June 23rd, 2005

flavored with age

And it was quite nearly a soft-pedaling

You know, really, I read insane news articles just as much to pick up on the bizarre things people say and the odd ways in which they say them as I do for the fact that their content raises my blood pressure. Here's some fun stuff from an AP report about the batshit fundies in charge of the Air Force Academy:

Reps. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., and Lois Capps, D-Calif., said the problems are deeper than investigators indicate. They urged the Air Force to tighten compliance with federal anti-discrimination laws, and said Congress should use its authority to make sure that happens.

They said investigators offered excuses for cadets, faculty and staff instead of acknowledging there is a "pervasive and coercive religious environment."

"It is not a whitewash, but it does resemble a milquetoast," Israel said.

This is so awesome. Does Congressman Israel have a chart in his office, measuring exactly at what point something crosses over from being a milquetoast into full-on whitewash territory? What's the cutoff point? And where does it become an actual cover-up? If the investigation had been more thorough, would he have downgraded it to a rubber-stamping?

This is nice, too, from conservative senator Wayne Allard:

"I believe we should focus on the fact that the Air Force investigation found that the academy leadership is aggressively dealing with this issue and that a significant majority of individuals contacted expressed an opinion that the overall climate at the academy has improved over the past two years," said Sen. Wayne Allard (news, bio, voting record), R-Colo., a member of the Air Force Academy Board of Visitors.

So, what he's saying here is that what we should focus on is not the pervasive discrimination or the numbingly frequent reports of inappropriate behavior and anti-Semitism in a government-funded facility, but rather on the fact that the facility is getting serious about dealing with the issue. And, plus, the majority of individuals -- who, coincidentally, are the Christian students and staff at the academy -- think things are getting better! Rephrased: "I believe we should focus on the fact that the congressional investigation found that the Klan leadership is aggressively dealing with this issue of lynching and that a significant majority of southerners contacted expressed an opinion that the overall climate in Mississippi has improved over the past two years," said Sen. Strom Thurmand, the leader of the Segregationist Party.

There have been complaints at the academy that a Jewish cadet was told the Holocaust was revenge for the death of Jesus and that another Jew was called a Christ killer by a fellow cadet.

Well, sure! I mean, look, let's face it, those people DID kill Christ, and besides, who wants some dirty Jew flying planes anyway? His yamulke or mezuzah or matzoh or whatever it is might slip down over his eyes and then he would crash.

A banner in the football team's locker room read: "I am a Christian first and last ... I am a member of Team Jesus Christ."

According to the Air Force Academy's website, Team Jesus Christ was 5-6 last year, suffering key losses to UC Berkeley (a.k.a. Team Satan), the University of Utah (a.k.a. Team Joseph Smith), Navy (a.k.a. Team Sodom), and Brigham Young University (a.k.a. Team The Mormons Own Your Fundie Asses).

Also, there have been complaints that cadets were pressured to attend chapel, that academy staffers put New Testament verses in government e-mail, and that cadets used the e-mail system to encourage others to see the Mel Gibson movie "The Passion of the Christ."

This isn't such a big deal. I mean, yeah, they used government e-mail to get people to see a bad movie, but it could have been worse. It could have been Garfield: The Movie.
flavored with age

And the hate keeps coming

Meanwhile, the AP weighs in on why those Cubbies are just so darn loveable in an article entitled "White Sox Get the Wins, Cubs get the Love":

The Chicago White Sox are the best team in the majors, with no idea what second place is like this year. They're a likable, entertaining bunch, and their manager is one of the most colorful in the game. Anywhere else, they'd be the toast of the town, adored by casual fans and diehards alike. But the White Sox are the second team in the Second City, consistently underappreciated while their neighbors on the North Side are showered with love no matter how dismal their record.

This article is by Nancy Armour*, who's made something of a career of writing about how everybody loves the Cubbies.

With more than 7 million people in the Chicago area, though, there should be more than enough fans to go around for both teams. Yet here the White Sox are, with a seven-game winning streak and a 49-22 record, and they're still trailing the Cubs in attendance.

And, predictable as the tides, here come the attendance complaints, the last refuge of the Cubs fans. The usual tropes as to why there's such an imbalance in attendance are trotted out: the Cubs play in a "shrine" (because, of course, all shrines stink of piss and feature decaying, crumbling infrastructure), the Sox play in a ball-mall, the Cubs are "America's team", the Sox threw the World Series (and, you know, fans today are just furious about what happened in 1919). What goes unmentioned as always: the fact that there is a direct and unmistakable correlation between the Cubs' always-a-sellout attendance stats and their purchase by the Tribune Company. But I'm sure it's just a coincidence that, despite the fact that they still played in the same "shrine", their attendance in the 1970s was utterly dismal and only became massive when they were bought by one of the biggest multimedia/marketing empires in the world.

"The Cubs, they draw regardless of what type of team they put on the field," said White Sox slugger Frank Thomas, who qualifies as an expert after spending his entire career on the South Side. "It's always more of an event over there to see a ballgame," Thomas added. "Over here, it's about winning. When we win here, we draw very, very well. When we don't play well over here, we don't draw well. That's just the way it's been."

Novel concept, that: fans will come see you when you're doing well. Surely that applies to the North Side as well, though, right?

The White Sox have gone almost as long as the Cubs without a World Series title — 1917 to 1908 — but the Cubs were so inept for so many years that fans couldn't help but root for them. They weren't just losers, they were lovable losers, and the curse of the billy goat only adds to their folksy charm.

Ha ha! See, it's FOLKSY CHARM that they suck year after year! They were so bad for so long that YOU COULDN'T HELP BUT LIKE THEM! Ha ha! Maaaaaan. If there's one thing I'll never, ever get about Cubs fandom, it's this. I just...don't...get...it. How on earth could anyone say, "Oh, this team stinks so much, I can't help but love them!"? Losing isn't cute. I don't watch sports to be miserable and depressed all the time. I want my teams to win. (Unspoken question: so why do you root for the perennial almost-made-its like the White Sox and Suns? Yes, I am a big fat hypocrite.)

Attendance has picked up lately. The team averaged almost 31,000 fans over the last five games, and they're sure to get another bump with this weekend's visit from the Cubs. But on a warm, sun-splashed afternoon, only 24,544 turned out for Wednesday's 5-1 victory over Kansas City. While that's the largest crowd the White Sox have drawn on a Wednesday this year, it's still well below the 39,000-plus who were at Wrigley a week ago.

Another difference between the Sox and Cubs these articles never mention: Sox fans work for a living. The reason most of our games are at night is because unlike the yuppie stockbrokers on the North Side, we can't just afford to take off at 11AM on a Wednesday to go to a baseball game. We have jobs, and not ones where we can not show up because we want to go hit on that one girl with the cute cell phone**. The percentage of people who can be at a mid-week day game at Wrigely vs. the percentage who can be at a mid-week day game at White Sox Park is pretty imbalanced, and there's a reason for that.

When the White Sox traveled to San Diego and Colorado earlier this month, left-hander Mark Buehrle was stunned at how many White Sox fans they saw — and heard. "We'd be coming around the bases and we'd be like, `Are we at home or on the road?'" Buehrle said. "You're seeing more Sox gear, more stickers on cars, people wearing shirts and hats."

It's almost as if, living outside the constant-Cubs-media-saturation of Chicago, you might actually discover which team is doing better***.

But to win over a city like Chicago, the White Sox know their best bet is to just keep doing what they're doing. "Our fans, much like us, we're tired of second place. We've got to prove to them they're coming out to a see a winner," general manager Kenny Williams said. "That's something to aspire to."

The always-underestimated Kenny Williams: he gets it.

*: This is not the same Nancy Armour who makes paintings of wild ponys:

**: One of the crowning ironies of Chicago baseball is that it's the Sox who play in a park sponsored by a cell phone company, when it's Wrigley Field where you can't even hear the lineups being read over the PA for all the guys yelling "DUDE! GUESS WHERE I AM!" into their Nokias.

***: Lest you think it's only the Cubs who are the recipients of staggering media bias, witness the deathless Red Sox/Yankees bias of most of the sports media, where disproportionate numbers of writers and talking heads are from the East Coast. Just yesterday, a bunch of ESPN tools had a very serious discussion about how sure, the White Sox SEEM to be good, but they're going to have to "get past" the Red Sox and Yankees to get to the World Series. Okay, fine, Red Sox -- they're the defending champeens, after all, and are only one game out of first. But last time I checked, the Yankees are in a distant third place in their division, fifth overall in the wild card chase, and playing like a bunch of underacheiving, overpriced middle-of-the-packers. It's too early to count the Yankees out, just as it's too early to count the White Sox in, but we no more need to "get past" the Yankees than I need to "get past" the Eiffel Tower to get to work every day. They're as much of a threat to the Sox as are the Tigers or the Blue Jays (and less of a threat than the Indians or the Rangers). But the talking heads can never, ever let anyone forget the Yanks are there.
flavored with age

I need a shower, a vodka lemonade, and about ten hours of sleep, in no particular order

Man, this day has sucked in about every way it is possible for a day to suck. Oh, sure, I didn't die of cancer or have my leg torn off by a badger, but I did forget to bring home some cardboard boxes! Who feels my pain? Also in the con column, I miss my girlfriend, my foot hurts, and my work day was generally miserable. On the plus side, though, I got a bunch of writing done tonight, I came one step closer to actually getting paid for some writing I already did a while back, and I made some pretty decent BBQ rib tips.

You know what joke I really like? The "Philip Philip Philip Philip Glass Glass Glass Glass" joke. Although Glass has actually grown on me to the point that I kinda like him now, that's just a great, perfect joke: it's smart (because you have to know something about the guy's music and reputation to get it), it's funny, and it's a unique kind of a joke, using the way you say/write something as a parody of the thing you're talking about. There's probably a name for that, but I'm too out of it to remember what it is. I also tried briefly to come up with some of my own, but that didn't go very far, because all my brains leaked out over the course of the day and now I am very, very stupid.

Catching up on that DC timeline thing, I learned what's been happening lately in the retarded world of comics. Boy, those writers sure do like killing thousands of people at a time, don't they? Almost as much as they like killing the female loved ones of their main characters. Way to up the ante, guys! Way to combat those stereotypes about the diseased misogynist/revenge-fantasy psyche of the typical comics reader! I remember the old days, when the protagonist's job was to prevent things like this from happening. Oh well! So long, San Diego; hasta la vista, Ascenscion. You suck, comics.

I'm at the point now where I think Deadwood is so goddamn (cocksucking) good that I'm sorely tempted to buy the DVD of season one, but maaaaan, HBO, you overprice the shit out of those things. It still makes no sense to me that the most expensive DVD sets come from a network you have to pay for in the first place. I guess I'll save my money for a new couch or something instead. (Ha ha! What money?)

Hey, there's another Funny Ha-Ha coming up in August, and hey, I'll be reading at it. I'll be funny there, I promise, funny like I'm not here. And on that note, good night, moon, good night, June, and good night, this list of ways to improve so-called "classic" novels:

1. To the Lighthouse -- vampires
2. Our Lady of the Flowers -- vampire ninjas
3. Guignol's Band -- vampire ninja robots
4. Everything Falls Apart -- vampire ninja robot monkeys
5. Omensetter's Luck -- vampire ninja robot monkeys, also maybe a more subtle portrayal of the nature of Rev. Furber's violent tendencies
6. Death Comes for the Archbishop -- blowjobs
7. Ulysses -- more blowjobs
8. Atlas Shrugged -- just one blowjob would lighten the mood considerably
9. Less than Zero -- less blowjobs
10. Gravity's Rainbow -- the main character should pop a boner every time the Nazis are about to launch a V2 missile strike on London

Oh, wait, scratch that last one.