It’s a tough town.


It figures. On my day off, a day I don’t edit sports, comes the story that probably would have made for a fairly interesting morning.

Nothing like a near-riot at an NBA game to bring out the thumb-suckers, the long-view-takers, the publicity hounds. (Not to mention, God help us all, a few tut-tuts from none other.) I confess: I did not take the Pacers-Pistons fight as a “teachable moment” in my child’s life, as advised by this earnest therapist. Instead, I called my husband into the room while ESPN did the umpty-umpth replay, and we both laughed and hooted while our child looked on, irked that we’d told her SpongeBob would have to be joined in progress later. The flying popcorn! The coldcocked guy in the Pistons jersey! The little boy, a dead ringer for Little Bill, weeping into his mama’s belly! It was just too, too!

Later that night, a fight broke out in one of the raggedy-ass houses behind us. Coincidence? I think not!

It reminded me of Argentina, when we went to a late-season futbol game one night. The stadium was two-thirds empty, which allowed us close observation of the security setup. You want to know why, in movies about coups in banana republics, they always take the political prisoners to the soccer stadium? Maybe because their default fan-protection setup — that is, protection from fans — is so ingenious. The field is surrounded by a moat. Yes, a moat. The cheering sections are caged in chain-link enclosures with barbed wire atop them. The players take the field by traveling through inflatable tunnels that look like giant condoms, the better to protect them from flying projectiles.

Let the deluxe arenas of the NBA institute a little soccer-style security. That’ll drive ticket sales through the roof.

Oh, well — at least now I won’t have to hear any more about Nicollette Sheridan’s damn towel.

Well, it was a fine weekend. As promised, we took Kate and a few of her friends bowling, for the world’s most low-profile birthday party. After the fifth, I’ve been trying to slow down the birthday bullet train, and I think I’ve succeeded, although there’s no way around it — even six well-brought-up children at an no-theme, no-gifts, casual-as-all-get-out gathering are a handful. We had a good time, even though the the ball return broke once and two in our party managed to send their balls into the next lane. Yes, even with the bumpers up. Thank God no one was playing there; I can only imagine the havoc it would have set off in a tournament or league to have a lemon-yellow Tweety Bird bowling ball suddenly land crash! in the middle of your lane and wobble unsteadily down toward your pins. Does the PBA have a rule to cover scoring in such an eventuality? I wonder.

So anyway, in the huge four-base run that is Halloween-Birthdayfest-Thanksgiving-Christmas, we’re now on second base. Halfway home.

Sunday’s breathing space gave me a little time to relax, so I did. We did, that is, heading off to “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie,” which…does not disappoint, shall we say. I haven’t had as much fun in a movie with Kate since “School of Rock,” and Kate liked this one a lot better. By the time Plankton cried, in despair, “His chops are too righteous!” I was simply giggled out. At the end, all the kids in the theater applauded. I joined in.

Posted at 8:37 pm in Uncategorized |

7 responses to “It’s a tough town.”

  1. brian said on November 21, 2004 at 9:17 pm

    My 9 year old son and I went to Sponge Bob this evening also – he chose it over The Incredibly Hyped and Hyperbolic Express marketing juggernauts….it was great fun!

    I think it started out a bit slowly, and then picked up speed, until by the end my side was hurting!

    Last movie I laughed out loud as much for was probably the first time I saw Blues Brothers, or else the Peter Sellers circa 1968 movie – The Party.

    Grant giggled pretty much through the whole thing!

    It was also funny/thought-provoking that at matinee prices we blew $20 (gotta have the re-fillable bucket-o-popcorn and the refillable keg-o-pop).

    I’m guessing that the movie producers make more money on the dvd than whatever makes it to them from the box office; so that they go to dvd all the quicker.

    I bet we will be able to buy a copy of The Incredibles (et al) by Easter….

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  2. brian said on November 21, 2004 at 9:36 pm

    One other media comment –

    my lovely wife is watching the Hallmark Hall of Fame show at this writing – and our running joke is that the commercials always provide a compellingly emotional show within the show; the heart-string tugging long-form Hall Mark commercials during one of their holiday shows are an integral part of holiday TV; certainly the “look-forward to” equal of the razz-matazz Super Bowl Commericals, at least to us.

    Pammy doesn’t budge during the commercials during one of these, and if I slyly peek over at her during one of them, her eyes are usually glistening!

    ‘Course, than I laugh – and she throws (an aptly named) throw pillow at me

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  3. ashley said on November 21, 2004 at 10:43 pm

    Okey doke.

    Because this culture values celebrity so much, because we equate wealth to intelligence, we kind of deserve this.

    Now, I think that if you pay the ridiculous prices for tickets that professional entertainment (aka “sports”) teams charge, then you have the license to scream whatever you want, as long as you don’t utter profanity so as to ruin the experience for those around you.

    I think that you can verbally abuse players, and they have to take it. That is part of their job. Don’t give me that “how would you like it if we heckled you at your job” crap. That isn’t part of my job description, but all professional athletes should know that comes with the territory, disgusting as it may be.

    When these guys make more in a single game than a hard-working person does in half a decade, well, we have a problem. The millionaire should deal with it and walk away.

    However, when the professional athlete is hit by a projectile, things change. The athlete still must not enter the stands, acting like one of the Hanson brothers, but the fan should be criminally liable.

    I honestly think that much of this has to do with culture. Because of the NBA glorifying the gangsta image, well, you get gangsta behavior. Note how every player that was interviewed chose to talk about how the other players were justified, as they were “disrespected”.

    Jeez, louise. Reminds me of tonight’s episode of “The Wire”, where a kid was shot dead because he made fun of somebody’s shoes.

    Get real, NBA. You aren’t on the corner, you are all millionaires, act like adults and just deal with it. On the corner, pride is all you have, and showing weakness may get you killed. As long as the NBA players still act like they’re on the corner, instead of discussing tax shelters with their fellow players, you’re going to have this crap.

    Stern did the right thing by giving Artest the boot for the season, and Jackson and O’Neal long suspensions. These spoiled kids who have never had to work a day in their life finally get to realize that actions have consequences, and that they are privileged to play for a living.

    Maybe Indiana and Detroit will have to be like European soccer franchises after something like this happens. I think that the financial burden of playing before an empty arena will knock some sense into people.

    The only thing that works here is money. Take money from a player, and you’re going to get to them. It’s the only way.

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  4. Caleb said on November 21, 2004 at 10:45 pm

    Oh yes…this story was much, much better than “potential TD passes” or towel-dropping TV stars. Since I’m not at all an NBA fan, I find all the handwringing and moaning highly amusing. Laughing and hooting was most definitely the best response…

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  5. basset said on November 21, 2004 at 11:16 pm

    Professional sports were a lot more interesting back before the big money came in… when the Pistons were still in Fort Wayne, major-league baseball players got jobs in the off-season and homemade cars had a shot at running in the Indy 500.

    Right now, though, we have a perfect-storm combination of thug culture, multimillion-dollar salaries for what’s essentially specialized manual labor, and an all-too-common willingness to excuse just about any kind of shortcomings or misbehavior if someone’s sufficiently good at a popular sport.

    That said, a year’s suspension sounds about right to me… and I just got through nine years in a job (spokesman for a big-city public school district) where taking verbal abuse was part of the territory, for a whole lot less than any of the Pacers are making. Never punched anyone over it, either, though there were plenty of times I wanted to.

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  6. Randy said on November 22, 2004 at 9:28 am

    I see that Artest has been suspended for the season.

    Since he was just complaining about not getting a leave of absence from the Pacers so he could promote his side career as a rap artist, it looks like his new-found notoriety and sudden abundance of spare time will work to his advantage.

    I’m so glad there is a silver lining in all of this bad news.

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  7. Danny said on November 22, 2004 at 9:56 am

    Ashley, great reference to “Slapshot.”

    It reminded me of what the French-Canadian player said when being asked about fouls and penalties…something like this (in a Canuck accent):

    “You commit the foul and you are sent to penalty box and you feel the shame. Then, after the two minutes, they set you free again.”

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