Friday, February 27, 2004

No matter what you saw on the Today Show yesterday, and no matter what you saw reported on the news yesterday, the people that live in and around Chicago are not overweight, loudmouth rubes. No real Cub Fan believes the "curse" has been lifted...after all, the Billy Goat Curse has not been lifted yet.

Yes, the Mayor is sort of a goof, but he is the best Mayor that Chicago has ever had (yes, including his father). Yes, we seem to feel inadequate when compared to NYC, which is a result of our regional inability to see the forest for the trees.

Chicago is a very cool city. And the Chicagoland area is a good place to live.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Just a few thoughts about another institution: Reality Shows. They sure sounded like a neat idea at first, didn't they? It's one thing to capture silly and stupid things on the family camcorder and see it on America's Funniest (Home) Videos. Doing silly and potentially harmful things (not only physical harm, but emotional harm) to one's self or others on purpose is another. Let's take a look at some of these programs (keeping in mind that I haven't seen the majority of them (which no doubt qualifies me to speak authoritatively about them)).

MTV's The Real Life: The granddaddy of the modern genre. Flew under the radar screen for years before someone found a way to make a ton of money with the concept on broadcast TV.

Survivor: Can't believe that anyone still watches this. It just reinforces my belief in the gullibility of a content-starved nation. Seen one season, seen 'em all.

Big Brother: A rip-off of The Real Life and Survivor with slightly more likable cast. Gee, didn't take long before they got contestants to make whoopee.

The Bachelor: I really scratch my head about this one. The most annoying part of this show is when the girls get bumped, they get all emotional and go on and on about how they were falling in love with the Bachelor. Where were these women when I was in college? That being said:

The Bachelorette: Do I really want to compete with a bunch of guys for a woman like this? I'm too provincial (or is it old fashioned?). Call it luck, design, or just that I was a loser, but I never smooched with more than one girl at a time.

Joe Millionaire (and European Joe Millionaire): I refuse to believe that people like this exist. They set the women's movement (or whatever you want to call it) back to the Stone Age.

Average Joe: I saw the last episode of the first Average Joe, and my wife has me hooked on Average Joe in Hawaii. One thing is for sure, Larissa Meek is a babe! Considering the context of the show, she appears to be a real sweetheart. I got a real kick out of the 400 pound "Average Joe", who, when bounced from the show, griped about Larissa not looking deep enough into his personality to discover what a "good guy" he is. Now, I'm sure he is a great guy, but let's face it, the show has a short run. She doesn't have a lot of time to make a decision, and when you have to choose between the keepers and the losers, 400 pounds is a large target. Couldn't it be the case that she did look past his obesity and determined that his personality wasn't her cup of tea? How convenient for him to lay her rejection off on some perceived shallowness on her part. Maybe he was just a schmuck, and weight had nothing to do with it. I've since learned that he has used this life-changing event to motivate a large weight loss, and I'm happy for him. Yes, one shouldn't be judged based on their appearance or weight. Good-hearted people come in all shapes and sizes. Another neat thing is when we find out that some handsome, well-built men are arrogant assholes. Just knock me over with a feather!! I thought being an arrogant asshole was reserved for bitter underachievers like me. I give Larissa credit for seeing through the schmucks (both average and above average), but as of today, I'm guessing that she will pick one of the hunks, not because she is shallow or vain (which she is to some extent), but because based on the final four, the two remaining "Average Joes" aren't very desirable. Just ask my wife.

(Just as Joe Millionaire tempts shallow women with the prospect of a well-heeled boyfriend, Average Joe tempts unconfident men with the prospect of a very good-looking girlfriend. Both seem to be currency. The cynic inside of me says, "Do the math")

American Idol: If I were King of the World, Simon would be taken out back and bitch-slapped. If I wanted mean-spirited put-downs, I could just videotape myself on a good day. How dumb are we supposed to be? The contestants that Simon abuses are don't have to be a big-time record industry exec to recognize this. I know people who don't watch more than the first couple of shows. Once they get past the talent bashing, the show loses its appeal. Haven't seen it, and won't.

The Mole and bastard child Celebrity Mole: Who gives a shit?

Fear Factor: Look; I don't go through life exploring the most gruesome activities. It's amazing what things people will do in order to make some money...with the exception of getting an honest job.

The Apprentice: I've seen a couple of episodes of this show, and actually enjoyed it. Say what you will about Donald Trump (you'd think wealthy man would have a better self-image and do something about that comb-over) when he whacks a contestant, he does a great job. Of course, if this is what prestigious business schools are turning out, somebody's parents should sue for tuition refunds right away.

My summary is an indictment of television programmers: How about something original? Remember when "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" was the hot show? It started out as a weekly show, quickly went to a couple times a week, and if I remember it correctly, ABC began to preempt Monday Night Football and the rest of their schedule to show it 3 hours a night, and 6 hours on Sunday (I'm kidding). Before too long, we were all sick of it. And it won't be long before the "Reality Genre" becomes boring, too.

Stop trying to top the last show. Give us something different AND better! And you wonder why we're watching HBO. It's not because they can swear and we can see breasts, it's because the shows are better. Really.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

WHAT'S ALL THIS, THEN? Let’s tackle a hot issue right off the bat: Same Sex Marriage. There are several arguments in support of and against this fledgling institution. Shouldn’t committed, loving couples be allowed to formally acknowledge their relationship as a matter of law? If “Civil Unions” are palatable for same sex partners, then why not just upgrade the vocabulary to “Marriage”? How is the concept of marriage denigrated by this evolution? After all, you don’t have to look very far to see that Marriage as an Institution has been trampled, denigrated, and marginalized by the very group of people that oppose SSM. Divorce, affairs, and general lack of respect of the institution as well as the spouses by those the institution serves is rampant.

As a Catholic, I’m not warm and tingly about SSM. But how is SSM hurting me? Does it affect my wallet? No. Does it corrupt my children? No again. It does “break the rules” when it comes to Catholicism, but Same Sex Partners aren’t asking to be married in the Church, they know better than to ask. To paraphrase Marx (Groucho, not Karl), why would SSP want to join this club?

The concept of SSM, and knowing that it is available, should make the Catholic Faith stronger. It should compel its followers to ask themselves if they are in fact walking the walk. I know many couples that were married in the Church (sorry for the provincial capital letter, but it makes sense in this application) who are not “practicing” Catholics. Heck, I know several who have since divorced (and it was a good thing they did). Many Catholics are cavalier about their faith. The feel certain entitlements because of their affiliation…but that’s all they have: an affiliation. I AM NOT THE PERFECT CATHOLIC, but I go to Mass every week, my kids are in religious education, and I am active in doing good things for my family and my community. Do I proselytize along the way? Heck no. Do I make it a point to tell people that I’m Catholic? No, it’s none of their business. Do I think less of people if they aren’t Catholic, Christian, or even practicing a “formal” religion? No, it’s none of MY business.

Which is exactly my position on SSM.

If these people are breaking “God’s Law”, it’s between them and God, they will answer for it at some point. I don’t need to get involved in a religion-based argument against SSM. It’s not in my job description. I’ve always believed (even prior to my life as a Catholic) that our Lord is an all-loving Lord, a compassionate Lord, but also a Lord who frowns on those who would make the Lord’s decisions for the Lord without face to face consultation with the Lord (notice how I avoided “Him” or “Her” distinctions!).

They don’t appear to be breaking any “Civil Law” by being in a committed, loving relationship (well, perhaps in Louisiana), so they don’t have to “answer” to society. (Don’t even try to tell me that Gays are pedophiles. Pedophiles are Pedophiles. Some pedophiles are married to women and have children, just ask Carlie Brucia).

Natural Law? Show me the Natural Law Code Book before you start…you may find your argument weakened.

Is Polygamy next? I only wish. People who trot out that argument are lightweights, and they think everyone else is stupid.

“If we let Gays marry, then we’ll have to let someone marry their dog!” Again, an argument made by someone without a firm grip on reality. We are talking about Human Beings here. Beware, however, there are some people who leave fortunes to specific cats and dogs, and the “rights” of these animals are somehow respected. Funny how that works.

My sole beef with SSM was that, as a married heterosexual, I wanted to have something to remain “mine”. I wanted Marriage to be this uncorrupted legacy that would be “mine”. And this was a selfish desire. I’ve since realized that what I my marriage is a sacrament of my faith, and its’ importance to me is solely based on the weight I give it…which is a lot. If I were to get upset with SSM treading on my turf, I would have to apply the same logic to Sunday Catholics, Sunday Christians, and those who don’t put the same weight on it that I do.

Wouldn’t it be neat if SSM had a lower divorce rate than “the rest of us”? I’m guessing that the legal profession would not be thrilled about that!

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Here we are, another spot on the blog. Stay tuned for news, perspective, and various attempts at humor.