Peyton Made Me Do It

Well, not really. But he might as well have, so I’m blaming/crediting him.

Anyway, you read on Friday that my old TV decided to give out.  However, I quickly realized it had done so at the most advantageous of times:

  1. In a bad economy, retailers are desperate to get rid of HD sets — both LCD and plasma — at ridiculously cheap discounts
  2. This goes double for the holiday season in a recession, when retail experts are fearing new lows in holiday spending.
  3. I’d just received my holiday bonus check (one week’s pay) the day before.

So, I spent Saturday at Circuit City, Costco, and Best Buy — the first because it was in bankruptcy and needed to move inventory to help consolidate two other locations that were sending what was left in, the second because I have a membership, and the third because I generally like it the best and trust it (this may be brand loyalty; I used to work at a store in Colorado and generally found it a decent place to work.)

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A Question Of Love

Because WordPress is a bee-yotch*, it will not allow me to embed the video, but I urge you to go and watch Keith Olbermann’s comment on Proposition 8.

I have had a love-hate relationship with K.O.’s show as of late, as the Special Comments became sometimes more than I could bear in terms of stridency, but this one should be watched and distributed as much as possible. The least I can do is quote the full text, without a jump:

Finally tonight as promised, a Special Comment on the passage, last week, of Proposition Eight in California, which rescinded the right of same-sex couples to marry, and tilted the balance on this issue, from coast to coast.

Some parameters, as preface. This isn’t about yelling, and this isn’t about politics, and this isn’t really just about Prop-8.  And I don’t have a personal investment in this: I’m not gay, I had to strain to think of one member of even my very extended family who is, I have no personal stories of close friends or colleagues fighting the prejudice that still pervades their lives.

And yet to me this vote is horrible. Horrible. Because this isn’t about yelling, and this isn’t about politics. This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it.

If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don’t want to deny you yours. They don’t want to take anything away from you. They want what you want—a chance to be a little less alone in the world.

Only now you are saying to them—no. You can’t have it on these terms. Maybe something similar. If they behave. If they don’t cause too much trouble.  You’ll even give them all the same legal rights—even as you’re taking away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying, no, you can’t marry. What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn’t marry?

I keep hearing this term “re-defining” marriage. If this country hadn’t re-defined marriage, black people still couldn’t marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal in 1967. 1967.

The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn’t have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it’s worse than that. If this country had not “re-defined” marriage, some black people still couldn’t marry black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not “Until Death, Do You Part,” but “Until Death or Distance, Do You Part.” Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.

You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are gay.

And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing, centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children, all because we said a man couldn’t marry another man, or a woman couldn’t marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage.

How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the “sanctity” of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?

What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don’t you, as human beings, have to embrace… that love? The world is barren enough.

It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work.

And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling.  With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?

With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate… this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe he represents? Then Spread happiness—this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness—share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand, on a question of love. All you need do is stand, and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate.

You don’t have to help it, you don’t have it applaud it, you don’t have to fight for it. Just don’t put it out. Just don’t extinguish it. Because while it may at first look like that love is between two people you don’t know and you don’t understand and maybe you don’t even want to know. It is, in fact, the ember of your love, for your fellow person just because this is the only world we have. And the other guy counts, too.

This is the second time in ten days I find myself concluding by turning to, of all things, the closing plea for mercy by Clarence Darrow in a murder trial.

But what he said, fits what is really at the heart of this:

“I was reading last night of the aspiration of the old Persian poet, Omar-Khayyam,” he told the judge. It appealed to me as the highest that I can vision. I wish it was in my heart, and I wish it was in the hearts of all: So I be written in the Book of Love; I do not care about that Book above. Erase my name, or write it as you will, So I be written in the Book of Love.”

(*And seriously: I am considering moving back to Blogger because of this alone, and I loathe Blogger. Maybe Movable Type is in order or something.)

A-Rod Schadenfreude, Writ Large

When my local TV news station ran an item on Alex Rodriguez’s marital discord, I knew the story had struck enough chords and brain receptors in the minds of editors and executive producers across the country for the perfect story. Combine the highest-paid baseball player (and the game’s most talented) with a washed up pop star like Madonna (quibble all you want, but she is riding on her 80s output like a greatest hits show), toss in possible Kabbalah crap and rumors of Lenny Kravitz joining the jilted Cynthia Rodriguez in Paris, and these are the things that crack local newscasts and papers across the country, not just in New York, where the Post and the Daily News are the closest thing we have to semi-legit tabloids.

These are the stories that give license to Deadspin’s A.J. Daulerio to create tags of genius such as “Justify My Glove” to encompass the entire scandal (part baseball reference, part Madonna reference, and part Kravitz, as he penned “Justify My Love” for the Material Girl years ago.)

But the question that always pops up with me is: why do we care so much? Michael Jordan’s divorce from wife Juanita did not receive this much play outside of Chicago and he’s worth more than A-Rod could ever hope to be at this point. Obviously, there is the inevitable celebrity factor involved with Madonna, which will get shows like Entertainment Tonight, Extra, and their ilk all over it, but as far as sports fans go, well, what’s the explanation?

I sense that, more than any athlete around right now, we want to see Rodriguez fail at things.

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Everyone’s A Pundit, Even If They Shouldn’t Be

There’s a particularly annoying development I’ve noticed in the past few months or so when it comes to cable news. Unfortunately, I watch a LOT of it. It’s part and parcel of what I need to know for my day job, and usually, Headline News does the trick in an hour because they don’t dwell on a story for so long that they forget to mention anything else interesting that might be happening. One hour on Headline News and I’m set with the basics of what might be on my station’s video service when I get to work at 2:45 in the afternoon.

(SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Exposure to Glenn Beck and Nancy Grace is detrimental to your health when ingested via cathode ray or plasma on a regular basis. Avoid Headline News in the early afternoons or evenings.)

The fellow in the picture to your right is Mike Galanos. He hosts Prime News starting at 1 PM Pacific or so, and I wouldn’t really care about who he is or whatnot except for the fact that he seems to be the most aggressive example of something I despise: newsreaders/anchors making editorial and opinion judgments on air when they read the news.

Example: today, a Texas appeals court ruled that the state’s Child Welfare Services erred in taking children from their mothers during the raid on a polygamist compound about a month ago. Galanos starts ranting and raving, wondering how the court could do such a thing, when the actual story makes its decision perfectly clear: the department had no evidence that the children were in any immediate danger. This makes no difference to Galanos — he’s perfectly content to ramble to the local reporter, asking, “How could the judges do this to these children?” (In no way am I defending child marriage/statutory rape, for some reason I feel compelled to point this out.)

After hearing this display of Lou Dobbs-style indignation at judges possibly knowing the law better than he does, I looked up Galanos’ bio — he’s a former sports guy, no wonder he’s used to rushing to judgment no matter what actual findings might interrupt it.  It’s like every straight news anchor is now an opinionated asshole, and we simply must hear it. It’s crossed over from the anonymous line-up of women in the A.M. on MSNBC to those on CNN Original as well. I wouldn’t tolerate it from an anchor I worked with and I don’t know why producers at networks don’t put a lid on this.

You get paid to read the news, not let us know what you think of it. Shut up and read the prompter. Whether you think the judges are right or wrong is irrelevant — they’ve got law degrees, robes, and decades of experience — and I don’t tune in to watch a pundit opine. Read the damn headlines, please.

Vick’s Vindication?

Potentially. Here’s the report that the Atlanta QB isn’t likely to be indicted on federal charges for dogfighting, and both D-Wil at TSF and Pacifist Viking have takes on this that I recommend you read before I go on, because they’ve stayed on the developments in this story. I mostly laid back, because I wanted to read how it would play out first before I made too much commentary on the subject, outside of what I thought defied credulity at the time: how Vick could not know what his own friends and family are doing inside a home he owns makes him a naif at best, and if he takes anything from this, hopefully he’s more cautious in the future if the reports turn out to be accurate. (Minimal involvement in the news media has told me that prosecutors are usually loath to bring charges if they know they don’t have squat to prove in court, no matter what level we’re talking about.) I saw no reason to dig holes for myself by making too many presumptions.

That didn’t stop a lot of columnists and pundits in print and on TV, though, and Terence Moore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (whom I believe D-Wil is referring to) is one of the bigger culprits on TV, and the four-letter did manage to sensationalize it to a level it didn’t deserve. The anonymous informant on OTL a while back hit a questionable note to me when he said Vick was dropping thousands on this at a time when he was still at Virginia Tech, which raises alarm bells, or should have, for anyone sane — or at least driven them to ask the VA Tech AD and coach Frank Beamer about it, and where Vick would have gotten the money for such an enterprise.

ESPN then let it die off while the actual investigative work was going on, only to resurrect the orgy of coverage on Friday when the search warrant on the house was executed. Media overkill has been one of the hallmarks of the Vick case, and as I write this, the headline about his possible non-indictment has sunk below the wire list on the front page. Now, that said, PV has a point: Vick may have been involved, but it’s not something that can be proven; however, the suspicion may still be there. However, that’s not enough to justify the treatment Vick’s received prior to any charges being filed.

If confirmed, I wonder if the lack of charges will garner as much attention as the possibility of an NFL QB being indicted in a wave of athletes behaving badly stories has for the past few months.

Let’s say I’m not particularly optimistic.

Clearly Being Part of VH1’s Celebreality Was Not Enough.

Larry Brown Sports tips me off to a dandy little item about your old friend and mine, Jose Canseco, whose stock has clearly gone down (if it were possible for it to fall any lower, to put it in financial terms, he was already at junk status) ever since he testified in Congress about his book and became the semi-sane person on the Surreal Life. (Yes, I watched a couple episodes with him on. Shut up.)

Desperate for more attention, Canseco is trying to create his own show, “A Day With Jose.” Some info gleaned from the press release over at Larry’s place:

a pool of contestants, initially chosen from their on-line applications submitted to, will appear before a panel of judges, and compete to become one of six finalists who will spend their fantasy day with Jose. They’ll surprise Jose at his Los Angeles home, explain their planned day of activities as approved by the judges, and have Jose to themselves for the entire day. ….

My only question: when did a professional fuck-up become a Make-A-Wish kid?

toast your cranberry juice to Marty.

If Scorsese and The Departed hadn’t won for best director and picture tonight, Marty would have had my permission to open fire on the first ten rows of the Kodak Theatre.

Pan’s Labyrinth got dicked on best foreign language film; it really did. I say that not only because the special effects company that worked on it is from my area of California, but also because it was an absolutely beautiful movie. Guillermo del Toro doesn’t get enough respect. The fact that Children of Men was not in the best picture or director noms was a slight.

Oh, and CBS, learn from ABC — real networks don’t tape delay big awards shows.