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Showing posts from August 28, 2011

Never Enough -- Writer's Poke #310

After the 1979 season, the Houston Astros signed pitcher Nolan Ryan to a 4-year, $4.5 million dollar contract.  This made Ryan the first major American sports star to earn a million dollars a year (not including endorsements). 

Fast-forward to 2011. The Philadelphia Eagles signed quarterback Michael Vick to a 6-year, $100 million dollar contract. Actually, Michael Vick is the only player to sign two contracts worth over $100 million dollars, as his 1994 contract with the Atlanta Falcons was a 10-year, $130 million dollar deal. 

While $100 million might sound like a lot, keep in mind that this averages out to just $16.7 million, annually. So, not surprisingly, Vick isn’t the highest paid athlete in the NFL. The highest paid quarterback, for example, is the Indianapolis Colts’ Peyton Manning, who earns $23 million a year.

Major League Baseball pays its top stars the best, and seventeen of the top 30 best-paid athletes play baseball; by way of comparison, only 3 NFL stars make the top 30, w…

Tethered -- Writer's Poke #309

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The dad of one of my best friends likes to play golf. As long as I have known him, he has worn Polo shirts, driven a nice car, and held true to his Republican and Presbyterian ideals. He has two sons, including my friend, both of whom have gone never against family tradition. As adults, both maintain the same upper-middle class lifestyle, and both now live on golf courses. Their political and religious beliefs remain pretty much in line with those they “inherited” from their father.

Rebels and “degenerates” and “black sheep” get all of the attention, but my suspicion is that most children are heavily influenced by those that raise them. They, in fact, in ways conscious and unconscious, become reflections of their in-home models. Most children embed the behaviors, attitudes, and flaws of their parents or guardians, whether they are biologically related or not. That’s my theory.

And at the same time, forces outside of the home dom…

The Sins of the WWE -- Writer's Poke #308

Early in 2011, WWE held a press conference in Mexico City to announce the signing of one of Mexico’s most popular professional wrestlers, Mistico. When WWE signs wrestling talent, it’s not unusual for that talent to be “rebranded,” and at the press conference, it was announced that Mistico would perform under the name Sin Cara.
The Lucha Libre style is much different from the American style, and apparently Mistico never adapted to expectations of WWE. The Internet Wrestling Community commented weekly on how many in-ring moves Mistico “botched,” as well as when WWE would reshoot entire matches due to Mistico’s mistakes.
Over the summer, Mistico was suspended for 30 days for failing WWE’s talent wellness policy. Mistico immediately went public to explain that his WWE-sanctioned doctors had given him a legal substance, and it was this substance that had registered on the test.  The suspension itself was never acknowledged formally, and WWE explained Sin Cara’s absence as due to injury.

Judge Me, Please -- Writer's Poke #307

In John Updike’s classic short story “A&P,” Queenie never asks to be judged. Not by the manager, and not by Sammy, the boy that defends her. Even Sammy’s defense is based on a form of prejudice, as he assumes her to be something that he has no way of verifying one way or the other.

If it’s been a while since you’ve read the story, the basic premise is this: Queenie and her friends are walking around a grocery store in their bikinis. None of the customers seem to notice, and only Sammy and the Manager “confront” the situation head on. Another character, the butcher behind the meat counter, leers at the girls, but in no way does he seem offended that these young girls have entered the store in “inappropriate attire.”

The Manager makes the point to the girls that he expects them to dress “decently” when they shop at his store. Queenie picks up on the term when she responds: “We are decent.” Again, there’s no indication that these girls are attempting to be provocative. There’s also …

Your Brain on Ads – Writer’s Poke #306

What has happened to the average thirty minute sit-com? I don’t mean quality. I think the quality of the best sit-coms on TV today is every bit as good, if not better, than any series from the past. What I’m referring to is the run-time allotted for the actual show.
I did a little investigative work just to affirm my theory, and here’s what I discovered. Leave It to Beaver (1957-1963) had an average run-time of 25 minutes (run-times include opening and closing credits; M*A*S*H (1972-1983), 24-25 minutes;  Cheers (1982-1993), 24 minutes; Frasier (1993-2004), 24 minutes; Scrubs (2001-2010), 21-25 minutes;  Big Bang Theory (2007-current), 21 minutes.
Granted, this is a rather informal survey, but my thesis is: sit-coms are getting shorter, and this is a rather recent development. The standard sit-com length appears to have remained between 24-25 minutes for 40 years. Only in the past decade has the content time dropped, but the loss of an extra minute (or five) is quite noticeable.

Mother Teresa: Scumbag? -- Writer's Poke #305

People around the world still generally view Mother Teresa favorably, but Christopher Hitchens and others have tried to take her down a notch or two. Hitchens, a noted atheist, believes that “Religion poisons everything,” and so it’s clear that he sees the “hero worship” of Mother Teresa as dangerous. Pointing out her flaws, exposing her “hypocrisy,” stripping away her sainthood, is essential as it allows people the opportunity to be truly enlightened. To blindly venerate Mother Teresa, then, is to relegate the power of reason to the garbage can.

According to Hitchens, “To ‘choose’ dogma and faith over doubt and experiment is to throw out the ripening vintage and to reach greedily for the Kool-Aid.” We shouldn’t fear doubt; we should embrace it. We shouldn’t blindly accept the purity of the messenger, no matter how much we like the “purified” message. In fact, we should be willing to question just how pure the message is, too. Mother Teresa performed a lot of good with her life, no d…