Monday, December 14, 2009

Great First Date Ideas

Through my years of trials and tribulations with members of the finer gender, I've become a bit of an expert on first dates. Not so much on second dates, third dates, or even the concept of "dating", but definitely first dates. I average a few a year. Some go well, some not so well, some are best left not discussed.

(In care you are curious, however, here is my worst date: I picked her up in my military uniform after I got off work - she was not impressed as she told me her dad was in the service. Then we went to eat. I ordered a dinner, she ordered a side salad, ate two pieces of lettuce and a carrot slice and then watched me eat. After "dinner", we were supposed to go play putt-putt or something, but she claimed she needed to go home as her friend had an "emergency" and she need to go see her. So I drove her home. The end.)

With all my experience in first dates, I figured I would endow my readers with some wit and wisdom and a couple of creative ideas for your next first date (or, if you are married, the next time you take the Mrs. out).

The Ultimate Cheap Date

Remember in the movie Half Baked, when Dave Chappelle takes Mary Jane out on a date for a few hours and only spends eight bucks (after robbing the homeless guy)? Well, this date is sorta like that, only without pilfering from the down and out. The goal and theme of this date is to make it as romantic, meaningful, and thoughtful as possible while spending as little as possible. Because face it, a woman who demands you take her to Red Lobster so she can order a 20 dollar salad is probably not the type of girl for any reader of this blog, is she?

The first step in the Ultimate Cheap Date is to buy a few cheap candles, placemats, and maybe a table cloth. Trust me, you can get most of this stuff from the Salvation Army or wherever. Then bring your date to Taco Bell or anywhere else with a dollar menu. Or if you want to go really cheap, aim for less than 99 cents - a McDonald's hamburger and cheeseburger or a hard taco at Taco Bell. Then, after you pick the restaurant, set up a table like it is a real high class date. Lay out the table cloth, placemats, and light the candles. It will look sharp, trust me. Then play the date like you are taking her to the most expensive place in town.

The Consensus Date

These days we are all about open source things (programs, designs, etc). We are becoming more and more open to the idea of people we don't know contributing to what we do. Why not bring this concept into dating?

We have all been on dates that don't start so well. You sit there, trying desperately to connect and find something to talk about. You try news, sports, school, jobs, personal history, family, and even the weather, but the conversation is still as flat as 50-year old soda. Whatever you do, nothing works.

Time to open source and let the people decide your fate.

Once you realize the date is going nowhere fast, walk over to the nearest couple and ask them for help. Make it quick, and don't waste their time, but still get them to offer you some advice. People love giving advice, especially relationship advice. After you get that couple's suggestions, go to another table and ask them the same question. Try and get a popular consensus on what to do. Then, after you have a few suggestions or an overwhelming opinion on what to do, go back to your table and see if the people around you are smarter than you are. If anything, you just extended your date by telling your date what you just did. Maybe she will see the humor. What do you have to lose?

Now I can't say I have done either of these ideas. I am just saying that I think they could work. They might even get you a second date.

(Image from

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The First Ever AfroSquad Video

As many of you know, I frequently roll with the Afro-Squad. I am not an original member, by any stretch of the imagination. The Afro-Squad has been fighting The Man since the mid-1990s.

Recently uncovered by Bothan spies deep in the caves of Afghanistan comes the first ever Afro-Squad video. Oddly, there are two versions. The first was posted on SpikeTV by the SnowMan.

The second, on youtube, had the sound removed by The Man.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thinking Thanks and Masticated Mashed Potatoes

Like millions and millions of Americans, I did my giving of thanks Thursday. A lot of people call it rude, but I try to save up all my thanks for Thanksgiving day. I make a concentrated effort not to thank anyone for anything any other day. I try to never say "thanks" or "thank you" or even "gracias". And I definitely don't thank people "very much". I save all these thankings for one day. Then I thank in bulk. It's a lot easier that way. Like going to Costco or Sam's Club.

Anyway, like I was saying, I had the fam all huddled around on this great day of thanking. We had the wee tykes, the elders, the kin folk, and the rest. And we did what everyone else does.

We consumed cranberry sauce, swallowed succatash, gummed gravy, bit biscuits, masticated mashed potatoes, put away pickles, nibbled on noodles, chewed on cheese and mac, polished off pie, devoured dessert, and took in some turkey.

That's why I consider myself just a normal average guy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Visit to the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar

A few weeks ago, during my overseas business trip, I had the pleasure of visiting the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar. Opened less than a year ago, the museum is not only home to thousands of artifacts, from bowls and jewels to ancient Qur'anic texts, but it is also an architectural marvel, built by the same person who built the Louvre Pyramid in Paris.

Here is a video on the museum aired right before it opened:

To say I was impressed was an understatement. Honestly, I don't get out of the country much at all, so to have seen such a prominent display of culture and history was a treat. So if you are ever in Doha, do take the time to swing by the Museum of Islamic Art. It is well worth the visit. (That reminds me, it is also free admission.)

Is Rap Crap?

I was reading this article on Lil Wayne on CNN today when, against my better judgement, I browsed the comments. I'll admit this was a mistake, as comment sections are usually the sick ignorant underbelly of the Internet (except on this site, of course, where all my commentors are fine, upstanding pillars of community).

What shocked me in the comments was the people who claimed "rap isn't music"? Are we really still having these kind of discussions? 30 years after rock entered the mainstream, did we question whether it was music? What about jazz? Gospel? Blues? Even heavy metal gets more respect by the close-minded than hip-hop.

As much as I should disregard the incoherent babblings of ignorant CNN commentor, I do think that his or her opinion is far from unordinary. Here is a question: how many white middle class over-30 friends do you know who admit hip-hop is their favorite type of music? How many of them won't admit it for fear that they might get the "that's not white people music" look? How many of them fold like the dude in Office Space and claim they like radio-friendly alternative rock or country?

What do you think? Are we at a point yet in America where it is socially acceptable for middle class or even upper class white folks to be legitimate rap fans? Or are those people still seen as "wannabes" and "posers"?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Stopping Driving While Old

Did you know old people are the 5th greatest cause of death on the roads?

Did you know the average old person drives 64% slower than the average driver?

Did you know old people are 51% less likely to pass a tractor driven by a chipmunk?

Like it or not, old people are a nuisance and should be categorically eliminated from our roadways.

Of course, I have a plan. I call it the "15 Year Plan". It's simple.

On their 69th birthday every driver has to take a driving test and renew their license.

On their 74th birthday (5 years later), they have to take another one.

On their 78th birthday (4 years later), drivers have to take a third test.

On their 81st birthday (3 years later), yet another test.

(Do you see the pattern yet?)

On their 83rd birthday (2 years later), drivers have to take another test.

Then on their 84th birthday and every birthday from there on, until they turn in their license, drivers must take yet another drivers test.

I think this could work. It might be a hassle for the department of motor vehicles. But they are trading their hard work for the common good.

Do you think this could work?

(By the way, those stats at the top might not be true.)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cause of Death: Knocked Out By the Hero

Much to the chagrin of many people, I think too much. It happens all the time. Almost unconsciously. For some strange reason, whenever anything happens I can't just relax and let it go without having an opinion or attempting to fit whatever it is in my personal schema.

This includes movies. Even those that come with a disclaimer that "plot is sacrificed for the sake of explosions, porn, or kick-ass kung fu". Yup, even those I do too much thinking about.

Needless to say, an odd thought entered my cerebellum this weekend as I watched Star Wars: Episode III.

Did the Empire have a Casualty Notification process? How did they convey the news of the deaths of Imperial Officers and troops to the family they came from?

(I know most Stormtroopers were clones, at least through the Clone Wars Era. They didn't really have families, unless the Empire sent all the notices to Boba Fett, as he was their only next of kin. But the officers and other staff members had to have families. I don't think they were clones.)

I can't fathom the scope of the job of the Imperial Casualty Notification Office. Especially after the destruction of each of the Death Stars.

Here is how I think an Imperial death notice written after the Death Star explosion may have read:
"Dear Sir or Maam, 
Perhaps you heard, the Galactic Empire recent suffered a grave loss at the hands of rebel scum. Your son, (insert officer's name), was killed when these rogues destroyed our bastion of security, the Death Star. He, along with 31,622,963 fellow Imperial military members, lost their lives in the service our beloved Emperor.
In these sad times, be assured your loss is our loss. Your son was a valued member of our armed forces and the Emperor and Lord Vader have vowed to find and punish those responsible for his death. They will join us or be destroyed. 
Galactic Empire Secretary of War/Defense"
(By the way, on the subject of remembering those who perished in the Death Star explosion, check out this hilarious College video of Stormtroopers reminiscing.)

Of course, the idea of death notices should not be limited to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. What about the scores of other goons, henchmen, minions, and lackeys who were beaten, pummeled, or generally defeated at the hands of heroes? Who informed their loved ones? Did they have loved ones?

Take for example this scene from Bruce Lee's classic Enter The Dragon.

Bruce Lee knocked out 49 thugs in this 4 minute clip. Some just received a kick to the head, while others were flipped through glass, tossed into water, mauled by prisoners, or had their necks broken. It is, without a doubt, a cornucopia of kung-fu casualty creation.

But again I wonder, were the loved ones of these baddies informed of their unfortunate demise? Whose responsibility was it to write the families of these men and let them know their son, brother, husband, lover wouldn't be home for any more Thanksgivings, Christmases, or any other holidays? For whatever reason, I imagine a stereotypical middle-aged woman in a secretary role slaving over a typewriter filling out form after form after form and then getting them signed and put in the mail as soon as possible. I wonder what she would put as the cause of death. Knocked out by hero?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Jordi 3:16 says ummm.....

There was an interesting post on the other day. It linked to a Forbes piece written by Monte Burke on the once-passe-but-now-reemerging phenomenon of holding up Biblical scripture signs at sporting events.

A while back, I was watching a DVD of the 1986 NLCS playoffs (Mets versus Astros) and I thought about the same thing. During that game, it was impossible to miss a John 3:16 sign in stands. I think there were roughly 3,412 of them, give or take 3,400. I was even thinking about writing a post over at ye olden site about that very phenomenon.  I had the title and everything. I was going to call it "Where have you gone John 3:16?". Amazing, I know. It rolls off the tongue.

What I didn't have, however, was anything more than the notion that you don't see those signs anymore. In his article, Burke did what I wanted to do, chronicle the rise and fall (and now reemergence) of John 3:16. He found the man who started the trend (a certified nutbar named Rollen Stewart - check out this video on just how loopy he was), then he wrote about how the signs disappeared for years, but have slowly returned thanks to Tim Tebow's fame and faith.

(Before I go any further, a word of warning: please do not associate me with Rollen Stewart just because he also had afro wig and was a charismatic fan who wore glasses and liked to do the thumbs-up sign. His afro was rainbow colored, ok?)

My one complaint about Burke's article was that it failed to mention a sharp turn in the life of 3:16 quoting. Soon after Rollen Stewart disappeared from the limelight and was subsequently locked in the clink for three life terms, an emerging pro wrestler named Stone Cold Steve Austin created his own version of 3:16 and used it as one of his main catch phrases on his way to wrestling immortality.

The timeline then goes a little something like this:
  • Rollen Stewart uses John 3:16 from 1980 to 1992

  • Stone Cold Steve Austin uses Austin 3:16 from 1996 to approximately 2004

  • Tim Tebow is sparking a John 3:16 revival in 2009
As you can see, it usually takes about four years after a 3:16 fad faded for it to reemerge. The way I see it, Tim Tebow can't play forever. I'll give him until 2020, tops. And that's if he makes the NFL (which I think he will) and has at least a solid career (to be determined).

So therefore, in 2025 or maybe late 2024 I have to be ready. Ready to pounce with a new 3:16 theme. A "Jordi 3:16". Or maybe an "Afro 3:16". Or maybe "The Man 3:16". Then there has to be a phrase that goes with it.

What do you guys think? What phrase should I use? And if I make the signs will you carry them around town in 2025?

We're talkin' global.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Metalocalypse and My Top Cartoons of the Last Few Years

In the last year, I've grown into a bit of a cartoon fan. I've been watching more and more animation than I ever have. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because the subject matter is usually less serious than anything else on television. Maybe it's because cartoons are where slapstick humor has gone. Maybe it is the creative vibe. Or maybe it is because cartoons are short and my attention span is slowly dwindling.

Whatever the reason, I have bought a bunch of cartoon DVD box sets lately. Probably my best purchase was the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 5. Absolutely classic Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and the rest of the gang. And the bonus features tell a lot about the stories behind the cartoons. I never paid much attention to the directors, artists, and musical score writers before. Now I am a much more astute cartoon watcher.

I am discussing cartoons because tonight I finally finished another one of my better buys: Season 2 of the Adult Swim cartoon series Metalocalpyse (I finished Season 1 a few weeks ago).  For those who aren't hip to Metalocalpyse, it is the story of Dethklok, the world's greatest, most prolific death metal band. Think Spinal Tap meets He-Man meets Star Wars meets a grown-up version of Beavis and Butt-head. Absolutely hilarious.

(Apparently Season 3 just started a few weeks ago as well. This is good. However, I don't have DVR capability and I am absolutely terrible at timing my life around non-sports TV shows. I'll just wait until the box set comes out.)

By the way, Dethklok is also a great example of a cross-media venture. Not only are they the main characters in the Metalocalypse cartoon, but they are also a real band who are on tour right now. Of course, the faces are different, but the music performed on the show is the same. And that is a great way to keep the core fans interested. Kinda like the Monkees meets the Gorillaz, only cooler. Check out a recent interview with creator Brandon Small where he talks about this exact premise.

Anyway, having finished the Metalocalypse box sets, I started thinking about what I would classify as my favorite cartoon series. For someone born in the 70's, this was a tough question. I grew up on Scooby Doo, the USA Cartoon Express, the aforementioned He-Man, G.I. Joe, Transformers, and of course the classic Looney Tunes and Disney serials from previous generations. So I narrowed the question down to the last few years.

(I can do that. It was my question, asked to me. I could put whatever qualifier I wanted on it. Maybe someday I will expand the parameters, but not now.)

So, in no particular order:
  • The Boondocks

  • Metalocalypse

  • Afro Samurai

  • Phineus and Ferb
I know you are asking, "Phineus and Ferb, really?". Yeah, really. Those kids are hilarious. I can't watch cartoons full of action and adventure and death and destruction all the time, you know.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Would Selling Stock in the Seminoles Limit Booster Influence?

(Originally posted on

Last Thursday, Darren Rovell of CNBC and several other news outlets reported that the Boise State University Athletic Department was going to start selling stock certificates to raise money for the athletic department.  According to Rovell, "athletic director Gene Bleymaier announced the formation of a non-profit organization (Boise State Broncos Inc.) that is seeking fans to invest in future Boise State athletic projects."

Rovell reports that fans will pay $100 a share to receive "a stock certificate as well as voting power at board meetings, where it is decided how the money will be used." Not included in the purchase are rights any bowl game money, a share of concessions from game day, any dividends or appreciation."

Basically, a share in Boise State Broncos, Inc. is a vote on the dissemination of athletic department funds.

Personally, I like this idea. Although it is not without its dilemmas. First of all, what if a rich alumnus of Boise St.'s main rival bought all the shares? Second, could the shareholders choose to keep all of the money in the athletic department and withhold it from the rest of the university? What if they reinvested the money in the football program and let the other sports to wither from lack of funding?

Once these issues get fixed, I would like to see Florida State follow the lead of Boise St. I think selling stock in the Noles would eliminate some of the sway of the Seminole Boosters. However well meaning they may proclaim themselves as being, I have never trusted the booster program. Especially after what they did during the Jeff Bowden fiasco. I don't think any one group should be able to hold a public institution's financial backing hostage pending a decision by those employed by the institution. Especially if it is based on the actions of personnel on an athletic playing field.

Although I would like to see all booster programs eliminated and donations to the university given to the highest office and then vetted down to the departments by need, not by whim, I don't think that will happen anytime soon. In the meantime we might as well use stock issuing as a way to formalize the influence and benefits of the giving process. Perhaps making the Boosters official stock holders would make their influence more "official" and lift the veil on any dope deals, secret negotiations, and payoffs that might involve university employees. Not that boosters should have a say in those decisions anyway.

I guess in the real world money really does talk.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Eulogy for the Eliminated: The Serious Tip

Dearly Beloved,

Today we lay to rest this blog. Three years is a long time to write for one web site. Especially one as varied, unpredictable, and as one reader put it "mixed bag" as this one. And so it is with a heavy heart and just a wee bit of melancholy that I am closing down The Serious Tip and moving to

What exactly was The Serious Tip, anyway? Originally, this blog was going to be called "The Not So Serious Tip" - sort of a tribute to the old HBO show "Not Necessarily the News". But I figured the name was a little long and I didn't have a clue what I was going to write. I just had a name.

(For a lack of a prequel, consider this the start of my blogging history. I think I already told the story about how I read Jenn Sterger's blog and thought to myself, if she can do it, so can I. So I am not going to re-tell that part.)

So after I decided on The Serious Tip, I started writing. After a brief introduction, I actually began this blog as a humorous commentary on headlines and news events. That lasted all of one blog post. Then I started writing about sports. As a matter of fact, only four posts out of 36 during the rest of 2006 were on non-sports subjects. Writing about sports came easy, it was well-rewarded (many of my early posts were linked to on Deadspin and The Big Lead), and I always wanted to write sports commentary.

Throughout 2007 and 2008 I made a bit of a reputation for myself as a sports blogger. I cameo'ed on nearly a dozen other sites - from the small (If I Ran ...) to the successful and influential (Deadspin). I also made regular appearances at YaySportsNBA,, Pomp Culture, and Thunder Matt's Saloon. I met quite a few fellow sports bloggers, from the always verbose MC Bias to Cork Gaines of RaysIndex. I talked possibly freelance gigs and books with Jay Busbee and the possibility of interviewing the top of the NBA with Mike Tillery. I emailed back and forth with Will Leitch, Henry Abbott, Andrew Carter of the Orlando Sentinel, and countless others. I was part of the sports blog community.

Then 2009 happened.

If you haven't noticed, I have blogged less and less about sports this year. I don't know if my disinterest was because of the disintegration of the sports blog community or just a coincidence. I may be wrong, but it seemed that when Will Leitch left Deadspin and the new powers that be stopped reaching out to the little blogs, linking to their stories, and giving them a little shine, the air quickly left the sports blogging community. Gone were the links, the comments, and the love. Many sports bloggers around the country began scrambling to fill full time gigs at any half-brained website. Some made it to AOL, ESPN, Yahoo!, and the like, but most just faded into Mike Tyson's Bolivia. I was one of those.

But it wasn't only because the community was falling apart. I stopped writing about sports because I was getting bored. I am not a beat reporter, and I never have been. I am not an expert on economics, behavioral science, or race relations, and I am definitely not a statistician or medical expert. I had no angle to keep me in it. I was just a fan who got most of his sports from the very blogging community he was contributing to. I grew tired of looking for some niche, some angle, or some interesting perspective. Sometimes there was none. Other times I just didn't want to write, and that is the worst thing a writer can say. I didn't want to write.

Fortunately, right as my interest level fell to an all-time low, my company sent me on an overseas trip. That gave me time to think and play off the sudden drop in posts with the excuse that "I didn't have time" or "Sorry, I didn't have an internet connection". Both of which, if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, are not true in the least.

So for the last few weeks I've pulled out an old standby, the Eulogy for the Eliminated series. What was a fun and creative series last year, thinking up witty eulogies for eliminated baseball teams, became a drag on a site that became a burden. Or a burden on a site that became a drag. Either way, I was going through the motions.

And that brings us to today. Three years, two months, 555 posts, and probably close to a million (maybe?) words later, and we have finally reached the end of the tip. But all is of course not lost. I'll still be writing, still blogging, and still creating, just over at my new site, You can expect the same amount of irreverence, the same half-witted dry humor, the same attempts at satire, and the same random discussions on my varied tastes.

For my long term fans, however, I should warn you. I do intend on making two minor changes to my writing. My first goal is to make a bit more Tampa-centric. That means stories about my explorations and discoveries throughout the city I call home. My second change is I intend to write a bit more about me. I've always wanted to write about me more. To write about the people, places, and things in my life without reservation. Who knows, I might even slip in a post about my dating life, or lack there of. But don't bet on it.

Anyway, if you have enjoyed reading, perusing, or even belittling The Serious Tip over the last three years, I hope you follow me over to

In closing, before I say good-bye to this not-so-serious-yet-appropriately-named website, I would like to say thank you. Thank you to all the bloggers and writers who gave me advice and encouragement. Thank you to all the commentors - you folks made my day with your snide comments, put-downs, and occasional words of encouragement. And thank you, most of all, to the you, the reader. Although I would have still written without you, you made it worth while. Knowing that I averaged roughly 150 of you a day and that over the course of three-plus years over 250,000 of you from all over the world visited the site makes me quite proud.

And now, without further adieu, I present to you The Website. May you forever read and enjoy. And for The Serious Tip, may you, dear web site, Rest in Peace.

I'm out.

(Image created on request by Brian Spaeth of and the new web movie Who Shot Mamba?.)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Measuring the true worth of a pro wrestler

By now it should come to no surprise that I am a bit of a pro wrestling fan. I'm not sure how it happened, but it did. I go to shows, hang out with other wrestling fans, and even have gotten to know some of the performers and a little about the business. I am by no means saying I am the second coming of Vince McMahon (who I have a growing respect for by the way), I am just saying I think I might know a bit more than the average fan who occasionally watches Monday Night Raw.

With this new found (or newly acknowledged) fandom in mind, I've started to put my deeply analytical and often out-of-the-box mind at work thinking about pro wrestling. Sort of in the same way sabermetric folks think about baseball or a growing number of people are thinking about basketball. Since I've always been amazed by the way the "stathead" fanbase flips and bounces the numbers, I wondered if someone could take the same magnifying glass to pro wrestling. That is, to dig into pro wrestling and see if there are any patterns, trends, or coincidences worth noting.

Ah, I can hear it now, "Baseball is real. Wrestling is fake. You can't compare them or think about them the same way. That's not only ridiculous, it is a waste of time. Why am I reading this?"

Well, if you are still with me, thank you. Because I am about to do the impossible, at least I think it is, I am going to introduce statistical analysis to the untamed wilderness of professional wrestling.

Here is a little college entrance exam analogy for you:

Wins is to Baseball like _____ is to Pro Wrestling

I am going to go with "Money". The quest for money is the lifeblood of pro wrestling like the quest for wins is to other sports. Not that money isn't in some way related to baseball and basketball, but financial gain is only a positive byproduct of the team's daily results. In pro wrestling however, the results of the contest not matter. It is an athletic show, similar to Circus De Soleil. But Circus De Soleil is not promoted like a sport like pro wrestling is. Therefore, I am combining the results of Circus De Soleil with the analysis of sports - accurately maintaining the standard of "sports entertainment".

Ok, now that I have (somewhat) established that money is the goal of a pro wrestling event, then what is it about pro wrestling that brings in money? My answer to that is "entertainment". Any pro wrestling promotion can make money the first time, but to be successful an organization has to entertain. That is, it has to provide a level of excitement to the fan base over that of competing venues of similar costs. That's cost-benefit and simple economics 101.

So where does the burden of entertainment in pro wrestling lay? Who is primarily responsible for ensuring the fans reach a level of entertainment that will best lead to a return visit? The answer to this question, to the chagrin of self-promoting owners, is with the wrestlers. They are the meat and potatoes of pro wrestling. They are as important as touching first base is to scoring in baseball. Without touching first, you cannot score. And without wrestlers, you cannot have a pro wrestling show.

(Note: some promoters and other in-ring personalities do have some entertainment value. But the majority of the burden of entertaining is on the wrestlers.)

If entertainment equals money, how do you measure entertainment? The best way I can figure to measure entertainment is through response. Unlike watching chess, watching pro wrestling should be an activity unto itself. Fans should cheer or boo or clap or root for their favorite. Wrestlers use these reactions to judge whether they are "getting over", i.e. their act is being bought by the crowd. So therefore, the best way to measure if the fans are entertained is the same way we should judge if a wrestler is "over" - by the amount of noise a crowd creates. To date, no promoter, at least that I know of, measures crowd engagement or crowd noise.

Using a generic noise level scale, the average conversation is at 60 decibels (dB). A loud crowd is somewhere between 100 dB and 120 dB (the equivalent to a riding lawn mower). So the average crowd noise should be somewhere just below that, say 90 dB. Of course, there might be a slight difference in the dB level of booing, as most people can't quite boo at the volume they can cheer. With this standard in mind, any wrestler that can't reach 90 dB could be referred to as Jabroni level (JL). Anything above 90 dBs could be called Value Above Jabroni (VAJ).

(Below JL would be the cursed BBL, or bathroom break level. If a wrestler can't crack BBL then they probably need to go back to training because they are not connecting with the crowd.)

So how could a wrestler get a crowd from Jabroni Level to above-Jabroni level? In my opinion, the first thing a wrestler can do to attach him or herself to the fans is have a catchy name. Like police dogs, most wrestlers go with short names, with most being at least two to four syllables (see "Hulk Hogan", "William Regal", etc). Either that or they have a memorable nickname, such as "The Butcher" or "The Dragon". The bottom line is that the name needs a good Chantability Factor (CF). If fans can chant it, they can make it heard.

As the name infers, CF is the ability of a name to be chanted. "Rocky" for example, has a great CF. Two syllables, rhythmic, and begins with hard consonants. You could even add two syllables in the chant and go with a "Let's go, Rocky." See, no more than four. On the other hand, Engelbert Humperdinck has a CF of zero. You can't do anything with a name like that.

Admittedly CF is a bit vague, but my next group of stats is precisely measurable. Again, the key is decibel level.

In wrestling, the antagonist character is called a "heel". The heel attracts the boos, the jeers, and negative feelings. His negative actions are what draw heat, or response. Some heels are better at drawing heat than others. Promoters obviously want the heel able to draw the most heat in the prominent matches. If an average heel musters a 90 dB response (Heat rating, or HR), then a good heel should, on average, draw more heat. Simply put, he or she draws Heat Over Average Heel (HOAH).

If a heel doesn't draw have a high enough heat rating, he or she might be paired with a manager. The difference between the heel's average heat rating and his heat rating with the manager could be called simply Manager Assisted Heat (MAH). A good heel manager should be able to draw heat to any wrestler, no matter how high or low the wrestler's initial heat rating. Of course, if a heel has a high enough heat rating, he or she wouldn't need a manager to begin with.

During the match, performers try to keep the crowd involved, whether cheering or booing. A good match will have a high Crowd Momentum (CM), meaning the crowd is well into the match and vocalizing their enthusiasm. This is easily measurable by the duration of a certain dB level during the match. The main event should probably have the highest CM of the show.

Wrestlers don't want the CM to be too high, however, or else the fans will have reached their peak prior to the climax of the match. During most matches, the climax occurs during one of the wrestlers' "end move" or "finisher". A finisher should rank high on the Crowd Popping End Move Scale (CPEM Scale), measurable by the difference between the crowd's dB level prior to, during, and after the move. A headlock, for example, would likely have a low CPEM score, as it is doubtful the crowd response would be that different. A chokeslam, on the other hand, has more suspense and drama to it, hence a probable higher CPEM score.

I'll admit, I seriously doubt promoters will start measuring dB levels and other measurements of crowd enjoyment anytime soon. (Although here is a dB meter for only a few hundred bucks.) If pro wrestling is one thing, it's traditional.

Then again, who would have though baseball, the most traditionalist of all sports, would lead the way with statistical analysis? Maybe, once again, I am just ahead of my time.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

ESPN listens to reason: No more "Sorority Row" ads during FSU games

I want to drop a quick post before today's game to congratulate FSU for taking a stand against something I was shocked to see a few weeks ago. I'm not sure how many people remember, but during the FSU-Miami game ESPN broadcast several ads for the new horror movie "Sorority Row", a film about a murderer who targets a college sorority.

As many older alumni can attest, a movie about killing sorority girls hits a little too close to home. For those who don't remember, please google "Ted Bundy Chi Omega".

Personally, when I first saw the ad, I immediately hit the twitter expressing my opposition:

"A movie about killing sorority girls during an FSU game. Programmers apparently never heard of Ted Bundy."

Apparently I wasn't the only person bothered by this. ESPN Ombudsman Don Ohlmeyer wrote that he received at least one email regarding the classless ad.

"When a sales opportunity presents itself, it's incumbent upon ESPN to consider particular circumstances that could give some viewers added concerns about potentially tasteless advertising. Such a case arose in the Sept. 7 Florida State-Miami telecast."

I guess at some point the FSU Athletic Department expressed concern and contacted ESPN on behalf of the entire FSU community. The result, according to FSU's Rob Parker on, is that ESPN is pulling the ads.

"Three cheers for ESPN which responded to a letter from your Director of Athletics who asked the network to consider not airing advertisements for the horror film Sorority Row during Florida State games in particular and all college events in general.  The network understood FSU's sensitivity after the Chi Omega murders on this campus and agreed with the suggestion to pull the ads."

I know Hollywood is going to make horror movies exploiting our fears. It happens. That's why Psycho and Jaws, etc are so effective. But marketing them to the victims continuously during a sporting event was a little over the top. No matter how long ago something happened, people have to be sensitive to the scars of an atrocity.

Good to see ESPN doing the right thing.

Freakonomics is now questioning Steroids of the Mind

Quick post, as I am working on something more extensive:

I read an interesting post on the New York Times Freakonomics Blog today. In a post entitled "Are Ritalin-Taking Students Cheaters?", the Freakonomics folks link to an article on an Australian site that discusses the scientific work of an Australian researcher who claims concentration drugs could become a problem for academia.

Sound familiar?

Back in July 2007, I posted a letter I wrote to the Florida State University newspaper in 2005. That letter, entitled "Ban Steroids of the Mind", addressed this exact problem, of course in my own hyperbolic and over-exaggerated way of looking at it.

According to Vince Cakic, author of the study "Smart drugs for cognitive enhancement: ethical and pragmatic considerations in the era of cosmetic neurology",

"Reports in the popular press suggest that smart drugs or "nootropics" such as methylphenidate, modafinil and piracetam are increasingly being used by the healthy to augment cognitive ability. Although current nootropics offer only modest improvements in cognitive performance, it appears likely that more effective compounds will be developed in the future and that their off-label use will increase. One sphere in which the use of these drugs may be commonplace is by healthy students within academia. This article reviews the ethical and pragmatic implications of nootropic use in academia by drawing parallels with issues relevant to the drugs in sport debate. It is often argued that performance-enhancing drugs should be prohibited because they create an uneven playing field. However, this appears dubious given that "unfair" advantages are already ubiquitous and generally tolerated by society. There are concerns that widespread use will indirectly coerce non-users also to employ nootropics in order to remain competitive."

Compare that to what I wrote in 2005 and repeated in 2007:

"Similar to growth enhancement products, mental enhancers promote an unfair advantage and distort the academic "playing field". Whereas neither physical nor mental supplements provide magical results without at least a level of skill or subject understanding, the similarities between these products are quite eerie."

It's about time other smart people caught on to what I've been talking about. Once again, I am ahead of the power curve. Maybe one day I'll have a forum like Freakonomics.

Are Ritalin-Taking Students Cheaters? - Freakonomics, October 2, 2009

'Academic doping' set to rise: expert -, October 1, 2009

Smart drugs for cognitive enhancement: ethical and pragmatic considerations in the era of cosmetic neurology - Cakic, Vince, Journal of Medical Ethics 2009;35:611-615; doi:10.1136/jme.2009.030882.

"Ban Steroids of the Mind" - The Serious Tip, July 2007

Friday, September 18, 2009

Why Joe Mauer Should Not Be 2009 AL MVP

As another baseball season comes to a close, tis the season for the rumblings and grumblings of media folks and bloggers telling us which player should win what award.

Vote for Pujols for NL MVP! He is the second coming of (insert legendary player).

Vote for (Grienke, Sabathia, Verlander, etc, etc.) for AL Cy Young!

Vote for Coghlan for NL Rookie of the Year! He plays for the Marlins! Yes, they are still a team!

Perhaps the most discussed awards race so far is for the American League MVP. There is no dispute several players are having great years. Players such as Mark Teixiera, Kendry Morales, Carl Crawford, and Miguel Cabrera.

Despite the great years by these players, most columns have focused on one of two players, either the Yankees' Derek Jeter or the Twins' Joe Mauer.

Mauer has the support of numerous writers, bloggers, statisticians, and analysis web sites. He is leading in most offensive categories, from traditional stats like batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage, to advanced SABRmetric measurements such as Value Over Replacement Player (VORP), OPS+, Win Shares, etc, etc, etc. He is also playing Gold Glove caliber defense at perhaps the toughest position in baseball: catcher.

Jeter has his own supporters in the baseball media, including writers, columnists, reporters, and other die-hard fans. Although Jeter's on-the-field numbers maybe not be as good as Mauer's, Jeter-backers advocate Jeter's intangibles, such as leadership, presence, and clutchiness. They even bring up the fact that he now holds the all-time record for hits by a Yankee.

From reading what has been written so far, you would think the battle is Mauer's stats versus Jeter's reputation and body of work. It is of course impossible to make this comparison. There is no way to match performance data with intangibles. None.

So far, the Mauer-backers have taken the lead in matching up the two candidates. They point out that Mauer beats Jeter in every category, bar none. It is their conclusion that because Mauer has better numbers, he should be MVP.

In response, the Jeter-backers call the Mauer-backers "nerds" and "stat geeks".

End of conversation, right?

As Lee Corso would say, not so fast, my friend.

Where the Jeter-backers fail is that they don't level the playing field. They sit back and get destroyed by conceding that Mauer is having a better season. They never attempt to hold Mauer up to the standards they hold Jeter to. This is their Achilles Heel. They don't bring up the fact that while Jeter has led the pristine life of a living Yankee legend seemingly since birth, Mauer didn't become the man he is until after he put on a Twins uniform.

The bottom line is that Joe Mauer can't be trusted.

Before his professional baseball debut, Joe Mauer did something so heinous, so outrageous, and so destructive, it should be forever held against him during the consideration of any and all awards.

Joe Mauer turned his back on Bobby Bowden and the Florida State Seminoles.

Following his senior year in high school, Joe Mauer was the most highly recruited quarterback in the nation. According to reports, he won three national football player of the year awards, and had the poise and potential to be among the greatest ever.

One writer claimed, "it is possible that in 50 years people will sit around and talk about those who were football’s finest; they will speak of Sayers and Payton and Unitas and Montana and Marino, but they may very well save a sentence for someone else, and that someone might be Joe Mauer."

At the time, Florida State was the premier football program in the nation. They had come off three straight national championship appearances and were chock full of future NFL players. And they had Joe Mauer.

Mauer's verbal agreement that he would be wearing garnet and gold after high school made Florida State the number one recruiting class of 2001. Mauer was to fit in behind Chris Rix and compete with Adrian McPherson for future field general of the Seminoles. With hindsight being what it is, there was probably little doubt Mauer would have even taken the job from Rix before Rix's graduation. With Mauer, the Florida State dynasty was set to continue.

Then Mauer "turned down (his) football scholarship from Florida State University to enter the Major League Baseball Draft". Despite a verbal commitment, Mauer was off to play baseball. According to Sam Mellinger of The Kansas City Star, Bobby Bowden remained so enamored by Mauer's potential he claimed he would "keep a scholarship open for Mauer 12 years after he was done with baseball".

Would Derek Jeter dare break a verbal agreement of that magnitude? Although Jeter received a scholarship to play baseball in Michigan, there is no evidence he let the Wolverine program hang out to dry. Jeter is a class act and a gentleman. Had someone with Jeter's character and the skills of Mauer committed to FSU, there is little doubt he would have been a Seminole. He would have followed his word.

It is for that reason that I can not possibly endorse Joe Mauer for AL MVP. Mauer may have the statistical advantage, he may be the greatest player in the American League, and he may even be seven feet tall and shoot fireballs from his eyes and bolts of lightning from his arse. But after what he did to Florida State University, Joe Mauer does not have the moral composition to be a most valuable player.

(This post was of course written by an FSU alumnus.)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

How to Talk To Girls on Twitter

E-migo Brian Spaeth is doing a virtual tour promoting his new movie and other ventures. You know what that means: Guest Post!


I've known Jordi for several years now, and pretty much at every turn I screw him over in some way - one time I had him write on my old website for like 4 months (more like 18 months, ed.), and then I deleted all his posts later.

What's wrong with me.

Anyway, I know he's been getting active in social networking and social media and social internetting and being social online and also Twitter. As such - and because I am a self-perceived expert in these areas - I've decided to give Jordi something for his website blog.

Here is - as clearly as I can state them - the best ways to meet - and not meet - girls on Twitter. I didn't create all of these, but I've certainly perfected them.

1) Don't swear. Look at it this way - there are many girls who are offended by swearing, but very few who are offended by not swearing. Swearing was impressive when you were 12.

Be action-packed in your picture. There's a reason I have a picture that's action-packed looking. It's so girls think I'm always on an exciting adventure while I do my important Twitter typing.

3) Never, ever talk about how raw Green Lantern is in your profile. Stuff like this maybe only works for me.

4) Legalities aside, if you're over 24 or so, don't follow 18-year olds. For real - the 25-year olds find it off-setting, and like...just don't do it. 19-year olds are fine.

NOTE: In an odd bit of counter-point, I just looked, and 75% of the people I follow are 18-year old girls.

Along those same lines, is it "18-year olds" or "18 year-olds". Hyphen placement perplexes me, especially since my personal abandonment of the question mark. Oh - don't mess with grammar at all, or imply you lack education. Girls hate this.

6) Don't do sexual innuendo in public. Like any males who follow you are just gonna think it's weird, and any females who respond to it are just giggling at you with their friends. They're not giggling with you.


7) Don't talk about how you hate dogs. This only works for me. In cases where this is done and it's not me, it's unsettling for females.

8) Don't be arrogant and self-absorbed. This is another that only I seem able to pull off.

9) You shouldn't Tweet about how you're going to the gym, unless you're doing it with fake bad grammar with an implication of an aversion to dogs, and also to meet 18-year old girls.

10) Be yourself. Also, if you search for "Grey's Anatomy", that's where all the good-looking girls are. Also "Gossip Girl", but that's only for 18-year olds, and you know you shouldn't be talking to them on Twitter anyway.

Which of these do you think are real and which are not. Also, do you think Jordi should delete this post one day -

Brian Spaeth is the writer and star of Who Shot Mamba?, a Broadband Motion Picture debuting October 13th on You can see the first teaser-trailer on the website, and the second exclusively at the Facebook Page. Brian has also published two novels, and writes regularly at his own blog.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Happy 3rd Birthday to The Serious Tip

Today is The Serious Tip's 3rd birthday. Three years. In Internet years, that's a long time to be blogging. Here in the online world, where a week of popularity gets you a million hits and a cup of coffee, I've been around for an eon. I've seen 'em come and seen them go. I've seen people turn their blogging habit into a living and others who have walked away and moved to other pastures.

The Serious Tip started during the Great Sports Blog Emergence of 2006, when sports-related blogs were popping out of the wazoo. Back then I would definitely call myself a "sports blog". I wrote about the Mets, Knicks, and Noles nearly every post. As the days, months, and years went on, I wrote less about sports, although I have written a lot about the Rays. Even with the success of the local teams on my mind, I have drifted further and further from the sports label. Now, I wouldn't even call myself a sports blogger. I am more of a "whatever I feel like" blogger.

If I would have to venture a guess as to why The Serious Tip is drifting, I would say that I am getting bored. I still love writing. I love knowing that someone is reading what I write. I love telling stories. I love delving into views and aspects that most people don't think of. Most of all, I love creating. But unfortunately I am not sure if I am attaining those goals here currently at The Serious Tip.

Don't get me wrong, I am not planning on abandoning my group of very loyal readers. Some of you have been here since day one. For that I am definitely appreciative. Don't worry, whatever happens I fully want this site to be part of my personal expansion and development. I have put too much work in to walk away from The Serious Tip. But if you see a few changes around here, please be patient and embrace them. After three years, it is time for The Serious Tip and my writing career to grow up.

Thanks for three great years and here's to many more. Happy SeriousTipMas.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Adventures in computer buying and the art of patience

Like the able grasshopper of ancient Samurai-era Japan, getting myself back online took skill, determination, persistance, and plenty of patience. Fortunately, it didn't involve the use of any swords. Almost, but not quite.

My ancient computer went kaput ten days ago. A stupid virus took out my windows registry. It was a sad moment as my machine had been with me for six years, through thick and thin, grad school, over 500 blog posts, and one or two excusions into the deepest, darkest dungeons of cyberspace.

(Not that one of those excursions caused me to download the virus. Nope. No way. Not at all.)

Unfortunately, as there is no cash for clunkers program for computers, I had to scrounge up a few hundred thousand pennies for buying a new machine. Something I had not planned for following my sojourn to Memphis only a month ago. Not helping matters was the fact that some slimy scoundrel stole some money from me via a fraudulent transaction in Surprise, Arizona.

(Yes, I caught a computer virus and was a victim of bank fraud in the same week. How very 21st century of me.)

After laboriously counting the nickels, dimes, and a few quarters I did have and cancelling all my cards, I went to Best Buy to check out their wares and find a laptop. Although not intending to buy, I brought the Blackberry and reviewed every single laptop they had. At first I wasn't too impressed, both with the selection and the service. I'm not a big salesperson person, and I hate when I see several salesfolks lead customers to the same item. It makes it seem like they are pushing something they are trying to get rid of.

Frustrated, I left computer-less.

The next day I went back, once again ready to buy at Best Buy. This time I brought my checkbook, since of course my cards were no good. After once again going through the options, I settled on an HP. I strolled on up to the cashier, wrote the check, and lo and behold, my check was no good. Apparently, my check fit the profile of a fraudulent check. I think that's irony.

I left without a computer for the second day.

On day three, I was intent on buying a new computer, problems be damned. As Puffy sang, can't nothing hold me down. For the third time, I went to Best Buy around 1pm. Unfortunately, they were sold out of my machine. By this time, I didn't care if I had to drive to Miami to get this computer, no deity was going to stop me from buying the computer I wanted.

After asking where I can buy the computer of my dreams, I had to drive nearly 30 minutes to the next closest Best Buy. Supposedly, they had eight of my computer left. Of course, when I got there, they had only two. Two of my dream machines, with one little catch: they were both already tinkered with by the Geek Squad and would cost an additional 70 bucks. At this point, I didn't care.

I walked out with my computer, finally happy.

Then I discovered it didn't come with an AC adapter.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rapper Paul Wall versus The Man

Last week, blogger Rafi Kam of the blog Oh Word wrote an awesome piece on rapper Ice Cube's classic hit "It Was a Good Day". To summarize, Rafi Kam said that although most people now take the song out of context, Ice Cube's classic isn't "really about some kick-ass day. The day singled out was remarkable because for once none of the usual bullshit associated with the terror of life in the hood reared its ugly head. No hassle from carjackers or police, no one killed, the narrator can’t believe he didn’t even have to shoot at somebody."

In other words, for one day in his life, Ice Cube didn't have to put up with The Man.

Saturday night, another hip-hop star, Texas rapper Paul Wall, battled The Man in a more modern forum, the online world of Twitter. Once again, Ice Cube's lyrics played a central role.

Below is the actual exchange between Paul Wall (aka @paulwallbaby) and The Man (aka @TheManInc) that occurred approximately 2AM, Aug 23rd, 2009.

@paulwallbaby: Dodgers won, Astros won, i landed in iraq safely.... today was a good day

@TheManInc: @paulwallbaby I mess up your good day and I don't roll right past you. I look in your direction as you run the intersection.

@paulwallbaby: @TheManInc no barkin from the dog. no smog

@TheManInc: @paulwallbaby I break up your fly dreams and flash the high beams. I look for the murder n close before 2AM so u can't get the fat burger.

@TheManInc i gotta go cause i got me a drop top

@paulwallbaby I stop you from going on the court and causing trouble and I especially prevent you from getting a triple double.

@paulwallbaby: @TheManInc what about getting a beep from kim

@TheManInc: @paulwallbaby I swoop in n get girls when u try to hook it up for l8r n I don't let u pick up girls u've been trying 2 get w since 12th grd

After this illustrious battle of wits and one-liners, Paul Wall decided to follow The Man's twitter feed to monitor any further broadcasts by The Man. Smart move.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Visit to Autozone Ballpark in Memphis, TN

For the first time in over three years, I was finally able to escape the hideous clutches of The Man and take a vacation. Well, to be honest, I didn't really "take" a vacation. That would be a lot like "taking" a dump. To be perfectly correct, I went on vacation.

Anyway, I went to Memphis. Why Memphis? Because I am big music fan and Memphis has one of America's biggest live music scenes. It is also the birthplace of rock 'n' roll.

As part of my expedition I took in a ballgame at Memphis's Autozone Park, home of the Memphis Redbirds, triple-A team to the St. Louis Cardinals.

The first thing I noticed about Autozone Park was the location. Whereas most of the games I have attended throughout Florida have been located out in fields, suburbs, or generally open areas, Autozone Park was in the middle of downtown Memphis. This made for a really nice backdrop. That's not something you get that much of in Florida, land of highways, strip malls, and urban sprawl.

(Interesting side note: A few hours before the game I had a great discussion with the head of security at AutoZone Park. Among the things he said was that the ballpark was one of the centerpieces for the Memphis urban revival movement of the early 1990s. Apparently, much of downtown Memphis was in bad shape before things like the ballpark and the FedEx Forum were built. The head of security also told me that although he wouldn't have paid much for the land back then, the ballpark is now regarded as one of the best in the country.)

Anyway, as for the game itself, it was pretty good. Although the Redbirds had nine guys I never heard of, pitching for the visiting Omaha Royals on a rehab assignment was Kansas City Royals starter Gil Meche. If you remember my Pedro sighting a few weeks ago, that makes the second major league pitcher I have seen get work in down at the minor league level. I guess I tend to have a knack for seeing rehab starts lately.

Like Pedro, Gil Meche did not impress me at all. Although he didn't allow any hits, he walked 5 in the 3.2 innings I saw him pitch. Then for whatever reason in the bottom of the 4th, Meche came out of the game. Whether he was hurt or hit a pitch count, I am not sure.

After Meche's departure, the Omaha Royals paraded a series of probably-never-will-be's out to the pitcher's mound. This collection of mediocre moundsmen allowed the Redbirds to strike early and often, scoring a bunch of runs and defeating the Royals quite soundly.

Back to my experience at the park, however. Since I am not a big Redbirds fan, I spent most of the middle innings exploring. In summary, I don't think I have ever been to a more family-friendly ballpark in my life. AutoZone Park had so much for the kids to do it was amazing. The ballpark could almost be considered its own amusement park, even without considering the baseball game in progress. There was a swing set, jungle gym, and other city park-like props, as well as a batting cage, basketball hoop, and pitching/speed gun challenge. One of the other nice features was the concourse platform that circled the stadium, allowing for the ability to take pictures of the game, the stadium, and the surrounding city at every angle.

To sum up my experience, I had a great time. Memphis is not only a fantastic city for live music, good beer, and outstanding bbq, but also is one hell of a place to catch a ballgame. So if you are ever in Memphis and swing through AutoZone Park, tell 'em Jordi sent ya.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Journey to Memphis and the Crossroads Part 2: The National CivilRights Museum

Welcome to Part 2 of the extensive recap of my trip to Memphis. As I did in Part 1, I am again going to use my twitter updates as the basis for the post.

If you missed Part 1, click here.

Day 2:

at national civil wrights museum in #memphis. 4:22 PM Aug 3rd

Although I initially didn't realize the National Civil Right Museum was in Memphis, it became an absolute must that I visit. And I was very impressed. What could have been a black eye and a major scar on the city's history had been transformed into very well constructed museum.

seeing black kids at nat civil rights museum having no clue who jim crow is is both good and bad. glad they are learning it as history. 4:24 PM Aug 3rd

I was very impressed to see numerous groups of teachers and students at the National Civil Rights Museum. We have made so much progress in the last fifty years, as evident by children who have no idea who Jim Crow is. They have every right to be disgusted and appalled when they are told who "he" was.

Although it might take longer, integration is much better than forcing a homeland. #memphis 4:48 PM Aug 3rd

I'll admit, this statement is more than a little controversial. At least I meant it that way. But I look at the situation in places like Israel and I look at the US, and I am glad the African-American community pushed for integration, instead of using the tragedy of slavery to establish their own "homeland".

reconstruction in the south very similiar to efforts in iraq. #politics 4:51 PM Aug 3rd

It's funny how we lose historical perspective so quickly. There are many that argue that military forces should just be used for war fighting. But they forget that the military helped to rebuild the society in the Southern US after the Civil War. Until they were prematurely pulled out.

Ida wells - similiar to bloggers in iran, egypt, cuba, syria etc #civilrights 4:53 PM Aug 3rd

Ida Wells was an African-American journalist in the beginning of the 20th Century. She often wrote about the oppression blacks faced during the era of Jim Crow. As I am reading a book about bloggers in currently oppressive countries, I naturally made the comparison to Wells.

the bus @ the civil rights museum told me to get up and i did. as if i needed further evidence of rosa parks inner strength #civilrights 5:13 PM Aug 3rd

One of the exhibits in the Civil Rights Museum was a bus similar to the one ridden by Rosa Parks. When visitors board the museum bus, they are told to sit near a statue of Parks. Then a voice on the bus commands you to move and repeats the command several times, each time louder and louder. I got up.

sit in songs = early socially conscious hiphop #hiphop #civilrights 5:18 PM Aug 3rd

Again, I was comparing the methods of expression of the past with those of today.

bumper sticker in nat civil rights museum says jfk, rfk = commies. same statement used v obama today. 5:27 PM Aug 3rd

Of course, some things never change. I guess in America, progressive voices are always linked to communism.

sad when civil rights becomes a national security issue. in the u.s. or anywhere. 5:29 PM Aug 3rd

This was in response to exhibits that discussed the involvement of National Guard units in ensuring racial equality and equal access to educational facilities. Had the National Guard not gotten involved, the US may have seen increased regional violence.

"violence is outmoded as a solution to the problems of men" - james farmer. agreed 5:37 PM Aug 3rd

I liked this statement.

not sure if i agree w nat civil rights museum calling mob pic "a redneck mob". rednecks were striking wv coal workers. 5:43 PM Aug 3rd

I found this odd. I don't think the museum should have used the term "redneck" to describe white people in a picture unless those people are actually wearing red bandannas. Otherwise "redneck" is a derogatory slang term.

At lorainne hotel right where dr king was shot. eerie. 6:07 PM Aug 3rd

The museum is built into the Lorainne Hotel allowing visitors to look out the window of the room Dr. King stayed in. Visitors can see the window across the street where the killer made his lethal shot.

As much as my trip was about entertainment - seeing live music, exploring the origins of the blues, etc - it was also extremely educational. It is hard to believe that 50 years ago the US still had institutional racism in the guise of "separate but equal". Being raised in predominantly racially neutral regions (Long Island, NY and Central Florida) I had never seen the scars of segregation. The experience and realization that these events occured such a short time ago was definitely eye-opening.

Beyond anything else, my trip to the National Civil Rights Museum made me realize that although we have progressed greatly as a society towards a more equal America - as seen in the pictures of President Obama in the museum gift shop - there is no doubt we still have far to go.

Part 3 coming tomorrow.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Journey to Memphis and the Crossroads Part 1: Beale St and theRock 'n' Soul Museum

Wow. Quite a few days have past since I last posted. Seven, if you are counting at home. Seven days in which my voice was not heard, my thoughts not spelled out, and my words not expressed on the screen for all to read. Seven long days. The longest break I have taken since the start of this blog.

As I mentioned/hinted in my last post, I was traveling to Memphis and the surrounding Mississippi Delta. It was my personal hajj, a trip that I have always wanted to take. A trip through the roots of a majority of African-American music in the 20th Century. A trip through the history of the blues, rock'n'roll, soul, and even country music.

Although I didn't post on here at all, I did utilize my capabilities on twitter to the utmost. Twitter became my travel log, a way to jot down my thoughts and reactions to everything I saw and experienced. Whereas I may have physically traveled alone, network-wise I brought all of my twitter followers along for the ride.

Of course, as with any big trip or major event I am going to spend time recapping. This time however, I am going to use my "tweets" as the base of my post and add in the details that 140 words couldn't capture.

(By the way, in case you don't follow me on Twitter it's @JordiScrubbings.)

Day 1:

At a place where they do airplaning. unfortunately my airplane is not 47 stories high. they dont know what they are missing. 12:22 PM Aug 2nd

For those not familiar with writer/blogger/actor/director/etc Brian Spaeth's work, this is a reference to his book "Prelude to a Super Airplane" and its 47-story super airliner.

I think I just saw Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson at the airplane place. I almost flipped out when I saw her. 12:25 PM Aug 2nd

I think this is self-explanatory, except that I kinda goofed up the punchline. As @ScalpEmOfficial pointed out, it would have been better had I just said "flipped", not "flipped out".

If you see a guy in a fro chillin on Beale St taking in some blues, say hi. We'll eat drink and be bluesy. 4:49 PM Aug 2nd

Written merely hours after I landed, unfortunately no one took me up on this. It also doesn't help that I went sans afro 99% of my trip.

I hereby declare Beale St and associated area to be my Mecca. #vacation 6:16 PM Aug 2nd

Yup, I was on the ground for mere hours before I fell in love with Memphis. It had everything I ever wanted - beer, live music, bar-b-que, and sweet tea. A few more single women would have been nice, but such is life.

To avoid my own erin andrews situation, i am leaving my hotel curtain wide open. Do your worst peeper people. 9:13 PM Aug 2nd

Of course, everyone knows what happened to ESPN reporter Erin Andrews. I figured if the same person was to take pictures of me getting ready in the morning, it wouldn't be anything anyone hasn't seen already. Market saturation, yo.

At BB king's in memphis. Eatin catfish, listen to little wing. Life is good. #blues #vacation 9:51 PM Aug 2nd

This was dinner and my first experience of seeing music at the legendary BB King's Blues Bar. As far as food and music go, this was probably the best place on Beale St. Other places were better music venues, others had better food, but BB King's was the best of both worlds.

Did I mention I am drinking a memphis microbrew? yes, life is good indeed. #vacation 9:57 PM Aug 2nd

What can I say? I'm a fan of local beer. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name. It wasn't the best beer I've ever had, but not the worst either.

At the memphis rock n soul museum. hard to believe sharecropping and rural blues n country was only 80 yrs ago. seems like 100s 2:52 PM Aug 3rd

The next day I began my trip through the many Memphis museums and tourist attractions. First on the docket was the Rock 'n' Soul Museum, located alongside the FedEx Forum, home of the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies. Looking back, the Rock 'n' Soul Museum was the best place to start as it provided an overview of all the museums that would follow.

minnie pearl had hat w tag left on. trailblazer for hip hop style #music #country #hiphop 2:57 PM Aug 3rd

It is funny how we think that the styles of today are new and never before seen. There was a picture of country performer Minnie Pearl rocking the same style that Jay-Z and other hip-hop people rock today.

sputnik monroe- pro wrestling @ rock n soul museum. a place in segregation history. amazing #prowrestling #memphis 3:04 PM Aug 3rd

Of course, I couldn't let a museum mention of pro wrestling go unannounced. Apparently, Sputnik Monroe was one of the first wrestlers followed and admired by both white and black people.

i wonder if robert johnson would have gotten sued for violating copyright laws if he recorded today. #blues 3:08 PM Aug 3rd

Although Robert Johnson is the known as one of the fathers of the blues, there is no doubt he borrowed heavily from the songs performed throughout the Mississippi Delta region. With current copyright and sampling laws restricting a lot of creativity today, I think the era of Robert Johnson-esque innovation is over.

juke = wicked. yes, putting juke on someone is wicked 3:16 PM Aug 3rd

I did not know that the word "juke" used in jukeboxes and juke joints came from a word that meant "evil". It was obviously a way to associate African American culture with negativity and maliciousness (as seen in so many other terms and definitions). My point here, however, was that when used in sports context, i.e. shaking a defender in basketball or football with a juke, the term is also wicked, albeit in a less nefarious way.

1957 studio equipment. no dail dial goes to 11. 3:18 PM Aug 3rd

A Spinal Tap reference.

the era bb king started in seems so long ago. jeez. and he is still here. thank goodness. 3:27 PM Aug 3rd

I knew BB King was old, but for some reason seeing his early pictures in a museum put his career in a different perspective for me. The man has had at least a 50 year career. 50 years of performing. He was around before Elvis Presley made it big. And BB King is still touring and still going strong. Unbelievable.

wow all i knew about ike turner was that he hit tina. one action scarred great musical contributions 3:31 PM Aug 3rd

Of all the things I learned in Memphis, one of the most surprising was Ike Turner's role in the development of rock 'n' roll. Even though Turner played piano on "Rocket 88", widely regarded as the first ever rock song, he is known unfortunately far more for his domestic dispute with Tina Turner.

why did chuck d call elvis racist? did he do something in later career. i am confused. #hiphop #music 3:41 PM Aug 3rd

My final tweet for Part 1 is a perfect example of why I am glad I decided to "bring along my followers". As to be expected, a large part of Memphis's music history is due to Elvis Presley. Like Eminem 50 years later, Elvis brought the influences of African American music to white audiences. However, instead of being celebrated, he is today seen as a racist. My tweet here references perhaps the biggest cultural mention of Elvis's opinion - Chuck D of Public Enemy's line "Elvis was a hero to most/ But he never meant shit to me you see/ Straight up racist that sucker was/ Simple and plain".

After I posted this line, writer/blogger Mike Tillery of The Starting Five saw my tweet and responded with:

Mizzzzo: @JordiScrubbings research Elvis' quote about what Black people could do for him and nothing more.

After a bit of research, I found that Elvis is accused of saying "The only thing Negroes can do for me is buy my records and shine my shoes." This statement is however disputed by music historian Peter Guralnick in his 2007 NY Times editorial and

Regardless of what Elvis said or didn't say, the bottom line is that without Twitter and the response I received from one of my "followers", I probably would not have looked up the topic and either stayed confused or waited long into the future for it to come up again. This was the first of many times my Twitter people enriched my travels.

Part 2 tomorrow.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Watching the Sun Set on a Famous Moundsman

One of my favorite movies is HBO's 1996 original Soul of the Game - the story of Negro League stars Jackie Robinson, Josh Gibson, and Satchel Paige and their struggle to brake baseball's color barrier and be the first African-American to play in the Majors. It is the story of the young Robinson and his relationship with the older Paige and Gibson and their reactions as the former gets the call the latter two feel they deserve.

In the movie, as well as in reality, time unfortunately was not on the side of Satchel Paige, who although he eventually received a big league opportunity, was far beyond the peak of his career. But Paige would not let his age or his diminished ability deter him from his goals of making it to the bigs, milking and cajoling his arm in the desperate hope that it still had a few good innings left.

I saw a lot of the Satchel Paige character as I watched Pedro Martinez pitch for the Class-A Clearwater Threshers on Sunday. Martinez, signed by the Phillies a few weeks ago, was clearly not the Pedro of old and I could tell he knew it. The 97 mph fastball was long gone, the aura and mystic was fading, and he was fighting to prove his ability to merely contribute. The former Cy Young ace was now a conjurer, a Merlin of the mound, hoping his knowledge, guile, and a little bit of smoke and mirrors was enough to make it back to the Show.

Sadly, I don't think it was. In his first start against live batters since the World Baseball Classic, Pedro threw 1 and 1/3 innings in a rain-shortened game against the St. Lucie Mets. As it was the major league Mets who put him out to pasture after last season, the minor league Mets put the final nail in his legendary career. Although I didn't expect Pedro to dominate, it was clear he was struggling. Most of his pitches were up in the zone, the Mets were getting good wood on the ball, and he only produced one swinging miss, albeit on a classic Pedro change-up. The box score will say Pedro didn't do that badly, giving up one hit, hitting a batter, and striking one. But great change-up aside, I'd say his tank is empty.

There is another scene in Soul of the Game when after an exhibition against major league all-stars is rained out, the Josh Gibson character stands in the downpour and yells up to God, knowing full well the rain closed the door on his last chance. I saw a lot of the Josh Gibson character in Pedro as the umpires motioned for the players to clear the field. While the younger players scampered past him to shelter, Pedro Martinez slowly walked off the mound, tipping his cap to the many fans who came only to see him.

I have been a Pedro Martinez fan for a long time, and I don't hope this is true, but I wouldn't be surprised if Sunday was the last day of Pedro Martinez's brilliant baseball career.