Friday, September 15, 2017

Citizens for the Uprights

After reading about and seeing the wonderful reaction of Oakland Raiders' Kicker Giorgio Tavecchio's performance, and his humble and stoic response, it made me realize how kickers are viewed has changed throughout my life.  Of course, I'm old, so this is a large sample size, but there are clearly different eras.

At first, the kicker looked like and was an everyman:

Did this man just
A: Kick a field goal?
B: Fix your transmission?
C: Place cans of Dinty Moore Beef Stew on a shelf?

This was the look, and as a majority, the straight-ahead style was the norm.  But the"sidewinders" (as they were so derided by old-time jocks) came in...domestically and internationally as well.  Coaches seemed to realize that you didn't really need to have much history in the game as long as you could kick, and kick far.  What does this really mean: coincidentally or otherwise, we started getting NAMES.

Florian is a Philly guy, and an Ivy leaguer as well.  He also split time playing in the NASL!

Zenon's family made it from Germany to Canada, where his excellence in track & field brought a scholarship to UCLA.  Injuries led him to football, and becoming a 2-time All-American punter.  Then, it was back home to Canada for a lengthy career with the Argos.  After a season with Kansas City, it was back to hopping around the CFL.  Of course, when the USFL came around, it was perfect for a guy like Zenon, and here he is about to deliver a little Bandit Ball.

(What, you didn't know Topps made USFL cards?)

Starting your career in the USFL is a good move, and success gets you recognition on coast-to-coast TV.

Kick em, Bojo!

Nowadays, you might get a quick quip or two about a kicker: they're good, they're bad, or the announcer's favorite cliche, they're "head cases."  Whatever the fuck that means.

Quite a detour down memory lane...and while the saying may go that "I never forget a face," if you ask anyone who writes (or wrote) on here, our memories for names are even stronger.  Kickers names?  Right down the middle.

Friday, August 18, 2017

"Whoa! Look at this!"

Wow...this is a great view!  You know, I'm not really sure.  I think that's a movie studio.  Do you have the map?  Let me see.  It says Universal...but I guess there's another one, too.  Yeah...let's see if we can get over this guard rail.

Careful.  Do you want the camera?  (sighs) I wonder what's on the other side.  Is the Star Map still in the glove compartment?  Eh, I'll get it later.

Do you ever think of...

What?  Oh, no, I was just thinking what it would be like to live here.  (laughs)  Yeah, crazy.  I think there's more lookouts if we go up to Mulholland.  I think the Star Map shows that, too.  OK, you ready to go?

I could do lunch somewhere, if you see somewhere you like when we're out.  Wait - before we go, let me get a picture of you.

Super.  You go up there first.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Someone (temporarily) saved my life

All my life, it was "it's not what you know, it's who you know."  And, even in the most minor scenarios, I found that was true.  It was always true.

And then, it wasn't...and it made me think, or realize, that it was all sow shit.  But it took an even longer amount of time realize that no phrase is absolute.  Maybe, just maybe, it was the "who" in the phrase that was the problem.  By knowing them, it didn't make a difference, it seems.  The very people I'd worked with before and would again...weomp?!  Hmm.

So, after more rejection, it took someone I know to end the suffering, albeit temporarily.  In the realm of possibilities, nothing is given.  What's wanted vs. what's expected, but honesty?  Respect?  They'll have none for you...until they want if FROM you.  And that's how things roll, I guess.  You saw them on your way up, you'll see them on their way down.

And when they hand you the receipt from buying new dish towels, tell them you, too, think of the "old days," that we should meet up for lunch, and keep to yourself that you may forgive, but you don't forget.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Half Full

The events of the day, and their resulting wear and tear, left me slouching on the couch in a way that only I can.  I'd even use the phrase "world-weary" if I'd seen the world, which I certainly have not. 

Then, she came up to me, all smiles.  "Let's go to the kitchen and get an ice cream sandwich!"

I shouldn't be buying those for a myriad of reasons, and I rarely go into the supermarket for 2-3 things.  But it's Memorial Day weekend, and the hot dog buns were moldy.  Damn it, I want my money back.  And...well, I do have a coupon, and they are M&M cookie ice cream sandwiches, and it's just about "summer" and...

"OK," I said, and just getting up seemed to keep the machine in motion.

"The first thing you do is open the freezer and get them."  She was "helping," and this was all part of the plan.  I cut it in half, which seemed to confuse and disappoint her.  I told her she was getting the bigger half, which wasn't true at all, but I was managing sugar in the late hours.

Sitting down, she suspected a ruse: "Can I have a bite of yours, too?"  No.  This way we both have some, right?  "Yes.  I got the biggest piece!" 

Well, this worked out perfectly.  Eating, both of us all smiles, she looked at me and said "I'm so lucky!"  No, sweetie.  I'm lucky.  Despite the large lack of good luck in my life, I'm lucky.  Right here and now, there's no doubt I'm lucky.


Monday, May 15, 2017

I've got living to do

Stacy, are you ready for cheer practice?

YES, mom.  God, why can't we get a Betamax?

A what?

A Betamax.  I'm missing this new show I like.  OH - LOOK! 

Ugh.  Stupid Mrs. Conover moving it to the night.  If it was after school--

Stacy, watch your language.  

Fine, I'm going.

(One week later)
Stacy, isn't your show on now?

Oh my god!  OK, Linda, I'll call you after.  Bye. (pause)  Mom, if you're gonna be in here, you have to be quiet.

(sigh)  Fine, I'll fold the laundry in the kitchen.

WHAT?!  Crap!  Why are they doing this?

Stacy!  Your language!

I'm calling channel 2.  Oh - sorry, Dad.  Let me know when you're off the phone. 

What happened to your show?

It's not on.  Some cartoon thing on instead.

Oh, can help me fold the sheets.

Why do they have to ruin all the good shows?

I don't know, honey.  I don't know.


Friday, April 28, 2017

Going Under

Days go fast, in the "blink or you'll miss it" mode.  Weeks, next thing you know, are over.  People excite themselves over the weekend.  Myself?  It's just another day.

The "process" (such as it is) to land somewhere else is not a swift one, so each day only yields so much news.  It might be also described as a "trickle" and all the applying in the world to jobs that actually fit whatever one might call a skill wait.

One of those currently in play is, believe it or not, a job with the city's library department.  My background fit much of what they are looking for, and I was pleased to hear I've made what I thought was "the cut."

This "cut" occurred at, of all places, a fire department training center.  I reiterated that I was not trying to be a fire fighter, but go I went...and before I knew it, I was in a cattle call.  Some were dressed to the 9's, some in what we call "The Summer of George."  But once inside, I sat down and took what can best be described as an "adult SAT test."  Just before I began, I was told that the large group I was in were all there for that job.

40 people can do this job?  The guy in line who said he used to work for LA Metro trains and now "works for his dad, outside" - he can do it?  The lady who said "I just go for everything now" - her too?  Was there any cut at all?

I left more confused than ever, and wondered...just what is the threshold?  Damned if I ever know.  HR departments are no help: it all "went great" and "we'll be in touch."  I hang up the phone, I reply with another thank you and...well, how do you tell someone you can only waste away the day watching old After School Specials until the bills are due?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

No more "stuff"

Maybe the cue card guy wasn't there.  Maybe Chuck couldn't see it.  Maybe he couldn't remember.  But he looked in the camera and said "We'll be back with...more STUFF...right after these messages."

Chuck Barris' production career might have been labeled as such now, but then, when the shows were on?  Oh, he heard it all...almost all negative.  He soldered on: the shows (by and large) were hits.  When it all got to be too much (some of which his own doing, he'd later admit) he retired to south France, just as he promised himself he would.

Two books came from that time, one about "himself" and another about himself.  When he returned from France to write even more, he often did the rounds on book tours.  For the book The Big Question (a fiction goof that, in my opinion, was a bit of a letdown) he spoke at Book Soup in an event that turned out-of-control by the end with surprise visits from Milton DeLugg and Rip Taylor.  Answering his own questions at the start, he again pleaded that he did not do drugs during The Gong Show.  He also wanted to be remembered as a great writer, but resigned himself that he'll probably be remembered as the wacky host who finally got gonged.

(And, in an interview 6 years before The Big Question, he said to himself: "My epitaph in real life would be ‘The Man Who Thought of The Gong Show .’ What a horrible thing! But when I was in the hospital, what bothered me was that I had to do something, that the years left in me were going to be a big zero …. I mean, what’s going to happen? Do you take a slow American Flyer ride out? That seems boring as shit!”")

So, Chuck, while your memory is being celebrated as this:

 I'll indulge you, and instead present this:

I do this not as a fan, but out of respect.  Respect for an innovative producer, a fine writer, and giver of advice to me.

Back in my early college days, I searched for career advice low and high, high and low.  I found what was reported to be Chuck's address, so I went for it.  I told him I was toiling away in general classes, waiting to take the fun stuff.  I purposely peppered my letter with phrases from "The Game Show King" such as "star-fucker" and "hero worshiper" while blending the advice demand with a heavy helping of praise.

To my amazement, less than a month later, I received a letter in return.  It was my own, with a small gem of advice from the "King" himself:

A true original, Chuckie Baby.  You were a true original.  This is me saying bye-bye.