June 19, 2004

Murderous Clowns and Other Circus-based Fears

I simply will not tolerate a belittling clown. You heard me. I won’t stand for it.

Clowns are inherently creepy. While my fear of clowns may seem irrational, don’t you find it scary that they have an emotion painted on their face? Don’t paint on a smiling face or a frowny face – just smile or frown. What are they hiding? I just know those clowns are waiting to stab me or at least taunt me if I let my guard down for a second. You can see it in their eyes...just below the wildly painted eyebrows.

If you don’t think clowns are frightening, check out serial killer John Wayne Gacy’s self-portrait. Really touching clown work.

The last clown performance I witnessed involved a mean-spirited clown. I would think being mean-spirited would get you kicked out of clown college or at least demoted to mime. The clown made people dance then laughed at them. He even pretended to vomit when a heavy-set woman danced. He was horrible and I found myself fantasizing about punching that exaggerated smile off of his face...or at least washing it off with some warm water and soap.

I was somewhat surprised at my outrage, but in reflection it’s pretty clear – I like my clowns either silly or murderous. At least you know what you’re getting. I simply will not tolerate a belittling clown.

My other circus-based fear is of balloons. I recognize that nothing spells a party like balloons, but every one of those stretched globes is just waiting to pop. It’s the nature of a balloon to pop. By definition a balloon is stretched almost to it’s limits with an extremely thin layer of rubber preventing it from exploding. It’s hardly an irrational fear. I don’t blame the balloon, I blame the balloon blower-upper.

As you can see, I’m a real hoot at the circus. I suppose the question of why would I go to the circus begs to be asked. Why subject yourself to murderous clowns and explosive balloons? Quite frankly, I love cotton candy. It’s one of life’s miracles. Sure, they say it’s just sugar and air – it’s no big deal. Look, I have sugar and I certainly have air in my house...but I don’t see any cotton candy magically forming.

Little pink miracles, they are. And no balloon-wielding clown is going to keep me away from these treats.

Posted by Kaya at 06:09 PM | Comments (15)

June 06, 2004

More Dribble, Less Jabber

The NBA Finals are upon us and two teams are left to battle for basketball supremacy. This means millions of NBA fans will gather around their television sets to watch some of the most amazing athletes in the world perform their well-honed craft. These high-priced superstars will dazzle the crowds with their skill, agility and intricate cornrow braided hairstyles. All the while, mindless chatter from commentators will slowly numb the brains of anyone paying attention. It’s time to let the athletic action speak for itself and stop filling every second of on-air time with useless discussion. The obvious observations (“The Lakers sure don’t want to lose tonight”), absurd statistics (“Shaq is only 34% from the free-throw line when playing at home against 7-footers who have traces of cocaine detected in their urine.”) and boring chit-chat deserve a technical foul and ejection.

The constant commentator jabbering of these former athletes and statistic idiot savants simply distract from the game. It would be like talking through a symphony – it would only take away from the talented individuals performing. “Phillip Stephenson is playing lead violin with a mild bruise on his left index finger...but just try keeping Stephenson out of the big Beethoven finale. He’s not holding back tonight – he’s playing for it all and is in the zone...the ‘strings zone’. You just can’t teach that kind of leadership and focus.” We need to let sports speak for themselves and end this blathering. An expert opinion on the intricacies of the game is interesting, but the never ending babbling has got to stop.

If a friend tried to talk to you about the game through an entire basketball competition, you would eventually leave or punch him in the mouth. It’s simply too much time to maintain a discussion revolving around the events of the game. This limitation goes for professional commentators as well, regardless of their supposed skill. For a while, the intriguing background stories on players and colorful descriptions of the action are tolerable and even entertaining. But, inevitably, discussion will always sink into tired clichés and mind-bogglingly stupid anecdotes.

One of the more frustrating tools in the sports commentator’s bag of tricks is to tell the audience what the player or coach is saying. Even when you can see, extremely clearly I might add, that the players’ lips are mouthing, “You g**damned motherf***er, piece of sh**!”, the announcer pipes in with, “Yep, he’s just saying, ‘Hey there ref, Now why would you make that call? I didn’t step out of bounds. I don’t think this is fair.’”

Um, no he’s not. He’s screaming obscenities. Just look at his mouth move.

Also, when a coach calls a time out, the on-air personalities can’t resist letting us know what the leadership mastermind of the team is saying to his players. “He’s gathered his team around and he’s telling those guys, ‘We can win this game if we just make more baskets. C’mon, just like we did before.’”

Really? If that’s all the guidance he’s passing on then I’m pretty sure I can coach in the NBA. And why wouldn’t he have told them to make more baskets at the beginning of the game…or during practice?

There is one habit of basketball commentators that is the most absurd (and makes me choke on my own spit in rage). This is the tricky business of dealing with slow-motion instant replays. This situation came up recently when a referee called a rarely enforced penalty called the “three second violation”. This rule states that no player may remain in the ‘key’ (the painted area under the basket) for more than three seconds. In other words, Shaquille O’Neal can’t simply camp out in front of the basket and wait for someone to pass him the ball or block someone’s shot. However, there was some question on the foul as to whether or not Shaq had really been under the basket for more than three seconds and his coach went berserk when the call was made (probably saying something to the effect of, “Excuse me, Mr. Referee. Pardon my immodesty, but I will have to take an objection to your ruling you F***in blind a**hole.“) So, what can we do if there’s a controversial call? Let’s go to the replay!

While watching the slow motion replay, the brilliant announcer began counting the seconds Shaq was in the key. “One-thousand ONE, one-thousand TWO, one-thousand THREE…yep, he definitely was in there more than three seconds.” Did I mention this was during a SLOW MOTION replay? Give me the remote and I’ll show you a five-hour violation.

I understand slow motion is tricky business, but recognizing it shouldn’t be.

I will continue to watch the NBA season wind down and celebrate the level of skill and athletic prowess of the players. I will even do my best to not become enraged at the commentators, even when they say things like, “Detroit is going to have to play to win tonight.” (Really? Would playing to lose not be a good idea?) But if one of the announcers starts counting how long a player is in the air while viewing a slow-motion dunk, so help me God if I don’t go crazy Elvis style on my TV.

I love this game!

Posted by Kaya at 07:36 PM | Comments (6)