Help dad put a bag on

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Sunday is the day we all traditionally render unto Caesar, so if you're at a loss for the perfect gift for your paternal unit on Father's Day, may we suggest the humble paper bag.

Long prized by fans of downtrodden teams as statement apparel, a bag can add a touch of style to your dad's stadium or arena attire even if he roots for a winner or a reasonable facsimile thereof. Exhibit A is the item on the right, lovingly created by this space's teenaged male offspring . . . for his girlfriend's dad.

Clearly the lad has thoughts of a career in design -- as well as designs on his girlfriend -- but we digress. Note the personal touch: a facial likeness of the papa in question that flips open to reveal a screaming mouth that can be equipped with eyeholes for watching the horror unfold on the field.

The New York Mets are the adornment here not so much for their losing -- they were 32-29 as of this writing -- but for their status as Son's Girlfriend's Father's Favorite Team. However, in all frankness, this space has seen morphine addicts move faster from home plate to first base or in pursuit of fly balls than Mets of recent seasons, so bags may be in order if they pull another epic late-season el-fold-o.

Yes, these brown beauties are rugged, affordable, and can be customized for any team. What's more, the sandwich-sized variety make great handpuppets -- perfect for entertaining the sullen family on long car rides or over the cold gruel of Father's Day dinner.

There's an old saying that dying is easy, comedy is hard. If you need proof, take a gander at the remains of Joe Buck and David Letterman. The debut installment of Buck's new talk show generated much air and ink, partly for laying there like a week-old mackerel in the sun, but also for a notoriously toilette-mouthed guest offendingdelicate sensibilities -- such as those of the host and HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg, who sound as if the Pope had suddenly started working blue. But Artie Lange? Who woulda thunk it?

Letterman's hah-hahs about Sarah Palin's makeup, and her teen daughter being put in the family way by that ol' alleycat Alex Rodriguez, inspired a Tuesday protest in NYC attended by about 50 Palin supporters calling for Letterman's head on a pike, four counter-protestors waving snarky signs like "I Can See Idiots From My House," 500 pointy-headed media elite including this space, and some gawkers/tourists sauntering past the Ed Sullivan Theatre on Broadway. Interestingly, the New York Post story in Wednesday's bulldog edition, headlined "Protestors Surround CBS,"implies Tehran-style fireworks.

No matter where you sit on this issue, you can be offended by the fact that the "humor" in each instance -- like Don Imus' infamous "nappy-headed hos" crack about the Rutgers women's hoops team -- was your basic lowest common denominator cowpie in the ballroom punchbowl. Perhaps we ought to demand better from trained professionals in the comedic field if they aren't going to deliver the kinds o sensitivity that some demand. In other words, rip a page from the manuals by Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor and at least be clever when attempting to tweak, offend, outrage or simply draw attention to your new show. Seems like the least you can do to make it worth your while in an age where verbal dirty bombs are likely to attract picket signs and calls for sponsor boycotts . . . or worse.

Times are tough and lawd knows we're all scrambling for new revenue streams. So in the selfless spirit of civic service, a smelting enterprise called Cash4Gold has graciously put out the call for precious scrapmetal and is even suggesting that the newly-minted NHL champions have the Stanley Cup melted down for drinking money.

"The Pittsburgh Penguins prevailed in a great series, and I don't expect the team to send the Stanley Cup to Cash4Gold," ever-realistic CEO Jeff Aronson declares in a press release that blew in through the whizz-bang Epistle Portal (below). "However, if any of their fans or any other Americans want to tap the value of old or broken gold or silver jewelry lying around the house, then now would be a great time to send it to Cash4Gold. We're buying."

You heard the man. Drinks are on the house. But hey, who knows? Penguins captain Sidney Crosby just ruffled some Red Wings' feathers by lollygagging it to the traditional handshake line at the conclusion of the Cup final the other night, so he clearly isn't afraid to defy the laws of tradition. Therefore, NHL Cup-handler Mike Bolt best keep a close eye on the silverware.

In our last installment, this space predicted that athletes in the traditional big four sports leagues will soon be covered head to toe in cheesy advertisements in order to increase revenue in today's "challenging" economy. Meanwhile, Marcin Gortat of the Orlando Magic took some heat from Reebok -- with whom he has a contract -- about that very noticeable Michael Jordan/Nike tattoo on his leg.

This wave of the future moved reader Tom Perkes of Kennewick to ask via the ever-handy Epistle Portal (below): "Would teams then take advertising space into consideration when looking at free agents? CC Sabathia offers more space than Cliff Lee, so he's worth more to the team? Now you want your guys to take steroids not just for home runs and miles-per-hour (on their pitches) but for ad revenue. A 3XL jersey is 3x more space than the large jersey!"

Indeed. David "Big Papi" Ortiz may be passing his use-by date as a hitter, but as a human billboard, his best days are clearly ahead.

There's a wise old bumper sticker to the effect of "It takes leather balls to play rugby" and the good folks way down yonder in New Zealand certainly lend proof to that statement. In what has to be one of the most squirrely sporting events on the planet, the annual Nude Rugby International match was held last weekend in Dunedin, NZ. Just the thought of it makes this space reach for the old codpiece (an actual cod caught off the cape of the same name and modified to fit that most strategic location in the trousers.) In an alternate universe touch, a clothed streaker crashed the proceedings. We try, but we can't make this stuff up.

Now this is a sport for our times: The third annual U.S. National Texting Championship was held in New York City this week with Kate Moore, 15, of Des Moines, Iowa, beating a field of 250,000 contestants to take the $50,000 top prize. If you still dwell in the age of tin cans and string, this grueling competition requires mindbending speed and accuracy, and the finals include such disciplines as blindfold and obstacle course texting. Moore trained for her moment of glory by hammering out 14,000 messages a month, or roughly 450 a day -- 15 fewer than this space's similarly-aged daughter produces on any given day in geometry class, but we digress...

With all the complaints about the Car of the Tomorrow reducing NASCAR races to a form of general anesthesia, it seems to us that texting could be incorporated into the Tums Fast Relief 500 with great effect. Drivers would be awarded extra points for accuracy, and at the very least, texting at 190 miles per hour would increase the entertainment factor significantly.

This space is a big proponent of facial foliage (for obvious reasons), but not since the great Groucho Marx has it seen anything quite like the 'stache Michael Phelps has sprouted. From a purely sporting point of view, Phelps letting his mug go to seed is a brave move indeed given that swimmers usually shed their chickweed wherever it may sprout in order to reduce the water's drag on their bodies. But according to our ever-reliable source -- a bathing suit engineer with intimate knowledge of H2O -- Phelps' new fu is actually made of waterproof greasepaint like Groucho's and serves as a hydrofoil that lifts his head like a pontoon, although as our source wryly notes, "That bobo bush he was seen smokin' a coupla months back achieves the same effect and he don't even have to get wet or work up a sweat."

And now let us pause to gawk at one of nature's natural wonders: the portal on your right that bends the space-time continuum in order to deliver your thoughts, insults and spam to the proprietor of this unholy column in far-flung New York City.

Impossible, you say? Perhaps. According to the great physicist Stephen Hawking, the universe had to begin in the precise way it did in order for us to be able to pause here now and waste our precious time discussing this hideously inconsequential matter. Furthermore, astrophysical black holes like Getting Loose are created when matter, or editors, get so dense that the content collapses to a point called a singularity. Quantum mechanics -- the kind that charge your for work they haven't done on your car -- state that pairs of particles can spontaneously appear out of empty space, existing for a fleeting moment before annihilating each other.

Wow, no?