Tuesday, May 31, 2011

THE Ohio State Prevaricator

48 Hrs.
The Prince of Tides.
The Mug Shot.
Nick Nolte is a classic.
I’m not sure where he ranks as an all-timer.
But he’s definitely been in some pretty good.
Some even great, movies.
I’m not sure if Siskel or Ebert called Blue Chips “great”.
But I really enjoyed it.
The year was 1994.
The cast was overstuffed like a Wendy’s baked potato.
Overstuffed with athletes looking to dip their foot in the acting pool.
Penny Hardaway.
Bobby Hurley.
Allan Houston.
Rick Fox.
James Caviezel.
You know Caviezel.
He’s the guy listed on the imdb Blue Chips credits as:
“Basketball Player (uncredited)”.
Or maybe you know him for the role he played ten years later.
Talk about an upgrade.
Well Blue Chips was a very entertaining.
High action.
Sports Movie.
Turned drama.
It basically took you behind the scenes of a major college basketball program. 
And the pressure it takes to succeed.
For all parties.
Especially the head coach.
Played by Nolte.
And how the bad side of college athletics can overtake the good side.
With the snap of a finger.
Or the pen on a checkbook.
Pete Bell, Nolte’s character, didn’t start off as a bad guy.
But when the movie was over.
So was his career.
I’ve never met Jim Tressel.
And other than his vest.
And his win-loss record.
I don’t know much about the man.
But I think it’s pretty fitting that he resigned on Memorial Day.
Because his days as a respected coach.
And a respected man.
Are now just a memory.
I’m sure we will learn plenty more about what he knew.
And what he did.
And what he didn’t do.
But here’s all that matters...
Jim Tressel is no longer the head football coach at THE Ohio State University.
One of the most prestigious and pressure packed jobs in the country.
On the surface the allegations seems pretty weak.
To me.
A couple of his players sold their autographs to get free tattoos.
Come on, who hasn’t done that?
Well that may have been the crime.
But it wasn’t the problem.
The problem was the fact that Tressel knew the NCAA rules.
And he knew that the players had broken the NCAA rules.
And he made a point to not tell anyone.
Tressel knew about his little cheaters (at least) four months before the 2010 season even started.
And he chose to protect his little cheaters.
Instead of protecting his integrity.
It’s all on email.
(Note to self:  delete those eight emails to you know who about you know what.)
Where was I?
Oh yeah.
I think the word is....
(*-courtesy thesaurus.com)
Take your pick.
That’s Jim Tressel.
In the world of “win at all costs” major college football.
Tressel tried to win at all costs.
And he lost.
He lost the biggest game of his life.
He lost his credibility.
He lost his reputation.
He lost his job.
And now the flood gates have opened.
Like a tattoo of Niagara Falls.
Sports Illustrated, the iconic magazine that spent the last ten years praising Tressel.
They are now telling the truth.
This week they reported that AT LEAST 28 of Tressel’s Buckeyes have traded their stuff for free perks.
As far back as 2002.
Tressel’s second year with Ohio State.
I think it was Maria Shriver who once said, “once a cheater, always a cheater.”
I’m not sure if she was talking about Tressel.
But all of those great Ohio State teams.
And all of those great Ohio State wins.
You can put a giant red*next to all of them.
Just like Barry Bonds.
And Mark McGwire.
And all of the other prevaricators before them.
There may come a day when the Western University Dolphins would hire Jim Tressel.
And there may come a day when Jim Tressel would be hired by the Western University Dolphins.
But there will never come a day when Jim Tressel gets a clean slate.
And he’s got nobody to blame.
But Jim Tressel.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Striking Gold

Last Friday I spent the most I've ever spent at Costco.
And that's saying something.
We use Costco for everything.
Apples to EZ chairs.
And everything in the middle.
About a month ago I walked into the megastore to get a photo printed.
$3.20 later, I had that picture.
That’s only the beginning of this story.
While I was in the photo department I noticed a sign.
It had a picture of one of those old 8-mm tin cans.
And it said that they can transfer the films from those cans to DVD.
For $17.95.
Per can.
My eyes opened up.
Almost nine years ago I inherited a bunch of those cans.
I know it’s almost nine years because that’s when my dad died.
And shortly thereafter, his wife and I went over to his storage unit.
To make us cry even more.
Well crying wasn’t the plan, just the result.
But while we were there we went through a bunch of his “junk”.
Junk that I still treasure.
And some old family films.
42 of them.
Of course.
And for the next almost nine years they sat in my garage.
In a storage bin.
Waiting to be transfered over to a format that I could actually watch.
Enter Costco.
The store that has everything.
Well just last week I got a call from a lady there that the DVDs were ready to be picked up.
One credit card swipe later, those DVDs were mine.
I spent this past weekend watching those DVDs.
All of them.
And what I saw absolutely blew me away.
It all started with me.
Doesn’t it always.
Tons of footage of me as a baby.
At my first birthday party.
Running around in diapers.
Running around without diapers.
When I should have had diapers on.
My fourth birthday party.
A talent show in elementary school.
Family vacations.
To Mexico.
And Hawaii.
And Lion Country Safari.
My mom and my dad.
My brother.
As a teenager.
My cousin Lary.
Looking exactly like his son Ryan.
And that’s just the beginning.
In all there was more than eight hours of footage.
HOURS! of footage.
My seven-year old daughter and I spent several hours on Saturday night watching this footage.
And it was pretty amazing how much she looks just like me.
Poor kid.
There was no audio on any of the footage.
Which really cut down on the production value.
And really confused her.
So I opened up iTunes.
Clicked on The Beatles.
And hit play.
It was incredible how well EVERY Beatles song mixed together with grainy film footage from 40+ years ago.
“In My Life”.
“All My Loving”.
Even “Julia” sounded like it was meant to be there.
And I don’t even know anyone named Julia.
There’s probably not a whole lot of monetary value for all this footage.
(Until Sir Bacon hits it big of course.)
But to me it’s worth a buzillion bucks.
Which is far less than what I paid at Costco.
But the more I watched the video, the more I noticed some amazing things that didn’t include me.
(If you can believe that.)
How about home video of Mickey Mantle.
And Roberto Clemente.
When they were alive.
And playing.
The 1960 Kentucky Derby.
Nixon’s Inauguration.
Unfortunately that one was WAY out of focus.
Game footage from Super Bowl II.
And V.
And VII.
My parents taking a helicopter tour of New York City.
And seeing shots of the World Trade Center.
Being built.
That had to be in the early 70’s.
Every now and again I stumble across an old picture and I feel like I won the lottery.
This is like winning the SuperMegaPowerUltra Lottery.
My dad left me nine years ago.
And he left me with more memories that I can count.
And I can count real high.
But to see this footage.
After all these years.
It made me cry.
Crying wasn’t the plan.
Just the result.

Friday, May 27, 2011

On Golden Pound

I’ll never forget my first time.
The first time I went to The Palm.
The Palm Restaurant.
The swanky New York eatery.
I was probably nine or so.
At the time there was only one, maybe two, in the world.
Now there are 32.
Well back then, eating there was a big deal.
And that big deal was no deal at all.
It came with a big bill at the end.
You just didn’t know how big.
Until the end.
If my memory is correct the waiter came to our table and said.
“We have steak.”
“We have lobster.”
“And we have steak and lobster.”
I’m not sure there was an actual menu.
There were three of us at our table.
Me, my dad and my dad’s friend.
For some reason the friend was paying.
That was established before we sat down.
When the waiter asked what we wanted, I said.
At age nine, I had never had one.
So what better place to try one.
My dad quickly jumped in.
“No, he’ll have the steak.”
The friend replied, “He wants the lobster.  Get the lobster.”
I think our friend thought my dad was opposed.
Because it cost too much.
But the truth was my dad was opposed.
Because lobster is a shellfish.
And shellfish is a crustacean.
And crustaceans are not kosher.
This, according to the book.

The good book.

A book written like 5,724 years before The Palm was even invented.
Well my dad and his friend bickered for...  what felt like forever.
But eventually this nine-year old got his way.
His first lobster.
And definitely not his last.
There are very few things I enjoy more than a good meal.
Actually, there are very few things I enjoy more than any meal.
But a good meal.. WOW!
A good meal can consist of anything.
Anything from an overpriced steak.
Or lobster.
To a greasy mexican burrito on an LA street corner.
And everything in the middle.
Quality is important.


But quantity can go a long way too.
Enter the Golden Corral.
A cardiologist’s version of Disneyland.
For “around” ten bucks, you can fill your stomach.
And fill your arteries at the same time.
Such a deal.
Now if you’ve never been, picture this.
A room the size of Phoenix.
Stuffed with food.
Not just any food.
Crappy food.
Mexican food.
Chinese food.
Meat Loaf smothered in ketchup.
Fried Chicken.
Something that looks like Pizza.
Fried Shrimp.
Corn soaking in butter.
“Homestyle Yeast Rolls”.
More butter.
And that’s just the left side of the room.
It’s like a college cafeteria on Barry Bonds.
There were more fried things than a Texas electric chair.
All for “around” ten bucks.
That’s what the commercial says.
Not the catchiest of slogans.
But I guess it works.
A few nights ago my son and I joined a friend and his son for the Corral’s newest baby.
Endless BabyBack ribs.
Just like everything else in that place.
A place where Grease is certainly the word.
The word for the filmy substance left on your hand.
Even if you don’t eat with your fingers.
But that didn’t stop us from going back.
And back.
And back again.
A fresh plate every time.
Of course.
By the time we were done, I’m sure we had passed 10,000 calories on the richter scale.
And we weren’t the only ones.
At the table right next to us were two men.
Two men not much older than us.
Both eating plenty.
And both using oxygen tanks.
Just to breathe.
Presumably there was one tank for each guy.

Sharing is not allowed at the Golden Corral.

Now forget all those catchy slogans.
There’s your commercial.
Two guys.
They can barely breathe.
And nothing is going to stop them from the Endless Ribs.
Now that’s dedication.

Of course it wouldn’t be a meal without dessert.
And the Corral has plenty.
Including a sugar free vanilla cake.
And sugar free blueberry pie.
Two desserts that nobody touched.

As crazy as that sounds.

The Corral has everything anyone would ever want.

From soup to peanuts.

Everything that is.

Except lobster.