Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Not older ...better

I am getting better. Wiser. But I continue to sense a generation gap, whether at work or at play.

Little things. A few years ago I came to the realization, which I have mentioned to my religious ed students (5th grade) that people graduating from high school were exactly HALF my age. At which point any reference to their looks qualifies me as a dirty old man? (I didn't share that part.)

Little things. More than once I have addressed a young man as "son."

Little things. Sometimes I think about what's for dinner before I order lunch.

I have never made a big deal about my age, especially my birthday (I am a Christmas baby which is a whole other story). And I turned 40 two years ago, which was no big deal other than my metabolism seemed to grind to a screeching halt and I found myself thinking about what's for dinner before I had lunch.

I have always been big on exercise, swimming as much as possible for stress relief and to stay in shape. But my body recovers a little slower than it used to. I marvel at Nolan Ryan, throwing a no-hitter at 44. Without steroids, I hope.

A couple of recent "touchpoints" have left me thinking, however. First is a younger colleague at work. We have a solid working relationship and enjoy getting to know him despite what seems like a minor age difference of 12 years. It manifests in little things, like the time he was talking about trivia night at one of his watering holes and said, innocently enough, "Your probably not too old to join me." Or when I was talking about Michigan basketball (he's an alum, I am not) and realized the players I was speaking of played when he was 6 years old. To him "Fantasy Island" is probably a web site for rotisserie baseball.

The second one is two recent shows that are clearly generational. The first is the movie "It's Complicated." What a riot. Had me falling out of my chair. But there is little chance my younger friends would find it funny in the way I do. Not many 25 or 30 year olds have complicated lives. At least not complicated by things like being divorced and dating, dealing with kids, typically. My wife is a Godsend, and she got what she signed up for.

Life without a spouse and kids is less comlicated, for the most part. Right? And they are young. As they say, the problem with youth is it is wasted on the young.

I also enjoy the show "Men of a Certain Age." The portrayals of middle aged men are dead on. But I have a feeling those under 30 just wouldn't get a lot of the humor. One scene which stands out is was when Andre Braugher's wife responds to his desire to take "time away" from work after being hospitalized with the standard "Of course, I support you no matter what," followed quickly by, "No wait, that's just not true. We are adding onto our house, three kids. Uh uh." Or something to that effect. Smart writing and honest characters.

Young people think they are indestructable. I did, we all did. Now we realize yes, there is a slow end, even if I am barely half way there. And yet what "Men" captures is the longing we all have to take risks combined with the comfort which comes from knowing ourselves, or at least trying to. We all want to be desirable, wanted, and vigorous at any age.

I wouldn't trade my "complications" for anything. And I enjoy seeing them played out on screen. It seems that there are a handful of shows or movies which capture "normal" life, instead of a sanitized Hollywood version. But 15 years ago I would not have related the way I do today.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Voters elected who? And he did what?

Im bummed.

Not because the Colts lost the Super Bowl (I was pulling for the Saints). I am bummed because Scott Lee Cohen dropped out of the race. As they say "We hardly knew yee" or maybe we knew too much.

I knew nothing about this guy other than he was a wealthy businessman before the election, and apparently voters didn't either. And I took a Republican ballot so he was not in my field.

But wow, did voters and party bosses (and most of the media) blow this one. And to think at 3pm yesterday, several days after the election, he was still refusing to quit. My guess is that if Mike Madigan was unable to convince him to bail President Obama would have put Katie Couric on hold and dropped a dime to Cohen headquarters.

I love politics. And I am a junkie for CNN, CNBC, FOX, MSNBC, PBS, talk radio , blogs and all. I also love to write and love a good story. Which is why I am bummed.

Because you just can't make this stuff up. Illinois is already a laughingstock for the rest of the country and here we are about to run a hooker beating, steroid taking deadbeat Dad.

Oh, to be a campaign adviser on either side of that one. How can you spin it away? Perhaps she was working his "stimulus package." More likely the same drivel we always hear about "mistakes of the past" and indiscretions.

And what an easy target for the Republicans. To me the best part was his hooker girlfriend going on record as saying he would not be a good Governor. Thanks for the insight. And what involvement have you had in politics, besides offering exotic massages to higher ups in both parties? The client list probably reads like a who's who. After all, our state is bipartisan when it comes to corruption.

It would have been great theater. And the death knell for Governor Quinn. Because Illinois is one state where the Lt. Gov does matter, since our past two governors are wearing or will wear orange jumpsuits.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Rose is a Rose is a....

My favorite sporting event, without question, is the Rose Bowl. Ever since I was a kid I have loved the pageantry, the game, Keith Jackson, the parade, and most importantly the idea of turning on the TV in the dead of winter to see blue skies and 70 degrees.

I love the Big Ten. Even though I went to school (Missouri) in what was then the Big Eight, when I look back Oklahoma-Nebraska never did it for me like Michigan-Ohio State.

I love that the Rose Bowl is a traditional matchup, Big Ten vs. Pac Ten. Most of the time, thanks to the BCS.

I hate the BCS, and the idea of a playoff. Football is a unique sport. You can't turn around after a game and play again two days later, like they do in basketball, baseball or any number of sports. I played enough to know how painful it is the next day, when you wake up and your entire body aches.

I realize other divisions have a playoff. Good for them. How many of you tuned in to watch Appalachia play Western Idaho in the subdivision bowl, or whatever they call it? The bowl games are exhibitions, nothing more. A reward for a good season (6-5?) and a chance for coaches to get in extra practice time.

Why do we need a National Championship game? Of course, $$$. I liked it when writers and coaches voted. It was purely subjective, and OK with me. And without a playoff a lot of good teams never get a shot at the championship game. So leave it alone, I say.

Sports traditions are cool, like NHL teams lining up to shake hands after a playoff series, or the Yankees not having names on the back of their uniforms. Or the Rose Bowl.

I am old enough to remember when there were 15 or so bowl games. I remember games like the Peach Bowl and the Bluebonnet Bowl. But the big four were the Rose, Sugar, Cotton and Orange. Now there are what, 60 or so games? My school, Missouri, played in something called the Texas Bowl, or Houston Bowl. I don't remember and didn't watch. Did I also miss a big parade?

I love the Rose Bowl. As a kid it was the game for Midwestern football fans. It was our chance to match our folksy, down home Midwestern values against the loopy free spirits from the west. Every year we would watch to see which Big Ten team would make it through and have the honor of heading out to Hollywood for a week before losing the big game.

Because the Big Ten always lost. At least it seems that way. And coaches tried everything. From locking players up other than practice to letting them run wild. It didn't seem to matter what they did. Bo and Woody won a ton of games, but not many Rose Bowls.

I still love the game. See you next January 1st at 4pm cst.