President Obama is well on his way to enshrinement in the Guinness Book of World Records for most miscues, stinks and brushfires in the first 100 days of an administration. The latest concerns his televised lament to Jay Leno on Thursday night that his bowling skills, or lack thereof (he recently bowled a 129), are worthy of the Special Olympics. Naturally, a sweaty apology to Special Olympics chairman Tim Shriver was issued and the Prez is now inviting Special Olympians to the White House to bowl or shoot hoops in a no-offense-it-was-just-an-unfortunate-little-joke-hah-hah gesture.
It'll be interesting to see if The Big Obowsky's attempts to make amends will boost bowling's popularity. He's already drawn attention to Special Olympics and its forthcoming drive to heighten people's sensitivity to the way they think about its athletes. In the meantime, he may want to note that politicians, like athletes, really can't afford to speak with any degree of candor unless they enjoy unsightly powder burns on their faces. Heck, good old George H.W. Bush had a torch-bearing mob of irate broccoli farmers under his window after an offhand remark that he wouldn't eat the stuff.
President O would also be wise to wrench a page out of Derek Jeter's playbook and stick to a straight-forward if stultifying blandness about everything from AIG and A-Rod to what he had for breakfast that morning.
To this space's sensibilities, the Prez is guilty of misdemeanor use of cliché while attempting to be funny, second degree failure to realize before he flapped his gums that many in the Special Needs community would take umbrage even if a mentally handicapped man in Ann Arbor happens to be the proud owner of several 300 games, and third-degree stupidity for handing his detractors -- many of whom are ready to assail his choice of necktie -- yet another nice box of ammo.
Now, if you cherish your inalienable right to go out without your tact on and you rally don't cotton to political correctness putting the visegrips on your tongue, you're likely scatching your head over the whole flap . . . while you steam about the President's efforts to redistribute wealth.
Exhibit A: His filling out an NCAA bracket. Few events redistribute wealth like the NCAA tourney: this year alone $12 billion is expected to be redistributed from the pockets of American burghers to the alligator wallets of sports book operators, not to mention another $4 billion worth of lost productivity at places of employment.
Speaking of wealth redistribution, it appears that a disgruntled chap by the name of Harold Oshinskyhas filed suit against the New York Football Giants and the New York Football Jets in an attempt to stop them from extracting thousands of dollars from the piggy banks of loyal fans by forcing said fans to purchase expensive Personal Seat Licenses before extracting thousands more for the ducats themselves. The two teams maintain their PSL's are in compliance with all "appropriate" laws. This space therefore assumes that laws ensuring the right to gouge fall under the heading of "appropriate."
Continuing in the rich vein of wealth redistribution, one imagines Martin Brodeur is warbling the old Jerry Reed classic "She Got The Gold Mine, I Got The Shaft" these days. The New Jersey Devils netminder had his NHL career wins-record party promptly pooped by a ruling in his alimony proceedings. To whit, Brodeur must pay his former spouse a tidy $500,000 a year until the year 2020, a development that has some observers wondering if Brodeur will become the next Gordie Howe and play until he's 48 in order to pay the bill. Given the speed at which athletes burn or lose their fortunes after they hang 'em up, this space can see it happening.
It's official. Alex Rodriguez has irrevocably crossed the threshold from big name athlete to demented celebrity sideshow. His dalliance with Madonna did much to grease the wheels -- or skids, depending on your point of view -- but whether he actually plays baseball is immaterial now, so to speak. He's become a rich man's Dennis Rodman and tabloids like the New York Post are doggedly tracking him and waiting to pounce on his every sneeze and wheeze, thus confining him to the loony bin reserved for the likes of Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Amy Winehouse, Andy Dick and others who become more famous for being trainwrecks than their actual talent.
Of course, this begs the question of why A-Rod would continue to do daffy things like his recent Details photo spread that fuel the furnace in the basement of the circus that his life has become. According to Dr. Drew Pinsky, the host of Celebrity Rehab, the cause is narcissism to a degree that qualifies as a medical disorder. "It's almost as though the celebrities are trying to (medically) treat themselves with their celebrity status," Pinsky told Maxine Shen of the New York Post, "trying to solve their emotional problem with being a celebrity."
The bad news (or good, depending on your taste): Our culture's endless fascination with this stuff pretty much ensures that it will continue. So how much ya wanna lay that A-Rod will be snapped by paparazzi as he climbs out of a cab while not wearing underwear?
In the wake of last week's look at notable sports-themed album covers, a bushel of readers used the handy Epistle Portal (below) to alert this space to some others that we neglected to mention. Yep, that's them -- the covers, not the readers -- running down the right side of the column.
We got us some football this time around (Tower of Power, The Who). Cricket, not surprisingly, is popular with British musicians -- thus the one from an Elton John disc and the other from '70s twin lead guitar pioneers Wishbone Ash (who are also still plying their trade). And just for the sake of being bullgoose obsessive, we present this link to an obscure single by Roy Harper, the chap who sang the lead vocal on Pink Floyd's song "Have A Cigar."
Reader Neal Myant of Durango, CO suggested The Outfield's Play Deep, but while the title is apropos, the cover art isn't suggestive of sports.
A subject for another day: a musical landscape littered with bands names like The Outfield, Fastball, Five For Fighting, Babe Ruth, Damn Yankees and The Dodgers, not to mention records with titles like Whitey Ford Sings The Blues (Everlast). Don't get us started on albums by actual athletes....
March is the time when clichés sprout like the first shoots of spring, and "Body of work" is apparently this year's "It is what it is." But if you're a real connoisseur, it's hard to beat NHL Network's promo clips featuring The Coach. Herewith, one or two for your enjoyment. Never let it be said that this space does not give 110 percent 25 percent of the time.
Have to imagine that with Congress on the warpath over that $165 million in taxpayer-funded bonuses paid out by the fine folks at AIG (which seems to stand for Ain't I Greedy), the good lads of the Manchester United football club are losing their shirts. In January, AIG had to announce that this will be the final year of its $25 million deal to put the company's logo on the front of Man U's jerseys. In the meantime, our plants in the lobby of the Capitol Building lead this space to report that Congress is readying an amendment to force AIG to change its name to MUD, in order to more accurately reflect its standing with the American public. As always, you read it hear first...and last.
Want to whip up some righteous indignation? Merely preheat your temper to 375 degrees, grab a large pyrex baking dish and liberally grease with lard. In a mixing bowl, whisk together one cup vitriol, one teaspoon bitter invective, baking powder, cayenne pepper, and rock salt. Set mixture aside.
In a separate large stove pipe hat, mash the sweet potato leaving only a slight meaty texture. Whisk the spud and two rotten eggs, warm water, sugar, 30-weight oil and vanilla extract. Stir ingredients until homogenous then fold in raisins, walnuts and explosives. Batter the mixture into the prepared bundt pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of your forehead comes out clean -- about 1 hour. Let cake cool in the tin for 15 minutes and invert onto serving platter, cake stand or your neighbor's head. Shove everything into the handy space-time delivery portal on right, click Send, and walk away wiping your hands.
You'll be glad you did.