Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The TwentySomething Boys

August 31, 2004

Ever an armchair anthopologist, my senses are never closed off from observations regarding generations, demographics, and the like. Though barely more than an artificial hobby, it does afford me the opportunity, at times, to step back after a long day of grief and self-abuse to analyze the mounds of information I might've gathered. Gathering, in this sense, is a bit of a misnomer; let's assume it's a combination of eavesdropping, staring, and sarcastic conversation. I wish I could extinguish this habit, as the joy lasts about as long as picnic potato salad.
It's a natural tendency to organize things. As such, we love to organize ourselves - into races, colors, creeds (how many people actually know a person's "creed"...). People like to form groups in their heads, most often groups that exclude themselves. "Those rich folk". "Those lousy Europeans". It's even more irritating to group everyone by status. Wealthy people are despised for the assumption that they're arrogant and elitist; poor people are outcasts for their perceived lack of values and education.

As an uninspired daily worker bee, I'm forced to share an 11 floor hive with a predictable collection of peculiar drones, all of whom work in a huge company that commands the top 3 floors. The company, which is one of the successful dot com enterprises, has far too many people stuffed into that office space, apparently swelters in high turnover, and embraces the typical corporate flatness that we'd all hoped to forget. There are many more irksome aspects to this McCorporation (don't take that literally); the males that work there. I'd love to know where they keep the jagged, overused cookie cutter that cranks out these office boys, because I'm starting to realize that despite our supposed independent society, everybody from this class of yuppie-in-training is the same damn person. Since I have to share an elevator with these buffoons at least 5 times a day, I've learned all I need to know about this yuppie trainee clone. Here are the common traits of the male yuppie-in-training:

- Between the age of 24 and 28.
- Very short spiked hair, or medium-short dark hair with the tiresome sideburns
- Wearing a light blue dress shirt
- Attempt to dredge up painful small talk when slithering up to the bevy of office cuties
- Must walk with their hands in their pockets
- Have an annoying up and down bobbing effect as they slowly walk
- Use credit cards to pay for the $5 lunch
- Have a "smoke" every 30 minutes, unless they're tired from lack of sleep, then it's every 15 minutes
- Always a "real zombie" in the morning
- Always slept less than 5 hours last night, due to one or more of the following:
1. Had a few beers
2. Friend's birthday (incl. reason #1)
3. Saw a cool movie on cable
4. Played too much Playstation/XBox
5. Significant other (incl. reason #1)
6. Saw some band/artist/play/ex-girlfriend
7. Daily trip to Starbucks was too late
8. Segway breakdown
9. Had to wash blue dress shirts
10. Thai restaurant was too busy
11. Train that runs adjacent to the loft was too noisy
12. Treadmill-addicted neighbor that runs adjacent to the loft was too noisy
13. Had the runs
14. "I had this stuff called Ouzo? Djya ever have this stuff man? Wow."
15. Couldn't remove Ouzo stain from blue dress shirt
16. Vomiting friend
17. Vomiting on friend
18. Spent an hour trying to find parking (Cubs night games only)

I can't fault these metropolitan fellows from aspiring for corporate relevance, as they are gainfully employed, not rude (i.e. they're American born), and contributing some type of product to our economy. Unfortunately, their post-collegiate lifestyle doesn't have much variety, as if college taught them how to spend their evenings and survive on lack of sleep. Since it's still a learning phase for how to absorb the real world and daily grind, their vague grasp of independence belies their tendencies to blend in with their contemporaries. One might conclude that I have some anti-establishment slant; this may be true in a sense, but it's the painfully predictable mannerisms, shallow conversation, and unified appearance that keeps me mildly frightened and consistently irritated.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

On Loss, Humanity and the Meaning of Life

August 24, 2004

There are so many nefarious variables and factors in the modern world, that, due to the sheer quantity of temptations and dangers, it's rare to see a long, gratifying marriage run a long course, or to see a close friendship carry on without significant bumps in the road. To impinge on quasi-biblical thought, evil deeds can ruin a good thing. Purity is the exception, and like a gosling in the harsh forest, its chances for survival are tiny.
On that note, I once decided to take a whack at the whole "meaning of life" thing. Usually the correct answer is "there is none" but I had to take a step back on it and venture toward my predictably unpredictable, spite-fueled interpretation of all things overwhelming. Let's roll...

Life's meaning is embedded in the physics from which it came. It is intended to be an elaborate microcosm of the universe's journey. Like the universe itself, life's "meaning" is to ultimately conform to the only pure and original precept from nature - the circle - and complete a cycle, as the line of a circle might. This cycle, for life itself and its mother universe, is to proceed from its origin of a single, perfect, static point, almost microscopic in size, explode into vast, chaotic subsets, and finally, somehow, return itself to a perfect, solid endpoint - as it began. Clearly the universe is more of an orchestra than overt chaos, and some argue the same for human interaction (the "everything has a meaning" theory). But as life itself, with it's birth, expansion, chaos, and ultimate demise, so closely emulates the big bang cycle of the universe, we stand to learn great things from the progression of astronomy, cosmology, and all the collisions, formations, explosions, and wonders therein.

Some find it bizarre that there is serious consideration for the existence of similar life in other galaxies and solar systems. While religious pundits claim that this position somehow poops in the sovereign oatmeal of religious and spiritual dogma, I've yet to see an adequate explanation as to why our singularity as a race is a requirement to theological conformity. Why couldn't multiple earths and races have one god? It's silly, selfish, egocentric, and very much a sepia toned replay of the persecution of Copernicus as he innocently noticed that the solar system and sun doesn't actually revolve around our muddy little planet. The universe is so unimaginably large, with so many galaxies, it's simply a mathematical likelihood that something might have spawned - or is still spawning - in a theater not near you. Get over it, you closed minded, Oswald-lone-gunman idiots. You're the same donut chomping bunch who said the internet was a fad. Thanks, and keep your two brain cells in your can of Skoal. Anyway, few can draw the comparison between our refusal to acknowledge other worlds, and Pre-Columbus leaders, who refused to acknowledge that anything might lie beyond that big ocean. All things considered, we're not all that advanced, when compared to the 4+ billion years that the cosmos have danced. Some race just might have beat us to the Darwinian punch here. It's probability, Otis. Have another batch of "chaw" buddy.

It might make sense that there is a controlling influence of the progression of all things, and even "control" in that context might be a misnomer. Something obviously started this whole universe/existence fiasco, be it "God" or a guy using a cell phone while pumping gas. Despite the best of intentions, comets crash into planets and destroy them, and people murder other people. The wondrous portraits of sorrow and destruction are painted by the disparate primary colors of chaos, and less frequently those portraits feature a perfectly eye-catching, pastel colored brush stroke of a delicately composed flower. The artistic elements of nature might be merely remnants of a lost era, when earth was less tainted by the rippled oil slick of humanity's confused tendency to bind with chaos, rather than dwell within the instinctive comfort zone of nature and sustenance, like our oldest ancestors. When people lose a loved one, they exclaim "why?" with rhetorical anguish. Good people are taken from us amongst the bad ones - and finding an answer to why this fate can be so arbitrary is tough and often without reward.

For those that favor the philosophical side of things, losing something intangible carries an effect directly proportional to that person's own personal completeness. Many of us, as emotional products of our consistently flawed venues of nurture, tend to have festering gaps in our personal lives, conveniently filled by those important people, pets, plants, and activities. Unfortunately those implements that complete our inner puzzles have the very same flaws of inconsistency and unreliability that burden our own psychological paths.
Losing someone important to our own inner completion is a gut wrenching battle, and no soldier can adequately contribute security, ammunition, or moral support in any palpable way. Quelling the aches and inner confusion of personal loss can only be achieved with the personal sacrifice of realizing that there are other avenues to explore - and that fear must not imprison this innate resolve. When losing a commodity of our own personal security or completeness, the first instinct is to shed tears out of fear for the future. In all scenarios, we're prone to fear the future even in the most stable and confident frames of mind - take any aspect of security away, such as losing a significant other or friend, and that component of security is ripped unceremoniously from the heart, and the mind scrambles to sketch an image of how the world will appear without this critical puzzle piece. Uncertainty is an unrelenting poison. It creates unhealthful stress, robs us of peace and sleep, and looms like a predator over our overall survival instinct. Questioning our own safety, abilities, or source of a meal and home, can lead us all to shiver.

One of the greatest injustices in the world is the imposition of unwarranted loneliness. Isolating a good person from the support systems and equitable devices of emotional growth can be considered a crime against humanity in some circles. There's simply nothing worse than having nobody in your dugout when the ninth inning comes around. Since most people are notoriously flawed, selfish, toxic, and impetuous, the human course has easily been characterized as a thankless struggle ever since mankind's first iniquity (choose thy religious tale for deriving the source). Certainly if we were all perfect and of no threat to others, an existence without a comrade might be easily achieved - unfortunately fighting the ills of human nature needs to be a team sport, and losing a teammate can create vicious pangs of invulnerability. Defeating the formless antagonist of uncertainty can be almost impossible without the aid of allies - and those are the ones we truly "need". Those dismissible religions that preach their "everybody love everybody else" isn't just airport terminal fodder; it's oddly practical for personal survival against those who, without allies, had to succumb to the impurities of chaos and its destructive wake. Though the plague is spreading, the best preventative medicine is in maintaining and fostering our personal circle of human support systems.

Bear in mind that I qualified things by saying how unjust it might be to isolate a good person from good support systems and caring people. Our penal system will put a horrible prisoner into solitary confinement, and few of us bat an eye - because we don't want the bad apples anyway. Judgmental grey areas develop, however, when good people are spoiled by not the bad apples of humanity, but the slightly not-so-fresh apples. This is where evaluation loses its objectivity, and thus becomes difficult to determine if one person is bad for another, and vice versa. While we might advise a close friend as to whether or not another person is good for someone, it isn't necessarily in our jurisdiction. We're not so perfect ourselves, so who are we to judge? But we care, sometimes, about a persons well-being, and that incites the need to give opinions and convince someone important to achieve the same interpersonal happiness that we seek. We have many enemies hurled toward us by chaos - the asteroid flying by, the thief eyeing your back, the pathogens scrambling around our homes. To defend the old fort, we need our personal armies to be large and unified. We should take advice from other pack animals, as many of them herd themselves into a tight group when natural enemies threaten. Strength in numbers! What might be the moral of this adventure? Perhaps it's that we should do everything we can to dissuade conflict with our friends - keep them close and concede if necessary. In difficult times, you'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Caverns have Cavemen ‑ Do Taverns have Tavemen?

August 18, 2004

The hidden world of the bar culture is hardly simple to summarize. With varieties of themes, clientele and products, these little pockets of sidespun subculture pop out of the ground in myriad flavors. Most of us never taste 98% of these flavors, and in all likelihood, they'd taste like crap anyway. Opening a tavern for only fat gay guys named Earl? Good luck, Earl. In the 70s, they used to call that a den.

Obviously, as bars reflect our sociological tendencies, most drinking establishments are geared toward a specific clique, class, race, etc. That's fine and dandy - we like to congregate with people of our own ilk. What most fail to realize is that the people who congregate there too often are inherently not the normal ilk, but more of the normal alk, as in alk-ee's. No real point to that, other than wanting do somehow fart out a play on words. Plus it's extra typing. I'm like that "Loves To Type" lady from the Guinness Book of World Records. Hopefully I'll never end up as Robert Earl Hughes or one of those fat motorcycle twins. Digress alert.

It's easy to rationalize the tavern world as the jovial adult's playground, which is just a nice way of collectively labelling all patrons as those who never learned how to grow up. While it's certainly a wonderful venue for co-workers to meet after a long day, or a group of friends to rendezvous and share a few laughs. But what's the scoop on those people that just show up, on a regular basis, with no agenda, nobody to meet up with, but just sit there and stare at a television with the sound turned off? Isn't this the same as being a kid, being forced to go to grandma's house on Sunday nights for dinner, knowing there's absolutely nothing to do except wait until it's time to leave? Can't these people just buy twelve pack and get stewed at home, sparing us socially superior humans the stench of their unwashed sweatpants? While society has its upper crust, this is clearly just plain crust. And none of these globs are going to be appearing on the cover of GQ anytime soon - and I can assure you that they've all been through at least 52 car washes, and their faded tops can use more than a few treatments of Nu Vinyl.

The glossless taverns within Chicago's city limits are very much a distinct feature of this blue collar town. Little taverns, with their dusty, outdated "Old Style" sign out front, usually have origins from the 1950s and 1960s, in the day that many would regularly congregate, a la Archie Bunker's Place, to watch each and every baseball or basketball game on the nice fancy color television. Generally these patrons were married men of advanced age, who had lost any interest to sit at home and listen to the daily domestic grievances. For much of the city's working class, daily existence had been reduced to nothing more than a beer and a television set. It merely offered the simplicity and consistency that other aspects of domestic bliss couldn't offer.

Conversely, there are plenty of high dollar "hot spots" around the higher income districts. These appeal to the financially comfortable, younger crowd, who may drink as much or more than any lower income alcoholic, but do it in the company of friends, escorts, and workmates. It may be daily, it may only be a weekend affair. They look for lusty encounters with similarly liberated patrons, and perhaps can boast of the conquest at a later date. These well dressed social butterflies know they are hot stuff, prance around with a peacock's flair, and sadly their shallow routines usually pay off. Most of the time, these swinging studs and dolls have some murky ulterior motive, and when enough of these skewed motives congregate, the resulting stories are invariably bizarre and complicated. It's funny how the consequences of their metropolitan lifestyle bring on more complexities than their typically stressful, skyscraper workday. Too boot, these moderately wealthy "clubbers" seem to conclude that they are invulnerable and above the law. It doesn't take very long before they realize that their invulnerable bodies are frail or bloated from their nightly excesses, and they are permanently taking cabs around town because of their multiple drunken driving offenses.

It's always tricky to slice up the statistics of how often people go out, how much they spend, etc. Some go to bars, some go to work out, others may have clubs and nice shiny happy charity organizations. Doesn't it seem that only in the last several decades, a flood of social gathering places propagated themselves throughout all urban regiions? Why? Declining marriages and increasing divorces. Once the divorce rate climbed into the 50+% range, all of these separated couples had to look elsewhere for occupying their free time and hollowed part of their domestic existence. The young people who matured into the 1980s where very cynical of the institution of marriage, and didn't even want to take the risk. Marriage, in trendy urban regions, was an outright failure, and the new generations had no reason to submit themselves through this doomed ritual. If nothing else, they were content to stay single as long as possible, and either marry or die around 35. Go ahead, insert a joke there about the little "marry or die" phrase. Hey, that was a good one, bub. Keep up the good work and I'll get busy stitching up my side here. Anyway, with more single people around, there will always be a large component of them who refuse to stay home, and need their daily dosage of social interaction. Many turned to the internet chat room craze of the day, and some found it too inhuman to be sufficient. Too inhuman?! But AOL offers such adorable little emoticons like the smiley face and the sad face. Awwww. The internet's commercialization kept a lot of people home - but somehow the ongoing prevalence of social gathering places held its ground.

It's hardly fair that adults be expected to grow up, in the sense they must not have their toys and games as they did in their adolescence. The antiquated painting of mom and dad sitting in the living room, reading the paper until bedtime is painfully staid and Amish. Then for real excitement, mom and dad might have friends over, to sit in a circle and talk about what they had read in the paper. There's no shame in feeling like a kid at any age; but somehow earlier generations insisted that this were an irresponsible attitude. In these days, more and more of the adults are embracing their inner childishness. The preferred playground of a bar's fun, games, and ribaldry, always present themselves as the adult "candy store" for the kid with a pocket full of nickels. The difference is that kids who spend too much time in the candy store might fatten up, the older kids that spend too much time in the tavern simply wither away.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Relationship Injustice Part Two

As one might have likely inferred from the previous article, I tend to harbor a sensitivity for watching a nice, sweet, caring person allow a "significant other" to take advantage of their increasingly rare facets. It has always puzzled me how such gross imbalances manifest themselves, despite the bland, colorless "opposites attract" tenet.

Be it human nature, self destructiveness, or anti-Darwinian destructiveness, many couples seem to form when a grossly dominant person latches onto a sweet, caring, passive one. While someday I might hope to explore how these personality types are forged, for now, it's safe to assume that personality differences between couples may generally differ greatly. Many pundits, all of whom are either dead or penniless, have said that we seek a partner which may fill the voids of our own makeup. If one is passive, one might seek a dominant individual, and vice versa. I sorely hope that this human trait be quickly removed from our human nature. Should, by that resolution, a sweet, caring, passive woman be indefinitely bound to a dominant, self-centered man for the sake of, ironically speaking, fulfillment? If this natural drive for "opposites attract" is to be the pro forma means for finding a lifelong partner, then may we all regress back to the cavepeople style of smash n' grab for finding a mate, as this proves no more rewarding.

Though I think the statistics are changing, I've seen more women play the passive role in relationships than men. A dominant man in a relationship seems far more abusive than the situations in which the woman dominates. Since, by social grooming or regressive parenting, it seems that the dominant men tend to be more abusive, egocentric, and heartless than dominant women, I invariably see more women than men in tears as a result of situational emotional claustrophobia. Mind you, I perceive no differences in the inner strengths, intelligence, and resolve between both genders - but socially speaking, I think we're still a century away from the era which a female's upbringing and parenting might match that of a male's. In other words, the passive roles of women in prior centuries still loom in recent parenting models, and for that reason, the pain pendulum seems to frequent the woman's domain more often than the man's.

I, as a relatively middle-of-the-spectrum man, am prone to admire the women who take charge and refuse any passive role in their social interactions and romantic endevours. Consequently, those women are prone to gravitate toward me, and while I savor the flavors of their strong will, I know I'm not attracted to women who embrace that type of personality. And that forms the great bail-out thesis : Sometimes, people just want to spend their lives with people who are exactly llke themselves. It's rather infrequent, so it seems, these days, but makes perfect sense in the sociological context, and shines like a fresh orchid when recognized by those who suffer with the absence of psychological inequality. We seek equality and similarities in our occasional quests to match up people whom we judge to be "compatible". "Oh they both love the opera" we might say. Well, I'm inclined to say that common interests, no common interests, or perfect matching has little to do with each person's prefences toward a mate, or what they seek in terms of fulfillment and altruism. We can't rate human bonding in such external terms, and I certainly can't see computerized dating services as faring any better. Sure, there will be success stories, but everyone hits a winning lottery ticket every once in a while. So my pointless advice of the day - go with thy heart - never let a stat, or similar arbitrary measure, decide who is ideal for your partner in your one and only potentially colorless life.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Relationship Injustice Part One

Invariably I'm engulfed in drama and emotional turbulence due to a guy treating his girlfriend unfairly, or vice versa. I, on behalf of the nihilistic, disenfranchised, fatalistic therapists of the leftover philosophists, please keep your ashes of any unbalanced relationship to a slow burn, lest you expose their embers to an overloaded, psychologically imbalanced fellow such as myself. Especially for the girls out there - guys are not good people for sifting through a woman's tormented afterbirth of historic emotional malaise. Men are looking at your physical features, fiendishly pondering the method in which they might position their "Bikini Inspector" hat most efficiently for ideal induction of infidelity and physical reward. As an acute minority of males who actually care about girls (as well as some guys and most rakes) and their well-being, it's easy for a cumulative effect of reliance to build upon the perceived stability of my restraint from mysogonistic gestures.

As often stated, it's hideously thankless to be in the infamous "friend zone", as a man, with a girl who's involved in a serious relationship. All that will result is lots of wasted time and cleanup duties - do thyself a favor and clean porta-potties, like the balding guy from the Woodstock movie. Keep away from drama, as it is merely a source of stress and worry which shows no reward. If the male friend of a seriously-involved female has no romantic dreams for the aforementioned lass, so be it; but still run like a chicken might sprint from a 12-foot slinky. Females innately tend to vent their emotions, whereas males prefer to bottle it up, let it burst, and exterminate a race of humans. Neither has a great advantage, though it invariably spills an undue encumbrance upon the male friend, who intends to listen and understand with good intentions, but eventually cannot cope with the frequency of rants.

Though it's been said that money is the root of all evil, love and lust take a close second, if not first place in this race of sweat. While all this ranting might appear cheuvanistic, it's a general observation that men don't seek other people to hear their sorrows regarding the paramour of the day -- women rely on it -- and rarely seek the shelter of other women. If I'm attracted to a particular married girl, why should I have to hear that her "man" has been treating her poorly, and that their love life is on the wane? Why should I, the therapist, have to hear constant rhetoric about unjust actions from people's partners, when the therapist himself wallows in loneliness and abject vaccua? To solve the equation, it's obvious that a man, disenchanted with relationships and self-exiled into a lovely world of circular sustinence, should not have to process the negative aspects and rigors of someone else's travails in a relationship.
I'm tired of being the "sweet guy" to discuss problems with, as it simply yields acrimonious evenings and sleepless nights. Some people actually need to be in a relationship to be qualified to advise someone who's entrenched in dissonance. Sweet people deserve to be with sweet people - and I see those ideal couplings roughly 3% of the time. Stop jumping the gun to quell the sense of loneliness that might swell. Propose inciteful observations about personality compatibility and the like before rushing into a convenient relationship that might merely blossom from mutual voids. Hastily formed relationships carry an untoward burden on those that had been preselected as advisors and therapists, and no self-respecting individual should have to endure the symptoms of a "friend's" rushed judgement.

I, like a preponderance of the "sweet" guys, have been so emotionally damaged from "winner take all" relationships, that any zeal for further emotional attachment has vaporized and unlikely to take shape in the future. Most will accuse our stance as nihilistic, lazy, or artificially rebellious, but the unitiated should realize that those who are equipped with sufficient ego and self-deceit to resume dating after a disasterous relationship are exactly the ones who shouldn't be dating (the vast majority). The greatest guys are far too scarred, battle sore, or mentally disembowled to risk another preconceived fiasco with a girl who, despite logic, sees merit in a good person such as the therapist types like us. With no intended disrespect toward the fairer sex or their predelictions, please : Women of the world, if a sweet guy cares for you, listens to you, and isn't gay - can you consider that friend a potential soulmate and break up with the mindless, selfish, stereotypical egocentric man with whom you've assimilated convenience? It's so ridiculous that women should lay claim to male "fwiends" and burden them with their daily complaints, while the offending boyfriend prances about with impunity. If a man cares about you and breaks the mold of the childish, impetuous boy, he's a catch, ok? Stop letting habit and predefined roles reign romantic zeal. Find some gumption and follow the tip of the soul's compass, not the preprinted lettering. To be continued next time...

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Cards Everywhere...

August 3, 2004

Some infinitesimal component of my anxiety-laden persona was optimistic enough, at this millennium's onset, to anticipate the advance of human society to the point of doing away with fads, lemmingish trends, and mindless clones. When we review fads, they are always evaluated in a context that their very existence and emergence were idiotic, and an amusing symptom of the ills of society's innate zeal for following group thinking. Depending on which anthropologist you ask (and I always flog them with questions over at the local Subway) many will claim that humans are pack animals, tending toward huddling in herds, as you might find with skateboard guys, cigar store regulars, and those weird knife guys. And what's with those knife guys? Always excited to show off the new knife. "Can't wait to get home and start cuttin' stuff". I'm sure they have the ladies breaking down their door with that impressive pastime.

Now this televised card game fad is really beginning to wear thin on my fledgling Jenga game of tolerance. The World Series of Poker, ok, it was around and it probably had the most impact. It had been televised in fits and starts for a while, when it happily filled the role of the less active, less healthy, stinkier brother of televised bowling. Certainly poker itself enjoys wide recognition and familiarity in the United States, and it makes sense why televising such a motionless game might gather popularity amongst the right demographic. Lazy people who want to sit with a 30 pack of beer and watch TV all weekend, can finally bask in a sympathetic trance of arbitrarily engendered superiority. Sure, watching great, conditioned athletes run around might give a lazy viewer a sense of inferiority, but when watching a poker tournament, these players are just sitting like big fat Wes at home! Plus big fat Wes knows what cards the other players are holding, so he can shake his head with a deity's resolve and know that poor bastard is about to lose his wonderful stack of chips. The stoic, passive nature of the game, combined with the omniscient vantage of seeing everyone's cards, gives Joe six-pack a nice ego boost while literally doing nothing - the perfect weekend!
Anyway, this "cardmania" is drying out; now we've got celebrity versions of every flavor of card game imaginable, all of which are televised. It's not ridiculous to anticipate televised Craps, Roulette, Bridge, and during the swan song's chorus of this shallow trend, celebrity coin flipping. "Ron Palillo calls tails -- it's a head! Daniel J. Travanti wins!" Since television executives, along with music executives, are likely the least imaginative people on the planet, I know this monochromatic ride will not end anytime soon. There are far too many variants, channels, and gullible viewers to stomp this cockroach into the linoleum floor of cancellation.

Many of the televised card tournaments show up on ESPN, and if my acronymic gland still adequately pumps out acronymic fluid, then my recollection is that the second letter in the ESPN acronym still stands for "sports". Well, maybe the sagacious brainiacs that run this fine network might be already considering renaming the channel to "Entertainment Stuff Programming Network". Poker doesn't qualify as a "sport" in the classic sense of the term, unless they would like to retroactively embrace the athleticism involved in chip tossing and performing those neat hand exercises the players display when shuffling two or three chips within one hand. Sure, the stubborn pundits might respond that a sport also exercises the mind, but by that sneaky definition, we'd have to consider just about every thought-based activity as a sport, such as memorizing, erotic fantasies, and figuring out a tip at a restaurant. Can't wait for these exciting events to pour through my Sylvania! The precedent has already been vomited forth when ESPN began televising those physically grueling spelling bees. As I, with a smirk and a gasp, watched the spelling action unfold during this year's bee, I realized this might be the only time that a fat Pakistani 11-year-old might be on ESPN. For all I know, he might be a heck of a curler or cricket player, but those obscure sports are forever destined for one of the small time Fox Sports channels that dot the digital cable guide's horizon.
Spelling bees are inherently fun to glance at for a few minutes, in hopes of seeing a pathetic kid screw up or faint (as with this year). Heck, fainting is action, it's exciting, and requires brief medical attention. People enjoyed the opportunity to see Mike Tyson be knocked out by an eager Buster Douglas, and we similarly want to see little Abdul Nafharidad get physically knocked out by the word that means "a flat Sumarian biscuit". So what if it took 5000 years for those Sumarians to get even. Long ago, I'm sure a visionary king said "someday we'll crush them all with the spelling of our flavorless biscuits".
Long after the Martians take over our planet and exterminate us all, we'll exact our revenge when they all cower to properly spell "separate". Banzai!
It's only a matter of time before the television executives take further steps to add appeal and excitement to these televised card games and spelling bees. Violence and drama will invariably poke their way into the proceedings:

"John has a flush draw! He's going all in. Oh NO! A BEAR! Where did this big hungry BEAR come from? Oh the humanity."


"E-N-A-..." Wait! It's TV's Potsie - Anson Williams! With a gun!I suppose there's little to resolve in this embarrassing trend toward televising bland, passive activities and billing them under a sports moniker. People are becoming lazier and lazier as time passes, and the promise of showing inactivity seems to pacify the minds of the couch potato masses. It's a sad reflection on society when our populace, who was once too lazy to participate in athletic activities, is now too lazy to watch them as well. So turn off that wide screen TV and throw a frisbee or something.