deal of explaining to do over the next few weeks. But there are a few things that cannot be said enough, and a few people involved, that really have no shot at coming up with an explanation that will satisfactorily remove any guilt from their defense nor blood from their hands.

We (and by we I mean society) must be careful in child abuse cases not to quickly come to judgment in favor of the children because lives can be ruined forever in the other direction by falsely accusing someone of such heinous crimes when in fact they were innocent. There have been cases of authoritative figures being unjustly accused simply because their students or parishioners or campers, et al, didn’t like them. There have also been plays and movies and books written on the subject: think Doubt. So there are dangerous and slippery slopes in both directions that must be navigated in these awful situations.

But this case is clearly not one of those “we can’t be sure if the allegations are true so we need to take our time” scenarios. An adult witnessed the accused of raping a minor in a shower. Furthermore, at least nine people, most of whom did not know one another at all, have come forward with additional accusations. I have no idea how or why charges were not brought against Sandusky nine years ago, and why he has not seen the inside of a jail cell yet to date. Something is clearly wrong with not only the people associated with the Penn State Football Program and University, but also with the process in general to bring child molesters to justice in the first place. Our children are not even safe once an offender is caught red handed, because of a number of factors, but the slow pace of our justice system certainly is among them.

Now let’s talk about Mike McQueary. Again, I do not want to rush to judgment until I have all of the facts. But from the facts that have leaked out thus far, it seems to me that we have a young man (28 at the time) who stumbled across a horrifying and gruesome scene in 2002, when he witnessed Sandusky anally violating a ten year old boy in a shower. There are very few of us who can honestly say for certain what we would do if we were ever in a similar circumstance. Sure, we would all like to believe we would act the hero, run into the showers and forcibly remove the perpetrator from the child, punch him out and say something macho like, “if I ever see you around here again, or even catch wind of you touching another child so help me god, I will kill you.”

The morally correct thing to do is to make sure of the safety of the child you witness being abused, whether by force or by vocally yelling for the criminal to leave. Then, any sensible and reasonable code of ethics mandates even further action, which is to do all you can to prevent such abuse of minors to take place ever again. That is to say, one should notify the police of what was just witnessed, and together with the victim you just rescued, a case should be made to ensure Sandusky or his likeness spends the remainder of his (or her) life behind bars.

It is not easy to do the right thing. That is why society respects heroes and do-gooders of all walks of life, and even celebrates them. Captain Sully, who despite all odds landed that plane in the Hudson and saved the lives of all of his passengers; those brave souls on United Flight 93, who prevented additional terrorist acts and saved the lives of countless people in Washington DC on 911; the first responders in New Orleans following Katrina, or in Haiti after the earthquake, or Indonesia after the tsunami; Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman and countless others in the fight for civil rights; Oscar Schindler and myriad others who defied the Nazis (and other tyrannical leaders) to help those being terrorized and systematically killed; the students in Tiananmen Square who stoically stood before the oncoming tanks; and all of the fire and policemen who courageously charged into the towers of the World Trade Center on 911; and too many others to mention, but all of whom deserve high praise and gratitude.

Ironically, hero-worship and near deification is why Joe Pa, of all people, was so revered – it wasn’t just his 409 wins on the field, but rather everything he did and represented off the field that made the man such a legend in the once happy valley that is State College, PA, as well as all over the rest of our nation. I will come back to this point later.

Right now, I am focused on McQueary, who had a chance to be a hero and failed. Not all of us are cut out to be heroes. Most of us aren’t wired for it. It is impossible to say what we would do in situations like that McQueary found himself in nine years ago. And it is also impossible to say what the same man may have done in a totally different make or break scenario under different circumstances. Actions (or non-actions) make the man, so they say. None of us can choose the situations that may befall us in life, but all of us control how we react to them, and it is in those reactions that our true character shines through.

I can’t help but be reminded of the grim basement scene in Tarantino’s opus, Pulp Fiction, when Marsellus Wallace is being sodomized by Zed and Maynard while Butch is in the room next door, frantically trying to escape the ropes they had tied him up with and listening to the barbarism taking place through the wall. When Butch finally frees himself and gets away from the gimp, he charges upstairs and is seemingly liberated from the nightmare he had been part of. He was on his way out to rendezvous with his girlfriend and live the rest of his life in total happiness with the money he had scammed from Marsellus Wallace when his conscience grabs hold of him. He grabs a samurai sword off the wall and coaxes himself back downstairs into the horrifying basement rape scene that was still underway. Butch sliced and stabbed Maynard with the sword and eyed Zed, forcing him, at sword point, off of the large black man who had been Butch’s sworn enemy just minutes earlier. Then Butch teases Zed, almost begging him to make a move for the shotgun that leaned against the table beside them.

“Step aside Butch,” said Marsellus.

Marsellus blows a whole in Zed’s abdomen as Butch moves away.

After a long pause, Butch finally asks, “You okay?”

To which Marsellus replies, “Naw man. I’m pretty fuckin’ far from okay.”

And in that scene, Quentin Tarantino basically encapsulated our collective problem with Mike McQueary, by showing the exact opposite reaction to a similar scenario. Making matters worse, Butch hated Marsellus Wallace, and minutes earlier was trying to kill the man. But seeing and hearing these two perverts rape the man, Butch simply had to do the right thing, even for his sworn enemy, and so he reentered the house of horrors and freed Marsellus from his assailants.

When asked if he was okay, Marsellus’ brutally honest response seemed oddly tame, but we all knew exactly what he meant. And he was a 40 year old 250 pound crime boss who looked like he would win a fight with an entire football team. Imagine what a ten year old boy must feel like in a similar situation. And that is why we all demand more from McQueary here. I am not sure exactly what he did or said in the moment, but it obviously wasn’t correct or enough. Maybe he thought going to his boss and father with his troubling eyewitness account was enough. And maybe he was then misled by those who outranked him on the food chain to speak no further of the incident, and that it would be handled by others from here on in…either way, McQueary has some serious explaining to do and clearly dropped the ball, but perhaps other than his missed opportunity to do the right thing in the moment, we will come to see that while Mike was wrong, others may have prevented him ultimately from doing the right thing later, to protect themselves, their jobs, their program and their once esteemed University…we shall see.

Which brings us back to Joe Pa. And I will once again hold full judgment until I hear the entire explanation and course of action taken in 2002 following the incident as well as for all of the years since that date. But from everything I have read and heard so far Paterno really dropped the ball. He seemingly took the account of Sandusky to his “boss,” the AD, and left it at that. I have the following thoughts:

A)     Joe Pa has no boss at Penn State…he was the boss and final authority on everything in State College, PA, and not just for things concerning football…everything.

B)      I cannot say this for sure as I do not have all of the facts, but it does not sound like Joe Pa followed up with his AD or any other higher up at PSU after delivering his account to his AD in 2002.

C)      Based on his ridiculous message to those camped out on his lawn last night, where he referred to the victims as “victims or whatever they are” and then added this gem: “I think we ought to say a prayer for them because you know … tough life when people do certain things to you.” Tough life? That doesn’t even scratch the surface. And then he had the unmitigated temerity to start a pep rally chant. Seriously? How out of touch can a man get. Sure he is 84 years old, but he is ostensibly running a major college football program, right?

D)     I grew up a big-time Nittany Lions fan. My mother and many other family members and close friends went to PSU. I loved Joe Pa just like so many others out there. He was seemingly incredible on so many levels: a great coach, a great mentor, ran a clean program in an increasingly difficult environment to do so, placed education above all else, did so much for his community and those less fortunate. He is and has been a great man, and though a single moment or event can often define a man, I will do all I can to remember Joe Pa for the vast good he has done over a six decade career.

E)      But I cannot and will not ever forgive Joe Pa for this if it is confirmed that he found out anything untoward went on with Sandusky and a minor (graphic account or not) and all he did in the aftermath was deliver the news to his emasculated and un-empowered AD. Frankly, even if he did a little more than that (like maybe had a conversation with Sandusky, and even told him not to come around campus anymore, particularly with any children…which by the way, sickens me even more if Joe Pa knew enough to say something like that, which would mean he tacitly permitted such deviant behavior off campus). Joe Pa was deified on that campus and in that whole region of Pennsylvania. He was the law, the moral fiber and the pulse of that University. All eyes and ears were on him. For him to pass the buck, turn a blind eye and refuse to follow up to ensure appropriate action was taken in a situation like this with little children’s lives hanging in the balance is reprehensible, and frankly, almost as vile as the acts themselves. As a molder and shaper of young men, he had a moral and general responsibility to always do the right thing when it came to children, whether on his team or not.

F)      I can’t help but remember yet another classic movie relating to this ordeal, particularly the Joe Pa/Curley-Sandusky-McQueary dynamic which evokes the Jessup-Kendrick-Dawson/Downey hierarchy in A Few Good Men. (Again, I don’t yet know what, if anything Joe Pa said to Sandusky or McQueary following the incident in 2002, or whether he and/or Curley ordered McQueary to remain silent). But anyway, at the end of the movie, when Jessep is found guilty, young and naïve PFC Louden Downey asks why he and Dawson are being discharged when Jessep admitted to ordering the code red. Dawson’s response is chillingly fitting here: “We did nothing wrong,” said Downey. “Yeah, we did. We’re supposed to fight for people who can’t fight for themselves. We’re supposed to fight for Willy.” I hope I don’t need to draw the parallel here for you.

G)     And that about sums it up in my mind.

My final thoughts center around this “scandal” as a far more profound, but generally similar statement on the current state of collegiate athletics in our country. While the rape and subsequent cover up of child molestation is far worse according to the moral code of society than many of the other scandals that have rocked college campuses in the past few years, they all highlight a troubling trend that is becoming increasingly prevalent on campuses throughout our nation. The fact is that as more and more money is thrown at collegiate athletics (particularly football and basketball), these programs become way too powerful to be properly managed and overseen by their schools in general. And the leaders of these programs, who often earn more money per year than all other college officials and professors put together, often become power-driven ego maniacs who care only about winning and are willing to sacrifice their entire moral code to that end. Whether it is trading tattoos for money and sports memorabilia, providing or turning a blind eye to extravagant yacht trips and strip club misadventures, allowing shady Ponzi-scheme operators to have training room and on field access to team members, overlooking petty crimes, drug use, and date rape scandals, arranging for sexual escorts during recruiting parties, ignoring or tacitly approving improper pay-for-play scenarios with boosters and countless additional improprieties that clearly occur on many if not all major college campuses with competitive division one athletic programs, college coaches and their programs are increasingly corrupted amid a failing system.

One thing is certain, a culture exists not just at Penn State, but at major division one Universities across our nation, that fosters an atmosphere where winning is more important than anything…including morality. And for this, we all suffer.

My hope is that something positive comes out of this tragedy. That serious money is donated not just by Penn State and the Big Ten, but by all of college athletics, to develop and strengthen the protection of our nation’s youth, through outreach programs, education and better systems for bringing deviants to justice…systems that make it easier for victims to come forward as well as to educate and motivate the families of those affected. I also hope the game on Sunday is cancelled altogether, because it just isn’t the right thing to do to play a game in the face of this awful scandal. This isn’t the aftermath of 911, where our nation is grieving and needs a distraction from what seemed to be the end of days. This is a contained tragedy that has plagued a community and shocked a nation, and while I realize that the players on Nebraska and Penn State are not to blame for this fiasco, and therefore should not be penalized when they work so hard all year to play football, we should all remember that LIFE IS NOT FAIR. It is one game. And playing football and cheering in that stadium is so wrong on so many different levels at this time.

Questions need to be answered. People need to be brought to justice. And the victims, those poor, brave tortured souls need time to air their grievances. Call off the game Penn State and the NCAA. For once, do the right thing here.

We all need time to digest this horrific turn of events. We all need time to heal. Eight year olds dude. They’re pretty fuckin’ far from ok. We need to fight for people who can’t fight for themselves.

God help those victims. God help their families. God help us all.


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