Monthly Archives: November 2008

Leagues of extraordinary egotism

  • They weren’t taught how to behave correctly. WRONG
  • They are the best at what they do; cut them some slack. NOPE
  • They aren’t paid to be role models. FAIL

Say what you like, but it won’t change the truth. [Just like my ranting about it won’t change it.] Once again, the consummate arrogance and sheer stupidity of some pro athletes overshadows any positive force the genuine leaders display. The levels of spoiled-bratism in the NFL, MLB and NBA have risen to such ridiculous heights, even sports writers and commentators who’ve “seen it all” are raising an eyebrow.

The list of perps is too long to include here. It’s a shame in the first place that the list is long, but let me predict right here and now that it’s only going to get longer. Epidemics work like that. Anyway, here’s a taste:

#1 – Stephon Marbury

If you have a beef with your employer, refusing to go to work and making your colleagues pull your share of the responsibility is not the way to handle it. So what if Stephon has issues with the way he was being handled by the Knicks? Take care of that business during the daytime, but go to work and “tough it out” for $190,000 a night with your mates, regardless of the picayune details that seem crucial to you. At a time when people are losing their jobs in record numbers in this country, behavior like this strikes a particularly sour note. Get over yourself and do your job.

#2 – Manny Ramirez

After crossing his arms and planting his butt on the bench in Boston because things didn’t go his way, the Red Sox paid him $7 million to leave. Poor Manny.

But hey, look at the bright side. He won an award. He and fellow ding-dong Roger Clemens were top contenders for the 2008 Gobblers.

#3 – Allen Iverson

Well you can’t blame a guy for trying. I mean, I’d hate to have to work on Thanksgiving Day. Being an incredibly highly-paid school teacher, I revel in getting that day off. But I haven’t always. I’ve worked in retail, and as a waitress. I’ve worked on Christmas, Easter, New Year’s Day, and yes — Thanksgiving Day. It bit, but I did what I had to do, just like everyone else. Er, almost everyone else.

Allen apparently didn’t appreciate having to work on Thanksgiving Day, so he just took the day off, without calling anyone. At least he apologized for it later (but come on, admit it: it’s always easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission).

Bottom line, Al: if you don’t like the work schedule, get a different job.

#4 – Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson

OK, cut him some slack. He showed up late to a Bengals team meeting. Come on, he was tired. So he sat there in the chair and slouched like a pouting 5-year-old, and when he was told repeatedly by a coach to sit up and act like a man, he got up and left, earning himself a one-game suspension. Boo hoo.

All joking aside (was I joking?), it’s uncanny how out of touch some of these guys really are. You’d think that, since most of them came from (at best) regular, working-class families, they’d have a bit more perspective. And I know all about having money thrown at them from all sides, the instant riches and everything that goes with it, blah, blah…but somehow, all the “coaching” these young players get from their betters regarding on- and off-the-field behavior doesn’t quite sink in with many of them. Offending fans with cosmically stupid statements doesn’t seem to bother them, either. From a great article in the Baltimore Sun:

“I got my family to feed.” — former Timberwolves swingman Latrell Sprewell, as he turned down a 3-year, $21 million extension in 2004.

“Sure, we might make a lot of money, but we spend a lot of money, too.” — former Knicks forward Patrick Ewing, during the 1999 lockout.

“When you’re rich, you don’t write checks. … Straight cash, homey.” — then-Vikings receiver Randy Moss in 2005, about how he would pay a fine for mooning Packers fans.

“It’s a sad day for me. Our paychecks will be cut in half.” — Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, after Obama’s election. (?????)

“If I wasn’t making so much money, the fans would show a little compassion. … It would be a blessing to be a typical jock.” — Giants pitcher Barry Zito.

You’re right there, Barry. You would be blessed. I know a lot of “typical jocks” who aren’t selfish, whiny brats, and who have their self-worth and perspective completely intact.

I know the bottom-liners out there will say it’s the American way, or it won’t change until fans don’t go to games anymore, etc. But truly, we’re too far gone for that. Pro sports are hard-coded into our nation’s DNA. I myself am guilty of their propagation. It would be nice if nobody talked, wrote or cared about sniping, swaggering, selfish athletes, but that’s not the reality.

What is the reality is this: I need to start studying. Today. Have a relaxing Sunday, all. Did I mention I don’t have to go to school tomorrow? It’s Deer Huntin’ Day! Yaaahoo!

Fink, happy to teach in the boonies (actually, just happy to have a job at all)

Various & Sundry VII

Whoa, I slept in until 6:25! Half the day’s gone now. OK, what’s in my reptilian brain this morning? I have six tabs open in Firefox. What’ll it be? Ahh….

Kanye West. I remember the first time I heard the Auto-Tune vocal processor on a recording. It was ten years ago (I looked it up), on Cher’s “Do You Believe in Life After Love?” Kind of a cool effect.

This morning, I listened to four tracks from West’s new album, Heartless. I kept listening, thinking, “OK, there’s got to be an end to this effect; he’s going to revert to his real voice any second now.” Nothin’ doin’. There isn’t a single moment of those four songs when Auto-Tune is not (over)used.

For those who may not know, Auto-Tune is a device used in recording studios (and increasingly in live performances) to alter a voice. It corrects bad notes so it sounds as if the artist sang in tune. Engineers can also monkey with Auto-Tune to give a voice a robotic sound.

As with every other in-studio sweetening gimmick (delay, reverb, phase shift, doubling, and a hundred other effects I don’t know about), Auto-Tune should be used like salt; a little bit goes a long way. Too much of it and the whole dish is ruined. And so it went with my four-course Kanye meal. It is apparent that the boy can’t sing in tune, but at least has the wisdom to use technology to cover up the fact. Unfortunately, the “annoying” factor still comes through loud and clear.

“Paranoid” has a nice hook in the chorus, but cripes I can’t get away from the Auto-Tune that I know is coming on the next line and the next and the next. And regarding “Amazing” — props to Mr. West for being a mega-hitmaker, but son, it sounds like a couple of my middle school boys experimenting with a 4-track recorder and a sampler in their attic. The singing is so bad, not even Auto-Tune does a decent job of covering it up.

The lyrics weren’t especially ennobling, either:

Tawk & tawk & tawk & tawk ~ Why don’t we just knock it off ~ They don’t know what we been thoo ~ They don’t know ’bout me & you


But hey, to each his own, right? If the music speaks to you, it’s all good, because in my book, that’s what music is supposed to do. And here ends my foray into popular music criticism — an endeavor best left to those who know the business. But seriously, anyone can recognize delusions of grandeur/self-aggrandizement when they see it. Brother needs to be careful. It’s all fun & games, painting yourself as bigger than life and greater than everyone and everything, until you can’t back it up. Heartless didn’t help Kanye’s quest for world domination.

Fink out.

Photo credit: Time

Music at random

As I enjoy my quiet time on this day after Thanksgiving, sipping my DD coffee and listening to 60s/70s music on, my neurons precipitate many random thoughts, resulting in random comments as the tunes roll.

What the world is the meaning of the song, “Mrs. Robinson,” by Simon & Garfunkel?

Put it in your pantry with your cupcakes.

Laugh about it, shout about it, when you’ve got to choose.

Any way you look at it, you lose.

Hmmm. I mean, I’ve seen the movie (although it was years ago) The Graduate, and I know it was included on the soundtrack. I went to to try to find out more about it — which I did — but I didn’t see a definite conclusion regarding what exactly the lyrics mean. I hate that.

You know, speaking of Paul and Art…there are some groups that just invite a sing-along. You know what I mean? I remember singing with their voices on the radio when I was in junior high school, adding a third layer of harmony on as many of their tunes as possible. I was such a little rock star.

I loved playing “Sound of Silence” and “The Boxer” on my guitar while I sang every memorized word. The hours I wasted sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of that record player…

Ah, Queen is on the playlist right now. There are two groups of people: the group that knows “Bohemian Rhapsody” from Wayne’s World, and the group that was at that party in 1975 where somebody bought the new record and put it on full blast ten times over so everyone could learn the words.

She packed my bags last night, pre-flight. Elton John, “Rocket Man.” Michael, my friend from high school (actually, he was my boyfriend in high school) who reads RtB might recall a kid in our graduating class who was so obsessed with John’s music and persona, he wore the glasses and platform shoes and everything. We called him “Elton Tom.” Remember him, Mike?

Credence Clearwater Revival — another band that helped me learn my basic guitar chords and strumming chops. Mavis and I loved them. “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” is on right now. Anyone else like CCR back in the olden days?

Ah…perfection. “Something” by the Beatles. Great way to start your day, mate. I’m off to shop for chocolate molds — hope the Food Dock’s open today.

Happy Black Friday!

Photo credits:;

Shut up already.

Yes, I know it’s uber-hip to hate Barry Manilow. Usually, when people behave in that type of pile-on manner, they know a lot less about the one they’re piling on than what they think.

I saw a Reuters blog post with the tag line, Warning: readers who are easily disturbed or offended should not read this item. The author even titled it, “Well, this is just too sick!” (Just a *bit* over the top. Overkill, anyone?) It’s about a judge who punished young noise-ordinance offenders by making them sit for an hour and listen to Manilow’s music. HAAAhaHAahAHAAA! That’s HILARIOUS!!! OMG, that’s PRICELESS!!! HO ho Heee hee haha–*BANG*

Shut up already. As knee-slappingly funny and delightfully clever as the judge is, he’s a piler-on. Everyone who possesses the slightest trace amount of cool is supposed to hate Barry Manilow, right? So yeah, let’s run that into the ground.

If you don’t like him for personal or musical reasons, fine. I’m not a huge Manilow fan myself — I wasn’t in the 70s, either. But I respected who he was, and still do. A prolific songwriter, commercial jingle writer, pianist, arranger and producer, he got his start in the bigtime back in the early 70s as music director for an up-and-coming singer named Bette Midler. He has a pleasant voice, sings in tune, and writes some beautiful melodies. He’s a true musician, unlike about fifty other Kool Kids I could name. Just sayin’…give the guy the credit due him.

I don’t particularly like “I Write the Songs” either, but Manilow didn’t even write that. He also didn’t write “Weekend in New England,” but his rendition was gorgeous. He did, however, write the beautiful ballad “Even Now,” and to this day, hearing it makes me bawl (it’s a profoundly sad introspective about a man who has, for all intents and purposes, moved on with his life, but is still tormented by how difficult it is to live without “her”). Equally moving is “Could it Be Magic,” based in part on a Chopin prelude. He had a way of writing chord progressions that seemed to physically “pull” at you, somewhere in your chest, near your heart. Those who have experienced that phenomenon know what I mean. To those who haven’t, I’m not sure I could explain it; when it happens, you just know it, and it’s magnificent and addictive. It’s what makes you play tunes over and over and over, just to get the feeling.

But of course, regardless of his many accomplishments, the kool thing to do is deposit the guy’s entire performing career and song catalog into a stupid box called “Copacabana.” Ok, go ahead. But at least consider this:

With worldwide sales of more than 75 million records, Barry Manilow’s success is a benchmark in popular music. His concerts and night-club performances sell out instantly. He is ranked as the top adult contemporary chart artist of all time, according to R&R (Radio&Records) and Billboard magazines. Rolling Stone crowned him ‘a giant among entertainers… the showman of our generation,’ and Frank Sinatra summed up Manilow best when [he] told the British press, ‘He’s next.’

Yep. No-talent slouch, that Manilow guy. And Sinatra knew bupkes about performing anyhow. Feh.

But enough of the bad stuff. I want to wish a very happy Thanksgiving to all my Finkville fiends. I heart you!

RF, off to finish the pies

Inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these…

You might have read that Michael Vick, former NFL quarterback doing 2 years at Leavenworth, plans to file for reinstatement to the league after pleading guilty to running a dog fighting ring. He hopes that his admission of guilt will shorten his sentence.

Now I believe that someone can do wrong, then rehabilitate. If NFL commissioner Roger Goodell thinks Vick has paid his debt and it’s all right for him to go back to playing football, then that’s his call. I do wonder if the ticket-buying public will completely accept him back, but then again, I’ve heard it said that pro football is more about revenue than football, so…

But why did Vick (and his pals) do this? Certainly it wasn’t because he needed the money — although I guess he needs it now because he’s broke, which makes me wonder how anyone could go through $130 million in such a short time. Still, how could anyone do this and sleep at night?

This is Lucas. He was Vick’s #1 champion fighting dog. His face is torn up with scars. He’s being rehabilitated by some great folks at Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah, along with 21 of the 47 Pit Bull Terriers seized from “Bad Newz Kennels.”

Georgia, seen here taking a siesta with her handler, was likely one of the most abused of all Vick’s dogs, according to the feature I read. Vick hired a veterinarian (who should have his/her license revoked forever) to pull all 42 of Georgia’s teeth, presumably so she would not bite the male dogs she was repeatedly given to for breeding purposes.

The New York Times article also tells about another Vick-tim named Cherry, who…

…is so terrified of people that he won’t walk on a leash. He just prostrates himself and refuses to budge, so he has to be carried everywhere. Later, when he is finally persuaded to take short walks, he skulks, pressing himself against the nearest wall or fence, as if trying to be invisible.”

It is thought that Cherry was used as a “bait dog.”

Again, I ask: Why would someone do this to an animal? I’m no extremist, but to me, torturing a living being that cannot defend itself, or that does not know what is happening to it or why — for entertainment, fuh cripesake — is the lowest, most vile form of cruelty. The whole mess just makes me seethe with rage.

I believe that the people who did this lack a specific chip in their brain circuitry. The empathy chip; the human decency chip; the Dear-God-Don’t-Make-Me-A-Sociopath chip. Seriously, something is wrong with these guys. And they’re not alone.

In my life, I’ve seen people slap, punch, kick, scream at, and basically try to scare to death innocent dogs. I’ve heard of people feeding them alcohol until the dogs pass out, vomit, or stumble around and hurt themselves. To those folks, I say c’mere. Gotta tell you something. Take your dog to the nearest animal shelter. Then get a cat-o’-nine-tails, remove your shirt, and flog yourself unconscious. Have a friend coat your bed with salt and place you in it. Simmer. Wake up. Scream. Rinse. Repeat.

I think all dog owners should live by this list:

The List of “Nevers”

  1. NEVER hit or kick a dog — ever, for any reason — unless it’s attacking you and you fear for your safety.
  2. NEVER, upon realizing that your puppy has torn up a magazine or had an accident on the floor while you were gone, rub his snout in the mess or shake the magazine in his face while yelling at him. Want to turn your dog into a psychological mess? Then do that Jekyll-and-Hyde song and dance. Did you ever know someone — maybe a family member — whom you loved and wanted to please, but whose moods were so erratic that you feared him/her walking in the door? Then you know what I mean. Your dog adores you; don’t slap his face for it. There are other ways to redirect bad behaviors. Learn them and do what’s right by your pet. There are lots of great sites, like this one, with excellent information, for free.
  3. NEVER assume your dog knows that you’ve had a sucky day at work or school, or a fight with your significant other, or that you’re in a bad mood. Be an adult and put it aside; don’t take it out on your pet.
  4. NEVER blame your dog for what is your fault. If you don’t let him out for 12 hours and he has an accident on the floor, clean it up without comment and learn from your mistake. How would you feel if you weren’t allowed to go to the bathroom for 12 hours at a time, or if you had no water to drink all day long because someone was afraid you’d have to go to the bathroom?
  5. NEVER assume that since you’ve given this dog a home, he should be grateful to be completely ignored. Dogs can feel loss, depression, boredom, anxiety and loneliness, the same as you and I. If the novelty of having a pet has worn off for you, then give the dog to someone who will treat him with the love and respect he deserves.

Our dogs probably think the sun rises and sets on us, and they want nothing more than to please, and be loved by us. We need to give them the chance to do that.

Sure, release Vick early. But release him to a halfway house and give him a job, lasting for the remainder of what would have been his prison term. Put him to work in a local shelter, or in a vet hospital where abused animals are treated.

Fink out.

PS – National Geographic produced a special about Vick’s dogs. I’d like to see it when it comes around again.

PPS – Browns fans: interesting article off the AP wire yesterday (although I don’t know where ESPN gets off coding the link I clicked to say, “Browns owner puts Crennel, Savage on notice”).

Photo credit: New York Times