Thursday, October 29, 2009

McEnroe's racket: Abuse is 'scary'

As a scholar and gentleman, I have never understood racket abuse. Why do tennis players periodically destroy their rackets when something bad happens? Believe me. It is not the racket's fault something bad happened.

In other sports, similar abuse is rare. In basketball, it would seem wrong if a player knifed a ball. In football, it would be strange to set a first-down marker on fire. In baseball, the bat does receive some abuse, including being snapped in half over fat men's knees, but after some analysis, it is safe to say no sports equipment's abuse compares to that of a tennis racket.

Upon further reflection, what I truly don't understand is how a tennis racket stays with a player, even when that player is prone to abuse. This phenomenon made me want to understand life more and, thus, convinced me it would be worthwhile to interview John McEnroe's Dunlop MaxPly.

Snooze Button Generation: Thank you so much for this interview. I've always liked John McEnroe - and his racket.

Dunlop MaxPly: No problem. We rackets don't get the attention we deserve, so we're always open with the media. It's my pleasure.

SBG: So what was it like all those years, being the extension of McEnroe's left arm?

Dunlop: It was great. We were together in thick and thin. We won three Wimbledons, four U.S. Opens. It was a quite a ride.

SBG: Well, one reason for this interview, as you know, is to delve into the under-examined problem of racket abuse. ... Did you ever feel Mr. McEnroe was out of line with you?

Dunlop: Out of line? Nah. We all know John has a temper. But he always treated me how I deserved.

SBG: Did you feel like a victim of racket abuse?

Dunlop: Oh geez. No. Of course not.

SBG: How can you say that? We have countless videos of you being tossed to the ground, kicked and thrown. You don't consider that abuse?

Dunlop: Oh, you just don't know John like I do. He did it all out of love. He never did anything inappropriate to me.

SBG: But what about the video above? How could you possibly deserve that treatment?

Dunlop: Look, man, I mess up too. My grip is 4 1/2 inches, and sometimes, John would have made shots if my grip were 4 3/8ths. I'm not perfect. I'm just trying my best.

SBG: OK. I guess. But it sounds like you're just rationalizing the abuse. What about racket abuse in general? Do you see it as a problem?

Dunlop: Yes, I absolutely do. What scares me is the escalation in racket abuse. If you look at tennis players nowadays, they're much more violent than John was or Ivan Lendl or Bjorn Borg. It's scary, and it's on a global scale. It should be stopped. The bottom line is that when you're involved in an abusive relationship, it's sometimes hard to see the abuse when it's happening. Now, with all these years passed, I realize what I went through. Healing is not easy. Thank you for this platform and interview. I hope that all victims, tennis rackets and even human beings too, have the courage to seek help with recovering from being slammed to hard surfaces like concrete and clay. 

Monday, October 26, 2009

'Chloe-ashi' eyes Kobayashi

As a parent of two sophisticated daughters, I am attempting to help them live the best lives possible.

What that means is open to interpretation, but I know I want to expose them to as much as I can and hope they find a passion in their life or things they enjoy because those are precursors to fulfillment, or what many call "happy, happy, fun, fun, happy, happy, fun."

One difficulty I have encountered, though, is when to stop my children with a problem activity. Now, I consider myself extremely open-minded and willing to support my children in any endeavor they chose, including art, science, sport or whatever they happen to feel is important.

But what should a parent do when the child's activity is potentially destructive?

Luckily, some parents never face such a question. But I have faced a tough question with my youngest daughter, Chloe, who yearns to be the next Kobayashi - the greatest eater of all-time. She calls herself "Chloe-ashi."

Chloe-ashi, 2, can eat a hot dog in less than one minute. If she hones her hot dog eating skills, there is a chance she, one day, could vie for the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Championship in Coney Island on a faraway Fourth of July. But is eating more than 50 hot dogs in 10 minutes truly healthy?

Well, I don't think eating numerous hot dogs quickly is healthy, so I am not encouraging Chloe-ashi to eat her franks so fast. OK, I am not discouraging her, but I will not encourage such activity.

Apparently, Kobayashi is having difficulty with this Joey Chestnut character. Kobayashi last won the big Nathan's contest in 2006, then Chestnut won the past three years. However, ESPN's best ratings for the contest came in 2006 for Kobayashi's last victory.

I believe that ESPN's ratings with the power eating is lagging because fans prefer Kobayashi, a thin gentleman, to Chestnut, who is plump.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Chuck E. Cheese may be using again

Over the past six months, I have attended Chuck E. Cheese's in three locations - Lynwood, Cerritos and Lakewood. I have realized a sad truth of life - the violent and popular Whack-a-mole is being replaced by a lame video version of the game.

Yeah, you heard me right. The classic Whack-a-mole is being replaced. ... Is nothing sacred?

I am enjoying Chuck E. Cheese's more of late, but I still feel jilted. Back in the '80s, the pizza place transformed from an arcade with Asteroids and Centipede to a "family friendly" place with hardly any fun video games.

Eventually, I learned to accept Chuck E. Cheese's for what it was, and Whack-a-mole and skeeball became my games of choice there. With Whack-a-mole going digital, I guess I might replace it with Pop-a-shot. But when will all of these changes end?

With the help of some Internet research, I discovered a photo of Chuck E. Cheese doing blow. That explains a lot. Presumably, he was big into coke in the '80s when he also was into Asteroids and Centipede. He obviously had to stop snorting nose candy, and it helped him kick his expensive habit by getting rid of heart-pumping video games and replacing them with staid kiddie stuff.

Of course, with Whack-a-mole being replaced, there is a chance Chuck is making that ill-conceived change because he has reverted to his cocaine ways.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Where are all the literary icons?

If you do the math and round down, it is safe to say, "Nobody reads anymore." A lot of folks - mainly teachers, librarians and pseudo-intellectuals - argue that is a bad thing.

Apparently, one can learn and have wonderful experiences reading, so, fine, I guess I think the world might be better if more people read. But really, that type of statement is missing the real problem: a lack of literary icons.

Shirtless, drunk and holding a rifle, Ernest Hemingway certainly was an icon. Hemingway was the Dos Equis guy before there was a Dos Equis guy. Bullfighting, wrestling lions and smoking crack, he has got to be the No. 1 literary icon of all-time (although I am unsure if he actually wrestled lions or was alive when crack was created).

But the real reason Hemingway is the No. 1 literary icon of all-time is that he actually "brought it" with his work. Other literary icons, including Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski and Hunter S. Thompson, had the icon part down, but their work is not even close to the having the depth and significance of Hemingway's. I'm not saying I don't like those guys (My favorite of the three is Thompson.), but they don't threaten Papa's No. 1 ranking.

I truly believe if there were one, just one, super-duper literary icon alive, then more people would read. I cannot think of one living literary icon who is under 70, and I even perused the New York Times bestseller list to look for one. The best two names that popped out were Nick Hornby and Dave Eggers - but they're not even close to literary icons.

Sure, I like both of those guys. But the bald Hornby is far too wimpy to be a literary icon. Eggers, for God's sake, seems like a weasel. Plus, he was in the same graduating class as my cousin Melissa in the suburbs of Chicago at Lake Forest High. Heck, the big-time actor Vince Vaughn, who also was in Eggers and Melissa's graduating class at Lake Forest, may be closer to being a literary icon than Eggers.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Breaking news: Bono finds his car keys

U2 frontman Bono has found the car keys he has been missing for 22 years and might stop singing "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," according to sources close to the keys.

Speculation had bounced around the band that the keys were lost for good and there was no way Bono would find them.

In 1987, Bono nearly came to blows with U2 guitarist The Edge after a night of drinking.

Bono: Where are my keys? You took them. Didn't you?
The Edge: What? Shut up. I don't care about your keys.
Bono: Stop fooling around. Give me my damn keys!

Eventually, The Edge fell asleep, and in his drunkenness, Bono wrote the hit single "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For."

Although many had figured out that Bono hadn't found his keys, speculation among rock journalists was that he was actually looking for a lost umbrella, gloves and/or sunglasses.

U2's publicist confirmed Bono found his keys in an e-mail that was prompted by calls and e-mails from the Snooze Button Generation.

Here is the publicist's e-mail in its entirety:
"Yes, it's true. Bono found his keys. They were in his freezer. Yes, it was crazy because he even looked in his freezer the night he lost them.

Will they stop performing 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For?' I doubt it, but who knows? Please, you got to stop with the calls and e-mails, and, no, I can't get a jpeg of the keys. Please respect Bono's privacy on this matter."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Dang, architects have cool eyewear

As anyone who has lived in the 20th century knows, architects boast the best eyewear. I understand this as absolute fact, and it makes sense.

Architects are a bit arty, so their eyewear is arty as well. They are often responsible for making sure buildings do not topple, so their eyewear is arty, yet not so arty that it falls off their faces.

This truism has come up because I am due to get new glasses and must face those dreaded five hours called "picking out frames." I tend not to wear glasses in public for fear that a five-on-five pickup basketball game may start. In that case, I want to make sure I am wearing my contacts.

Of course, a few deceased celebrities, including Charles Nelson Riley and Harry Caray, might have worn distinctive eyewear that rivaled the architects. But, hey, architects stand alone as having the coolest glasses.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Licensed to ill at White Castle

I am extremely skeptical of the idea that subliminal messages exist in rock 'n' roll songs. First of all, many rockers have a hard time putting direct messages into their songs, and secondly, many listeners who claim to hear these messages have used drugs and alcohol so much that their brains are considered "fried."

I have heard that if Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" is played backwards, then the listener will hear the ominous words "my sweet satan." Ooh, that's scary, but it's just a goofy idea.

So for a lot of my life, I have assumed that finding subliminal messages in songs is poppycock - until I had a recent urge for White Castle.Yesterday, all of a sudden, I yearned to consume greasy sliders from White Castle. But here's the problem: No White Castles exist in California. Yikes!

I could have gone to the grocery store, bought frozen White Castle sliders and eaten them. However, that plan sounded ridiculous and unfulfilling.

Being the pensive gentleman I am, I instead tried to figure out why I had such an urge for White Castle, and I realized why: I had been listening to the Beastie Boys' "Licensed to Ill."

Chew on these lyrics from that album:

"I chill at White Castle 'cause it's the best, but I'm fly at Fatburger when I way out west." (The New Style)

"We got determination - bass and highs. White Castle fries only come in one size." (Slow and Low)

"Got the ladies of the eighties from here to White Castle." (Hold It Now, Hit It)

"I got a girl in the Castle and one in the pagoda. You know I got rhymes like Abe Vigoda." (Posse in Effect).

No less than three and a half White Castle references are in one 44-minute album. Eureka!

Technically, those are not subliminal messages. However, this whole White Castle urge after listening to "Licensed to Ill" has made me more open-minded to subliminal messages in rock songs. The next time I listen to "Stairway to Heaven," if I have an urge to wear a red jumpsuit and hold a pitchfork, then I'll definitely be onto something.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Youth coach offends liberal soccer moms

I signed up my 4-year-old daughter, Sophie, to play soccer because of myriad reasons. I hoped the soccer experience would help teach her teamwork, keep her physically fit and help her master a game children without arms can play.

On this Saturday, though, Sophie learned the biggest lesson of the season - the lesson of tolerance. Her coach, who both she and I like, donned an extremely offensive T-shirt that is inappropriate for youth soccer. The shirt promoted the presidency of George W. Bush and read this: "W Stands for Winner."

As I thought about the T-shirt, I realized this was the type of moment Sophie was meant to encounter at soccer, a poignant moment where she learned to accept those different from herself. I was proud of her.

Sophie nonchalantly treated the coach the same, despite his shirt. She did not make fun of him, nor did she say the shirt accentuated his moobs, aka man boobs.

This was also the day it was our turn to bring snacks and drinks for the team. That all went fine with the exception of attempting to mix black grapes with purple grapes. Phew, it was a good thing we had purple grapes, too.

The black grapes, which actually appear to be dark purple, seemed to have seeds, even though the packaging said "seedless." Is this some kind of common knowledge I should know? Are black grapes all seeded, even when the package says "seedless?"

Friday, October 9, 2009

Rednecks remain baffled by Jackson Pollock

I have discovered an array of winning combinations - Charles Shaw merlot and string cheese, late night parties and old school hip hop, pintos and cheese, etc.

Unfortunately, though, losing combinations exist, too, and one of those is Jackson Pollock and rednecks.

Rednecks tend not to be art aficionados. If they give art a chance, they enjoy depictions of vikings fighting and topless women from the Napoleonic era. When rednecks are presented with the abstract works of Jackson Pollock, they become outraged.

"My two-year-old could do that!" rednecks yell at Pollock retrospectives.

The best nugget of information to present rednecks about Pollock is the selling price of his "No. 5, 1948." That painting has the highest selling price of all-time. It reportedly was sold by entertainment mogul David Geffen to businessman David Martinez for $140 million in 2006.

I am unsure exactly what rednecks enjoy. But I am certain that $140 million could buy a lot of barbed wire tattoos, mobile homes and NASCAR tickets.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

John Oates: Ladies man

I consider myself an open-minded individual and do not like to judge people. However, sometimes my intuition overtakes me, and I make a judgment, a subconscious judgment.

That's what happened with John Oates, one half of the famous duo Hall & Oates. I involuntarily made a judgment about Oates and assumed he was gay. Perhaps Oates' tendency to wear leather vests without shirts, or perhaps his porn-tastic mustache, told me, "Yowsers, he is totally gay."

I felt that Oates was not only gay, but he and his music could be celebrted at gay pride events, kind of like that song, "Born to Be Alive" by Patrick Hernandez.

Of course, I have no problem with anybody's sexual orientation. In fact, with Oates, I was the opposite and reveled in his gayness. He was here. He was queer. And I was used to it.

Well, it turns out that OATES IS NOT GAY. I am still wrapping my head around this shocker. I heard this rumor and then researched it by going to where I read: "He resides with his wife and son in the rocky mountains of Colorado on their ranch along with three dogs, a flock of emus, llamas and alpacas."

Sure, a chance remains that this is fiction, and he is joking about not being gay because he is the gayest man alive. But, apparently, he is straight, no longer dons a mustache and lives with exotic animals.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Let's not get silly with 13-grain bread

I am a svelte, yet elegant, gentleman. However, because of my lean physique, others sometimes have a problem with it, and at least once in my life, I have been told to "eat more carbs."

A while back, I considered ingesting more carbohydrates, but never found a superb carb to ingest - until now.

It is official: 12-grain bread is my carb of choice. Twelve grains are the proper number of grains in a bread. Anyone who has had 11-grain bread would agree that type of bread is sorely lacking in its grains. I do not believe it is produced, but 13-grain bread would be an overload of grains and silly. Mmm, mmm, 12-grain bread is delicioso.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Boba Fett considers rehab

I do not believe it is possible for one human being to change another. Someone can possibly help someone change. But it is only the individual himself who can change himself, if he desires.

That is why it pains me to see the current state of Boba Fett. Not too long ago, he was considered one of the coolest and most likable bit players from "Star Wars." But now he is simply a drunken former bounty hunter who is calling himself "Boba Phat."

For the past two years, Boba Fett, or Boba Phat, has been showing up at comic book conventions with alcoholic beverages in his hands, hitting rudely on girls and disrespecting other bounty hunters.

Friends have suggested rehab for him, and I hope he sees that they are right and checks himself before he wrecks himself.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

'Love Actually' does not star Lou Grant

After letting my premium cable stations - y'know, HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, etc. - leave my home, I have turned my movie watching to DVDs. By doing this, I am seeing a mixture of 1) films I always wanted to see, 2) movies that I heard good things about and 3) movies I take a chance on.

The romantic comedy "Love Actually" fits in the second category. I heard good things about it but being the skeptic I am, read the DVD box to make sure the film would be OK.

Part of the box read: "The recently elected British Prime Minister (Lou Grant) is handsome and single, and he runs into Natalie (Martine McCutcheon), a new junior member of the household staff at 10 Downing Street..."

Ahoy, I thought, this would be acceptable viewing. I've always liked Lou Grant, and I definitely prefer romantic comedies to, say, mindless action-adventure goulash.

But here is why I am a bit upset: I have discovered that DVD cases often lie. Not only do they describe their films in the best possible way, but they sometimes have factual information wrong. In the case of "Love Actually," Lou Grant does not play the British Prime Minister. Rather, Hugh Grant plays the Prime Minister.

Despite this factual woe, I watched the film anyway, enjoyed it to a certain extent but pondered what could have been with the right actor playing the Prime Minister.

A friend told me, "Lou Grant? He's not even an actor. That's just a character from the Mary Tyler Moore Show. You misread the box."

I consider myself a strong reader and find it hard to believe that I misread the box.