Saturday, August 29, 2009

Keeping It Real

Are there certain words and phrases that drive you crazy? Slang expressions or euphemisms that are overused, rude and can have a multitude of meanings. Take the title of this particular column for instance. “Keeping It Real”. What does that mean? It would be safe to say that it has different connotations to different people. Is there a place where I can find definitions for these annoying terms? Aren’t there more appropriate ways to say them?

The answer to both questions is YES!

The handy online Urban Dictionary provided the answer to my first query. It boasts 4,207,468 definitions written since 1999. Not only did I find the ones that I was looking for, but I also discovered slang that I had no idea even existed.

The second question can be answered by using what you learned in high school English and some good old-fashioned common sense.

Here are some aggravating slang terms, their Urban Dictionary definition and a more suitable way of getting the same point across.

Keeping It Real - Not only tell the truth, but specifically get to the point of the actual matter at hand, rather than beating around the bush.
More Suitable: Just don’t say it. Say what you have to say without announcing that you are being truthful.

Awesome - Something Americans use to describe everything.
More Suitable: Don’t use “Awesome” to describe everything! It is obviously used to cover over the huge gaps in your vocabulary. Instead, use a word that gives a realistic evaluation of what you are describing.

Conversate - A word used by backwards, ignorant, riffraff who mean to say “converse”. It is still classified as slang, but it is in the dictionary. Trust me I'm just as upset as you are.
More Suitable: Simply use the word converse. It isn’t hard, plus you won’t sound stupid!

My Bad - Ruder than apologizing, but with the same meaning: a flippant apology.
More Suitable: Here’s a novel idea, show some sincerity when expressing your regrets for messing up!

Actually - The most overused adverb I've ever heard. Used by those whose vocabularies lack adverbs. How maddening.
More Suitable: Another one where the answer is to avoid using it. It is a prime example of unnecessary verbiage.

It Is What It Is - A phrase that seems to simply state the obvious but actually implies helplessness. A trite, overused and infuriatingly meaningless cliché.
More Suitable: How about admitting you don’t have a clue? Or better yet, that you have nothing to say.

Know What I Mean? - a phrase used to make sure the other person in a conversation is listening and can comprehend.
More Suitable: Why not try, “I’m an illiterate imbecile, can’t put an intelligent thought into words and I’ve used my entire vocabulary.”

Whatever - Used in an argument to admit that you are wrong without admitting it so the argument is over. Passive-aggressive behavior at its most eloquent.
More Suitable: Please see “Know What I Mean”.

To be sure, there are many more expressions such as these, but I don’t want to bore you and come off as arrogant or condescending. Actually, it is what it is. I thought it would be awesome to conversate with you and keep it real. You know what I mean? Whatever! My bad. Until next time…from the booth.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For

For those delusional fans that are in denial and say they don’t care that former New York Jet quarterback, Number 4, is playing with the Minnesota Vikings, I am offering a service for you. I will do the caring for you. That’s right, although you say you really don’t give a damn that Number is playing for the hated Vikings, I do. Therefore, because I care enough, I will provide you with some random thoughts regarding Bugtussle Mississippi’s favorite son.

Ever since Number 4 had his exceptionally fragile feelings hurt by the diabolical Ted Thompson’s refusal to cater to his ever whim, he has been seething, plotting revenge.

How dare Terrible Ted not trade for Randy Moss when he told him to! The gall of the Packer GM allowing Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera leave the Packers, especially after Number 4 advised him not to. And when Thompson had the audacity not to interview Steve Mariucci for the position of head coach, well that was it! Something had to be done.

Because of Thompson’s refusal to coddle his star quarterback, it was now obvious. The Packers did not appreciate him and worse yet, didn’t love him. Ma Bonita and idiot brother Scott told him so. It had to be true.

All Number 4 had to do was to come up with a plan to deal appropriate retribution to the evil General Manager of the Green and Gold.

But how?

That’s when the first of an endless number of retirements took place. Then months later, Number 4 finally had his mind made up by the Bugtussle Mafia that he wanted to play again. Unfortunately, the Packers had a business to run and had made plans without him.

After some unnecessary drama, Number 4’s sinister plan started to unfold. He demanded a trade. And he wanted to be traded to the Packer’s archrival, the Vikings. That way he would teach the Packers what happens to those that do not show him enough appreciation, especially villainous bastards like Ted Thompson.

But Thompson, being the evil genius that he is, threw a wrench in his plan and traded him to the New York Jets. Number 4, being the gutsy professional that he is, played out the season with the Jets but not before alienating teammates and a new fan base.

Time to get on with the plan. Time for another retirement. Good-bye New York.

Now what? If we are to believe the crap being fed us by ESPN and Bus “Colonel Parker” Cook, Number 4 decided to give it one more shot and play again.

But wait, with whom? The MINNESOTA VIKINGS, that’s who! The same Minnesota Vikings, who three weeks earlier had said their efforts to sign Number 4 to play this season had come to an end.

Evidently he got “the itch” on Monday. Then he conferred with the brains of the Bugtussle Mafia, daughter Breleigh and was told he should go win one more Super Bowl. Eighteen short hours later, Viking head coach/chauffeur Brad “Mr. Noodle” Childress was whisking Number 4 from the airport to the practice field in Minnesota.

On Friday he started in the Vikings’ second preseason game. Obviously, it will clearly take a little more time for he and the Vikings to get used to each other; he finished 1-4 for 4 yards with several false starts.

But all the parts of the plan are in place, so don’t be too alarmed Breleigh, the Super Bowl doesn’t take place until February 7, 2010.

Unless the inconceivable happens and the Vikings don’t win Super Bowl XLIV. Maybe things don’t go as smoothly as the Bugtussle Mafia had hoped.

Perhaps Ziggy and Mr. Noodle won’t be so tolerant of Number 4’s propensity for throwing into double-coverage or his need for separate locker room accommodations. Estranging himself from his teammates would definitely be bad.

Hopefully Number 4 and the Vikings will mesh quickly and not have any early season struggles. Heaven forbid the good people of Minnesota boo their newly anointed savior. We all know how petulant he can become when he feels unwanted. It isn’t pretty.

Lastly, unthinkable as it might be, Number 4 could get knocked down and not bounce back up with a grin. Maybe he isn’t able to answer the bell for game 273 or game 277. And don’t forget, that ESPN’s Ed Werder reported that the quarterback, who turns 40 on October 10th, has a small rotator cuff tear in his throwing shoulder. Never a good thing.

It is evident that I do indeed care that Number 4 has joined the Minnesota Vikings, even if you don’t. He may finally be able to dispense sweet revenge on Ted Thompson, the Green Bay Packers and the despicable fans that just couldn’t bring themselves to love him enough.

Maybe. Or maybe not.

Number 4; be careful what you wish for. Until next time…from the booth.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Memories of Number Four…Past and Future

Prior to the 1992 season, General Manager Ron Wolf acquired Brett Favre from the Atlanta Falcons. I was stunned the first time that I saw him throw the ball downfield during a drill in training camp. What an arm! It was evident that he was something special, a unique type of talent. Later that same year, on September 20th, I was fortunate enough to be sitting in historic Lambeau Field.

It was a warm autumn day and the Packers were playing the Cincinnati Bengals. The home team fell behind early and to make matters worse, quarterback Don Majkowski was knocked out of the game in the first quarter. Down 17 to 3, the sellout crowd grew restless, sensing impending doom.

Enter number four. It wasn't pretty; he fumbled four times and was sacked five times. He did, however, manage to throw for two fourth-quarter touchdowns. The second, a 35-yarder to Kitrick Taylor with 13 seconds left, ended a 92-yard, 54-second drive that Favre engineered with no timeouts remaining. Instantly a legend was born. The victory would help the Packers start building their streak of winning seasons. That game that day sealed the deal for me. I had become a fan of the kid from Kiln, Mississippi.

17 long years have gone by since that game against the Bengals.

Being a Brett Favre fan has been a roller coaster ride, with plenty of ups and downs. Like any good roller coaster ride, it has been plenty exciting. Watching Favre develop, not only as a player, but also as a man, has added to the enjoyment of being a fan of his. Being a loyal fan, I stood behind him.

Since March 3, 2008 Favre has “retired” a couple of times, cried a multitude of times, and became a New York Jet. He retired again, only to then entertain the idea of joining the Vikings. Last month, Viking Coach Brad Childress said the quarterback would stay retired.

Exhausted yet? Wait, there’s more. As I write this, I am watching FSPN (Favre Sports Programming Network) deliver breaking news. Yes, it’s true. There is more. It’s not over yet.

Brett Favre is on his way to Minnesota to meet with the Vikings. Childress confirmed in an e-mail to The Associated Press Tuesday morning that the veteran quarterback was traveling from Mississippi to meet with the team.

Asked if the plan was to sign Favre on Tuesday, Childress replied: "In a perfect world."

Surely there are many Favre fans that are overjoyed with the news that their favorite hillbilly signal caller is “unretiring” - again. I for one am not among this group and I am not alone in feeling that way.

A few minutes, Favre’s former teammate Mark Chmura, speaking on 540 ESPN radio, was asked what his reaction was to the news of number four signing with the Vikings. He response was, “I just vomited a little bit in my mouth.” He later said, “I wish he would just stay retired, enough is enough.”

Well, I echo Chmura’s sentiments and I vomited more than just a little. Not because Favre is becoming a hated Minnesota Viking. We all know why he wants to play for Minnesota. It’s his way of getting back at Green Bay Packer General Manager Ted Thompson.

It is Favre’s way of giving the finger to Thompson.

Fine. What Favre doesn’t seem to realize is that he is also giving all of us Packer fans the finger as well. Or maybe he does realize it and couldn’t care less. That’s the petulant and pampered diva that he has become. It used to make me sad, now it just makes me angry to think I once defended this spoiled brat.

Yes, I have plenty of fond memories of Brett Lorenzo Favre, dating back to that warm autumn day in September in 1992. Unfortunately, the only memory I want of him now is seeing him lying in a crumbled heap, cringing in pain underneath B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett on November 1st. Oh ya, and he has to be helped off the field.

Cruel? Maybe so, but although Green Bay Packer fans are loyal, we aren’t all stupid. Brett, here’s the finger back at you. Until next time…from the booth.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

We Are Family

As you may have noticed, many of my columns have had a softball theme to them. Even the title, “From The Booth”, comes from my days of announcing softball games at historic Finney’s West. This weekend the 45th annual Kiwanis Breakfast Club City Softball Tournament is taking place at Poerio Park. That is reason enough for another article with a softball motif, this time highlighting the first family of the game.

Having been involved with softball for the better part of two decades, I have managed, competed against and announced thousands of players in the city of Kenosha. Of this illustrious group there were many brothers, sisters, cousins, and even some fathers. You would think it would be difficult for me to distinguish one family that stands out from all the others.

It wasn’t.

There was one that immediately came to mind, the Llanas family. This was such an obvious choice, that I was able to field an entire lineup made up of exclusively Llanas kin, complete with manager. Don’t believe me? Check this out:

Pitcher – Danny Llanas
Catcher – Chico Llanas
First Baseman – Lionel Llanas
Second Baseman – Gilbert Llanas
Third Baseman – Art “Shorty” Llanas
Short Stop – Ricky Llanas
Outfielder – Rudy Llanas
Outfielder – David Llanas
Outfielder – Teddy Llanas
Outfielder – Victor Llanas
Midfielder – Helen Llanas
Manager – Pat Llanas

Of course you can’t play a game of softball without an umpire, so I offer you Ernie Llanas to call balls and strikes.

Still not impressed? Okay, performing the National Anthem before the All-Llanas softball team takes the field is none other than BoDeans front man, Sam Llanas. I know he’s not from Kenosha, but Waukesha is close enough.

From this talented roster, Danny, Art, Ricky and Helen have all played for me. I have cursed at Ernie when he umpired our games and have taken advice from Pat when he came to watch his sons and daughter play for the 400 Club. I worked with Victor at American Air Filter and I announced all of them when they played at Finney’s West.

I challenge anyone to come up with an entire squad made up entirely of one family. You might come up with four or five players, maybe a half dozen, but not eleven. Not being able to play ball the way the Llanas family could. Every one of them knew how to play the game.

So if you happen to be at Poerio Park this weekend, take a look around and I guarantee you will see a Llanas. I don’t know if any play anymore, but I am sure some will be in attendance, watching the game they once excelled at. Because that’s what the first family does. Until next time…from the booth.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

All That Glitters Ain’t Gold

In my last column I blathered about how technology can be both a blessing and a curse and I still believe this to be true. As stated then, this glut of knowledge that has been made so assessable to us needs to be scrutinized before we accept it as gospel. Nothing can be taken at face value anymore. However, once this information is deemed credible, it does have a real value. At least it does for me.

It has shown me that all that glitters ain’t gold.

Let me explain. Do you have a favorite athlete? Someone that you idolize. Someone that you obsess over and root for on and off the field. Someone, who as far as you are concerned, can do no wrong. Do you?

It doesn’t have to be an athlete. It can be an actor, or a musician. Maybe for you it is a politician or some other public figure. You get the point. We all have someone that we put on a pedestal for one reason or another.

But, is this blind adoration merited deservedly? What if this person has less than an admirable personality, or has done things that you might find unacceptable, or, worse yet, maybe even immoral?

Do we need to know this? Maybe yes, maybe no. Personally, I know it is something that I would like to know. But how does one go about doing a background check on a beloved icon?

In the past, you might find a newspaper article or, better yet, a book and discover what you are looking for. This is how I learned that a certain hockey superstar that I held in high esteem, had a fixation with punching his wife. Suddenly this jet was no longer “golden” in my mind.

Catching your favorite celebrity on a talk show was another method that I used to employ back in the good old days. Dating back to when Johnny Carson hosted the Tonight Show, I would look forward to seeing a favorite actor or actress being interviewed.

Sometimes these appearances would reveal the star was all that you hoped they were. Other times you might be disappointed in what you saw. Unfortunately, more often than not, you would only get what they wanted the public to see. But every once in a while they would let their guard down…

Nowadays, we still have a multitude of talk shows to evaluate the individuals that we admire, but we also have additional methods available to us. Celebrity gossip sites and an abundance of “reality” television shows provide added insight to the personal lives of the beautiful people we think so highly of.

Sad to say, shows like TMZ often dwell on only negative aspects when reporting on the famous. That’s when it’s time for us to put our thinking caps back on and decipher what we are being told and ask why.

The last way to get the measure of our idols is social networking. Things like MySpace, facebook and Twitter can often furnish us with eye-opening revelations of those we hold in high regard. For myself, reading their facebook statuses will usually give you a good idea of what is important to them and what they are all about.

Once again, it is up to us decide what does have a ring of truth to it and what doesn’t. Many times the most stunning super model will lose a little bit of that allure and eye-appeal when they open their mouth. The same goes for star athletes when you see the undesirable cretins with whom they choose to associate.

In the popular song, “Stairway to Heaven”, Led Zeppelin proclaims, “All that glitters is gold.” I, however, disagree and heed the advice of The Who when they declare, “Don’t get fooled again. No, no!” That’s because, I have found, all that glitters ain’t gold. Until next time…from the booth.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Both A Blessing And A Curse

Does anybody remember what it was like before we had computers? I am not posing this question because I am wondering what people did for entertainment. That bit has been done ad nauseam. The reason for my question is that is that I marvel at how quickly news is made available to us. The rapid fashion we now receive information is remarkable. But it is both a blessing and a curse.

Let me explain why.

With the technology we have today, we no longer have to wait for the 10:00 pm newscast or, heaven forbid, the morning newspaper to get the latest headlines. When Michael Jackson made his final moonwalk on June 25th, I knew about it before it was broadcast on radio or television thanks to veteran Milwaukee media columnist Tim Cuprisin, who broke the story on facebook.

The same thing occurred yesterday when film director John Hughes passed on. Cuprisin made it known on facebook before any of the traditional media outlets had a chance to do so. This is obviously a blessing that we didn’t have five years ago.

So where is the curse in all of this? One way is the ability to display false gossip.

When Jacko died, it generated a series of other, ugly false rumors about the expiration of other celebrities. Two of the more notable rumors going around involve the death of actors Jeff Goldblum and Harrison Ford. Although completely untrue, they spread rapidly, largely due to how quickly they can be shared on social media sites like facebook and Twitter.

The other manner that it is both a blessing and a curse affects something that is near and dear to me - sports talk. Whether it is on the radio, television or the computer, I have an obsession with sports and therefore, sports talk.

To illustrate this, let me share with you something that I was guilty of a short time ago. Wednesday night, I caught myself watching a baseball game (with the sound off) on TV, reading Tom Haudricourt’s blog on JSOnline, while listening to both 540 ESPN’s “The Game” stream live on my computer and WSCR on the radio.

Maybe this isn’t a blessing to most, but it is to me, damn it! If I hadn’t had this media overload going on, I might have missed The Games’ Bill Johnson talking about Brett Favre’s family, the "Bugtussle Mafia". You know, Ma Bonita, The Idiot Brother, Uncle Greasy and the long suffering Dee Dee and Colonel Tom Parker.

To miss that would truly have been a shame.

Another way that this glut of information available at our fingertips is a curse falls on the sports talk show hosts and the blog writers. With all this knowledge that is imparted on and made accessible to the public, you better have your facts straight.

It doesn’t take much to google something said on one of these shows that sounds questionable. I realize it isn’t easy to speak extemporaneously during a live radio show. But that being said, you should try to have your facts straight before you allow it to come out of your head.

When you make a statement like Terrell Buckley was among the top fifteen NFL all-time interceptors, it is okay when your co-hosts calls you on it, checks the veracity of this fact and makes it into a humorous bit.

However, when your sole purpose is to impart information, there is no excuse for “making stuff up”. This is especially true if you are called an “Expert” or an “Insider”. Such was the case when I accidentally tuned into a station that I don’t normally listen to.

Milwaukee Brewers beat writer Anthony Witrado was asked if he thought the White Sox would see any benefits this season from their recent acquisition of pitcher Jake Peavy. Witrado’s response was no, because Peavy wasn’t even able to play catch yet.

Hmmm…seems to me, while watching a White Sox game the day before, I saw Peavy pitching off the mound in the bullpen. The announcers made a point to speak about it, so it wasn’t my imagination. “Insider”??? I think not. A definite loss of credibility for Mr. Witrado.

So you see, it is both a blessing and a curse to have all of this enlightenment thrust upon us. Before, we were at the mercy of what we heard or read; with no google or to scrutinize it’s accuracy.

Now, we not only have all this information inflicted on us at a breakneck speed, but we also have the ability and responsibility to make sure that it is fact-based. We do. Honest. Trust me.

That’s it for now, I have to get going. Tom Haurdicourt is on the D-List right now. Until next time…from the booth.

Monday, August 3, 2009

So Much For Writing Today…

My plans to write a new blog were dashed just moments ago. I had every intention of writing a fresh new column that would not only entertain and humor you, but also leave you wanting more. Well, one out of three isn't bad.

You will be definitely be wanting more, because I am not going to write. My aspirations of writing were put on hold.

Remember that column that I wrote about RapidDraft? It was titled, "It's Just A Fantasy" and detailed my obsession with fantasy sports. Lo and behold, while I was spending some quality time on facebook, I saw a status from RapidDraft's super spokeswoman Caitlin Morall offering a promo code to play for free.

Evidently the good people at RapidDraft are celebrating the opening of NFL training camps by giving away a chance to play for free. They are giving one free draft to everyone. If you recall, I mentioned in my earlier column that the guaranteed first prize is $250,000! Tough to pass that by.

So rather than writing a new column for my yearning throng of followers, I will be preparing for and doing a FREE RapidDraft draft and thereby giving myself at another crack at that quarter million dollars!

Oh, by the way, in case you also want to play RapidDraft for free, the promo code is go4it. Click on RapidDraft to get to their website and draft for your chance to win the cash.

Maybe I will get to that writing thing tomorrow. Until next time…from the booth.