Friday, December 30, 2011

Growth 1, Resolutions 0

I'm not much for New Year's resolutions. 

I'm not much for New Year's anything besides football, movies, Chinese take out, busting out the karaoke player or a good game of cards.

Many years ago I got in the habit of taping the "Rockin' New Year" show with the ball at Times Square.  The kids and I would watch over breakfast, same result.

A creature of habit, that I am. 

But I have never been big on resolutions.

Not that I don't reflect or look to improve.  That I do quite a bit.

Since I hit my forties, perhaps coinciding with my metabolism's screeching halt, I took aim at three things I have always wanted to do, but not with a big pronouncement on January 1st.

I picked up a guitar several years ago. 

I thought it would be fun to play for the kids, though I picture them telling stories someday of the times Dad "held us against our will" to hear the opening riff of "Day Tripper" several hundred times.  Today I could probably earn half a sandwich on a subway platform.

I took a year's worth of improvisation classes at Second City, performing a few times with an ensemble which was great fun.  I would love to do more but one artist in the family is enough. 

And I started this blog. 

A couple of years ago my boss at the time handed out an evaluation with space for "personal goals."  I wrote that I wanted to start a blog. 


If you are a reader of Just...Getting...Started, loyally or occasionally, I thank you.  The response has been great. 

Lord knows I have opinions.  The idea of being "out there" with them and that people would enjoy reading them is both flattering and humbling. 

Changes are coming in the new year as I take Just...Getting...Started to a bigger stage.  Stay tuned. 

And Happy New Year to all. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tim Tebow Is Not My Shepherd, Or Jesus Calls An Audible

Did the clock run out on "Tebow time?"  Has "Tebowmania" run its course?

After leading the Denver Broncos to a series of dramatic, come from behind victories in recent weeks, quarterback Tim Tebow and company lost to the New England Patriots last Sunday.

“God’s Quarterback” has come back to earth (pun fully intended).  Or has he?

For some, the game is an afterthought. 

It is Tim Tebow's Christian faith, combined with his leadership, that has the football world caught up in "Tebowmania." 

Fans everywhere drop down on one knee with a fist to the forehead in prayer.  "Tebowing," it's called, the pose Tebow strikes during games. 

Tim Tebow may be the savior football fans are looking for.  Or he may just be a hard working, consistently average quarterback on a so-so team. 

Did I mention that Tim Tebow believes in God? 

Born in the Philippines and raised by Christian Baptist missionaries, Tim Tebow was an All-American, national championship winning quarterback at the University of Florida and a Heisman Trophy winner.

He had the credentials and leadership "intangibles," but most scouts questioned his ability to succeed in the NFL.

He appears to be a man of strong character, genuine and gracious, a leader by example not given to prothelizing. 

Tim Tebow is hardly the first athlete to give thanks when given the forum.  The "God Squad" is everywhere.  We see it in player interviews, after a big play, or in player prayer circles after games.  None of this bothers me unless it is somehow implied that God roots for one athlete or team over another (though it's hard to imagine God rooting for the New Jersey Devils). 

As an aside, I couldn’t help but laugh when my son, then 9, thumped his chest and pointed his index fingers toward the sky after grace one night.  I found it funny.  My wife?  Not so much. 

The difference between Tebow and other jocks is that his ardent faith makes him a polarizing figure.  He's gone on missions, says he's a virgin, and created controversy last year by doing a pro-life commercial during the Super Bowl with his mother, who went against her doctor's advice to terminate her pregnancy with Tim.   

There's a vulnerability around religion that sets Tebow apart.  He's "walking the walk," being specific, not simply pointing to the heavens.  That rankles some people but Tebow appears, character wise, to be the real deal. 

He also seems to take the constant attention in stride while pundits have a hard time controlling themselves.   Announcers and scribes are all a flutter for Tebowmania.  At some point I expect Tebow to get sacked, then have Fox announcer Joe Buck scream, “He is risen!!”

So no, we have yet to see Tim Tebow turn day old bagels into Lobster Newburg or  a jug of Gatorade into wine.  And there's no truth to the rumor that his image lingered on a gym towel or that Topps plans to create a Tim Tebow football card with scripture passages instead of stat lines.

All is well in Tebowland as long as he is winning. If the Broncos hit the skids and finger pointing begins, he’ll get thrown to the Lions.

And I'm not talking about the ones from Detroit.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Blago's A Bore, And Certainly No "Boss"

In the end, Rod Blagoevich was a lousy politician and a dumb, inept crook. 

"The harm is the erosion of public trust in government."

Those were Judge James Zagel's words to the former Illinois Governor as he handed down a sentence of 14 years, one of the stiffest ever for corruption by a public official. 

Zagel's words were a rebuke to the defense team's notion that even if "Blago" is guilty there was no harm since he never profited from his crimes.

Think about that.

Rod Blagoevich will be 67 years old when he gets out of the federal pen, convicted on 18 counts of corruption including failed attempts to shake down Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital and "sell"  Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat for $1.5 million, a seat Blago infamously described on a Fed wire tap as "f*cking golden."

But Blago never profited from his schemes.  He couldn't get them off the ground any more than a turkey racing down a runway. 

You could say it was a fall from grace if the guy wasn't on the take from the day he took office.  One has the sense that Blago schemed to get more Doritos in grade school. 

But in the end, he couldn't seal the deal. 

Blago's saga reminds me of the Woody Allen film "Small Time Crooks," where Allen plays a bumbling burglar determined to burrow underneath a bank building in order to rob it. With the help of Tracey Ullman, he sets up a "cover" business where Ullman bakes cookies in order to distract from the jackhammers and digging.

Problem is the cookies are a huge hit with every cop in New York.

Think of Blago as a Slavic Woody Allen.

As a politician, he's no Tom Kane. 

Tom Kane is the fictitious Chicago mayor played by Kelsey Grammer in the new TV series "Boss." 

Grammer is great in the role of machine emperor, a suspendered, fire breathing dragon in a show often over the top.  In the first episode, Mayor Kane manages to drag an alderman around his office by his ear (literally) and have one of his henchman drug a doctor who may have leaked information about Hizzoner to the media. 

In future episodes I can see him throwing a union leader down the stairs and sucker punching a boy scout.

Blago is no Boss.  On tape, he's a foul mouthed brat, but hardly intimidating.  In person he dresses the part in fancy suits, hollow ones at that.  I picture those on the receiving end of his rants trying hard not to laugh.

I certainly can't picture him dragging a state legislator across the floor.

Or a fellow inmate.