Friday, January 30, 2009
BY BELINDA M. PASCHAL
Ten days ago, hundreds of millions of Americans witnessed history in the making.
They braved blistering cold to swarm Washington D.C.'s National Mall for a firsthand experience of the event. They braved beer-sticky floors to congregate in bars with big-screen televisions. They braved cranky grandmas upset about the pre-empting of “The Price is Right” to gather in living rooms across the country.
Casting aside such divisions as gender, age, religion, race, creed and color, people from all walks of life united to celebrate a momentous first in this great nation of ours: The swearing-in of the first U.S. president with a six-pack. And I don't mean Bud Light.
Of course, I'm kidding. You'd have to pretty much be living with wolves to not know what happened in our nation's capital on Jan. 20, 2009 ... because wolves only have analog TV and reception in those caves is terrible.
We call George Washington "The Father of His Country." JFK was crowned "The King of Camelot." In Ronald Reagan, we had a cowboy president. Now meet Barack Obama: Presidential pop star.
No, he's not a pop star in the most familiar sense of the term – I'm sure his daughters are far more enthralled by the Jonas Brothers' singing than their dad's – but remember, the "pop" part of the phrase is short for "popular," which Obama undeniably is. Plus there's John McCain's now-infamous comparison of Obama to Britney Spears (they even had the same haircut at one point). If that's not indicative enough of Obama’s seamless assimilation into the pop-culture world, he’s also the first sitting president to use e-mail, as well as an admitted Blackberry addict. In fact, I hear the original draft of his inaugural speech began, "My fellow citizens: OMG, u guyz! I <3 u all!"
But seriously … you can scarcely make it through the checkout line without Obama’s pearly whites blinding you from at least 263 magazine covers, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the new prez someday might have his own television network – B.O.-TV, if you will. I’ve already got a few programming suggestions:
In the reality show "Barack of Love," Obama helps a washed-up rock singer find Ms. Right ... or at least Ms. Right-Now.
"O'Bamba" stars the new Head of State as a 1950's rock singer who dies in a tragic accident at the pinnacle of his musical career. Lou Diamond Phillips has a cameo as Roadie No. 3.
While incarcerated, a young man is introduced to politics by his cellmate, a disgraced ex-senator. Upon his release, he uses the lessons he learned in the Big House to land the top spot in the White House. Obama is the Commander-in-Chief in (dramatic pause) "Jailhouse Barack."
And now, our feature presentation: With every wedding comes a few surprises and "'Bama Mia!" is one trip down the aisle you'll never forget ... especially after hearing the 44th president belt out ABBA's "Dancing Queen."
Friday, January 16, 2009
BY BELINDA M. PASCHAL
When it comes to sports, playing is only part of the game. A team’s success also requires some savvy behind-the-scenes folks – managers, promoters, sponsors and so on. That’s why it stymies me that many teams take to the fields, courts, diamonds and ice rinks of America with mind-crushingly stupid names. Apparently, marketers really enjoy a challenge.
Case in point: The Macon Whoopee, a now defunct Macon, Ga., hockey team. Whoever came up with that gem probably pulled a muscle patting himself on the back, but unless you’re a jazz singer or Bob Eubanks, the phrase “Macon Whoopee” should never, ever trip off your tongue. Sources say poor attendance and monetary losses caused the team to fold in 2002, but I suspect they died from the embarrassment of wearing their jerseys in public.
I was baffled last week when I glimpsed about 15.8 seconds of a face-off between the L.A. Kings and the Anaheim Ducks. I’m no hockey expert – the closest I’ve come to the sport is watching a Sarah Palin interview – because I had no idea they dropped “Mighty” from their name almost four years ago. I thought maybe they’d disassociated from Emilio Estevez’s trilogy of cinematic genius in a bid for a less laughable name. You know, because plain ol’ ducks are more serious than mighty ones. They should’ve kept the adjective and traded the bird for something that doesn’t make me think “Daffy.” You know what they say: “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck and jeez, what an idiotic name for a team.”
A team’s name should make opponents hyperventilate and go fetal when they see the season schedule. “Minnesota Vikings” sounds fierce and formidable, while “Houston Texans” sounds like a bored suggestion by someone incredibly lazy. “Pittsburgh Pirates” says, “Arrgh! Surely we shall kill ye!” while “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim” says, “Dude, we totally flunked geography.”
A few other pro, college and high school team names that deserve to sit the bench are:
* The Omaha Beef, a pro indoor football (seriously!) organization with a bull mascot named Sir Loin, and female and male dancers called, respectively, The Prime and The Rumproasters. I swear on a stack of T-bones I'm not making this up.
* The Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College Fighting Artichokes. Nothing says “victory” like an ill-tempered flower-vegetable.
* The St. Louis College of Pharmacy Eutectic. “Eutectic,” the process of two solids combining to form a liquid is supposedly a metaphor for the school’s combination of athletics and demanding academics. I think it’s really Greek for, “We don’t care about sports because we’ll be cashing big, fat pharmacist paychecks someday, so enjoy your worthless victory, fools!”
* The University of California, Santa Cruz Banana Slugs. They’re coming to slaughter ... your fruit.
And last, but certainly not least, are the unfortunate students of Butte High in Arco, Idaho, where the mascot is … wait for it … a Pirate. For the sake of good sportsmanship, I’ll let that joke write itself.
Friday, January 02, 2009
BY BELINDA M. PASCHAL
It's a new year and for many, a new beginning. Yes, it's resolution time, when otherwise sane people declare 2009 the year they will become testaments to willpower, clean living and stick-to-it-tiveness. They'll quit smoking, eat healthy, drink less, and exercise more. They'll finally finish that treehouse they started for Billy in 1990 – with help from Billy, who now has a master's in architecture.
And like last year and the year before, they'll rip up their lists before year's end … or month's end … or the end of this column.
How can you stop the cycle of making and breaking New Year's resolutions? Simple – don't make any! "That's cheating," you say. "If you have no resolutions, you can’t brag about not breaking any!" Yeah, what's your point? I'm taking the easy way out? Don't judge!
OK, fine. If it’ll make you feel better, I'll bite the bullet. I certainly could stand to drop a few pounds and get back to my original weight. But since there's no way I'll ever downsize to 6 pounds, 6 ounces, instead I resolve to do the following:
* Reduce my caffeine consumption, except on special occasions, e.g.: a) My birthday; b) Holidays, including but not limited to Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Cinco de Mayo and Groundhog Day; and c) Days of the week ending in "y."
* Walk a mile in others' shoes before criticizing them. That way, if they get mad, they're a mile away. And barefoot.
* Procrastinate less (starting tomorrow). See, the reason so many folks bail on their resolutions is because they set the bar so high even Shaq could limbo under it, which brings us to the first tip in Belinda's Resolutions Everyone's Able to Keep (BREAK):
* Keep it real - Set goals you can reasonably expect to achieve. While "I will lose 50 pounds by the end of the year," is admirable, it’s not pragmatic for some. However, "I will gain 30 pounds, maintain it long enough for people to forget what I once looked like, then lose it, causing everyone to gush about how great I look," is within the realm of possibility.
Now that you've recorded your roster of realistic resolutions, go down the list and summarily cross off all resolutions that:
* You tried before but broke within the first month.
* You made for someone else - your significant other, friends, the mail carrier ... unless it's "Train Sparky to stop attacking people in uniforms," in which case, that's just good lawsuit-avoiding sense.
* Stem from media-induced shame. Those muscleheads were fit and trim BEFORE shooting that Ab-Dominator infomercial.
* Depend upon your mood, the weather, having a good hair day, planetary alignment, etc.
At this point, if you’ve been honest with yourself, you should be looking at a blank sheet of paper. Congratulations! Nothing ventured, nothing lost. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna walk to Starbuck’s for a triple espresso. Wearing these shoes I found. Meh … maybe tomorrow.