January 2011 Archives

why the super bowl (still) sucks

"Hey!" Kiki chirped through my phone. "What time you starting your Super Bowl party?"

On the list of people with whom I would want to watch my team play in the Super Bowl, chatty Kiki ranks somewhere between Gilbert Gottfried and Bobcat Goldthwait. Her voice doesn't merely penetrate. It punctures and lacerates. I would sooner watch the game while getting a root canal, clipping my toenails in a Cuisinart, and listening to Barry Manilow's Copacabana on endless repeat.

"There is no party," I replied honestly. "I know from past experience that I can't socialize when the Steelers are in the Super Bowl, especially when they lose. I will watch alone."

"Yeah, and it would annoy you because I'm (pregnant pause for effect) ROOTING FOR THE PACKERS."

"I really don't care who you root for, Kiki."


"Name two Packers players, Kiki."

Long pause. Then—


why the super bowl sucks

It's been five years since I went to the Super Bowl, watched my team hoist the trophy, and found it all an unbelievable bore. As I wrote at the time:

Yawn. Nothing affiliated with the NFL has been anything better than dreadful. All the fun I've had, I made myself.

This is my last Super Bowl. I didn't particularly enjoy myself. It's a sterile, deathly dull, made-for-TV event in which I felt like neither participant nor audience. "Antiseptic" is the word that comes to mind.

"Corporate" is another good term for it. The vibe is completely different from any other football game, and at now-$4000 per seat, it's not hard to imagine why. Tailgating as you know it doesn't really exist. Hell, parking costs $900 this year. And there's zero homemade signs, zero face-painting. Wouldn't want to slop anything on the Armani blouse. And I'm talking about the dudes.

In short, precious few actual fans make it to the game.

This morning, StubHub reported that 26% of tickets sold to the Pittsburgh/Green Bay Super Bowl in Dallas are going to...Texans. Because they're just that big of Steelers and Packers fans.

I've been shopping for tinfoil hats recently.

As it's become apparent just how much tech companies are mining and selling our information, I've fallen farther and farther down the privacy rabbit hole. Go drinking with me, and you'll surely be "treated" to my research on the shameless practices of Facebook and, especially, Google. (Tip: no matter how many times they ask, do not give them your cell phone number.) I marvel out loud that the same people who got their panties in a bunch about the Patriot Act have no problem whatsoever with shoveling personal information to all bidders, including the government, in exchange for free software. Greedy, gullible idiots, all of ya.

Mysteriously, the drinking invitations have dried up lately.

That was the backdrop of my recent dinner with Mike, who is really tired of this topic. He just doesn't care about his privacy. "I have nothing to hide," he shrugs in that annoying way people shrug when they're implying that you're the problem. Given that Mike is gay, I figured he might be sympathetic to one breach of privacy: when loony gay organizations make it their mission to "out" closeted actors.

But he shocked me.

"I'm in favor of it," he said sternly.


"That's right. We need to get more aggressive about it, even."

"Whoa. It's your right to disclose this for them?"


"How come you get to own their sexual orientation? I can't think of a bigger invasion of privacy."

He shrugged again. "I'm of the opinion that celebrities have a moral obligation to lead."

"What?!" I replied, gagging now. "Me, I'm of the opinion that ill-read people who dropped out of high school to chase a modeling career should shut the fuck up."

We laughed at that, and he said he was resisting the evil impulse to tell me "You just don't know what it's like to be gay. No straight person could."

We drank on, but I know he was thinking it.

blind spots

Allie and I were discussing American Idol.

Don't judge me. Judge her.

We talked about how the early auditions can mislead. Katherine McPhee's audition, for instance, was IMO her best performance. By far. I was forever rooting for her to live up to the promise of her brilliant first appearance, and she never came close. Then we talked about people Allie had liked and who had faded fast.

We also spoke of being wrong the other way, of disliking someone who went on to earn our respect. "How did I get Carrie Underwood so wrong?" I asked. Man, I hated her from start to finish. I thought her voice was reed-thin and her appearance overrated. Yet history has proven her a gifted vocalist and an insanely attractive person, in every sense. I recalled my rooting for Bo Bice, so I figured my preference for him had clouded my judgment. Allie had other ideas.

"It's your blind spot," she yawned. "Pretty women who are your type, like McPhee? They walk on water. Pretty women who aren't your type, like Underwood? Evil incarnate."

Because apparently I'm that deep. Thank god Allie is in neither category. That could really screw up the friendship.

super bowl xlv

The Steelers are going to the Super Bowl, which means it's my favorite time of the year: the days are getting longer, the rains are getting lighter, and person after person seeks me out to inform me that they're rooting against my team. Because I simply need to know this, dammit.

Postscript: "It's because you guys have won so many!" writes a Seattle reader. (Aside to everyone else: Yeah. I know. This is my lot in life.)

Um, for the record, the Packers have won twice as many championships. That would be twelve, the last one being in 1997. It's why their nickname is "Titletown."

sweet revenge

This is awesomeness. Read the error text.

victim of the week: santonio holmes

Rewarding achievements in claiming victimization

April 29, 2006 The defending champion Pittsburgh Steelers make Santonio Holmes their first-round draft pick.

May 27, 2006
Holmes is arrested in Miami for disorderly conduct. The Steelers stand by him.

June 18, 2006
Holmes is arrested in Columbus for domestic abuse. After she drops the charges, the Steelers stand by him.

October 23, 2008 Holmes is arrested in Pittsburgh for possession of pot. The Steelers suspend him for one game, a loss.

January 28, 2009 A few days before he wins Super Bowl MVP, Holmes admits that he used to deal drugs.

March 4, 2010 An Orlando woman accuses Holmes of assault.

March, 2010 Holmes fails a secret drug test for the third time, mandating a four game suspension.

March 29, 2010
Holmes tweets to a critical fan "U shud try finding the worst thing that you could drink n kill urself."

March 31, 2010 Impending drug suspendee Holmes tweets "time to wake n bake."

April 11, 2010 The Steelers dump Holmes, trading him to the Jets for a lowly 5th round pick.

This week Asked about the trade, Holmes replies "The main thing that went through my mind was, uh, you know, what...what...what...what caused this to happen, man?"

mmmmm, who else is hungry?

My morning started as it always does, with my letting Dex outside. Upon her swift return, she always gets a cookie. About five minutes later, I was checking email when I heard the unmistakable, gulping rhythms of a dog about to barf on my rug.


Thus was I, tea in hand, standing on my deck watching Dex yack. When done, she trotted back toward the house, stopped, went back, fished the cookie out of her vomit, and happily gulped it down.

"What's for breakfast?" a voice called from inside the house.

carroll declares seahawks co-champs

CHICAGO  - (Stank Press)  Soon after his team's divisional loss to the Chicago Bears, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll once again appealed to the media. "If you think about it," he said, "You can certainly make an argument for this Seahawks team to be co-Super Bowl champions."


Veteran Calvinball ace Carroll pointed out that no other team in history has had to play a playoff game with so few wins under its belt. "No one else had to deal with that handicap. We're also #1 in pretty uniforms. And in a Seattle poll, Seahawk fans were voted the very finest fans in the league. So if you look at the whole picture objectively, yes, I think we deserve a share of the Lombardi trophy. I'm not greedy, though. Just the football thing on top."

Carroll made similar appeals in 2004 when, after his USC team failed to meet the championship criteria to which they agreed before the season, he nonetheless claimed a co-championship with LSU, based on a poll. "You can certainly make an argument," he campaigned then, shortly after paying off the Bush home. "We are as deserving as anyone."

victim of the week: sarah palin

Rewarding achievements in claiming victimization

I'm pleased to introduce the Stank Victim of the Week award, rewarding achievements claiming victimization.

The concept is simple. Douchebags noticed how some persecuted folks have made gains by publicizing their grievances. Internalizing the lesson not as

"legitimate grievances inspire redress by others"

but as

"victimization = power over others"

said douchebags manufacture one bullshit grievance after another. They are victims. Specifically, they are your victims. You'd better shape up.

• • •

The scent of gunpowder was still in the Arizona air Saturday when I asked Allie "How long will it take Palin and/or Beck to claim victimhood for having their incendiary rhetoric scrutinized?" I say within a week."

"No way it takes that long. Within a day."

Allie wins. Blood libel, baby.

Remember, folks: the real victim in the Tuscon shooting is Sarah Palin.

great moments in phone-maze navigation

I was about 15 minutes into repeating my phone number again and again for the benefit of DirecTv's inept automated helpdesk.

Me: Christ.
Bot: I didn't understand that. What is it you would like to do?
Me: Talk to a motherfucking human being.
Bot: Connecting you.


Responses to my previous post have been few but generally thoughtful. It also doesn't feel right to share them, so thank you, and I'm moving on.

c-bombs and self-awareness

It was Valentine's Day, and I'd picked Sarah up at work to take her out to lunch. Accepting her flowers, she told me about her choice of restaurants: a romantic little waterfront place.

This, unfortunately, required that I make a very difficult left turn. Minutes went by. Just as one lane cleared, traffic magically percolated into another. No one was letting me through. After five minutes, one particularly obtuse driver pushed me over the edge.


Eventually, I made my left and, that task complete, noticed that my date was very quiet indeed. Oh. Right. My c-bomb.

"I'm sorry I got angry back there," I said. "Not quite what I had in mind for Valentine's Day."

In the quasi-sincere manner that someone accepts your apology while their nose is still bleeding from your sucker-punch, Sarah forgave me. Kinda.

• • •

I tell this story because it neatly illustrates something I dislike about myself. Not my profanity, so much—the fact that my apology, though freely offered, wasn't heartfelt. Here was my inner dialogue at the time:

Oh. Right. My c-bomb. Dripping with rage. On Valentine's Day. That would upset any woman, you moron. You've subverted the entire purpose of this outing. You'd better apologize fast before this festers. Contain the damage. That's what a normal person would do.

And so, in a purely intellectual exercise, I apologized. But that woman who cut me off? Inwardly, I stood by my c-bomb.

Astoundingly, it took me decades to evolve to this point. By my calculations, this means that I started life as a paramecium. What changed? I became more self-aware. At one time, I wouldn't have anticipated that most people would consider my conduct atrocious. In fact, if criticized I would have gone to the mat for my right to drop c-bombs on the deserving, and dammit, Sarah, you just better get on board. What's your problem, anyway?

Everyone in my family is that way. We're always righteous, never to blame. Infallibility was enjoyable for a while, but somewhere along the line I learned that my world view was 1) nonsense and 2) not normal, decent human behavior. I can't always feel that, but I know it, which I dare say puts me one rung higher on the evolutionary ladder than my relatives. Let's say I made "virus."

• • •

This weekend I spoke with a friend about her husband, who is lacking in self-awareness of this kind. He is oblivious to how his behavior affects others, how it dents his marriage and children, and he doesn't seem to care.

This leads me to wonder how much thought people give to this. Am I alone?

I give it considerable thought. I know I'm wired differently and that it affects my relationships, and I labor to adjust so that others don't have to. But how about you? How are you wired differently, and how do you shift the burden of adjustment from others to yourself?

insufficient funds

Talk of the lottery quickly degenerated into "OK. You just deposited $50 million into your checking account. You're walking out of the bank. What's your next 24 hours look like?"

The usual suspects reared their heads.

"I'm quitting my job."

"I'm buying my mother a house."

"Porsche. There is no substitute."

"I would see an investment counselor." This was roundly booed.

"I'm photocopying my bank statement and stapling it to a photo of the insanely gorgeous Polynesian hookers I had sex with that night, then sending it to every woman who ever rejected me."

6a00d83451f90869e2013485f893ab970c-320wi.jpgAs for me, I would certainly pay off my house. After that, everything I thought of was...well...not objectively ethical. Fred Phelps would certainly meet his destiny. And I'd like to take out bin Laden, but who can find him? Oh. And my cheatin' ex. I'd buy her mortgage out, buy the business employing her, fire her, then squeeze her financially until her head popped like a zit.

Once I realized this potential for punishing enemies, it was all downhill. I started making a list of my grievances. One thing quickly became apparent.

"Boys, I'm gonna need lots more than $50 million."

Stank, April 2010
I'll watch the Steelers' first four games, during his suspension. Then I'll watch Ben find Jesus, followed by his quick engagement to a local Christian girl. After that, I'm going to wander the football landscape. I won't root for another pro team, but I think I'll pick one to follow. Maybe I'll watch the Browns reboot. They're in the division, at least.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 2011
Roethlisberger vowed to change, and at the end of August, he told the Tribune-Review that he had re-connected with religion.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did nothing Tuesday to discourage Internet rumors that he became engaged to a Pittsburgh-area woman.

• • •

Anyone who writes me that I'm being cynical, that Ben clearly doesn't want this in the public eye, will be publicly vivisected.


The mail went out to everyone at work.

Hi Folks, just wanted to let you know that I had a suspicious guest tailgate me in to our secure space just a couple minutes after 3:00 p.m. This person was hanging around in the lobby as I entered the [deleted] hallway from the lobby area, at which point he tailgated. He was a black male whom [sic] appeared to be in his late 20's to early 30's. Guessing he was around 5"9" and medium build. I stopped in [deleted] office and let him pass me down the hall and then proceeded to follow him. Each time he came in to contact with employees, I noticed he would turn around and go another direction. I think he new [sic] that [deleted], myself and [deleted] were on to him and he exited the work space and went down the south stairs.

"I think we found him," replied a co-worker, attaching his own badge photo. "Did he look like this?"

He did.

• • •

Each time he came in to contact with co-workers, he would go another direction? My kind of guy.

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