Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Paul the Contrarian

By Paul Levine

I'm feeling ornery and contrary, and here's the proof:

YOU CAN SPELL? I DON'T CARE: Is there anything as meaningless as the national spelling bee? What good does it do kids to spell a word without knowing its meaning and how to use it? A televised spelling bees is just another lousy reality show with manufactured melodrama.

LAY & SKILLINGS, BONDS & SELIG: Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling were convicted, in part, because the judge instructed the jury that “conscious indifference” to wrongdoing is no defense for corporate bigwigs. Fair enough. Let’s apply that standard to major league baseball where Barry Bonds is the fall guy for the top brass in the burgeoning steroid scandal. There is no way that Commissioner Bud (Lite) Selig and the owners were unaware of rampant steroid use when Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa hit 70 and 66 home runs, respectively, in 1998. [Maguire hit 245 home runs from 1996 through 1999, averaging more than Babe Ruth's near-mythical 60 home runs over a four-year period. In the preceding 10 seasons, Maguire hit 265 home runs, an average of less than 27 per year]. At the very least, Selig et al were “consciously indifferent” to steroid use. So go ahead Barry. Hammer a few more into the bay, and maybe foul a hard one off Selig’s skull should he relent and come to a game.

LAY OFF TOM CRUISE: Why does everyone pick on Tom Cruise? I don’t care if he’s a Scientology crackpot or if does backflips off Oprah Winfrey’s couch. He’s a fine actor with an Oscar nomination (“Born on the Fourth of July”), and he's played an astonishing variety of roles in some damn fine films. Check out “A Few Good Men,” “Jerry Maguire,” and “Rain Man,” not to mention the teen classic, “Risky Business.” As for "Mission Impossible 3," it's a helluva roller-coaster ride with a rock 'em, sock 'em pace. Okay, so the dialogue isn't exactly "All About Eve." But in the "Die Hard" genre of action films with heart, it stacks up well.

WHO'S FABIO? No, Jim Grippando, I didn't want Fabio's autograph. I wanted Fabiano Anthony Forte Bonaparte a/k/a Fabian to sign my 45 r.p.m. sleeve of "Turn Me Loose."

DIXIE CHICKS CLICK: I love the smart and sassy Dixie Chicks. But I like corny country, too, including Joe Nichols' rendition of "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off." Even Cole Porter would have to admire these lyrics: "Them panty hose ain't gonna last too long...If the D.J. puts Bon Jovi on."

Paul Levine


  1. You are one funny guy. I can almost see the reality show makeover:

    ORNERY. "Disagreeable...contrary in disposition; cantankerous." ORNERY.

    And I totally agree with everything you said (except the part about Tom Cruise).

  2. And furthermore...

    Why are the networks slobbering all over this bozo who grabbed caught Barry Bonds' 715th home run after it ricocheted out of the stands?

    The guy was standing in line for a beer when Bonds was up? What kind of baseball fan does that? And he's going to score a couple hundred thousand bucks for the ball?

    And finally...just why is that ball worth anything? Home run 756, I understand, but becoming the second greatest HR hitter doesn't compute for me.

  3. "Is there anything as meaningless as the national spelling bee?"

    Now, okay, televised spelling bees are lousy. But there is something to be said for the ability to spell! As someone from the education field, I grit my teeth at these idiots who actually taught inventive spelling. And we wonder why people are illiterate - we don't teach them to spell, they can't read words because they don't recognize them. It goes to the heart of our failure to teach grammar and proper use of language in schools.

    I know we all have spell-checkers now, but we also all have calculators... And there are some things a spell-checker doesn't catch.

    Like at the end of my husband's short story, he had the cop calling for the paramedics to report another cop had been shot and he told the operator to tell the emt's to "hurray". Okay, so it's not a spelling mistake, but it just goes to show you've got to pay attention to your writing...

  4. Sandra, I agree. Kids should learn how to spell. (They should also learn grammar, punctuation, and how to write a simple declarative sentence or two).

    I just think the competitions are silly. Spelling bees are to good writing what pie-eating contests are to fine dining.

  5. True. Guess that means we won't see you at the "how many hot dogs can you scarf down in a minute" competition...