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The Ameche League
Monday, 9 February 2004
It was 40 years ago today....
As most of you know, it was 40 years ago on this date, February 9, 1964, that The Beatles made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. I wasn't around for this, first hand (my parents weren't even married yet) but, it is something that has always interested me.

If Elvis opened the door for rock 'n roll, it was The Beatles that broke it down. Elvis was revolutionary, but underneath it all he was nothing more than a shy country boy, rather he was polite and hardly rebellious. Perhaps as a result of this, as well as the 'adult establishment' re-establishing order, most of the pop idols that followed in the immediate aftermath were relatively tame and homogenized, if bearing a superficial likeness to The King (i.e, Rick Nelson)

The Beatles were a different thing altogether. Really, there was nothing like them before. While they look tame now, they were nothing short of revolutionary back then. Plus it was a different world back then - not so much that there was only three TV channels but that opportunities for information and entertainment were limited. Those TV channels, had test patterns most of the day. Music was on inferior-sounding AM stations - FM was largely untested and mostly used for simulcasts and experimental broadcasts. On the other hand, afternoon newspapers flourished.

The Beatles were in the right place at the right time as well. It was right after the JFK assassination, and perhaps the populace needed some kind of balm for the shock. Vietnam was starting to gear up. The threat of nuclear war was real. Elvis was back from the Army, but he was hardly what anyone could call 'cutting edge'. And there was no real competition for The Beatles on the charts - to wit, the #1 song in the US when JFK died, was "Hey Hey Paula". Bobby Vinton also had the #1 spot not long before. Not exactly cutting edge material.

So here come the Beatles, with their moptops and their suits and their "Yeah, yeah, yeah" - and the Generation Gap was established. The kids, who really liked the music, the old guard establishment, who recoiled to this garbage much in the same way that people recoil to "boy bands" today, and of course, people in the middle, who tried desperately to be hip and into the music.

One of the things about the video that I got a kick out of was the audience shots. They show these girls yelling and screaming their asses off, and in the middle of it all there are these younger guys, who are sitting there saying "Huh? Wha...?" And, my favorite, this old, 80-year-old looking guy, whose father probably fought in The War (the Civil War, that is) wearing a suit and a bow tie, sitting there and not having any clue what the hell is going on. This is hysterical.

Another reason I think this video has endured is the quality of it. Unlike many shows in that era, this episode was videotaped, making it appear clear and clean. Previously shows had been kinescoped (i.e., literally filming a TV screen) which preserves the record but makes for a lousy quality.

People have desperately tried to recreate the Beatles magic (anyone remember "Frankie Goes to Hollywood"?) in both music and non-music venues. But nothing will ever compare. The Beatles were in the absolute right place at the absolute right time. No amount of planning could have produced the result that came about. It's just one of those things that happens, and when it does, you just stand back and watch it unfold, and enjoy.

Posted by amecheleague at 7:48 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 9 February 2004 7:49 PM EST
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Wednesday, 31 December 2003
New Year's Effin' Eve
As 2003 winds down to a close, I am reminded of the two things about New Years Eve that I hate the most.

First is "New Year's Rockin' Eve" I HATE that name, it makes my skin crawl just typing it. The show is not that great either - mostly pre-recorded spots taped weeks or months in advance - while you only get to see snippets of NYC as midnight approaches. Hell, most years they cut away to commercial less than 5 minutes away.

I get why the show is popular - back 30 years ago, all you had to choose from on New Years' Eve was Guy Lombardo. Which I think even our folks were saying, "Damn, man, this guy is for the old fogeys" So something like this, would appeal to the younger set - the baby boomers - with rock and roll and dancing, and who better to host the festivities than Dick Clark, World's Oldest Teenager.

Well it worked. All too well, as it turns out - now it's THIS show that is the institution, and it's THIS show that's old, and tired, and commercial-filled and trite and commercial fodder. Now, Dick Clark is synonymous with New Year's Eve. Now, it's something else that needs to come along and kick this in the ass.

By the way, this is nothing new - I remember vividly hating this and thinking this was "gay" back in 1978, when I was in 6th grade, and getting aggravated and embarassed by it. And every year I hope they don't do it and every year they do. Personally, I think most people are as fed up with it as I am; but they do it because, "it's what you do." Just like when you're in Chicago you go to Wrigley Field and sit in the bleachers, or when you're in San Francisco you ride the cable cars, or on Thanksgiving when you eat turkey and the trimmings, you watch this lousy, crappy, commercial-filled pre-recorded show, with occasional snippets of Times Square.

Yet for all this vitriol, I think most of my emnity toward this show would dissapear if they were to just do one thing: change the name. Something, ANYTHING, just not THAT. No, I wouldn't like it, but I just wouldn't care.

To put it another way: If my hating names and titles was a horse race, this would be Secretariat in the 1973 Belmont, and "Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity" at IHOP would be Twice a Prince.

BTW - if it were up to me, I'd just put a camera on Times Square at 11:30, interview the crowd and maybe a few celebs, and other than that keep my mouth shut. No stupid comments, no mini "year-in-review" recaps (unless the Red Sox won the World Series), no bullshit. The ball drops, we all go home. But that's just me.

2. I also hate - HATE - when people make New Year's Resolutions. They are such bullshit and cliches it makes my skin crawl just typing it.

I mean, if you're going to improve yourself, just improve yourself. Don't use the calendar as an excuse. How many people do you know that quit smoking as a New Year's REsolution? Or lost 100 pounds, or asked the girl they wanted to go out on a date? I don't know about you but, the next one I meet will be the first.

By the way this also goes for you would be wiseacres who resolve to not make any more resolutions. Save it. That's bullshit too, and guess what, it's not funny and hasn't been for quite some time now. All that does is perpetuate everything and subject us to this bullshit for yet another year. Just ignore it, and it will go away. We can only hope.

And that's it. Next year, I will just cut and paste accordingly, hopefully changing the sentence about year-in-review slightly.

Happy New Year!

Posted by amecheleague at 6:39 PM EST
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Sunday, 21 December 2003
I have to say that, when the 5pm deadline passed and the Red Sox had not consumated the trade for A-Rod that I was dissapointed. More dissapointed than I thought I would be. Not as dissapointed as I was after Game 7, but fairly close.

Anyway, after some thought, and reading the comments that were made in the immediate aftermath, I felt a lot better. And I also feel fairly certain that this trade, one way or another, will in fact come to pass.

First of all, consider the Red Sox' point of view. What's the worst that could happen? No trade, Nomar comes back for one more year and then is gone. But is that so bad? You have to figure that he's going to give an A-Plus effort, the better to ensure a nice payday at the end. And with this management, you have to figure that, somehow, they'll manage to find a way to surmount the departure of Garciaparra, one way or another.

Second of all - and more important - is that the Red Sox have the hammer here. The Rangers NEED this trade a hell of a lot more than the Red Sox do. Think about it. The fact that A-Rod has gone as far as he has should be all the proof you need to know that he wants the hell out of Texas.

And then consider the Rangers' perspective. The bigger dollar years of A-Rod's contracts are yet to come. The team has already hamstrung itself with a number of bad deals (exhibit A, Chan Ho Park), a General Manager who is probably not best equipped to make the best out of this situation, and a barren farm system.

While it's always a sorry day when you have to trade your best player - and perhaps the best player in the major leagues - in Texas's situation it was something that they clearly, clearly had to do.

As to the Players' Association rejecting the "restructured" deal, I think this was a little bit of a red herring. I think the Red Sox HAD to know that the deal would not pass muster with the Players' Union, but put it through anyway, and held their breath that the fact that A-Rod was down with it would be good enough - which it was not.

That said, the only thing the deadline did, was end the Red Sox's opportunity to negotiate directly with A-Rod - which they normally couldn't do anyway. There was nothing stopping the Rangers from discussing the exact thing with A-Rod, and there's nothing stopping the Rangers from striking an agreement with the Red Sox where the Red Sox will have the exact same cash exposure, just from different sources.

And if not - like I said, it's not the end of the world.

Posted by amecheleague at 6:47 PM EST
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Tuesday, 9 December 2003
Average Joe
Against my better judgement, last night I watched the finale of Average Joe, the infamous reality show where a beautiful girl had to pick amongst a selection of pasty, fat, geeky, nerdy guys with low self esteem.

To make a long story blissfully short, the finale pitted a nerdy guy with painfully low self-esteem who, professionally at least, appeared to have it together, against a "hunky" (sheeyearight) guy who was a waiter and lived at home with his parents.

Wow, what a tough decision! Kind of like asking a Red Sox fan who his favorite Yank-Me is. No suprise, though, in the end: the girl went with the pretty boy, and despite her angst-ridden soliloque (25c word alert) about how she "didn't want to hurt anyone" and "wished (she) could take both (on the last date)" she proceeded to make out with the "winner" in the hangar there, while the poor hack sat on the bus and watched, by himself, left to wonder if he, too, would be forced to settle with some high-maintenance, nothing-to-write-home-about pain in the ass down the road.

Yeah, sounds like she was real concerned about the loser's feelings.

How sad is it, that a show that was DESIGNED to ensure that an "average" guy hooks up with a beautiful girl, winds up with that exactly NOT happening? What are fat, pasty guys, who live to play Dungeons and Dragons in their parents' basement supposed to think now? I mean, it's like the BCS was supposed to ensure an undisputed National Champion and ensure that 1 plays 2. Which it did, and it didn't, all at the same time, if that makes any sense.

Perhaps what killed me the most is how the loser (Adam) tried, unsuccessfully, to mask his low self-esteem thoughout. Oh, yeah, he talked a great game on his way to the final rejection about how his "relationship" with the girl had evolved, and he strutted in there all cocky and grinning, but when the girl said that he wasn't the one, the facade crumbled instantly - much as it had throughout the entire series.

Folks, I would hope you didn't need me to tell this, but I will anyway: The reason these guys didn't get the girl is not because they're fat, or dumpy, or because they try to emulate the Nicholas-Cage-cum-Don-Johnson-circa-1986 look, but because they have NO SELF-CONFIDENCE. Not one of the "average" guys on this show had the self-confidence in themselves to land a babe like the fair Malena (I think that's her name).

Conversely, the guy who won (Jason) had something somewhat reasonably passing for self-confidence: he wasn't clingy or needy, and so he was able to defeat this field, even though, again, his professional career could best be described as "who dat?" This self-confidence is why he was able to stand out against a lackluster field and "win" (even though, against true Division 1-A competition he probably would have been smoked in the early rounds.)

Of course, no one is saying that any fat, pasty guy could land a hot cheerbabe just by believing in himself. But it's an integral part of the mix, and without it you go nowhere. Then, you can ignore these shows altogether and go out and find your own scoops.

Posted by amecheleague at 8:56 AM EST
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Sunday, 7 December 2003
BCS Shenanigans
By now I'm sure everyone has heard that, despite being #1 in both polls, USC will not be playing for the National Championship. Rather it will be Oklahoma playing LSU for the 'National Title.'

I have one word for this:


There are several reasons for this. I am hardly a USC fan, (being a UCLA fan I can't be) although I must say my feelings toward them have softened a bit over the years. Oddly enough, though, I am neither happy nor unhappy that they are not playing; and if I had to say one way or another, I'd like to see them play for all the marbles.

The big reason I think this is a good thing, is that, since I was a kid, I have anxiously awaited a "real" college football playoff, just like all other NCAA Division I sports. Even as a young lad I never understood why Division 1-A football did not have a "real" playoff. The fact that there isn't one, I think, is a testament to greed and hypocracy. And I think something like this needed to happen to finally hasten this day.

Think about it. Back in '97, under the old Bowl Alliance, Penn State could not face Nebraska in a "true" National Championship game because Penn State was contractually obligated to play in the Rose Bowl. More than anything, this hastened the BCS set up that we have now. But even this was flawed. Since then, you will note that every year, the powers in charge are constantly farting around with the formula to make it "more accurate" - making margin of victory less relevant, making strength of schedule more important, that sort of thing. This constant tweaking and massaging of the formula, was merely the calm before this storm, this outrage, of what is generally regarded as the best team in the nation not even having the OPPORTUNITY to play for a championship, which I think will, finally, make people sit up and take notice and finally realize that this system, like the Bowl Alliance that preceded it, simply does not work.

Consequently, I believe now more than ever, that come 2006, when this contract is up, we will finally, FINALLY, see some sort of playoff. At this point it is going to be all but impossible to convince even the most biased individuals that this system, as is, can and will result in a guaranteed National Champion ever year.

The best, and only, way to ensure this, is to have a 16 team tournament, the same as all other college divisions. All your conferences are represented - small and large alike - plus the best of the rest. The money will be there, in the form of a fat national TV contract. My best guess, however, is that it will wind up being a 1-4 vs. 2-3 four team tournament, probably incorporating the current bowl structure. Still, this is way better than what we have now, which in turn was way better than what was in place before the BCS.

So let the sportswriters piss and moan all they want (which, I am convinced, is as much about their reduced cachet and impact as anything else.) Rather, be happy, because if you are a real college football fan, this is the best thing that could have ever happened.

Posted by amecheleague at 10:43 PM EST
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Tuesday, 28 October 2003
What is a Blog?
Hello, and welcome to my official Blog page.

I'm really not sure where this is going to go, but it's free, and it was fairly easy to set up, so I figure it's worth a shot.

If you have any comments, feel free to add to them, below.

Posted by amecheleague at 8:51 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 28 October 2003 8:52 PM EST
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