Friday, June 25, 2010

The Truth Behind the Curse of the Bambino

This notion that a baseball team could be so unlucky as the Boston Red Sox seemed to be a mystery to me.  Surely there was some error, some misunderstanding on someone's part.  Don't the nefarious powers that be surely have bigger fish to fry? Surely, that was the case.   Anyway, in the manner of the typical hyperchick in the Middle Epoch of the Postmodern Age, I turned to that source of ultimate authority and wisdom: Google.

But, no!  It was as clear as day.  The Red Sox last won the World Series in 1920; and only one in recent times.  Although references are made to the Curse of the Bambino, there's no logical explanation for such loserly results.  But, it's in the hard facts. Baseballers are peculiar about their facts: they like them hot and ponderous, like readers of the I Ching or the Kaballah.  There are some people who tried to retrieve a piano from a lake in hopes of placating Il Bambino.  To no avail, sadly.

Another glaring fact leaped out at me. (OhMyGod!) And it was that the two Chicago teams also were terribly unlucky.  Now I've heard about the Black Sox scandal, but the Cubs seem to be as hapless and I can't figure out why.  Is it penance for the Daley machine?  So I asked my source, Nick Machiavelli, late author of Il Principe, and undercover bookie of baseball.

So I say, "Nick, talk to me.  Who's got the fix on the poor Red Sox and why?  Is it punishment for the Kennedys?  Did they ban The Great Satan's book in Boston so he has his knickers in a knot?  Did that play irritate the Big Guy that much?  What's the story?"

"Ah, Undercover Angel," Nick said.  "Long time no see.  No, it's simpler than that. Satan has no interest in baseball.  He follows soccer, and perversely calls it football. No, it's his unambitious henchman Waldo, an understudy to Phil, the Prince of Insufficient Light.  He's a Yankee fan, among other perversions."  Oh, and I saw his picture.  He's a tall, thin man with a bad haircut that he covers with a gaily-colored knit hat with the cursed symbol: NY.

I thought . . . . "Then it is true that the forces of evil are arrayed against the helpless Red Sox.  Would prayer or an exorcism help?  Maybe I could discuss this matter with the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston.  Surely, he's a Red Sox fan."

And then I thought some more.  A recent one got in hot water on the pedophilia issue, so he would be of no use.  Some matters are just ordained that way.  However, having invoked Waldo's name on several occasions while trying to find where he is, Unclean Spirit Waldo appeared, gaily-colored knit cap and all.  (How about this for a Demon ex machina?)

I asked Waldo why.  "Why?"

His response was simple:

"I really don't care for the Yankees.  But I can't abide a baseball team with a mispelled name.  I got some standards, you know."

"So, if the Red Sox and the White Sox start being the Red Socks and the White Socks, then they win?"

"Yes, Angel. They will.  But wearing white socks is in bad form unless you are wearing athletic clothing."

So there you go.  I managed to discover the truth behind the Curse of the Bambino.  It's okay to tip me.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Homeopathic Beer

Hieronymous Dufour, owner and Chief Brewmaster at Catahoula Microbrewery, had a problem.

While he was pleased that his other products, Catahoula Hound Amber, Fox Run Bock Beer, Ole Mutt Raspberry Delight Beer, and Sludge Bayou Pale Ale, were doing well both in sales and in critical acclaim. his signature Catahoula Puppy 3.2 Percent Lite Beer was in the same league as the other light beers: unloved and profoundly ridiculed as the others.  These were in the category that is always on sale at reduced prices and only to freshmen boys from unsophisticated places or people who had doubts as to the water supply. 

Anyway, Hieronymous found the prospects of getting celebrity endorsements to jump-start his product to be both costly and frustrating.  The best he could do is one of the critics on the Food Network and some guy from MSNBC who seemed like a low-rent Rush Limbaugh.  Not even B-list performers did wished to be linked to 3.2 percent beer!

He finally faced the facts: light beers are awful; and any marketing of them as light beers is doomed to failure.  And, obviously, truth-in-advertising federal rules prohibited him from positioning Catahoula Puppy 3.2 Percent Lite Beer as a dietary supplement or as a status enhancer.  He briefly pondered about advertising it as a Viagra substitute; but the same federal nagging insistence on truthiness applied there as well.  

A better name for the beer?  The marketing consultants suggested Catahoula Puppy to go with the same branding pattern as his highly successful Catahoula Dog flagship beer.  And who doesn't have a warm spot for puppies?  (Sometimes it becomes a wet one as well!)  A change in label, or a different color for it?  That might be a possibility . . . .   Hieronymous pondered to no avail.  

While thumbing through one of his health magazines, he repeatedly encountered the word "homeopathic," as in "homeopathic medicine."  [Is that an oxymoron or merely cynical irony on steroids?]

On reading about homeopathy, he found out that it was a form of alternative medicine (call that quackery) that attempts to treat patients with heavily diluted preparations of some substances which produce certain symptoms in order to treat disorders that produce similar symptoms. These types of remedies are prepared by serially diluting the substances.  The assumption is that each successive dilution increases the effect of the treatment. (This process is called potentization.)

Ideas came together in Hieronymous's mind, perhaps fueled by three Catahoula Hound Ambers:  Why not Catahoula Puppy Natural Homeopathic Beer?!  After all, light beer and homeopathic medicines have similarities: they both are diluted!  And, as long as he didn't use the term "homeopathic medicine" in the advetisements, he felt that he could get away with it.

So Hieronymous Dufour, a born gambler, gave the order to his Assistant Brewmaster Duelpher, and his minion, the Assistant to the Assistant Brewmaster, to produce more diluted beer!  Sadly, the subordinates complied with that dismal order, saying to the beer stocks while following obeying, "We who are about to sigh dilute thee."

So Catahoula Puppy 3.2 Percent Homeopathic Lite Beer was repackaged, and sold only in health food stores, wherein sales skyrocketed!  Within four months, Catahoula Puppy was in the top five beers sold in California, even though no one there knew what a Catahoula puppy was.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Strategies for Coping with the Kissing Deficit

CNN, in an instance of hard-hitting journalism a few years ago, submitted a report that made the following points:

1.  A Study found that bad kissing can doom a relationship.
2.  Research indicates that men kiss to get sexual access.
3.  Women kiss as mate-assessment technique
4.  From the kisser's point of view, an accidental kiss better than a planned kiss for achieving his or her objectives.

Now we've all had those awkward moments: the moment of truth at the end of a first date.  Will he or won't he try; with accompanied anticipation or dread of the moment.  Sometimes this is followed by the requisite disappointment.  The writer of the CNN article went into further detail, providing a typology of bad kissers that would include the Lizard, the Washing Machine, the Cannibal, and the Spelunker.  It doesn't take much effort to understand how these kissers are unsatisfactory.

But, hey!  We're  Americans (or Canadians)!  And we tend to take names, kick butt, or at least DEAL with the problem on hand.  And the universities, quick on the mark to fund full professors and deans in the opulent lifestyle to which they are accustomed, have developed a mechanism for riding the surf of public interest and the momentary Zeitgeist.

America cries out for better kissing.  Obviously, loser guys are motivated to improve because doing so their potential mating value.  And, as a possible kissee, I would like to encounter more finesse in this mate assessment activity.  So here's my proposal:  enterprising universities could teach Improving Your Kisses or Elementary Kissing as Continuing Education offering.  Or, even better, as a full-fledged course.

Hey, we're on a roll now.  Charge a substantial lab fee in the process. 

There's a bonus.  The professors teaching this class should not have to worry about class attendance.

Exams?  I think you can figure out who would do the grading.  Yes, graduate students!  I figure that if a callow freshman can warm up a tired, overworked, stressed 25-year-old graduate student with a kiss, that was an A-level performance!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Having a Personal Enemies List

The prospect of having an Enemies List generates mixed feelings: somehow, the notion that you should have enemies is disquieting; yet it is also satisfying that you are of sufficient importance to warrant one. And, being the softie that I am, these real or supposed enemies need not be harshly treated. There's no need for a gulag in the middle of a Louisiana swamp. (Anyway, the cost of providing sufficient snow and barbed wire for its décor makes this impractical.) And there's no need for blacklisting. I mean, if someone is rash enough to aspire to work, then who should stand in his way of self-perdition?

So, whom to include? Basically, who obtains my goat to such a degree? Here's my suggestions:

1. Well, maybe we can start with people who shout at their children and willfully bang garbage cans at 6 A.M. when the less Godly are trying to sleep.

2. And there's the Reverends who overextend the lengths of their sermons. Father, there's something to be said for a good fifteen-minute sermon. Twenty minutes is stretching it a point. A half hour is too much for most of our attention spans. especially if it's 11:00 Mass and we're expecting to be at the Superdome in time for a 1 P.M. kickoff.

3. And what about the people who do those annoying commercials? Somehow, my hair is just not as kinetic as is those of the ladies in the Pantene commercial. Those commercial hamburgers are quite a bit more plentiful than is the fare that confronts us at take-out. And the occasional Victoria's Secret commercial makes me feel like a high school team going up against the Atlanta Braves. Put those obnoxious ad copywriters on!

4. There's the shot cheats in coffee shops. Friends, a grande café latte calls for two shots, not one. Truly an enemy to all!

5. But what is one to make of the devil's spawn who developed decaf coffee? Ugh! He (or she) is definitely to be included.

6. A vice unspeakable and unsavory is the putting of mayonnaise on sandwiches. Hey, I'm broadminded, in a way. You can put peanut butter on your hamburgers, if you wish! But why does the default sandwich in fast food places call for mayonnaise? The unbidden mayonnaise-spreaders go on without fail.

7. There are the aunts who continually ask when you are going to get married. And whether you have a 'beau.' Somehow, I think that the last beau was snapped up sometime during their adolescence, if not earlier. It's amazing that there are still people that use this expression, and they need to be on the list.

8. Spammers need to be on the list.

9. The New York Yankees. It's a southern thing.

10. Notre Dame.

11. People who ask impertently personal questions.

13. Telemarketers. With special status for those who call after 10 P.M.

14. People who ridicule my accent. Actually, you da one wid da accent.

15. The ones who manage to take up two parking places for their vehicle deserve inclusion. The ones who park diagonally across two spaces when they should park perpendicular to the curb deserve special enemy status as being selfish oafs.

16. Whoever came up with the notion of boy bands.

17. Hollywood types that are into instructing us on how to vote. The idea of taking instruction from any of them would gag a carp!

18. The inventor of the leaf blower.

19. The users of faux words like 'womyn' and 'herstory.'

20. Pop psychologists

I'd like to give them all wedgies!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Breaking a Baseball Contract

Dudley Worthington Henderson was the owner of a minor league baseball franchise, the San Pedro Seahawks, and he had a problem. It seems that his team was contractually bound to play in the city of San Pedro, CA through the season of 2018, as long as attendance remained a specified amount: a seasonal average of 2000 fans per game. Unfortunately despite drawing about 2760 fans per game, operating costs accelerated and, even with ticket price increases, could not be effective in dealing with the increase.

There was a bright spot on the horizon: Salt Lake City was wooing him with a superabundant offering, if he could somehow get his beloved Seahawks to move there. It had everything: a large, wholesome, baseball-loving population, a stadium to die for, and tax breaks that would turn a New York developer green with envy!  He approached the San Pedro council, asking relief from the contract, but to no avail.

So, he tried the Florida Marlins strategy: sell off good players and staff the team with duds. Well, the team dropped in standings from being a pennant contender to in last place, but the fans persisted. The problem, you see, was that the Seahawks games was a mecca for the local retirees, who needed something to do.  Even support a bad team.  As a matter of fact, they stubbornly clinged to the Seahawks even more, much like the Brooklyn Dodger fans of yore and the Chicago Cubs fans today do with their hapless teams.

He then tried reducing the quality of food at the concession stand.  Lot good that does, for baseball fans are used to bad food!

So Dudley Worthington Henderson tried a new approach: change the team's name to one that was unappealing.  But this required subtlety.  After all, if he chose a team name that was offensive, that would drive the fans away.  But this posed a challenge: if he gave the team an ethnically offensive name, it would result in substantial fines and legal defense fees.  A funny name?  Yes -- but what? After all, minor league baseball teams are known as the Lugnuts, Biscuits, and Sounds already, and they have fans.  Those loser names did not seem to annoy the fan base.

And, after all: once the contract is severed, the team could move to Salt Lake City and adopt a new name.  Let's see now: the Salt Lake City Seagulls, the Salt Lake City Honeybees, the Salt Lake City Polygamists . . . . .

But for now, the San Pedro team needed a new name.

So Dudley Worthington Henderson announced: because of the Seahawks' recent deficiencies in play, henceforth they are to be known as the

San Pedro Sissies!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Let's Have Swimsuit Equality!

I'm all for the equality of the sexes in all forms. However, there is one glaring setting for gender bias that our society seems unable to cope with: at the seashore or around the swimming pool. Specifically, women are required by custom and law to have both a bottom and a top, but men are only required to wear a bottom.

Now this is de facto gender inequality, something not to be countenanced in this tenth year of the 21st century in America and the 234th year of our Independence! After all, what's good for the gander should also be good for the goose as well. But there are perils to going topfree nowadays, as the current nonbiased terminology has it. Except in South Beach and other places habituated by Snowbirds off the Canadian reservation or more by those wanton Europeans, mores are squarely against the exposure of female breasts -- despite our national obsession with these topographical features. And, I'm personally uncomfortable with the idea, as I discovered through trial and error on a trip to the Italian Riviera. No, true topfree beaches are not likely to be seen around here.

But, still, work with me one this kind of reasoning, guys. I'll get to the point. The idea came to me suddenly while reading a summer book. Let's have true sexual equality in swimsuits: require guys to wear tops too! When I was in Nag's Head recently, I saw up too, too close the results of several years of American-style supersizing: a motely assortment of New York male tourists with protrubing bellies and moobs (copious adipose tissue on the chests of men.) As a matter of fact, many of these Noo Yawkers had more need of a bra than I do, and theirs with industrial-grade underwiring! Would you want to see Tony Soprano or Ted Kennedy in a speedo without a top? I think not. Very clearly, there are esthetic advantages that accrue when men don tops.

So, let's all get behind the bikini equality movement! Require both guys and gals to wear tops! Who knows, some guys might really find it to their liking to wear a particularly stylish halter, especially if they can have their preferred sports team's logo on it. Some of the more athletically-inclined and well-endowed might favor the monomastic sports bra styling, or the arty might elect a frilly bandeau, while the daring might go in for the discreet cleavage of a demi-bra! And, in benighted places like Gulf Shores or South Beach, where inhibitions are few and the High Sheriff is tolerant, the very cheeky thongs might be dared! As a matter of fact, our local guys might make the sojourn to Beverly Hills to get the implant surgery to allow them have moobs to be proud of and willing to hint at with daring swimwear!

Think about this. We can achieve true sexual equality in this area if we all work together.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

An Odd Psychologist

By most people's standards, Gustav Theodor Fechner (1801-1887) was an odd duck. However, he also managed to establish psychology as a scientific discipline with his Elements of Psychophysics (1860). I won't go into his science or his long service as professor at the University of Leipzig, though. Here's the fun stuff.

He wrote a time travel guide, The Little Book of Life After Death (1836). He also wrote on plants' consciousness, Nanna, or Concerning the Mental Life of Plants (1848). And he treated on celestial matters: Zend-Avesta, or Concerning Matters of Heaven and the Hereafter (1851). The was, metaphorically speaking, tethered between the material and spiritual worlds. Some people of his time would have regarded him as a crank, others as blasphemous. He was just his own guy.

Finally he was a satirist with a sharp pen in which he used the nom de plume Dr. Mises. He parodied the then-present tendency of the medical profession to consider iodine as a panacea, Proof That the Moon Is Made of Iodine (1821). Later on Dr. Mises authored The Comparative Anatomy of Angels (1825), in which he reasoned that angels must be perfect spheres. In fact, they were the planets! Fechner trotted out Dr. Mises from time to time to tweak his colleagues' pretensions and was, all in all, a real handful as a professor.

His students must have found him entertaining as well as brilliant.

We Need an Official State Sin!

All states have state birds, state flowers, and state songs, though Tennessee goes overboard with he latter category. Then there are states that have Official State Something Elses: Official State Nut (Connecticut), Official State Necktie (New Mexico), and even Official State Reptile (several states).

We need something else to proclaim our essential Tarheelness and ring rendolent to the name North Carolina. How about an Official State Sin? Now let's look at the seven deadlies. They're all fun in their way, except for Envy. I have specialized at different times in Lust, Anger, Gluttony (soul food dept.), with occasional forays into Pride. And I have good things to say about them all. Especially if you combine two or three.

But there is one that we're especially good at here. That dillweed William Byrd wrote it well:

"Surely there is no place in the World where the Inhabitants live with less Labour than in N Carolina. It approaches nearer to the Description of Lubberland than any other, by the great felicity of the Climate, the easiness of raising Provisions, and the Slothfulness of the People."

Therefore, it behoves us to write our representatives to co-sponsor a bill in the legislature declaring Sloth to be the Official State Sin of North Carolina.

And, to emphasize the point, declare Sloth Appreciation Day to be an official state holiday. Lastly, North Carolina should declare itself an Official Sloth Sanctuary.