Sunday, June 13, 2010

"Hey, Douchebag!"

(in which I begin a new feature of my blog, sure to become world-renown and a favourite feature of all of my readers. Essentially, it asks the rhetorical question, "Hey, douchebag, what's with that?" Where debate or intelligent engagement just wouldn't matter, all you can do is tell someone, "Hey, douchebag!")

The first "Hey, Douchebag!" honor goes to:

The d-bag who felt the need to stick a "Don't Blame Me, I Voted For the American" bumper sticker, (which included a mock Obama campaign logo), on the inside of the elevator door at my doctor's office. So, to that dimwit I'd say, "Hey, Douchebag!" then make him or her stand in that elevator and take the offending bumper sticker off the door with their fingernails, then make them clean the door of the sticky residue, until it was clean.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Thin Ice

I type this on the eve of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers. The Blackhawks have a 3-2 lead and if they win on Wednesday night, in Philadelphia, they will capture the Stanley Cup, for the first time since 1961. This is a pretty big deal.

The competition between the two teams has been quite heated at times -- the two teams have been playing very scrappy, tough hockey, leaving quite a bit of blood and sweat on the ice.

One of the more renown players on the Flyers is Chris Pronger, a well-traveled NHL player, who is tough, (some might say dirty), scrappy, and smart; the sort of player who gets away with a lot because he is nice to the officials, and who fans of every other team hate, but they'd take him on their club in a second.

During the last game, at the United Center in Chicago, Blackhawks fans showed their displeasure with Pronger by booing every time he touched the puck. Silly, maybe, but harmless, really.

Not so harmless was the Photoshopped poster of Pronger in Tuesday's Chicago Tribune. The poster referred to him as "Chrissy" and the Tribune "artist" who produced the picture put Pronger in a pair of women's figure skating tights -- all together, it insinuated that Pronger was a sissy, or a woman, or a fag, or somehow not a real man. That's the impression that I got, and as much as the people at the Tribune might deny it, that's the impression many got. This is the "journalistic" equivalent of shouting, "Pronger, you fag!"

I was instantly infuriated once I saw this poster. So infuriated that when I got home from work I didn't just put it up on my Facebook page or e-mail it to a bunch of people, I called the Tribune Sports department because I had one question, above all else: What was the point of this poster?

To their credit, the folks at the Trib seemed to be expecting my call (I wonder how many calls like mine they got on Tuesday). I was put on hold briefly, then a polite gentleman (I did not get his name) answered and after I told him about my objections to the poster, he said, "The point was just to try to have a little fun with who Chris Pronger was." he talked about Pronger's reputation and how Hawks fans hate him, and I told him that I am aware of that, because I am a Blackhawks fan, but that the poster was really offensive. He apologized and said that it was not their intention to offend women or gays or figure skaters or anyone else beyond Mr. Pronger (well, you failed at that, didn't you, Mister?). He then thanked me for calling and said they appreciated that I called and that I read the paper and that I listened to him. He did not give me the brushoff -- maybe that was because I did not get angry at him and I tried to be polite, though my voice was shaking at times. I then told him that I appreciated that he took the time to explain it to me and answer my question, though I still did not like that poster.

Not only is this in poor taste, but it only emboldens the meatheads who yell stuff such as "Pronger (or Crosby or Ovechkin or Thornton, et al) you fag!" at Blackhawks games. I know this because I have been there for games when, after scoring on the Blackhawks, these players have been treated to the above cries. (As if it makes it easier for one team's fans to deal with if they call the player that just scored on their team a fag.)

The good news is that most of the comments I saw on the Trib's website, as well as on some other blogs, really gave the Tribune hell for this boorish, stupid, juvenile, homophobic, misogynistic poster. The bad news is that it ever saw the light of day in the first place. I hope the sounds of the phone calls from angry readers are still ringing in the ears of the Tribune's sports editors.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Birds are Pissed

and when the birds get pissed, terrible things will follow.

I blame my irrational fear of (some types of) birds on my childhood. This was shaped by two things: the superstitions of my grandmother and her sister, and bible movies, like The Ten Commandments.

My maternal grandmother lived in our house, in the apartment above us, with her sister, well into their old age. For a while, theirs was the place to be, as my cousins and aunts and uncles would drop by for lunch, seemingly every day, to a spread of mortadella, prosciutto (before it was gourmet food), capicola, ham, etc. It was usually quite loud and there was always laughter, but one thing I remember, and I can't quite remember the occasion -- maybe someone died or someone had noticed a bird outside the window -- but it was either my grandmother or my aunt who said that when a bird appears outside your window, then someone's going to (or already has) die. They were southern Italians, as if that explains it. For some reason I've always remembered that.

Then of course there were those bible movies, where birds were the harbingers (no pun intended) of disease, death and darkness. That affected me quite a bit, as did a certain poem by Mr. Poe.

I like many birds -- little birds are cute, exotic birds of unusual colors fascinate me, I'll always stop to watch a cardinal (especially if they are beating the Chicago Cubs!), and I was in awe the other day when I saw a bluejay atop a stop sign. But dark birds with their dark eyes, give me the creeps, especially if, you guessed it, they're outside my window.

For the past year we've had some nesting birds on the back porch. The same back porch where I like to hang out late at night, on my 'weekends,' and have a cigar, watch the airplanes heading into O'Hare (yeah, I know, I'm a good 10 miles east of the airport but still, they come in pretty low around Uptown/Andersonville), and tool around Facebook and the Internet on my ipod Touch. For the most part they didn't bother us and we didn't bother them, since our schedules are the opposite - by the time I enter the outdoor smoking lounge at night, they're all sleeping.

But lately -- this is their second year here -- things have been getting out of hand, with bird poop all over the porch, the railings, the steps, and pieces of nesting materials strewn about, as well. So, the landlord was notified and while I haven't heard from him, it appears his handyman may have plugged the hole in the rotting beam about the porch, where the birds were nesting. Because when I got home tonight I found one bird, at the top of the stairs, chirping, incessantly, and occasionally looking up in the direction of where that hidden nest was. But no chirps came back at him. But he's still there. On the porch railing, pooping, and chirping, and looking right at me. And I think he's pissed.

I may need to self-medicate tonight to avert the inevitable nightmares. Then there will be the full-fledged attack of the surviving birds once I step outside. Better get the umbrella...

(NOTE: The bird pictured in thsi post is not the bird on my porch today. But I know that look ...)