Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hi Mom! I'm on TV!

We've been watching the NCAA World Series on television. My husband and I both love college sports and watch this series every year. In fact, we were scheduled to attend the games in Omaha this summer but the lousy economy doomed those plans.

As always, I'm astounded at the lengths people go to just to be on TV for a few seconds. To their credit, the people behind the cameras and in the control booth for ESPN have mostly shown us the cute kids in the stands, and who doesn't like that? They also find pretty girls to show and the inevitable row of shirtless guys with school letters painted on their chests. And don't forget the female Texas Longhorn fans who put their long hair up to look (I guess) like horns. Very funny.

What they can't avoid showing that is beyond my understanding is all the people glued to cell phones who go to any extent to be on camera so they can smile and wave at whoever they're calling. When the camera scans the crowd, look out! People practically trample each other to be on TV.

Then there are the front row folks who are apparently at the game only to hold up signs. "Hi Mom!" "I got here, Joe!" They never seem to actually watch the game.

This year I've noticed quite a few young people who have seats I'd kill for yet they have their backs turned to the field because they're talking/flirting with someone behind them. Maybe I'm just jealous.

It isn't just baseball of course. At the U.S. Open I loved the fans cheering for Phil Mickelson, but then there is always a guy with a huge voice yelling, "You're the man!" or "In the hole!" a millisecond after anyone strikes the ball. Now that's irritating.

I'm reminded of the John 3:16 guy with the multicolored wig. What ever happened to him? And how did he afford tickets to all the big events? Some things are destined to remain a mystery.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mickelson's Triumph

I am writing this on Monday morning as the elite of the golfing world try to finish the US Open. No matter whose name ends up at the top of the leader board, Phil Mickelson will be the winner. For once, the good guy is being hailed and applauded for just being who he is.

The Mickelson's aren't the only family to have faced breast cancer as a close-knit loving family, of course, but because of his fame and the love the public has for them as a family, they set an example for all of us. Phil has always put his family first and golf second. He has always treated the fans as an integral part of his success and the fans love him for it. Maybe he hasn't won as many tournaments as Tiger or Arnie or Jack, all admirable men, but his heart is so obviously in the right place we can't help but set him apart as a truly outstanding man.

My heart goes out to Amy, Phil, and their beautiful little girls. I do hope her surgery and treatment go well, but I know he will be there with her through thick and thin. This is the way a marriage and a life should be.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hurtful Things People Say

David Letterman blinked. He has apologized for the cruel comments he made about Gov. Palin's daughter Bristol. Of course she chose to color the alleged jokes as an affront against all young women or perhaps about her younger daughter, but the intended target was certainly Bristol Palin.

The issue is a much broader one than an insult to this particular young woman. Letterman, like many other comedians, apparently believes he is exempt from the rules of common courtesy as he concentrates only on ratings. I'll admit that Gov. Palin is fair game; she chose to enter public life when she first ran for office in Alaska. (And as a liberal Democrat I'm certainly not on her side in much of anything.) Her husband too, who I would assume was a full partner in her decision to run, is fair game to a certain extent. Their children, however, NO WAY!

When Bristol announced her pregnancy to her family and her mother made it public, what should have been a private matter where the young couple could make difficult decisions together with the full support of their families became the number one hit on the media hit parade. What was the governor thinking? Her cavalier attitude toward her children's feelings has been despicable. Since then Bristol and Levi have broken up, there are problems about visitation with their child, and Bristol is promoting her book of advice to teens. What in the world has Gov. Palin done to her daughter's life?

Back to David Letterman. He is a father, and he also happens to be fair game because he chose to be a public figure. When his son is a teenager and makes some boneheaded teen mistake, will Letterman be so understanding when other comedians inevitably make his son the butt of their so-called jokes? I doubt it.

Most of us used to be offended at ethnic jokes, still are for that matter, but now it's getting personal. These aren't jokes, folks. These are insults playing on the public's seemingly insatiable delight in the foibles of the famous.

Well, what goes around comes around. We're all affected by hurtful joking. Gossip has lost its shame and unthinking remarks are the norm. How many times have you heard someone say, "I can't believe I forgot . . . I swear I must have Alzheimer's."

As the daughter and niece of Alzheimer's victims I try to ignore such remarks, but just the other day I happened to be thinking of my father who died a few years ago and then an acquaintance said something to me on the order of the above. Her timing was terrible; it was like a stab to my heart on a day when Dad was on my mind anyway. For that matter, the very day I learned that my aunt had died I heard someone say, "I must have Alzheimer's" and laugh.

I know people don't mean to be hurtful when they say such things. To them it's just a joke. However, with the growing number of people victimized by this horrible disease, it would behoove us all to have a little consideration for the feelings of others. The same is true of remarks about retardation or other mental or physical diseases. You just never know if the person you're talking to has a loved one faced with that very tragedy.

I think it's time for "jokes" to get less personal, less offensive. Isn't there something else that talented comedians like Letterman can turn into a good laugh? Jokes should make us smile without that inward cringe we get when we know the laugh comes at the price of someone else's dignity or commonality. We all make mistakes; it isn't funny when someone makes a joke of every misstep, and it certainly isn't funny when the joke concerns a disease.