Friday, May 28, 2010

When Game Day Is the Same Day As the Wedding: "I Don't"

In October 1993, I attended the wedding of a close friend. The night of the wedding coincided with Game 6 of the World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays. Forced to miss much of the game during the ceremony, virtually all of the males—myself included—repeatedly shuffled between the reception and a room that had a television to watch the fate of the Phils. This Sunday evening, I must attend another wedding (ironically, of the younger sister of this close friend). Thankfully, this night falls between Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals, so I won’t be deprived of watching my hometown team battle for a long-awaited championship, as in 1993. But that’s just dumb luck, and circumstance easily could have contrived another catastrophe for me and fellow Philadelphia Flyers fans.

I need not even go into the pain of a Sunday-afternoon wedding in November 2003 that obliterated for us invitees a key Philadelphia Eagles conference matchup.

I understand the personal need for marriage—and I suppose matrimony still holds some societal relevance—but I believe I speak for all sports fans in stating that scheduling weddings during sports seasons has got to stop. Let’s face it: sports are undeniably more important to the American psyche than a wedding—if they were not, then Say Yes to the Dress would have the multi-billion-dollar television contract instead of the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball. The hard truth is that sports—like the gladiatorial games of ancient Rome—are the glue that bonds society together. America shrugs off divorce, annulment, and infidelity, but it could never survive without the emotional decompression and financial gains of its major sports. Does anybody truly prefer wearing a stuffy outfit for three hours in an overheated hall, quietly bored out of their mind, when they could be rooting for their favorite team with beer in hand and t-shirt on shoulders? Of course not.

Therefore, I propose—in the most non-matrimonial sense of the word—blackout dates in which weddings can no longer be held, thus enabling the viewing of sporting events to go unencumbered. Considering that hockey and basketball seasons essentially overlap, October through June are out, which also safeguards the World Series. Also blacked out should be September, to include the first month of football season. That leaves July and August, which are, of course, the core of baseball season. By August, the pennant races are quite serious, so forget reserving the chapel during that month. Which leaves July. Nobody really wants to attend a wedding during the Dog Days of July, but the pennant races are still up for grabs, so missing a game won’t kill you.

This idea may ruffle the feathers of the betrothed, but we’ve all wished it from time to time—including the groom. Weddings that could only occur in this one designated month would make everyone’s life so much easier: we wouldn’t have to unexpectedly interrupt our lives, there would be no traveling in winter, and everyone would be happier not having to sacrifice a game for mediocre chicken marsala and line dancing. As Spock said in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

Or the couple.

(Third photo copyright The Daily Collegian.)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Comcast: It's Bombastic!

Nobody I know has ever had a good word to say about Comcast. And why should they? Frequently interrupted service. Expensive rates. Problematic, often combative, customer relations. Programming grids that list "To Be Announced" for hours after a power loss or, when working, are sometimes flatly inaccurate. Their sanctimonious ads boast of high-quality, inexpensive, attentive service, but I'd drop Comcast in a minute if Verizon FiOS were available in my area. Hell, I might even drop it in favor of a 1959 rabbit-eared Philco that shows only snow and has no vertical hold.

Another Comcast attribute I resent is its film synopses. The worse-rated the film, the more glowing its review—because, of course, self-righteous Comcast couldn't actually offer bad films, could it? For example, Juwanna Mann gets 1 star (the universal rating for "poor") yet is described as a "slam-dunk comedy." Another 1-star comedy, Miss March, somehow is an "uproarious road romp." I don't know if Comcast writes its own reviews or obtains them from a third party, but virtually every 1-star film is, according to Comcast, a must-see winner:

Bride Wars—"Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway are a scream..."
The Box—a "hypnotic thriller"
All About Steve—an "endearing comedy"
Bigger Than the Sky—a "charming romantic comedy"
Fired Up!—a "peppy and uproarious teen romp"
12 Rounds—an "exciting thriller"
Extract—"big laughs"
Hush—a "gripping thriller"
Bad Company—an "action-packed espionage comedy"
Year One—a "hilarious Stone Age comedy"
Jennifer's Body—"big laughs"
Did You Hear About the Morgans?—a "wacky comedy"
I Love You, Beth Cooper—a "laugh-a-minute teen comedy"
Dragonball: Evolution—an "exhilarating martial-arts fantasy film"
Old Dogs—"Get ready for big laughs"
Post Grad—a "lovable comedy"

Need more examples?

The Women—a "polished and incisive remake"
Joe Dirt—a "raucous comedy"
Step Up—includes "a wonderful wealth of dancing and romancing"
Town & Country—"Warren Beatty and Garry Shandling score as..."
The Whole Ten Yards—a "hilarious sequel"
WarGames: The Dead Code—a "thrilling sequel"
Disaster Movie—a "riotous and outlandish spoof"
When in Rome—a "lovable romance"
Taxi—"high-octane action and rollicking humor"
Max Payne—"Mark Wahlberg gives a dynamic performance..."
Planet 51—"big laughs"
Who's Your Caddy?—a "top-flight Caddyshack homage"
Because I Said So—"a charming romantic comedy"
Deck the Halls—an "uproarious holiday farce"

Such self-serving reviews make one wonder if Hollywood has ever cranked out subpar celluloid. In fact, of the very few remotely critical reviews of a film I've seen on Comcast's programming grid, the sternest is that for Johnny Dangerously (1 star): a "puerile sendup of gangster flicks."

Now, I don't know what kind of confused buffoons compile these reviews, but how does Comcast slap Beverly Hills Ninja—perhaps the greatest "Great White Hope" epic ever made...certainly funnier than its counterparts Dances With Wolves, The Last Samurai, and Avatar—with a single star yet opine that "Chris Farley is in fine comedic form in this quick-chopping comedy..."? Comcast's rating system fully discredits its review, and vice versa. Such deceptive policy is not worthy of Comcast's exorbitant monthly cost. Worse, it denigrates the film that taught us that the morbidly obese can achieve martial-arts mastery, the film that inspires those of us who desperately wish to be ninjas yet don't possess the monastic resolve to devote our lives to its practice or to eliminate Twinkies and bacon from our diet.

In contrast, Comcast gives the bland 2008 comedy, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, 2 stars. Another tired talking-animal flick, a lost chihuahua must make her way back from Tijuana to Beverly Hills, with the always-hilarious Drew Barrymore providing the dog voice. Sounds great, doesn't it? Problem is: there's no self-abusive sword work, no overturning of urns and mixing of cremated ashes, no assaulting airport metal detectors, no culinary acrobatics at a tempura grill, no communicating across the Plane of Enlightenment and resultant crash landings. A 2-star comedy should make one laugh twice as much as a 1-star comedy, yet I defy anyone with an IQ above ten—dogs included—to find Beverly Hills Chihuahua funnier than Beverly Hills Ninja.

Clearly, Comcast has no idea what it's doing.

Or, as Haru of the Takagura dojo would say: "Holy shinto!"

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

In Praise of the Tase

Last night, Steve Consalvi, a 17-year-old from Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania, ran onto the field as the Philadelphia Phillies hosted the St. Louis Cardinals. After evading the grounds crew, Consalvi was finally subdued when a security guard Tased him. Now that Tasers have been drawn at Citizens Bank Park, why stop at a 17-year-old punk who didn't get enough attention from Daddy? Start Tasing the fans who yell practically in your ear all game long. Tase those who knock you down to get a worthless foul ball. Tase those who don't sit in their assigned seat, and Tase those who use abusive language regardless of the presence of children.

But don't stop there. Equip movie ushers with Tasers so they can shoot-to-shock the boors who talk during a film. Tase those who don't use turn signals. Tase those who hold up traffic by taking their time crossing the street, and Tase those who leave empty bottles on the sidewalk even though a garbage can stands ten feet away.

Tase the jerk who plays his music loud late at night. And Tase the dope who pays for an 89-cent candy bar with a debit card. Tase those who don't park between the lines, and Tase those who take up two spots on the street. Tase those who text while driving, and Tase those who root for the New York Rangers.

Tase 'em all and let the judge sort 'em out.

(Photos copyright Associated Press.)