Where Have All the Bad Guys Gone?

Dear kind-hearted, well-mannered, and talented professional athletes:

Please be easier to hate. Without nasty-mouthed, entitled, girlfriend-beating athletes, I have no other low bar by which to compare my behavior and feel superior. Well, I do have the presidential candidates, but come on, step it up.

With the start of the Masters today and the Spurs playing the Warriors tonight, I’m scratching my head a little. The constellation of supernova athletes is blinding – and they’re all the good guys. I need a villain. I need to sit on my hands for want of face smacking. I need to want to puke every time the smug mug of a coach or owner violates my TV screen. I miss the days when Tiger Woods and the Mavericks were relevant. Indignation without the righteous part just feels unhealthy. Can you help a sister out?

Look at the Day 1 leaderboard: On top, you’ve got the purest of the white hats, my boy Spieth, with Danny Lee and Shane Lowry to follow. Jordan, you know your orange blood and short game make me love you, but could you maybe just drop the “aw-shucks” for five seconds and name the biggest prick in the clubhouse? I need someone to hate. Anything will do – does Bubba always treat his caddy like the hotel help? Or maybe Dustin Johnson likes to kick a kitten before his tee time. I mean, how do you hate a guy like Day? Did you see his adorable litter in their matching caddy gear? You guys suck. You’re impossible to hate. And even if there was a superdick among you, the level of play is so universally ridiculous that I’d probably forgive the kitten kicking. I couldn’t have held a beer in that wind today, let alone shot 66.

And now you, Golden State. Screw you. Obviously, the cliffhanger test would reveal where my loyalties lie, but come on...it’s getting increasingly annoying as I search for things to hate about you. Stephen, the corners of my mouth turn up against my will every time you redraw the three-point line. And could you maybe pop off at the mouth about something other than equal rights? Your COO basically invented All-Star Weekend, and is like, a fearless advocate. Worst. Villains. Ever.

Because of you, kind-hearted, well-mannered, and talented professional athletes, I’m not really sure I know how to be a sports fan anymore. The Spurs used to be the nice guy cheese that stood alone. I know I should be glad that there are so many new role models and all that, but I’m just confused. So, if you could, go out. Get drunk. Hit someone. Send those angry tweets about Taylor Swift. Someone, please, be the bad guy. 

The Lost "Oh"

I know where my "ah" is. And I've never lost my "ha." But on a recent trip to Vegas (a city pickled in ah and ha) I found my old "oh." It was the kind of oh that's worn like an accessory to wide eyes reflecting the gleam of technicolor feathers and rhinestones. Oh.

We saw "Jubilee" at Bally's, a forty-year-old show that can't be described as anything but that, a show. From curtain up, "oh" was all that slipped through the champagne fumes in my mouth. Apart from the doll aisle at Toys R Us, I've never seen so many matched sets of legs, teeth, and tits. Skin and hair color were the only offered variety. No matter her flavor, no matter her hue, each girl was a natural Barbie. No plastic, legs to her ears, a tiny handful up top, and dance chops to match her supernova grin.

There was something like 12 costume changes and the handmade sets took a staff of forty to manage. From the topless Delilah overpowering a go-go boy Samson, to the steam-spewing Titanic, I was dazzled.

The show has its final run in February of this year. The showgirls of Vegas have been obliterated by the red spotlight of burlesque and the platinum cherry bombs thrown by Britney Spears and the like. Comedy, magic, ventriloquism, and plain old strip tease have survived the new appetites of Vegas crowds, but sadly, the showgirl must hang up her chandelier headdress and throw on a bra. 

Don't get me wrong, Britney's Vegas show was fantastic and I'm all for the evolution of entertainment, but shows like Jubilee used to be the powder that covered the old girl's cracks. The shows were kind of a metaphor for old Vegas: something sparkly and a little trashy beneath a veil of class.

So raise a glass to all the showgirls. They not only helped me find my oh, but without them, we would never have known the glory that is Jessie Spano's square ass.  

3 Reasons to Stop Hating Kobe Bryant

Spurs fans hate the Lakers. It's just a thing.

The rivalry could've started when Shaq called David Robinson “The Little Mermaid.”  It definitely grew like an itchy fungus with the .4 incident. Yes, even after hoisting five banners, it still hurts. We also endured Kobe Bryant describing the AT&T Center as a “big barn.” O.K., the last part is kind of true, but to be fair, we do host a big ass rodeo in there. Regardless, Kobe came into the league a year before Duncan and we had a solid rivalry for most of their careers. That is, until the Lakers sucked, and we didn’t.

When Kobe Bryant announced his retirement, I'll admit my first reaction was, “Bye Felicia.” But then I got whiplash from the pull of nostalgia. And here’s why:

  1. Kobe spent 20 years on the same team. In a league of taking your talents to the city with the most toys, I appreciate guys like Kobe and Duncan who have some loyalty. Sure, Kobe was always well paid and enjoyed the benefits of playing in La-La Land, but I like that his career in jerseys doesn’t look like a crayon box.
  2. He grew up. He acted like a major dick for most of his career and people hate working with him, I get it. But you try starting a career at 17 and being thrust onto the biggest stage before they’ve both dropped. Kobe may not be the nicest guy on the court, but I don’t easily make friends with coworkers either. It’s hard to remember that basketball is just a job for him. He’s also kept his nose clean for years. Whether he actually behaves, or is just better at hiding random booty, he hasn’t done anything shady in a long time. It’s been years since I walked past a hotel chair and thought of the Black Mamba. Pardon the obvious innuendo.
  3. Numbers don’t lie. As a basketball fan, it’s hard to argue with the dude’s career: 5 NBA titles, 17 All-star appearances (second to Kareem), 12 NBA all-defensive teams (second to Duncan), 9 first-team selections (tied with M.J.), and he’ll retire the third-leading scorer in NBA history.

I know Spurs fans have a hard time cutting anyone slack because we have the best guys ever. Our roster makes the average fan forget that lots of pros are spoiled and lack direction. But it must be hard to become an accountable adult when every problem disappears, poof, like LeBron’s chalk. Something should be said for those who actually make it happen.

I’ll miss Kobe’s buzzer beaters and angry swagger. I'll miss the dreaded post-season match-ups and the obnoxious number of Lakers fans in our barn.But that’s probably because the era is ending and Timmy will be soon to follow. Either way, happy trails, Mr. 81. 

Hollywood vs. Hippy Hollow: The 2006 Rose Bowl Revisited

I’ve given up on football season. Sure, my fantasy team is doing O.K., but my real season is over. Look, when your collective household teams are the Yellow Jackets, Longhorns, Hurricanes, Cowboys, and Dolphins, it’s been a brutal few weeks.

In the spirit of proactive self-delusion, I’m writing off the current season and looking back. Last night, my husband and I watched ESPN’s latest 30 for 30 on the Pete Carroll era USC Trojans. First, I have to holler at ESPN Films. Dude, how good are they? I’m giddy over the upped ante lately. Storytelling and production value on TV keep redefining talent and precision. I digress.

If you get a chance, check out ‘Trojan War’ on ESPN. The star of the piece is Pete Carroll. They do spend some time on the Reggie Bush shame/drama, but most of the story follows the “brilliance” of Carroll and his ensemble cast of leading men: Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, LenDale White, and more.

The whole episode is written in screenplay format, with flashes of the script onscreen throughout. An appropriate touch for the Holly-weird university. In fact, L.A. and stars like Snoop Dogg play supporting roles in the tragic comedy of Carroll’s USC career.

Before the 2006 Rose Bowl, the Trojans were like the Pats – above the rules. They won at everyone’s expense. And they were good. So what could ever stop them on their stroll to a third national championship? Enter the black knight in the white helmet.

It was an entertaining watch. Mostly because I got to relive the glory of a kick-ass Longhorns squad led by the super-human game of Vince Young's career, but also because there are few things I enjoy more than sports karma. Hello, I’m a Spurs fan married to a Heat fan. Enough said.

With everything going on at USC now, the 30 for 30 portrait of arrogance doesn’t seem like baseless Hollywood hype. Speaking of, it made me smirk to hear Leinart eat his snarky words. He now regrets his national post game comment that USC was “still the better team.” Karma’s a bitch.

Padre de Amor

Watching coverage of Pope Francis' visit to the White House this morning I heard a crazy stat: More than a billion people worldwide are ex-Catholics. Isn't that nuts?

I can relate. It's not important to me what religion (if any) people identify with, so long as they're not assholes. Being a good person isn't exclusive to any particular dogma.

I abandoned Catholicism with my training bra. The reasons are boring and shared by many (a billion apparently) so I won't rehash them here. But I have to say: I love Pope Francis.

No fancy cars, no papal mansion, and a belief that you're not working with those in need unless you've left with "the smell of the poor upon you." A religious leader who actually acts like Jesus? I'm not sure I know what to do with that. But the crowd of joyous faces in D.C. does. They love him. Arms outstretched and smiles gaping, the masses reach for his presence like the answer is in it. Happiness in a white cassock.

I've listened to so many so-called religious people spout hate in the name of Jesus that my heart was numb and skeptical of a man whose behavior so closely resembles the actual love and judgment free teachings of Jesus Christ. Whether you believe he was the son of God, or even if there is a God, there is plenty of evidence that Jesus was a good man. And I truly believe this pope is too.

Some people call Francis a radical and a leftist. They'd probably say that about Christ now too - he hung out with hookers and held the sick without shame or judgment. The pope hasn't changed doctrine. He holds up the teachings of The Church and its social doctrine. There's nothing radical about that. Nuns still can't lead mass. Gay marriage is still not recognized. What's so radical?

Watching the first black president welcome the first Latin pope is like a work of fiction come to life. Only 20 years ago it would've been a laughable dream. It gives me hope. I don't agree with most beliefs of either man. But tolerance is a beautiful thing. I hope we can all learn from Francis' character and his behavior. He walks his talk - if only we could all be so brave and peaceful.

Define "Hurting"

I love fantasy football. No, I mean really. Like, only hyperbole and cliche will suffice.

So it's funny when people ask if I think fantasy hurts or helps the game. I get what they're asking, but it's a complicated question. What does "hurt" or "help" mean?

It's week 2 and last night the Broncos beat the Chiefs largely because the Chiefs' star running back, Jamaal Charles, fumbled late in the 4th quarter. So it's either "yay Broncos" or "poor Chiefs," depending where your loyalties lie. It's pretty simple, right? Maybe not.

Every fantasy league scores things a little different, but this is my blog, so we're going to use my league to make the point. Last night, Charles carried for 125 yards and had one touchdown, two fumbles. All that was good for 43 points - I know because my opponent has him on his roster and I'm still limping today. So does that make JC a chump or a champ?

If you're a Chiefs fan, you probably lean toward chump. But if you're my buddy Dan, you want to hoist the dude on your non-juiced shoulders. Where the "hurt or help" debate begins is for people who fit into both categories. Let's say you are a Chiefs fan AND have JC on your fantasy roster. Does elation over fantasy points outweigh disgust for your star blowing a rival game? Is your fandom somehow less pure? If so, sure...fantasy might hurt football.

On the other hand, millions of people just like me wouldn't give a half a shake about last night's game without the skin that fantasy creates. I cheered, I cussed, and luckily for the NFL, I watched. After a few years in sports marketing, I'd forgotten how to be a fan until my husband's fantasy league needed another body. So in this case, it helped.

Whatever side of the debate you're on, beer always helps an argument. Happy football season to all, and to all a good fight.

shel silverstein totally got fulfillment

On Labor Day, I sit here thinking about the job I gave up and the job I gave myself. Sure, I forfeited a shitload of money, but I also lost that drained feeling that bred cubicle fantasies about holidays like today.

Now, after a two-day word flurry, I hover at the keyboard with nothing left to give it; I'd lick the letters if I thought they'd give me more. But I'm a bad gambler's last chip - spent, done, word-wasted. And I couldn't feel better.

People say to "find what feeds you." Sure. But I think you also have to find what empties you. What takes your leaves and branches until you're a naked stump, heart bursting? Go find it.

Happy Labor Day.

Your Service Gives Me the Snarks

I have a lot invested in Apple. No, not stocks, I'm a writer. I mean I have a lot of devices. You name it, it's on my dresser: iPhone, iPad, MacBook, and Mac Mini (O.K., not on dresser). I made the jump from PCs years ago because Apple made a superior product with superior service. And then Steve Jobs died.

I'm so over Apple. It started with my phone. I've had every model since the 3, and have never needed a case. My latest phone, the 6 plus, now looks like it belongs to any teenager observed in his or her natural habitat. The cracks spread like a hazardous spiderweb from mid-phone to the bottom. I could open a vein with any swipe. I wouldn't be miffed if I were rough with my phone, but said damage occurred when the phone slid from my seated leg to the floor. A foot and a half, tops. Guess what Apple said. "Suck it up, buttercup. That'll be $650." To which I said, "Fuck it, I'll grow a callus."

Next was my Apple TV. Oh yeah, I have that too. I spent an hour today (O.K. my husband did) trying to convince the Genius that our wifi was not the problem. BTW - their service dudes are called "Genius," I'm not being snarky yet. We ended up fixing the problem ourselves. Voila.

So, are companies allowed to charge the cost of minor surgery for products and give you the finger when they crap out? What happened to craftsmanship and service in 'Merica?

Chalk it up to first-world problems. Suck it up, buttercup.

P.S. I did not hand the Genius his ass today. Mostly because my husband was on the phone with him instead of me, but also partly because I have no snark to give. I consider it a small victory in my quest for personal growth. Suck on that one, Cook.

Shit. I was doing so well.

Snarkless Sportsmanship

First, congratulations to Jason Day on winning his first PGA major championship. After the year he's had, the dude deserves to hoist a trophy. Along with Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson, Day was right in the action for all the majors this year.

What I love most about the new generation of pro golfers isn't the ridiculous talent, super-fit bods, or the slim-cut trousers (although those are soooo nice), it's their sportsmanship.

These guys play a pretty elitist game. Scratch that and take a step back - they play a GAME for a living. Isn't that enough to breed snark? It should be, but thankfully, it's not. These guys seem to really enjoy playing the game and admire their opponents. Spieth is all class - he gave a thumbs-up for a redonk putt made by Day late in the Sunday round at last week's PGA Championship. And most of the post-tourney comments given by runners up this year have been humble and genuine.

DJ has a lot to be pissed about. He's a recovering addict who made his way back to the sport he loves, but can't get the brass ring. He still hasn't won a major. But is he bitter? Probably a little, but he never lets it show. He's gracious and hardworking.

I never thought I'd say it - but we can all learn a lot about being the bigger person from professional golfers.

Reactive Snark

I've been seeing more doctors lately than I've ever cared to, but it's just a part of mid-thirties life. Something innate bubbles to the surface every time I enter a medical facility.  Until the other day, I couldn't explain the urge to scowl. It's the same irritated feeling of "you vs. me" that I get while driving. For some reason, all other cars on the road instantly become the enemy - an annoying obstacle to be conquered, or at the very least, dismissed. Oh, you're accidentally in the wrong lane and need to get off the highway RIGHT NOW? Sorry, that's your life, your problem. What's with that? Why do I become insta-bitch in certain situations? That person could be rushing to a burning house of kittens.

This week at the fertility doc I figured it out. I suffer from reactive snark. Certain people in certain professions deal with the general public all day every day and as a result, suffer from proactive snark. I likely would too if my day consisted of scheduling mishaps, medical billing carnage, and the general lack of a fuck given by many people.

When confronted with such unearned snark, I lob it back like Maria Sharapova. And that's not O.K. because it's getting worse. When I walked into the doctor's office, I steeled myself, ready for the snarky ice water to the face that can be a receptionist's "greeting." I had my RBF all primed as I stomped to the desk.

A smile. And sweet, sweet competence. And adult conversation lacking any presumption of idiocy due to my classification as "new patient." I melted like a dopey schoolkid in the face of The Beibs. So while I still suffer from reactive snark, I'm receiving treatment from the good guys. It's nice to know I can still be disarmed.

the art of mortals

It typically bothers me when I see artists or athletes deified. People with extraordinary skills are still just people, right?

In the spirit of snarklessness, I tried recently to change my outlook.

I was lucky enough to spend some time this week with the work of two of my favorite artists. On Tuesday I caught a screening of A Hard Day's Night, and early Thursday was spent walking through Margaret Mitchell's Peachtree St. apartment in midtown Atlanta.

Seeing a young and carefree John Lennon playfully pretend to snort a glass bottle of Coke 51 years ago made me laugh. Hearing that Margaret Mitchell shared the saddest experience with her famous heroine and missed her own mother's death by one day, broke my heart.

At the heart of extraordinary art is an extraordinary person. I've always been a harsh critic of my favorite artists - perhaps I'm overcompensating for unconditional love and excuses afforded them by the general public? Maybe I judge because I'm jealous? I don't know. But seeing John Lennon and Margaret Mitchell in such young, pure form softened me.

Before they were polarizing - they were brilliant. They were people. And I don't have to separate the art from the artist to appreciate and respect either.

The Story of You?

People face hard situations. From the tragic to the irritating, Most people have a story to tell about something awful that's happened in their life. I've listened to people on newscasts talk about their experiences as victims of house fires, shark attacks, identity theft and even stolen garden gnomes. I recently noticed something about the way they tell their story.

I seem to hear "you just feel like this," or "you never expect it to happen to you," when people tell their story. Which is odd, because it's their story. I would expect people to say, "I felt like this," or "I never expected it to happen to me." But again and again, I hear and read people using this collective "you" to share a feeling or experience.

This got me wondering: Why? Is it that people think a story has more impact if an entire group has felt this way rather than an individual? Does the storyteller feel camaraderie with others who have been through it? There can't be a large fraternity of shark attach survivors. I don't know what kind of bond an experience like that forms in one's head, subconsciously or otherwise.

Maybe it's just a colloquialism. I'm not sure. But when you hear something over and over like that, it just makes you wonder.

Welcome to Snarkless. A blog for those of us who don't know everything.

The only blogs I've ever written were on behalf of executives. The topics predetermined, I never had to think much. Add jargon, stir, repeat. So when I decided to write my own blog, I struggled with a theme. What do I want to say? More importantly, what will people care to read?

Welcome to Snarkless. I hope this blog will be a judgment-free zone where I can address questions on everything from how to keep a hipster garden when I don't have a fantastic beard, to the best ways to avoid pissing off colleagues with an email.

No topic is off limits. I want to cover things that annoy us all, but approach them in a tolerant, inquisitive way that hopefully leaves us all a little wiser.