The Fall, Classic.

As a recovering sports zombie, I’ve often wondered if autumn’s ascension to the top of my season rankings was driven by the American football marketing machine. After three years of not watching college football and at least as many of dwindling bother for the NFL, I finally cut the cord with fantasy football at the end of this summer. No teams. No leagues. No weekly contests. No need to pay attention. It’s been great.

Autumn finally rang Cincinnati’s doorbell this week, and came with sensory gifts before hanging its coat in the closet nearest the door. Situated for a quick exit, yes, but it’s here now and let’s all enjoy the time that our favorite friend opts to give to us. Football, I am finally assured, factors not at all into the function that still yields such a positive outcome for me. I can see my breath. The air is crisper, as are the colors beneath the gray visor Earth puts on most of these days. The trees’ teachings have their leaves displaying such cordiality that one would feel comfortable slapping their backs and calling them Roy G. for reasons more closely associated with first-name familiarity than acronymic accuracy. In short, life is fucking beautiful.

Autumn is a test of mindfulness for me – an opportunity to accept home and deal with tendencies to sour over the fact that sleet and salt will batter emaciated branches before long. As I’ve gotten older, zenning has become easier. Apologies if the use of that non-word suggests a nihilistic sarcasm toward the whole subject. I assure you when I typed it I had positive thoughts regarding what it may very well mean.

In the American sporting landscape, it would probably be argued by most that baseball is the sport most closely aligned with the principles of being in the moment, forming the right physical and mental habits, the existence of randomness and interconnectedness, brushing off the past, and some element of outdoorsy nature. Sure, the more every new ballpark looks the same, the less that most latter element can thrive, but there are still some holdouts.

One such relic is Boston’s Fenway Park, home to the Red Sox. That place is so quirky that it has many of the hallmarks of what previous generations might have referred to as a place. And this weekend, it will host a game or two that I don’t even regret to say that I will care about. Don’t get me wrong – the outcome won’t matter, and I will be an adult rooting for a privately owned team that drains not only the public coffers to the point of city-wide bankruptcy, but also to the competitive detriment of another privately owned professional sports team that I care even more about, but for whatever reason, I’ve taken a litmus test, and my Detroit Tigers’ blue came up just shy of infrared. Perhaps this is evidence that I drink too much coffee and eat too few Tums, but it was metaphorical anyway so let’s move on.

Justifications for remaining a viewer of televised sport seem like good fodder for a later blog post, indeed one I’ve intended to sort through for a while now. But for now, I’m coming to accept that when the time comes for ALCS and World Series games that involve my hometown former-worst-team-of-all-time, well, I enjoy that time. Perhaps the passion is enhanced by the autumnal surroundings. I hope so. All I know is that an old pro will be providing color commentary for the last time, and without so much as a read-through for tires or soap or my aforementioned stomach relief chewables. Averages and trends will both hold up and be “disproven,” depending on which conclusion one wants to prove. Old friends and relatives may come back into contact, remembering this thing they used to have in common that seemed so central and existent and now. The unelected international consortium representing the Motor City will try to abandon their Garfield and aspire more to their inner Tiglath-Pileser, minus the literal warring and genocide. It never hurt anybody to figuratively come through and crush the building though, even if the building is one of the last vestiges of personification left in American sport. On the line will be a spot in The Fall Classic, which is a term I find to be self-evident, the opposite of an oxymoron. None of that depends on baseball, either.

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Under Armour Hits Back With Their Own Self-Unaware Kids Tees

Updating a previous post, wherein I lament my findings of a couple ridiculous Nike T-shirts in the kids section at a local department store, I found another gem at the same place.

This time the shirt intended for children is made and distributed by Under Armour, and quite possibly comes with a little bit of tongue-in-cheek that I found utterly lacking in the Nike nonsense. It reads, in all caps of course, “CALL MY AGENT.”

Not nearly as eye-rolling as "Your Mom Knows" or "Play Me or Trade Me," but still adults teaching kids to miss the point.

Not nearly as eye-rolling as “Your Mom Knows” or “Play Me or Trade Me,” but still adults teaching kids to miss the point.

It’s kind of funny, sure. But douchey too. I’ll keep you posted on this whole racket, since I find it indicative of our culture. In the words of the late, great George Carlin, “You know what I say? Fuck the children!”

Divide & Monger

I’ve been caught by a thought today. It seems to me that for a lot of special interests that I consider nefarious, a key strategy is to divide people — even persons. Divide the human interest. Create a smokescreen of issues, fabricated and real, potential disasters that are dealt with by Other people on a daily basis, bullet points on what kind of people fit into what tribes and bullet points on how to hold one’s own in an unmediated mock trial against a member of a tribe that has been sold to one as “opposing.”

Then, just in case too many well-meaning sponges get swayed by the power of counterargument or disarmament, the powers that be give us Games that humans invented over a hundred years ago and hotties that always seem either muted, self-edited or too unconscious to be either, lest we impressionables get to thinkin’. The advertising culture has become so entrenched in sports that we can no longer imagine a major professional league (which includes the NCAA, as it simply redirects the “professionalism” from player to promoter) that is not wholly owned by corporate interests. Don’t get me wrong, the public is the entity funding the erection of all the new arenas and stadia, but alas, no ownership is conferred with such generous gifts.

Speaking of semi-private erections, the sex industry, and by that term I do not mean anything relating to actual sex, which continues to be assaulted by an ongoing mind-fuck intended to sell everything but human intimacy, but instead I of course refer to the virtual sex industry, is by now asymptotically ubiquitous. When you find a product being advertised to you without the overt or barely nuanced claim that this product will get you laid by either a hot chick or dude or by your begging-for-it hand as you lust for what’s beyond the mirror, you let me know. The “hot” formula has become so twisted that Maxim magazine just gave its paying subscribers and newsstand suckers a Hot 100 one-two punch to the podium of Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez. Seriously. Is nothing sacred?

But getting back to that division thing, its main purpose is obvious: to divide people from their wealth. This is done pretty easily, as persons’ wealth tends to correlate with their options. The more wealth gets concentrated at the top, the fewer options the rest of the people have. People that have few options (or see themselves as having few options) see giving their labor away for pennies on the dollar as more desirable than starvation. Everyone has basic needs, but it wouldn’t do to have a massive population that only buys what it needs, so the owners have to manufacture wants in a mass of people critical enough to influence the rest of the people. You know, to divide all of the people from what could remain of their wealth.

A key tactic in the success of a divisive campaign is convincing individuals to detach from their environment. People must not see themselves in the struggles of others. They must not identify with other human beings — instead they must be shown what makes those sufferers different. The people who got mowed down in that Aurora movie theater aren’t like you, because you didn’t go see the third Batman flick the night before it opened. But if you did, don’t worry, because you don’t live in Colorado. Ok, but these people brought a baby to the showing. You wouldn’t do that, right? See! You’re not like these people, and it almost certainly couldn’t happen to you.

The same goes for all the bombings you see in other countries. I mean, that wouldn’t happen to you because you aren’t proximate to the “wars.” What’s that you say, the Boston pressure cookers on the street? Oh, well go ahead and tell me the last time you ran a marathon. See? You’re not like those people, those unfortunate ones. No, you are blessed, just so long as you don’t identify too much with the unfortunates. Detach and survive.

But, of course, it could happen to you. Every moment you exist in the world you could be the victim of random or targeted violence. So be afraid. You’ve seen what we do to protesters, right? Now see, that really could be you, if you were dumb enough and hated freedom enough to join those angry people in complaining about their lot that they’ve inherited through their own unwillingness to just work harder. But you’re not like them — those angry, lost souls who are pushing a socialist agenda, which by the way is totally what the Eastern Bloc was if you just don’t look anything up and unquestioningly take our word for it. And you will, because you don’t want to get beat down by our brute strength that you should be in lust with by now anyway, thanks to your conditioning.

See that? You’re not like them. You’re like this other group of people that should spend energy bickering with other groups within the same dwindling economic class over whatever issue we tell you is on the line and whatever rights we insist are endangered. But beyond that, eat our salty, genetically modified foods, drink our beer, go into debt to drive our cars (but don’t drive them if you’ve drank our beers, pretty please), take out loans that we service but for which we are not on the hook to go to college and beyond to get watered-down degrees that by now must have a median ROI that is in the red, which is exactly where you’ll always remain, but don’t worry about it because it’s just the way it is and you’re totally immortal but you’re gonna die someday so go big or go home while we go big and have you bail us out. Buy our flatscreen televisions and subscribe to the biggest cable package you can find, because somewhere in that fifteen-hundred channel list is a sliver of happiness that you didn’t even know you wanted, but do not consider the ever increasing bill that comes with it.

Get the highest high-speed internet because just super-fucking-fast won’t satiate you because who knows when you will want to masturbate to videos of Giada de Laurentiis swirling some gelato while you download the latest episodes of your favorite twenty-six podcasts and stream the latest Katy Perry song that we’ve pathologically Rorschached into emotions of tall, ravenous women with racks so unlikely that they happen to be multiple standard deviations from the mean of fit, dateable ladies whilst also being the actual mean of American women as a whole. Think about that. That’d be like if dudes’ members got bigger and longer as said dudes got fatter, but somehow Ryan Gosling was still hung with the average length and girth of the entire population, including those using those performance enhancers known as shitty diets and lack of exercise.

Ellen’s reaction indicates their status as “unlikely.” Katy’s dating record indicates she, and by proxy all women of comparable physical desirability, is totally into mindless consumers who categorically lack the capacity for sarcasm.

My point is that it seems a strange dichotomy that our owners are trying to plant within us. On the one hand, detach from your fellow human, it won’t happen to you, keep it moving, but on the other hand, fear everything. Remain in a constant fear of, amongst other things, the Other, so that you can not act rationally or in your best interest. But also detach, which connotes a dialing down of emotional doses. The dogma thus appears to be: “Be afraid, do not be joyous, surprised or sad, and we’ll get back to you on whether you can be angry, disgusted or contemptuous, and, if permitted, where you shall direct your anger, disgust or contempt. But whatever you do, do not care.” The whole thing feels incongruous. I guess those that are less responsive to fear are the ones targeted for detachment. The marriage of fear and detachment seems like honey wrapped in motor oil. I can’t figure out how to describe it. Just quit voting to fund arenas for billionaire owners.

Baseball: A Metaphor for Life

Baseball is famous for being a game of averages. As the number of events grows, so too does adherence to the mean. This is why Yasiel Puig’s upcoming decline can be predicted with confidence, and if it doesn’t happen in the second half of this season, it will happen next season. Or the next. Or he’s just the best hitter of all-time.

Life is a lot like baseball. Every day there’s a game, and most don’t feel all that important. Some days you obliterate your average — you may even do this for a chunk of days in a row, which in baseball would be called being hot, or in the zone, or on a streak. But then the roller coaster comes down, and you lose a friend or get fired or get wasted and make an ass out of yourself or unwittingly insult someone or sit around and stare at a television screen or don’t pursue your goals or just go 0-for-4. These days bring your batting average down, and at the end of it all, you will have batted your average. That much I promise.

Raul Ibanez – The Whiff

So then, the trick is to do the things that are necessary to improve your average. The highs can be higher, or more frequent, with a higher average than they can be with a lower average. The lows will still come, but maybe they won’t be as low. In the end, you hit .300 rather than .250.

Today, I went 0-for-4. I came home and planned to do a quick load of laundry. In the words of Walter Sobchak, “my dirty undies, dude. The whites.” As I’m putting together the load of darks that will make me feel like I’m washing clothes more efficiently in the adjacent machines in the basement, I look at the pair of shorts that I plan to wear around 2 p.m. when the whole excursion is over and done with. They’ve been worn, probably only once, and not yesterday. They are sitting on this trunk-thing that I use to store shit that I don’t need. It’s not hoarding if you can’t see it. Anyway, they are my favorite khaki shorts. I have some other shorts to go to, but these are the ones I want to wear today. I look at them and consider, for a long three seconds, putting them in the laundry basket and guaranteeing the freshest possible future me. I decide against it, because they aren’t dirty and over-washing shit just ruins it faster. I take the two loads downstairs and start the washer. I come back upstairs.

At this point, it’s high time for my second coffee of the day (and first in six hours). I rinse out the reusable foil K-cup thing because I’m a piece of shit with a Keurig machine at my house and the trash islands are my fault. So is all the flooding. Fuck me… fuckin’ asshole. But in all seriousness, I only use it as a hot water dispenser. An oversized, overpriced, underperforming hot water dispenser. And at the time French pressing just seemed like too much work, and I tend to drink All Of The Coffee.

Step 1: Fill the mug this high. Step 2: Lift mug. Step 3: Walk around and bend to pick things up next to the clothes you want to wear. Step 4: It’s okay to cry.

So, given that I want the 10-ounce size, what do I do? I act per my average, and go for the 11-ounce mug with the solid three-finger handle. Why do I do this? I don’t know, maybe it feels more efficient, again. I’ll tell you what it actually is: stupid. It’s stupid to fill any container with liquid and an open top to 91% capacity. That is not smart. Obviously, I take my coffee into the bedroom to grab my laptop that is just to the right of the shorts, on the trunk-thing that never gets opened. Leaving the room for error that I did, my error overcomes the “room,” and I end up with the only pair of shorts I wanted to wear today blotched with a splatter pattern similar to at least one I encountered when teenage me met pictures of Marisa Miller. All this while my two shittier, not special pairs of shorts are three flights below in the midst of the only wash cycle that I am willing to go through today.

Hey... are you watching that coffee mug?

Hey… are you watching that coffee mug?

The first thought was, “Fuck, are you serious?” The second was, “Of course you would do that you dumbass. Why did you grab the small mug?” The third was, “What happened here was simply below your average. The problem is not that below average performances or results will happen, because that is a guarantee for everyone anyway. The problem is that your average is not high enough. The problem is that you chose not to wash the shorts you specifically picked out to wear when the laundry was done, and also that you chose the smallest possible mug from a plethora of options that would have easily held the waving line of coffee between their rims.”

It is for reasons like these that it is imperative that we work hard, work smart, and learn from our experiences in order to raise our batting averages. An 0-for-4 is always around the corner, but they tend to be fewer and farther between for .320 hitters than for .260 hitters. Ergo, we gotta raise that average. To infrequent-ify shit like today.

Check Out My Revised Podcast Recommendations Page

Hey all, no new post this weekend, which leaves Friday’s self-indulgant, narcissistic post about not eating meat for six months and whining about my foot hurting as the last piece of actual content I’ve written for this blog. But it hasn’t been for naught: I’ve spent some hours today updating my podcast recommendations page, and it’s up for your viewing, and hopefully listening/enjoying/growing, delight. Click the link in the previous sentence to see the list.

Please feel encouraged to comment with any criticisms or suggestions.