A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why a Yankees Loss/Phillies Win Is Good for America

Submitted for your approval: encounters with two very different baseball fans last weekend in the holiest of holy sites for the great old American pastime of baseball, Cooperstown, NY. The counterman at Sal’s Pizzeria — just down the street from the Hall of Fame — was asked for his pick in the World Series. He hoped the Dodgers would meet — and beat - the Yankees. His reason: the Yankees astronomical, disgusting payroll.

The next day, as we left our motel, a wild-haired gentleman in a Yankees jacket noticed our Phillies attire and said, “See ya in the World Series”. Anne Marie and I, still smarting from the victory which Chase Utley gift-wrapped for the Dodgers two nights before, were cautiously optimistic about our new acquaintance’s greeting. We chatted a short time and ultimately we shared a joke at the expense of the Mets. This Yankee’s fan explanation of the team name — which is hardly a new joke — was “My Entire Team Sucks”!

Now we know that this Yankees fan's optimism has come to pass: the Phillies are indeed playing the Yankees in the World Series. My mind is still reeling at the idea that my team is back in the World Series for a second year in a row! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever believe that this could happen to the Phillies — in the same lifetime! Naturally, I am rooting for the Fightins to win, but I don’t declare my loyalty out of a belief in their abilities to win, or simply hometown hubris. No, I have a third reason: a Phillies win will be good for America.

The man at Sal’s Pizzeria raised a good point. The Yankees, who have 27 World Series wins under their belts, have offended the gods of baseball with their obscene salary total. They believe that they can win the series just on their payroll alone. This payroll is not only obscene, but also immoral, unethical and, yes, probably fattening!

Think of it this way: baseball is the pastime of the common man. We all know who I mean, the hard-working American men and women, the everyday Joes and Josephines, who generation after generation have plunked down their hard-earned dollars for a seat, a beer, a hot dog and, perhaps in a bygone era, even a stogie. It is these people who will be denied access — economically speaking - to future baseball games if the Yankees win.

A Yankees victory will send a wrong message to a certain impressionable segment of the population. No, now I am not referring to the Joes and Josephines or even the eight-year-old residents of the Bronx who lustily cry out, “Moider dem bums!” I am referring to those wide-eyed and innocent baseball team owners.

They will interpret a Bronx Bombers triumph to mean that the World Series can be won by the highest bidder. This will translate to higher salaries for baseball players. It will translate into cheap seat tickets selling for hundreds of dollars...each! It will mean beers selling for $50 a cup, hot dogs for $25...mustard and relish extra! It will mean whole families will have to take out second mortgages just to see a ball game!

America’s pastime will be snatched out of the realm of the common man! It will become wholly owned by the elite and the wealthy, which up until now have had only the game of polo all to themselves. We’re familiar with polo, right? It’s a game played with mallets, not bats. It’s a game that leaves mounds of pony crap in its wake, which I can only assume is one thing the groundskeepers for major league baseball are grateful they don’t have to groom.

Consider this carefully, America. It’s more than just a game at stake this week in the Bronx. It is the future of America’s leisure time hanging in the balance.

(Thank you for reading. Please remember who’s on first!)

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Saga of The Balloon Boy

Legendary showman P.T. Barnum once observed that there is "a sucker born every minute". Barnum would be so proud of the American people today, because it would prove him correct. It would be easy to prove since most of the “suckers” in America today are employed as broadcast journalists! Case in point: the strange and still unfolding or unraveling (take your pick) saga of Falcon Heene, now known today and forever more as “the balloon boy”.

At first, the story seemed to be this: while helping his parents in his Ft Collins, Colorado backyard on a school holiday, young Falcon climbed into a small silver balloon and was launched into the atmosphere when the balloon got away from his parents. Frantic that their son was in danger, the parents called for help. Soon, the local police, the FAA, the National Guard and a local television station – not necessarily in that order — were dispatched to rescue the boy.

The story was picked up in no time at all by every television news outlet imaginable. MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, and even the Weather Channel (for God’s sake) visually tracked the balloon as it (and presumably the boy) hurtled thousands of feet above the ground in a direction far from home. There was no escaping this story! We finally found refuge on the History Channel, which was running a marathon documentary on the private lives of Franklin and Eleanor. (As a matter of fact, yes, we are on a first name basis with the Roosevelts, although there’s no way for them to know that.)

After some time had passed on an obviously very slow news day, the balloon finally landed 50 miles from its home, but no boy was found onboard. Then a miracle happened! The boy was found in the attic of his home hiding in a box. He had gone there after his father had yelled at him, or so the family told us. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief and the human interest story of the year was just beginning to take off.

The family participated in several televised interviews about their ordeal. During the course of one interview on CNN, young Falcon softly said to his father, “You said we did this for a television show.” Oooh, bad move, Falcon! This is something you don’t want to say while you’re being watched by MILLIONS of PEOPLE on a LIVE TELEVISION SHOW!

The local authorities, who only hours before had swallowed the family’s story hook line and sinker, immediately became suspicious. We now know that the little boy in the balloon was a carefully planned, elaborately executed hoax just to gain publicity for a reality television show the father, Richard Heene, hoped to sell. Charges are expected to be filed anytime now.

Now, everyone has lots of questions for the family, who (conveniently) have decided to clam up and hire lawyers. Questions like: Who would name their kid Falcon? Was Vulture already taken? And for what kind of reality show was the father angling? Stupid Parent Tricks? Or how about a reality show to capitalize on Falcon losing his lunch during another live interview when he realized he was doing something bad like lying. We could call it When Children Puke On Live TV!

And what about the national media? Was there really not that much going on that we trained all of our resources on a silver balloon gliding not so gracefully through Colorado air space? Weren’t Americans dying in Afghanistan that day? The surviving members of the Monty Python comedy troupe assembled in a New York City theatre for a 40th anniversary celebration. Did anyone cover that? Hell, no!

My advice to the Heene’s sons is:, if not sooner. Your parents are very sick individuals. I don’t know what term could be applied to describe their condition in layman’s language, but I’m sure any psychologist could sum up their ailment this way: they’re loonies! They’re displaying all of the usual systems of looney-itis: repressed memories of alien abduction, delusional thoughts about the world coming to an end, and an unhealthy, egotistical obsession of becoming stars on reality television. Tsk, tsk!

As for the media circus, fear not, it has barely begun. Ah, if only P.T. Barnum could have seen this. He would have proud.

(Thank you for reading. Please remember to have your children learn their script carefully before they are interviewed on national TV.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Phillies Win The Pennant!!!

Today, many residents of southeastern Pennsylvania (including myself and Anne Marie) are basking in the glow of the Philadelphia Phillies winning the National League Championship for the second year in a row. The term “basking in the glow” sounds so much better than the truth, which is we’re operating at half-steam today no matter what our jobs are, because many of us got at most five hours sleep last night. There is a sense of exhaustion, but it’s a good, warm, fuzzy exhaustion we’re experiencing today.

I thought I did quite well, dragging myself through the day with only the equivalent of – if you’re my cardiologist and you’re reading this, please look away — five cups of coffee and a Diet Pepsi. The only serious mistake I made was while constructing a ham and cheese wrap for my lunch. In my semi-comatose state this morning, I sprinkled what I thought was oregano on my lettuce, when actually I grabbed the celery seed in error. My lunch was a bit more interesting than usual.

This is certainly a great time to be alive in Philadelphia sports history. Entire generations of Phillies fans were born, lived and rooted for the Fightin’s, and died without ever once experiencing the joys of a championship season. The 1960s were particularly gloomy. Year after year, the Phillies toiled in the basement of their division, and I won’t even mention the 1964 implosion. Yet today, here we are, world champions on our way to defending that crown, the first time this has ever happened in the franchise’s 125 year history. Please, somebody pinch me!

We should acknowledge the strong competition which both the Colorado Rockies and the Los Angeles Dodgers gave us in the 2009 post season. For the second year in a row, Joe Torre brought his players to the playoffs with a bullpen that was touted as the best in the league. Various Dodgers players were looking understandably disappointed as the Phillies gathered on the baseball diamond to celebrate their pennant victory.

I felt particularly bad for their third base coach, Larry Bowa, who in his prime was a legendary figure on the Phillies squad. Even more bittersweet for Bowa is the fact that he managed the team for a few years earlier in the decade, and was replaced with the current skipper, Charlie Manuel. Now that I think about it, Bowa replaced Terry Francona as the Phillies manager, and Francona himself went on to lead the Boston Red Sox to a World Championship.

Okay, now I’m feeling real bad for Larry Bowa. Maybe we should just forget that I brought up the subject. In any event, the Dodgers shouldn’t feel ashamed at their loss; they were worthy opponents for the Phillies.

Former Phillies pitcher Vincente Padilla in particular did an outstanding job in the October 16 game in Los Angeles. He held us to one run until Torre pulled him. Padilla left the field and the Dodgers fans put down their glasses of Chablis long enough to give him a justly-deserved standing ovation.

So now the Phillies will rest to watch the outcome of the Yankees-Angels series. All bets right now are that the Yankees will emerge as the American League representatives in the World Series. If that happens, then it will be a replay of the 1950 World Series. This could very well be the revenge of the Phillies Whiz Kids.

On the other hand, anything could happen and the Angels may pull out a miracle. As the old Yogi Berra adage goes, “It ain’t over until it’s over!” In the meantime, we Phillies fans will catch up with our sleep.

(Thank you for reading. Please remember Richie Ashburn and Harry Kalas in your thoughts. They are certainly enjoying this victory and singing “High Hopes” wherever they are.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Possible World Series Configurations

Now that we have a general idea of the teams that will be in the World Series, we can start the speculation about who will be the winners and the losers. The sports journalists will go on endlessly analyzing earned run averages, a pitcher's won/loss record in the post season, overall team averages, and (of course) everything any baseball fan ever wanted to know about the competing team's bullpen but was afraid to ask.

Sadly, none of this matters. Yes, you read that right. All of those statistics of the most statisticed-to-death professional sport on the face of the Earth will not matter in the long run. Everyone who knows knows that all matters are the television ad revenue that can be generated from broadcasting the Series.

This year, three of the contenders come from cities recognized as large television ad markets: New York and Los Angeles. The fourth team is, of course, my home town of Philadelphia. I like to think that Philly is a large market on its own, but I doubt that the big television ad executives see it that way. They probably consider southeastern Pennsylvania as a medium size market at best. It’s not their fault. This determination is based on the population size of the market. Which is okay because, no matter what they think, our team, our beloved Phillies, are still the defending world champs! So there!

So, as a public service, I will attempt to offer my analysis of the 2009 World Series from the point of view of the television networks and major league baseball. What combination of the contenders — California Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, or Philadelphia Phillies — will deliver the most bang for the buck. The Fox Network will either get banged in a nice way and enjoy hand-over-fist profits, or they will get bucked, i.e., the ad executives will bend over and take one for Rupert Murdoch, and certainly not in a nice way.

One further word of explanation about my use of the term “bucked”: yes, it is a double entendre. Of course, it rhymes with an action that usually occurs at bedtime, but I certainly can’t use that word! Let’s face it, no one will understand what I’m saying if I use the word “tucked” to denote the Fox Network taking a financial dive in the series.

The term "bucked" is also my tribute to Fox Sports commentator, Joe Buck, who will most likely get to call the series for the network. At some point in his career, Buck made his views about Philadelphia very clear, and not in a nice way. To be fair, one would be hard pressed to find a chapter of the Joe Buck Appreciation Society in southeastern Pennsylvania, so we’re even on that score.


Teams from two large television markets guarantee huge viewership and ratings that go through the roof! The Fox Network will be able to charge professional football championship style ad prices. This is nirvana for many ad executives. Fox will get BANGED!


This has definite marketing possibilities, even though it will be between the large market of New York and the medium size share of Philadelphia. This is a rematch of the 1950 World Series! Think of the possible hype leading up to the series! I can see it now: “You’ve been waiting 59 years for this, and now it is here: The Revenge of the Whiz Kids!” Unfortunately, the Fox Network may see this as getting mildly BUCKED.


Again, a large market team against a medium size market. This series may provoke mild depression in many television executives at Fox. Even I’m finding a hard time getting excited about this possible matchup. BUCKED


Two teams from the same large market is not quite the ad dream combination you might believe. The hype could call this match “The Battle of the Smogs,” but that won’t help. There’s a good chance that the only ones tuning in will be residents of southern California. Outside of that area, who will care; people in the other markets will turn to football for consolation. I can see television ad executives acting out their suicidal intentions by walking into the Pacific Ocean if the two Los Angeles area teams play the Series. SERIOUSLY BUCKED.

To all the players, good luck. And as for the Phillies, even if you don’t repeat this year, thank you for a wonderful season just the same. I mean that. Seriously, I wouldn’t buck with you!

(Thank you for reading. Please remember it’s time to play ball!)

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Today I am 50 years old!

Yes, this is a landmark birthday. I enter the second half of my century, and with it comes new realizations about my life.

First realization: I am now officially out of the primary target age group of 18-49 on which so many advertisers focus to buy their products. Their products and their ads telling me I need those products should no longer be relevant to me. So with that, I say, “Adios, Madison Avenue!”

Second: I am now eligible for membership in the American Association of Retired Persons. This means that I can part with $12 per year of my hard earned money to become part of the biggest lobbying interest group in the country today. This is not necessarily a bad thing, since somebody has to be looking out for the welfare of the elderly, although I don’t feel “old”. Many times I feel tired and in pain, but this is not the same as feeling old. In fact, I know several “elderly” people nearly twice my age who get around better than I do now. I’m sure their secret to this is nothing more than a positive attitude on life. So this is something I will need to work on.

A-A-R-P does have its advantages. The restaurant discounts are great. I will probably join soon, but I may refuse to accept the subscription to their magazine. I have nothing against the publication, except that we already get a copy every month because Anne Marie is already a member. I look at this as saving a tree or two. Of course, if A-A-R-P sends a few Gray Panthers around to my house and give me an offer I can’t refuse, then perhaps I will take the magazine.

By the way, we should all get into the habit of spelling out A-A-R-P with the dashes so that people say the acronym one letter at a time like they do now, and don’t try to say it as one word. A-A-R-P is an association dedicated to furthering the well-being and interests of people over the age of fifty. Saying the word “aarp” reminds me of the noise one of my cats makes when they present me with a hairball. Of course, if the Gray Panthers disagree with me about this point, then I’m sure I can be persuaded to drop the dashes.

A third realization: I need to prepare short, scripted reflections that I can say to younger people whenever they complain about how hard their lives are. These little sayings usually begin with the phrase, “When I was your age...” Here’s what I have so far:

When I was your age...MTV only played music videos!

Or...we didn’t have cell phones, or i-phones, or apps, or blackberries, or i-pods to distract us while we were driving. Instead, the only distraction we had was a McDonalds Egg McMuffin (encircled “R” trademark insignia here) and a cup of coffee. And the coffee cup didn’t have the court mandated warning: “Caution: contents may be hot” printed on the side of the cup! We considered that living dangerously!

Or...major league baseball respected the American work ethic and scheduled playoff games so that hard-working Americans could attend the games without fear of risking their livelihoods. During the week, the games were played at night and on the weekends they were played during the day. There was none of this 2:37p on a weekday afternoon crap!

In any case this day won’t be so bad. I will strive to think young, happy thoughts. I will be grateful for all that is in my life: a wife who loves me (although she won’t admit it), two cats who worship the ground I walk on (particularly at 4:30a when they are hungry), and the support and love of many family and friends.

(Thank you for reading. Please remember to...oh, hell, I’ve got nothing today! What do you expect? It is my birthday, after all!)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Obama and the Peace Prize

History will now record that on October 9, 2009, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee in Oslo, Norway announced that Barack Obama, the first African-American elected President of the United States, was the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. The President received the news when he woke up Friday morning; indeed, the morning news programs broke the story as soon as the announcement was made at 5:00a Eastern Time. Obama won the award, his, wait...his efforts to bring...peace to...the world? Okay, you got me! I give up!

So far, most people have reacted to the news by saying, “Thanks!” and “Isn’t it a bit too soon?” In the past, the prize has been awarded to individuals who put forth viable proposals for peace among nations and/or cultures that actually came to fruition. Obama has only been in office nine months and yes, he has reached out to other countries and cultures who might have felt short changed by Bush era diplomacy, but it’s too early to tell if his change in American diplomatic tone will amount to anything.

In a White House Rose Garden press conference later in the day, Obama admitted that he was not worthy enough to be counted among past Peace Prize recipients. However, he did graciously accept the award in the spirit that it was a call for nations to resolve their outstanding differences. The committee has defended its decision with the explanation that Obama won because of his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

Apparently Obama has — in the committee’s opinion — accomplished more in nine months and a few foreign speaking tours in the name of international diplomacy than more recent American leaders accomplished in eight years. Now we know the answer to the question, “Had America’s standing in the world sunk so low that Obama only had to display his inspirational rhetoric a few times to demonstrate that his message of hope was real?” The answer, obviously, is “Yes.”

Of course, the announcement of the award has given Obama’s critics new ammunition. I was so afraid that the conservatives on talk radio would have nothing to talk about this week. Now I can sleep at night, knowing that the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck will have plenty of material to spew out their hot air.

Actually, the award was not only a gift to the conservatives, but also to liberal bloggers like me. For example, Limbaugh’s reaction was priceless! In denouncing Obama winning the peace prize, he actually put these words in this order, “I agree with the Taliban...” Now, the more unscrupulous among us will interpret this as an admission of siding with our sworn enemy. Conservatives used this argument every time liberals voiced their opposition to Bush’s war in Iraq. Now the shoe is on the other foot!

Isn’t it wonderful? It’s like an early Christmas gift. All I can say is, “Thank you, Santa!” Okay, so I’m quoting him out of context, but Limbaugh, Beck, et al do it all the time. So what the hell!

So our President wins the Nobel Peace Prize and, as far as I can tell, everyone is a winner! Obama gets an affirming nod from the international community that he is on the right track, and one of his charities will get the $1.4 million dollar prize money. Conservatives get something to gripe about, and liberals get to call the conservatives unpatriotic, among other things.

The only down side is now Obama has to actually get his diplomatic overtures put into action. Now what will he do for an encore? I’ve joked about this before, but now I fear Obama will actually have to walk on the waters of the Potomac to prove to everyone that he is the one that can bring change.

(Thank you for reading. Please remember to give awards responsibly!)

Friday, October 09, 2009

Bad Ideas for Reality Television

A short list of reality show ideas that should be rejected.

1. On The Appalachian Trail with Mark Sanford

2. Unemployed Father At Home with Todd Palin

3. Talk Show Hosts Gone Wild with David Letterman

4. Espousing Conservative Family Values Away From the Family with Sarah Palin

5. On Our Own with the Gosselin Eight

6. I Escaped the Palin Family with Levi Johnston

7. Jon and Hailey and Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice and Anything Else That Walks in High Heels, but Not Kate

8. I Am God with Rush Limbaugh

9. A Shot at Love with Tia Tequila and Kate Plus Eight

(Thank you for reading. Please remember television is the fantasy and your life is the reality.)

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

A Short Concise History of Health Care Reform as Proposed by the Republican Party

Last week, I noted that one Democratic member of Congress came under fire from his colleagues across the aisle when he spoke about their proposals to fix health care in this country. Representative Alan Grayson summarized the Republican proposal for health care with the words, “Republicans want you to die quickly”. Naturally, the GOP freaked out and demanded an apology from Grayson and that the Democratic leaders in Congress punish him. Grayson and the Democrats have refused both demands.

Okay, everyone, let’s calm down. Let’s look at both sides of this disagreement and think this through in a rational, civilized manner.

Grayson’s remarks were certainly outrageous, but he did raise an interesting point about perceptions that the Republican Party doesn’t care about people’s health. Certainly, we shouldn’t believe this to be true. Of course, we know that Republicans are good people who are loving, caring, and productive members of society. To illustrate this argument, I will devote six inches of blog space to a short summary of health care reform ideas proposed by Republican members of Congress which will guarantee affordable health care for all Americans:


Okay, I think I see what the problem is.

No, I did not neglect to write anything for this part of the blog. It’s just that I found nothing to write on the subject. Let’s briefly enumerate the number of health care reform bills proposed in Congress when it was controlled by the GOP.

In 2000, I don’t remember hearing of any health care reform bills introduced by the Republicans. In 2001, still no bills. 2002 – nothing! 2003 – nada! 2004 – nein! 2005 - zip! 2006 – void! 2007 - null set! 2008 – are you beginning to see a pattern here?

So maybe Grayson did make a valid point. Grayson may have been stressed out by the health care debate when he made these remarks, but the GOP should take it as a warning. When it comes to health care, the Republican Party is a public relations disaster.

I remember an editorial cartoon a few years back which showed the Senate majority leader decrying the administration's proposed health care idea. The first panel showed the Senator standing in front of a flow chart showing the massive government bureaucracy that would result from the proposal. In the second panel, the Senator displays the health care proposal from his party, the Republicans. The sheet of paper he stood proudly in front of was blank.

The cartoon was printed in 1993 when the Clinton Administration tried to push their health care plan through Congress. The Senator depicted in the cartoon was Bob Dole. Yes, this is how far back this conflict goes, and yes, this is how long ago the Republicans have been perceived as not caring about the health of the American people. Grayson’s remark is grounded in this perception.

Would you like a more recent example? Okay, how about Senator Jim DeMint's (R–SC) comments that if Obama can be defeated on health care reform then this will be his Waterloo. Scoring political points for the conservative base, yes. Showing care and concern for the health and general well-being of his, no I’m not seeing that.

Perhaps I should amend my earlier statement. We all know that Republicans are good people who are loving, caring, and productive members of society...but when it comes to affordable health care, we just don’t know where their heads are.

(Thank you for reading. Please remember to pay your health care premiums on time!)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Snort Notes – October 2009



There isn’t a font big enough to convey my outrage at this incident. Since when did Facebook become the property of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and/or Faux News? If any of these individuals and or organizations are remotely connected to Facebook in any way, then it answers my first question.


Come on, guys! Cut him a break already! It’s not like a crisis erupted and he went deep sea fishing off the coast of Kennebunkport, Maine...unlike some recent presidents we could name.

Obama has had a very stressful time during the last few weeks. First, he had to sit through a long-winded speech by Moammar Ghaddafi at the UN, then attend an international economic summit in Pittsburgh, and then some idiot Internet site is soliciting opinions on whether he should die or not. Can you blame the guy for wanting to get a change of scenery? So maybe he wanted to get a piece of Danish. (I’ve been wanting to use that line since the Clinton Administration, but the occasion never came up. Okay, granted, the joke would have been more applicable to Bill Clinton in several different ways...if you know what I mean.)

In any case, what have the Republicans done to further health care reform this week? What’s wrong? Is your Ronald Reagan Bedtime for Bonzo Souvenir Magic Wand on the fritz, and you can’t get your agenda through Congress without it? Can’t you do anything without the President hanging around? Huh?


Just when it seemed like the Atlanta Braves were catching up, and the Phillies seemed poised to implode like they did in 1964, the outcomes of two games this week reversed everyone’s fortunes. Now the best that Atlanta can hope for is the wild card slot. Unfortunately for them, the Colorado Rockies, who spoiled the Phillies post season two years ago, are more likely to advance to the National League wild card.

Of course, Phillies fans know nothing is assured. We could get knocked out of any of the two post season series that will need to be played before the World Series can begin. Still, it’ll be great to get a few more weeks tacked onto the regular season.


Although this blog is in no way affiliated with the Faux News Network — and is therefore under no obligation to be "fair and balanced" — we at arteejee still feel it is our duty to call out reckless, irresponsible charges leveled in the halls of Congress. After all, we did chew out Congressman Wilson for his “You lie!” outburst when President Obama made a personal appearance in the chamber a few weeks ago. It’s only fair to make some sort of statement about this latest accusation, even though we doubt that this will be the last word heard on the matter. Therefore, at this time, we will say this: “Hey! How about those Phillies!!!”

(Thanks for reading. Please remember that obsession may be defined as any time a loved one keeps you in a cardboard box, but love happens any time that loved one pokes air holes in the box lid.)