Friday, September 30, 2016

From Tricky Dick to Slippery Don: 50 Years of Presidential Hubbub

Turn up the ruckus.

Monday's inaugural presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump drew 84 million viewers, which is nearly a third of every male, female and undecided from sea to shining sea. Turns out it was the largest debate audience in history to boot, besting the 1980 Jimmy Carter/Ronald Reagan showdown which drew 81 mil.

What makes the Clinton/Trump number even more impressive is that it was watched—get this—on TV! Seriously, television is a medium losing its mojo faster than a hornless billy goat in a toddler-plunking tourney. Back in '80 when the B-actor squared off against the peanut farmer, the only entertainment alternatives were a 700 Club rerun and a two-hour, CHiPs in Tijuana special. Conversely, these days I could binge-watch the entire, ten-year run of The Waltons on my iPencil.

So yes, apparently we'd been pining for this prime-time slime sling since 2015, when The Orange One descended a Trump Tower escalator, permanently establishing residence in the darkest chasms of our souls. The contest didn't disappoint; Trump interrupted Clinton 51 times, he eye-rolled, he lied and he condescended on countless other occasions. When the dust settled and the huge vein receded into The Donald's sweaty red neck, most scored it a victory for Secretary Clinton and the Dems.

I'm going to assume you watched it, so I don't need to sprinkle events any further with partisan punditry. What I would like to do is see how much of a bandwagon jumper you are. Was Monday your first go-round or are you a battle-worn rodeo clown, barely smearing your makeup before leaping into the barrel? How far back does your debate prowess reach? What say you take the quiz and find out.

Who famously stated, "I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."

a) Marilyn Monroe, speaking to Bobby in 1962 after finally managing to compare the two brothers head to head.

b) Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton, even though it's obvious he's lying. Trump's never had an actual friend.

c) Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle in the 1988 vice presidential debate after Quayle claimed to have as much experience as Kennedy had when he ran for the presidency.

The answer is c, and from what I hear, Quayle is still really upset. Freaking low blow, Lloyd.

Who said, "You're likable enough, Hillary."

a) Bill Clinton, just before proposing.

b) Donald Trump, speaking with Russian beauty contestant Hillary Hrbedzgova. He went on, "Plus, it doesn't matter a goddamn lick how likable you are, okay. Trust me, sweetheart, okay? Long as I can hang my goddamn hammock on that rack of yours, we're good to go, okay? Now get out of here and see if you can't find me a twenty piece McNuggets."

c) Barack Obama interjecting the comment during a 2008 primary debate after the moderator asked Clinton whether she had the personal appeal to best her opponent.

The answer is c. Kind of a douchey remark, but alas, true.

Which presidential candidate, when asked about the United States' relationship with the Soviet Union, said, “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, and there never will be under an XXXX administration.”?

a) Michael Dukakis in 1988, followed by "Not by da time I get troo wid 'em!"

b) George W. Bush (and he was right!).

c) Gerald Ford, during the 1976 presidential debate vs. Jimmy Carter.

The answer is c. Wow, Gerry, not cool. For God's sake, what did you think KGB stood for—Keep Gargling, Betty?

And finally, who said, "... and they brought us whole binders full of women."?

a) Bill Clinton, talking about a funny prank George Stephanopoulos played one morning in the Situation Room. George had such a serious look on his face when he slid that notebook containing the national security briefing across the table. Turns out it was a year's worth of Penthouse! "Ah'll be dipped in hog jelly if it wadn't mah birthday that day!" a giggling Clinton later mused.

b) Donald Trump, followed by, "And most of them were fat, disgusting cows. Hey, were are my goddamn McNuggets?"

c) Mitt Romney, when asked during the 2012 presidential debate how, during his term as governor of Massachusetts, he went about seeking more women for top government positions.

Sorry, trick question. All three are correct!

How did you do? You know what? It doesn't matter. Just check the right box on November 8.

Friday, September 16, 2016

For the Football Fashion Fanatic.

Happy fallish! Yeah, I know, it's not quite autumn yet, but since Starbucks already released the horse from the barn September 6, I can feel no shame breaking the seal on my latest Groupon purchase: a roll of limited-edition, pumpkin spice toilet paper! I understand, it doesn't skate the gully as smoothly as the good stuff, but the kids love it and boy howdy, does it ever pair nicely with an understated chai potpourri to gussy up an otherwise lackluster water closet.

Oh, and speaking of harvest season, the other day I brushed off the old ROASP archives to investigate how many of my posts have included the label, "football." After sneezing for three straight minutes from inhaling a dusty cloud of inattention, I discovered that no less than fifteen have listed that tag.

Seems I've spoken ad nauseam of things pigskin—the players and teams I both love and despise, the sport's rituals and branding—but what I haven't explored is the history of football fashion. Kind of embarrassing too, because basketball apparel was covered over three varicose veins ago, and my baseball analysis hearkens back at least five skin tags and a wonderful new toenail.

And since football is pretty much Yertle the Turtle, lording over American professional sports like Donald Trump over stupid white guys, I'd be remiss wasting any more virtual ink on any other subject, so let's start with our beloved game's infancy.

American football evolved from a hybrid of soccer and rugby. Naturally, helmets weren't a part of the game's equipment at its onset, and nothing separated your head from your opponent's but a few inches and a concentrated cloud of sarsaparilla breath. Even back in the 1890s, football wasn't an endeavor for the weak of spirit. I mean, imagine this dude talking a little smack as you're lining up across from him on a long third and two:

"I say, old sport, you're looking a bit higgledy-piggledy. I must warn you, my good man, if you so much as poke your puffy sneezer into my vicinity, I shall be forced to mercilessly render your bone box into gullyfluff. I assure you, I will be here all the livelong day, dear fellow. All day."

You may ask, was the gridiron all those seasons ago the same wonderful ballet, the same beautiful celebration of athleticism and grace it is today?

You tell me.

Amazingly, helmets weren't mandatory in the college game until 1939, and in the pros your squash wasn't required to be protected until 1943. Conversely, knickers have adorned the gridiron since the early days. Were tweaks made? Absolutely. In fact, notice the two schools of thought regarding groin protection back in the day:

Personally, I'd be more in the Eve camp on the right than Adam's look on the left. After all, as renowned zookeeper Jack Hannah once said, why expose the prairie dog to predators when he's safer in his burrow?  But who really knows? There's a good chance this could also be the fiery beginning of that whole adidas/Puma feud.

Oh, just a couple of side notes real quick:

1) This dude looks too old to be dressing for Halloween and if he's giving out candy, we'll just get ours from the vape store at the local strip mall.

2) How amazing is it that Wisenthorpe Damon and Augustus "Web Fingers" Maguire played on the same team together in 1906!

3) Lastly, this guy appears capable of feeding you your own face:

Once helmets came onto the scene, face masks were often considered effeminate, taking fifteen years before becoming required equipment in 1955. Yet even as late as the 1960s, many players were reluctant to shield their mugs.

The guy on the left is Fred Biletnicoff, wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders. He was my first sports idol, juking across the middle with his long hair flapping out of his helmet and stickem-covered hands sucking up any ball within diving distance. Hope his face is doing okay after all those years of punishment.

Nowadays, a certain swooshy mega-marketing empire has transformed the football uniform into a virtual ATM, unveiling a different get-up each week and thrusting the latest and greatest jersey onto a fan base jonesing to purchase the freshest swag their pint-sized attention spans will allow.

Leading the way with the most color combinations rendered useless and destined for landfill is the University of Oregon, loyal minions to the greatest sports merchandising pimp of all, Phil Knight. I do have to tip my helmet to the man, taking a school whose color of urine yellow equates itself with profound renal failure and transforming it into day jobs for so many six-year-olds on the Asian continent.

Oh, hang on, before I go, let's see how Tom Brady is doing. Hey Tom, how does it feel, sitting out the first four games of the NFL season for lying and cheating worse than two toddlers playing Candyland?

Oh good, he seems fine. Such a dreamy smile.