Semantics – The meaning, or an interpretation of the meaning, of a word, sign, sentence, etc.
Since the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage came down last week, a lot of people have been playing fast and loose with words and their interpretations. Sadly, many of them are Christians. They are people who are anything but perfect, but demand that everyone else act as such while ignoring a veritable lumberyard in their own ocular cavity.
That’s a log in your own eye, just so you don’t have to go look it up, around … well … that log in your eye.
Let’s be clear on a few things we KNOW about today’s world:
- The world hate’s Christians, even if it states otherwise – “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22)
- Sinners and Christians have the same sin – “There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:22b-24) and “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” (James 2:10)
- God’s ‘Great Commission’ gives Christ’s followers two jobs, and one of them is NOT condemnation – “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
- God makes it pretty clear that belief or unbelief are the qualifiers for salvation – “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
So let’s start at the beginning…
If you’re a Christian, or at least claim to be, then if you have read any of the Bible you should already know that the world is out to get us. It’s not some breaking newsflash or some bullet point that just came in over the wire on CNN. Get over it and get on with what God wants you to be doing.
In case you think I’m pulling your leg, let’s take a look back at just some of society’s greatest anti-Christian hits from the last 70 years or so:
- 1948 – Supreme Court rules that time set aside for prayer in public schools is unconstitutional. (McCollum v. Board of Education)
- 1962 – Supreme Court rules that children may not recite a state written prayer in school (Engel v. Vitale).
- 1963 – Supreme Court bans individual school prayer (Murry v. Curlett) and Bible reading in public schools (Abington Township School District v. Schempp).
- 1965 – Supreme Court rules that a child may pray silently to himself if no one knows he is praying and his lips do not move.
- 1980 – Supreme Court rules that the Ten Commandments cannot be posted in classrooms, “for a child might read them, reflect upon them and then obey them.” (Stone vs. Graham)
- 1985 – Supreme Court strikes down Alabama law requiring schools to have a moment of silent meditation at the beginning of the day.
- 1987 – Supreme Court overturns a State Law requiring a balanced treatment of creation science and evolution. (Edwards vs. Aguillard)
- 1992 – Supreme Court rules Clergy may not offer prayer at graduation ceremonies. (Lee vs. Weisman)
- 2000 – Supreme Court rules student initiated or student led prayer at football games is unconstitutional. (Doe vs. Santa Fe Independent School District)
Same Shtick, Different Decade
Maybe you’ve been distracted by soap operas, disco and Deflategate over the past few decades and missed all that. But as you can see, what’s going on is nothing new.
As GI Joe would say, “Now you know and knowing is the half the battle!”
But sadly, we have Christians sounding the war trumpet and threatening (falsely I might add) to set themselves on fire or move to Canada. Folks, I believe this is nothing more than a slight of hand trick by the Master Trickster himself.
I remember of friend of mine in college named Dave who was a crack magician. When we had a talent show and some classmates coaxed him into performing and when he hit the stage it looked awful. He tried the old pouring milk into a newspaper routine, but fumbled with the newspaper and the cap to the milk. I was sure he’d crash and burn. But in the end, he seemed to just barely pull it off.
When I saw him off stage later I told him how concerned I was for him and was glad he had completed it. “Tim,” he whispered out the side of his mouth, “if they’re watching the paper and cap, they’re not watching what else I’m doing.” I realized at that moment I had been duped!
Truth of the matter is that I believe that Satan is having one heck of a laugh right now. While we’ve had pastors and Christians making declarations about what they would do if gay marriage was allowed, we’ve yet to see it happen. For starters, it’s kind of tough thing to set yourself on fire. And secondly, moving to Canada will only take you to a country that has had publicly funded health care for the last 31 years and gay marriage for the last 10.
In short, you better pick someplace else that’s likely a tad bit less accessible by your immediate family. But then again, that might be inconvenient, huh?
Following Christ usually is. Suck it up, Buttercup.
Satan has everyone whipped up into a frenzy, with Christians doing everything but what Christ commanded them (we’ll cover that in a few moments) and doing it in such a way as to alienate anyone who might be riding the fence about coming to God. And while we watch the verbal firefights on social media and in the news, he fades back into the shadows and watches believers fall by the wayside and take their friends with them.
It’s a bad parlor trick that we fall for every time.
Same Sin, Different People
Point number two makes it pretty clear that sinners and Christians suffer from the same disease – sin.
You know, that’s the point above where it says the sin you consider little and the stuff you think the homosexual agenda is promoting is horrific are actually one and the same.
Let that sink in for a moment. Yeah, humans may think that being gay is worse than lying, or that murder is worse than gossip, and who really knows if God differentiates them or not. But what God has said is that if you break ONE law, you’ve broken them ALL. Not some or a few or a couple … ALL OF THEM!
So to make things easy on you, just stop worrying about what the other guys are doing. It’s not your business if men are marrying men, women are marrying women or if there are farm animals involved.
IT’S NOT YOUR BUSINESS!
Pray for your sins first and how you can improve yourself to avoid them in the future. Pray for your family and friends. Pray for guidance on how to be more useful in the Kingdom of God and how you might better serve your spouse.
And if you still have time and breath left, pray for the people making the choice to be homosexual or have transgender surgery. But I’d suggest making sure you spend more than three minutes on your knees, or you’ll be lucky to get done with your own issues, much less anyone else’s.
But I can tell you right now that your job on this planet has nothing to do with condemning, convicting or converting another soul.
Are we clear on that? Good, let’s move on.
Two Jobs, Hold the Condemnation Please
I love The Apprentice. Not because of ‘The Donald’ and his perplexing hairdo, but because I enjoy watching how people go about organizing themselves and accomplishing a task. And the team that loses each task seems to have a common theme – They didn’t do what Trump asked them to do.
And thus our problem here.
Christians, God has neither asked nor ordained you to condemn, convict or otherwise judge your fellow human. It’s your job to love. Period. End of story.
How do I know that? Because EVERYTHING a Christian does, according to Jesus, has to be done in love. When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied,
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” ~ Matthew 22:37-40
If you think I’m wrong, maybe now would be a good time for a little backup from another source you might recognize …
See, it’s really simple. If you can’t find true love in what you are doing, saying or thinking, then don’t do it.
Calling names, threatening bizarre actions or wishing harm on folks because of something that happened either to, for or by them has no love in it and Christ has no part in it. Whipping people up into a frenzy about the world and causing them to not focus on their walk with God – no love in that and Christ has no part in it.
The fourth point above also indicates this, as people who are not followers of God’s only begotten son are already condemned. It’s already done. So what on earth makes you think that by you verbally or physically heaping coals on someone’s head that you’ll accomplish what God did not choose to accomplish?
In fact, God commanded that you do just the opposite.
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.~ Psalm 25:21-22
Hmmm, guess this poses a little problem for those using that “Christian baker and a gay wedding” argument. Well, that’s for another discussion…
Listen, if you truly are a Christian and follow the one, true Lord of the universe, then no amount of anything you do will alter the course of history other than prayer. Pray without ceasing, as the Bible tells us. Instead of talking to yourself, talk to God. Not every prayer needs to have a dozen ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ and flowery words in them. Just talk to God and let him know what you’re feeling and what’s going on.
He can and will do whatever he wants and he already knows everything you will ever want or need, but he absolutely loves the sound of your voice. So talk to him.
In closing, Christians stop acting the fool. It’s not your job to force a culture that you came from to live a life that you chose to follow and that they have not. Remember that, you made a CHOICE. And a choice straight from the heart is what unbelievers need to make for them to have an authentic, real relationship with Christ – just like the one you’re trying to have with him.
“… wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” ~ Matthew 13b-14
Drop the rhetoric, the misinformation and mistrust and put on the armor of God. Because without it you’re just another easy target for the Father of Lies to shoot at.
Since Indiana’s “Religious Freedom” law was passed, it’s just getting weird up in here.
For some reason, the central debate seems to be over a Christian baker having to service a gay couple’s wedding. And in the discussions I’ve had, it all seems to be about who knows what and when they know it.
As I see it, the cake has nothing to do with someone getting married. It’s an optional part of the post-ceremony celebration. It has nothing to do with a couple – be it man-woman, man-man or woman-woman – getting legally married in any of the 50 United States or its territories.
If I’m wrong, please let me know.
If you don’t think so, then take Las Vegas, Nevada as example. There’s an average of 315 weddings per day (http://www.lasvegas-how-to.com/fun-facts.php) in Sin City, and most of those go off without a cake. In fact my guess more of them include Elvis than they do a cake.
And no, I will not be debating the religious validation of “The King” on the wedding vows. At least not today.
But the defense I hear is that if a gay couple came into a Christian baker’s shop, that the Christian would then know that the cake they were making is for a gay wedding and thus, violate their Christianity and causing them to sin. Those standing behind this equivocate baking the cake with participating in the marriage ceremony, and that’s where they lose me.
As far as I can tell, a marriage ceremony needs only a couple wanting to be wed, a marriage license, a witness and someone who is legally able to wed them. Some states require a blood test, but I think even that gets waived in some places.
Cakes are for the celebration of that event. So maybe that could be touchy, but I still don’t think so. Here’s why…
If it is the fact that a Christian knows that the cake they are making is being used for a gay wedding that is the crucial point – meaning they know it will be used by a sinful person(s) to celebrate a sinful event – then Christians cannot be businessmen. Why? Because Christians know that “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
See Christians know that everyone, including themselves, are sinners. And if the qualifier as to whether or not you can sell to someone is their status regarding sin, then Christians have no one they can sell to – not even those of their own faith or particular denomination.
Sin has no hierarchy, therefore all sin is the same. So from a Christian standpoint, someone living a homosexual lifestyle is just as much a sinner as someone who lies, steals or even takes the Lord’s name in vain. And that’s just three of the Ten Commandments.
No, the issue as I see it is that Christians are once again attempting to legislate their faith rather than actually live it out. It seems like people of faith think it would be a lot easier to pass a law and force people to live they do – or at least the way they are supposed to be living – rather than live their lives in such a way as to cause people to choose God over life without Him.
See, if a Christian baker were to live their lives and run their business in such a way that God was honored in every aspect, then I find it very unlikely that gay people would even want to venture in the door. In fact, I’m pretty sure the God I serve is big enough to handle whatever comes down the pike in that regard.
I once owned a photography business and I sent out some emails to various club teams and programs asking if they might have need of a photographer for their events as well as team and individual shots. On the bottom of each email I included a Bible verse that we based on business on (“As in water face reflects face, So the heart of man reflects man. Proverbs 27:19).
One night I got a response from a gymnastics group stating that the club’s coach would love to use us, but that she didn’t do business with people who put Bible verses on their emails. I wrote back and told her that while I understood her choice, that we decided honoring God in our business was important. She sent several more terse communications and each time I told her we’d just have to agree to disagree.
We were by no means a big business and offering to cave might have gotten us the contract and some cash. But I felt we were better off honoring God.
Later that night a purchase came in for about $40 on an account that was more than a month old, a 911 event that we had shot in Las Vegas. I figured it was probably a straggler that just got around to ordering their images. But a few minutes later another came in, and another. In an hour we had done some $200 in business. And within the next 24 hours we did almost $1,000 total from an account that we thought had run its course.
God had something else in mind.
Christians – and I mean this in a loving way – get up off your butts and quit trying to force the world to live the way you chose to. God affords every sinner the opportunity to CHOOSE him. None of us were forced to be Christians, we chose to follow Christ. We chose it because we saw in someone else a way of life that we felt was better than what we had been living.
Quit trying to be lawyers and start being the light and salt of the world, shining so brightly that the darkness that’s left will simply fade away.
God doesn’t need more chefs in the kitchen making up their own recipes, he needs more delivery people getting the Bread of Life to starving masses.
Religion (as defined by Meriam Webster)1 a : the state of a religious <a nun in her 20th year of religion>b (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices3 archaic : scrupulous conformity : conscientiousness
4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith
Watch that definition very closely, because it’s about to be changed.
Indiana’s new “religious liberty” law is anything but, essentially giving people carte blanche to discriminate against anyone if they don’t lineup with their personal beliefs. The law has, in essence, created personalized police state that allows any individual to be judge, jury and executioner if someone disagrees with them.
The law, signed into action my Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R), allows businesses to deny business to anyone who doesn’t fit into their personal set of beliefs. Notice I said beliefs and not religion, because it is in that fourth line of the definition that this law will find it’s doom – assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t strike it down before the ink dries.
And if you think I’m wrong, then you’ve never been in Indiana during basketball season as an opponent.
An article in The Daily Grind from March 28 relates how an Indiana business owner named Ryan called into 100.9 RadioNOW and professed his support of the new law, stating that he freely discriminated against the LGBT community. I’d love to tell you the man’s last name or that of his business, but he refused to give them.
Before I get into what I believe are the Christian ramifications of this law, let’s take a brief look at this particular business owners actions:
- Ryan (the business owner) thinks discriminating against the LGBT community because they are in sin is OK. Let’s run with that for a moment. I wonder if Ryan remembers the time before he was a Christian? You know, when he was a sinner. I wonder if he would have been OK with people discriminating against him then? And will he be OK when he walks into a place owned by someone in the LGBT community and they kindly tell him to get out because he doesn’t match up with their beliefs? Or would he be even more surprised to enjoy an excellent meal, only to have the owners tell him where he had been eating afterwards?
- Ryan’s personal convictions are so weak that after “bravely” calling the radio station to spout his nonsensical rhetoric and boast of his “religious” stance, he won’t tell the station his last name or what his business’ name or location is. Wow! What moral conviction! Plus he gets free air time and missed a chance at a major plug that, as we now see, would have gone nationwide. This guy is clearly a marketing genius too.
- Ryan’s faith is such (I will call it outright fake, cheap at best) that instead of telling people why he is discriminating against them, he lies to them. So not standing up for his ‘faith’ aside, that commandment about bearing false witness goes right out the window too.
- And assuming his has any measure of actual faith in him, when Ryan has people that he believes are in sin in his business, he ignores the one commission Jesus gave us in Matthew 28:19-20, saying “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” I wonder if Ryan knows that Jesus came to earth and hung out exclusively with the sinners of the day, eating with them and ministering to them? I mean the only “quality” time that Jesus spent with the religious leaders of the day, they were in the process of trying to kill Him.
Christians are split on this matter and I feel it’s due to a concern about what they will have to give up in order to allow people who are not of their faith make a decision about Christ. What would they be giving up – the safety of their personal religious cocoon – the one Christ never intended us to have.
I have a friend named Greg who I have known since kindergarten. As the electronic age has come upon us and the miles between us have grown, Greg and I have taken to debating a number of issues through social media. We usually focus on politics and religion, so you can only guess that this new law was hotly debated just a few days ago.
Some Christians view the mere act of serving someone not of their faith as denying Christ and participating in that customer’s sin. For example, if you were a caterer and baked a gay couple a cake or food, that that constitutes taking part in their ceremony. Another might be a photographer taking pictures of that same wedding.
Others, like myself, think that it would require more than just providing the service. So in the case of caterer, I don’t find an issue with a Christian baking a cake for a gay wedding or even serving the food, for that matter. But if they wanted me to serve it some plate with sexually suggestive images on it or wanted the cake to look like a phallic symbol, then I’m not the caterer for them. Likewise, as a photographer I’d have no issue taking the various images that you normally take at a wedding, including what are sure to be variances due to a couple being both men or both women. But if those images were to include anything suggestive, I’d have to tell that those are services my business does not provide.
The Apostle Paul clearly spoke to this matter in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23:
19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
Verses 20 and 21 are the keys as I see it. Verse 20 addresses those that are under the law (those of Jewish faith) and that we should become as though we under that law, even though we are not. The Jews are the extreme opposite of the LGBT community, adhering to laws and rules that we, as Christians, think were done away with by Christ and His sacrifice on the cross.
Verse 21 goes to the opposite end of the spectrum, saying that to those without any law we should also become like them – even though we are still under the law of God.
And that may be the sticking point. Just like when you were dating and minded all of the Ps and Qs you would later forget about after you got married, following the law of the Jews is easy for a short time to try and show them the salvation of Christ as we know it. But where do you draw the line going the other way?
Over the years I have made a number of friends who are gay and even have one family member who has expressed an interest in that lifestyle. We eat, we hang out, we do things together. But when it comes down to things like affection, we give a friendly hug and that’s it. When it comes time to eat, I say a prayer over my food quietly while they usually start chowing down.
See, what I think Christians today are forgetting is that becoming a Christian is a choice. God doesn’t force it on us, nor does He want to. God wants you to be under his guidance, care and discipline because we choose to be, not because we have to. And it is that choice, one that every Christian has to make (and no, you are not born into Christianity. But that’s a topic for another post) that they seem to forget that were allowed to make by God Himself. And it is a decision that, for some strange reason, they don’t want to let anyone else make for themselves.
If a person of the LGBT community coming into your business and buying a sandwich or a shirt is that threatening to your Christianity, then your faith isn’t worth a plug nickle. If all it takes is the mere presence of sin in someone else – and believe me, there is still sin in every Christian because none of us are perfect. NONE of us! – to throw you off track, then you better close your business, go home and plant your nose in your Bible and prayer 24/7.
God wants us in the world. He needs us in the world. We are His hands and feet, carrying the gospel to all of the lost, not just the people that we’re OK sharing it with.
In a time when the forces of the day were openly giving letters of authority to hunt down and kill Christians, God called the worst offender of them all to his ministry to preach His word. He preached it to the people of that time and to millions since.
His name was Paul.
Christ broke down all of the Christian faith into two commandments and one commission. The commission we covered above, but the first commandment is to love God with everything you have. The second was like it and was to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Notice is doesn’t say “fellow Christian” or “like believer”, it says neighbor. Your neighbor may be a Christian, or they may be gay, or lesbian or even worse in Indiana – a Michigan fan.
And finally, if you think that discriminating against the LGBT community is OK and a righteous thing to do, then I’m sure you’ll be just fine with it when they turn the tables on people of faith. Don’t think it will happen? Maybe you should take a gander at the book of Revelations:
“It (the second beast) also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.” ~ Revelations 13:16-17
As Christians, I do not believe that we are afforded the luxury of ignoring the masses that do not share our faith. Christ’s Great Commission requires us to be in the world, but not of the world. It’s the only way that we can reach the lost. It was the only way that any Christian was ever reached with the Gospel.
I’m going to include links to two songs that I feel are very germane to the topic at hand. The first is from Steve Taylor and speaks to doing business with people who do not share our Christian faith. The second is from Petra and speaks to a Christians desire to sit safely inside their church, never reaching out to world around us.
Carolina Panthers (7-8-1) at Arizona Cardinals (11-5)
Arizona had a great thing going, that is until they were forced to start going through office rolodex files to find someone who could play quarterback. They have a mediocre passing game as a team (14th), but much of that was based on the previous starters. Mix that with the next to last rushing attack in the league and it means trouble.
Carolina has been surging as the season wound down, despite a losing record and Cam Newton’s auto accident. They are solid running the ball (7th) and New can explode for big yardage and scores at any moment.
While I like the Cardinals personally, this one goes to the Panthers 35-17.
Baltimore Ravens (10-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)
These two almost always put on a good show if you’re up for hard-fought yards and a lot of action. But the last two matchups of these teams in 2014 have been lopsided, one going each way.
The Steelers really should be the favorite in this game, except that star running back Le’Veon Bell is not healthy. In fact, he may not be able to play. He had 1,361 yards and 8 TDs this season. Josh Harris has shown some potential, but he’ll have to shine if he is to give the Ravens something to distract them from focusing on Ben Rothlisberger. If Big Ben can stay standing, the Ravens will have issues.
The Ravens have a similar tandem in Joe Flacco and Justin Forsett. Flacco is really the question mark here. He had a great season when they played San Francisco in the Super Bowl, but otherwise is an above-average QB. Forsett has clearly come out from under the shadow of Ray Rice and his spousal abuse issues, amassing 1,266 yards and 8 TDs.
There’s a lot of give and take in this game, but in the end I think the Steelers will rise to the occasion and win the day. Pittsburgh 31, Baltimore 24.
Cincinnati Bengals (10-5-1_ at Indianapolis (11-5)
In their only matchup this season the Colts blanked the Bengals 27-0 October 19th. Seems that whenever an opposing QB gets over 290 yards passing in a game, Cincinnati loses. And if anyone can rack up yards quick, it’s the Colts Andrew Luck.
Luck had 4,761 yards and 40 TDs this season passing. He lit up the Bengals for 344 yds/2 TD in the win earlier this season. But what Luck provides in a passing game the Colts severely lack in a rushing attack. Trent Richardson and Boom Herron have given some great efforts, but they will need to step up big of Indianapolis is going to make it far in the postseason.
Cincinnati has an impressive arsenal of offensive weapons, managed by QB Andy Dalton. But for all of that, the Bengals are just not great defensively.
This figures to get into a shootout at best and I’m not sure that the Bengals have the firepower to keep pace. Indianapolis 35, Cincinnati 17.
Detroit Lions (11-5) at Dallas Cowboys (12-4)
Have you heard about them ‘Boys? If you haven’t, you clearly don’t know any fans of the Big Blue Star.
Dallas QB Tony Romo finally had the kind of year his supporters have been telling us he’d have. Regardless of the reason, he has been on fire most of the year, save the stint he had with injuries. And while he and Dez Bryant have been putting on an aerial show all season, the real jugger naught has been RB Demarco Murray. He crushed the league with 1,845 yards and 13 TDs this season and was over 100 yards in all but four games.
But that was again patsy defenses.
While Detroit has some good offensive weapons, make no mistake that they are where they are because of their defense. They allowed just 88 yds/gm this year on the ground and 251 yds/gm in the air, making them the No. 2 defense in the league. And while the Dallas offensive line now has a full year under its belt together, they will have to dig deep to give Romo time and Murray holes when they have the ball.
In perhaps the biggest irony of the Wild Card Weekend, Dallas won all eight of its road games this year only to earn the right to play at home where they went 4-4.
This game will be a test of wills, but if the Cowboys can must the same type of game they played against Seattle (Oct. 12, 2014), they have a shot. Dallas 24, Detroit 21.
OK, I’m tossing this theory out there. Believe me, I know it’s a long shot and pretty unlikely. But when I think of the myriad of other things that have happened over the years that were scams or just unbelievable things that individuals/companies have done, this one looks like one of the more mild ones. So here goes …
Grab some cookies and milk. This is gonna take a while.
You have a movie that, by normal standards, was getting OK reviews in advance of its Christmas Day opening and the whole debacle with the North Koreans. And even after it’s showing online and at some 300 theaters across the U.S., it’s still pretty mixed.
“The Interview” cost $44 million to make, which is roughly equivalent to what it’s competition – “Unbroken” ($15.59 million), “Into The Woods” ($15.08 million) and the two-week old “The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies” (#13.14 million) – made in a DAY. Toss in “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” ($7.35 million) and “The Gambler” ($5 million) and there wasn’t going to be much of a box office left for Seth Rogen and James Franco to get a piece of. And with at least the top four movies in that list with significant staying power, “The Interview” was just never going to make a ton of money any time soon.
So, we have a so-so movie scheduled to open on a very powerful weekend. Not a good mix from the get go.
Then we have Franco and Rogen. Neither are Hollywood elites and generally make second-tier movies that make some money, but not a bunch. And neither is anything like the traditional stars we all know and love. Rogen is generally considered a bit of a loose cannon, and there always seems to be an inference that he is “on something.” Franco is a multi-talented guy who is always trying something new, and who loves a good joke.
And so here we are: Sony pushing a marginal flick with a pair of stars who just might go along with a gag like this if would help the film make money.
Yeah, I know. It seems too farfetched, too insane and just flat out crazy.
But let’s assume for a moment that a meeting was held in some shadowy back office at Sony one night with just a handful of players involved. What might the reasoning have been to try and pull the wool over the world’s eyes?
I can’t have that? Gimme 12 of ’em!
Let’s start with the outrage. I mean, aside from Denis Rodman, who really has a whole lot good to say about North Korea to begin with? We already know that Kim Jong-un is certifiable, recently proclaiming that no children born in his country may share his name and that those who already do must change it. He has made it clear he has no love for America, but has little armament to do much about it, and so he becomes the perfect patsy.
But think about Jong-un’s ego for just a second. If he and North Korea really had been able to hack Sony’s system, doesn’t he seem like the kind of guy who would brag about it endlessly? Much like the Klingon empire, he rules by showing his superiority over another nation to his people. It seems to me that he would have much to gain by claiming this accomplishment as his own and playing the heck out of it in front of his population, not to mention the world.
So with a hated rival apparently stopping the release of this movie, American’s felt outrage. “How dare you tell us what we can and cannot watch! Why, we’ll go see this now even if we weren’t going to before!” A Dec. 22 story on Wired.com stated that the ratings people are giving the film (mostly people who haven’t seen it) are summed up in this way, “By giving The Interview glowing reviews, the thinking goes, those making the threat will hear loud and clear that the people support this movie and will not buckle to terrorists.”
Yeah, there we go. Invoke a little 911 terrorist backlash sentiment and we get a few more people to show up for a film that they might never have seen, much less rented.
Read All About It!
There is no such thing as bad publicity (Succès de scandale), or so they saying goes. As stated previously, the reviews for “The Interview” were mixed. And like any good American company, Sony can’t afford to have one of its products sit around forever attempting to recoup its original $44 million cost. They are about making money, not breaking even.
So the reasoning might have been that if “The Interview” was going to be a financial stinker anyways, why not take a shot and see if it can do something that no other movie has – debut successfully online.
Assuming the hack was faked, Sony’s stunt did cause a bunch of regular theaters to jump ship at the first sign of terrorist threats. Threats, mind you, that the Department of Homeland Security could never verify. According to Slashfilm.com, “… the Department of Homeland Security says there’s no credible info to indicate an actual threat. (to theaters)”
So with most theaters out of the loop, Sony stands to make more money from the film by not having to split it them.
Robbing Peter to Pay Paul.
Movies are costing more and more for the public to see, and that’s an issue for … well … the public. Sony may have come up with an idea years ago and “The Interview” may have provided the perfect testing ground for it.
Sony is big into electronics. Duh! And while they do great at movies, they do immensely better in what they’ve been doing for years – electronics. So why not try and corner the market by providing the buying public with both?
“The Interview”, which did draw over $1 million in just 300+ theaters and that could be streamed online through limited outlets, could be Sony’s test case for releasing movies straight to services like Netflix, YouTube Movies and GooglePlay in the future. Why go through all the hassle of theaters and them taking a cut when you can go straight to the consumer? And who’s to say that Sony couldn’t just make its own home entertainment network more accessible and just release them there?
But if Sony can convince movie lovers that there’s nothing better than seeing a movie in the comfort of their own home – which they do a pretty good job of already – then they already have a foot jammed further in the door to sell them more high-end equipment to create their own home theater experience.
Yeah, it sounds crazy. Crazy like a fox.
Does the jury have a verdict?
So one argument I hear over and over are the lawsuits that are being filed against Sony for not protecting the personal information of its workers in the hack by the Guardians of Peace (GOP). OK, maybe so. Can someone provide me a list of Sony Workers so we can we verify that they are, in fact, actually employed at Sony? Or even exist at all.
Look, I know it’s a reach. But if this is playing out like some bizarre Hollywood script – about as crazy as a talk show host being asked to assassinate the leader of North Korea – then disseminating the names of a bunch of fake people and all of their fake personal data is well within the realm of possibility.
So, two hackers walk into a bar…
Want to hear something funny, try the generous message from the GOP to Sony employees about the potential release of their personal data:
“Message to SPE Staffers,” it read. “We have a plan to release emails and privacy of the Sony Pictures employees. If you don’t want your privacy to be released, tell us your name and business title to take off your data.” (NYPost.com)
I have to be honest here, I get a little perturbed when I have to reset the password for one of the people on our church staff of 11, because it escapes me how they forget their email password and don’t just have the browser remember it. But the GOP, the guys who slithered their way through Sony’s digital security, seem more than happy to sort through almost 141,000 names to make sure that one person’s data won’t be released if they just “drop them a line.”
Try getting that kind of service from your typical bill collector or telemarketer.
What’s good for the goose…
Since the government got involved in the hack, Sony could face some pretty stern discussions with members of the House and Senate if this is all a fake. Heck, they may even get called befor a subcommittee or Homeland Security and get asked “What the hell were you thinking?”
So what’s the government going to do? Close Sony down? Fine them into oblivion?
Ford Automotive, one of the car manufacturers that got part of the $80 billion bailout in 2009, employees roughly 180,000 people. If they are too big to lose, then why would a company that essentially pulled an oversized prank get a worse punishment? The government is stupid, but not that stupid … especially with an election year looming on the horizon.
How well would it go with the younger crowd if you’re the senator who killed “Paul Blart 2″?
Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close up.
As a result of the ‘hack’, Sony had approximately 50 scripts released for various movies. (BGR.com) Thirty of these were for films that were already released.
So, exactly when was the last time you saw a great movie and suddenly ravaged your Google search engine looking for its script? If you have, then you seriously need to move out of your parent’s basement.
Oh, and none of the already released movies were anything of note. Unless of course your local theater group is hoping to do a stage production of “Talladega Nights” or one of the first two “Smurfs” movies.
Of the 20 that have not been released, there’s nothing earth-shattering about the titles either. “Annie” and “When the Game Stands Tall” have already opened, so now it’s an 18-32 split. Of the remaining flicks, we all know pretty much how every “Paul Blart” movie is going to go, with a few pratfalls that we may not have seen coming. But getting the scripts for stuff like “Little House on the Prairie” or “Smurfs 3″ (yeah, it’s a trilogy now just like “The Matrix” and “Ironman”) is not going to break anyone’s bank.
And again, who is going to be checking these scripts word for word when these movies are released? If this is you, it’s just another reason to get out of your parent’s basement.
You’ve got mail.
So the basic crime here is that some executives had some emails published that were less than favorable reviews of some of their stars. Let’s face it, as far as this goes it’s pretty slim pickins. We all know that stars think they are end-all-be-all of the world, while execs believe the world could spin on its axis without them at the helm. Neither party likes the other and I’m fairly sure that if they started publishing the emails of various stars, none of them would be too flattering about the execs either.
Toss in what films cost, discussions on luncheons and tennis matches and the budget for the Motion Picture Association of America and you have the equivalent of most folk’s spam folders.
This one’s a wash at best.
Push *#62##7*3 For Customer Support
The Feds were able to trace the cyber attack, with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers stating that he was “fairly confident” that North Korea was involved. (Deadline.com) But today (Dec. 27) FoxNews.com released a story where critics have a number of more likely theories on who hacked Sony, on e of which was a Sony employee.
And North Korea’s infrastructure is looking less and less likely to be the source of the hack. It has just over 1,000 IP addresses, one ISP (Star Joint Venture Co. and is used almost solely by the government. Sounds like Kim Jong-un and his crew barely have enough power to run a Roomba, much less try and hack Sony.
That’s a wrap everybody!
In the end, I’m finding a lot more reasons to believe that this whole thing is a giant publicity stunt than one would think. Yes, it would take incredible daring and gall to pull off, but if it is and if they did do it, the rewards could be almost unimaginable.
Almost as much as two bungling TV personalities actually killing the dictator of a third-world country.
Sources: Forbes.com, USMagazine.com, Wired.com, Wikipedia.com, NYPost.com, BGR.com, Nola.com and others listed in story.
As Joe Friday would say, “Just give me the facts mam.”
It’s time that we do away with the misplaced anger, frustration and sorrow in the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Those things, mixed in with a lot of lies and rhetoric, are making for a bad mix of emotions that only serve to cloud the truth and widen a racial gap that it has taken so many years to narrow.
It’s time to focus on what’s real, period.
In lieu of laying out the points piece by piece here, I would ask you to link to a great visual reenactment of the entire episode by the Washington Post. It is extremely clear and very well done.
In summary, the facts are these:
- Michael Brown was a criminal.
- Michael Brown refused direction by an officer of the law.
- Michael Brown initiated a confrontation with an officer of the law inside the officer’s patrol car, attempting to get his weapon.
- After turning to run, Brown turned back around and made a second attack on the officer.
- The officer shot Brown when he refused to get down on the ground, again refusing to obey an officer’s orders, this time in a heated situation with the officer’s gun drawn.
This incident had nothing to do with race or racism, and those using that as an excuse are only doing so to fuel their own racism and hatred of others.
This incident is was all about an officer recognizing that two suspects fit a description from a previous robbery and him attempting to apprehend those criminals as he saw them on the street.
This incident is all about a young man making a decision to defy authority by committing robbery, disregarding an officer’s instructions and then trying to relieve and officer of his weapon. And there is no doubt is most people’s minds that had Brown been able to obtain that weapon that officer Wilson would be dead today, with Brown still roaming the streets.
But what lies at the true heart of the death of Michael Brown is that his parents are truly the ones at fault here. They claim to be victims and that their son was wrongly taken form them. The truth of the matter is that they didn’t do their job in raising their son. They didn’t teach him respect for them, for other adults and certainly not for authority figures like Officer Wilson.
It’s been apparent over the last few decades that there is a laissez-faire attitude about parenting taken by a larger number of folks. It’s almost like a bunch of people decided to have kids and then suddenly realized they were too much work to care for. It’s almost as if they just decided, “Oh, they’ll figure out how to be good people.”
In shirking their responsibility to raise their kids and teach them right from wrong, they have created a class of people who think they are entitled to do whatever they like, wherever they like whenever they like. They feel the world somehow owes them something for just being here. It’s the way a child thinks.
News Flash Kids – The world owes you nothing.
If these kids want to be angry at someone for the situation they’re in, direct them back to their parents. Parents are responsible for their kids know and how they react in various situations. Yes, as they get older people will eventually make their own decisions. But as they grow they will form the base for how they make decisions and that is a parent’s responsibility.
The riots and feelings of race inequality are the fault of a few leaders who persist on pushing this incident as one of color and race. Idiots like Chris Rock keep claiming it was a white cop killing a black kid. Yeah, statistically that is correct. But color had NOTHING to do with WHY Michael Brown is dead.
Michael Brown is dead because he chose a life of crime and was met with the most unfortunate of consequences that that lifestyle affords – Death. And it is unfortunate because we know that in some cases, people who have chosen that lifestyle have been able to overcome the pathetic efforts of those that parented them and rise above it to become more. Michael Brown was not afforded that chance not because of Officer Wilson’s bullets, but because of the lack of parenting his mother and father gave him.
Dr. Martin Luther King hoped for a day when his children would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Michael Brown’s character was severely lacking because of his parents.
Until leaders in the communities of color stand up and stop pleading for their followers to stop rioting and start stating plainly that this was not a crime of race and admit that Michael Brown was a criminal and was justly killed because of his own actions, nothing will get better. The gap between the races will get bigger again and the gap between the less fortunate and authority figures will get bigger again.
Until the absolute truth is told and repeated without hesitation, the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King can never be realized in full.
“I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama … will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.” ~ MLK, “I Have A Dream”, August 23, 1963.
This morning while watching “Mike & Mike” on ESPN, a debate arose as to which city has spawned the best athletes in the big four sports with Boston being touted as #1. The listener who did this listed the following three athletes: Larry Bird, Bobby Orr and Ted Williams.
That got me thinking.
Greeny and Golic decided that Bird wouldn’t even be the best basketball player on the list, subbing in Bill Russell. And when they tossed in Tom Brady as the best football player from Boston, they had a tough Top 4 to beat.
But it seemed that the ESPN duo did much of their estimating between Boston, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles based on emotion and remembrance. So being the stat freak that I am, I decided to try and see exactly how history might answer this question.
I quickly Googled the Top 100 players in each of the four major sports – Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL) and National Hockey League (NHL). After a substantial amount of format editing in compiling lists from four different sites, I finally had something of an answer.
Before I reveal my findings I just want to say that these results are the best available, as I could not find all four lists from one source. I took them from the most reliable sources I could find, but these are not based on stats but on nationwide polls conducted at various points. One list came from ESPN (MLB) and I’m sure they likely have Top 100s for the other three as well. I just couldn’t find them.
That said, here we go!
The assertion that Boston has the best four athletes in the four major sports proves accurate. The following list, as will the others that follow, will include the top players, in order, from MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL with their sport rank in parenthesis and that city’s rank average on the final line.
- Ted Williams (4)
- Tom Brady (9)
- Bill Russell (3)
- Bobby Orr (2)
- Boston = 4.50
Oddly enough, the next closest city wasn’t even in Mike & Mike’s initial discussion, although they did bring them into the discussion later. That city: Detroit.
- Ty Cobb (6)
- Barry Sanders (4)
- Isaiah Thomas (25)
- Gordie Howe (3)
- Detroit = 9.50
Number three on the list is Chicago.
- Eddie Collins (42)
- Walter Payton (3)
- Michael Jordan (1)
- Bobby Hull (8)
- Chicago = 13.50
New York was just a fraction behind the “Windy City” in fourth place.
- Babe Ruth (1)
- Lawrence Taylor (5)
- Willis Reed (30)
- Denis Potvan (19)
- New York = 13.75
Los Angeles fell into fifth place, but proved to be an interesting rank due to Wayne Gretzky. If you look at “The Great One” statistically, he really did most of his damage in Montreal. But his popularity really grew when he hit the media center of Los Angeles. If you leave Gretzky in Montreal, that makes the top NHL player in Los Angeles as Marcel Dionne at #38 and with a city average of 26.75. But for the sake of the argument, we’ll include Gretzky in the City of Angels.
- Sandy Koufax (44)
- Eric Dickerson (23)
- Kareem Abduhl-Jabbar (2)
- Wayne Gretzky (1)
- Los Angeles = 17.50
So there you have it. I’m not really sure what this all means, but it interesting to look at where guys played and what impact they have had on the sporting world we live in.
- MLB Top 100 – ESPN.com
- NFL Top 100 – Ranker.com
- NBA Top 100 – Inside Hoops.com
- NHL Top 100 – The Hockey News
Don’t be fooled, this is nothing new.
And don’t think for one second that the NFL is the only league with player issues away from the field. It’s just their turn in the spotlight after keeping so much of it in the dark for so long.
It’s high time that the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB and every other pro sports got schooled.
I was once given a glimpse of what it took to become a professional golfer when a friend took on that pursuit. While the expected endless hours of practice were discussed, what really surprised me were the variety of educational courses that were required.Things like managing your finances and handling groupies were part of the mix.
I’m guessing Tiger Woods’ grade in the latter was not so great.
Now, this was back in the late 80s and 90s, so I can only presume that it still exists at that level if not having become more extensive.
But just what is required to become a big league player in football, baseball and basketball?
We hear tales of former player/coaches like Herm Edwards going in and talking to rookie NFL players about how to handle themselves on and off the field and what a privilege it is to play the game. We can only assume that some kind of similar “rah-rah” speeches are given baseball, basketball and hockey.
But are these one-time gab sessions really getting it done? Evidently not.
So what to do?
I say we send them back to class.
With offenses like spousal abuse, child abuse and a variety of drug and PED abuse running rampant in pro sports today, it’s time these men and women were brought up to speed on just what they’re up against.
It is this writer’s opinion that professional sports be required to have all of its players, coaches and team personnel in a series of classes each and every off-season. They need to be attending classes on every kind of abuse – in how to avoid it, how to identify it and how to report it. They need classes in how to handle fans and reporters, and most of all how to handle their money.
These courses cannot be administered by the teams or leagues themselves. Rather, they need to be given by independent organizations and carry very real, very serious curriculum. Curriculum that must be studied, learned and regurgitated on very real tests. And they need to be given very real, very serious grades.
No, not like the “grades” they had in college. We’re talking grades that carry a significant penalty if they don’t get at least an 80%. They don’t pass, they don’t play, train or practice with the team until they do.
Courses like these would make help these athletes more aware of these cultural maladies and help them to avoid falling into them as well as identifying teammates who may be nearing the edge of making a mistake.
And yes, they need to be held accountable for not reporting it. Like teachers and various community service personnel, they need to be held accountable for not reporting information to their independent team officials if they see someone slipping into a pattern of abusing their wife or kids, or experimenting with various drugs or PEDs.
If they don’t report, they don’t play.
You may argue that this is demeaning to these players, treating them like children.
Well maybe when they stop acting like children, we can stop treating them that way.
Chances have been given. Repeatedly.
Opportunities afforded. Repeatedly.
Enough is enough.
The recent revelation that the NFL has had in its possession, since sometime in April, the full and uncut version of the Ray Rice beating of his then fiancee Janay Palmer from February 15, 2014, only serves to prove that they cannot handle anything properly. Even when a grievous offense such as this is laid out clearly before them, they can only think of their bottom line.
The absolute last thing on their mind was doing what was right.
Commissioner Roger Goodell claims that he and the league never saw the full footage. But an AP writer claims that a law enforcement official sent a copy of the tape – with both the elevator beat down and Rice pulling Palmer from the car unconscious – in April to an NFL official. Goodell is now left to either admit that he lied or that his staff is so incompetent that they never showed it to him.
You can bet he’ll choose the latter. And if it’s not true, you can bet that whomever he throws under the buss will come back at him like some “Walking Dead” super zombie. But instead of shuffling slowly along in search of brains, he or she will hot-foot it straight to the closest news channel spewing dates, times and full accounts.
While it is now clear that between drugs/steroids, cheating and a complete disregard for human decency the NFL is completely incapable of managing its own affairs, they are just a hope, skip and a jump behind the likes of Major League Baseball, all of college sports and the rest.
Someone has to step in and fix this, and they have to do it now.
In my youth I thought that the government could handle a job like this. But several decades of growing up and experience tell me that they the only thing they would have done is screw up decades earlier.
There really isn’t a well qualified person or group who took run any of this with any integrity. So maybe we are just left to watch as the NFL, followed later by MLB, NBA and the rest slowly implode on themselves.
No, there is only one message these people understand. Only one language they speak. Only one thing that they hold precious and that we ultimately control.
The only way to effectively stop this nonsense is to hit them where it hurts the most, right in the wallet.
We can start with the NFL by not patronizing them until a certain level of acceptable behavior has been reached. And no, this is not one of those lame boycotts has is annually tried by not buying gas for one day. The gas doesn’t go anywhere and you are either going to buy it the day before or the day after. They lose nothing.
No, this means not watching games in person or on television. It means not buying their jerseys. It means not buying anything – and I mean ANYTHING – from a company that supports the NFL in any way, shape or form. it means cutting them off 100% so that their overblown, out-of-control egos and salaries are so deflated and depleted that they seriously have to consider going to work in their major from college.
Sadly, that just won’t happen.
A poll in The Baltimore Sun showed that 41% of the respondents thought the Ravens cutting Rice was the wrong decision.
“Fox & Friends” – the supposed defenders of the conservative right – were about as uneducated and unsympathetic Floyd Mayweather. “I think the message is, take the stairs,” said Brian Kilmeade concluded. With Steve Doocy adding, “The message is, when you’re in an elevator, there’s a camera.”
No blame for thew abuser. No, certainly not … especially when your employed is in bed every Sunday afternoon with the perpetrator’s head honcho.
Unfortunately a vast portion of our society still thinks that Palmer, as well as other abused victims, must bear some of the fault. And as long as that mentality exists, this kind of ignorance, stupidity and all-out rampant greed will continue.
I’m starting to think that show last Fall, “The Revolution”, wouldn’t be such a bad scenario after all if for no other reason than the people who defend such abusers as Rice would be at their mercy.
And only then would their attitude even begin to change.
So as I’ve moved into my high school years, it seems I’ve fallen off the actual year cycle and into the academic calendar. So be it for the entry.
It had been a mail-in contest, with one entry per person. So I sent in 30 with the same address and different name. There were my parents, Ed & Cathy, and my brothers and sisters. And there was Bill, Frank and Steve that I made up just to name a few. But when the award letter came back it was in MY name.
We had won then right to buy two $3 tickets for $16.50 each. They were at the top of the right-field bleachers, looking right into the sun as the day game made its way into the late afternoon. But hey, we were there and that’s all that mattered.
And when the game came down to the final at bat, we watched as Bill Russell slapped a single to center that the Phillies’ Gary Maadux couldn’t field and allowed Ron Cey to score from second. It was epic and my dad and I were there!
My freshman year, however, was just odd.
I was still terrified of girls, but that was about the furthest thing from my mind.
Well, I’m a guy. So while it wasn’t the furthest thing from my mind, I wasn’t really concentrating on them at this point.
No, it was all about survival. It was about avoiding the likes of John Condos, the older guy who lived down the block from me. He seemed intent on having me push pennies around the rim of a toilet seat or something, and that just wasn’t gonna happen.
Because aside from John, everyone else seemed to think I was a junior or senior. I was a big kid at that age, big enough that more than a few friends hung out with me just to avoid the typical hazing the underclassmen got. Little did they know I’d avoided all manner of confrontation to that point in life, only having two fights through age 15. And both had ended badly for the other guy.
This year’s first memory was my friend James King and some of his other friends getting a little trouble with the law. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say that as smart as that group was they acted pretty dumb. The only major problem for me that arose from it was that since I was close friends with James, the campus cops decided I must know something about what was going on. And so for a few weeks they religiously followed me into the gym at lunch time to watch me play basketball, I can only assume they thought some ill-gotten booty would be exchanged from James’ foray to the dark side of the law.
After about a month I had had enough of feeling like a criminal when I was likely socially sanitary than Mr. Clean. My mom drug me into the principal’s office to meet with Mr. McGrath, where she explained that I had better be left alone or there would be hell to pay. Mom was not a master negotiator, she believed in good ol’ blunt force diplomacy.
This was the year that former Beatle John Lennon was killed outside his apartment in New York. I was OK with their music from the 70s and all that, but it wasn’t like they were the end-all-be-all of the world. They were guys, in a band and the sang well. That was it. But when he was shot, you’d have thought the world was coming to an end.
Being much more of a football fan than a Beatles fan, I was a little put off when they interrupted Monday Night Football to announce Lennon’s death. It lasted only a few seconds, with the Patriots and Dolphins not missing a beat on the field. But when asked about it by some staff member of the Burros Blockbuster school newspaper, I gave what I thought was a pithy response with, “I’m sorry he’s dead, but I just don’t think they needed to interrupt Monday Night Football to report it.”
Looking back now, not a great response. But the ire it drew from the school paper’s adviser was a little over the top. She wrote a commentary and cited me as being “… apathetic vermin …”, and that’s where she crossed the line.
The next day Mom and I were back in McGrath’s office. She had been a little perturbed after the campus cop thing, but she was in full-on attack mode now. Had his desk not been so big, I’m sure she would have gnawed his leg off.
McGrath pulled in the teacher, who’s name escapes me now and instructed her to apologize for the commentary and that she had to write a full retraction in the next issue of the school paper. At first she refused. But when McGrath indicated that he already had her termination papers in hand if she failed to comply, she relented and fell in line.
All this time I’m in freshman Geography, being taught by the offbeat teacher named Frank Mazer. Mazer was unlike any other teacher I ever had. He had this strange sense of humor (still does, by the way) and unlike other teachers, he seemed to
really care deeply if you got the material. He didn’t just want you to learn it, he wanted you to genuinely get it.
As basketball season rolled around, I found out that he was the freshman coach. I went through tryouts and ended up as one of the 15 young men to make the squad. I wasn’t a front line player, but I hustled my way into significant playing time. I dove for so many balls that Mazer would later nickname me the Human Bruise.
That moniker didn’t stick, but another one did – Magic Gut.
There has always been a lot discussion and interest into how this name came to be, and why I even let it exist as it seems derogatory in nature. But trust me, when considered against the other names I was getting called, it was clearly the best of the bunch.
One day while playing basketball at lunch (long after the campus cops had stopped being my lunch-time “fan club”) we were in there playing hard and having a great time. On this particular day, we were all acting as our own play-by-play announcers, ‘broadcasting’ our maneuvers and trick shots as we executed them. It was kind of dumb. But hey, we were freshmen!
It was in the Spring and the NCAA Tournament had just ended, with Michigan State having defeated Indiana State for the title. One player emerged from that game on a media rocket ride, and his name was Ervin “Magic” Johnson.
So as I took the ball at the top of the key, I decided to drive to the hoop and began by ‘broadcast’…
“Magic fakes left, dribbles right, spins to the hoop and scores! Magic Johnson rolls it in!”
It was at that moment that Greg Markarian, chimed in with, “More like Magic Gut!”
Everyone laughed, but it wasn’t at me. And that made all the difference.
A few years later I did the same thing to Rob White. But we’ll save that story for a few chapters down the road.
That summer, while playing in my final year of Senior League, I had my first and only multiple home run year. I hit one of Jimmy Lawler and one off Paul Bergens. Those feats of strength jump-started a great season in which I struck out 30 times in 18 games.
Yeah, the pros were sure to be impressed.
My sophomore year was a little less strained. I knew my place with women and it was either as the “coveted” big brother or as the undatebale material guy. Either way, i was OK with it, so let’s move on!
When basketball season rolled around we had tryouts and there were a ton of guys going out. We all hustled our butts off for two weeks to impress coach Al Sedios and then gathered in the locker room after the final session to find out who had made it and who was going home. Sedios started slowly reading a list of the 15 names of the guys who made the team, and when he stopped reading mine had not been called.
This was really the first of a series of moments in my life where I really thought I knew what was going to happen, but this time it didn’t. As we left the training room and headed to our lockers, some of the guys tried to console me. It did little good. There were guys on that team I knew I was better than and all my mind could was race in a feeble attempt to ascertain why they got picked and I did not.
I went home, flopped into bed and cried.
The next morning I sat in front of a TV watching Saturday morning cartoons. I had found a six-pack of 7-Up in the garage and was drinking them as I watched the likes of “Thundarr the Barbarian” on the screen. I’d polish off a can, crush it and rifle it into the fireplace. My mom would walk through the room occasionally, looking me over and just letting me sit. She new I was ticked and I think even she was a bit miffed.
Then the phone rang.
“Tim, its for you,” she called from the living room. “Its Steve Fry.”
“What does he want?” I scowled.
“I don’t know, just come and take it.”
I did and said hello.
“Hey Tim, its Steve. I was just wondering why you weren’t at practice today?”
I had been in a bad mood that morning, that put me in overdrive in a heart beat. “Real funny Steve. How about we meet somewhere and I kick your ass?”
I’m guessing that Sedios must have heard that through the earpiece on the other end, listening to Steve’s call as he made it from the Burroughs coaches office. I heard the rustle of a phone being given to someone else and then he came on the line.
“Tim, this is coach Sedios and I think there’s been a misunderstanding,” said Sedios.
He went on to explain that when he was reading the names the night before he must have skipped over mine, telling me he was as nervous to read the names as we were to hear them. Of course, none of us were counting names, we were just listening for our own.
He related how when the team’s practice had come to an end that morning that the guys were all on the line and he only counted 14. “Where’s Allen?” he asked, to which Fry had responded, “You cut him last night.”
Oh to have been a fly on the wall of the gym that day.
When I coached years later, that one experience proved more valuable than just about any other athletically. It gave me the perspective of being cut when I had never been cut before. And it allowed me to show compassion to those I was having to let go from the team.
At the end of that year we played a game in Palmdale that I will never for get. It was a very intense game and right before the final buzzer a huge fight broke out. The benches cleared and when the melee was cleared, the refs were ready to call the game a double forfeit because neither team had any players left.
It was then that Mazer, having been sitting with Sedios on the bench, pointed over to where our team had been sitting. And still seated was myself, the pacifist. I thought the reason they were fighting was stupid, so I just sat there and watched the whole thing. And when the refs confirmed that I hadn’t moved, we got the win.
I got my first job sometime this year as well, working for Mr. Dye at Compard Computer Center. We sold these things called Apples and they were just cool. Mr. Dye’s task for me was to learn how to play all of the games that were available for them. Yeah, play games. All afternoon. And get PAID for it. Life was good!
As time passed I got into repairing them as well. One day a guy brought in a machine that was in a wood case, not too much unlike the one see at the right. When I went to fix it it had a serial number of a bunch of zeroes and something like 48 at the end. We logged it, repaired it and sent it on its way. Knowing what we know now, I’d have kept it and gave him a new one. That thing had probably come right our of Steve Wosniak’s garage and today would be worth a ton.
Burroughs baseball came and went, with nothing substantial in the mix. And summer was now void of much of the action I had seen previously because I was too old for Little League. So it was work and summer school so I could finish up Driver’s Ed and get my license.
Next time, I become and upper classman!