April 29, 2010

It Wasn't Me(t)

Not date Jessica?

So, several friends of mine have sent me a link from a post on Jezebel.com where a woman named Jessica talks about what it was like to date Mr. Met. Let me be right up front about this - it was not me that Jessica encountered, but as someone who "created" the modern reputation of said major league mascot, I feel obligated to respond to a few of the things she said.

1) Jessica says she dated Mr. Met for about a month after meeting him through match.com and that she didn't even know who Mr. Met was because she was from another state. Later on she says she's a Cubs fan.

I cry shenanigans. Look, it would be one thing if she had said she never watched sports. But to claim to be a fan of a baseball team - and a National League team no less - I can't believe Jessica had no idea who or what Mr. Met was. Surely at some point in her life, she would have seen a Cubs game broadcast from Shea Stadium. And even if she hadn't, it's not that difficult to put two and two together.

2) Jessica says she thinks it would have been hard to date him during the season, since she works 9-to-5 and he works mostly nights.

This is simply post-breakup rationalization. For one, she says they dated one month after the season ended, so she has no real idea. Plus, with the baseball schedule being a series of homestands and road trips, she probably would have been able to see him more often than say, a bartender who works nights all week long every week of the year or perhaps a cop or doctor who pulls the graveyard shift. If you're in a relationship, you make do. Jessica is just making excuses.

3) Jessica claims he had a suit at home so he could get "rented out for private appearances" during the season.

The Mr. Met costume that I wore cost several thousands of dollars and management would get upset over how often we asked to clean the uniform. There was no second suit. Assuming for the moment that the team has finally gotten enough wisdom to have a backup suit made, I find it highly unlikely they would let it be taken off the premises and kept in somebody's apartment - in a garbage bag no less. She also claims he made a lot of money doing these appearances. Again, based on experience, if I even believed Jessica dated Mr. Met - which I don't - I'd say she is either assuming, or more likely, he lied to her about how much he makes. A novel theory, I know, assuming a guy might lie about how much he makes.

4) Jessica says, "Well it was a strain being that I worked during the day and he worked in the evenings and on weekends."

Hold up, Jessica. You said you dated him for a month - and right at the end of the season… which means he wasn't working in the evenings and on weekends, because the season was over. If anything, if he did have appearances during the week, they'd more likely be at schools, meaning during the day - the same time as you. Don't be blaming the mascot job for the fact he didn't want to spend any time with you.

5) Jessica claims her boyfriend had been Mr. Met "for like 10 years."

OK. Here's the smoking gun. I know for a fact I was Mr. Met from 1994-1997. Then a guy named Derrick came in. He was from out of town, and not a lifelong Mets fan as Jessica claimed her beau was, so it wasn't him. Even assuming it was the guy who took over the reins next in 1999, ten years later makes it 2009, or last year. But Jessica claims that at the time, she was an actress in her twenties. That seems to imply this wasn't a recent relationship - after all, she didn't even really remember their first date, which would have been only a few months ago.

In other words… Jessica. You are either a liar, you don't exist, or this guy was totally snowing you with the whole Mr. Met thing. That's right… I'm calling you out!

What do you have to say for yourself, so-called Jessica person?

Go! Back to the Past

I just got back from my most recent pilgrimage to Bristol, CT. It's about a four-hour drive, and this latest excursion was marked by a driving rainstorm that made it a longer-than-usual and far more stressful affair. In order to pass the time on this solo drive, I usually listen to the Mets on the radio. Of course, with the weather, they were rained out. Luckily, I had loaded my CD player with a few discs that I had randomly grabbed from my collection.

It's amazing to me how certain songs take you right back into the past - a form of time travel that all of us can experience under the right circumstances. Tracy Bonham's The Burdens of Being Upright was the perfect mood music for the drive. I probably hadn't listened to this album since the late 90's when it was released, which was also the last time I was single, and it had just the right amount of dark mystery to its sound to match the evening sky and the rainclouds.

Apparently, my CD collection had been arranged by era, since the next selection was Letters to Cleo. When the song "Veda Very Shining" came on, I somehow recalled that was the tune which had been playing at a bar on the one and only time I demonstrated any "game" in such an environment.

She was a friend of a friend of a friend of mine who was leaving town, and one of the many folks who met up a local bar for a "going away party" for Charlie -- Conan O'Brien and Andy Richter were also in attendance to say farewell -- and the two of us hit it off instantly.

The girl in question -- I can't recall her name in the slightest -- gave me her number when we came up for air. She explained that she and her friend -- who had spent the majority of the night walking by us, rolling her eyes and sighing heavily -- had not planned on staying long because they were leaving for a weekend trip to Boston that night.

Bargirl suggested I call her when she got back so we could arrange to get together again the following weekend. Upon making said phone call later in the week, she immediately apologized to me, saying she had gone to Boston just to pick up a few things from a former boyfriend's apartment, and to make a long story short, apparently the ex in question was no longer using said hyphenated precursor. "Game" over.

No matter. It wasn't too much longer that I met my wife, coincidentally at a party outside of Boston, though both she and I lived in NYC. (Go figure.) So, your loss, Bargirl.

Still that random trip down dating memory lane made one more stop before I arrived at tmy destination. While trying to recall Bargirl's name, my synapses stumbled across the name of Anna Cody. Anna was a sweet girl I met one New Year's Eve. She was a bit quirky, and I found it a tad odd when she wanted to leave the party before midnight arrived to be "by herself on the streets of New York" and she politely declined my offer to even make sure she got to a taxi safely.

I asked a mutual friend about her after she left and was told that my assessment was correct -- Anna was a sweet girl indeed. However, my buddy Ross told me to tread lightly as she had just been left at the altar. Literally.

Ouch and a half! I did go on a date with her a few weeks later, but really, where do you go from there? To her credit, she recognized that she was light years away from any relationship of any kind. But that's an elephant that never leaves the room, and although her bravery was endearing… well, you get the idea...

As I pulled into the Residence Inn parking lot and rejoined the present day, I thought to myself how lucky I was to be happily married - to not have to deal with temporary hookups and wondering if they were really real, and not knowing for sure if rejection and heartache lay just around the corner, even from a seemingly trusted source.

Then I said a quiet prayer to the universe that Anna Cody was happy too and continued on towards the future.

April 27, 2010

Please Stand By

Sorry for the lack of recent posting, gang. We're in Bristol, CT at ESPN HQ, for the annual fantasy football rankings meeting. We'll be back in blogging action on Thursday, so thanks for your patience.

April 24, 2010

Derren Brown vs. Sylvia Browne - The Extra E is For Evil

As an American, I don't quite understand why Derren Brown is such a polarizing figure in the UK. For those of you who have never seen him before, Brown is a performer who rarely strays far from England. He specializes in feats of mentalism. Boiled down to its core, it means he "reads minds" and predicts future events, which of course, is completely impossible. Certainly, he's a gifted performer, but all of his successful tricks are just that - tricks.

Brown makes no claim to be clairvoyant. In fact, quite the contrary -- he's adamant that he is not. And that's why I don't understand the outrage when he doesn't tell people "how he did it" after a jaw-dropping performance.

Nobody in America is furious with David Copperfield when, after making the Statue of Liberty seem to disappear, fails to then explain the exact methods of his illusion. The only living creature who ever got in the face of Siegfried and Roy was the very tiger they used in their act. Those who paid for show after show never got all uppity that the duo didn't let the cat out of the bag, as it were, as to how they worked their magic.

Yet when Brown "predicted" the winning lottery numbers, newspapers in the UK and citizens alike were angry that the performer's explanation on how it was done didn't seem genuine. He was called a liar and a fraud. The outcry - at least as it appeared to me an ocean away - seemed to grow exponentially after his "Beat the Casino" special.

In this program, Brown offers up video "proof" of how he hypnotized a man, had him withdraw a large sum of money from the bank, and give it to him in order to make a one-time bet on a single spin of the roulette wheel. (That people bought, no problem.) Brown spends much of the show explaining to the audience that he has figured out how to precisely determine where the ball will land when the roulette dealer spins it, and he goes into an undisclosed casino with a hidden camera so that he can make the wager without alerting casino officials in advance, presumably so he won't be stopped from making the sure-to-win bet.

And then -- he loses. He ends up being one spot off on the wheel. And the show ends.

The next day, people were outraged that he missed. I'm thinking to myself, of course he missed. There is no foolproof way to beat a casino's roulette wheel - and I should know. I was a casino dealer for five years. Yet, people were so convinced that Brown could do the impossible that when he failed, they got angry with him.

Think about that for a second… when Brown does something impossible, people are angry that he doesn't tell them how it's done because it must be a trick. When he fails to do something impossible, people are even angrier - because his failure means he does not in fact have magical powers, which nobody in their right minds should truly have believed him to have in the first place.

That's exactly why I think he's a genius. He made people believe he could pull off the impossible, and the raw emotional outcry after his "failure" is proof that people were simply angry at themselves for allowing themselves to buy into the possibility that he might be truly "magic" in the first place.

Contrast that to the equally puzzling behavior of American audiences when it comes to Sylvia Browne. For her, there is seemingly no public outrage when this self-proclaimed psychic is proven wrong, time and time again. Despite her utter failure at proving her psychic abilities, she nevertheless gets constant invites to appear on television shows to spout her nonsense.

She has made a fortune charging gullible souls for her services in speaking with loved ones who have passed. She has written and sold countless books about her "gift." So why is she not taken to task? Why is Derren Brown the bad guy - someone who merely entertains with what is clearly showmanship, as opposed to Sylvia Browne's getting rich off the misfortune of others?

Here's an example of Sylvia Browne "at work" on the Montel Williams Show.

...and here's Derren Brown, in the first part of an interview where he pretty much tells you exactly what he thinks about people like Sylvia Browne and whether or not they are what they say they are. Again I ask, why if he the bad guy?

April 23, 2010

It's Pronounced My-NEWT

Here's the thing about NBC's new game show, Minute To Win It. It's not that I don't like the concept. Heck, it's a tried and true classic idea, hearkening back to the halcyon days of live black and white broadcasts.

But that's also the problem... it's not live. It's recorded. And although the quick pace of the show, with only 60 seconds for each task to either be completed or deemed a failure is spot on perfect for the attention span of today's society, it also is the reason the show is totally unwatchable.

You see, I can get into rooting either for, or against, these contestants to win big bucks by playing with feathers, ping pong balls, and other household items if it weren't for the fact that the results are already in the bag. It's not watching someone try to balance an Oreo on their eye and attempting to move it into their mouth with their facial muscles that's interesting. It's the "drama" of not knowing if they'll do it or not that makes it something you're drawn to...

So when they show scenes from next week's show, with Contestant X jumping around and screaming and hollering after obviously completing the "fishbowl challenge" successfully, and then Mr. Voiceover Guy says, "How will this contestant do as he risks it all for $100,000?" Then I already know he's going to succeed up until that point thus removing all intrigue and tension, and therefore providing no impetus to tune in before the last minute of the show, when presumably they've timed the big $100,000 event to actually air.

If a game show is worth it's salt, then it doesn't need to lure in viewers with anything more than the fact that it is on. All NBC should need do is to show clips from LAST WEEK'S show during the week to drum up excitement and leave some air of mystery about the results of the next episode.

It only took me a minute to figure that out.

April 22, 2010

Dickens Weeps

Using the Bad Translator reminded me of one of my favorite episodes of one of the most underrated sitcoms of all-time. I'm talking about NewsRadio, which never seems to get its just due in the pantheon of television comedy.

If only Phil Hartman hadn't passed in the untimely fashion he did, perhaps the show would have taken off to higher heights, rather than fizzle in his shadow, and the presence of inadequate replacement Jon Lovitz.

Anyway, this is a "minisode" of when Jimmy James had a No. 1 book in Japan and the hilarity that ensued… Enjoy!

If only it were truly this easy to become a successful published author.