Nobody Could Possibly Have This Much to Say (I Don’t Mean Me- I’m Talking About SportsCenter) [California Seething]
Real Grown-Ups watch the news in the morning. They eat their bran cereal and take their multivitamins and shake their heads gravely as blandly attractive idiots on TV tell them with a smile that the world is a violent horrible mess, but the weather at the beach will be great this weekend! (the UV Index will be high in the Valley, though, so parents, keep you kids inside! Protect them from the dangers of sunlight, peanuts, germs and human contact, and make sure they grow up to be safe, healthy sociopaths. I shouldn’t single out parents, though. We’re all responsible for the next generation; it takes a village to alienate a school shooter.)
However, I can’t watch the news. It’s just one more way I fail as a Grown-Up. It’s not that I don’t want to know what’s going on in the world or that I want to wallow in ignorance like a Republican Senator in his own excrement, it’s just that, well, this may shock and surprise you, but watching the news just makes me too angry.
I know- shocking, right? Right? DON’T GIVE ME ANY OF YOUR PATRONIZING SARCASM! OOOOOOHHHH THAT MAKES ME SOOOOO MAD!!!! But not as mad as watching the news.
Seriously, I don’t know how people do it? I mean, I wish I was one of those level headed Grown-Ups that could hear a story like “Congress rejects common sense gun legislation supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans because a few chicken-shit Senators are too scared of losing their bribes, oh, sorry, I mean campaign contributions from big money gun lobbyists” or “Congress votes to end Sequestration,but, oh, only the part that might actually affect them when they try to fly home, not the parts that deprive millions of much needed government services or threaten to cost thousands their jobs–no that would be FISCALLY IRRESPONSIBLE, because, it’s just so fucking fiscally responsible to throw the economy into chaos and screw over the American people because you’re too much of a wuss to make rich people and corporations pay their fucking taxes like the rest of us schnooks” or “Congress wakes up in the morning and RUINS AMERICA AGAIN.” and just be like “Ho hum. Fiddle-dee-dee. Looks like those rapscallions in Washington have sure bungled things once more. I can’t wait to chat amiably about this at the racquetball club with my fellow tax preparers or loan underwriters or whatever the fudge we Real Grown-Ups do for a living. Claim adjustors? Is that a thing?”
I can’t do it, though.
Just the word “sequestration” makes me fly into a blind rage. I mean, come on, it’s like Tofurkey or Personhood, just a dumb fucking idea with a dumb fucking name. What’s not to hate?
Seriously, Congress, it’s not bad enough that you keep coming up with all these arbitrary deadlines to wreak havoc with the economy, you’ve got to start making up nonsense words just to point out what a pathetic joke the whole situation is? I’m sorry, is Dr. Seuss the Speaker of the House now?
I mean, why would I want to watch the news anyhow? How many times can I hear them say that if we don’t cut a flugnillion Quadrools from the Federal Budget before the twenteenth of Snazuary then the Big Money Boogedieboo Bird is going to take all our Pickleberries away? And the worst part is we have a 24 hour news cycle, but we don’t have 24 hours worth of news to cover, so instead of reporting what DID happen each day they pontificate endlessly about what MIGHT happen:
Will the Scumpublicans agree to cutting just a smizillion Quadrools? Can the Limpocrats raise taxes on Pickleberries? Can they reach a compromise before the twenteenth of Snazuary? Will they delay the deadline to the thirty-twelfth of Blarch? Is now the time to invest is Pickleberry futures? How will this affect the election for Boogedieboo Bird keeper? And bullshit bullshit bullshit bullshit until the twenteenth of Snazuary comes and the Big Money Boogedieboo Bird either comes or it doesn’t and the story is immediately forgotten as a new cycle of speculation begins again about regulating Snizzlebear ownership or the fight over Obamacare (wait, that’s actually a thing).
And meanwhile, nobody talks about the real story which is that the poor have no Pickleberries, the rich have more Quadrools than ever, and climate change is making the Boogedieboo Bird extinct. Oh, and also, everyone keeps getting murdered in Syria. I don’t have a cutesy way to say that, but it’s truly disgusting and no one cares.
So, right, clearly there’s no way I can watch the news, which leaves me with a dilemma because the news format is really ideal for early morning TV viewing. After all, mornings are not well suited for the arduous narrative train journey of an hour long drama or even a drive around the block in a 30-minute sitcom.
No, what I need in the mornings is more like a televisual monorail ride: a loop of information with lots of convenient stops, so I can get on or off whenever I want and still get most of the information I need, while a couple of well dressed conductors smile widely and banter pleasantly as they announce one stop after another. And the news provides exactly this type of monorail ride, albeit a monorail ride through the most depressing theme park imaginable, Disneyland excluded, of course.
So what am I supposed to do in the mornings? Learn to control my emotions like an adult and not get so angry over everything??? Let’s be serious here. Not watch TV???? That’s just crazy talk.
And, by the way, parents, if you’re gonna get all self righteous about how you’re not exposing your kids to television you can’t shove an iPad into their hands and let them watch videos 12 hours a day cause IT’S THE SAME FUCKING THING. Just get DirecTV and get the fuck over yourself. We were all raised on television and we turned out just fine, by which I mean shallow, materialistic, apathetic, obsessed with pop-culture, horribly out of shape and barely literate. You know, FINE.
Well, as is the case with many of life’s dilemmas, I turned to theatre for guidance. WARNING: Do not do this at home! Theatre is a terrible place to turn to for guidance, which is why there’s never been an “Ask Mr. Theatre” advice column, as you can see below:
Dear Mr. Theatre,
I’m a 13 year old girl who just got married to the cutest boy ever (squee!!!) But my stupid parents got him exiled just because he killed my stupid, smelly cousin. What do I do???? If I can’t be with him, I’m going to LITERALLY die.
-Sad Panda in Verona
I’m so glad you turned to me for advice. In situations like this, it’s very important not to do anything rash or irrational. What you could do is take a deep breath, focus on your studies, and have faith that you and your husband will find a way to work things out with your family once the furor over your cousin’s death quiets down. Meanwhile, the distance might actually be good for you as it will allow you to think seriously about your relationship and whether you might not be too young to rush into such a serious commitment.
But I don’ think you should do this. What I think you should do is fake your own death! It’s perfect! Works every time! Just go to the weird shady vicar that agreed to marry a 13 year old girl without talking to her parents; buy some potion that he cooked in his lab which will simulate a death like state, cause that’s guaranteed to be totally safe; and pretend to kill yourself because you can’t stand to be alone.
That way, when you wake up fresh as a daisy interred in mausoleum surrounded by rotting corpses, your parents will be so happy you’re alive, they’ll let you do whatever you want. Awesome! Just make sure to send word to your hubby about your plans via the most unreliable messenger service ever. You wouldn’t want anything Tragic to happen.
Dear Mr. Theatre,
I was in the woods and these 3 crazy homeless ladies started dancing and chanting all around me and they totally said I was gonna be king. How funny is that?
-“His Royal Majesty “ Yeah, Right
Dear “His Royal Majesty” Yeah, Right,
KILL EVERYONE. KILL EVERYONE RIGHT MOTHERFUCKING NOW. KILL. KILL. KILL. KILL KILL.
Are you sure Mr. Theatre- I just wanted to know if I should give these crazy women a dollar or if you thought they would spend it on drugs?
COME, YOU SPIRITS THAT TEND ON MORTAL THOUGHTS, UNSEX ME HERE, AND FILL ME FROM THE CROWN TO THE TOE TOP-FULL OF DIREST CRUELTY.
Ok. I get it. I’ll kill them. Don’t be such a drama queen.
Nevertheless, I looked to theatre for the solution. And an old school trick onstage during crowd scenes is for the actors to say the world “rhubarb” over and over again. That way it sounds like people are talking, but they aren’t actually saying anything at all. Well, naturally this led me to SportsCenter on ESPN.
It looks like a news show, it sounds like a news show, it feels like a news show when I watch it in the mornings, but all they’re really doing is saying is “rhubarb” over and over again, or to be more precise, talking about Sports which is just as wonderfully meaningless! I mean, sure, I can still get myself all worked up over sports, but it’s a fun, jocular “fuck the Patriots” kind of anger, not a desperate, terrified “the world is falling to shit” kind of anger. I mean, the dog may not be able to tell the difference as he runs away and hides in a corner, but I know the difference, and, trust me, it’s way more fun to get mad about sports.
So even though it’s a lot more tolerable, SportsCenter has the same basic problem as real news shows: namely, there’s a lot more time to talk about stuff than there is actual stuff to talk about. And this poses a real dilemma. After all, it would be a shame to think that Disney had gone through all the trouble to imagineer an army of perfectly coiffed ethnically diverse animatronic snark-bots in suits and wisecracking animatronic fresh-faced cocktail-dress-wearing sports-babes (Hannah Storm-bot’s face must be replaced daily) and then dug up a motely assortment of washed up ex-jocks and unemployed coaches biding their time while they wait to get hired by some new sucker who forgot how badly they failed at their last coaching gig to act as “analysts” but then gave them nothing to talk about. A real fuckin’ shame. So how do they keep finding stops for their endless monorail loop through the wonderful world of sports-babble? Well, here are three big stories from last week:
The Uplifting Tale of Jason Collins
By being the first active male professional athlete to come out of the closet, Collins became the most talked about 12th Man in history and a heroic role model to marginally-relevant, attention-seeking, middle-aged pro athletes everywhere looking for a gimmick. As Chad Ochocinco tweeted “I’m so proud of my man Jason Collins and so is my HUSBAND Tito #HomoCinco.”
Or, as Brittany Griner tweeted “hey- a gay pro basketball player- where have I heard that before? #gayballerplusdickequalsbfd” Griner, BTW, stands to make about $50k as the first pick in the WNBA draft and is one of the great players of her generation while Collins, who averages 1.1 points per game made $1.3 million last year. So good news, girls, whether you’re gay or straight you can do anything you want to do with your life just as long as you don’t mind being grotesquely underpaid!
The best thing about Jason Collins coming out is the overwhelmingly supportive and positive response that he’s received. Jackie Robinson may have had to climb to the mountain top on his journey to acceptance, but for Jason Collins, so far, it’s been a ski lift ride in St. Moritz with hot chocolate at the chalet and an exotic go-go boy on the bear skin rug by the fire wearing nothing but a ribbon and a bow and a gift tag that says “from your friends at SportsCenter” (this was Kevin Negandhi’s first job with ESPN, BTW when John Amaechi came out in 07.)
Athletes and celebrities have been coming out (so to speak) of the woodwork to tweet him well, including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kobe “The Homophobic Rapist Piece of Shit” Bryant, current US President Barack Obama, and next US President Bill Clinton (ok, so his official title will be First Philanderer, but I’ll take it! Bubba’s comin’ back baby! The man who presided over the last American decade that didn’t totally suck. The man who inspired my generation to forever giggle uncontrollably at the words “cigar” and “intern”. The man who makes us hate ourselves a little because we love him so GODDAMNED MUCH! Oh, and, of course, there’s Hilary, too. She’s extremely bright and capable and will make a terrific president. Plus, she’s good for tax payers because we’ll only have to pay her 80% of what the male presidents get. And, if she complains, we can just tell her she’s getting too emotional and suggest that she put on a little make up and smile more. She looks so pretty when she smiles. #sarcasmnotmisogyny #seriouslyilovelillyledbetter ).
And, sure, this outpouring of support has seemed a little forced at times. I mean, if you want to find out how flexible an NBA player can be, just watch him twist himself into a pretzel to say something nice about gay people. I’m sure that athletes and commentators feel tremendous pressure to say the right thing to Jason Collins and avoid being lambasted by the media. Hell, the NFL’s gonna put a Gay Acceptance Test into the Combine next year.
Though, have you ever seen the Combine? The whole thing is one giant Gay Acceptance Test. It’s all glistening shirtless hunks throwing footballs in tight spandex shorts like Gus Van Sant took over NFL Films for the week. And, come on, Wonderlic Test??? Could you get any gayer than that? They might as well call it the Rim Job Quiz and get it over with.
Anyhow, like I was saying, there’s a lot of pressure to say the right thing and I’m sure there are plenty of Christians in sports who feel they can’t express their true opinions for fear of public reprisal. I know, right- ISN’T THAT GREAT???? Could it actually be true that we live in a world so wonderful that bigoted assholes feel bullied and pressured into being nice to gay people? Holy shit, does this mean I have to have Hope again? I haven’t had that since the Butt Fumble, where the fuck did I put it? Oh- I know- it’s in a drawer with my Celtics 2008 World Champion t-shirt and my Obama 2012 bumper sticker (I was also hopeful I’d learn to drive.)
Back when I was in high school, you see, athletes were under no pressure to be nice to gay people. In fact, if memory serves, the football players at my school had a droll and witty nickname for those of us who were supportive of gay rights. What’s that nickname again? Oh, right–FAGGOT.
Interestingly, this was also their nickname for students who were good with computers or hung out in the video lab or wore all black or had hairstyles inspired by Robert Smith or Flock of Seagulls. Pretty much anyone who wasn’t a football player regardless of whether they were gay or not was known as a “faggot” – so, clearly, their understanding of the core concepts of homosexuality was as limited as their vocabulary.
At the time, I assumed it was because they were stupid and ignorant, but now I realize they may have been suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy as a result of repeated blows to the head on the football field and that this condition may have led to headaches, depression and memory loss later in life. I know, right–ISN’T THAT GREAT???? Serves those assholes right for calling me faggot! Not so much fun being the big bad jock now that Karma’s holding your head in the locker room toilet and you can’t remember your fucking name, is it asshole?
Welcome to 2013, where washed up former football players are called “Drunk, Depressed and Divorced”, where nerds who are good with computers are called “Billionaires” and where athletes who come out of closet are called “Hero”. Crazy right? If it wasn’t for the mountain of evidence to the contrary, I’d almost think the world was getting better.
By the way, I do realize that CTE is a very serious condition and I don’t actually wish harm on anyone, no matter how mean they were to me. Almost. I mean, that little shit at the Youth Group retreat who told all the girls that I peed in the sink so they wouldn’t talk to me and then strung my underpants up the flagpole- I TOTALLY wish him harm. Oh, and that dumb fucking jock asshole who played “Two For Flinching” with me every time he saw me in the halls and punched me as hard as he could in the arms even though I totally let him cheat off of me in Bio–I really hope he has agonizing brain injuries BUT ASIDE FROM THAT, nobody at all. Pretty much. I think. Can I get back to you on this?
The Sad Downfall of the Los Angeles Lakers
So, sure, the Jason Collins story was great and uplifting and shit but ultimately it was kind of a dud. I mean, it was like- hurray! Go Jason! You’re gay! Goody goody gumdrops for gay people! Um, yeah. Next!
You see, to truly fill the hours of mindless blather, SportsCenter needs stories which provide much more to talk about. Stories that last weeks, months, even years. And, while stories of courage or triumph over adversity are always inspiring, stories of failure and spectacular collapse are a hell of a lot more fun- particularly when all the odds are stacked in favor of victory. And no story better epitomizes this type of failure-porn better than the disappointing performance of the LA Lakers this year. And I’m not just saying that because I hate the Lakers and want to use this post as an excuse to dance on their grave- that’s just a wonderful bonus! Tee-hee-hee. Tee-hee-hee. Lakers suck.
The story of the Lakers’ collapse followed the classical SportsCenter narrative arc:
Act II- In Which Our Heroes Perform Poorly Leading to Concern:“The Lakers go 0-8 in the Pre-Season? Is it too-early to panic? HELL NO!!! PANIC!!!!! NOTHING IS POSSIBLE!!!!!!!!”
Act III- In Which Every Single Thing Our Heroes Do is Over Analyzed to the Point of Exhaustion: “Is Kobe scoring too much? Is Kobe scoring too little? Is Dwight Howard unhappy? Is Dwight Howard too happy? Is Pau Gasol tough enough? Is D’Antoni the right coach? Is Jim Buss the right owner? Is Metta World Peace the dumbest fucking name you ever heard in your life? Will Steve Nash’s legs fall off? Can they win a title? Can they make the playoffs? Can they win another game? DISCUSS ENDLESSLY.”
Act IV- In Which Our Heroes Keep Things Interesting By Briefly Living Up to Expectations: “The Lakers win 8 out of their last 10! The Lakers win their last 5! Mike D’Antoni gets Coach of the Month in April! Kobe gets hurt and Howard steps up! The Lakers make the Playoffs! The Lakers are going to upset the Spurs! The Lakers are going all the way!!! ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!!!”
Act V- In Which Our Heroes Inevitably Fail and All Hope is Lost: “The Lakers are crushed by the Spurs in 4 games. Dwight Howard is ejected from the final game and may not be back next year. D’Antoni’s an idiot. Everyone’s too old. Steve Nash’s legs fell off. Will they blow it up? Start again? Trade everybody? ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!!! DISCUSS ENDLESSLY.”
Epilogue- In Which SportsCenter Analysts Debate Whether the Media is Partially Responsible for the Embarrassing Downfall of Our Heroes By Building Up Unrealistic Expectations. Yes, they really do that. I know, the words “unmitigated gall” do rather come to mind. That’s the way SportsCenter rolls, though. First they make monsters, then they pass out pitchforks and torches to the villagers and tell them to storm the castle, then they stand back from the burning wreckage and analyze the ethics of the monster-making industry. Sickening? Yes. Hypocritical? Hell yeah. Evil? Um, kinda. Awesome? Abso-fucking-lutely.
The Even More Sad Downfall of Tim Tebow
OK, so this basically follows the same story arc as the Laker thing. Really, there isn’t much for me to even say about Tim Tebow. In this case, I really am just bringing it up so I can dance on the grave of his pathetic failure. Tee-hee-hee. Tee-hee-hee. Jesus hates you. Maybe you should just come out of the closet already and salvage what’s left of your career. You and Manti Te’o would make the cutest couple!
Unfortunately, Karma being a bitch and all (she’s just mad cause she makes less than the male Hindu gods), any discussion of Tebow’s failure is inexorably linked to the discussion of the miserable failure and utter futility of the 2012 Jets season. So that kinda sucks. But, the Jets just drafted Geno Smith in the second round, and I’ve got a really good feeling about this. You’ll see, everything’s going to turn around for us now! We can go to the playoffs! We can win the division! We can go to the Superbowl! My drunk dad is gonna remember my birthday this year! It’s HAPPENING PEOPLE! IT’S REALLY HAPPENING!!!!! #itsnothappening #itssooooonothappening #dontstartbelieving
Ultimately, though, none of it really matters. Whether the Jets win or lose, or Dwight Howard gets traded or Tim Tebow writes “I Heart Jason Collins” on the inside of his Bible with a hot pink glitter pen, it’s not going to change my life one iota. And that’s a good thing. After all, if I’m gonna have to listen to a tale told by an idiot in the morning, full of sound and fury, it’s a whole lot easier to take if I know that it’s signifying nothing.
Still, it would be nice to know what’s going on in the world sometimes. Like, I’m getting ready to fly this weekend and I’d like to know if the Big Money Boogedieboo Bird has released the TSA agents from it’s Sequestration Nest. And does anyone else smell fire? I should probably check out the news online before my neighborhood burns down–just as soon as I’m done with this article on ESPN.com about how the media ruined Tim Tebow’s career.
Thanks, media! You’re the bestest. This almost makes up for ruining Mark Sanchez. Besides, we don’t need him anymore now that Geno Smith is going to lead us to glory! J-E-T-S JETS! JETS! JETS! #itsjustsad