Friday, July 27, 2012

Nostrildamus has been calling the camera shots

The cameras catch everything.


And they are everywhere.


Especially at major league baseball games.


In fact, some sports production companies have as many as 16 high definition glass eyes looking at the game.


If the game were all we saw on our television screens, I wouldn't complain.


Unfortunately, America's favorite pastime moves rather slowly.


Lots of time between pitches when Mr. Deliberation is on the mound, contemplating his next delivery.


Fastball? Curve? Slider? Changeup?


The cameraman must therefore search for close-ups on player activity to pass the time between pitches.


What's a video technician to do?


Well, it seems that it is our fate to be treated to one  voyeuristic moment after another.


Unsuspecting Warriors of the diamond must be embarrassed  by some of the highly pixelated shots beamed into the privacy of our homes.


Shots of disgusting things.


The other night, TV tray at the couch, we enjoyed a late dinner, Tribe on.


We were assaulted during our linguine by  images of the pitcher spitting constantly.


High definition up-close shots of one loogie after another.


Dinner over.


Look, it's baseball. Spitting is part of the game.


But do we really need the Hocker-cam?


I'm surprised they don't use slow-motion instant replay of these expectorations.


Well, lookie there, Jim. Tomlin shot that one 15 feet!


That's right, Tom, but that doesn't equal the one he had last year in the Toronto series.  Of course he had the wind in his favor that night.




That's not all.


They are not always biting their nails.


But if they do, camera number five will find them and you will see it in detail.


Bite. Spit. Examine.


Bite. Spit. Examine.


Then there are the sunflower seeds. I'm sure it's a healthy  alternative to tobacco.


Less disgusting than mucous but by no means appealing.


The popular practice is to load up with "David" brand seeds and then spit them out in sort of a spray.


A blur of seed husks exploding out of the mouth, slowed only by saliva.


Captured by the centerfield camera  for your viewing pleasure.


Which brings us to the scratch and adjust.


This well-documented move is something every man relates to.


But it is not appropriate  for it to be broadcast like its some kind of olympic event.


Usually it's a baserunner who decides to do some anatomical placement re-engineering.


Who is the Einstein in the control booth who thinks showing this is a good idea?


Now the granddaddy of them all.


The nose picking close-up.


Detroit's power hitter Miguel Cabrera obviously didn't know he was the star of his own personal hygiene training video the other night.


Pick, pick, pick.


Roll it.


Look at it.


Don't eat it.


Relief mercifully arrives as the pitcher throws and there's a hit.


 Cabrera's magnified nasal excavation forgotten.


Except by me.




Sporting event television directors, this column is a message for you.


I want to see more shots of rolling baseballs.


And fewer of rolling boogers.


Is that too much to ask?





Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pain of Love Reveals Noble Character

Sometimes you encounter a moment in which time seems to stop.


You realize you're witnessing something special.


       We muddle through our humdrum workaday existence where  special moments occur only rarely.


       When they happen, it's good to pause and savor their meaning, observing the unique event  displayed before you.


       I came across  such a moment the other day.


During a hearing in Domestic Relations Court, a typical custody fight seemed to be going the way they always go.


Mom and dad, divorced, fighting over custody of their two boys, one a freshman in high school and the other a sophomore.


Mom had moved to a southern state, leaving dad to raise the boys on his own here in Ohio.


Initially, the father fought hard  to block the mother's attempt to relocate the kids  to her Carolina home.


It was shaping up as a battle of hateful egos, the parents more interested in inflicting emotional injury on their ex-spouse than in anything else.


I've seen it  a thousand times.


The anger and hurt of divorce manifests itself in the form of a take-no-prisoners attitude toward every post-marriage issue, especially the issue of custody.


       This fight to the death approach ruins families, handing the winner a hollow victory.


       Children are the collateral damage.


       They carry the memory of their parents' unquenchable hate with them for a long time.


       Some get over it.


       Others let it poison their  lives, destined to let the dark shadow of resentment and selfishness overcome their love for their spouse in their own marriages.


       History, sadly, repeating itself.


Which brings me to the moment.


The dad is a contractor, working 60 hours a week.


Very hard construction labor.


Not particularly sophisticated, a little rough around the edges.


Prepared to do battle.


But on this day,  love prevailed.


The dad had some sincere one-on-one conversations with his sophomore son, before the hearing.


He was convinced in his own heart: this boy really wanted to  live with his mom.


Incredulous, he murmured to the judge, between tears.


He said he loved his son and if relocating meant his happiness, he would abandon his opposition to the mothers request.


The room went silent.


Giving up the fight in order to ensure his son's happiness.


So it seems  this lad will be changing addresses.


Because a man loved his son more than he hated his ex-wife.


That was the moment.


Paternal love and self-sacrifice.


I could see the pain in his face.


The suffering in his heart.


And most poignantly, the nobility in this blue-collar hero.


How much do you love your kids?


As much as this dad?


I went back to the office after that hearing, a changed man.


Thinking about that moment.


Is there nobility in you?


Can you produce such a moment yourself?


Maybe history doesn't have to repeat itself.


Make your own moment.


Discover your own nobility.


I've seen it in person.


It wore steel-toed work boots and had calloused hands.


And a tender loving heart.



Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hanging Out With the Boys Not Such a Bad Idea

About two years ago, I had the idea of forming a men's choir at my church.


It was a little controversial because some thought it sexist to exclude women.


What I was looking for was the unique fellowship   when grown men get together to share experiences and spirituality with just men.


At the risk of getting a nasty-gram from Gloria Steinem, let me say that vocalizing with men only has been most fulfilling.


We men are really stressed.


We struggle to be breadwinners.


We struggle to avoid heart disease.


We struggle to be the ideal  for our wives, even though mother nature balds our heads, expands our waistlines, and  causes hair growth in places we never imagined, like our ears.


We men know that our fair maiden once saw us as the White Knight on a mighty steed, prepared to slay dragons in pursuit of kingdoms, presenting our plunder in tribute to our Queen.


These middle-aged men gathered in the choir loft know that the ambitions of yesteryear fade into the reality of today.


None of us are rich, but we gather to sing about God, with a little conversation thrown in.


We pray for our  families.


We pray to be moral and pure.


Imagine that, men praying for their  purity in a world where busty bikini bombshells are featured in every beer commercial.


So we congregate as men.


And it has been a tonic for  us.


We razz each other and throw barbs when one of us screws up the pronunciation of some Latin word.


We feel more and more like brothers.


Even if just for a few minutes, we feel  our difficulties  lifted from each of us as we lift our voices together.


We sense that we are not alone.


If one of us were to fall, all the rest would unite to help, no questions asked.


It's as if the good Samaritan had a merry band of helpers coming to rescue the robbery victim in the road.


All wounded in our own way,  we find peace and joy in this fraternity.


Here's where I'm going with this.


If you're a man, find a men's group and share your  hopes, dreams, and your faith.


If you're a woman, help your man find a men's group.


We men  generally don't express ourselves as easily as women do.


We tend to internalize things.


We roll along quietly, sometimes suffering inside.


In the modern age, the masculine role is tough to fulfill, especially in this confusing oversexed do-what-feels-good-culture.


So, find some godly men and start to hang out together.


You'll feel better about yourself and about your role in your family.


Then try a song or two.


Regardless of the singing, you'll make some beautiful music.


We men are more complex than the buffoons portrayed  in sitcoms watching football in front of the big-screen TV, Budweisers and Bratwurst in hand.


We  men need each other.


So listen up, baritones and tenors, it's time to unite.


Are you with me?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Summon the Courage to Dispatch an Idiot

Why do  some  white people think that  all white people belong to a secret society of racists?

You are standing by the bar at a wedding reception.

An acquaintance comes up to you.

You've only discussed business matters with him in the past.

He's a little liquored up.

He launches into a dissertation about the  decay of the inner city.

His diatribe is sprinkled with  the "N" word and other various invectives.

The guy is an obvious idiot but what  troubles me is that  the  only thing that we seem to have in common is our being white.

What that means is that this Neanderthal believes that all white people see the world through his boss-hog plantation mentality prism.

He's not the only one.

There is a certain personality trait among many caucasians that  I'll refer to as the presumption that  all non-minorities are united by a disdain for people of color.

 That  thinking faded away with the  Eugenic philosphy intended to purify the favored race, Nazi style, right?


What really scares me is that these closet klansmen are parenting innocent children absorbing these antisocial attitudes.

And these folks are all over.

I   am sick of talking to people who have made the move from Cleveland   or Euclid to some far flung corner of Lake or Geauga County because their neighborhood was "getting bad."

This is  a euphemism for African Americans  moving into the  area.

Would the speaker say these words to a black person?


So why is it OK  to address me in this way?

Do I give out  the kind  of  vibe that makes one feel safe to   spew such garbage around me?

I hope not.

Then why?

Because   these morons   know that it is safe to express  these opinions to almost any other white person around.

Are they right?

Lots of us are guilty as charged.

We go to church on Sunday and embrace concepts of diversity.

God loves us all equally, regardless of race, right?

So why do we put up with this crap?
Most of  my readers know  precisely what I am talking about.

We listen and nod like we agree or at least consent to the nasty drivel.

Lots of us don't agree but why make a scene?

 The drunk goes back to his table at the wedding thinking you agree with what he just uttered  in his stupor.
The   conspiracy of silence  in the face of  these racist words has to stop.

If we don't stop it,  the purveyors of this modern day Jim Crow talk will continue to think we approve.

In your life, at the bar, or wherever you encounter this type of speech, do just one thing.

Look the modern racist  in the eye and tell him this.

Go to hell.

I'm going to try.

Here comes that drunk again.

Let's do it together.

Go to hell.

Here's to the happy couple.