Friday, January 29, 2010

Metaphorical Sports Advice

Tiger Woods is no doubt tired of hearing commentators making light of his situation by using every golf metaphor in the book. Instead, it might be a relief for the world’s greatest stickman to get some helpful advice from his famous colleagues in other sports:

Alex Rodriguez
Tiger, I feel for you, I really do. When all those rumors were swirling around about me and Madonna hitting for the cycle, I just about lost my mind. The best advice I can give you is to dig into the batter’s box, square your hips to the mound and, above all else, keep your eye on the ball. So long as your bat is ready, you can’t go wrong. But remember, even the best swinger only succeeds one out of three times. So if you find yourself striking out a lot, it just means you’re that much closer to hitting it out of the park or at least getting to third base.

Andre Agassi
It’s too bad you didn’t hang out more with Roger. Then you’d never be in trouble. But now that the damage is done, what do you do? I’d say let it ride, wait about ten years and then write a book. In the meantime, stop trying to score with aces every time. You need more of an all-around approach. That way people won’t suspect when you run around your backhand or try the occasional passing shot in a love game. But remember, if you approach the net too often, eventually you’re gonna get burned.

Joe Namath
Your big mistake, pal, was to get married. That’s the difference between a cheater and a ladies’ man. But now that you’re being blitzed by the media, here’s some friendly advice. Stay away from the sack. That doesn’t mean you have to stop making passes; it just means you have to be more discrete in your play calling. For example, try a screen play. Fake a throw to the outside, get the media leaning in that direction and then send a short, tight spiral right down the middle. Fools ‘em every time.

Michael Jordan
It’s part of the fame game, brother. The media has been hounding me with allegations of infidelity before I could even drive the lane. When they come at you with a full-court press, just deny them the ball; don’t admit anything. Then when you’re back at home drilling those three-pointers and hitting nothing but net, they’re none the wiser. Remember, though, in life, like basketball, there’s no such thing as a free throw. As always, ya gotta pay to play.

Wayne Gretzky
I feel your pain, man. I’ll never forget the media feeding frenzy when my wife Janet was involved in those gambling allegations. If you find that you’re occasionally on thin ice, make sure you have a wingman. Then you just pass the puck to the other guy and you’re in the clear. But if no one’s on your tail, take the breakaway and always shoot for the five hole. When all else fails, just remember the basics: keep your stick on the ice and your helmet strapped on.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Health Care Reform, The Series

It’s official. Conan O’Brien is leaving NBC and Jay Leno will be reclaiming The Tonight Show in March. For the last two weeks in February, the network will fill the vacated 10 P.M. time slot with the Winter Olympics. But after that, it’s unclear what show will take over although rumor has it that it may be one of the following candidates:

The Conan O’Brien Show
Looking to mitigate the $32 million severance payment to Conan O’Brien, the executive geniuses at NBC have come up with an almost unique solution. They’re going to offer the carrot-topped comedian a one-hour, prime time talk show with the promise that he’ll eventually host The Tonight Show when Jay Leno leaves or hell freezes over, whichever comes first. Asked to comment on how this show will differ from the failed Jay Leno Show, NBC President Jeff Zucker said: "It won’t but at least we’ll get some of that $32 million back."

Long a staple of late night television, it looks like infomercials may finally crack the prime time lineup. Whether it’s a pitch for food dehydrators, juicers or cooking grills, one-hour product commercials present a tempting revenue stream for cash-strapped NBC. Production costs for the network are zero and program revenues could help offset severance payments that will likely arise from future screw-ups by network executives. "I see it as a win-win situation," said Jeff Zucker. "Hey, who knows, we may even be able to sell off the set from The Jay Leno Show and unused characters from Conan’s old show like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and the Masturbating Bear.

Executive Survivor
Looking to ride the reality TV trend into the ground, NBC is reportedly considering a new offering called Executive Survivor. Current NBC execs and a group of executive wannabes compete in teams to see who will survive to run American’s fourth place network. Elimination competitions will include "Identifying possible prime time shows", "Interpreting Nielsen ratings" and "Spotting the obvious." One major advantage of this option is that so long as the show is in production, there will be no executives at NBC headquarters to screw things up even worse.

The Today Show Primetime
That’s right; The Today Show will be moved to 10 o’clock. NBC executives admit that moving Jay Leno to that hour was a mistake but they’re not giving up on the concept of massive schedule shuffling. "Rethinking the demographics and our viewer survey results suggests folks want Meredith Vieira, Matt Lauer and Al Roker on at night," said Jeff Zucker. "And if that works out, maybe we’ll just extend The Today Show to run 24/7."

Health Care Reform
One possibility is that NBC will go back to producing successful medical drama series like ER and St. Elsewhere in the 10 P.M. time slot. Shooting has already reportedly started on the new political-medical drama Health Care Reform. Shot on location in Washington, D. C., the series features members of Congress, healthcare industry lobbyists and a frustrated President engaged in an ongoing but ultimately fruitless search for meaningful reform of America’s ailing health care system. The plot lines are apparently endless since, as Jeff Zucker says: "Let’s face it; these guys screw things up even worse than we do."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Yesternight Show

"The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn’t the Tonight Show."
- Conan O’Brien - January 12, 2010

The nation is in crisis. I’m not talking about the tanking economy, the two ongoing wars and the current intelligence failures. They are no doubt important. But what is far more important is the terrifying uncertainty surrounding late night television in America.

Yes, Conan has a point. After all, if a show starts at five minutes after midnight, it can’t rightly be called the Tonight Show. It could be called Late Night or the Late Show or even the Late Late Show but it’s definitely no longer Tonight.

It could be called the Today Show but that would threaten almost the entirety of NBC’s morning schedule. It might be dubbed the Tomorrow Show although I believe that used to be Tom Snyder’s venue.

It could be called the Not Tonight Show since, as previously noted, it is no longer Tonight. Perhaps it could even be called the Yesterday Show since although it is now Today, the show really wants to be on Last Night which, in fact, was Yesterday.

But Yesterday suggests a non-nighttime event, something that happens during the day. To be more accurate, it would be better to coin a new name. It’s not tonight but it would like to be tonight. It’s the Yesternight Show.

As you can see, it’s not easy being a TV executive. It requires the wisdom of Saul, the patience of Job and the intelligence of the average television viewer. Difficult decisions are constantly facing these folks and they must walk a fine line in their attempts to retain as much top talent as they can.

Speaking of the wisdom of Saul, perhaps there is a simple solution to this national tragedy-in-the-making. Like Saul’s suggestion to the two women fighting over the baby, I submit that the NBC execs simply split the difference.

Jay Leno would start at 11:35 P. M. as proposed and, instead of a half hour show, he would present a fifteen minute monologue. Then Conan would come on at 11:50 P. M. thereby preserving the "tonightness" of the Tonight Show.

Once Conan’s one-hour show wrapped up at 12:50 A. M., Jay would return to finish up his designated half hour with a second fifteen-minute segment. At that point, I suspect that it wouldn’t really matter what time Jimmy Fallon came on.

"Crazy?" you might say. Crazy, yes. Crazy like a FOX.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Two Poems For Wall Street

Found posted on a lamppost on Wall Street


In America, first they bailed out the hedge funds,
But I didn’t speak up because I was not highly leveraged;
And then they bailed out the bankers,
But I didn’t ask for anything because I was not a banker;
And then they bailed out the insurers,
But again I did not speak up because I was not an insurer;
And then they bailed out the auto companies,
But I did not complain because I was not part of the Big Three;
And then they came to bail out me,
But by then there was nothing left to give.

Found on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, December 2008


Go placidly amid the fallen equities and waste,
and remember what growth you may have achieved before the crash.

As far as possible, having surrendered,
bear no ill will to any brokers.
Declare your capital losses quietly and clearly;
and do not listen to others,
even the gurus and financial advisors;
for they no longer have their portfolios.
Avoid loud and aggressive TV commentators;
they are vexatious to your personal worth.

If you compare your portfolio with others,
you may become sad or bitter,
for always there will be greater and better performers than yours.
Enjoy your remaining capital as well as your meager dividends.
Keep invested in your IRA, however humble;
it is a real albeit declining possession in the failing markets of today.

Exercise caution in high tech and real estate,
for the world is full of devious advisors.
But let not this blind you to what secure investments there are;
many persons strive for high yields
but be satisfied with low single-digit returns.
Be yourself. Especially do not invest offshore.
Neither be cynical about bonds,
for in the face of volatility and change
they are as dependable as the dawn.

Take kindly the three percent growth of the term deposit,
gracefully surrendering the double-digit losses of yesterday.
Nurture a cash position to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with thoughts of deflation.
Many fears are born of investor fatigue and deficits.

Beyond a strict financial plan,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the economy
no less than the bankers and the auto makers;
you have a duty to invest.
And whether or not it is profitable to you,
no doubt the markets are unfolding as they should.

Therefore, be at peace with Greenspan,
whatever you conceived Him to be.
And whatever your investment losses
in the noisy confusion of finance,
keep bonds in your portfolio.

With all its Madoffs, Lehman Brothers and AIGs;
it is still a beautiful market.
Be patient. Strive to be conservatively invested.

Hoisted By Their Own Petards

The genesis of the ongoing Tiger Woods scandal was an apparent, somewhat ironic use of a golf club by his wife Elin Nordegren to inflict damage on Tiger’s Cadillac Escalade. But some recent shallow scholarship has revealed that this is not the first time that a celebrity has been attacked with the tools of his own trade.

Legend has it that the short-lived marriage between Marilyn Monroe and the Yankee Clipper was a tempestuous affair. Although difficult to confirm, it is believed that one major blowup culminated with Ms. Monroe swinging for the Yankee’s head with a 34-ounce Lou Gehrig model Louisville Slugger lightly tarred near the handle. Luckily for Joltin’ Joe, the only damage was a broken coffee carafe and a slightly bruised ego.

Some unreliable sources report that when hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky confronted his wife about her alleged gambling infractions a few years ago, she went ballistic. If seldom reliable reports are true, Ms. Jones’s weapon of choice was an Easton aluminum hockey stick with a slightly curved blade and an unusually low lie. The only reported victims were some glassware and an autographed Edmonton Oilers souvenir plate from the team’s 1984 Stanley Cup-winning season.

Five years ago, rumors of marital infidelity swirled around British soccer star David Beckham. Although Mr. Beckham dismissed the rumors as "ludicrous", his wife Victoria Beckham was not so easily mollified. The former Spice Girl apparently flew into a blind rage and started pummelling her fleet-footed footballer husband with a trio of Adidas +Teamgeist model soccer balls. Despite his advancing years, Mr. Beckham was reportedly still agile enough to dodge two shots and head the third one harmlessly away.

Perhaps the most notorious literary marriage of the late 20th century, the Roth-Bloom coupling was awash in deceit, lies and infidelity. The details of that ill-fated romance are set out in Claire Bloom’s memoir "Leaving a Doll’s House." What the actress didn’t reveal, however, was that she, too, used Philip Roth’s own tools against him. Insiders report that Mr. Roth more than once showed up at a local hospital with superficial wounds inflicted by everything from an HB pencil to an IBM Selectric. Some say that his medical records also reveal psychological injuries no doubt caused by his enraged spouse’s excessive use of double entendres, mixed metaphors and dangling participles.

The storied love between the Emperor Napoléon and his Empress Joséphine lives on in legend even today. But what is not so well known is how Joséphine reacted to her husband’s frequent dalliances with other women. Given his small stature, it has been reported that the empress’s favorite method of revenge was to push the tiny emperor over, hold him down with his right hand lodged inside his vest and inflict a painful series of noogies, wedgies and Indian burns.

Known as a jealous and spiteful wife, Hera took many actions to thwart Zeus’s extramarital activities. What isn’t so widely known, however, is the manner in which she took revenge on her wayward hubby in the privacy of their own digs atop Mount Olympus. In ancient Greek times, the rumblings emanating from that fabled mountaintop were thought to be Hera’s use of Zeus’s own lightning and thunderbolts to keep him in line. Indeed, a closer examination of statues of the former Hellenic deity reveal light burn and singe marks throughout his ample beard.