Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder


Waiting to Exhale (image courtesy of darkroastedblend.com)



The last time this blog was updated was sometime in late April.

As  a person who writes for a living, this is an embarrassing admission.  What the hell have I been doing for the last 6 months?  Let’s recap:

1.  I moved.

2.  I’ve gone back to school.

3.  I played fantasy baseball.

For anyone who has participated in any of the activities that I’ve listed above, you understand the mental and physical demands of each.

But I am back.

For those of you who are/ were fans of this site (all five of you), I’d like to make up for lost time.

For those of you that are new to this site, make yourself at home.

I won’t make any commitments to updating this blog on a regular basis; that will only lead to promises that I can’t keep.

I will state, however, that I plan on posting at a more frequent clip than once every six months (after six months of writing hibernation, I believe I’ve got some good material for you).

That’s all for now… stay tuned…

–The proprietors of Bacon Makes It Better


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Man Crush (1 in a series of 25): John Cusack

crush (krush) v. crushed, crush-ing, crush-es  1.  To break, pound, or grind (stone or ore, for example) into small fragments or powder. 2.  To extract or obtain by pressure or squeezing:  crush juice from a grape.

n.  informal 1.  A usually temporary infatuation. 2.  One who is the subject of an infatuation.

Heterosexuality is my most consistent characteristic.  It is as certain as sun up or sun down, as a Starbucks on a street corner near you or the better-luck-next-year of the Chicago Cubs of any season since 1908.

Straight husbands suffering from a quarter life crisis have crushes, too; ours bear a little more sophistication from the teen-aged version:  Sheer lust is replaced by admiration, frantic obsession is muted by respect, candle-light vigils trumped by google searches.

To wit:

The career of a former child star follows a familiar arc:  Fame is sudden and the ascent is meteoric, public consciousness/tolerance reaches a saturation point, the decline is a horrific–albeit spectacular–plummet back to where any social relevance has been reduced to random trivia answers, TV reality programs with a nostalgic bent, or a hallucinogen-induced crime spree .

Then there’s John Cusack.

The native Chicagoan is the rule’s exception, having successfully navigated the treacherous straits of Hollywood burnout.  In the process, he has assembled an impressive, if not prolific, inventory of film credits that even the venerable Michael Caine must view with a spot of envy.

Identifying Cusack as a former teen heart-throb is like preceding ‘addict’ with ‘recovering.’  Cusack seems sensibly rooted in a clever understanding of where he began his career and where it has evolved from.

Cusack has saturated movie audiences with a heavy volume of projects, seemingly releasing a movie every year since 1983.   The recent Hot TubTime Machine demonstrates that he possesses the quality that eludes most entertainers:  He doesn’t take himself too seriously.

More reasons to love John Cusack, in no particular order:

1. He golfs.

2. He contributes to the Huffington Post.

3. He’s made-out with Amanda Peet, Diane Lane, Daphne Zuniga, Ione Skye, Annette Bening, Dianne Wiest, and Minnie Driver.

4. His sister is Joan Cusack.

5. He loves baseball.

6. He made out with Nicolette Sheridan, Katherine Zeta-Jones, Marisa Tomei and Demi Moore.

7. He loves The Clash and The Ramones.

8. He is fearless with his political views.

9. He starred in Being John Malkovich.

10. He made out with Julia Roberts, Catherine Keener, Lisa Bonet, Iben Hjejle, Bridget Moynahan and Kate Beckinsale.

By definition, a crush suggests something fleeting and temporary, yet the  man crush I have for Cusack defies even this description.

Cusack has fanned the flames of my smoldering man crush ever since he portrayed Hoops McCann in One Crazy Summer.

Cusack is a dude’s dude, sharp as a dagger and an icon of film.

Just don’t call him Kevin Spacey (see below).

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Expand the Tournament Field? Now That Would Be Madness.

For the local pee-wee level soccer league, there are no winners and losers.  Literally.

Every Saturday morning, the neighborhood youth soccer association near my corner of Southern California plays to a stalemate:  The league mandates that every game played during the two month-long season will result in a tie.

The belief is that the kids will learn that the object of competition is not whether you win or lose, as long as you participate.

Such programs aim to protect children from the threat of hurt feelings and cultivate self-esteem.

This year’s Academy Awards expanded the Best Picture field from five to ten movies to promote the inclusion of films that narrowly missed the cut.

The decision was meant to pacify the annual complaint that the Academy had once again failed to properly acknowledge deserving candidates for the award, causing bitter disappointment and feelings of resentment.

Further, the move would protect filmmakers from the threat of hurt feelings and cultivate self-esteem.

The NCAA, it seems, has sympathized with the above logic.

The governing body that runs the yearly Men’s Basketball Tournament is looking to increase the number of teams allowed to compete for the National Championship.

At press time, the tournament allows 64 teams to vie for the most coveted trophy in College Basketball.  The committee is considering expanding the field to 96 teams.

The NCAA believes that this would allow more teams the opportunity to participate for the National Title, thus creating a tournament of unparalleled democracy.  Said one NCAA staffer, more kids would be offered the privilege of  experiencing the excitement of the yearly tournament.

The theory is that the expanded tournament field would protect collegiate players from the threat of hurt feelings and would cultivate self-esteem.

Ninety.  Six.  Teams.

The possible revision to the NCAA Tournament is a continuation of a disturbing trend in our culture.  We are cultivating a softer, more tolerant breed of individual that is spoiled, and filled with a false sense of privilege.

The author of this blog hates to type these words, but he shall:  We are becoming a bunch of over-indulged pussies.

If the NCAA has their way — and they will — we can look forward to such scintillating match-ups as number 1 seed Kansas potentially locking horns with number 96 seed Canisius.

Canisius, you ask?  Exactly.

We will wait with sweet anticipation as perennial power house North Carolina collides with the barely qualifying Coastal Carolina (student population 8,000).

A Chihuahua would have better fortune against a Pit Bull.

The proprietors of this blog would like to submit another opinion.  Let’s view this for what it really is — corporate greed at its highest level.

Don’t believe the NCAA rhetoric of the spirit of competition and the selfless act of expanding opportunities to marginal basketball programs.

Here’s how it went down:

A bean-counter at the NCAA corporate offices made a fancy spreadsheet with bushels of  hyperlinks, graphs and colorful pie charts.  These graphics told the story of how much advertising revenue the NCAA tournament games generated.  The bean-counter made an easy sale to these profit chasers — if some is good, more must be better.

“Think of how much more money we could make,” the spindly accountant whined to his bosses.  Since stodgy old executives love colorful graphs, pie charts, and revenue the idea of 96 teams took root.

Regrettably, the fancy pie chart failed to consider the blatant exploitation of the student athletes.  Or worse yet, the fancy pie chart did consider the blatant exploitation of the student athletes and the executives still moved forward with their decision.

This revision to the tournament  would cheapen the quality of an already near-perfect product.  Rather than giving hand-outs to teams on the bubble, here’s a radical suggestion to those NIT-bound teams:  Perform better during the regular season!

Let’s recap:

1. Winning vs. Losing

Edge: Push

2. 64 teams vs. 96 teams

Edge: Colorful pie charts

3. Student athletes vs. stodgy NCAA executive

Edge: Bean-counters

In summary, any attempt to expand the NCAA basketball tournament field should be met with strong opposition.  A group of 96 teams cheapens the quality of the event and reduces its value.

A Maserati wouldn’t be a Maserati if everyone owned one, now would it?

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False Idols

Has anyone seen my credibility?

The PGA Tour is a one-trick pony; a metaphor for the advice that all mutual fund managers caution investors against.  Putting all your eggs into a solitary basket carries a high level of risk, but if the basket was the Tiger Woods of ten years ago—hell, the Tiger Woods of ten months ago—then that same risk wouldn’t represent much of a gamble at all.

Investing in Tiger is now an exercise in diminishing returns.

If love means never having to say you’re sorry, then why does Tiger’s mechanical apology feel like the hollow, insincere sham that it is?

Not that I ever felt an emotion that can be characterized as love for Tiger.  Sure, I love his gargantuan tee shots.  I love the surgical accuracy of his irons.  I love the Rembrandt-like strokes of his short game.  But if watching Michael Jordan in his prime has taught me anything at all, it is that I can appreciate the man for his abilities without having to love the jackass that he truly is.

To be certain, society has, in its collective form, been particularly tough on Tiger.  This treatment is deserved:  Tiger sold us an image that we eagerly purchased without bothering to retain the receipt.  He is the roadside charlatan with false promises of a diet supplement that cures nothing.  We take his ‘indiscretions’ personally because our heroes aren’t meant to display the same frailty that we have.

Tiger is sorry, not out of sincerity, but because he got caught.  The changes that he has promised to make are reactionary to his misfortunes, not the self-initiated sort he has proffered.  The genuine desire to change must come from within, not as a consequence.

One day soon, Tiger will return to the sport that he has dominated.  He will win more money; regain more endorsements; hoist more trophies.  He will claim every golf record that is statistically measurable.

I will be a witness to these events because I love golf and love the application of the skills necessary to succeed at it.

I will witness these events as an interested observer, not as a supporter.

I cannot enjoy this future success as his fan.

He has robbed me of that, too.

Future unknown, straight ahead.

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Sole Mates?

Exhibit A

Now, husbands and wives fight; it’s what we do.

We quarrel, bicker, contest, spat, battle, debate, argue, retort, oppose, and agitate.

We defend our positions,  present new ideas, and cast our stones.

Sometimes, international decisions hang in the balance (who is ultimately responsible for Haiti’s recovery)?   Other times domestic issues take precedence (is it that hard to separate the whites from the colors)?

So long as there is no physical or mental abuse, it’s completely within the guidelines of what makes a healthy marriage.

But, after a recent scrum with the wife, I needed an outlet.

Shrinks always suggest to their clients to go buy themselves something.  Retail would be my medicine this day; new shoes the remedy.

But what kind of shoe?  Something casual, but not lazy.  Versatile, but not over done.  Fun, but not quirky.

Selection made, I wore them right out of the store to break them in.  I arrived home, curious to see if the wife would notice.

She looked at me, then at my new shoes and froze.

Ha! I detected a pang of jealousy.  I danced my gloat dance.

She could only stare at my feet with a look of complete disbelief.

My gloat dance started to lose steam.  The shoes must have sent her over the edge.

“Do you like them?” I asked.  The gloat dance began anew, a few exploratory steps.

My wife left the room.  What’s she so mad about?  They’re only shoes!

After a moment, she walked back into the room.

On her feet were the newly purchased female version of the exact same shoes (with slightly different color scheme)!

We stared at each other’s feet.

Somewhere, O. Henry shrieked with delight.

Damn it, woman.  It had to be you.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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The Super Bowl, Alternative Programming and Why Tim Tebow’s Pro-Life Stance May Have Missed the Target Demographic

Isn't Sleepless in Seattle on channel 2?

By nature, the author of this blog is the stubborn sort.

You say “paper or plastic” and I say “neither.”

You say “jump” and I say “sorry, I just ate breakfast.”

You say “watch the advertisement orgy of expensive TV spots during the Super Bowl” and I promptly change the channel.

And that’s exactly what I did.

While the lion’s share of the TV viewership watched Tim Tebow tell the women of America what to do with their uterus (uterii?) and while that little kid smacked his mom’s boyfriend over a bowl of Doritos, I took a peek at how the other channels chose to fill their wasted time slots.

It was a fun exercise; one that I heartily recommend.  It was my own personal social experiment where I thumb my nose at popular culture and mass consumerism to study the human nature of TV programming decisions.

Here’s what I found:

While the Saints won the coin toss and elected to receive, TBS aired Failure To Launch, a film about a whimsical 35 year old man that still lives with his folks and falls in love with Sarah Jessica Parker, the woman hired by the parents to seduce their son and convince him to move out.

It stars Matthew McConaughey, in his most challenging role.

When Peyton Manning tossed a touchdown strike to take a 10-point advantage, E! Network was showing Sleepless in Seattle, the endearing romantic comedy where the son of a recently widowed man calls a radio talk show in an attempt to find his father a new wife.  One woman hears the broadcast and goes to great lengths to meet the widowed man.

Sleepless in Seattle features the delightful cast of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

When the Saints recovered an onside kick to open the 3rd quarter, ABC countered with Stepmom, the movie where a terminally ill mother has to settle on the new woman in her ex-husband’s life, who will be the new stepmother to her children.

Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon play the conflicted women.

As the Saints secured their first-ever Super Bowl victory with a 4th quarter interception and touchdown return, the premium movie channel– Love Stories East— treated their viewers to Kate & Leopold, the fantasy romance that features the tagline ‘if they lived in the same century they’d be perfect for each other.’

The movie showcases the talents of Sleepless in Seattle star Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman, as her love interest.

On and on it went.  The WE network showed Beaches, the stirring Bette Midler drama.  The feature presentation on the Encore Movie Channel was She’s All That, followed by 10 Things I Hate About You.

My experiment seemed to confirm what we already know about the Super Bowl:  It is a Man Holiday;  the biggest sausage fest of the year;  the modern-day He-man Woman Hater’s Club.

If once is an anomaly, twice is a coincidence, and thrice is a trend, then the counter-programming to the Super Bowl proves that it is nothing more than an epic struggle between testosterone and estrogen.

As the final seconds ticked off the clock during the Super Bowl, I turned to my wife to share the results of my scientific research.

To my dismay, she was gone.

I stood up to stretch– the resulting noises from my body sounding like a door with squeaky hinges– and my living room suddenly got brighter, as if a veil had been lifted from my eyes.

I surveyed the room– it wasn’t a pretty sight:

The sofa had a life-sized mold of my ass pressed into the cushions.  A massive pile of unwashed dishes teetered in the sink.   A varied collection of empty take-out boxes littered the dining table.  The dogs were hungry and trembling with low blood sugar.  Outside, the yard looked like the canopy of a rain forest.

A note on the fridge from the wife:  Went for coffee.

What?  During the Super Bowl?

It seems that I was/ am living proof to my own experiment.

Damn, catharsis is a bitch.

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A Recipe For Crow: An Open Letter to the San Diego Chargers

Courtesy of isportsweb.com

Dear San Diego Chargers,

I’ve been eating crow for dinner for 11 consecutive Sundays.

It’s really tough and gamey and generally not very pleasant, even if you soak it in logic and coat it with common sense.

You see, I’ve been taking plenty of flack for the words I posted on October 21st, regarding your humiliating loss on Monday Night Football by the Denver Broncos.

Since that time, you have been victorious in 11 straight NFL contests.

Let’s qualify some things:

1. We’ve been going steady since 1984, when my lone criterion for selecting a favorite football team was civic pride and  how cool the helmet logo was (a lighting bolt was– and is– an impressive design feature for a knuckle-head such as my self).

I’ve seen the good times (the magical 1994 Super Bowl year) and the bad (the 1 and 15 season, the Ryan Leaf debacle) and my loyalty has never wavered.

Shaky fair-weather fan I am not.

2. A key component to any healthy long-term relationship is honesty.  The October 21st post of this humble blog is evidence to that notion.  My words, however unflattering, were honest.

3. Given the state of affairs in late October, my words were a true assessment of how the season was unfolding for you.  I don’t regret a single word I wrote.

If you can’t be honest with yourself– or your loved-ones– who can you be honest with, right?

You are now, through no credit of mine, well positioned to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

All because you believed in yourselves– and in each other.

You believed in hard work,  pre-game preparation and your style of winning football games.

You ignored the naysayers, the odds makers and conventional wisdom.

You ignored silly blogs like Bacon Makes It Better.

But I haven’t ignored what you’ve accomplished, San Diego Chargers.

And crow never tasted better.

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